Andrun is in his office at the First Year Camp where he is currently assigned. He's going through the records of the Donor-candidates who are shortly to graduate.
Andrun is rather ~~ proud ~~ of how hard they have worked, and how much they have accomplished in a few short months. He's particularly proud of the way Hylar has finally mastered her entran outfunctions, and how well young Bart has learned to shield his channel from a noisy ambient.
Bart signals at his teacher's door.
Andrun: Come in!
Bart enters, evaluates the channel's state and ~~ offers engagement ~~ at any level the channel chooses. It's become an effortless and almost automatic process for him.
Bart: Hi, Hajene. I've heard from my parents.
Andrun ~~ approves ~~ of the way Bart has been able to maintain ties with his out-T family.
Bart lets the channel zlin that the news isn't purely joyful without allowing his misgivings to annoy Andrun.
Andrun: What is the matter? Are they less enthusiastic about your new career now that you're about to become a fully pledged Donor?
Bart: No, I don't think so. They're both planning to come, but I don't know whether my mother will be able to. She doesn't donate, and, well, she's not really a Simephobe per se, but... well, I don't think it will be easy for her.
Andrun is ~~ concerned ~~.
Andrun: I'm surprised that she wants to come and watch you give transfer, then. She does realize that she'll have to donate at the border, doesn't she?
Bart: She knows. I hope she'll donate before she leaves. It would be really awkward if she got turned back at the border because she couldn't hack donating.
Bart's Simelan is a little more colloquial than one might hope, since he picked up a lot from his fellow students.
Andrun: Will your parents be crossing at one of the larger border stations? One large enough to have a First or two who specialize in that sort of thing?
Bart: I guess they could come through Valzor, but it would take longer and cost more. Money is a bit of a problem for them.
Bart has heard that Zeor helps staff the border station at Valzor.
Bart: Would there be Firsts at every place where the train crosses the border?
Andrun: Not necessarily. Valzor would be an excellent choice: Zeor has a lot of specialists in handling that sort of problem. Perhaps you could arrange the tickets for your parents? It's pretty awkward to arrange long-distance travel from a town as small as you've described, anyway.
Bart: I guess I can. That's a good idea.
Bart has noticed that most people are glad to help someone wearing a Donor's uniform, so he should be able to find a helpful ticketing clerk.
Bart: But I think she'd be really embarrassed if she didn't pass the final screening to attend the ceremony.
Andrun: She would be more embarrassed if she disrupted your graduation, I'd think.
Bart: But she's... I guess she's sort of proud. She's usually very strong, but Simes are sort of her Kelly's heel. So she'd be embarrassed to think that she couldn't control herself. But she has no idea what it means to control her nager.
Andrun: That's always a problem with Gens who grow up away from Simes.
Bart nods again.
Andrun: Think of how long it took you to learn the basics of control, and then to remember to apply them all the time.
Bart: I don't think she could ever learn control. I don't think she understands what nageric control is. Or even believes it exists. Or nagers, really.
Andrun: Well, she's never going to be a Donor, or live among Simes, so she doesn't really have to.
Bart: Yes. But if she came here to see me graduate, and then wasn't allowed to, she'd be offended. But that's better than her disrupting the transfer, of course.
Bart's Donor talent knows that a disrupted transfer is a truly horrible thing to happen to any Sime, much less a channel.
Andrun: All she has to do is let the Powers That Be arrange things so that she can't disrupt the ambient.
Andrun is glad that as a Second, it falls to the higher-ranking Firsts to ensure the nageric neutrality of the guests.
Bart: Maybe a Donor can stick close to her and protect the rest of us?
Andrun: I don't know if there will be anybody available to assign to just one guest. However, there are very few Gens who can disrupt an ambient enough to interfere with a channel's transfer when they're very lowfield.
Bart: True. And she won't be able to come if she can't donate, so she'll be sure to be lowfield.
Bart: She really wants to see me again. I think she really misses me.
Andrun: You're her son. Of course she does.
Bart: She wasn't happy about me coming in-T or training as a Donor, but she does want the best for me. My dad says she's very proud that I'm graduating, which is kind of inconsistent, but so it goes. He's really proud, too.
Bart lets the channel share his ~~ happiness ~~.
Andrun ~~ enjoys ~~ the young Donor's emotions.
Andrun: I expect that your mother would be glad to have you closer to home, but didn't you say your parents' farm wouldn't have supported both you and your brother?
Bart: Yes. It's not much of a farm. My dad says he's hoping that with the donation income they can save up to buy some more land so it will be more of a farm for my brother by the time he's ready to marry. If my mother can start donating it will really help.
Andrun: Well, then, it's important that this trip go well for her.
Bart: I hope it does. The one time she tried to donate, the channel was a First, but he didn't have his Donor with him, and he's not a specialist in adult first donations.
Andrun: It went badly?
Bart: Yes. Part way through she panicked, and the channel had to break off, and she got some ugly bruises.
Andrun ~~ considers ~~ this.
