Plans and Promises: Episode 20

Shorsh is washing his hands in a marble basin in the men's washroom at the New Washington Senate Building. He left D'zoll in Seruffin's posted Sime room while he made the excursion to the facilities Quispel absently pointed out as he conducted them to that oasis of nageric calm.

Tsibola enters his own haven from the noise and bustle of his daily routine: the hallowed, Senators-only restroom on the second floor, which has at least as many deals to its credit as the Senate floor itself.

Shorsh is impressed at the expense and effort made to decorate these opulent rooms. The sink taps and faucets appear to be gold-plated, and the walls are done in polished walnut and hand-painted tile.

Tsibola has been very ~~ worried ~~ about the disaster-in-the-making that Craig's escape represents, and is losing hope that his errant relative can be recaptured before he has managed to air the family's dirty linen in very public fashion.

Shorsh takes a thick fluffy hand towel from the stack and dries his hands as he admires the mural on the east wall.

Tsibola is sure for a moment that he is hallucinating.

Tsibola: What are you doing here?

Shorsh thinks that's rather obvious.

Tsibola is normally a little more polite and circumspect, but he's had a very bad few days.

Shorsh: Senator Tsibola. Greetings. D'zoll and I were observing the Senate debates.

Tsibola: What? I thought your presence here was supposed to be discreet.

Shorsh: Oh, we're just being tourists this morning.

Shorsh remains calm and civil, not difficult for someone who has been Companioning Farris channels for decades.

Tsibola: Couldn't you have gone to a museum instead? What if someone makes the connection?

Shorsh: I would think you'd be one of the last Senators anyone would think was associating with Simes outside his work.

Tsibola prefers not to deal with Simes at work, either: Seruffin is far too difficult to manage.

Shorsh: Is there a museum you'd recommend in particular?

Tsibola: The history museum across the street might interest you. Better yet, try that art gallery over by the campus. No one important is likely to see you there.

Shorsh keeps a straight face.

Shorsh: Thank you, Senator. I'll ask D'zoll which he prefers.

Tsibola: I'm sure he'll find either more edifying than a debate on the agricultural bill.

Shorsh: We did find it interesting to observe the proceedings. It's rather different from the legislature in Capital.

Shorsh puts the towel in the basket provided.

Shorsh: Please give your cousin our regards.

Shorsh turns toward the exit.

Tsibola: I can't. He's escaped. Violated his parole, which proves I was right not to accept his sworn word. Not that that helps, under the circumstances.

Tsibola is feeling somewhat ~~ embittered ~~.

Shorsh is nonplussed. How did Craig get past all the guards and locked doors?

Tsibola: So you see, it's even more important now that you and Hajene D'zoll keep a low profile. Better yet, return to your home.

Shorsh: We'll be heading home in a couple of weeks.

Shorsh isn't going to add "after transfer".

Shorsh: Do you know where Craig has gone?

Tsibola: Do you think he'd still be running around, no doubt preaching his nonsensical religious views, if I knew where he could be found?

Shorsh: I suppose no news is good news, in that sense, then.

Tsibola: The problem is, there's no way to get news ahead of the news, good or bad.

Shorsh nods. He's glad Craig has gotten out of captivity, but is concerned that he may have no money and nowhere to go.

Tsibola: So by the time I locate him, it is quite likely to be too late. Unless some shriveled scrap of honor remains to him, and he keeps his word, as he didn't abide by his parole.

Shorsh: I hope he's all right, with no resources and nowhere to go. Especially in this weather.

Tsibola: He stole enough money on his way out to last him a while. Which makes me even more doubtful as to his ethics.

Shorsh is relieved that the poor man won't be completely destitute, but doesn't let it show.

Shorsh: I see. Well, I'll be going now, Senator. I hope things work out with your cousin.

Tsibola: I have people searching for him, but if they can locate him at all, it's likely to be because he's already spoken to the press.

Shorsh: Our best wishes for success.

Shorsh thinks that's a suitable platitude for out-T.

Tsibola: I hope I can trust you and your Sime to be discreet?

Tsibola's body language has overtones of ~~ threat ~~: a Senator is used to wielding power, and unused to powerlessness.

Shorsh: Of course, Senator. Confidentiality is an important matter in our profession.

