3 days after autumn equinox, 12 AU
I'm going to skip forward a little here. Let's gloss over meeting Matti and Jimi, happy with the prospect of a big order from the RLMB tree nursery, and spoiling the planned celebration at the Capital All-You-Can-Eat Buffet by getting them up to speed on what's happening with Jori and the hearing board. The papers have caught up to me, and the hearing is scheduled for the following afternoon. Matti and Jimi express a touching faith in my ability to manage this, which is not as strong in their fields as in their words. This is okay. I am not a Sectuib in the style of Klyd Farris, whose members went off to terrible deaths with no questions, and only the hope of a trefoil shaped grave marker to console them. I am a Sectuib in the style of Hajene Yilli, who tries to do her best and expects her members to pick up the slack the best they can figure out how. I suggest we all get some sleep and meet for a breakfast strategy session at the trin shop across from the hotel.
As the highest rated Donor in the group, Jori offers to stay with me and be Companion to his Sectuib, providing nageric and moral support etc. I consent, figuring he won't get any sleep otherwise. We go back to the hotel, wash up and get into bed. I put him right out, and lie there for a long time trying to figure out what's really going on and how I'm going to handle it. Then I get a few hours sleep by forcibly immersing myself in his field.
We wake up around dawn, and I send Jori back to the guest house to put on his best outfit. We all meet at the trin shop, the trin shop lady happily stuffs my Gens, calling me Sectuib Yilli and bringing me all these little delicacies she must keep in back for her favorite customers. She's always been nice to me, but now she treats me like royalty, which I am, I guess, to some points of view.
I give my interpretation from what Jori has told me and what I read between the lines on the papers served to me. The Tecton is looking for Distect fanatics under every rock and log. That the canola farmers of Elk Mountain village would request a Gen to serve their renSime children in First Transfer cannot be just ill-thought-out exuberance over wonderful happy things occurring in their obscure corner of Nivet, they have to have gotten the idea somewhere.
Now where would they get such an idea? Aha! From Sosu Jori, the Mysterious Stranger, who can calm a whole room full of Simes and Gens, including a channel who outrates him. How can he do this? Nagerically, of course. It's unimaginable that Jori might be a smart and empathetic man, experienced in dealing with people he can't influence nagerically, viz out-T Gens, and knows how to use methods that work on everyone. How could Jori do this sorcerous feat of nageric manipulation? Well, the Distect is widely reputed to be able to corrupt any Gen or renSime by mysterious means -- one Distect-style transfer and they are ready to die for more.
Where could Jori have learned all this? Well, certainly not out-T where the only Simes are dead or berserkers, he must have learned it in-T. And where in-T? At the House of Teiu tree nursery near Konawa, where he learned to do other uncanny things, like serve many transfers per month, take a bad transfer burn without any permanent damage, kill a Sime in transfer, and a variety of other techniques useful to a Distect Gen, who has no more supervision or backing by the Tecton than does a Gen working out-T as a Church of Unity missionary.
So the Tecton has to find out what's going on here, and of course, the only way to do so is to talk to the highest rated channel involved, namely Yilli, Sectuib in Teiu. Is Teiu secretly a Distect House? Didn't it have two Sosectus? There's something strange about this House anyway. How did it get reestablished? How does it get along so well with the out-T Gens, selling them stuff and sending them TN-3 farm equipment mechanics to serve First Transfer in government mule barns? Why are most of their Gens Companions? Didn't they have that program for semijuncts and direct Gen transfer? Shudder. How Distect. And now they are involved with one of those weird out-T Gen type things, a religion. What's worse, they do things in bad taste. We have right here a copy of their seed catalog, with a pepper called Red Hot Tentacles, not to mention the seditious Rior Orange Pumpkin.
Well, I didn't anticipate all that, but that's what came out over the course of the hearing. I made them promise to send you a transcript. I haven't seen it yet myself, but I will be interested to count how many times I said "Teiu is not now, nor has it ever been, a Distect House".
