Fall of a Senator: Episode 20

Rimona is resting in her office, waiting for Nick. He'll be Companioning her for her afternoon dispensary shift, and she's asked him to come by early.

Nick isn't having any problem with changing his schedule to accommodate the request, since this will be his first duty shift since Kat started upgrading him.

Rimona is interested to zlin what his selyn system is doing three days after Katsura drained him so deeply, and at a speed fast enough to singe him slightly.

Nick spent the first day in bed with a headache and a glass of fosebine, but has been having fun pruning and weeding the shrubbery since, and is a bit tanned.

Rimona: Come in, Nick!

Nick opens the door, and presents a bouquet of very early flowers with a ~~ flourish ~~.

Nick: Lovelies for the lovely lady!

Rimona: Oh, what a charmer you are! Too bad I'm not sixty years younger.

Rimona's face wrinkles up in a smile, while she quickly zlins him. Delicious nager, what there is of it.

Rimona: Here, sit down with me and have some tea and cookies.

Nick places the bile green vase (handcrafted by Morry, whose enthusiasm outstrips his artistic abilities) on the desk, and sits beside Rimona.

Nick: I'm all yours.

Rimona laughs and takes him in a five-point contact. She zlins him thoroughly, and is very pleased with the results.

Rimona: I suppose Kat has told you. Your selyn production rate is up, and I believe your capacity will have increased a bit more than we expected.

Nick: I'll give you transfer yet, Rimona.

Nick is ~~ pleased ~~ at the prospect.

Rimona maintains the arm contacts and enjoys the zlin of Nick's nager. The feel of expansion is delightful.

Rimona: Ah, that would be lovely.

Rimona traces delicate lines on Nick's skin with her laterals, then releases him.

Rimona: So you're willing to do this again next month?

Nick: Yes, if Kat is up to it. She was a little upset that she singed me.

Rimona: She had control, but what she zlinned from you was such intense pleasure that she didn't realize she was going just a touch faster than we'd planned.

Nick: She doesn't like to make mistakes that other people pay for. I can't blame her -- I don't, either.

Rimona told Kat that guilt over this was self-indulgent. The Gen wasn't really hurt, and certainly wasn't complaining. It's part of the training in the ruthlessness a Sectuib must acquire.

Rimona: Well, no decent person does. But learning requires mistakes. True, it was a bit hard on you, afterwards, but you agreed to put up with the headache for a better total effect on your selyn system. I'll bet Kat wasn't too happy with that, either.

Rimona can imagine how Kat itched to heal him.

Nick: She's a channel. Of course she doesn't like zlinning pain in her Gen.

Rimona: I'm sure it bothered her even when she was too far away to zlin it.

Nick: She didn't try to argue me out of my decision, to her credit.

Rimona nods. Nick is enough of a Wild Gen to reject the traditional paternalistic coddling of the old Householding culture. Well, of course, all the younger Companions are like that. Take Shorsh for example.

Rimona: So how are you getting along, now that you've been back home for a while?

Nick: I feel like the earth, this time of year: ready to burst into bloom, but not sure what kind of flower it will be.

Rimona enjoys the metaphor, and the emotions that go with it. She strokes Nick's arm with a tentacle.

Rimona: Do you have some ideas about what you'd like to bloom into?

Nick: I'm still poking my nose into all sorts of things. Kat gave me a history of Sat'htine to read while I was recovering. I hadn't thought before this how much Unity changed the Householdings. Most people I've known seem to think that nothing's changed within House walls at all.

Rimona: Oh, there have certainly been changes. Not enough, some would say. But as us oldsters die off, things will continue to change.

Nick: And other things will stay the same. I guess it's up to us youngsters to make sure the right things are in the right category.

Rimona: Indeed.

Rimona is pleased at how Nick identifies with the new generation of the Householding.

Rimona: A Householding has an entirely different role than it did before Unity. Now that anyone, Sime or Gen, can live free and nonjunct outside the walls, our original role is gone.

Nick: I'm curious. What you see as the modern role of a Householding, Rimona?

Rimona: On the one hand, we have a responsibility to make sure our members have a good life, with adequate material comforts and meaningful work, to keep up our traditions and ways of life.

Nick casually reaches for Rimona's hands, working to increase the flexibility of the stiffening joints. His work is even more subtle than usual, because his field is to low that it's easy to overlook the effect.

Rimona smiles her thanks.

Nick: Existence for the sake of existence?

Rimona: For the sake of our members, who were born into it or made a desperately difficult decision to join for the sake of their future and that of their descendants.

Nick nods, accepting the refinement.

Rimona: On the other, I believe that the Householdings should continue to be the forefront of Unity. That part of our role has changed in method, but not in nature. Our goal is equality of Sime and Gen, not just de jure, but de facto. And out-T as well as in.

Nick: I expect a lot of people on both sides of the border would argue with that goal.

Rimona: Of course. Nothing new there!

Nick chuckles.

Nick: Do you ever get tired of fighting the whole world, Rimona?

Rimona: Oh, well, not the whole world. Here inside the walls, we're all on the same side. Even in the old days, it was possible to forget about the rest, for a little while at least.

Nick: Not that that stopped you from having heated exchanges of opinion with fellow Houses, from what I read. I suppose it's just as well that there was always the possibility of founding a new House, for the people who didn't fit in the one they had.

Rimona: Opinions, yes, but nobody doubted that it was us Householders on one side, and the junct world on the other. However each House conducted its internal affairs.

Nick: Frequently acrimoniously, I gather. Or maybe Kat's history just dwells on the exciting times?

