Dzerzhanski shuffles out of the private area into the main room of the Elk Mountain Sime Center. He's still limping a bit, because his shin had an unfortunate encounter with the edge of a low table that holds the six-month-old magazines intended to amuse the donors while they wait, as if there were enough donors to actually wait in these parts, most of the time.
Dzerzhanski realized too late that one of the drawbacks of being the only channel for many klicks in any direction is that when you have a minor mishap there's no one to heal you. Fortunately he has a good enough showfield, even as a Third, to hide the pain from any renSimes in the vicinity, though not from the ever-vigilant eye of his grandmotherly Donor.
Tscheka has done her Third Order best to help her channel with the injury, but she knows the man is a hypochondriac.
Dzerzhanski sits down behind his desk and looks about for the leftover paperwork in hopes that he can make a dent in it before anybody shows up.
Tscheka refrains from remarking that if he didn't let himself get so far behind, it wouldn't be such a chore.
Dzerzhanski: Wake up already, Tscheka. Sime company, and not here for transfer. [raises voice] Come in, Tuib!
Tscheka is entirely awake, but is used to putting up with this sort of thing from her channel.
Sylvera pushes open the door a little and sticks her head in. She's about twelve natal years, very grubby, with hair that hasn't seen a wash in long enough that its color isn't immediately obvious, and wrapped in a large shawl that was probably pink once.
Dzerzhanski: Hello there. How do you come to be here, and what can I do you for?
Sylvera has a very out-T accent, and if she weren't speaking slowly, would probably be completely unintelligible to everyone here. She appears to be very recently changed over, judging from her confusion and how overwhelmed she is as she zlins everything. She keeps her tentacles hidden underneath her filthy shawl.
Dzerzhanski smiles to try to soften the effect of this, and supplements it with a ~~ friendly ~~ and ~~ welcoming ~~ showfield.
Sylvera is ~~ embarrassed ~~ and still feeling a little ~~ ashamed ~~, but manages to keep herself from backing out; it does sting a lot, after all, and she's worried about infection.
Sylvera: Ummm... I'm passing through town with my uncle.
Sylvera's statement has a bit of not-entirely-truth in it, but since she feels by now like he really is her family, it doesn't zlin quite like an out-and-out lie.
Dzerzhanski: Sure, no problem. And you want that minor injury on your arm fixed? It's not affecting any selyn transport nerves, fortunately.
Sylvera pales a little and then blushes.
Sylvera: Umm, um, there was this stray kitten, and... Y-yes. He was just a little kitty and it was just a little scratch, but it swelled afterwards and got all red and itchy.
Sylvera is still wrapped up in her filthy shawl, not actually offering to show anyone the injury yet.
Codee pulls Fluffy to a halt outside the Elk Grove Sime Center and dismounts.
Tscheka spots the bull and the Creeping Pain Gen, and hurries to her channel's side, ready to ~~ protect ~~ him.
Sylvera starts in ~~ surprise ~~ as Tscheka moves and the fields in the room shift around. She isn't used to people doing that yet.
Codee moves to the entrance ~~ stiffly ~~, in sort of a hobble. He's sporting a stained bandage around the back of his head, but his usual ~~ cheer ~~ is easy to zlin above the ~~ ache ~~.
Dzerzhanski: Come in, Tuib! [long silence] [English] Come in!
Codee pokes his head in.
Codee: Howdy, there!
Tscheka: Tuib Codee, welcome.
Dzerzhanski stays focused on protecting the Sime from the Gen, although he can't completely block the effects, being only a Third and all.
Tscheka waits for Hajene to figure out who needs what first. The girl needs to soak her hand in warm soap water for a while, no doubt.
Codee is sporting a new, sharp ~~ ache ~~ in his shoulder to complement the bandage.
Codee: I see you've already got a customer. Sorry for interrupting. I'll just have a seat until the little lady is finished.
Sylvera turns around and stares at Codee, zlinning intently. The pain is filtering through the ambient kind of like light through a thick fog.
Dzerzhanski: Mister Codee, the "little lady" is sensing your injury. I hate to seem inhospitable, but I think you should grab a handy rock outside until I can fix up her problem.
