Preparing for Disaster: Episode 8

D'zoll lets his Donor go after a long day of therapy. It's knitting night at the Gen's Club, and Sanda Gegg will be demonstrating again.

D'zoll has plenty of paperwork to keep him busy until his next shift starts, so with resignation he starts in on it. Reports, reports, reports. He allows his mind to wander slightly to Nick and Gegg and his new interesting case, the Sime with the psychosomatic pains in his tentacles.

Katsura zlins D'zoll alone in his office from down the hall, pulls in her nager and sneaks up to his open door. Then she pops in.

D'zoll's eyebrows head for the ceiling as he stands up.

D'zoll: Cousin Kat! Fancy meeting you here!

Katsura grins widely.

Katsura: D'zoll, you big-nosed Farris!

Katsura offers hands for a cousinly tentacle grasp.

D'zoll elevates his proboscis and stares down it snootily.

D'zoll: "Hear the pot blackguarding the kettle, now."

Katsura laughs and plants a quick kiss on D'zoll's nose, hopping up to reach over the desk.

Katsura: Nice to zlin you again after all this time.

Katsura hasn't seen her cousin for several years, since they've been working in different cities and haven't been home at the same time.

D'zoll: That's a phrase I picked up out-Territory. I'm very ~~ proud ~~ of it.

D'zoll grabs Katsura's tentacles with his and kisses back good and hearty.

D'zoll: There. That will take away the taste of the last patient I just had.

Katsura: Oh?

D'zoll: Some people need mind-healing desperately. And some are just whiners and complainers and that's all. I just had one of the latter grace my office for the last fifty minutes.

Katsura: I hear Sectuib shipped you out-T [English] for your sins.

D'zoll: [English] You bet your ass he did.

Katsura snickers at the silly phrase.

D'zoll: But when he went out there to check on me, he's the one that got the backache from the baggy mattress.

Katsura: Great grandma said "that boy D'zoll accomplished a miracle with that Gen".

D'zoll: No, no, it was "that Gen" who accomplished the miracle. ~~ sincere ~~

Katsura: So what was it like out-T, in the benighted backwoods at that?

D'zoll: Well, I got to taste meat stew for the first time. ~~ wicked ~~

Katsura: Yuck!

D'zoll: Oh, I ate around the meat itself. It wasn't so bad, really. ~~ carefully neutral field ~~

Katsura: Hm. ~~ doubtful ~~

Katsura wonders how many weeks of channel chow it would take to get her to try something like that.

D'zoll: Just... different. I don't believe there was enough dead selyn in just the broth to have any ill effect.

D'zoll waves a tentacle airily.

D'zoll: It's all in the cultural conditioning. Plenty of our Gens who were born out-T and moved during the Unity Spring had been carnivores, after all.

Katsura: Well, they're Gens.

D'zoll: I know. But try to get Shorsh, who's as Gen as they are, to try the stew? Not a chance.

Katsura: Shorsh has sense. I mean, meat has parasites and stuff, and it spoils easily.

D'zoll: ~~ sweetly ~~ That's why they cook it, Kat dear.

Katsura: Okay. So my cultural conditioning makes me think eating carrion is disgusting even if it doesn't give me worms and food poisoning.

D'zoll: Ah, but you don't zlin disgusted, do you?

D'zoll winks.

Katsura: I've got the sense not to imagine it too vividly.

Katsura tosses a projection of ~~ nauseated revulsion ~~ at D'zoll for an instant.

D'zoll bats the projection aside with no trouble. When the Sectuib's away, the Farrises will play.

D'zoll: Anyway, have a seat.

Katsura makes herself comfortable in the client chair.

D'zoll sits back down too.

Katsura: So, I hear you've been working with this guy Nick Reckage.

D'zoll: Yup. Quite a Donor, he is.

Katsura: Hm?

D'zoll: Nick. An amazing Donor. He can do things no Sat'htine Donor learns.

Katsura: Like what?

Katsura is suppressing the intensity of her personal ~~ interest ~~ in what Nick's latest transfer partner has to say about him.

