Preparing for Disaster: Episode 14

Mik is half a year old yesterday, and is still outrageously post after one of the best transfers ever -- next to his First Transfer, of course.

Mik's friend Nenuphar is just past turnover, and he's heard it was a rough one. Mik figures Nen could use some support, friendly as opposed to nageric type, right now. In any case, it's time for both of them to start thinking about what they might want to specialize in, although actual decisions won't be expected for another year or so.

Mik walks down the corridor to Nen's room and ~~ signals ~~.

Nenuphar is lying on his bed, feeling ~~ rotten ~~.

Nenuphar: Come in, Mik.

Mik opens the door and comes in, offering ~~ comfort ~~ while trying not to overload Nenuphar with his ~~ smug satisfaction ~~.

Nenuphar: Good transfer, eh? ~~ poorly suppressed jealousy, and guilt over it ~~

Mik: [English] You bet your ass it was.

Nenuphar sighs.

Mik: We've been a bit out of touch the last few weeks, but... did something go wrong with your last transfer, or was turnover rough, or what?

Mik zlins Nenuphar but can't tell anything in particular.

Nenuphar: Turnover was rough. I don't know why. I got things to worry about, too.

Nenuphar hasn't quite come to grips with the tendency for problems to look much larger when need depression hits.

Nenuphar: Let me zlin how post you're feeling, maybe it will cheer me up a little.

Mik allows his ~~ postsyndrome ~~ to emerge from behind his showfield like the sun rising from behind the hills.

Nenuphar sighs and smiles.

Nenuphar: Nice.

Mik beams at his friend.

Mik: [gently] 60% of all worries are about things that will never happen, or so they say, and 30% are about things you can't influence anyway. So tell me which category your worries fall into, then.

Nenuphar: Well, my mom is gonna have a baby.

Mik scratches his head with two tentacles.

Mik: And this is a problem because...

Nenuphar: I guess she'll be all right. I mean, she had me okay.

Mik: Sure. And unlike my folks, your people are sensible about Sime issues, right?

Nenuphar: Yeah. But I feel kind of... left out. Like she's replacing me.

Nenuphar moves uncomfortably.

Nenuphar: See, my dad is dead, and she remarried three years ago, and it's like... I dunno.

Mik: You don't have any younger brothers or sisters, then? ~~ sympathy ~~

Nenuphar: No. My stepfather is a good man. He's really good to her, and to me too. But I kind of feel like they're going to start a new family and forget about me. I know that's not fair, or even reasonable.

Mik offers a strong, ~~ comforting ~~ Donor-ish showfield for Nenuphar to rest his troubles on.

Nenuphar: I feel like I'm acting like a little kid about it. ~~ ashamed ~~

Nenuphar isn't all that far from being a little kid. He's only twelve natal.

Mik: Well, yes. But that's only because most people are little kids when this happens to them. I was four when Sanda came, and I definitely felt like Mom was ignoring me all the time.

Nenuphar: And now she's about to have twins, right?

Nenuphar doesn't believe Mik feels the same way about it as he does.

Mik: Right. I'd be more worried for her, except she's having them at Householding Sat'htine.

Nenuphar: Yeah. Wow, that was some tour, wasn't it? I never knew that channels could do all that stuff.

Mik: Well, it's a Farris House, and they're outside the envelope. But yeah, they do do pretty impressive training.

Nenuphar: And the other thing... ~~ hesitant ~~

Mik: ~~ inquiry ~~ ~~ encouragement ~~

Nenuphar: Uh, they want me to try to make First.

Mik sucks air through his teeth.

Mik: Ah. That's... a challenge. For sure.

Mik maintains ~~ support ~~ but allows it to be colored with ~~ concern ~~.

Mik: What does your gut tell you about it?

Nenuphar: Well, it sounds scary, the way they want to do it. And... ~~ embarrassed ~~

Mik nagerically urges Nenuphar to ~~ continue ~~.