Back to the strategy session. I explain to my members that the board will consist of five channels, including a Farris ambrov Sat'htine, a Farris ambrov Im'cholee and the chairman is the brother of the Sectuib in Imil. If I remember the gossip correctly there was a long and very bitter fight between him and his sister as to who was going to be Sectuib, so even though he lost out, it must have been close. He may not be a Farris, but he must be a very hot channel. In front of these guys, I am like a renSime. They would be QN-Zeroes if there were such a thing, and they can zlin through my showfield like chicken wire.
Here's my strategy, I say. I think they may be trying to construct some conspiracy theory that makes me look like a better strategist and long range planner than Klyd Farris. I only wish I were. It's not my fault that just trying to do the right thing as best as I can figure it out at the time sometimes causes a chain of opportunities to do more right things to propagate out into the future. And each of those things can have similar consequences, so in retrospect it looks really well organized, but it's mostly a result of stumbling around in the dark trying to find enough canola oil to keep the lamp lit. So the only thing I can do is try to keep each point in context, and not let them get carried away making connections between things that weren't planned to have connections at the time.
Naztehrhai, I say, I will be as forthright and truthful as I can, and I expect you to do your best not to react with startlement over anything I say or do. If at all possible you should project a sense of calm confidence in the honor and capability of your Sectuib. If you can't be sincere, you are probably best off just projecting calm. Since my showfield will be about as effective as a bean trellis in winter, I intend to drop it entirely, which may actually embarrass them and make them back off a little.
We should all remember that Jori not only acted well within Tecton law up at Elk Mountain, he is technically following Tecton law out-T. At Elk Mountain, the Controller turned over management of the changeover to Jori in front of witnesses, and besides the girl was a channel not a renSime. Donors may serve direct transfer when there is no channel available, and that certainly applies to all the changeovers ambrov Teiu have served out-T. So there is absolutely no Distect taint to any of this. The program for semijuncts was conducted in strict adherence to the rules set forth in the contract between the Tecton and myself for Teiu, so no direct transfer has ever taken place at Teiu except with my authorization and the Tecton's consent. Bear all this in mind if they start accusing me of anything, naztehrhai, so you won't zlin of doubt.
In summary, we have absolutely nothing to hide and absolutely no ability to hide it, so I am going to tell the absolute truth as I see it, and they are going to have to accept it, okay? Okay.
I suggest we take a stroll the long way around, it's a nice day, the walk will do us good, and if the Gens are hungry by the time we get there, the carts that sell lunch to the civil servants will be set up in the square by then. So we march along, in our walnut-hull brown, Sectuib's white scarf in place, her not-as-short-as-Risa-Tigue-but-half-again-as-wide little Sime body surrounded by her big strong handsome Gen naztehrhai. We stop at Territorial Avenue and wait for traffic to clear. I notice that they really aren't doing a good enough job keeping the horse manure off the road and idly wonder whether there's some horticultural enterprise we could set up around here to take advantage of all this free fertilizer.
Across the street, also waiting for the traffic to clear, is one of the most enormously pregnant Gens I've ever seen. Since my ego is cringing a little at the thought of facing the power channels on the board, I comfort myself by noting that while 99.9% of Simes would probably figure that the poor woman was going to give birth before she could cross the road, my superior discernment can detect, through the gaps in the traffic, that she is only eight months pregnant, but with large healthy twins. I idly note that she is in good physical shape, though somewhat tired, which is certainly understandable, her pelvic outlet is going to be adequate to the job, she is well nourished as is the cranky little kid she is holding by the hand, and she has a variety of nice fresh leafy fall vegetables in the basket in her other hand. I continue to zlin with my excellent Sime senses and enumerate all the delicious salad greens in the basket. Hmm, there's arugula, and frilly endive, and corn salad, and miner's lettuce....and two, no three kinds of leaf lettuce, and bok choy, radicchio and scallions, and hmmm, wow, there's a bunch of canola leaf on the bottom. We used to live on canola leaf when we were kids back at the original Householding in the mountains. Canola leaf and triticale porridge. Nutritious stuff and as Ma used to say, a belly full of trit porridge and no wind is going to blow you off the mountain. I wonder if we could grow trit at Konawa.
