Disaster Strikes: Episode 18

Pollovic is bone-weary and mind-weary. He hasn't done this much hard physical labor ever before. He couldn't just stand by and shake hands when there was so much real work to be done. But still, he's glad that today Quispel's scheduled him to do something a little less physical.

Quispel is bobbing around, making sure the reporters haven't gotten lost, nor the other staffers, as they make their way to the medical tents. He figures that his boss has sense enough not to try to interfere by "helping" the doctors.

Pollovic beckons Quispel over.

Quispel bends his head close, notebook and pencil in hand.

Quispel: Yes, boss?

Pollovic: Let's go over the plan one more time. I don't want any room for mistakes on this one.

Quispel: We're going to visit the recovering patients here in the field hospital.

Pollovic: Right.

Quispel: You can talk to them, ask them how badly they were hit, reassure them that help is coming, and so on. We'll find someone who's okay with being photographed.

Pollovic: Okay. And then?

Quispel: You also wanted to learn more about the channel who's working with the doctors. I dunno if we can manage that -- the nurse I arranged this with doesn't keep the Simes' schedules.

Quispel: We'll have to play that part by ear.

Quispel has two largeish ones, which is possibly why he usually manages to contrive.

Pollovic: I'm due to donate again, you know.

Quispel gets that ~~ sinking ~~ feeling that the boss is about to take matters into his own hands, rather than leaving his activities to the more informed hands of his staff.

Pollovic: Dr. Mendels was saying that the channels are looking for more donors here. Apparently they're going through a lot of selyn.

Quispel: If you really want to, I'll see what I can arrange. Maybe while the press are off attending that briefing by the mayor. You could arrive fifteen minutes late, I think.

Pollovic: I'm certainly not going to donate in front of the cameras again. But I don't want to make it clandestine, either. A good example in the right place might persuade a few of the other folks around here to donate.

Quispel: If you must, but be discreet. Find a woman channel if there is one.

Pollovic: Preferably either cute or grandmotherly?

Quispel: Yes. We don't want another... misunderstanding.

Pollovic: You go on ahead, then, and see what you can set up. I'll be okay on my own for the medical tent part of the program.

Quispel: Yes, boss.

Quispel darts off, on his way to the isolated enclave where he's been told the Simes are staying.

Katsura is taking a short break in the mobile treatment room, alone with Nick. She's been feeling uncomfortable and unsettled all day.

Katsura thinks that due to all the augmentation she may be approaching turnover early, but really, it's too early now. She hopes she's not coming down with something, although there's nobody to catch it from.

Nick is trying to unkink the knots in Kat's nager, something at which he is quite ~~ adept ~~, having worked for channels who are a lot harder to manage than she is.

Katsura rests in the comfort of Nick's arm and nager, and idly strokes his hand with a tentacle.

Katsura: That's very good, Nick. Thanks. ~~ appreciation ~~

Nick smiles ~~ warmly ~~, still ~~ touched ~~ by the novelty of being thanked for his efforts.

Katsura smiles back.

Nick: Any time. Do you feel up to going back out there now?

Katsura: Yes, I think so.

Nick leads the way, the better to handle the ambient as they go back among the Wild Gens.

Katsura follows, keeping well within Nick's radius of protection.

Nick's radius, fortunately, is getting larger as his field grows.

Pollovic has led the reporters into the hospital tent, and is working his way down the rows of beds. Already he's found a couple of photogenic patients willing to pose. This is all going quite smoothly.

Katsura: Oh, dear. I was going to suggest we work on some of the amputees next, but there seems to be something going on over there.

Nick looks in the indicated direction.

Nick: Some sort of dignitary?

Pollovic glances up from the bed of a young man with no legs, and sees a Sime. Patient, or channel?

Katsura: He's got that self-assured zlin about him.

Pollovic decides she must be a channel. The man behind her is acting very much like a Donor, and that's usually a good indication.

Katsura's head whips around.

Katsura: Nick, Mr. Keppit is about to have another seizure.

Katsura refers to a patient with fractures of the skull and neck as well as brain injury, who is a blacksmith by trade.

Nick instantly drops into his most intense ~~ support ~~ as they move rapidly towards the patient in question.

Katsura augments as she zlins the seizure about to start.

Nick sprints to the smith's bedside, making it in time to have his hands on Kat's shoulders in ~~ deep support ~~ as she bends over him.

Katsura: Shidoni, someone has removed the restraints. If he seizes like that he'll damage his spinal cord.

Pollovic excuses himself and moves towards the channel, then pauses at a respectful distance when he realizes she's dealing with some sort of medical crisis. The reporters, however, aren't quite so considerate.

