Katsura is sitting in an insulated sleeping cubicle in the Sat'htine railcar, clutching a mug of cooling trin. She's doing relaxation exercises, which work reasonably well, until she starts thinking again.
Katsura figures Nick will come back from supper and stay with her for a while before he sleeps. She wants to make sure he's well fed and rested, and not overworked any more than absolutely necessary to save lives.
Nick strolls back into the railcar, two large, empty soup mugs in his hand. His cheeks are red, and his coat is still chilled from the outdoors.
Katsura can zlin Nick's powerful nager through the insulation. He's a bit cold, but not really chilled, except for exposed skin.
Nick hands the soup mugs to Norrin to take back to the kitchen area, then looks in on Kat.
Nick: Are you feeling better, now that you've had those retainers off for a while?
Nick offers ~~ comfort ~~ as he sits next to Kat.
Katsura: Yes, I am.
Katsura appreciates the comfort, and moves closer gratefully.
Nick takes one of Kat's arms, and tsks over a red spot.
Nick: Moving your wrists like that isn't recommended when wearing retainers.
Katsura: I've been trying not to, but that one really chafes there. I guess it's the bad fit. Maybe I should tape the spot.
Nick: That can help. Here, let me put some lotion on it.
Nick reaches for his battered satchel, and scrounges around for an appropriate Farris-safe medication. He finds a tube, checks the label, and starts applying it to the red patch.
Katsura notes that while Nick zlins reasonably tired, he's not exhausted. Supper seems to have renewed his energy somewhat.
Nick: How are you holding up, after your first encounters with the locals?
Katsura hesitates, not wanting to look weak.
Nick: Come on, Kat. I can't do my job if you won't give honest answers to questions like that.
Katsura: In some ways it's been harder than I expected. You've been remarkably good at supporting me, especially considering that we haven't worked together before.
Nick: I've noticed that you seem to be holding back from my support, when you're working.
Katsura twines fingers and tentacles, and looks down.
Katsura: I'm not used to needing to lean on my Donor, certainly not that much.
Nick: You haven't had to, with patients who understand and accept what you're doing. This is a different situation, though.
Katsura: It is. I have to learn to cope with it.
Katsura begins to tense up again.
Nick tuts and offers ~~ comfort and relaxation ~~.
Nick: One thing you don't have to do is cope with it alone.
Katsura: I'm... embarrassed to be so weak.
Nick: Why? There's no rule that says you shouldn't depend on your Donor. Well... I don't think there is. I'll admit, I never studied the Tecton rulebooks very thoroughly.
Katsura: Uncle Shorsh would say I'm being an Iron Farris. And I don't like to demand too much from you, after what you've been through.
Nick: Kat, I'm fine. I'm nowhere near the end of my endurance.
Katsura: Yes, I can zlin that you're not too tired.
Nick: And frankly, I've a strong preference for providing support when it's needed, rather than trying to put a channel back together after a collapse.
Katsura is intensely embarrassed, thinking of her collapse in Lula's tent.
Nick: It may be irrational of me, but there it is.
Nick winks in a whimsical fashion.
Katsura: I hope I don't collapse again like I did yesterday. But I know it can happen.
Katsura is getting unusually depressed for a pre-turnover channel.
Nick: It might. But I don't think it's all that likely, especially if you stop dreading it.
Nick, being a Gen, has an annoying tendency to be ~~ optimistic ~~ at the best of times, and that's only being exacerbated by finding himself back in a situation where he feels genuinely needed.
Katsura: You're right, you know. It's the fear that's wearing me out. I'm more afraid of these Gens than most of them are of me.
Nick: You shouldn't be. They're just people. Most of them are pretty decent folks, too.
Katsura: Yes, they are. But they have no control, nor any idea of control. I'm just... irrationally afraid of being Genslammed.
Katsura hopes Nick doesn't interpret that as a slur on his ability to protect her.
Nick: Kat, most of those Gens are nondonors. They don't have fields strong enough to do a lot of damage, no matter how uncontrolled they are.
Nick: Not that it would be comfortable, but it wouldn't actually injure you.
Katsura: Yes, I know I'm not being entirely reasonable. But I'm still afraid. And they can injure me, under some conditions. That poor burn victim threw me into convulsions,
Katsura clenches her fists.
Katsura: This extreme sensitivity is a real curse.
Nick: You didn't know what they were doing over on the other side of the tent. And neither did I, so I didn't know to shield you.
