Mr. Ambassador: Episode 18

Codee moseys towards the Sime town of... something-or-other-unpronounceable, at a slow amble. He's mounted improbably on a large, elderly male bovine, which he straddles bareback.

Codee's mount is long past his bucking days, and shows no inclination to bestir himself to get rid of his rider, despite his formidable reputation in his younger years.

Codee reaches the outskirts, from which the outskirts on the other side of town are clearly visible. He grins slowly.

Codee: I think I'm gonna like this place.

Codee was feeling a bit cramped in Hannard's Ford -- way too many people.

Codee looks around for the building the guy who did the supply runs last year described, and spots it.

Codee: Come on, Fluffy.

Codee applies his heels to his mount's sides a few times, and the bull changes direction slightly and ambles on.

Dzerzhanski zlins the rather odd combination outside.

Dzerzhanski: A non-donor is approaching ... riding a bovine. I don't think I've ever zlinned anything quite like it before.

Tscheka: I don't think I've ever seen anything like that before. Riding an ox?

Tscheka goes closer to the window for a better look.

Tscheka: Goodness! It's a bull.

Dzerzhanski chuckles.

Dzerzhanski: True, now that you mention it. Well, let him in and we'll see what he wants, I suppose. He's pretty busted up, but nothing immediately life-threatening.

Codee halts his mount in front of the Sime Center and slides down, ignoring the stab of ~~ pain ~~ in his left shoulder, and the lesser ~~ aches ~~ in his knees. He's actually pretty ~~ pleased ~~ with how well he's healing, most places.

Codee leads the bull towards the hitching post, then eyes it ~~ dubiously ~~.

Tscheka: Let's see if I can protect you from a Wild Cattle Gen.

Dzerzhanski chuckles again.

Dzerzhanski: I'm sure you'll do fine, Sosu. You only outshine him by a factor of ten or so.

Tscheka: Yes, but you never know what a Wild Gen will do next.

Tscheka trots out that old saw.

Tscheka: Well, I'll go speak soothingly and encouragingly to him.

Dzerzhanski nods.

Codee is currently testing the integrity of the hitching post, clucking as he spots that one end of the rail is less-than-securely fastened.

Tscheka opens the door.

Tscheka: [English] Good morning.

Codee looks up.

Codee: Howdy. I don't suppose you've got a paddock or something around back? This here won't hold Fluffy once he gets bored.

Codee reaches out to scritch the bull's forehead, right between the horns.

Tscheka: There's the pole the clothesline is attached to over there. Would that do?

Tscheka points to the side yard.

Codee makes a visual inspection.

Dzerzhanski sticks his head out and his oar in.

Dzerzhanski: Why not just hobble him? We've got some rope somewhere here.

Codee: It might work, if you don't mind him pruning your hedge a bit?

Dzerzhanski: No problem.

Dzerzhanski ducks back into the Sime Center and reappears with the rope. He assumes Codee has his own knife to cut it with. He and Tscheka are making a special effort not to use Simelan words in their English.

Codee secures his improbable mount efficiently, then makes sure the gate to the side yard is firmly closed, just in case the rope doesn't hold.

Tscheka notes that the Gen didn't react to the channel, who was making no effort to conceal his larity.

Codee: Right, Fluffy, you just enjoy a nice snack, or maybe take a nap.

Codee's mount ignores him, as he reaches out to delicately sample the hedge.

Codee turns to Tscheka.

Codee: I hope he doesn't eat the whole thing.

Tscheka: I was planning to cut it back anyway, if I ever got around to it.

Codee: I'd've brought the mule, but he came up lame this morning. Lazy critter was just faking it, if you ask me.

Codee has a lot of personal experience with lameness, as demonstrated by his limping gait.

Codee: Oh, I'm Codee Marchi, with the Havistam Cattle Company. The cook sent me into town for a few supplies they didn't bother to send with us. I'm told I have to make a stop here, first?

Tscheka: Yes. They made an exception for you people -- you don't have to donate as long as you don't come into town.

Dzerzhanski nods.

Tscheka notes that Hajene appears not to be disturbed or irritated by the Wild Gen. Good.

Dzerzhanski: This is Sosu Tscheka, by the way, and I'm Hajene Felix Dzerzhanski, but you can just call me "Hajene" -- or "Hey, you!" for that matter.

Dzerzhanski mutters: "He would answer to 'Hi!' or any loud cry, such as 'Fry me!' or 'Fritter my wig!'"

Dzerzhanski: But in any case, do come in. I'll take your donation, which will let you visit the store and other outposts of, umm, civilization.

Dzerzhanski waves his hand around sardonically, if a hand-wave can express the sardonic mood.