Shorsh thinks it's rather offensive the way Tsibola keeps questioning their integrity.

Tsibola can't trust people without Connections, and Shorsh's are of the wrong kind.

Shorsh nods again politely and leaves, returning to the 'safe room' through halls decorated with beautiful materials and art objects.

Tsibola remains behind for a few minutes, staring into the mirror, and hoping that his fellow Senators won't see the taint that seems to be following him these days.

D'zoll is thinking that while the so-called "safe room" may be safe from Gen Territory law, its insulation is inadequate for a Farris; furthermore, there are so few things in it that any Sime might well drop dead of intellectual deprivation.

D'zoll manfully refrains from drumming on the table while waiting for Shorsh to return. He has already tried lying back and thinking of home, but somehow it isn't working too well.

Shorsh signals at the door and enters.

Shorsh: So I ran into Senator Tsibola in that ornate palace of sanitation.

Shorsh is ~~ amused ~~ and ~~ has news to tell ~~.

D'zoll elevates his eyebrows.

D'zoll: You did?! I would think there'd be a special Cheese-only shitroom for him.

Shorsh: I suspect that the facilities Quispel pointed out to us were not really open to the general public. Anyhow, as well as making it very clear that we aren't welcome anywhere we might spill the beans about helping Craig, he revealed that Craig has escaped!

D'zoll speaks very quietly but carries a big nager.

D'zoll: He... what?

Shorsh lights the burner and puts the kettle on for tea. He thinks D'zoll might have entertained himself doing just that in his absence.

D'zoll makes a waving-off gesture with his right-hand tentacles.

D'zoll: No tea for me, thanks. Did he provide any other circumstances?

Shorsh: Just that he escaped somehow, and Tsibola has no idea where he's gone to. It seems he managed to get some money to take with him, so he's got some options. The Senator, of course, imagines that Craig will immediately bring great disgrace on the Tsibola clan by public preaching, but no news so far.

D'zoll: I think Craig understands Tsibola well enough now, in addition to what he told me about his experiences preaching in small towns, that he won't immediately return to either of those strategies. Craig is quite willing to change his means in order to preserve his goals.

Shorsh nods then smiles.

Shorsh: And if he really wants to be well away from his cousin's clutches, he can go in-T.

D'zoll: Hmm. He certainly can, can't he. I wish I had thought of that before; if Craig had been willing to go, it certainly would have solved Tsibola's problem nicely.

Shorsh: Just don't bring him home, please!

D'zoll: Umm, no, certainly not.

Shorsh: ~~ exaggerated relief ~~

D'zoll is ~~ embarrassed ~~ by the fleeting thought he had of doing just that.

D'zoll: In hindsight, I wouldn't have brought Gegg in-T if it weren't for Toria. But of course that's hindsight.

Shorsh: If you hadn't brought him in-T, there would never have been that incredible breakthrough with his son.

D'zoll: True -- in hindsight.

Shorsh: And there's no way I'd spend the winter in a pigpen with you, either.

D'zoll: In hindsight.

Shorsh makes himself a mug of tea, now that the water has boiled.

D'zoll thinks the less said about his original plan -- to drug Gegg into submission, drain him, bring him to Sat'htine, and hide him in the isolation cells -- the better.

Shorsh: Nice trin Seruffin keeps himself in here. Sure you don't want some? ~~ thirst ~~

D'zoll: All right, I suppose so. But look, Shorsh, we have a problem.

Shorsh: Hm?

Shorsh makes a mug of trin for D'zoll and hands it to him.

D'zoll: I think that the problem of Craig is now a political one, not just a personal one. I think we need to consider, er, widening the circle of confidentiality to include Seruffin.

Shorsh: He is the one who contacted us in the first place. Not that the Senator realizes it, I suppose.

Shorsh smiles.

Shorsh: Tsibola emphasized repeatedly that we must maintain confidentiality at all costs.

D'zoll: Hmm. Quite. Still, Seruffin is a diplomat, and he does deal with Tsibola. I think he needs to know. But if you veto it, of course I won't tell him.

Shorsh: Is it for the patient's benefit?

D'zoll: Oooh. You do know the right question to ask.

D'zoll thinks about it.

