(1874-08-18) A Question of Loyalty: Part II
A Question of Loyalty: Part II
Summary: Susanna approached Pompey with an offer of service.
Date: 2018-08-19
Related: References Vir Sidus Games
NPCs: None
Alia  Pompey  Susanna  

Pompey's Office, Paras Keep
Pompey's office. Maps, scrolls, paperwork, important things.

Paras, or more importantly, the keep at Paras, is pretty quiet, with the day's events having wound down, Pompey is in his office, a sprawling affair that holds charts and ledgers of all kinds, from census information to purchases. The room itself was dark save for the fireplace that was glowing with low embers, Pompey in a simple tunic and trousers, sat at his desk with his fingers steepled as he looked over a few letters, with a frown he crumples one of them up and tosses it into the fire place. "…stay in Galenthia then…" he says in a rather upset voice before leaning back.

Alia, stepping past the guards, who might or might not have given her a warning look, carried with her a sheaf of rolled ledgers and what looked like some smaller lists, supplies, perhaps or contracts. With the day having wound down, at least in so far as the games were concerned, the spectacle had been replaced with the business of living and that meant supplies. "Consul? The latest returns have been delivered. And if you've them ready, I'd like to take your requisitions back to the Keep before the end of the da—Have I come at a bad time?" Her eyes tracked the crumpled ball as it met the flames, but her eyes did not linger long.

Pompey looks to the side. "Personal business Tribune, though perhaps this leaves a problem for us as a whole as well." He says as he stands and walks to the door, motioning for Alia to lay the ledgers on his desk. "Centurion, Bring the woman Susanna Summers to me, I don;t care where she is, I want her in my office in five minutes." He says as he closes the door and walks back to his desk, his anger is apparent. "I thought of putting that woman with Imogen until I could assess if she could be trusted, apparently, Imogen decided that there was no need for this… and took Melisandre's offer. This leaves me with not only a colonia to try and run, but a person we don;t currently trust." he says with a frown. "Yet.. if my suspicions are true… it might get worse…" he says as he takes his seat. "I want you here for this, and make sure the door is kept clear."

Alia, never having been one to pry into another's personal business, and certainly never since she had join the Legion, did not ask for any further explanation, as she stepped into the room, setting down her load on a clear spot on the desk, saving whatever comment she might make until after he had given his order, "You will have to forgive me if I know little of the situation with Lady Anders." Well, she did at least know /that// much, not to address her as Viscountess, "Nor of any arrangement you might have made for Mistress Summers' disposition." She nodded, as she returned to the door, her voice pitched to carry to the guards who remained and not far beyond, "No one is to enter with the exception of Mistress Summers nor is she to be allowed depart without the Consul's leave." With that done, Alia returned to the room, not to Pompey's desk, but to a place by the fire. "If you wish." So yes, she intended to stay, "And you would prefer not to send her back to her homelands?"

Pompey frowns. "The problem.. you see… is what she has done prior. She worked for d'Korbina, and specifically learned our language just so she could come here. You, I understand, since your family was a part of this land, but here… odd she did not return to Four Corners, or maybe Galenthia. Why come to us? On the line of battle with a foe that has most of this colony frightened?" He says as he looks into the fire. "If we send her home.. and if my paranoia is correct, might they send someone else who is a… more apt infiltrator?" He asks with a raised eyebrow. "Perhaps we… use her to lure out anyone, should that be the case?"

A guard knocks on the door. "Miss Summers is here."

Pompey waits for the woman to come in.

Susanna enters the office with a curtsy to Pompey and Alia. In her still stiff Imperial she says, "Good evening, Consul. Tribune." Her face is pale and drawn and her eyes are puffy. She tries to remain calm, but anyone can tell she is scared.

Pompey looks at Susanna and gives a smile. "I see, the second disturbed person I have seen who witnessed Darius' games. People wonder why I hate festivals." he says as he pours a glass of wine and slides it across the desk. "Sit, have a drink Miss Summers, calm yourself. I regret to inform you that Lady Anders will not be returning to Paras, she has taken Melisandre's offer, that puts me in a small bind you see, I already have an aide, young Nik is more than capable to what I need, also, since you are here, and I wouldent feel exactly content with sending you back into a place where the basic rights of a human are eschewed in favour of the nobility, tell me, what can you offer me that will secure my trust and faith in you?"

