A Morning at the Guest House

"Hajene Skyepar! You're up early. Sectuib and Sosu are having breakfast in the garden. I'm about to set out the buffet for the other guests. If you'd like to fill up a tray for yourself in the kitchen, you can join them."

"Good morning, Lita. Just trin for me. I'll go on back."

"Here's a cup. They've got a pot on the warmer out there already. I'll come out later and see if you require anything else."

"Thank you."

"Skyepar! Here, have a seat in the sun. Isn't it a beautiful morning?"

"You're looking well, Yilli. Zlins like you had a good night's sleep. How are you today, Janush?"

"Very well, Hajene. We both slept well. May I pour you some trin?"

"Here, I'll do it. Skyepar, have some of this apple cake too. It's very good. Janush has been making me hungry, but I'm really about full, now that he is. Oh, Janush, please don't be embarrassed. Gens have to eat, especially when they're growing."

"I feel like I've been hungry most of the time since I established, no matter how much I eat."

"It should start to taper off soon. When I deep zlinned you last night I could tell from the state of your leg bones that you aren't going to get much taller. You'll continue to fill out and get more muscular for the next few years though."

"Well, that's good to hear. I was worried I was going to have to duck under doorways for the rest of my life."

"You'll still be a big man but nothing outstanding in the new generation of well-nourished Gens we see all around us now. When you start working with the very ill, you'll find it's an advantage to be bigger than your patients. No one could survive without someone to care for them as little children, and even if they can't remember their parents, the body remembers and can take comfort from the memory. It's not just the nageric support from the Gen holding them within his field that gives such solace. I learned that from Roza, and she learned it from her aunt out-T, where everyone is a Gen, and they can't help each other nagerically. The best out-T healers use even more physical contact than we do."

"Janush, if you've got any left, project a little 'hungry' at Skyepar or he'll never stop talking and eat his apple cake."

"Go ahead, Janush, your field work is a pleasure to zlin. Ah, did you pick up how he just floated the periphery over me without deflecting the core of his support from you, Yilli?"

"I did indeed. Good apple cake, huh, Skyepar?"

"Yup. Hmmm, do I discern a bit of an increase in selyn production rate since last evening?"

"I thought I could zlin one when I first woke up, but I wasn't sure. Finish your cake before you ask to deep zlin him. Janush, while I'm responsible enough to eat when I'm not hungry, Skyepar gets really lax when he doesn't have Roza or some other high powered or at least hungry Gen to stimulate him. That's it, lay it on thicker."

"This is good apple cake. Wow, Janush, I'm going to have to get you to sit around the cafeteria at the CRF in your spare time and just radiate that."

"I've been indulging myself, letting him support me continuously since we went to bed. I think that's what's got his production up, unless it was all the field manipulation we put him through last night."

"Last night was great. I learned more about what I can do. And supporting you feels so good. Sleeping with you last night was much better than the times I've slept with channels in need. It feels so natural to just let my field follow you."

"It's a good thing there's no risk of torluen between you two, with the rest of the attraction you've got. How do you feel about serving me in transfer in two months, Janush? Yilli will have Roza to take care of her."

"I'd like to if you think I'm up to it, Hajene."

"I think you may well be. We'll decide when the time comes. I think Yilli will prefer that my signature rather than hers appears on the requalification form."

"I think it would be better all around, O Mighty Tecton Controller."

"It's a sad fact of our world, Janush, that the non-Farris son of the Farris Sectuib in Sat'htine, Controller of an unimportant Tecton facility, has a more respectable signature than the Sectuib in Teiu, but so it goes."

"Here comes Lita."

"I've brought you three a fresh pot of trin, some of that nice Naros blend you gave me, Sectuib. The greengrocer just delivered the last of his autumn yellow raspberries, so I've brought those for you too."

"Oh, Lita, the Naros trin was for you -- don't waste it on us!"

"We all want to do our best for you, Sectuib. You made the out-T program possible. Do you realize how many young Simes come through here who owe their lives and nonjunct status to you? It's a real honor to be able to show you even a little of our gratitude."

"It's the missionaries themselves, risking their lives out-T, who deserve it, not me. I just train them. It's my job as a channel."

"Well, you're the only channel the Church has been able to find to do it. Oh, Heshri says he's going to have a short prayer session in about an hour, if you want to come and zlin. Your guests are welcome too."

