A Letter from the Seed Farm

23 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU

Dear Skyepar,

I apologize for not having written to you for the past few days. Things are continuing to go well. We've been at the seed farm and tomorrow morning we're going up to the border.

We got here quite late at night and I was so tired I couldn't even eat and went straight to bed. Like at the guest house in Capital, the best insulated room in the place, the former killroom, has been fixed up for Yilli. It's small, but they've put in some larger windows with insulating curtains, so it's very bright and cheerful in the daytime, and has a little stove so it's quite warm and pleasant at night. I barely woke up when Yilli joined me later, and I slept right through her getting up the next morning. I think she did that on purpose, because she left word to let me sleep as long as I wanted, and feed me well when I got up. So she is taking good care of her Gen!

When I finally got up everybody was out working, and Yilli had gone off with some of her members to look at some land. I talked for a long time with Serri ambrov Teiu, who is doing the food management here. She is up from the tree nursery for the Church reunion and joined Teiu the first summer the House was reestablished. She told me a lot about those days, and about the things Yilli and Hajene Tapiu did, and how the members feel about each other and their Sectuib.

In some ways it's how I imagined a Householding would be, but in some ways it's different. Maybe it's because all the members joined as adults, instead of growing up in the House and having a tradition of generations. Also, the House doesn't have the long experience of being an island of Unity in a sea of hostile juncts -- because they got the local Sime Center on site right from the start, and took in established children and some of their parents, and things had changed so much since Unity, they are more a part of the local community.

They buy in hay and grain and other bulk food because they don't have much land, and farmers get their equipment repaired at Matti's machine shop. Serri says sometimes a group of them still go out and help the farmers at harvest, and the farmers know they can hire good workers at the Householding if they require extra help for a few days. She said that this was really important at first, when the Householding didn't have anything, and the farmers weren't doing all that well either, and the kids and young adults would go out and work in exchange for whatever the farmers wanted to give them -- old farm equipment, or things like dishes and blankets or some of the crop they were harvesting, or they'd trade labor and the farmers would come over with their horses and equipment and do work at the Householding.

She said that it seemed like an adventure at the time, especially for the city kids, but the effect was to integrate the Householding into the community. The local people didn't know much about Householdings, and it helped that they were so poor, even poorer than the local people, not like Zeor or the other rich Houses that they heard about from the events of the times. At first, a lot of people figured the House was basically an orphanage and a kind of refuge for homeless Gens, but they really appreciated having a First like Yilli, and Tapiu too, such skilled channels and specialists in helping semijuncts.

I guess you know about all this, but it's new to me.

A lot of the ambrov Teiu told me that Yilli is looking and zlinning very well, and it's clear to them that I'm taking good care of her. They say that it's not just that I'm helping her sleep, it's all the support I'm giving her. They think she really should have a First to be her Companion and help her all the time, and they all asked if I'm going to pledge. I know that she said it's too early, but the more I work with her, the more I want to stay with her and be her Companion. I do want to work with you and learn from you, and although I'm eager to serve each of you in transfer, it's the day-to-day association that I really want with Yilli. I like the ambrov Teiu, and think I'll get along well with them, and several of them have said that they think I'd fit in well. I know that I haven't even been with Yilli for one need cycle yet, but after our transfer, I am going to ask her to take my pledge.

When Yilli got back from looking at the land, everyone had lunch together, then she and I went down to the Sime Center at the University and met the four out-T students who had been living at the seed farm and wanted to be upgraded so they could afford to move out like the others. She had booked a deferment suite so we could all be comfortable together. We drank trin, and sat around and talked about all kinds of things. Yilli used her tentacles a lot in gesturing, and touched the students with them occasionally when she made a point. After a while she asked one of the students to sit next to her, and she put her arm around him, with her hand touching his neck. I think she was doing something nagerically, because he gradually relaxed and even put his arm around her. Then she took his other hand, and ran her tentacles over his arm a little. I was watching his body language like she told me to and I could see that he was leaning toward her a little more and his hand was moving towards a transfer grip. She asked him if he was ready for her to take his donation, and he said he was, so she turned toward him and took his other hand. She just held him loosely for a little while, and I could see him leaning toward her to make a fifth contact. I'm not sure what he was thinking, but here she had this out-T Gen, formerly a nervous GN-3, actually yearning to give her his selyn. She told him she was going to make lateral contact, and I saw him shiver when she did, and he leaned right in and made the fifth contact himself without prompting. She took his donation, and then she congratulated him because he had made GN-1! The other three students congratulated him, too, and they were all smiling and happy. Then one after the other, she spent a few minutes easing them into a transfer grip and getting them in the right frame of mind, and upgraded every one of them to GN-1.

