D'zoll reaches out silently to take the next patient's folder from Tritt, his temporary Donor. Tritt's no Nick Reckage, but he can manage well enough in the confines of D'zoll's well-insulated therapy office.
D'zoll flips through both the public and the closed part of the record with a skill born of long practice.
D'zoll: Sosu, what can you tell me about this case?
D'zoll has as part of his job teaching Donors, and teaching involves asking questions that D'zoll already knows the answers to.
Tritt: Sosu Delia was traumatized by a police operation gone awry a number of years ago, and the trauma has been compounded by the "Giant Killer Gen" label she's carried since. Sectuib seems to think she's repressed some of her memories of the original incident, and has also internalized the low esteem she's been held in during the years since.
Tritt: Also, she's passed the standard tests for kill-reflex, but Sectuib wants her tested more harshly, so that if she's cleared, there'll be no question but that she's clean.
D'zoll: Very good. And what's your opinion of Sectuib's theory?
Tritt: My opinion? I don't think I can have one yet, having not yet met the patient.
D'zoll: Very good. In any investigation, Tritt, it is most shenningly dangerous to have a theory. And why is that?
Tritt: Because false preconceptions can lead you to find only what you expected to find, instead of what is.
D'zoll: Very good, Sosu.
Tritt ~~ warms ~~ under the channel's approval.
D'zoll allows himself to enjoy the warmth.
Tritt is not yet so experienced as to take his own understanding of a case for granted.
D'zoll: So we will set aside Sectuib's notion, eh? And I zlin Sosu Delia outside, so if you wouldn't mind ... ?
D'zoll gestures for Tritt to let Delia in and then resume his seat.
Delia has calmed down quite a bit since her almost transfer with Hajene Hiram Farris. The hot tub sessions have been very helpful. She waits without fidgeting this time.
Tritt: Sosu Delia? Come in, please.
Delia rises and enters the new den of Farris torture, er, treatment room.
D'zoll folds his fingers and tentacles in an intricate pattern which does not interfere with zlinning in the least.
Tritt observes the almost childlike form of the Donor as she enters. She looks too young to be the patient referred to in the file. For the thousandth time, Tritt wishes he could zlin.
Delia isn't quite sure where to sit.
D'zoll: Take any chair that suits you.
D'zoll's office has various chairs at various strategic positions, some best for Simes, others for Donors.
D'zoll: Or lie down on the couch, if you prefer.
Delia chooses a chair which places her at a nageric neutral point.
Delia: Thank you Hajene.
Tritt shifts his own chair three inches before sitting, the better to protect his channel during the session to come.
Delia isn't fidgeting physically or nagerically.
D'zoll: Tell me, what brings you here?
D'zoll smiles at the traditionalness of this opening line -- but what works, works.
Delia: I'm tired of being a Mule.
Delia can twinkle with the best of them.
Delia: Because I'm a Donor. ~~ smile ~~
D'zoll becomes serious.
D'zoll: You don't think that assisting in selyn transport is honorable work for a Donor?
Delia notes the shift in demeanor. Here we go.
Delia: Honor has nothing to do with it. How happy would you be, Hajene Farris, as a transporter? I was trained as a Donor and I like to think that I'm pretty good at it. ~~ deadly serious ~~
D'zoll: So you think the decision to restrict you to Mule work was improper, then.
Delia: Yes, I do. Until I got tarred with the Dam brush, my record was exemplary. The incident that happened during my service in Enforcement had been sealed by order of the Territory Controller in Gulf.
D'zoll: So explain to me the thinking of your superiors, please.
Delia: Which set? The ones who sealed my records or the ones who've relegated me to the Mule corps?
D'zoll: Well, since the latter group seems to be the present object of your concern, let's talk about them.
Delia: There really isn't anything to say. When the ronaplin hit the fan at Snake River I was long gone and working as I always had. But someone had "leaked" my record to Arat and that same someone managed to "leak" my record to the anti-Audnes faction of the Tecton.
D'zoll nods sagely.
