Pinecone and Kat are at the bottom of a shallow pit, with branches pulled over it, that they've dug. They are dangerously close to what passes for civilization in these parts, namely an isolated Gen town in the mountains, but they need supplies, so Nick has gone into the town to get them. It's a good thing that Kat is so ultra-sensitive, or they might have missed the town -- or stumbled into it.
Jardyce is riding a shaggy, somewhat mud-spattered horse through the forest, hunched over against the chill.
Katsura is trying not to worry about her Donor, although she's getting into hard need. Surely the heavily armed Gens in the town wouldn't shoot another Gen?
Jardyce doesn't mind the cold too much: it beats being in town where there are way too many people. His mount, on the other hand, is protesting this unnecessary excursion from his nice, warm stable.
Katsura zlins a Gen approaching. She almost wishes she were ambrov Teiu, with a dark brown cloak, instead of ambrov Sat'htine, with House colors of turquoise and orange.
Pinecone zlins Katsura's concern. ~~ inquiry ~~
Katsura: I can zlin a Gen coming, Pinecone. Let's stay very still and quiet.
Jardyce is as well armed as one might expect from a Gen wandering alone in the wilderness, with a hunting rifle and a shotgun hanging on either side of the saddle.
Jardyce is ~~ alert and focused ~~ as he scans his surroundings, searching for anything out of place, and listening for unusual sounds, or lack thereof. He hasn't lived a decade and a half largely out-of-doors without learning caution. He left his family's farm as soon as he turned sixteen, and has been on the move ever since.
Katsura zlins the Gen coming closer.
Jardyce is carefully avoiding the obvious trail, where it's practical, to lessen the chance of an ambush. His horse produces manure, not selyn, and as the member of the party who's actually doing the walking, he feels that he should be the one to pick the trail.
Katsura is getting worried that the Gen doesn't appear to be following the trail. Is he backtracking Nick's footprints in the snow?
Jardyce wages his part of the argument with heels and hands, forcing the reluctant animal to continue straight into the wind.
Pinecone zlins the Gen now too.
Pinecone whispers: "What now?"
Jardyce's attention sweeps back and forth, pausing for a moment on the blind behind which Kat and Pinecone are hiding.
Katsura gestures to Pinecone to be still, hoping he'll recognize the gesture, considering the cultural differences.
Jardyce sees a disturbance ahead and stops the horse to inspect it more closely at a safe distance.
Pinecone gets the emotion if not the gesture.
Katsura crouches lower in the pit in the snow. She can zlin that the Gen has noticed something he's suspicious of.
Jardyce notes disturbed ground, and watches a squirrel in a nearby tree, trying to judge if its behavior is normal. His horse notes that it's colder without moving, stamps a restless hoof, and tries to sidle sideways so as not to face into the wind.
Katsura is really really glad that Gens can't zlin.
Pinecone couldn't zlin either until very recently, and he knows just how much one can discover with only Gen senses. The suspense is killing him.
Jardyce fights the horse, punctuating his kicks with vocabulary not taught in Sat'htine's English classes. His hand, which had been resting on the barrel of his shotgun, necessarily moves to the reins.
Katsura would enjoy the opportunity to expand her colloquial Genlan, as she did in Cottonwood City, if she weren't so worried about being murdered before she can explain herself.
Jardyce's horse jumps sideways as a branch snaps beneath its hooves.
Jardyce manages to stay on for the jump, which means that he's still on board when the horse lands, slips, and falls.
Katsura instantly adjusts her showfield to shelter Pinecone from the Gen's fear and pain.
Jardyce has the wind knocked out of him from the impact, which means he loses his grip on the reins. His horse takes full advantage of this oversight by scrambling to its feet and galloping back to town, and the stable it feels it should never have been asked to leave.
Katsura can zlin that the Gen isn't too seriously injured. He's almost sure to discover them now. She wishes she had her retainers on, but doesn't want to move to don them -- she still hopes the Gen won't detect her and the young renSime.
Jardyce sits up slowly, moving ~~ gingerly ~~ as he tests for broken bones. He stands with help from a nearby tree, takes a step, and nearly falls again as his weight comes down on his left foot.
Katsura gives up hope. Clearly the Gen isn't going to run off after his horse now.
Jardyce indulges in a few, more vehement words not covered in Sat'htine's English classes.
Pinecone goes on lying low.
Jardyce starts feeling around under the snow for a branch long enough to make a crutch.
