Arrow finishes the chant he uses to center himself before handing himself over to a new Donor trainee from the camp.
Arrow is one of the three Seconds assigned to this satellite facility, and the trainees come and go on two-week rotations, usually just one, sometimes more than one.
I walk with beauty before me, I walk with beauty behind me,
I walk with beauty above me and all around me,
In beauty it is finished,
In beauty it is finished.
Arrow switches from his native tongue to Simelan, which he speaks very well.
Arrow: Come in!
Bart opens the door and comes in, his nager ~~ smooth, calm and willing to engage ~~.
Bart: Good morning, Hajene.
Arrow immediately extends himself onto the trainee's nager -- just testing. Bart zlins pretty good.
Bart engages his nager with the channel's, having no difficulty in taking up the sudden load.
Arrow: Good morning, son. What's your name, then?
Arrow has Bart's folder on his desk, unopened. That's not surprising, because he's also sitting on it.
Bart: Bart Mullins, Hajene.
Arrow: Ah, from out-T. Well, no matter, no matter. So am I. What's your home town called?
Bart: Gumgeeville. It's near Hannard's Ford, on the rail line, half way to New Washington from the Nivet border.
Bart is ~~ curious ~~ about where the channel is from, and how someone his age had the good fortune to receive a First Transfer instead of killing.
Arrow: I come from down in the southwest deserts, from a town on top of a mountain. Your town on a mountain, Bart?
Bart: No, it's in a valley between some high ridges. Forest country, mostly, but the good land is farmed.
Arrow: Good, meaning not as bad as the bad land, I suppose. Well, it figures. My people have to haul water from the river to irrigate our fields.
Arrow: Oh yes. They call me Arrow; some make it Broken Arrow, but for you, I think Arrow will do. My people don't tell their real names, y'know.
Bart: Okay, Hajene Arrow. ~~ interested ~~
Arrow: We get 'em when we turn Gen, ideally from our mother's brothers, but really any close adult outside the family will do. In my case, I didn't establish, of course, but I got lucky -- my town has a resident Natural Donor, and he turned out to be a Second.
Arrow thinks sadly of his two relations who had to be killed because he had drained the Donor too far that month
Arrow: So they held the manhood ceremonies for me, hurry-up-quick, and packed me off to Tecton land.
Bart: How do they know they've turned Gen?
Arrow: Same as usual, I guess, the beard or the blood.
Bart nods. He hasn't much of a beard yet, but he did turn sixteen last fall.
Arrow: And now that's enough about me. Tell me anything you want to about yourself -- anything you think I need to know. It's still a little bit before the first guest shows up.
Bart: Um. I guess I started Donor training kind of late, but I've done pretty well and will graduate soon. I really ~~ love ~~ working with channels. Please let me know if I'm not doing something the way you want me to.
Arrow chuckles like a mother's brother.
Arrow: I will, Bart. I don't foresee any problems, given you have that attitude.
Bart: Is there anything I should know about how you like to work?
Arrow: Well, the reason I work with trainees a lot is to help you get experience with the vast number of channels in the Tecton who are still not Tecton-standard and never will be at their ages. So expect the unexpected.
Arrow's Controller would prefer he sprung this on the trainees unaware to see whether they sink or swim, but Arrow doesn't believe in letting people sink if it can be helped.
Bart is a little ~~ taken aback ~~ by this, but he did, after all, do well for Marvin even before he had formal training.
Bart: I'll do my best, Hajene.
Arrow: [English] Attaboy.
Bart smiles at the familiar slang.
Kamza is sitting in the Dispensary waiting room, ~~ obsessing ~~ on need and transfer, and trying hard not to obsess on Gens. She finds this task easier here, where there are no non-Donor Gens permitted.
Kamza tries not to ~~ worry ~~ that the channel will be running late, subjecting her to endless minutes of delay.
Arrow: That's Kamza out there. Why don't you show her in? It's right about time.
Arrow knows precisely what time it is, of course, but he still talks like a sheep-camp Gen who rarely has to deal with periods of time shorter than half a day.
Kamza gives up on sitting, and gets up to pace ~~ nervously ~~. She notices ronaplin dripping off her wrists, and quickly wipes them on her coat, ~~ embarrassed ~~.
Bart opens the door.
Bart: Tuib Kamza? Please come in.
Bart offers a little ~~ support ~~, but mostly ~~ compassion ~~ and ~~ kindness ~~ without letting the Sime engage.
Kamza instinctively turns towards the lush Gen nager and follows it inside the office.
Arrow insinuates a nageric thread past his Donor to create the beginnings of rapport with the renSime.
Kamza starts to ~~ relax ~~ just a little at the reassurance.
Arrow: Thaaat's better. Hello, Kamza. Anything new since last month I should know about?
