Letters from the Road

Tecton First Year School for Channels
Poplar Bluff Campus
Poplar Bluff, West Nivet

14 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU

Dear Skyepar,

You asked me to write and tell you what I am doing and learning with Yilli so this is my first report.

As you can see from the stationery, I'm writing from the Channeling School at Poplar Bluff. Yilli and I left Capital the day after you did. She wanted to do some Sime Center work just in case she might have caught a susceptibility to entran from you, she said. We went out to the Capital West Sime Center because there is a lot of construction going on in the west end and we might have the chance to work on some injuries. She put on her Tecton ring before we went in and they seemed glad to have a First to help out. They asked her to work Collectorium for a few hours, and it was like the first time I met her. She really can drain a donor. I asked her whether the ones she upgrades stay upgraded the next time they donate, and she said that she's never heard otherwise. She says that many channels won't draw more than their predecessor did, so often the donors don't get upgraded unless they ask for it. She says she evaluates the donors while she is talking to them, and if she can get them relaxed and trusting she can often draw a lot more than the previous channel. She says it isn't a First Order thing, any competent channel can do it, but most of them are so afraid of the consequences if the Gen feels anything and complains that they take the easy way out and don't try. She says this isn't fair to anybody -- by upgrading the donors the Tecton gets more selyn and the donor gets more money, so both sides win.

She has been telling me that a Gen can learn almost as much by carefully observing face and body language and tone of voice and phrasing as a Sime can by zlinning, and told me to watch how the donors moved and responded to her, and try to correlate it to how much she was able to upgrade them. She said that for experienced donors like these it wouldn't be very marked, but when we do the first time out-T donors at the border, the ones who are coming in-T for the Church sponsored reunion, it will be blazingly obvious. It did seem like the ones who leaned forward and were more interested in talking to her got upgraded more, but it was hard to tell.

In the afternoon there were some transfers scheduled for Simes who weren't doing too well, and she volunteered to take them on. She said that I did well in figuring out where to stand and how to work my field, but she was probably just trying to build up my confidence. She had to signal me to adjust things sometimes, but she said I will get better with practice, that she was being especially careful with these Simes because they had had a series of unsatisfying transfers. Also she wanted to start training me in this kind of precision work because at the CRF I'll be supporting channels giving transfer to some very fragile semijuncts, where my skill will be critical.

She took plenty of time working with these Simes, even after the transfer. They had pretty strong postreactions because they hadn't had good transfers for a while. She had me support some of them, too. She says that a renSime is no more ready to just go back out on the street right after a transfer than a channel is, but the Sime Centers aren't set up to do anything about it.

She told me that most of these problem cases were disjuncts and that disjuncts benefit from the occasional transfer where they have to draw against a little resistance. They definitely don't need or want any pain or fear, but the way a Sime gets imprinted by his First Transfer makes them desire the resistance unconsciously. Disjunction doesn't completely erase this the way it erases the appetite for the Kill. Tecton policy doesn't allow for it, but she can add that little bit of resistance so subtly that the Sime doesn't realize what made the transfer so satisfying -- they will just figure it was that the channel was a First, and she doesn't have to put anything on the records. I asked her if it was okay to mention this to you and she said that she wouldn't tell me anything you don't already know, so it's okay to put whatever I like in these letters.

The last Sime was a young man who had some scarring from an injury to his outer left dorsal sheath that makes it painful for him to fully extend the tentacle. In transfer he can't help extending it and the pain has sometimes caused aborts or spoiled the quality of the transfer. Yilli suppressed his need while she worked with him and my hands and field until she found a way I could block the pain if the tentacle extended too far, and then she gave him the transfer. It worked really well, and I supported him while she wrote up a couple of pages for his file about how she had accomplished it. He said this was his first good transfer since his injury last spring. She told him that she had requested he always be served by a channel and Donor able to follow the protocol she described, so things should go better for him now. She told him that if he still had problems he should get his case moved to the Regional Offices Sime Center downtown. After he left, Yilli told me to release my own emotions so she could share them and we just sat there together for a while. The way Yilli was able to teach me to work with her to help this Sime was one of the best things that has happened to me since I established.

