Nick spots a relatively isolated, third-class seat in the last car of the express train from Hannard's Ford to New Washington. He ignores the looks he and his channel are getting from the other Gens in the half-filled car, although he wishes they could spare the time to take the slow train, with its Sime-friendly baggage car.
Nick: How about the last row, there, Kat?
Nick holds a bubble of ~~ calm ~~ around his channel.
Katsura: Sure, Nick.
Katsura is a good deal more used to being among Wild Gens than she was last year, but what she's zlinning isn't very pleasant. Sitting down close to Nick sounds very good.
Nick puts his satchel of Farris-safe medications in the overhead rack, and slides into the seat.
Katsura: Um, let me have the inside, okay?
Katsura would like to put her Companion between herself and the Wild Gen world. She waits for Nick to slide out and takes his place.
Nick settles down beside her, placing a hand lightly on her hand in ~~ comfort ~~.
Katsura smiles at him.
Katsura: You're a wonderful Companion to travel with.
Nick smiles back.
Nick: Thank you.
Nick is indeed well-practiced at handling Farris channels on moving trains full of hostile Wild Gens.
Triangusul gets off the other train, takes a quick walk up and down the platform -- well, quick by Gen T standards -- and hops on the express. He normally wouldn't take this train for many reasons, but his presence in the Gen capital is required right away.
Katsura: RenSime out there, Nick. Nobody I know.
Triangusul: [to himself] Hmm, that's funny. It zlins like ...
Triangusul gets on the car that zlins funny and realizes that it's all about the channel-Donor pair near the rear. He has a first-class ticket, but riding in "hard class" will be well worth it if he can mooch a little nageric protection.
Nick looks up with ~~ interest ~~.
Katsura: He just got in our car. Do you see him?
Nick: Yes. He's attracting some attention, and not in a positive way.
Katsura: Poor man. I'm surprised he's not travelling with at least a sympathetic Gen.
Nick can see the eddies in the normal traffic as Gens edge away from the Sime.
Nick: Should I invite him over to sit with us?
Triangusul walks down to the pair, whom of course he recognizes, without waiting to be invited.
Triangusul: Householding Joiffre offers respect to the House of Sat'htine, Hajene, Sosu.
Triangusul speaks English, but of course that's about half Simelan.
Nick has been studying Householding etiquette.
Nick: Sat'htine greets Joiffre, naztehr...?
Triangusul: Triangusul, Sosu. I'm a reporter for a consortium of newspapers in Capital, assigned to the New Washington City beat.
Katsura: I'm Katsura and this is Nick.
Nick: Would you like to sit with us?
Nick offers a bit of ~~ protection ~~ to Triangusul.
Triangusul: Thank you, I would.
Triangusul flips over the seat in front of Nick and Katsura so that it faces backward, and sits down opposite Nick.
Nick is highfield enough to protect both Simes at once, without depriving Kat of his attention unduly. He learned to protect traveling Simes early in his career, and has no idea how few even First Order Donors have his finesse at managing fields on a moving train.
Katsura leans a bit harder on Nick as the train begins to move, taking her past a stream of uncontrolled Gen fields on the platform.
Nick obligingly blankets her a little more thoroughly.
Triangusul is not in need, but he's close enough to turnover to greatly appreciate even a lesser amount of a First's support, particularly when it comes from the Notorious Rogue. After all, Triangusul is a bit of a rogue himself, in a way.
Triangusul: So I gather that the two of you are going to escort the esteemed ex-Senator to his new digs in Capital?
Triangusul has the intuition of a good reporter, or a good spy for that matter.
Katsura is ~~ startled ~~, as she didn't think this was common knowledge.
Triangusul smiles a bit.
Triangusul: No, no, the story hasn't leaked -- and it won't, at least not from me. But really, what else could bring you back to New Washington City so soon?
Nick: The weather?
Nick looks outside the window, where it's threatening to rain.
Nick: No, I suppose not.
Katsura: The ambient? ~~ teasing ~~
Triangusul delivers a nice soft raspberry.
Triangusul: Really now. A Sectuib's Heir is going to be more and more involved in politics, no matter how much she might personally prefer pediatrics? Or is it podiatry -- I can't quite remember. ~~ irony ~~
Nick: I see you're accomplished at your profession.
Triangusul: As you are at yours, Sosu Nick.
Nick proves the point by damping the reaction of a Gen passing down the aisle who had just identified the larity of his traveling companions.
Katsura: Sometimes I think I'd prefer podiatry to politics, but I do have my duties.
Triangusul: We all must do what we have to do, I do suppose.
Nick: Have you ever met Senator Tsibola?
Triangusul: Indeed I have. He's a very interesting person. I found that being a master of manipulation and deception makes one very vulnerable to being manipulated and deceived.
