Disaster Strikes: Episode 6

Katsura is sitting in the office area of the railcar, figuring out how best to use their limited inventory of supplies. She reaches up to push a wad of hair behind an ear, but realizes she's still wearing her wooly hat. It's not as warm as it might be here, despite the stove.

Mendels has been dashing from crisis to crisis since he got pulled away from helping the Sime medics get settled in. He's exhausted, but tells himself it's his duty to check in on all the medical teams before he goes off to sleep. On a whim, he bypasses the clinic the Simes have set up, and goes first to their railcar. He approaches it from the far side, mostly because he's too tired to clamber over the rope barrier marked with "Sime Territory" signs.

Mendels: Hello, Hajene? Anybody home?

Katsura is surprised to zlin Dr. Mendels. How did he get past the people set to watch for locals crossing the rope around the area, with the Sime Territory signs?

Katsura: Dr. Mendels?

Mendels: Ah, there you are, Hajene. ~~ exhaustion ~~ worry ~~ apology ~~

Katsura is concerned about dealing with this untrained and somewhat Simephobic Gen without Nick, who's sleeping. But he doesn't zlin particularly afraid.

Katsura: Please, come in. It is warmer in here.

Katsura steps well back so the Gen can enter without passing her too closely.

Mendels: Are you settling in okay? I'm sorry I got called away earlier.

Mendels enters the railcar, glad to be in out of the cold wind.

Katsura: The soldiers brought us a wagonload of wood from the ruins for fuel. They also brought us some barrels of river water.

Mendels: You've been getting along all right with the military, then?

Katsura: A few of the soldiers have been enthusiastic and curious about us. I think they are ones whose fathers or grandfathers served in the Unity War and had some contact with channels.

Katsura isn't thinking about literal, physical contact, or she would have phrased that differently.

Mendels: ~~ relief ~~ That's good.

Mendels peels off his mittens in the relative warmth of the enclosed railcar.

Katsura: Would you like some tea? We made a sand filter for drinking water, and of course, it's boiled as well.

Mendels: Yes, please. Anything hot.

Katsura finds a clean cup, fills it from the teapot being kept warm on the stove and sets it on the table so the Gen won't have to take it from her hand. She's being careful not to show her tentacles. She doesn't have any desire to zlin the Gen's reaction.

Mendels takes the tea and sips at it, mildly ~~ startled ~~ by the flavor.

Mendels: Hmm, that's different.

Katsura: It's trin. Very popular in-T. Oh, and you might like a few of these.

Katsura gets out a box of donor biscuits, opens it and sets it on the table.

Mendels: Thanks. Can't remember when I last stopped to eat.

Mendels takes a biscuit, bites into it, and chews slowly.

Katsura is rather pleased at the way hot tea and a snack have reduced the Gen's nervousness.

Mendels: Hmm, anything that tastes like that has got to be good for me. ~~ forced humor ~~

Katsura: Sorry. It is emergency rations, basically.

Mendels: It's food. For the moment, that's all that's important.

Mendels is tempted, with the food and the warmth, to just curl up and fall asleep right here.

Mendels: Are the escort teams working out all right?

Katsura: Yes, so far, I think. They are still out working.

Mendels: Good.

Mendels swallows some more of the hot liquid.

Katsura: They find the trapped people, and then the army and local people dig them out.

Katsura thinks this is the best compromise, for now, although it wastes their medical and rescue expertise. At least they are able to do the valuable job of finding the victims.

Mendels: Excellent. That's co-operation for you.

Katsura: Some people have come here for help, mostly to have wounds cleaned and dressed, relatively minor injuries. Perhaps tomorrow, the word will have spread further, and more people will come to us.

Mendels forces down another bite of the biscuit before replying. His mind is working much more slowly than usual.

Mendels: Nothing that uses your special talents yet, then?

Katsura: Not yet, no.

Mendels: That seems like a waste.

Katsura: Tomorrow I can come to your patients. Perhaps I can work on some of them, if they will let me.