Nick is a bit ~~ chagrined ~~ about it.
Katsura: Nick, I don't expect omniscience from you. Nor perfection. You're doing extremely well for me, more than I expected you could. And you handled the situation with real expertise when it happened.
Nick: Thanks. I admit, I wish I had a little less experience dealing with that sort of situation.
Katsura laughs ruefully.
Katsura: I'm selfish enough to be very glad you've had it. I hope not to give you too much more.
Nick: Now, there we have a true meeting of minds.
Katsura: The way you've been putting your arm around me to intensify your effect -- that's very good. It's just comforting in itself, too.
Nick: It also doesn't strike out-Territory Gens as abnormal or frightening, the way touching your arms would.
Katsura: Good point. I'm so glad you understand these people, and know what to avoid. That's another source of stress for me -- I'm afraid of saying or doing something that will offend or panic them.
Nick: You've got some control over the latter, since you can zlin when they're afraid. But for the former, there's nothing you can do or not do that wouldn't offend somebody. Take Ezeekel, for instance.
Katsura doesn't remember that being the name of any of their patients.
Nick: He's that fellow who spent the afternoon walking up and down in front of the tent, trying to warn our Gen staff to stay away. I took him out a mug of soup, and we chatted while we drank it.
Katsura: Is he one of the religious people?
Nick: Yes, he's pretty religious.
Katsura: So he thinks Simes are evil, not human, right?
Nick: He's mostly worried that you might not be.
Katsura: Do you want me to talk to him?
Katsura, like any Farris channel, assumes she's supposed to take responsibility for every problem that arises.
Nick: I don't think it will help. Not unless you want to act like a monster, anyway.
Katsura: Act like a monster?
Nick: Yes. You see, Ezeekel believes that it is important to have a strong community with strong values, especially in times like these when it's important for people to help each other.
Katsura nods. Seems reasonable, so far.
Nick: The most effective source of values, he believes, is the time-tested one of religion. Among other assets, it clearly lays out the responsibilities people have to help their neighbors, obey the duly constituted authorities, and so on. Plus, it's a lot harder to argue with a deity than with your neighbor down the street who got elected even though you voted against him.
Katsura: And to be religious it's necessary to hate Simes, as he sees it?
Katsura is aware that not all religions believe that way post-Unity.
Nick: No, actually, he doesn't think it's necessary to hate Simes. In fact, he thinks it's counterproductive. Once you start teaching people to hate, it tends to spread. That's not going to help the sort of cooperative effort his religion demands.
Katsura: So why is he picketing our encampment?
Nick: He's afraid that you and the other Simes will prove not to be evil, as I said.
Katsura tries to wrap her mind around these strange views.
Katsura: If we aren't evil, then people will doubt other parts of the religion too?
Nick: Exactly. A lot of the Gen religious scriptures -- there are a lot of variations -- talk about virtue as something Gens have that Simes are literally incapable of understanding. If that's not true, then the definition of virtue as "the way Simes don't act" fails, and there's no way to figure out for sure what's right.
Katsura shakes her head.
Katsura: But times have changed. At the time the scriptures were composed, all Simes were more or less Freebanders, so what they wrote made sense. I suppose it's very hard for people to change their beliefs, but some religions have.
Nick: Out here, almost all Simes are still more or less Freebanders. In fact, our merry crew are the first that aren't. We're not going to be here very long. From Ezeekel's point of view, any good we might do while we're here would be more than offset by the grief we'd leave behind.
Katsura: In a town this size, there should be a few changeovers every week. If we serve them, people will see there's another way, and then we'll leave them to their Norrins.
Nick: Yes. And in the mean time, we'll diminish the authority of some religious groups to appeal for social order.
Katsura: I can see his reasoning, but I am sworn to stand between the Sime and the Kill. If our presence induces people here to petition for a Sime Center, all the better.
Nick: Of course. And there's plenty of evidence to suggest that towns with helpful Simes don't collapse from civil disorder, even if the more reactionary religious groups do lose some members.
Katsura: So what were the conclusions of your discussion?
Nick: We agreed to explore the matter further, as time permits. It was a very cordial discussion. I think Ezeekel enjoys a lively exchange of ideas.
Katsura: So he's not likely to cause us problems?
Nick: Oh, he'll probably try to dissuade anybody who comes to us for help.
Katsura: Do you think he'll succeed?
