Andhara reenters the Sime Center with a troubled frown and returns to the room where Bethida waits.
Andhara punctuates the greeting with a graceful tentacle gesture.
Bethida nearly jumps out of her seat at the tentacle gesture.
Bethida: Oh! ~~ fear and startlement ~~ I, I... oh, I'm sorry. You scared me.
Bethida tries to gather her thoughts.
Andhara hastily sheathes her tentacles.
Bethida: W-what's going on? Is something wrong?
Andhara: Ma'am, I'm sorry. I was sent to notify your coachman that you were ready to leave, but he took one look at me and left. In fear and haste.
Bethida: He left?? Well, that certainly is a fine way to behave for a man I'm paying to....
Bethida has to admit to herself privately that she isn't sure she wouldn't do the same.
Bethida: How in the world do I get home now?
Andhara: I'm sorry, ma'am. Our coachman is Gen, and he's asleep right now. It will take some time to wake him.
Bethida: Very well, then. If you would please go and do that...
Andhara: Yes, ma'am. Can I get you anything while you wait? Some tea? Biscuits from the kitchen?
Andhara shares the common Sime urge to feed and nurture a Gen.
Bethida is trying not to ~~ panic ~~ as her previous fears rise up again to haunt her. Her ankle hurts too much to make walking for any great distance a possibility.
Bethida: N-no, I have a cup of tea right here already.
Bethida indicates her barely-touched cup of trin tea.
Andhara: Then I will alert the coachman, and then go to prepare the carriage.
Andhara barely restrains herself from another graceful wave of a tentacle, as she ducks out of the room.
Bethida tries to settle herself again, looking around the room frantically. Perhaps she'll yet escape from here with a story of something really dreadful going on just under the surface. She starts to wonder if there was more than she was told to the matter of the coachman driving off.
Seruffin is taking a short break from what has turned out to be an unexpectedly busy night shift.
Bethida crosses over to the window and looks out, trying to see if she was told the truth after all. In novels, people always figure out so easily when the villains are up to no good. She rues her lack of any real heroine-like qualities.
Seruffin takes a short cut through the front of the building and zlins a Gen in distress.
Bethida is finding it hard to stand up for too long on her ankle, and limps back to her chair.
Seruffin briefly considers leaving the problem for somebody else, but he really is the channel in charge here until the morning shift comes on.
Bethida imagines that the pain may be attracting some stalking Sime to her right now, concealed behind doors or furniture.
Seruffin sighs and approaches the visitor.
Seruffin: Good evening, Ma'am.
Bethida jumps yet again, although her ~~ fear ~~ is tempered now with ~~ weary resignation ~~. She could almost wish for a bed to lie down on, though she doubts she'd feel safe enough to fall asleep in here.
Bethida: Good evening.
Seruffin: Do you require assistance? You seem distressed.
Bethida: No, I'm quite all right. I'm just waiting for the coachman. ~~ dishonesty ~~
Seruffin hasn't spent so long as a diplomat without learning about Gen customs regarding lying.
Seruffin: Are you sure? That ankle is hurting you, I can tell.
Bethida: Yes, it is. But once I get home, I'll wrap it up and put a bit of ice on it and it should be fine in a few days.
Seruffin: That's a long time to wait. Are you sure you wouldn't like me to take a look at it? If it's a simple sprain, it can be fixed almost as good as new tonight. I'm Hajene Seruffin.
Bethida: Now, sir, I hope you understand -- I'm not here to donate selyn. I can't do anything that would require it.
Bethida can't imagine that an offer of free healing would come without some kind of catch.
Seruffin: I can work on your ankle while you're high field, if you want.
Seruffin figures that Gerrhonot can shield him sufficiently.
Bethida tries to move it experimentally, and winces as the motion sends pain shooting through the joint.
Seruffin: Ouch. You don't want to be feeling that for days, do you?
Bethida definitely doesn't, but is trying to resist his efforts to entice her further.
Bethida: I only came because someone told me that my son was here. But when I arrived, they wouldn't allow me to see him.
Seruffin: Your son? What is his name?
Bethida: My son's name is Naoyu. But the... the man who was out here earlier told me I was too upset to see him.