She told them that the next time they gave a donation, if they just remembered this time, and how easy it was and happy they were, they would do well, and would probably make even more money because they were still young and their production would continue to increase since they were associating with Simes for the first time in their lives. They all thanked her and I could see that one of them wanted to hug her, so she hugged him and then they all hugged her, and went out to cash their vouchers so they could put a deposit on an apartment they'd already picked out.

After they left we stayed there and talked about it. She asked me if I could feel the ambient when the students were all so happy. I said I didn't know if it was the ambient but I felt happy too when they were and she was. She said she didn't think it was a nageric effect, because the people at the Unity Seminary she had talked to, who had read what we have left of Ancient literature, and tried to understand what life was like for them and how they were different from Simes and Gens all said that the Ancients could feel a kind of ambient like that, especially when a lot of people were feeling the same way, or even just one person if they were focusing on them. She, and they, think it's a basic part of being human -- people are meant to live together and experience life together and share each other's emotions. When she lived out-T, she saw how the Gens could rapidly and strongly influence each other with both good and bad emotions, happiness or hate. Because Simes can zlin, they think they have a monopoly on reading emotions, but it's more a weakness than a strength, because they can be helpless before the influence of the ambient, while Gens can resist it better if they try, and can read it without succumbing to it. I'd never thought about it that way. It's a strange but powerful idea.

Afterwards Yilli worked dispensary for a while, because she wanted to draw down her secondary for a House ceremony the next night, and she had taken donation by simulated transfer from several of her members the previous night and morning and had a lot of selyn to offload. I guess you know about the trouble she got into a few years back when so many students wanted her to upgrade them at once and it screwed up the scheduling for the whole city. Serri told me the story. Yilli said that the Center Controller is going to arrange for some Upgrade Days when we get back from the border.

Yilli said she could zlin I was hungry, even though I was trying not to let it show, so we went to a trin shop and I had some food and she drank trin and I got her to eat a little of my food too. Then we went over to the Engineering School and looked at some of the displays in the lobby of projects they are working on. Some of them are really interesting. There was a kind of pump called a hydraulic ram that Yilli thinks might work for irrigating the demonstration orchard on what used to be Serri's father's farm, if the neighboring landowners will cooperate and they can get enough pipe at a reasonable cost.

When we got back to the seed farm, there was a lot going on. A bunch of wagons had come up from Konawa, both from the Householding and from the Seminary. They had pitched some tents in the meadow. These were old Nivet Army tents that the Konawa District Controller had gotten for Teiu so people would have a place to stay the first summer while they were still fixing up the old buildings at the tree nursery site, and they still come in handy from time to time. The house was just packed with people, both members and Church people, and Serri and some others were cooking big pots of grain and vegetables, and passing out sandwiches and mugs of trin. Everybody was excited and happy, and so glad to see their Sectuib. I tried to stay close to her in case she required my help with the ambient. She seemed very happy too, but after a while she seemed a little tired, so I persuaded her to come outside and we walked around the tents and wagons, where the people were spread out a lot more. They got her to sit down near a fire, on a bench they made for us out of some boxes and cushions.

I was worried that she was overdoing things, because her turnover was due that night, but she said she was all right. I remembered that you told me that those would be her last words, so I put my arm and cloak around her, and got her to lean against me, and gave her more support than she will usually take, and she went along with it. I could see that the other people there were glad to see me helping her like that, especially the Simes, who could zlin what I was doing. A lot of people came around and chatted with her, and some of her members were being careful not to let them mob her like in the house -- they made sure that there were never too many people too close. It felt so good to support her at that level that I just gradually increased it, and she let me. It was interesting to listen to her conversations with all these people and I learned a lot about the missionary program and the Householding. She was very polite with the Church people, even when they were talking all this theistic stuff. She said that she has no way of knowing whether their God is inspiring her, but she has always wanted to do what's right, help people and save lives, and as a channel she has a chance to do more than many people can, and the Church is giving her an opportunity to do more than most channels can, too. A lot of the people who came to talk to her were out-T Simes her missionaries had saved, and some of them were so full of emotion that I was afraid it was too hard on her. But she asked me not to screen the emotion from her, just support her in zlinning it. It was all good emotion, love and gratitude, but so intense.

