Delia sits quietly, well, as quietly as she can, awaiting her audience with the Sectuib in Sat'htine. She has been through this before but maybe this time the Tecton will believe the reports and let her get back to working as a real Donor and not a Mule.
Delia pulls in her nager as tightly as she can. The place is crawling, er, full of Farris channels and she doesn't want any more evil eyes pointed in her direction. She has to admit to herself that she's nervous and that she really can't keep it from showing to a channel who outrates her. Unfortunately she has come to a House full of them for more shenoni testing!
Hiram sits at his desk, studying Delia's file. He scowls and passes it to his Companion.
Lusinka glances over it, and gets that ~~ overly protective ~~ feeling any Donor gets when her channel is proposing to do something dangerous. She knows that it's useless to suggest that some other channel take on a task like this, too.
Hiram: Just when we thought the week was as stressful as it could get, a Giant Killer Gen dumped on us for testing.
Lusinka: Why do they always send these messes to us?
Hiram: Because they know we're the best.
Lusinka: We should never have agreed to let D'zoll go after the Geggs -- now we've got a reputation. Zeor apparently had more sense. Unless you think you can dare Muryin into taking her on?
Hiram: Remember I said I had to rebuild Sat'htine's political capital after spending so much of it over Kat and Nick? I think someone's giving us the chance to. I suppose I should be grateful for the opportunity.
Hiram doesn't look or sound the least bit grateful.
Lusinka: It's too bad young D'zoll is away. He's getting quite the reputation as a Gen tamer.
Lusinka is somewhat ~~ amused ~~ at D'zoll's reputation.
Hiram gestures a negative.
Hiram: This would be my job anyway.
Lusinka: I suppose so.
Hiram: But yes, you're right, D'zoll is getting famous.
Hiram gives a brief grin that doesn't reach his eyes or his nager.
Lusinka: Well, do you have any idea what to do with this... Delia?
Hiram shrugs, a rippling of handling tentacles.
Hiram: The standard test may not be enough, but it's the obvious place to start. I'll take a simulated transfer from her, doing my best to trigger her kill reflex. And if I succeed, you scrape me off the walls and glue my nager back together.
Lusinka nods, tight-lipped. She really wishes that objecting would do some good.
Hiram: If I fail, we'll have to think of some tougher ways to test her.
Lusinka: How much do you want to tell her before you start?
Hiram: I don't zlin any benefit in trying to disguise what I'm doing; she's been through enough tests before that she'll have a pretty good idea of what's coming anyway.
Lusinka: Of course, that will make the results more ambiguous.
Hiram: Which is why we'll have to find other ways to test her, if she passes the first.
Hiram: She's been tossed from pillar to post for years now. We have to settle this decisively, one way or the other. By the time she leaves here, either she's clean, or she's retired.
Lusinka: Well, I suppose we might as well get started.
Hiram: Bring her in, then.
Delia enters the room and it is immediately evident why she could be mistaken for a child. She's about the size of a small 12 year old. Hardly the "Giant Killer Gen" that has seemed to become her reputation.
Lusinka looks over Delia carefully, trying to get a feel for her.
Hiram: Sosu Delia, please be seated.
Delia: Thank you, Hajene Farris.
Hiram zlins the newcomer closely, unconsciously clutching at the comfort of Lusinka's field as he does so.
Lusinka steps up her ~~ support ~~ in response.
Delia takes the seat indicated, trying not to fidget. She remembers the last two Farrises she had any prolonged contact with. She suppresses a shudder.
Hiram: I've read your file, Sosu, but I'd like to hear your story in your own words. How this began, what you've done since, and what testing's been done on you so far.
Delia suppresses the urge to be flip about the whole ugly mess. This must be the umpteenth time she's been through this routine.
Hiram zlins the sentiment.
Hiram: I will make or break your career, Sosu. Speak accordingly.
Delia takes a deep breath and starts her recitation.
Delia: There isn't much I can add to what's in the official report. I was an undercover agent for Tecton Enforcement. They stripped me down to near death, gave me half a day to recover and sent me in as a pre-Gen to gather intelligence on Gatra Alveres and her mob. I guess they didn't take into consideration that there were children involved. Gatra goons weren't above a little child molesting. One decided I was fresh meat.
Delia fights down the nausea the memory causes.
Delia: With him slavering all over me it took everything I had not defend myself but I didn't. I was chained up for a week with that one "playing", that's what the pervert had the nerve to call it, with me.
Hiram wraps Lusinka's protective field around himself, glad he didn't have time for lunch.
Lusinka: And your field was rising all the time?
Delia: Yes. I was only supposed to be there for a day. Just 24 hours they said. My contact never showed up. I found out later she was dead. So my field was getting noticeable by the time that junct zlinned it and decided that he wanted to have some real fun. ~~ revulsion ~~
Lusinka: Was he your first victim?
Hiram is still listening and zlinning attentively, without outward response. He's worked the emergency ward; he's zlinned and heard worse.
