[MAG] Terms & Conditions
Trapetsiya watched, prim and polite, as the maid gently set down the tray of tea and cookies.
This, he knew, was Moralle's most ornate set, only brought out for intimate celebrations. Such a description could apply to Trapetsiya's presence, his fiancé. In fact, considering he'd brought a gift - a hand-knit sweater, currently being worn by Moralle - this was most certainly a wonderful time, to be enjoyed with their finest of possessions.
Save for the fact that Moralle, currently, was glowering at a set of stapled papers - so much so that he barely spared the maid a nod as she scuttled back out the door.
It was printed in the country's government's official letterhead, marking it as significant. And it wasn't sent over email, meaning that it was of the utmost priority. Though it was only four pages, Moralle's eyes were still locked onto the first page, scanning the introductory paragraph over and over. His teeth were clenched tightly on a pen, as though grinding the plastics into his cheeks could resolve the issue before him.
Trapetsiya fiddled with the hem of his dress. When he'd arrived, bursting from his bedroom with a flourish, a messenger had deposited the pamphlet onto Moralle's desk before they even shared a greeting kiss. And, though he knew Moralle valued his input and insight greatly, he knew navigating these talks was always a task of finesse.
After all - did Moralle want to discuss it? Did he deem it above Trapetsiya's rank? Would bringing it up only worsen his fiancé's mood? Should he rather try to distract, or would that frustrate even more?
So many questions, and he had to juggle all of them, sitting in the silence of their lounge with only his thoughts and the crackling fireplace to keep him company.
The pages shuffled as Moralle thumbed through them for the upteenth time, as if he'd find new answers in their printed walls. Trapetsiya eyed the motion out of his peripherals, then swallowed - what to say? To comfort, to distract?
This was a game he'd played many times prior, and yet, the unpredictability of it still made his heart pound. He'd been enamoured with that, with the uniqueness of mortals so long ago, and yet it confused him even now, with eons of experience behind his back. Maybe one day he would have met every possible person there was, and finally become exhausted and retire. But today was not that day, and Moralle was not pleased.
After a second of hesitating deliberation, Trapetsiya shifted forwards, reaching to pick up a teacup. He blew on it, the noise enough to make Moralle's ears twitch - and then he took a dainty sip, eyes flicking to their corners so he could meet Moralle's gaze, finally turned unto him. Success. Now a line of communication could be established.
"Dear," he began, voice soft, "what is worrying you?"
Moralle sighed - the sigh of a man who had hoped for a quiet night, without politics interfering - and dropped the papers onto the coffee table. He opened his mouth, but rethought it, instead choosing to stare into the fireplace's burning wisps.
Trapet watched him for a few long seconds, waiting. When no response came, he reached to hold the other's knee. "You should try this tea. It's the northern blend, from the pines, that you love."
Moralle finally glanced down to the tray. His cup rested there, still, steaming slightly. Next to it sat a small pile of cookies, frosted and sprinkled in the way he'd been fond of since he was a child. It was enough to bring light to any mortal's heart, and yet, not even a smile broke on his face.
"My Siya," he said, weary, as he plucked the cup. Moralle sniffed it, but neglected to sip, instead resting it in his lap. "I am not a religious man."
A sharp rebar of fear impaled itself in Trapet's chest, but he was composed enough to merely flutter his eyelashes instead. "You and I have both known this for as long as we've been friends. What brings it to the forefront of your mind?"
There was another brief pause before Medalle's shoulders slumped slightly, and he plainly stated: "There is a god in my nation."
"A god?" Trapet's eyes flicked to the pamphlet.
Gladar, lesser god, Harmonic - it was, truthfully, all the same to him. Though the mortals fussed over the differences, carving out little niches and exact pinpoints, as if they could define one another's godhood - it all melted into the same pot, for a being like him, something so above. Yet, he could still be enamoured - enamoured by their systems, by their insistence on following them, on their charts and descriptions. So he'd learned them by heart, and grew to learn which mattered in each Universe he made a home in.
And in Moralle's universe, gods were rather uncommon. A lesser god was a rare treasure indeed; so much so that the continent across the northern sea had fought dozens of wars against theirs on behest of their god. Trapetsiya had never met them in person, but he didn't need to. He merely had to twist the rules so Moralle never quite lost hard enough.
