Rimona is relaxing in the small conservatory, enjoying the enhanced warmth of the spring sunshine, and the colors and fragrance of the forced bulbs.
Morry is prowling the potting shed, a much-abused sheet over his head. He knocks over a stack of flats waiting to be planted with the early spring vegetables and trips over a rake that he knocked down earlier, before finally finding the door to the conservatory.
Rimona zlins him moving around in the adjacent potting shed, but thinks nothing of it.
Morry peers through, spotting a potential victim with ~~ satisfaction ~~.
Rimona zlins that he's planning something.
Morry takes a moment to get into character, then throws open the door, shouting "Boooo!"
Rimona pretends to be startled.
Rimona: Goodness, Morry! What's this about?
Rimona turns to see the boy draped in a sheet.
Morry pokes his head through one of the larger holes, grinning broadly.
Morry: I'm a ghost, Hajene Rimona. Are you scareded yet?
Rimona: Well... I'm sorry, Morry, but I zlinned you first. Besides, there's no such thing as ghosts. The dead are dead, and live only in our memories of them and their deeds.
Rimona, like most people in-T, doesn't lie, and has a pragmatic attitude to metaphysical issues.
Morry looks at Rimona a bit ~~ indignantly ~~.
Morry: Of course ghosts don't really exist. I'm a pretend ghost. That's why I'm wearing the sheet. You're still supposed to be scared, though.
Rimona: Okay. You look like a pretend ghost.
Rimona pats her chest.
Rimona: I'm pretend scared!
Morry giggles in ~~ delight ~~.
Morry: Good, good! Now you have to give me some candy. Sosu Nick said that's the way it works.
Rimona: But I don't have any candy. How about a hug instead?
Morry: No, it has to be...
Morry screws up his face, trying to remember the proper pronunciation.
Morry: "Loot". To fill my sack.
Rimona: Sorry. No "loot".
Morry kicks at the ground and starts to wheedle.
Morry: Aww, come on, Hajene. It won't be any fun if my little sister gets more loot than I do.
Rimona thinks this is inappropriate behavior for a child in a commune.
Morry: I mean, she's dressed in pink, with star thingies. That's not properly scary!
Rimona: Morry, nobody has any loot here. It's wrong to ask people to give you their personal belongings. If you're hungry, you know where to get some food.
Morry: But that's the game! We both see how many people are pretend scared enough to give us a token. Besides, raw eggs are gooey.
Morry says this as if it has some relevance to the previous sentence.
Rimona: Raw eggs? Well, here's a token for you.
Morry ~~ eagerly ~~ holds out his pillowcase sack.
Rimona writes "Morry is very scary for a pretend ghost. Rimona Farris, QN-1, Second Channel in Sat'htine" on a scrap of paper and drops it in the sack.
Morry looks at the note ~~ dubiously ~~.
Morry: My sister can't read yet, but I guess Sosu Nick can read it to her.
Rimona: You can have a hug, too, if you want.
Morry: Thanks, Hajene Rimona.
Morry reaches out arms (draped in bedraggled former sheet) to her.
Rimona gives him a good grandmotherly hug, zlinning him automatically. He's healthy and growing well.
Rimona: So what does Nick say this game is about?
Morry: It's what kids do out-Territory. On one night every year, they get dressed up in costumes and go around seeing how many people they can scare. They go knock on the doors of the other houses, and go "Boo!". Then people give them candy or other stuff. Or if they don't, the kids give them raw eggs. That's yucky, don't you think? I like my eggs cooked.
Rimona: I see. But that doesn't work as well in-T. Think about it. Why is that?
Morry: We do costumes for plays and stuff, and that's inside.
Rimona waits patiently.
Morry: And it's bad manners to scare people. At least when it's not pretend.
Rimona: And why is that?
Morry: If they're Gens, they might get hurt. And if they're Simes, they might hurt someone accidentally.
Rimona: Right. A scared Gen is very unpleasant to zlin, and of course, it's not pleasant for the Gen, either.
Rimona: Also, you'll have a much harder time sneaking up on a Sime to scare him. This isn't a problem out-T, is it?
Morry: No, but then, the people I sneak up on here don't have guns. Sosu Nick says lots of grownups out-Territory have guns.
Morry thinks guns must be exciting, because they feature in so many dramatic stories.
Rimona: Yes, unfortunately that's true. Do you know why they have guns?
Morry: For 'ventures. So they don't get bored.
Rimona: What kind of a tool is a gun? What's it for?
Morry: It's for scaring off enemies.
Morry's source of information was unable to supply enough information to satisfy his young friend, as Nick never had any interest in learning to shoot a gun.
Rimona: Morry, a gun is a tool for causing injury and death to people and animals.