The traffic clears, the kid is now not just crabby but screaming, we all start to cross the street, the woman is leaning back at about a five degree angle and there's no way she can see her feet. The kid yanks at her arm, she doesn't see the pile of fresh horseshit she is about to step into. I see what's about to happen and augment to try to help her stay on her feet.
Go ahead and laugh, Roza. Wer-Gens like you know what instinct-driven fools we Simes are in situations like this. In an instant, little Yilli, this very tall, strong, heavy, pregnant Gen, the screaming little kid and the basket of greens are doing an incredible set of gyrations in middle of the the street in a pile of wet slippery fresh manure. The center of gravity of this agglomeration is moving through space in a pattern reminiscent of a Sime in high augmentation dodging a volley of Gen rifle fire, but nowhere near as graceful. I'm augmenting high enough that I have time to see my naztehrhai slowly reacting in amazement, adjusting their positions and heading forward to rescue me. It's all happening in slow motion and it's very clear that they aren't going to get here in time to prevent me from landing on my back in manure, with Gen, kid and basket to follow. The vegetables are slowly describing their own trajectories as they are flung from the basket. I cease augmentation, relax and let it happen.
By the time the Gens get to me, they've sorted themselves out. Jori picks me up, Matti helps the Gen woman up and Jimi who loves children gets the little kid. We all retreat to the side of the road. Everybody starts ineffectually brushing wet horse manure off everybody else. I tell the woman I'm a channel and offer to examine her. I can tell without even trying that she and the twins are okay, as is the little kid. She asks me whether there's any chance that the fall might have shaken the twins loose a bit so she can get this whole thing over with sooner. I assure her that they are not going to leave until pushed. I suggest that she may want to lie down and rest a bit. Can I pay for a cab to take her home? She says that her partner is a delivery wagon driver and is going to pick her up at the next corner in a few minutes if he isn't late. He can take her back to the co-op garden so they can pick some more vegetables, and then they can go home. It seems that Householding Naros has an outreach program in Capital where they fit up vacant lots and help people raise vegetables on them. What a great idea. I'm going to tell the Church about it. Maybe they can do similar things in other places. We walk her to the corner. Her partner, a wiry little renSime, arrives, zlins the lot of us and says "Shuven, Glenda, you've got to tell me the whole story". We help her onto the wagon seat with the kid and the empty basket, they leave, and we stand around looking at each other.
Jori says, "Sectuib, you can't go to the hearing like this." Fortunately we have plenty of time. We go back to the hotel, I strip and wash, the Gens try futilely to clean up the Householding cloak and the Sectuib white scarf and my best shirt. Unfortunately, I had just that morning sent all my dirty clothing to the hotel's laundry service except for my favorite sweater, the one all the kids together knitted for me as a present for our first Year's Turning at the Householding. It was lopsided and uneven to begin with, but it's so comfortable and has such good feelings associated with it that I take it with me when I travel and sleep in it if I get cold. I've been hauling it around for a long time and it shows it. Well, it's that, essence of equine, or nothing. I'm already planning to drop my showfield, if I go in there naked, they'll think I'm grandstanding. So the sweater it is. The Gens are worried, offer me their cloaks and their own shirts, etc, but it's obvious that this is not going to work unless one of them walks behind me to keep me from tripping over my shirttail or the cloak.
So off we go again, the same three big tall handsome manly Gens, one little bedraggled Sime woman in a tatty sweater with wet hair.
We get to the hearing room early, and the board and their Donors are a bit alarmed but I explain that all my Sectuib regalia got ruined in a minor accident this morning and this is the best I can do. They can zlin that I am telling the truth, but are still taken aback. I point out that if I had known that I was going have to appear before such an august body of Tecton officials I would have been sure to bring backup regalia.
They introduce another channel as Riyyh, Sectuib in Naros, with two high-field Companions, who would like to be present as an observer, unless I have an objection. I rack my brains for what gossip I've heard about this guy and his House. All I can remember is some stories that have him looking like a fluttering fool, and a few comments that there's a very wily politician under the act. I figure that there really isn't anything he can do to make it worse for us, and the more witnesses to this stupid exercise the better, so I consent.
