Disaster Strikes: Episode 15

Nick returns, crisis more or less solved, to find Pedro gone.

Katsura turns to Nick, glad he's back.

Katsura: Everything okay in there now?

Nick: Yes. It was just a misunderstanding... Where's Pedro?

Katsura: He stomped off, outraged. Apparently you have me in your power and I can't be expected to see reason, i.e. believe his unsubstantiated word.

Nick: Shocking. What would this world come to, if people demanded evidence before believing what they were told?

Nick is trying to be ~~ optimistic ~~ , but for once, his larity isn't enough.

Katsura strokes Nick's hand.

Katsura: Or if she thinks the World Controller and her Sectuib have more information than some lackey of a Regional Controller who won't give her anything but vague hints about how horrible you truly are. Not to mention the evidence of her own experience.

Katsura smiles at Nick.

Katsura: I don't see how he can cause us any real trouble. If he interferes with our work, I can demand he leave. His Controller has no authority here.

Nick tries hard to smile back, but it comes out more of a grimace.

Katsura is concerned that Nick is so upset about Pedro.

Katsura: Nick, what am I missing?

Nick: I'm not so sure his Controller doesn't have at least some authority. Technically, I was released more or less on parole by Controller Firlith. It was implied that part of the deal was that I would remain in Sectuib Hiram's custody.

Katsura: Well, you are. This is a Sat'htine project. We report to Hiram. I am his proxy here.

Nick: If Pedro, and Firlith, choose to see it that way, by leaving Sat'htine I violated the terms of the agreement, and became a fugitive from justice.

Katsura: They can argue it with Sectuib then. He sent you here. He's responsible for you and he's responsible for you being here.

Katsura has a Householder's clear sense of chain of command.

Nick: Firlith is going to flip when she finds out I've gone out-Territory.

Nick has an ex-rogue's clear sense of how dangerous an unfettered bureaucratic enemy can be.

Katsura smiles and strokes Nick's hand again.

Katsura: If you escape into the wilds, it will be my responsibility, and I'll have to take the blame. So don't, okay? Not unless you really want to, that is.

Katsura's joking tone changes towards the end. Does Nick really want to stay out-T? If he does, she's willing to let him, regardless of consequences to herself.

Nick: The past few months have been... nice. But before that, I would have been glad enough to have a way to get out here.

Nick doesn't want to unsettle Kat, but it's no use lying to a Farris channel.

Katsura: You could have headed for the border instead of to Sat'htine. You weren't hauled there in chains.

Katsura looks down.

Katsura: I don't believe in slavery. If you want to stay here when we leave, or even run now, I won't stop you.

Katsura suppresses her fear of being left without a transfer partner.

Nick isn't as quick to reject the possibility as he might be.

Nick: I won't abandon you without a Donor, out here.

Nick is ~~ uncomfortably aware ~~ that he did just that to Snake and Arat.

Katsura: Thank you, Nick. But if you don't want to return to Sat'htine with us, we can work something out, the two of us.

Katsura tries to keep the distress out of her voice and expression.

Nick: Thank you.

Nick intends to withhold his decision until he sees just how much trouble Pedro manages to make for him, and on which sides of the border.

Katsura: D'zoll told me the last thing you need is pressure to make a decision, but I think you should know that Sectuib would like to ask you to pledge. You'd be a real asset to Sat'htine, and the House can protect you from people like Firlith.

Katsura holds up a hand, tentacles spread.

Katsura: I'm not asking you to decide, but you should know you have a real alternative.

Nick is ~~ touched ~~, but hard experience has taught him ~~ skepticism ~~.

Nick: I appreciate that. I hope he still feels that way when this is over.

Nick is aware that Kat has not been completely comfortable with some of the things he's said and done, although he's tried not to shock her too much.

Katsura: I think he'll feel that way even more when he finds out how invaluable you've been to our efforts here. And what a skillful job you've been doing keeping me alive and functioning.

