A Walk in the Woods: Episode 1

Pylor is taking his ease in a Gen-friendly spot: the small lounge opposite the kitchen.

Pylor has been assigned Escort duty for Hajene Katsura Farris, back to Sat'htine. He isn't in any particular hurry to meet his charge, however, since the next train isn't until the next morning.

Pylor is ~~ looking forward ~~ to a chance to prove that he can work with Farris channels after all. He attributes his inability to pass Arat's tests to the sort of autocratic prejudice that the Audnes personified. He's sure that with a more objective Farris channel, he will be able to show his true abilities.

Pedro comes into the lounge and sits down across from Pylor.

Pedro: Afternoon, Sosu.

Pylor: Good afternoon. Come have some tea.

Pylor is putting on his best manners, because Pedro has the ear of Regional Controller Firlith.

Pedro nods.

Pedro: Thank you.

Pedro steps into the kitchen briefly to get a second cup, returns to the lounge, and pours himself some tea from the pot.

Pylor: I hear you did good work today.

Pylor is ~~ admiring ~~.

Pedro shrugs.

Pedro: Just doing my job. I simply made sure that I had all my Gens in a row, so to speak.

Pedro chuckles at his own cleverness.

Pylor chuckles too, and raises his cup in salute.

Pylor: It's good to see the last remnants of the Audnes Rebellion being stamped out at last.

Pedro: Oh, I think so. And between you and me, Sosu, another blow against Farris arrogance and superiority.

Pylor: Nick Reckage has been a dangerous loose cannon for far too long. A high rating doesn't exempt a Donor from responsibility.

Pedro: Nor does Farris training constitute a certificate of reliability.

Pylor: As far as Farris channels go, they're not all like the Audnes. Most have served the Tecton well.

Pedro waves acceptingly.

Pedro: Granted. But at what cost, Sosu Pylor? At what cost?

Pylor: So long as they serve the Tecton, they have the same rights as the rest of us. They are useful for coming up with new advances, even if a lot of them are too technical to be practical.

Pedro: The same rights, certainly. But special rights? Granted, they have superior abilities, but the one doesn't follow from the other.

Pylor: I've heard that a lot of them are pretty reasonable.

Pylor shrugs to indicate that he's not speaking from personal experience.

Pylor: It stands to reason that if they were all as bad as the Audnes, there would never have been a Tecton.

Pedro sees he's not getting anywhere, and changes the subject.

Pedro: Do you feel ready to take over working with Hajene Katsura? It must have been very short notice for you.

Pylor: I'll just be escorting her on the train, not working with her on obscure functionals. I should be fine.

Pedro: Excellent. I'm sure she won't give you any trouble. Not if she and her Householding know what's good for them.

Pedro's voice is edged with glee.

Pylor: Now, Pedro, she's probably been more inconvenienced than anyone by this whole mess. She's probably a nervous wreck, after having had to work for weeks with only a half-trained rogue Donor for support. I'm sure she'll be very glad to get back home and tell her Sectuib what she thinks of the assignment.

Pedro: I'm far from sure of that. She was intensely protective of the rogue, even after I told her you would be available. There's something personal going on there, I just know it. Take precautions, Sosu.

Pylor: I will, I assure you, but I'm not going to borrow trouble, either. Innocent until proven guilty, after all. And then you throw away the key.

Pylor has his own standards of guilt, of course, and his own definition of crime.

Pedro snorts.

Pedro: I'm glad we think alike on that subject.

Pylor: This time, Controller Firlith will be able to bring charges against Reckage and make them stick. Even the World Controller can't afford to overturn an open, legal conviction.

Pedro: There's no doubt about that. And with the possible breach of trust, Sat'htine won't be able to protect him without making themselves look bad.

Pedro shakes his head.

Pedro: I can't believe they were willing to allow him to escape custody, in fact if not technically.

Pylor: I'm not sure they'll even bother to try to justify themselves. What's Reckage to them, after all?

Pedro: I have no idea, but I've learned not to assume. He may be half-trained, but he's Farris-strong, and they're a Farris House. He'd be useful as a breeder, if nothing else.

Pylor: There's plenty of that line available to any House willing to trade with Naros.

Pedro looks puzzled.

Pedro: He's Naros-bred? It's not in his file.

