D'zoll stops by the Official Sat'htine Post Office, as he's heard through the grapevine that he has a letter from out-T, a rare enough thing for anyone. The Post Office is actually one room on the ground floor of the unmarried women's Gen dorm, for some reasons lost in the mist of Householding history.
D'zoll sure enough finds a letter, labeled "By Diplomatic Pouch". Hmm. He flips it over and sees that the return address is Hajene Seruffin at the New Washington Embassy. He opens the letter ~~ uncertainly ~~.
D'zoll: Hmm, hmm, hmm. Greetings, respect, yeah. Shen! What is he thinking of? "Interesting case ... senior Gen government official ... relative ... private Pen??!" Seruffin must have gone off the rails. Too much time among the Wild Gens, I bet. What makes him think ...?
Shorsh comes by, looking for D'zoll. He wants to make sure he eats something before their next shift.
Shorsh: Talking to yourself is a bad sign, Hajene. It's said to be the first sign of insanity. ~~ teasing ~~
D'zoll: Yes, it isn't very suitable behavior for a top-flight Sat'htine Mind-Healer, is it.
Shorsh: Well, don't mutter to yourself. Tell me what's in the letter.
D'zoll: Hajene Seruffin, who apparently is even crazier than I am, thinks I'm the only specialist in out-T Gen Mind-Healing, so he wants to call me in on some highly political case.
Shorsh: Hm. And I don't suppose the out-T Gen wants to come to Sat'htine, right?
D'zoll: There are two of them. One's a Senator -- that's one of their top-level group of officials -- and the other's his cousin. And the Senator has put his cousin in a Pen and is using a local channel to interrogate him, from what I can make out.
Shorsh scratches his head.
Shorsh: You aren't making this up, right? And it isn't April...
D'zoll: I'm certainly not, and I doubt if Seruffin is either.
Shorsh: Neither of them raises pigs, I hope.
D'zoll: Unlikely. Senators seem to get paid out of taxes, but this particular one, if I read between the lines correctly, comes from a rich and powerful family.
Shorsh: I suppose having an important out-T official feeling grateful to us would be good for Unity.
D'zoll: Or it might leave us running for our lives, like poor Nick and Kat. We'd be able to stay at the Sime Center and have plenty of work to do.
Shorsh sighs again.
Shorsh: A nice clean warm dry Sime Center sounds good. Running for our lives in the dead of winter doesn't.
D'zoll: Who knows. Anyhow, the local channel, a Hajene Crynwyr -- what the shen kind of name is that, anyhow? -- thinks that the Senator and his cousin need someone to mediate for them so the Senator can be reassured enough to let his cousin go.
Shorsh: And he wants us in the middle? Why not a couple of out-T lawyers? Or the police. Surely it isn't legal to run a private prison for your relatives.
D'zoll: Maybe not, but if Jaklin ambrov Imil were doing it, I doubt there would be anyone to tell her no, except perhaps her Sectuib, and of course out-T Gens don't have Sectuibs.
Shorsh: Well, they do say that you can never tell what a Wild Gen will do next.
D'zoll: Too true, as you and I found out.
Shorsh: So it sounds like you're ready to put on your retainers and head off for Genland again, no doubt with the Companion you most like to abuse, me. ~~ teasing ~~
D'zoll: Ohhh no. I learned my lesson last time: Sectuib gets first crack at this before I even think about ways and means. Which most certainly would include you. Who, after all, is the only specialist in out-T Gen Mind-Healing Companioning? ~~ teasing back ~~
Shorsh: Not to mention consorting with swine.
D'zoll: Do you happen to know where Sectuib is, so we can get rid of this hot potato before we get burned?
D'zoll has been unconsciously following Shorsh, who (he hopes) is walking in some sensible direction or other, which is more than D'zoll would be capable of right now.
Shorsh: Probably in his office drinking trin with Lusinka.
Hiram is actually outside the delivery room, trying to talk Gegg down off the ceiling so he can take his donation.