Nick's head whips around, although his nager stays solidly on Kat.

Nick: Everybody, move back and give us room to work. That means you with the camera, too. Back at least two beds, and stay there.

Nick speaks with the authority he learned from Arat.

Katsura wishes she didn't have an audience for this, but looking bad is a reasonable price to pay for preventing quadriplegia in this poor man.

Pollovic tries to recapture the reporters' attention by loudly introducing himself to a little girl who's clutching a teddy bear with her one remaining arm. The reporters ignore him.

Katsura straddles the man, sitting on his chest to hold him down, and grips his head carefully but securely with hands and tentacles. She grasps his nager and tries to abort the incipient seizure.

Nick meanwhile concentrates on preventing the patient's seizure from triggering one in Kat.

Pollovic himself is fascinated by the scene unfolding before him. For once, he doesn't blame the reporters for ignoring him.

Katsura closes her eyes and focuses intently on the patient's brainstem, trying to activate the interlock that prevents a person's muscles moving in response to events in dreams, a sort of natural and reversible paralysis.

Nick manages to lend Kat much of his nageric strength, only withholding enough to retain control of the ambient. He reflects that this sort of thing really is easier in a properly insulated treatment room, with another channel/Donor pair to handle the ambient, if necessary.

Katsura feels the patient's muscles begin to tense anyway and concentrates harder, beginning to tremble herself.

Nick ~~ steadies ~~ Kat, glaring an intrepid reporter who's sneaked forward a few paces back behind his line.

Katsura reaches for a lip contact to strengthen her grip on the patient's nager.

Nick hopes the reporters don't freak out about it.

Katsura is oblivious to everything but her efforts to help the patient. She's stopped breathing, too, in her total concentration.

Nick notices, and reaches for the control that will allow him to impress his own ~~ breathing ~~ patterns on her own.

Katsura gasps and starts breathing again in rhythm with Nick.

Nick has had to change his compromise to lean more towards keeping Kat functioning, and less towards controlling the ambient.

Pollovic sees one of the photographers pushing closer to the channel, trying for a close-up. He steps forward and taps the man on the shoulder.

Pollovic: Please stand back, and give the channel room to work. You'll have a chance for pictures later.

Nick only hopes the reporters have gotten the message.

Katsura zlins the seizure activity fading out in the patient's brain, and relaxes slightly, breaking the lip contact.

Katsura: It's over now, Nick. He's be all right, until the next one. We should ask the doctors to increase the dosage of anti-convulsants.

Nick regains control of the ambient as he returns breathing control to Kat.

Nick: I'll see to it.

Nick has been working all morning, and he's starting to ~~ tire ~~ just a bit. He has, however, learned a lot more about compensating for tiredness than most Donors ever learn.

Katsura: They've got to keep the restraints on him as long as he's at risk of seizures, or he'll do himself severe harm.

Nick: I don't know why they were taken off in the first place.

Katsura: I suppose the poor man asked them to. He's still rather confused -- doesn't understand why it's necessary...

Katsura takes a deep breath as she zlins the patient passing into the deep sleep that usually follows a grand mal seizure. She climbs off the bed, staggering slightly.

Nick puts an arm around Kat to steady her, and to increase the effect of his nager, allowing him to block the ambient with less effort.

Pollovic sees the channel stagger and steps forward to grasp her elbow, an automatic courtesy towards a lady. He stops himself just in time as her Donor steadies her.

Katsura leans against Nick, and leans on his nager, trying to recover from her strenuous effort.

Pollovic: Are you all right, Hajene?

Nick: She'll be fine, but that was difficult.

Katsura nods, glad that Nick can handle this Wild Gen for her.

Pollovic: How's the patient?

Katsura: This man has injuries to the head and neck. The brain injury is causing seizures. If he is not restrained he could damage his spinal cord in the seizures.

Pollovic: So what we just saw was your efforts to prevent that?

Katsura: Yes, I prevented the seizure in the brain from causing convulsions in the body.

Pollovic figures that if he helps her spell out the obvious for the reporters, they're less likely to print stories about how the Sime was attacking the patient.

Katsura: The doctors will increase his dose of medicine to stop seizures, and perhaps he won't have another one. At least not before his neck injuries are better healed.

Pollovic: That's good. Hajene, Sosu, can you tell us in more general terms about the work you've been doing here?

Pollovic watches from the corner of his eye as the reporters scribble frenetically.

Katsura would rather lie down and let poor, tired Nick work on her again. He's holding up well, despite the heavy demands their work is putting on him, but she still feels guilty about overworking him.