Pylor: Riyyh is his father, and his mother's father, too.

Pylor's face displays his ~~ contempt ~~ for this incest.

Pedro's jaw drops.

Pedro: You're kidding. Does he know? He must.

Pylor: He knows. While I was working in Capital, he skipped out on the Tecton for the third time to travel with Sectuib Riyyh.

Pedro actually finds himself ~~ sympathizing ~~ with Reckage for the first time.

Pylor: The journey seems to have cured him of the idea of joining that House, at least.

Pedro: Shen and shid, it's no wonder he has no proper regard for his Tecton oath. You know that incest leads to defective genetics.

Pylor: Defective morality too, it appears. Reckage has made a career of living down to his origins.

Pedro: Yes, yes, but perhaps he can't help it. He still needs to be removed from decent society, but the moral implications are quite different if he's a mental defective rather than a common criminal. We are civilized nowadays, Sosu Pylor.

Pylor: I don't particularly care why he's removed as a Donor, as long as he is.

Pedro shrugs.

Pedro: Fair enough.

Pedro makes a mental note to point out the implications to Hajene Firlith.

Katsura follows her laterals to locate Pedro in the staff lounge. She notes a mid-field, rather high rated Donor near him. Must be the Farris-trained Donor Pedro mentioned. She wonders why he hasn't come to Nick's guarded room to meet her yet.

Pylor looks up at the new arrival, and immediately pegs her as the Farris channel he's supposed to escort back to Sat'htine. He smiles in ~~ greeting ~~.

Pylor: Ah, you must be Hajene Katsura Farris. Welcome. I'm Sosu Pylor.

Katsura: Hello, Sosu Pylor. Just a moment.

Katsura has her priorities.

Katsura: Sosu Pedro, we were promised a meal, and here I find you relaxing and drinking trin instead of looking after us appropriately.

Pedro: Hajene, I am a Special Envoy, not kitchen staff. ~~ pompous ~~

Katsura: Have you delegated a member of the kitchen staff to attend to this obligation, then?

Pylor doesn't want his channel getting annoyed right off.

Pylor: Sosu Pedro, perhaps you could check and see whether the meal is ready?

Katsura didn't notice anyone in the kitchen.

Pylor does outrank Pedro considerably.

Pedro: Very well, Sosu Pylor.

Pedro steps out of the lounge and into the kitchen, where he unpacks some Donor biscuits and channel chow, puts them into two bowls, pulverizes the contents, and adds water. He's careful to keep his field ~~ neutral ~~ as he adds a white powder from a vial in his pocket to Reckage's bowl. Better safe than sorry, and the pseudo-Donor has been known to escape confinement before -- it's in his file.

Pedro stirs the contents of the two bowls thoroughly, making a thoroughly unappetizing but guaranteed healthy meal. He realizes that Reckage may not actually eat his meal unless there's something at least somewhat tasty about it, so he adds a few Gen-safe spices and some syrup, and does the analogous thing to Kat's bowl for good measure.

Pylor looks up at Kat.

Pylor: Hajene, the next train for Sat'htine leaves in the morning. I assume you'll want to be on it?

Katsura: I'll want to be on it with my Donor.

Pylor: Of course. I'll be ready to go in plenty of time.

Pylor is ~~ eager ~~ to prove his ability to escort this channel.

Pedro: Sosu Pylor is your assigned Donor, Hajene Katsura. I'll make it formal.

Pedro hands Pylor and Kat their Tecton-standard assignment cards.

Katsura refuses to take the card.

Katsura: No, he's not. My assigned Donor is Sosu Nick Reckage.

Pylor doesn't want to push it.

Pedro: Not any longer. The injunction specifies that. Of course, we can't prevent you from returning to Sat'htine without a Donor, but ...

Katsura: You have no authority to override my Controller's assignments, especially not without my consent.

Pylor: Nick Reckage is no longer Sat'htine's concern. I'm sure the assignments can be straightened out when you return there, and in the mean time, I'll do my best to keep you comfortable.

Katsura turns to Pylor.

Katsura: Sosu Reckage continues to be Sat'htine's concern until World Controller Jaklin ambrov Imil decides otherwise. She assigned him to us, and with us he'll stay.

Pedro shakes his head ~~ pityingly ~~.

