Necessary Lies

There are lies, damned lies, and then there are necessary lies. All have different reasons for application. But a lie is still a lie. Until it isn't.

Necessary Lies
Summary: There are lies, damned lies, and then there are necessary lies. All have different reasons for application. But a lie is still a lie. Until it isn't
Date: Sun 05/Mar/2017 (OOC Date)
Related Logs:
Dropkickst Samtara 
Day 86 (Local) - AWD #662 (Relative)

After three months, Sam's life has settled into a routine. The life aboard the Orion was so much cleaner and more civilized, but it seems like an ancient memory by this point. Twelve weeks and two days. The only things she has to remind herself of that time and place is the pack she brought with her, the gun, and memories. Having to learn to play the role of a woman in such a patriarchal society has probably been one of the hardest things for her. She's not a person with rights - she is property, currently owned by her 'brother', the Doctor she's paired with. Living here has not been easy, but the challenge of Doctoring in this setting is immense. Sam has never had to do so much with so little. Every day, a mountain moved.

Today she's moving through the market on the outskirts of the castle walls, passing down the lines of stalls, looking for something to work with dinner. /Dinner/. Being 'domestic' has also been an adjustment. Thankfully the Arpay made sure they don't have to live in poverty. With clouds in the sky to insulate the ground, though, the weather is only slightly warmer. A cloak is still necessary against the cold, though. Hundreds of unwashed people move up and down the lines, but most of the people here don't recognize her. They wouldn't. This far from the clinic andd this close to the castle gates, most of these people are the enemy. They are the local version of the civilian APF. Loyal to the machines, these people worship them and their foresight to provide protection to humanity from the dangers it poses to itself. They toil and work to serve their masters, not asking too many questions or looking too closely at anything.

Twelve weeks and two days of learning how to blend in with the crowd, how to move through the market and drift with the traffic flow instead of simply going from point A to point B in as-efficient as-linear as-time-saving a manner as possible. Twelve weeks and two days of remembering to breathe in casual, shallow, small breaths through her mouth instead of through her nose. Twelve weeks and two days and at least every other night, sometimes less, she dreams about soap. Not lye soap. Not the rough tallow soap. Not the coarse brown soap they use for the laundry. Real soap. Or the ability to force everyone around her through a tidy decon-chamber followed by a de-lousing trip, hair cut, teeth cleaning and then…

Sam shakes off this momentary day dream and glances two stalls away to observe the way one of the women perusing the wares picks over the vegetables on display, haggle over the price, points out the flaws and blemishes then makes the trade before moving on. Observation and mimicry is key, especially if she doesn't just copy it to the letter. Aiming a carefully shy smile at the vendor at the booth she's standing near, she picks up some root vegetables to go with what she is hoping will be a decent stew, if she can find enough components. She makes the exchange, bobs her head in a polite manner then eases through the crowd to the next stall over, going through the same carefully choreographed routine, never speaking to loudly, not drawing attention to herself, only picking a handful of items here, another there, never any one purchase in one place that's large or might inspire questions. The basket she's carrying is a hand woven thing, sturdy construction over all, a rough bit of cloth tucked into the bottom and draped over the side to help protect what she's bartering for.

The first few weeks were hectic but after that, they seemed to have caught up on the patient loads. People would let them know if thye wished to be seen and notify them of the time. Sam could ride out there and handle it. The worst part is watching people die of, what amounts to, ignorance. People uneducated enough to not understand bacteria and viruses. Or medications and prevention. In three hundred years this society could have been more advanced than the Colonials. Today? Fevers can easily spell death and often do for internal conditions. Seeing the children pass is the hardest. Delivering them to happy and proud parents, however, is something else. Even the local midwives have come to Samtara to seek her advice on matters. The women who have come to her for such matters seem to be the most indebted and have the greatest love for Sam. These aren't patients looking to get back into the fight, they are people struggling day to day and Sam is their lifeline to keeping them with their families. Becks wasn't kidding… its the hardest thing Sam has ever done, in every way possible.

"Woman," is said to the back of her head from on high. That means its coming from someone on horseback. And the individual sounds like they have authority. As Sam turns to look back at the man, there's a rogueish looking man in his mid twenties with a patchy beard and a shaved head. There's a jagged scar from a blade tat runs down the right side of his face and jaw. Staring at Sam, he looks down his nose at her. "Give me your name." Nope, no introductions from him.