Morry: Only if you shoot it.
Rimona: People out-T eat animals, and they use guns to slaughter them. But there's another reason they have guns, too. Do you know what that is?
Morry doesn't appreciate having his illusions punctured.
Morry: Their soldiers have them, to stop Raiders.
Rimona: There are no more Raiders, but ordinary people everywhere in Genland have guns. They use them to murder children when they start to change over. Mostly they don't want to, but there are very few channels out-T, so if they don't murder the child, he'll kill somebody else, or die horribly in attrition.
Morry: That's why the First Cataract made them put Sime Centers in the big towns, right?
Morry demonstrates that he has been at least marginally awake through at least one history lecture.
Rimona: Yes, that was one item in the First Contract. But most people don't live in big towns, so there are no channels for them. So although everybody in Nivet benefits from the First Contract, very few people out-T can.
Rimona hugs Morry again.
Rimona: By the time you're my age, things will be much better for the people out-T.
Rimona sincerely hopes so. Unity has been a major focus in her long life.
Morry: Yeah, Sosu Nick says they're learning. He's been out there, and everything. Have you ever been to Genland?
Morry thinks traveling sounds exciting, like ghosts and Raiders.
Rimona: I visited New Washington many years ago, with a delegation from the Tecton. We helped arrange for the Sime Center there.
Rimona found it a very stressful experience. Fortunately she had Shorsh's father with her as Companion, and the trip was a short one.
Morry: Cool! What were the Wild Gens like?
Morry has been pestering Nick for Wild Gen stories often, since he came back.
Rimona: At that time, just after Unity, they were very much afraid of Simes, very hostile and suspicious. But they are just people, with families and jobs like people here. The one thing that's so different, is that they know that their children could change over and kill them, and they'll have no choice but to murder them first.
Morry: Were they scared of you? Sosu Nick says a lot of Gens are scared of channels, even. They were even scared of Hajene Kat, and she's nice. She got a splinter out of my thumb.
Rimona: Oh, yes, they were scared of me. It was very sad, and very hard to take. People out-T try to hide it when they're scared, act like they aren't, but of course that doesn't work with Simes. So to be polite, we have to pretend we don't know they're scared, because they're ashamed of it.
Morry: How could they think you wouldn't know they were scared?
Rimona: In those days, most people out-T didn't know much about Simes. A lot of them still don't. There are few Simes there, so they have no experience with them.
Morry thinks about that for a moment.
Morry: They didn't know you can zlin them?
Rimona: They didn't understand how zlinning works. To them it was some kind of magic.
Morry: Magic is cool. Sosu Nick can make a card or stone disappear and then take it out of your ear.
Rimona: Tricks like that are fun.
Morry: He can juggle, too, but lots of people can do that.
Rimona nods. No doubt Morry has noticed that Simes can juggle effortlessly, but it's quite the accomplishment in a Gen.
Rimona: Nick has many accomplishments. He's had an unusual range of experiences for a man his age. He has lots to teach us. We're lucky he decided to become our naztehr.
Morry: Yeah. He's been everywhere.
Rimona: He took very good care of Hajene Katsura when they were traveling out-T. He's a very skillful Companion.
Morry: He knows all about how to make plants grow, and how to cut the trees and all that.
Morry has quite a case of ~~ hero worship ~~ of Sat'htine's newest Companion.
Rimona: Yes, he loves working with plants.
Morry: He tells good stories, too.
Rimona: He likes playing with you kids, doesn't he?
Morry: Yeah. He even helped us win a snowball fight.
Rimona: I think he's happy here at Sat'htine. What do you think? Is he happier since he pledged?
Morry: He likes Hajene Kat a lot. And he got new clothes. He wants to try 'sparagus in the kitchen garden, too. And he wants to send a rose plant to a friend of his, all the way in Genland.
Rimona: Does he feel like Sat'htine is his home now?
Morry: Well, it is, right?
Rimona: Yes, it is. But it can take time for somebody to get used to having a new home. Just like when you transplant a plant -- it takes time for it to put down new roots and settle in.
Morry: Sosu Nick says putting water on it helps. Maybe we should tell him to take a shower?
Rimona: Nick isn't a plant. But we should do what we can to let him know that we're very happy he's our naztehr.
Morry: Should I go and try to scare him? Sosu Nick says the kids out-Territory mostly go to houses of friends.
Rimona: Sure. He's your friend, isn't he? But don't scare him too much if there are any Simes around, okay? He's got a very big nager.
Morry: Okay. Maybe if I have my head out, so he can see it's really me, he won't be scared. Do you think so?
Rimona: That's a good idea.
Morry: Sosu Nick is a Gen. He'll have a good token -- maybe some taffy or something.
Rimona: Perhaps he will.