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HG Challenge call--first ten - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
HG Challenge call--first ten
I think this will be my practice -- finish a long one, then send out a ten challenge call. The last one gave me the Digger subplot for "Golden Mean"! :P

So, first ten.

  1. Caesar Flickerman's perspective of the interviews of Catching Fire? If that doesn't strike your interest, anything with Caesar would do. for Anon
  2. Annie and Finnick. Perhaps meeting for the first time? Finnick's reaction as she wins her Games? for maidenjedi
  3. The perspective of someone in District Twelve during or after the bombing before the rescue mission from Thirteen arrives. for Anon
  4. Teenage Pearl and Haymitch. for beceh
  5. Something from the Dark Days for Anon
  6. Haymitch and Prim on the phone in Chapter 22, as they watch the horror that is Star-Crossed together for Anon (KobeG)
  7. The very first Hunger Games -- how did people react? Tributes, the Districts, and/or Capitol citizens? Or how did they arrange them? for snorkackcatcher
  8. I'd like to see Chaff/Seeder mentoring Thresh/Rue. Either or both together. for Sara Libby
  9. Delly Cartwright, in the epilogue. for vesta_aurelia
  10. I would like to see something with young Ruth. for Anon

ETA: Looks like we have the ten!

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Comments
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2013 04:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Caesar Flickerman's perspective of the interviews of Catching Fire? If that doesn't strike your interest, anything with Caesar would do.

I'm very excited right now; you have no idea. :)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 19th, 2013 05:01 am (UTC) (Link)
There's going to be a significant helping of Caesar in the next story, so I'm glad you're interested! Alas, I believe I may have to keep a few salient points out of this...


I'm not entirely surprised to find a state car waiting at my home after this particular set of interviews. If letting Peeta confess his love for another tribute last year was enough to warrant a conversation in the rose garden the next day, then certainly, letting the tributes line up hand in hand after spending their three minutes each complaining about the Games is likely to rate serious surveillance for the next few weeks.

The men in the car seem annoyed, probably because it took me three hours to get back here from the studio. It's crazy out there. The traffic was moving too slowly to bother with, so I walked. That left me open to people grasping at me and asking if there was anything they could do for Peeta and Katniss's baby, or about the Games in general. They want to save Finnick, too. And Johanna. And it's not fair about Mags. And, and, and.

I tell them that the Games are the Games. There's a certain way they work. People are not processing it.

But they will. Unfortunately, it won't be until their beloved victors start dying in front of them, and by then it will be too late, unless Haymitch and the others really do have something up their sleeves. I hope they do.

"Mr. Flickerman," a Peacekeeper says. "You're wanted at the Presidential Mansion."

Of course I am.

I smile and chat with them as we drive through the tunnels under the city and finally up into Snow's private garages. Snow is waiting for me there. He does not look pleased.

"I take you saw the interviews," I say.

"They are mandatory viewing," Snow says. He nods to the Peacekeepers. "You may go."

They don't argue. Snow leads me inside, to a small study I've never been in before. It is lined with books and pictures from history. He goes to one of these pictures and points to it. It is a drawing of men in long coats and a woman in a long skirt, carrying pikes with heads on them. "The Reign of Terror," he says. "France. Perhaps a thousand years ago, maybe a bit more. It's hard to tell these days. Did you ever notice how we lost track of time since the Catastrophes, Caesar?"

I have, but I don't comment. I know that Panem is less than five hundred years old, but I don't know how much less, or how long it was after the Great Gathering that it was founded, only that it wasn't Panem when the exiles were gathered in.

"The Terror," Snow says, "happened after a mob overthrew the government. It's hardly the only example in history. How do you think your head would look on a pike? Certainly more colorful than those."

"Are you threatening me, Coriolanus?"

"To the contrary, Caesar. I am reminding you. You of all people know what will happen if these people take power. You know they will not show you mercy. You've been the face of the games for nearly fifty years. You'll be lucky if they don't send you into the arena yourself. Of course, at least there, you might stand a chance of coming out of it alive."

"Just possibly."

"More likely, they'll just kill you."

"What's your point?"

"Point, Caesar?" He gestures toward the window, through which I can see the rioting crowds. "Look there, and see if you can tell me what my point is."

"That you're scared to death?" He looks at me coldly. I ignore him. I don't care if Coriolanus Snow is scared. "This business won't last forever. And you can stop it right now. Call off the Games."

"To prove that rioting and treason get them what they want? I don't think so."

"To show them that you understand that this is wrong."

"You don't understand politics, Caesar. If I let go, all hell will break loose."

