Bibi is sitting in her office, writing the monthly report for her Controller. She expects Cristal back from his run shortly. She'll make sure he has dry socks and a bite to eat in time for donors coming in after working hours.
Dunbar clatters up the front steps of the Sime Center, reads the sign that says "Please Come In", and hurries inside.
Dunbar: Hello? Anybody home?
Bibi is ~~ alarmed ~~ to zlin a distressed non-donor rushing into the waiting room. She's glad Nattin is out there to deal with him.
Nattin knows Bibi is working in her office, so he answers the call.
Dunbar sees a dignified older gentleman.
Nattin: Good afternoon, sir. It's a little early for regular hours, but Hajene Bibi will be ready to see you shortly.
Nattin doesn't recognize this potential donor, and figures that Bibi will want to wait for Cristal to get back to take care of him.
Dunbar: I don't need her; I want to speak to the person in charge. Would that be you, sir?
Nattin: For some issues, yes.
Nattin wonders if this has something to do with the overcharging for supplies.
Dunbar: Then I have an urgent message for you.
Nattin: Of course. From whom?
Dunbar: From Dr. Tavis.
Nattin: Dr. Tavis?
Bibi, whose office is selyn-insulated, not sound-insulated, perks up her ears.
Nattin is a little surprised.
Nattin: Is his granddaughter... ill?
Nattin can't think of any other reason for the Gen doctor to contact them.
Dunbar: No. This is about one of your employees... a young man named Christopher?
Nattin: Christopher? We don't have anyone here by that name.
Dunbar thinks that's the name he heard, anyway.
Bibi wonders what Cristal has done to offend the natives this time.
Nattin: Unless... do you mean Cristal?
Dunbar: Yes... yes, that was it.
Nattin is starting to get ~~ confused ~~.
Nattin: What about Cristal?
Nattin hopes the Donor hasn't managed to offend such a prominent citizen as the local doctor.
Dunbar: Well, he got into a bit of a fight with Ian, you see.
Bibi puts her hand over her eyes. A fight?
Dunbar has never been good at breaking bad news.
Nattin: Oh, dear.
Dunbar: And Ian was on his big old mule, you see, sir.
Nattin wonders if he's going to have to go to the town jail and bail Cristal out.
Nattin: Has Cristal been arrested for disorderly conduct?
Dunbar: Er, no, sir.
Nattin is glad that the Tecton has been spared at least that much public embarrassment.
Bibi is glad that whatever it is can go in the next monthly report. The tale of Jabez and Dr. Barden is enough for this month's report.
Dunbar: So the mule... Ian didn't mean it to happen this way, you understand, sir. He's quite upset about it, in fact.
Nattin starts to get an ~~ inkling ~~ of impending disaster.
Nattin: What happened?
Dunbar: Well, the mule kicked him.
Nattin: Kicked him?
Dunbar: Yes, sir. In the gut, sir.
Bibi leaps to her feet. In the gut! Shidoni!
Nattin: So this Ian fellow is badly injured?
Nattin wonders if Cristal wants Bibi to come and help care for the man.
Dunbar: No. No, Ian's fine. Just upset. It's your boy Chris who's hurt, sir.
Nattin allows himself a single expletive, in Simelan, hoping their guest won't understand.
Bibi tries to compose herself to look professional, calm, harmless, friendly, etc while ~~ terrified ~~ that her only source of selyn is in serious danger of death. She comes out of her office, tentacles retracted.
Nattin then tries to ~~ steady ~~ himself, since he's at least above midfield, and thus best able to help Bibi while Cristal is gone. Or injured.
Bibi: Good afternoon, sir. Cristal is hurt? How badly?
Bibi is ~~ hoping ~~ for just a bad bruise.
Dunbar: Pretty bad, I think, ma'am. Are you his wife?
Bibi: I'm his channel. Uh, his employer. Where is he now?
Dunbar looks at her doubtfully. The older gentleman looks much more like the type to be employing someone. Unless this Chris is kitchen staff, of course.
Dunbar: He's at Dr. Tavis' office. I think he's planning surgery.
Bibi is ~~ horrified ~~.
Bibi: I'll go right over there. Nattin, you're in charge. Send Ghan or Driver over if I'm needed.
Bibi knows Nattin will understand she means an incipient changeover.
Nattin nods, already mentally planning out what the donors ought to be told.
Bibi: Or better, let Ghan take it and you come with me.
Bibi would appreciate Nattin's GN-1 efforts at support in the absence of any other.
