Technical-Class Donors: Episode 21

Shorsh is sitting on a bench enjoying the warm fall day and the colors of the trees across the pond. He leans back against the sun-warmed wall, sips his tea, and sighs with contentment.

Nick is walking by, in his continual quest to stay out-of-doors as much as possible, and spots Shorsh.

Nick sees a possible answer to a dilemma that's been bothering him for the past few days, and moseys over in a ~~ casual ~~ fashion.

Shorsh: Hello, Nick. Beautiful day, isn't it?

Nick: Yes, indeed. I thought I'd store it up against the winter.

Nick's past few winters have been spent tramping through the snow, going where channeling work is required.

Shorsh: Winters here aren't as cold as what you're used to, but they do get rather dark and dreary.

Nick: Mind if I join you for a bit?

Shorsh: Of course.

Nick settles on the bench.

Nick: This is a nice place. Very rustic, although I don't know why it's described that way when few actual farms bother with landscaping.

Nick has seen more than enough farms, on both sides of the border, to be sure of this.

Shorsh: The pond is there partly in case there's a fire, but since we've got it, we've tried to make it look good too. And the trees are part of a shelterbelt.

Nick nods, then fidgets, not quite sure how to broach the subject he'd like to discuss.

Nick: Shorsh, you've worked with D'zoll a lot...

Shorsh: Yes, I have.

Nick: I was wondering... what does he like, in transfer?

Nick sounds a lot less confident than any Donor who's competently handled two Farris channels of marginal sanity ought.

Shorsh laughs.

Shorsh: He's a real pleasure. You just have to be patient with him beforehand.

Nick: Oh?

Shorsh: I doubt he's ever had a bad transfer in his life. Some would have been better than others, of course, but even the worst were probably pretty good.

Nick: That's a hard record to live up to.

Shorsh: Oh, no. He's very easily served. Like I said -- no traumas, no problems. I can't imagine the two of you not having an excellent transfer.

Nick: My training was a bit, um, haphazard, and I don't even know where the gaps are.

Shorsh: Nick, I think you could serve a good transfer to a Farris berserker who attacked you in your sleep. All you need do is relax and do what comes naturally.

Nick has been trying hard not to feel intimidated by the expertise of the Sat'htine Companions, not always successfully.

Shorsh: Get D'zoll to do the same and you'll both be ecstatic.

Nick: I've done the Farris berserker attacking when I was, well, not quite asleep. What I haven't ever done successfully is serve a channel who matches me and doesn't have pathologies.

Shorsh thinks about this.

Shorsh: So, in a way, you've never done anything but a therapeutic transfer? One focused entirely on the channel's problems, not your mutual satisfaction?

Nick: Well, yes.

Shorsh: Hm. It's important to D'zoll that he give his transfer partner pleasure, too. Maybe he should give you a therapeutic transfer, eh? He likes you a lot -- he'd probably be very happy to do it.

Nick: Let's not make this any more complicated than it has to be. I've got to learn sometime.

Nick isn't used to having channels who concern themselves with his likes and dislikes, and found D'zoll's insistence that he not work more than one shift a day confusing.

Shorsh: Again, D'zoll has no transfer problems. He's as normal as a Farris gets.

Nick: That's just it. I don't know what's supposed to be "normal" to Farrises, and what was pathological to Snake and Arat.

Shorsh: Well, you've seen D'zoll's numbers. How do they compare to Snake and Arat?

Nick: He's a little faster, and has a bit more capacity. Probably not enough to give me any trouble.

Shorsh: Right. And he's not disjunct like Arat, nor does he crave pain like Snake.

Nick: So what does he like? Before, during, and after?

Shorsh sighs.

Shorsh: Well, for all that he's basically a really nice guy, and has never had a bad transfer, he gets anxious in hard need like any other Sime. And like a lot of people, when he's anxious, he talks.

Shorsh looks at Nick.

Shorsh: You have to realize that it's his anxiety talking. He really doesn't doubt your ability to serve him, and serve him well. He'll get going, nattering on, trying to reassure you that it will be all right. It can get quite aggravating if you take it personally.

Nick: I see.

Shorsh sighs again.

Shorsh: I suppose it's because of his nature and his profession. He worries about people and wants to help them, and it tends to come out in this particular way when he's in hard need.

Shorsh smiles.

Shorsh: Now I can tell him to shut up. I'm not sure that will work for you.

Nick: How badly does this habit of his interfere with what his Donor is trying to accomplish, as far as preparation goes?

Shorsh: I'd recommend you reassure him right back, let him know that there's no question it will be a great transfer for both of you.

Nick contemplates the difficulty of doing this, when he's not completely convinced of such an outcome himself.

Shorsh figures he'll have a little talk with D'zoll about his pre-transfer blathering, and its potential effect on Nick -- i.e. tell him to shut up. Of course, it might have the opposite effect, as D'zoll will likely strive to set it right by more talk.

Shorsh observes Nick's expression.

Nick decides that with proper preparation, he's got a chance of pulling off something close to what Shorsh recommends.

