Letter 5

Church of Unity Northwestern Synod
Capital Guest House
Capital, West Nivet

3 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU

Dear Roza,

Well, it turns out something came up with the Naros trin business, and Riyyh has to stay in town a few more days to sort it out. The Church is happy to have me continue at the guest house, so I think I'll just stick around. Riyyh is going to provide transfer, either himself or from one of his spare Companions, so I told Matti and Jimi to tell Mavis to go offer herself in Konawa when they get back to the tree nursery. I went down to the Territorial offices and filled out the forms stating that I was releasing my Companion, Mavis ambrov Teiu, TN-1, for transfer this month should the Tecton be able to use her services in Konawa. She'll enjoy the chance to get into town, it's good for her to get more varied experience, she knows how to make lousy trin and she can do a perfectly innocuous neck rub that hurts, so she is protected from the usual forms of exploitation already. She is too smart to let herself be coerced into serving somebody's postreaction if she doesn't want to, and after she does one of the special neck rubs, they likely won't try. They will owe us one for this too. I gave a copy of the documents to Matti to take back with him for Mavis to give them in Konawa. It will be interesting to see which message gets there first.

I also wrote her a note that she should stay in Konawa and enjoy herself for a few days if she likes, but she should be adamant that one of the Sime Centers put up her and her horse, and not let them make her stay at a hotel even if she is not officially on the boards. Of course, if she wants to do some work at a Sime Center, it's fine with me. Firsts do not grow on trees, and we are doing them a favor.

Anyhow, I guess I should finally describe the hearing, or at least the events leading up to it.

I came into Capital more than a week ago with Matti and Jimi, got settled in at the Budget Hotel and had a nice cup of trin and a leafy salad across the street at the trin shop I always eat at when I stay at the Capital Budget. Matti and Jimi had a much more substantial meal and headed over to the Regional Land Management Bureau to arrange the details of their presentation on how the RLMB ought to buy the great new kit Matti has invented that will enable them to reversibly convert a standard row crop cultivator into a nursery stock root pruner. They can buy the kit, and they can buy an excellent new model of row crop cultivator especially compatible with the kit, kit included. He is willing to examine their existing equipment to determine its compatibility with the kit, and our agricultural machinery specialists are eager to modify the kit in any way necessary. He has brought a kit with him, and would be pleased to demonstrate how readily their equipment can be converted with the kit as well as the root pruner in action. As you can imagine, Matti, who is now training Jimi to sell our products as well as fix and use them, has gone over the important points of the presentation and how to answer any questions about them so many times on the trip up from Konawa that I could give the presentation and answer the questions myself.

I walked over to the Capital Central Sime Center in order to offer my services as a First should they require them through some emergency or other. They should be able to reach me at the Capital Budget Hotel, and are welcome to leave a message. They asked me if I required work to manage entran and I told them no. It was one of those beautiful sunny days they get in Capital in the fall so I strolled around, sat at an open air cafe and sipped trin and watched the world go by. I indulged myself browsing through some used book stores and found a half dozen items that will grace our library and which can go back with Matti and Jimi. I also picked up a couple of books that I think you and Skyepar will enjoy and returned to the hotel feeling tired and pleased. I had bought a bag of apples, had one for supper, and read myself to sleep. Ah, the pleasures of ignorance!

The next morning I met Matti and Jimi for breakfast at the trin shop. The presentation was on for later that morning, and in the afternoon if the weather holds they will go out to one of the RLMB's tree nurseries for a practical demonstration. The RLMB seemed extremely interested. Matti was pleased and calm, Jimi was pleased and nervous. They both looked very professional in their Householding capes, as well as looking like people who have an excellent personal understanding of practical aspects of horticultural crop production. I considered offering to take Jimi's field down so that he wouldn't spread nervousness to the customers, but I figured his enthusiasm would make up for it and he would be less nervous once things get going. If the customers think it's strange to have a high field TN-3 selling them farm equipment, so be it.

I'm idly sipping trin and chatting with the Gen who runs the shop and in walks Jori. I'm boggled. What is he doing in Capital? Why is he so upset when I'd always regarded 'Jori' as a synonym for 'unflappable'? "Sectuib", he says, "help me!" The trin shop lady whips her head around, then whips it back and stares at me. She's always known me as Hajene Yilli. I ask her to make up a packet of sandwiches and other good Gen food. I invite Jori to sit down and tell him to relax, of course I'll help him, haven't I sworn to? All the times I've told him to relax when I was training him cause him to immediately relax beautifully. I zlin his blood pressure lowering. I definitely zlin some nerve burn damage, maybe ten days old, but overall he is in good health, and his field is right up there where it should be this long after transfer. He's hungry and hasn't been sleeping well, but he's young and can get away with a fair bit of personal neglect.

