I have been called an anomaly, a contradiction, the antithesis of a cliche. When I was thirteen - not a year before my puberty spike - I was an avid computer science nerd. I could assemble my own computer and utilize its functions without fail. A particular trio of boys who wanted to mimic the bully archetype decided they didn't approve of my choice in hobby, and heckled me until the day I finally sassed them in return. One of them punched me, and my eye swelled up for a few days. At that moment, I decided I couldn't accept such treatment.
In the present, not only do I continue to thrive in computer science - among other sciences, including the social and health sciences - but I am a personal trainer, in both private practice and the Training Center, where tributes are my clients. I'm a trained killer and computer nerd.
Not so cliche, I hope.
I was raised by a single mother alongside my twin brother, no father identified. His name is Vepar, and while I wouldn't necessarily call us polar opposites, we do differ in educational interests and impulse. I, for example, have an immeasurable amount of restraint. The day the authorities escorted him to our house, I didn't shed a single drop of panic or remorse for what had happened to our mother. My brother was traumatized, and that was the priority. He has always been, and will continue to be, the most important person in my life.
If I lose restraint, it's always for his sake. Nobody harms him without my inevitable interference - and trust me, I'm not a force to reckon with. I'm only one in a handful of Capitol citizens (not including Peacekeepers) who can snap a human neck in a heartbeat's time. I would never break the law and murder another person, but I've bent the rules once or twice to punish those who hurt my brother.
He could've died that night. I feel fortunate to have only lost one family member. I can't decide whether our mother didn't deserve to be robbed and killed, but my brother did not deserve to watch in helpless horror. I'm thankful he survived. Our mother had always been...difficult. She had strings attached to every joint in Vepar's body. Manipulative and selfish, she could always coax him into doing what she wanted. As a child, I wanted the same. Most children want to impress their mothers with their talents, but I grew out of it when circumstances...changed. Did I care if she approved? To an extent, yes, but not enough to change my mind if she didn't.
When she died, I was more determined than ever to train in self-defense and beyond. So much that I made a career out of it. It was a lot of pressure to become one of the best in my class, but I managed to snag a job in the tribute Training Center. During Games season, I teach tributes how to kill and survive. Off season, you can find me teaching other classes. Rest assured, I didn't pursue a career in fitness for the money - we were born wealthy. I do it because I enjoy it. I've also become a bit of a nutrition fanatic. We have the technology to heal just about anything, but it's easier to avoid the medical bills in the first place. What better way than with diet and exercise?
I've published a few articles on the side. Critics disapprove of my old-fashioned insights, but I have more and more clients hiring me for private practice. I teach them how to diet and exercise in the ways they're comfortable with, and in return I strike a reasonable profit paired with self-served satisfaction. I follow my own ethics, and try to prepare healthy meals for myself and my brother. We live alone now, in our mother's mansion. He thrives in literature and history, and I bury myself in the maths and sciences, yet somehow he manages to conduct the most research. As observant as I am, he's much more motivated to act. That must be how research became his career.
We are not without imperfections and stress, however. As glamorous as our lives of research may be, there are complications. Vepar's trauma has left an impact on his mental health, to the extent of producing hallucinations. There is no such thing as twin telepathy, but when you spend your entire life with somebody, you tend to notice the alterations in their behavior, no matter how subtle. I notice everything about Vepar. He's emotional - the hot and cold type, like a broken thermometer - and impulsive. Drinking becomes problematic when clashed with such a dramatic personality.
I, myself, only drink on occasion. I favor wines and whiskeys above fruity, mystery concoctions. I prefer to feel a buzz over a full drunken state, because I've always been the competitive type. Alcohol amplifies that. Quite a few times I've stumbled home drunk because I challenged someone to a drinking competition. I've also blacked out once or twice. Not my proudest moments, but that's why I refrain. There's no need to drink unless there is something specific to celebrate.
Vepar doesn't agree.
We disagree on a few subjects. Hook-ups, for example. I won't lie and say I didn't have a bit of a rebellious streak when I was a teenager, sleeping with the same guys Vepar did. We shared a lot of things (not at the same time, mind you). I've outgrown it. I prefer to know the person before I get intimate. One or two dates first, then we'll see. Again, Vepar differs in that aspect, and continues to bring strangers to our house. I don't mind too much, as long as he's using protection.
And they better not take advantage of him. Anyone who hurts Vepar has to deal with me.