Andrun: That could make things difficult.
Bart: That was more than a year ago, and none of us had had anything to do with channels before, so maybe she's more used to the idea now. I hope so.
Andrun: How much interaction has she had with channels since?
Bart thinks back to the times Seruffin, Marvin and D'zoll were in town. He knows his mother doesn't go to the Sime Center in Hannard's Ford with his father and brother.
Bart: None, really, I think. But my father wrote that she talked to the channel where they donate the last time they went in. She's really nice, and has a lot of experience with older Gens who are first time donors. But she didn't donate.
Andrun: Why not? Was she too afraid?
Bart: I don't know. I guess she wasn't ready. My father promised never to try to talk her into donating after she had that bad experience. He had kind of talked her into it that time. It must be hard for her. She really wants to see me, but she really doesn't want to have anything to do with Simes.
Andrun: I see. Do you think she's ready to start accepting that Simes will be a very important part of your life?
Bart: I think she'd rather not think about it. I waited until I was sixteen to come in-T mostly because she didn't want me to, and I didn't want to cross her while I was still legally a child. My father thought that was the best way.
Andrun: Bart, do you think that your mother will be happy, seeing you graduate? For that matter, would it make you happy to have her watching?
Bart: She wants to see me, she's proud I'm graduating, but I don't think she'll be delighted to see me give transfer. But if I tell her not to come, or someone here forbids her to attend the ceremony, she'll be unhappy too.
Bart smiles ~~ wryly ~~.
Bart: But I think my father will be all ~~ fierce pride ~~ and ~~ intellectual interest ~~ to see it.
Andrun: But how do you feel about having your parents see you give transfer?
Andrun lets his laterals peek out of their sheaths, the better to zlin the answer.
Bart: I know that it would make my dad even more proud of me to see me doing it. And he'll love to have the story to tell.
Bart ~~ loves ~~ his father more than ever, now that he feels himself to be a real adult.
Bart: As for my mother -- well, I know it will upset her, maybe disgust her, but not letting her see it would offend her worse.
Andrun: You won't have to live with her, either way. How do you feel about having your parents watch you give transfer?
Bart: I think I'll be so focused on my channel that I won't be aware of the crowd. ~~ remembered joy of previous transfers ~~
Bart realizes that he still hasn't answered the question.
Bart: I'm glad my father will be there. I'm kind of worried about my mother, though.
Andrun: In what way? Are you worried that she'll disrupt the ceremony?
Bart: That the whole thing will be a bad experience for her. That she'll feel worse about me being a Donor, and living in Nivet, and working with Simes.
Andrun considers this response for a moment.
Andrun: Do you think that what she would see is worse than what her imagination has already provided?
Bart: That's a good question. I don't know. Maybe not.
Andrun: If nothing else, she would be able to see that your experience of transfer is very different from her experience of donating.
Bart: I hope she'll see that, but maybe she'll just see what she expects to see.
Andrun: There's always that possibility. On the other hand, if you can show her that you really are happy in your choice of career, that will make life easier for both of you.
Bart: Yes. I hope she can manage to donate, so she can visit me, even if she doesn't attend the ceremony. I don't think I'll be able to visit them in the foreseeable future.
Andrun: Probably not. You've got a while before you can start picking your assignments, although it's always easier to get hardship posts than choice ones.
Andrun: Right now, though...do you want me to make arrangements for your parents to be screened?
Bart: Yes, please. Can you tell me what the screening involves, so I can write to my parents and try to explain it? My father says my mother is worried about it.
Andrun: She'll have to either convince one of the Firsts that she has the self-control not to disturb the ambient sufficiently to disrupt the proceedings. Alternatively, she can agree to be stripped to the point that she can't disturb the ambient.
Bart nods. Describing this both accurately and non-alarmingly to his mother will take some thought.
Andrun: What will be required depends on what staff will be available. If we can assign her a separate Escort, that would simplify matters, but I don't know if one will be available.
Bart: Okay. I'll tell them. ~~ are we done now? ~~
Andrun: Good. For now, I will assume that you will have two guests, and start making arrangements accordingly.
Bart: Thanks, Hajene.
Andrun: Good luck, Bart. I hope we can make this work for you and your parents.
Bart ~~ agrees ~~ and projects ~~ appreciation ~~ for the channel's efforts.
Andrun smiles in ~~ appreciation ~~ of Bart's newly-learned Donor skills.
Bart returns the smile.
Zafny looks up as his roommate returns.
Zafny: I was beginning to think you'd gotten lost on your way to the mail room.
Bart: I stopped by to talk to Hajene Andrun. No mail for you, by the way.
Bart sits on his bed.
Bart: I got a letter from my father.
Zafny: He got the word that you're graduating?
Bart: Yeah. He says he and my mother want to attend the ceremony.
Zafny: Well, any parents would be proud to have a Donor in the family.
Bart: Any in-T parents. Things are different out-T. But they are proud of me, or at least my father is.
