Statement by Yilli, Sectuib in Teiu, for the sealed archives, Spring 13 AU.
Statement by Yilli, Sectuib in Teiu, for the sealed archives, Spring 13 AU.
One of the first groups I took into the semijunct program was a man named Nalko and his pact family. I met Nalko at the Konawa West Sime Center. The district was transferring the sickest semijuncts to us and we were developing a specialty in caring for them. He was one of many on my schedule and when I met him he was in even worse shape than his file had indicated. I figured there was about a one in three chance that here was another semijunct who was going to die in my arms no matter what I did, and if not this time, in one of his next few transfers. He might be able to survive an abort now, with me, a high order channel experienced in managing Simes with his problem, but the next time it happened he was going to die.
At that time we were experimenting with running the sicker semijuncts on a shorter need cycle of twenty-two or twenty-three days. Some of them were so deteriorated that just the transition from need to repletion in the best managed transfer would cause their hearts to fail. He asked if he could have a standard rather than junct mode transfer. I zlinned him carefully and said that I would try, but if in my professional opinion during the transfer it was necessary to switch over to junct mode, I would do so unless he told me in advance he would rather die. We began the transfer, and I noticed something strange about his draw. It was as if rather than releasing himself to take channel's transfer from me, he was trying to control his draw to be slow and gentle. Of course he couldn't manage it for long, even though he was only lightly into need. He went into a full draw, and only at the end did he begin to crave killbliss. I was able to feed him just a little, just enough to satisfy him without causing turbulence at the transition and the transfer terminated smoothly.
I later came to recognize this pattern of draw as one of a Sime who was psychologically disjunct, who was utterly ashamed of his semijunct state, who rejected what he believed was the murderous violence of a killing draw, and wanted to emulate what he mistakenly thought was the natural character of a nonjunct's transfer.
It was a far more successful transfer than I had anticipated. I held onto him, trying to manage his fields with enough strength to support him, but not so much as to actually control him. We'd found that it was at this point, when the transients were leveling out, that the heart would often fail. If we tried to actively control the leveling we were more likely to cause than to prevent heart failure. He began crying and begged me to serve his next transfer. He desperately wanted to stay alive until one of the children changed over, and he hoped that with transfers like that he might make it. He really required another year, but anything I could give him would help, so that Mavis (his Gen pact daughter) wouldn't have to carry the family alone for too long.
I got a summary of his situation. I was very excited because it looked like this group could be an ideal case for what I was trying to do. I told him that I would not only put him on my schedule for his next transfers, but I would also like to arrange for some sessions to try to improve his general health. I was Sectuib in Teiu, and I was starting up a program for people like him and his family that might enable him to recover some of his health and live longer without ever killing again. I would talk to him about it in a few hours when I was off-shift.
In the meantime, I wanted him to rest in the infirmary and I would have a Donor give him a therapy session. I would ask her to send a runner with a message to his home so his family wouldn't worry. I was imagining how each of the other pact parents had gone off for transfer over the past few years and never returned.
Here's what his situation was. He was the last adult survivor of a pact. When the semijuncts saw that they had escaped Zelerod's Doom only to die of their semijunct condition, Simes with children to look after formed pacts. In a pact, they agreed to pool their resources, and will their property to each other. In exchange, the survivors would continue to look after the children. They pledged that they would each try to stay alive as long as possible so that one of them might last long enough for at least one Sime to change over among the children to care for the rest. They swore to regard each of the children as their own. The children swore to regard themselves as members of one family and help each other until they were all adult. Of course, younger children couldn't be expected to give a true adult oath, so it was repeated at intervals as they grew up.
We know, although future historians might not, that swearing to try to stay alive until a pact family child changed over did not mean that that they didn't regard Gens as true human beings. They were dying because they believed that every Gen was just that. But in our culture now, even in the Tecton itself, while Gens are legally adults with all rights and responsibilities, they are often treated more like permanent children, and few opportunities are available to them. Things are better now than they were seven years ago, but it will certainly take more than one generation for such prejudice to fully decline.
Nalko was trying to take care of ten children between the ages of ten and twelve. He was now too sick to work. The children were running around Konawa doing what they could to make money. Some of them were working in restaurants in exchange for meals and the opportunity to bring leftovers, as well as food that was past selling, home to the others. Fortunately they had a place to stay, since one of the adults in the pact had contributed a small cottage. The pact family had few remaining funds, and taxes and other unavoidable expenses were quickly consuming the rest.
