Irvinca nibbles on a piece of carrot and checks out the two women guests gobbling up the Gen-sized portions on the other side of the table.
Portia is trying hard to focus on the ~~ positive ~~, although she hadn't visualized such a traumatic entrance to Simeland.
Irvinca surreptitiously zlogles the milk-swollen breasts of the one with the baby. You'd never see tits like that on a Sime.
Dilena remains ~~ hopeful ~~ that everything will be all right if just she can force herself to keep donating.
Irvinca promised his mother that he'd eat twice a day while on the road, a promise he doesn't regret at the moment.
Ursal, a male pre-anything, carries another plate of food from the kitchen and puts it on what he hopes is the right table.
Ursal: [to Irvinca] If you want anything else, just holla.
Ursal heads back to the kitchen.
Irvinca eyes the plate of boiled potatoes. If it's any more of that he's not going to ask for it.
Portia looks around at the other guests.
Dilena digs into the potatoes: she's not proud, and anyhow, she needs to eat enough for Luanna, who's fortunately asleep.
Portia: Dilena, they look... well, not normal, but at least human. Mostly.
Dilena: Sure. Just think of the tentacles as, oh, I don't know, some kind of different hair style or skin color or something. No big deal.
Portia: We'll be able to live here, I think. Or at least someplace similar, a bit farther from our husbands.
Portia is not completely convinced that tentacles are "no big deal", but figures she can deal with that when the time comes.
Irvinca, who understands English quite well, wraps a tentacle around the circumference of a cucumber slice, holds it up to examine it carefully, then pops it in his mouth, zlinning for reaction from the two newbies.
Portia looks away, not being in any hurry to further her acquaintance with tentacles tonight.
Irvinca is amused by the reaction and thinks about how he can creep the Gen out. "At least human, mostly", indeed.
Portia: We'll start looking for a place tomorrow.
Ursal brings out a big jug of water and sits it on the table.
Ursal: Ya want that I can take ya empty plates now?
Irvinca: Yeah, sure. And how about some trin?
Ursal turns to the Sime.
Ursal: Trin, right.
Ursal hurries back to the kitchen.
Irvinca: Would you like me to pour you some water, ladies?
Irvinca purposely speaks Simelan.
Portia looks at Irvinca ~~ blankly ~~.
Portia: Excuse me?
Dilena: He's offering something, but I don't know what.
Dilena is pretty good at intuiting things from tone. She shakes her head firmly.
Portia decides to reinforce the effort.
Portia: No thank you, but we could use some water from that pitcher in front of you.
Irvinca points at the jug, the women's glasses, then makes "pick up the glass and drink from it" motions, using his tentacles ostentatiously.
Dilena laughs in spite of herself.
Dilena: Looks like you two are in violent agreement.
Dilena pushes her glass forward.
Irvinca picks up the jug with a few tentacles, the glass with another, and does a silly Sime trick involving tossing the water out and catching it in the glass in mid-fall without spilling a drop.
Portia feels ~~ queasy ~~ watching it.
Irvinca pats his stomach and makes retching motions, then points to Portia.
Portia: Oh, dear, Dilena, he's sick. Don't touch that glass; we don't want to catch whatever it is.
Irvinca smiles broadly at Portia, and makes rocking-the-baby motions.
Ursal returns with a large pot of trin, and three mugs, and puts them all on the table.
Ursal: There you go. [turns to the ladies] Are you ladies looking for a place to rent? Because my aunty, she rents rooms for ladies.
Portia looks at Dilena, then shakes her head.
Portia: I don't think we'll be staying here.
Dilena: No, thank you, not right now. We want to go a little further away from the Border.
Ursal: No? Oh, okay then.
Ursal returns to the kitchen.
Dilena: Pooh. He's not sick, he's faking it.
Dilena defiantly drinks the water, which does taste a little funny.
Portia: Oh. So he's just playing games.
Portia ~~ disapproves ~~.
Irvinca would roll his eyes, but that would let on that he's bilingual.
Dilena: Why not? What else is there to do? You remember what happened when that traveling salesman came to town ...
Dilena blushes at the memory.
Portia: He was cute, you have to admit.
Irvinca hopes to hear more. He's a travelling salesman himself, and knows from experience that the stories are far better than the rather boring reality.
Marques enters and looks for either a table with a spare chair, or some host to greet him.
Dilena: Of course he was. But that Loomis girl ....
Portia: She was a fool. And not for the first time, either.
Dilena: Of course she was.
Marques zlins an interesting mix of fields and looks with interest in that direction.
Irvinca knows better than to act in ways that will keep him from returning for repeat sales. His boss would murder him.
Portia: No man is worth the sort of trouble she courted.
Dilena: But now, we're the travelers, even if we're not salesmen.
Marques, realizing that no one is going to be coming to seat him, heads over to that table.
Marques: Greetings and salutations, may I join you?
Marques is a tall and good looking Sime male.
Dilena: H-hello. We're guests here ourselves.
Dilena indicates Portia and herself.
