AUTHOR'S NOTE: Welcome one, welcome all, to The 91st Annual Hunger Games! This is the 1st volume of my "Fire Without a Spark" series. The series focuses on what Panem would be like if Katniss had never volunteered for Prim, and thus the 2nd rebellion had never happened. I wanted to explore a handful of different ideas about situations or circumstances that could happen in or surrounding the 'games, and so this is one of several different results. Enjoy.
Please also note that the story "ends" with chapter 45, while chapters 46, 47, 48, and 49 (and/or any subsequent chapters) comprise an epilogue.
(Now complete, with 2 completed sequels and a 3rd in the works. Reviews, Feedback, Compliments, or [Constructive] Criticism are both welcomed and encouraged, especially any thoughts about the characters, which is probably what interests me the most.)
PART I: BROTHER AND SISTER
CHAPTER 1: The Reapings
As had been the custom for the last 90 years, every boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 was soon to be lined up outside of the district's Justice Building for one simple but terrible purpose. It was that time of year again where two of them-a boy and a girl, would be sent to their deaths. Even in the event that one of them was the victor, that still meant that one of them was not going to return.
Wes was slightly concerned about it like most children from District 12 were. Many of them took out so much tesserae that it stacked up heavily against them as they grew older. At 17, he was sure his name was in there numerous times. On the other hand, it was not like his plight was unique, and so with each kid having their name in numerous times, perhaps everyone's chances were more or less the same.
He and his sister Ava were getting cleaned up by their mother, who was finishing by combing their messy black hair to make her children look somewhat presentable for the 'games. Their father had succumbed to disease about a decade before. Healthcare in the district was not exactly stellar after all.
"Wes, watch over your sister." Their mother pleaded as she looked her dressed-up children over one last time. Ava shook her head.
"Mom, I'm 15. It's not like I'm a little baby. Don't worry—I'll come back from this Reaping alive and in one piece—I promise it."
"I can still at least walk with you to the Reaping, right, Ava?" Wes chuckled, offering his hand. The two dark-skinned siblings were rather close, and were not afraid to hold hands—their appearances were so similar that it was easy to tell they were related. They only parted ways when Wes went to join the boys and Ava went to join the girls.
"I'd say something about jinxing it, but well… that'd jinx it." He gave his sister another hug. "Love ya, Ava. May the odds be ever in your favor."
After the potential tributes were all rounded up, they watched the usual film from the Capitol stating the origins of the Hunger Games and why they went on. They all knew this drill. During this time, a tanned young adult in baggy clothes with long, flowing brown hair stepped up onto the stage, seating himself next to the mayor and a few other officials from the Capitol. Wes recognized him as Vigo—a boy who had won the games a decade or so ago. Next to him was a girl in her 30s who had won the games prior to Vigo. Her name escaped Wes at the time, but she might be accompanying the tributes to the Capitol. Technically only one mentor was ever obligated to go, and it was usually the most recent one.
Shortly after the film concluded, a pale woman with dark, spiky blue hair and red eyes strode onto the stage, her frilly knee-length skirts bouncing with each step—easily another Capitol citizen—Junichi Thatch; escort for the District 12 tributes. She was not as bad as most Capitol people came off. She was not too garish with her appearance (the hair color threw him off a bit though), and seemed to be down-to-earth a bit. Wes had also heard that she had a rather nice sense of humor.
"Welcome, welcome, welcome!" she beamed, going into a miniature speech before cutting right to the point. "And now it is time to choose our tributes for the 91st Annual Hunger Games… and as is the custom—ladies first,"
She stepped over to one of the large glass spheres that held girl's names, running her hand through it a bit to mix it up—otherwise the kids whose names were at the bottom would remain there, which meant the first ones to register that year would have an edge against their later-registering brethren. A moment later she unfolded a slip of paper, reading the name on the front.
