Going to Nivet: Episode 10

Calyna ambrov Varin signals at the door to Hajene Seruffin's office, a thin file folder clutched between her left dorsals. On the front of the folder is printed the name Tsibola, R.

Calyna brushes a strand of graying hair from her eyes and passes the folder to the fingers of her right hand, then signals again.

Seruffin looks up, sets aside one of the many folders he's been plowing through in preparation for his meeting with the World Controller the next day, and signals ~~ enter ~~.

Calyna enters.

Calyna: Hajene Seruffin? I'm Calyna ambrov Varin.

Seruffin: Pleased to meet you, Hajene.

Seruffin offers tentacle tips.

Calyna responds with a brief, businesslike touch of tips to tips.

Seruffin: Please, have a seat. What can I do for you?

Calyna: Thank you for taking the time to see me, Hajene.

Calyna sits.

Seruffin: Would you like some tea?

Calyna: Yes, please. As a heart specialist, I've been asked to stand by as a consultant on a case you've recently been involved with. There isn't much in the file. I was hoping you could tell me more.

Calyna holds out the file folder.

Seruffin takes the file and glances at it.

Seruffin: Ah. Senator, now Ambassador Tsibola.

Calyna: Yes. Which makes him important politically, as well as medically.

Calyna has been known to dabble in politics on behalf of her House.

Seruffin: This should have my report... yes, here it is. I don't know that I can tell you a great deal more. Alas, I'm not a heart specialist, and as far as I know, I'm the only channel who's ever gotten a lateral on the man.

Calyna: This report is several weeks old. I was hoping you might have some follow-up information, on the medical side. And, on the other side... well, let's deal with the medical part first.

Seruffin: Unfortunately for the Tecton, Tsibola decided to pursue follow-up care with his own physician, a Dr. Young. I believe he continued Tsibola on the blood thinners I recommended, but I don't know what other medications he may be taking.

Calyna: Out-T pharmaceuticals? ~~ thinly veiled distaste ~~

Seruffin: They don't have channels, but their doctors do a surprisingly good job, considering.

Calyna's tentacles ripple in a shudder.

Calyna: Surgeons. Butchers and barbarians.

Seruffin: Butchers, yes. But they are hardly barbarians, and they can do some amazing things.

Calyna: ~~ skepticism ~~

Seruffin: Haven't you ever tried to treat a badly infected appendix, and wished there was a way to just get rid of it before it bursts?

Calyna: That's not my specialty. But yes, once or twice.

Seruffin: A Gen surgeon can remove the infected organ and leave a patient who will recover fully, in a surprisingly short time. It's gruesome, but it works better than anything a channel can do.

Calyna: But by cutting and sewing human flesh as if it were cloth? Spurting selyn and pain into the ambient? ~~ revulsion ~~

Seruffin: I know a Second Order Donor posted to a small out-Territory Center who got kicked by a mule. It shattered his spleen. You know how little his channel could have done for him. But the local surgeon took out his spleen, stopped the bleeding, and he was able to give his channel a partial transfer two weeks later.

Calyna has never travelled out-T to witness such barbarity, and has no wish to.

Calyna: A team of Firsts, in a decently equipped hospital, could have done as well for him. And without the cutting.

Seruffin: True. And if there had been a team of Firsts or a decently equipped hospital less than eight hours away by train, he'd have been glad of their assistance.

Calyna has also never lived outside of a city large enough to have a major hospital.

Seruffin: Have you even spent time out-Territory, Hajene?

Calyna: No. I've been fortunate in that regard. By the time Unity was in force, I had seniority enough to have some say in my own assignments.

Seruffin: Well, it might help if I tell you that Ruthven Tsibola views being treated by a channel with much the same enthusiasm you reserve for surgeons.

Calyna: If that's how he feels, why did he want to be Ambassador?

Calyna is quite aware that most Wild Gens are lorshes, but had thought the Ambassador to Nivet would have to be an exception.

Seruffin: I'm not exactly a confidant of his, but I understand that the members of his political party were upset with him for accepting my assistance. His ability to function as a Senator was compromised. Perhaps he felt he could still be effective as an Ambassador.

Calyna: Effective at what? Keeping channels and Gens apart?