After a while some people brought us food, a lot for me and a little plate of delicacies for Yilli. It was kind of amusing -- they must have figured that Yilli would try to share the goodies with me, so they had made sure that all of them had some Sime herbs in them so she would have to eat them herself or not at all. I remembered what Serri told me about how they all try to do nice things for her and look after her without embarrassing her with their love and caring. The food they brought me was very good, and the fresh air made me really hungry, so I let Yilli zlin plenty of that and she ate her whole meal.

We went back to the house and in through the killroom door so we wouldn't have to go through the big crowd, although things were quieting down a lot. I got us a pot of trin from the kitchen, and sat in the armchair and got Yilli to sit in my lap. We drank the trin, and I surrounded her with my field and let her zlin what I feel for her. We sat there for a long time. She got very relaxed and leaned back against me, and I held her and supported her. She asked me to put my hand over her vriamic node, and she put both her hands on mine and let her laterals touch me. A little later she shivered and I kissed her and she made a shoulder contact and told me that that was the easiest turnover she had had in a long time. It was quite late by then, after midnight. She told me to go to bed, she wanted to go out for a little while and run in augmentation, but she wouldn't go far and would be back soon. I waited in bed for her, and she wasn't gone long, but her skin was quite cold so I made her lie in the part of the bed I'd warmed up, and held her and rubbed her back and she soon warmed up. I asked her why she wanted to augment when she was in the second half of her cycle, and the loss of selyn should make her feel worse instead of better. She said that maybe it was a defiance of need, and she wouldn't have done it if she didn't have my wonderful nager to come back to. I tried to form my field the way you showed me in Capital and she fell asleep easily. I stayed awake for a while longer, just holding her.

Skyepar, I can hardly write this when I think about my feelings. I feel like I was born to do this work, to live like this, so closely with this channel. The Tecton would never give me this opportunity to be what I was born to be. I haven't told you or Yilli about when I was a baby at the Siege of Shen, but my mother died to give birth to me, and my father died to keep my stepmother alive so she could nurse me and keep me alive. She believed he murdered another Sime to steal his Gen so he could give it to her, when he was in hard need. He went outside the walls then, to hunt, and died out there. She kept the Gen in the killroom with just water for ten days, because she had to save the little food she had for me and she was losing her milk from starvation. She was from out-T, and knew that Gens were people, and the drugs wore off and the Gen cried and begged for food for ten days, and finally she killed it. She knew from growing up out-T how to make food from animals, and she fed herself and me from the body of that Gen until the end of the Siege. Her own baby had died earlier, and she always treated me as her own child, and told me what a good man my father was, and that I could be a good man too, Sime or Gen. She went through horrors to stay alive as a semijunct to try to raise me to adulthood. Surely there was some purpose to all this suffering and sacrifice.

I'll continue later. I can't write any more now.


I thought about copying the page, leaving out that last part, but it's so hard to think about those events, even if I wasn't old enough to remember them, and put it into words that I might not ever have a chance to again. So I'll leave it. You can share it with Yilli if you like. Maybe listening to all those Church people, who believe that there's a plan behind everything, and a meaning to everything influenced me too much. I don't understand how they can honor a supernatural being who has power over everything, but allows so much suffering and thank it for the little crumbs of good they can find in their own lives despite all the rest. It seems like those really perverted juncts who liked to torture Gens for pleasure, and maybe the Gens would be grateful if the junct didn't hurt them quite as badly sometimes, and even love and honor him for it. I asked Yilli about it and she said that they don't zlin like that at all. They have a lot of different feelings, and many Church people are more like her: they just believe in doing what's right, and don't worry about why they believe that way -- it's more important just to do it. She seemed a little troubled when I mentioned the perverted juncts. I hope I didn't bring up a bad memory for her.

When we got up this morning, everybody was packing up and heading north to get the old Border Patrol barracks set up in time for the earliest arrivals from out-T. Only about a dozen people are going to be staying here today and going up to border tomorrow with us, in addition to the people who won't be going at all. Some of the ambrov Teiu who will be in need soon stayed so they can have an augmentation party this afternoon. They will be doing some heavy work under augmentation -- there's the remains of an Ancient road about half a meter under part of the meadow, and they will dig down and break up the concrete and take it out to improve the drainage and use the chunks to build raised beds for some of the seed plots. This will bring three of them into hard need tonight and they will have a ceremony of the House, in which Yilli will take donations by simulated transfer from three Gens, and serve each of the Simes with the selyn she takes, with all the members watching and zlinning. Because all the Gens are Thirds, they can support the Simes in and near need, so they can just take pleasure from what they zlin and they won't feel the greed and competitiveness and desperation they might at zlinning the draw from the Gens. Instead they will zlin the slilbliss as a foretaste of what they will soon receive.