Bethida has been mentally weighing the idea of what it would really mean to never see Naoyu again, and her realization that she, herself, can't bring herself to believe he is really Sime unless she sees it. Unless she can, she thinks, she may never stop wondering if both she and he have been pawns in some plot of the Senator's.
Seruffin: Your emotions are strong enough to distress a new Sime. Add your pain to that, carried on your high field, and you could hurt a new Sime.
Bethida: Isn't there something I can do? Can we... see each other through a window, or something like that, even if we can't be in the same room?
Seruffin: Naoyu is in a selyn-insulated room, resting. There's no window. And he's sleeping.
Bethida: I just won't feel comfortable unless I can see him, and know for sure that it's all true. I only know what I've been told...
Seruffin: Perhaps you could come back tomorrow, when he's awake?
Bethida decides she's not going to make any headway here -- the entire Center seems to be conspiring to find some way to stop her from seeing her son.
Bethida: I'll do that, I suppose. Thank you...
Bethida thinks that, since the coachman doesn't seem to be forthcoming, she might as well attempt a little investigation of her own, if her ankle will stand up to it.
Seruffin: You're welcome. If you change your mind about the ankle, let me know.
Bethida: Might you be able to direct me to a washroom, perhaps? I need to freshen up...
Bethida has been crying a lot, and doesn't look her best, so this part has some truth to it.
Seruffin: Of course. Right through there.
Seruffin points down a hall.
Bethida stands up and hobbles down the hallway, giving him an attempt at a grateful smile.
Seruffin heads in the other direction, hoping to get some paperwork done before he checks on his patients.
Bethida finishes washing her face, and then opens the door a little to see if Seruffin is gone yet. She sees that the coast seems to be clear, and looks quickly towards the lobby and then down the hall, to make sure no one is coming.
Pollovic is in one of the treatment rooms, with his tattered shirt off, resting. Now that his ribs have been taped up, he's breathing a bit more easily. Most of the chain that once attached him to Naoyu is still trailing from his ankle and across the floor, but he's too tired to fuss with it.
Bethida limps further down the hall, trying to remember what room Crynwyr told her Naoyu was in. Treatment Room One, wasn't it? She scans the signs on the doors.
Pollovic hears a noise in the hallway and raises his head to glance at the open doorway.
Bethida is starting to feel a bit more heroic now, despite the pain.
Bethida sees an open doorway -- she can't quite catch the number on the door. She hurries towards it, trying to see if she can catch a glimpse of whatever is inside these mysterious "treatment rooms."
Bethida looks through the doorway, and is extremely surprised to see what appears to be Senator Pollovic lying on a bed.
Bethida: S- Senator! I never expected to meet you here...
Bethida takes in the bruises, the bandaged chest, and the chain attached to his ankle, and quickly represses a shriek.
Pollovic is glad to see Naoyu's mother. If she's here to see her son, maybe things will go better for the boy than he'd expected. He attempts a smile, but his ribs give him a twinge and it comes out as more of a grimace.
Pollovic reaches out a hand.
Pollovic: Can you help me?
Bethida hobbles inside the door quickly and shuts it behind her.
Pollovic doesn't think he can sit up unassisted.
Bethida: Oh my! Oh dear! Senator, I- I didn't realize! I thought you were -- I didn't know they were doing this to you! Please tell me what I can do! If I can get out of here, I'll quickly let the newspapers know what they're doing to you!
Bethida is trying not to panic so much as to be absolutely useless in a crisis.
Pollovic's mind is moving a bit more slowly than usual.
Pollovic: No, no, I'm all right.
Pollovic's voice is slightly slurred from the effects of the painkiller Seruffin gave him.
Pollovic: Or, well, I'm not all right, but...
Bethida: But, but -- how can you possibly be when they've got you chained up here?
Bethida points accusingly at the chain attached to Pollovic's ankle, not noticing in her panic that the other end of it isn't secured to anything.
Pollovic winces as he tries once more to sit up.
Bethida runs over to his side.
Pollovic: No, no, that's nothing... I just...
Bethida: Quickly, just -- tell me who's involved, and I'll let everyone know!
Pollovic swallows against a throat gone dry, and coughs. His ribs object strenuously.
Pollovic: Water. Can you...?
Bethida: Oh... yes. Right away...