Bart moves behind the channel, dimming his projection, and ~~ offering support ~~ to him.
Arrow leans on the support firmly but not rudely.
Kamza: No. Except that I have your shirt ready at last. It's...
Kamza realizes with ~~ mild embarrassment ~~ that she left the package in the waiting room when she got up to pace.
Arrow: Lovely, lovely. Don't try to talk about that now, tell me later. Just grab a seat on that twisted contraption in the corner.
Arrow refers to a perfectly ordinary Tecton-standard transfer lounge.
Kamza doesn't have to be invited twice. She's now tense with ~~ anticipation ~~ rather than anxiety, however.
Arrow gets up and walks to the lounge too, trusting Bart to find the new spot without word or signal. Nothing like a little confidence-building exercise for the trainees.
Bart follows him and waits for him to settle on the transfer lounge, then takes up a position behind the channel, providing ~~ steady support ~~.
Arrow projects ~~ pure Gen ~~, but unlike actual Gens, he can ~~ see ~~ and know exactly what the Sime needs.
Kamza actually starts ~~ relaxing ~~ as she reaches out to warm her laterals on the projection.
Arrow ~~ encourages ~~ the relaxation and relays some of Bart's nageric pattern -- his youth, his innocence, his wonderful pro-Sime attitude -- to Kamza, combined with his own awareness and sensitivity.
Arrow reinforces the anticipation with some of the ~~ caring ~~ and ~~ compassion ~~ he felt from his own Donor at his transfer last week.
Kamza is ~~ floating ~~ on the projection, her instinct to simply attack dulled.
Bart's ~~ compassion ~~ increases as he observes the skillful channel's effect on the needy Sime.
Kamza's ~~ need ~~ starts to break through the relaxation, although this time without the anxiety, and she reaches blindly for Arrow with handling tentacles extended.
Arrow counts down the seconds in his head and ... ~~ trautholo ~~. Kamza's nager and his are indissolubly locked together until this is over.
Arrow shows ~~ reassurance hope strength courage love ~~ to his "guest" as he slowly turns up the need to give, transferring it from Bart.
Kamza is totally ~~ fixed ~~ on Arrow, to the point that she'd attack him mindlessly if he tried to withdraw.
Bart holds ~~ very steady ~~ to minimize his effect on the renSime.
Arrow knows that Kamza knows that Arrow will be ready whenever she chooses to initiate transfer. He also knows she will choose when the time is right.
Kamza balances for a long moment on ~~ anticipation ~~, then breaks and "attacks" the tempting projection.
Arrow gives and gives selyn in a perfect Tecton-standard bell curve, exactly what Kamza has been conditioned to need. He also ~~ leans ~~ very heavily on Bart's nager while he does it, much more than he has done so far.
Kamza draws at a furious rate -- for a renSime -- although even a Third Order Donor would find it boring.
Bart ~~ willingly ~~ provides all the ~~ support ~~ the channel requires. His new ability to support a channel in this very important work fills him with ~~ joy ~~ that he lets the channel share.
Kamza is overwhelmed by ~~ relief, joy and satisfaction ~~.
Arrow is overwhelmed by ~~ satisfaction ~~ and ~~ temporary exhaustion ~~. He turns to Kamza.
Arrow: Now let's see that shirt, and don't kick down the door on your way out, if you please.
Arrow alludes, though nobody present knows it, to a certain incident in his training. He winks at Bart.
Kamza retracts her tentacles with a ~~ wistful ~~ sigh.
Kamza: Certainly. Just give me a moment.
Bart keeps up his ~~ support ~~ as the channel recovers from the functional.
Kamza collects herself, then goes out to the waiting room and returns with a package.
Kamza: Here. I hope I got the pattern for the embroidery around the hem right.
Kamza hands Arrow the package.
Arrow grins widely at Kamza.
Arrow: Should I open it here, or do I wait and open it in private, like?
Kamza: Please go ahead and open it, if you have time. I want to know if I got it right.
Arrow's fingers and tentacles deftly get the string off and remove the paper without breaking or tearing anything. Waste not, want not.
Arrow shakes out the promised shirt and holds it up to himself.
Arrow: Hmm. Looks right.
Kamza: I took some liberties with your vine design on the front -- there's a critter or two peering through the leaves.
Arrow loosens his outer garment and removes it without snagging a tentacle, showing a typical Sime build. He tosses the old shirt in a chair in the corner and peers at the new one.
Arrow: Yup. Nice.
Arrow puts it on and models it.
Arrow: Fits great. How do I look?
Kamza surveys the effect ~~ critically ~~.
Kamza: Very nice, if I do say so myself.
Kamza's ~~ satisfaction ~~ with her work reinforces the ~~ satisfaction ~~ from her transfer.
