NINE MONTHS AGO


=== Cassandra Coral, Head Gamemaker ===


The dark room was dimly lit by the faint glow of the projector. Cassandra Coral sat mesmorised on her plush green sofa, watching the grainy black and white tapes flickering as they played. These tapes were incredibly precious - they were the last of their kind, and they showed an old world. A world before Panem. A world of magic and wonder, of optimism and joy, of freedom and diversity. Somewhere, something had gone horribly wrong. Thank goodness for the Capitol taking charge and getting things in order. Cassandra shuddered at the thought of what the world would be like without the intelligence of the Capitol keeping everybody in order. The new Head Gamemaker had not slept in two days, but that did not matter to her. She couldn't take herself away from the tapes. For some reason, they seemed to be sparking inspiration inside of her.

Truth is, Cassandra was in a tight spot. President Ganymede would be demanding to hear her plans for the 90th Hunger Games at some point within the next week, and she was dreading the meeting. She had no plans. Absolutely nothing. If she continued to have such a pitiful lack of ideas, she'd be fired for sure. Or worse. In just nine months, Cassandra was going to be given 24 Tributes, little puppets for her to play with for the Capitol's amusement. Her angels. She smiled. Ever since she was a young girl growing up, she'd always loved the idea of angels. She always pretended that whenever a Tribute died, they would turn into an angel and go up to heaven.

Hearing a noise somewhere in her hallway, Cassandra glanced at her door nervously, hoping she wouldn't be disturbed. Not when she was so close to finally settling on an idea. A muffled scraping noise could be heard from her screen, pulling her focus back to the tapes, and she smiled a little as she saw two rickety little carriages travelling up and down a hill. A small bell rang as the two carriages passed each other. A sign was written above them, reading: 'Angels Flight'.

"Angels," said Cassandra quietly to herself, staring at the two carriages travelling on what must have been the smallest railway in the world.

Suddenly, Cassandra was inspired. She knew exactly what she wanted her first Games as head Gamemaker to be. Jumping up, she went straight over to her database, and searched up Angels Flight. She smiled when a handful of results came up, all referring to the same city - Los Angeles. But what on earth did Los Angeles mean? Cassandra knew that wasn't an English word. She walked over to her shelf and picked up a small device she very rarely needs to use: her translator. She typed the name of the city into it, and her heart skipped a beat when she saw the translation.

The Angels.

Cassandra let out a relieved exhale. Finally, she had a plan. She would let the Tributes loose in the most beautiful city she'd ever seen. A perfect place to send her angels off to heaven.

PRESENT DAY


=== Tiago Fenton, Victor of the 89th Hunger Games ===


Tiago Fenton thought he had been through it all. He'd fought through poverty, illness, near-starvation, losing a toe and a father to mining accidents and somehow, after all that, he managed to win the 89th Hunger Games for District 12 almost a year ago. When the voice of President Ganymede rang out across the Arena, announcing that Tiago had won, he thought the nightmare was finally over. He'd won, he'd survived. For once, the odds were in his favour. What Tiago didn't realise was that you were never truly free from the Games. He thought about the awful last 12 months, remembering his journey across the country, when he was forced to visit every single District on the Victory Tour. It was truly awful seeing the families of those who weren't as fortunate as he was, telling the world how generous the Capitol is for bringing his family out of poverty as a reward for winning the games, and re-telling the stories of his interactions with various Tributes.

Most days, Tiago wishes he was the one who had been killed by the landslide on the final day of the Games.

And now, he has a job to do. Tomorrow morning, the Reaping for the 90th Annual Hunger Games would begin. He would have to stand on the stage and look out at all the frightened faces of the children, a position he'd been in just one year ago. He would have to watch as two children's worst nightmares come true. And then, because he was District 12's only living Victor, he would have to be the one to mentor them. Tiago knew that he would be their only chance at winning the Games - and he had sworn to himself that he would give the two District 12 kids the very best chance he could give them. No matter what. A sadness burned inside him as he gazed out of the window at the forest just outside his district. He thought of the hundreds of children who were probably having sleepless nights, waking up screaming, or hugging their loved ones tight with tears pouring down their faces.