Mavis had been a child of a wealthy Konawa family. When she established, they threw her out of the house in disgust. One of the servants who witnessed it told her to go wait in the stable. He brought her some clothing, food, a blanket, and a small amount of money the servants had raised together, and told her to go into town before Tuib found out she hadn't left. Although Tuib her mother was not quite in need, it wouldn't be the first time a newly established Gen was 'accidentally' killed by a parent.
Mavis walked into town, wondering what to do next. She was very young, eleven natal years. In a few minutes she had gone from a happy, loved and protected child with an assured future of wealth and ease to a homeless adult with nothing but the few items she could carry, rejected as an animal by those she had most admired, loved and depended on. She sat down on a bench in the square, about where the famous attrition cages had been, and looked at the centerpiece public sculpture. At that time, it was the channel offering, the renSime reaching, the Donor supporting the channel and looking into the future. The bronze Pen Gens were still there, looking on in wonder.
She thought about what it meant to be Gen. Her mother believed she was like the Pen Gens, but she decided that she felt more like the Donor. Her mother was Sime, had always treated her well and told her what she would accomplish after changeover, had educated her to join her and her brother in business, and then had utterly rejected her as soon as she had established. The servants were Sime, but they had risked their jobs to help her, if stories she had heard were true, even to save her life, and had given her money she knew they couldn't afford to give. She decided that there were good Simes and bad ones, and she could see in front of her that while some Gens were or had been subhuman animals, some were strong and noble adults like the Donor in the sculpture. She decided that she could be like that, but she didn't know what to do first.
After a while, a boy her own age sat down next to her. He offered her some food and she shared what she had with him. They told each other their stories. Mavis had never heard of a pact family. Matti said that he wasn't sure whether to wish to be Sime or Gen. If he changed over, he could take over care of the pact family and his foster father Nalko could die in peace. But if he were Gen, he would never have to suffer from need and risk turning junct and going through the slow agonizing death that he had seen his other pact parents die, and which was about to claim his father. Plus he could make immediate money by donating to the Tecton, as well as working, so even if his father died before one of the other children changed over, they could probably get by.
This idea of donating selyn for money was new to her, so she asked Matti for instructions on how to get to the Sime Center. Matti was impressed that she could write them down. He said he couldn't read or write, but if she could, he thought his father would let her stay with them in exchange for teaching the children to read, and that way her donation payments would go further. He was heading home now, because he had to get some sleep. He had an arrangement with a baker to come in several hours before dawn and get the ovens ready. In exchange he got a lot of day old bread as well as some money. She could meet Da. He was pre-turnover, Matti said, so she shouldn't worry.
At any rate, the family had worked things out, and Mavis had gone in to the Sime Center the next day and qualified GN-2, even though her field was still rising. After Nalko's next transfer, which he thought had gone better because he had not been as worried, Mavis had asked to pledge into the pact family as if she were an established child. They had all talked about it, and Nalko had agreed. When she spoke the ritual words to him, "You are my father and mother", and to the children, "You are my sisters and brothers", the sincerity carried on the ambient by her adult nager gave him an exquisite relief. Nalko began to believe that although he probably wouldn't survive long enough for a child to change over, Mavis, despite her youth, might be able to care for the family as long as necessary.
What worried Nalko about Mavis was that she was able to help him somehow. They would just sit quietly together and he would gradually feel more at peace. He could zlin her love and respect and desire to help. She never raised the least degree of intil in him, even after turnover, but what she was doing was more than just letting him know how she felt about him. He had to choke it out, but he was deathly afraid that he might attack her.
I told him that the Donor I was about to assign to his therapy would be able to help him in much the same way. The fact that Mavis was able to figure out for herself how to help him so soon after establishment, without either of them knowing that it was possible, showed that she had a real talent for this work. If she could come to me the following afternoon I would try to evaluate her potential and teach her more about how to work with him. He shouldn't worry about killing her. If despite all her desire to help him and her skill at doing so, she had never raised his intil, she must have naturally good control. Also, when it came right down to it, he could never survive a killmode attack -- as soon as he felt the least pain from the Gen, he would abort, and he would almost certainly die from the abort. So it was no longer necessary for him to fear that he might kill.
