Mr. Ambassador: Episode 6

PPling is tidying up her work area. Business is slow so she has time to work on her Work.

PPling's real-life experience of a Sime's attack has added color and emotional depth to the Work, but hasn't had much effect on matters like structure and scansion, and most of the color is sort of purple.

Layna enters the Moonbean Cafe, where she is to meet her major professor in half an hour. She has to admit, with some ~~ guilt ~~, that she had not prepared some of the English translations that her adviser asked for, of documents he wants to use to explain the serious nature of the trade in unauthorized Ancient artifacts to the Gen politicians.

Layna spent the morning trying for a more direct approach, to wit, attempting to get close enough to Senator Burgess to ask him where he got a stolen Ancient artifact. She was, alas, not very successful in her quest, as the Senator was surrounded by a gaggle of aides whose job was to prevent people like her from bothering their boss.

Layna hopes her advisor has some advice on how to proceed from here, and hopes even more that it gives her an excuse to practice her House's specialty. She had a great deal of fun with Wolfie and his accomplice, and remembers them quite ~~ fondly ~~

Layna goes up to the counter, and studies the offerings behind the counter.

PPling ignores her. Let her ask for what she wants. PPling doesn't work on commission, and her Art is more important than some student's blood caffeine level.

Layna: Hello. Is that pastry cherry or cranberry?

PPling: Raspberry.

Layna: Even better. What sort of tea do you have to go with it?

PPling: Peppermint. Camomile. Linden flower.

Layna: No trin?

PPling: No. We have some rosehips, but they're pretty stale. This is more of a coffee house, eh?

Layna: I know, but I grew up with trin. I suppose it's all what you're used to, right?

PPling: Guess so. I've had trin and didn't think much of it.

Layna studies PPling with ~~ interest ~~.

Layna: Really? Where did you get your hands on trin? I haven't seen it offered in any of the shops around here.

PPling: They usually have a pot for the donors at the Sime Center.

Layna: Well, then, no wonder you didn't care for it. It was probably a cheap blend, and maybe reheated as well. Before you decide you don't like trin, you should try some of the Narosian blends. Orange Orgasm, or maybe Lilac Passion.

Layna is rather ~~ pleased ~~ at her ability to translate the names.

PPling gives her a surprised and slightly disgusted look. Is she pulling her leg, or is she just weird? Then again, she does have a Nivet accent.

Layna is also wearing clothes that aren't quite right for a New Washington student.

PPling: I don't think they'd sell them here. You're from Nivet, are you?

Layna: Yes, I am. Layna ambrov Dar, and pleased to meet you.

PPling: Hi, I'm PPling.

PPling has stopped telling people that the first P is silent.

Layna: What do you do when you're not making caffeine-rich aqueous extracts, PPling?

PPling: Well, this is just a job. Actually, I'm a poet.

Layna: A poet? What sort of poetry do you write?

PPling: At present I'm writing a long lyric poem about Simes before Unity.

Layna: That's an unusual topic. How are you treating it?

PPling: It's a very emotionally rich poem. I try to recreate the experience of the junct Sime, the passion of need and the Kill.

PPling gestures to emphasize the intensity of the emotions she describes in her poem.

Layna, unlike PPling, has actually talked with people who knew pre-Unity juncts, and their Gen counterparts.

PPling: I interleave the Sime's experience of the Kill with the experience of the Gen, fulfilling its destiny. The mutual consummation.

Layna: Mutual consummation?

Layna is starting to get ~~ confused ~~.

PPling: Indeed. The mutual ecstasy. So intense.

Layna: What's mutual about it? It's not as if juncts had any sort of relationship with the Gens they killed. I mean, do you feel a mutual consummation every time you eat a tomato?

PPling: Well, a Sime tried to kill me and ecstasy is what I felt. Of course, I wasn't raised for it, so I didn't get the feeling that it was my life's consummation.

Layna: You were attacked? By a Sime?

PPling: Yes. On my way home one night last winter.

Layna: This I've got to hear.

Layna settles in to listen.

PPling: A berserker. He ran away afterwards, but I hear he went to the Sime Center on his own later.

PPling eyes Layna, wondering if she'll give a straighter answer than she got from the channel.

PPling: I don't know whether that makes him junct or not. What do you think?

Layna: If you're alive and well, he's not junct -- and you were both very, very lucky.

PPling shrugs.

PPling: I expected ecstasy and I got it. I also expected agony, but I didn't get that. He was just a little kid. I guess he didn't know how to do it right. But he ruined my coat and my favorite shirt, and I slipped on the ice and hurt my bum.

Layna: I think you were the one who did it right. Better than I did, anyway.

PPling: I didn't think they let Gens do that in Nivet, except for Donors, of course. But you're a Householder. Does your Householding let you do it?

Layna: No, actually my Sectuib was very upset at me for trying. But I was out-Territory, and the kid was in changeover, and there wasn't time to get to the nearest Sime Center.

PPling: I wonder if the element of surprise helps. He just jumped out of some bushes and grabbed me. But you did survive, so you must have done something right.

