One Month After The Games

Shelby Donaldson

Victor of the 93rd Games

Shelby Donaldson was back in the body of her twenty-five-year-old self. It was a weird feeling growing older, feeling the aches and pains of your body, and then going back down to a younger age. She felt vibrant and youthful, and for the first time in a long time, she felt hopeful again. Like this was the start of a new life for her.

"I'm still not used to seeing you like this," said Synth as he walked over to his mom and smiled. "You're not even that much older than me. Do I still have to call you, mom?"

"Yes," said Shelby as she flipped through the wedding planning scrapbook Darcy and McKenna started putting together for her. "You do. Don't you forget that."

The Games were not easy for Shelby, or any of the parents for that matter. They always were in a state of mourning, and only McKenna and Shelby had the chance to celebrate something. Shelby felt bad for Hazel and Princeton. They had to watch all of their kids die.

"Did you go to therapy today?" asked Shelby to Synth. "I know that you're dealing with a lot from the games. I can talk anytime you need, Synth," reassured his mother. "I know that I'm your mom, but I'm also someone who's been through the games."

"It's cool," said Synth as he shook his head. "I'm fine," even though Shelby knew he was lying through his teeth. She had heard him in the middle of the night, waking up screaming. Synth and Darcy had formed a close friendship since being out, and they've stayed together almost every night since leaving the arena.

"Okay, your dress selections are arriving shortly," said Darcy with a headset as she walked into the room with McKenna. Shelby watched as the mother-daughter duo talked to each other, not even in complete sentences, as they handled Princeton and Shelby's wedding. Each woman knew exactly what was to be informed about, and who was handling what. It was nice to see.

The phone rang, and Shelby got up to answer it. When she answered the phone, a computer-animated voice sounded.

"You're about to receive a collect call from Panem Psychotherapy Penitentiary if you want to accept the call press one. To not, simply just hang up the phone."

Shelby looked at the phone, confused. Who could be calling her from a psychiatric treatment center? Curiosity overtook her as she reached the phone and pressed one.

"Hello?" she asked into the phone.

"Oh my God," said an unrecognizable female voice. "Shelby, listen to me, this is going to sound weird, but I need you to come down to the treatment center immediately and ask for Vivica Stately. Please, Shelby, no one else is answering, and I don't know what to do. I need help. I'm scared as hell that this is never going to get fixed. I've been in here-"

"Wait, who is this?" asked Shelby, confused. "Isn't Vivica Moriah's assistant."

"Vivica was not who she said she was," said the female voice. "This is Moriah Jackson. Please don't hang up like Princeton did. I had to earn phone privileges, and I can't get ahold of Henry because his phone calls are screened. Please, Shelby, please just come down with President Ashby and visit the treatment center. I promise to explain everything."

Shelby took a deep breath. Something inside of her told her that this wasn't a joke. This wasn't something that she could just toss aside. "Okay," she said, shaking her head. "Okay, I'll make it happen. I'll try to be there later today."

"Oh, thank God," said the supposed Moriah as she wept into the phone. "Thank you so much."

President Henry Ashby

Henry could not believe he allowed Shelby to talk him into coming down to the treatment center. He had just left the bed of Moriah Jackson this morning. There was no way that she was in the center.

When they arrived at the building, they walked into the door, and the receptionist froze upon seeing them. "Oh my gosh," she said, bowing her head. "Mr. President. Ms. Donaldson. To what do we owe this unexpected pleasure-"

"We are here to see Vivica Stately?" Shelby said

The receptionist's face went dark as she stared at Shelby, confused. "Are you sure that's who you want to see?"

"Did she stutter?" asked President Ashby, squinting his eyes. "I'm busy, and I'm doing this as a favor to a friend. I need you to hurry up and make this request happen immediately," he said.

"Yes sir," the receptionist said once again, bowing her head. "Right away."

Henry couldn't help but feel flustered as he watched the receptionist leap away from the desk and run to the back. He feels uneasy about being here. He had a very keen instinct, and right now, it was telling him that something awful is about to happen.

"This way," said the receptionist as she led them into a room with a table and three chairs around it. Shelby and Henry's were on the opposite side of Vivica, and she had her hands cuffed to the table as they walked into the room. She sobbed upon seeing them, and Henry felt uneasy as he looked at her.

