Prologue, Part One.

"My pain is constant and sharp...this confession has meant nothing."
— from "American Psycho," Bret Easton Ellis

Atlas Mervaine, 18
DEZ: Independence, California

History was always bound to repeat itself.

Trust Mrs. Crawley to never give up on her blind optimism and trust his parents to find the only teacher still in her eighties that hasn't crawled her way into retirement.

She was nice. Usually. A bit crabby, if you asked him, but no one would.

He's the only Capitol-born kid in this class, one of four in the entire school. It doesn't help that one of them's his little sister. There's maybe twenty in the entirety of Independence, and half of that is the family who runs the mayor's office. Most of the people here are stragglers from One, or from the opposite side of the country.

Anything to get away.

He thought that was why they ended up here. Most of the city's existing population doesn't even know his father is here. Their nearest neighbor is a mile and a half away. His mother drives the two of them here, and does everything, and moves all on her own, until she gets back home.

He thought that being here would make all of this easier.

Atlas remembers the war. Not very much of it. He's only ever seen them breaking out of the arena twice, once when they were hiding out in Six, and again three years later, when his dad was up at four in the morning watching it on his own.

The results wound up better than he expected. The family's fine. The father he thought was dead wasn't. Nine kids that were his age now broke out of the arena, and still live to this day.

Somewhere, anyway. They don't show their faces much.

Atlas wishes he had that luxury.

No one here is outright malicious. That's part of the problem.

He may have been young, when the entire world went down nine years ago, but the ripple effect is still spreading.

It's the curse of a last name, of being the child of two former Head Gamemakers. Of everyone around him knowing who he is, and what his mother did, and who she killed. For the most part, people stay away from him. The worst part is, people from the Capitol hardly stand out anymore. They don't go around flaunting themselves like they used to, perhaps clinging to a head of brightly colored hair or sleeves full of tattoos, but not much more. He himself looks completely normal. Like a kid bred and born in the Districts, the same stock as everyone else.

But he still sticks out, against his own wishes. Perhaps that's his sister's fault, his sister and the evergreen flowing over her shoulders, worn like it's something to be proud of. Even the government got them set up here, he suspects, to keep them away from the largest city centers. The Districts are off-limits to them, and any city with a population bigger than two-thousand.

If you ask him, which he wishes someone would, even two-thousand is too many.

He experiences two thousand daily. Lives it.

And it's awful.


He's zoned out ten times since this last class started – Crawley was bound to catch him eventually. She's staring at him now, as is the entire class.

"What do you remember of the Titans?"

"More than most people," he responds, which is clearly not the answer she was looking for, or expecting. "I know they're all dead except for Carnelia Trevall, because they let her go and then no one ever found her."

The Sentinels don't scare him. They were an army, created and then killed by the Capitol. A group of warmongers, save for a special few, who nearly set the entire country on fire just to laugh in the ashes of it. They almost destroyed Two. They almost destroyed everything.

And his father was one – almost. But no one here knows that.

No one here would believe him, either.

It doesn't matter. There's only one group left, and Prometheus has all but disappeared too. There's others, too. Names that weren't on the recovered list when the Capitol did their body count.

They're all out there, somewhere. Waiting.

Crawley is still staring him. She does that a lot.

It's a battle she knows she won't win, if she really wants him to answer. He knows more about the war than she ever will.

"I've gone over your applications to our mock version of the New Haven Program," she says, and diverts her eyes. "You were graded on the amount of effort you put into your application. Though obviously fake, and none of you were accepted due to the fact that the majority of you were born in the Districts, some of you were graded very highly based on the information you provided."

"How does anyone still think this is a good idea?" Argent mutters from behind him.

"I think it would've been fun," Nerine says, to his right. "To learn all about that and experience it. You don't think that'd be cool?"

"I like being alive," Argent points out, and she glares at him.

"They're not killing anyone," she fires back. "It's like a summer program. They're gonna do mock training and everything. And then a Games simulation, I heard. They only took the best twenty-four Capitol applicants from the whole country. That's prestigious. It would look so good on a university application. I wish they would have let everyone apply, not just Capitol kids."

A university application, of all things. He hadn't even thought of it like that. Crawley passes by and drops envelopes on all of their desks.

There's a bright red 65 on his, which is better than he expected. There's a 98 on Nerine's, and a 52 on Argent's.

"School is horseshit," he says a second later, when he notices Atlas staring. "I'm shocked they're not intimidated into giving you straight A's."

Sometimes they are. Mr. Weston gives him good marks third period regardless of if he shows up or not. But Crawley's not like that. When you're two hundred years old, you probably don't get intimidated very easily.

Besides, he knows exactly what the number is for. The application was pretty basic, until the last page. He can't help but wonder how similar it is to the real thing. Name, date of birth, what region of the Capitol you were born in (if applicable). The last page delves deeper – asking about your knowledge of the Games, talking about history. It took him hours to fill out.

It's the last thing that got him – reason for applying.

He can think of a dozen reasons Capitol kids across the country will have written down, if it's really on the form. Maybe not - that's too much honesty to lay in the hands of people they don't even know. Maybe, like Nerine, they think it will get them into a better school. Maybe there's someone out there who really genuinely cares about their history and wants to learn about it, to immortalize all the tributes that died.

Maybe there's someone out there who just wants to understand.

The war's over. There's nothing to understand. The Capitol spent 160 years killing 3,672 people in arenas. That's it, the entire basis behind it.

Now it's nine years since then, since the Titans fell and they took their world back, and everything's changed.

For most people, anyway. Not for him.

He could have tried harder. He could have been one of the twenty-four, if he had the courage to actually send the application off. They would have swooped him off to some sort of simulation, far away from Independence. But there's a reason he left that entire last section blank, why Crawley circled it with one giant swoop of red pen, pointing out how empty it is like he wasn't already aware of that when he handed it in.

He doesn't need to learn about the Games.

He knows enough. He knows more than most people do.

There's nothing else he needs to know.

What's up, losers. I'm fresh off an eleven hour work shift, have to work the next two days, and kinda wanna die, but what else is new! There's no getting off this ride!

Welcome to the fourth SYOT that wasn't supposed to be, after I wrote and finished a supposed trilogy. Let's just call this the spinoff. You don't need to read those to understand this one, because I'll try and explain as much as I can along the way, but if you ever have any questions I don't get to, feel free to ask.

Also, I do a lot of weird (read: murderous) shit and take a lot of creative liberties. If that's not your thing, I recommend not submitting.

This is a completely non-traditional SYOT that will be accepting Capitol kids. The form, along with some other details and rules, can be found on my profile. You are welcome to submit as many as you'd like, but chances are only one will be accepted. And if you do want to submit more than one, I ask that you keep it contained to one obviously-titled PM for the sake of my own sanity. If you have any questions that aren't clarified on my profile or you need some help, feel free to ask me!

Looking forward to all the submissions.

Until next time.