Compromising Situations: Episode 15

Gritta tries to relax, sitting on a crate in the moving baggage car. She's got a headache, and the dust makes her sneeze. She's not quite motion sick, but she's pretty tired of all the shaking.

Del is ~~ bored ~~ with nothing to look at but the doors of the baggage car.

Gritta: So this is travelling. Maybe it's better on a soft seat with a window to look out of.

Gritta has never been on a train before.

Del: It's boring. We're the farthest we've ever been from home, and we can't even see it.

Del wasn't really in favor of moving anyway.

Spartacus mumbles that he feels sick, never having had to learn to compensate for the fast movement of the train as a Sime.

Gritta: You and me can go out and walk around a little next time the train stops for water and fuel. Maybe we can find some sweets or something.

Del perks up.

Del: They have sweets here?

Gritta: They must have stores in the towns, like the one at the mine. We've got all that money from selling all the stuff we didn't take with us.

Del: Would they have green flannel for a new shirt?

Gritta: I suppose, but we might as well wait until we get where we're going, so we don't have to lug it with us. I can't cut it out and sew it on the train.

Spartacus tries to focus on his mother, but since she's sick too, it's making things worse.

Del: I guess not. But can it be a pretty plaid?

Gritta: As I understand it, most any town has got stores better than the one at the mine, with lots of choice of everything instead of just a few bolts of flannel. So you can probably pick from a dozen bolts or more.

Del: What color shirt do you want, Spart?

Spartacus: Red. Blue. Whatever. Just not green.

Gritta leans forward to pat Spart's hand, automatically offering her own style of ~~ support ~~.

Spartacus relaxes just a tad, but his stomach still isn't cooperating. Maybe it gets better after a while?

Gritta: Once we're over the border Spart can come out and walk around with us when the train stops. Actually, we can get proper seats with a window, then.

Del: I wonder if they'd have some cotton with pretty flowers for a dress for you, Ma.

Gritta: Oh, I'm sure they do.

Del is reminded that for all the promised pleasures of the future, right now is sheer ~~ boredom ~~.

Del: I want to see now. Can you come with me, Ma?

Gritta: We can't go anywhere until the train stops, Del. Unless you want to go over and talk to the channels and Donors.

Del: They don't have a window, either. I want to see out.

Del is ~~ frustrated ~~.

Gritta: Well, so do I, but there isn't much we can do about it right now. And your brother's got it worse than you do, you know.

Spartacus zlins his brother.

Spartacus: She's right. I do have it worse than you do. My Sime sense tells me.

Spartacus deadpans, then smiles just a little.

Del: Huh. He can zlin outside.

Spartacus: Right now, "outside" is nothing but a sickening blur moving away from me wayyyy too fast.

Gritta projects ~~ sympathy ~~ and ~~ love ~~ to her older son.

Del: ~~ interest ~~ We're going too fast to see? Cool!

Spartacus shrugs.

Gritta: You hungry, Del? Want to split a raisin bun with me?

Del is ~~ torn ~~ between what he considered a treat last week, and the potential for even better treats.

Spartacus tries to remember the trick for going hypoconscious that Seruffin taught him, but he can't seem to manage it.

Del is, however, practical enough to take what's available while waiting for more.

Del: Sure, Ma.

Gritta rummages in the food bag and pulls out a slightly crushed bun, not as fresh as it was when they started out. She breaks it in two and passes half to Del.

Gritta: You want a bit, Spart?

Gritta unconsciously projects some ~~ appetite ~~ even though she's not very hungry herself.

Del bites ~~ enthusiastically ~~ into his bun, which has absolutely no effect on Spart's appetite.

Spartacus: Naw, thanks. These awful things ...

Spartacus points to the new, improved, one-size-fits-all (not!) retainers now strapped to his arms.

Spartacus: Maybe when I get rid of these I can think about it.

Katsura is doing her best to relax at the other end of the car from Gritta's family as the train jerks and jolts and rattles along.

Nick is sitting against a mailbag, strategically placed between Kat and Seruffin, so as to ~~ shield ~~ both channels while Gerrhonot naps, but now he's ~ snoozing ~ as well.

Seruffin looks at the Gens and shakes his head.

Seruffin: I've never understood how Gens manage to work with such precision when they're fast asleep.

Katsura: It's wonderful, isn't it.

Seruffin: Now if only I could learn how to write reports while in the same condition... Gerrhonot would have a much easier time getting me to nap.

Katsura chuckles.

Katsura: He takes good care of you, doesn't he? He's a gifted Donor despite his intellectual limitations, and he has such a kind temperament.

Katsura demonstrates that she, too, has that Farris tendency to nose in and analyze things, even intimate things, that aren't her business, as long as they are selyn-related.

Seruffin: His limitations can be quite an asset for a diplomat's Donor. No matter how much the New Washington politicians suspect anything I might say, no one could seriously accuse Gerrhonot of running any sort of sophisticated deceit. A Donor like Nick wouldn't give me that advantage.

Katsura: Wouldn't they just figure you've got him conned too?

Seruffin: Mostly, they don't. Gerrhonot is very convincing when he's talking about his own experiences.

Katsura: Even to Gens, who can't zlin his transparent sincerity, I suppose. He loves being your Donor.

Seruffin: Yes. He's very open about it, too.