I collect the food, hand it to Jori, pay, and we go back across the street and up to my hotel room. I ask to deep zlin him. He seems to be in good shape, the nerve burn is healing very well and causing him no pain, and it has the perfectly uniform character of a burn acquired by someone who has dropped his barriers absolutely flat and has only been burned because the Sime's draw speed has exceeded the intrinsic ability of the Gen's nerves to release selyn. I call it a zero-resistance burn, and it is exactly what I have tried to teach these missionaries to achieve when necessary. I congratulate him on his evident skill, tell him I am extremely proud of him, and ask him to tell me how it happened that he served such a well managed First Transfer to a fairly high order channel, and what he is so worried about.

I'd asked the desk clerk to send up a pot of trin on our way through the lobby. It arrived, I poured two cups, opened the packet of food and told Jori to eat while he talked.

He tells me what I've told you. I think I left the story with Jori and the new channel lying on the Controller's bed, after Jori requested some fosebine for the two of them. Jori is extremely happy at having served First Transfer to the channel, an opportunity he has long hoped would happen, and that he was able to provide her with an apparently excellent first experience with no permanent damage to himself. He is also trying to keep an extremely painful headache out of his field. Hajene sends Sosu for fosebine. Sosu has had the sense to have some ready in the room before the transfer. She also brings a basin of warm water and some towels so they can clean up a bit. Jori gulps down a triple dose, the new channel has a single dose. They lie there and wait for it to take effect. Sosu goes out to tell the family that everything has gone splendidly, and they will be able to see their daughter shortly. Hajene deep zlins Jori and discerns that while the burn is extensive it is nowhere of any significant depth, and relaxes. Hajene deep zlins the new channel, confirms that the transfer terminated naturally with no shorting, and within his level of sensitivity her primary system is replete, her secondary system has been very effectively activated, and both are in excellent shape. He estimates that she is a high Second, and certainly outrates him. Jori reassures the new channel that although he has a pretty awful headache, she should be able to zlin how fast it is fading. She hugs him and thanks him profusely. He hugs her and thanks her back. They sit up and lean back against the headboard. Jori congratulates her on performing her first piece of channeling work by qualifying him Second Order. Hajene explains what that means. Sosu returns. Jori asks Hajene X whether, in his professional opinion, Jori's headache is well enough masked to avoid alarming the child's parents. Hajene thinks so. Jori asks the new channel if she is ready to talk to her family. She is eager to. Sosu fetches the family. There is the emotional scene you can readily imagine, with more tears of joy, congratulations, the parents try to describe their intense positive emotions, the new channel reminds them that they no longer have to, she can now zlin them herself, the parents and brother thank Jori profusely, tentatively hug him, hug him much harder when he hugs them back, and so forth.

They ask him whether there is anything they can do for him. He asks if they can put the three young renSimes up for a few days. One of them is due for transfer soon, and their whole experience of coming in-T has been frightening and painful for them. They have had to travel for almost a week among people who hate and fear them. Before they left they had to stay in a locked room at Jori's house and on the road they had to stay in what can only be described as a cage on the wagon and wear manacles otherwise. They were escorted by two Gen Army soldiers with rifles who were supposed to be there to protect them from other Gens but seemed even more willing to shoot them at the least pretext and filled the ambient with suspicion and contempt. He thinks it would be good for the boys to have a chance to rest at least until after the oldest Sime receives transfer in two days. All three are from farm families in an area similar to this one, and he thinks it will be very comforting for them to see for themselves that life in-T is not as strange as they may have feared, but is very much like it is out-T. The parents and brother are eager to help. They have plenty of space to put them up. Jori reminds them that the boys have never met Simes besides each other until a few hours ago, they have no idea about the simplest aspects of being Sime, they don't even know what they can safely eat, so he hopes the parents can understand this and not take offense at anything they may say or do and can help them in ways he himself cannot. The parents are glad to help these boys who have had such a hard time. The father jokes that their other son will be amazed that they took one girl in changeover to the Sime Center and came back with three male renSimes. The parents say that they would like to spend a couple of days arranging the changeover party, because everybody in the area will want to be there when they hear that the girl has changed over as a higher order channel. The harvesters have almost finished the highest altitude fields, so the harvest will be drawing to a close shortly, which will make it possible for the changeover party to be a huge communal celebration. They want Jori to attend as a guest of honor together with their daughter. They invite him to stay with them too. He says that he has to stay at the Sime Center, and it will probably be best if the girl does too, at least tonight. Hajene may want to start teaching her a little about channeling while he arranges for her to be sent to a channeling school for her First Year. The girl admits that she is feeling very tired and not really up for the long trip home tonight. The parents say they will see her again tomorrow.

