Eulalia Pollovic finishes her supper, which is a little cold after being carried upstairs from a kitchen that is trying to stage a major dinner party short-handed. She is not inclined to retire to her bed just yet, and so is reading an enlightening text by the fire.
Grayce comes upstairs to collect the dinner tray. She's heard stories about the Dragon Lady from some of the older staff, so she hesitates a moment outside the door. She gathers her courage, opens the door, and quietly begins gathering the supper dishes.
Eulalia looks up from the enlightening text, and gives Grayce a piercing gaze.
Eulalia: Young woman, my supper was cold. Could you enlighten me on the reason why?
Grayce: I'm sorry, ma'am, but we've been very short-staffed lately. What with so many people going out to the country house, and all.
Eulalia: The country house? I was under the impression that my son intended to remain in the city until the end of this session of the Senate.
Grayce: Yes, ma'am, a lot of people was let go out to the country house, if they wanted to.
Eulalia: And why would they wish to?
Grayce: Because of the lady, ma'am.
Eulalia: The lady? What lady?
Eulalia peers near-sightedly at Grayce, wondering if her son is keeping a clandestine mistress who has become less than clandestine.
Grayce: The... the lady, ma'am. The one who's spending time here. It's all supposed to be kept very quiet, ma'am.
Eulalia: Is my son associating with someone who is... not quite respectable?
Eulalia is already analyzing what this will do to her son's marriage prospects.
Grayce: She seems quite respectable-like, ma'am. Just a bit... strange.
Eulalia: Strange? What does she do?
Grayce: Sir has been dealing with a lot of strange folks, ma'am, since that thing he did for the newspapers. it makes some of the staff uncomfortable, that's all.
Eulalia: Well, I should hope so. Kissing Simes in the Senate, indeed. My son seems to have forgotten his manners, much less his good sense.
Grayce: But Sir was very good about letting people go out to the country house, ma'am. He didn't make anybody stay here that didn't want to.
Eulalia: Well, it is my plan to rehabilitate my son's reputation, so that his staff doesn't feel compelled to leave for the country. I'm throwing a ball; there should be enough people to fill the house even in winter. I assume the remaining staff is prepared to assist in the endeavor?
Grayce: Yes, ma'am, whatever you want, ma'am. Most of us who stayed are all right with everything now. Some of us weren't too sure at first, but we've gotten used to things.
Eulalia is not interested in the difficulties of servants, unless they prevent her from getting the service she feels is her due.
Grayce: She's not been hurting anyone, ma'am. Most of us aren't upset, now we know we won't be hurt.
Eulalia: Who isn't hurting anyone?
Grayce: The lady, ma'am. The... strange lady.
Grayce, like all the other servants, has been told not to use the word "Sime" where it might be heard.
Eulalia: My son's guest? Well, I should hope he wouldn't invite anyone in who would steal the silver or molest the household.
Grayce: I don't think she'd steal the silver, ma'am. I understand her family's quite well-off, back home.
Eulalia: Really? Are they respectable, or just nouveau riche?
Grayce: A very old family, so's I've heard, ma'am. One of the oldest.
Eulalia: Fallen on hard times, I expect, if the girl's been sent away?
Grayce: Very hard times, I think, ma'am. Mostly because of that gentleman she works with.
Eulalia: Ah, she had an unfortunate association, and is here for rehabilitation? Well, I might be able to assist there. I'm not without influence.
Grayce: I don't know if your influence could fix this, ma'am. I understand he's in trouble for something he did a long time ago. But he's a very nice gentleman, ma'am, and a lot more like reg'lar folks than she is.
Grayce looks down and fiddles with an empty cup.
Grayce: Most of us house folk like him a lot, ma'am.
Grayce remembers a detail that ma'am might appreciate.
Grayce: And Arlen says he loves your roses, ma'am.
Eulalia places the mysterious gentleman as an unsuitable suitor, who has perhaps followed his love in hopes of pursuing his suit. She finds this ~~ encouraging ~~, since it shows that her son may be softer on the subject of romance than she had feared, and thus that her self-appointed task might be easier.
Eulalia: Well, if the fellow is respectable, and has put his past behind him, perhaps something might be done for them. In fact, I think I'll pay a call on the lady now, and assess the situation.
Grayce's eyes widen with alarm.
Grayce: I don't know if that's wise, ma'am.
Eulalia: Nonsense, it's my own home, and she's therefore my guest. Bring me my wrap; it's over there on the chair. The halls are drafty this time of year.
Grayce can't think of a good way to say it, without coming right out and saying it. So she bobs her head and goes to fetch the wrap.
Grayce: Yes, ma'am.
Grayce gets the wrap and settles it around Miz Pollovic's shoulders.
Katsura is back in her suite. They'd barely made it out the door when Nick spoke to a messenger who'd been sent to tell them that their shift had been given to a newly arrived channel with entran.