"And to a people that most of the Western Kingdoms still consider an enemy power." Alia's voice was pitched low, her words intended only for Pompey's ears, not knowing, after all, when the woman in question would be brought to them. "Better the demon that you know?" Alia shook her head, "If it was true work she hoped to get, she could have gotten that—" Alia paused, as she both did not need to continue, having followed the Consul's train of thought, and also heard the rustling of the guards outside. Their guest had arrived. She remained by the fire, bending down to tend to it as Pompey greeted Susanna, adding fuel and then seeing to banking the remaining embers to allow the fire to grow before she rose to her feet.

Susanna winces a little at Pompey's greeting, but takes the wine with a grateful smile and nod. She glances at Alia briefly, then back to Pompey, blinking wearily at his tall order. But she takes in a breath, willing to take it on. "I will do wha' ya want o' me, Consul," Susanna says. "I said b'fore I'm a fast learner an' I work hard. Whatever task ya need o' me, I'll do it. Though I do have some skill tha' might be useful to ya. I am a bard, see. Recently Viscount d'Korbina has commissioned me ta write an epic 'bout a piece o' history. I could do th' same fa you, for ya current events. A song is a powerful thing. It keeps up morale, keeps memories alive, sends messages. Even secret messages. I've done th' same b'fore, as a child. I have tole Lady d'Meloni as much, in fact."

Pompey blinks for a second. "Secret messages you say? And anything I ask of you? My quite the willingness wouldn't you agree Tribune." He says as he leans back in his seat. "You see, Ludovic d'Korbina doesn't like us, in fact, he has fought my cousin on one occasion, I believe you were there for that fiasco, and then he has pretty much declared an open hostility to him. Now, I'm a paranoid man, and when someone who was in the court of someone who considers himself my enemy, appears in my office claiming to do anything I wish… that raises a bit of a suspicion does it not?" He says as he looks at her. "I'd choose my words very carefully Miss Summers, I lost my wife and both parents to a traitor, who was also my predecessor, that has given me an unhealthy bit of paranoia, and you just fall into my lap, surely you can understand this and possibly try and alleviate some of my fears, or at the very least, tell me what I ought to know." His voice is calm, no hint of viciousness in it, though there is a small undertone of weariness, as if he is tired, of what? who knows.

Alia, having seen to the fire, moved to draw a seat, though hers was on Pompey's side of the desk, or, rather just to the right of the Consul, the positioning giving her a clear view of Susanna, "An epic whose subject is intended to be the battle with the Qatunax where the lands of County Hellmouth were lost." The lands, of course, being d'Mollari, Paras, and d'Meloni. The question posed her receives a tip of her head in agreement, before she turned her attention from Pompey to Susanna, "Perhaps you might begin with why you would choose to serve in the service of the Vir Sidus. As a woman born of the West, surely you could find work in a dozen other households. When it was believed that Lady Anders was to reside here, continuing your service to her might have been understandable, but with her decision to remain in Galenthia…" Her own voice was curious, her expression a thoughtful consideration of the woman now seated not far from her.

Susanna licks her lips. "Consul, I ent workin' fa th' Viscount an' I have no plans o' bringin' any harm ta ya people," she says sincerely. "However, I am worried by this prospect o' war with a people who do na hear nuttin' bu' doctrines of killin' an' blood. They seem ta be a people who will na stop, an' they're startin' ta gain a foothold. I have seen wha' happens when war takes over an' destroys lives, an' I canna stand th' thought o' seein' more. O' ma sisters seein' more." She chokes up and her eyes well up tearfully, her face wooden and tired from spending so much time this afternoon crying already. "Assistin' you, Consul, however I can, seems ta me th' best way I can help prevent such a thing fra happenin'. An' maybe tha' means helpin' ta reunite Vir Sidus an' d'Korbina as allies. Maybe it means riskin' ma life." She swallows. "I bin tole ya listen ta people based on merit. I figured if anyone might listen ta someone like me, it would be you. An' I also figured ya had main control o' th' front against th' Qatunax."