Nick: We've been helping with diagnosing injuries -- it's much faster for a channel to zlin where someone is hurt than to do exploratory surgery.

Pollovic nods, encouraging him to say more.

Nick: That way, when the surgeons go in, they know exactly what to look for, and what problems they're likely to encounter. We've also been helping surgical patients heal afterwards, and monitoring problems that come up like this one.

Nick indicates the blacksmith.

Pollovic: Your help is greatly appreciated.

Nick: Thank you. We are glad we could be here.

Pollovic: I'm told you've been doing a great deal of good, Sosu, uh...?

Nick: Nick Reckage. This is Hajene Kat Farris.

Katsura: Ambrov Sat'htine.

Pollovic: And I'm Senator Pollovic.

Katsura nods.

Pollovic shakes the Donor's hand, and returns the channel's nod. He knows the Farris name usually indicates some sort of leader among the Simes; he hopes this means that this channel has some PR experience.

Pollovic: Can you tell us more about your work, Hajene Farris?

Pollovic notes that, despite the lines of exhaustion on her face, this channel is actually fairly young and, apart from the unfortunate nose, quite good-looking.

Katsura: Our disaster response team came here to help. They are trained for search and rescue, and the Simes can zlin people trapped in collapsed buildings. Now they are helping to salvage for rebuilding.

Katsura, typically for a Householder, describes the team's efforts rather than her own.

Pollovic decides to seize the opportunity while it's so handy.

Pollovic: You must be burning up a lot of selyn on Cottonwood City's behalf.

Katsura: Not so much now as during the search for survivors, but yes, it is sometimes necessary to augment to keep warm or to do hard work.

Katsura again speaks for the group, not herself.

Pollovic: Hajene, will you take my donation, to help your work here?

Katsura looks to Nick.

Nick thinks this request is bad timing, but he's not going to veto it, if Kat is willing.

Nick: The selyn would be very useful.

Katsura: I zlin that you are an experienced donor. Yes, I will take your donation, Senator.

Katsura would rather rest, but how much trouble can an experienced donor cause her?

Pollovic: (sotto voce) Shall we give the reporters a good camera angle, Hajene, before we retreat to somewhere a bit more private?

Nick notes the renewed interest of the reporters.

Katsura: If you want, Senator.

Katsura isn't sure what's required, but stays in Nick's arm.

Nick steps to the side, bringing them to a decent angle from which he still has a chance of shielding Kat from the reporters. And Pollovic, too.

Tavis, watching from the other side of the tent, is moderately ~~ disgusted ~~ at this display of political pandering.

Pollovic turns slightly towards the reporters, to present a better angle, then offers the channel his forearms slightly sideways.

Tavis supposes that you can't expect anything better from a known Simelover like Senator Pollovic.

Pollovic: (louder) Then I formally request, Hajene, that you take my donation, to use the selyn for the work you are doing here.

Virginia has gotten a little more used to the sight of tentacles over the past few days, but she can't completely control her ~~ nausea ~~ at the thought of what the Senator just volunteered to do.

Katsura is confused. There's no way she's going to take a donation out in this cluttered and dangerously unstable ambient.

Katsura: Yes, Senator. We will go to the insulated treatment room.

Katsura gestures towards it, tentacles in, as she's trained herself to do.

Pollovic gives up on the hope of the camera angle he'd hoped for, with the wrist grip but no lips. Oh well, better too little than too much again.

Pollovic: Lead the way, Hajene.

Katsura signals to Nick to stay very close, and leads the way, blinking from the effects of the photographers' flashes.

Nick pushes his tiredness aside -- doable since he's not exhausted yet -- and focuses on the task at hand.

Katsura enters the insulated room, and closes the door behind Nick and the Senator.

Nick is ~~ relieved ~~ at only having to block one nager, for the moment. He hopes this Gen will be as steady as he seems.

Katsura: Of course I don't have your file, Senator. Is there anything I should know?

Pollovic wishes Quispel were here, to manage the reporters while he's gone. Under the circumstances, he'll have to be quick about this, so they won't drift away while he's out.

Pollovic: Not that I can think of. My last donation was 29 days ago, to Hajene Tilda in New Washington. And of course, you'll have heard about my very first donation. This will be simple compared to that.

Katsura looks to Nick. His first donation?

Nick looks more closely at Pollovic, then a selyn bulb goes off over his head.

Nick: You're the Senator who donated publicly in New Washington?

Pollovic nods.

Pollovic: To Hajene Seruffin, in the Senate rotunda, with flash powder going off all around us.

Katsura winces. This Hajene Seruffin must be a very tough channel.

Nick thinks that Seruffin must have gotten even more unpredictable, to participate in such a stunt.