I stand beside him at the window. "Look out there. It's already loose. The only thing you can do is soften the blow."

Edited at 2013-02-19 05:02 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2013 02:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm sad I missed the challenge call but I loved this one. I'm such a complete nerd about the French Revolution ( I'm currently rereading my favorite novel about it right now) so I actually squealed when I read this. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of these!
Robin
sonetka From: sonetka Date: February 20th, 2013 04:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm really looking forward to seeing more Caesar in the next one -- this is great. For some reason, whenever Snow makes an executive decision re: the Games, I'm always reminded of Grand Moff Tarkin squeezing tightly and "letting galaxies slip through his fingers." If Snow had just decided to keep that rule change about allowing two winners, everyone would have been so grateful and happy about this unprecedented mercy that they would probably have been willing to put up with seventy-five more years of at least 22 tributes being needlessly killed.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2013 05:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Exactly. Very bad thinking on his part.
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: February 19th, 2013 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Annie and Finnick. Perhaps meeting for the first time? Finnick's reaction as she wins her Games? I'm open.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 19th, 2013 06:29 am (UTC) (Link)
I did the first time they met, so I'll do her winning the Games.


She is still soaking wet and hypothermic when they bring her to the hospital in the training center, even though they've been slowly warming her up in the hovercraft as they brought her here. Her teeth are chattering, and she is still making jerky motions with her restrained legs, trying to tread water.

I try to touch her face, but she bites at my fingers.

"It's okay," I tell her. "You're out of the arena. We're taking care of you now."

She makes an awful, whimpering noise in the back of her throat, then whispers "Treacy..."

I sigh and pull up her blankets. Her boyfriend was an idiot, but I can't say it to her, not now. Not after she watched his head go flying past her. She managed to kill the boy from Eight with Treacy's spear before he killed her, but that was miracle, not a skill. Before the girl could come, a geyser blew up between them. I should have guessed then that the whole arena was seismically active.

At any rate, she ran off into the high ground after that, avoiding the near-District alliance she'd happily joined at the Cornucopia. I sent her food, which she often ignored, even when it became madly expensive. (My visit to Adamaris Brinn, usually good for at least a day's food if I show her a good enough time, only got Annie an apple, and it wasn't because I left Ada unsatisfied.) I was sure she was going to starve, or go crazy enough to wander into the alliance camp thinking they'd just take her back. At one point, she is tormented by some kind of mutt bird that keeps screeching in her ears every time she is almost asleep. She puts her hands over her ears and screams at them until they go away.

But the Games have narrowed down, and the arena is too big. The District One girl and the District Two boy have managed to kill each other in a joust out of sheer boredom. The others had already slipped up, one falling to her death from one of the many cliffs in the arena, the other shot through the neck with an arrow from District Six. Six, in turn, lost his purchase in the tree he was shooting from. He fell and broke his neck.

For the last three days of the Games, there were four tributes wandering around the arena, uninterested in finding each other. Annie was in her own world. The boy from Seven decided to wait out the Games in his camp. The boy from Ten caught some kind of infection that wasn't killing him but left him lethargic, and the girl from Three had turned to an exploration of a hot spring. They tried sending a mutt after her, but she dispatched it quickly and went back to her study.

I wasn't surprised when the arena started to shake, and the dam holding in the reservoir gave way, sending millions of gallons of water down into the bowl of the arena. I'm sure they added more, too, since the water kept rising long after the volume of the lake should have been emptied. Annie was swept up in the current, along with the others. She's a sea captain's daughter. Instinct took over. The skill I'd completely ignored because I couldn't imagine it being useful was what saved her life.

What's made her a victor.

I sit with her through the night, while she is warmed under an electric blanket. Her blue lips turn pink, her hair dries around her head in a silky brown halo. She's a pretty girl, and more than one of her sponsors suggested that he'd like to get to know her better if she won. This trailed off after she started acting unstable, and stopped when she ignored a sandwich and started eating bugs.

I will have to tell her to keep acting unstable. The thicker she lays it on, the better. She might not even need to act at first, but when she starts to get better, they'll be after her. Better for her not to get better, at least as far anyone knows.

She thrashes in her sleep, shielding her ears with her hands. I pull them away, and when I touch her now, she calms down. I hold her hands now until she falls asleep, and then until I do.

When I wake up, she is awake and blinking at me, her green eyes wild and unfocused.

"Finnick?" she says uncertainly.

