Ell ambrov Rurid, formerly Ell Templeton, approaches the waiting room where his Sat'htine relative is waiting with well-concealed, but very real, trepidation.
Ell has heard the most disturbing rumors lately, seemingly inconsistent with such a well-thought-of House. He steels himself and walks into the room where the TN-1 field is.
Roger is sitting in a parlor reserved for visiting relatives and dignitaries, and therefore usually off limits to students.
Ell: Rurid offers respect to Sat'htine, Sosu. ~~ very formal ~~
Roger looks over the youngster ~~ critically ~~, then grins.
Roger: Yup, you're a Templeton, all right. No mistaking those ears. Come over here where I can see you better.
Roger's nager has the discipline that comes from a lifetime of Donoring.
Ell comes over physically, but carefully refrains from doing anything that even vaguely resembles leaning.
Roger: So, the family must have changed quite a bit in the younger generation. You're the second Templeton to cross the border in the past few months. Quite a change from one in the past half century.
Ell: Well, um, Great-Cousin, the borders are open now. Anyhow, I'm two years old, not just a few months.
Roger: So you are.
Ell smiles a little wanly. He had thought he'd lost most of his out-T accent, but after all, this is a relative.
Roger: It was just that I learned about you more recently. Never get old, Ell. It does horrid things to your sense of time.
Ell: I'm pretty surprised you found out at all. Do you monitor Templetons who immigrate or something?
Roger: No. Your cousin Adrian came visiting. He wanted to escape the homestead, I gather. He told me you were on this side of the border.
Ell looks blank.
Ell: Adrian? Never heard of him. Anyhow, I'm from Heartland. My dad's a mid-level exec with Templeton A.P., and he's a liberal, so I got to the Sime Center right away. And a good thing too, since I turned out to be a First. If I hadn't been in a big city -- well, bad things.
Ell stops short, aware that he's babbling.
Roger: Yes. There is never an excess of First Order Donors. That's why Sat'htine took a chance on me, fifty years ago. Or at least I prefer that hypothesis to the other, which involves temporary insanity on the part of a certain Sectuib.
Ell actually laughs at that.
Ell: I think my Sectuib is [English] a little nuts himself.
Roger: You'll find that it's part of the job description.
Ell: [Simelan]But then, the house virtue is "youthful enthusiasm". And I guess I do have that. Mostly. On my good days.
Roger: I have it easier, I think. Sat'htine is more sedate. Although we do have a new Donor who routinely leads the children in snowball fights.
Ell: Sounds like fun.
Roger: Yes, Nick has definitely made things more lively.
Ell: I'm at the bottom of the pecking order, as you can imagine, so I get sent -- What, the famous Nick the Rogue? Even I've heard about him. What's he like?
Roger: He's a great deal more responsible than the rumors make him. Not surprising: he did keep two Farris channels alive under terrible conditions for an extended period. He's very talented, but his training is odd and there are some gaps.
Ell puts out his lip and nods slowly.
Roger: Even so, he's got every Farris channel in Sat'htine drooling over his nager.
Ell: I'm no Farris, but I'm sure I would be drooling too.
Roger: Well, you're a channel.
Roger says this with the tolerance all Donors learn quickly.
Ell: Yup. And what a surprise that was. Still, I guess Templeton genes, Templeton sec, eh? I have to wonder how many never make it here, from the more -- stuffy -- parts of the family.
Roger: I can think of at least two probables. We'll never know, of course.
Ell grimaces at the thought.
Ell: As I was saying, I don't get much choice in assignments yet. So I appreciate your coming to see me, Great-Cousin.
Roger raises an eyebrow.
Roger: Hoping I'll put in a good word for you, boy?
Ell: ~~ sincere ~~ Oh, no, not at all! I just -- well, Rurid is what it is, but you're family.
Roger: I expect a lot of Templetons would be happy to deny the connection.
Ell: Sure. But we're here and they're -- there. Anyhow, I'm glad for any connection I can get.
Roger: Ell, it's fine to feel a link to your blood relatives. So do I... I'm here, aren't I? But don't discount the family you've adopted. They're the people who will stand by you through thick and thin.
Ell: Oh yes. I know that. But they don't understand me, much, and I don't understand them. I'm the only out-T member that I know of.
Roger: Ah. That can be frustrating.
Ell: Hmm. Were you, when you first joined?
Roger: I remember I spent my first years at Sat'htine wishing for someone -- anyone -- who knew about the places I'd grown up in.
Ell: Yeah. I wonder if there's an Ex-Heartland Society.
Roger: It wasn't even that I particularly liked the place. Sat'htine was and is far pleasanter, and I had a position that suited me much better than slaving away at some middle-management position under an uncle's eyes. It was just... less familiar. The familiar is tempting. It's easier to do something familiar than to question whether there's a better option.
Ell: You're right. This is a better option, well, obviously better than being shot! But if I'd been Gen, I wouldn't have immigrated, and ... Oh, I don't know. I'm here, I'm doing important and satisfying work, that should be enough.
Roger: It won't be, of course. It's part of being human to want it all.
Ell: Well, nobody's asked me about specializing yet, but I suppose they will eventually. I'll do my fair share of Running Things, but I have no ambition for that. So far, it's dispensary work I like best.
Roger: And what do you do best?
Ell thinks about it.
Ell: Probably being tactful around cranky senior channels?
Roger: Oh, dear.
Ell: Some of them, I swear, they are in need three days after transfer. Or might as well be, the way they act.
Roger is very ~~ sympathetic ~~.
Roger: That one will get you assigned to all sorts of committees, if people find out.
Ell: Committees? No, no, anything but that!
Roger: I'm sorry, son. The condition is not terminal. Just chronic and lingering.
Ell: Yes. Like tentacle itch.
Roger: And not a tube of cream in sight. On the bright side, though, you'll be able to nominate your enemies for all sorts of unpleasant duties, from writing special reports to counting widgets.
Ell: Ooh. Maybe I should run for General Secretary of Rurid?
Roger: A good plan. That way you can revise the minutes to get somebody else assigned to the shenned committees.
Ell: Or forget to send certain members the meeting call in the first place! ~~ evil glee ~~
Roger: I see you have the twisted imagination to excel anywhere.
Ell drops out of the glee as quickly as he entered it. He's still a teenager, after all.
Ell: Excelling might not be the right thing in all cases. Sometimes it's better to go along to get along.
Roger: When you don't yet know the ropes, certainly. But you'll learn. Now, why don't you show me Rurid? I've met your Sectuib a few times, but I've never actually visited here before.
Ell: Sure. Not that much to see, really. But I'll do my best for you.