The out-T renSimes are invited in. Jori tells them that these kind people have offered to take them home with them for a few days and show them how farmers like their own families live in-T. They will help the young men learn things about being Sime that Jori can't teach them. He reminds them that when people change over in-T there is a big party in celebration, and because this girl has changed over as a channel everyone in the area will want to be at the party, so it will take a few days to organize. After the oldest of them has taken transfer from Hajene X or one of the other channels here at the Sime Center and they have all enjoyed the party, they will continue south to Shen, but now that they are in-T they won't have to wear manacles or be locked up any more. Nobody will be afraid of them or hate them, they will just be ordinary people, so they won't have to suffer nagerically either. One of the Simes asks Jori if he is all right. Jori explains that serving a channel takes a lot more out of him than serving a renSime. When he served them, it was sort of like chopping enough wood to cook supper and keep the house warm overnight. Serving the young channel was more like chopping wood from before dawn until after dark, and he is pretty tired and a bit stiff and sore, but he'll be okay soon, and stronger for it. The girl tells the renSimes that they were right -- transfer with Jori was the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to her. She thanks them for helping build her confidence in Jori, which helped her a lot. She looks forward to talking to them more later.

Everyone leaves. Jori and the girl doze. Sosu brings trin and food. The young channel drinks trin and has a snack. Jori discovers how hungry he really is and has a good meal with Sosu. Sosu takes the girl to one of the staff bedrooms and puts her to bed. A little later she returns with Hajene. Hajene works on Jori a little, treating his burn. Together, Hajene and Sosu get Jori vertical and the group staggers off to another staff bedroom where he gets into bed, has another dose of fosebine and sleeps fourteen hours.

Everything still sounds great, eh? Jori gets up, makes himself some breakfast and sits around the staff lounge eating and flipping through some magazines so old that even he has seen them before, and he's hardly ever in-T. One of the Thirds is back from the harvest and comes by when she hears that Jori is up. Jori has met her before and they chat amiably. She teases him about outmatching her. Hajene X has asked her to check him over, she does, and he seems okay to her. He's been burned, but doesn't seem to have been harmed much by it. He tells her he still has a headache and a bit of the ache-all-overs, but he had some fosebine when he got up and it's not much worse than mild flu. She tells him to take it easy, she has to get back to work. He goes for a walk, checks to see that the team and wagon have been properly cared for -- they have. The young channel has gone back home with her family while he slept. The other brother was disappointed not to have met him, but left his regards and will see him later. He has some more fosebine and takes a nap. He gets up and sits in the lounge with a pot of trin.

Now, I want to make it clear that I really can't fault Jori for what happened next. He has a better ability to read and interpret another person's emotions from face and body language than most Simes can from their fields. But he's still trying to integrate one of the peak experiences of his life, he's in pain, and the amount of fosebine he's been slugging back is more than enough to obtund his cognitive, critical and observational faculties. Hajene X is in need, and all his body language is dominated by need. The Third is absolutely right to say that Jori is doing well but should take it easy. It's not the time for him to be involved in events with far-reaching political implications. But he's just sitting around the staff lounge of a little rural Sime Center. How is he to know what's about to happen?

Hajene X comes in and wants to chat. He tells Jori that he has never zlinned such a beautiful changeover of a channel. Even though he was getting into need, he was moved by Jori's projection of love, confidence and joy, and his ability to calm the family and child and make them all feel so confident. In channel's school he and the other students had discussed their changeovers, and even the Householders didn't describe such wonderful experiences. Even though Jori knew that he was going to be burned, he didn't allow it to affect his confidence, and he was able to manage the burn with such extraordinary skill that not only didn't the child zlin it, but he had caused it to be spread out so that although he was scorched everywhere, due to his apparent total absence of resistance he was nowhere seriously damaged. He didn't realize that was possible, and wouldn't have believed it if he hadn't zlinned it himself. What's more he had provided the girl with a First Transfer of remarkable quality and intensity. It all seemed like some of those tall tales people tell about Farrises. Yet Jori was only a Third until last night. Where had he trained to learn these skills?