"I KNOW YOU WANNA GO TO HEAVEN BUT YOU'RE HUMAN TONIGHT"
He was accustomed to the background noise of humming machinery. The break room was his only solace; here, he could enjoy his leftover pasta without a coworker or supervisor looming over his shoulder to inspect his work. Granted, he was always proud of his accomplishments, but the heavy weight of responsibility and pressure to excel above all others was close to crushing him. This line of work was cut throat, competitive, and laced with corruption around every corner, yet he managed it. He and his brother were at the apex of the structure, no rules broken or asses kissed along the way. Everything they received was earned, and he took pride in that.
His fellows weren't so impressed. They painted themselves green with envy at witnessing every project Venus finished, whether it was a muttation design or an landscape blueprint for the next Game's arena. These simplistic three-dimensional designs were how they had initially tested his range of skills and ability to adapt. He hardly qualified as a Gamemaker's associate, after all. As his coworkers constantly reminded him, he belonged in the training center. He was "all buff and no brain," and supposedly knew nothing about true Games mechanics. He only knew the fighting aspect.
Proving them wrong had been an entertaining challenge.
Originally, it was Vepar's heavy background in research that intrigued the superiors. Rumors of his genius had bounced across many walls, and a twin was not mentioned without his other half. They wanted to test both of them, even if Venus was merely a tribute trainer. Promotions were not unheard of.
The codes and programs ingrained within the headquarters' technology was more advanced than anything he had ever tapped into, but genius didn't come without benefits. They were quick learners, and his own background in computer science provided an impressive advantage at the most crucial time. He excelled beyond expectation, earning himself a new position within the web of Gamemaker lackeys. It was an offer he simply couldn't refuse.
There were endless opportunities at his fingertips, and untapped creativity lodged somewhere behind his wall of repressed sentiment. It was a barrier constantly being chipped away at home and rebuilt at work, a cycle of stress that left him yearning for a release in the training center. Some days, he missed it more than he could ever admit. Eliminating muscle tension was like releasing steam. It was his own stress relief, his own intense version of yoga or meditation. It was his focus. To be restricted to a computer chair and limited office space was frustrating. He had the constant urge to move and stretch his legs. Coffee and snack breaks were his only excuses to do so.
To make matters worse, his coworkers were less than helpful. Many of them offered the minimum required small talk to protect their professional and "sociable" reputations, and others were downright hostile. They disliked his rapid success, and no matter how polite his demeanor was, they couldn't see beyond the haze of hostility. It was somewhat awkward to deal with their snide, subtle comments. He tip-toed around confrontation with his vocabulary, but the wearing of his nerves made him slip every so often. Apparently a snarky comeback was all it took to shut them up.
He couldn't form any trustworthy relationships in the workplace. He supposed that wasn't terrible, since he had less distractions and therefore more time to focus on progression, but it could get lonesome. Fortunately, Vepar was there for company when he needed it. His brother of all people could keep him sane despite everything they had endured. They would accept the challenges of their promotions together.
Home life was heavy. An old storm had come to demolish their happiness, and Venus was not proud of the outcome. He had never broken a human being the way he had. He had never felt as much rage surge through him, but as many times as he replayed the scene in his head he didn't regret it. He could snap the neck of Sun's abuser over and over and incinerate his corpse over and over. His ashes would be forgotten. Nobody would miss him.
Nobody would know, but the three of them would remember.
Their relationship with their Avox was completely unorthodox. They would be shamed if anyone discovered, yet Venus already had his argument planned. How many citizens used their Avoxes for sexual pleasure?
This wasn't his intention, but it was an easy and believable argument. Many Avoxes were sex slaves, and many ended up as a master's "favorite." A substitute for love. Despite his active role in the murder of teenagers, he couldn't bring himself to hurt Sun. There was no reason to, and no benefit. In fact, the opposite had happened instead.
He often found his cheeks burning when he sat in his office thinking about it.
Sun was their own special star, and he was a blessing to have. If work was stressful, there was something to look forward to. Even when work followed him home, Sun was a comfort, and he was forever grateful. But now circumstances were changing. A recent promotion by the President himself had been handed to them like a key to the city. It was not something they could turn away. To be at the head, sat upon a throne of bones with every sort of power at their fingertips, was an opportunity that could not be ignored.
So, it was with confidence that he adopted the title Head Gamemaker with his twin brother.
And now was the time for his world to spin backwards.