Rimona: In a sense, we were all radicals, fanatics, in those days. Of course, the juncts called us perverts, too. But it was sometimes a bit of a pressure cooker inside the walls, and people often defended their ideas with excessive zeal. Despised by the outer culture, we all too often built up our egos by regarding other Houses as inferior or heretical.

Nick: Or left to join them -- how often did that happen?

Rimona: Well, selyn workers were more likely to move around than others, not always completely voluntarily. After all, how was a renSime or Gen to find another House, get to know them and then transfer his pledge?

Nick: It would have taken an effort. But selyn workers mixed more often?

Rimona: Some of them were traded like horses. We always thought it was a disgrace. When a person pledges to a House, that pledge should be sacred. But some Sectuibs felt that they had a right to swap personnel, and their naztehrhai had a duty to accept it.

Rimona: It's one thing to spend some time elsewhere, to learn and teach, to expand your experience, to help out a House that needs more channels or Companions, but to be swapped like livestock...

Nick: I suppose that was at least some defense against inbreeding.

Rimona: Inbreeding? We always kept excellent records, new renSimes and Gens joined us from outside, and we weren't averse at all to some of our visitors helping us out, or our members helping other Houses out. Not Farrises, of course -- nobody wants to add Farrises to their Householding.

Nick: One Farris would be a liability -- it takes at least four of you, of both larities, to become an asset. ~~ teasing ~~

Rimona: Oh, more than that. We get sick, we get pregnant, we die...

Rimona winks.

Rimona: What's worse, we produce the best, most powerful channels -- we hijack the Sectuib line!

Nick: Horrors!

Rimona: What Sectuib is going to bring in people who will supersede his own relatives, or even himself!

Nick: And you poach all the best Donors, as well.

Rimona: Oh, definitely. And we force them like spring bulbs to get them up to our level.

Nick: Making them useless for the other channels.

Rimona: I wouldn't say useless. You could serve a few Thirds a week, and fake your response well enough to give them all good transfers.

Nick: I wouldn't be satisfied doing it for long, though. And they'd know they hadn't satisfied me.

Rimona: Most Houses were too small to count on good matches every month for everyone. A good reason for horse-trading, most people thought. Of course, everybody wanted to get in better Companions than the ones they had, although a young channel who didn't have a good match in-House, or had to share one with too many other channels, might want to go where there were more Companions who matched him. Of course, he'd have a hard time being completely rational about it, too.

Nick: From what I've seen, that sort of horse trading is a little less prevalent today. Although the Sectuib in Dar was definitely checking my hocks and teeth.

Rimona snorts.

Rimona: He was just flirting. He knew he'd never get you. And if he did, what would he do with you? You outmatch him so far it's embarrassing.

Nick: Only with respect to transfer. In hand-to-hand combat, the reverse is true.

Rimona laughs.

Rimona: It's wonderful how much less important martial skills are these days than they were when I was young.

Nick: I enjoyed learning hand-to-hand from Sylma and Sedel. It was very good exercise.

Rimona: Yes, but you don't have the serious expectation of having to murder people with it, or kill Simes with your nager.

Nick: Thank goodness. I've seen enough patients die on me, without creating more. Although -- I'm glad that in a pinch, I may have an option besides slamming a Sime attacker to death.

Rimona: Oh, well, you wouldn't need to kill, not with a nager like yours. You could just entice the poor Sime and serve him, if that's what he was after, or overwhelm him with a projection of calm. Gens on the other hand.... far more dangerous than Simes!

Nick: I know. I got into a few...altercations...during my years in Gen Territory. Simes tend to be more cautious.

Rimona withdraws her hands from Nick's soothing therapy.

Rimona: Let me pour us some tea, and all but one of these cookies are for you.

Nick: Macaroons! I love them.

Rimona smiles, pleased.

Rimona: We get coconut from the House of Imokalee, as well as citrus.

Rimona takes up her tea and nibbles delicately on a macaroon.

Nick takes a more Gen-sized bite.

Rimona: Let us know if you want more experience in any of our technical fields, with an eye toward where you might want to specialize.

Rimona still sees Nick as best suited to technical work, rather than exposure to politically fraught situations.

Nick: I've been thinking I should learn a little more about pediatrics.

Nick is not at all averse to becoming Kat's standard Companion.

Rimona smiles, unsurprised.

Rimona: You like children, don't you?

Nick: Yes, most of the time. And frankly, everyone can be a nuisance, at times. I often do it six times before lunchtime, myself.

Rimona: One good thing about having your children in a House is that there are so many other people to help you raise them.

Nick: One big family -- although at least it's not literally that, here.

Nick still finds his ancestry something of a sore point.

Rimona: Still, we have plans. Long term plans, some of them. When you're interested in contributing to them, let me know. We can go through the genealogies together, decide where your contribution can best fit in.

Rimona calls her stud books "genealogies", unlike most.

Nick: If it's all the same to you, I'd rather handle my love life myself.

Nick is quite ~~ firm ~~ on that issue.

Rimona: Your love life is your own, certainly. But think about making a genetic contribution to the life of the House, and let me know when you're ready.

Rimona pats Nick's hand.

Rimona: No rush. You have years ahead.

Rimona would like to see the offspring of Nick and some Farris Companions reach adulthood, but isn't counting on living that long. It would be a very interesting cross.

Nick thinks his genes have been contributed far too much in the previous two generations.

Rimona figures it's time to change the subject.

Rimona: Some of the renSimes on the schedule today are disjuncts, Nick. Do you have much experience with that?

Nick: Yes, although my methods may be different from what you're used to.

Rimona: Tell me about them.

Nick takes another macaroon, and settles back to explain the various improvisations his previous channels put together.


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