Bethida sits in the coach with her coat wrapped tightly around her, trying to remain determined and resolute. She tells herself that it's actually better that she's trapped in here. This way, she'll be able to expose the unethical activities she's now convinced herself Senator Pollovic is engaged in.
Ettil is trying very hard to maintain discipline, but that's the only thing preventing her from having a good ~ fret ~.
Ettil: Where could they be? Aren't we almost to the Sime Center?
Ettil lacks a Sime's sense of direction, but they've been traveling what seems like plenty long enough.
Saag has been trying to figure out just where they are, but it's so dark out he can't read signs or see many landmarks he can recognize. He's never actually been to the New Washington Sime Center -- he changed over on an out of town trip with his sports team.
Saag: I think we're pretty close.
Bethida is worried about Naoyu, of course, but has been busily telling herself he's probably not even at the Sime Center at all -- or, if he is, he's being held in there somewhere against his will.
Saag: Oh, now I see where we are. Yes, it's around the corner, the next block, I think.
Ettil: Good. Still no sign of the coach?
Saag: No. They must be there already.
Saag doesn't realize that they've taken a slightly different route, hence haven't seen Pollovic's broken down carriage.
Ettil: Good. Then a channel's taking care of them. We should check to make sure, of course.
Bethida: Yes, let's definitely check. What should we do, just go up to the door and knock?
Ettil: I expect someone will come out to meet us when they zlin the coach. If not, we'll just go inside and ask.
Bethida peers out the window, straining to see in the darkness. She sees what appears to be a very formal, proper building with fine architectural design, with windows overlooking a long lawn.
Bethida was expecting something something a little less gracious-looking, but realizes that it's probably all in their best interest to make it look as respectable as possible.
Ettil sways as the coach pulls to a halt. She lets Saag get out first to help her old bones safely down.
Saag hops out and offers his hand, then wonders if he was too Sime-like in his agility.
Bethida watches the Senator's brother-in-law get out of the carriage, and thinks there is something decidedly unnatural about the way he moves.
Ettil gets out with all due ~~ caution ~~.
Bethida looks at the distance from the carriage to the ground, and gently begins easing herself out of it, making sure she puts her weight on her non-injured ankle first.
Saag would like to help her, but is afraid of zlinning her freaking out if she sees the retainers. He's finding the whole issue of dealing with out-T Gens complicated and frightening, even with Ettil beside him. Without her it would be awful.
Bethida: Do you think they've... zlinned us yet?
Bethida is still quite ~~ scared ~~ despite her attempts to put on some kind of maternal bravado.
Crynwyr opens the door and walks out of the Sime Center.
Crynwyr: Greeting and view halloo!
Saag: Hello, Hajene!
Crynwyr: Ah, what have we here? Come indoors and get out of raw wind if you please.
Saag: We're looking for the people who brought in a boy in changeover. This is his mother.
Saag looks to Ettil and Bethida, then starts moving towards the channel.
Ettil takes the limping Bethida's arm to steady her.
Ettil: Come. We'll get to the bottom of this shortly.
Bethida assuages herself that she will be strong and not let herself be swayed by any kind of deceptively kind or harmless appearance, and, with a sigh, leans on Ettil's arm. She feels a bit of ~~ repulsion ~~ at touching her now, however, if it's true that the woman is one of those crazy Gens who allows Simes to kiss her and suck her life out.
Ettil is at least somewhat aware of Bethida's attitude by now.
Crynwyr: Ah yes of course. No problems. Ma'am, want assist? Not good to walk on defective ankle, if you like.
Bethida: It will heal in time. It's nothing serious. I just have to be careful to not put too much weight on it, that's all...
Saag stays close to Ettil's other side, hoping Bethida won't hurt his Escort.
Ettil: Just take it slowly, and we'll find you a place to sit down inside.
Bethida: Ah, yes. Yes, that would be very good, Madam Ettil.
Crynwyr meets up with the party, zlins quickly, decides not to interfere with Sosu Ettil's handling of the case, and turns around so he can lead them inside, slowly. He reaches the door, opens it, waves everyone in, and shuts Gen T out.