Nenuphar: Uh... if I'm a First I'll probably have to do all that management stuff, boss people around, run things.

Nenuphar not only doesn't feel up to it, but it doesn't sound like much fun.

Mik: Not your speed, I zlin.

Nenuphar: I'd rather just help people. You know, like giving transfer. That's wonderful.

Mik: But there are alternatives. You could be a healer, or a disjunction specialist, or a changeover specialist, or a...

Mik's ideas run out temporarily.

Mik: Not all Firsts are petty, tin-plated dictators with delusions of [English] godhood, y'know.

Nenuphar: Well, a lot of them are nice guys, I guess, but... Maybe because I'm still so young, natal, eh? All that responsibility scares me. I thought I'd just go back out-T and be a channel in a Sime Center, with older guys who know what they're doing to help me out. Or in-T, I guess.

Mik: I think the Tecton knows you're not ready to take on all that responsibility right away. For one thing, you've still got half of your First Year to go. ~~ reassurance ~~

Nenuphar: Yeah, I guess.

Nenuphar hunches his shoulders.

Nenuphar: Uh. They want me to take transfer from a First, have him control and just push the selyn into me, so I sort of stretch. ~~ nerves ~~

Mik: Hey, hey. Slide over on the bed there and let me work on you physically a bit.

Nenuphar: Okay.

Nenuphar rolls over.

Mik begins massaging Nenuphar's neck and shoulders with fingers and tentacles.

Nenuphar: Mmph.

Nenuphar hides his face in his arm and relaxes a little.

Nenuphar: Like, it sounds sort of like those Giant Killer Gen stories the in-T guys tell. Imagine, a powerful Gen taking you over and forcing selyn into you. Scary.

Mik lets his transfer-acquired ~~ optimism ~~ suffuse his showfield.

Mik: You know where that term "Giant" came from, don't you? Juncts weren't used to dealing with Gen grownups, so they looked scary.

Mik knows Nen knows that too, but wants to make a point.

Nenuphar: I'm not worried about the Giant part, it's the Killer part! ~~ joking, but still nervous ~~

Mik: Well, you were already killed once at First Transfer, you know. The child had to die so the Sime could be born. This is like that, but less so. ~~ philosophical ~~

Nenuphar: It just gives me the creeps, letting the Gen control it like that. I mean, they can't zlin, how can they tell if they're going to do something awful to you?

Mik: Hmm. Tell me again about your First Transfer, Nen.

Nenuphar: Well, I was drawing, at my own speed, not getting stuffed like a turkey!

Mik can't help laughing at the image.

Nenuphar: I mean, they told me that he outrated me, so I knew I couldn't hurt him, and I could zlin that he was confident, so I didn't need to worry.

Nenuphar benefited from substantial preparation for changeover, as well as some familiarity with the selyn workers at the Sime Center.

Mik: Well, looking back at it: How sure are you, really, that you weren't under his nageric control the whole time?

Nenuphar laughs.

Nenuphar: I know he was helping me a lot, to not be scared and all. But I felt like he was letting me take transfer, not pushing it on me. I felt like I was doing it, and he was really enjoying it, and enjoying helping me.

Mik rubs his hands together and snickers evilly.

Mik: Whereas really it was a Giant Killer Gen Plot!

Nenuphar laughs again.

Nenuphar: Well, they do enjoy it, what we do to them. We can zlin that. It's the best part.

Nenuphar rolls over and sits up.

Mik: Oh, sure. Don't you think this Giant Killer Gen is going to enjoy throwing you down on the transfer lounge and having his way with you?

Nenuphar: But think -- if the Gen outrates me, I can't satisfy him. So the enjoyment he gets is in overpowering me. It gives me the creeps just thinking about it.

Mik sits up too and rubs Nenuphar's head.