Delia: I can only conclude that it is a bad case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
D'zoll: Tell me: do you think that the sealed record influenced the decision?
Delia: They may have. Most Simes are afraid of "Giant Killer Gens" even if they are only child size. ~~ slight amusement ~~
Delia is basicly a happy person and her humor is hard to keep down.
D'zoll cocks his head and gives Delia the Look.
Tritt wonders if the humor is a defense mechanism in this context
Delia has had the Look and far worse aimed at her.
D'zoll: Am I afraid of you?
Delia: I don't know Hajene, are you?
Tritt conceals a smile.
Delia: I've had channels lose control of their bodily functions when they find out who I am.
D'zoll looks down at himself.
D'zoll: I guess not. That's good, then.
Delia rewards the witticism with a smile. She doesn't have dimples but she is awfully cute.
Tritt wonders how many more layers of defenses D'zoll is going to have to work through to get to the real work of this session.
D'zoll: But enough about me, let's talk about you.
Delia chuckles. This channel has a sense of humor. She relaxes a little more.
D'zoll: Explain to me, if you don't mind, why what Arat thought of you would matter to the anti-Audnes faction.
Delia: I was sent to the Dam to be trained by Arat. It seemed a good idea at the time. I've always enjoyed exotic postings. A construction project of that magnitude sounded intriguing.
Delia had no idea how much intrigue was going on at the time.
Delia: When Arat refused to train me on the basis of what was reported to him about my past, I asked to be reassigned.
D'zoll: Which was denied.
Delia: No, I managed to work for quite a few months after I left the Dam. However, the assignment to the Snake River project was on my record and when the mess was laid bare I was suddenly suspect.
D'zoll: Ah. So it's the mere fact that you were assigned there that made you suspect?
Delia: That and the fact that I was assigned to Arat for training. They wondered how much "training" he had given me.
Delia: Add to that the sealed records and you have instant pariah.
D'zoll: So that accounts for the difference between you and other Donors assigned to the Project, you think?
Delia: Yes, that is what I believe the problem is, since I had no problems before that.
D'zoll: Very well. What have you done about this problem?
Delia: I've had test after test. I've seen specialists. I've taken work as a Mule and finally I've come here.
D'zoll nods and waits.
Delia looks the channel straight in the eye. She is searching for something to let her know if this is just another empty session of rehashing her life.
D'zoll: [softly] But what have you done?
Delia: Done? I've done my job to the best of my ability under the scrutiny and suspicion of every Controller I've served with since this started.
Delia: Done? I've submitted to tests, and examinations and endless sessions of psychobabble.
Delia: Done? I traveled to every Treatment Center and backwater that the Tecton has seen fit to send me to. And without objection. But I am human and I need to practice my craft just as you do.
Delia: Your Sectuib seems to think that your credentials and the reputation of your House will give me a final solution to this problem.
D'zoll: "Final solution"? As in, a cure for what ails you?
Delia: As in a clean bill of health that the Nervous Nellies will believe.
D'zoll: Of course!
D'zoll turns to Tritt.
D'zoll: Sosu, could you look in the bottom drawer over there and get me a Certificate of Donorworthiness? It should be in the third folder from the front.
Tritt: Yes, Hajene.
D'zoll sends Tritt, but not Delia, a nageric ~~ wink ~~.
Delia gapes at the channel. She knows something is definitely "up" and prepares for yet another attack test.
Tritt goes to the indicated drawer and makes a show of searching for the certificate. The folder in question contains "Requisition for Restricted Medications" forms, as Tritt already knew quite well. He closes the drawer and returns with the utterly irrelevant form.
Tritt: Here you go, Hajene.
Delia eyes the form and the channel warily. Now what?
Tritt is ~~ hyperalert ~~, ready for D'zoll's next move.
D'zoll looks on Tritt with mock anger.
Delia ~~ braces for it ~~ what ever it might prove to be.
D'zoll: This is the wrong form! Are we all out of Donorworthiness Certificates?
Tritt: You said the third folder, Hajene.
