About Sam Rietrikki
Southern Gothic Horror
He's a PI and a fish.
Sam is the sole child of one of SCA's (Synthetic Creations Assoc.) top lawyers.
- Byron Roth
- Eve 1 (biological)
- Terri Roth
Byron experimented with a woman named Eve 1, who was vanished a decade ago. And as a result of that experiment, Eve gave birth to Sam and Sam, being a boy, was welcomed into the Roth family. Terri, on paper, raised him as her own but the relationship was always strained with the knowledge that he was the reminder of Byron's unhappiness. The couple never truly repaired their relationship, but a divorce was always too daunting a prospect. They remained together, casually harming each other.
Sam was raised not by any of his parents, but by the identical synthetic servants that made up the tireless backbone of the household. And therein lays the interesting quirk. Eve was a synthetic, an experiment. Her synthetic body was moulded to house a human reproductive system. She was the promise to men who desired a heir without the dead weight of a woman. And it was not only sperm that was deposited into the womb, but a neuron chip to encourage certain aspects of personality.
When Sam was born, he was initially sickly and much was done to preserve him and the promise he represented. Undernourished parts were reinforced with cybernetics and some of his internal organs were simply replaced, rather than repaired. As a result, he was never quite seen as human (the neuron chip was successfully incorporated into his brain and personality), or as a human who had undergone cybernetic enhancement. But something else entirely, straddling the boundary between synthetic and organic. Such an anomaly was best left to the synthetic servants that made up the workforce. (He did know Eve, Byron did not know that Eve told him of how he came to be, nor that Sam had investigated the issue.)
Sam was a bright enough boy. Studious, quiet and tenacious. Whatever he set his mind to, he achieved, though the achievement was not always something easily won. Sam did however, possess a natural physical talent and so excelled in various sports. His two preferred sports being boxing and swimming. His enjoyment for boxing came from one simple and undeniable point: he had his quirks.
Sam's desire to impose his will onto the order never quite grew into true obsessive compulsiveness, but he found it hard to suppress. Distracted when things were not positioned correctly. Deeply attached to habits that were almost rituals. Neat and clean without any of the glaring tech carved into his body. Sam was targeted by the rich bullies of school. He was further targeted as it became obvious that there was no physical similarity between him and Terri, the secret becoming less of a secret and more of something that was just known and wondered upon.
And he seemed inordinately fond of software.
Sam graduated from college with a small circle of friends who made connections with some of the more liberal quarters of high society. Their ideals did not seem to rub off on him however.
Sam fell into investigation, a department at SCA that welcomed all of his talents and developed them. Two years into his training, Eve disappeared. She was Sam's first attempt at freeing a synthetic and he would have been successful, if it had not been for the kill switch that Byron triggered the moment he knew she was gone. She exploded as Sam was passing her her new identity.
Undeterred, Sam continued to win trust and respect at SCA, all the while carefully sending synthetics to their freedom with the help of his liberal friends. He was more careful after his mother had exploded. Ensuring that he knew everything he could know about the synth's limitations and creation. And then looking at ways to hide the loss of the synth.
"I have little need or desire for the common man's love." Sam admitted softly, his eyes rested softly on Aleksander.
"Not that I have any use for fear either." He kept himself above the lowborn rabble for they were born to serve him. Those with the gift for something greater would strive for it and thus shine, marking themselves as above their blood. Or else luck would single them out, gift them some bauble that brought power or through the law of surprise. Cream would sweetly rise.
"Would you like a new kerchief?" Sam asked with his voice at a more normal level. "I am certain I have a spare with my saddle bags."
"Precisely," Sam answered with one of his small smiles. Since they were talking, Sam took the advantage of inactivity to draw out his sword and dug out a whetstone from a different pouch. With singular long strokes, Sam ran the white stone along the edge. Putting the edge back into it so that he could slice more bodies if need be.
"How many other magics could you cast before resorting to that which your fraternity abhors?" The sword whined as the whetstone slid across it. "I am not prone to running to them to tell them that someone pulled strings on a corpse." He noted that Alexei did not sound particularly disgusted by the allegedly profane branch of magic that even sorcerers curled from.
"Your secret is safe with me, my lord. So you do not wish for the lesser humans to cower before your might powers?" Sam asked dryly.
Sam slid the cloth back into it's pocket, intending to clean it when he cleaned the rest of himself of the day's dust and grime.
"I assured them that they did not see necromancy," he answered Alexei and linked his fingers behind his head, reclining beside the long sorcerer. Like most people, Alexei was taller than him, in Alexei's case, it was decidedly so. He liked it. To be short and unassuming with winsomely curly hair and a physique hidden beneath a gambeson. Sam looked away from Alexei and regarded his men beyond the fire. Their features were picked out in orange. Eyes flashing in the light when they looked towards him.
"And I respect the danger a sorcerer poses. But I am not afraid of it. Anyone armed poses a danger. Some who are not pose an equal danger." Sam shrugged and smiled at the fire. "Why walk in fear?"
With a warrior's hunger, Sam quickly finished his meal. His hungry zeal underlined the sidelong look he returned to Alexei. He swallowed and sighed, feeling sated as he put the plate and utensils aside. From one of the pouches on his belt, he extracted a clean cloth that smelled pleasantly of clean bright herbs. Sam wiped his fingers on it, each finger getting individually thorough attention. It was a ritual that happened after every meal, when he could. As he cleaned his fingers, Sam answered.