Katsura: I'm sure you'd do a very professional job for me, Sosu Pylor, but it won't be necessary.

Pedro: It's futile for you attempt to resist the Controller. His injunction is law unless and until overridden by a higher-level Controller. You can go where you like, but Reckage cannot. He remains here until appropriate officials can deal with his case.

Katsura: Nick and I are not under the authority of the Controller of this little... village, Sosu Pedro.

Pylor: If Reckage had stayed at Sat'htine, it wouldn't be an issue, but traveling out-Territory... well, he tried to escape out there once, already. As far as the injunction goes, I personally think it's legal, but I'm sure the proper authorities will make a definitive ruling on that in their own good time.

Katsura: Nick was assigned to our Disaster Response team by his Controller, the Sectuib in Sat'htine, so he was fully authorized to travel with us.

Pedro remains ~~ patient ~~ only with great difficulty.

Pedro: Hajene, you can make whatever arguments you want, but it will affect nothing. We have custody of the rogue and we intend to keep him in close confinement.

Pylor: We don't have the authority to release him against the Controller's orders, for that matter.

Pedro: In any case, your meal is in the kitchen in the red bowl. I will bring Reckage his meal in the white.

Katsura grits her teeth and resolves not to waste her breath arguing with these two clowns.

Pedro goes to get the bowl and leaves the area.

Katsura looks at Pylor, wondering what his story is. He doesn't seem at all distressed to be involved. Indeed, he seems to be enjoying backing Pedro up.

Katsura: Good day, Sosu Pylor.

Pylor: Good day, Hajene Farris. If you require my services, you have only to send for me.

Katsura heads back to Nick's room, not interested in fetching her own food.

Pedro reaches Nick and drops off the food before Kat arrives: he has no interest in yet another useless confrontation. Nick is under guard, and under guard he'll stay.

Katsura zlins Pedro's rapid retreat as she approaches the makeshift cell, actually a Deferment Suite. She nods to the guard, who's usually a maintenance worker, and enters.

Katsura: Nick... what's that slop they've given you?

Nick: Filling, I hope. It's not worth the effort to eat, otherwise.

Nick takes another bite.

Katsura is rather glad she didn't take Pedro up on his offer of a similar bowl.

Nick is ~~ hungry ~~ enough, after missing both breakfast and lunch, that he's already eaten over half of the food.

Katsura: I met the alleged Farris-trained Donor they have on tap. He seems to be in full accord with Pedro.

Nick: I'm not surprised. Controller Firlith couldn't have had a lot of time to plan this, and the Donors working under her are likely to be supporters.

Nick isn't lingering over the meal: there's nothing worth savoring about it.

Katsura: His name is Pylor. I don't know anything else about him.

Katsura knows most of the Farris-capable Donors in her Region, but that's there, not here.

Nick looks up in ~~ disbelief ~~.

Nick: Pylor is here?

Katsura: You know him?

Nick: He was at the Snake River Dam. Arat hated him, and Snake thought he was fun to torment.

Katsura: I can see why he'd join the anti-Audnes faction, then. Does he associate you with them?

Katsura still feels that Nick was a victim of the Audneses, not a co-conspirator.

Nick: Probably. He seemed to want Arat to approve of him as an equal, and was a bit jealous that I came closer to having that than he did.

Katsura shakes her head.

Katsura: He sounds as... screwed up as they were.

Nick: He knew Arat as a boy, I believe.

Nick sets his empty bowl aside.

Nick: His family was nothing distinguished, and Arat's were the Tecton-deposed rulers of the area. It's hardly surprising that he wanted Arat's approval -- or that he resented Arat for that.

Katsura: The politics of the Tecton takeover in Norwest were complicated. I don't know much about it.

Katsura shrugs.

Katsura: It doesn't matter. You're my Donor, not him, no matter what they try.

Nick: Kat, it won't do me much good if you're convicted of sedition along with me.

Nick is speaking slowly, and his nager seems a little....~~ unfocused ~~.

Katsura: Me, sedition? Nonsense.

Katsura notices the change.

Katsura: Nick... what's wrong?

Nick blinks.

Katsura automatically reaches for Nick's hands, to zlin him more accurately.

Nick: Don't know. Sleepy.

Katsura: Shidoni! They've drugged you! ~~ outrage ~~

Nick's nager is losing a great deal of its control, ~~ dulling ~~.