Bethida finds a pitcher of water, and fills a glass standing on the table next to his bed. She hopes desperately that the water isn't drugged, as she hands it to him.
Pollovic tries to drink without sitting up, but quickly decides it's a bad idea.
Pollovic: Help me... up?
Bethida somewhat clumsily supports him into a sitting position.
Pollovic drinks, and hands back the glass.
Pollovic: Much better. Thank you.
Bethida: Senator, what did they do to you? How did they get you into this condition? ~~ sympathy ~~ Did they chain you up because you didn't want to stay here?
Pollovic starts to laugh, then winces.
Pollovic: They didn't do anything. My own damn fault.
Pollovic realizes that not only is his neighbor seeing him with his shirt off and mud all over him, but she's just heard him swearing.
Pollovic: Um, sorry.
Bethida: No, no, it isn't your fault! ~~ confident ~~ There must be some reason why they didn't want you to leave.
Pollovic: Still waiting. For Pametta.
Bethida points again to the chain, which she still hasn't noticed is not actually attached to the bed or to anything else.
Pollovic is having trouble forming complete sentences.
Pollovic begins a shrug, but desists with another wince.
Pollovic: Did that to myself. I was a fool.
Bethida: Oh, please don't blame yourself, Senator.
Bethida notices his slurred speech and choppy sentences, and surmises that he must be drugged.
Pollovic is drifting back and forth between ~~ pain ~~ and the ~~ detached floating ~~ of the painkiller.
Pollovic: Didn' know... any better. Chained m'self.
Bethida is very ~~ confused ~~ as to why in the world Pollovic would chain himself up. She wonders if he means it in some metaphorical way.
Bethida: By... cooperating with the Tecton? You feel that you brought it on yourself?
Bethida wonders if there's an antidote to the drug they gave him, and wonders if she should risk looking for it.
Pollovic: Naoyu... wanted him to live.
Bethida is ~~ startled ~~ at the mention of Naoyu.
Pollovic realizes he isn't explaining himself very clearly.
Bethida: My son? What... what about him?
Pollovic: Brought him here. Thought I was safe.
Bethida just wants the names of the people who did this to him, so she can expose it to the press.
Bethida: But you weren't safe, were you...? ~~ compassion ~~
Pollovic: My own stupid fault.
Pollovic's mind is not at all on how this would sound if quoted to the press.
Seruffin pokes his head in to check on his patient just in time to hear this.
Bethida jumps and gasps as the door opens, backing into a corner. She's absolutely certain she's in for it now.
Seruffin: Indeed it was. You are shenned lucky you managed to make it here in time, before you got yourself killed.
Seruffin is using the aggravated tone of voice common to channels trying to protect Gens who refuse to act sensibly.
Pollovic flinches away from the channel, then winces again at the sudden movement.
Seruffin grits his teeth and goes hypoconscious for a moment, to regain his equilibrium.
Pollovic: Sorry. ~~ fear ~~ remorse ~~
Seruffin: What were you thinking?
Pollovic: Thought... Donated. Low-field. Thought I was safe.
Bethida is surprised that she hasn't been thrown out of the room, but realizes that as long as she stays, she may get some valuable information.
Seruffin: From any other Sime, you are. A berserker will go for the nearest source of selyn, whether or not it's sufficient.
Pollovic: Should've warned me.
Pollovic feels, even through the haze of drugs, a weak ~~ anger ~~ .
Seruffin: Most people don't need a special warning to tell them not to chain themselves to a berserker.
Pollovic: Rogers was worried. Did it so he'd feel safe. Didn't think...
Bethida can't help but stare at Senator Pollovic, rather dumbfounded even with her limited, largely fiction-informed knowledge of Simes. Was the man suicidal?
Seruffin: That he might actually know what he was talking about?
Pollovic: Didn't think Naoyu could hurt me. 'Cause I'd donated.
Pollovic finds his increasing ~~ anger ~~ is burning away some of the fog of the painkiller.
Pollovic: You should've warned me. Should've known local kids would see me as a safe house.
Bethida: ~~ shock ~~
Seruffin, who had allowed himself to zlin again, winces as both Gens project unpleasant things at him.
Bethida: I... I... oh, no. Senator, you're... ~~ dazed ~~ You can't be saying that... my son hurt you this badly.
