Katsura walks down the road toward the military encampment side by side with her Donor. She's discovered that she can't get both retainers into opposite armpits simultaneously, so is trading off, trying to keep her laterals from chilling more painfully than is inevitable.
Nick gives Kat a sideways look.
Katsura's extreme discomfort is plain on her face.
Nick offers what ~~ comfort ~~ he can.
Nick: Can you zlin our destination yet?
Katsura: My laterals are so chilled it's all a big blur. Maybe that tent with the flag out front?
Nick takes off his gloves and reaches for the currently un-armpitted retainer.
Nick: Here, let me see if I can warm that a bit.
Katsura: Thanks. But I hate to chill your hands instead.
Nick: My coat's warmer than your cloak.
Katsura: I suppose. I wonder if it would help if I cut the tops off some socks and put them over the retainers.
Nick: If we're going to be doing a lot of running around, we should get you an out-Territory winter coat like this.
Katsura: Maybe, if we can find one with loose sleeves.
Nick: We should be able to. You're a lot skinnier than most Gen women.
Katsura: I suppose I can augment a bit more, and do a shunt to make up for it.
Nick's fingers are too cold to add much more usable warmth to the icy retainer, so he puts his gloves back on and offers to tuck the abused forearm under his own.
Nick: Let's get you inside. Augment if you have to, though. You can't help all those Gens out there if your laterals are frozen.
Katsura cringes at the thought of injuring her laterals.
Nick leads the way to the tent with the red flag.
Katsura follows, gritting her teeth against the pain in her tentacles. She can't zlin much through the tent walls and wonders if they have some coincidental nageric insulation properties, or if her Sime senses have become extremely dulled.
Nick is working to surround Kat with ~~ protection ~~, which is probably not helping her discernment, either.
Katsura augments at a somewhat higher level, trying to warm her arms, but it exacerbates the pain.
Nick has already figured that he's got to get Kat out of her retainers ASAP, and he doesn't necessarily define "possible" the same way the Tecton does. He steps in front of Kat and pokes his head through the flap.
Nick: I think we've found the medical people. There's a stove in here. Do you think you can manage?
Nick doesn't like the idea of taking an ailing channel into what isn't a good ambient, but the cold is a greater danger.
Katsura: I think so.
Katsura is assuming it's an administrative area, not a hospital ward.
Nick: Lean on me as much as you can.
Nick increases his ~~ support ~~.
Katsura nods, and does so.
Nick hesitates, then takes off his coat and puts it around Kat's shoulders.
Nick: Let's not advertise what you are, until they know who you are.
Katsura: No, Nick, you need the warmth more than me.
Nick: It's plenty warm over by that stove, and that's where we're going.
Katsura is naturally protective of her Gen's life and health, especially when she doesn't have another potential transfer partner in hundreds of kilometers.
Nick: Now, stay by my side. It's four steps to the stove.
Katsura nods and moves closer.
Nick puts his arm around Kat.
Nick: Let's go.
Katsura appreciates Nick's kindness and protection very much.
Nick maximizes his support, and steps into the tent, pulling Kat with him.
Katsura goes with him. It's dim inside, but through retainers, chilled laterals and Nick's insulation she zlins an ambient of ~~ pain ~~.
Nick pulls Kat the four steps to the stove, which is sending out a cheerful wave of heat.
Katsura gives a choked cry and collapses as a scream and spike of ~~ agony ~~ split the air and ambient.
Katsura's eyes roll up and her back begins to arch.
Nick lowers Kat to the floor, careful not to bump her arms, and links his nager to hers as strongly as he can, hoping to block the incipient convulsion.
Katsura goes limp, then she reaches for Nick's arms, but her arms tangle in the cloak. She's not fully conscious.
Nick reaches into his satchel for one of the special Farris-safe anti-convulsives, maintaining his tight nageric control.
Nick: Come on, Kat! Don't pass out on me here.
Katsura grabs for the Gen's arms but misses. She gasps as her tentacles move inside the retainers.
Lula finishes dressing the extensive burns on the patient, much easier since he's fainted from pain, and turns to see what's happening by the stove.
Nick finds the vial he's looking for.
Lula: What's the problem here?