"Yes," Moralle said, a heavy weight on his typically-bright tone. It was the same voice he used whenever discussing his youngest sibling, a troublemaker and embarrassment to the royal family. Trapet frowned. "And they are already making waves."
Trapet shifted to wrap an arm comfortingly around Moralle's shoulders. His fiancé leaned into the touch, closing his eyes briefly.
After a second, he continued, "They are already making waves in the southern mountains. The famine there - it has been solved... the fields bear crop again, their livestock miraculously recovering. My people, they are touting it as a miracle - a miracle I was unable to solve, despite months of efforts of arranging imports and tax breaks and price ceilings."
He rubbed Moralle's back, giving a gentle nod.
"They are not the god of the north," Moralle offered, after a second. "They are unfamiliar, and they arrived bearing worshippers already. People claim they are stronger than the god of the north."
"What do they call themselves?" Trapet asked, careful to keep his voice smooth and soft.
The rebar in Trapetsiya's chest widened as his eyes did.
Sessy. Sessy was in his Timeline. One of his Timelines. Didn't they have rules about this sort of thing? Well - maybe not written roles, but spoken etiquette? About staying out of each other's mortal business? Oh, but of course Sessy would break it, of course - he needed to go speak with Sessy.
Before the thought even finished, he could feel teleportation wrapping around him. It was fine. He could leave Moralle in the Timeline, and pop right back in before he'd even left, resolving the loophole his sudden disappearance would cause. For now, though, he needed to have some sort of word with Sessy.
Maybe Sessy just hadn't realized. Perhaps he was making an excursion, unaware that Trapetsiya resided there. It wouldn't be out of the question - after all Trapet tended to keep his involvement hush-hush, quiet enough that Sekizgen never caught wind of it - so of course Sessy just had no idea. And it'd be easy to simply inform him, and then have him pull out, and Moralle's conflict resolved.
Such were his thoughts, as Trapetsiya realized he was standing in the middle of a bright yellow, circular room. Emblazoned on the wall in front of him were the bright words "MAIN HIVE OFFICE," underneath of which was the welcome desk.
He rubbed his eyes, then glanced down to the receptionist. They were tapping away at a computer, a hexagonal pin on their lapel, a headset cupping one ear and draped over the neck. They flashed him a smile as he shifted awkwardly, holding up a single finger in a simple gesture - wait.
Trapet watched as their hand returned to the keyboard and flew over it, the typing audible. The sudden tonal shift was started to worsen the unsettled discomfort inside of his chest, and he awkwardly hugged an arm, glancing off to the side of the lobby. A group of other Hivemind members were discussing something in quieter tones, gesturing to some sort of chart on the wall. He squinted at the text. Employees of the Month of Hive 6B.
"Alright, so sorry for the wait there, and your name is-" the receptionist paused, though their fingers still moved, and looked up to Trapet.
He smiled, folding his hands over his lap. "Trapetsiya, he/him. I wish to speak to S-"
"-Ah, sorry, looks like you're not in the system scheduled for any appointments right now." they'd paused to take hold of the mouse instead. "If you like, I can set you up with one right now, it's just a single form away, and Mister Shestiugolnik has open timeslots next week from seven to eight pm, if that works for you, and can I get your contact cellie number?"
Trapetsiya blinked rapidly.
The receptionist stared up at him again. "If you'd rather I could arrange for a timeslot two weeks from now, if you'd prefer a daytime slot, but I'd have to get you in the system now because those daytime slots fill up fast, and I can't guarantee a one-on-one session - so Mister Trapetsiya, I will need a response quick if you want one of those, otherwise you'll have to wait up to a month or settle for a nighttime slot, though arguably I find those can be better because Mister Shestiguolnik is in better temperaments-"
"-I'm sorry," Trapet said, as the information overload slowly processed, "I just want to speak to Sessy. Please - can you tell him it's Trapetsiya? He'll understand."
He couldn't even really sense the other. He knew it was deliberate - Sessy liked his space, particularly from the other Mags - but it never ceased to unnerve Trapet. There just was something untrustworthy about wanting to avoid one's peers like that. Though, he supposed half-heartedly, one could make the same argument about him.
