Tsibola is taking a brief break from the festivities, sipping a drink as he watches the guests.
Tsibola has attended far too many balls in his life, but he is not about to distress his wife by failing to attend an event hosted by her old friend, even if the old friend's son is a rather fanatical advocate of causes he disapproves of.
Tsibola figures that he can at least stand quietly for a bit, before he has to go back and dance with a few more wallflowers hoping to improve their chances of becoming the next Mrs. Pollovic.
Crynwyr: [to Akrasia, in Simelan] Ah, there he is. The Big Cheese I was telling you about. He seems relaxed and a bit bored, so I'll try hitting him up.
Akrasia: I still think it's a bad idea.
Akrasia doesn't think much of most of Crynwyr's ideas, with good reason.
Tsibola's current interest in cheese is limited to a fine, smooth white one upon which he is nibbling.
Crynwyr: No hunt, no Kill.
Crynwyr uses the Simelan equivalent of "Nothing ventured, nothing gained".
Akrasia: Well, when you get called on the carpet, I'll say I tried to restrain you.
Crynwyr: [English] Fine fine okay.
Crynwyr walks over to Tsibola, confident that of course his Donor will follow his lead.
Tsibola's eyes settle on the approaching Sime with ~~ disbelief ~~.
Crynwyr: Ah, Senator Tsibola. Greeting!
Tsibola: What are you doing here!
Tsibola is hissing in an angry almost-whisper, hoping not to be overheard.
Crynwyr: Ho, yes. I think Senator P invite all channels he donate to, probably. I was curious, also had thought. By the way, this my Donor this month, Akathisia -- no, my bad, Akrasia
Akrasia: Plee-zed to meetcha, Zenador.
Akrasia's English is, alas, even worse than Crynwyr's.
Crynwyr: By the way, not necessary to whisper, nobody listens anyhow over this noise.
Tsibola glances around, trying to figure out if anyone is watching.
Tsibola: We shouldn't be seen talking. How could I explain knowing you?
Crynwyr: Not necessary. I am here to get investments for, er, investment opportunity I am peddling these days. Your family well-known to have money, so natural I approach you, eh?
Tsibola: General Metals doesn't invest in outside projects.
Crynwyr: No problem! Would be looking for your personal fortune in exchange for, how you say, share in new business.
Crynwyr smiles broadly, reflecting that even though Tsibola is broadcasting ~~ fear ~~ and ~~ paranoia ~~ on every known emotional wavelength, nobody will notice except the other Simes, to whom it is nothing new.
Akrasia: [Simelan] Crynwyr, you are upsetting this important Gen. Apologize and let's go.
Crynwyr: [Simelan] You're my Donor, not my political officer.
Tsibola suddenly glares.
Tsibola: I will freely admit that it would do a great deal of damage to my career to have our connection become public knowledge. Nevertheless, I will not agree to any "investments" as a price for your silence, for which you have been generously compensated. Is that understood?
Tsibola's ~~ anger ~~ is even overshadowing his ~~ paranoia ~~.
Akrasia's English isn't good enough to understand that, but you don't need laterals to get the tone.
Akrasia: [Simelan] Politics, shmolitics. You're being obnoxious.
Crynwyr facepalms. Gens!
Akrasia: I pologize for rude Sime. He is hard to manage.
Akrasia tugs at Crynwyr's arm.
Akrasia: I take him away.
Crynwyr: No, by no means, and not at all. This strictly business. If interested, I describe opportunity. If not interested, fine. I would never be so dishonorable as break oath client confidential! And Akrasia, leggo.
Akrasia: [Simelan] You are shaming us.
Crynwyr executes a fluid Sime maneuver that leaves Akrasia's grip broken and her arm undamaged.
Akrasia uses her Donor's nager to let Crynwyr know what she thinks of his behavior.
Crynwyr turns his back on Tsibola to glare at his insubordinate Donor.
