tale as old as time

Joined: 11:15 PM - Jul 23, 2012

7:11 PM - May 27, 2016 #1

Cypher was running late--she had already dropped off her tributes in their apartment and now she was high-tailing it over to the empty District Four apartments for a meeting with the rest of the Escorts. Nearly losing her balance as she rounded a corner, skidding on heeled boots, the alternatively-shorn escort, with her new breakup haircut and edgy makeup choices, burst through the door, expecting a room filled with people.

Instead, she only saw Hospes Compleo, the escort to District One. Sliding her eyes to him, and then to each empty chair, she frowned. "Did I...miss the time?" she inquired, pulling out her holodeck, and scrolling through the programmed events that were stuffed into her calendar. Her index finger swiped right, past the reaping, past the parade, her face bathed in the blueish glow of technology.

Her engagement ring was missing, the pale flesh it once hid stood out glaringly against the rest of her skin. Cy frowned--wondering if her holodeck had been tampered with, but it was more likely she had forgotten the time or day of the meeting.

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Joined: 4:03 AM - Apr 06, 2015

9:59 PM - May 27, 2016 #2

Hospes was always the first one to arrive and the last one to leave a meeting. It was instinct; having survived off of a strong work ethic for much of his life, he found it physically impossible to be anything else. It was just painful to not be early or to be not leave late, and he reproached himself thoroughly whenever he failed his own ethic. Thus, when the other escorts departed the meeting room, almost in unison, Hospes remained to gather up his things, organize them, re-organize them, check his notes, re-check them, et cetera. This process usually took five or so minutes.

The door burst abruptly, disrupting Hospes’s daily routine. Flinching, he looked back, and stared at Cyph3r with wide eyes. She was in her usual jet-black garb; she seemed a little less at grumpy peace than usual. “Did I...miss the time?” Cyph3r asked, and ducked her head to look down at her tablet. Her slender, white fingers went up; somehow, they were rather eye catching. Hospes couldn’t quite put his finger on it, especially in his socially awkward stupor, but he did notice something, like a blur rushing by - striking, yet too sudden to be understood.

Finally, Hospes settled back into himself, becoming comfortable enough to socialize. “You missed us by a few minutes.” He settled his various notepads and tablets on the desk, and leaned against it. “What happened?” he added, more for conversation than concern. People missed meetings all the time; it wasn’t something to be obsess over. Besides, Cyph3r could take care of herself. “Hello, by the way,” he chirped pleasantly.
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Joined: 11:15 PM - Jul 23, 2012

2:33 AM - Jun 10, 2016 #3

”Oh, for Snow’s sake.” Cy swore, plunking the tablet down onto the desk in exasperation. She was all turned around—the break with Aaleyah had her managing her own schedule for the first time in a very long time. Cy was the only escort who was originally from the districts, and as such, found the use of Avox abhorrent.

She sighed, sitting down on one of the chairs. “Did I miss anything especially important, or was this meeting simply another chance to dazzle my fellow escorts with my keen fashion eye?” Cyph3r was easily the least fancy of all the escorts, and probably of everyone in the Capitol, excluding the Avox, of course. Her shoulder-length hair brushed the top of her suit, head bowing as she narrowed her eyes, looking at the screen.

Leaning back, she acknowledged her mistake with a nod. “The fault is mine, and yes, hello, Hoss—how is Don? I haven’t seen you both since Choux’s fashion show.” It had been the beginning of the end of Cyah--as the tabloids had dubbed the couple, as different in appearance as night and day. Perhaps their differences had led to their eventual split. At least, that was what the very same e-magazines alleged.