Calyna is beginning to wish her channel's oaths did not require her to accept a patient such as this Tsibola.

Seruffin: As a Senator, Tsibola has worked to slow the pace of change.

Calyna: To keep channels and Gens apart.

Calyna twines her handling tentacles protectively around her forearms.

Seruffin: His goal, as I understand it, is to preserve a distinctively Gen and Gen-centered culture in Gen Territory.

Calyna nods.

Calyna: Which can only be done by ridding the land of Simes.

Seruffin: Or at least limiting our influence, yes.

Calyna pictures a young Sime collapsed in the dust, bleeding from multiple bullet wounds. She mentally corrects the image: such injuries would cause death by shock and attrition, before very much bleeding could take place.

Calyna: And this is the person who will be shaping inter-Territorial relations for the next several years?

Seruffin: They could have done worse in selecting someone to look after their interests.

Calyna: Only if their interests are different from those of humankind as a whole.

Seruffin: Tsibola is a relatively honest and very capable politician, and he doesn't let his prejudices blind him to reality.

Calyna: And yet he thinks half the world can be just for Gens.

Seruffin: To be fair, he seems to perceive this side of the border as being a half of the world that is run for the convenience of Simes.

Calyna thinks of how lovingly she pampers her Gen husband and her various Donors, and laughs.

Calyna: Then perhaps we'll be able to show him otherwise.

Seruffin: Perhaps we will. If he manages to get here in any condition to take up his duties as Ambassador. I'm worried about what might happen to his heart when he tries to donate.

Calyna: Hmm, yes. Have you any idea when he'll be arriving, or what kind of care he'll have on the trip? Will he donate at the border, or what?

Calyna is already thinking about pulling in a few favors to place someone competent at the border station for the duration.

Seruffin: I understand that Sat'htine has sent a specialist out to New Washington to escort him here and act as a liaison.

Calyna: A Sat'htine specialist? ~~ intense respect ~~ Any idea who?

Calyna knows most of the Sat'htine heart specialists personally, including their rather prickly but likeable Sectuib.

Seruffin: Katsura Farris. And their newly recruited Companion, the former Nick Reckage.

Calyna: So the rumors are true, then? Hiram really did take on Nick the Rogue?

Seruffin: Yes, he did.

Calyna laughs.

Calyna: I've never actually met him. But some of the stories...

Calyna shrugs.

Calyna: Well, I suppose Sectuib Hiram knows what he's doing.

Calyna remembers to add the honorific this time.

Seruffin: Nick is quite talented. And he doesn't bite.

Seruffin considers.

Seruffin: Often.

Calyna: Hmm.

Calyna raises one eyebrow.

Calyna: Riyyh's get?

Seruffin: Twice over.

Calyna: Then maybe he doesn't bite, but I'll bet he nibbles.

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: I've never had occasion to find out, alas. He overrates me considerably.

Calyna: Ears, ventral tips... Never mind. As a male, I doubt you can imagine the attraction.

Calyna can, however. Suddenly this case zlins as if it might have possibilities. She pulls her mind back to business.

Calyna: So Tsibola should arrive in fairly good shape, if he's been tended en route by a Farris.

Calyna tries to remember the convoluted family trees. Is Katsura Hiram's daughter? Niece? Second cousin? Does it really matter which, in a House so inbred?

Seruffin: If he manages not to be too stressed by donating, yes. Frankly, I haven't the faintest idea how he'll react.

Calyna: Why isn't he taking the exemption? I mean, given his attitude. And his health.

Seruffin: Politics. He belongs to the Conservative Party, who are staunch opponents of Unity. He was nominated for the Ambassadorship as a sort of punishment for having been treated by a channel. Everyone expected the Centrist, Senator Burgess, to get the position.

Calyna curls a ventral in a puzzled gesture.

Seruffin: Then Burgess suffered extreme political embarrassment, and the choice narrowed down to Tsibola or Pollovic, a relatively inexperienced Liberal. Agreeing to donate was the price the Centrists demanded to give their support to Tsibola rather than Pollovic. I expect they saw it as an opportunity to destroy his status as a leading Conservative once and for all.

Seruffin considers.