"Thank you, Lita, perhaps we shall."

"Don't be so embarrassed, Yilli. It's something to be proud of."

"If this keeps up I'm going to have to move back to the Capital Budget Hotel."

"That's hardly fair to Lita. She really enjoys looking after you."

"I zlin, I zlin. Still, I'm embarrassed."

"So what's with the prayer session? Don't tell me you're getting religious."

"No, it's just that the prayer does something really beautiful to the ambient. I wrote about it in the letter to Roza. It's quite remarkable. It's silent prayer, although they sometimes agree in advance what they are going to pray about. The emotions color the effect somewhat, but over all it's unique in my experience. You should zlin it. With all those Farrises in your House, you might have something to compare it to that I don't."

"Okay, I'll try it. Will you come too, Janush?"

"If Yilli thinks it's okay."

"I'd be interested to know whether you detect anything, but it might be best if you keep your field reined in. It wouldn't be fair to get them all as stoned as in a shiltpron parlor, when they're just getting ready to go in to work."

"Do you think that might happen?"

"I don't know, but it would be interesting to experiment some time, if we can do it without offending anybody."

"Here, let me pour some trin. This stuff does smell nice. Yilli, what are your thoughts on natural Donors?"

"I've always figured it was a spectrum. There are some Gens who couldn't serve transfer if you squashed them in a juice press, and some who could do it just knowing it's possible. In between are those who can learn it with more or less training, if they're motivated enough. And it's independent of capacity, I've always thought. I've taken first donations from some of my members who I thought could have managed a TN-3 transfer on first go with no problems, if they weren't too startled by it. I never tried it, but most of those kids were Companions within three months, and GN-1s at first donation. Every one of them came out of the general population, no special genes at all. There's certainly a psychological component, though. I've taken plenty of donations at Sime Centers, not to mention milking Pen Gens ... I'm sorry Janush, did I disturb you?"

"It's okay, Hajene, you just startled me."

"It's hard for me, but I'll tell you as much as you want to know about what I've done in my life as a channel. If you find it makes you uncomfortable with me, you can travel on ahead to the CRF. Skyepar and I have talked about it, and you can do this with no hard feelings from either of us."

"No, Hajene, ah, Yilli, it's okay. I feel all right about the way you are now, however you got there. But if you want to talk to me about the past, I want to listen."

"It will be good for him to hear it from someone who was there, Yilli. The patients at the CRF will want to talk to him, and it will be better if he doesn't react in a way that distresses them."

"Janush, it was a terrible time, and terrible things were done. I did some of them myself. Those times are over and can never happen again. I think things could have been managed better, but it's too late now. In another few years it won't be necessary for anyone to think about them again. In a way, that's a good thing, but in another I think it's wrong that they stay hidden and suppressed, because they'll never really be forgotten. Too many people were involved, and they spoke to too many others. There's too much external evidence that can be put together to leave a big hole in the middle that can have only one kind of contents. Those years will remain in the memory of our people like a hidden infection, subtly poisoning our future and ready to break out and destroy us when we are at our weakest ... Thank you, Janush, keep that up and you'll make a leaner of me yet."

"I'm thinking more of high order naturals, Yilli. Householding lore is full of stories about Sectuib becoming so fascinated by a Choice Wild Gen that he buys him instead of the the draft horse or winter supply of beans or whatever he's in town for. Despite the most antipathetic background imaginable, soon enough the Gen is serving Sectuib in transfer and within a few generations shows up in the pedigree of the Sectuib line, often more than once. How big is the genetic component?"

"There must be some, although breeding them into the Sectuib line doesn't prove it. They would breed in anyone with talent. We still have no idea how any of this is inherited, except Farrises to some extent, and they're an exception to every rule. The Householdings just work on breeding like to like, and hoping for the best, and it works out for channels, at least. As for Companions, how much is genetic and how much is expectation? Who knows?"

"Would you call Roza a natural First?"

"She did serve me in First Transfer, with essentially no training. She'd served two renSimes and our cousin, who was certainly a channel, but not of my rating. We always thought Da would serve me, but he was dead by then. She'll have told you how terrified I was that I was going to kill her. It wasn't until late in changeover, when I started to zlin, that she could really control my fear. Roza has incredible confidence in her talent, or she could never have served those other First Transfers with no previous training other than what another Gen could give her. Once I could zlin that, I believed she could serve me."