In the middle of negotiating over a bundle of carrots, and rather quietly - and actually quiet happily - exchanging conversation with the woman on the other side of the cart over the carrots, and how nice the turnips looked, plus the clutch of herbs that were hanging on from hooks inside the frame of the stall itself, Sam jumps a little when she hears the voice paired with the sound of a horse approaching and stopping nearby. The rush of adrenaline that charges through her has her moving with carefully practiced deliberation, not to fast, not to slow, not even remotely sullen or - even worse - offended. She carefully sets the carrots in the basket before she turns, keeping her face slightly down, shoulders curved as well and without looking higher than the dirt flecked boots that the man who owns the voice, "Samantha Mueller," and, with the basket looped over her left arm, gives a bit of a knee bend paired with the tip of her head.

The man holds his gaze down on her and the horse prances a bit, circling her almost halfway. The stall prevents further movement. The others around are giving them all room and plenty of it, but they're all watching. Nobody ever knows what the Steel Guard is going to stop someone for, but most of the women give them a very wide berth for very obvious reasons. "Very well. Who is your pater?," he asks, the last word being the term this populace uses for the male who technically owns her. There is severity in his voice and the words are clipped, indicating he either has little patience or little time, or possibly both. But the question has more people looking right at Sam, remembering her face.

Quelling the nerves that want to do something other than remain nice and calm, and locking her expression on a look that gives the genuine appearance of wariness, fear, apprehension and the best combination of respect/awe that the women all seem to aim at the men in the guard, "My cousin," she answers softly, "Lev Petroyshikinolev," rolling his name off her tongue with the ease of practice that saying it day in and day out, over and over again, to learn the right emphasis on the correct syllable. "He is my mother's sisters son," she explains, giving this reason for why their names are different and still not looking up, having fixed her eyes on the basket that she's carrying and worries the edge of the material that is draped over the food she's bartered for so far.

The guy continues to regard her, looking her over, particularly the shape of her body that he /can/ see. Not much considering the weather, but he doesn't hide it. They never do. "Very well, you will come with me right now." He turns the horse to begin walking it towards the gates. He is fully expecting her to walk beside his horse. There's going to be a sword drawn if she does not. "How long ha your cousin been your pater? Where is your husband and children?" Its so expected and ingrained in this society that it is odd for a woman, especially one like Sam, to not have a husband or children.

Sam keeps her head angled slightly down, glad at she's taken pains to adopt the fashion of the women in this society, her hair carefully braided then coiled into a knot at the back of her neck, the silver threads that have colonized in the last few months are starkly visible and she's done her best to make sure they stand out as well. She edges the cloak just a bit more around her frame, tucking the basket against her side and casually drawing the edge of the cloak around it as well, further obscuring her body at the same time, not that multiple layers of skirts and the cloak aren't doing a decent job, but it is what it is. She glances up slightly, not quite all the way up, but enough to get a look at the horse that he's riding along with the realization that he's quite serious. "My cousin is expecting me back within the mark," she answers, worry edging her tone, "I'm to prepare our evening meal." She pauses on purpose, weighting options swiftly before settling on, "My husband passed two winters ago, we had no children," only moving forward because she hasn't come up with a plan yet to talk her way out of this.

"Your cousin will wait or you'll not be returning home at all, woman," he says sharply at her attempt to protest. He can see it for what it is. "You'll do as I say or I'll see you traded to King Lufkin for a role in his harem." Nothing about his voice seems to indicate he's kidding or that he might not actually know how to follow through on the threat. He does continue moving, however. "No children. Do you wish to offend our Lords," he means The Machines, "or are you barren?" As they move and he continues, the questions become a little more curious in and of themselves. "How long have you been here? Are you a loyal follower of Our Lords? Have you ever met someone who claims to be from a land far away?" All these question are asked as they move through the public stall and market row.