Nick blinks again, longer.

Nick: Figures.

Nick has learned the hard way not to expect the Tecton -- or at least the anti-Audnes faction -- to play fair.

Katsura: Here, lie down.

Nick staggers to his feet, with Kat's support.

Katsura helps Nick to the bed.

Katsura: That puppet of a Controller has been avoiding us. I'm not going to be put off any longer -- I'm going to track him down and demand an accounting. This is an outrage. Sectuib will tear strips off everyone involved.

Nick: Underlings. Ordered.

Nick is getting less coherent as the drug takes full effect.

Katsura strokes Nick's hair off his forehead.

Katsura: Don't worry, Nick. You're not going anywhere without me.

Katsura is getting desperate. She's been giving these people the benefit of the doubt, and every time she does, they do something worse.

Katsura: Nick...

Nick manages to almost force his eyes open.

Nick: Yeah?

Katsura gets on the bed with Nick and takes him in a four-point contact, forcing him as alert as she can.

Nick gets his eyes all the way open, although he's still ~~ confused ~~. He tries to ~~ support ~~ Kat, but can't seem to figure out how.

Katsura: We're getting out of here. Tonight. We'll get out of this guy's jurisdiction, and we'll be all right.

Katsura kisses Nick's forehead.

Katsura: I'll carry you on my back if I have to.

Nick tries to follow this plan, then gives up.

Nick: Trouble.

Katsura: Trouble, indeed. They haven't seen trouble yet. Wait until Sectuib hears about this.

Nick answers with a gentle snore.

Katsura hopes he can sleep off the drug fairly rapidly. She doesn't want to carry Nick if she doesn't have to.

Muslin has received Pedro's report that his precautionary measures have been followed, and has decided to drop by to inspect his prisoner and ensure that they were successful. He also feels that he owes the latest innocent victim of the notorious Rogue Donor his sympathy.

Muslin is ~~ relieved ~~ to zlin as the guard opens the door that the Gen's insanely strong nager is considerably dulled.

Muslin: Good, good.

Katsura has zlinned him coming, and resolves to stay calm. She's sitting on the bed, holding Nick's flaccid hand.

Muslin then belatedly addresses Kat.

Muslin: Hajene Farris, forgive me for not dropping by earlier. I'm Controller Muslin.

Katsura: Good afternoon, Controller.

Muslin: Allow me to welcome you to my Sime Center, and to convey the Tecton's official apology for the situation in which you find yourself.

Katsura's anger is tightly controlled, but she lets it be very clear that she does not regard this as anything approaching a good afternoon.

Muslin zlins the anger, but misinterprets the cause of it.

Katsura: You speak for the Tecton, in this matter, do you?

Muslin: Under the authority of Regional Controller Firlith, yes. This matter has been mishandled from the first.

Katsura: And continues to be mishandled.

Katsura doesn't consider that anyone but Hiram and Jaklin have any say in Nick's disposition.

Muslin: Indeed. Reckage should never have been set loose again, much less allowed access to a channel. To allow him to cross the border as well...

Muslin: Fortunately, the matter can be put right, now. I trust we can manage to do it without making your situation any worse than absolutely necessary.

Katsura: Sosu Reckage was acting under the direction of his Controller, Hiram Farris Sectuib in Sat'htine. I intend that he continue to do so.

Muslin: How so? Sat'htine's authority under the Tecton ends at the boundaries of its grounds. Once he was outside those grounds, he was once more under the authority of the appropriate Tecton Controller.

Katsura: Nonsense. Sectuib is my Controller, and I'm acting under his direction, on the grounds or off them. Sectuib is also Nick's Controller presently, and has responsibility for and authority over him.

Muslin: He did, certainly. But your Sectuib's authority over you when you are off the grounds of his House comes through your pledge to him. Are you telling me that your Sectuib has accepted the pledge of this rogue Gen?

Katsura: And when one of your staff visits another district briefly he no longer works for you? He's automatically transferred to whichever jurisdiction he finds himself in?

Muslin: The local Controller has the right to co-opt his services, if that is required, certainly. It's inconvenient, but it happens.

Katsura: You aren't co-opting Nick's services. You're imprisoning and abusing him.

Katsura's dark Farris eyes drill into the petty bureaucrat.