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Joined: 4:03 AM - Apr 06, 2015

7:37 AM - Jun 26, 2016 #4

Hospes laughed gently at Cypher’s little joke about flaunting fashion, having a rather lacking taste in clothing himself (he never went any further than the calmly quaint). “Unfortunately. Culture hasn’t changed a lot. Oddly enough, people still want to look older.” Ever since the finale of the Quarter Quell, a cultish fad had sparked, igniting an interest in silvery hair and wrinkles; all the ad campaigns demanded that anybody who believed in the Hunger Games should buy some of the product. Hospes always smirked when he noticed one of those commercials - because he didn’t have to buy anything. “Speaking of older,” Hospes continued, pushing himself up so his sit-bones rested on the lip of the table, “Hayden announced that the rumors are true. He really will retire, after all.” Hospes referred to the District Two escort (who couldn’t have been twenty years younger than Hospes was) as a male due to the fact that he never could tell what Hayden’s gender was. “And that’s about it. Funny, huh?”

Now that the silliness about the other escorts was over and done, it was onto their personal lives. Hospes’s little feet swayed over the ground, ankles crossed, the fidgeting of his thumbs casual and pleasant. It wasn’t very often that he just got a chance to talk to another person from work, other than Don; most of the chatter was either abut tributes or the artificial, never about anything interesting and personal and relationship-building. Hospes settled in with the flow rather well, given his standard social anxiety and the fact that Cy had brought up the fashion show. “Hah, yeah...that...” His mind glanced back at maybe a month ago: Hospes shuffled across a catwalk in one of Don’s pimp-ass shit designs, his waving hand stiff and twitchy; Don walked beside him, guiding him throughout the process with commands and quips and - nuisances. Many, many nuisances (the only way to describe them). Hospes blinked back into the present. “Yeah...that,” he repeated, forgetting he had already spoken. “Ah - yes - Don is well. We’ve been going out more than we did when we first started out together. Well, when I first started out. I mean - well - you know.” Hoss shrugged, his smile fawn-like. “I guess we’re friends.”

Hospes turned the tables, as per the norm of this sort of Q-and-As small talk. “How’re you and Aaleyah?”

He smiled as if he hadn’t planted a figurative bomb - and to his tranquil, naive mind, he was certain that he hadn’t said anything that wasn’t usual. Hospes did not treat gossip rags and entertainment networks as newspapers; so many of their headlines were written as if they were the plot-lines of some cheap soap opera, and Hospes had never been one for gossip, perhaps because of the fact that he had never aligned with any factions in high school. In fact, Hoss didn’t even glance over e-magazines; he much preferred radio; some primal spirit sniffing around inside of him liked it when he shouted at his car’s dashboard. But radio was a place of debate with talking heads and politics (much of which Hospes felt were made up, but that was just the paranoid loon inside of him), not people snapping their relationships in twine as if they were twigs. However - it did suddenly occur to him that Aaleyah did seem rather muted during the meeting, though that might have just been him.

That strange and elusive flash caught his eye again, this time drawing Hospes’s gaze downwards, alighting on Cypher’s hand. Now that it was still, he could finally make out what had been catching his eye: the circular slither of pale that now bound Cypher’s ring finger. He paused, not understanding his eyes at first, and then finally, he accepted it. And then reality blew up in his face. Hospes’s jaw slackened; he stared at Cypher’s hand, then lifted his gaze to meet Cypher’s. “Oh,” his voice was slow and stony. Then, as if a button had been pressed, his anxiety revved into full gear: “Oh, gods, I’m sorry, Cypher - I hadn’t known - if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have - just - just forget it. Just forget I ever said anything. I’m - I’m sorry. We can - talk about your tributes, if you like. I noticed the girl has a bit of fire in her. That’s - that’s always good. I - I rather thought that last year’s girl - Pippa, her name was - kind of seemed a little sad. I always hate it when they have that sad look in their eye, you know? I...I...” His mouth sputtered, fumbled, and then went kah-poot. He stared down at his hands for a moment, fidgeting terribly, remembering how he always hated it when his father or an old friend or just some dusty knickknack reminded him of an old fling.
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Joined: 11:15 PM - Jul 23, 2012

6:11 PM - Jul 31, 2016 #5

Cypher remembered Hayden. He was much older, and in many ways, the head of the escorts as Choux, in her eighties, was head of the stylists. He had not, when it was dictated what Cypher’s position would be in the Capitol, been openly supportive of a brat whose tongue should have been sliced out becoming an escort. She didn’t dress like the others who were born in the Capitol, preferring to be a non-conformist when everyone in the Capitol conformed to every fad as tastes changed and evolved.