"Yeah, Annie, it's me," I say. "You're going to be all right now."
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2013 05:38 am (UTC) (Link)
The perspective of someone in District Twelve during or after the bombing before the rescue mission from Thirteen arrives.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 19th, 2013 07:01 am (UTC) (Link)
"Is she crazy, Leevy?" Tansy asks me, pointing at Delly Cartwright, who is presently smiling broadly and trying to get a laugh out of Posy Hawthorne.

"No," I say. "It's just who Delly is. I think she'd be going crazy if she wasn't trying to cheer anyone up."

Tansy shakes her head, confused, and heads back to her family, which is intact, and her boyfriend, who suffered a few nasty lacerations when we knocked down the fence. All of them look shell-shocked. I guess we all do. Even Delly, if you look closely. She lost her parents. She'd have died, and so would her brother--and frankly, so would I--if her boyfriend hadn't told her not to sit with him while he was in the stocks. "Go to Leevy's," Ed said. "Watch from there. You don't need to sit out here with me. I'll be out in the morning."

I was glad to get away. I hated being in the square with all of the stocks and the whipping post and the gallows. I know Ed sat with Delly the whole time twice while she was in the stocks, but those were two hour sentences, once for wearing shoes outside the sumptuary laws (who knew we had those?) and once for bringing food to someone else who'd been in the stocks. Ed sat with her both times, rubbing her feet so the circulation wouldn't get cut off, telling her that he loved her and she was beautiful (and I believe that, to Ed Mellark, Delly was the most beautiful creature in the world).

But Ed was in for a twenty-four hour stretch for hitting Romulus Thread. After it, he was supposed to be whipped. Delly and I had already sat with him for four hours, and his family was coming for the next shift. So at nine o'clock, just before the anthem played, I pried Delly away and got her to agree to come to my house for a sleepover to watch the Games there. We'd been told that they were mandatory until otherwise stated. On a whim, I invited her brother, who likes to play soldiers with my brother. Her parents packed sandwiches for all of us and told us to hope for Peeta and Katniss.

That was the last time we saw any of them.

We were all watching the battered television in my kitchen when Katniss shot out the forcefield. I didn't understand what had happened. It was Delly's brother who said, "They're busting out!"

There was no cheering. We understood immediately, I think, that there would be consequences, but no one expected them to come as quickly as they did.

The power went out. The planes came. The world turned into an inferno, and the only thing any of us could do was fight our way to the fence. Gale Hawthorne led the way.

Delly tried to run back to town, screaming for her parents and Ed. Thom Lewiston had to pick her up and drag her with the rest of us. My father was carrying her brother. We're taking care of them now.

The first morning, I didn't think we'd get Delly up. But she was awake before me, and following instructions from Greasy Sae about boning fish. When her brother started crying, she put the fish heads on her fingers and made a puppet show of them. Other scared little kids came over. Delly did the show again.

She has been frantically cheering people up since, her face frozen into its habitual smile. Maybe she's crazy, but she's less crazy than she would be otherwise.

I go over to Prim Everdeen, who is trying to treat a bad cut with a handful of leaves. "Do you need anything?"

"Most of the things in our herb cupboard at home," she says. "Think we can take a little side trip?"

As I doubt that even the Victors' Village was spared, I just pat her shoulders. "I could hold the leaves on the cut for pressure if you want to go looking for herbs."

"I don't know my way around here," she says. "Katniss would. But she's not here. I don't even know if--"

I give her a quick hug, and she returns it fiercely, then goes back to work.
beceh From: beceh Date: February 19th, 2013 05:51 am (UTC) (Link)
Teenage Pearl and Haymitch.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 19th, 2013 07:45 am (UTC) (Link)
"Have you talked to your parents about this, Sweetheart?" I ask her, taking out a pair of knives. Effie's told me a hundred times to get rid of these before any of the kids ask about them, but they survived Finny Odair and Caleb Hawthorne. They even survived Effie's adopted daughter Indigo, and she was right here in the house with them. (Okay, she did try juggling with them once while she was in a high school circus. I took them away and we didn't tell Effie.) But it's Pearl Mellark, of course, who wants to use them for what they were made for. I should have known.

"Of course not. Mom would have about three litters of kittens. And besides, it's a surprise."

"You're going to surprise your mother -- who spends half her life worrying that you're going to get yourself killed -- by learning to fight with knives?"

"I'm going to surprise her by showing her that I can take care of myself no matter what happens. So she doesn't have to worry all the time. Finny Odair is going to teach me to use a trident when I'm down in Four next week, and Uncle Gale already showed me how to get out of a rope trap."

