Preparing for Disaster: Episode 12

Nick is finding the Sat'htine Winter Disaster Games more interesting than he'd thought they would be. He has to admit that having the locomotive unexpectedly break down halfway to the exercise site was a nice, if unintended, touch of realism.

Nick approved of Katsura's decision to send a Sime runner ahead to the next station to arrange for another locomotive, but was as astonished as the rest of the team when the messenger brought back a telegram requiring a significant modification of their plans.

Katsura read the telegram out loud to the team. A destructive earthquake hit an out-T city the previous day, and Sat'htine has been requested to send their disaster team to assist in the relief efforts.

Katsura's showfield became very flat when she read the apologies for missing supplies which had been secretly substituted by other items of varying usefulness.

Katsura: So, naztehrhai and other team members, it looks like we are in for a very challenging experience this year.

Katsura looks at and zlins each attentive face, rapidly planning her next actions.

Nick has to ~~ agree ~~ with Kat's summation, but expects she doesn't know how much of an understatement it's likely to be.

Katsura: While we're waiting for our pickup, I'd like each of you to think about how your personal knowledge and experience can contribute to our newly redirected efforts. I'd also like you all to think of problems we may encounter, and come up with ideas on how we might handle them. Let's have a meeting in about an hour. It should be dawn by then and we'll be able to see each other better.

Katsura looks around, thinking on her feet.

Katsura: It's unfortunate that the planners managed to get around our efforts to make sure our supplies stayed intact, but we'll have to do the best we can. I'd like the Simes to zlin what they can about what's missing or substituted in our solidly packed supplies car.

Nick is glad that he was pretty thorough in packing his own bags, deducing that personal supplies were less likely to be tampered with. He starts to move towards Katsura, who's his primary responsibility, as the crowd disperses.

Katsura smiles at Iqbal, the support manager, already starting to set up to make tea.

Katsura: Well, Nick, I think your out-T background is going to be absolutely invaluable to us this time.

Nick: I'll be happy to do what I can, of course. I've never been to Cottonwood City, though.

Katsura: I've never been out-T. And my spoken Genlan is way behind my reading knowledge.

Nick: That could be a real problem, because very few people out-Territory speak any Simelan. ~~ concern ~~

Katsura: I'm sure I can get by, but it will be a strain. We all learn Genlan, but you know how it goes -- use it or lose it.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Too bad we don't have D'zoll and Shorsh along.

Nick: Yes, they did very well in Gumgeeville, I understand.

Katsura switches to English.

Katsura: So I talk English to you for a while and maybe it comes back?

Nick: It can't hurt, at least when the vocabulary exists in English.

Nick's Genlan is both fluent and colloquial, albeit somewhat lower-class.

Katsura switches back.

Katsura: Maybe after the meeting. For now, we have to think.

Nick: We will have the advantage that desperate people can't be too picky about who gives them assistance.

Katsura twists some wads of wild hair together and tucks them behind her ears.

Katsura: I hope... do you think they'll be willing to take our assistance? Most of them will never have seen a Sime except for a berserker, I suppose. And they have all that religion stuff about how we're [English] evil.

Nick: That's right. Those who are most afraid, or most devout, simply won't let you near them, of course. You'll be dealing with the ones who are open minded enough to be flexible.

Nick: That doesn't mean that they will be easy to work with, however. And we'll have to make some arrangements with the local authorities about the limits they want us to observe.

Katsura: Of course. Nick, you may be the team member with the best grasp of out-T culture, so you may be the best person to delegate as liaison.

Katsura is reserving judgment on whether Nick's other characteristics may make him less suitable.

Katsura: On the other hand... if I'm going to be working on Gens who are not just injured but afraid of me... I'm going to need a lot of help from you. Pain, I have experience in handling, fear....

Katsura spreads her hands.

Katsura: Most of my adult patients have been delighted and relieved to put themselves in a Farris's tentacles.

Nick offers ~~ reassurance ~~.

Nick: Anyone from out-Territory who's desperate enough to go to a channel for help at all will be highly motivated to cooperate, at least as much as possible. You'll be able to use that as a starting point. But it's true that most of them won't care that your last name is Farris.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: If I recall correctly, they may find a female doctor a fairly dubious character anyway.

Nick: They will. On the other hand, given the situation, there should be quite a few of them who are willing to accept dubious medical assistance now, rather then "proper" care next week.

Katsura: This sounds very encouraging.

Katsura wonders if it's just Gen optimism.

Nick: Most of our patients will be the overflow from what the Gen medical teams can handle.