Mik: So you'll just have to rise to the occasion. Like you did with Hajene Risadel last month. ~~ blast of lust ~~

Nenuphar: Oh. That. ~~ embarrassed ~~

Nenuphar blushes, too.

Mik: She "outrated" you too, but you managed. Or so you told me.

Nenuphar nods, blushing harder.

Mik: Seriously, if you do Qualify, you'll be able to get into the TN-1 level and trigger First Order slilbliss. How great will that be?

Nenuphar: Wow. I hadn't thought about that.

Mik: And if not, what's one or two crappy transfers in your whole life? It's not like you're all invested into making QN-1 at all costs, after all.

Nenuphar: They'll probably keep trying to upgrade me, until I'm too old, in six months or so, I guess. They need all the Firsts they can get, I guess.

Mik nods.

Mik: Still, they need us backbones-of-the-Tecton, too.

Nenuphar: Of course, there aren't all that many First Order Donors, either.

Nenuphar shivers, thinking about how he'd have to worry all the time about getting a compatible Donor.

Mik: Indeed. Well, they can't make you do it, Nen. That's a legitimate concern, and every QN-1 knows it.

Nenuphar: I mean, I was happy to find out that I'm a Second, but I'd have had to be at least a Second or I wouldn't have known I was going to change over. But becoming a First is something I didn't expect. Like, they're rare, and you wouldn't expect a boy from out-T to be one.

Nenuphar turns to Mik.

Nenuphar: And it's true they can't make me do it, but they can make me pretty miserable if I don't try my shedoni-doomed best.

Mik nods.

Mik: All too true. The Tecton is so fleckin political. ~~ newbie disdain ~~ Why can't they just leave us alone?

Nenuphar: It's scary, Mik. Mostly I feel like the teachers here want us to do well, and they sort of care about us, but with something like this, it's like the Tecton comes first, last and always, and what happens to me as a person isn't as important. Like, it's more important that there be one more QN-1, than that I have a reasonable life.

Mik thinks about it.

Mik: You're right. We're going to have to fix that problem somehow. ~~ only half joking ~~

Nenuphar: Yeah, sure. ~~ trying to see the humor in it ~~

Mik: ~~ serious ~~ The question is, is it better to try to get power inside the system, or to subvert it from below?

Mik hopes to distract Nen from his personal troubles.

Nenuphar: Shuven, Mik, now you want to let them blow me up like a balloon so I can get all this power? Shuffle paper and worry about getting a good Donor all month?

Mik shakes his head ~~ emphatically not ~~

Mik: But consider that guy Stefan. He's headed for First no matter what, eh? Perhaps we should work on getting him to join the Selyn Workers' Conspiracy.

Mik keeps a straight nager.

Nenuphar shrugs.

Nenuphar: His parents are both channels.

Mik: Well, okay, how about Arkitoon? He's from a border town, and they're a notoriously independent bunch.

Nenuphar: Somehow I don't think any conspiracy a bunch of First Year channels comes up with is going to get anywhere. ~~ discouraged again ~~

Mik: "Think globally, act locally." There's nowhere to begin but at the beginning.

Nenuphar: You're post, Mik. You sound like Sosu Yersinia trying to cheer up a needy student.

Mik laughs again.

Mik: Well, you are a needy student, even if I'm not really Sosu Yersinia. ~~ ludicrously overdone imitation of that notorious over-optimist ~~

Nenuphar smiles at Mik's projection.

Nenuphar: So what do you hear from your family? And your cousin in Donor school?

Mik: Bart's off in that new Donor camp for out-T Donors only, doing intensive Simelan.

Nenuphar: Uh huh.

Mik: From what he tells me, they all sit in a circle with regular in-T citizens sitting in back of each one doing two-way translation for them sotto voce. That way they hear each other talking Simelan, but they don't have to worry about making mistakes or getting confused by what other people say.

Mik: The trouble is, with Bart coming from Gumgeeville and all, he doesn't know about half the things the other kids are discussing in any language. ~~ gentle humor ~~

Nenuphar: Yeah, I guess it would be hard for him. And Gens don't have a First Year like we do.

