Fruthy is snacking on a carrot stick in one corner of the room hosting the reception after the Pollovic/Doyle wedding. She's used to staying out of the center of attention, since her hair is brown and straight and her face unfortunately plain.
Prissa looks around the crowded reception hall, feeling a bit awkward in her grown-up gown. She stacks three more pastries onto her plate and hurries to rejoin her friends in the corner. She almost bumps into an old man smelling of talcum, but she gives him a dimpled, blonde smile and he nods forgiveness.
Prissa: 'Scuse me.
Prissa shakes her ringlets back into place, then rejoins Fruthy.
Prissa: Who are all these people? Mom and Dad entertain a lot, but I've never seen most of these.
Fruthy: They're Senator Pollovic's liberal friends, I guess. Are those the spinach pastries?
Prissa: These square ones? Yes. They're good. The round one is sweet potato, I think.
Churri rejoins the group carrying a wine glass containing apple juice.
Churri: Did you see the Sime hiding out in the corner over there?
Fruthy: A Sime?
Churri gestures with her head, since pointing is rude.
Fruthy peers ~~ avidly ~~.
Churri: With the old woman in the dowdy dress.
Fruthy: That's a Sime? Are you sure? I can't see from here.
Prissa: He looks kind of familiar.
Churri: He's got those manacle things on so he can't kill anybody.
Fruthy: Really? Do they work?
Churri: Yeah, familiar. Guess why.
Prissa thinks very hard, then shrugs.
Churri: Who does he look like around here?
Prissa cranes her neck, looking around the room.
Churri: Fruthy, the manacles only sort of work. It takes time for him to get out of them, so people have more chance to run away or lock themselves in somewhere safe or shoot him.
Fruthy: Oh. I guess it's all right, then.
Fruthy sounds very ~~ doubtful ~~.
Churri: Besides, that old bag he's with is there to keep him under control. She's one of those Gens who can kill Simes by magic.
Fruthy: Kill by magic? Without a gun?
Prissa shudders, and turns her attention to the old lady.
Churri enjoys using her new knowledge of the other larity to come up with things to impress her friends.
Prissa: She doesn't look like anything special.
Churri: Well, if a Sime tried to kill her, she could kill him back, instead.
Fruthy: Really, it looks like she's old enough to die all on her own, before the Sime gets around to it.
Prissa: But what if he tried to kill someone else, instead of her?
Churri: She could grab him, either his arms or by magic and control him. She can get him under her power.
Prissa: Wow. I thought that stuff was just stories.
Churri: She's one of these freak unkillable Gens that they have in Nivet. They train them to control the really powerful Simes, the channels. So she can handle an ordinary Sime like that one no problem.
Fruthy looks again.
Fruthy: Are you sure? He looks like he'd be a lot faster and stronger.
Churri: They have these powers.
Churri stares at the Sime a bit more.
Churri: So, have you figured out who he looks like yet?
Prissa shakes her curls.
Churri: How about you, Fruthy?
Fruthy: Ain't nobody else here with tentacles. He's got to be from Simeland anyway, doesn't he?
Churri: Well, he doesn't have to have been born there.
Prissa: You're wrong, Fruthy. I've seen at least one older guy here with those things on his arms.
Prissa is very ~~ proud ~~ that, for once, she's spotted something one of her friends missed. Usually she's the last one to find things out.
Prissa: Only he had a strong-looking young guy guarding him.
Prissa wishes she'd realized what she was seeing, while she was still seeing it. She'd thought the guy was just the man's grandson, or something.
Churri: They always have one of those special Gens with them when they come out in public, just to keep them under control. Otherwise, they could get excited and kill somebody.
Prissa is ~~ afraid ~~, just at the thought of that.
Churri: Like if somebody startles them, or is afraid of them, it makes them want to kill. Pain, too. It sets them off.
Fruthy: So if he gets excited, someone's gonna die?
Fruthy is ~~ alarmed ~~.
Churri: No, that's what those special Gens are for, to control them. It almost always works.
Prissa: Almost? ~~ rising panic ~~
Churri: Nobody's perfect. But if a Sime kills somebody, once he's grown up, he dies too, so it's kind of fair, more or less.
Churri is having a very good time.
Prissa: That's not really very reassuring, Churri. Not if you're already dead.
Fruthy: They shoot him for murder?
Churri: No, but once they kill, they have to kill again, or they die. But it takes about a year. They suffer a lot. That sort of makes up for it.
Prissa stares at Churri, wide-eyed.
Prissa: How do you know all this stuff, anyway?
Prissa is beginning to wonder if Churri is playing her for a fool yet again.
Fruthy has already come to the same conclusion.
Fruthy: You're making it all up, aren't you?
Churri shrugs again.
Churri: My dad wanted me and my sister to learn about Simes. It's kind of interesting in a sort of gross way. But since our brother turned Sime, me and my sister won't, so we're okay.
Fruthy's jaw drops.
Prissa: I don't think it works like that. Remember the Bordmanns? All four of their kids went Sime.
Prissa may be slow, but she isn't stupid.
Churri selectively ignores the case of the Bordmanns. She's not going to turn Sime like her brother.
Fruthy: Sime lessons? I didn't know there was anything like that.