Delia: I don't know. He invited a bunch of his buddies over to take turns. To be honest I don't remember the individual kills. It was a nightmare of bodies coming at me and I got them off of me the only way I could. Fortunately there was only one more guarding the gate. I don't remember going back for the children but the next thing I do remember is standing in the entrance of the North Bay Sime Center with a bunch of kids clinging to me. ~~ numb and distanced ~~
Lusinka finds the lack of clear memory, even after what must have been several detailed debriefings, ~~ disquieting ~~
Hiram zlins the distanced numbness. Yes, this is indeed a case for D'zoll to consult with. Already Hiram is resolved to keep Delia here, regardless of the outcome of her tests, until the young mind-healer is home again.
Lusinka sees Hiram's zeal, and makes a mental note to tell Housekeeping to find long-term housing for Delia.
Delia sits waiting for the usual reaction, shock, horror, terror and figuring out a way to get her out of the room. She tries to figure out where they'll send her next on her now too familiar Mule runs. She doesn't see that things will be changing for her any time soon. Especially if these people turn her away.
Hiram signals to Lusinka, out of Delia's line of sight.
Hiram: Thank you for speaking so frankly, Sosu. But since this is a situation that will require --
Hiram leaps across the desk with Sime-quick reflexes and seizes Delia in a transfer grip. Engaging his secondary system, he begins a simulated transfer at Delia's top rated speed.
Lusinka, forewarned, is ready to ~~ support ~~ Hiram's efforts, and hopefully cushion any nageric pyrotechnics Delia throws his direction.
Delia reacts as any Donor would and slams open her barriers to meet the demand. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! So long! So long since the last real transfer!! Yes!!
Lusinka watches closely.
Hiram, as soon as he is sure Delia isn't going to slam him, truncates the simulated transfer and releases the Donor's arms.
Lusinka is ~~ relieved ~~ that Delia passed the test, and Hiram didn't get slammed.
Hiram zlins Delia quite closely for a few moments, then goes back behind his desk and sits.
Delia reels internally. No!! Oh, no!! Not again. Not again!! ~~ sorrow ~~
Hiram: My apologies, Sosu. But surprise was a necessary component of the test.
Delia sit rubbing her arms sadly.
Delia: I understand.
Hiram: If you leave here with a clean bill of health, Sosu, there will be regular transfers for you once more.
Hiram speaks with unusual gentleness.
Delia: So do I pass?
Hiram: That was only the first test, Sosu. And yes, you passed it. There will be other tests in the days to come. By the time Sat'htine is done with you, there will be no ambiguity. You will be a working Donor again, or you will retire. Sat'htine will see this matter through.
Hiram signals his thanks to Lusinka, for her excellent support.
Delia: I see. ~~ hopeless ~~
Delia goes through the motions of politeness.
Delia: Thank you, Hajene Farris.
Hiram: Do not assume the worst, Sosu. You have not failed yet. There is a substantial possibility that you will win through.
Delia unfortunately can't see any light at the end of the tunnel that isn't an oncoming train, that is.
Hiram gives a weary sigh. He gets up and comes around the desk again, moving at normal speed. He crouches down beside the petite Donor's chair.
Delia is close to tears. I will not cry! She retreats behind her "mirror calm".
Lusinka doesn't follow Hiram, but watches closely, just in case.
Hiram: Sosu, I could have been gentler with you. And you would have passed the test, and gone away, and still no one would have trusted you. Instead, I was harsh. And I shall be harsher. But if you leave here with Sat'htine's approval, it will be believed.
Delia: Yes, Hajene, of course. I beg your pardon for perturbing the ambient. ~~ glass calm ~~
Delia retreats further behind proper forms.
Hiram lifts Delia's chin with a single dorsal tentacle.
Hiram: Sosu, a patch over a festering wound only holds the infection in. This false calm does not serve you well.
Delia: It is all I have Hajene. I'm afraid I don't know what else to do. I never want to harm another Sime again. And wanting only makes me dangerous.
Hiram nods, understanding.
Delia: I'm tired Hajene, so very tired. I can't do this any more.
Hiram: Your emotions -- about the original incident, about all that has happened since, about what is being done to you now -- are one of the things you'll have to address before you leave here. But I'm not the best channel to help you with that, and today is not the time for it.
Hiram glances at Lusinka.
Lusinka: You have some hard work ahead of you, but for today, I think we ought to get you settled in.
Delia thinks finally the rejection... What!?
Delia: Settled in?
Hiram: Naztehr, I believe we have a Gen women's hour scheduled for the big hot tub this evening. Can you show Sosu Delia where it is? And take the time to enjoy it yourself, too?
Delia: I don't understand. You mean for me to stay here?
Hiram: Expect to spend some time with us. If we can clear you as a working Donor, we will do so. If not, there is still healing we can offer you before you leave. Either way, you are our guest.