Katsura: Zlin the man -- what right have you to poison him like this?

Muslin: Poison him? Nonsense. The drugs are perfectly safe. The Pens used to keep Gens on them for years, with no ill effects. Reckage will be perfectly healthy when he's delivered to Controller Firlith for an accounting of his misdeeds.

Katsura lets her nager increasingly ~~ dominate ~~ the ambient.

Muslin: It's far kinder than keeping him in chains.

Muslin edges a step or two backwards, away from Kat's nager.

Katsura: There has already been an accounting. He was exonerated by a Tecton committee. He was then assigned to report to my Sectuib by the World Controller herself. Who are you and Firlith to contradict the World Controller?

Muslin: There is some question as to the composition of the committee, and whether they reviewed all the pertinent evidence.

Katsura: So you propose to take things into your own hands, contrary to the rule of law, which the Tecton established when it overthrew the junct legal system of Nivet?

Katsura stands.

Muslin: The law is not as clear as you seem to be assuming it was.

Katsura: You think you can get away with vigilante action like this, going against the intentions of the World Controller? Who do you think you are? Do you think Firlith is going to protect you when all this gets sorted out? Just how much do you think she can get away with, with this personal vendetta?

Muslin: The World Controller intended for Reckage to be rehabilitated, if possible, as an alternative to imprisonment. Not to have him freed to seduce more channels into his power.

Katsura snorts.

Muslin: The process was highly irregular from start to finish, and this Gen took full advantage of it to flout the law and evade the just consequences of his actions. Controller Firlith intends to see justice done, according to the laws as generally applied to those of us who don't have a House to hide behind.

Katsura: "Seduce into his power." What nonsense. He's a very talented Donor, and remarkably competent under adverse conditions. He's been doing very good work for us, and we've been remedying weaknesses in his training. The situation has been mutually beneficial for him and for Sat'htine.

Katsura lets her nager expand a little more.

Katsura: This could be regarded as rehabilitation. Successful rehabilitation.

Muslin: I'm glad to hear that, but that's not relevant to his previous crimes, or his current one.

Muslin backs away even farther, almost to the door.

Katsura: He was exonerated of previous alleged crimes. He has not committed another one. He was acting under the orders of his Controller, as any reliable Tecton Donor would.

Muslin: You expect me to believe that... Wild Gen... has under your care suddenly discovered a loyalty to the Tecton that has been conspicuously absent in every known action he's taken? I doubt it, but if so, I'm sure Controller Firlith will take that into consideration. In the mean time, the matter is out of my hands, and yours. Sosu Pylor will provide you with what assistance you require, and accompany you to Sat'htine tomorrow.

Katsura: No, Hajene Muslin. I'm not going on to Sat'htine without my Donor, Sosu Nick Reckage. The matter was never in your hands, nor in Hajene Firlith's. Nick was assigned to me by Sectuib, and I'm responsible for his wellbeing.

Katsura moves a little closer to Muslin.

Muslin: I beg to differ with you. Nick Reckage will be turned over to Controller Firlith as soon as arrangements can be made, and until then, he will be kept under conditions that ensure that he is unable to plan another escape.

Katsura: I don't intend to allow him to be imprisoned, or drugged or taken anywhere against his will or mine.

Muslin: Than I suggest you take it up with Controller Firlith.

Katsura: Perhaps I shall. Or Sectuib shall, or the World Controller shall.

Katsura relaxes her dominance display a little.

Muslin: Good enough. At the moment, however, the Gen remains a prisoner awaiting transport, and the drug the most humane method available to me to ensure that he doesn't escape.

Katsura: In the meantime, I want some amenities for him and myself. I want a telegram I compose sent to the Sectuib in Sat'htine. I want some decent food for Sime and Gen.

Muslin looks at Nick, who quite obviously is not interested in eating at the moment.

Muslin: You are welcome to visit our cafeteria at your convenience. You are not a prisoner, after all.

Katsura nods. She intends to avail herself of some other facilities, like the laundry, as well, in preparation for the jail break.

Muslin: Reckage will remain under close guard until he can be transported. Now if you will excuse me, I have work to do.

Muslin turns and does not quite flee from Kat's nager.

Katsura sits on the bed, strokes Nick's hand again, and feels a great deal more worried than she let Muslin zlin.

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