Nick follows his channel towards Sat'htine's administrative offices.
Katsura: I wonder what Sectuib has in mind for us this time. His note was completely uninformative.
Nick: I don't think it could be about that burned stew, could it? I admit, I probably shouldn't have distracted the cooks by pulling walnuts out of their ears, but it was the easiest way to cadge a handful of extra nuts for a snack...
Nick gives a ~~ sheepish ~~ grin.
Katsura: And they were Gens, so it's not like you were abusing your powers by coercing them nagerically!
Nick: True. I was just using my irresistible charm.
Nick grins at Kat, showing a lot of it.
Katsura grins back.
Katsura: Irresistible indeed.
Nick: Seriously, I'm guessing he just wants to check out how well you're doing bringing me up to your capacity.
Nick has noticed his Sectuib casting a greedy lateral or two in his direction, although Hiram is a bit more discreet about it than Rimona.
Katsura: Could be. Your field is rising beautifully. He'll enjoy zlinning you.
Katsura: Fortunately, it's my duty as Heir to learn the hard, dirty jobs like upgrading you, so I'm stuck with the onerous duty of taking transfer from you again.
Nick: I hope you can stand the strain.
Nick is pretty ~~ confident ~~ in his ability to give Kat a good transfer, regardless of any difference in capacity.
Katsura feels just slightly faint at the prospect. The zlin of Nick's ecstasy as she pushed his speed and drained him to the dregs was so overwhelming that she didn't much mind having to exert strict discipline to avoid going too far.
Nick spots Hiram's office door, and modifies his nager just a little so as to zlin just a bit more professional. He figures it's bad manners to flirt with one channel in front of another.
Katsura also straightens up her nager. She could, of course, conceal her true feelings from Hiram behind her showfield, but it would be extraordinarily rude.
Hiram looks up from a pile of paperwork as the two enter. As predicted, his laterals twitch happily in their sheaths as he zlins Nick. He's way out of phase with the Companion right now, of course, but still, a channel can dream.
Nick: Good morning, Sectuib.
Katsura expresses the same sentiment nagerically.
Hiram: Good morning, both of you.
Odexia, Hiram's visitor-trainee Donor du jour, waggles her nager in greeting, as her arms are deep in a cabinet juggling Hiram's files about. She puts the files down in somewhat better order than before, and turns around.
Odexia: G'day, Hajene Farris. G'day, Sosu Nick.
Nick waves cheerfully at Odexia.
Katsura smiles at channel and Donor.
Hiram drops his pen beside the inkwell and weaves his fingers together, letting his handling tentacles dance lazily among them. It's a sure sign that this isn't a disciplinary matter.
Nick hasn't quite gotten all of Hiram's signals straight, but Kat doesn't seem concerned.
Odexia moves to the new neutral point, allowing Hiram to zlin whatever he wants while being protected from ... oh, what's the point? The Heir and her Companion going off the rails? About as likely as a roo up a tree.
Hiram: You've both zlinned to be quite content of late.
Hiram's nager shows ~~ nothing ~~ , but his face takes on a small, almost evil smile.
Nick: It's spring. What could be less depressing?
Katsura: Nick is taking good care of me.
Hiram: In addition to your assigned duties, you've been working wonders with our gardens and orchards, Sosu. It almost seems a shame to take the two of you away from all that. But I wouldn't want you to get too complacent.
Nick gets that sinking feeling, and nearly manages to keep it out of his nager.
Katsura: You have another challenge planned for us, Sectuib?
Hiram signals Odexia to boost her protection just a little.
Katsura notes the signal. What is Hiram about to spring on them?
Odexia abruptly realizes that her mind was wandering and snaps to, signalling "Sorry" at the same time.
Hiram: How do the two of you feel about travelling together again? A somewhat longer assignment this time?
Nick finds himself ~~ interested ~~.
Nick: Has Cottonwood City gotten its Sime Center?
Hiram smiles outright.
Hiram: Not yet, it hasn't. And no, this is something in-T. About as in-T as it's possible to get.
Katsura: ~~ inquiry ~~
Nick: Civilization, in other words?
Nick isn't quite as confident of his ability to cope in civilized surroundings as he is in the wilderness, but on the other hand, Kat finds life with amenities far superior, and is thus easier to handle.
Katsura: Capital. That would be interesting. A large city always has the most interesting medical cases. Do they want me as a pediatrician?
Katsura would like to continue her research on establishment disorders, but realizes it may end up as more of a hobby than a vocation.
Hiram: Not precisely, though I'm sure you'll be able to spend some of your time doing the work you love best.
Nick wonders if the World Controller wants a gardener.
Katsura zlins Nick's less than enthusiastic reaction and wonders whether Capital holds unpleasant associations for him. He did meet Arat there, and had some bad experiences with Wise Snake there as well.
Hiram: A future Sectuib must be a skilled politician as well as a top channel. And so should any Companion who'll be working closely with her. It's time for you to start getting to know some of the movers and shakers of the Tecton.
Katsura: I see.
Nick makes the effort to keep his nager steady, and succeeds pretty well.
