How The Other Half Lives: Episode 10

Rimona is sitting in the small conservatory, enjoying the bright sunshine and solar heat on this cold day, as well as the sight and scent of live plants.

Rimona is resting between her morning collectorium shift and seeing some maternity patients this afternoon. She is, of course, on call if an obstetric emergency is brought in from elsewhere in the district.

Nick also had a morning shift, and then went outside to general the losing side of a snowball fight.

Nick did manage to keep the battle away from the greenhouses, but a leaf pile got hopelessly scattered. He hopes that the grounds and maintenance crews will consider it a fair exchange.

Nick is dressed in his usual off-duty fashion, in worn and practical working clothes. He's now trying to take care of one more piece of personal business before his afternoon shift with D'zoll. He pokes his nose into several likely places, and finally locates his target in the conservatory.

Rimona turns with a smile when she zlins Nick's approach.

Nick: Rimona! How have you been, on this gloriously sunny day?

Nick smells faintly of the outdoors, and there are wet patches on his clothing where snowballs have melted.

Rimona: I'm well, Nick. Enjoying the sunshine the easy way, indoors here.

Rimona pats the bench next to her.

Nick sits down, offering ~~ easy support ~~.

Rimona smiles again, enjoying Nick's nager, and the natural way he shares it with her, unasked.

Nick: I was hoping to run into you. How did your transfer go?

Rimona: It went well. It usually does, with my granddaughter.

Nick: Then you'll be able to appreciate these, more than you could the other night.

Nick reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a little box, made of folded colored paper, and tied with a bit of ribbon.

Nick offers Rimona the parcel.

Rimona takes it, smiling with delight.

Rimona: How kind of you.

Rimona can zlin what's inside. She unties the ribbon with her tentacles, and opens the box.

Nick: Don't let it spoil your appetite, or your Donor will never forgive me. ~~ mock mother henning ~~

Rimona: Well, share it with me, then, and I can enjoy your enjoyment too.

Rimona takes a piece and offers the box to Nick.

Nick takes a piece, pops it into his mouth, and sucks with ~~ contemplation ~~

Rimona enjoys her piece and Nick's piece too.

Nick: This is an interesting batch; I don't normally use this flavoring.

Rimona: I like sassafras. Thank you, Nick.

Nick: You're very welcome.

Nick is ~~ pleased ~~ that Rimona is so happy with his gift.

Rimona brushes at a wet spot on Nick's shirt.

Rimona: Hm. Snowball fight?

Nick grins ~~ sheepishly ~~.

Nick: Well, yes.

Nick is aware that this isn't the sort of activity that's normally considered befitting the dignity of a Donor.

Nick: I did make the kids keep it away from the greenhouses, but I'm afraid that pile of leaves the Grounds crew spent yesterday afternoon raking together was a casualty of the battle.

Rimona: You had fun, and I suppose the kids did too.

Rimona can zlin that from Nick's physiological state -- enjoyable exercise, an opportunity to escape the disciplined control essential in a high order Donor.

Nick: Well, yes.

Nick is long past the point where he'd lose control badly enough to hurt a passing Sime, but the discipline required for that is far less than that required to support a channel.

Rimona: Good. You should have fun more often.

Nick: It's very different here, from anywhere else I've worked. The disasters seem to come in nice, manageable quantities, with plenty of time to see them coming.

Nick has spent most of his working career working what any normal channel or Donor would call "crisis-level disasters".

Rimona: We're well staffed, and well organized. We've had years to develop systems that work. So people have time to live their lives as well as their careers.

Nick: It's -- very different, from what I'm used to.

Rimona: It took us a while to get things organized. The first years after Unity were one crisis after another. Actually, a series of overlapping crises...

Rimona pats Nick's knee.

Rimona: I hope you aren't bored.

Nick: Not really. I've still got a lot to learn, and there's finally time to learn some of it. Still, I keep being surprised when I open up a cabinet and all the supplies that are supposed to be there, are.

Rimona: Ah, well, that's the easy part of getting organized. Making sure the routine stuff is done, so it doesn't interfere with the crises.

Nick: It's usually the absence of that sort of thing which turns a busy day into a crisis. Barring natural disasters, of course. They don't seem to care how many supplies you've laid in, they use them all up, and you're improvising again.

Nick gives a "what can you expect from Mother Nature" shrug.

Rimona: We aren't as far from sources of supply as you were out at that dam project. That helps a lot, of course.

Nick: Being able to order medical supplies from legitimate sources helps, too. There was only so much Snake could pilfer from the Sime Centers without leaving them understocked.

Rimona shakes her head.

Rimona: Ah, the romance of the rogue's life...

Nick: We were able to help a lot of people who would otherwise never have received it, because they couldn't get to a Sime Center in time, or because their local channel couldn't cope with the sort of problems even an ill-trained Farris channel can manage. That made up for a lot of sore feet and bad weather.

Nick: There were some real advantages, too. No paperwork, for one thing.

Rimona: No one, not even a Farris, can remember everything about every patient without notes. And people hate it when they're asked the same questions all the time.