Codee: Huh? Oh, sure.
Codee levers himself to his feet.
Sylvera has only been in contact with one Gen since changing over -- and not with any in this much pain. She can't figure out whether she wants to zlin it more and be fascinated by it or run out of the room.
Codee: I'll just go make sure Fluffy hasn't gotten loose.
Tscheka: He did a good job trimming the hedge last time. Tie him up where he can continue the job!
Dzerzhanski chuckles and nods vigorously.
Codee: Sure thing. He does have an appetite, that bull.
Codee leaves the building.
Sylvera drags herself over to a wall to sit down. In one sense it hurts like it's her hurt, but in another way, there are all kinds of colors and sensations that come with it that make it easy to remember that it's not hers.
Dzerzhanski follows her.
Tscheka follows him.
Sylvera rubs at her forehead with her cat-scratched hand, having completely forgotten her injury for a moment. She's still trying to assimilate what she just felt. She remembers her uncle's warning to not spend time hanging around Gens in pain.
Sylvera is also kind of ~~ disturbed ~~ at the thought of who could have hurt the poor man that badly.
Dzerzhanski: Can I get a look at that?
Dzerzhanski extends his handling tentacles.
Sylvera has a sudden, instinctual out-T response to the sight of tentacles reaching towards her, then takes a deep breath and tries to stuff it down. They won't hurt her if she's a "monster" too, after all.
Sylvera can feel the cat scratch starting to itch and sting again, now that Codee is gone.
Dzerzhanski spots the ~~ squiggliphobia ~~ and deduces that Sylvera is from out-T.
Dzerzhanski: [softly, persuasively] It's all right. I'll never hurt you.
Sylvera: Um, the kitty -- the stray kitty we found...
Sylvera knows that small talk about cats can compensate for a multitude of fears, insecurities and weaknesses.
Dzerzhanski combines what he hears and zlins with a ~~ click ~~.
Dzerzhanski: A cat scratch, hmmm? Well, that's easily fixed. I'll need to do a deep zlin on you first.
Sylvera: I found a kitten under a barn. I tried to pick him up, but I think I scared him...
Dzerzhanski wants to check for early signs of pregnancy, because of the danger to her baby's sight from toxoplasmosis.
Sylvera tries to reassure herself that humans are just scary to kitties because they have great big feet and tower over you and stomp around, and don't care one way or the other whether you're Sime or Gen.
Dzerzhanski: Sure. Sometimes kittens just panic, kind of like people sometimes do. But they can both get over it, eh?
Sylvera: I was trying to hold him when he wanted me to let go, I guess...
Dzerzhanski: Probably. Can you stand up for me now?
Sylvera shrugs her grungy old shawl off her shoulders so Dzerzhanski can see the kitten scratch. The scratch goes partly across one of her tentacle sheaths, but she's too ~~ embarrassed ~~ to say anything about that -- it feels gross and weird to even say the word, like talking about problems "down there" but somehow even worse.
Tscheka notes that the young Sime is so dirty that a scratch with a sterilized needle would get infected.
Sylvera gets to her feet lightly.
Dzerzhanski gently and with exaggerated slowness wraps his tentacles around Sylvera's arms and does a full lateral contact exam. He's pleased on several levels that she's not pregnant, and he begins to heal the wound and clean out the infection.
Sylvera is ~~ surprised ~~ when she starts to feel the pain fade immediately. She thought it was going to be like drinking willow-bark tea for a headache, where you have to sit down and wait and wait for it to work.
Tscheka thinks this young woman needs someone to look after her, and her uncle isn't doing a very good job of it.
Sylvera is really just glad and kind of surprised to be alive. She had figured for certain on being shot.
Dzerzhanski sees that he's done as much as he can feasibly do for such a minor injury, and slowly terminates healing mode. He carefully dismantles his grip, making sure that Sylvera can't fall, and steers both of them to the sofa -- her to rest, him to recover.
Sylvera distracts herself from the weirdness of it all by thinking about kitties again. She wants to go back and see if she can convince the one who scratched her to trust her again.
