Anger to Conviction


odessa4_icon.gif tania_icon.gif

Scene Title Anger to Conviction
Synopsis Following up on her assignment to discern the condition of Tania Kozlow, Odessa Price makes a disturbing discovery.
Date August 7, 2011

The Commonwealth Arcology

Tania hasn't been out of her room for a while. Between being too lethargic to move and the general malaise that's been sitting over her lately, she just hasn't had the gumption to try. But today one of the nurses made her, which put her in a grumpy mood that the gardens eased some, but then… she just ended up crying on a bench until she was too tired to carry on anymore.

Her current state makes bouts like that mercifully short.

So she sits on a bench, a pillow behind her back and a tray of food at her feet. She's rebelling the only way she can think of, which is to refuse to eat. It's easy, she hasn't much had any interest in eating, either. But she looks a wreck, her red hair mussed, her eyes red and the bags under them dark. Not to mention she's frail to begin with, but now… a strong breeze might knock her over. So different from her brother and yet, it's easy to see the resemblance, if you're looking for it.

As it happens, Doctor Price is looking for it. Gaining access to the Institute facilities in Massachusetts was much simpler than she thought it would be. Finding Tania Kozlow proved a similarly easily accomplished task. As was securing her records.

What isn't easily done is fighting the feeling of revulsion at what she's read.

Odessa moves purposefully through the gardens, dressed in her hospital whites. White lab coat, white dress, white eye patch. Red piping, red cross, red Chucks. Some situations call for practical shoes. "Miss Kozlow?" The greeting-slash-query is tentative. A brown leather satchel has been slung across the doctor's shoulders, a clipboard in hand, its documentation held to her breast.

Doctors are something Tania is used to. They've been a constant in her life since she was just a baby, and maybe it's just that Russian doctors are different, but she's never seen a doctor in red shoes. And certainly never in an eye patch. Her gaze starts low, given that her attention is on her feet when Odessa walks up, but it travels up with no give in her furrowed brow. She's confused, see?

She doesn't answer, but there's recognition enough at the name. She's just silent for a long moment, taking the woman in before she eventually states, somewhat bluntly, "I hope you are not a surgeon." Her accent's a little thick, but the English is very practiced.

"«Actually,»" is like a mirror of Tania's Russian-accented English - Odessa's is American-accented Russian, "«I am. But I was also an associate of your brother's at one time.»" The language is meant to both cut down on the amount of eavesdroppers that will actually understand them, as well as hopefully put the girl more at ease. Odessa's face stays passive as she sweeps her one-eyed gaze over the girl, and her ignored meal. "May I sit?" she asks quietly, gesturing to a space next to her on the bench.

"«Then, I should say I hope you are not my surgeon. Unless that is just a fashion statement.»" Tania's hand wanders to her abdomen, where her surgical scar is currently hiding. Unfortunately, the shift in language nor the mention of her brother seem to relax her. Some not nice people have used similar tactics in the past. Or maybe it's just her local. And that she's starting to not like doctors like she doesn't like soldiers.

But her manners haven't gone anywhere, and she glances to the bench next to her before she nods, "«Of course. If you're sure you want to. The others always wear the masks when they come to check up.»"

Odessa takes the seat next to Tania, "«They would.»" There is no way to rehearse a scenario like this. To be adequately prepared. To know the right words to say. "«I'm not here as an agent of the Institute, Miss Kozlow. You are in great danger here. I'd like to pass word to your brother… if you please.»"

The meaning isn't quite what she wanted, evidence of her lack of complete fluency in the language. But Odessa is nothing if not tenacious. "«You must eat. You need strength. In your current condition, with your medical history…»" Worry seeps into her tone then.

"«How are you here as a doctor, then?»" Tania closes her eyes, a ward against any more crying; the idea of getting a message to her brother is a tempting one. And a heartbreaking one. "«If my brother learns where I am, he'll do something…»" she pauses a moment, hunting for an appropriate synonym. "«Reckless.»" And she worried about him more than she does herself. Usually. It's a pretty close call this time around, though.

She looks over at Odessa, a foot reaching out to push the tray away from her. "I will eat when I am hungry," she says, as if this were just the sensible way to handle the situation. "I am looked after here, yes?" Oh, that sounds a little bitter, though. "They seem to be equipped to handle my medical history."

On the topic of Sasha Kozlow's propensity to be reckless, Odessa nods. "«I agree.»" Which is why she asked. And to the topic of her care, she snorts derisively, "You don't honestly believe that." At least one of them knows better.

