Kaali Brown is hotfooting it to the Sime Center, which isn't exactly easy after you've just thrown your guts up while hiding behind the woodpile. But he has an extra-special incentive to get there.
Kaali's loopy mother Ayla has always wanted to give one of her children First Transfer, and he's elected. The mere fact that she's barely a GN-2 and has zero training has nothing at all to do with it.
Kaali just needs to get to the Center, where he's legally an adult, so he can tell her to go fly a kite instead.
Ayla hurries through the quiet, early-morning streets of Hannard's Ford. She knows where her son's heading, even if she doesn't know exactly where he is right now, and she wants to catch him before he gets through the Sime Center gate.
Bibi is up before everyone else, as usual, and is waiting for the tea to finish steeping by the fire in the common room of the Sime Center. She's wearing a pink flannel nightgown and is wrapped in her warm woolly robe.
Ayla has read dozens of volumes of stories translated from Simelan, featuring the joys of being a Companion. This may be her one and only chance to experience those joys for herself.
Kaali is pounding the pavement ... almost there, almost there ... ahhhhh. He flings the gate open, runs up to the house and pounds on it.
Kaali: Changeover! Changeover in progress! Let me in!
Bibi's daydreams about Seruffin are broken by zlinning a child in changeover approaching, and she runs over to open the door just as the boy pounds on it.
Bibi: Come in, Kaali.
Ayla sees her little boy at the door of the Sime Center and runs faster. She dashes up the steps and grabs the boy by one sleeve.
Ayla: Kaali, come with me. I'll take care of you. ~~ desperate longing ~~
Bibi: Ayla, good of you to come with your son.
Kaali tries to wrench himself loose from his mother's grip.
Ayla: I want to take care of him. I'll make sure he's okay.
Kaali: You can't do that! This is Simeland.
Bibi: You've done well. You're both here with plenty of time to spare.
Ayla: You're my son, Kaali. It's my right to care for you. And my duty. ~~ love ~~ possessiveness ~~ pride ~~
Bibi can zlin that Ayla is more than a bit hysterical, but this isn't all that unusual for a mother of an out-T child in changeover.
Bibi: Come in, both of you. You're letting all the warm air out.
Bibi puts her arm around the boy and draws him in.
Ayla follows, still gripping her son's sleeve.
Bibi: Now Kaali, you're just in stage one, so you've got hours yet to go. Let's all go back to the common room, and have some tea to settle your stomach.
Kaali: Yes, I know. I just threw up a few minutes ago. But my mom... Well, let her tell you. God knows I've heard it often enough.
Ayla: I'll sit with him, Hajene Bibi. You go ahead and do whatever you usually do.
Kaali finally manages to jerk away.
Ayla: Don't let us interrupt your day. I can take care of him.
Kaali: If you won't tell her I will.
Bibi: Well, I usually sit in the common room and have a cup of tea this time of day, so you two can join me.
Ayla: I'm not going to hurt you, Kaali. I just want to help you. ~~ eagerness ~~ and ~~ longing ~~
Bibi, with her arm around the boy, heads back to the common room.
Kaali wipes his forehead with his other hand. He really doesn't have the stamina for all this ... drama.
Bibi: Sit here next to me, Kaali. Ayla, would you get a couple more mugs from the kitchen please?
Bibi is not going to move away from the boy until his mother calms down.
Ayla hastily complies. She knows a proper Companion does whatever a channel requires.
Kaali gratefully plops down next to Bibi and pretends he's already luxuriating on her field.
Ayla: Here, Hajene, let me pour for you.
Bibi: Okay. Thanks.
Ayla fills a cup for Bibi, and then one for herself. She sits next to Kaali, on the opposite side from Bibi.
Bibi had hoped that choosing a two-person settee would prevent that, but she and the young boy are both rather narrow in the beam.
Kaali turns and gives his mother an old-fashioned Look. He shrugs, gets up, pours himself some tea, and pulls up a chair on Bibi's far side, leaving her in the middle.
Ayla beams at her son. She knows he's going through a difficult time, and is willing to overlook his little moods. She pictures shaping her nager to soothe and support her son. ~~ no nageric change ~~
Bibi: Well! I'm glad I made a pot of tea big enough for all of us. It's peppermint, Kaali, it will settle your stomach.
Bibi smiles at him and winks.
Ayla: Oh, I should have poured that for you, dear. I'm sorry.
