D'zoll stands outside his Sectuib's office and signals for admission.
Hiram: Come in.
D'zoll opens the door and breezes in.
D'zoll: Greetings and salutations, Sectuib.
Hiram: Salutations to you, too, D'zoll. Care for some trin? I've just made a fresh pot.
D'zoll: Couldn't be better. ~~ enthusiasm ~~ Are we ready for the return of Sat'htine's newest son?
Hiram: I hope there's nothing to have to be especially ready for.
D'zoll: ~~ gloom ~~ There's always going to be some appalling story behind the headlines when it comes to Nick. ~~ cheers up ~~ But then again, there is always the lasting and radiant rosiness of his nager ...
D'zoll pulls himself together, at least as much as he ever does outside the therapy room.
D'zoll: But forgive me, I'm still rather post, as you can see.
Hiram ~~ laughs ~~ .
Hiram: Then aren't you glad I brewed Lemon Lust today?
D'zoll snickers loudly.
D'zoll: I don't know, if I drank that I might lose control of my vigorous but intermittent heterosexuality! Nick is awfully beautiful, you know.
Hiram relaxes into the banter.
D'zoll: And then, of course, my head would explode. And you'd need a new Wild Gen tamer. And wouldn't that be sad. ~~ a little manic, don't you think? ~~
Hiram: Very. ~~ suddenly serious ~~ I want you to steady down a bit, D'zoll. I really do want a second opinion on Nick's report.
D'zoll returns to professionalism with a nagerically audible snap.
D'zoll: Of course.
Hiram: Actually, I was hoping that, being post, you'd be able to stay hypo and observe a bit more objectively, even if I'm swept away by that enticing nager.
D'zoll relevels himself.
Hiram: So, until Nick gets here, what news from your department?
D'zoll: Very quiet. I don't foresee any great problems with that forest-dwelling Sime that Kat and Nick brought in. He won't be able to integrate here, of course, but there are any number of mountain Householdings who would be glad of him. They don't get new blood, out-T blood, very often.
D'zoll out of habitual caution for the privacy of his patients names no names.
Hiram: He'll want a small, quiet place. What was his name? Treesap, or something like that?
D'zoll: Something like that, yes. ~~ cautious ~~.
D'zoll: I've been working on getting him used to having people around who aren't his close relatives. He felt pretty abandoned when Nick and Kat went out this most recent occasion.
Hiram: We've definitely been taking in a lot of wild ones, haven't we? I mean, Really Wild Gens. And Simes.
D'zoll: Well, if you specialize in personality repair, you're going to get the wild ones -- it's a given.
Hiram nods and sips his trin.
Hiram: Speaking of Wild Gens, I've had a telegram from Senator Pollovic. You met him while you were out there, didn't you?
D'zoll: I did. An interesting fellow. What's he have to say?
Hiram: Well, he's been planning to visit Sat'htine as part of his post-nuptial travels with his new wife. He would have been arriving next week. But now he says he's been delayed a few days by some sort of accident, and that he may require our professional assistance as well as our hospitality.
D'zoll: ~~ puzzled ~~ "Accident"? And he needs us? Either it's pretty serious medically, or it's something, umm, transfer-related. And what is there that the New Washington City Sime Centers couldn't handle?
Hiram: I don't know. But he did specifically ask me to pass you his greetings. Makes me wonder... is it your help he wants?
D'zoll: Oho. Interesting if true. But we'll just have to wait and see, I suppose.
Hiram: I suppose.
Nick gets Kat settled into her quarters and reports to Hiram's office. He ~~ signals ~~.
Hiram turns to D'zoll.
Hiram: Come in.
Hiram: Welcome back, Naztehr.
Nick: Greetings, Sectuib, D'zoll.
D'zoll: Hey there, Nick. Glad to see you.
Hiram: Help yourself to trin and have a seat.
D'zoll remains determinedly hypo so as not to be influenced by that tempting... No.
Nick does so, and his nager settles in to keeping both channels ~~ stable ~~.
Hiram surveys the Companion. He looks, as usual, tanned, healthy, and absolutely ~~ delicious ~~ .