Looking at the woman with a tilt of his head he looks at her, Pompey shows that he is unmoved by her tears. "You must understand the security of my people is paramount, you.. however, are not my people. Unlike Alia, you haven't proclaimed yourself for the empire, now, if you were to do so, and sign such a document, waving all claims of allegiance to every other nation save our empire, then maybe we can start on the road to seeing that you are… in fact… a trustworthy woman as you say." he says as he slides a scroll from under a stack, he already had the contract written. "Though, and I remind you, you can of course turn and walk away with no further questions, but if you sign this, and we find out that you have betrayed us… what you save in the coliseum will be a spring sweet dream to what awaits you miss summers. So should what you say be true, than nothing will happen to you, and there will be no worry, if not.. well.. I'd just walk away were I you, because I, unlike the rest of your pitiful demented nobility in this colony, am vastly intelligent, Tribune d'Meloni knows this fact, she is loyal, as are other citizens, so… are you going to be loyal?"

Susanna looks down at the scroll and stares at Pompey as he makes his bargains and threats. If she was pale before, she's ghostly now. "Ya do know how ta properly intimidate," Susanna says with a shaky breath. "I…I hope ya understand tha' changin' ma loyalties so completely is a very big change. I will consider signin' this document, certainly," she says as she looks carefully over the text. She's still a bit of a slow reader. "Would ya mind if an' I could take th' time ta think about it? Na too much time, o' course. Perhaps 'til this time tomorrow."

Alia seemed content to allow Pompey to continue the conversation they had both, after a fashion, began, her hands falling to smooth her skirts, the action allowing a stray lock of hair to fall into her face. She lifted her strong left hand, dipping her head just enough to catch that lock between her fingers and tucking back behind her ear, before she looked back up. Susanna she allowed all of her attention, taking in the woman's tears as well as her explanation for her choice to join the empire, rather than to return to her own home. But what comment she might have in this regard, she kept back, erring on the side of allow the Consul to keep the flow of the conversation. The contract…that got a rise of her eyebrows, some surprise there. Clearly that had not been something she as privy to. "The Consul has a very particular set of skills." There's no amusement in her voice, only that same calm inflection, "And to whom do you currently owe your loyalty? It seems a strange thing, if you truly wish to serve the empire, and hope to help us fight the Qatunax, that you would need time to consider a course of action. You are, as you said, not in the service of d'Korbina, and the Lady Anders has severed your service to herself."

"I have fought as a Galenthian soldier since I was fifteen," Susanna explains, "an' ma homeland was saved by th' efforts o' many Galenthian noblemen an' women. I have a gratitude ta them tha' I feel requires a certain amount o' loyalty. I want a victory fa Vir Sidus an' Aequor as well as Galenthia. We are the Civilized West, aren' we?"

"Where Darius' impressive skillset ends, my own begins Miss Summers. You can either sign this contract now, or you can leave and return to wherever you wish. Know that I personally would ask this of anyone under my employ, as working for me involves very much secrecy, and I can't just allow anyone to simply work for me without insurance." Pompey says as he watches her, almost like a cat he doesn't blink as he takes in her reactions. "If you have served Aequor so much, then perhaps you can return to them, or you can grace me with your signature." he states clearly in common, his accent that he usually carries is gone, he sounds much like someone born of this region, which is almost scary since before, in other times, he has a distinct Vir Sidian accent.

"We, in point of fact," came Alia's soft reply, her tone, and the glance she offered Pompey adding emphasis to the 'we', "Are not the Civilized West, Susanna. The Vir Sidus Empire is entirely and utterly its own entity. When I came to the Legion, as you have now come to the Consul, to offer my services, I was likewise interrogated," here Alia at least had the decency to state this for what it was, "I was not give the opportunity to consider my options. Likely, if I had tried, they would have turned me away. I chose my side then, and have served since that moment. What I was, who I was, what I might have been or done before that moment no longer mattered. I pledged myself to the Empire, without second thought or reservation. That is the price that is demanded of service for those such as we are, who were not raised within the Empire."

Susanna pauses for a few long seconds, looking down at the scroll and the pen, then sharply up at Pompey as his accent changes to something more familiar. Puzzled, intrigued, frightened, she tries to shake this off, and Alia's assurances help. Her eyes close. "I s'pose, there really is no other choice, is there? If an' I am ta fight properly 'gainst the Qatunex." She takes up the pen, hand treacherously shaky, and she smiles at herself. "Ha. Ma resolve is not as strong as yers, Lady Alia. I do admire ya fa tha'." Then she asks, "Ma sisters are at Griffin's Point, fa safety. Would I be able ta visit them, still?"

"No, but they can come here. I can't let you go off while working for me Miss Summers, as I said before, secrets that I'm sure some of Tarris' best interrogators could pry out of you, I wouldn't feel right should a woman like you be put to the lash.. or the poker.. or one forbid, they tie you to the rack." He says as he looks at her. "That.. is a horrid device, arms turn on way, head the other, and your torso.. my.. you can feel your neck simply snap… no.. staying here with us would be what's best for you, avoids complications."