D'zoll: Well, for example, he can create a window in the field that lets you observe a patient as closely as if you and the patient were in the middle of a cornfield together.

Katsura: Good precision control of projection, then.

D'zoll: But the great thing is, it doesn't matter how much nageric noise there is in the ambient. It still works. That's why he calls it a window, I think -- a window in the wall of selyn isolation.

Katsura: Interesting. He's been doing it for great grandma, and she's finding it very useful for examining early pregnancies.

D'zoll: So if you know all about him from Rimona, why pick my brain about him? Or is it that you're suffering from a sudden case of Genlust?

Katsura shifts in her chair.

Katsura: Well... he is very attractive.

D'zoll: Amen, as they say out-T.

Katsura: I do outmatch him, but Rimona thinks it might be possible to upgrade him.

Katsura pauses.

Katsura: D'zoll... what's he like in transfer? Somehow I suspect he's not just a Tecton standard uninvolved type, eh?

D'zoll grins widely.

D'zoll: He gave me one of the best transfers I've had in a long, long, long time.

Katsura grins back.

Katsura: Lucky you!

Katsura: Khelsar's come back with me, but she's too pregnant to serve me next time. I don't know who Sectuib will assign me. Maybe Lusinka or Salk. Although that would throw the schedule out a bit.

D'zoll shrugs; he's been a controller, of course, but it's never been a special interest of his.

Katsura thinks it's easy for D'zoll to be unconcerned, he's got matches galore in House.

Katsura: Of course, neither of them are going on the disaster exercises, so I'll have to make do with somebody else for day to day.

D'zoll: Talk to Sectuib, is all I can say. He's certainly familiar with your needs. But anyhow, tell me about what you've been doing! I haven't seen you in, what, three years?

Katsura: Well, I'm at the Regional Pediatric Center. You know, when you're a Super Zlinner, it's pediatrics or neurology, and in pediatrics there's a lot more chance of a successful recovery.

Katsura: Of course, most of it is sick kids, and it helps to be able to zlin a kid's weak field, but we get a fair number of changeover problems of the sort that show up early, like Noreen's Syndrome, and I'm doing some research on establishment problems.

D'zoll raises his eyebrows again.

D'zoll: Tell me about it. Sounds like an interesting field -- I hardly knew there was such a thing.

Katsura: Establishment problems? Yeah, it is pretty obscure. Rare, too. I think there's more now because there are more children of Gens now. I think the same genetic flaws may cause unsurvivable changeover problems. I wish we had deeper pedigrees for some of these people.

D'zoll nods. Mind sickness is probably partly genetic too, but the evidence is just too sparse thus far to be sure.

Katsura: I've been writing to some of the older Householdings, asking if they have any data to share. So far, I haven't gotten much, but it would be a lot of work for them to assemble it. I could go on and on... what have you been up to?

D'zoll: Hmm. Well. I presented a paper on changeover in the mentally disabled; did you hear about that? It's that that led me to Mr. Gegg and his unusual problems, indirectly.

Katsura: No, I hadn't. How did that happen?

D'zoll: Well, I gave the talk, and then I was waylaid by Seruffin from Jaklin's office -- you know him? and his lover, a Second stationed out-T who had an interesting case she thought Sat'htine would be interested in. Indiscreetly, I agreed we would, which got me in trouble with Sectuib and Lusinka, but eventually my point of view prevailed, if not in all particulars.

Katsura: I have to ~~ admire ~~ you for working with an extreme Simephobe with a Donor nager.

D'zoll buffs his nails.

D'zoll: It was a challenge, yes. But when Sectuib told me I'd have to do it out-T, I nearly, well, did something unbecoming.

Katsura: One nice thing about kids is that they can try to bite, but they can't Genslam.

D'zoll: Mr. Gegg, on the other hand, can and does. Shorsh, though, was his usual impeccable self.

Katsura: He slammed you? ~~ concern and sympathy ~~

Katsura has never come near a risk of being slammed.

D'zoll: Well, it was when a snake crawled up his pants. And of course it wasn't deliberate.