Layna: I was lucky the kid did what he was told, and got me to the Sime Center, or I wouldn't have survived. I was hurting too badly to make it on my own.

PPling: There was this Donor in here afterwards who insisted I go to the Sime Center down the block to get checked out, but I felt all right except for my bum. The channel mostly fixed it for me, and later they gave me a credit for the selyn so I bought a new coat.

PPling recollects her job.

PPling: Did you want some tea or coffee or anything?

Layna: Oh. Sure. How about a cup of coffee and one of those raspberry pastries?

Layna fishes in her pocket for the appropriate currency.

PPling: Sure.

PPling pours and serves, putting a creamer and a sugar bowl in reach.

PPling: I guess you were lucky your Sime didn't run off like mine did. Did the channel try to get you to go in for Donor training?

Layna: Nah. She just shipped me back home, and let Sectuib deal with the consequences. He wasn't pleased.

PPling: I thought they'd figure you were a hero or something. I mean, Householders and Unity and all.

Layna: A House's survival depends on keeping its Gens healthy -- and that means "foolish, suicidal grandstanding stunts" like trying to give transfer with no training and no backup are out. Or so I was told. At length.

PPling: I'm glad I don't have to put up with that nonsense. They're so paternalistic, these channels. And the Donors too.

Layna did not enjoy the process, being more inclined to impetuous action than lengthy introspection.

PPling: I'd hate to be a Donor. So boring, and you have to be so dull and conventional. It's not worth it for a few seconds of ecstasy a month.

PPling feels even nobler about her artistic destiny having rejected the chance of a well paid job as a TN-3.

Layna: Oh, there have been plenty of Donors who have been -- less than conventional. There was one First Companion in Dar who got quite a reputation for playing music in a particularly disreputable shiltpron parlor, for instance.

PPling: Really?

Layna: Yes. Fortunately, the juncts never caught on to where the "pet Gen" came from.

PPling: Oh, that was before the Tecton clamped down and made it all so boring.

PPling pours herself a coffee.

PPling: Although the Donor who got me to go in to the Sime Center after the attack wasn't as conventional as they usually are. He was quite good looking and I think he and his channel were screwing each other.

Layna: I guess you've never heard of the Notorious Donor of the Last Audnes Rebellion? The guy helped a channel almost start a civil war, and then stopped it single-handed.

PPling: I think there was something in the paper about it, but not much detail. What did the Tecton do to him for it?

Layna: They were going to put him in jail, but he managed to get parole instead. Then he broke it, was caught, and ended up pulling a daring escape from prison with his channel.

PPling: The same channel?

Layna: No, a different one. After they broke out of jail, he kept her alive and well out-Territory for months, roaming around. Not exactly a dull and conventional guy, wouldn't you agree?

PPling: Hm. I think I remember something about that story. He was a Farris, wasn't he? And his name was Nick, like the Donor I met.

Layna: Yes. Nick Reckage, although now he's ambrov Sat'htine, of course. I suppose they felt that having that sort of Donor talent around was worth dealing with a loose cannon.

PPling: I suppose that's a happy ending for him then.

PPling can't imagine signing away her independence to some channel, but has enough tact not to diss Householdings to Layna. She isn't all that fond of happy endings either. So boring.

Layna: There aren't all that many non-Farris Gens who can handle a Farris channel. And after he'd kept Hajene Katsura alive and well for months -- well, of course they wanted him.

PPling: Hm. There was a Farris channel named Kat working here with the Nick I met for a few weeks. I wonder if they're the same ones.

Layna considers.

Layna: It's possible. Farris channels don't generally travel out-Territory -- there's not enough work for them. Was your Nick cute? Reckage is supposed to take after his father, the former Sectuib in Naros.

PPling: Yes. Nice looking, and he had a sort of charming act. He came in here for coffee sometimes and had all these female students around him with their tongues hanging out.

Layna: That sounds like a relative of Riyyh, all right. I've never met the man in person. What was he like?

PPling: He didn't seem all that wild. Mostly calm and quiet. I could tell he wasn't a student. I thought he was a laborer first time he came in. He was dressed like one.

Layna: Really? It was probably a disguise. When was this, again?

PPling: This last winter. Just for a few weeks, I think. At any rate, he stopped coming in for coffee.

Layna: That must have been while they were fugitives. I wonder how they managed to hide out in a New Washington Sime Center without anyone knowing?

PPling shrugs.

PPling: Pretty much just students at the Sime Center here.

PPling implies 'not anybody important'.

Layna: Yes, but some Controller in the main Sime Center had to be scheduling their shifts. Well, I suppose Sat'htine has connections in odd places.

PPling shrugs. She doesn't know, or need to know, much about it.

PPling: I suppose so.

Layna: You know, it's kind of romantic, if you think about it. He and his channel risking all sorts of horrible dangers to run away together.

PPling: Yes. Too bad he isn't a poet.

Layna: Maybe someday he'll find a poet to tell his story for him.

PPling: It could happen.

PPling doubts it. Real poets are rare.

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