Nick: What sort of transfer style does D'zoll like? Short and sharp? Long and slow? Or something in between?

Shorsh smiles reminiscently.

Shorsh: He'll be zlinning for what you like. He's quite adaptable and rather creative in his style. He'll enjoy best what you enjoy best.

Nick: But I don't know what I enjoy best. It was never an issue, before.

Shorsh is appalled, but doesn't let it show. It sounds like almost any normal transfer would be something of a therapeutic one for Nick.

Nick has visions of ruining D'zoll's transfer because of this gap in his experience, with bad consequences for D'zoll's next month, and his own entire future.

Shorsh: Let him help you find what gives you the most pleasure. Just open yourself to his draw and let him control completely, go with it, let him zlin your natural reactions. Trust him and trust yourself.

Nick: I'll do my best.

Nick is used to having to override various problematic channel tendencies and preferences during transfer, and the idea of leaving everything to the channel seems potentially disastrous, to him.

Shorsh touches Nick's shoulder.

Shorsh: He's a very kind man, Nick, and a happy one. He'll get great pleasure and satisfaction from helping you learn to enjoy transfer to the fullest, as well as helping you realize your potential in other areas.

Nick: He's certainly been helpful in teaching me some of the basics I missed.

Shorsh: He likes you very much, and enjoys your skill and talent. He also finds your nager extremely attractive.

Nick: He's certainly been tolerant. Even when I fumble something most Donors learn in their first month of training, like yesterday.

Nick overlooks, in his embarrassment, that he mastered the exercise in question with only a few tries, once he understood what was wanted.

Shorsh: He doesn't expect perfection from anyone. He knows about your background, and he knows you want to fill in the gaps in your training. He can zlin that you're trying your best.

Nick: I know, but that sort of incident doesn't exactly raise the Tecton officials' confidence in me.

Shorsh: D'zoll isn't a Tecton official. Nobody's looking for every little fault to report. We're trying to give you a chance to make up for any gaps in your training, and we're also picking your brains for things you can do that are new to us.

Shorsh is too tactful to use a word like "rehabilitate", despite the arrangement with Jaklin.

Nick: Like nageric "windows" in support?

Nick mentions the technique which excited D'zoll so much the day they met.

Shorsh: Yes. I'm glad to have added that to my repertoire.

Nick: I'm surprised it's not commonly taught; it's certainly useful.

Shorsh: Not many Donors have the precision of control to master the technique.

Nick is overlooking that Snake had Zeor training, and that Arat had been without a competent Donor for so long that he wasn't about to question his good fortune when Nick was dropped in his lap. Almost literally.

Shorsh: Nick, do you realize that you're acting something like a Sime in need yourself?

Nick: I am?

Nick is a bit surprised at this observation.

Shorsh: Yes. You're very pessimistic about yourself and your abilities. You're worried that you won't be able to serve a problem-free channel like D'zoll in transfer, when you're accustomed to far more difficult transfers.

Shorsh looks Nick over carefully.

Shorsh: Not a Sime in need, perhaps, but one who hasn't had a good transfer for some time.

Nick: I haven't been matched with a Farris channel in quite a while. I gather there weren't any volunteers to take on Audnes leavings.

Nick's tone is a bit dry.

Shorsh makes a dismissive gesture.

Shorsh: Some of these Tecton channels... we used to call it "nonjuncter than thou" in the old days. They can be very defensive and snobbish.

Nick: Some of them seemed afraid that they'd go rogue if they so much as zlinned me.

Shorsh snorts.

Shorsh: The same sort who were afraid they'd be contaminated if they took transfer from a Donor who'd served semi-juncts.

Nick: It had me wondering if I shouldn't just give it up, and go live with the Wild Gens.

Shorsh: You've been through a lot, and come through it with your Companion's talent as strong as ever. You were born for this, Nick.

Shorsh suddenly realizes that Nick was literally bred to be born for it and is taken aback.

Nick grins ~~ wryly ~~.

Shorsh: I apologize. I wasn't thinking about your more distant background.

Nick: Yes, literally, I know. But I've never been good at following a predestined path. I left Donor training the first time, after only a few weeks, and spent the next ten years as a farm hand. It wasn't a bad life.

Shorsh: You do have the right to use your talent or not, as you see fit. But it's such a strong talent, and you can get so much satisfaction from it, and do so much good with it, it would be a shame to put it aside.

Nick looks at Shorsh with ~~ curiosity ~~.

Nick: Tell me, did you start Donor training at Establishment, or did you try something else, first?

Shorsh sighs.

Shorsh: Those were difficult times, Nick. I established only a few years after Unity, and every selyn worker who could be trained was desperately needed. I was as idealistic as any other young Householder. My talent was strong: I was bred for it too. There was no question that I'd be trained and deployed as fast as possible. But when I was a child, and it wasn't clear that I'd establish...

Nick: You dreamed of being something else?

Shorsh smiles reminiscently.