Ayla gets up and adds sugar to her son's tea, without asking him whether he wants any. Then she hovers alongside his chair.
Kaali isn't exactly pleased with this, but hey, the sweeter the better.
Kaali: Hajene ...?
Kaali drags the awful truth out of his depths.
Kaali: My mother, over there ...
Kaali indicates the woman in question with a toss of his head.
Kaali: ... wants to give me First Transfer. And she thinks she can do it.
Ayla: And afterwards I'll go with him to Simeland. He's far too young to travel without his mother. ~~ protective ~~
Ayla places a possessive hand on her son's shoulder.
Bibi: It's illegal for her to give transfer here in Sime Territory, as well as being very dangerous for both of you. Channel's transfer is best for renSimes, even if your mother were qualified to serve you.
Kaali: Which she isn't ... right? ~~ teenage uncertainty ~~
Bibi leaves the issue of travel for later.
Ayla: It's all right, Hajene. I know how to do it. We'll be all right.
Kaali: Mo-om! Reading those stupid storybooks does not make you a Donor!
Ayla: Don't you worry, Kaali. You just relax and do what your body needs to. I can handle the rest. I know I can. ~~ confidence ~~
Kaali thinks: ignorance sure is bliss.
Bibi: Ayla, you haven't had the training, nor has the Tecton certified you. What's more, even in-T you wouldn't be allowed to give transfer to a renSime except in dire emergency.
Bibi looks right into Ayla's eyes.
Bibi: If direct transfer were to occur here in this Sime Center, the Tecton would take me out of here, and perhaps close it down.
Ayla: See, Kaali, I told you you should have stayed home with me.
Bibi: Kaali is safe here with us. He'll have a normal changeover and I'll serve him in First Transfer.
Bibi takes the boy's hand and wraps a tentacle around his wrist.
Ayla: But I'm his mother! I should be the one to do that.
Ayla tightens her grip on Kaali's shoulder.
Bibi: Even in Simeland you wouldn't be allowed to give transfer. Please, have a seat here and I'll explain things further.
Bibi gestures to the chair facing the settee.
Ayla, ~~ disgruntled ~~ , takes the indicated seat with visible ~~ reluctance ~~ .
Kaali is ~~ glad ~~ his mother is finally doing what she's told, though still ~~ worried ~~ about it.
Ayla: I don't see what there is to explain. I'm his mother, and I've been ready for this for years.
Bibi: May I take your hands?
Bibi offers her own to Ayla.
Ayla takes Bibi's hands, and tries to slide her hands up onto the channel's wrists in (incorrect) transfer grip.
Ayla: I can do it. I want to do it.
Bibi allows the grip, hoping the woman won't injure her, and slides her handling tentacles into position.
Ayla: And if there's a legal problem, my husband knows a very good lawyer.
Kaali: Wrong law, Mom. This is Simeland.
Bibi: I can tell whether you're likely to succeed in serving transfer. May I test you?
Ayla: By all means, Hajene. ~~ blissful confidence ~~
Bibi: I want you to relax as much as you can, and let your nager react naturally to the things I'll be doing.
Ayla nods, still ~~ confident ~~ .
Kaali rolls his eyes, but if his mom can be convinced by an actual channel, then maybe it's worthwhile.
Bibi has never noticed any tendency to selyur nager in the years she's taken Ayla's donations, and even after five years the woman hasn't made GN-1.
Bibi: When you perceive anything happening, tell me about it.
Ayla: Sure. I'll be all right. None of the earliest Companions had any formal training, and they all did just fine.
Bibi reaches out nagerically and invites the Gen to engage with with her. The result is something like shouting down a well, but with no echo.
Ayla shifts her weight slightly forward in her chair, but has ~~ no other reaction ~~ .
Ayla: Whenever you're ready.
Bibi projects need, starting slowly and building it up. Nothing.
Ayla smiles, ~~ waiting ~~ .
Bibi gives Ayla a friendly smile, completely unlike a Sime in the hard need she's projecting.
Bibi: What do you feel from me now?
Ayla smiles back.
Ayla: Mmmm. Nothing much, yet.
Bibi sharply cuts off her projection, pauses, and turns it back on full blast. She repeats this a few times, enough to make even an insensitive TN-3 queasy.
Bibi: And now?
Bibi is glad Cristal is sound asleep, because he might even be able to perceive that last upstairs, if he were awake.
Ayla: You're obviously holding back, Hajene. But go ahead; I know you won't hurt me. ~~ serene confidence ~~
Bibi gently releases Ayla's arms.