Katsura wonders whether she could put on the retainers without seriously injuring herself -- moist laterals against metal well below freezing seems like a particularly slow and cruel method of suicide.
Jardyce finds a branch, and after breaking a few small twigs, discovers that it makes a decent crutch.
Katsura decides she must help the injured Gen, if she can only figure out how to approach him without being shot first. She's not familiar with firearms or their use, and doesn't realize that Jardyce's have taken off with his horse.
Jardyce knows he's not up to walking all the way back to town, but despite being a loner he has a few friends who will come looking when his horse returns without him.
Jardyce doesn't wish to spend the intervening hours in the wind, and he spots a likely looking group of rocks that might provide some shelter.
Jardyce sets out gamely, limping to spare his injured foot, and ignoring the ~~ pain ~~, which is at least partly blunted by the cold, anyway. His course was chosen for directness, and happens to pass right by the slightly disturbed area he was observing earlier. He's decided, with some justification, that whatever made it has since left, or it would have shown itself by now.
Katsura decides she must act, with the Gen approaching, to protect Pinecone if nothing else. She tentatively pushes aside some of the branches, not exposing her head.
Katsura: Good morning, sir.
Jardyce is ~~ startled ~~, and almost loses his precarious balance.
Pinecone is ~~ startled ~~ too, but holds still.
Jardyce: So, it was a blind after all.
Katsura: We are camped here. We mean you no harm. One of us has gone to buy supplies and we wait for him here.
Jardyce is a little ~~ skeptical ~~.
Jardyce: Kind of a cold place to wait, without even a fire.
Jardyce knows there isn't a fire, of course, because he's downwind.
Katsura: Yes. It is cold, but we are sheltered from the wind.
Jardyce wonders why these people -- however many of them there are -- won't show their faces in town, and doesn't like the possible answers. He curses his horse again, this time silently, for making off with his weapons.
Jardyce: Who are you?
Katsura: I am Katsura ambrov Sat'htine.
Katsura can't bear to admit she's a Sime until she's more sure this man won't murder her without further thought.
Pinecone: And my name is Pinecone.
Katsura gives up hope of protecting Pinecone by concealing his presence.
Jardyce: Jardyce. Jim Jardyce.
Katsura: Pleased to meet you, Mr. Jardyce.
Katsura suppresses a a feeling of unreality -- this is one of the first stock phrases she learned as a young child in Sat'htine's Genlan classes.
Jardyce is not proceeding any closer, although he is starting to ~~ shiver ~~ in the cold.
Jardyce: What brings you here?
Jardyce's coldness might have something to do with his broken big toe, as well.
Katsura: We are just traveling through. We need to buy some supplies.
Katsura can zlin the toe, and would like to figure out how to talk her way around to being able to work on it. As a healer and Householder, not helping a hurt Gen is almost unthinkable. Not to mention the almost total lack of work for far too long, and that being in need, the waste of abandoning a high field Gen goes against every Sime instinct.
Jardyce: Most folks would have gone to town as a group. It's generally safer to travel together.
Jardyce is ~~ suspicious ~~, despite Kat's reassurances.
Katsura: We did not want to go to town. I am scared among many strangers.
Jardyce: Live alone, do you?
Katsura: Yes, we do.
Katsura isn't lying. She's been living alone with Nick and Pinecone for several days now.
Jardyce: Not many do, these days.
Katsura agrees, since she can't think of anything else to say.
Jardyce limps a few steps closer.
Pinecone is extremely ~~ tense ~~, but ~~ trusts ~~ Lady Cat to do the best thing for him.
Jardyce: I don't suppose you have an extra blanket, do you?
Katsura: I can lend you one for now, but we have fewer than we need, so you cannot keep it.
Katsura doesn't like the way the Gen is getting increasingly chilled.
Jardyce nods in ~~ agreement ~~. He understands poverty quite well.
Katsura takes one of the two blankets she and Pinecone are huddling under and pushes a corner up under the branches. She can zlin the agreement, despite not being able to see the nod.
Jardyce limps up to take the blanket, mistakes part of the blind for solid ground, and goes through with a yelp.
Katsura automatically catches him and prevents an awkward landing.
Pinecone tries to roll away as the Gen's crutch falls on him, but doesn't quite make it; the impact knocks the wind out of him for a moment.
Jardyce freezes as Kat's arms catch him, reaches automatically for his crutch as the only weapon he has left, and lets out another creative idiom when he sees that it has fallen out of reach.