Hurrying now to keep pace, and briefly grateful that she is tall enough to keep up without having to trot at the side of the man and his horse like some sort of dog, Sam makes sure that her expression is both resigned and regretful at the same time. "No, no, not at all. We just weren't blessed so," she stammers through the words, sounding embarrassed and guilty at the same time, as the burden of bearing children resides entirely with women, or so it's thought here. "Three moons now, and a few days," she adds as she glances sidelong again, "Of course. My cousins household is loyal, we know no other way," injecting her words with confusion before she shakes her head, "what lands?" she wonders, perplexed again by her tone of voice and her expression. She puts a look of confusion on her face, naming the furthest village, that she can remember, within several days of walking.

"I see," the man says under his breath, apparently suspicious of her answer. "Perhaps your next husband will bless you soon. Or perhaps one of the Guard. A woman should not be without children, especially boys to help her." What a lovely fellow. "Three moons. Good. They would prefer longer but that will do." An interesting phrase to use. "Very distant lands. Sometimes we hear rumors or people from very distant places, impossible places. They are very dangerous people and we need to see them killed whenever we can find them. They poison us from within, sowing hatred for our blessed Lords." He looks like he might spit, walking them through the gates and down a street. Its her first time inside the castle walls and its evident that the people here live much better lives. People are cleaner and the streets look suspiciously like they are paved with concrete. Come to think of it, the fortification walls looked much the same as well. Interesting. The homes have chimneys and they streets smell of burning wood. Its almost charming. Then her escort burps. "Are you armed in any way, woman?"

Of all the alarming things this young man with his patchy pelt of a beard on his face, the horse has a better looking pelt than the man does, the suggestion that one of the Guard might help her with that pesky not-having-a-child issue makes her take a firm hold of her sense of self preservation and keep her mouth shut. And expression to the same worried fearful blend without edging into the notion of just bolting back for the hills as quickly as her legs can carry her. The words 'they would prefer' makes her adrenaline spike again and she casts a quick glance up, seeing mostly the back of his head and profile from this angle before she gets a look look around inside the castle walls. She doesn't have to feign the look of shock on her face, shock could easily be confused with wonder, and jerks her attention back to the man and his horse when he burps. Having prepared for THIS answer, she immediately confesses with the words: "Only this, so that I may bring home fresh greens and other herbs where I can find them," she shows a small dull edged bit of metal, probably the local version of pewter, with a flattened handle wrapped in layers of twine. It's not even a knife, per se, more of a digging tool that could - at best - be repurposed into an eating knife. She carries it normally in a loop at her side. One to find, after all, and the other to keep, being the best operating mode possible.

He continues walking her up the street and stops in front of a large cottage home with two floors and a guard posted out front. The man dismounts the horse and looks to the tool and snatches it from her. "A woman like you, you'd never lift a finger against one of us. But we cannot be too careful." He snerks and tucks the not-blade into his belt. Sam's mind would probably flash the doesn't different ways she could take it from him and turn him into a Pez Dispenser before he hit the ground. But he plucks at her cloak and seems like he might try to paw at her more fully before the guard clears his throat. The escort mutters and gently pushes Sam towards the door. "Go inside. Now. You'll leave when you're given permission to." He mounts back up onto the horse and does a quick circle, watching her until she enters. The guard at the door stares at her, waiting.

Surrendering the dull edged bit of pewter-like blade, and doing so with a carefully timed flinch and accompanying nervous look, she clutches at the cloak that's tied at her throat, not quite turning away from the guard when he looks like he might have more bad ideas running through his mind. But, as he doesn't actually do anything that she'd have to start a flow-chart for most efficient of violent reactions paired with likely consequences, she has to just let it go. Because . . well, she just has to. She casts a glance up at the large cottage home and the guard stationed out front, then glances up at the guard himself before she steps forward, the basket still tucked against her side.

Through the door, there's the feeling of warmth that Sam hasn't fully enjoyed since she leapt from the transport. The home she shares with Lev is much like any others around, dark and drafty. This home is heated by a pair of fireplaces, a hearth for cooking at the far end of the large open floorplan, and another circular one at the center with a metal flue that looks more modern than just about anything else she has seen in the last three months. Perhaps a holdover from the pre-machine times. Both fireplaces are burning slowly and there are women working in the kitchen preparing food. There is a knight by the fire, between the door and the family. He only points to a stairwell to the side.