Katsura isn't getting enough work to really cure her own entran, but sympathizes with anyone who has it worse.
Eulalia strides with a firm, if not completely steady, tread towards the guest suite.
Katsura yawns. Nick is taking the opportunity to catch a catnap in the bedroom, and is projecting relaxation in his sleep. She's changed into a comfortable baggy sweater in her House colors and is resting on the sofa.
Eulalia notes a light under the door, and takes this as a sign that the young woman is not yet abed.
Katsura zlins Miz Pollovic coming down the hall. She's startled and alarmed when the elderly woman knocks, causing herself pain.
Eulalia raps sharply on the door, ignoring the ~~ ache ~~ it brings to her arthritic knuckles.
Katsura looks around for her cloak, then remembers she spread it over Nick to keep him warm.
Eulalia: It's Eulalia Pollovic. Might I have a moment of your time?
Katsura: Of course.
Katsura retracts her tentacles and opens the door. She thinks the poor woman might want her to work on her arthritic joints, and hopes she's not too nervous about channel's methods.
Eulalia: Thank you.
Eulalia is ~~ tired ~~ of walking, and sweeps past Katsura without really observing her, in favor of claiming an easy chair by the fire.
Katsura sits on the sofa, at a distance greater than would be normal for conversation in out-T culture.
Eulalia wishes that her eyesight was a bit better, but at least the lady looks presentable, although her dress is a bit... odd.
Katsura: How may I help you, Miz Pollovic?
Eulalia: I understand that you are staying with my son until some scandal runs its course?
Katsura: Something like that, yes.
Katsura wonders what the Senator has told her.
Eulalia: That's unfortunate, but it doesn't have to be fatal. The staff have no complaints of you, aside from some eccentricity, and to me that suggests rehabilitation is possible.
Katsura: Oh, it's certainly not fatal.
Katsura has an imperfect grasp of idiomatic Genlan.
Eulalia: It is possible that I might be inclined to help in that matter myself.
Katsura wonders what influence this woman thinks she'd have with a faction of the Tecton that disagrees with the World Controller.
Eulalia: Good. Mind you, I won't tolerate blatant irregularities. Put the past behind you, though, and you'll find that I can be a good friend. Now, I have some plans for my son, who has been committing some irregular actions himself, as I'm sure you are aware.
Katsura: Irregular, perhaps, but very well intentioned. He's demonstrated that he stands by his beliefs.
Eulalia: Yes, he's always been an honest boy, but he lacks common sense at times. Never mind. That's what mothers are for. And wives.
Eulalia thinks she hears a rumbling from the bedroom attached to the sitting room of the guest suite.
Eulalia turns her head sharply.
Eulalia: Whatever is that?
Katsura: Oh, that's my partner. I hope he isn't getting a cold.
Katsura feel awkward calling Nick her Donor, but she can't really call him her Companion since he isn't pledged.
Eulalia: Your... gentleman friend? Isn't that a bit indiscreet, my dear? Unless -- forgive me, but did you have a secret elopement?
Katsura wonders if the jailbreak counts as an elopement.
Katsura: The Senator understands that it's necessary for us to be together.
Eulalia: Well, I shall have to discuss the matter with him. Appearances must be maintained, after all. Now, in the mean time, I'd like your assistance with a few pressing difficulties of my own.
Eulalia shifts ~~ uncomfortably ~~ on the chair, trying to ease her aching hip.
Eulalia: My son has been neglecting his social obligations, and I intend to remedy that. I'm arranging for a ball, to be held in a few weeks. As you can see, my hands aren't up to addressing all the invitations that will be required, and I'm in no condition to do all the running about, either. I was hoping you'd be willing to assist me.
Eulalia could certainly use a secretary-cum-gofer.
Katsura: Would you like me to work on your joints, then?
Katsura is glad that Miz Pollovic has come to the point, that she wants Katsura's channel's services, after the small talk.
Eulalia: Work on my problem areas, yes. It would give you something to do, rather than sitting around the house.
Eulalia has always been very good at hearing what she wants to hear.
Katsura's entran is not being very well controlled by her light duties at the university Sime Center.
Katsura: I could use more work, yes.
Katsura isn't picking up every word Eulalia says, because she's not familiar with her accent.
Eulalia: Good. Idle hands are good for nothing but mischief, after all.
Eulalia pats the footstool across from the easy chair.
Eulalia: Come, my dear, and we can get to work.
Katsura: All right.
Katsura gets up, cautiously goes hypoconscious, and approaches the footstool.
Katsura: Have you had a channel work on your arthritis before?
Katsura doubts it since she zlins like a nondonor of long standing.
Eulalia blinks at what to her is a total non sequitur.
Katsura tries to interpret her reaction from mere visual data.
Eulalia: Of course not. My dower house is in the country, with not a Sime in sight.