Nick: Or he may change his mind, when he finds out exactly how much of a... a Gen in an insulated room... he's been sold.

Nick uses the in-T idiom, even though he finds the out-T equivalent "a pig in a poke" far more colorful.

Katsura: Hiram and Rimona and I... D'zoll and other channels you've worked with at Sat'htine... we have the evidence of our own laterals. And Gens like Lusinka and Shorsh are pretty astute about character, even if they can't zlin.

Nick: Firlith isn't bad at judging character, either.

Katsura: She didn't exactly start out unbiased, did she?

Nick: She hates everything the Audnes stood for. That doesn't make her blind. She thinks that I have no loyalty to the Tecton, or personal commitment to my oath to it. And she's right.

Katsura nods, thoughtfully.

Nick could hardly pledge Sat'htine without making that clear.

Katsura: Hiram told me a little about your background. It was a coerced oath, coerced by your intense feeling of responsibility to help a channel in trouble.

Nick: Yes. But it was an oath.

Katsura sighs.

Katsura: It's easier for a channel. We have no alternative but the Tecton, and as a Householder, my oath to Sat'htine has precedence.

Nick: You have an alternative. Admittedly, it's not a pleasant one, but some channels have lived outside the Tecton for years.

Katsura: It would be a rapidly fatal one, for me. There are easier, less painful methods of suicide.

Nick: If you couldn't find a Donor, it would be. That's why Snake was so quick to snatch me up. It wasn't her alienation from the Tecton that ruined her health, and frankly, I think she'd have been worse off if she'd stayed official.

Nick says the unspeakable in a matter-of-fact tone.

Katsura nods. She has to concede that a madwoman like Snake would not have done well in a conventional Sime Center.

Katsura: It's too bad she couldn't give you what you gave her.

Nick considers.

Nick: I think she gave me what she was capable of. For a while, at least.

Nick wouldn't have found Snake's betrayal so devastating if he hadn't been sure of that.

Katsura caresses Nick's forearm, and wraps tentacles around it gently. She hopes that Nick will someday be able to believe that he can have a personal relationship with a channel worthy of his loyalty.

Katsura: I'm sorry you were hurt so badly.

Katsura, as a member of a prestigious House, feels she has the best of all possibilities. She can get along in the Tecton, with her House to back her up. She wishes Nick could see it that way.

Mendels hurries into the Sime compound. He no longer makes even a token pause at the gate; the staff here all know him by now. And, as usual, he's ~~ preoccupied ~~ and in a ~~ hurry ~~.

Katsura releases Nick's arm, annoyed that this moment of emotional intimacy is going to be disrupted.

Katsura: Dr. Mendels is here.

Mendels hurries inside.

Mendels: Hajene! Sosu!

Nick: What's the matter, Doctor? Do you have a case that requires our attention?

Mendels: We've had some workers injured in a rubble collapse.

Katsura stands, and looks for her retainers, which are warming near the stove.

Katsura: We can come. We are not on duty right now.

Mendels: Does anyone on your team have B negative blood? ~~ urgent ~~

Katsura: What is that?

Mendels: Um. Maybe it doesn't translate the same. The, uh, second rarest of the eight blood types.

Katsura: Oh, for transfusion? ~~ squicked ~~

Nick: I'm B negative. I don't think anyone else over here has ever been typed.

Katsura looks at Nick, wondering how he knows.

Mendels looks at Nick in ~~ relief ~~ and ~~ hope ~~.

Mendels: Sosu Nick, we need blood from you. Now.

Katsura moves closer to her Donor. She is committed to the Householding principle that Gens are adults, able to make their own decisions in all matters, but she's still alarmed at the idea of him losing blood. She tries to look calm and professional.

Nick: You have a patient who's lost a lot of blood?

Mendels: Yes. And we've tapped out all the B-negatives we can find.

Katsura cringes mentally at the idea of "tapping out" a Gen's blood.

