Compromising Situations: Episode 24

Pametta is ~~ eager ~~ to see the sights of Capital.

Pametta: Come, Bren, we don't want to keep our guide waiting.

Pollovic wants to please his bride, but is less eager to be out among crowds of Simes than he would have been a few weeks ago. He tells himself that they're only staring because of his foreign clothing, but he can't help a tiny ~~ wince ~~ every time a Sime looks his way.

Pollovic: I'm coming.

Pametta: There is so much to explore!

Pollovic nods.

Pametta: Where shall we go first? The museum? The botanical gardens? The central market?

Pollovic: Since we've gone to the trouble of arranging a guide, let's find out what he suggests. He should be here any minute.

Saag is hurrying to meet his sister and, as hard as it is to think of Senator Pollovic that way, his brother-in-law in the lobby of the embassy.

Pollovic glances around the Embassy lobby, as if expecting his new brother-in-law to appear out of thin air.

Saag comes in from the back hallway.

Pametta: Saag! There you are.

Saag: Hello, Senator. Hi, Pametta. Just had to finish off a few things.

Pametta rushes over to give her brother a hug and kiss, in defiance of Accepted Protocol for out-T Gens interacting with Simes.

Saag hugs back, ~~ pleased ~~ and ~~ happy ~~.

Pollovic gives a more ~~ reserved ~~ smile and nod.

Saag: So, what would you like to see?

Pollovic: What would you recommend, for our first visit to the city?

Pametta: You could show us your favorite places, Saag.

Saag tries to think of favorite places that are suitable to take his young sister and a distinguished member of the New Washington senate.

Pollovic: Museums, galleries, art, architecture? Historic spots?

Pametta: Or just someplace pretty with lots of people, if you prefer.

Pollovic: Actually, I'd prefer somewhere that isn't too crowded. ~~ fear ~~

Saag: Somewhere not too crowded would be better, I think.

Saag isn't eager to zlin the effects of escorting a pair of ill-controlled Gens through a crowd of Simes. He edges a bit away from Pollovic and toward his sister, whose emotions are much more positive.

Pollovic: Then, later on, I think Pametta was hoping to go shopping.

Pollovic is trying very hard not to direct any of his ~~ nervousness ~~ towards the young Sime he's now related to.

Pametta: How about the park? You were telling us about some roses. Bren's mother would love to hear about them.

Pametta: Or... didn't I hear something about a Unity museum?

Saag: Yes, there's the historical museum. It has a lot of paintings of the events around the time of Unity. Murals and things. It has nice grounds with roses, too, and it's not far from here, if you want to walk.

Pametta: That sounds interesting.

Pollovic: Then let's go.

Saag: Okay. This way then.

Pametta bounces after her brother.

Saag leads the way out of the embassy, across the extensive grounds and out the impressive gates.

Pollovic follows at a more sedate pace, glad to see his young wife so happy.

Saag: Some of these buildings used to be mansions owned by rich people before Unity, but they're mostly government offices now.

Pametta: They look a little different than our house, don't you think, Bren?

Pollovic: More curves, and a different sense of proportion?

Pollovic isn't sure; architecture has never been his specialty.

Pametta: Yes. And those funny designs painted on the windowsills.

Pollovic: I've seen that design in several places. Does it have a particular meaning?

Pollovic traces a specific swirl in the air.

Saag: I think it means they subscribe to a night watchman service. I guess it deters thieves.

Pollovic: Ah.

Pollovic finds it oddly ~~ reassuring ~~ to find so homelike and commonplace a detail here.

Saag: I like the roses on the porch of that place. They aren't much to look at but they bloom for a long time and you can smell them out here at the street, a little.

Pollovic takes an ~~ appreciative ~~ sniff.

Pollovic: I wonder if it would be possible to get a cutting of those. My mother would love them.

Pollovic briefly considers the logistics of transporting such a gift back home in good condition, but decides it would be worth it. Especially if he can get several different varieties to send at once.

Saag: Maybe. The sign says that it's the municipal water and sewage offices. We could ask them, before you leave, so the cuttings will be fresh.

Pollovic: I'd appreciate that.

Pametta chuckles.

Pametta: We could ask Sosu Nick how to transport them.

Pollovic smiles.

Pollovic: If he's in town. Or we could visit the botanical gardens later, and ask there.

Pametta: Your mother will be so pleased.

Pollovic nods and smiles.

Pollovic: I hope so.

Saag sees the historic house up ahead that's open as a museum, but doesn't really want to show off the lifestyle of the wealthy juncts with their private Pen in the basement, even if it is all sanitized and made historic instead of horrible. Unfortunately, the signs in front are bilingual. Maybe his guests won't notice.

Pametta: Oh, there it is!

Pollovic: The museum?

Saag: No, that's just a historic house. The museum is much larger. It's a new building.

Saag picks up his pace a bit.

Pollovic: The map I saw said there was an old mansion converted into a museum, just about here. Are you sure that isn't it?

Pametta: A historic house! Oh, let's see it.

Saag: Um, yeah. It's open to the public some days, so people can see how the rich juncts lived before Unity. I don't know if it's open today.

Saag hopes not.