"Hi," said Shelby as she sat down. "Do you care to explain?"

Henry noticed Shelby felt awkward as she tried to comfort the sobbing girl. It took her a moment, but she straightened herself up, and she cleared her throat. "They said that if you wanted, you could undo my hands. I would like to be able to move."

Henry hesitantly reached over and undid one of the latches holding Vivica's hands to the table. She quickly loosened the other one and stood up and straightened the pants of her patient gown that she was forced to wear. Henry's eyes narrowed as she sat down with her back straight and a smile.

"It's been a year since I've been in here," Vivica said.

"Yes, Moriah said that you lost your mind and tried to attack her," said Henry dismissively. "You deserve to be in here, Vivica. The only reason that I'm here is to benefit-"

"Your name is Henry Thelonius Ashby Jr.," said Vivica. Henry paused. There were very few people who knew that he was a junior. His father didn't go by Henry. To the people of the Capitol, he was known as President Ashby, and to his family and friends, he went by the name his mother initially wanted to give him, Joel.

"You're mother was a poor girl from District 11 who won the Hunger Games when she was 15 and caught the eye of your father, past President Henry Ashby. You grew up a simple life because your father didn't want you to become spoiled, and since you've grown up, you don't know whether to thank him for it or resent him."

"That doesn't mean-"

"You have a freckle on your butt on the right side, and you have a tattoo of a phoenix rising from the ashes that travels up your spine."

"That's kind of badass," whispered Shelby to Henry as Vivica kept talking.

"I know all these things because I am not Vivica Stately. I'm Moriah Jackson."

Henry was floored when he heard this. The name thing could have been coincidental, but the freckle and the tattoo is something only seen with people he was intimate with. Moriah had been the only person other than his ex-wife who had that experience with him. He looked at Vivica and squinted his eyes. He didn't know if he genuinely believed it was Moriah because if she's been in here the past year, who has he been with since then? He had to ask her something only Moriah would know the answer too. Something that would for sure tell him that something grave and dangerous is going on.

"Who do you admire most in the world?" asked Henry to Vivica.

"Myself," replied the woman, and Henry threw his hand over his mouth as tears welled up. "My mother let me down, my grandmother raised me, but she was harsh, and she also screwed me over, I'm the only person that I could ever rely on in this world," said Vivica. "Until you, Henry."

At that moment, Henry looked at Vivica and knew that she was telling the truth. He got up from his side of the table and walked over to her and pulled her into a tight hug. "Moriah," he whispered to her as tears streamed down his face. "I'm so sorry."

"What happened?" asked Shelby after the two had a moment to embrace.

"I hired Vivica when the tribute's chips started shortening out. There was always something that seemed to go wrong at weird moments afterward, like Delaine and Cortana remembering Arturo wasn't there originally, or even the tribute's being able to process the information about Clarke and not immediately cast it aside like their chips were programmed to do. Something was weird. And I started to notice that with each thing that happened, Vivica was always near the situation."

She turned away and stared at the wall and sighed. "We tried to play God with these tributes and our bodies, and why I don't regret giving you your youth back, Shelby, I wish that I wouldn't have chipped myself to do the same. The chips allowed all of this to happen-"

"All of what?" asked Henry.

"Vivica and I were working late one night. She was desperately trying to convince me to change the programming of the tributes, and finally, I told her to bug off, and I would do what I wanted with my creations," said Moriah shaking her head. "I felt a hard hit on the back of my head, and I woke up starring at myself. Vivica put me in her body and had her placed into mine so she could run the project. She told me that she deserved this and that she worked too long and too hard for some washed-up scientist wannabe to ruin her experiment. I was confused because Vivica came into the project late. It wasn't until she laughed at me that I realized who she was."

Henry's heart was racing. It was evident that he was was fooled, and he felt guilty as the woman he loved sat across from him trapped in unspeakable horrors.

"Eden Grant, my grandmother, took over the poor body of this woman and used her to get to me. She wanted to take control of the experiment people mocked her for, and I feel so guilty that I allowed it to happen, Henry."

Henry's jaw dropped as he thought back to this last year. All of the things he and Moriah had done and all of the time they spent together. How he thought she felt off. Henry had to put a stop to this.

"I'm going to order that they release you immediately," he said as he got up and pulled out his phone. He dialed Moriah's number and turned it on speaker, and when Eden answered, Henry did his best to control himself.