Bibi: If Cristal were here, he'd be holding his aching head and retching. I wasn't holding back at all.
Ayla stares, ~~ uncomprehending ~~ .
Ayla: Holding back what?
Bibi: You don't have any Donor talent, Ayla. Your nager made no move to engage with mine despite all my efforts. It didn't react even when I produced extreme changes in the ambient.
Ayla: ~~ puzzled ~~ But I felt it all, in the books. Every transfer, every changeover... Everything I read, I could feel it.
Bibi: Donor talent is very rare. The kind of Donor talent that enables someone to give transfer without training is vanishingly rare, and you have none at all.
Kaali begins to suffer from creeping ~~ hope ~~.
Bibi: Your empathizing with the characters in the books shows what a kind compassionate woman you are, but you can't serve transfer without dying and condemning the Sime to death, or a terrible future as a junct.
Ayla: But... but... but they say wanting to is the most important part. And I do want to, and I'm not afraid.
Ayla's nager slowly shifts from ~~ puzzlement ~~ and ~~ hope ~~ to ~~ disappointment ~~ .
Bibi: Wanting to is very important, and not being afraid is essential too. But it's not enough. You'd destroy yourself and your son if you tried to serve him in transfer.
Bibi reaches forward and pats Ayla's hand.
Bibi: Few parents are able to show that much love for their children in changeover, to even consider serving them in First Transfer.
Ayla feels a tear trickle alongside her nose. She says nothing.
Bibi: You've done more than most parents, showing your son that you'll continue to love him as a Sime.
Ayla: I'll... I'll still go with him to Simeland. At his age, he needs his mother with him. ~~ protective ~~
Kaali: Mom, you still don't get it, do you. Changing over is growing up. You leave home. You take care of yourself. It's not about how old you are, that's why Simes measure their age from changeover. And anyhow, I'll be in First Year camp for months. What would you do, support yourself on a GN-2's donation payments?
Kaali hopes to play on his mother's Gen T abhorrence of freeloading.
Ayla: I can cook. I can clean. I'll find work at the camp. ~~ stubborn determination ~~
Bibi: The camp wouldn't hire Gens who aren't accustomed to living with Simes. It would be too difficult for the students. Kaali will travel with a channel who's an expert in helping new Simes, and he'll be well looked after at the camp.
Ayla: Then I'll stay nearby, in the city, and find some kind of work there. The camp may be safe, but the wider world isn't. A young boy doesn't understand, isn't ready. He still needs me. ~~ desperate, clinging ~~
Kaali: Mom. Next year I'll be ten years older.
Ayla: But still not used to anything but the shelter of that camp.
Ayla is still picturing something like a kids' holiday camp.
Bibi: Coming out of the camp he'll be all set to make his way in Nivet. But you can write to him, and visit him when he invites you.
Ayla: I'll visit him every day, take him places on weekends, be there for whatever he needs.
Bibi: We can talk about this later. There's plenty of time. For now, I'd like to take Kaali down to the changeover room and get him settled.
Kaali: Yes, please, Hajene. Thank you. ~~ gratitude ~~
Ayla rises, obviously ready to follow.
Bibi figures on siccing Nattin on Ayla. She and Cristal will, of course, be too busy with normal activities plus the changeover.
Bibi: I'll be up in a little while. Meanwhile, help yourself to whatever you like from the kitchen. Gitl will be here in another hour or so, but there's plenty to eat.
Ayla: But I should come along...?
Bibi: No, I want to work with him alone now.
Bibi guides Kaali toward the cellar door.
Ayla bites her lip, then slowly sits back down.
Ayla: Call me if you need anything.
Bibi: Don't worry, Ayla, everything will go well.
Ayla: Of course it will, Hajene. Of course it will.
Bibi lights another candle from the one in the kitchen and leads the way down the stairs, closing the door firmly behind herself and Kaali.
Kaali: Whew! Thanks, Hajene Bibi. You have no idea how worried that made me. What am I saying? Of course you do.
Kaali smiles just a little.
Kaali: It's really going to be all right?
Bibi: Yes, it will. You're as well prepared as a boy in-T would be, you're here in plenty of time, and I'll protect you from your mother.
Bibi hugs the boy.
Bibi: Everything will go well.
Ayla sits in the empty common room with her cold tea, broadcasting waves of ~~ loneliness ~~ and ~~ loss ~~ .