D'zoll chuckles reminiscently; he's assimilated the experience well.

Katsura wonders whether D'zoll is teasing her. A snake up his pants?

D'zoll: From how we reconstructed it later, we moved a bale of hay -- we were using them as impromptu chairs in Gegg's barn -- and the snake was living under the bale. The snake was startled by the change in temperature or humidity or something, and went for Gegg as the nearest source of warmth. It was an entirely harmless type, to be sure. But Gegg didn't expect it, and, well -- Slam!

Katsura shakes her head.

Katsura: Wow.

D'zoll: "He doesn't know his own strength" was a saying made for Gegg.

Katsura: Great grandma says Mr. Gegg's wife wouldn't survive her pregnancy out-T.

D'zoll: Almost certainly not. She was incredibly lucky to give birth to one channel unassisted -- or as near as makes no matter, just Gegg and a midwife -- but two, no way.

Katsura: It must be awful for them out there, with no channels. Well, I guess they do have channels, but they have to murder them.

D'zoll nods soberly.

Katsura ~~ shudders ~~. As someone who spends her days trying to heal children, the idea of murdering them is particularly horrible.

D'zoll: Gegg's eldest son is the first surviving channel from his home town. Of course, his whole family tree, or maybe his wife's, must be shot through with them.

Katsura thinks "shot" is an unfortunate choice of words.

D'zoll extends ~~ sympathy ~~ and ~~ comfort ~~.

Katsura: Ah, D'zoll, a lovely projection.

D'zoll smiles.

D'zoll: [English] That's why they pay me the big bucks.

Katsura laughs.

Katsura: Speaking of lovely projections, tell me more about Nick. What's the real story about him and the Last Audnes Rebellion?

D'zoll: ~~ caution ~~ Well, you know the Tecton investigating team cleared him publicly, or he wouldn't be here, he'd be -- wherever.

D'zoll doesn't really know what happened to Arat Audnes, and doesn't much think he wants to, either.

D'zoll: Of course, like any Donor, he's entitled to his privacy, and he hasn't talked to me about it. Still, he's not a patient, either. My assessment is that he was doing the best he could to do the least harm he could to his assignments, to the people caught in the disaster, and to the Tecton as a whole.

D'zoll intentionally alludes to Sat'htine's motto: First, do no harm.

Katsura: I just wondered whether he was... uh, did he agree with them politically, or was he their victim, or what. It took a lot out of him. I can still zlin the effects of prolonged physical and psychological stress.

D'zoll: Not entirely a victim, certainly. Look at it this way. You know those labor camps they use out-Territory to punish people?

Katsura: Yeah. I wondered if he'd been in one, before I found out who he was.

D'zoll nods.

D'zoll: Well, suppose you had been put in one for no fault of your own, mistaken identity or bad evidence or whatever.

Katsura nods, suppressing the effect of her imagination on her nager.

D'zoll: And then they gave you the job of standing over the other prisoners with a whip, making sure they did what they were told. Not as a quid pro quo, you understand. Just your assignment, period, do it or else.

Katsura nods again. She'd like to think she'd refuse.

D'zoll: And suppose you were actually good at getting people to do what you tell them to do. So that you knew people who took your orders would suffer less, and you wouldn't actually need to use the whip. So if you refused the job, it would be carried out by some incompetent with no leadership skills who would use the whip.

Katsura wonders who represents who in this metaphor.

D'zoll: ~~ relentlessly ~~ So you'd cooperate with evil, because it would be better for everyone else than if you didn't. Does that make you still a victim or not?

Katsura thinks about it.

Katsura: I'd feel like a victim, but the other prisoners would see me as a collaborator, worse than the bosses. I'd be pretty disgusted with myself, guilty, but I'd feel like I had no real choice.

D'zoll: [English] Bingo.

Katsura: Sounds like some of those channels who worked the secret pens.

D'zoll: Yeah, probably. I'd suspect they had a variety of motives and mental sets.

D'zoll: [hastily] I don't mean to say that Nick was literally in the position of telling people what to do with a whip. But he was the only Farris-capable Donor on site, and without the Farrises, the project wouldn't have made it through the winter, in all probability.

