AUTHOR'S NOTE: There was a small hiatus after I finished one fanfic and started another, where I came up with this idea. It's been brewing in my head for quite some time now, and it will be updated periodically like most of my other current works. This is simply a collection of short stories about the past games. Contrary to many of my other works, the focus of this oneshot collection is primarily the games and associated events rather than the characters. However, a partner project in the works called "Victors: Before and After the Games" will take these victor characters (as well as some of their allies and adversaries) and flesh them out much more. This installment is more just explaining the events of the games. Otherwise this thing would likely be 3-4 times its current (and already formidable) length.
Obviously these will not be the full length ~40+ chapter sagas that my "Fire Without a Spark" series is, but heck, if a certain chapter/story is well-liked and well-received, I might end up writing the full account of it if popular demand is high enough. Some of the early chapters might be a bit repetitive at first, but that's more because I believe it took the Capitol a few years to get the hang of what they were doing. Later chapters, such as the Quarter Quells or almost anything between 40 and 50, are all much more diverse.
Also updated by request: At the end of each chapter, I will show a comprehensive list of all the victors of the games up to that point, also keeping track of how many victors each district has (by saying "#N, District X" where X is the District number and N is the victor number. HG stands for Hunger Games, of course.)
In the meantime, enjoy learning about nearly 100 victors and their experiences with the 'games. These stories take place in my "Fire Without a Spark" alternate timeline, which means not only will we start to see familiar faces in chapters 91, 92, 93, 94, etc; but we also might see familiar faces in chapters like 75, 74, 65, or 50. The story is now complete, epilogues and all.
They say that no one ever wins the Hunger Games. They say that you never truly leave the arena. They say no one decent ever comes out of there alive.
They are all completely wrong. They have no real understanding of the perils of a victor—the things they have seen and done. They alone have the uncensored and unabridged account of what went on in the arena—for they are the only ones who are still alive to tell the tales. There are only 99 people in all of Panem who have this level of understanding—the realization that this brutal sadism was going on all around them and that they were in the spotlight; the realization that in order for them to be alive today, many others had to die. These individuals are veterans; victors of nearly a century of different Hunger Games.
These are their stories.
The 1st Annual Hunger Games
There was once a time where the Hunger Games were much different than they are now: before mentors, before career tributes, before cornucopia bloodbaths, before elaborate arenas, and before sponsor gifts and more. These were the 1st Annual Hunger Games. This marked the year anniversary of the fall of the rebellion and the utter annihilation of District 13. These were the first reapings. These were the first tributes.
Many of them were chosen as children of some of the more prominent rebellious figures from the war. In districts like '12, '8, '11, and 3, there were plenty to choose from. One thing of particular note was that the ceremonies all remained the same. Events such as the chariot parade, the training (and private) sessions, and tribute interviews were things all set up in advance by the Capitol, and so perhaps other than the awkwardness between kids that might have even known each other before the districts were closed off, as they realized they now had to kill each other, the pre-game events were all still the same.
The actual Hunger Games were a bit different. The arena was very basic that year—mostly just a grassy meadow surrounding the cornucopia (another element of the games that had been there since the beginning) with a few trees or crevices and such to hide in. Tributes had been warned beforehand that waiting 60 seconds before moving was essential, and that "those who chose to disregard this single rule would come to regret it in a way they would never comprehend"
Well, that year a boy from District 4 thought he could jump the gun. He was the first one in Panem to discover that the pedestals were rigged with landmines. Essentially, there was little left of him to be picked up, although his unfortunate neighboring tributes—the girl from District 2 and the girl from District 8—panicked on the spot because they were now splattered with blood. The former of these two freaked out so badly that she nearly lost her balance.
Thus, as the gunshot that signaled the start of the games went off, the Capitol was more surprised than they should have been that the 23 remaining tributes didn't move a muscle. Was this some sort of sick sadistic trap to see who could stand on the pedestal the longest? None of them wanted to end up like that District 4 kid, and so none of them moved for several minutes. There was such an awkward silence that the Gamemakers actually made an announcement.
"Attention tributes: At the conclusion of the 60-second countdown, the mines around the pedestals are deactivated. They are put in place as a safety measure for the sole purpose of preventing tributes from jumping the gun. Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor."
Well, even this was not quite enough to sway the wary tributes, until a boy from District 3 took off his boots, tied them together, and dropped them in front of his pedestal. They hit the ground with an awkward thud and there was silence. However, instead of a frantic scramble, the other kids began merely sauntering towards the cornucopia to see what kind of supplies there were there. The District 3 boy did manage to get his boots back on, and wandered over to a set of throwing knives. Not too far away, a girl from District 9 picked up a bow and arrow.
