Katsura comes back to the quarters she shares with her Companion after an interesting time at the pediatric clinic assisting the staff with some difficult diagnoses.
Nick is neither out playing in his vegetable patch nor napping, strangely enough. Instead he's standing at the window, staring out, deep in ~~ thought ~~. Or maybe just ~~ in a funk~~.
Katsura was about to ask if there were any more early greens from his garden, like the delicious arugula he brought home yesterday, but is brought up short by zlinning his mood.
Katsura: What's wrong, Nick?
Nick: Jaklin came by while you were out.
Katsura: What did she say?
Katsura is quite concerned -- it takes a lot more to bring Nick's mood down these days than before he pledged to Sat'htine.
Nick: Seruffin and Gerrhonot have run into trouble out at Coleman's mine.
Nick: They seem to have gained the confidence of the miners.
Nick strangely enough doesn't seem to zlin as if he thinks this is a good thing.
Katsura nods nods, puzzled.
Nick: He's going to start a war, if he keeps meddling like that. And I'm not sure whether that will be a good thing.
Nick also zlins genuinely ~~ conflicted ~~ about the issue.
Katsura doesn't understand how starting a war can ever be a good thing.
Katsura: I thought he was out there looking for Distect activity. What kind of meddling has he been doing?
Nick: He's been doing what channels do, I expect. Healing the injured. Taking care of the occasional changeover. Taking donations from those who want to give them. He might as well have burned down the mine offices, or kidnapped the owner's children.
Katsura's total confusion is apparent on her face.
Katsura: I don't understand.
Nick: He's challenging Coleman's control over the miners. And he apparently doesn't understand how either party will respond to that.
Katsura: So Jaklin wanted your advice about the situation there again?
Nick: No. She wants me to go out there and keep things from getting out of hand.
Katsura: But they want to arrest you there!
Nick: She can provide diplomatic immunity.
Katsura: But they could cause you a lot of trouble despite it.
Katsura doubts that these backwoods yokels would even understand what diplomatic immunity is.
Nick: They could. They probably would. But if I don't go... Seruffin might not be able to prevent a lot of people from getting hurt.
Nick proves that Jaklin knows his biggest weakness: his sense of ~~ responsibility ~~.
Katsura has just as much of that, but in her it's less of a weakness. Or is it?
Katsura: I'll go with you.
Katsura refrains from saying "to protect you".
Nick: Kat... This could get ugly.
Katsura: The more reason that you should have another Sime at your back.
Katsura says that instead of "standing between you and the danger".
Nick ~~ considers ~~.
Nick: I don't want to get you trapped far out-Territory again. That was too hard on you.
Katsura: We'll have an experienced Sime diplomat to keep us out of that kind of trouble. Besides, you always do a very good job of looking after me, even in the worst situations.
Nick: That doesn't keep me from wanting you not to get into those situations in the first place.
Katsura is trying to look determined and positive, but inside she's shaking a little. She doesn't want trouble, but she wants trouble for her Companion even less.
Nick: Kat, the last time I was at Coleman's mine, I escaped by sheer luck. I left behind a lot of people who were depending on me. I have a responsibility to help them, if I can. But it's not your responsibility.
Nick is more used to assuming his channel's personal responsibilities then in having his channel take on his.
Katsura: You're not just one single person alone any more, Nick. You're a Householder. Everything you do involves the House. I'm your naztehr, and we're responsible for each other.
Nick's lips quirk up in a small smile.
Katsura: And of course, it's really up to Sectuib.
Nick: Jaklin's already gotten Hiram's permission for us to go, but only if we agree.
Katsura: Good. If you're determined to go, I'm going with you. Sectuib probably considers it part of his campaign to expose me to all kinds of new and difficult situations to develop my potential as our next Sectuib.
Nick shakes his head.
Nick: Well, this situation will develop something. I just hope it doesn't develop into an all-out war.
Katsura hopes there won't be any shooting. She's really uncomfortable with the idea of Gen firearms.
Katsura: It sounds like it qualifies as "new and difficult", so it's my duty to expose myself to it, right?
Nick: Difficult, certainly. Both sides have both good reason and the ability to tear each other apart. Through us, if necessary.
Katsura: Between Seruffin's diplomatic expertise and your experience with these people things can be worked out, right? It sounds like Jaklin thinks so.
Katsura is determined to be optimistic.
Nick: I hope so. But I'm not sure Seruffin knows what he's doing.
Nick doesn't like lacking confidence in Seruffin's ability to handle a diplomatic situation.
Katsura: Maybe Jaklin doesn't understand the situation there and things aren't as dire as she thinks.
Nick: That would be a relief.
Katsura: I don't think she has much experience with Gen Territories except through formal channels.
Nick: Coleman's outfit is definitely not formal channels. They're so isolated, the company is pretty much its own law.
Katsura, despite her recent experiences out-T, still subconsciously believes that there isn't much four First Order selyn workers can't manage together.
Nick: Coleman doesn't like challenges to his authority. And he couldn't have spent five minutes talking with Seruffin and not figure out that his authority was in danger.
Katsura: I don't see how or why Seruffin is challenging Coleman's authority. Is he protecting a Distect community or something? I suppose Simes would be better miners than Gens, and he could be more or less blackmailing them into working for him....
Nick: No. At least, there were no Simes in the mines when I worked there. Seruffin's challenge is more basic than that. He offers the miners an alternative. If they choose to take advantage of that, they can make life very hard for Coleman.
Katsura: You mean money from donating? But that's only while he's there, unless they get a Sime Center.
Nick: A month or two could be all it would take.
Nick: That's enough money for a family with several adults to buy its freedom.
Katsura: Buy freedom? You mean buy out some kind of indenture?
Katsura is quite familiar with indentures. Before Unity some Simes bought children from other Simes -- those that established paid for their rearing as Choice Kills, and those that changed over worked off an indenture, often for the rest of their short lives.
Nick: Coleman doesn't own his workers. Not quite. But he sets the wages. And the rent on the only housing available. And the only place to buy supplies within two day's travel. There isn't a miner there who doesn't owe the company store, and most are in debt for their housing as well. It's illegal to walk away from a debt in Gen Territory.
Katsura: Why does anybody want to work there?
Nick: At first? The recruiter tells them the wages -- which are good -- but not the expenses, which are higher than many other places. By the time they learn the situation, they can't leave without committing a crime. Some of the families there have been in debt for generations.
Katsura shakes her head.
Katsura: That's awful. They must hate him.
Nick: They actually respect him. Most would be happy to work out their lives there. But they don't like not having a choice, and knowing that their children won't have any choice at a different life, either.
Katsura: And if they pay off their debts and leave, Coleman will have to find other people to trick into his trap?
Nick: Yes. And if enough leave at any one time, he'll have to slow or stop work until new people can be found and trained. That will cost him a lot.
Katsura: I wonder why Jaklin doesn't just call Seruffin back home. No channel can refuse to take a donation when a Gen offers.
Katsura, instead of sympathizing entirely with the Gen miners, is starting to show some of the hardheadedness a Sectuib requires.
Nick: Either the situation is at the point where taking Seruffin out will make things even worse, or he's found something important enough to stay regardless.
Katsura: I suppose Jaklin will give us a more complete briefing once she knows we've decided to go.
Nick: Yes. She wanted our answer tomorrow.
Katsura: Well, I'll go if you're going.
Katsura reaches out to stroke Nick's forearm.
Nick reaches out to take Kat's hand.
Katsura wraps her tentacles gently around his arm.
Nick: I wish you weren't going into danger... but I'm glad you'll be with me.