The receptionist frowned, then leaned forwards. "Look, I can't just bother the boss like that. He's busy, busier than even I can imagine, and he can't be interrupting him all the time by firing a thought his way every time people show up and beg to talk to him. The timeslot system is there for a reason. Now, can I arrange you an appointment, sir?"
"I promise, just tell him it's Trapetsiya," he near-pleaded, voice straining slightly.
"You're not a high-ranking member, and you've not got a pin," they said, firmly, "I can't make an exception for you."
Trapetsiya stared back, mouth drawn into a polite frown. He wasn't about to make a scene, no. He always tried to be respectful of the systems Sessy implemented, and his preferred way of communication. But this was just absurd. This was unacceptable.
There was a slight temptation to drop his obstruction, to let the full force of his mind blast onto this mortal, but it faded quickly. There was no point in harming innocents, no matter the frustration rising from him. He was merely upset because Moralle was under such stress, that was all. His emotions were somewhat fried. Trapetsiya took a calming breath and smoothed out the wrinkles in his dress before putting a smile back on his features.
"I am a fellow Magnitude Fragment," he said, enunciating slowly, "please, Sessy will understand if you tell him it is Trapetsiya."
"I've heard that one before, too, nice try."
The thought of mortals trying to pass themselves off as Mags was idly amusing, but in that moment, Trapetsiya silently cursed their gall. "I swear. If it goes wrong, I will take the blame for it, not you. I insist."
The receptionist gave him another suspicious stare, slowly turning back to their keyboard and typing. "Fine, fine. But I did warn you."
Trapet watched as their eyes slightly glazed over, though their fingers still ran a mile a minute. The dissociation only lasted a few seconds, their expression unchanging until suddenly they snapped back into focus and altogether too upright, nearly stiff. As Trapetsiya opened his mouth, the sound of teleportation rang in his ears - and then the familiar rush of contentedness and happiness filled him.
He turned towards Shestiugolnik, smiling.
That smile faded slightly when he caught Sessy's tight frown. Before he could even greet the other, Sessy snapped his fingers again - and suddenly, they were in a large office, covered wall-to-wall in bookshelves. Trapet blinked as Sessy seated himself at the only desk in the room, near a roaring fireplace, and gestured towards a plush chair. As he sat, near-robotically, Trapet's mind pondered where Sessy had sourced the velvet.
"What brings you to my headquarters?" Sessy asked, before Trapet could formulate a greeting.
He swallowed, then straightened his shoulders. "Good evening, Shestiugolnik. I was having a problem with one of your excursions... into Timelines."
"Which one?" Sessy didn't even skip a beat.
"Timeline AT-5495. It's recent, as of its current year."
Sessy's eyes flicked down to the haphazard papers on his desk. He effortlessly plucked one from its depths, scanned it, and set it back down. "Right. Mellonia had charted that one as viable for a new branch. Why?"
"Well..." Trapet's hands curled in their dress, "Simply put, it is my Timeline. I am dating a mortal in it - belonging to the Kingdom of Holy Arregania, which your people have recently touched down in. I figured you were unaware of this, so I came to your office to inform you... and to request that you remove your presence from it."
Sessy's stare never left Trapet's face, though he couldn't quite meet the other's eyes. As they bored on Trapet in silence, slowly he wilted, leaning back and carefully keeping his gaze locked onto the carpeted floor instead. It was maroon, and plush.
"Timeline AT-5495 has been coded 'Wartorn' in my records," he spoke, voice firm, "and as such, I will not be removing my influence from it."
"What?" Trapet's head snapped up, "But it's my Timeline!"
"I am aware."
"You -" Trapet frowned, "we have agreements about this sort of thing, Sessy! Please pardon my distress, but is it not generally a rule to avoid stepping on each other's toes?"
Sessy reached to adjust a small statuette on his desk. "It is, generally speaking. However, I find it imperative to interfere whenever my peers - such as you and Peresekat - are not doing right by your mortals, and bettering their lives. Rather than improving the Kingdom's welfare and standard of living, you merely played romance with your favorites. Think of me less as an intruder, and more of an improver. You can, of course, still date them. I'll just be arranging for more help and resources in the background."
