On the Run: Episode 4

Pansy is knitting the second of a pair of white socks with a helical pattern of red stripes for her little grandson. It's hard to do the clockwise spiral after doing the other sock counterclockwise.

Pansy is a Third Order channel who was identified as such at the time of Unity, some years after her changeover. She works a few months a year at a sleepy little border crossing to bring in some hard currency for her Householding, and get a break from her naztehrhai, especially the little kids who all love her and the gaudy socks she knits for them.

Portia points out the building that has come into view as they walked around a curve.

Portia: See, Dilena? We've made it safely to the border crossing. Our husbands can't possibly catch us and separate us now.

Dilena sighs with ~~ relief ~~.

Dilena: It's so good to be here with you at last. When you knocked on my window with that pole last night, I never thought we'd actually make it here.

Portia: The Simes won't let Herb drag you back.

Dilena: Thank heavens! I really don't think I could bear another day of it.

Dilena is carrying a six-month-old infant strapped to her back, along with the usual baby supplies.

Portia is pushing a gardener's wheelbarrow, stacked with both their possessions.

Portia: You'll see. Life will be much better when it's just the two of us. And the baby, of course.

Dilena: And I don't want Luanna growing up in his household, either.

Portia: Of course you don't. I do wish we could have brought my stepson, too, but I couldn't have tolerated staying with Orfin until he came back from school for the holidays.

Dilena: Believe me, I understand! I know that's hard on you, though -- you loved that boy like he was your own. Of course, Luanna will be your own!

Dilena smiles.

Portia smiles back and reaches to squeeze Dilena's hand.

Portia: At least boys have it easier. Not so many restrictions. Sevent will have the chance to make his own way. And so will Luanna, safe in Simeland.

Pansy zlins two Gen women approaching, but Zilfred the border guard isn't at his post. He must be chatting up the mail delivery woman up at the other gate again.

Dilena: Well, this is it, huh? Goodbye to all that.

Portia: Yes. Hello, new life.

Portia is looking forward to being in charge of her life, rather than at the mercy of a husband who thinks he should dictate her friends and activities. She strides forward with renewed ~~ enthusiasm ~~.

Pansy still doesn't zlin Zilfred, so goes out on the porch herself.

Pansy: Hello, ladies! Welcome to Nivet!

Pansy speaks clear but accented Genlan.

Portia: Thank you. Do you work for the government?

Pansy: Yes, I do. I'm Hajene Pansy ambrov Peebl, the channel here.

Dilena looks at Portia, trying to signal "Can you take care of this?" with her eyes.

Portia is ~~ relieved ~~ to have located an official so soon, as she suspects that her husband will be close on their heels, even if Dilena's isn't.

Dilena is ~~ nervous ~~, never having met an official of any kind before, except for Hank the mayor, who hardly counts.

Portia: You have no idea how glad we are to see you, Hajene Pansy. Could you tell us where to apply for asylum?

Pansy: Asylum? Please, come in and have some tea, and we'll talk.

Pansy doesn't know what they want. Isn't an asylum where they keep insane people?

Dilena feels a bit better at the mention of tea.

Pansy opens the door wider and gestures the women in.

Portia pushes the barrow inside, not wanting to leave it where it might give away their location to a casual passer by.

Pansy: Not on the carpet please. Just leave it here by the door.

Portia: It will be safe there?

Pansy: Of course.

Portia has tucked her jewelry into the bottom layer, the better to fund their new life.

Pansy: Here, have a seat. I'll make the tea.

Portia: Thank you.

Dilena takes off the sling and puts it in the wheelbarrow, transferring Luanna to her arms.

Portia sits on the couch, leaving room for Dilena.

Dilena snuggles up next to her and giggles.

Pansy pours boiling water from the kettle into the teapot. She'd already added the leaves when she went out to meet the Gens. She puts pot and mugs on a tray and carries it over to the chairs.

Pansy: Here we go. Just let it steep a little.

Pansy sits facing the two women.

Pansy: What a cute little girl.

Dilena smiles.

Dilena: Thank you. She's six months old.

Pansy: Well grown and healthy.

Pansy can zlin that much, with her extensive personal experience with babies.

Dilena: Oh yes. Her name is Luanna, after my aunt. Oh, my name's Dilena, and, and ...

Dilena runs out of steam.

Pansy pours tea and offers it around.

Pansy: Now, you do know that if you want to visit Nivet you have to let us take your field down first. Donating selyn, it's called. Of course, you get paid for it, too.

Portia: I'm Portia. How much does it pay? I've heard it's almost enough to live on?

Pansy: Well, you could live on it, at a very basic level. But it's a nice bonus for travelers visiting us.

Dilena: [blurted] Oh, we aren't just visiting!