Nick: [Simelan] Have a sip of this, Kat.
Lula comes over.
Lula: She's unconscious. Don't feed her anything, she'll choke. Head injury?
Nick: [English] She's not unconscious. Quite. No, the pain in here was too much for her. I told her not to zlin.
Lula ignores the layman's babbling. Fortunately there's a bed nearby, just vacated by a burn victim who died this morning.
Lula: Here, let's get her on a bed.
Nick sets the vial down -- carefully out of flailing range -- and takes both Kat's hands.
Nick: No. She's got to stay in one place until she's fully awake, or this will get worse.
Katsura grasps Nick's wrists and gasps again as she tries to move her tentacles.
Nick: [Simelan] Kat, don't move your tentacles. Just lean on my field.
Katsura: Nick? Help me... hypoconscious.
Nick demonstrates his virtuosity by smoothly releveling Kat while maintaining his protective barrier against the ambient.
Katsura opens her eyes.
Katsura: Sorry. Sorry, Nick. I didn't realize...
Nick: Were you trying to zlin? In this, and through retainers, with your laterals half frozen?
Nick's voice has the perpetual scolding tone of Farris-rated Donors whose charges have pulled the Iron Farris act yet again.
Katsura: Wasn't trying to...
Lula: Let's get you up on this bed now, young woman.
Nick: [English] What she really requires, Ma'am, is a place where she can take these retainers off. Her arms are half frozen.
Katsura tries to get up, but is clumsy in the retainers, and still weak from the collapse.
Lula: Here, let's get her off the floor.
Lula can see that the woman isn't moving as if in pain. She picks her up under the armpits.
Nick: [English] I'll get her.
Lula: Does she often have fits like this? Let's get these wet clothes off her. Are you her husband?
Katsura is humiliated that she lost bladder control during the seizure.
Nick detaches Lula's grip on Kat's armpits.
Nick: I'll lift her.
Nick picks Kat up with the ease of a Gen who's used to physical activity.
Lula: Over there.
Nick sets her down in a chair right next to the stove, and as far away from the nearest patients as he can.
Nick: She'll do better here, where there are few people around.
Katsura: Thank you, healer. Nick will look after me.
Nick takes Kat's hands again, the better to manage the fields.
Katsura: [Simelan] I'm sorry, Nick.
Nick: It's not your fault. I gave you...
Nick gives the name of the Farris-specific anti-convulsive he used.
Nick: It should ward off any further trouble, once it takes effect.
Katsura: You carried it with you? Good.
Nick: I've got the essentials here, although some of the more obscure stuff will have to wait for the rest of our supplies.
Nick pats his satchel.
Nick: In the mean time, are your arms starting to warm up a bit?
Katsura: Yes. It doesn't help that I wet myself. I hate this!
Nick: We might be able to do something about that later, but let's get you thawed out, first.
Nick turns to Lula with his most charming, 75% Riyyh smile.
Lula puts two and two together.
Lula: She's a Sime, a channel, right?
Nick: I'm sorry. Yes. She's Hajene Katsura Farris, and I'm her Donor, Nick Reckage. We're here as part of a disaster response team. We just got in, and we're still trying to figure out who's coordinating medical matters.
Lula: That will be Dr. Mendels.
Lula eyes the pair with ~~ interest ~~ and ~~ respect ~~.
Lula: Do you two need some privacy? You can use my cubicle in back, there.
Katsura: Thank you. Have you worked with channels before?
Lula: No. But my father was in the army in the war. The channels saved his life, and he got to see some of what they can do. So I heard a lot of stories about you people.
Nick: Well, I hope we won't disappoint you too much.
Nick: Kat, have your arms thawed out a bit?
Katsura: Yes. But I'd like to take the retainers off for a while if I can.
Nick looks up at Lula.
Nick: Is that possible? These retainers are a large part of the reason why Kat collapsed.
Lula: Just go ahead, behind that piece of canvas there. I'm not going to tell anybody. ~~ curiosity ~~
Nick: Thank you.
Katsura nods her thanks, too.
Nick lowers his voice.
Nick: I don't suppose you have a spare pair of undergarments and a rag we could borrow, do you?