Nick isn't blind to his channel's reaction.

Nick: Kat, are you all right?

Katsura: Yes. It is your decision. ~~ gritted teeth ~~

Nick is ~~ torn ~~ between his Donor's reflex to protect his channel from upset, and his humanitarian reflex to save a life. He decides on due consideration that a life is more important than Kat's probable reaction to what after all is an essentially harmless procedure.

Mendels, even in his urgency, notices the channel's tension.

Nick: All right. Do you have the equipment with you?

Mendels unlimbers his backpack.

Katsura: Perhaps we should go into a treatment room? So the renSimes are not distressed?

Nick: Sure. And Kat, maybe you should stay out here, too?

Mendels takes a closer look at the channel.

Mendels: Is something wrong, Hajene?

Katsura: No. Perhaps I should stay with Nick.

Nick: It isn't really necessary, Kat. I've done this before.

Katsura can't bear the thought of something going wrong, without her there to save him. She knows she's not being reasonable, but still.

Katsura: I would like to observe, with Dr. Mendels' consent. This is something we do not do in-T.

Katsura does her best to look undistressed and intellectually curious.

Mendels: Fine by me if it's okay with the donor.

Mendels glances at Nick.

Katsura is a little startled to hear the word donor used in this context, but it does make sense in Genlan.

Nick: Sure. But Kat, if you find it upsetting, please leave.

Katsura nods, not likely to give up her Iron Farris stance and leave her Gen alone to be "tapped out" by an out-T doctor.

Nick debates changing his mind about letting Kat observe, then decides it might give her a valuable insight into how many out-T Gens view selyn donation.

Mendels raises an eyebrow. He's seen Kat deal quite calmly with much more upsetting things than a simple blood donation.

Katsura thinks there's a big difference between healing a gruesome injury and causing one. Well, it's not gruesome, but it is a purposefully inflicted injury.

Mendels shrugs off his puzzlement. He is, after all, in a hurry.

Mendels: Which treatment room?

Nick offers Kat ~~ reassurance ~~ , his upset at Pedro sidetracked by the new emergency.

Nick: Right over there.

Nick leads the way.

Katsura follows, staying close to Nick and trying to look calm.

Mendels hurries in and starts setting up.

Mendels: How long since your last donation, Sosu?

Nick: Years. And Kat can assure you I'm perfectly healthy.

Katsura: Yes, he is very healthy.

Katsura then wonders if that means that Mendels will take more of his blood.

Mendels glances at Nick, estimating his body weight.

Mendels: Do you think you could spare an extra half unit, Sosu? We really are desperate.

Nick considers.

Nick: Do you have iron tablets? We don't have any with us.

Katsura wonders how big a unit is but doesn't want to look like she's objecting to Nick's decisions.

Mendels: Yes. And orange juice. All right here.

Nick nods, and lies down on the treatment table.

Katsura makes a mental note to ask Iqbal to prepare food for Nick that is high in iron and protein. Bran muffins with molasses, raisins and soy, perhaps.

Mendels digs in his pack, then pulls out a juice bottle and some pills.

Nick gestures for him to hand them to Kat.

Katsura takes the juice and packet of pills from Mendels and sets them on a table.

Mendels: Which arm do you prefer?

Nick: Vein's better on this one, I think.

Nick offers his right.

Mendels moves his setup to the other side of the treatment table.

Katsura moves to Nick's left side and takes his hand.

Nick allows it, stepping up his ~~ reassurance ~~ a bit.

Mendels examines Nick's right arm closely.

Mendels: Yes, excellent vein.

Nick considers disengaging his nager while Dr. Mendels sets the needle, but decides that Kat's imagination would likely make it more painful than zlinning the actual process.

Mendels takes the tourniquet and ties it neatly around Nick's arm.

Katsura sees and zlins the veins distending.

Nick stays ~~ calm ~~, hoping that it will help Kat stay objective.