Tritt tries to appear sincerely apologetic.
Tritt: I'll look again.
Tritt keeps his protection wrapped around the channel as he turns back towards the file cabinet.
Tritt: Um, that folder's empty, Hajene.
D'zoll: Oh very well. Give me my letterhead then.
D'zoll signals that he means it this time.
Tritt has picked up his cue, even if he's not sure what D'zoll is up to. He fetches the letterhead.
D'zoll: [grumbles] Thanks.
Delia watches the by-play without allowing any of it to affect her emotions.
D'zoll grabs a pen and starts writing.
D'zoll: Dear Hajene Jaklin, This is to certify that Sosu Delia...
D'zoll interrupts himself.
D'zoll: Do you have a surname, Delia?
Delia: No, my parents were Pen Gens.
D'zoll makes a mental note of that.
Delia: I was adopted at birth but no surname was put on the certificate.
D'zoll resumes writing to his own dictation.
D'zoll: ...that Sosu Delia is absolutely fit for any kind of Donor work whatsoever, no matter what rumors you may have heard. And that I recommend you take her off Mule work immediately and give her something to do that's worthy of a trained Donor and a human being. And tell the nervous Nellies to stop it already. Signed, D'zoll Farris ambrov Sat'htine, QN-1, M.H., H.B.D.F, etc. etc. etc.
D'zoll signs with a flourish and passes the letter to Delia.
D'zoll: There, a letter to the World Controller. Your worries are over.
Delia shakes her head. A sense of humor is one thing but this is something else again.
Delia: I may not be able to zlin, Hajene Farris, but I'm not quite that stupid.
Delia has had more than one "Therapist" make fun of her before.
Delia: Is this really your answer, Hajene? To make fun of me? If so you wouldn't be the first.
D'zoll: I'm not making fun of you. Hajene Jaklin is a personal friend of mine, and I'm quite sure she would be entirely convinced by my recommendation.
Delia: Is that the letter that you want placed in my file? A file that will be sent with me everywhere I go? Is that what you want every Controller from here to anywhere to read?
D'zoll: You don't think it would give you a clean bill of health, then.
Delia: No, and neither do you. So what are you after in doing it?
D'zoll: [calmly] What do you think I'm after?
Delia: I'm sure I don't know. I thought you wanted to help. Do you? ~~ dead earnestness~~
Delia may look like a child but she isn't. Of course, given that Simes tend to see all Gens as childlike it doesn't help much.
Tritt wraps more intense ~~ support ~~ around D'zoll, expecting that the crisis point of this charade is coming.
D'zoll: I thought you wanted my help. Do you?
Delia: I do want it. And to be completely honest, Hajene, I don't want to play any more mind games. So tell me what it is you want to know and I will tell you to the best of my ability.
D'zoll: Me? Why would I want to know anything about you?
Delia takes a breath and slowly lets it out. Okay it's the "make the Giant Killer Gen angry" game. Been there done that got the sweaty smelly tee shirt.
Delia: I suppose you don't.
D'zoll: I already know everything I need to know about you to make a decision, don't I?
Delia: Have you made up your mind then?
D'zoll silently points to the letter.
Delia: So then this is just a joke to you. I'm sorry to have wasted your time, Hajene Farris.
Delia rises to leave.
D'zoll frowns and points his finger at Delia.
D'zoll: Sit down, Sosu.
Delia sits as ordered.
Delia: Why am I sitting?
D'zoll: You didn't answer my question yet. "Why would I want to know anything about you?"
Delia: Because I am a human being. If that isn't sufficient nothing every will be.
D'zoll breaks into a radiant grin.
D'zoll: Very good, Delia!
Delia wonders what the sudden praise purports to be.
Tritt's ~~ support ~~ is braced, ready for the moment when Delia "gets it".
D'zoll: Because you are a human being, and deserve to be taken seriously.
Delia can't believe that this is the end of the head game.
Delia: Was it necessary to put me through all of that? What knowledge did you gain, Hajene?