Pollovic drops his coat on a chair and begins rolling up his sleeves.

Pollovic: As I said, after that, this should be simple. Any particular instructions, Hajene? ~~ calm ~~ and slightly ~~ hurried ~~

Nick: Just don't resist. We've had a busy day, and we've got more patients to see before we can rest.

Katsura smiles and offers her hands. She's often taken donations standing.

Pollovic takes the channel's hands.

Pollovic: Go ahead, Hajene.

Nick adjusts his nager to facilitate the donation.

Katsura wraps her tentacles around the Senator's arms, more cautiously than with an in-T donor.

Pollovic closes his eyes and relaxes, waiting for the lip contact.

Katsura: Now I will extend my laterals and make the lip contact.

Pollovic nods.

Katsura does so, zlins the man for health problems, and finds that he's apparently been engaging in an unaccustomed amount of physical labor.

Pollovic spends the time going over his schedule for the next few hours.

Katsura carefully drains his GN-3 level. It doesn't zlin like anyone has ever tried his GN-2, and she doesn't feel compelled to be the first. She works on the sore muscles a bit, then releases the Gen.

Pollovic: Thank you, Hajene.

Nick lightens his support, but doesn't drop it.

Katsura: Thank you, Senator. Your donation is much appreciated.

Pollovic wriggles his shoulders. ~~ pleasant surprise ~~

Pollovic: Thank you very much! What did you do?

Katsura: I worked on your sore muscles a little.

Katsura gives a charming smile.

Katsura: Maybe that is better than just saying thank you.

Pollovic: I feel a lot better.

Pollovic rolls down his sleeves, reaches for his coat, then pauses.

Pollovic: Um, Hajene? While we're still in private, and off the record?

Katsura: Yes?

Katsura keeps a professional look on her face but wonders what weird things this Wild Gen big shot will ask her.

Pollovic: There's a man going around the camp, in a crisp Tecton uniform without a bit of mud on it. I think his name's Petro.

Nick's nager loses some of its warmth at the mention of Pedro.

Katsura: Yes. He is a Second Order Donor.

Pollovic: He seems to be going out of his way to antagonize people, in the Tecton's name. Curb him if you're able, Hajene. He could undo all the good publicity you've earned here.

Katsura: I will try, but he is not part of our team. He does not report to me.

Pollovic: If he's not legitimate, I could pull a few strings and get him tossed out.

Pollovic is feeling quite generous after the work Kat did on his shoulders, and is willing to call in a few favors for her.

Katsura: He is a Tecton Donor in good standing, as far as I know.

Katsura suspects that deporting Pedro would do more harm than good.

Pollovic: What's he doing here, if he's not working with you? I've seen no visible signs of work from him.

Nick isn't surprised.

Katsura: He represents a Regional Controller who is concerned about our team and its activities.

Pollovic blinks, comprehending.

Pollovic: Spying for the deskbound?

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Something like that, I think.

Pollovic: Should I pour him a coffee and tell him what wonderful work you're doing?

Katsura: I don't think he will like that. He does not think well of people out-T.

Katsura is far too tactful to say that Pedro considers everyone from Ezeekel to Dr. Mendels to be barbarians.

Nick: He particularly disapproves of our contacts with the surgical staff, I understand.

Pollovic: Hmmm. Then I'll keep my hands off him. If there turns out to be anything I can do for you, about him or anything else, do let me know.

Katsura: Thank you, Senator. I hope that it will not be necessary.

Pollovic puts on his coat and starts buttoning it.

Katsura notes that she's not recovering from that simple functional very well. She must be in even worse shape than she thought.

Nick feels something going wrong.

Katsura signals to Nick for more support and leans on his nager.

Nick steps closer and puts his arm back around Kat, hoping that the crisis can be postponed until the Senator is gone.

Pollovic obliviously continues to fasten his coat.

Katsura grits her teeth and tries to hold herself together, with Nick's help.

Pollovic: I'll certainly write a letter of appreci... Hajene, are you okay? ~~ alarm ~~

Nick: She'll be fine, when she's had a chance to res....

Nick breaks off and grips for Kat's fields as they continue not to recover.

Katsura nods and leans physically as well as nagerically on Nick. She feels faint and really wants to lie down before she falls down.

Pollovic starts to step towards the pair and then stops himself. He's learned enough about channels in the last little while to know when not to muddle in.

Katsura: Sosu is helping me. Please, Senator, go.

Katsura really wants to get away from the Gen's alarm.

Nick catches Pollovic's eye and nods meaningfully towards the door.

Pollovic: As you wish.