Dunbar: I've got Ian's mule, already saddled up. Can you ride a mule, ma'am?
Nattin: I'll go inform Ghan, then, while you gather your supplies.
Nattin is ~~ worried ~~ about what might happen to Bibi, losing her Donor unexpectedly for the second time in less than a year.
Bibi figures 'gathering her supplies' includes getting her retainers on out of this Gen's sight.
Bibi: I'll be right back, sir.
Dunbar resigns himself to walking back. Even that big a mule can't carry triple, though it might manage double when one is so small.
Bibi goes into her office and struggles into her retainers. She isn't sure what supplies would be relevant but gathers some Nivet medications and puts them in her bag and returns to the waiting room.
Nattin joins them a moment later, having briefed Ghan.
Dunbar: You two take the mule. I'll walk back.
Bibi heads out the door and unties the mule.
Bibi: You ride the mule, Nattin and I'll lead it.
Bibi resists throwing Nattin into the saddle.
Nattin gives the beast a ~~ dubious ~~ look, but gamely clambers aboard.
Bibi heads off at a brisk trot, forcing the mule to keep pace.
Nattin doesn't have the pride of an out-T man to keep him from clinging to the beast's mane.
Dunbar follows at a more leisurely walk, until he remembers something Dr Tavis had said about rounding up some donors when he gets back. Then he hurries.
Bibi quickly arrives at Dr. Tavis's office, having ignored all queries from those who saw her. She impatiently helps Nattin down.
Nattin slides ~~ cautiously ~~ from the beast's back, not because he's delaying Bibi, but because he doesn't want to add himself to the casualty list.
Bibi ties the mule's reins to the post and hustles Nattin into the doctor's office. She can zlin Cristal's nager inside.
Cristal is too out of it to notice his body react to Bibi's field.
Tavis hears a commotion in his outer office, and leaves Cristal momentarily to see if his next of kin has arrived.
Bibi heads right into the back, drawn by Cristal's nager, ~~ horrified ~~ at what she zlins.
Tavis: Hajene Bibi, I'm glad you're...
Bibi: Dr. Tavis. He's in shock, bleeding internally. I think his spleen is ruptured.
Bibi struggles to get her retainers off so she can start working on her Donor.
Tavis is a bit ~~ unsettled ~~ at the speed at which Bibi passed him, but struggles ~~ gamely ~~ on, having learned a few things in Cottonwood City, despite himself.
Tavis: My diagnosis agrees with yours. I've got him prepped for surgery, as soon as we can get a blood sup.... What are you doing?
Tavis is a little ~~ alarmed ~~ at the retainer-removal.
Bibi: Got to stop the bleeding...
Bibi sets the retainers on the table and grabs Cristal in a five-point contact, careful not to disturb his abdomen or the IV saline drip.
Tavis feels ~~ revulsion ~~ at the sight.
Tavis: Yes, he needs immediate surgery.
Bibi is concentrating on her Donor, ignoring Dr. Tavis and Virginia as much as possible. She hopes Nattin will move to block them as best he can.
Nattin doesn't have any Donor's training, but he's seen Cristal work. He therefore manages to get past Tavis into the room where Cristal is lying.
Bibi seizes Cristal's field and does her best to close down flow to the broken blood vessels, but she's no Katsura Farris.
Nattin can't put himself between Bibi and both Gens, so he tries to block Tavis, figuring that Virginia is at least a little more used to Simes.
Tavis: Ma'am, if you'll just move aside, I can take care of him.
Bibi isn't listening, nor letting go. She's exerting her limited QN-2 powers to the utmost, but Cristal has already lost a lot of blood into the abdominal cavity. She projects the most intense ~~ need ~~ she can imagine, remembering last summer when she had to wait so long for transfer.
Cristal feels the ~~ need ~~ and partly wakens out of his stupor.
Cristal: [Simelan] Hajene? What's wrong? No one tells me anything.
Bibi: Cristal, I'm here. You've been injured.
Tavis lacks the Simelan medical vocabulary to explain, as Cristal lacks the English equivalent.
Bibi has broken the fifth contact, but maintains her lateral hold, exerting full effort to keep Cristal's blood pressure up and counteract the shock.
Bibi: Your spleen is ruptured. I've stopped some of the bleeding but you've bled a lot internally. I'm holding up your blood pressure right now.
Bibi speaks English so Tavis and Virginia will understand.
Cristal: [mumbles] Thanks.