D'zoll: The Ancients used to say, "From enlightenment I have gained nothing."
Delia: And from this session I have gained less. Condemn me if that is your desire or help me. But please stop patronizing me. ~~ pique ~~
Delia feels quite free to reveal that tiny bit of her temper as she is not the Donor in charge at the moment.
Tritt fields the small flare without a second thought.
D'zoll: Ah, you're angry at me. Is it justified?
D'zoll: Of course it is. Tell me: if I were to go on provoking you, would you lose your temper with me? You have nothing to lose by telling me the truth: I can't disclose anything you tell me, you know.
Delia: I never lose my temper. I always keep it well within reach. Seriously, I'm a high First -- losing my temper can kill. No, I would not allow myself to lose my temper.
Delia's humor is displacing her pique.
D'zoll: Do you think that losing your temper at me would injure me?
D'zoll unwraps his tentacles and folds his arms, Gen-style.
Delia: It could under the right circumstances.
D'zoll: Are these the right circumstances, in your professional judgment?
Delia: No, so long as your Donor's shielding holds.
Tritt is ~~ steady ~~ as a rock.
D'zoll: It does. You accept that I outrank you?
Delia: I assume that you would not lie about that. However I have not seen your records.
D'zoll: [loudly] Then I order you to lose your temper with me!
D'zoll: If it helps, think of me as Arat Audnes, or whatever faceless channels decided to leak your records.
Delia rolls her eyes knowing that D'zoll can't possibly be serious.
D'zoll: I am extremely serious.
Delia: I don't hold grudges. I don't take out my anger on other people and I don't lose my temper on command. As far as I know that isn't a Tecton Standard Functional.
D'zoll shrugs and turns to his Donor.
D'zoll: Tritt, do you think you could manage to [Genlan] piss off [Simelan] the patient? I don't seem to be doing very well at it. Maybe you could point fingers and make fun of, oh, her height?
Delia laughs out loud. Her nager shimmers with her laughter.
Tritt speaks with studied casualness.
Tritt: I don't know why I should bother, Hajene. She obviously doesn't want your help. In fact, I would venture to say that this entire exercise is a waste of time. You should be spending your talents on a patient who actually wishes for the help she claims to want.
Tritt is warming up to his role.
D'zoll rests his chin on his fist.
D'zoll: You have a point, Tritt. But instead, let's see what happens.
D'zoll looks steadily at Delia, but without The Look.
Delia: I was in Enforcement. Good Cop, Bad Cop won't work on me.
D'zoll: That's why we're switching roles here.
D'zoll looks at Tritt and winks openly this time.
D'zoll returns his gaze to Delia.
Delia can't help the smile that leaks into her nager as it lights her eyes.
D'zoll waits patiently. He keeps on saying nothing.
Delia: I have to admit you're by far the most entertaining "Therapist" I've every had. I'm not an angry Gen. Well, except for the not working as a Donor thing.
D'zoll: Yes. The not working thing.
Delia: I know you can zlin every cell in my body, not much work there. I know that you know that this is it. What you zlin is what you get.
D'zoll: Oh, I don't agree with that. Zlinning is so... limiting. Don't you agree, Tritt?
Tritt: Indeed, Hajene. it tends to obscure the more subtle senses.
D'zoll: Quite so.
D'zoll returns to Delia.
D'zoll: In any case, I know quite well that you're sincere, and I don't even need to zlin you to do it.
Delia: So what is it you are trying to get at, Hajene?
D'zoll scratches his head with a dorsal.
D'zoll: So you're perfectly all right with being a Giant Killer Gen, then?
Delia: I am a Donor. All of us are Giant Killer Gens. But we don't kill.
D'zoll: But you did kill, Delia!
Delia feels a sudden ~~ shock ~~ flash through her body.
Tritt fields the nageric impact smoothly.
Delia: That was a long time ago under extraordinary circumstances.
D'zoll ignores this.
Delia can't believe that the memories can still get to her sometimes.
D'zoll: Three lives, three Sime lives, snuffed out.