I should mention here that I was breaking Tecton guidelines in telling Nalko that he was in practice free from the Kill. The policy was that it was too dangerous to tell Simes this -- every semijunct must be regarded as a permanent danger to Gens. I broke this guideline many times when I knew that the Sime could never kill again, whether he could be provoked to attempt it or not, because doing so gave these tortured people so much solace.
Nalko began to cry again, and said that his first trip to the kill camp, after he understood what a kill really was, was the most horrible thing he had ever experienced. He didn't want to do it, but he had his dead sister's two children to take care of. It was as if he had killed all the Gens he had ever killed over again, but this time knowing what he had done.
The next time, the channel had to work with him over and over until he could complete the kill after several aborts. He vividly described how he drew and aborted, drew and aborted, the Gen becoming more terrified, more badly burned, finally weeping helplessly in confusion and pain and screaming "no, no" despite the drugs as the channel repeatedly forced Nalko to raise intil, pushed the Gen at him, and manipulated the fields until he could complete the kill. To Nalko, the Gen was a child like the two children he was trying to save, and here a channel, who should be trying to help him, had helped him slowly torture a child to death by manipulating him nagerically like a puppet. He wanted to die, had wanted to die since his first trip to the kill camp after his psychological disjunction. He wondered if killing two children to save two others made sense. After all, his two children would probably not die, although they might have to join Konawa's packs of street children -- many of whom did not survive the winter, or survive at all if they had no one to help them. Could it be right to kill another Gen 'child'? Could he even force himself to try?
When he got back to Konawa he knew he had to do something because he didn't believe that he could survive another kill attempt. The number of destitute orphans had risen far beyond the number that could be taken in by relatives and friends, beyond what could be managed by paid foster families. The adult population of Nivet was still mainly semijuncts, but they were people in increasingly poor health who knew they were doomed. The Tecton was talking about starting orphanages, but nothing was planned for Konawa for some time. One of his friends was a Sime woman with a daughter about the age of his sister's children. They had discussed marrying to try to give the children's future a little more security after one of them died. Then they heard about pact families, and tried to find and join one. It was a bitter experience for them. Everyone was looking for adults healthier and likely to live longer than they, as they were doing themselves. Everyone wanted older children who would change over sooner, and of course everyone wanted people who could bring material resources into the pact family.
If you think about what is going to happen if everyone is going around with the same criteria, trying to recruit people who are better in those criteria than themselves, you'll realize that you end up with groups that are fairly uniform internally. Nalko and his friend decided to form their own pact family, starting with themselves, a group of two adults and three children. This pact family eventually merged with two others, forming a group of seven adults and ten children, all the parents in about the same poor health, all with about the same amount of property to contribute, and all the children within a three-year age range. The oldest was ten, and they all hoped for an early changeover.
Within six months, four of the adults were dead, including the woman Nalko had formed the first pact with. Three died in transfer aborts in Konawa, and one didn't survive her trip to the kill camp. The children were doing well, although you can imagine the anxiety when an adult went for a transfer. The three adults could still work and look after the children. They all lived crowded together in the two-room cottage contributed by one of the dead adults. The adults found they could comfort and encourage each other, and there were no more deaths for nearly a year.
During this period Nalko went for his third kill after what I regard as his disjunction in everything but body. Nothing the channels could do would raise his intil when presented with a young Pen Gen. They tried the usual mild physical torture of the Gen, what was referred to as 'stimulation', pinching its earlobe, twisting its arm. When they slapped the Gen's face, Nalko collapsed. They decided to try again the next day when Nalko's need would be more intense. The Gen went on to some other semijunct, who may have been horrified or delighted to be presented with a 'prepared' Gen. If you didn't know that the Tecton was running Gen parlors out at those non-existent kill camps for the million or so semijuncts who were in on the secret, you do now.
The staff somehow discerned that part of Nalko's "problem" was that he saw the Gens as children, just like the children he was going through all this suffering to save. So the next day they presented him with an adult Gen, a former breeder. This might have worked a little better, except that the Gen somewhat resembled Nalko's dead sister. Of course, any healthy Sime in need will zlin more than see, and the fact that young Gens seemed like children to him, and a mature Gen seemed to resemble his Sime sister shows how his entire mind and body were fighting against the Kill, except for that terrible junct hook through him that was pulling the other way.