Pametta goes up and tries the wrought-iron gate.

Pametta: It's not locked.

Pollovic: Let's have a look, then.

Pametta leads the way down the patch.

Pollovic is picturing opulent decor and the other trappings of wealth as he knows it. He expects to be bored, but Pametta is interested, so he's willing to go along.

Saag follows, hoping they'll just look at the nice parts and not the holding Pen and the killroom.

Pametta is ~~ charmed ~~ by the outrageous decorations and ~~ envies ~~ the fancy fabrics on the curtains.

Saag: I guess they liked really ornate stuff in the old days. Proof that they could pay people to spend so much time to do all this detailed decoration on everything.

Pollovic trails along, enjoying only his wife's enthusiasm, but bored by the rest.

Saag: Show off how rich they were.

Pametta: Yes. What's down there?

Pametta points to a reinforced door with a large lock.

Saag: Oh, just the cellar. Probably just for storing food and wine and stuff.

Saag is acculturated enough to know how to not really lie, but he's glad the Gens can't zlin.

Pametta: Oh, we've got to see what sort of wine cellar they had.

Pollovic: Yes. A good wine cellar is worth a look.

Pollovic leads the way down the stairs.

Saag: I don't know if we should go down there except on a real tour. There isn't one until late this afternoon....

Pametta: Oh, nonsense. We're not going to break anything, or rob the silver.

Pametta follows her husband down the stairs.

Saag follows, wondering if he should go hypoconscious in case his guests get upset.

Saag: Um, remember this is all from the old days. Things aren't like that now...

Pollovic takes three steps beyond the foot of the stairs, then freezes. ~~ panic ~~

Saag gasps, grabs his own arms and drops hypoconscious.

Pametta: Bren? What is it?

Pametta tries to peer around her groom.

Saag: Um, Pammie...

Pollovic: It's... it's.... you don't want to come down here.

Saag: Yeah, let's go back up.

Pametta: Nonsense.

Pametta pushes her husband forward out of the doorway.

Pollovic has already realized he's seeing only mannequins, but that doesn't really help much.

Saag figures he better stay hypoconscious.

Pametta slips around Pollovic and looks around.

Pametta: ....What?

Saag: They want people to understand how horrible it was, these rich juncts had such nice houses and things, but underneath...

Pollovic: A... a Pen.

Saag: Yeah. They could afford to keep some Gens, so they didn't have to worry about shortages like ordinary people.

Saag realizes he could have phrased that a lot better.

Pollovic can't look away from the filthy rags, the cage, the white-painted collars and chains. The artfully sculpted look of terror.

Pametta: Not nice people.

Saag: The junct times were horrible. For everybody. Even rich people.

Pametta: Why for the rich people?

Pollovic's pulse is pounding and his recently healed ribs ache with the heave of his harsh breaths.

Saag: Well, they had to kill to live too. They could forget about it upstairs, but down here, it was real.

Pametta: That bothered them? I thought most juncts didn't feel guilty about killing Gens.

Saag is feeling very uncomfortable, holding himself hypoconscious, but with his brother-in-law's reaction, he doesn't dare zlin.

Saag: They rationalized it, but it was still people they were killing.

Saag glances at Pollovic.

Saag: Um, Pammie, I think we should all go upstairs. Your husband is kind of upset.

Pametta looks at her husband.

Pametta: Oh! Yes, certainly.

Saag leads the way, trying not to take more than two steps at a time.

Pametta is ~~ mortified ~~ that she hadn't thought about how Bren would feel about seeing a Pen.

Saag, fortunately, is still hypoconscious and doesn't zlin that.

Pollovic elbows past his wife and follows close at Saag's heels.

Pametta: Bren, all you all right? Do you want to sit down for a moment?

Pollovic: I... I... um, yes.

Pollovic collapses onto the nearest ornate museum-piece chair.

Saag: I'm sorry, Senator.

Pametta clucks over her husband.

Saag isn't going to point out that he tried to keep them away from this house and out of the cellar.

Pollovic's face slowly returns to almost its normal complexion.

Pametta: Do you want to go back to the Embassy, Bren?

Saag comes cautiously duoconscious, staying well back.

Pollovic thinks about it, then looks at Saag.

Saag looks embarrassed.

Pollovic: Why don't you take your sister shopping for the rest of the day, Saag? I can find my own way back to the Embassy.

Saag: Are you sure you'll be all right? We can walk you back.

Pollovic: I'll be fine. You two just go enjoy yourselves.

Pametta looks at Pollovic ~~ doubtfully ~~.

Pametta: Are you sure?

Pollovic fumbles in his wallet and hands Saag an uncounted wad of currency.

Pollovic: Get something for yourself too, Saag.

Saag doesn't think Pollovic zlins recovered. He certainly doesn't want any random Sime on the street to be exposed to that sort of shock.

Pollovic: I'll be fine. Really.

Saag: Well, the best shopping is the other way from the embassy, so we might as well all walk back past it.

Pametta: An excellent idea. Come, Bren.

Pollovic stands and heads for the door, his gait far steadier than his nager.

Saag stuffs the wad of cash in his pocket and follows them out of the mansion.

Previous Table of Contents