Nick: How has Sat'htine been in our absence? Quieter, I hope?
Hiram chuckles ~~ wryly ~~ .
Hiram: Definitely. But that doesn't mean we haven't missed you.
Nick: You're very generous.
Hiram gives Nick an ~~ encouraging ~~ smile. ~~ ah, delightful ~~
Hiram: So, tell us how your mission went.
Hiram braces himself for the worst.
Nick: Well, Coleman was as much of a gentleman as he ever is.
Hiram raises an eyebrow.
Hiram: That bad?
Nick: He didn't send his security guards against us. Just did some blustering.
Nick: Once he realized that his workforce could afford to leave, he was willing to negotiate.
Nick: At least in private, where nobody could use what he said against him.
Hiram nods encouragingly. ~~ still braced ~~
Nick: I think the two of us came up with some compromises that will keep the peace there for at least a while, if nobody gets greedy.
Hiram: So you achieved your basic objectives, then?
Nick: If both sides abide by the agreement, I believe we did.
Hiram: I'll expect a full written report, of course.
Hiram gives the Gen a warning glare. He knows how Nick is about paperwork.
Nick: Coleman will stop enforcing the company store's monopoly on selling food and other supplies, and will let his workers have time off to travel to the nearest Sime Center to donate each month.
D'zoll: In short, he's desperate.
Nick: Yes. Desperate enough to give up some of his power to keep his livelihood.
Hiram nods, still ~~ listening ~~ .
Nick: If they are prudent in how they adjust, I believe the miners will be able to prosper.
Hiram: And if not? They've been under his thumb for a long time.
Hiram almost said, "under his tentacles."
D'zoll: Then, presumably, they walk away and the mine shuts down. Will Coleman have the resources to get them back?
Nick: He would have to hire a new workforce. That would be difficult, if his previous employees spread the word about why they left.
D'zoll: Which they surely would.
Nick: Yes. I explained to the leaders among the miners what I believed they can accomplish if they are prudent with their resources. I think they will try, at least. In the end, they and Coleman will have to make common cause. I think now they are all at least willing to think in new directions.
D'zoll: It's always good when people can move from rigid thinking to flexible thinking.
Hiram: Indeed. So tell me about the rest of your trip. I already know you brought a wild nonjunct and his family in-T.
Nick: Yes. They were living a substantial distance from the town. They traded produce for necessities, dealing through the local moonshiner.
Nick: The mother succeeded in giving transfer to her son, but was worried about what would happen if the other son also turned Sime. We don't know whether she will be able to work as a Donor. The boy is nonjunct, but may have dependency problems.
D'zoll: I'll bet. How old is he?
Nick: He's out of First Year. He'll have to learn Simelan as an adult.
Hiram: So tell me about the rest of your trip. Anything else I ought to know?
Hiram is ~~ curious ~~ about what Nick will consider worth telling, and about how his views will match up with Kat's eventual report.
Nick: If you're going to lay in a supply of potables to supplement the vin extremely ordinaire, stick to Nysek. The moonshine we were subjected to was some of the worst I've ever tasted.
Hiram smiles ~~ indulgently ~~ .
Nick: Other than that, it was a very quiet trip.
Hiram raises a ~~ skeptical ~~ eyebrow at that.
Nick: Truly. No one pointed a gun at us. We got a number of unfriendly glares on the train, but nobody followed through. The miners were already interacting with Seruffin, so we didn't upset them.
D'zoll: I guess you win, Hiram.
Hiram: No card games? No arrest warrants? No channels wired on sugar taffy?
Hiram softens the questions with an amused smile.
Nick: I didn't have to play cards with the miners. The prospect of getting out of debt was enough to encourage them to donate. We had diplomatic immunity. And the company store was out of sugar.
Hiram turns to D'zoll.
Hiram: I'll collect your forfeit after this afternoon's staff meeting. I'll really require it then.
Nick: Have you been betting neck rubs again?
Nick is ~~ amused ~~.
Hiram: What else might a channel possibly want, who already has everything?
Nick's nager ~~ sparkles ~~ with laughter, presenting a possibility.
Nick: What, indeed?