Lula: I'll get you something.
Lula looks uncomfortable.
Nick raises a ~~ questioning ~~ eyebrow.
Nick: Is something wrong?
Lula: I'll put off changing more dressings while you're here. These patients are mostly heavily doped with poppy. She can feel their pain, right?
Nick: I can block most of it, but yes.
Lula: I heard it was like that. Must be horrible, in a place like this. ~~ admiration ~~
Nick: It's not pleasant, certainly.
Lula remembers how retainers, or something like them, were used to torture information out of Sime prisoners, in her dad's stories.
Nick: Kat, let's get those retainers off you. I think that will help a great deal.
Nick offers to help Kat stand up.
Katsura stands, with some help.
Katsura: Thank you, healer. You're very kind.
Lula: My name's Lula. I'm a trained nurse.
Nick: I'm glad you were here to help us, Lula.
Lula: I suppose a lot would panic if they had a Sime walk in, but I wasn't raised to panic without good reason.
Nick: How was Dr. Mendels raised?
Lula: Well, I never saw him panic, but I just met him when the army moved in here a couple days ago. No idea what he thinks of channels.
Nick: Does he seem competent?
Nick steers Kat behind the curtain.
Lula: Haven't seen him with patients much, but he got these tents set up as wards pretty quick. Willing to let me take charge of these people here, once I told him my background. Of course, a lot of the ones here aren't expected to live, anyway.
Lula: Yes. Once a burn gets infected....
Lula: We can only do what we can to make it easier for them.
Nick takes Kat's right hand and carefully reaches for the catch of the retainers.
Lula puts a few towels on the cot.
Lula: Here, have her sit down.
Nick: Is this going to distress you?
Lula: I've seen worse, I expect. ~~ curiosity ~~
Nick helps Kat sit.
Katsura drops hypoconscious, to avoid another shock.
Nick: I'm sure you have, but if you find it upsetting, please remember that she will, too.
Nick opens the catch and cracks the retainer open, letting Kat adjust to the somewhat lessened pressure and distortion.
Lula: Well, maybe I should leave you then. Some blankets in the chest there.
Lula goes back out.
Nick is ~~ relieved ~~ that their helpful but untrained hostess has left.
Katsura goes duoconscious again.
Nick: Careful. How are your laterals and handling tentacles? Have they stuck to the retainer?
Katsura: I don't think so, but they're a bit numb. From cold and immobility both.
Nick: All right. I'll open the retainer wider, and you can try to slip out of it.
Katsura nods and carefully extracts her arm, wincing. She retracts her laterals and moves her handling tentacles stiffly, then offers Nick the other arm.
Nick sets the first retainer aside and opens the catch on the other.
Katsura: I think if I rest for ten or fifteen minutes, I should be all right, if you'll work on me. I'm not looking forward to putting those things back on, though.
Nick: We'll deal with that when the time comes.
Nick removes the second retainer, then runs his fingers lightly down Kat's mangled arms, checking for damage.
Katsura sighs at the Donor's expert touch.
Nick then offers his arms for a full lateral contact, the better to work the kinks out of Kat's field.
Katsura takes them ~~ gratefully ~~ and leans her head against Nick's chest.
Katsura: I hate being weak like this. I haven't collapsed like that for several years, now.
Nick: When was the last time you took a long walk through the snow in ill-fitting generic retainers, then stepped into a tent full of burn victims?
Katsura: Pediatrics is a good field for me -- I can diagnose from a child's faint nager, and even a child in agony can't knock me over like that. But working on adults... I can do it if there's no surprises, but I'm very vulnerable when there are.
Nick: Let's try to limit the surprises, then. Once we get functioning, you should be seeing patients under more controlled conditions. Loosely defined.
Katsura: You managed this one very well. And what you're doing now is excellent.
Katsura: But when I'm working on a patient, I'm almost as bad as Rimona, sometimes, for asking a Companion to fiddle with the ambient. I hope I don't get you too irritated with me.
Nick: Well, that's what I'm here for. It's going to be more important than usual to get it right, with so much less insulation available.
Katsura: I meant to tell you how impressed I was at the nageric insulation you managed, when I was working with Norrin.