Katsura: I see. Well, channel's methods can't cure arthritis, but they can alleviate the symptoms and slow progression.
Eulalia assumes this talk of Sime Centers has to do with the scandal that landed Katsura as her son's guest.
Eulalia: How interesting, to be sure. Now, my dear, we really should assess the situation.
Katsura: Yes. May I take your hands?
Katsura has let herself slip duoconscious again. She really should have Nick there for support, but hates to disturb his sleep. Sleep is so important for a Gen's health.
Eulalia: Of course, my dear.
Eulalia holds out one gnarled hand to Kat in a gesture intended to inspire feminine trust and intimacy.
Katsura takes the hand gently.
Katsura: May I make a lateral contact? It will give me the best opportunity to diagnose.
Katsura has learned to take things very slowly with out-T Gens.
Eulalia thinks Kat's hand feels a bit... odd, and peers at it nearsightedly. It almost looks as if... but it couldn't be. Could it?
Eulalia: Young lady, are you running a fever?
Katsura: No. Simes normally have a higher body temperature than Gens.
Katsura is rather pleased that the Gen is taking things so calmly.
Eulalia starts to get a ~~ very bad feeling ~~ about this conversation.
Katsura releases the hand.
Eulalia leans forward, bringing Kat into almost-focus, as well as her cataracts will allow. She learns an unpleasant truth, and the ~~ rude shock ~~ propels her to her feet, which aren't up to the task.
Katsura gasps and forces herself hypoconscious as fast as she can.
Eulalia: Oh, dear. We're lost!
Katsura: It's all right, Miz Pollovic. I won't touch you if it upsets you.
Eulalia collapses slowly as her knees give way, her elderly heart laboring under the ~~ shock ~~.
Eulalia gropes blindly for the chair, muttering "Oh, dear. Oh, dear."
Katsura moves the chair under her, careful not to touch her.
Katsura: Just sit and relax, Miz Pollovic. I'm sorry I upset you.
Pollovic is very pleased with the way the dinner party has gone. Good food and good brandy have done their work, and tomorrow's committee meeting should see some real movement on key issues.
Eulalia starts to sob and wail loudly, as the implications of this indiscretion of her son's sink home.
Pollovic stands by the front door, shaking hands with his guests as the general exodus begins. He hears a noise upstairs. It sounds a bit like his mother's voice, screeching.
Pollovic keeps a smile pasted on his face, hoping the crisis can wait another five minutes. He shakes hands with another departing Senatorial couple.
Katsura is afraid to interact further with the woman. She backs into the bedroom to get Nick's help.
Pollovic speaks loud and hearty farewells, hoping to drown out the noise from upstairs. He sees several of his guests' eyes turn towards the stairwell.
Nick is sitting up in bed, looking rather cuddly as he blinks the sleep from his eyes, and reaches for his robe.
Nick: Whatever's going on, Kat?
Katsura: Miz Pollovic. Somebody must have told her that I'm a channel after I talked to her in the greenhouse. She came here for help with her arthritis, seemed sympathetic to our problems. But when I went to work on her she panicked.
Nick: Oh, dear.
Pollovic: Thank you, Tomity, Aleena. It's been a real pleasure, Ruthven, Bernice.
Nick ties the robe, which is a rather gaudy silk affair that he found in a second-hand shop near the campus.
Katsura: Yes. Could you calm her down? I'll wait here unless she wants me.
Pollovic shakes hands with the Tsibolas, who are the last couple to leave, and practically pushes them out the door. He runs up the stairs. The crowd of servants hovering outside the guest suite parts like water, and Pollovic flings open the door.
Pollovic: What's going on here?
Pollovic struggles to sound calm and authoritative. that's not easy to do, when he's gasping from running up the stairs.
Katsura: Senator? I'm in here.
Pollovic: What's the problem?
Pollovic takes two steps into the room.
Pollovic's mother, who was so vocal just a few minutes ago, seems to be speechless now.
Katsura: Your mother came here for help with her arthritis, but she got upset before I could work on her.
Pollovic is ~~ puzzled ~~ . Unless his mother's attitudes have changed greatly, he can't imagine her going to a channel for treatment.
Pollovic: I'm surprised she even asked in the first place. She's not exactly a friend of Simes.
Katsura: She told me she wanted help so she could write invitations and get around for a ball she's planning.
Pollovic raises an eyebrow. He's beginning to suspect what happened.
Pollovic: Are you sure she wanted help with the arthritis, and not with the writing and errands?
Katsura zlins that Nick is succeeding in calming the Senator's mother down at least somewhat.
Katsura: I thought so, but I have some trouble understanding her accent. She zlinned calm and friendly. Well, not hostile.
Eulalia is still sobbing, clutching at her heart, which is beating ~~ uncomfortably ~~ fast.
Pollovic: Did she know you're Sime when she walked in?