"She thinks you held back, shorted yourself."

"I may have. I remember drawing and thinking that if I hit the bottom, I'd have killed her, and I wouldn't know where bottom was until I hit it. I don't know if I believed she could stop me. She sure didn't get the intensity of slilbliss she got from me other times. But nobody believes a channel could control like that in First Transfer, even a First, so maybe I was just lucky that she outmatched me. After all, the draw speed was no problem for her -- I didn't burn her a bit. Then again, Roza has all those wer-Gen tricks. You'll have to see if she can teach you some of them, Janush."

"Does being able to learn without a teacher make a natural Donor? Janush can nearly do that. What do you think, Janush? What happened when you established?"

"It was last winter, just after Year's Turning. I was sitting on a bench in the park in Shen. I didn't want to go home but it was getting really cold, or at least I was getting really cold. This Sime walked by. He was all bundled up but I knew he was in need and I felt sorry for him. He stopped and came over to me and his laterals came out a little. He asked me if I knew I'd established and I said no, but I was sorry if I'd hurt him by raising his intil. When he was close like that I just really wanted to help him somehow, so I guess the first I knew I'd established was that I felt selyur nager. He said he hadn't raised intil, but it might be a good idea for me to go to the Sime Center, and if he could walk with me, he'd really appreciate it. Once, when we were waiting for traffic to clear, he sort of leaned against me and I put my arm around him, and I could feel him relax and I knew he must be resting on my field. I was really confused because up to then I thought I might change over as a channel, which was what I really wanted. But by the time we got to the Sime Center and he went off for his transfer, I figured it was okay to be Gen since I could still help people. If I'd changed over I might have been a renSime."

"What happened next?"

"They sent me back to talk to a channel, and the channel who served the renSime came in too, and they tested me and showed me how to control my field so I wouldn't annoy Simes. Then one of them qualified me GN-1, and she laughed when she zlinned that I was disappointed I hadn't felt anything, and said that if I wanted to be a Donor, she could send me to the training camp. I told her I wanted to go, and went home and packed my extra clothes and stuff, and went back the next day and they sent me off."

"Do you think you could have served that Sime in the park, or a berserker if he'd suddenly jumped out at you?"

"I don't know. The Sime I met, I'm pretty sure, because I would have had a little time to get used to the idea. I wasn't afraid of him at all. I just wanted to be close to him and help him. If the first I knew I'd established was a berserker attacking me, I don't know if I could have adjusted to it all fast enough. He might have killed me before I could get over being startled."

"Skyepar, note that the Sime Center channels were able to teach him how to manage his field right on the spot like that. When we first set up Teiu at what became the tree nursery site, one thing that kept us afloat was that the Tecton would pay us to keep newly established Gens for three months to train them how to live safely with Simes. We got a bonus if they were still alive and in-T a year later. I had to fight hard to get us that contract because we had semijuncts on site. The argument I used was that our semijuncts were so fragile that if they tried to attack a Gen, they'd abort and die of it, and I had the records to prove it."

"How did it finally work out?"

"Oh, we're still doing it, but they only pay for six weeks now, and the bonus is pretty much a token. In those days it was a lot more dangerous to be a Gen just wandering around, and people really didn't know what to do about their own established children. Some of them were disgusted and never wanted to see the kids again -- maybe they thought it was unfair they couldn't sell them and get their investment back like in the old days -- but a lot of them really loved their kids and were terrified that they'd kill them if they lived with them. After all, at that time anyone outside a Householding who was old enough to have an established child was semijunct. Most Gens really were better off out-T, but the Tecton wanted to keep them here for the selyn. So we got some good people. Some were just shenned if they were going to let their junct-minded families drive them out of their home town, and some loved their parents and wanted to stay near them and help them. I was able to train some of those as Companions, and we took some of their parents into the semijunct program. The whole exercise helped integrate us into the community. People out there didn't really know what a Householding was, so when they could hear about it from their own children, it became a lot less strange. Some of the Gens stayed with us, some went back home and lived in the community, and some went away to see what things were like elsewhere, and a few of those came back and pledged. We really required Gens, because everybody in the House but me and Roza had two Sime parents, and children establishing wasn't going to help us much for another generation. We're still Sime-high, not counting the out-T missionaries, but with so many of the Gens qualified, and almost all the rest GN-1, we can still export selyn."