Nick: He might discourage a few, but I think most people who would come here at all wouldn't be run off by that sort of thing.
Katsura: I suppose it's a good sign that he was willing to accept food from us. Thanks for dealing with him. Let me know if there's anything I can do.
Nick: If Doctor Mendels was as impressed with your abilities as it looked, Ezeekel may well be doing us a favor by reducing our case load.
Katsura: It's too bad they didn't have channels here at the time of the earthquake. A lot of what we saw would have responded much better to prompt attention.
Nick: The most lives would have been saved by having renSimes on search and rescue from the start.
Katsura: Yes, definitely. There are a lot of bodies in the ruins. Fortunately, the weather's cold.
Katsura received reports from the team before she ate and went to rest.
Katsura: I don't know how many more people are still alive. The renSimes will work through the night again, sleeping in shifts.
Nick: We'll do what we can, for those who are trapped. Then we can turn to dealing with the problems that will arise when people live in makeshift dwellings, without proper food and water.
Katsura: Yes. Apparently a lot of people who have friends or relatives out on the farms are going to move there until they can rebuild. That will reduce the load for relief efforts. The most severe quake damage seems to have been right here at the town site.
Nick: That will help, but there are still a lot of people who are going to be trying to scrape a living from the ruins.
Katsura: Yes. With that and the rebuilding, there will be a continuing stream of injuries.
Nick: Do you know how long we will be staying here? For the duration, or just until the Gen government can respond fully to the disaster?
Katsura: I haven't heard anything. I suppose we'll have to see how things develop, how much good we can continue to do.
Nick: I hope that supply train arrives soon, or we might become another liability.
Katsura: Well, Iqbal thinks he can buy some grain from the locals. Some farmers have been bringing it in when they come to look for their relatives. And we do have the beans.
Katsura: No shortage of selyn -- I'm still half full, and I did take two donations today. I'll have to write that up and give Dr. Mendels and Mr. Jackson their payments.
Nick: Ask if they want payment in beans or other goods. In situations like this, cash isn't necessarily useful.
Katsura: Good point. Maybe I should just give them vouchers, then. Perhaps once things settle a little, we can arrange for the Tecton to send us a mule channel to haul what we collect back in-T. People may be interested in donating for the money, if we have it. Or the beans and barley.
Nick: With no Sime Center, here, a voucher is only worth the heat it puts out when you use it as kindling. Gen money or goods is what they'll find useful.
Katsura: I mean, they can bring us the voucher and we'll give them cash or goods. Gen cash. I'd rather not carry a sack of beans tomorrow, wearing retainers.
Katsura, reminded, looks at the chafed spot on her wrist. The lotion, and Nick's sympathy, seem to have helped.
Nick: We can come to some arrangement, I'm sure.
Katsura: I asked Iqbal to make up food for you to carry with you when we go out to work. Tell him what you'd like, and he'll be sure to have it ready.
Katsura is conscientiously caring for her Gen.
Nick: Ah, good. I'm not picky, as long as it's not Donor biscuits.
Nick makes a mental note to ask for some channel tidbits to be included.
Katsura: Tomorrow we'll be dealing mostly with less serious cases, so we can do more for them, I hope.
Katsura, by less serious, means those not expected to die otherwise.
Nick: So do I.
Katsura: There are some bad fractures I may be able to fuse. They'd likely not do so on their own.
Katsura takes Nick's hand.
Katsura: Back at Sat'htine, in the storeroom, when I worked on you... I really enjoyed that. May I do it again? It may increase your selyn production, which will be good for me, but not necessarily what you want for yourself, if I do it very often, though.
Nick looks a little ~~ quizzically ~~ at Kat.
Nick: Are you sure you didn't get enough work today, that you're looking for more?
Katsura looks down.
Katsura: Your nager is so beautiful, especially the way it responds to my projection of need...
Katsura doesn't need to mention how very different it is from the nageric response of the Wild Gens she worked on.
Nick is a little ~~ amused ~~, but offers his other hand.
Nick: Go ahead, then. Enjoy yourself.
Katsura slides her hands into transfer position, rests her head against Nick's muscular chest, and gradually deepens her nageric engagement. She projects a little need and waits for the response.
Nick ~~ responds ~~ smoothly, with a touch of ~~ pleasure ~~ that no Wild Gen would share.
Katsura sighs and slowly intensifies the projection of need, enjoying Nick's increasing response.