Churri: You can get lessons at the Sime Center, but my dad got us a tutor to teach us about it. He thinks it's good for us to learn stuff like that.
Prissa: It could happen to any of us. We're not safe till we're sixteen. So you're lucky your dad got you a...
Prissa pauses, trying to picture what Sime lessons might be like.
Churri: I won't turn Sime. It's gross. Besides, I'm still only eleven.
Prissa: Did you have to, like, look at them? Up close? ~~ disgust and fear ~~
Fruthy: Yeah. All those squirmy, slimy, snaky things...
Churri: Like I said, gross.
Prissa searches for something else to think about.
Prissa: So you said this one looked like someone. Who?
Churri: You haven't figured it out yet?
Prissa shakes her head, sending blonde ringlets whipping back and forth.
Fruthy: How can we? He's all the way across the room, looking the other way.
Churri: He's Pametta's brother. Saag Doyle.
Fruthy: Pametta Doyle? I mean, Pollovic?
Prissa's eyes widen.
Prissa: Saag? But he's dead.
Churri: No, it turns out he's been in Simeland all this time. And Senator Pollovic is a Sime kisser, so he got him to come back for the wedding. And Pametta's a Sime kisser too. It all came out months ago when they got engaged.
Prissa: Is he gonna kiss him? ~~ prurient disgust ~~
Prissa doesn't know much yet about sex, but she does know it's considered kinky if there are three in the bed.
Fruthy: Really? Pametta Doyle and... Sime-kissing?
Churri: Didn't you hear about it? She'd been secretly going to the Sime Center and getting them to suck out her stuff to give to her brother so he doesn't have to kill anybody.
Prissa frowns. To think that she used to be polite to Pametta. Yuck!
Churri: Her parents didn't know, and they were really pissed off.
Churri is proud to use phrases like that, like her father does.
Churri: So Pametta pretty much had to marry another Sime kisser because who else would marry her? So she got this guy three times her age and a liberal.
Churri isn't sure just what a liberal is, but her father considers them despicable.
Prissa stares, ~~ shocked ~~ . What a horrible fate!
Prissa: I think I'd rather just hand myself over to a Sime, if it were me.
Prissa stares around the room. She can't understand why all these people are celebrating, if it's such a terrible marriage.
Fruthy: Yeah. I mean, why pretend things are all right, when they're not?
Churri: You know, people like to put a good face on things. The Doyles are probably celebrating that they got rid of Pametta so fast. They could have been stuck with her forever.
Fruthy: A girl who'd do a thing like that -- what can they expect?
Churri: And look how far away they're keeping from Saag the Sime son.
Prissa is a bit ~~ sad ~~ for Pametta. She's been being so brave, smiling all day despite what's happening to her.
Fruthy: I wonder if she knew what would happen to her, when she did it?
Churri: She probably figured she could get away with it. I mean, who's gonna rat on her? Nobody at the Sime Center, right?
Fruthy: Why not? Simes don't keep their word, right?
Prissa: But who's gonna go talk to them, anyway? Or believe anything they say?
Churri: They'd want her to keep coming back so they could keep getting her stuff, so it's in their interests not to let her parents find out.
Churri is her father's daughter.
Prissa can't imagine hiding anything that big from her parents. But then, she loves her parents; they're almost the only grown-ups who don't treat her with pity for being 'slow'.
Prissa: So if...
Prissa: He's coming this way. The Sime. Saag.
Saag is reaching the limits of what he can take and still keep a pleasant expression on his face, despite Ettil's help, and she's getting tired of standing.
Prissa watches as Saag escorts the elderly Sime-killer towards the near end of the buffet.
Saag figures they can get some food and take it to the 'Sime withdrawing room', where Ettil can rest and eat and he can get the retainers off and not have to zlin all these hostile untrained nagers.
Ruanna Rundle, who has been eavesdropping -- er, "checking up" -- on her daughter from the hall, decides she's heard quite enough. She pops through the door, looking around for the Sime.
Ruanna: Come, Churri. The company here is deteriorating. Besides, your Aunt Hortha wants to talk to you.
Churri decides she's impressed her friends enough for the present, so she's willing to comply.
Ruanna: The rest of you girls should go check with your mothers. They're probably wondering where you've gotten to.
Prissa: Yes, ma'am.
Ruanna reaches out to grab her daughter's arm.
Churri: It's okay, mom. You don't have to grab me.
Ruanna waits until they're alone in the hall before she turns to look ~~ sternly ~~ at her daughter.
Ruanna: Now. What was that about a tutor to teach you about Simes?
Churri: Ask dad. It's his idea.
Churri knows well how intimidated her mother is by her father, and knows how to exploit that too.
Ruanna: Is it?
Ruanna then shakes her head.
Ruanna: Well, then, your father and I must have a discussion. In the mean time, behave yourself. No more talking about Simes, do you understand?
Churri: People who eavesdrop deserve what they hear.
Ruanna: Little girls who talk back to their mothers deserve what they get, but they seldom enjoy it.
Churri smiles insincerely. She's learning to intimidate her mother like her father does.
Ruanna: Now go do the pretty with Hortha -- and mind you use your best manners.
Churri: Yes, mom.