Tavis: I've got my receptionist rounding up the nearest blood donors of your type. We can operate and get the bleeding stopped as soon as they arrive.
Bibi desperately wishes there were other channels here to take turns with her. She can't maintain such intense healing mode for very long.
Tavis edges closer, trying to see around Nattin.
Cristal finally realizes what Tavis is saying.
Cristal: Hajene? Blood donors?
Nattin is no Donor, and his field isn't strong enough to support Bibi properly even if there weren't two untrained non-donors in the room.
Bibi considers the situation. Increasing Cristal's blood volume would help -- it would be less difficult to hold off shock. But surgery is an appalling idea, probably more to Cristal than to herself.
Nesta enters Dr. Tavis' outer office and calls out.
Nesta: Dr. Tavis? Anette said you needed blood donors?
Tavis calls over his shoulder.
Tavis: One moment, please. And thank you for coming.
Grisholm hurries in moments behind Nesta, pulling off his gloves.
Grisholm: You get the donor call too, Nesta?
Grisholm: Any idea who the patient is?
Nesta: Not yet.
Tavis is frankly ~~ amazed ~~ that the patient is speaking at all, even if incomprehensibly.
Bibi: [Simelan] I think you should accept the blood, Cristal.
Bibi is ~~ afraid ~~ he won't survive without it.
Cristal tries to curl up out of ~~ horror ~~, but desists because it's so ~~ painful ~~.
Cristal: [grunts] If ... you ... say ... so ... Hajene.
Tavis gestures for Virginia to go and cross-match the donors, so they can begin as soon as possible.
Cristal: [English] Do the blood, Doctor.
Tavis: Nurse Reel is setting it up right now.
Bibi is ~~ relieved ~~ that she didn't have to argue. Supporting Cristal is taking all her strength and she's starting to get a little shaky from the effort.
Tavis: It's not going to do a lot of good, though, unless that damaged spleen comes out.
Bibi: I've got the bleeding controlled right now, but I may not be able to keep this up much longer. I hope for some clotting....
Tavis: A smashed spleen won't clot. Not if it's bad enough to be losing this much blood, this fast.
Bibi knows that she can't do enough for Cristal by herself. The thought of Tavis cutting him up with knives is horrible, but not as horrible as him dying.
Cristal: [weakly but clearly] Bibi, you're not a whole team of Firsts at a big-city Sime Center. I think you need to...
Cristal can't make himself say it either.
Bibi: Will you consent, Cristal? I need you. I can help you heal afterwards.
Cristal nods resignedly ~~ assent ~~.
Bibi: Thank you, Sosu.
Cristal can't believe this is happening to him, but his mother didn't raise him to deny reality when it's kicking him in the face -- or the gut.
Bibi is trembling now, between her prolonged effort in healing mode and her horror at what they are going to do to her Donor.
Nattin puts an arm around Bibi, trying very hard not to think about what's going to happen to Cristal, because Bibi needs him to be as ~~ steady ~~ as he can manage.
Bibi leans lightly on Nattin's unresponsive, non-Donor nager, ~~ thankful ~~ for his best effort, minimal though it may be.
Tavis steps around Bibi -- leaving as much distance as practical between them -- and checks the IV line he placed in Cristal's arm vein. He's glad to see that it's intact.
Bibi placed her tentacles to avoid the insertion site.
Tavis: You really shouldn't have grabbed him like that, Ma'am. I barely got that needle in as it was, and he had more blood half an hour ago.
Cristal: [English] Doctor?
Cristal: Cooperate with Hajene. [pause] Need both of you. Please.
Tavis: She can stay right here until you're out of surgery, so she'll be here when you wake up.
Tavis is accustomed to uneasy surgical patients.
Cristal: [more emphatic] No. Use her. Diagnosis. Hemowhatsis. ~~ intense concern ~~
Tavis pats Cristal's arm, hoping to reassure.
Tavis: She agrees, your spleen will probably have to come out. Don't worry, you can get along fine without it.
Bibi: Doctor, I can keep up this support until you are ready to... cut. And after. But not during. ~~ suppressed horror ~~
Bibi hopes she can keep it up. She's rapidly approaching exhaustion.
Tavis: A lot of people get upset at the sight of an incision, Ma'am. We'll have a basin you can use, if you have to.
Bibi: No, it's not that. In healing mode, what I'm doing now, I'm zlinning. I would zlin what you do to Cristal as if you were doing it to me.