"I am not sure what I can accuse you of being rash about. A little spell to animate the corpses will frighten the thieves and prevent them from returning. Or encourage them to return but they will be frightened and foolish. Entering the battle was wise. You clearly have some experience in the field, and you were not underfoot." Sam finished one hand and started on the other.
"What did you think I would find rash?" He glanced at Alexei, a half smile playing in the shadows of his mouth.
He did not know the shape of the spirits that clung like residual oil to the bodies turned into puppets, Sam thought to himself as he settled in to lounge by the fire. The fire cast a visible aura around the space. An orange boundary between safe and the black unknown. A vast space of possibility that whispered, chittered and rustled. Sam stuck his meat with a fork and took a bite as he considered the fire. A blackened log collapsed in on itself, having been eaten by fire. He swallowed and shrugged.
"Probably. Roads are want to be troublesome." Ever were people desperate and driven to violence over their desperation. He ate a mushroom before asking a question of Alexei.
"Have you travelled much? You have the horse for it. She is beautiful."
Sam watched Alexei work. Watched as the dead men rose like puppets, their bones forcibly rearranged and hands flopping as they shuffled over the green grass. Some of Sam's guards paled and looked at Sam in askance. He shook his head and on the journey back, murmured to them that that had not been necromancy. Sam was known for spending his time with the hedge witch and the pellar, his word was trusted.
He also brightened.
Green light framed them and highlighted Sam's curly hair. The brightness in him lit his blue eyes and made his posture easy with confidence. Sam's horse reacted to it's rider's mood. Head tossing and snorting, reaching out to nip the other horses and forcing Sam to pull on the reins to prevent a little tussle.
He watched Alexei tie the bells and inspected them without touching them. Clearly interested in the art. They prepared a bigger meal that night than the one before to make up for the paltry breakfast. Sam delivered it to Alexei in a plate. Salted meat, mushrooms, cheese, beans. Sam sat next to Alexei and looked over at the mirror. He saw Alexei's expression. His dark eyes far away and his fair skin warm from the fire's light.
"Were they happy to see their comrades?" Sam murmured when it looked like Alexei was coming back.
The blood in Sam howled for their heads. Take back what was his. Break them under his heel. His hand rested on the hilt of his sword, gloved fingers wrapping around it and the air of a hunting dog about him. Like a bloodhound scenting the sweet tang of injury in the air. But he looked at Alexei and thought of his father and sighed softly, mouth flat with regret.
"The locals will deal with the horse thieves. I can not risk injury for the sake of a nag and for pride." Sam inclined his head. "But we - I - would be grateful if you cast wards about camp tonight." He loosened his grip on his sword and clasped Alexei's shoulder as if Alexei was a fellow warrior.
"Thank you for your assistance."
Sam knew better than to approach a horse that was still unfamiliar to him after it had seen battle. He did not know her training, though her eating the grass, he supposed she was well-trained. He ignored the desire to pet her and wrapped a sausage for Alexei to eat after he had finished scrying. The rest of the sausages he ferried to the man who's horse had been stolen and murmured to him to ride pillion with the others. They would stop more frequently for the sake of the horses and the rider would switch horses during those rests. Sausages delivered, Sam cleaned the pan and his sword so that both could be put away.
The small group were soon ready. Sam held the reins of both his and Alexei's horse, one in each hand as the guards sat on their horses and ate cold meats, pickled vegetables and cheese. They chatted quietly amongst themselves and cast side long glances at Sam waiting on a sorcerer like a lowborn born to serve those better than him.
When Alexei was finished, Sam nodded to him and raised his eyebrows.
"What did you see?"
"Then scry them. I am not giving chase into the unknown." Where they could be trapped or outnumbered, lost in unfamiliar terrain for the sake of a nag for a horse. For Alexei's horse? Probably. Sam looked Alexei up and down to ensure that he was uninjured. (He was not. He was pale creature framed by becomingly bed messed hair. His coolness did not make him less attractive.) On ascertaining that Alexei was not injured, Sam turned his attention to the guards. They seemed startled by the attack and the one who's horse was missing had an air of resignation about him. Sam ordered that the tents be packed and horses checked. They would eat a cold breakfast.
Dangerous too, to linger overlong.
Sam pulled the pan out of the fire and wriggled it to see if the sausages were burnt. They did not appear to be. He approached Alexei with the pan, extending it for him to take a sausage with the aid of the fork that rested in the pan, the handle sticking out. Sam's main hand still held his bloodied sword. He would need to clean it before he sheathed it.
Blood ribboned out from a man's shirt, like a tongue lashing out from the clothing's torn maw. It slapped onto Sam's chest and dripped from his sword. He danced around someone else and his off hand twitched from an old habit. His face twisted with annoyance and he lunged, parrying a third man as he tried to hack at Sam and then escape beyond him and back into the forest. The stunning sound of metal on metal clashed in their ears. One of the guards hit Sam's attacker around the head, no doubt to try and drop him to the ground. Sam opened his neck.
The third ran.
"Leave him!" Sam ordered. Holes in the ground hid in the mist. Ready to break and roll ankles. Sam strode toward the dulcet screams of horse and man instead, seeking out the sorcerer who was surely at the center of terror.
"Alexei!" Stop playing, he wanted to say. But he did not know if Alexei played with them like a cat, or if he was simply finishing them off the fastest way he knew how.