Everybody is really looking forward to it, and they've done it many times, and of course Yilli is such a good channel, so I'm sure it will work out. I think it's wonderful that ceremonies like this can still take place in the Householdings, although maybe this one is unique, since few have so many Companions that the Simes and Gens can stay together all the time. One of the Simes told me that it's really glorious to zlin, in need or not. He said Yilli seems to just carry the selyn and the slilbliss from the Gen to the Sime and in hyperconsciousness it's like one continuous stream of life and splendor from her first touch on the Donor to her relinquishment of the recipient. He first witnessed the ceremony when he was a child, when Yilli invented it to help the members understand what it meant to be a Householding, and it moved him deeply then. He told me that he had understood for the first time the importance and beauty of Gen-ness in the world, and was freed of the dread that he might establish, which had troubled him throughout his childhood. He said that his wife is Gen, and the night that Yilli served him with his wife's selyn in one of these ceremonies was the night their son was conceived. He said he knew it was superstitious, but they both felt that the child would have an especially good life because he started out that way. He was the second recipient that time, and his brother stood behind him with his hands on his shoulders and managed his need for him, so he could be hyperconscious through the whole sequence. He zlinned the first pair of transfers as if they were his, though not as intense of course, and then his wife's slilbliss seemed to peak and then dip and then flow into him as Yilli served him. His brother helped him stay hyperconscious through the third pair of transfers, and it was like an echo of his own. His brother then releveled him, and his wife engaged his field, and everybody was crying with joy, including Yilli.

Yilli has told me that I won't be able to witness the ceremony because it is private to the House. It's okay to talk about it with the members and with you, but it's probably not a good idea for it to become widely known, so I shouldn't mention it to other people. The ceremony will take place in the basement, so the earth can insulate it, and afterwards everyone will want to drink trin and eat all these little goodies that will be prepared. She'd like me to stay with the missionary students and boil some water for trin so it can be made fresh when people come upstairs. She is going to spend most of the day working with the newest missionary candidates, neither of whom have qualified yet, which she prefers to do without a Companion, because it's easier to start developing the intimacy that's necessary with just the two of them alone. They aren't full members yet, so won't attend the ceremony.

One of Yilli's QN-3s is up from Konawa. Her name is Trina, and she's going to help me with some of the exercises in the handbook you and Roza gave me when she has some time later this afternoon. I've spent the day writing to you, and doing some of the solo exercises, and walking around the farm. Some of the people who live here most of the time have been showing me what they're doing, and it's really very interesting. As you know, I'm a town kid and never realized how much skill it takes to do intensive farming, and seed production and plant breeding are a whole other complex area of knowledge. Yilli bought books from out-T to help her people learn all this technology, because very little of that expertise was in-T before Unity. One woman told me she was embarrassed when she first spoke to the plant breeders at an out-T college whom she had been corresponding with for a couple of years, because she was pronouncing all the technical terms wrong since she only knew them from reading. Yilli had sent her out-T for a whole season to learn from the Gens at their agricultural school, and she said they were very kind to her, but few of them understood why she liked living in-T. She invited some of them to visit the Householding and the seed farm, and later this fall one of them will be lecturing at the NNU ag school and she will be his escort and he will stay here with them. She wrote to him to come early if he likes, and bring his family, so they can cross the border when Yilli is up there and she can take their donations and meet them, but she's not sure if it will happen.

I might not be able to write to you again for a few days because it may be very busy when we go up there, especially at first. I hope that when we get back there will be some mail from you.

Please give my regards to Roza. One night on the road I was reading the old book to myself, and Yilli said that the way I zlinned as I read was as beautiful as the poems themselves. She asked me to read the poems aloud, with my field open so she could zlin fully. The poems were "There is No Need" and "Selyn Dreams". I thought of what you said about my nager, and how I was like a musician playing to her Sime senses. Here I was playing the music of a long dead Companion to her on the instrument of my own mind and body, giving her such pleasure. That thought, and the emotions in the poems, and my love of working to her, and her delight in the texture of my nager combined to give us both so much joy. I want to do this, and more, for her for the rest of my life.


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