Saag realizes that he's in Sime Territory, and relaxes a little. He wonders if he'll be able to take off his retainers, once he's away from Bethida.
Bethida looks quickly around her, trying to take stock of her surroundings, thinking that maybe she can sell a story about her terrible adventure here to some muckraking newspaper, if she gets out alive.
Saag can see the channel's tentacles quite clearly in the indoor lights and wonders if he should drop hypoconscious to avoid Bethida's reaction. He leans a little on Ettil nagerically.
Bethida hasn't been able to avoid noticing Crynwyr's tentacles, either, but is slightly surprised. Her primary education in Sime anatomy has been from the none-too-accurate illustrations in her dime novels, and she can't help noticing that they're both smaller and fewer in number than the illustrations had led her to believe. She realizes this may put a dent in her ability to create a convincingly horrific description.
Crynwyr: Welcome to Sime Center. Here, nothing to fear, all Simes quite safe. In particularized, you safe with me, because I am channel, sworn to die rather than let Gens be hurt.
Bethida still does not like being in close proximity to tentacles, however, or even in the same room. They're moving, in strange, unnatural ways that nothing attached to a human body ever should.
Saag: The boy in changeover...
Bethida tries to steady herself, but is aware that he'll easily see through her external attempts to look brave.
Saag is ~~ worried ~~ about his sister and her new husband.
Ettil: This is his mother.
Bethida: I was told that Senator Pollovic brought a boy here, who might have been my son. The Senator thought he was in changeover, but they didn't have a doctor check him to make sure, so it may not have been him at all.
Crynwyr: Yes, of courses. Boy is in treatment room one, Senator and attachment in treatment room seven.
Saag: Were they hurt?? ~~ alarm ~~
Crynwyr: Minor contusions only. Fortunately, we were able to remove chain by deforming links using Sime strength.
Saag is ~~ relieved ~~. They must have gotten here in time. He'll let the bruises be explained later.
Bethida: But -- who is the boy? I can't know if it's my son unless you let me see him!
Crynwyr: Hmm. Privacy issue here. Tell me name of your son and I will mention if it matches.
Bethida is now growing a bit ~~ impatient ~~ despite her ongoing ~~ fear ~~, which she completely lacks the training to keep out of her field.
Bethida: My son? His name is Naoyu.
Crynwyr smiles and nods.
Crynwyr: Very good. That also name he give us. So we has him. But in order to be safe for you to see, must be able to calm self, as new Sime will read impatience, fear, relief in your field as easily as I.
Crynwyr is now used to simplifying things for out-T Gens, even if it involves technical truth violations.
Bethida thinks this sounds suspiciously like a bait-and-switch. How do they mean to calm her down -- will they drug her? And what will they do with her once she's drugged?
Crynwyr: So suggest you start by taking seats here and relaxing first. Do not want to upset boy, does it?
Bethida: No. I suppose I don't...
Bethida is starting to have to admit the possibility, however frightening it may be to her, that all of them are telling the truth, and Naoyu is really in here somewhere, as a Sime. She's not at all sure what she'll do if it all turns out to be true, or even if she could stand to look at him.
Ettil: We'll get you a nice cup of hot trin tea. That'll help you relax.
Crynwyr: Thank you, Sosu.
Saag: Miz Bethida, Naoyu got here in time, so he didn't kill anybody, so everything's okay, really.
Bethida sits down in a luxurious-looking chair in the lobby, trembling slightly.
Crynwyr: I take it you are Sosu's escortee, Tuib?
Saag: Yes. I'm Saag Doyle and this is Ettil ambrov Havril.
Crynwyr raises his eyebrows at Saag's out-T accent.
Bethida is trying to block out mental images of her son with tentacles, and can't restrain some ~~ horror ~~ at the thought.
Crynwyr: Ma'am. Do please relax and think of safe things, not scary things.
Bethida: What is train tea, Madam Ettil? I don't think I've ever heard of it.
Ettil: Trin. It's a tea, very popular in most Sime Territories. It's very soothing.
Bethida: Well, I've never heard of it.
Ettil is assembling a cup from the tea service in the foyer as she speaks.