Tscheka: Where are you staying, dear?
Tscheka is stationed behind her channel, one hand on his shoulder, ~~ supporting ~~ him as he recovers from the functional.
Sylvera: Err, I'm camping with my uncle. He was taking me to... to a camp.
Sylvera realizes the potential for confusion inherent in that statement, and amends it.
Sylvera: Not like the roadside camps we were making -- a different kind of camp.
Dzerzhanski zlins the same ~~ not-quite-truth ~~ as before.
Tscheka: What kind of camp would that be?
Sylvera does know quite a bit more about it than that, but can't quite get the words out. It feels funny-and-wrong in the same way that talking openly about tentacles does.
Sylvera: Um, for... people like me.
Dzerzhanski: New Simes from Gen Territory, you mean? Nothing to be ashamed of there -- we all had to start somewhere.
Sylvera really really wishes the topic of conversation would shift back to kitties again.
Dzerzhanski switches from the English that's been used throughout to Simelan for the moment.
Dzerzhanski: You have a concern, Sosu?
Tscheka: Who's this uncle? Where is he taking her? Really, it should be up to us to get her to a First Year camp, since we're the Tecton here, right? Goodness knows she needs to be taught how to look after herself.
Dzerzhanski: Well, yes, but what would we do except hold her here and send a message in-T for an escort? That would take weeks at the least. I suppose we could try to bring the uncle in and see if he's lying about it -- for sure, she isn't, though she isn't telling us everything either.
Tscheka: If they knew where they were going, how could they have ended up here?
Dzerzhanski slaps his head, not hard enough to affect the ambient.
Dzerzhanski: You're right. It doesn't make sense.
Tscheka: She'd be better off staying with a local family while we wait for an escort. She can learn plenty about being Sime the same way our own kids do.
Tscheka means 'new Simes of Desperation Point and Elk Mountain' when she refers to 'our own kids'.
Sylvera is sitting on the sofa, swinging her feet -- which are barely covered by shoes with large holes in them -- trying to see if she can recognize any of the words they're using.
Dzerzhanski: Yeah. I hate things like this, but I guess we really don't have a good alternative.
Sylvera finds that if she concentrates, she can distinguish the individual sounds and syllables, but what they add up to is still a lot of gibberish to her.
Tscheka switches back to the local version of English.
Tscheka: Would you like a muffin and a cup of trin, Sylvera? We have honey for the trin.
Sylvera has never actually had trin tea, even though she's heard several people mention it since she came to town. Her favorite kind of tea used to be peppermint, but a lot of things that used to taste good to her have suddenly begun to taste funny or bland, after everything changed.
Dzerzhanski provides a bit of ~~ appetite ~~ in his showfield.
Sylvera: I think a muffin would be good. And I... I guess I'd like to try the trin.
Tscheka: I'll settle Sylvera in the kitchen. There's plenty of warm water, so she can have a wash.
Sylvera can see that the swelling from the kitten scratch is completely gone.
Dzerzhanski: [English] I'll just give Mister Codee whatever he requires, then.
Tscheka: Don't start working on that Gen until I get back!
Dzerzhanski: Fine, fine, fine. How Genpecked I am....
Tscheka doesn't emit the usual nageric raspberry, because it might frighten Sylvera. Instead she provides her with some ~~ safety, comfort and acceptance ~~.
Tscheka: Come with me, Sylvera. I have some clothes you can borrow, that may almost fit you.
Sylvera grabs her dirty old shawl and wraps it around her shoulders and arms completely, then follows after Tscheka. She pulls out a few burrs that are stuck on the fringe of it. It's starting to dawn on her, vaguely, that she looks really, really gross to these people for reasons that have nothing at all to do with tentacles.
Sylvera had been so stuck on that particular point for a while that she didn't think it would make any difference how grimy she was.
Dzerzhanski steps out, calls for Codee to come in, and steps back before anything much can happen.
Codee pats the oblivious Fluffy on the shoulder and limps inside.
Codee: You finished helping the kid? She looks like she's been having a hard time of it.
Sylvera is safely out of Codee's nageric range (at least to an average renSime's perceptions).
