"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors."
|Some time around 2778.255 AS
Off to the Hall of Envoys, and Dmitri's office. His office has moved to a smaller one. Kith is startled to see Anya standing guarding the inner office door - but no, she isn't quite Anya's coloration, just her livery and pose and halberd. There is a brief display of unprofessional behavior as Anya and Vela, the other armsman, fling themselves across the room at each other. Some catching up ensues - the other Pierogi armsman, Pyotr, stayed on Creek with Wisewomen Greta Estelle. She thinks it was important for him to stay and do something, and was also important for her to come back. Of the two, Vela was one with some farsight, so she's probably got some reason for thinking this. The pair get invited to dinner later, at Dmitri's house. Vela will cook (Anya is astonished that Vela cooks.)
In the meantime, they make an appointment with Grandmother Teek, the Creek envoy, for the next morning, and some names of hospitals are acquired. Hotel rooms are rented, and Anya gets a bottle of wine. Then, it's to Dmitri's for dinner, where Anya and Kith trade stories with Dmitri and Vela. Dmitri has been involved in coordinating the defense of the various outworlds; there's a whole mess of things involved. They hear about the Highguard tournament from the other side, and they tell him about the Spartan incursion and the yin yang people. And the outworlds should try and contact some Nullers for help.
In the morning, Kith frets about whether she's ready to talk to Grandmother Teek or not. They collect clippings about the local politics from various newspapers to give to Eva. Anya goes to the city library to look into the psychic research journals. There are definitely increases and fluctuations in the psychic sexternions, with the obvious consequences. Anya goes to make xeroxes, having grown accustomed to the inworlds and the Hippocrates' book scanner device - she realizes the library doesn't have a xerox machine, and is suddenly struck with horror that she has forgotten how to function in her own society.
In the afternoon, Kith talks to Grandmother Teek about her travels. How is her year progressing? It's been hard. Many of the crew have been difficult to understand well, and they do not have an instinct to listen to wisewomen. Grandmother Teek allows as that's true; were she to visit a village on Creek, she would be treated with respect, but it would be respect for her robe and her sash, which has been earned over the centuries. Journeymen are sent around the outworlds, because the outworlds are harder than Creek, but the inworlds are harder still. Grandmother Teek suggests that she speak to Hannah Ward, at the Whitecliffe Hospice.
Then, it's off to talk to Hannah. She is a wisewoman in her eighties, now confined to a bed. She is a little less brisk than Grandmother Teek, and talks about how she always meant to get back to Creek, but there were always things to do here... In any event, that Kith is here is helpful. There are some things she did not have a chance to finish, that she would like Kith to do. First, she has been collecting herbal clippings. If Kith could take her bag to Creek and give the clippings to the Wisewomen's Council, that would be good. Next, there are some bits of unfinished business she can no longer help with. There is a married couple, the Jaspers, who were having troubles since their son died. She helped them some, but now that she is sick, she thinks they have been having more troubles. Next, there is a multi-family cooperative which has been seeing vandalism in their community vegetable garden (the Small Field). Finally, there is a political party in the midst of forming, but they have been having trouble building a consensus on some minor issues.
The political party has a deadline of next week to finish getting things in order in order to be recognized for the next parliamentary session. So it's the most pressing. It's meeting every evening this week. Kith and Anya show up at the meeting, and are filled in on the things that they've been doing; they've got members of Defender and Mercantile, and are trying to set up unofficial help from the inworlds. They were involved with the Highguard wager for ships, and they've been in contact with Klothos regarding armed whiterunners and the Red Hegemony regarding armed whiterunner hunters. Finally, there are some thoughts about getting some Well Citizens to sponsor some sort of war game competition. They're in basic agreement on a platform of something like "Gathering resources to support outworld defense through cleverness," but some of the minor issues are still in contention.
After much argument, a fifteen minute break is called, after which people start to trickle back in the room and Kith, with Anya's help, starts trying to forge them into little coalitions to build up into bigger ones. After a lot of work, they finesse things to not only get all fifty people in a single coalition, but to have the planks that they (Kith and Anya) want:
Charles Forsythe is the final coalition head and thus the single party chairman, and the party gets named the Cooperative Front.
That's an evening well spent, so the pair heads back to the hotel to sleep. The next morning, they go and talk to the Small Field people. They've set guards occasionally, but nothing ever happens those nights. Anya talks to the guards, emphasizing the difference between guards (who are meant to deter trouble) and ambushes (who would be trying to catch troublemakers). Kith spends the day trying to talk to everyone. She gets lucky, and notes that one of the teenagers she encounters seems both guilty and angry. They focus on him - he seems to think that Crux is kinda backwards, and he'd really like to be on a ship or in the inworlds. They try and get him interested in taking guard shifts, which he can then put on his resume to interview with the spaceport guards.
Talking to the Jaspers, it's quite evident that they feel guilty - it's their fault that Wisewoman Hannah never made it back to Creek, and probably got tired out and then sick. And her being sick is much like their son being sick, which he then died of, so they're a bit of a tangled mess. Kith manages to reassure them some, that they made Hannah feel needed, and that Creek is junky to live on anyway. She gets them to open up some, which helps, though it's clearly not a long term solution, as they tend to reinforce each other's ruts. To get them involved in more things outside themselves, Mr. Jasper (a tradesman in the city) gets coaxed to offer a messenger job to the troubled Small Field teenager, and it also gets suggested that they join up with the Cooperative Front, which Hannah was involved with.
Finally, Kith finishes up the Kaufman scavenger hunt with several local hospital visits.