Healing the World: Episode 2

Norrin is talking to his counselor at the camp the Tecton sent him to, somewhere off in the weeds. It's not much, and he misses his old neighborhood, but it's a lot better than the ruin it is now.

Norrin hasn't figured out the new rules here yet, except that he's supposed to (1) do what he's told and (2) come up with things on his own. This strikes him as contradictory, but hey, it's what they want.

Gooz: So how are you doing today, Norrin?

Gooz speaks in clear, simplified Simelan, although he's fluent in English.

Norrin: I'm okay today, Tuib.

Norrin has gotten the titles down, at least.

Gooz: Good. Are you feeling more comfortable using Simelan? You seem to be picking it up pretty rapidly.

Norrin: Sure, no problem. You know, I've been talking to the kids here,

Gooz makes an encouraging noise, not correcting Norrin when he refers to the other junct renSimes as "kids".

Norrin: and only a few of 'em are my kind of people. It makes things hard. Almost everybody is either rich or...

Norrin doesn't have a vocabulary for discussing class, and his notion of "rich" is anyone who's doing more than scratching for a living.

Norrin shrugs.

Gooz: Well, they're all junct Simes from out-T, and like you they're all starting a new life here. Even if they come from wealthier families than yours, they're all on their own now. Very few of them have families that want anything to do with them anymore.

Norrin takes this in and nods, slowly.

Norrin: Yeah, especially the ones who killed family, I guess. And the religious ones. They are really weird.

Norrin grew up a complete heathen.

Gooz nods solemnly.

Norrin: Y'ask me, the ones with all that [English] God stuff [Simelan], they're not going to make it. So tell me, what are the odds for making it out of here?

Gooz: Any junct Sime who really wants to can disjunct in his First Year. It's the wanting and the determination that are important. Some of the religious ones will do very well, if they can turn their self-hatred into a determination never to kill again.

Norrin: Self hatred. Yeah. For me... I mean, my second, third, and fourth kills, I didn't even know 'em. Just all blurs to me. I can't say I feel responsible -- they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong Sime, I guess.

Gooz: They were real people, Norrin. You destroyed four lives, four people with lives to live. You took their lives to sustain your own. Even if you didn't know them, other people did, and those people will grieve over them.

Gooz is a renSime, and doesn't have the secondary system to project with, but his own emotions of ~~ sorrow ~~ and ~~ sincerity ~~ are quite zlinnable.

Norrin debates between a nod and a shrug and goes for the nod.

Gooz: You can't give back those lives. We won't let you ever kill again, but to disjunct you must want, with your whole heart, never to kill again. If you fail, you'll die.

Norrin: But, I mean, hell, it was still an accident. I mean, if I was falling off a roof and I hit somebody and he died and I didn't, that wouldn't make me a [English] murderer.

Gooz sighs.

Gooz: Norrin, you had a choice, and every time you decided to live by taking someone else's life. Four times. Four lives.

Norrin sits in silence for a bit.

Norrin: I know. I mean, I know that's what you tell me. ~~ anger ~~ But, [English] dammit [Simelan], it didn't feel like a choice! It felt like what I had to do!

Gooz: Yes, that's what it feels like, in hard need. But after you killed, when you weren't in need, what did you think? You knew it was going to happen again and again, until someone shot you.

Norrin: [mumbled] Yeah.

Norrin: Mostly what I knew is I had to get the hell away, but if I left Cottonwood, where could I go? Nobody there. And --

Norrin stops short, realizing that he has almost admitted that he stayed in Cottonwood City to ensure a supply of kills. ~~ embarrassment ~~

Gooz: Every time, you let it happen again. You stole another person's whole life, their whole future, to get a few weeks of life for yourself.

Norrin: So I should have done what? Turn myself in to be shot? ~~ indignant ~~

Gooz: How many lives is your life worth? One? Four? As many as you can kill before they catch up with you and shoot you?

Gooz lets that sink in.

Gooz: You were very lucky, Norrin. A channel rescued you. It wouldn't have been long before you were shot like a rabid dog.

Norrin makes an out-T "So what?" gesture.

Norrin: According to you, that would have been the best thing if they had shot me first! ~~ bitter ~~ resentful ~~

Gooz: If they had, the four people you killed would still be alive.

Norrin: Exactly! So my being alive at all is a bad trade. Send me back to Gen Territory.

Gooz: You have a chance to live, here. But to have that chance, you have to take responsibility for your past and your future actions. If you don't, you'll die.

Norrin: Well, fine. I killed. I don't deny it like that prat Yulix. And you're always telling me I'll never kill again, and I did fine staying out of dangerous situations at the tent city, didn't I?