Katsura helps him sit then lets go, concealing her tentacles. She realizes that she could have zlinned much earlier than the Gen was unarmed except for a utility knife. She's relieved at the absence of firearms.
Jardyce doesn't bother to reach for crutch or knife: he of all people knows just how quickly a Sime can move.
Katsura: Are you all right, Mr. Jardyce?
Jardyce: You suckered me good.
Katsura: We will not harm you. Here is the blanket.
Katsura puts it in Jardyce's lap. She'd like to back well away but it's a two-Sime pit, and there's nowhere to retreat to.
Jardyce is ~~ disgusted ~~ at falling for such a simple trick, but he's shivering in earnest now, so he wraps the blanket around himself.
Katsura would like to go hypoconscious rather than zlin the emotions of this Sime-hating Gen, but she has to protect Pinecone, who has had no experience in managing his Sime senses.
Katsura: I am a channel, Mr. Jardyce. Neither I nor Pinecone have ever killed. We are no danger to you.
Pinecone nods but still doesn't say anything for fear of saying the wrong thing.
Jardyce: I've heard of channels, but no one out here's ever seen one.
Katsura: It is very sparsely populated here.
Jardyce: I thought channels pretty much stayed in the Sime Centers?
Katsura: In Gen territory, yes, they do. It is very unusual that I am traveling here.
Jardyce notes the continued lack of any explanation, rather than the facile lie that a Gen would have used. He's starting to shiver less, out of the wind.
Katsura is relieved that Jardyce seems to believe that she's a channel, and that channels are harmless.
Katsura: Would you like me to help heal your toe? It is broken.
Jardyce: I was hoping it was just a sprain.
Jardyce evidences no disbelief, only ~~ disappointment ~~.
Katsura: The break has not shifted, so it does not need to be set. I can work on it and perhaps you will not need to have your boot cut off.
Jardyce is forced to ~~ take notice ~~ of that argument: his boots are his most valuable possession, after his firearms.
Jardyce: You can stop it from swelling?
Katsura: I believe so. Because it is such a fresh injury, it will be easier to heal.
Pinecone has heard Kat and Nick talking about Sime healing, but this is the first time he'll see -- or zlin -- it happening.
Jardyce considers for a moment whether this is some new kind of trap, but two Simes in a confined space with one unarmed Gen have no reason to hold back, if they're after a kill.
Jardyce: Go ahead, then, and thank you.
Jardyce extends his boot towards Kat.
Katsura knows Nick will be displeased that she worked on this Gen while in hard need without his support, but Jardyce's pain is unpleasant and she has to protect Pinecone from it. Besides, she needs work.
Katsura gently sets the booted foot in her lap, and holds the toe area in her hands.
Katsura: First I will block the pain. Then I will stop the swelling and then I will work on the bone, to make it fuse. Please remain still, and try to relax.
Katsura hopes the Gen won't suddenly panic. A Genslam right now would be a very bad thing for all three of them.
Jardyce is watching a bit ~~ warily ~~, but he shows no immediate signs of panicking.
Katsura: I will extend my tentacles.
Katsura drops hypoconscious and extends them slowly. When Jardyce doesn't appear to react, she returns to duoconsciousness and carefully extends her laterals into the cold air. She goes into healing mode and begins to work on the injury.
Pinecone zlins Katsura with ~~ fascination ~~ and ~~ wonder ~~.
Katsura finds it more difficult to work through a thick boot, and without lateral contact, but she's a Farris, and much is possible for her that isn't for lesser channels.
Jardyce is watching with ~~ wariness ~~ and a certain amount of ~~ resignation ~~.
Jardyce: You know, I always thought a Sime would get me one day.
Katsura is concentrating hard on healing, while being as cautious as she can in her vulnerable condition.
Jardyce: Going out alone, the way I like to do -- I've been living on borrowed time for years.
Katsura: There are junct Simes in these mountains? Surely there are no more Raiders, since Unity.
Jardyce: There's Simes out here, although I think it's likely that a lot of the people who disappear fall to bear or cougar, or other mishaps.
Katsura is pleased that the pain is controlled well enough that her patient feels like chatting. She shifts to reducing the swelling, minor so far, and then concentrates on healing the bone.
Katsura: Why do the Simes not go south to Nivet? It is only a few days travel.
Jardyce: Maybe some of them do. I don't know.
Katsura continues to work on the injury in silence for some time, extending a little ~~ reassurance ~~ and ~~ approval ~~ to Pinecone. She's careful to use only projected need from her showfield, rather than releasing her own need, as she would if Nick were there to support her.