Mendels moistens a swab with alcohol.

Mendels: Ready?

Nick: Sure.

Katsura grasps Nick's hand tighter. She drops hypoconscious as the needle approaches the skin. She doesn't want to embarrass everybody by collapsing.

Mendels inserts the needle, positioning it perfectly on the first try.

Nick ~~ appreciates ~~ Mendels' skill.

Katsura cautiously comes duoconscious, and zlins that Nick is all right, in no discomfort except from her grip on his hand. She loosens it, embarrassed.

Mendels: Okay. Open your fist.

Nick does so.

Katsura zlins the blood flowing out of her Donor into the collection bag, carrying a thin stream of selyn with it. It's an insignificant amount, but it's still distressing to have her Donor drained.

Nick watches the blood start to flow down the tube.

Mendels tries to contain his ~~ impatience ~~ . This part always seems to take longer than it should, especially when there's a patient waiting desperately for the blood.

Katsura leans forward and zlins the position of the needle in the vein, and how very sharp it is. No wonder Nick didn't flinch when it was inserted.

Nick checks Kat to make sure she's handling this okay.

Nick: See? Not nearly as bad as a stubbed toe.

Katsura smiles and squeezes Nick's hand.

Katsura: The doctor is very skillful, to insert the needle in the vein so accurately.

Katsura doesn't add "without being able to zlin what he's doing".

Mendels: I'm surprised, Hajene, with all your medical miracles, that you don't use transfusion at all.

Nick: Simes tend to find blood loss upsetting.

Katsura: An injured Sime can usually recover from great blood loss without transfusion. But it could be useful in some cases for Gens.

Mendels: Countless lives have been saved with transfusion.

Katsura: We channels can compensate for blood loss in Gens, usually. And we can stop bleeding nagerically, so less blood is lost.

Nick: If the patient can get to a channel in time, that is.

Katsura: Of course, but a patient would have to get to a doctor for a transfusion, and the doctor would have to find someone to give him the blood.

Nick: True enough.

Katsura is gritting her teeth at the zlin of selyn leaving her already inadequately rated Donor and going to waste in that collection bag.

Mendels: It's only in the last few years that we've had any sort of widespread blood donor registry, even in the larger cities.

Katsura: Fortunately, all selyn is the same.

Nick: The military has had registries for longer, hasn't it?

Mendels: Yes, but that's still only a small fraction of the population. Since Unity, anyway. And I'm far too young to have practiced medicine before Unity.

Mendels pictures himself as a toddler with a stethoscope around his neck and smiles.

Nick: Still, it's not as if every healthy person has to donate blood, to ensure an adequate supply.

Mendels: True. Though there've been lots of times we've lost patients for lack of available blood. If we had some way to store blood, it would help a lot.

Nick: Indeed.

Katsura is continuously zlinning Nick. She notes the shifts in his vascular system to compensate for the reduced blood volume.

Mendels glances at the nearly full blood bag.

Mendels: Still okay for the extra half unit, Sosu?

Katsura notes that blood loss has not reached the point that Nick's hypothalamus has been triggered to stimulate thirst. He started out well hydrated, from drinking trin with her.

Nick: I think so. Kat?

Nick is willing to defer to his channel's judgment about how much blood he can spare.

Katsura: You have given about 500cc? I think it is all right, if you wish to give more.

Nick: All right, then.

Mendels swaps out the full bag for an empty one.

Katsura grips Nick's hand tighter, without realizing it. She thinks she's holding up well, watching her Donor being voluntarily drained of blood.

Nick tries to estimate whether Kat is reaching her limits.

Katsura observes this, and smiles.

Mendels sees the fingertips of Nick's left hand turning pale.

Mendels: I note reduced circulation in the fingertips of the left hand, Hajene. ~~ teasing ~~

Nick is used to Sime strength.

Katsura releases her grip.

Katsura: Sorry, Nick.

Nick accepts the apology with ~~ amused tolerance ~~.