Katsura isn't tremendously enthused at the prospect, considering her experience with Firlith and her clique.
Nick: Which movers and shakers will be working with?
Hiram: Oh, quite a few. The World Controller, among others. And while you're doing that, I have a job for you that actually will draw upon your recent out-Territory experience.
Hiram: New Washington is about to appoint a new ambassador to Capital. You're to meet him in New Washington, take his and his assistants' donations, and escort them to Capital, then stay on as special assistants until he starts to settle in.
Nick: The ambassador is donating? I thought they had some sort of special exemption.
Hiram: Apparently, for some reason that wasn't quite made clear, the new ambassador will be waiving that exemption.
Odexia: How remarkable.
Nick: Unity is making progress, it seems.
Katsura: Perhaps it's someone who already donates.
Hiram: One of the two candidates certainly is.
Katsura: Who are the candidates?
Hiram: You've met at least one of them. Senator Ruthven Tsibola, and...
Hiram pauses for dramatic effect.
Hiram: Senator Brenn Pollovic.
Nick is ~~ delighted ~~.
Hiram: My guess is that he's the more likely candidate. Both because of his Sime-friendly stance, and because his party currently holds more votes than his opponent's.
Katsura: Senator Tsibola... would be a challenge all right. He's not a Simephobe, but he's certainly hostile.
Nick: I wouldn't have thought that he would be interested in going in-T at all.
Hiram: He'd be a challenge in more ways than one. He's had a recent heart attack, and only Hajene Seruffin's on-the-spot intervention kept him alive.
Katsura: Oh, dear. Poor Seruffin.
Odexia: I gather the first one, this Senatorpollovic, he's a friend of yours? A political friend, I mean.
Nick: We stayed at Senator Pollovic's house, this past winter. [to Odexia]
Odexia: Well, I'll be b--shenned.
Nick: And I sent his mother some rose bushes not long ago.
Odexia: Is this typical of your cross-border cooperation?
Katsura: Senator Pollovic's district includes Cottonwood City, and we met him there. Later, he invited us to stay at his home while we were in New Washington. He has a large and beautiful house and we were very pleased to stay there. His elderly mother visited and Nick made friends with her over their mutual interest in roses, and I worked on her arthritis.
Odexia: So it's more or less a freak of circumstance?
Hiram: Even before Kat and Nick's visit to Cottonwood City, Pollovic had been quite outspoken about building real Unity. I wouldn't be surprised if he'd been aiming for the ambassadorial position for some time. And deliberately building ties accordingly.
Katsura: Do you know when the new ambassador will likely be travelling, Sectuib?
Hiram: It will be a few weeks at least, I'd think. First, the post has to be officially awarded, and then, the new ambassador must have time to pack up his life and prepare for the move. If it is Pollovic, he'll probably want to take care of the wedding formalities before he leaves, in which case, you should probably be there in time for that. On the other hand, just in case it turns out to be Tsibola...
Hiram is clearly thinking out loud.
Nick: Surely it wouldn't be? What would he gain by it, that would be worth living among Simes?
Odexia: Perhaps he's escaping something even worse at home?
Odexia thinks of her own case.
Katsura: Well, I'll make a point of brushing up on geriatric cardiology in Gens, just in case.
Hiram: I'm reassigning the two of you at once, to work with Hoang in Cardiology until you leave. Or until we know for certain that Pollovic's got the job.
Nick thinks that cardiology might be interesting, and it it never hurts to acquire new skills.
Katsura curls an affectionate tentacle around Nick's wrist.
Katsura: More adventures for us, Sosu.
Nick squeezes the tentacle.
Nick: Yes. And this time, we won't be tramping through the wilderness, with no idea where we're going.
Katsura: And the weather will be better, or warmer at least.
Hiram: And while you're in Capital, it's a chance for Sat'htine's future Sectuib to start getting to know some of the movers and shakers of Nivet. Make use of the opportunity.
Katsura: Yes, Sectuib. Hajene Jaklin will find opportunities for us, I'm sure.
Katsura expects Jaklin will be particularly interested to meet with Nick since she herself sent him to Sat'htine for rehabilitation.
Nick hopes it won't be as strenuous to meet the Tecton's high mucky-mucks, now that he's ambrov Sat'htine. He's at least fairly certain that he won't end up in jail this time unless he commits an actual, new crime.
Odexia looks forward to more discoveries about Tecton politics.
Hiram: I spent quite a bit of Sat'htine's political capital during your recent difficulties. This is your chance to build some of it back.
Hiram zlins no point in avoiding bluntness with his own Heir.
Katsura: Yes, Sectuib. We'll do what we can.
Nick: We will make ourselves useful as the opportunity arises.
Hiram: I know you will. ~~ pride ~~ You're Sat'htine's finest, both of you.
Hiram makes sure the tiny bit of doubt at the back of his mind doesn't reach his nager. Youngsters must be allowed to try their wings, no matter how nervous it makes their elders.
Katsura: Thank you, Sectuib.
Katsura hopes Nick won't get into embarrassing trouble with the best of intentions. She wonders if there's some way she can express that to him without botching it.