"«I think I can help you leave.»" Odessa offers cautiously. "«I need your trust.»" Her tongue stumbles over foreign words in a false start before she again slides back into her native tongue, voice in a low whisper. "I know that is asking a lot of you. I'm willing to act in good faith in whatever way will help assuage your doubts."

It's now that Odessa stops her deceptively casual scan of the gardens and fixes her earnest gaze on Tania. "They are doing terrible things here. To others, and to you. But you are not wrong, the medical facilities here are… extensive. And I'll need the resources here to help you."

Tania looks back to her feet, as if the wiggle of her toes were more important than possible escape. It's a long pause, but in the end, she lifts her head again. "«You will have to forgive me if that's become a rare commodity. I sit in this place where they won't tell me what they've done to me and I feel worse every day, but they only care for as long as it takes to write it down. And then someone comes in with very pretty offers.» I read books, da? Too good to be truth.

"«I want to be home, but I do not want to be tricked. Or to be bait.»"

She looks to her hands as they rest in her lap, not so much primly folded as they are gripping one another, making herself her own anchor. "What is your name? How are you here," she asks, her voice much lower, "but willing to do this? And what is it you will want in return?" She's a practical girl, at the very least.

"My name is Odessa Price. I work for the Institute, and the Department of Evolved Affairs. «Neither by my own wish.»" The clipboard is angled away from her chest long enough for Odessa to glance at something that must be written there. "I know what they've done to you, and I do not approve. I will not help them further this." Her stomach churns once and it's evident in a brief flicker on her face.

"I ask for nothing in return, save for your good word should I ever need a champion."

The look on Odessa's face makes Tania's pale a little. If the doctor is disgusted by it, she's not totally sure she wants to know.

"When I was in Russia, agents of your government came and tried to take me from my mother. «It's hard for me not to look for the trick.»" She lifts her shoulders a bit, her fingers lacing with one another there in her lap. «And I'm not much of a champion. But if you can get me safely home, I would have a good word to say. Unless there's harm to my brother.»"

"«Your brother saved my life,»" Odessa tells Tania, voice quiet. "«I owe him a debt. Your return…» is the least I can do." In different company, the story of the efforts made to drag her back from death's door would be told in another way. All Tania needs to know is that Odessa does owe Sasha Kozlow her life, even if she is bitter for what she lost in return.

"«Suspicion is good,»" Odessa admits with a wry smile. "«You live longer.»" The doctor draws in a deep breath, preparing to give orders. "«You must eat. You need your strength if I am to help you travel. They are making you sick, and you must be strong enough to fight.»"

That is enough to get a little smile from the girl, just a turn up at one corner before it's gone again. Easy for Odessa to catch, harder for anyone who might be watching from afar. But she's always proud to hear about the good things her brother does, it helps her feel like the child who saw him as a hero. And good feelings are rare around here.

"This is what I think, too. Even if I am not to live too long either way." Fighting a lifelong condition like hers makes it hard to ever get an invincibility complex. "«I can't always keep food down. And I'm not often hungry. And I hate… that I have to play along, do as they say.»" So she takes what control she can muster. Plus, if it makes their job harder, she likes that idea.

"I understand." White brows furrow sympathetically. Odessa sets the clipboard aside, face down on the bench. "Now, I need you to appear to remain completely calm when I tell you what has happened to you. And you cannot let on that you know, or the people here… They will become suspicious of us."

Odessa reaches out and wraps her fingers around Tania's wrists more than her own hands. Perhaps there is some surreptitious monitoring of pulse. "Tania, you have been infected with an experimental virus. It's meant to cause the termination of… SLC-positive pregnancies.

"You are pregnant. They are monitoring you to see if you will miscarry."

"I am alright at keeping quiet," Tania says, which is not exactly a point of pride, but it is something she feels she's proven fairly recently. She presses her lips together, steeling herself.

And she may be good enough at not spilling secrets to strange men keeping her in empty rooms and not letting her sleep, but her emotions are another story. At least strong ones. The news gets a whimper from the girl as she tries very hard not to sob outright. It isn't sorrow on her face, but fear and a little disgust and perhaps a little bit of anger. But as she can't quite pull it down again, she looks toward her lap again, breaths sucked in through her teeth as her pulse pounds against Odessa's fingers.

She's going to need a minute.

"«I am sorry,»" is genuine enough. But better that she know what's happened to her, even if Odessa can't adequately begin to explain why something so monstrous has been done. "«I think you are right, your brother would do something very foolish if he knew. When you are reunited, you can say as much or little as you want.»" There's an instinct that has the woman wanting to wrap the girl up into a hug and let her cry. "«Is there anything you would like me to do for you?»"