When she climbs the creaky stairs, she turns at the top to see the hall with rooms built off it. The largest is the only one with the door left open. Flickering firelight beckons her closer. When she enters the doorway, there is a man in his early 40's with a full gray and black beard and a grim look on his face. He's built stocky and Sam has learned to recognize the sort of people who look like they can handle themselves. There is little doubt this man can do just that. He's sitting on a couch, facing the door, but near enough the fire to stay warm. There are bookshelves behind him. On the other side of the room is a very spacious four-poster bed with a huge comforter. Whomever this guy is, he must be important. He sure as shit doesn't look happy, though. He just stares at her and aims a finger at the chair across the table from him. Sit. "And close the door."

The difference between the cold outside and the heat inside is enough to make Sam's fingertips tingle with the sudden contrast and she is torn between the instinct to stare around and the instinct to just keep her head down and not linger, let alone look like she's stalling. Knowing that anyone else would be viewing all this with a sort of wonder allows her to look around with a look of confusion edged with awe, hurrying toward the stairwell once she's pointed in that direction. The knight is given a wary, slightly fearful, look before she gathers holds the edges of her skirts and climbs the creaky stairs. Drawn as much to the flickering firelight because it promises warmth and because it's probably where she's supposed to go, she steps into the room and hesitates just inside, honestly ON, the threshold before she edges a single step inside before she tugs the door closed and moves lightly over to the table with the chair that he indicates. She sets the basket on the floor by her before she smooths her cloak with one hand then seats herself, hands neatly folded in her lap once she's seated, fingers curled around each other, head angled slightly down still. In the process of taking the seat and after she'd closed the door, she'd had a mere handful of seconds to sweep the room with a look, determine if there are any other exits, the size and position of the windows, the general layout of the room itself and everything in it. Whom ever this man is, her danger sense and training hasn't implied - yet - that this is the sort of harem audition that the first goon threatened her with, so her expression freely conveys wariness and confusion while her mind works swiftly, ticking through options and theories.

The guy stares at Sam. There are no clocks in the room, or anywhere else, so the span of time is hard to gauge. He just keeps her there for more than a minute, those dark eyes staring at her like he was looking into her soul. It reminds her of the same way Jameson would bring someone in while trying to find their measure. "I'll ask you to keep your voice down in this house as voices tend to carry. Not everything you and I will be talking about is for everyone else to hear." He puts an arm up on the couch to rest, still staring at her. "So your pater, Lev, is taking care of you. Your husband is dead. You have no children. You're a simple woman, Miss Mueller. Just another commoner. Ordinary subject of the crown, in as much as you /can be/ given the rights afforded to you. Does that all sound correct?" He doesn't wait for her confirmation. "Yawn. ounds about as boring as possible. Completely uninteresting. A person that nobody would ever look twice at and given your age and lack of children, likely a woman nobody would want." He glances to the fire, than back to her. "Though I'm guessing you have one or two useful skills outside of your typical duties. At least that's what the birds tell me. Lovely little birds. Chattering in the market in the outlying towns, tweeting their lovely praise." Oh frak. He knows something.

"Lev Petroyshikinolev is my cousin," Sam answers in the same soft voice that she uses when dealing with patients who aren't entirely stable. "His mother is my mother's sister. Most call me Mrs. Mueller or the Widow Mueller," she adds, smoothing her fingers against the wrinkles that she can see in her skirt, the room being more well lit than most she's been in, at dark, in these many weeks. "We were not blessed with children, no, but he was a good man, and one that I greatly miss," she adds with a single glance up, putting emotion into those words before she glances down again. "I do what I can, sir. I'm very good with a needle and thread, my stitching is very fine. I work hard, help keep house for my cousin, a burden shared is a burden halved. Some of the women that I've traded with in the market have taken a fancy to some of my embroidery, which is plain but very delicate," she smooths her fingers again before curling both hands together, fingers curved, eyes cast down now to rest on her hands. "I do nothing to bring shame to my cousins house or our name, nothing at all, I swear it."

