Title: Losing Hope
Author: tafkar
Summary: A possible history for one character on the show. The cue from ff_friday: hope. The hardest part: getting it down to 1000 words.
Category: Character study
Spoilers: None
Rating: PG-13 (for offscreen rape, violence and bad language)
Archiving: Always welcome; just let me know you have done so.



Hope stumbled home barefoot, a mocking crown of pohutukowa and orchids on her head, leaving a trail of bloody footprints behind her. House Alleya was the first Companion House established beyond the Core, created to cater to the needs of the wealthy and adventurous who had settled on the older parts of the frontier, the sanctuary that had rescued her from a life digging mud on some half-terraformed moon. The islands of the planet Adriana were well-tamed, the world largely a resort for Core residents looking for a vacation that offered adventure in a civilized manner. No one thought the war would come to Adriana.

"I'm sending you," Zalika told Hope and her house-sisters. The priestess had positioned her chair to use the setting sun to her advantage; it kissed her auburn hair and warm skin with gold, "No other novice in our House would have the strength to go to these men tonight, and every Companion has an assignation. Our neighbors see the soldiers as a threat, but we know they are men who have had too much to endure. We must give them succor."

"Succor," Hope mumbled to herself bitterly, tasting the blood on her tongue as she stumbled through the open door of House Alleya, shaded under the giant mamaku ferns. The Independents hadn't wanted succor. Some soldiers of this advance unit, men and women both, wanted an outlet for their rage, and delicate, perfumed, women symbolized everything they hated about the Alliance. Hope had been the only one to leave, given a sardine-can medal and a flower tiara for surviving the night.

The house was cool and quiet, deep wood walls echoing the gentle slapping of her bare feet against the tile. The blue and gold hand-woven carpet, reflection of Adriana's seashores, was missing. "Hello?" she whispered, croaking, throat sore and bruised. There was no reply. The snug little Companion house, which should have been bustling with the movement of the remaining novices and Companions, was silent. As she moved further into the great hall, no longer warm or familiar, she saw empty places on the walls and shelves, spots where the most valuable tokens and relics had once stood.

In the dormitory, she saw a pair of shoes lying on the floor, and remembered Clementia, sitting in the window seat, sighing that she must lose the shoes so that Zalika would replace them with something more attractive. Patience's most-loathed textbook, "The City of Virtues," had been hurled in a corner atop a silk dress, last season's fashion. The silver combs, the pots of cosmetics, the crystal bottles of scent, all had been taken, including her own. All the beautiful clothes and jewels she'd won for her success in her studies were gone.

Under her bed, as if kicked there by some resentful tiny pale foot, was a small, stuffed, fuzzy toy bird. "Why do you keep that mangy thing around?" Joy had said once, threatening to throw it in the trash. It only had value to her; it had been her confidant during every difficult night at the House, when her eyes burned and her jaw clenched after lights-out from the whispered abuse of her sisters. Kiwi was the only thing she had smuggled in from home, the only one who knew her real name. She picked him up and put him in the center of the bed she'd slept on, to stand sentry over what remained.

She heard the sounds of drawers opening and closing, and walked softly to the end of the hall. Through the open doorway of the house office, she could see Andreus, the house manager. He had his back to her as he opened the safe. A gun lay on the burnished mahogany desk. Hope quietly moved forward and lifted it off the table.

Andreus turned around as the safety clicked off. He stared at her in open-mouthed amazement; it took him a moment to find his words. She could feel the morning sunlight pouring down the hallway, warming her back, haloing her. "Hope!" His face did not match the joy of his voice. "We thought you were dead."

"You mean you expected I'd be dead," she said, aiming the gun at him.

"Now, Hope, that's not a toy. Put that down."

Hope laughed. She could feel the cuts in her lip break open again as her mouth stretched into a smile. "I grew up playing with toys like this." Maybe she had read him wrong. "Andreus, where did they go? And why are you here?"

"They left. A ship was leaving this morning. They packed up the stuff and fled back to the Core before…"

She finished the sentence for him. "Before the Independents locked down the spaceport? Before they used us up and came looking for more baiozi huo?"

Andreas drew himself up. "What kind of language is that for a Companion?"

She rolled her eyes. "Why aren't you with them?" Hope asked. The gun was starting to get heavier. In a minute her hand would be shaking.

"I…I told them I'd come back here to look for you and your sisters." His eyes flickered, just a little. He was a very good liar, but she had spent years competing with women who were trained to turn a lie into the truth. He took a step toward her. "I couldn't leave you behind." He looked behind her. "Where are Joy and Prudence?"

"Say hi to them for me," said Hope, and fired.

The money had been wrapped in a plastic bag; easy enough to rinse off the bits of brain and bone. It wasn't a fortune, but it would get her to the Core, and some clothes, and give her time to plan. She threw the money and the gun in the passenger seat of the car, slid into last season's silk dress and shoes, and headed off to the spaceport, wind blowing through her red hair. As she drove, she tried to think of a new name.

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