Hiram: Come on, Gegg. ~~ soothing, coaxing ~~ I know it's a day early for you, but you're broadcasting all of your concern for Toria to the medical staff.
Gegg is pacing back and forth in a frenzy of ~~ fear, worry, anger, and dread ~~, although surprisingly little of it is directed at Hiram.
Gegg: It wasn't supposed to be for another week. And who was the idiot that let Sanda in there?
Gegg found out that little complication in the brief moment before he was unceremoniously and imperiously ejected from the room himself by Rimona.
Hiram: Babies come when they will, not when we think they should. And I believe Toria agreed to her daughter's presence. Now take a few deep breaths, calm down, and let me take down your field. Then you can be in there with Toria if you wish.
Gegg takes one breath, then starts wearing another track in the much-abused hall carpeting.
Gegg: Toria's far too old for this. I'll never forgive myself if she doesn't make it. And isn't coming early bad for the babies?
Hiram: A week isn't enough to make much difference. The babies will do fine, I'm sure. And Toria is a strong, healthy woman. Hajene Rimona is the very best, you know. She delivered all but one of my own children.
Gegg: Toria's been so exhausted lately. What if she doesn't have the strength for this? There isn't a surgeon around to take the babies out if it goes on too long.
Gegg's highfield, near-Donor nager is becoming more ~~ frenzied ~~, not less, as his imagination breaks loose.
Hiram tries to suppress his ~~ nausea ~~ at the thought of cutting a woman open to get the babies out.
Hiram: It's going to be all right, Gegg. ~~ soothing ~~ It's going to be all right.
Gegg seems to be impervious to Hiram's attempts at Gen-management.
Hiram takes a half step closer to Gegg.
Hiram: Take some slow, deep breaths now. Let go of all emotion, just for a minute, so I can take your field down.
Gegg only takes half a breath this time before a yell from behind the closed door sets him off again.
Gegg: What are they doing to her?
Hiram: Easy, Gegg, easy. This is a normal part of giving birth.
Gegg: So is dying from it.
Hiram: Let me take your field down, and then you can go in there and be reassured.
Gegg is still chasing back and forth, unable to stand still, much less cooperate with Hiram.
Hiram ventures another step closer, blocking Gegg's path and broadcasts waves of ~~ reassurance ~~ and ~~ relaxation ~~ .
Gegg bumps blindly into Hiram, then steps around him to continue his circuit.
D'zoll 's partly random walk has by chance brought him close enough to the delivery room to pick up the bizarre Hiram/Gegg interaction with his Farris sensitivity.
Shorsh notices his reaction.
Shorsh: What do you zlin?
D'zoll: Gegg and Hiram are having some kind of problem. I think we better head [English] thataway.
D'zoll takes off at Sime speed, leaving his Companion to catch up in the usual way.
Hiram steps into Gegg's path again, holding his forearms behind his back so Gegg won't jar his laterals if he crashes into him again.
Hiram: Easy does it, Gegg. Easy does it.
Gegg pauses, focuses a moment on Hiram with a touch of ~~ confusion ~~, then his attention snaps back to the closed door and he turns to pace the circle the other way.
Hiram, with a ~~ weary ~~ sigh, runs his ventrals through his hair and gets ready to try again.
Hiram: Listen to me, Gegg. Listen to me. Let go of all else and hear my words.
Gegg is not capable of hearing anything Hiram says as more than white noise blocking his ability to hear what's happening to Toria.
Hiram is trying to keep his ~~ frustration ~~ out of his showfield. He's strongly tempted to just grab Gegg to stop his pacing, but he doesn't want to give the recovering Simephobe another setback.
D'zoll is now able to see Hiram and Gegg doing the funky chicken.
Gegg: She's too old, this should never have happened. What will I do if she doesn't make it?
Gegg has spent most of his life relying on Toria as the foundation of his strength, and even D'zoll's work hasn't built his self-confidence to the point where he can face the prospect of life without her.
Hiram: It's too late to ask whether Toria should be pregnant, Gegg. This is happening. She requires you to be strong for her now.