The man stares at her looking more and more bored by the passing moment. "I see." He doesn't sound like he is buying any of it. "While you're telling lies, I'll tell you something true." He pinches the bridge of his nose a moment then looks back at Sam. "I have three daughters and one is with child. Recently she has had some issues with bleeding. Her midwife was summoned and a few days later she returned with an answer in how to alleviate the concerns and situation." Fingers drum on the arm of the couch. "These were answers the midwife, despite her skill, would not have. When my family pressed her, she admitted to speaking to a woman by the name of Samantha that knows quite a lot about the body. More-so than most. That this 'Samantha' is someone that many of the local women trust their care to." Another drum of his fingers. "If you continue to lie to me, I'm going to assume you count me a fool and only one of us is going to leave here. If you would like to have a more honest conversation, we will both walk out of this room in the end and potentially our discussion…" He shrugs a little, "who is to say it ever happened? But I do have interest, for my daughter who is now ill, and I would prefer both of us to walk back out that door. I do not need to be your friend, just informed." He lets that sink in. "Do you have any other skills, other than your needlepoint?"

Exhaling a slow breath, Samantha laces her fingers together, grips both hands in her lap, then gives a slow nod as she lifts her eyes again. "It is a family thing," said in that same quiet voice. "My mother taught me, her mother taught her, mother to daughter going as far back as we can remember. Women need to know how to care for women, we need to know how to help each other, to bring our children into the world, so that they live, so that our children can have children of their own. Yes, I have other skills than needlepoint, though that helps too. I've assisted in many births, sometimes I can help out with other wounds, simple things, but I do what I can. Women's bodies are not like those of men," and a hint of a smile, reluctant, tugs at her lips, "women understand each others bodies best because we are women as well. May I ask, you said bleeding, has it stopped?"

The guy stares at her. He just stares. There's no answer to the question. "Apparently you don't listen and you count me a fool. So either you're a liar or you think I'm an idiot. I don't care which one. All I know is that I am not turning my back on you. Get out. Walk out the fucking door. If my daughter dies because of your behavior, I'll leave you alive and let you live with the guilt of the blood spilled around you." He aims a finger towards the door, indicating she needs to leave.

Rising to her feet, and keeping her face carefully schooled to a look that is as neutral as possible, Sam picks up the basket that she'd set on the floor and holds the cloak with the other. "I am a midwife, and I am a healer, neither of those things are lies, my mother was a healer, that also is not a lie. If I could help your daughter, if I can help your daughter, I would," she speaks in that same careful voice as she edges toward the door and tugs it open before she steps into the hallway, trying to find point between hurrying and fleeing as she starts down the hallway toward the stairs.

"The graves to be dug will be filled by those beytrayed by your lies, then, Missus Meuller." When she gets to the bottom of the stairs, both the Knights are there. The one that was standing by the fire and the other who was outside. They are both looking at her impassively. Hands go up to stop her. "You will wait here while I check on the King." King? King. There seems to be no hesitation and he didn't stutter. Sam just had a sitdown with the provincial King …and it didn't go well. At all. Apparently she will be fine but everyone else will die. One Knight stays downstairs with Sam, holding her there, while the other trudges up the stairs to make sure nothing has happened to their leader.

Sam's expression is everything that a shocked expression should be, she actually starts to blurt out 'The King?' in a shocked tone of voice before she does the smarter thing. She closes her mouth, holds herself very very still and just waits it out. She eyes the nearest Knight then stares, very intently, at the floor. Like something on the floor will provide answers. Or advice. Or a practical combination of both. But she does stand there, nice and quiet, but coiled and ready just in case. A single glance at the room had been all she needed to determine the distance between where she's standing and the door. And then everything between point A and point B that could feasibly be used as a weapon, because everything CAN be used as a weapon, for good or ill. All of this is catalogued, carefully sorted, and squared away in her mind behind that expression that only a healthy, and reasonable, amount of trepidation and worry.

The Knight trudges slowly back down the stairs. Neither of them seemed like they would be expecting trouble, but the house seems small for the King. Especially when the royal residence is further up the hill. Why meet her at a clandestine location, tell her to keep her voice down, then explain what she already knows? The Knights exchange a look then stand aside, gesturing her towards the door. "You're free to go. The King has requested that you not divulge anything that had been discussed in the room. That is all."

With a single nod, Sam hurries toward the door and tugs it open just far enough to slip through and pulls the door closed behind her. Logic compels her to consider the wisest course of action. From where she's standing, she should hurry back along the path toward the gate of the castle, keeping her head down, do nothing other than head back to the market and beyond from there. Or …

To be continued in

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