Mik: That's what Hajene Shadrakh says. Sosu Kalba, however, says otherwise!

Nenuphar: I guess I was lucky growing up in Cago. How's he doing with the Donor training stuff?

Mik: That doesn't start until they graduate from the next level of Simelan class. That's the whole point of the place -- for Gens to learn Simelan and Donor work all at once is just too much for most of them. ~~ mild superiority ~~

Nenuphar: Well, I hope he gets to be around channels, at least. That's what he wants, isn't it?

Mik: Yes, of course. He's a real Natural, knew it as soon as he first met a channel back in Gumgeeville.

Nenuphar: I hope he doesn't get discouraged, doing all this language stuff instead. ~~ sympathetic discouragement ~~

Mik: He won't. He's dedicated. As for my dad, he's doing better all the time, looking forward to going home as soon as it's safe for Mom to travel. And my sister has a boyfriend, or at least I think she does. It's hard to tell from her letters just what he is.

Nenuphar laughs.

Nenuphar: I bet your mother isn't letting her screw him!

Nenuphar is ~~ smug ~~ that it's his duty to the Tecton to avoid the CDs.

Mik gives Nenuphar the hairy eyeball.

Mik: Well of course not. She has to go back to Gen T, remember. Although when she's sixteen, I wouldn't be surprised to find her wanting to immigrate.

Nenuphar: Yeah.

Nenuphar doesn't think Gumgeeville is much of a place to spend your whole life.

Mik: ~~ sad ~~ It would break Dad and Mom's heart, though, not to have anyone to leave the farm to. I know they expect Sanda to marry a boy who'll take over the land, especially if he has some of his own.

Nenuphar: Well, there's your new brother and sister, when they show up.

Mik: Forget that. Twin channels or channel and Donor, either way they're not staying out-T. Sanda's the only plain Gen in the family.

Nenuphar: Yeah, I guess.

Nenuphar doesn't understand the farmer's drive to keep the land in the family and the family on the land. He's a city boy.

Mik zlins Nen's lack of comprehension.

Mik: It's a farm family thing. You get the land from your parents, you hand it down to your sons. Or [English] son-in-laws, if you gotta.

Nenuphar: We rented a place over a clothes store before my mom get married again. Then we moved in with my stepfather. He has a rowhouse near the factory.

Mik: ~~ inquiry ~~

Nenuphar: I guess you've never seen rowhouses. There's lots of them in the city. They don't take up much space and they're cheaper to heat. It's a row of houses that share the side walls.

Mik tries to picture this.

Nenuphar: They're sort of long and narrow and high.

Mik: I can't imagine moving about so much. Although I'll have to get used to it, I guess, as a Tecton channel. Another thing for the Conspiracy to deal with.

Mik is glad to get Nenuphar talking about himself instead of his worries.

Nenuphar: I think once you get some seniority you can probably stay in one place, especially if it's not some prime location where everybody wants to live.

Nenuphar is tactful enough not to describe such places as "out in the sticks".

Mik nods.

Mik: Anyhow, how about we sneak outta here, go find some Gens, and get smashed on porstan and shiltpron?

Nenuphar laughs.

Nenuphar: Go downstairs and get a cup of trin, you mean.

Mik laughs too.

Mik: Exactly.

Nenuphar: Okay. Sounds good.

Nenuphar taps Mik's hand with a tentacle.

Nenuphar: Thanks for coming by to cheer me up, Mik. It helped.

Mik takes the tentacle in his hand and slides to take Nenuphar's hand too.

Mik: C'mon. The trin will do you good. So will getting out of this... rectangular parallelepiped.

Nenuphar wraps tentacles with Mik's in the manner of good friends.

Nenuphar: Yeah.

Mik and Nenuphar go out in search of the perfect cuppa.

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