Nick is doing an excellent job of providing his own nageric insulation: he's taken channels into Gen hospitals before.
Katsura: I can hardly zlin those poor patients out there. Of course, they're mostly unconscious.
Nick: Thank you. It was a very necessary skill, for the Donor of a rogue channel.
Katsura: Lucky rogue, to have such a Donor.
Nick: Believe me, when I started with Snake, you'd have pitied her, not envied her.
Katsura: You'll have to tell me about it, some time.
Nick: Perhaps. Some time.
Bettina is unpacking medical supplies in the adjacent storage tent. She glances up as the flap opens, wafting in cold air.
Lula: We've got some old clothes for the patients here, don't we?
Bettina: A few. What do you need?
Lula: Some underpants. A pair of trousers. For a small woman.
Bettina: How small?
Bettina goes over to the clothing bin and starts digging through it.
Lula: About this tall, and very skinny.
Lula looks through the bin, too.
Lula: Maybe this thick sweater, as well.
Bettina: Hmmm.... here's some underwear.
Lula: That should do. Better too big than too small.
Bettina: Here's some trousers. Boy's, I think, but they might be the right size.
Lula takes them and holds them up.
Lula: Might do. She's got a belt. Thanks.
Bettina: Who is she? One of the burn victims?
Lula: You won't believe this. Remember they said that the Simelanders were sending us some help? She's a channel.
Bettina: A channel? Hey, that will be some help! I've heard they can do miracles with burns and infections.
Lula: Well, we'll see. Might make more sense to use her on the ones more likely to make it. My father said they can see right through a man, tell what's wrong inside without opening him up. They can stop bleeding too, and make bones knit that you wouldn't expect to.
Bettina: Maybe the best thing, then, is to let her decide what patients she can help. She might be able to save some we'd given up on.
Lula: Well, it depends on the doctors, doesn't it. They're running the show.
Bettina: Does Dr. Mendels know she's here?
Bettina digs in the clothing bin again.
Lula: I don't know. Probably not. She just walked into my tent and collapsed. Has her Companion with her, like in my dad's stories. A good-looking young man.
Lula folds the clothes.
Bettina: Good-looking? Here, here's a nice warm wooly vest. I've heard Simes don't like sleeves on their arms.
Lula: I'll ask her if she wants it. She was wearing those manacle things, like they used to use to torture Sime prisoners. Must be cold as well as the rest. That's why I figured she could use a sweater to cover them. But maybe she wouldn't want it on her arms.
Bettina: Is that why she collapsed? Is she going to be okay, or does she need a doctor herself?
Lula: She'll be okay. Her Companion gave her some medicine, and I let them use my cubicle, to take those things off for a while. It's like they say. They can feel other people's pain. She wasn't expecting it, so it hit her hard.
Bettina: She walked into a hospital tent, and she wasn't expecting pain?
Lula: Maybe they didn't know it was a hospital tent.
Bettina: Thought they could read stuff like that right through solid walls.
Lula: Maybe she was numb with cold. I was changing dressings. You know we're keeping those poor people doped to the gills, but the one I was working on started screaming despite that.
Bettina: Burns. Of all the kinds of injuries there are, I hate burns the worst.
Lula: I sometimes think it would be kindest if we just helped the ones who won't make it right out, so they don't have to suffer for as long.
Bettina: I don't know. That's not really ours to decide, is it?
Lula: No, it isn't.
Bettina: Besides, my brother donated a time or two, to make ends meet. He said he saw channels heal a guy who was dragged in, crushed by a construction accident. And the guy walked again.
Lula: Well, they healed my father, after the army doctors had given up on him.
Bettina: Maybe this channel can do something for some of those poor suffering souls we've got.
Lula: That's what they're here for. I hope Mendels and the rest will let them do their work.
Bettina: I haven't a clue how Mendels feels about Simes, do you?
Bettina: Maybe I should go find him, tell him she's here. If I break the news the right way, maybe he'll take it better.
Lula: Okay. I better get back, there's nobody else on duty there. I'll tell her you're telling Mendels.
Bettina: I'll head right over, then. I was about finished in here anyway.
Lula: Good. Thanks, Bettina.