Codee: I guess that explains why there weren't any volunteers for this run. It seemed a little funny to me, at the time. Most drives, the fellows are so bored they're willing to wash dishes for a week, to get the privilege.

Tscheka: Donation is very simple, and Hajene is very experienced.

Codee looks at the channel with the many nicknames.

Codee: Well, you look a little more experienced than that little bitty thing at Hannard's Ford, but not nearly as kissable, if you get my meaning.

Dzerzhanski laughs outright.

Dzerzhanski: Relax. I get all of that I need elsewhere, not from the customers.

Codee: Good enough, I suppose. You got a lot of non-customers coming through here?

Codee follows the channel and Donor through the door.

Dzerzhanski half-turns to answer Codee's question while walking to his desk.

Dzerzhanski: Everyone who comes in through that door is a customer in one way or another, you might say.

Codee: They just got different errands?

Dzerzhanski: Yup. Most donate or take transfer, some in changeover, some have complaints. In theory we might get a Tecton inspector. Sosu, have you ever seen one of those here?

Tscheka: Not yet.

Tscheka sincerely hopes that situation continues.

Codee chuckles.

Codee: Your higher-ups don't care to dirty themselves in such a small town?

Dzerzhanski: Sure. Even the staff here are from here, though we go in-Territory for training.

Dzerzhanski, like other locals, doesn't use the term "in-Territory" for Elk Mountain.

Codee: Sounds about right. From what I've heard, the cattle company never gets around to sending out their officials anyplace they'd run into an actual cow. But I thought this was Sime Territory?

Tscheka: Oh, it is, but we're so far back in the boonies we hardly think of ourselves as really being in Nivet.

Dzerzhanski: Yeah. In-T is this way [points], out-T is that way [points], and hereabouts is just hereabouts.

Dzerzhanski smiles.

Codee thinks about that for a moment.

Codee: So you folks go your own way, and nobody bothers to notice?

Tscheka: We keep up Tecton standards here in the Sime Center. After all, the Tecton pays us.

Dzerzhanski: Sure. That's just common sense, like most of what we do around here.

Tscheka: They trust us to do a good, professional job, and we do.

Dzerzhanski: Speaking of which, are you ready to give it the old cowhand try?

Codee: I guess I might as well get 'er done.

Codee repeats a bull rider's mantra. He has little idea how to proceed, but figures getting out of his leather coat is a good start.

Dzerzhanski: That's it. Roll your sleeves up while you're at it.

Tscheka: And come sit over here.

Codee unbuttons it and starts working his arms cautiously out of the sleeves, but there is still a ~~ stab ~~ of pain from the shoulder as it unavoidably moves.

Codee: Sure thing.

Codee rolls up his sleeves, which makes his right wrist ~~ ache ~~.

Dzerzhanski leans a bit more than usual on Tscheka, who fortunately outrates him.

Tscheka notes this and moves closer. ~~ support ~~

Dzerzhanski signals ~~ thanks ~~.

Tscheka pats his arm.

Codee limps over to the couch and settles on it awkwardly, trying to keep his weight off the knee that doesn't bend properly.

Dzerzhanski: Okay. Did the "little bitty thing" explain what happens in a donation?

Codee: No, but she sure served me some fine gingerbread.

Dzerzhanski decides not to go there.

Dzerzhanski: Okay. One, you relax. Two, I put my handling tentacles ...

Dzerzhanski extends them, zlinning for reaction.

Codee is not particularly alarmed by the tentacles; frequent trampling by ornery bulls has given him a perspective on risk assessment that few Gens share.

Dzerzhanski: ... around your arms so you can't move and hurt me. Three ...

Tscheka smiles at Codee in a motherly way, and puts her hands on the channel's shoulders to increase her support.

Dzerzhanski wraps his handling tentacles and continues.

Dzerzhanski: Three, as I was saying, I extend my laterals. Think wet, not slimy.

Codee shifts a little, trying to ease the knee, and winces as a stab of pain shoots through the shoulder.

Dzerzhanski: Four, you lean forward and touch your lips to mine. Five, you sit still while I actually take your donation, which may take about five minutes.

Dzerzhanski is determined to leave extra time to do as much healing as a mid-rated Third can possibly manage.

Codee: Five minutes? I could've sworn... well, I guess people don't all work at the same speed.

Dzerzhanski extends the laterals onto Codee's skin and deep-zlins him. Hoo boy, what a mess. He starts healing right away, though his control isn't precise enough to do more than focus on general areas.

Codee leans forward to make lip contact, making his injuries more obvious to the channel: ribs healed -- sort of -- from multiple breaks. He's recovering from a sprained wrist, a smashed knee, a groin strain, and his left shoulder is suffering from the aftermath of its third dislocation.