Seruffin: It might be short-sighted of them. Tsibola knows every indiscretion committed in the Senate over the past four decades.

Calyna: So he was nominated as a punishment, but he wanted the job badly enough to donate despite his attitudes? And at the cost of what was left of his position in his party? ~~ confusion ~~

Seruffin: That his party would agree to such a condition would have been proof in itself that his career in the Senate was effectively over. Becoming Ambassador was another chance at a position of power. Perhaps his only remaining chance to promote his ideals.

Calyna: And yet, it's possible he may be bitter? Turning against -- not his party's ideals, at least not yet, but some of the individuals within it? And willing to use what he knows of them?

Seruffin: Perhaps.

Calyna is not primarily a psychologist, but no channel can function long without learning something of the human mind.

Calyna: So he might be open to new ideas, new priorities? New attitudes towards selyn, and those who need it?

Seruffin: He might -- if he can be persuaded that they are consistent with his old ideas and priorities.

Calyna: Like survival? Stability? Strength?

Seruffin: Yes. And the uniquely Gen culture he values.

Calyna: Hmm. That part might be a stumbling block. But possibly we can help him see that Gens are at the center of our culture here, as well.

Calyna knows that she and Seruffin, by virtue of being channels, are both well positioned to understand fully the importance of a Gen.

Seruffin: We can hope. Isn't it a Householding maxim that donating regularly tends to change a Wild Gen's perspective?

Calyna: Indeed.

Calyna thinks of Varin's motto: "Change by example".

Calyna: I can see that I have my work cut out for me, and not just on the medical side.

Seruffin: I wish you success. I must return to New Washington to deal with Tsibola's successor on the Foreign Relations committee.

Calyna: Another of his stripe?

Seruffin: Yes, but much less experienced at horse trading. I admit, when it comes to Tsibola, the Senate's loss is my gain.

Calyna laughs.

Calyna: Then someone, at least, benefits from all of this. I wish you success with his successor. The poor thing won't know what hit her.

Calyna does not, of course, share the Wild Gens' gender prejudices.

Seruffin: Now, now. I'm a respectable channel. Would I go hitting a Gen?

Calyna grins.

Calyna: Hitting on her, maybe.

Calyna hopes she got the translated-from-Genlan idiom correct.

Seruffin: The Tecton frowns on overly vigorous recruitment of donors. At least when it causes political difficulties.

Calyna grins.

Calyna: I may rate below you, but I'm still a First. You can't fool me with that "channels as eunuchs" showfield.

Calyna gives Seruffin a blatant, leering zlin. He's actually quite attractive, about her own age... too bad he's out of phase with her right now.

Seruffin: As to that, Hajene, I'm afraid if I strayed in that direction, I might have a few shotguns to face. Or maybe roses.

Seruffin is being ~~ deliberately mysterious ~~.

Calyna: Shotguns? Roses? ~~ puzzlement ~~

Seruffin: I've been keeping company with a delightful young channel who runs an out-Territory Sime Center. Since she doesn't have any family close by, the townsfolk tend to be rather... vigorous... in protecting what they perceive of as her interests.

Calyna: But what does that have to do with... never mind. If it's a Wild Gen thing, I'm not sure I want to know.

Calyna gathers herself together.

Calyna: I know you're busy, Hajene, and I'm sorry to have taken so much of your time. But you've given me some valuable insights. Thank you.

Seruffin: You're welcome. I hope I've been of assistance, and that Ambassador Tsibola will allow you to care for him. I admit, I'm rather fond of him, in an odd way. He's been a very worthy adversary.

Calyna is a bit ~~ surprised ~~ . That's more respect than she would have expected Seruffin to feel for such a Wild Gen as he's described.

Calyna: Then perhaps, when I invite him to dinner, you'd be willing to come as well. To offer him a bit of the familiar.

Seruffin: If I am in Capital, I'd be delighted. Although I spend most of my time in New Washington, these days.

Calyna: If the timing works out, then. Or if not, some other time. I suspect I'll invite him over more than once.

Seruffin wonders if the Tsibolas will accept the invitation.

Calyna gathers up her file folder and heads for the door. This case is going to be far more interesting than she'd imagined, and in ways that go far beyond the medical.

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