Crynwyr: [Simelan] You have made your point. This is a matter of my private affairs. If you want to take this up with the Controller, feel free to do so -- he's a First with all the discernment he requires.
Akrasia ~~ simmers ~~. She's done her best.
Tsibola sees a very public brawl starting, and decides to stop it before it can draw even more attention to them.
Tsibola: Very well. What is this investment of yours?
Tsibola figures listening to the pitch is more likely to mollify -- and silence -- Crynwyr than just sending him off.
Crynwyr: Very well. We have saying on Sime side of border, all true wealth is bio-, bio-, well, is based on land and crops. In-Territory, channels such as myself have high income for Simes, but also high costs, low stability. Also, we do not have families very much, except lowest-ranking channels. I wish therefore to become a breaker.
Tsibola: A breaker?
Tsibola is momentarily ~~ confused ~~.
Crynwyr: Umm, yes. Buy here, sell there?
Tsibola: You mean a broker? Of what?
Crynwyr: Ah, yes, broker. Of land.
Tsibola: You want to sell land?
Crynwyr: Many Simes desire buy land, but not much land for sale in Simeland. Here, different story.
Tsibola: You want to sell New Washington farmland to Simes?
Crynwyr: Yes, exactly!
Tsibola: No. Absolutely not.
Crynwyr: What? You have not even heard opportunity investment! Why ever not?
Tsibola: As long as I have anything to do with it, Gen lands will remain in Gen hands, not Sime tentacles.
Crynwyr: Ah, Senator, I do not think Simes want move in, occupy personally. This is a matter of buying right to rent.
Tsibola: Again, putting the land in Sime hands. No. I will not be a party to it.
Crynwyr: Again, why ever not? What is it to farmers who they pay rent to?
Tsibola doesn't see the matter from the farmer's perspective.
Crynwyr: Please explain.
Tsibola: I'm sure they would rather pay rent to a respectable family. Certainly the respectable families would prefer not to have Simes among their number.
Crynwyr: You have saying on your side of border, though, "Money has no soul." After all, they are willing to take money from unrespectable Simes who import food, eh?
Tsibola: That is different. Land is our heritage.
Crynwyr: So you saying, no market because no Gen land owners willing sell?
Tsibola: No, although you might find it harder than you anticipate to find good land for sale. However, when a respectable family is forced to sell their heritage, it ought to go to someone who can appreciate its tradition.
Crynwyr scratches his head with his left dorsals.
Tsibola: I have never known a Sime to appreciate our traditions.
Bernice spots her husband arguing with... a Sime? She heads over to rescue him from the man.
Crynwyr zlins the nageric intertwining between Tsibola and the woman who is approaching. He turns and bows to her.
Crynwyr: Ah. Mrs. Senator Tsibola?
Bernice: Ruthven, Senator Koogle's wife said he wants to talk to you.
Bernice nods curtly at the Sime.
Tsibola: Thank you, Bernice. I'll go find him right away. Shall I escort you to the dancing on my way?
Tsibola offers his wife an arm.
Bernice: That would be a pleasure.
Bernice takes the arm.
Tsibola: Good day, Sir. Madam.
Crynwyr isn't too surprised, given the ambient, that Bernice is ignoring him.
Crynwyr: Thank you, Senator, Mrs. Senator. You have given us free of charge an excellent lesson in greatness to be found here in Gen Territory.
Crynwyr smiles blandly, knowing his nager can't be read.
Akrasia is ~~ relieved ~~ that Crynwyr's act was broken up by outside forces.
Crynwyr is ~~ relieved ~~ too that he doesn't have to experience Tsibola's barely-suppressed ~~ outrage ~~ any more.
Tsibola sweeps off, ~~ relieved ~~ to be away from the potential almost-blackmailer and his investment scheme.
Bernice: What was that about?
Tsibola wonders how many Gen farmers would find themselves forced to donate or resettle, if a channel owned their land.