Susanna didn't think that vivid description was especially necessary, but she somehow keeps her voice under control. "O' course. Thank ya, Consul."

So, then, the moment of truth.

Susanna Summers begins to sign her name in small, print letters at the bottom of the contract. "All my allegiance ta Vir Sidus," she says, reassuring herself with a nod.

Alia looked neither pleased not displeased, as she saw Susanna take the contract, begin to print her name on the parchment, her expression seeming almost entirely dispassionate, as she watched the woman signing away what might, quite likely, be her life. Much as Alia herself had done, when she came to the empire. She did rise, offering a soft word to excuse herself, as she approached Pompey, leaning down to retrieve the particular bottle of ink with which the Consul signed his own personal correspondence. She also took a clean sheet of parchment, a small one, and poured the smallest amount of ink onto it, allowing it to spread to a fine film, "A mark, to authenticate the contract." She slid the parchment over towards Susanna, "Your thumb, pressed to the ink and then to the contract," she looked towards Pompey, deferring to his judgment, as the name was printed, but not signed, persay, "which the Consul and I will witness."

Pompey gives a nod to Alia's assertion of having the woman place her thumbprint on the contract. He almost looks at her with a bit of pride, yes, deffinately pride. "I agree, it's official." He says as he leans back, and makes a mental note to have a small gift sent to Alia.

Susanna isn't sure what good a thumb print will do, (no one's ever told her that no two people have the same finger prints) but she complies, pressing a calloused thumb into the ink-stained parchment and then next to her name on the contract. She looks up between Alia and Pompey, hoping this is the last thing they'll ask of her tonight.

Once the mark was affixed, Alia slid the contract towards herself, setting aside the ink, retrieving a bottle of sand to dust the parchment. A light shake to dislodge the grains once they had done their work, and she carried the contract back over, taking up the ink to return it to Pompey as well. She set contract and inkwell back within easy reach of his hand. As he was the one offering the contract, Alia would allow him to sign first, before she would affix her own signature.

Pompey nods and smiles as he takes the contract and rolls it up after he and Alia sign it as well, and then slips it into a case. he smiles and looks at Susanna. "Very good, all propper and documented." he says before handing the contract case to Alia. "Keep this safe for me would you Tribune, I'd give it to the twins for safe keeping but… they like to tease people and we shouldent have that." he says as he looks to Susanna. "First Item of business Miss Summers, tomorrow I will need you to take Nik and go to our grain storiage, I would like a full inventory by lunchtime tomorrow on my desk." he states her first job, very important, counting bags of grain.

An easy start, a test. Susanna nodded at once. "Yes, Consul."

"The Empire is a harsh mistress, Susanna." Probably she should have said master, as, well, at least here, they all served Darius, but there you are, "But service is not without its rewards." Alia accepted the case, offering a dip of her head to Pompey, "Of course, Consul. I will ensure that it is well protected." The assignment, Susanna's first saw fit to draw the ghost of a smile from Alia's lips, "Not the most glamourous of duties, to be sure. But one imminently important for a legion. An army marches on their stomach, or so they say."

Pompey smiles. "Yes they do, I was attached to a legion during my younger years as a senator, before I became consul. Unlike most in my position, I decided to forgo a riding horse and marched with the soldiers. Having to be able to cover thirty miles in a day, as well as build and take down a fort in that same day… can be very tiring." he says with a smile as he looks to Susanna. "Speak to Nik, he should be around here, tell him to get you a room in the chancery wing, it wont be much, but what little staff I have her are afforded that much." he says with a smile, and dismisses her with a nod, before turning to Alia, waiting for Susanna to leave.

Susanna has never heard the phrase Alia uses, but she knows the truth behind it very, very well indeed. The very thought seems to make her even more tired, reminded of her sisters. She hopes they're being fed as Lillian prescribed.

Mercifully, Pompey finally dismisses her. She stands, curtsies again with a "Good night, Consul, Tribune," and disappears out the door. /What has she done?/

Alia dipped her head to Susanna, as the woman took her leave, the case still in her hands as she watched the woman's departure, only returning her attention to Pompey once she saw the guards move to escort Susanna to meet with Nik, no doubt to be shown to a private room of her own soon after. "I will see to making certain that this is placed in a location which cannot be easily reached."