Tania shudders a bit as she forces herself to calm down, it takes a little bit, but when she looks back up at Odessa, she doesn't cry or yell or throw things like she might want to do a lot of. However, there is that spark of anger in her gaze that wasn't there moments before. Her sort of resigned despair gone in favor of a fire lit under her. As useless as anger might be at this point, it's probably a much more effective emotion for keeping her alive.

"«I'm not sure. I don't think there's much to be done while I'm here that would make it any better.»" There's a pause for a moment, a tense roll of her shoulder and a slow exhale. She's not the fighter her brother is, or the plotter that John Logan is, which leaves her with carrying on as an option. "«Is there a way to sabotage? This… this experiment. Can I do something to make it a failed one?»" Not that she particularly wants a baby or anything, but sticking it to the man, that'd be nice.

"«It's possible. I have to do more research into what they've done, and see if I can find a way to skew their results.»" Beyond breaking Tania out before they get their results at all. A last resort. "«For now, I need you to continue to play along, until I am able to act. But… I need to know.»" Odessa self-consciously glances about before properly taking Tania's hands finally. "«Do you want to keep it? I can't promise I can make that happen, but I can make my best efforts.»"

"«I can play along. I think I can»," Tania says with a nod to Odessa's planning. But at that vital question, the girl swallows hard, sitting back some. It's not a question she'd been anywhere near planning on having to answer. For one, knowing that her condition would always make pregnancy risky, and for two, being far too young and far too virginal to have to worry about it. "«I…»"

She can't seem to come to an answer, but she shakes her head some. "«Whatever comes. If I don't lose it, I know a good place for it to grow up. I would…»" She pauses, looking over at Odessa, guilt already setting in on her face for thinking she'd rather lose it, even if she hasn't quite formed the words. "«I'm sixteen»," is what she settles on; she's too young to have to make this decision.

Odessa squeezes Tania's hands tightly. "«There is no shame.» You are young, and this is not ideal by any means. We will let it run its course." If the baby is Evolved, and Odessa manages to save him or her, there's no guarantee that child will live a long or healthy life. But if the woman's dreams are anything to go by, there's no guarantee for anyone before too long. "We will play by ear. «My duty is to you first.»"

She begins to withdraw, hands in her lap first, then retrieving her clipboard. "«I will return to you later. Maybe in a few days. I promise if you trust me, Tania, I will give you a fighting chance.»" Odessa doesn't smile. There's nothing worth smiling about in this situation. "«Regain your strength, and have courage.» You aren't just playing along now.

"You're playing the system."

Tania laughs quietly there, a short sound without mirth, "There is always shame, Doctor Price." This time, when her fingers touch where her scar lies under her clothes, she's very aware of it. The steady reminder. "«But thank you. Finding someone here who is willing to help, it — I wasn't expecting it»." Which is to say, there's a certain amount of trust there, since Tania would rather believe there's a hope for escape than not. "«There is another here who seems like she would be able to help… Very tall, very imposing. Huruma»?"

She looks down to the tray of food at her feet, then back to Odessa as she starts to pull away. She nods, agreement about keeping up her strength, at least, but when she looks at Odessa at those last words, there's not a nod, but a lift of her chin. Resolved.

"Huruma," Odessa repeats and nods her head once. "I'll look into it. Thank you." If the name means anything to her, she isn't letting on. She rises to her feet finally, features carefully schooled into a critical gaze. As though she were merely asking routine questions about the girl's condition, and no conflict of emotion or interest exists in the answers. The nod of her head is almost curt, seemingly final. It's only the tone, words spoken low for Tania's benefit that acts an assurance that this is all for show. "I will return for you. Do svidaniya."

A desk lamp bathes stark white paper in a yellow hue. The light is dimmer than one might otherwise like, but it's a motel. It comes with the territory.

Odessa has poured over the charts and notes on Tania Kozlow's condition, a dour frown creasing her face and further dimpling scars. It only deepens as she reads the research on the first patient in this twisted trial.

She didn't survive.

Sliding the documentation into an unmarked manilla envelope, Odessa tucks it into her laptop bag and retrieves her cell phone, entering numbers on the touch pad not from speed dial or a contact list, but from memory. She tilts her head to one side to wedge the phone between her ear and hunched shoulder.

On the third ring, a click signals the line's been answered. She doesn't bother with a greeting, or pleasantries.

"Tania Kozlow is pregnant. Please advise."

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