D'zoll: I don't see how it's for his harm. It would harm Tsibola's interest if the facts about Craig were to become public, but I'm sure Seruffin will have no trouble with accepting that condition.

D'zoll shrugs.

D'zoll: It's your call.

Shorsh: Well, we are citizens of Nivet, and we and Seruffin are all Firsts. Okay.

D'zoll: And speaking of Seruffin, here he comes. Do you want to stick around, or grab a bite?

Seruffin is taking a break from being grilled by the Foreign Affairs Committee, but is ~~ astonished ~~ to zlin two Farris-sized nagers already occupying his "safe room".

Shorsh: I'll stick around for a while.

Seruffin: Gerrhonot, we have distinguished visitors.

Gerrhonot: ~~ inquiry ~~

Seruffin: Hajene D'zoll Farris ambrov Sat'htine and his Donor. If you want, you can grab something to eat. I'm sure they'll manage to keep me from collapsing until you get back.

Gerrhonot: Um, okay.

Gerrhonot figures he can trust them with his channel. He heads off, planning to find some goodies for Seruffin as well.

Seruffin watches Gerrhonot depart ~~ fondly ~~, then winces at the increased unpleasantness in the ambient, and enters the insulated safe room.

Seruffin: Good afternoon, gentlemen. I admit to being a little surprised to find you here. In fact, I thought you were a nageric hallucination, at first.

Shorsh: Would you like a mug of your own trin? ~~ humor ~~

Seruffin: I would love one.

Shorsh makes the trin and hands it over.

Shorsh: D'zoll and I were observing the Senate from the visitor's gallery.

Seruffin: Gluttons for punishment, are you?

D'zoll: A fascinating spectacle of gentlemen sent abroad to tell lies for their districts.

Seruffin: Ah, but they have sincere motivations for doing so. At least some of the time. Sosu, could I prevail upon you...?

Seruffin extends one retainered arm with a ~~ pleading ~~ gesture.

Shorsh: Of course.

Seruffin: I sent Gerrhonot off for some lunch; it was an unusually long session.

Shorsh expertly removes Seruffin's retainers, glances at D'zoll, and massages Seruffin's arms, ~~ inviting ~~ him to grasp them.

D'zoll: ~~ no problem ~~

Seruffin accepts Shorsh's offer with ~~ relief ~~. He doesn't often get to work with a Farris-rated Donor.

Shorsh provides some ~~ comfort ~~ and ~~ support ~~ to Seruffin, without neglecting D'zoll.

Seruffin ~~ appreciates ~~ the subtlety.

D'zoll watches and ~~ smiles ~~.

Seruffin: Thank you, Sosu. I don't often get the chance to work with a Donor of your talents.

Shorsh: You're welcome, Hajene.

Seruffin takes a sip of his tea.

Seruffin: So, how goes your psychiatric problem?

Seruffin figures it has to be more straightforward than deciphering the motivations of the Foreign Affairs Committee, which goes to show how little he knows about mind-healing.

D'zoll sighs.

D'zoll: It doesn't. There's nothing more we can do here, and for two different reasons. First, because it's now clear to all parties that Tsibola and Craig's differences are irreconcilable.

Seruffin winces, having hoped for some softening of Tsibola's anti-Sime stance.

Seruffin: There was no compromise to be reached?

D'zoll: No. Tsibola simply won't trust any assurances Craig might give him, and he thinks he has good reasons not to.

Seruffin: I was hoping to obligate him by providing a concrete benefit. I suppose that didn't work?

D'zoll silently shakes his head.

D'zoll: The second reason was told to us in confidence, but we have decided that it's justified to extend the confidence to you -- confidentially, of course.

Seruffin: Are you confident in your decision, though?

D'zoll twinkles.

D'zoll: Yes, we are. Shorsh, it's your story, really.

Shorsh shrugs.

Shorsh: It seems that Craig has escaped and disappeared. The Senator expects him to go back to preaching and thereby disgrace the family.

Seruffin pales a little.

Seruffin: Does he blame the two of you for failing to solve his problem?

Shorsh: No, but he emphasized repeatedly that we weren't to do anything that might reveal our connection to him. He does that a lot.

D'zoll: We decided that speaking of the matter to a Sime Territory diplomat and a First didn't count as revealing.

Seruffin smiles ~~ wryly ~~.