Pompey nods and smiles as he looks upon Alia. "That, my dear, was a poise and thought worthy of an imperial senator, you have impressed me, which is no easy feat Tribune. When you get tire of military action, I'll be more than happy to apprentice you on the finer points of Imperial politics." he says with a smile. "You could easily get elected based on your military service alone, and as the senate representative of this colonia, I could see a good reason to make you the chancery governess of Imperial Hellsmouth." he says, a lot of pride and compliments levels at her.

Alia released the case, tucking it into her side, allowing her free hand to gather her skirts, offering the Consul a respectful curtsy, despite that fact that she did not have both hands free with which to complete the gesture. "You offer me, perhaps, a greater compliment than I deserve. I may have told Susanna that what I was before the Empire did not matter any longer, Consul, and while that is the truth, I have not forgotten the lessons that I learned in my life before I made the choice to ally myself with the Empire." Once a noble woman, always a noble woman, at least in knowledge and training. As to his estimation of her talents and potential, Alia offered a dip of her head, "Perhaps one day, when the war, on both fronts, is won. Or in those moments when there are not enemies at our gates." She did glance back towards the now closed door, "She might have been better served to offer herself as a legionnaire."

Pompey chuckles. "If she wanted to be a foot soldier, no one would have batted an eye, even having you as auxilla isn't as big of a step. But she specifically wanted to work for me, the one person who knows the ins and outs of imperial bureaucracy, as well as state secrets that could possibly put us in a bind. I have the ear of Darius, and the senate." He says with a frown. "If she is a spy, she isn't very good at her job, honestly, working and being around paperwork isn't something to be given lightly, if she was trying to get into my bed chambers, she may have had a easier time." He says with a smile. "Except I don't talk in my sleep."

Alia's expression broke into an amused smile, laughter following soon after, the sound something that she does not often offer, her mien tending towards the more serious, "I am afraid I would know nothing of that, Consul. I do what I can to avoid such gossip as what does and does not go on in your bedchamber. Or anyone else's." She carried the case with her over towards the table where wine was usually laid for the Consul when he was in his office, pouring a single glass, which she carries over to set by him. "But it may well come to that. I think it would depend entirely on how close she wishes to become to you."

Pompey chuckles. "I frighten her, I can tell, and after the grilling she received today, anyone with self preservation in mind would not want to go anywhere near such a place as my bedchamber." he says as he takes the glass with a nod of thanks. "If she does, then either she has a twisted mind, or really wants information." he says as he takes a sip. "But I do thank you for keeping away from the gossip, though, soon knowing such things will keep you a head above everyone else. Blackmail, coersions, and even a few crowns in the right palm is par for the course in politics, and even just courtly doings. I may not be around to protect you all should someone from the senate decide to flounce down here and poke their nose into our business."

"I believe you frighten nearly everyone, excepting Darius, when the mood strikes you." Which, being Consul, well, that was pretty well most of the time. "In the end, she will prove her loyalty or be found out. But she will bear watching, especially if she cannot leave the regions the Empire controls. Whomever she wishes to contact will either have to come here, and that will not be difficult, as Darius has not restricted access to his lands, or she will attempt to send a message without our knowledge. Or, at least what she believes to be without our knowledge. Restricting access to the moongazers will lead to too much suspicion on her part. But if we ensure that anything she sends, including requests or correspondence to her sisters is copied and kept…" Alia moved easily between the question of Susanna and political intrigues, "You are right, of course. But as I am only newly arrived to the Empire, even collecting such information as that, might also be seen as suspect. Whatever I may be now, I am still, to the eyes of many, a foreigner."

Pompey nods and smiles. "I think a nice little trick of having any moongazers she sends be sent either from here to Candeo, or from Candeo to here, to be copies by either of us and THEN send on it's way." he says with a smile, leaning back in his seat. "without her knowledge of course, as for myself, I'll look over your scrolls and have the propper return documents sent to you."

Alia did not seem offended by the dismissal, for that was what it was, despite the words in which it was couched. Whatever else they had dealt with today, both she and the Consul had other duties to which to attend, and his, in particular, were vitally important to the success of the imperial holdings in and around Paras. "Thank you, Consul. I will see the contract secured. I will be between Paras and Candeo and not difficult to find." Once again, she offered a curtsy, before she turned to make her way to the door, leaving Pompey to his work.

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