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: There have been a few times when that's headed off potential trouble for both of us.

Katsura: How so?

Seruffin: Out-Territory Gens who mistrust us tend to be convinced that we must have some terrible hold on our Donors to keep them with us. Have you run across that?

Katsura: Not with Nick, and he's the only Donor I've been out-T with. I suppose he's assertive enough that they can't imagine he couldn't escape me if he wanted to. ~~ humor ~~

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: What's he like to work with?

Katsura: At first, it was a bit difficult. He wasn't really able to trust anyone after his experiences with the Audneses. I was quite worried about how he'd been abused. But gradually he found out that I was a channel who respected him and cared about him and even treated him civilly, and now he's pledged our House.

Katsura: But of course, his talent is so strong, and he's so skilled, that he can support even a channel he doesn't trust. I'm not used to that -- I usually have Companions from my own House, and we've known each other all our lives.

Seruffin: You don't work outside your House much?

Katsura: Oh, I do. I just spent three years running the pediatrics clinic in Konawa, but there aren't many non-Farris Donors who can match me, so I usually work with one of my naztehrhai.

Seruffin: I see. Do you find you like the challenge of someone new?

Katsura: Nick has been a challenge -- perhaps a challenge in personnel management. He really needed his self-confidence built up. But I find his nager so attractive... well, I guess I was determined to win his trust so he could be a true Companion to me. He's very good at improvising, and managing a channel under bad conditions. That's probably saved my life at least once this past year.

Katsura allows Seruffin to zlin the ~~ attachment ~~ she feels to Nick.

Katsura: He's not quite my match yet, but he's very close now.

Seruffin suspects the Narosian genes are active.

Seruffin: Do I zlin wedding bells in the future?

Katsura chuckles.

Katsura: I don't think that necessarily follows, although our Second Channel, Rimona, can think of several places he'd work in well in our stud books. Of course, that's a very sensitive issue with him still.

Seruffin: I can imagine.

Spartacus notes a seeming pause in the conversation, which of course he doesn't understand, and staggers past the baggage.

Spartacus: Umm, I really feel sick. Can you help me?

Spartacus addresses his appeal impartially to both channels.

Nick's nager is already shifting to accommodate the new nager, followed more slowly by Gerrhonot's.

Seruffin gives Katsura a "your entran or mine?" look.

Katsura smiles and makes an "over to you" nageric gesture.

Seruffin: Come sit by me, young Spartacus. There's a trick to using a Gen's nager to block the movement.

Seruffin pats the crate beside him.

Spartacus does so, ~~ hopefully ~~ even if still ~~ nauseated ~~.

Katsura is interested to observe Seruffin's technique. Non-Farris Firsts have often come up with rough but effective methods to deal with their lack of intrinsic sensitivity and precision -- well, compared to Farris channels, that is.

Seruffin: Now, what's making you uneasy is the speed at which the nagers outside are moving, relative to yourself, right?

Spartacus: I guess. It's like it's all blurry.

Seruffin: Yes. Now, the moving trains didn't bother you when you were standing outside on the ground, right?

Spartacus: Well, nope.

Seruffin: And yet, the Gens on the train were moving just as quickly relative to yourself then as the Gens outside the train are now moving, relatively to yourself. Right?

Spartacus: Say what?

Spartacus's nausea-fuddled brain tries to make sense of this.

Spartacus: Well, yes. But. It was just the train moving. Now, it's everything but the train moving. Or something.

Spartacus: I mean, the train is moving, but ...

Spartacus lapses into silence again.

Seruffin: Look at it this way. It's not the difference in speed between you and them that's bothering you, it's your perception that it's you who's moving.

Spartacus: I am moving! If not, we'll never get to Simeland, hey?

Seruffin: True enough. But you're moving all the time anyway, as the world spins.

Spartacus: Umm, okay. But I don't feel that. You feel that?

Seruffin: You can feel it, if you concentrate. You always know what time it is, for instance.

Spartacus: Sure.

Seruffin: But you concentrate more on the nagers around you.

Spartacus: Okay.

Spartacus concentrates on the four nagers here, and the nausea does ease.

Seruffin: That's it. The trick is to focus close by, on nagers that aren't moving relative to you. Then you can think of yourself as not moving.

Spartacus tries, thinks he gets it for a moment, and then relapses.

Spartacus: Okay, I'll work on it. Meanwhile ...?

Seruffin: It takes practice.

Spartacus: Meanwhile, can you fix me up for now?

Spartacus doesn't mean to push, but attending to his stomach every second is quite wearisome.

Seruffin lets his nager stabilize the renSime's.

Spartacus: Ahhh. That's better, hey? Thank you. ~~ relief ~~

Seruffin: You're welcome.

Spartacus basks, more or less, on the channel's wonderful and powerful nager.

Seruffin: You will have to learn enough control to handle such situations by yourself, you know. You won't always have a channel handy.

Spartacus: Sure.

Spartacus feels like a kid with candy being told it'll rot his teeth.

Seruffin chuckles.

Seruffin: You don't have to do it all at once, however. And it will be easier without the retainers.

Spartacus: Okay. It sure was easier back in the woods, where nothing moves faster than a mule, mostly.

Seruffin: You're entering a world that's more crowded and complicated. But it also has more opportunities and excitement.

Spartacus pumps his fist.

Spartacus: Yeah!

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