Pollovic is also ~~ angry ~~ at himself. He should have realized kids would do that, and should have been properly prepared.
Bethida: He's only a boy! Even if he were a Sime, he...
Seruffin: No, Ma'am. The Senator was hurt when he fell off a horse.
Bethida flashes brief ~~ relief ~~ in her nager, which quickly shifts into ~~ concern ~~.
Seruffin turns back to Pollovic.
Seruffin: You have no children, Brenn. You never asked about how to handle changeovers. You have a large staff to handle problems. How was I to know you'd try something like this, without taking any precautions in case something went wrong?
Pollovic: I hadn't expected it. Should've, with my estate posted as Sime Territory. But once it happened, I wasn't going to let a kid die. ~~ anger ~~ defiance ~~
Bethida: Naoyu was... he was really with you, then? He was turning into a Sime, and you brought him here?
Pollovic stares at her, ~~ puzzled ~~ .
Pollovic: Thought you knew that.
Seruffin: I don't blame you for wanting to save a child who would otherwise kill or die. But it wouldn't have interfered with that if you'd had some way to keep him off of you if he went into breakout before you could get him here.
Pollovic frowns, thinking.
Bethida: I... I did, but I... I think I couldn't bring myself to believe it. Not quite. ~~resignation and sorrow ~~
Bethida believed it for a while after Crynwyr brought in his shirt, but had wanted to hold out hope beyond hope.
Pollovic: Should've chained him to the carriage, not to me.
Seruffin: That would have been more sensible.
Pollovic: Bethida, he's a good kid. He was trying as hard as he could, to control himself. But a Sime just... can't.
Pollovic turns to Seruffin.
Seruffin: A Sime newly through changeover can't. It takes time to learn control.
Pollovic: But if I had, he'd be dead now. He would have been stuck there, when the carriage broke down. And that man would have shot him.
Seruffin: Possibly. But is it a gain to trade your life for his?
Bethida feels like she really ought to thank Pollovic, but at the same time, the "better dead than Sime" philosophy she was raised with is still strong.
Pollovic flashes back to the moment he stepped in front of a gun for Naoyu.
Bethida tries to push down thoughts that a "good mother" would have somehow known it was happening, even without being told.
Pollovic: And for a principle. But... I'm not sure I could do it again. I can barely even look at your arms now. ~~ fear ~~
Pollovic: I think I've lost something. Lost the trust, the certainty. I don't know if I've been doing the right thing with my life or not. ~~ confusion ~~
Seruffin: You've had a close brush with death today. That tends to make one reconsider one's priorities.
Seruffin smiles ~~ wryly ~~.
Seruffin: Remind me to tell you about the time I got tangled with a lynch mob...
Pollovic is briefly lost in the memory of that hectic carriage ride. But it reminds him of something else.
Pollovic: Pametta? Did you find her?
Seruffin: I believe someone has gone to look for her.
Pollovic: Let me know as soon as she gets here. Better yet, bring her.
Bethida cries quietly in the corner, trying to keep her ~~ grief ~~ to herself as much as possible.
Pollovic manages a wry smile.
Pollovic: This is our wedding night, you know.
Seruffin smiles in return.
Seruffin: Think about it this way, if it helps: Your children, should you have some, will actually be willing to listen to you tell stories about your wedding. How many people can say that?
Pollovic laughs, then gasps as his ribs twinge again.
Pollovic: Ow. Tomorrow... er, this afternoon, we're supposed to be leaving on our honeymoon. Will I be fit to travel?
Seruffin: Possibly. Rest for a bit, and we'll see.
Pollovic nods, and with the channel's help, lies back down.
Bethida hasn't quite had a brush with death tonight, but is no longer quite sure of where her loyalties and priorities lie any more, either.
Pollovic: (muttering) Nivet. Simes. Back on the horse that threw me.
Seruffin turns to Bethida.
Seruffin: Would you like me to show you to someplace more comfortable where you can wait?
Bethida: Yes, please, if you could...
Bethida: Senator Pollovic, I... I'm so sorry my family has caused you trouble. I know you said he couldn't help it, but... I wish there was something I could do...
Bethida turns to follow Seruffin.
Pollovic: There is. Pametta... once I've seen her. take her home for me.
Bethida: All right. I'll do that...