Nick: There wasn't much to remember. Our patients usually hadn't seen another channel for their complaints, and once we'd done what we could, they disappeared back into the slums. Or we had to move on.

Nick: Believe me, if we'd insisted on knowing their names and contact information, we wouldn't have lived long. There's definitely some information it's safer not to know, when your clientele contain a number of dangerous criminals.

Nick says this in a ~~ matter-of-fact ~~ fashion that makes it clear he didn't intend to shock or evoke pity by it.

Rimona wonders why Nick is telling her these things, in this way. He doesn't seem to be trying to shock her, or evoke pity. Maybe he's trying to help her understand him.

Nick is, in fact, justifiably proud of what he and Snake, and later Arat, managed to accomplish despite appalling lack of resources.

Rimona: Is that the sort of challenge you like, Nick? Working under difficult conditions, with limited resources?

Nick: It's something I know how to do. And people who are desperate don't waste time questioning one's credentials. Although I admit, I don't mind the chance to update those credentials.

Rimona: I wondered if you're drawn to emergency medicine, trauma management and so forth.

Nick: It does interest me more than the psychological therapy sessions I've been doing with D'zoll.

Rimona snorts.

Rimona: He doesn't need a Donor for that work, except maybe when he's in need. Hard need.

Nick: He told me that Mister Gegg is unpredictable enough, and has a strong enough nager, that he wanted an extra margin of safety.

Rimona: There is that. And he has accomplished a miracle with that Gen.

Rimona: I wondered if you especially like protecting a channel from pain, or working on injured renSimes with your field, or if you have a technical interest in trauma and healing.

Nick: I like the challenge of dealing with injuries. Among other things, you usually know whether you're going to be able to do some good much faster.

Nick: But truthfully, I'm not sure that isn't just because that's what I know how to do best. It would be a pity to turn down something I might enjoy doing, simply because I haven't learned how to do it yet.

Rimona: I think it would be good for you to get some exposure to all the different kinds of nageric work we do here. We should be able to arrange it.

Rimona: Nick, I wondered if you might be interested in my specialty. You aren't squeamish about blood and pain...

Nick: No, I've seen a lot of them. But most of my obstetric experience is veterinary, from my years out-Territory.

Rimona: Obstetrics can be wonderful. The normal culmination of a childbirth is joy. But I specialize in the problems, and too often the outcome is death, for mother or child. Sometimes both.

Nick: I've had patients die on me before. I can't say I like it, but it happens.

Rimona: Of course, your other specialty is transfer pathology, although your experience was rather narrow. Do you think you might like to consider training as a Donor-therapist?

Nick: I don't know enough about what a Donor-therapist does. A rogue Donor can't afford to become too much of a specialist. Now, though, some official credentials could be a real asset.

Rimona: Your rogue reputation would be a detriment to a career in putting broken channels back together again, unless you were working under our auspices. If you're one of us, your integrity and competence can't be doubted.

Nick: Do you really think that Sat'htine's name would make the average Tecton Controller overlook what I must admit is a very checkered career?

Rimona: Well, there's Nick Reckage, former rogue, tainted with the latest Audnes attempt at rebellion, and then there's Nick ambrov Sat'htine, trained, qualified and backed by one of the most respected Houses in the Tecton.

Nick: It might work, at least with Controllers who aren't inclined to zlin a gift Donor in the file.

Rimona: We do a lot of this work here, at Sat'htine. Channels in trouble are sent to us, and we help them here.

Rimona: Does the idea appeal to you, Nick? It's psychiatry as well as transfer mechanics, you know. And your transfers would be part of your work, not for you and your channel to enjoy as something of your own.

Nick considers.

Nick: Some channels would probably be distressed by my background, but some might be willing to overlook it.

Rimona: If you decide it's the field you want, and you develop skill in it, after a few years you'll have a professional reputation that will outweigh your past. You're very talented. It's a field in which every case is unique, so your intuition as a Natural may be a great deal more valuable there than in other areas.

Nick nods ~~ thoughtfully ~~.

Nick: I've always been good at improvising -- I learned that long before I had any clear idea what I ought to be doing, or why. Given a choice, I prefer to know what I'm doing. Otherwise, it's too easy to make a bigger mess than pulling taffy.

Nick grins with 75% of Riyyh's charm.

Rimona: You have an opportunity to learn everything we can teach you. With that as a foundation, who knows what your intuition might come up with?

Rimona puts her arm around Nick and gives him a motherly half hug.

Rimona: We're all very pleased with how eager you are to learn, and how fast you're learning.

Nick: Didn't an out-Territory philosopher awaiting execution say something about the situation concentrating his mind wonderfully?

Rimona: Oh, Nick.

Rimona offers her arms.

Rimona: Let me give you some of the support you've been giving to channels all these years.

Nick gives in to temptation, and snuggles into Rimona's embrace.

Rimona holds Nick and offers him ~~ kindness ~~ and ~~ compassion ~~, ~~ hope ~~ and ~~security ~~.

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