Fantasies and Realities: Episode 14

Roger is sitting on a bench on the wide veranda of a beautifully preserved pre-Unity mansion that used to belong to a certain member of the junct Nivet Council. He has just finished the tour of the building, including the basement where the Council's own private Pen was kept, and has decided to rest his legs rather than explore the gardens in person.

Bernice found the craftsmanship of the building decor remarkable, although the style is strange. Still, it's quite interesting to see how the upper classes lived at the time. The juxtaposition of exquisite art and the Pen in the basement.... She, too, decides to take a break and view the gardens from the veranda. She spots another visitor of her own vintage doing the same from a comfortable looking bench.

Bernice: Pardon me, sir. May I sit here too?

Bernice hopes the Gen man speaks English.

Roger: Of course. Please do.

Roger's English is, of course, impeccable, with a solidly upper class accent.

Bernice seats herself at the other end of the bench.

Bernice: Are you with the diplomatic corps?

Bernice assumes anyone of that age and that accent must be, unless he's an academic visiting from out-T.

Roger: Not recently. I've been mostly retired for some years now. It gives me a proper excuse to sit in the sun and admire the gardens.

Bernice smiles.

Bernice: It is very pleasant here.

Bernice admires the roses and the beautiful woodwork of the railing.

Roger: Are you enjoying the tour? I'm so glad they decided to preserve some of these places.

Bernice: Yes. Some of the craftsmanship is extraordinary, although the style is new to me.

Roger: Ah. You're new to this side of the border, then?

Bernice: Yes, I'm Bernice Tsibola, the New Washington ambassador's wife.

Roger: Welcome to Nivet. I'm Sosu Roger ambrov Sat'htine, formerly Roger Templeton.

Bernice is a bit startled.

Roger names an influential family from the eastern portion of New Washington Territory.

Bernice: I'm met some other members of your House. A channel named Katsura and a Donor named Nick.

Roger: I hope the youngsters made a good impression?

Bernice: Oh, yes. They accompanied us from New Washington. Very courteous and professional.

Roger is ~~ pleased ~~ that the Heir to his House performed up to expectations.

Bernice isn't going to mention that her husband was rather rude to the channel, especially in connection with his donation.

Roger: I expect you're finding life on this side a bit different than you imagined?

Bernice: Somewhat. Of course the city is unfamiliar to me. At home I always knew where to buy what I wanted.

Roger: Adjusting to a new city is difficult, isn't it?

Roger is quite ~~ sympathetic ~~.

Roger: Is there something in particular that you've been trying to find? Outside of meat, I mean?

Bernice laughs.

Bernice: My husband does miss the ready availability of meat, but one of the other diplomatic wives told me about an importer who brings in preserved meats, and frozen meat in winter.

Roger: Fair warning: you'll shock everyone dreadfully when you eat it. They'll be convinced you are a Wild Gen of the most primitive type.

Bernice: Oh, well, we do have our own customs.

Roger: I know. And as a diplomat, you're free to indulge in them. I didn't have that luxury, myself. It made for a somewhat uncomfortable adjustment.

Bernice: How did you happen to move to Nivet and join a Householding?

Bernice assumes he did so after Unity, perhaps with an unusual skill and an idealistic temperament.

Roger: I happened to get drunk in the wrong tavern one night, while on a trip to the far west. I woke up to discover that the nice fellow who'd been buying the beer was a recruiter for the Army.

Roger: The border regiments were rather desperately trying to find enough warm bodies to throw at the Sime raiders, who were unusually active at the time. Before my family could intervene, we were sent on a counter-raid. It wasn't well planned, and it failed miserably.

Bernice: You must have been a young man at the time.

Roger: Yes, I was. If I'd been old enough to have any sense, I wouldn't have gotten so drunk that I didn't know what I was signing.

Roger speaks with the ~~ assurance ~~ of someone who is no longer able to stay up all night for a party, anyway.

Bernice: How did you escape?

Bernice assumes he did, or he wouldn't be alive to tell her about it.

Roger: I didn't. I was captured, transported to one of the market towns, and auctioned off to the highest bidder.

Bernice: How horrible.

Roger: It was quite unpleasant. Not nearly as clean as the Pen in the basement here.

Bernice nods. Of course, the Pen on display is a sanitized version.

Roger: However, I had the fortune to be purchased by Householding Sat'htine.

Roger chuckles.

Roger: Not that I considered myself fortunate at the time, of course.

Bernice: I can imagine... or perhaps I can't!

Roger: I was certainly not inclined to be cooperative, but Sectuib Givran was determined not to waste the potential I represented. Or the considerable investment I represented.

Bernice: Potential? You mean the selyn you could produce for them?

Roger: That too, and the possibility that I could become a Companion.

Bernice: Even though you no doubt hated and feared Simes after what you'd been through?

Roger: He could tell that I responded to Sime nagers more than a Gen who lacked the potential. Persuading me to learn to use that talent properly was another matter entirely.

Bernice: I'm sure it would have been!

Roger: A channel can take a simple donation from an unwilling Gen, but a Companion must actively cooperate. I was eventually persuaded to give it a try, and I've seldom regretted it.

Bernice: But after Unity, didn't you want to go home again?

Roger: What would have been the point? My parents were dead, and the cousin who'd taken over the estate wouldn't have been at all pleased to have the inheritance thrown into question. Besides, my wife was a Sime, and traveling in Gen Territory was even more risky for Simes then than it is now.

Bernice is appalled by the effectiveness of the brainwashing that converted a prisoner and slave into someone who would marry a Sime, but keeps the expression off her face.

Bernice: I see.

Roger: I've had a very good life at Sat'htine. And now I'm at the age where I can relax and tell tales about the bad old days.

Bernice: So you've come to Capital for some sightseeing, then?

Bernice assumes that Roger is enjoying travel as one of the privileges of the retired.

Roger: No, this was just a chance thing. I came to provide a transfer for young Katsura.

Bernice is startled again. The nubile young channel and this elderly... Well, she really doesn't understand this channel/Donor business, of course.

Bernice: I thought her... partner was Sosu Nick.

Roger: Much of the time, it is. But a channel can't take transfer from only one Companion without developing some unhealthy dependencies. A swap every now and then does everybody good.

Roger grins.

Roger: Besides, Sosu Nick's services are required as part of a trade that includes Sat'htine's acquisition of some particularly fine brandy, so I can't complain.

Bernice thinks this sounds rather strange, but she has no way of telling whether Roger is pulling her leg.

Bernice: It sounds rather complicated.

Roger: No more complicated than New Washington politics.

Bernice: I see the tour group is returning. Pleased to have met you, Sosu.

Roger: And I, you. Perhaps we'll meet again, before I return to Sat'htine.

Bernice: Yes, perhaps we shall.

Bernice isn't planning to invite him over for tea. She thinks there's something... unwholesome about the way he switched sides.

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