Jori explained that he was a Church of Unity missionary, and that when he was in seminary in Konawa, students interested in out-T work whom the Church judged as suited to it were presented as candidates to the Sectuib in Teiu, who specializes in this training, for her evaluation by technical criteria. He was lucky enough to be selected by her, and pledged Teiu and was trained. This was the first time he had served First Transfer to a channel who overmatched him, yet he was able to apply his training with such good results. Sectuib would be very pleased when she found out. Hajene X said he thought it was a strange sort of skill -- how often could it be required? Jori pointed out that last night was once, but the real purpose was to be able to serve a renSime First Transfer when he was really too low field, so that when he had to shen the child to prevent being drained to death, he would have the best chance to do so without killing the child. Hajene asked if Jori would mind if he requested that the District Office assign them for transfer some time. Jori said that he wasn't on the rota, he did all his work out-T serving changeovers in Genland. In fact, the girl last night was the first time he had served transfer to a channel since his qualifying transfer in Konawa some years ago, except for the changeovers of three Thirds. Of course, he wasn't able to tell that that's what they were at the time, but he found out later after they were examined by channels in-T.

Despite being in need Hajene X began to feel a cold grue. Jori wasn't on the rota? Jori worked out-T? Jori didn't serve channels? Jori served renSimes? Jori worked without a channel to direct him? He asked more about the work. Jori explained that he served a community that had Church of Unity members. The Church's policy was to offer First Transfer to any child in changeover whether they were in the Church or not. He usually served three or four changeovers per month, but one month he had done seven. He had never knowingly served a channel out-T, but that was to be expected. So when Hajene had turned management of the girl over to him yesterday, he had the opportunity to do something he had always wanted but didn't expect to have the chance at. Hairs began to stand up on the back of Hajene's neck. How could he serve so many changeovers in a month? Oh, a Third can serve several renSimes easily. Plus Sectuib had helped him develop his system to replenish itself rapidly. How could he know whether he had enough selyn to serve a transfer? Well, he could make a fairly accurate guess, but even if he was low, he had been trained to let himself be drained very deeply but to shen the Sime before it got to a risk of a kill. He had had to do it twice himself, once during the month he had served seven changeovers, but in both cases it was near the end of the draw, so if the child was harmed by the imperfect first experience, it wasn't too badly and the channels could help him adjust once he was in-T. How many times had he done this? Well he had been out in the field most of the past five years, and to his accounting he had served 207 changeovers, saving not only the child, but any Gen he might have killed before being murdered himself. Now that the community understood what he could do, he was serving a lot more children than he had at first. He was bringing these new Simes in-T himself because the Church had recently sent him an assistant. They wanted him to come to Shen and discuss how to manage things in his region now that the demand had grown.

Hajene had never heard of this. His skin began to crawl. These weird Gens with their weird superstitious religion thing were running this network of direct Gen transfer out-T, completely without channel supervision. They were doing things Gens were never meant to do, entirely on their own. They were nonchalantly putting themselves in danger of being burned or killed with the belief that they could manage the situation. Surely the Tecton didn't know about this -- it would never allow Gens to be put at such risk. What would Jori do if he found himself serving a channel who overmatched him by so much that he couldn't shen him before he was killed? This was a situation that had never come up, Jori said, but they all anticipated that it someday would. Sectuib would never certify a missionary for this work unless she was convinced that he could make the split second decision to save himself to save other lives by crushing the child's lateral nerves. A bolt of horror shot through Hajene's vriamic node like an electric shock. Somewhere near Konawa, the Sectuib of a Householding he had never heard of was training Third Order Sime-killer wer-Gens to do incredible, unnatural and unspeakable things without any supervision, beyond the Tecton's reach out-T. And Hajene X had personally turned a channel in changeover over to one of them. Was this really happening? Crushed lateral nerves? Was he having some kind of waking needmare? With an incoherent sound, Hajene augmented into the kitchen, grabbed Sosu Y away from her trin making with a yelp and a crash, and dragged her down the hall to the Sime Center's deferment suite. Silence reigned, and Jori began to have the sinking feeling that he should have been a good deal more reticent.

I think I'll go out for a walk now. More later.

Your sister and Sectuib,

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