Katsura: We'll have to see how we can best be of use. They may not understand what we can do that they can't, mainly diagnostics.

Katsura thinks about it.

Katsura: I guess they'd just find a patient with internal injuries, shocky, and not even be sure what's bleeding in there and why.

Nick: They wouldn't. And it wouldn't occur to them to find a Sime and ask.

Katsura: And they wouldn't be able to stop the bleeding either, would they?

Nick: They'd provide fresh blood to replace what had been lost, and if the bleeding continued, they'd go in surgically and stop the bleeding manually. It works about as well, in most cases, although the recovery time is longer.

Katsura: But don't they need special facilities for doing surgery? It's not the sort of thing you'd do in a tent with a mud floor, is it?

Nick: They have mobile medical units, too.

Katsura's nager and stance take on a definite look of ~~ resolve ~~.

Katsura: There's going to be a lot of trauma like that, people dug out of collapsed buildings and so forth. We'll have to make sure they understand what we can do.

Nick: Kat, don't deceive yourself into thinking that channels' treatment is automatically superior to Gen medicine. It isn't.

Katsura: Oh, I know there are things they can do and we can't, but they can't zlin inside a patient like we can. They can't stop internal bleeding without opening the poor Gen up.

Katsura gestures with some tentacles.

Katsura: We'll have to defer to them -- it's their country, their people. But we really have to get them to understand what we can do to support their efforts.

Nick: Yes. Let them know how we can support their efforts. If you go in with the assumption that you ought to be running the place, they'll tell you get lost.

Nick's nager holds a note of ~~ warning ~~.

Katsura: I'll take your advice about their culture. I hope you can keep me from committing too many faux pas. You can help me interpret what I zlin.

Nick: I'll be glad to.

Katsura thinks about the whole situation.

Katsura: Shidoni! How will they even find people buried in ruins if they don't have any Simes to zlin them?

Nick: Mostly, by luck, and by asking the survivors who is likely to have been inside a collapsed building. Locating trapped people will be one of the most valuable services we can offer. Also by far the most controversial.

Katsura: I'd like to offer our Simes for search and rescue, but to expose them not only to pain but to fear... I'll have to see the situation first.

Katsura looks at Nick.

Katsura: Why controversial?

Nick: To be effective, the zlinners will have to work without retainers. Ideally, we'd like them not to get shot for their trouble.

Katsura is ~~ shocked ~~.

Katsura: Retainers. None of us have them with us. Mine are in Konawa. Not that I've ever used them.

Katsura hopes that when Sectuib delegated his authority over the naztehrhai to her for the duration of the exercise he also felt her capable of acting as his proxy for this far more dangerous effort.

Nick: Perhaps we'd better post signs on our cars, then, before we reach the border?

Katsura: Yes. I'll wire ahead to the border crossing for some official signs. But we can make some of our own if necessary.

Nick thinks over the geography.

Nick: We'd better do that, anyway. I don't think the direct route to Cottonwood City crosses the border at a town large enough to have much of a diplomatic presence.

Katsura: I'll ask the Householding to send us some with the next load of supplies as well.

Katsura moves closer to Nick, concealing the ~~ horror ~~ she feels that a Sime who relies on her might follow her into a situation where a Gen might take his life.

Nick is very good at looking through Iron Farris acts.

Nick offers ~~ reassurance ~~ and ~~ comfort ~~, and his own ~~ confidence ~~ that the situation can be handled.

Katsura appreciates the effort and touches Nick's arm with a tentacle in thanks.

Katsura: I wonder if I should invite the renSimes to go back home.

Nick: Frankly, they'll probably be more useful to the rescue effort than we will. At least, if we can talk the authorities into using them properly.

Katsura: I can't let them risk... losing control.

Nick: Don't you think you should leave that choice up to them?

Katsura: That's why I want them to feel free to return home. I'll have to think about how to phrase it.

Nick: Tell them the truth: that their talents are desperately needed, but there are dangers, too.

Katsura: Yes. We can have some of the Gens accompany them when they go into a risky situation. The locals will probably feel better talking to Gens, and the Simes can shelter in their nagers if things get too intense.

Katsura thinks some more.

Katsura: Fortunately, we have plenty of selyn, even for augmentation.

Katsura, like most Householding channels, by long tradition never travels less than half full.

Nick: We'll have to find more. As cold as it is, the renSimes will be augmenting almost continuously, even if they don't help with digging out the people they find.

Katsura: If we've been invited to help, there must already be a Tecton presence there, a Sime Center. So there'd be some experienced donors, if we can find them.