Cristal: Doctor, she feels what I do, where you cut. Can't help it. Simes.
Bibi is not going to explain that general opinion is that witnessing surgery is enough to turn a channel, or any Sime, junct.
Tavis tries to follow that alien thought, then decides it isn't as important as getting his patient ready.
Tavis: Well, I guess you should leave when you have to, then.
Bibi: Cristal, I'll stay with you as long as I can, and come back as soon as I can after.
Tavis sees Virginia standing at the door, beckoning.
Cristal: Stay. Go hypo. ~~ pleading ~~
Bibi doesn't think she can manage that, under such stress, for so long.
Bibi: I'll do the best I can, Sosu.
Tavis: I think we're ready to begin, then.
Bibi shifts to a shoulder contact, the better to stay out of Tavis's way, but is ~~ alarmed ~~ at the effect of dropping her nageric control of Cristal's circulatory system for even that short time.
Tavis: What's the matter, Ma'am?
Bibi: I'm trying to stay out of your way, but when I let go... his blood pressure dropped substantially. I'm holding it back up again, keeping him out of shock.
Tavis: Well, let's get some blood into him, then.
Tavis takes the handle of the wheeled bed on which Cristal is lying, and starts maneuvering it towards the surgery.
Bibi awkwardly follows, maintaining her four-point contact.
Grisholm has already taken off his sweater and rolled up his sleeve. For something like this, for once he doesn't believe in "ladies first." He steps past Nesta and into the doorway to the back rooms.
Grisholm: Ready whenever you need me, Doc. So who's the patient?
Tavis nods down at the bed.
Tavis: His name's Cristoph.
Grisholm doesn't recognize the name, or the face.
Bibi braces herself for the Gen's reaction when he sees her tentacles on Cristal.
Tavis gestures for Virginia to help him shift Cristal onto the operating table.
Grisholm defines a "foreigner" as anyone from more than two hours' ride away.
Tavis gets Cristal positioned, then turns to point at the other bed.
Tavis: You lie down there, and we'll get started. He's lost a lot of blood.
Tavis hasn't thought that the second bed has a better view of Bibi.
Grisholm glances at the little lady holding the patient's shoulders and gasps in ~~ shock ~~ .
Grisholm: What the hell!!!??
Bibi flinches, grits her teeth, and tries to ignore Grisholm, although of course she can't and still maintain healing mode.
Grisholm: What's that damn snake doing here? ~~ fear ~~ anger ~~
Bibi desperately wishes she had a Donor to shield her.
Tavis gestures for Virginia to prepare the chloroform, then grabs the transfusion apparatus and approaches Grisholm.
Tavis: She's helping out, just like you are.
Tavis: She knows the guy. Give me your arm.
Tavis is ~~ impatient ~~ to get started.
Grisholm: You expect me to just lie back and relax with that in the room? And how does she know him? Is he one of those Sime-kissers?
Tavis: She works for him, I gather.
Tavis takes out a tourniquet.
Grisholm jerks his arm away.
Grisholm: You expect me to give my blood to save the life of one of his kind? ~~ fury ~~
Tavis: You agreed to help save the life of anyone who needs your kind of blood. Remember that? When your little girl's appendix had to come out?
Grisholm: I thought you meant people. Decent pure human people. Not snake-spawn and the devils they worship.
Tavis: And yet, your daughter is alive because a certain young woman volunteered to provide blood for her. And even I have to agree that Saucy Sue Mulligan is neither pure nor decent.
Grisholm bites his lip.
Cristal is doing his best to ignore all this byplay, and have faith in his channel (easy) and his doctor (hard).
Tavis: If you have less compassion than a prostitute, then get out of here and let Nesta do what you're too bigoted to do.
Grisholm: I trusted you, doc. But, yeah, I did promise. I'll do it. Damn you.
Grisholm lies back on the bed. ~~ angry resignation ~~
Tavis couldn't care less if Grisholm likes him. After all, he's not about to lose the man as a patient, since Bibi is the only other physician in town.
Cristal worries about how Bibi is taking this; Nattin's a fine fellow, but he's not up to helping Bibi through this stress.
Cristal isn't so sure he'd be up to it, even if he weren't the patient.
Tavis wraps the band around Grisholm's arm, but unfortunately he doesn't think to warn Bibi before he inserts the needle.
Bibi flinches, but carries on.
Grisholm stares at the ceiling, ~~ fuming ~~.
Tavis makes sure the blood is flowing down the tube, then into Cristal.