Katsura sighs.

Katsura: Poor guy. So how does he like working with channels who want to be his colleague, not his master?

D'zoll: ~~ sarcastic ~~ Oh, he takes to it with tremendous enthusiasm. I've never seen such a childlike, natural, open response to the idea. What did you think?

Katsura: I'd think that what I can zlin about his physical injuries is a faint shadow of the psychological effects of the experience.

D'zoll laughs.

D'zoll: A great way to say nothing at all! Any physical injury is a faint shadow of its psychological effect, cousin.

Katsura: Uh. Yeah, I guess.

Katsura shrugs.

Katsura: So he can't trust us, or be open with us. ~~ sadness ~~ pity ~~

D'zoll: I think he hardly knows the meaning of the terms. But for both of your sakes, don't show him that pity if you expect to have any sort of relationship with him.

Katsura: It doesn't sound like he's up to having any kind of relationship with a channel except a reserved, professional one. ~~ disappointed ~~

D'zoll: Maybe not on a sustained basis, not yet. Our transfers were neither reserved nor professional, but I really can't tell you about that without breaking confidence.

Katsura: Well, he's lucky he got sent here. I can't think of a better place to recuperate, physically or otherwise.

Katsura sighs.

Katsura: I guess he's not ready to make a decision about pledging to the House either.

D'zoll: No indeed. Hiram has thoughts that way, but I intend to make sure Nick isn't pressured. ~~ confidence ~~

Katsura: Yeah. Pressure of any kind is the last thing he needs. He needs to decompress.

Katsura sighs again.

Katsura: I don't suppose a few days in bed with a healthy young post female channel would cure him either.

D'zoll smiles.

D'zoll: Exactly. So when you do go after him, try to lose the patented Katsura exuberance, okay? In any case, "cure" is not a notion I believe in.

Katsura spreads hands and tentacles.

Katsura: Well, a six hour crush... that went by fast.

Katsura twists a couple of chunks of wild Farris hair into cohesive lumps and tucks them behind her ears.

D'zoll: So which was it, he got you hot and then you found out he was the Rogue Donor, or you found out first and that was what turned you on?

Katsura: Well, I found him very attractive when I first met him. Then Lusinka told me who he was and I nearly plotzed. Right in the refectory!

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Lusinka says Sectuib thinks he's all right -- not the ultimate Wild Killer Gen the tabloids made him out to be. At any rate, he didn't do anything horrible to you, as far as I can zlin. ~~ teasing ~~

D'zoll uses his showfield to display the equivalent of a big fat supercilious grin.

Katsura: Trying to make me jealous, are you? ~~ jealous, teasing ~~

D'zoll crooks his tentacles and mimics a need-growl.

Katsura: Uh, do you suppose he'd want to be upgraded to match me and Rimona and Hiram and all? Assuming it's possible.

D'zoll: Really, that's way beyond where I'm willing to speculate. He might, he might not. The life of extremely high TN-1 might not suit him at all, and he'd find it all the harder to give it up if the restrictions became too onerous.

Katsura: Yeah. Even asking him would be more pressure.

D'zoll: Definitely. Try getting him to talk, and not about the messy parts of his past or his uncertain future. He likes trees, that should help.

Katsura laughs.

Katsura: You think I should point out the big tree by the gates that I'm named after?

D'zoll: I don't think I know that story, do I?

D'zoll scratches his head with a tentacle.

Katsura: It was under that tree that Mom proposed to Dad that they produce a little Farris. She always liked it. Very romantic. It's a katsura tree.

Katsura has always found the story a bit embarrassing and is glad D'zoll has forgotten it.

D'zoll: Oh, okay. But suppose you had been a failed Farris? How romantic would that have been, eh? ~~ teasing back ~~

Katsura: If I weren't a Farris, I'd be a better match for Nick.

D'zoll nods, suppressing another wisecrack about Farrises and what happens under trees.

Katsura thinks about it.