Pollovic squares his shoulders, straightens his collar, and goes back out to deal with the reporters alone.

Katsura: Nick, I have to lie down.

Katsura can tell from the tunnel vision and vertigo that she's about to faint.

Nick scoops Kat up and puts her on the treatment table.

Nick: What's wrong?

Katsura: About to faint...

Nick would prefer to have a diagnosis before Kat passes out, if possible.

Katsura feels a little better as the blood has less difficulty reaching her brain. She clutches at Nick's arms.

Nick slides them under Kat's, urging her laterals to emerge.

Katsura grasps Nick's arms, extends her laterals and signals for a lip contact.

Nick leans over, letting his nager link more closely with Kat's as the contact deepens.

Katsura shivers, then stiffens as turnover hits her too early and very hard. She holds the contact, trying to settle her selyn systems by leaning hard on Nick's.

Nick swears (silently), but manages to ~~ steady ~~ Kat at least somewhat.

Katsura gradually relaxes, then breaks the lip contact and retracts her laterals.

Katsura: Turnover, Nick, a day and a half early.

Nick indulges in several expletives, not all of them in Simelan.

Katsura begins to shiver again. She's known all along that Nick can't match her, she's planned to take a partial from him, but this further evidence of his inadequacy to serve her is frightening at a less rational level.

Nick offers his own ~~ confidence ~~ and the ~~ promise of selyn ~~.

Katsura: It's all right. We can do a shunt. We'd have to do one anyway.

Nick: If we have to, we'll manage.

Katsura: I can live on the selyn of a Gen Senator. How many channels can claim that honor and distinction! ~~ lame attempt at humor ~~

Nick: Humpf. When you've met one politician, you've met them all.

Katsura smiles.

Katsura: Come, lie down with me. You're tired too.

Katsura shuffles over on the narrow treatment table.

Nick scoots in beside her, taking up more than his fair half of the table with his larger bulk.

Katsura presses herself against Nick's warm male body, comforted by his closeness and beautiful rising field.

Nick is able, with the added closeness, to rest a bit without worrying about lack of support to his channel.

Katsura: You did well for me.

Katsura is tired of apologizing for her weakness and the demands it puts on her Donor.

Nick: You're not in very good shape. Is there something else I can do to help?

Katsura: I'll be all right. It was an awkward time for turnover to hit. I expected it early, but not that early...

Katsura stops herself from saying that she's been augmenting too much, because a lot of the augmentation was at Nick's suggestion.

Nick: We'll survive, although we might need a few more donors than I'd thought.

Nick doesn't like not being able to provide all the selyn his channel needs.

Katsura: I've got lots of selyn in my secondary. Don't worry about it.

Nick resolves to keep an eye out for possibilities, nevertheless. He can't let Pedro's disapproval interfere with his work, after all.

Katsura thinks about Pollovic's mention of Pedro and his troublemaking. It must be pretty bad if even the Senator noticed.

Katsura strokes Nick's bearded cheek.

Nick turns his head to give her palm a quick kiss.

Katsura experiences a ~~ thrill ~~ at this evidence of Nick's affection for her.

Katsura: I'm glad it's you here with me.

Nick smiles ~~ wryly ~~.

Nick: If it was a Sat'htine Donor who matched you, you'd be having a much easier time of it.

Katsura: Maybe. But then I'd need someone who understands these out-T Gens, as well.

Katsura strokes Nick's cheek again. She really likes that beard -- so masculine, so Gen.

Katsura: And they're not all as good at improvising as you are.

Nick: You get better at it with practice, and shen knows I've had a lot of that.

Katsura: I'd apologize for giving you so much more practice, but I'm tired of apologizing. I wish you could zlin how much I appreciate how hard you've been working to take care of me.

Nick gives a smile that would be 3/4 as charming as Riyyh's, if it weren't hidden behind the bushy facial hair.

Nick: You're a pleasure to look after, Kat.

Katsura smiles, charmed by Nick's sincerity, despite his fatigue and all the swearing he's done in the past few minutes, all due to looking after her.

Nick is finding it hard to stay awake.

Nick: You be all right if I nap a bit?

Katsura: Yes, I'll nap with you. You're very good at helping me sleep.

Katsura strokes Nick's cheek once more, kisses his forehead, and engages his nager more deeply, projecting ~~ trust ~~ confidence ~~ and ~~ affection ~~.

Nick: Can't help it when I'm tired.

Nick might be a workaholic by training, but Riyyh's get do tend to be good at relaxing when that's possible. He is soon ~~ asleep ~~.

Katsura sighs with the ~~ pleasure ~~ of deep engagement with Nick's beautiful nager, and follows him.

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