Cristal feels a burning sensation and realizes that he's getting the blood of someone who despises him. He can't decide whether that's more insulting or more gratifying.
Bibi has never zlinned a blood transfusion before and finds it very strange. For one thing, a Gen is passively receiving selyn from another Gen. A small amount, granted, but it zlins very weird.
Tavis nods to Virginia to start the chloroform.
Grisholm would be even more upset if he were to realize that he's donating selyn along with his blood.
Cristal would probably be weirded out by it too, but he doesn't think of it, fortunately.
Virginia is providing a distraction in the form of the chloroform cone, anyway.
Virginia: Just breathe normally, Cristal, and count backwards from ten.
Virginia fails to specify in which language.
Cristal reverts to Simelan.
Cristal: Ten, nine, eight, five, eleven, twenty, ten!
Bibi is also finding it strange to zlin Cristal going under.
Cristal lapses into unconsciousness.
Tavis nods in ~~ satisfaction ~~.
Tavis: I'm ready to begin, now.
Tavis reaches for a scalpel.
Bibi carefully relinquishes her hold on Cristal and winces as she zlins the internal bleeding resuming.
Bibi staggers as she heads for the door.
Nattin supports Bibi as well as he can, both physically and nagerically, ~~ aware ~~ that he can't offer enough help in either category.
Nattin: Are you sure this is the right thing to do, Hajene?
Bibi thinks this is a useless time for Nattin to express doubts.
Bibi: I couldn't keep him alive without other channels to help, Nattin.
Nattin: I know. It's just... this is very hard on you, much less on Cristal.
Bibi staggers again. The sustained effort has really taken it out of her. She hopes she won't faint.
Nattin: Come, sit down.
Nattin leads Bibi towards the closest seat.
Bibi: I should get further away.
Bibi collapses into the chair, then jerks upright, gasping.
Bibi: Help... he's cutting...
Nattin scoops Bibi up, ignoring the risk to his back, and carries her out to the waiting room.
Anette, Tavis's non-surgical nurse, is organizing the blood donation process.
Bibi clutches her arms to her chest, protecting her laterals, and forces herself hypoconscious.
Nattin is not thinking beyond protecting Bibi, and so he isn't thinking in terms of retainer laws.
Nesta: Hajene Bibi, are you all right?
Bibi isn't up to a lot of explanations, and thinks a simple "no" would be inadequate. She'll let Nattin handle it.
Nattin: Please, give her room.
Nesta: Nattin, is she okay? Should I put up a "Sime Territory" note on the door?
Nesta, as a Brown granddaughter, is quite aware of the legalities. Fortunately, none of the other three waiting blood donors seem frightened.
Nattin looks around the waiting room, which seems to have a number of people in it.
Nattin: Perhaps you'd better.
Bibi performs a breathing exercise, trying to pull herself together.
Nattin really doesn't want to have to deal with a channel in need whose Donor is being sliced up, plus retainers.
Nesta glances at Anette, who's busy drawing blood from one of the volunteers, then goes behind the desk and rummages for a pencil and paper.
Nesta: What's wrong with Hajene Bibi, Nattin?
Nesta is as unaware of the patient's identity as Grisholm was before he went in.
Bibi would really like to be lying down in a dark, quiet, insulated room with somebody like Shorsh or Lusinka or Nick or Gerrhonot, or even Bart, at this point.
Nesta finishes lettering the sign, and rummages in the desk for some thumb tacks.
Anette: The young man in there ruptured his spleen, Nesta, and Doctor Tavis is having to take it out.
Nesta: Ooh, and Hajene Bibi had to zlin it. Ouch.
Nattin steers Bibi towards a couch that's at least a little removed from the other Gens.
Anette: He's the one that works there in the Sime Center.
Nesta: Sosu Cristal? Oh, poor Bibi. ~~ sympathy ~~
Bibi is ~~ grateful ~~ for Nattin's help. She tries to use Nattin's nager to protect herself from the other Gens, sympathetic and otherwise.
Nesta: What's she going to do for transfer this month? Will they send someone else?
Nesta doesn't wait for an answer, but goes outside to tack up the sign.
Nattin really, really wishes that Nesta hadn't asked that question.
Bibi hopes the town won't be full of rumors that she's going to go berserk and kill somebody for lack of Cristal's services.
Bibi is determined to believe that if Cristal can't give her at least a reasonable partial, her Controller will send another Donor in plenty of time. They've got a whole week this time. But it is winter.