"Gale had you in a rope trap?" I shake my head, trying real hard to not imagine what Katniss will have to say about this.

"Hanging by my ankles," she says. "I learned to get out really fast. I can do a net, too. And Auntie Jo taught me to throw an axe. Caleb taught me to find my way in the mountains if I get lost."

I rub my head. "You're using your summer visiting -- which we all had to talk her into at great length -- to do things you know perfectly well will scare her?"

"Only if she knows I'm doing them," Pearl says. "By the time she knows anything about it, I'll be able to handle anything, which is the whole surprise. Maybe she won't have nightmares about me dying if she knows I can handle anything anyone throws at me. So throw a knife."

"I never threw knives," I say. "What about your dad? Does he have any idea?"

"Well... no. He has nightmares, too."

"Yeah? So do I."

"You?"

"Yeah. Me."

She sighs and sits down, taking one of the knives and staring at it. Everyone thinks she looks like Katniss because she has long dark hair and tames the curls into a braid, but if she cut and bleached it, she'd be a female copy of Peeta. "Haymitch, I just want all of you to stop having nightmares."

"So we'll stop hovering?" I guess.

"No. So you'll be happy."

"It's not going to make any of us happy if you start acting like a Career tribute."

"There's nothing to be a tribute for anymore," she says. "But there are people who don't like Mom and Dad still, and sometimes, I get threats. That's why I have to travel with a Peacekeeper, since Mom can't leave Twelve and Dad's working on the new Justice Building murals. And it would be really nice to be able to say, 'If anything happens, I can get away.' Don't you think that would help a little?"

I consider it. I don't like thinking about the Peacekeeper I'll have to relinquish her to at Capitol station when she heads out to Four next week, mostly because I know exactly why he'll be there. There are crazy people in the world.

I sigh. "Okay. The first thing to remember about a knife is minding the blade..."

Edited at 2013-02-19 03:49 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2013 06:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Something from the Dark Days or Coin's rise to power in Thirteen.

If not that, than anything Gale or Boggs!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 19th, 2013 03:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
There is broken glass all over the square, and the Irish merchants are trying to clean up amidst the catcalls. I see a few of the Ridgies -- the original Twelvers, who lived here before it was a district, when it was still just a coal settlement that they called the Seam -- gorging themselves on food from the grocery and bakery, but more are looking down, trying where they can to help clean up. The Irish aren't letting them.

After last night, I'm not sure where I belong. Dad's a Ridgie, but Mom was Irish. It was her money that bought the resort we run. We kept prices down so local people could afford to come and stay, and swim in the lake, but that didn't stop anyone from setting the torch to a bunch of the houses. That didn't stop until someone yelled, "Everdeen's one of us!" There was still grumbling, since he'd married Irish, but they did let go. It's the first time I've been glad my mother died before the war.

I go to the haberdashery, where my mother's brother is staring helplessly at piles of ripped up clothes. I ask if he needs help.

For a minute, he just turns on me, his eyes flat with hate. He's not seeing his nephew, just one more Ridgie kid, albeit one with blue eyes instead of gray. He recognizes me and sighs. "No. Maybe you better be someplace else, Effrim. Don't you need to help your dad down at the lake?"

"There's nothing left to help with. It kept burning after they left. We're staying with Aunt Daisy."

There's no counter-offer for us to stay in town, even though Uncle Colum's house is much bigger than Aunt Daisy's.

I bend down and help him start cleaning up, even though he doesn't want me to. After a while, we start talking, even if it's just to ask after everyone's safety. None of my Irish cousins is dead, but there were a few people up the hill who were killed trying to defend their bar. A couple of Ridgies got shot by Peacekeepers during the riots, though that stopped when they took the Justice Building. "We better hope the rebels win this," Uncle Colum says. "If the Capitol comes back in, they're not going to show any mercy."

"You'd be glad of that, I guess."

He shakes his head. "No. No, I wouldn't." He jerks his head toward the sewing shop, where three Ridgie kids are repairing a broken door. "They were the ones who broke it, you know," he says. "Three years of mongering from those idiots on the radio in Thirteen, and the best they could come up with is one half-baked riot. The kids already know they did wrong."

"Then you forgive them?"

"Not yet. No. I'm not ready for that yet. But that doesn't mean I want to see them whipped or hanged or shot. That's not going to help anyone at all."

We don't talk any more as we get the glass cleaned up. We lay out the shirts and jackets. Some can be salvaged. I'm pretty good with a needle and thread (Mom taught me to sew when I was five, figuring a tailor's grandson ought to at least be able to repair his own clothes, and I kept practicing as a way to remember her), so I set to work. Uncle Colum lets me.