Katsura: Imagine taking transfer from somebody with a nager like that who overmatches you! ~~ oo la la ~~ humor ~~

D'zoll wipes imaginary slobber off his chin.

Katsura laughs.

Katsura: You've got to admit the guy has got immense nageric charm.

D'zoll: ~~ over the top ~~ And then you can imagine you get to sleep with him immediately afterwards...

Katsura squirms ostentatiously.

D'zoll: As for charm, you do know he's 75% Sectuib in Naros, don't you?

Katsura: The papers said he's his son... you mean he's... shidoni, that scandal a few years ago. Gosh. It's amazing he's sane.

Katsura has never met Riyyh, but has heard numerous unlikely stories.

Katsura: He's not really much like him, basically, is he? Aside from the good looks?

D'zoll: Like him, no. Their experiences have been wildly different. The most you can say is that Nick had the potential to be another Riyyh, given the same upbringing -- which he emphatically did not get.

Katsura: Potential to be another Riyyh... well, it's a good thing I don't have a crush on him any more then. Right.

Katsura shakes her head then smiles widely.

Katsura: Shuven, I'm still jealous of you!

D'zoll smiles back, but remains ~~ serious ~~ underneath.

D'zoll: Genetic potential. Doesn't mean he could become a Riyyh now, any more than he could become an Arat Audnes.

Katsura: Do we want to bring the genes into the House?

D'zoll: If that's all we wanted, there are hundreds of 50% and 75% Riyyhs we could use, or for that matter Riyyh himself, if his sperm is still on ice somewhere.

Katsura: I suppose crossing with Farris would keep the more extreme traits under control.

D'zoll: [ignoring this] No, the question is, can we help Nick and can he help us by becoming a member? The second, I think, is not in real doubt: he's an asset. The first....

D'zoll pauses significantly.

D'zoll: I can't say.

Katsura: Poor guy. ~~ real compassion ~~

D'zoll: Exactly. So go cheer him up, [English] why dontcha? True love always finds a way.

Katsura: Now I'm afraid to go near him! I might mess up his head, pressure him.

D'zoll laughs.

D'zoll: Think of it as a Zeor denial exercise.

Katsura: ~~ nageric raspberry ~~

D'zoll: You're just not used to people you can scare away. You crook your left outer lateral, and they approach closer and closer, fascinated.

Katsura projects the nager of a replete, insanely high rated Gen who is utterly obsessed with giving the best transfer imaginable.

D'zoll lets his laterals lick out, seeking this way and that for the rich and luscious source of selyn.

Katsura's projection changes to emulate that same Gen getting farther and farther away.

D'zoll's laterals slowly retract ~~ disappointment loss ~~

Katsura provides ~~ affection ~~ and ~~ comfort ~~. She wouldn't have pulled that stunt if D'zoll weren't pre-turnover.

D'zoll basks on Kat's field for a bit, then slowly moves to deeper intimacy appropriate to the reunion of old friends.

Katsura sighs with ~~ pleasure ~~.

Katsura: It is good to zlin you again. It's been a long time.

D'zoll nods soberly, not really trusting his voice. He searches Kat's nager for indications of psychological wounds, finding nothing too serious.

Katsura outrates D'zoll by a substantial margin, so he isn't likely to find anything from a distance. Not that there's much to find. Life has been good to her.

D'zoll takes his showfield down several more steps, showing Katsura a variety of lived-through frustrations, from a month out-T to his latest patient.

Katsura lets her nager mesh more deeply with D'zoll's, providing ~~ sympathy ~~ affection ~~ and ~~ kindness ~~. She also shows her genuine ~~ admiration ~~ for what he goes through in his emotionally demanding profession.

D'zoll returns ~~ gratitude ~~ and ~~ relief ~~.

Katsura wonders whether D'zoll isn't letting his Companions know the extent of his needs.

D'zoll is an Iron Farris when it comes right down to it.

Katsura: Maybe you're the one who needs cheering up. Want to go for a run in the snow?

D'zoll thinks about it for a while.

D'zoll: Yeah. Yeah, I do.

Return to Table of Contents