Physicians Across Borders: Episode 23

PPling is heading home after her late night shift at the Moonbean Cafe. She's tired and a little hungry, and is working on her poem to clear her mind of the execrable poetry read at tonight's open mike.

PPling: Hm, "the ecstasy ...consumed and consummated", there should be more ways of saying that...

PPling imagines the communion... now there's another word to overuse... of the desperate Sime and the dying Gen, as she stalks along the icy pavement.

PPling: Damn... no, shen, I should think shen and shidoni... keep myself immersed...

Benji is hiding behind a snow-covered bush. At any other time, he'd be a cute 12-year-old boy with a tousled blond mop of hair. Right now, covered in the blood and fluids of breakout, and desperate with need, he's not so cute. His hair is matted with filth and his clothing is torn and muddy.

PPling imagines herself as a Gen, in a pure white yawal, as her destiny, the Sime burning with agony in the fires of hard need approaches her for salvation.

PPling: My fate... what I was born for... my reason for existence...

Benji senses a huge glowing ball of light and warmth approaching. He must have it. He must.

PPling imagines the approaching Sime: tall, lean, demonically handsome, gliding with the grace of the born predator, herself his predestined prey.

PPling: The consummation of my life... ~~ self sacrifice ~~ ~~ transcendence ~~

PPling may not be the greatest poet, but she can emote.

Benji waits until the light is directly in front of his bush, then leaps. His torn sleeve catches on a branch and he lands in an ungainly heap as the sleeve rips right off his coat.

PPling isn't so enthralled by her creative trance that she doesn't turn in ~~ surprise ~~.

PPling: Hey!

Benji is on his feet in an instant and seizes the source of light. His handling tentacles lash out, immobilizing the glow.

PPling is ~~ confused ~~. Her imagination is vivid, but doesn't often get this vivid.

Benji yanks the light towards himself. His new laterals lash out, dripping with breakout fluids and ronaplin. He instinctively seats his laterals, and presses his lips against the glowing source.

PPling goes with the flow ~~ willingly ~~. Wow. This will really help her Art. She feels the ~~ ecstasy ~~ with ~~ interest ~~ and awaits the agony.

Benji pulls at the glow, taking it into himself until he is full, and the thing he holds is an empty dark lump, then falls back into ordinary awareness with a thud. No longer interested in the thing he's holding, he shoves it away from himself.

PPling slips on the ice and lands on her tailbone.

PPling: Yow! ~~ pain ~~

Benji is no longer zlinning, so doesn't feel the ~~ pain ~~ of impact.

PPling realizes she missed part of the advertised experience.

Benji looks around in confusion. What happened, and how did he get here?

PPling: Hey, jerk! You call that a Kill? ~~ annoyed ~~

Benji glances down at the sound of the voice. He sees the thing he discarded. It's a woman, lying on the pavement.

PPling's struggle to rise stops when she realizes how much it hurts.

Benji looks from the woman to his own forearms, and back again in horror as he realizes what has happened.

PPling: And look, you ripped up my sleeves! Do you know how much I paid for this friggin coat?

Benji's mouth opens in a gasp of horror. He stares a moment longer.

PPling becomes aware of the goo on her arms.

PPling: And you got this crud all over my arms. The channels don't make a mess like that.

PPling is fastidious, as evidenced by how clean she keeps her work area at the coffee house, and is ~~ disgusted ~~ at the slime.

Benji turns and flees, at augmented speed. In moments, he's out of sight.

PPling: Shen and shidoni.

PPling tries to get up again. Yow. Her tailbone really hurts.

Athanasia is on her way back to her dorm, through the crisp winter night. Her path leads past the Moonbean Cafe, which unfortunately closed just minutes ago. A hot chocolate would be good right now.

PPling rolls over and gets up on her knees, disgusted at what a mess she is.

Nick is also taking a midnight stroll, as he and Kat are pulling the night shift. He has put his worn, comfortable, heavy Gen-style coat on over his Tecton uniform.

