Tsibola watches Saag escort their visitor away, then turns to seek the advice of his chief counselor. He finds her sitting in a sunny room in their quarters.
Tsibola: Bernice, we have a most unexpected visitor.
Tsibola sits beside her on the sofa.
Tsibola: One of the last people I'd ever expect to see in Nivet: Glavius Rundle.
Bernice: You're kidding me!
Tsibola: Yes. And without a Tecton Escort. You know what that means.
Tsibola does, too, and wishes he didn't.
Bernice: What's he doing here?
Tsibola: He was searching for his son. And not because he harbors any affection for the boy, either.
Bernice: Ah, right. I remember he made quite a point of refusing condolences at the time, insisting he no longer had a son.
Tsibola: He refused to state his reason for this bizarre change of mind -- I won't say change of heart, because it isn't. I don't suppose you've heard anything relevant? It's a most intriguing paradox.
Bernice: He would have to have a pretty strong motivation to submit to donation. Something he couldn't handle by mail or by proxy. I wonder what he wants out of the young man.
Tsibola: It can't be anything the boy has: apparently, he's working here at the Embassy as a laborer. I guess he was hired because he speaks English. Have you heard anything recent about Glavius Rundle from your friends?
Bernice: There were some rumors that he might be a bit overextended financially, but nothing firm.
Tsibola: Overextended? How badly?
Bernice: I don't know. But some of his creditors are rather... unsavory types. People willing to do his dirty work for substantial fees. Or so the rumors go.
Tsibola looks ~~ thoughtful ~~.
Tsibola: He is a natural bully, although I'd have thought he was smart enough to choose battles he could win.
Bernice: He can't be expecting to get money from his son.
Bernice thinks a bit more.
Bernice: I hope his son knows how to stand up to him. I imagine bullying would hit a Sime harder than it would one of us.
Tsibola: Perhaps. On the other hand, as big as Rundle is, any Sime is much stronger. He can't possibly win a punching match with the boy, and they both ought to know it.
Bernice: Is he known to resort to physical violence personally? I thought that was the sort of thing he hired done.
Tsibola: There are rumors I've heard. But mostly, he likes to loom and intimidate. Of course, that works better when there's a credible threat. He cut all ties to the boy already, so what more can he do?
Bernice: My thought exactly. I wonder if we have an obligation to help the Sime resist any coercion his father tries to apply? He is our employee, and was of our class.
Tsibola: An interesting point. Rundle did emphasize that his business was private and personal, not official. His lack of a waiver would tend to confirm that.
Bernice: Yes, but when I see how well Fridda is doing, and what a nice boy that Saag Doyle is... I guess my attitudes have changed a bit since I came here. They may be Simes, but they are still... well, I'm not sure what they are. Our people, maybe.
Tsibola: They are people; I've never doubted that. They also are citizens of a foreign power, with alien motivations dictated by their biology.
Bernice: But Fridda doesn't seem to have changed all that much. More mature, more serious and responsible, perhaps, but still Fridda.
Tsibola: Still Fridda, but a Fridda who's got to have selyn every month, and who will have no choice but to kill if that's the only way to get it. That gives her a different set of priorities.
Bernice: But she can't kill, Ruthven. Her tentacles aren't strong enough. She'd just die, and horribly from what I understand.
Tsibola: Perhaps. The damage to her tentacles didn't change her Sime instincts, though, or those behind the Nivet society in which she now lives.
Bernice: Nivet society provides her with the selyn she needs to live an entirely normal, nonviolent life.
Tsibola: Yes, it does. Because it sets that as its highest priority, and governs its citizens accordingly. That said, I wouldn't mind at all seeing Glavius Rundle taken down a peg or two.
Bernice: I wouldn't mind that at all myself. Do you have an idea?
Tsibola: This is my embassy, and I have a legitimate interest in what goes on here.
Bernice nods her agreement.
Tsibola: You are in charge of the staff, which includes the younger Rundle.
Bernice: I don't recall any Rundles on the roster. Has he changed his name? Do you know what it is?
Tsibola: Young Saag called him Randayl.
Bernice: Hm. Randayl. Good.
Tsibola: Do you know him? He's on the outdoor staff, I believe.
Bernice: I've met all the staff, but in groups. I mainly deal with the supervisors of the support staff. I don't recall this man in detail.
Tsibola: I'm sure Saag can point him out to you. Perhaps you'd be willing to talk to him, and find out what's going on? You can do it much more unofficially than I can.
Bernice: I suppose so. I could ask Saag what he knows, first. He's a very well-mannered, helpful young man, don't you think?
Tsibola: He's been useful.
Tsibola doesn't chum around with Simes, even on this side of the border. Much.
Bernice: It's a shame he isn't getting an education, instead of working as an office boy here.
Tsibola: Somebody has to dig the holes for the fenceposts.
Bernice: That's true, but you'd think there'd be no shortage of people from the lower classes to do such work. A senator's son should have better opportunities.
Tsibola: But he wasn't a Senator's son when he was hired here. Which makes me very curious as to why Rundle is suddenly interested in reopening the connection.
Bernice: Indeed. I'll find out what I can.
Tsibola: Thank you, my dear. I'll leave it in your very capable hands.
Bernice smiles at her husband. He really is looking healthier, whether due to Sime medicine or to a less stressful, less competitive position. He seems happier running 'his' embassy than wheeling and dealing in the Senate.