They ask when my Companion will be arriving and I say that I have three Companions of my House right here. They look at each other and zlin the very modest fields of my two farm equipment salesmen and the somewhat larger one of my missionary and ask if I would like them to send for a Tecton Donor of rating comparable to my own. I think, right, they will bring in someone to support me who is on their side, and what good is it going to do me to have to fight off that kind of support on top of everything else? I thank them, but say that these Companions of my own House will do well for me. They start arguing in the usual elaborate circumlocutions. I suspect that they think it will look bad if I don't have every zlinnable advantage. Finally, Riyyh breaks the impasse by offering me the use of one of his Companions for the duration of the hearing. This is an interesting move, so I request the opportunity to speak privately with Sectuib Riyyh and the Companions. They get a lackey to usher us to a nearby empty office and I take my Gens with me.
I ask him what is going on. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to get a straight statement out of this guy, but what I abstract from all the verbiage is that he was in town on business, heard about the whole flap, and does not like what he heard. If they can come down on me like this for no real reason, who's next? Sectuib Naros, I say, I am not at all happy about having to play politics when I could be putting the effort into more important things like saving lives out-T. You and I are about evenly matched. The channels on the board outclass me so I am going to just completely drop my showfield at the hearing. I'll do it here and now if you will too and we can save a lot of dancing around. He seems a bit nonplussed, but he does and I do and we chat a bit and sample each other's nagers and I am more or less convinced that I understand where he stands on all this.
He offers the services of his Companion again, and I accept. I tell the Companion that I seldom require support except when I am doing something delicate nagerically, so I'd like him to just hang around unobtrusively and offer enough generic positivity that the board will believe that if I should suddenly become completely unstuck they will not be blamed for doing it to me. I introduce Matti, Jimi and Jori and explain that they will just stay calm and try to feel confidence in their Sectuib, so their nagers should not get in the way of anything. Riyyh invites us to have tea with him at his suite at the Territorial Hotel after the hearing, tells me several more times he is sure I can pull this off well, and we go back to the hearing room.
At this point the transcript should pick up, so I will discuss it with you and Skyepar in as much detail as I can stand when I get to the CRF in two months time unless some other wretched mess blows up before then. Reading over the last page or so of this I can see that I am still mad enough that it shows in the tone. As I said in the first letter about it, overall it went well, for a pointless and aggravating event. I was able to mostly stay cool, and I can probably credit Riyyh's Companion partly for that. I hope after expending all this time and trouble harassing me to no avail, they will be reluctant to try it again soon.
Anyhow, after the hearing was concluded, Riyyh took us all back to the Territorial, ordered in an amazing spread of food for the Gens, got me to lie down and I let him work on me a little. You know I'm not usually this self-indulgent, but the guy is really persuasive, as well as very good technically. He invited me to travel to Naros with him, and take transfer there. We're pretty close to being in phase, he would like to discuss some horticultural business and exchange of expertise between our Houses, it will be nice to have a channel of my level around, he would be pleased to show me his House, and we can generally have a good time. By this point some of the other aspects of his reputation have begun to appear to be well deserved, the whole trip sounds like a good idea, and I consent.
So you've got the rest of the story already -- I went up to Shen, came back down and have been hanging around the guest house the past few days, resting and writing you these letters. It looks like Riyyh really will be ready to go tomorrow morning early, so I probably won't write you again until after I get back here. My schedule is thrown off since I won't be going back to Konawa to take transfer from Mavis. I'm just going to cut the whole Konawa part out of the schedule and pick it up again at North Nivet University. After I come back from Naros I'll head in that direction and stop at the channel training camp at Poplar Bluff. That's where they sent the girl Jori served at Elk Mountain. I think it may be time to actively recruit some more channels for the House to work on the out-T changeover attendant training program. I don't want to use channels just out of training, but if some of them are interested, they may want to come work with me when they are more seasoned. I'd like to meet the girl Jori served anyway.
I may go over to the Central Sime Center and work a few hours this evening. Not that I get entran, but why take a chance? Besides, it can be a real pleasure just to do a bunch of ordinary functionals instead of some of the rather harrowing precision things I do training the missionaries.
your sister and Sectuib,