Ettil: You've never spent much time in Sime Territory, I expect. Here, try it.
Ettil hands Bethida the cup.
Bethida wonders about the safety of this "tea" -- aren't some Sime foods poisonous to normal people? And if they plan to "calm her down" through some unscrupulous method, does the tea, or something added to it, play a role?
Bethida accepts the cup, but only sniffs it suspiciously.
Crynwyr: Is safe entirely. Most people in-Territory drink, Simes and Gens both.
Saag: Would you like some too, Sosu?
Saag moves over to the tea service.
Ettil: Thank you.
Bethida decides to experiment: she'll take one sip, or maybe two, and if she begins to feel drowsy or odd, she'll know something shady is going on.
Crynwyr is encouraged by this courage, but says nothing.
Saag offers a cup to Ettil and sips his own.
Bethida blows on her cup to cool it off, and takes a tiny sip.
Bethida: It's a little bitter...
Crynwyr: I think it what you call rose-hip tea only with more zip.
Bethida: I'm afraid I didn't quite catch your name. What should I address you as?
Crynwyr: Oh. Call me by title, which is Hajene, or by name, which is Crynwyr. Either will do, either will do.
Bethida: Hajene, I... I would like to see my son. Surely there must be some way you can... prove to me that he's really here.
Crynwyr: Prove it? How not really here? He turned Sime, was brought here, where else would he go?
Bethida takes her second sip of tea.
Crynwyr zlins more closely to see if he can guess Bethida's mind.
Bethida: Well, I... I mean, really, now. There... could be anyone in that room you named, or no one at all.
Crynwyr: Ah. You think we liars. No, not so. Simes do not lie, nor Gens in Sime Territory, because every Sime know at once.
Crynwyr is not offended at all.
Bethida is quite aware that if Naoyu had ever suspected he was turning Sime, and voiced those suspicions to anyone in the household, the outcome would have undoubtably been fatal to him, however. So it's still quite probable that he might have bolted from the house at first suspicion.
Bethida: Yes, but... as you well know, a Gen can only guess when a Sime is lying to them.
Crynwyr: I see you have reduced fear quite nicely, however, between you and me and the wall, suspicion is also unpleasant to zlin. So try to have calm confidence. Much better all around.
Bethida has been trying to look for all the things she takes to be standard indicators of honesty, but his body language is quite odd, and not at all what she's used to reading.
Crynwyr: I suppose I could bring you shirt he was wearing, like hound sniffing shoe, if that helps?
Bethida: Well... yes. If you would, please let me see it.
Crynwyr: Okay okay.
Crynwyr walks off to Treatment Room 1 to retrieve what's left of Naoyu's shirt.
Bethida is still feeling jumpy and ~~ nervous ~~ every time he moves too much, and she finds she doesn't like to look at him much when he's still, either. It reminds her far too much of a cat's predatory stillness right before lunging themselves at a mouse.
Ettil: Saag, shall I help you off with your retainers?
Saag: Uh, if you think it's all right. Uh, Madam Bethida, you know I'm Sime, don't you?
Saag drops hypoconscious.
Ettil is fortunately close enough to Saag to buffer Bethida's reaction.
Bethida: I... had guessed as much, yes...
Bethida's voice is flat, but ~~ fear ~~ does spike again in her nager.
Ettil: It isn't healthy for a Sime to wear retainers for long.
Bethida glances around the room anxiously, wondering whether Crynwyr is coming back. She puts down her cup of tea, although she hasn't felt any strange effects from it yet.
Ettil reaches out to open the catches.
Saag offers his arms, keeping Ettil between himself and Bethida.
Bethida looks the other way. She figures that if Saag decides he wants to go after her, it won't make any difference whether or not she sees it coming -- she won't be able to escape anyway.
Ettil works the offending manacles off her charge's arms.
Saag turns his back on Bethida before stretching and flexing the kinks out of his tentacles.
Saag: Yes. Thank you, Sosu.
Bethida chances another look back at him. ~~ fear ~~
Saag picks up his tea cup with his fingers and sips.
Bethida wonders just when Crynwyr plans on coming back.