After a while, some of my Ridgie friends come by, and shamefacedly go about fixing the front of the shop. No one can do anything about the big window, but Lilah Purdy, who's a good woodworker, tries to fix the bigger pieces of glass into a framework. The weird, irregular lattice window she ends up making will become a standard of the shops for the next twenty years, though we don't know it at the time.

When the Capitol troops arrive six months later, driving out the rebels, and demand the names of the rioters, very few of the Irish shopkeepers seem to remember anyone.

But the trust is long broken by then.

Edited at 2014-12-21 08:47 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2013 08:07 am (UTC) (Link)
Haymitch and Prim on the phone in Chapter 22, as they watch the horror that is Star-Crossed together.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2013 04:30 am (UTC) (Link)
I know that Prim isn't really on the phone with me to watch television together, or complain about the musical. She's worried about her sister, and she should be.

But she's apparently decided that having someone here to talk to is the best way to get through it. As soon as I assure her that Katniss and Peeta are as all right as they can be, she makes a pained sound. "Who wrote this Haymitch? What am I supposed to be singing?"

"About the rustic beauty of life in District Twelve, as far as I can tell."

"And who wrote it? Haymitch, the credits said Julian Day, but he was so nice to me!"

"Oh, right, that one. He's sponsoring your sister and made sure to tell me to say hello to you."

Silence.

Then, "Oh... flowers."

"Flowers?"

"Flowers! She's dancing in flowers." Her voice becomes actively pained. "Haymitch, I think they're supposed to be primroses."

I laugh.

"You just wait! You're not on yet. You wait until you're dancing around up there. I bet you have to sing something sappy about how you never should have started drinking, and it's all so painful." She makes a disgusted sound, and I can almost see her wrinkling her nose. "I want bees to come out and sting her. Or, better yet, mosquitoes. Everyone takes bees seriously. I want her to be itchy and swollen up, and scratching in places Mom would yell at me for."

I laugh. "Right there with you. Though I doubt the actress would appreciate it."

"Oh, I don't mean for real to do to that poor girl. It's not her fault. Do people really see me like that, Haymitch? Like I'm... Oh... I'm dancing with a butterfly! I'm dancing with a butterfly!"

"On the plus side, this has to be almost over. You've had time to dance the whole length of the Seam and most of the way back."

"A butterfly, Haymitch. A giant one."

"I see it, honey."

She's quiet for a little bit, though I can hear occasional whimpers as the dance moves through its climax. When the character starts singing again -- "Here in my home... I never will roam..." -- the real Prim makes a strangled, screaming sound. "I'd love to roam. Everyone wants to roam. Why wouldn't I ever want to see anything but Twelve? This whole song doesn't even make sense. You tell Julian that he better fix that."

"Since when did I become the official Everdeen message bearer to the various smitten boys in your lives?"

"No one is smitten."

On the screen, her character twirls, and flowers bloom at her feet while little birdies twitter in the trees. This, at least, is the climax of the number, and she disappears into the sick old woman's house.

"Oh, good," she says. "Now who gets it? Is that supposed to be Peeta?"

"The building says 'Bakery,' so I guess so."

We watch in silence for a minute as a young man who looks absolutely nothing like Peeta (but does, to be fair, have a very good voice) comes out and sings, "It's all in order now, everything I am / It's all behind me now, I've done all I can / I have a feeeeling...."

"He has a feeling?" I repeat.

"Peeta's got lots of feelings. Can't argue there."

"Maybe it should have been Katniss. That would have been a surprise twist."

"Katniss has feelings!" Prim says. "Of course, I think she probably wouldn't be doing a fancy gymnastics routine with a flour sack about them..."

Edited at 2013-02-20 04:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 20th, 2013 04:48 am (UTC) (Link)
It's wonderful! It's organic and sweet and snarky and just way beyond what I could have hoped for!
-KobeG
snorkackcatcher From: snorkackcatcher Date: February 19th, 2013 10:25 am (UTC) (Link)
The very first Hunger Games -- how did people react? Tributes, the Districts, and/or Capitol citizens? Or how did they arrange them?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2013 05:24 am (UTC) (Link)
We enter City Circle in cages, wearing prison uniforms. They're jostled on the backs of trucks as they're driven over broken cobblestones. Smoke is still billowing from the ruins of the Green Tower; the sub-basements will not stop burning for another year. Many of us are crying.

I'm not.

I'm trying to figure out how this is going to end. Surely someone will speak up before they ship us off to kill each other. No one is going to actually let this happen.