Dzerzhanski: Yes. And so do you, my friend! What can I do?
Codee: Oh, I was trying to get back into shape, and one of Fluffy's sons didn't take kindly to it.
Dzerzhanski: That's no problem. Gimme a minute here.
Dzerzhanski heaves himself up off the sofa and moves to the transfer lounge, since he doesn't feel like doing another functional standing up.
Dzerzhanski: Join me.
Codee limps over.
Codee: It's my shoulder I'm worried about. Can't ride bulls without it.
Codee fails to mention the three-inch horn slash on the back of his head. He doesn't need his head to ride, after all. Most folks would say it gets in the way.
Dzerzhanski: Fair enough, but what about that leg? Looks worse than the last time.
Codee: Oh, I landed on it bad. It'll loosen up in a bit.
Dzerzhanski: [sardonically] A bit, eh? Well, let's see what we can do.
Codee sits down next to Dzerzhanski.
Dzerzhanski does a deep zlin of Codee, who's an old hand at lateral contact exams these days.
Codee's shoulder has been torn, there's the scalp tear, a minor groin pull, bruises on hip and the other shoulder, and his wrist is showing signs of strain, too. He's actually healthier than when he first came to the Elk Mountain Sime Center.
Codee: You think you can get me back in shape in time for the fall season?
Dzerzhanski: Well, sure, if you come in twice a day and I don't have any other customers to work on. But short of that, I'll have to do what I can -- and so will you.
Tscheka comes back in, having served Sylvera the trin and muffin, showed her the hot water reservoir on the side of the wood stove, and given her a towel, basin, wash cloth and Hajene's bathrobe.
Codee: No matter. You can't ride bulls and not get used to hurting.
Tscheka notes the lateral contact and expresses some ~~ displeasure ~~ toward her channel.
Dzerzhanski: Maybe not, but you can't be hurting and be around Simes, as you well know. So let's do as much as possible now.
Dzerzhanski ~~ signals ~~ Tscheka for extra support.
Dzerzhanski: Fortunately for you, I don't have anything scheduled for a couple of hours.
Dzerzhanski: [Simelan] And all I did was a lateral contact exam -- I know what to expect, he's not going to hurt me.
Tscheka puts her hands on her channel's shoulders and provides ~~ strong steady support ~~.
Dzerzhanski signals ~~ thanks ~~.
Dzerzhanski: [English] Here goes nothing, then.
Dzerzhanski heals the scalp tear and groin pull right off, decides to skip the bruises, and tackles the shoulder first. He gets the swelling down and eases up the muscles while he's at it, but knows better than to block pain with this Gen -- it just encourages him.
Codee doesn't have a thing for pain so much as he has a thing for getting on top of very large, angry herbivores.
Dzerzhanski stops for a moment, takes a deep breath to center himself, and carries on, working first on the wrist, which is mostly just wobbly, and with the last bit of his non-emergency strength on the leg.
Dzerzhanski returns to duoconsciousness.
Codee tests his body, ~~ pleased ~~ with the results.
Dzerzhanski decides that despite the excellent ~~ support ~~ he's still feeling, the Right Thing at this point is to zone out. So he lets himself slip into a doze after ~~ signaling ~~ to Tscheka to take over.
Tscheka pats her channel on the shoulder and keeps up the ~~ support ~~ while he dozes.
Codee: You know, when I get back on tour, pretty soon my buddies are gonna be demanding that one of you channels come along to handle the injuries.
Dzerzhanski opens one eye.
Dzerzhanski closes the eye again, although what he'd like to say is "Zlin a lot of Gens getting excited about other Gens getting hurt? I think not!"
Tscheka: If you're ever in a place with a Sime Center, they may find you and your colleagues a challenge.
Codee: Well, I'd better get my errands done and get back to the crew before they have to eat their beans without any molasses.
Dzerzhanski opens both eyes.
Dzerzhanski: That would suck. Off with you, then.
Codee: Thank you kindly, Hajene, and I'll see you next week to donate.
Codee gets up and goes to corral his improbable mount before the entire shrub is consumed.