'The Hunger Games are horrible', thought Tiago bitterly.

Tiago lay back in his bed, staring at all the useless expensive decorations on the ceiling and walls. He groaned as he realised he'd have to spend more time with that god-awful District 12 Escort, Santino Cantrell. Santino, who was completely and utterly oblivious to how barbaric and traumatic the games were. Santino, who's first words to Tiago when he got reaped were "Lucky you!". Santino, who actually tried telling Tiago's incredibly weak 14-year-old district partner Penelope that if she ever got cornered by the Careers, it's important she 'gives the audience a good show' so that she'll be remembered once she's dead. In reality, Penelope died a quick death at the bloodbath. She was gone before she even noticed the axe had shattered her skull. Santino had probably tutted and whined about her 'boring' death, but Tiago was glad that it was painless for poor Penelope. The girl had been half-dead when she was Reaped anyway, since she was starving like the rest of them.

Tiago desperately hoped that the two District 12 Tributes would be older. He had been 18 when he was Reaped, meaning his body was much more developed - he had been stronger and bigger than most of the other Tributes. The younger Tributes never stood a chance, especially the ones from District 12, where everyone was weak and dying. Maybe, just maybe, he'd be able to lead another Tribute to victory. Like him, they'd never be free from the Games, but at least they'd be alive, and their family could be saved from poverty. Tiago would be strong for his Tributes, he decided. No matter how much it hurt seeing two children go through what he'd just been through, no matter how many horrible memories came back, he was going to hold it together for the two kids he needed to protect. He had chance to save an innocent life, and he was going to do his best to do just that. He remembered how Penelope's family had wept at the memory of their daughter when Tiago offered a share of his winnings to them. He felt like Penelope was an angel, watching over him, keeping him safe. Tiago didn't want any more angels being sent up to heaven before their time.


=== Santino Cantrell, District 12 Escort ===


Santino Cantrell sat alone in the Tribute Train, painting his fingernails an obnoxious shade of purple. He needed to look his absolute best for one of his favourite days of the year - Reaping Day! He'd chosen his best hat to wear, a neon green fedora with three white feathers sticking out the back of it. And because it's so important to coordinate, he decided to wear his best purple suit (with green stripes), pairing it with his pristine white trousers. To complete the outfit, he would wear his shiny black shoes and a silver earring hanging down from his left ear. Perfect! Now everybody in District 12 would be in admiration of his impeccable fashion sense. And of course, Santino knew he had to look good for the Capitol too - the whole country would be watching, and if he was able to make a good impression on the viewers, especially those higher up in the Capitol, he'd surely get promoted to a better district. He frowned, wondering why there was always such a lack of enthusiasm for the games in District 12. He decided it was because they were all stupid and uneducated - maybe if they had all tried harder in their classes, they'd understand the excitement of the Hunger Games!

The vast meadows and lush green hills outside the train carriage suddenly disappeared as the train entered a dark tunnel. Santino clapped his hands together excitedly - this tunnel meant they were getting close to District 12! He pressed a silver bell on his table and two Avoxes obediently entered the room, looking at him questioningly.

"I want a red velvet crepe for breakfast," instructed Santino. "And find out how much longer until we get there."

The Avoxes nodded in unison, and left the room. Minutes later, they returned - one of them carrying a silver dish, and the other carrying a dark red tablecloth. The tablecloth was placed over Santino's table, and the first Avox put the silver dish down, lifting the lid to reveal a perfectly made red velvet crepe, with chocolate sauce delicately drizzled on top, and strawberries and cream practically oozing out the sides. Santino ate about half, and then pushed his plate away, feeling satisifed. One of the train staff came in and informed Santino that they would be arriving in District 12 in just ten minutes.

Now all he had to do was wait just a few more hours for the Reaping to begin ...


Well, that was the first chapter! This was a fairly short one as it's just an introduction. As you may have seen in the title, SYOT is currently OPEN!
I am completely new to this website, so I'm only taking submissions over Discord for now! To join, use this link and be sure to remove the spaces!
discord. gg / mp9h3Ed
Please let me know what you think of this first chapter! I'm very excited to meet all 24 Tributes as well.