PPling hears someone approaching and is disgusted that it's that ditzy student who was flirting with the laborer and that other student.

Athanasia sees someone kneeling on the pavement in front of her. Oh, shit! It's the waitress from the Moonbean, and she looks like she's hurt. She hurries forward.

Athanasia: PPling! What happened? Did you fall? Are you okay?

PPling: Friggin Sime ruined my coat. And I slipped on the ice and fell on my butt.

Athanasia: Sime? What Sime?

PPling: Some kid... berserker I guess.

Athanasia reaches for PPling's hands to help her up, and sees the goo on her arms.

Athanasia: Oh, shit. Oh, shit.

Nick passes the now-darkened Moonbean Cafe, and continues down the street.

PPling takes a kerchief from her pocket and wipes off her arms. She's tempted to throw it away, but she can't really afford the gesture.

Athanasia tugs PPling to her feet.

PPling: Yow!

Athanasia: Hey, at least you're alive.

Athanasia is thinking frantically. The Moonbean is closer than anywhere else.

PPling: Yeah, with a ruined coat and a broken butt.

PPling doesn't add "and he didn't even do it right... and it only lasted a few seconds... not like it's supposed to."

Athanasia: But you're alive.

PPling thinks that's pretty obvious.

Athanasia: Let's get you back to the Moonbean. You can get cleaned up a bit there, and if there's a first aid kit I'll bandage you up.

PPling: No, I should just go home. Never find a cab around here.

PPling would rather splurge on a taxi than walk five more blocks to get to her rooming house.

Athanasia: You look pretty shaken up. We'll get you inside where it's warm, and I'll go find some help.

PPling brushes ineffectually at the snow and dirt on her tattered coat.

PPling: Shit. What a mess.

Athanasia ignores the mess and offers PPling a helpful arm around her shoulders.

Athanasia: It'll be okay, hon. It'll be okay.

Athanasia doesn't know whether it will or not, but it's what her mom always said to her.

Nick turns the corner, and spots two people ahead of him.

PPling: I'm okay. It's my friggin coat that's ruined.

PPling doesn't realize that she's returned to the speech patterns of her pre-artiste phase.

Athanasia: Come on. Let's get you inside.

Athanasia urges PPling back towards the Moonbean with a gentle tug.

PPling tugs back.

PPling: Thanks, but I'm going home.

Nick sees that one of the two ahead of him is limping. His work-scouting reflexes are still quite active, even though Kat now has regular shifts.

Nick: Are you two all right?

PPling: Do I look all right?

Athanasia recognizes the cute guy from the other day.

Athanasia: She's been attacked.

PPling: Look at this friggin coat.

Nick: What happened?

Athanasia: A Sime. And then she fell.

Nick: A Sime?

Nick looks around.

PPling: Guy got goo all over my arms too.

PPling wipes at her exposed arms again with the kerchief.

Nick: You're very lucky to be alive at all.

Athanasia: Hey, forget the goo. And forget the coat. You're alive!

PPling realizes her arms are completely bare.

PPling: Hey, he ripped my shirt too. My favorite black shirt! Jerk!

Athanasia: We have to get her into the warm. Back into the Moonbean. Help me get her in there?

Nick decides that a bit more light and a bit less cold will make a better evaluation of the situation possible.

PPling: I'm okay, but if my butt isn't better by morning, I'm taking it to the Sime Center. Not paying any doctor bills for this.

Athanasia: There's got to be a first aid kit. And she needs to sit down.

PPling: I'm not sitting on this sore butt!

PPling thinks these friggin students are all the same. They don't think.

Athanasia struggles to remember the guy's name.

Nick: You should go to the Sime Center anyway. Tonight, not tomorrow. A transfer burn's nothing to fool with. Besides, the channel on duty tonight is better able to treat you than the morning shift.