“I can’t say I am Hayden’s biggest supporter, but hopefully his replacement will be more amiable.” She murmured, charitably. To be honest, she was glad to have skipped the meeting, if it meant one less audience with Hayden. “I suppose there is to be a retirement party later for him?”

Cy said nothing about Don, nothing about Hospes’ mild flouondering before he seemed to speak the truthful answer at last, resigned to the words he spoke. It was only fair that Hoss ask about Aaleyah, and while there was no love lost on Cy’s part, there certainly was for the pink-haired escort. “We, as I’m sure you read, decided to end our relationship. I’m not sure we can call ourselves friends at the moment, but I am glad we recognized our differences before it was too late.”

A divorce was infinitely worse, but the dissolution of their engagement had prompted many abrubt changes. Cy had to find a new apartment, and after meeting with several realtors who were apparently, ‘Team Aaleyah’, she found something after crashing on a friend’s couch. Apparently Aaleyah decided to torch most of her possessions that she didn’t claim right away, and had been going on interview after interview, slandering Cy at every chance she found.

It was despicable, but this type of behavior after was much, much worse. Cypher held up her hands as Hoss slowly realized she was remembering all of it—the argument that started the fight that ended the longest relationship she had ever had. “No, no—“ she insisted, waving her hands in surrender. “I am, at this point, adjusted to speaking about what was once private. I imagine she is finally happy, now that she is not with me anymore.”

Talk turned to tributes hastily, but before Cypher could answer, the building shook and the alarms started to sound. She heard the footfalls of peacekeepers, and stood up immediately, going over to the window. Which is actually the last place one should be in the event of any emergency.

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Joined: 4:03 AM - Apr 06, 2015

5:10 AM - Sep 21, 2016 #6

Despite Cypher’s assurances, Hospes would never not be able to cringe during every possibly negative social encounter he would ever participate in. The fact that, as Cypher had brought up, he could have easily read about the disengagement without having to flick this stupid conversation right at her socked him one up the gut, and he didn’t much appreciate it. Any distraction would have been like sunlight silencing a gall.

A force hit the Earth. Although the results of the impact happened all at once, Hospes processed it in shattered puzzle pieces. The chair rattled before it fell over; he toppled over immediately; Cypher just sort of squatted, or something; the walls were making enough friction to incinerate themselves, but instead they decided to snap like dry crackers: made a similar sound, too. The groaned and almost halved itself; a bit of it slipped it and tried to pulverize Hospes’s fingers; splinters of dust rained on him. Smoke blacked his lungs, but he didn’t cough it out. He didn’t think he would die; the irony of it all tickled him, and he was glad that the crackles of concrete hid his snorting breathing.

And then, with one last electric blast of earth, the world fell still.

For whatever reason - perhaps because of the tension in his shoulders - Hospes remembered the cursed god Atlas.

He heard Cypher’s shoes scrape against the ground as she hauled herself. He glanced up at her; an alarm groaned inside him as she hurried to the window, and with popping joints, he threw himself to his feet to join her. Hospes took her by the arm to pull her back, but stopped short as his eyes fell out the window. The world looked as if it had been swallowed into a deep throat, and one could just make out the sprigot of pink and red that was the yawning stomach.

Hospes felt his shoes become a bit of the floor. He could still feel the earth shake, the same way a beaten child can still feel his parent’s slap when it’s over. He thought he could feel the people way below and far away scream, and all the sirens that had to be blaring, and all the panic that even the President must be succumbing to. But no matter how far he extended his senses and no matter what it meant, he couldn’t shake off a grim sense of satisfaction that is often the product of unheard prophesy.

“I think Atlas just shrugged,” he murmured, as if he was making an observation of a patient. He blinked; his attention flicked back to Cypher, and she gave her a sharp yank, and bent to crouch down on the floor to indicate that she should do the same. “Under the table,” his voice was a pitch lower than normal. “Are you hurt.”
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