We left Capital the next morning and got here quite late. They've put us up in well-insulated guest quarters. Yilli got them to bring me a good meal and went out to run off her stiff muscles, so I'm writing this while I wait for her to come back. I've saved out some food I think she'll like and will try to get her to eat it before we go to bed.

I'm trying my best to take good care of her, and things seem to be going well overall. Please give Roza my regards and thank her again for the loan of the book.


p.s. Yilli just came back. She says to tell you that four nights of unbroken sleep have done her a lot of good.

Tecton First Year School for Channels
Poplar Bluff Campus
Poplar Bluff, West Nivet

15 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU

Dear Skyepar,

Today Yilli interviewed the channel that Jori ambrov Teiu served in First Transfer north of Shen. We went over the file together and she explained some of the less obvious parts to me. Because it was an unusual situation, a TN-3 serving a QN-2 in changeover, and the Donor got burned, they had a QN-1 give her transfer this time to evaluate her. Unfortunately the channel wasn't available to talk to, but his report showed that she was in good shape, with no appetite for pain. The opinion is that she should be able to make QN-1 before the end of her First Year. Yilli copied down some of the report to send to Jori.

They are very strict and rigid at this school and wouldn't let the girl out of class to talk to us, so we spent some time in the library. Yilli suggested I read some Genlan books to prepare for our work at the border. I can speak simple Genlan because my stepmother was from out-T and we used to speak it sometimes, but I haven't used it much since she died and I never learned to read it. I copied a page from an introductory book that gives the sounds of the Genlan letters in Simelan and tried to work my way through some Genlan readers, but it was hard going. Yilli told me not to worry, they have some more books at the Householding seed farm, and for now spoken Genlan is more important. We will speak it to each other and she says that it will come back to me easily because I spoke it as a young child. I hope that by the time we get to the border I will be able to understand it better and not sound like a little kid when I talk. I don't want Yilli to be embarrassed about me.

We finally got to talk to the girl in the afternoon. She was pretty shy at first, but Yilli got her to relax and talk more freely. She is very homesick for the mountains and her family's farm and the village. She had never been away from home before. Yilli encouraged her and said that she will get used to the prairies with so many other things to occupy her mind, and besides, most of the Northwest Region is mountains, so most likely she will be off the plains again soon. The city kids laugh at her because she is from a remote area and she is having trouble making friends. Yilli told her to concentrate on her studies and get the most out of her First Year to be the best channel she can be. Some day the kids who are teasing her now may be reporting to her. Her teachers think well of her potential, and she should be more interested in their opinions for now.

They talked about the missionary program and the Donor who served her, and her experiences at changeover. Yilli tried to get her to think about how the channel in charge should have handled things so it would have gone well even if Jori hadn't showed up so unexpectedly, but the girl had trouble understanding what she wanted. It wasn't just that she didn't know enough about channeling to think up the alternatives, she was surprised at the idea that the most important thing was for the channel to act competent and decisive to keep her calm and confident so she wouldn't waste selyn before breakout, especially since she was likely to be shorted in transfer. Finally Yilli told her to tell some of the other students about how Yilli was training out-T changeover attendants and have them write to her at the tree nursery if they were interested in the program in the future.

Yilli and I went for a walk, and she told me that she was disappointed that the girl wasn't brighter and more analytical in her thinking. It's also a bad sign that her mood is so low so soon after a good transfer. If this keeps up she will have a miserable life in the Tecton because she will be put in management positions if she becomes a First, and she is unsuited to them, but Simes can change a lot in First Year, so maybe she will develop as her skills develop. Yilli said that it was unrealistic to hope that this girl might be a good candidate to help her train missionaries eventually just because of her experience at changeover, but sometimes there is poetic justice in the world. She said she mostly wanted to read the girl's chart and especially the report of the second transfer, and Poplar Bluff isn't far out of our way. I don't think she was serious about the poetic justice part.

About a kilometer from the school we found some old ruins with a few chunks of wall still standing. Behind it was a flat clear area of about half a hectare. We went out into the middle and Yilli tied my scarf over my eyes and moved around the area projecting need. She wanted me to turn to face her when I could feel where she was. There was enough wind through the grasses that I couldn't hear her move. I kept trying to track her by her effect on me, and when I was oriented right she would tell me and then move again. After a while she called to me to take the scarf off and I was really surprised how far away she was, and I could still tell the direction by feel. She said that she got the idea from a book, but had never tried it before.