PPling: He didn't get to the burn part. The ecstasy but no agony... not the complete experience.

Nick raises an eyebrow. He supposes that PPling's delusions regarding the romantic life of a junct might be helpful in facing a berserker, at that.

Athanasia: She seems to be okay aside from the fall, Nick. It's a miracle, but she's okay.

PPling: I'm not okay from the fall, idiot.

Nick: You might still have a bit of singeing, even if you didn't feel pain at the time. You should definitely be checked out as quickly as possible.

PPling puts together what Nick is saying.

PPling: How come you know so much about what goes on at the Sime Center? Like who's on what shift?

Nick: I work there. Here we are. Do you have the key?

Athanasia: You work at the Sime Center?

Nick: Yeah.

Athanasia: Gosh. I didn't know they hired folks from here.

Nick: Oh, I didn't grow up here.

PPling fumbles for her key.

PPling: Not supposed to let anybody in after closing.

Athanasia: Hey, we're not exactly here for a latte.

PPling: Well, I'm not making you one, either.

Athanasia: So what do you do there, Nick?

Nick: I look after my channel, mostly.

PPling opens the door herself and walks in, painfully, rather than stand around freezing outside.

Athanasia: Huh? Isn't that supposed to be what the Donors do?

Nick: Yup. Can you get the lights on?

Athanasia: Then why...? Oh.

PPling flips the switch.

Athanasia follows her inside.

Athanasia: You're a Donor, Nick?

Nick: Yup. Do you have any trace of headache, PPling? Or dizziness?

Athanasia: Wow.

PPling is disgusted to see what a mess she is in the light, and the way the friggin student has lost interest in her with the handsome man to flirt with.

PPling: I'm okay, except for my butt.

Athanasia decides, under the circumstances, to back off and let Nick handle the first aid stuff.

Nick: The base of your spine?

PPling: My butt. I landed on it. My tailbone.

Nick wonders if part of the pain isn't subtle transfer burn.

Nick: Is it just a small, local bruising, or has it spread away from the immediate point of impact?

PPling: I didn't land on a point. I landed on my whole butt. But it's the tailbone that hurts.

PPling thinks this guy is as clueless as the student.

Nick: That's one of the symptoms of transfer shock, as well as a symptom of falling. It'll take a channel to distinguish them.

PPling: Look, guys, thanks for the help. There's a cot in the storeroom. Maybe I'll just sleep here and go to the Sime Center in the morning if I'm not better. I can donate then too. It'll only be two days early, okay?

PPling suddenly realizes that she's in no position to donate. Damn. How's she going to buy another coat?

Nick: PPling... if you gave transfer to a Sime, you're lowfield now.

PPling: Shit! Not only did he ruin my friggin coat and favorite shirt, but he ripped me off!

PPling is extremely annoyed. She depends on her donation money to pay her rent, too.

Athanasia shakes her head in amazement. The woman's still alive, and she's worried about a bit of money.

PPling wonders if she can get the money from the Sime or his family if they catch him. There's no point in shooting him. Clearly he's harmless. Doesn't even know how to do a Kill properly.

Nick: You can put a claim in for the selyn he took, at the Sime Center.

Nick thinks so, at least: Tecton policies are still a little obscure to him.

PPling: Can I? Good. I'll go there first thing in the morning then.

Athanasia: Listen, if this guy's a Donor, he knows what he's talking about. If he says you should go right away, you should go right away.

PPling: I'm not walking.

Athanasia: We'll go with you. It's not that far.

Nick: There should be a cab the next street over, even this late.

PPling: Well, okay.

PPling hopes the Donor will pay the fare. He can afford it more than she can.

Athanasia: Let's go, then.

Nick puts an arm around PPling, and helps guide her to the door.

PPling lets him. She hasn't considered the effect of her experience on her Art, or even on her current Work yet, or she'd be even more incensed.

Athanasia trails behind, turning out the lights and locking the door.

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