Katsura relaxes a bit realizing that they aren't going to be the first Tecton presence in a new area.

Nick: In any case, in a city full of Gens, we should be able to persuade some of them to give donating a try.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Another task for the expert on out-T culture.

Nick has a number of techniques to recruit general-class donors, many of which would not pass a Tecton ethics committee.

Katsura: Would money be incentive enough? Many of these people would have lost most of their property. What do you think?

Nick: How much out-Territory currency are you carrying, at the moment?

Katsura: None. But we we can route through Goriba, I think. We can wire ahead, requisition some funds from the Tecton there. Might as well get some signs there too. For that matter, let's have the team make up a list of supplies and wire it ahead.

Nick: Better ask for a lot. We'll have to buy some supplies when we get there, and prices in a disaster zone can be outrageous.

Katsura wonders how people managed before Unity, when there was no telegraph. Well, there was no railroad, either.

Katsura: Good point.

Katsura suddenly realizes that there's another selyn issue here.

Katsura: Nick.

Nick: Yes?

Katsura: We may be out there a lot longer than we expected this exercise to take. I may have to take transfer from you. I want you to know that I have plenty of experience taking a partial from a Donor who doesn't match me. I swear unto Sat'htine that you're at no risk of harm from me. I'll never burn you.

Nick: Don't make promises that I might not allow you to keep. We'll both decide how to approach the problem when, and if, it comes.

Nick is ~~ quite firm ~~ .

Katsura: I've sworn it, Sosu. You're safe with me.

Katsura finds herself trembling, and isn't sure why. But an oath unto Sat'htine is not made lightly or often.

Nick ~~ steadies ~~ Kat.

Nick: Kat, neither one of us is in danger. Beyond that, we'll work it out, when we have a better idea of what the situation is.

Katsura nods, still obscurely disturbed.

Katsura: Let's go see how the inventory is going.

Katsura figures it's light enough that her Gen will be safe moving around out there now. She's not quite aware that she's not quite starting to fix on him just the least bit.

Nick nods and follows Kat back towards the supply boxcar, taking the issue of the missing supplies perhaps more in stride than Kat. He is, after all, used to working with almost no supplies at all, so he views half a boxcar full as a bonus.

Katsura can't help but zlin through the wooden walls.

Katsura: Beans! There's crates of beans in there!

Nick: Beans? That'll be useful. Bean soup is filling, and there'll be a lot of people who are hungry.

Katsura: But what isn't there that the beans are taking the place of?

Arvo approaches in time to hear that question.

Arvo: Most of our cots, for one thing. Also the tent, a good portion of the bandages and cotton swabs, half the alcohol, and that box of Farris-specific medications.

Katsura: Well, we can replace some of that on the way. I'll just have to make a point not to get sick.

Katsura is the only Farris on the expedition.

Katsura: Thanks, Arvo.

Nick: Don't worry. I packed spares of the most essential items in my personal luggage.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: You do know how to look after us weird mutants, don't you? You're in luck -- the only things I'm badly allergic to are watermelon and tulips.

Arvo: Oh, and I almost forgot. We seem to be short some of the hot water bottles, and the door to the autoclave is unaccountably missing.

Katsura shakes her head.

Katsura: I'm tempted to ditch the rest of it and use the space for the other missing supplies. Last year we just boiled instruments and used sad irons to sterilize the bandages.

Nick: We might as well hold on to it for now. It might still be useful.

Katsura sighs.

Katsura: If we keep the beans it's going to get pretty crowded in the crew car.

Katsura consults her time sense.

Katsura: Well, it's almost time for the meeting. Let's hear what everyone else thinks about it.

Nick nods. He figures that he can learn a lot about what's possible for this team, by hearing what they have to propose.

Katsura: Iqbal should have a samovar of trin ready. I could use a cup. I hope you don't mind donor biscuits for breakfast?

Nick sighs.

Nick: I'm not too fond of them, but they're better than nothing.

Katsura: Once we get there and set up, Iq can do a lot better than that for all of us. He's probably the only one who will regard all those beans as a bonus.

Katsura looks around at the dawn sky. It's going to be a clear cold day.

Katsura: Here I was all set for a nice simple exercise, rescuing a bunch of people pretending to be stranded in the bush by an unexpected snowstorm, and instead, we've got a full scale real life disaster.

Nick: Look at it this way: at least we won't be bored!

Nick provides Kat with the comfort of ~~ Gen optimism ~~.

Katsura laughs and leads the way to the meeting.

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