Dzerzhanski goes from one area to another, draws out Codee's entire GN-3 reservoir slowly and carefully to maximize the dynopters, and continues healing until he runs out of strength. He dismantles the contact with his last bit of reserves and leans back in the chair

Dzerzhanski: Whuff. That was ... hard work.

Tscheka squeezes his shoulders ~~ encouragingly ~~.

Codee: Sorry about that.

Dzerzhanski: I guessed I might as well get 'im done.

Tscheka keeps up steady ~~ support ~~ for a QN-3's long recovery time from a functional.

Dzerzhanski talks in a rather low tone and keeps his eyes shut.

Dzerzhanski: How do you feel now, Mr. Marchi?

Codee makes an assessment.

Codee: Hey, that wrist feels better!

Dzerzhanski nods slowly.

Dzerzhanski: Yup. All part of the service.

Dzerzhanski opens one eye.

Dzerzhanski: I did some repairs, took down some inflammation, and suppressed some pain, whatever was handy. Bit of a haywire job, though, and I may have overdone it.

Dzerzhanski tries to open the other eye, but relapses into a light trance instead.

Tscheka: ~~ sympathy ~~

Codee: That's amazing! I might be back riding bulls by the end of summer, after all. Win enough to pay for surgery on that shoulder.

Tscheka winces.

Dzerzhanski revives enough to shudder.

Dzerzhanski: Keep coming back every month, you won't need it. Better yet, go in-T sometime -- any First would see you as the challenge of their career.

Tscheka thinks: "Better them than us."

Codee: Really? The doc told me that shoulder wouldn't heal right unless those tendons could be reattached properly.

Dzerzhanski tries to zlin, but it's too much effort at the moment.

Dzerzhanski: He might be right. You gotta be careful, though. Especially with the knee: I just shrank the swelling and shut down some pain nerves. You can still re-injure it easily.

Codee: If it holds for a while, that's what's important.

Codee has a somewhat different attitude towards injury than a sane individual.

Dzerzhanski manages to control the shudder this time. Whatever. The customer is always right, even when he's crazy.

Codee: I'll get my own spread, yet. Wouldn't mind settling down in a place like this. Is there land for sale, or is it all claimed?

Dzerzhanski shrugs and looks at Tscheka.

Tscheka: Most is common pasture, but the area was surveyed into lots, for homesteads. There are still some you can buy from the government I think. Or if anybody else wants to sell.

Codee: Well, if I strike it rich, maybe I'll be seeing you regularly. Just now, though, I'd better get back to Fluffy before he decides the grass is greener on the other side of your fence.

Tscheka: Speaking of which, how much do we owe him?

Tscheka picks up the ledger and a pen.

Dzerzhanski tells her in dynopters, leaving it up to Tscheka to do the necessary arithmetic to convert to currency at the latest Tecton rates, or at least the latest that have reached here.

Tscheka does the calculations, records the data, and gets Codee's payment from the cash box.

Tscheka: Here you go, Tuib.

Tscheka is going to let Hajene fill out Codee's full record himself. An account of what he zlinned should keep him busy this afternoon.

Codee: Thanks muchly. I don't suppose you could point me and Fluffy towards the store?

Tscheka: Across the road, the two story log house there. Entrance is around the back.

Codee: That's simple enough. I'll be seeing you next month, I suppose. There don't seem to be many volunteers for trips to town in the crew.

Tscheka: Nice to meet you, Tuib.

Tscheka thinks that for all the trouble the cattle Gens are causing, this one is rather nice, as an individual, despite his frightening attitude towards physical injury.

Codee goes out the door, not limping quite as much as before.

Tscheka: Should you have tired yourself out like that?

Dzerzhanski: Better that than have him walking around radiating pain. Just because he can ignore it doesn't mean we can. Better a bit tired than, well, real trouble.

Tscheka: There is that, although I suppose he'll go back to the cattle Gens now, and he's at least low field.

Dzerzhanski: That too. But you have no idea how much he hurts. He has at least five major foci, and probably more that I can't zlin separately. It all merges into a haze of pain. He's the pain version of a Creeping Need.

Dzerzhanski refers to an old junct legend.

Tscheka: I had no idea it was that bad!

Dzerzhanski: He's good at hiding it from Gens.

Tscheka: He fooled me. I could see he was a bit stiff, and limping, but he didn't sound like he was in a lot of pain.

Tscheka sighs.

Tscheka: Those poor Gens. No channels to heal them.

Tscheka means Gen-siders in this context.

Dzerzhanski nods agreement, then nods off to sleep.

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