"Hello, babe," said Eden with a smooth voice. He could hear her typing away at a computer as she talked to him like nothing ever happened. How long did she expect this to go?

"Hey," said Henry. "Where are you?"

"I'm at the Gamemaker's room," she said, "Getting everything ready for the revamp of Project Rebirth. I think I figured out where the bugs came in last time."

"Let's go to lunch," said Henry. "I'll pick you up. I'm on my way over now."

Henry hung up the phone, and after some very loud yelling and reminding the people at the treatment center that he runs the country, Shelby, Moriah, and he were on their way to stop Eden before things got even more carried away.

When they arrived at the Gamemaker's suit, Henry ran into the room and saw Moriah's youthful clone that Eden took after the games were sitting in a chair in front of the computer. Henry ran over to the chair and spun it around, but the body fell to the ground, and even though it was still breathing, the mind was lifeless. A tiny note on the screen in front of the monitor read a simple message.

Press call.

He looked at Moriah and Shelby in pure terror as he walked over to the screen on the computer and pressed the call. A number that was already pre-loaded dialed, and a video screen appeared of a person in a black hooded mask.

"Took you long enough to learn the truth, Henry," the voice said. "I have a list of demands, and you're going to do them."

"How did you know we know?!" Henry asked as he looked at her angrily.

"You have said I love you to me every time we've gotten off a call since I took over her body. Your voice sounded tense, and you were clearly upset," said Eden. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know what was happening at that point. Now here are my demands-"

"I will do no such thing!" said Henry. "You're going to be arrested and put in prison for the rest of your miserable life, Eden! Body kidnapping?! Your granddaughter?!"

"Cut the dramatics, Henry," said Eden, clearly annoyed. "You're going to do what I ask, or you're going to regret it. Trust me."

"I will not do anything for you, Eden," said Henry.

"Suit yourself," said Eden as she punched something into a pad and pressed enter. A machine voice came over the intercom, and Eden laughed.

"Now firing missiles at District 1."

"WHAT?!" screamed Henry as he hit the chair in front of him. The video switches to a video of District 1 coming closer and closer into view until a big explosion filled the screen. Eden comes back into the camera with her masked face and laughs at Henry.

"You're going to follow my commands because I spent the past year sleeping with you, learning your secrets, and listening to every bad day you had. I know every launch code and dangerous knowledge that Capitol has to offer. I also locked you out of the system. You're under my control now, Henry," said Eden with a grin. "So, are you going to comply, or should I blow up District 2 as well?"

Henry was shaking as he fell to the floor. A whole District of his people, dead from missiles that the country will think he sent out. A time of unrest is coming to Panem, and Henry was now the bad guy in a fight where he didn't even want to take part in.

"Here are my demands," said Eden. "The first is that we will continue with Project rebirth, and we will start the next cycle immediately. Shelby, you are your constituents will get a new body added to your total of clones since you're once again giving eighteen-years of your life." Eden said coldly. "Congratulations on your wedding, by the way," said Eden. "You and Princeton will host your own house, and Henry, there's only one person I want to see running the last house." She tapped on a pad, and Henry felt his phone buzz. He pulled it out and saw the name on the phone and gasped.

"She was a traitor to the Capitol!"

"Yes, but she's strong and independent and loyal to those who give her reason to be. She'll join you in raising these tributes," said Eden. "You'll write an executive order pardoning her of all crimes before you bring her back. Her chip data is located in the archives where you got the past tributes. She is an old Victor, after all."

Henry's body ached as he listened to the demands he knew he had to follow through on. "Darcy and Synth will serve as weaponry masters in the school the recruits train in. You'll give them an apartment in the Capitol," Eden said. "Are there any questions you have for me?"

Moriah came and placed her hand on Henry's shoulder. He gripped her hand hard as he looked at Eden and growled. "I will find you. I will take back control of my country. And I will kill you, Eden."

Eden laughed as she reached over to her screen and leaned in close to the camera. "Catch me if you can, Henry."

And we are done with Project Rebirth officially! Thank you to everyone who read and submitted. You sent me a stellar cast, but now the sequel! It will be posted tomorrow because my fingers hate me, but what did you think of this subplot ending? Juicy stuff, no?

Keep it classy,