The Control Room

Head Gamemaker Leda Dashlon sat nervously in her chair. The monitoring room was dark and quiet. All of the computers were unoccupied, and would remain that way for the next few days. The Games didn't officially begin until the Bloodbath, but Leda had always thought that the Reapings were where the Games started. The Reapings were the day that all of the tributes were announced for the first time, and the day that all of the tributes began to size each other up.

The tributes were also what made the Games so interesting. There was only so much she could do as Head Gamemaker to entertain the audience-her job was to give the tributes little pushes so they could be more entertaining. The tributes were the ones that actually made things exciting.

Last year, the tributes were very bland, and despite all the muttations and natural disasters she spawned into the arena, the audience was still bored. The one thing the Hunger Games were not supposed to be was boring. After those Games, Leda had been called into President Chorley's office. He had made it clear that if the Games failed again, more than just her career would end.

Leda shivered at the memory, and pushed it from her mind. The Games would not be boring this year, she assured herself. The arena was fantastic, she had plenty of plot twists, and the newest Gamemaker, Nestor Willabye had shown her a way to ensure she'd have complete control over the Games, so hopefully it didn't matter how interesting the tributes were.


Leda sighed and looked down at the empty seats below her. The last time she was here, they had crowned the pathetic little boy from Nine as the Victor. He was not a crowd favorite, which was unfortunate on its own, but he had won only due to luck. He had simply outlasted the others. Hopefully that wouldn't happen again. If it was necessary, Leda would send muttations on the boring tributes to ensure the fun ones would win.

Leda stood up and exited the room, enjoy the echoes her footsteps made. Tomorrow the Reapings would begin, and she was extremely nervous. But, she knew, everyone else in the Capitol would be flooded with joy.

The Capitol

Karpos Rapshaw was so excited for the Games he could hardly believe it. Every year he thought it would be impossible for him to possibly be more excited, but somehow every year he was. He loved betting on his favorite tributes (although Sabina didn't let him ever bet a lot, she enjoyed spending the money on dresses) and even though he felt the mild disappointment when they lost, he almost always loved the Victor. Sometimes his favorite even won, and that gave him an amazing feeling.

Sabina had also toyed with the idea of sponsoring a tribute. Karpos was all in, but he had a tendency to waste money. Sabina was much better in money-related issues. The kids wanted to sponsor someone using their allowances, but even Karpos knew that gifts were very expensive and even though both of the children had hefty allowances, it wouldn't be enough to save a tribute.

But money aside, he couldn't wait for the Reapings the next day. Karpos pressed the food delivery button and waited. Charis and Panther stood around him, pestering him for food. Charis repeatedly poked Carpos in the ribs.

"Daddy, I'm hungry. Where's the food? Daddy!" She said, and Karpos, just as impatient, waited for the meal to appear. Normally it only took seconds. The network must have been slowed by the constant use of electricity in the city for parties tonight. Karpos wished to one day be invited to one of those parties.

"Has the food not appeared, yet?" Sabina asked, walking into the room. Karpos noticed that she had changed into a more casual dress. The dress she had been wearing earlier had been extremely extravagant in honor of the 247th Hunger Games. This one wasn't as poofy, but must have been more comfortable in comparison.

As if on cue, the meal appeared. The kids gasped in wonder, as they always did, and clustered around Karpos as he lifted up the platter and led it over to the table, trying not to trip on either of the kids as they stood on their toes, trying to look at it again. This meal's presentation was superb, and Karpos guessed it would taste good, too. It was more expensive than their usual choices, but that didn't matter. During the Hunger Games, they went on a spending spree.

Karpos placed the dish on the table, and Charis and Panther rushed for the plates. Charis must have forgotten to set the table earlier, but Karpos would let her off. It was the Hunger Games, after all.

When they had all begun to dig into their food, Sabina prompted conversation as she usually did.

"So, kids. Are you excited for the Reapings tomorrow?" she asked, and was greeted to a chorus of yeses.

"Can we get up early to watch the Reapings live?" Panther begged, his mouth full of food. Karpos reminded him to swallow before talking. In the past years, Karpos and Sabina hadn't allowed the children to watch the Reaping live. It forced the kids the wake up early (before 9!) and most of it was boring. They televised the speeches of the escorts and mayors before any names were actually drawn, and the speeches all sounded the same. Later in the afternoon, the Capitol televised the recaps, which just showed the name drawing. That's what Charis and Panther had watched all the years before.

"Well, I guess you guys are old enough now…" Sabina replied, looking at Karpos for the final decision. Karpos figured that both would probably get bored after the first few Reapings, but if they really wanted to…

"Sure, I guess." Karpos decided, grinning, and both the kids cheered.

"Can I get a sword for my birthday?" Panther asked hopefully, as he ate the last of his meal. Karpos and Sabina both automatically shook their heads.

"You have one, already." Sabina reminded him. Panther groaned and shook his head.

"That's made of plastic," he said. "I want a real one." Charis tapped him on the shoulder.

"So you can stab me? Because I don't think you could ever catch me." Charis challenged, and darted up from the table, running into her room. Panther chased closely behind her. Sabina gave Karpos a small smile and rolled her eyes. Kids, she mouthed.

This is my first chapter just to give you a peek into my writing style. Unfortunately, this isn't my best because I was really tired when I wrote this. Hopefully my writing will improve when I write the Reapings.