Gegg: She's the strong one in the family. Much stronger than me.
Hiram: Toria is strong, Gegg. Strong enough to give birth. Women are amazing. We men could never go through what they do.
D'zoll walks up behind the distracted Gegg, who is momentarily still, and taps him on the shoulder.
Gegg's nager shatters with ~~ startlement ~~, then returns to its former level of near-hysteria.
Gegg: D'zoll. What are you doing here?
Gegg is at least giving D'zoll a little more of his attention than Hiram was able to grab.
Hiram welcomes D'zoll's arrival. Maybe the mind-healer can get a handle on Gegg's distress.
D'zoll doesn't have the attention to spare to reply to Gegg's question.
Hiram gives the nageric signal that says he's handing off primary control of the present situation to D'zoll.
D'zoll uses the hooks he's left in Gegg's nageric structure to ~~ attempt to exert control ~~ over Gegg's emotions.
Gegg is at least temporarily standing more or less still, if you discount considerable fidgeting and hand-wringing.
D'zoll: ~~ calm calm relaxation calm ~~
Hiram: ~~ supportive calm ~~
Gegg's attention is at least ~~ distracted ~~ from its obsession with Toria's danger by D'zoll's efforts, although his normal reaction to having his field imposed on isn't any more pleasant to zlin.
Shorsh, a little out of breath, finally catches up with his channel and assesses the situation.
Gegg: The babies are coming, D'zoll. And Toria's so weak...
Gegg's head turns to the side as he looks for space to pace in, but Shorsh happens to be in the way.
D'zoll carefully fades out the imposed field and ~~ signals ~~ Hiram to do the same.
D'zoll: I'd have you sit down, but there don't seem to be any straw bales here.
Gegg blinks, as if he's never been introduced to the concept. He isn't tracking too well at the moment.
D'zoll: It would be the most helpful thing, yes.
Gegg ~~ flinches ~~ violently at another yell from beyond the door.
D'zoll grabs a chair leg with his leg and tries to pull it up while keeping his ~~ attention ~~ on Gegg.
Shorsh provides his usual ~~ strong, steady support ~~ to his channel.
Hiram is ~~ alert ~~ ready to support D'zoll's next move.
D'zoll finds that just because he's a Sime doesn't mean he can't do a pratfall while trying to do two things at once. ~~ thud! ~~
Shorsh winces, but not nagerically.
Gegg ~~ startles ~~, both physically and nagerically.
Hiram zlins the other channel for injuries. He seems to be okay.
D'zoll resists the urge to try to damp Gegg's startle.
Gegg then blinks down at D'zoll, a small part of his attention momentarily fixing on the channel.
Gegg: Are you all right?
Gegg takes a step forward with ingrained Gen courtesy and offers a hand to help D'zoll up.
D'zoll: All except my pride.
D'zoll accepts the hand, partly because his rear end hurts, and partly to see whether Gegg will follow through.
Shorsh is ~~ interested ~~ too. Will Gegg unconsciously offer nageric support? Will D'zoll be foolish enough to accept it?
Hiram stands by, ~~ alert ~~ .
Gegg tugs D'zoll to his feet, offering an absentminded and semi-supportive bit of ~~ concern ~~, since D'zoll is not currently imposing on his nager enough to trigger his remaining phobia.
D'zoll continues to lean on Shorsh for nageric support while ~~ accepting ~~ Gegg's physical support.
Gegg steadies D'zoll.
D'zoll: Thanks, Gegg. I appreciate it.
D'zoll zlins to see if Gegg's obsession has been disrupted. He had hoped, while on the floor, to provoke laughter, but no luck.
Gegg's attention is starting to stray from D'zoll towards the door again, now that the immediate crisis seems to have passed.
D'zoll fetches the chair more conventionally and hands it to Gegg, then goes back for two more chairs so that he and Shorsh can sit in their usual positions. It isn't the best space for therapy, but needs must when the Wild Gen drives.