Arrow: Sosu, what's your notion?
Bart: The embroidery is beautiful. I've never seen anything like it. ~~ admiration ~~
Kamza: Thank you, Sosu.
Arrow: [to Kamza] Impressive, isn't he? You'd expect him to be saying "Aw, shucks, Hajene, don't know nothin' about no clothing styles", wouldn't you now.
Bart also ~~ blushes ~~, automatically moderating the effect on his nager.
Kamza: Now, now. I'm sure they've got shirts where he comes from, too. Stands to reason, right?
Arrow: Sure. But males aren't supposed to have any interest in clothing, except of course in how it feels and whether there are too many grotty bloodstains on it. Bart's not typical in more ways than one.
Arrow beams at Bart.
Bart: Uh. I guess so.
Kamza: Not much for bloodstains, are you, Sosu?
Bart smiles, figuring he's being teased.
Bart: Who is?
Kamza: No one who's ever tried to get them out of a favorite piece of clothing, that's for sure.
Arrow: Still, no one who's ever tried to get an out-T man out of a favorite piece of clothing -- for good, I mean, not temporarily -- knows what truly stubborn stains really are.
Bart supposes this is true, but in his family even disliked pieces of clothing are worn until they can barely be used to patch other clothes.
Kamza: You know this from experience, Hajene?
Kamza is ~~ curious ~~.
Arrow: When I was a boy, I wore a cloak till it was more hole than cloak, even though my mother wanted to cut it up to make patches a long time before. But I was attached to it, or it was to me, take your pick.
Kamza: I admit, I have a sweater that's lost its shape long since, and even has a hole or two darned with the wrong yarn, because I used up all the right yarn doing other repairs to it.
Arrow: There you go. Now multiply it by five, and there you have your average out-Territory civilized Gen. We savage Gens, of course, have natural taste in clothes.
Kamza: A fine distinction.
Arrow gives Kamza a raspberry with a tentacle next to his lips.
Kamza: Are you still interested in that set of handkerchiefs you mentioned?
Arrow: Sure. You'll need to make an extra appointment if you want to dicker like you did over the shirt, though.
Arrow winks again.
Kamza: Now, that has possibilities. I don't suppose this fine young man would be interested in some fine clothing?
Arrow waves Kamza off.
Arrow: He's just a newbie. He hasn't got the kind of salary I'm pulling down these days -- not yet. But now that he's seen your work he'll keep you in mind, eh?
Arrow smiles to soften this bluntness. He's actually trying to protect Bart, who he suspects sends most of his stipend home anyhow.
Kamza: To be sure. Later then, right Sosu?
Bart: Right, Hajene. Thanks, Tuib Kamza.
Arrow: Okay, off with you. I see your successor glooming down the corridor, so out the back door with you before she shows up and ruins your mood, eh?
Arrow zlins, of course, but he still says "see" out of habit. He offers a parting hug.
Kamza is too ~~ content ~~ just now to take offense at this abrupt dismissal, so she just returns the hug, smiles at Bart, and slips through the door.
Arrow shakes himself like a wet dog and points to the lounge.
Arrow: Aaaaah. That thing always gives me the beginnings of a backache.
Arrow is really rather too short to be a Tecton-standard channel.
Arrow: You reacted very well when I yanked your chain there, Bart m'boy. You'll meet some real leaners in your career, and it's very useful to be able to know how to handle them. That enthusiasm of yours is simply prime.
Bart: Thanks, Hajene. I'm glad I'm strong enough to cope.
Arrow turns serious for a moment.
Arrow: You are strong, but neither strength nor good intentions will last you forever. What will carry you through is the training you are getting now, which will help you do the right thing even when you are exhausted, stressed, and horribly disillusioned. That's a great pity, but it's the way things have to be for now, as long as there are still so few Donors in this sad old world of ours.
Bart nods in ~~ acknowledgement ~~.
Bart: Maybe more out-T Gens will get the chance to find out they have Donor talent as the Tecton opens more out-T Sime Centers.
Arrow: At the current rate of progress, or rather stagnation, it'll be a long time.
Bart: It was just luck for me. If it hadn't been for a heavy snowstorm that stalled the train so a channel and Donor got stranded and we put them up I'd never have realized that I had Donor talent. I could have wasted my whole life just scrambling around trying to make a living in Gumgeeville.
Arrow: That's a new one on me, son, but then they all are. Every Sime and Donor from out-T has a tale to tell, and that's a fact.
Bart: I guess so.
Bart heard stories from his fellow out-T students, but most of them had families who were long time donors and had relatives in-T.
Arrow: As I said, our next guest is imminent, so get ready for more of the unexpected -- quite possibly not just from me. Not all renSimes are as vanilla as Kamza, you know.
Bart: Okay, Hajene. I'll do my best.