Portia: We're not travelers. We want to live in Simeland, under the protection of your government.

Dilena: Protection, yes. We need protection from our husbands -- and prejudice, too.

Pansy: Immigrants, then. Well, that shouldn't be a problem. You'll have to talk to an immigration officer in town, to get all the paperwork sorted out, though. But young, healthy Gens are always welcome, as long as they aren't criminals or anything.

Portia: We're not, here. Or at least, that's what I understand.

Dilena nods.

Dilena: We won't cause any trouble. We just want to live together with Luanna and mind our own business.

Portia: And not be dragged apart, or have Luanna taken away from us, just because people don't like what we are.

Pansy: You're criminals in Genland? What did you do?

Portia: Nothing that ought to be a crime. ~~ defensive ~~

Pansy scratches her head with a few tentacles.

Pansy: Let me think... there are things illegal over there but not here... and vice versa, of course.

Dilena: Is it true what I've heard that on this side of the border, if you live together, that makes you married?

Portia reaches for Dilena's hand again.

Dilena clasps Portia's hand, ~~ proud ~~ to be able to do so in public.

Pansy: More or less. Some people have ceremonies or parties or whatever, to make it clear to everybody.

Dilena: Well then, we're married now. To each other, I mean. I mean, if you let us in.

Dilena is going out on a limb here, and looks at Portia ~~ uncertainly ~~, hoping for confirmation.

Portia: There wouldn't be much point in throwing a party, since we don't know anybody here.

Dilena laughs in ~~ relief ~~.

Dilena: I guess not!

Pansy: It's really got nothing to do with me, or the rest of the government, either. I mean, if you want to call yourself married, that's up to you. If there's a lot of property involved, people sometimes get a lawyer to write up who gets what if they break up, I understand.

Pansy, as a Householder of a not-very-prosperous House, isn't very knowledgeable about such things.

Dilena: Oh, good. But the main point, I guess, is who we are not married to. Any more.

Portia: Yes. And who therefore doesn't have a husband's right to dictate our lives.

Portia: Or a right to our daughter.

Pansy shrugs.

Pansy: You're adults. It's up to you who you want to live with or listen to. Of course a mother has to see that her children are properly cared for.

Dilena: Trust me for that. ~~ confidence ~~ Portia's a good mother too, even if she had to leave her stepson behind. We'll be fine.

Pansy wonders what will happen to the boy if he starts to change over, but she can't worry about every child out-T, all at the same risk.

Dilena: That is, unless ... ~~ uncertain again ~~

Portia: What is it, Dilena?

Dilena: Unless, I mean, what happens if Herb, I mean, he could cross the border and ...

Portia: I don't think he would, dear.

Portia is more ~~ hopeful ~~ than ~~ confident ~~.

Dilena: Well, could he get a lawyer and try to get her back?

Dilena addresses this question impartially to Portia, Pansy, and God.

Portia: Surely the Sime government wouldn't take an infant from her mother on the say-so of a man who doesn't even live here?

Portia ~~appeals ~~ to Pansy.

Pansy: It's up to the mother to decide where the child lives, as long as it's well cared for. After all, it's usually a lot clearer who the mother is than who the father is.

Dilena laughs.

Dilena: Unfortunately it's all too clear who Luanna's father is.

Pansy: Now, it does work the other way too -- you can't demand that a man help you support a child if he doesn't agree that it's his.

Portia: We're not likely to have that problem.

Dilena: I wouldn't want his money anyway. The price was way too high.

Pansy: Well, you're both young. You may change your minds. And you don't have to have much to do with men if all you want from them is children.

Portia: As long as they're willing to go away afterwards, anyway.

Dilena: At this point, any amount is too much. ~~ sincere ~~

Pansy reminds herself that despite being a channel and a grandmother, she really shouldn't be sticking her nose this far into these women's business.

Pansy: Well, I'll give you some booklets about life in Nivet, advice about differences in customs and how to behave properly around Simes and such, as well as this booklet about donation, and then I'll take your donations and turn you over to Zilfred, who will do a customs check.

Pansy can zlin that Zilfred is back at his post, and he zlins rather smug.

Dilena: Okay, but I'll read them later. I'm ~~ committed ~~.

Portia smiles at Dilena.

Portia: Will it take long? We are in a hurry.

Pansy: Only a few minutes each, but I do have to fill out some forms for you. Who wants to go first?

Dilena: I will, if that's okay with you?

Pansy is glad that the two Gens don't seem nervous about Simes. She's only a few days past transfer, and her Donor has a bad hangover. She sent him home rather than zlin him, and his replacement hasn't arrived yet.

Pansy: All right. Just follow me into the donation room...

Pansy gets up and leads the way to the insulated cubicle.