Tsibola: A get-rich-quick scheme, I believe. At least I hope so; they usually self-destruct on their own.
Tsibola makes a mental note to have one of his aides follow through, just in case it doesn't.
Bernice: How rude of the man to approach you with it.
Tsibola: There are always those who see me as a walking wallet.
Bernice: But a Sime! Disgusting.
Bernice never thought of Simes being pushy in quite that way.
Tsibola: They do resemble people in that fashion, alas.
Bernice: Who was he? Not one of Seruffin's staff, I hope.
Tsibola finds the very idea of a connection between Crynwyr and Seruffin ~~ profoundly unsettling ~~.
Tsibola: No, indeed, thank goodness.
Tsibola's mind doesn't want to contemplate what might happen if Seruffin figured out the connection.
Bernice: Seruffin, at least, knows how to behave in society.
Bernice has met him at other functions.
Tsibola: Yes. It's very easy to consider him a gentleman. That's what makes him so dangerous.
Bernice: Well, I hope this fellow doesn't try to sell his scheme to more of the guests. Eulalia would be humiliated. Perhaps a word to Seruffin would be in order?
Tsibola recognizes an order when his wife gives one.
Tsibola: Certainly, my dear.
Tsibola looks around.
Tsibola: I believe he's over there, and I really should speak to Senator Koogle, if only to maintain appearances.
Bernice: Oh, I just made it sound important. He wants to talk to you some time next week about the current agriculture bill.
Bernice can't imagine that Ruthven would care what that pushy little Sime thinks about him.
Seruffin zlins the byplay with some ~~ interest ~~.
Seruffin: Well, what do you think of that, Hajene D'zoll? Something appears to have upset Senator Tsibola quite badly.
D'zoll: And I can guess what, or rather who.
D'zoll nagerically indicates Crynwyr's QN-2 field.
D'zoll: Listening to him would tax the patience of a wall.
Seruffin: He is a bit... eloquent, isn't he? On the other hand, I believe his Genlan isn't good enough to provide the good Senator with, um, the proper effect.
D'zoll: You might well think so, but have you ever heard him in Genlan? Eloquent and incomprehensible.
Shorsh: Poor Senator Tsibola!
Seruffin: I wonder what Hajene Crynwyr said that caused such a response. And why Senator Tsibola was willing to stay and hear it. He usually doesn't socialize with Simes.
Bernice: Well, I'll go speak to Seruffin right now. Would you get me a white wine, please?
Tsibola: Certainly, my dear.
Bernice gives her husband an excuse to avoid yet another Sime. She finds Seruffin fairly acceptable, herself. He has very good manners.
Tsibola repossesses his arm, and starts towards the buffet, only to catch sight of Seruffin -- and Seruffin's companions.
Tsibola feels a ~~ chill ~~ at the sight.
Bernice is already heading toward the Sime diplomat.
Tsibola flees to collect the wine, which he hopes will give him an excuse to intrude on the trio before any information is exchanged.
Bernice: Hajene Seruffin. Are you enjoying the evening?
Bernice hasn't noticed that the two dark men standing with him are not both Gen.
Seruffin: Mrs. Tsibola. It's a lovely party, isn't it?
Bernice: It is. It seems to be quite successful so far.
Seruffin: Yes. At least, the young ladies seem to be enjoying the dancing.
Bernice: Indeed they are. Oh, to be young enough again to dance all night!
Bernice gives a smile that doesn't show in her nager.
Seruffin is used to that sort of contradiction, which would be considered an attempt to lie, in-T.
Seruffin: Well, but just think of the chaos that would cause, if all the eligible young gentlemen were to leave their young misses in pursuit of you?
Seruffin can be quite gallant, and he's been practicing with Bibi.
Bernice produces an even more insincere smile.
Bernice: I'm quite content with Ruthven, after all these years. I wouldn't want to take on another trainee.
Bernice: That young Sime gentleman over there, in the green? Is he in your entourage?