Trapetsiya balked, shoulders lowered. Though he desperately tried to call on anything to say, any retort he could muster, he wasn't one for arguing. Nothing arose, and he merely remained gaping at Sessy, feeling altogether betrayed and embarrassed, a fish tossed out of water.
"Besides, you didn't mind before."
"Before?" he echoed, numbly.
"Yes, of course. I've been arranging for my people to expand into some of the previous Timelines we've visited together - I've made some connections with politicians you've connected me to, thanks to the balls your partners throw, and it's been a breeze settling in as their benefactor and protector."
"I- the balls? You've been - you used the parties we attended as recruitment fodder?"
Sessy flashed a smile. "Of course. It's the perfect in - use the ruler's husband as my starting point, as my invitee, and start rubbing elbows. After I've introduced myself enough, I can start pulling miracles and moving Hive members in. And then we can arrange for new inductees and further cementing into the culture."
"Sessy, I-" Trapet blinked, hand reaching up to wipe at his eyes gingerly, "I thought we were attending those parties as friends!"
"We were. I don't see why that changes."
"You used them to expand your Hivemind!"
"So? I'm always expanding."
Helplessly, Trapetsiya could only gawk.
Sessy rolled his eyes, giving a light shoulder shrug. "I understand it can be hard to adapt to, considering that most of the time we're discouraged from interfering. But what sort of meaning or improvements are you presenting to the mortals just by being their husband? How are you enriching their lives? We're gods, Trapet. It's fine to play pretend sometimes, but we have responsibilities. Our duty is to make their lives better, and people like you and Pere - you're a little too focused on the status quo."
"Sessy," was all he could say.
"I'm not going to spread rumors about you, or try to disrupt your way of life. I'm merely here to encourage growth and health in the lives of these mortals. You've been involved in 5495 for how many years now, and you didn't even fix the war that was destroying your favored nation's crops and exports?"
"I did!" Trapet cut in, "I reduced the warfare! I lowered the death tolls! I made it so that my husband didn't lose, never enough to destroy his spirit or his nation!"
"Oh, so you artificially lengthened it?"
Sessy raised an eyebrow.
"I was - I wasn't trying to interfere too much! I was trying to remain somewhat neutral-" Trapetsiya abruptly recalled to breathe, to calm himself, "-and not... make enough of a difference to draw attention to myself or my partner. It was never my intention to play the part of a god, and dictate casualty of the mortals."
"But that's what you are," Sessy said, as if it were the simplest thing in the world. "You are a god, despite how you present yourself to them. Some, including me, would argue you have a moral duty to improve their lives. Are you really benevolent if you let them suffer?"
"And can you say that you are benevolent, imposing your will, ideas, and decisions on them?" Trapet challenged, spine stiffened.
Sessy grinned. "Plenty of people clamber to get into my Hivemind, Trapetsiya. I would say I'm doing just fine."
There was a steady minute of silence, as neither Mag tore their eyes from each other. The glow from the fireplace shifted, the redness on their faces and the desk ebbing and flowing in that long moment. Its crackling, distant, punctuated the only sound in the room, the chatter of the Hive far way, the chatter of their home a mere memory.
"Please stay out of 5495," Trapet said, voice shaking slightly. "I will not hesitate to contact Kolo or Pyatiugolnik."
Sessy's stare flicked to the desk, then back up again. "Fine. I'll give it distance - but not because I'm intimidated by you running to our leaders. I'm doing it out of respect for you, as a friend. But if things continue to go south in that Timeline, I'll have no choice but to interfere - not because I hate you, or want to hurt you, but because I won't stand by while mortals suffer and I could fix it. Understood?"
"Very well," Trapet said, standing.
Sessy stood as well, offering his hand. Though he hesitated, Trapet took it, feeling the other's firm shake through his entire arm up into the shoulder. It was the shake of a politician - Trapet knew, having charmed many himself.
"I'll see you around." there was only enough inflection in Sessy's voice to make him sound alive - never emotional. "Don't be a stranger."
"I'll try not to, thank you," Trapet replied, on autopilot, before teleporting.
But even as he nestled next to Moralle on their chaise longue, he could not quite shake the sensation that he'd just sold his idyllic life to Sessy's terms and conditions.