Mendels: I'd appreciate that. I'm still hoping to observe some of your techniques. In fact, that was part of why I came over here now. ~~ curiosity ~~ fear ~~ courage ~~

Katsura is worried by the fear, however mild, and wonders if she should drop hypoconscious. It really would be better if Nick were here to protect her.

Katsura: Yes?

Mendels: I've read some things, of course. But I'd really appreciate the chance to observe firsthand. How a channel works.

Mendels has the feeling he isn't speaking as clearly as usual.

Katsura: Unfortunately, there isn't much to see. The important part can only be zlinned. You are welcome to observe, but...

Mendels: But?

Katsura realizes her courtesy has caused her paint herself into a corner.

Katsura: Because you are not comfortable around Simes, you might react... in a way that could interfere with my work.

Mendels: I won't let myself panic. ~~ courage ~~ determination ~~ fear ~~ courage ~~

Katsura: But I can zlin when you control your panic. I can zlin the effort, the intensity of the emotions. Nick can protect me, but he can do only so many things at once.

Mendels: ~~ disappointment ~~ relief ~~ Maybe another time, then. When I'm more alert, and in better control.

Katsura: You are doing well, you are controlling your fear. But I still zlin the fear.

Katsura wonders if she should have said that, considering how huffy these Gens are about being "accused" of fear. She's had a long tiring day, too.

Mendels: I'm starting to get used to you, Hajene. I'm not as frightened as I was a few hours ago.

Mendels is too tired to play the usual macho games and deny the idea of fear.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Yes, that's true. I hope you will soon feel comfortable with me. It will also help if you let us lower your field. Then you will have less affect on Simes. Of course if you have a religious objection please excuse me for mentioning this.

Mendels: Lower my field? I'm sorry, I don't understand.

Katsura: I mean, to donate your selyn to us.

Mendels: ~~ panic ~~ followed immediately by ~~ courage ~~ control ~~

Katsura gasps and recoils at the panic and drops hypoconscious.

Mendels: Oh! Hajene, are you all right?

Katsura: Yes.

Mendels drops immediately into a cool professional mindset.

Katsura cautiously returns to duoconsciousness.

Mendels: Here, sit down. Put your head down.

Katsura: No, no. I'm all right now.

Katsura doesn't come any closer, however.

Mendels reaches to help the patient, as he now thinks of her.

Katsura steps further back and holds up her hands to ward him off.

Katsura: Please! I appreciate your concern, but it is better if you don't touch me.

Katsura really wishes Nick were there not just to protect her nagerically, but to act as a cultural interpreter.

Mendels freezes, then slowly takes a step back.

Mendels: I'm not going to hurt you.

Mendels is now entirely in "calm the patient" mode.

Katsura: I know. You want to help me, but you are not familiar with helping channels. And Farris channels like me are unusually sensitive, so we are fragile and easily injured by unskilled efforts to help us.

Mendels deliberately puts his hands behind his back. There's no room in this tiny space to step any farther away.

Mendels: I won't touch you.

Katsura nods. She's been acting entirely reasonably, but expects she appears a bit hysterical to the doctor.

Mendels belatedly realizes he almost touched a Sime, and feels another moment of ~~ fear ~~ .

Katsura flinches, and wonders if she should just stay hypoconscious. But she feels helpless without her Sime senses in a stressful situation like this one.

Mendels: Calm down, sit for a moment, and take a few slow deep breaths. There's a chair right behind you.

Katsura decides to placate the doctor by doing what he says. She's finding his focused attention quite uncomfortable, even if his nager makes no effort to engage with hers. She sits.

Mendels: That's it. Now take it easy. I'm not going to touch you.

Mendels speaks in soft, rhythmic, calming tones.

Katsura is amused that the Gen is using "channel's voice".

Katsura: Yes, you've said so. I believe you.

Mendels: Feeling a bit better?

Mendels hopes the power of suggestion will make it so.