I use this metaphor of a hook, because that's the image that Nalko used: a heavy iron hook piercing his body, causing him agony from which he could not escape, not even in death, because he had sworn to the dead who had formed his pact family. When after several tries Nalko could not be coerced into taking the Gen, and he collapsed in convulsions after the last abort, they offered him one last alternative.
At this time they were experimenting with using some of the Pen and Gen parlor drugs on Simes. They thought they had a combination that might help him make a kill, but they couldn't guarantee it and they couldn't tell whether it might do him more harm than good. Nalko thought about it, trying to decide if it would be more of a betrayal of his pact oath to try the drugs or forgo the kill entirely -- which choice gave him a better chance to fulfill his promise to stay alive if at all possible until a pact family child changed over? He decided to try the drugs.
The channel put him into menar sleep for a few hours in hopes of some physical recovery on his limited remaining selyn supply. They woke him up, gave him the drug and put him back under while it took effect. When he woke again he felt very strange. He was in hard need, but it didn't trouble him. He felt like he was floating somehow inside his own mind, while his body was free to act without him. In this detached state, he went hyperconscious when presented with a Gen, and his intil rose smoothly. Everything was easy and natural, just as in the old days before he had understood what a kill really was. He didn't think at all about the reality of the kill or what was actually happening.
At a great remove he watched himself react to the Gen's field, approach it, take it in a transfer grip and begin to draw. As if he were zlinning it in someone else in slow motion he felt the pleasure of the draw, the increasing fear and pain in the Gen, the Gen's useless attempts to struggle, the strength in his own tentacles that prevented escape, his power over the Gen, the Gen's helplessness in his grip, the entire kill experience in slow, intimate, exquisite detail, his own emotions and those of the Gen, his exultation in being able to coerce the Gen to feed his own joy with the Gen's own agony, the Gen's desperation, the white-hot pain of nerve burn gradually spreading through the Gen's system, the Gen's frantic, futile efforts to resist the draw as he pulled each golden pulse of selyn against the Gen's will, efforts that only increased the Gen's agony and his own satisfaction, his strength and ease in overpowering the Gen's resistance, his increasing repletion and the Gen's increasing emptiness, savoring his power over the Gen's life, his power to force his will, his power to cause agony to give himself pleasure, his joy in the power, his joy in the pleasure, the helplessness of the Gen, the slow fading of the Gen's field, the pleasure of repletion, his joy in his power to use up another human being's life in agony, his power to drain every last pulse of selyn and drop the empty husk.
The channels helped him lie down and put him to sleep. When he woke up he wished more than anything else in his life that he had died in changeover. He was unable to move or speak. He had physical reflexes, his eyes responded to light, but he was otherwise catatonic. The channels assumed that it was a reaction to the drugs, and put him into menar sleep again for lack of any other ideas, but Nalko told me he was aware the whole time he was awake. Although the kill had taken only the normal few seconds, it had seemed to him to go on forever.
With his judgment and ethics suspended by the drugs, he had performed a perfect kill which had done wonders for his physical health. With the drugs gone he was unable to find a way to accept what he had done. He was unable to believe that the drugs were an outside influence that had caused him to do something foreign to his nature. He feared that all his rejection of the Kill and the suffering he had experienced for it were just a thin rationalization over his true nature revealed by the drugs.
Whoever reads this must find this story very disturbing, because any decent human being would find it disturbing. Nevertheless, I think these stories must be recorded somewhere. Nalko's story is utterly appalling, but it is not atypical. I know this because I myself worked as a kill camp channel, and facilitated kills like these many times in the Tecton's name. I've also signed many kill authorizations so other channels could commit these horrors for me at second hand.
Ediva ambrov Dar estimated that there were a million and a half junct Simes in Nivet a year before Unity. Some of those Simes are alive today. Each of them took at least one kill per year from Unity until his death. Each of those kills was arranged and observed or facilitated by a Tecton channel. Each kill was authorized by another Tecton channel. Most of the kill camp channels were juncts, and almost all of them are dead now, but there are still a few kill camps, and what I have described still goes on today, as it has millions of times since Unity.
Yilli, Sectuib in Teiu, QN-1