Portia: I'll take Luanna.

Portia holds out her arms for the baby.

Dilena hands her over with ~~ trepidation ~~, but not for Luanna's well-being.

Portia takes the baby with a ~~ fierce, protective pride ~~ and cradles her.

Dilena follows the channel into the donation room.

Pansy: Now just have a seat here, dear, and I'll ask you a lot of boring questions.

Dilena sits down, her thoughts looking forward ~~ eagerly ~~ to her new life with Portia.

Pansy quickly works through the short form, intended mostly to identify immediate difficulties with donation. If the woman stays in Nivet, the next channel can do the long form with her.

Pansy: Now we'll move over here...

Pansy sits on the transfer lounge and gestures to where the donor should sit.

Dilena gets up her ~~ courage ~~ and obeys.

Pansy: Donation is very simple, dear, and you won't feel anything in particular when I take your donation. All you have to do is relax as well as you can. First I'll take your hands in mine.

Pansy offers her hands.

Dilena takes the proffered hands, a bit ~~ surprised ~~ at how warm and pleasant they feel.

Pansy: That's good. Now I'll slide my hands up to your wrists... extend my handling tentacles...

Dilena is ~~ uncertain ~~ once again but attempts to cover it with renewed ~~ courage ~~.

Pansy: Good. Now I'll hold your arms with them snugly... extend my laterals... they're a little moist, and you may feel a slight tingling when I touch your skin... that's all right, now, isn't it?

Dilena sighs.

Dilena: I suppose so. Will it be like this every month?

Pansy: Yes. Although you'll make more money as you get accustomed to it.

Dilena: Oh. All right. I did feel it, but I don't mind.

Pansy: Now, we'll touch lips, I'll check your health, and draw your selyn. It won't take more than a minute or two. Ready?

Pansy bends forward and offers her lips.

Dilena touches her lips to Pansy's, and thinks how very different it is from kissing Portia ~~ happy memory ~~.

Pansy is pleased and relieved at the reaction and deep zlins the young woman. She's in very good health, well-nourished, but shows signs of recent stress, understandable if she's made a hard decision to immigrate.

Pansy begins a slow and careful draw from the GN-3 level.

Dilena feels nothing physical except an inexplicable ~~ fear ~~. She knows there's nothing to be afraid of... but she can hardly prevent herself from struggling.

Pansy often takes donations from fearful Gens. It's never as bad as the times just after Unity when the Gens, who would have otherwise been domestic Choice Kills, were convinced she intended to kill them. She continues the draw.

Dilena bursts into full-blown ~~ panic ~~, completely overriding her common sense and reason. She pulls her arms back as hard as she can, in the futile approach used by Wild Gens being killed since time immemorial.

Pansy has experienced this sort of thing before. She stops the draw, retracts her laterals and releases the woman's arms. She falls back, her selyn system shocked, and wishes her Donor were here, hangover and all.

Dilena sees the harmless grandmotherly woman who was only trying to help her fall back heavily into her side of the lounge, and experiences a rush of ~~ sympathy ~~ for her and ~~ shame ~~ for her uncontrollable panic reaction.

Pansy clutches her arms over her vriamic node and tries to control her gasping breaths.

Pansy: Oh my goodness.

Dilena: Are you all right? Can I help?

Dilena's ~~ shame ~~ gives way to ~~ guilt ~~ over hurting Pansy.

Pansy: My dear, I'll give you a letter that you must show to the next channel to take your donation or work on you in any way. Will you promise to do that?

Dilena: The n-next channel? How can there be a "next channel" after... that?

Pansy: It's easier to manage if it's expected, and the next channel will know to work with you a little more before taking your donation, so perhaps you won't panic like that again.

Dilena rubs her face with her hands.

Dilena: I don't... I don't think... I don't think I could face going through that again. Not even...

Pansy takes a deep breath and tries to settle her secondary system. She may be getting too old for such shocks.

Dilena becomes ~~ anxious ~~ at the very thought.

Pansy is glad she got the Gen's field down as far as she did.

Dilena: I don't think...

Dilena bursts into tears of ~~ worry ~~ and ~~ grief ~~ mixed with ~~ hysterics ~~.

Pansy: Now calm yourself, dear. Your emotions are hurting me.

Pansy decides to take some fosebine and rest a little before taking Portia's donation.

Dilena struggles to get her tears under control, but her emotions remain ~~ wild ~~.

Pansy: You're okay for a month, so you can either go back home and think over your decision to leave, or stay here in Nivet and see what happens next time.

Dilena: I'm sorry... I'm sorry... I should never...

Dilena gets up and flees the donation room.

Pansy is relieved, but still responsible. She gets up with some difficulty and follows.

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