Churri plunks herself down on the sofa in the vacant apartment her governess has brought her and her sister to. Her father told her she had to take these classes. even though she'll never need them, but wouldn't say why.
Their governess has been told to say nothing and do nothing, and is being paid extra -- a hefty amount extra -- to say nothing about anything she might see.
Churri picks threads from the upholstery, watching the silk pucker. This is stupid, and so far it's boring.
Aleen, by contrast, is sitting very quietly and properly on the couch, holding very still, in contrast to her fidgety sister. Even though she's younger, she's internalized the Ladylike Behavior lessons far better than Churri has.
Churri thinks her sister is a dork, and stupid, too.
Kapli neither knows nor cares much about Proper Ladylike Behavior: she just wants fewer untrained kids dying in the changeover ward.
Churri: So when's anything going to happen?
Churri kicks at the sofa, then puts her feet up on it.
Kapli enters the room, carrying a bag of educational materials, and zlins her students, as well as she can through the retainers.
Churri spots the retainers and stares at them with ~~ prurient interest ~~.
Kapli: Good morning, girls. I'm Hajene Kapli, and you must be Churri and Aleen.
Churri: You're a Sime, aren't you. Ick.
Kapli: Yes. I'm a channel. And your father has asked me to teach you some things that may prove very valuable to you in the future.
Churri: I'm not going to be a Sime.
Kapli: There's a two in three chance that you'll be Gen, that's true. And a one in three chance you'll be Sime, like your brother.
Aleen: Clare went Sime because he was a bad boy, everyone knows that. ~~ smug ~~
Churri: And, anyway, he's the Sime, so us two will be normal.
Kapli: It doesn't work that way. You're either Sime or Gen already; it just isn't detectable until you're older.
Churri: Well, yeah, three kids, one Sime, two normal. He's the Sime, we're normal.
Kapli: Perhaps. Or maybe all three of you are Simes.
Churri: That's not possible. Only one in three goes Sime.
Churri wonders if all Simes are so stupid. Or math-challenged, at any rate.
Kapli: I know families where it's happened. The one-in-three ratio only holds for large groups of children.
Churri grunts, rather than saying 'yeah, sure'. People are always telling her scare stories about other little girls who behaved badly, and this is more of the same.
Aleen straightens her skirt and says nothing. It's not Ladylike to argue, even with demon Simes.
Kapli: In any case, I've been hired by your father to teach you what you have to know to survive changeover easily. That way, you'll be prepared, no matter what happens to you in the end.
Aleen ~~ shrugs internally ~~ while holding her patronizing little smile. Whatever this is, it can't be worse than Spanyol irregular verbs.
Churri picks at the upholstery again. It's kind of interesting to figure out how the different colors in the brocade come out in different parts of the pattern.
Kapli: It might catch your interest if I tell you that your father has agreed that you will be dismissed from each day's instruction only after you satisfy me that you have both mastered the material.
Churri: What, you're gonna sit here all night with us?
Churri figures she can parrot back whatever it takes, but doubts her little sister can.
Kapli: If I feel that you are not applying yourselves, I will leave. And you will stay here, in this room, with your governess to supervise you, until I can return to see what you have learned.
Churri heaves a heavy sigh.
Kapli knows that the governess will be highly displeased if that happens, but suspects that her students will apply themselves within a day or two.
Churri: So go on, already.
Kapli: I gather from your father that neither of you has seen a Sime's tentacles before?
Aleen: Certainly not.
Kapli: Then we'll start there.
Churri's ~~ prurient interest ~~ reappears.
Kapli took the liberty of posting the room as Sime Territory before she entered, which is part of the reason the girls' governess decided to wait the session out downstairs.
Kapli holds out her arms so the girls can see them.
Kapli: I'm wearing retainers. Can either of you tell me what they are?
Churri: They're to keep you from grabbing people and killing them.