Zafny: Your mother isn't?
Bart: My dad says she is, but I wonder. She wasn't at all happy about me coming in-T to train as a Donor. She doesn't like Simes. I think coming in-T will be hard on her. But she really wants to see me.
Zafny: One of those religious things we learned about in that Diplomacy class?
Bart: Not religion -- neither of my parents believe that stuff. But they never had anything to do with Simes until a year ago, except for juncts and berserkers. Most people out there are hostile and suspicious about Simes.
Zafny thinks about that for a moment.
Zafny: You know, sometimes I forget that you come from a place where Unity might as well never have happened.
Bart: It's not quite that bad. There is a Sime Center in the market town.
Zafny: So people can donate, at least?
Bart: Yes, if they live close enough to travel there. My father and brother do every month now.
Zafny: But not your mother? Is she ill?
Bart: She doesn't want to. And she had a bad experience the only time she tried.
Zafny: She did? What happened? She didn't like the channel?
Bart: She panicked part way through and the channel had to stop. She got some ugly bruises from it. But that was over a year ago, and none of us had ever had anything to do with channels before.
Zafny: It sounds like the channel didn't handle her very well. She thought that was a normal experience?
Bart: She didn't want to do it, but she thought she had to because she told my father she would. And the channel didn't have his Donor with him. See, they got stranded in my village because the train couldn't get through the pass, and she agreed to put them up because we really needed the money. And my father donated and it was no trouble for him.
Zafny: So she thought it would be all right?
Bart: I guess so. Or at any rate, she figured she had to do it, so she could make herself stand it. But part way through she panicked. My father promised her he'd never try to convince her to donate again. But if she wants to come in-T, she'll have to.
Zafny: Yeah. That rule is pretty strictly enforced -- and with good reason.
Zafny: Do you think she'll have better luck with a channel who specializes in problem Gens?
Bart: I hope so. I think it would be best if she donates before she leaves, so she doesn't risk getting turned back at the border. Our local channel has a lot of experience with out-T donors. She's from out-T herself.
Zafny shakes his head.
Zafny: Who'd have thought a simple donation could be so complicated? I mean, everybody here does it, every month. It's not supposed to be a big deal.
Bart: Maybe someday it will be like that out-T, but for now it isn't. For people who've spent their whole lives thinking of Simes as monsters, and knowing people who were killed... well, it's not so easy to change their feelings.
Zafny is ~~ curious ~~, as he's never met a Gen who's afraid of donating before.
Zafny: Do you think your mother's really going to do it? Or will she change her mind?
Bart: I think she'll try. I hope she'll succeed, and not hurt the channel. Good thing I probably get my Donor's talent from my father's side of the family.
Zafny: Yeah. I guess it is. Can you imagine a Simephobe with a Donor-sized nager?
Bart: I know one. He's my father's second cousin. His son is a channel. But I understand he's been more or less cured now.
Zafny: He has?
Bart: Yeah. A Farris channel and Donor came out from Sat'htine to work with him, and then his family went to Sat'htine for a few months. I talked to his son, the channel, after he went to visit him, and he says his dad was able to hug him and talk to him and everything. Although when his dad first saw him he sort of grabbed him with his nager, which was kind of scary.
Bart: Fortunately, the Sectuib in Sat'htine was on the spot to disentangle them.
Bart smiles. If they were out-T, Zafny would no doubt be thinking that Bart was feeding him a line of tall tales.
Zafny: I guess it was lucky. I'm surprised that they allowed them to meet, if it was that bad.
Bart: Well, that was kind of the whole point of the guy getting cured of Simephobia -- so he could visit with his son. Of course, it was the kind of challenge those Farrises are supposed to find irresistible.
Zafny: Everyone knows Farrises are crazy. Insanely talented, but crazy.
Bart: I guess so.
Zafny: Hey, just to show you I'm a Donor, too, let's take your parents on the grand tour. Show them what it's all about.
Bart: What did you have in mind?
Zafny: Julvinar Hall.
Zafny names the building that houses the channel trainees, and a study area/lounge in the basement that is popular with both larities.
Zafny: Let them see that being a Donor is a bit more relaxing than serving transfer. I mean, transfer is wonderful, but it only happens once a month. We should show them what your life will be like the rest of the time.
Bart: My dad might find that interesting, but I think my mother would just find it unpleasant. And remember, my parents have zero nageric control. They've never had the need or opportunity to learn it.
Zafny: They'll be lowfield, right? And we're Donors. Almost.
Bart: Yeah, I guess. Well, I better write to them again as soon as I can. It's not going to be easy to explain what they mean by 'special screening' in Genlan that will be accurate without scaring my poor mother even worse. I should get started right now.
Zafny: I'd offer to help, but my Genlan still isn't that good.
Bart laughs, imagining Zafny explain things to his mother in Genlan.
Bart: Thanks, Zafny. I appreciate the offer.
Zafny: Any time.
Zafny picks up the textbook he was studying, and goes back to work.