Gooz: You weren't in need, and the Householders were guarding you.

Norrin chuckles.

Norrin: Not all the time. Not even most. They were too busy. I left those Gens alone.

Gooz: And if you had stayed in Cottonwood City, would you have killed again?

Norrin: Radds don't commit suicide, Tuib. Never. Of course after Hajene Katsura gave me transfer, things looked way different.

Gooz nods. He has never taken transfer from a Farris, but can imagine how very different they looked.

Gooz: So your family honor means that it's better to kill and kill and kill again, than to die?

Norrin: [English] Fuck no!

Norrin: ~~ embarrassed ~~ Sorry, Tuib. The point is, I killed as few times as I could.

Gooz: But each time you were saying "My life is more important than this other person's life. It's right that they die so I can live." Four times you acted on that. And you wasted their selyn in augmentation, or you'd be six months old now, not three.

Norrin: It wasn't a waste. It was part of staying alive. If I just walked around and didn't augment, they'd a-shot me.

Gooz: You stayed alive by stealing other people's lives. One death after another, at your tentacles.

Norrin: ~~ outraged ~~ Radds don't steal either! You know that's a lie!

Gooz: Four times you took the most valuable thing a person has, against their will, despite their struggles.

Norrin: Taking food when you're starving, that's not stealing.

Gooz: And if taking it means that the person you take it from dies of starvation instead of you?

Norrin: If it's him or me, it's gonna be me. But that isn't the way things normally go. I mean,

Norrin thinks and organizes his Simelan.

Norrin: Say there's two Gens out in the ocean because a ship got wrecked. And there's only a log to hang on to or you drown. You gonna make those Gens swear they'll never try to grab for the log to save their lives if it means pushing the other guy off? I mean, I'm not going to kill anybody here. It's not the same ...

Norrin doesn't know the Simelan for what he wants.

Norrin: Why worry about what you could be doing in some unlikely situation that isn't going to come up again?

Gooz: Norrin, this summer you're going to go into disjunction crisis. You're going to want to kill more than you ever have before, and channel's transfer won't attract you. To disjunct you're going to have to truly prefer death to killing, and choose, against your most intense desire, not to kill.

Norrin runs his hands and tentacles over his face.

Norrin: I know, I know.

Gooz: We won't let you kill, but you have to choose, with all your heart, to reject the kill forever. If you can't do that, you can't disjunct. And if you can't disjunct, you'll die.

Norrin mopes.

Norrin: It just [English] sucks [Simelan], you know? You want me to swear that I'll die rather than kill, because if I don't, I'll die. So either way I'll die. It's just a matter of when.

Gooz: Everyone dies. You can die in a year as a junct, or you can live for many years as a disjunct.

Norrin grimaces.

Gooz: And no, I don't want you to swear it. You should know by now that words don't do it. You must really mean it. Really feel it. Really know it.

Norrin waves that off.

Norrin: Not my point. See, you can tell that story to the others. They really believe, deep down, that somebody -- parents, Tecton, whatever -- is going to take care of them. Me, I know better. If I can't rely on myself to keep myself alive, I sure can't rely on anyone else to do it.

Gooz: The only way you can live another year is to disjunct.

Norrin shakes his head in ~~ disgust ~~.

Norrin: It's a trap, is what it is.

Gooz: Yes, it is. We have you trapped here. You can leave here as a disjunct, or you can leave here as a junct on his way to the Last Year House. You do have to rely on yourself. No one can disjunct you -- you have to do it yourself. We can only help.

Norrin: And then what? All my life the Tecton will be the boss of me. What kind of life is that?

Gooz: You'll get your selyn from the Tecton, just as you get your food from the farmers. Otherwise, your life is your own.

Norrin: It's just like back in the 'Wood, when we got free food from the Gen government. Except selyn isn't free. But you still have to have it, and there's only one source.

Gooz: Yes, that's how it is.

Norrin: And you trust it, or you just figure you have no choice?

Gooz: There is no choice, except death. But you can trust the Tecton. It's provided selyn for every Sime in Nivet since Unity.

Norrin thinks about that for a long time.

Norrin: Or if it didn't, for sure you'd never hear about it, would you.

Gooz: You'd hear about it.

Norrin shrugs. What does he know? What does Gooz know, for that matter?

Gooz: Okay, Norrin. You think about what I've told you, and we'll talk some more next time.

Norrin nods, sighs, and gets up to go on to his next assignment -- shoveling shit, probably.

Gooz watches him go. Another tough one, but he gets lots of the tough ones. He was a tougher one himself, many years ago.

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