Nick: Oh? In what way?
Triangusul smiles a bit more.
Triangusul: At one time during a three-way conversation between Tsibola, Pollovic, and me, I do believe that he believed that I had something on him. And I'm 99% sure that he thinks Hajene Seruffin was holding his cooperation with Hajene D'zoll over his head to be used later on as subtle blackmail.
Nick: And is the Senator correct about Hajene Seruffin?
Nick has mixed feelings about the diplomat, after the (well deserved, but nonetheless unwelcome) scolding he gave Kat in Gumgeeville.
Triangusul: I can't prove it one way or another, but I very much doubt it. That was a medical matter, and Hajene Seruffin's sense of channel's ethics would in my opinion prevent him from making any such use of what he knew.
Triangusul has unintentionally fallen into the speaking style he uses when being debriefed.
Nick: Does Tsibola still view Seruffin with suspicion, despite Seruffin's recent efforts on his behalf?
Triangusul: Unfortunately, I have no idea.
Nick checks Kat, to make sure she's as comfortable as possible, and adjusts his nager minutely.
Katsura: I'd think he'd be rather ambivalent. It's been disastrous for his career, no doubt, but at least he's alive.
Nick can understand the feeling, having been in such situations more than once.
Triangusul: I think it's likely too.
Katsura: Well, we'll just have to do our best. I understand he has chivalrous notions about women, so at least he'll be polite to me. I hope.
Triangusul: Certainly. You belong to his class, or at least he'll think you do.
Nick: I know Tsibola's politics are anti-Sime, but how uncomfortable is the man himself around Simes?
Triangusul: He doesn't have any trouble talking to me, of course with retainers on. I don't think he has any personal fear, but then he's arranged his life so that he'll never be in serious danger from any Sime -- or any Gen, for that matter.
Nick is a little ~~ relieved ~~ at this information.
Katsura pats his hand.
Katsura: My Companion is concerned that the senator will clobber me with his nager. ~~ joking ~~
Nick captures the patting hand ~~ protectively ~~.
Triangusul: I don't think he's a twisted Donor, if that's your concern.
Nick: Just an ordinary non-donor Gen who doesn't like Simes?
Triangusul: Surely he can't be any serious threat to a Farris.
Katsura: I did have the opportunity to zlin him briefly at Senator Pollovic's ball, but he wasn't reacting to me at the time. He seemed to have a fairly normal non-donor nager, as far as I could tell through the crowd.
Triangusul: I agree.
Nick: I'm still not clear why a man like that suddenly decided to donate, after a lifetime of opposing it.
Triangusul: The centrist Senators made it clear that he had to if he wanted the job, from what I understand. It was probably some sort of Liberal/Conservative compromise, and after all, it wasn't like his Sime-free status wasn't already lost.
Katsura shakes her head at these strange out-T notions.
Triangusul: I know, I know. It's the way they think.
Katsura: I don't understand why he wants the job, either.
Triangusul: They have a saying in Shaeldor, I understand: "Any port in a storm." There was more than a question whether he'd be forced out of public life completely. Or if he held on, he'd be completely cut off from all partisan support.
Nick: He could easily have retired with honor, if his health is as poor as it seems to be.
Triangusul: It's difficult to explain, especially when I don't really understand myself. But he wants his career to end in a success, not a scandal, that much is clear.
Nick: And how does he define success?
Triangusul shakes his head slowly.
Triangusul: I don't know any more. It used to be keeping out the insidious in-T influence. What it'll be now, I don't know.
Nick is ~~ glad ~~ that he and Kat are not responsible for dealing with Tsibola's political plans, only his physical welfare.
Katsura looks to Nick, wondering what he's glad about.
Katsura: Perhaps once he sees life in Nivet first hand he'll be less worried about our influence.
Nick: One can hope.
Katsura: Do you know his wife? I saw and zlinned her at the ball, but again didn't get much of an impression, except that she and her husband get on well together.
Triangusul shakes his head again.
Triangusul: The story is that she sincerely agrees with all of his policies. Of course, it was she who decided to keep him alive even at the cost of his career, so that too must have changed to some extent.
Katsura: I wonder if she'll want to donate as well.
Triangusul: Very unlikely, I'd say.
Katsura: Too bad. I'd think she'd feel less hostile to us, having seen Seruffin save her husband's life. But perhaps her feelings are ambivalent too.
Katsura hopes Mrs. Tsibola's decision hasn't broken up their partnership.
Triangusul: It's not a matter of feelings with these people. They are used to subordinating their personal feelings to the demands of strategy. --As are we of the Householdings, by the way.
Katsura makes a gesture of concession.
Nick: The question is, what strategy are the Tsibolas pursuing?
Triangusul shakes his head for a third time.
Triangusul: I wish I knew. I wish I knew.