But when I look out at the crowd in the Capitol, dirty-faced and unsmiling, it starts to dawn on me: They mean to do it.

My mother screamed back in Twelve, begging to be arrested, hanged, anything, but the Peacekeeper who shoved her out of the way just said, "You'll live like you made me live. You'll see what I saw."

And then I was on a train, along with a girl I barely knew, whose parents worked in a different part of the Rebellion. Now, we're in a cage together. We still haven't talked.

The trucks pull up around the crater of the building in a rough semi-circle. A rough podium has been set up, and President Antonius Clemm is standing at it somberly. I hear one of the tributes from District Five scream threats at him, but he takes no notice.

He is flanked by a harsh looking woman with a gun, and a teenage boy who may be the only person here who looks happy. Indeed, he is nearly bouncing in his boots in anticipation.

Clemm turns on his microphone. A handful of cameras moves around, and I know we're being broadcast throughout Panem. "The war," he says, "is over. But the pain and loss lives on. As we stood helplessly while rebels destroyed our homes and killed our children, so they will watch hopelessly as their children are sent to the arena. But among these children -- unlike the unfortunate children of the Green Tower -- there will be one survivor.

"We do not kill needlessly. We do not spill blood indiscriminately. Each year, the blood of twenty-three tributes will serve as the price of rebellion. It will take more than two thousand years of Games to begin to equal the cost borne by the Capitol and its loyal supporters, just in the death of children. It would take ten thousand years to pay for all of the blood shed. But we are merciful to those who showed no mercy, generous to those who robbed us of all we valued.

"All of these tributes are the children of the officers of the final assault. But the victor of these Games will be free, will live richly, no matter his or her origin. Even as we speak, each district is receiving homes for its winning tributes. Someday, they will all be full, unlike the empty homes and hearts left behind in the war."

After that, he turns over the production to the teenage boy, who he calls the "Gamemaker" -- Coriolanus Snow. The rules are to be simple. Survive by what means we can. No one will leave the arena until there is only one survivor left. And don't step out into the arena until the countdown is over. He warns us thoroughly about that, then promises that even for those who don't survive, our last days should be "exciting."

We are herded onto a hovercraft, where technicians tag us with radio bracelets so we can always be found. The craft flies forever, then finally lands in a wretched, fetid smelling jungle. It's hot and sticky. I stand inside my cage with my district partner, staring out at it.

She steps out before the countdown ends, tripping over a skeleton laid in our way.

A shot comes from the hovercraft, and she falls to the ground.

I start crying.
upupa_epops From: upupa_epops Date: December 10th, 2014 10:43 am (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for linking me to this! :)

Now I'm wondering if it would really be so abrupt and harsh -- no prep, no entertainment value, just drag kids into the Capitol and put them into the Arena right away. I keep imagining that the Capitol would want to play with their food a bit more. On the other hand, you're right. I can't imagine this kid you describe letting himself be interviewed. The entire media/entertainment machine must've been added later, when the Capitol noticed just how successful the mandatory viewings were among the citizens.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2013 11:54 am (UTC) (Link)

Am I too late?

I'd like to see Chaff/Seeder mentoring Thresh/Rue. Either or both together.

Sara Libby
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2013 06:02 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Am I too late?

I send home our Capitol escort at around ten. I've never trusted him much, and he's never been much use to us. He's no Effie Trinket. He got a district he didn't want, and has decided that the best way to get a transfer is to be sullen and put in minimal effort.

Of course, Effie's cheerful determination hasn't gotten her any further, so maybe he's onto something.

At any rate, it's just Seeder and me and this year's sacrifices. The boy Thresh looks like he could go far. The girl Rue... looks like she could get a certain kind of sponsor. Not the particularly perverse kind, just the kind who want to save someone unsaveable.

Of course, thanks to our worthless stylists, no one remembers her.

"Twelve sure had pretty costumes," Rue says, looking miserably at the hayseed costume she was put in. Denim overalls, ripped off raggedly at the cuffs. Beat up work boots. A carelessly made straw hat (my mother could weave a better one from spare corn husks). She and Thresh were actually supposed to be chewing on wheat stalks, but as soon as the stylists left, Seeder and I told them to "accidentally" lose hold of them. Rue sighs. "Sure wish I could have had something pretty like that."

"We'll get you something pretty for interviews," Seeder promises. "Something sweet. And expensive. I'll have you in silk, honey. If I have to go buy it myself, I'll have you in silk."

"Silk?" Rue says hopefully.