Afterwards we found a sheltered, sunny spot in the ruins, and did some exercises to help develop my sensitivity both to her state and to her manipulations of my field. Then we wrapped up together in our cloaks and both enjoyed letting my field follow her while we practiced talking in Genlan. It was great just being alone outdoors together like that.

Gubbai en-Engish fum Zanoozh n-Illi

16 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU

Dear Roza and Skyepar,

Just a quick note to let you know how it's going.

Janush's training is coming along very well. His sensitivity and control are developing faster than I expected. I put in a day at the Capital West Sime Center with him, and he was able to pick up and respond to my cues quite well. I also worked with him in a concentrated session of four hours yesterday afternoon. His attention span, even when he is getting tired, hungry and uncomfortable from cold, is exceptionally good. Once we get to the seed farm, I'll have some of the naztehrhai available to set up field patterns to work within, and will be able to do more with him on precision detection and control.

The Poplar Bluff camp was a disappointment. I think they must have heard about the hearing, and even though I was cleared of any wrongdoing, the fact of the hearing occurring at all has not done much to help my reputation. The grapevine is faster and more widespread than the telegraph, and the staff at the camp were most unhelpful. I had to wait around half the day to talk to the girl, and they must have intimidated the shen out of her before they let her talk to me -- it took quite a while to loosen her up. They didn't let me talk to any of the other students, even informally at a meal, and none of the instructors seemed to be very interested in talking to me either. You'd think that channels involved in the training of future channels would have at least a technical interest in some of the things I'm doing, but no. I suspect they are intimidated by you-know-who, who supervises the camps, and wouldn't want anyone to tell him that they fraternized with me.

Janush did a very good standard Tecton Donor act, restrained the beauty of his nager, and presented only a standard support pattern. His field is still rising at a good rate and is about where it would have been a few days before his last transfer. Even if it levels off after twenty-eight days, he will be a low TN-1, but if it continues to rise, even at a diminished rate, after that, which I suspect from the current pattern it will, he will likely match me in capacity. Delivery speed, of course, can only be determined the hard way.

One good thing about the Poplar Bluff camp is that they have rather nice, very well insulated guest quarters. I took advantage of the comfort and privacy to make love with Janush last night. I thought he might be too shy, so I started working on him nagerically in his sleep, then gradually added physical contact as he awakened, so we were already both aroused by the time he realized what was happening. It worked out very well. I was able to immerse myself in his field and track him well even though it's rather long after transfer for me. We twice managed the kind of simultaneous orgasm with deeply engaged fields that is essential to counteract the CDs. The second time I had to use that nageric trick Skyepar showed me to hold him back just short of the peak so I could catch up with him, but as we know, the brief frustration is more than made up by the intensified result. I think this was Janush's first experience of really good sex, and he was very moved by it. I hope it won't cause him to fix on me in a way that will hurt him when we are no longer together. At any rate, now that the sexual tension between us is somewhat relaxed, I can start teaching him some of the 'safe' methods.

We should be at the seed farm in a few days, and I expect all my mail to catch up with me there, as well as to get all the gossip and news from the members coming up from Konawa to help with the Church cross-border reunion. I'm really looking forward to that, since I'm rather proud of my skill at taking first donations from out-T adults, and Janush will be with me. His Genlan is pretty good grammatically, but since he learned it as a child and hasn't spoken it much since, his vocabulary is rather limited. Unfortunately he can't read it, but if he can pick that up, he will be able to expand his knowledge faster. In the meantime, we are speaking it together much of the time, and it is coming back to him rapidly.

I'm still sleeping well, for the first time in longer than I can remember. I don't know when the nightmares will return, certainly after turnover, perhaps sooner, but I'm enjoying the respite while it lasts. Sleep deprivation, like the CDs, is something that creeps up on you so you don't realize how bad it's gotten until it stops. I'm doing well in both those areas now, and feel better than I have in a long time. If I get a good transfer, and I expect I shall, you will hardly recognize me when you see me next. Thanks, you two, for conning me into this.