Wes' heart stopped for a moment, and he turned towards her sister, who with a shrug and a very slouched walk, began to slowly trudge her way up to the stage. Junichi put her hand on the girl's shoulder almost reassuringly, before stepping over to the bowl with the boys' names.
"And now for the boys…" she dipped her hand into the bowl, repeating the same motions as she had for the girls before fishing out a name from the edge of the bowl. She opened it up and read it aloud.
Wes was not the only one who gasped. There were others in the crowd, including Vigo, who did so. Sure people had heard of siblings getting reaped in consecutive years (there were still stories about the brother and sister from District 1 who had won the 63rd and 64th Hunger Games back to back), but for siblings to be reaped in the same year? That was any parent's nightmare, because that was a positive assurance of at least one loss—often two in the outer districts.
Either way, he joined his sister on the stage. When Junichi saw him, her face dropped briefly before she forced a smile which was surely just part of Capitol protocol. Unrelated families with identical surnames existed, but it was far too obvious that Wes and Ava were related, and it hurt even the escort to know this. Still, the show had to go on.
"Ladies and Gentlemen..." Junichi cleared her throat for a moment, "your tributes from District 12 for the 91st Annual Hunger Games: Wesley and Aveline Togisala!"
Everyone, instead of clapping, raised three fingers to their lips before raising them. Even Junichi responded with this gesture. It was not so much a symbol of any type of rebellion as much as a gesture of respect for those that would not likely return. It didn't take a genius to realize that District 12 tributes were not exactly known for their vast pool of victors, though in recent years they had gained a few.
There was a moment of silence as the other families began to disperse while Wes and Ava were shunted into the large Justice Building. Vigo and that other girl whose name Wes still could not remember (he thought it started with a K, but he couldn't be sure) were speaking for a moment, before Vigo followed them inside, probably to prepare to leave. It seemed he was going alone this year.
Wes soon saw his sister and mother here—normally there were two families present, but since both tributes were form the same family, that was obviously unnecessary. Unsurprisingly, the older woman was weeping, motioning for her children to give her one last hug, which she did without hesitation, throwing her bracelet-covered arms around them. They had about 5 minutes anyways.
"I know what you're going to say, mom." Wes spoke up quietly, "Ava and I are going to be in this till the bitter end. I know we can't both come home… but you'll at least see one of us again."
"I don't want to see one of you again!" she complained, "I want to see both of my babies."
Wesley sighed. "It's not like this was our choice." He reminded her.
"I made a promise, mom," Aveline spoke up, "I'm bringing one of us home. You'll get to see your son again." She turned to Wes, looking him right in the eye.
"You deserve it more than me." she insisted, "Dad deserves to see his son grow up. Besides… you've got much more potential and odds of winning than I do. Don't waste your energy trying to save me."
"You know your skills as well as I do," Wes argued, "Don't pretend you're helpless."
"I'm not," Aveline shook her head, and then sighed, turning back to her mother.
"I would give anything for something to happen right now—anything." Mrs. Togisala shook her head, "I want to be anywhere but here, and want anything but this to happen. This is a fate worse than death."
"Naisha, no." Wes' expression tightened. When he referred to his own mother by her given name, it meant that he was turning as serious as he could be. "Don't say that. One of us is going to come home."
Naisha sighed for a moment before taking two bracelets from her hands and putting them on her children's' arms. "Take these then," she uttered shakily. Wes' bracelet was a dark auburn color and was adorned with little suns, while Ava's was indigo and adorned with little moons.
"What are these for?" Ava tilted her head.
"Tribute tokens," Mrs. Togisala answered, "a reminder from your mother."
This seemed to be a good enough answer for both Wes and Ava. No sooner had they taken the bracelets when it came time for them to say their final goodbyes. Peacekeepers might not have been terribly strict in District 12, but they were strict enough about the schedule and so with one last goodbye hug from both Wes and Ava, they headed for the car that would take them to the train station, which in turn would mark the beginning of the end of their lives.