Perhaps jokingly, a large boy from District 10 stood up on a crate of food and brandished a large cleaver.
"If anyone dares try to take this from me I'll kill them!" he joked. The kids had still not fully wrapped their minds around the notion that they were supposed to be killing them. In fact, the girls from Districts 2, 8 and 4 (given that he had been the latter's partner) were still in a bit of shock from the boy's explosive death.
However, even with the playful boasting, one of the other tributes decided to take his challenge to heart. Pulling back the string of the bow, despite being surrounded by curious tributes, that District 9 girl nocked an arrow, and let it fly. Her aim was surprisingly good, and it shot right through the side of the District 10 boy's skull, dropping him instantly.
While they had been informed that the cannons fired only to signify deaths (the first one had been muffled by the landmine explosion), many of the tributes shrieked or jumped when the 2nd cannon fired. Heads turned and almost all eyes were on that District 9 girl. Her words rang through the arena with a certain profoundness that no one in Panem ever forgot.
"These games aren't going to end until all but one of us is dead." She warned, "I'm not about to volunteer to kill myself either." A split-second later she broke into a run, disappearing into the trees with a slew of other kids in tow.
The girl from District 10 decided to take out her anger on the boy from District 9, figuring that her partner would be the next best thing to avenge her own partner. However, he managed to nearly overpower her, but before he could land the kill, she dodged, and the boy's knife went right into the gut of a girl from District 6, dropping her instantly. That in turn triggered the wrath of her partner, who killed the boy shortly after he managed to properly kill the girl from District 10.
Thus, the bloodbath was born. Accidents and overreactions turned children that might have otherwise been friends or acquaintances, into enemies out for each other's blood.
By sunset on the first day, 18 tributes were dead in the field, many still clutching their weapons. An oddity that modern Hunger Games enthusiasts might have noticed was that Districts 1 and 2 had lost both of their tributes by this time. District 2 in particular made a special note not to lose kids in a bloodbath, and they started seeing this as an actual competition, given the militaristic side of the district that had recently taken root.
Among the scant survivors were the District 11 pair, who were quite competent at surviving outdoors, as well as the District 12 pair. The only other two tributes that had escaped the mayhem were the District 9 girl from earlier, and a boy from District 5. This boy had developed a sort of hit-and-run style tactic, and so he had been in the bloodbath a bit.
Day 2 ended with the girl from District 12 getting sniped by the girl from '9, and her partner getting taken out by the cunning District 5 boy. Day 3 proved to be the penultimate day of the 1st Annual Hunger Games, where the District 11 pair were surprised attacked by this boy, Fukaya Kerezaki, who took the boy down first and the girl out a moment later.
This in turn, meant the games were drawing to a close. All Fukaya needed to do was hunt down Angela Dento from District 9, and there would be a final showdown.
The 4th and final day of the games was when this happened. She had her bow, and so did he. The two tributes circled each other, firing off arrows when they could, but they were both fast enough that despite being fairly good shots, neither one hit the other for several long minutes. It finally ended after Angela was hit in the foot, which gave Fukaya enough time to shoot her through the chest and finally kill her. The 1st Annual Hunger Games was over. Fukaya Kerezaki was the 1st victor from District 5—and the 1st victor to ever live.
Similar to the pre-game events, the post-game events have not changed in the 98 years since then. He had an interview, and then toured the districts 6 months after the fact. Despite being seen as celebrity in the Capitol, Fukaya was a very changed boy. He was much more reserved, and did not ever speak of the events in the meadow. Any time someone even so much as tossed something his way, he would sidestep it and shudder. He was distrustful of people and suspected that they would want to kill him. Thus, the first Victor's Trauma was born.
As short and simple as they might have been, Fukaya's Hunger Games were still horrifying enough for the boy to emerge as a very changed individual from who he once was. Of course, this was only the beginning—the beginning of something great and terrible that would become known as The Hunger Games.
Just like in the books, some games are more exciting than others. The early games might start out a little slow, but there are a few interesting twists and historical bits embedded in them as well, and so I'm not about to spoil and say which games are the particularly exciting ones. Instead, I'll just encourage those who read this story to explore as many games as they want, and hope that they find a few things that they like.
Similarly, feedback is always appreciated. Comments about the overall story are always welcomed, but I also enjoy hearing feedback about individual victors, for better or for worse. Also note that any names that resemble real people are coincidental. There are a couple thousand tributes over 99 Hunger Games, which in turn potentially means a lot of names to need and use.
VICTORS BY YEAR:
1HG: Fukaya Kerezaki (#1, District 5)