Seruffin: Hajene Crynwyr? He's not part of my diplomatic staff, although he does work here in New Washington.
D'zoll nagerically nudges Seruffin to find out if he should tactfully retire into the background.
Bernice: I'm relieved to hear that, but perhaps someone should speak to him about his conduct in this venue. He's been approaching people about some kind of get rich quick scheme he wants them to invest in. Ruthven was quite disgusted.
Seruffin signals D'zoll nagerically that he should stay.
Seruffin: I am sorry that the Senator was distressed. I will try to... rein in his enthusiasm, if you wish.
Bernice: Thank you. I'm sure Eulalia Pollovic will appreciate it as well.
D'zoll: Feel free to delegate that to me, Hajene. Hajene Crynwyr and I are... acquainted.
Bernice turns toward the stranger, is ~~ surprised ~~ that he's a Sime, but controls her visible reaction with effortless skill.
Seruffin: Mrs. Tsibola, may I present Hajene D'zoll Farris ambrov Sat'htine, and his Companion, Sosu Shorsh Farris ambrov Sat'htine?
Bernice: Good evening, gentlemen. I'm Bernice Tsibola, the Senator's wife.
Bernice knows that Farris is a name to conjure with in the Tecton.
Bernice: Are you in the diplomatic service as well?
Tsibola returns with the wine, in some ~~ haste ~~. He's ~~ paranoid ~~ that something untoward has been said in his absence.
Tsibola: Here you are, my dear.
Bernice: Thank you, Ruthven. Have you met Hajene and Sosu Farris?
Shorsh puts on a neutral look, to let Tsibola handle it.
Tsibola doesn't dare lie, in front of two Simes.
Tsibola: Yes, I have. Good evening, gentlemen.
Tsibola's tone is ~~ distinctly cool ~~.
Shorsh: Good evening, Senator. A pleasure to meet your charming wife.
Tsibola's nager is ~~ distinctly paranoid ~~.
Tsibola is still under the illusion that Seruffin is a diplomat with some channeling training, not a channel who's been assigned some diplomatic duties. He has therefore never suspected that Seruffin actually arranged to bring D'zoll and Shorsh to New Washington.
D'zoll: Indeed, good evening to you both. The answer to your question, Mrs. Tsibola, is that Shorsh and I are not diplomats, but mind-healers.
Shorsh keeps a straight face and doesn't say "speak for yourself, Hajene".
Tsibola edges away, hoping against hope that Bernice will follow, rather than ask another question.
Bernice: Mind-healers? How unusual.
Bernice wonders if they could do something with her husband's obnoxious cousin, now that he's gone embarrassingly crazy about Sime-kissing.
D'zoll: That is, our work is to relieve mental suffering associated with symptoms of disorder and to improve mental well-being.
D'zoll is translating on the fly from the elementary handbook he learned from when he first took up the specialty.
Bernice: I see.
Bernice is ~~ curious ~~ about how those Sime powers could be used in this way, but would never ask for details. ~~ queasy ~~
Tsibola: It's a somewhat exotic specialty.
Bernice: What would you do about someone who went overboard about religion, for example, that our people here wouldn't do?
Shorsh sees that it's very clear that Tsibola hasn't kept his wife in the loop about Craig.
Tsibola: My dear, I'm sure Hajene Farris didn't come to the ball to discuss work.
Bernice: Oh, excuse me, Hajene.
D'zoll smiles and shrugs.
Tsibola: I saw Eulalia near the buffet. She seemed a little upset.
Tsibola hopes to divert his wife's interest.
Bernice: Oh, dear. Perhaps I should go see if she needs my help. An honor to meet you, Hajene, Sosu.
Shorsh: Likewise, Mrs. Tsibola.
Tsibola gives the Tecton personnel a short nod of farewell, and once more offers his arm to his wife.
Bernice takes his arm and allows herself to be led away, with some ~~ relief ~~.