Katsura: Yes. No problem. Would you like more tea and another biscuit?

Katsura hopes to divert the Gen's attention with food.

Mendels: If you'll have some too.

Mendels reaches for the teapot.

Katsura: Perhaps some more tea.

Katsura gestures to her cup on the table.

Mendels pours for Katsura, then tops up his own cup.

Katsura takes the cup and wraps her hands around it, keeping her tentacles retracted.

Mendels: And here, have one of these biscuits. ~~ wry ~~ They're quite nutritious.

Mendels offers the box of Donor biscuits, at arm's length.

Katsura: Thank you, no. They are good for Gens, but not so good for Simes.

Mendels: Then what have you got here that you could eat?

Katsura: I am not hungry, Dr. Mendels. I have eaten my supper.

Mendels hesitates, then decides not to press the point.

Katsura sips her tea, ~~ relieved ~~.

Mendels: Are you feeling better? Can you tell me what happened?

Mendels hopes he'll be able to make sense of her symptoms.

Katsura: Your reaction, when I mentioned donation, was stronger than I expected.

Mendels: I... did that... to you? ~~ guilt ~~ amazement ~~

Katsura: Of course.

Katsura is somewhat amazed herself that this educated man hasn't gotten the concept yet.

Mendels: I'm sorry.

Katsura: I know that you didn't intend to affect me like that. I understand.

Mendels is struggling to wrap his weary mind around the idea of a Sime being so vulnerable.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: I think you say in English: "You don't know your own strength".

Mendels: What do I have to do, so I won't hurt you like that again?

Katsura: Ah, well, usually I have Nick with me, always when I am working. He can protect me from these events.

Mendels: A colleague shouldn't need a bodyguard around me. Tell me what to do differently. ~~ determination ~~

Katsura cautiously drops hypoconscious.

Katsura: If your field is lowered your emotions won't have the same projective strength.

Mendels: Field? ... Oh, right. ~~ small flutter of fear ~~

Katsura is impervious, being hypoconscious.

Mendels: How can you lower my field if my reactions are going to hit you like that when you do it?

Katsura: Nick will help me. And we can go slowly, so it will be easier for you.

Katsura isn't going to mention that taking first donations from adult Wild Gens is not her area of expertise, and most of what she knows about it is either theoretical or based on Wild Gen taming stories of her Householding.

Mendels: Slow terror? I'd think it would be easier to go as fast as possible and get it over with.

Katsura: Well, if you react with terror, I won't take your donation.

Katsura has unconsciously returned to duoconsciousness. Staying hypoconscious is like keeping your eyes closed.

Mendels: I'll control myself. ~~ courage ~~ determination ~~

Katsura is learning that what out-T Gens mean by 'control' is quite different than what control of emotions means in-T.

Katsura: Perhaps we can discuss it tomorrow, when we are both less tired.

Katsura doesn't add "and Nick is with me".

Mendels is weary enough to agree with the suggestion.

Mendels: Good idea. ~~ weary ~~

Katsura: Thank you for coming here to check on us. I appreciate your concern.

Mendels: That reminds me. I also came to ask if there's anything else you need from me or my people. That we've actually got, I mean.

Katsura: I think we are good for now. Once we start to care for patients, we will have to see how our supplies hold out.

Mendels: All right. Keep me posted, then.

Katsura nods.

Katsura: Please, take some biscuits with you. They are very handy when you don't have time for a proper meal.

Mendels is tempted to turn down the offer. Those biscuits really are disgusting. But he can't think of a polite way to do it.

Mendels: Okay. Thanks.

Mendels takes just two biscuits and stuffs them in his coat pocket. If he gets hungry enough, he might actually eat them. Eventually.

Katsura is embarrassed that the Gen dislikes the food, but feels obliged to take it anyway. She hopes he'll pass the biscuits on to someone hungrier, if he won't eat them himself.

Mendels: See you tomorrow, then, Hajene.

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