Marques smiles at the two Gens and sits down.
Marques: Where are you ladies travelling from?
Marques: Really? That must be a town in Gen Territory, I've not heard of it.
Dilena: That's a joke.
Marques: Oh, I see.
Marques takes the spare mug and indicates the trin tea pot with a tentacle.
Marques: May I?
Marques nods a greeting to the other Sime at the table.
Portia looks away from the tentacle.
Portia: Help yourself.
Marques takes the pot and pours himself a mug, puts down the pot and pulls the mugs towards him, all with a combination of hands and tentacles.
Portia's high field makes her ~~ discomfort ~~ at the sight plain to zlin.
Marques clears his throat, unaccustomed to Gens who don't have the manners to control themselves in public.
Dilena: Let's just say we had a bad time there and don't want to be reminded of it.
Marques: No problem! No problem ma'am, didn't mean to pry.
Marques sips his trin.
Marques attempts to start a conversation with the other Sime at the table.
Marques: So friend, how about you? I'm on my way north, myself, to the festival of lights.
Marques wishes someone would come and take his order, he had transfer only days ago and he is hungry.
Ursal hurries over to the table.
Ursal: Sorry sir, I did not hear you come in.
Marques places an order and Ursal hurries off.
Portia: What's south of here?
Portia is ~~ determined ~~ to get herself, Dilena, and the baby settled as soon as possible.
Marques: South? Well, next you have the town of Neskel, nothing special. But if you keep going for another two days you will hit Woolengaba, it's a pretty big city.
Portia: Is there a train station there?
Marques: Yes, there is a station at Neskel.
Portia loses interest in Neskel.
Portia: What about east?
Marques: East? Let me think. Well Cooperoo, but you don't want to go there, they grow sugar cane and the place smells when they burn it. Bli bli is nice, there are two lakes (each called Bli).
Portia: Coop-roo? Blee-blee?
Dilena: It's Simeland, dear. The names are going to be ... strange.
Marques: Cooroy, Nambour, Matteranka. Woggawogga - that means "many crows".
Dilena shakes her head rapidly in ~~ confusion ~~, which causes Luanna to wake up and howl.
Irvinca enjoyed teasing the new immigrants with his faked incomprehension of English, but he thinks it's cruel to bullshit the women with all this imaginary geography, since they seem to believe it.
Portia: Oh, the poor thing.
Portia leans over Luanna and coos, hoping to buy enough time for Dilena to finish eating.
Marques: Oh! You have a baby! How.... sweet.
Marques hopes it doesn't throw up everywhere - or worse.
Dilena: Her name is Luanna and she's very sweet.
Luanna goes right on howling, indifferent to all the attention.
Ursal returns with Marques's food and plonks it on the table and runs back to the kitchen.
Marques: Hey! This isn't what I ordered!
Marques examines the food and decides to eat it anyway.
Hoyah comes out of the kitchen, hands on her hips.
Marques looks at the howling baby and wiggles his tentacles at it.
Marques: Coochi, coochi, cooo!
Portia's eyes widen as Luanna grabs a tentacle and starts to chew on it.
Hoyah: Oh, for... Did the shenning kid mess it up again?
Marques: Oh! Umm, he he, that -- tickles
Marques tries unsuccessfully to reclaim his tentacle.
Irvinca can't stand screaming kids. He gulps his trin, stands, waves goodbye at the distracted group and takes off.
Brant: Hey, I got the wrong meal over here.
Brant decides to go eat somewhere else.
Dilena looks about ~~ ashamed ~~ as the room clears out rapidly.
Dilena: Oh, hush, Luanna!
Marques wishes the kid would stop gumming his tentacle.
Luanna, startled by her mother's tone, actually stops for a moment before howling louder than ever.
Portia: Here, Dilena. I'll take her. You eat. you need your strength.
Marques takes the opportunity to snatch back his tentacle, augmenting slightly to get it back.
Dilena hands over the kid and applies herself to the potatoes, ~~ trying not to notice ~~ how fast the Sime's tentacle disappeared.
Portia discovers an acute diaper situation.
Dilena eats on grimly, having developed a cast-iron stomach where baby poop is involved.
Marques can't eat, the smell is overpowering. He quickly pulls a wad of cash out of his pocket, slaps some onto the table and leaves.
Marques: Nice meeting you folks!
Portia looks around the empty room.
Portia: Oh, dear. It looks like we're bad for business.
Dilena: Yes, well, we've already paid. And we have to wash all these dishes.
Dilena indicates all the plates, cups, mugs, pitchers, forks, spoons ....
Portia: Well, it's better than what we left behind us. Anything would be better than that.
Dilena: Indeed. And after the dishes are done, no attentions to fend off. Just sleep, blessed sleep.
Portia reaches out a hand to squeeze Dilena's.
Portia: Never again. They will never have power over us again.
Dilena goes for the full-scale hug, careful not to squash Luanna.
Dilena begins to clear up the dishes and carry them toward the kitchen.