Shorsh: After all, you're the one who called us in on it, even if the Senator doesn't know that.

Seruffin: Actually, I expect I'm on Senator Tsibola's short list of people he most wants to keep completely ignorant of that particular situation.

Shorsh shakes his head.

Shorsh: No wonder he fears the Church of Sime Truth! ~~ wry amusement ~~

Seruffin: Consider the blackmail potential. If it became known that he hired a channel to treat a relative, his political career would be over.

D'zoll: Yes, but of course you can't use that, can you.

D'zoll's nager emphasizes the absence of doubt.

Seruffin: Of course not. Even if I were inclined towards that sort of thing, I'd rather deal with a Senator I know, difficult as he can be, than a stranger with the same political orientation. However, I doubt the good Senator sees me as a physician, bound by confidentiality, rather than as a politician like himself.

D'zoll scratches his head with one tentacle.

D'zoll: I understand that part, of course, but surely Tsibola would assume that you'd rather use the knowledge to control him than to replace him, wouldn't he?

Seruffin: Yes, but he's got too much integrity, as his culture defines it, to submit to such control on any issue he feels is important. In such cases, he would expect me to reveal the information at a strategic time, to remove him from the debate and replace him with a less experienced foe, at least temporarily.

D'zoll: Ah. Well, I'm glad I'm not a diplomat.

Seruffin shrugs.

Seruffin: It's work that I"m good at, and someone has to represent the Tecton out here. Although at times I've wondered if a little mind-healer training might help.

D'zoll: Probably a little diplomatic training would help me -- if I survived it.

D'zoll smiles.

D'zoll: That leads to the other thing I wanted to ask you about. Shorsh here says that Tsibola is an idealist, but I simply can't fathom what his ideals are supposed to be, other than the ideal of keeping things exactly as they are, and what kind of ideal situation is that?

Seruffin: Quite ideal, for those of his own class. They live comfortable lives, with the money and power to maintain a world that will always favor them. Change is disrupting, and it tends to introduce unwelcome new ideas.

D'zoll: But there are so many deaths and death traumas in their so-called comfortable lives.

Seruffin: There are, but they don't endanger the things Senator Tsibola's class value most, and so they're accepted as a natural part of life. Kills are something that generally happen to the lower classes, after all. Even upper-class children who survive long enough to become berserkers generally kill servants, not their parents. It's unfortunate, even tragic, but it's not a threat to their way of life. Not the way a Sime Center would be, for instance.

D'zoll nods.

D'zoll: Well, a Sime Center isn't so much of a threat, surely. There are two here in the capital, and they do exist in other places. So what is the actual threat, then? Donation payments in the hands of too many poor?

Seruffin: Among other things, yes. The power of the wealthy depends on their ability to keep generating wealth, and if their workers can get paid for selyn, they're likely to demand a higher salary to actually work as well.

Seruffin: Also, their prestige depends on respect for traditions, including their traditional ways of dealing with Simes. Modified to fit with at least some of reality, of course: I doubt Senator Tsibola believes either of us is literally demonic.

D'zoll chuckles.

D'zoll: I hope not.

Seruffin: Still, I'm sure he would have preferred the workers at his family's mine to have believed that. They used donation money to fund a strike chest...

Seruffin projects blatantly false ~~ innocence ~~.

D'zoll projects entirely earnest ~~ appreciation ~~.

Seruffin: I believe that's Gerrhonot coming now.

D'zoll: So it is. In any case, I think I've had enough of this place, so back to the Sime Center. Thanks for your help with Tsibola's motivations.

Seruffin gives a ~~ wry ~~ smile.

Seruffin: I just hope I understand them properly myself. He's surprised me on more than one occasion -- and it wasn't necessarily pleasant.

D'zoll: Quite so. Well, good to zlin you, and let's talk again.

Seruffin: Hajene, Sosu.

Seruffin gives Shorsh a polite greeting as well.

Shorsh nods and smiles, giving Seruffin a bit of ~~ comfort ~~ and ~~ appreciation ~~ as he does so.

D'zoll waits for Gerrhonot to return and take control of Seruffin's field, and then puts on his retainers and heads back home with Shorsh.

D'zoll reflects that of course his real home is Sat'htine, and he looks forward to going back there absolutely as soon as possible.

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