"Silk. And you can borrow my very own diamond necklace. How would you like that?"

"Could I wear my district token, too?" she asks, holding up the little luck charm they sent from home with her.

"You can wear anything you want," I tell her. "You can put a diamond in the district token if it makes you happy. The more precious you are, the better we'll do with sponsors."

"What about me?" Thresh asks. "I don't think anyone's going to think I'm precious."

"You don't need to," I tell him. "You look like a victor. You'll have gamblers lining up."

"So what should I do? If I don't protect Rue, they'll hate me."

"But if he does protect me, then he'll have to kill me, and they'll hate him anyway," Rue says. Thresh looks shocked. She shrugs. "I figured that out already. You go off one direction and I'll go the other, and then we won't have to worry about it unless we're the last two."

"That's pretty smart," Seeder says.

"I have three little sisters and two little brothers," Rue says. "You ever make dinner for that many people out of a few berries, half a rabbit, and a rotten potato? I know how to plan."

"They're going to underestimate the hell out of you," Thresh says, raising his hand for her to clap. "You should meet my sister."

It's better for Thresh not to talk too much about his sister, Winnow, who's been passing messages for the rebellion for the last four years (and is, indeed, a good planner), so I interrupt. "The question I want to give the two of you is -- do you want to appear together or separate while you train?"

"Well, I don't think we'd be good at the same things," Thresh says.

"Not just in the training room. In interviews. In costumes. I know Haymitch, upstairs in twelve, means his tributes to be a duo. He's got his reasons."

"But like Rue said," Seeder cuts in, "there are reasons not to. I don't think you should."

"Me, either," Thresh says. "It would get messy really fast. I mean to..." He looks nervously at Rue. "I mean to try and win."

"Me, too," she says without any self-consciousness. "I don't think I will, but I'm going to try real hard. Why wouldn't you?"

They give each other the awkward look that I've gotten horribly used to over the years, the look that says they've just realized that they can't hope for each other.

Seeder sighs, then looks at me.

I nod. "Then we may as well start out separate. Thresh, you come with me..."
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: February 19th, 2013 01:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Delly Cartwright, in the epilogue.
or
How Prim ended up in the Capitol
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2013 06:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I look out from the high tower of the new Justice Building, down at the Meadow where Peeta and Katniss and the children are playing. There is a memorial there, and so many bodies are buried, but for the children in town, it's a place to play nicely (we have rules about showing it respect) and pick dandelions. I watch them sometimes, making wishes on dandelion fluff.

I've done it myself.

I mourned Ed for five years. I could have mourned fifty and not had it start hurting any less. Sometimes, even now, I wake up at night and want him to look at me, just look at me like I take his breath away. At those moments, I remember all the shades of blue in his eyes, the way his eyelashes caught the light, the sense of his strong arm over my shoulders. I can almost feel it there.

My first few dates were sloppy disasters, often with young men who'd lost their loves in the war. We'd cry into our beer together and come out of the whole business as perfectly good friends who would never date again. Some of these men are on my mayoral staff now. Thom Lewiston, in particular, is my rock whenever things get administratively crazy.

After two years of this, I resigned myself, as only a melodramatic twenty-five year old could, to never falling in love again. The week I turned twenty-six, a history student from the Capitol, three years my junior, arrived in District Twelve. He had trouble with his plumbing, and I was still on call for it.

Six months later, we were married, and two years after that, I was a mother. He did finally finish his book. He knows I still dream about Ed. He doesn't like it, but he understands it. I have given him permission to dream about whoever he wants.

It took me a while to understand that this was also love. It feels very different, but it's the difference between a warm varsity jacket and a cozy wool coat. Everything about them is different, but they both keep you warm, and that's all right.

I am Aunt Delly to Peeta's children as well as my brother's, and to Leevy's, as she has been my heart-sister since my parents died. I am mother to my bookish thirteen year old son, and wife to an excitable historian who always has a new theory to propose. I am Mayor to a resilient district that has been rebuilt from the ashes up, a district where there is no more town or Seam, just the old Village and the new, and they are beginning to grow into one another.

I walk the cobbled streets now, between the new Justice Building and the shops that line the square, the manicurist the florist and the bakery (Peeta's, of course) and the pub. I see the statue at the center of the square, the one Katniss ignores and Peeta seems embarrassed by -- the statue of two teenagers, back to back, holding their berry-filled hands to the sky in a gesture of defiance that we all share now.

We have defied the Capitol. We have defied Thirteen. And we have defied death itself, no matter what the cost.