Crynwyr returns, carrying the torn, bloody, and goop-covered shirt that Naoyu was wearing.
Crynwyr: Ma'am, I have returned.
Bethida stares at the shirt. ~~ shock and horror ~~ She can't deny that it does, indeed, look just like the one Naoyu was wearing when she last saw him yesterday.
Crynwyr winces as the ~~ shock and horror ~~ ripple through him. Alas, his Donor is asleep upstairs.
Bethida: W-why in the world is it like that? The, the... it's covered in blood!
Crynwyr: Umm, yes, blood, but mostly ronaplin, umm, tentacle goop, with little blood mixed in. Danger of exsanguination zero, I assure you! Your Naoyu -- he is yours, yes? -- completely safe and healthy Sime now, without doubt.
Bethida's feelings of ~~ shock ~~ have dissipated a little to be replaced by profound ~~ sorrow ~~. She tries not to cry.
Crynwyr: Ah, sympathy. You fear will never see son again, I comprehend. But need not be so. Tears good, remove stress chemicals from body, so go ahead and have them.
Bethida's shoulders tremble, and she sniffles into her handkerchief. It's not so much the idea of never seeing him again, it's the idea of seeing him as... as something she still can't think of as human.
Saag: You can visit your son in Nivet, or he can come back here for a visit like I did, to attend my sister's wedding.
Crynwyr patiently waits for the crying to end.
Bethida: It's... it's not that! I don't -- I can't -- he's not human any more! He's not like me! ~~ despair ~~
Crynwyr: Not like, no, but still human. We all humans on this planet. Men and women not like either, after all.
Bethida: Yes, yes, but... men and women managed to get along quite well since Ancient times without one trying to kill off the other, didn't they?
Crynwyr: Hmm, not sure. Have had to dodge fry pan or two from infuriated female in my day. But seriously, the Kill something that should never have happened. Gens fear, Simes kill. Gens not fear, Simes not kill. That simple.
Bethida: It's not just that. Men and women... need to be together in order to continue the species, and, and, if nothing goes very wrong, they like being together! They don't need to be trained into it. How can we not fear?
Crynwyr: When grow up with Sime parents, friends, neighbors, not a big dealie.
Bethida tries to imagine that, and finds it somewhat beyond her capability.
Bethida: I... if what you're saying is true, I just don't think I could bear to see him. Perhaps... it's better that way. ~~ despair, sorrow ~~
Bethida cries into her handkerchief.
Ettil: Really, it's a lot simpler than it sounds, if everybody is willing to work at it.
Crynwyr: Okay, not compulsory certainly. But Sosu right, nothing venture, nothing game.
Bethida can't help the terrible thought that she wished Naoyu had told her, that he would be better off dead than Sime.
Bethida: What will happen to him now?
Ettil: He'll stay here until arrangements can be made to send him to a First Year camp.
Saag tries not to feel ~~ depressed ~~ at Bethida's attitudes and sips his tea.
Crynwyr: Just so. Then he learn Sime language, Sime Territory customs, how to keep himself safe. Also find out about jobs, taxes, and other adult necessitarities.
Crynwyr: So tell now, sure you don't want to see, say goodbye now? Important for child, I think, know he is not unloved.
Bethida: I... I'm sure he knows his mother loves him. I...
Saag thinks: yeah, his mother loves him and wishes he were dead instead of Sime.
Crynwyr: Yes, certainly, you know your parents loved you, but what would you give to hear said now?
Bethida: But, but... I want to remember him as he was. I feel like... have you ever known someone who died, and wished you hadn't seen them when they were ill, because you would rather remember them as they were when they were healthy?
Bethida isn't entirely aware of just how offensive that statement's implications are.
Bethida: Maybe. Just give me a little bit of time to decide...
Crynwyr: Naturally. Always possible to change mind, at least when not dead. And neither of you dying today, ha!
Bethida admits, grudgingly, that this is true.
Bethida: I'll... have my coachman drive me back home for now, if that's all right with you.
Crynwyr: Certainly. Best to go home, cry, think, cry more, see what your feelings say. And come back if and when, eh?
Bethida nods, and wipes her eyes with her handkerchief.