Mendels estimates that the second bag is about a quarter full.

Katsura: I think I am more distressed than he is. But because he is not distressed, it is not so difficult for me to watch.

Mendels grins.

Katsura has noted some peripheral vasoconstriction, not due to her grip, but to the blood loss, but it's not enough for anyone not a Farris to observe.

Mendels: It's often harder on the family than on the patient. And they say doctors make the worst patients.

Nick: No, I have it on good authority that channels are the worst patients.

Mendels: Same thing.

Mendels isn't even aware how far his attitude has come in the last few days.

Katsura notes the thirst center in Nick's hypothalamus becoming active. She peers over the table to evaluate how near complete the process is.

Mendels is watching the bag fill. He glances briefly at Kat.

Mendels: Still okay, Hajene?

Katsura: Yes, although soon Nick will begin to feel thirsty.

Nick: Well, that's what the orange juice is for.

Katsura strokes the back of Nick's hand with a tentacle, not thinking of how Mendels may react.

Katsura: You should drink more than that. I will bring you some trin.

Nick ~~ indulgently ~~ nods his acceptance of this offer.

Mendels: Add sugar or honey if you've got some. Not too much, though.

Mendels is still watching the bag.

Mendels: All right, that's one and a half units. Thank you, Sosu Nick.

Mendels presses down on the vein and removes the needle.

Katsura winces as she zlins Nick's mild momentary discomfort.

Nick: You're welcome. I hope it helps.

Mendels: Here, press on this a moment.

Katsura: I will heal it.

Mendels, who had been reaching for the adhesive tape, stops.

Mendels: Go ahead, then.

Katsura puts her hand on Nick's forearm and mends the minute wound in skin and vein.

Nick's nager, as usual, adjusts to reinforce Kat's efforts.

Mendels: If you can handle the follow-up, Hajene, I'll get this blood over to where it's needed.

Katsura: Yes, I will care for him. Thank you for letting me observe.

Mendels is already packing away his equipment.

Mendels: Thank you both, very much.

Mendels slips on the backpack and hurries out, without further formalities.

Katsura: Don't get up yet. Your blood pressure is still depressed.

Katsura is relieved to return to Simelan.

Mendels leaves the Sime compound, glad that neither Ezekeel nor that odious little bureaucrat Pedro seem to be around right now. ~~ glad ~~

Nick: All right. I'll be fine in a few minutes, when I've had something to drink and eat.

Nick has the typical Gen confidence that all ills can be improved with a suitable consumption of calories.

Katsura: I'll stimulate hematopoesis for you, so you'll replace the blood faster.

Nick knows better than to protest.

Nick: I hope you didn't find that too upsetting.

Katsura: It was interesting. You were in no pain. But zlinning the selyn draining out with the blood... that was disturbing, even though it wasn't much selyn.

Nick: It might help if you consider that many out-Territory Gens react viscerally to the idea of donating selyn in the same way you reacted to my donating blood.

Katsura: I suppose it would be like that. We know that both kinds of donation are harmless, but still...

Nick: Exactly. It's not rational.

Katsura looks down.

Katsura: I did drop hypo when he put the needle in. I didn't want to take the chance of reacting... excessively.

Nick: You did fine. Or didn't you notice that donor yesterday who kept her eyes squeezed shut from the moment the first tentacle touched her?

Katsura: She did well. She was doing something to stay calm, praying, maybe.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Maybe we should drape a cloth over our arms during a donation, like the Zeor pledge ceremony.

Nick: Those who find the sight of tentacles distressing can always close their eyes. The rest might find not being able to see what's happening equally distressing.

Katsura nods. She wasn't serious.

Katsura: I think you can sit up now and drink your juice.

Katsura fetches and opens the bottle, and offers it to Nick.

Nick sits up, with due caution, and makes short work of the juice.

Katsura takes the empty bottle.

Katsura: I'll get you that trin I promised.

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