"You'd think the Tecton would notice that a wad of selyn, nicely packaged in a TN-3 and ready for skilled delivery to a QN-3 is worth more than they same amount disgorged from your secondary into some mule channel to be hauled to Konawa for general consumption."

"If they haven't noticed that a Gen would rather have a real transfer or at least a simulated transfer with real slilbliss than just having his field taken down, they haven't talked to any real live Gens, either. I can't legally do that for a general class donor but I can continue to train one of my members for the technical class as much as the two of us please. Plus, I'd be mortified if one of my members were killed, especially out-T. I won't let them leave Simeland unless they are qualified to serve a renSime. Strange, isn't it, that out-T is more dangerous for a Gen than in-T is now? Most young people like to travel, whether it's a trip to serve a channel at the Tecton's expense with a day or two to enjoy the somewhat limited pleasures of the big city of Konawa or further afield, to exotic Genland where they can sell farm machinery and serve transfer to berserkers in government mule barns, saving lives and amazing the natives."

"Janush, note how Sectuib Teiu's mind works. There are a lot of good reasons to have most of your Gen members TN class donors, and even if you do it for only a few of those reasons, you get the benefit of the others."

"Keon, we are most definitely not, but we have done pretty well for the seven years since our resurrection. We are solvent, we get along well with our neighbors, people have the necessities of life and a little more, there's always plenty of interesting work to do, and most everybody gets as much pleasure out of their selyn system as possible, often at a profit to the House."

"Hmmm, it must be almost time for that prayer thing, then I'll take Janush away with me to the Regional Offices and get the paperwork straightened out, assuming we haven't scared him away yet."

"I haven't changed my mind."

"Good. You've got your Tecton ID number and all that ... do you have a surname you use?"

"They said I should have one when I got to training camp, and most people who didn't have one picked their parent's occupation or the place they came from. My stepmother told me that my Da was a stonemason, so I use that. I figured Shen wasn't a good surname for a Donor."

"You're right there. What are your plans, Yilli?"

"I'm going to go talk to some people and see if I can arrange some work on the way between here and NNU. If I'm lucky, the Tecton will give us transportation. I'll count on Janush being free to go in three days -- do you think that will be okay? That way we can spend some time getting supplies together."

"Good point. Janush, I bet none of your clothes from last winter fit you any more."

"Well, my knitted hat does."

"Once you're working for me, it's up to me to be sure you have whatever you require to do the work I assign you. If I'm assigning you to cross north Nivet in late fall, you'll require suitable clothes. You can get winter uniforms from Central Stores, but you'll require some other clothes too. I'll sort out the paperwork so you can bill your purchases to the CRF."

"You take him shopping, Skyepar. I have no idea what a male TN-1 should look like. You've seen my version of what a female QN-1 looks like. And that board saw what a female QN-1 can really look like. And get him some practical comfortable stuff that he won't grow right out of. And lots of socks. You can never have enough dry socks on the road. Janush, don't let him bully you into anything you really don't want to wear. Persuade, yes, but not bully."

"I have some money. You don't have to buy everything for me."

"Never spend your own money on what the Tecton will pay for. You swore to defend the Tecton, and the Tecton facelessly swore to provide for you. Let the Tecton keep up its side of the bargain. If you want to spend some of your money before we go, I'll show you some of my favorite used book stores, and we can also get some chocolate and other delicacies to treat ourselves when things aren't going well. There'll be plenty of those times once the rains start."

"Well, okay."

"Let's all meet back here this evening. Lita will feed us. Skyepar, you be sure to get this Gen a good lunch, and Janush, you exert your nager to make sure Skyepar eats something."

"Yes, O Sectuibly Mother of Us All. Janush, can you pull your field back into what was expected from you up until yesterday? No point in giving anybody ideas until we get the paperwork finished. Great. How does that zlin to you, Yilli?"

"Very well done, Janush. Don't worry, you can spread your field out again and let it follow me all you like when we get back. I've got a vested interest in getting your capacity up too. In fact, the three of us can play some more nageric games tonight and see what effect that has."

"Okay, let's all go experience this prayer thing. Lead on, Yilli."

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