Katsura: I thought so. I had talked to her before, in the greenhouse, but didn't tell her I'm a channel. I thought perhaps you had, or one of the people who work here.
Katsura experiences a substantial sinking feeling.
Pollovic goes over to his mother, and hunkers down in front of her chair.
Eulalia looks up at her son ~~ reproachfully ~~.
Pollovic: Mother. It's all right, Mother. Everything's under control.
Eulalia: Brenn, how could you? Think of the scandal!
Pollovic: There's no scandal, Mother. At least, not yet.
Pollovic thinks of the looks on the faces of some of his departing guests. Tsibola, in particular.
Eulalia: Whatever possessed you to take in such houseguests?
Pollovic: It was necessary. I know what I'm doing.
Pollovic is no longer sure that he does. His mother has always been very good at making him doubt himself.
Eulalia: Necessary? For whom?
Eulalia is having trouble breathing, but is trying hard not to let that prevent her from getting to the bottom of the situation.
Pollovic: For Hajene Kat and her Donor. For Unity. For my career, and everything I stand for.
Katsura has beckoned Nick over to her, and is leaning heavily on his nager.
Nick offers ~~ support ~~ as he looks at Eulalia with ~~ concern ~~.
Nick: She doesn't look very good, Kat.
Katsura: Oh, Nick. I've screwed up again. I thought I understood what was happening, but I got it all wrong.
Pollovic: We're fighting a war here, Mother. A war against fear and intolerance. I'm not asking you to be a part of it, but I can't let you stop me from doing what I must.
Nick: It's not your fault, Kat: the misunderstanding went both ways.
Eulalia peers up at her son, momentarily ~~ distracted ~~ from her distress.
Pollovic continues speaking quietly and rhythmically in an effort to calm his mother; a trick he learned from watching Kat and Hajene Seruffin at work.
Eulalia: You sounded much like your father, for a moment there.
Pollovic: I'm trying to do the work he would have done, if he'd still been here.
Pollovic can't afford to take the time he'd like to, to indulge the surge of ~~ pride ~~ he feels at his mother's words.
Eulalia: By inviting a Sime to stay? I don't think your father would have done that.
Eulalia is momentarily overlooking the small detail that her late husband had his wife to consider.
Pollovic: No, he wouldn't. Not then. But times are changing, and this is part of it. If he were here now, in my position, I think this is what he'd do.
Eulalia: I just don't know, Brenn. Think of the possible scandal.
Eulalia gradually becomes aware that she is still sitting on the floor in an undignified heap.
Eulalia starts to struggle ~~ painfully ~~to her feet.
Pollovic stands and helps his mother up.
Pollovic: Your arthritis has gotten worse, hasn't it?
Eulalia: I'm not as -- careful! -- young as I used to be.
Pollovic struggles inexpertly to get his mother into her chair without dropping her.
Katsura has moved closer to Nick, and is leaning harder on his field.
Pollovic: I'm sorry. Here, let me... There. Are you all right? Nothing injured?
Pollovic finds it easier, in the moment, to address physical concerns than emotional ones.
Eulalia: My knee. I think I twisted it.
Pollovic: Channels are healers, you know. Would you be willing to let Hajene Kat take a look at it?
Pollovic regrets the question the moment it's out of his mouth; it was Hajene Kat's efforts to heal his mother that started this whole scene.
Eulalia: ...take a look at it?
Pollovic: A Sime can sense what's happening in a person's bones and muscles and joints. A Sime who's a channel, like Hajene Kat, can do a lot to help.
Katsura: I apologize, Miz Pollovic. I thought you were asking for my help with your arthritis when you came to see me.
Eulalia: I suppose that it was an understandable mistake, young woman. Really, Brenn, you might have warned me.
Pollovic: I would have, Mother, tomorrow. Tonight, I was entirely focused on the dinner party. I'm sorry.
Eulalia reflects that at least her son still remembers how to grovel appropriately.
Pollovic glances at the channel, only now getting around to wondering why she's home at this hour.
Pollovic: I made the mistake of thinking tomorrow would be soon enough. I'm truly sorry.
Eulalia never could stay mad at her son, at least once he admits his wrongdoing.
Pollovic takes a deep breath.
Pollovic: Why don't we get you back to your room, and sleep on this, and we can talk about everything tomorrow?
Eulalia: Yes. This is going to make things very difficult, you realize?
Pollovic: Tomorrow, Mother. We'll discuss it tomorrow. I'm exhausted, and I'm sure you must be. Things will fall into perspective in the morning.
Eulalia: I hope so.
Pollovic: Now let's get you back to your room. Can you walk, if you lean on me?
Eulalia manages to get to her feet with her son's assistance, and limps off towards her room.
Katsura: I hope I haven't worn out our welcome, Nick.
Nick: We'll have to see in the morning.