Life has returned, and more importantly, life has gone on.
vesta_aurelia From: vesta_aurelia Date: February 20th, 2013 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh.

Oh, thank you, Fern.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 19th, 2013 02:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would like to see something with young Ruth. Thank you!
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: February 20th, 2013 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
"How far is it before the radiation starts?" Eli Cartwright asks nervously, looking north up the train tracks.

"We're right in the middle of it," Dannel says. "Any minute now, your teeth are going to start falling out, and you'll drop dead on the tracks. Happens all the time. I heard about this one guy who came out here and --"

I roll my eyes. "Knock it off, Danny." I pull out my grandfather's army kit. "There's a radiation tracker in here. I tested it. It's still good. And right now, the only thing giving off radiation is the sun."

"There's radiation in the sun?" Eli says, and shields his eyes.

"Yes," I say. "And it'll kill us all. In about seventy years each."

Dannel snorts laughter, and Eli grabs him in a headlock. Boys. They will wrestle anywhere. I can go miles and miles with Maysilee and Kaydilyn without any of us feeling the need to start strangling anyone. Maybe I should have brought them along instead.

I go on ahead while they try to kill each other. I have never been outside the fence before. I guess we have another three hours or so before our parents figure out that we're giving each other alibis, and I want to see how far we can get. I'm also looking for woundwort, since the patch in the meadow has died. Fungus. I'll take whatever else I can find, too. I guess there'd be more away from the train tracks, but I don't want to risk getting lost.

I can't believe how clean it smells here. It's not that District Twelve smells bad, exactly. The coal dust is annoying, but the waste removal works all right and there are too few of us for the stench of overcrowding to set in. But out here, away from everything, all I can smell is the freshness of the woods, the rich smell of the earth, the perfume of some hidden flower. I could get used to it.

Dannel finally manages to wrestle Eli off the tracks, which was apparently the rule they'd set for themselves, and they catch up with me, now arguing amiably about whether last year's Games victor, Chaff, could take our local wrestling champ in a fair match.

I shake my head at them. "Given that that poor boy lost his hand, I don't think you could actually set up a fair match."

This brings an awkward silence. It's easy to get caught up in the business with the victors, even though they usually killed people we know. (Chaff, in fact, killed Sorrel Breen at the Cornucopia, but no one blames the tributes. It's not their fault where they're put.) They're on television and in magazines, and everyone knows everything about them. It's hard not to get caught up in things everyone knows about.

Finally, Dannel breaks the silence. "Hey--I hear water."

I strain my ears. He's right. There is water running somewhere ahead of us. "Race you!" I challenge them, and light out along the tracks. This isn't exactly fair. On flat ground, they can beat me, but here on the track, balance counts for something, and neither of them is exactly graceful.

Unfortunately, grace doesn't always count when the slats are loose. I twist my ankle, which is probably the only thing that keeps me from running right off the end of the world. Just beyond the tree line, the rocks drop away to a deep gorge. A river runs at the bottom of it. The tracks have been blasted away and left in a twisted knot.

I hold up my hand. "Stop!"

The boys come to a halt, then walk slowly up to me.

"Wow," Dannel says, looking out at the gorge. "Just... wow. That's really pretty."

I nod. I can see the tracks picking up on the far side, and I think, If we could just cross. If we could cross, we'd be free. They'd think we fell.

I look at the boys, and I can see the same thing in their faces.

Dannel sighs. "I have to help Mom with the sourdough later."

Eli nods. He needs to work at his aunt's shoe store. I need to get back to the apothecary. We'll be in trouble as it is. Some fences aren't as easy to slip as the one around District Twelve.

We sit down and pick at the lunch Dannel packed, enjoying the the smell of the woods and the swarm of butterflies that flitters around us for a little while.

An hour after we reach the end of the track, the Peacekeepers find us and bring us home.
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 20th, 2013 11:30 am (UTC) (Link)

Thanks

Nice segment. I've wondered from time to time why Thresh didn't seem to be protecting Rue in the arena.

And it really is too bad that the stylists always seem to go with the worker look. It would be so easy to do fruits and vegetables -- although that could be awful and humiliating in a whole other way as well...

Sara Libby
maidenjedi From: maidenjedi Date: February 26th, 2013 08:15 am (UTC) (Link)
Just excellent!  Annie and Finnick's relationship fascinates me.  You really captured it well here!
From: (Anonymous) Date: December 12th, 2015 08:35 am (UTC) (Link)

Good story

Some inconsistencies with the world you have built, though. Indigo isn't Effie's adopted daughter, and Katniss would be allowed to leave Twelve...
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