17 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU

Dear Skyepar,

We stopped early this afternoon because Yilli said she wanted to show me something. We went into some ruins and walked for quite a while. Finally we went into a sort of cave or tunnel that took a couple sharp turns every few paces and found ourselves in a sort of room with dim daylight coming from some openings near the ceiling. After my eyes adjusted I looked around and realized we were in a shrine of the starred cross! I'd never seen one before. Of course nobody keeps them up any more, so there was no food or fuel, but it was wonderful to see it, and think how for hundreds of years some unknown Simes had kept up such places for Gens to use to escape the Kill. I asked Yilli if she knew anything about how the shrines had been maintained, and she said it was still a bit mysterious. Of course the Householdings helped maintain them, and most people think the gypsies did as well, but she thinks maybe some ordinary Simes also helped keep them stocked, perhaps in memory of a friend or relative who had established and had to flee. Even in the worst of the junct times, there would have been Simes who had sympathy for established children, even if they had to kill a Pen Gen every month to survive.

We just sat there and thought about it for a while, then we left because it was getting late and Yilli didn't want me to have to pick my way through the ruins in the dark. It was overcast and getting dark early. She says she knows where some other shrines are and will show me if we ever travel near them.

The second night we were at Poplar Bluff Yilli and I made love for the first time. I was afraid it wouldn't work out well because I don't have much experience, but she made it very easy for me. She said I made it easy for her because of my nager and how well our fields engage. Afterwards she cried a little and I held her and tried to support her like a channel in postreaction. She said it had been a long time since she had had such a good sexual experience and it really was something like a good transfer after bad ones, or after prolonged need. It was a very intense experience for me, too. I never made love with a channel before and it was really different from another Gen. We did it again towards morning, and it was even more intense for me. She told me in Capital that we would be compatible sexually, but I didn't imagine it would be like this. I feel uncomfortable putting this in writing, but you did ask me to tell you what I am doing and learning, and this is part of taking care of my channel. Maybe it will be easier to talk about it with you in person.

Please give my regards to Roza and tell her I've been reading the Companion's book. Some of the language and ideas are very beautiful. I wonder how old it is.


19 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU

Dear Skyepar,

Yilli spent several hours trying to teach me to relinquish my field to her so she could shape it into a form for me to hold. Relinquishing to her isn't too hard. I think it's because I trust her so much. I think I could relinquish to you almost as easily, especially if we work together for a while first, but the thought of doing this with a channel I don't know is frightening. I suppose it is part of being a First in the Tecton and I will have to get used to it, but putting myself in the control of someone like your Uncle Zeth worries me.

I didn't do very well at perceiving and holding the field forms Yilli was trying to teach me. She was very patient and said that I was doing well for now. She says that after I qualify as a First, my sensitivity will increase quite a bit, especially after you formally qualify me, because you will "do it right and not hold back". Then she laughed because I zlinned eager rather than alarmed. I told her that I don't want her to hold back either. I don't care if she burns me, I want to serve her with all I have to give. She said she had never burned a Gen with her primary yet and didn't intend to start now. She said that you won't burn me either, but she has it on good authority from Roza, and from zlinning your transfers herself, that serving you is quite the experience. Then she hugged me and said "Didn't I promise I'd do the best I can for you?"

Like you said, she really is a good teacher, always very patient and encouraging, even when I can't seem to do what she wants. She can always find a way to help me learn, or she just tells me that I'm doing well and it will be easier later. I told her I appreciate that she is so good at teaching, and she says it is easy to teach such a good student. I hope she isn't just saying that to encourage me. I'm trying hard but sometimes I just can't perceive what she is trying to show me, or do what she wants me to do. She says she always tries to take a student to their limits, or how can either of them know what those limits are, and that means that when the limit is reached they won't be able to go farther, at least for a while, so I shouldn't be discouraged or frustrated. I try not to let it show when I am getting tired or frustrated, but of course she can zlin right through me, especially when I'm trying to do something else nagerically at the same time!

I hope that when we are at the seed farm I will be able to have a more two-sided exchange with you, and you can give me more advice, especially as we get closer to my transfer with Yilli. She says my field is rising well, but I am worried that she will hold back and short herself like you told me she sometimes does. I want to give her the best transfer I can.

Overall, things are going well. She is letting me support her a lot of the time, at least at a low level, and I don't think she is having nightmares.


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