Shorsh: Well, there was a chance I'd be a renSime, although to be a Farris renSime is a rather miserable fate, and what I wanted to do if that happened was to work on the farm. I had daydreams of developing wonderful new cultivars, that would make Sat'htine famous among the Householdings.

Shorsh smiles.

Nick: And you never got the chance to explore that option.

Shorsh: Well, I did play around a little when I was still a child. I taught myself to cross tomatoes, from a book, and bred a yellow paste tomato.

Shorsh laughs.

Shorsh: What an awful idea! It made the most revolting looking brown tomato sauce!

Nick chuckles.

Shorsh: Tasted okay, but then I was pretty biased.

Nick: Well, children aren't always practical.

Shorsh: No, they aren't. But I was lucky that I had a chance to follow my interests like that, and that I had a secure life here at the Householding.

Nick: You've never been tempted to take time off and pursue your outside interests as an adult? After all, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of Donor talent, here.

Nick is used to working double shifts, and occasionally more, due to his channels' inability to work with lesser Donors for non-transfer purposes.

Shorsh: It was pretty hectic for some time after Unity, and then I was involved in raising my children. I'm not as interested in breeding useless varieties of tomatoes now.

Nick wonders if this is the truth, or an after-the-fact rationalization.

Shorsh: I do enjoy seeing what's happening on the farm here, and when I travel, I sometimes bring back seeds or starts of interesting plants. Now that my children are all grown, perhaps I should get back into it.

Nick: The out-Territory Gens have a saying.

Nick switches to unaccented Genlan.

Nick: "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy."

Nick returns to Simelan.

Nick: You don't have to limit your contributions to Donoring.

Shorsh: As a Householder, I contribute just by existing. I contribute by raising my children in the House. I contribute by living closely with my naztehrhai, continuing the life and traditions of the House.

Nick: It must be strange, to live with traditions that go back for generations.

Nick's most notable family tradition goes back only two generations, involves an overly accommodating Sectuib, and is something Nick has no wish to have continued to the next generation.

Shorsh: It can be very comforting, to be a link in a web that extends from the distant past into the unknowable future, to have a stable, permanent home to return to.

Nick: I was thinking of investing in a small farm that I could return to. But it didn't work out.

Shorsh nods.

Nick: I haven't thought of my grandmother's house as "home" since I was old enough to understand why I'd been bred.

Shorsh nods again.

Nick: I'm not sure I'd know what to do with a home if I had one, after so many years of being a vagabond, but it was a nice dream, while it lasted.

Nick shrugs off the dream, and returns to business.

Nick: What's D'zoll require after transfer?

Shorsh smiles.

Shorsh: His usual postreaction is joy. He'll be full of energy, full of happiness, full of gratitude to you for serving him. He can get a bit effusive, but you'll be full of joy too, and willing to put up with it. Of course, if he's had a bad month, he may react with tears, and you should give him comfort and sympathy, and let him zlin that you enjoyed serving him.

Nick: Does he want to jump back into work, or does he prefer to take some time off?

Shorsh: He'll want to take some time off, perhaps run or otherwise enjoy some augmentation. And he'll probably want to seek out one of his female friends, eat a good meal, and otherwise enjoy his postreaction.

Nick: Does he want his Donor's company for any of that?

Nick is used to dealing with channels who have no other friends.

Shorsh: He won't need your support, but may want to share his happiness with you. But only if you want to, of course. If he's getting together with friends, he'll invite you along. As a friend, not as a Donor.

Nick is not used to channels who don't want a Donor, On Duty, at all times.

Nick: I see. So he won't require support?

Shorsh: Not in general. Of course, he'll need help when he's working, but before turnover he does pretty well without a Donor if nothing particularly stressful is going on.

Nick: Without any support at all?

Nick has never heard of a channel who doesn't want all the support he or she can get.

Shorsh: Here at the Householding, he's at home. He can relax. When he's outside the Householding, well, it depends on where he is and what he's doing. Like anybody else, he likes to have some privacy sometimes.

Nick: I see. Is he good about letting you know when he wants privacy, or does he just expect you to figure it out?

Shorsh: If he tells you he's fine, go off and enjoy yourself, and he looks okay to you, believe him. If he looks like he's in trouble, he may be doing the old Iron Farris act, and you should argue with him. He'll likely give in pretty rapidly, if he really does need your help.

Nick: Well, that's easy enough.

Shorsh: He's a healthy normal channel, even if he is a Farris. And he's quite a reasonable person, for a Farris.

Shorsh winks.

Shorsh: And I tell you that as a Farris, myself.

Nick chuckles.

Nick: It takes one to know one?

Shorsh: I suppose so!

Nick stands.

Nick: I really ought to get back -- I've been running away from a report I should have had done yesterday. Thank you for the information.

Shorsh gets up and touches Nick's shoulder again.

Shorsh: Don't worry, Nick. I have confidence in you. D'zoll has confidence in you. You should have more confidence in yourself. Things will work out. We're on your side.

Shorsh plans to have a little chat with D'zoll about what Nick has told him, so the transfer will go better for both of them.

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