D'zoll gestures "Whatever".
Delia: Five juncts who were trying to kill me at the time.
D'zoll repeats the gesture.
Delia starts to feel the numbness taking hold as her mind tries to relegate the horror of it all to the past.
D'zoll: That's what's so awful, Delia. It doesn't even hurt any more. Most of the time.
D'zoll puts out a hand rather tentatively.
Delia stares at the hand.
Delia: I couldn't function if it did. How many changeovers have you ended with a merciful death? Is that not killing? Do they still hurt you? How could you function if they did?
D'zoll: I cry a whole lot, that's how.
Delia is sinking further into the numbness.
D'zoll looks back at Tritt.
Delia: I cried for weeks and weeks until it all went away.
D'zoll: I'm sure you did. Who comforted you, though?
Delia: They all tried to. But they couldn't understand the horror of it. They never could.
Delia's voice has taken on a slightly mechanical quality.
D'zoll pushes out his lip and and rocks his head from side to side.
D'zoll: Huh. Probably I couldn't either, then.
D'zoll turns to Tritt.
D'zoll: So, Tritt. Should I tell her you can't heal a wound you can't feel, or will she just tell me that's more psychobabble?
Delia: Scars don't have feeling, Hajene.
D'zoll holds his hand toward Delia in the gesture for silence.
D'zoll: Sosu Tritt?
Tritt: I don't know, Hajene. I think she truly believes the wound has closed and healed. She's blocked that much of the self-awareness a Donor requires.
Delia can certainly agree with that.
D'zoll: Unless she's a Mule, eh?
D'zoll turns back to Delia.
D'zoll: Tell me, do you know what's done when a bone knits before a channel gets to treat it? It used to happen all the time -- before Unity, of course, and more recently, even.
Delia: It has to be rebroken. That's basic medical training. Are you planning to break me then?
D'zoll shakes his head slowly.
D'zoll: Oh no. That never works. That's what put you where you are today. Tritt, who needs to break Sosu Delia?
Tritt: She does, Hajene. Nobody else can do it for her.
D'zoll: Do you agree, Delia?
Delia: I'm afraid I don't know how.
D'zoll grins again.
D'zoll: Good! That's why you've got us!
D'zoll turns all business.
D'zoll: How about the same time tomorrow?
Delia isn't sure but...
Delia: Same time tomorrow. Okay.
D'zoll nods and gives Delia the "dismissed" signal.
Delia gets up and leaves feeling rather bemused, or is it bewildered?
D'zoll turns to Tritt as Delia goes out.
Tritt waits until the door has closed before easing back to basic standard support for his channel.
Tritt: A difficult one, Hajene. She's built layer upon layer of defenses. You've made a good start, but I'm wondering...
Tritt trails off, unsure of his own reasoning.
D'zoll: If, if we fail, it's going to get worse? Probably.
Tritt: I'm wondering where she got her training, and whether they neglected to teach her about self-care. It seems like she thinks...
Tritt hesitates again. It seems too fantastic to be true.
D'zoll: Go ahead.
Tritt: It seems like nobody ever taught her that a Donor has to work through emotions, just as a channel does. She seems to think that because she mustn't let go where it would harm a Sime, she mustn't let go at all. Ever. How could she not have been taught that?
D'zoll: I'm sure she was. But sometimes experience can override training -- and if it's the wrong experience, well...
D'zoll trails off this time.
D'zoll: [English] Well, that's why they pay us the big bucks.
Tritt laughs. In fact, Hajene D'zoll gets paid exactly what any other member of Sat'htine does: nothing.
D'zoll joins in the laughter.
D'zoll: Anything else?
Tritt: It's likely to be a long haul.
D'zoll: Well, there's another line from the Ancients that I thought of, but I thought it would spoil the effect to quote it for Delia.
D'zoll puts on a funny accent.
D'zoll: "Now vee may perhaps to begin?"
D'zoll relaxes completely.
D'zoll: Thanks, Sosu, and well done. Time to take a break.