Kapli: I'm a channel. I don't kill, ever, even when I'm not wearing them. Aleen, do you want to tell me?
Aleen: They keep you from being shot?
Kapli: Very good, Aleen. The law says that any Sime found out-Territory without retainers can be shot on sight, but a Sime wearing retainers can't. Unless there's a sign on the door, like the one I put up before I came in. So, it's all right for me to take them off here.
Aleen: But of course being a lady you wouldn't?
Kapli: Being your teacher, I will. It's an important part of what you will be learning.
Churri: Simes can't be ladies, Aleen. They aren't human.
Kapli deliberately unlatches the right manacle and slowly begins to remove it.
Aleen gives her sister a look of ~~ contempt ~~. Hasn't she learned that if you expect people to behave properly, they usually will?
Kapli: Oh, I'm human. How else could I have Gen daughters?
Aleen: ~~ shock ~~
Churri: Ewwwww. Ick. Slimy.
Aleen ~~ agrees ~~ but again says nothing.
Kapli: No, they're not. Most of them are quite dry. Here, take a closer look.
Kapli holds out an arm for their inspection.
Churri examines the icky things. Weird.
Churri: Imagine, Aleen, Clarence's has got those icky worms on his arms now too. Just think of him grabbing you with them.
Aleen: Clare was icky and grabby even while he was still human.
Kapli: They're quite flexible, but mostly they just act as extra fingers.
Aleen: Why aren't ten enough for anyone? Can you play the piano with them?
Kapli: No, I never learned to play the piano. But other people do use their tentacles to play musical instruments.
Aleen: Oh. ~~ embarrassment at a straight answer to a crooked question ~~
Kapli: Do you play the piano, Aleen?
Aleen: Of course. It's one of the Ladylike Accomplishments.
Kapli: Do you enjoy it?
Aleen: Entirely. ~~ not at all ~~
Kapli: Aleen, do you know that Simes can feel other people's emotions? It's called zlinning.
Aleen: [politely] Oh?
Kapli: Yes. It leads to a different set of manners than on this side of the border. In Gen Territory, it's considered polite to lie in some situations. As you just did, because you're expected to like playing the piano. Right?
Aleen: Of course.
Kapli: That doesn't work in Sime Territory, because your emotions will always tell a Sime whether or not you believe what you're saying. So, as long as you know what you're saying isn't the truth, so will every Sime who's paying attention to you.
Churri snickers again.
Churri: Better stay out of Simeland, Aleen.
Aleen: But I'm sure they wouldn't be rude enough to say so.
Kapli: Tell me, what would happen if you told your friends that your father was a walrus? Would they believe you?
Aleen refuses to dignify that with an answer.
Churri rolls her eyes.
Kapli: Of course they wouldn't, because they all know your father is human. And they'd think you were kind of silly for expecting them to believe something so ridiculous. Right?
Aleen: [bored] I suppose so.
Kapli: Anyone who lies to a Sime and expects to be believed is doing something just as silly as it would be for you to tell your friends that your father is a walrus.
Churri looks forward to telling her father that the Sime called him a walrus.
Aleen: There are lots of things people say they don't expect other people to believe. It's Just Polite to pretend you do.
Churri nods. She figured out long ago that telling people what they want to hear, while not very exciting, can avoid a lot of hassle.
Kapli: It's polite on the Gen side of the border, but it's rude on the Sime side of the border.
Kapli: Yes. Manners are different, depending on which side of the border you're on. Now, since I posted this room as Sime Territory for our lessons, why don't you practice Sime Territory manners while you're here? That way, you'll know how to be polite on either side of the border.
Churri: We're not going to Simeland. We won't have to.
Kapli: You very well might visit across the border, no matter how you turn out as an adult. So, let's begin by going over how to recognize changeover.
Aleen heaves a sigh.
Aleen: Very well.
Aleen prepares to listen with half an ear at most.
Churri pulls at a blue thread in the upholstery.
Churri: Yeah, sure.