A Vivid Note: I had fun last time, so I'm participating in yet another Starvation prompt challenge. The prompt this time is 'Epic', and after much dictionary defining and plot musings- I decided on that which I believed I could write best-
ep-ic [ep-ik] – adjective Also, ep-i-cal.
...3. heroic; majestic; impressively great.
Since this a lovely, general sort of prompt- I've decided to cram in as many of my previously unwritten 'epic' moments in one large slab. Terrific.
And, if you don't realise this by reading- I'm not writing with any canon characters in mind. However that will be more than apparent should you readthis, haha.
Should you wish to know, I was also inspired by three instrumental songs while writing this. They include (in order) 'Thin RED line', 'the Executioner' and 'Mortal Stampede'. YouTube them up (along with the word 'OST') – trust me, they're each amazingly 'epic' in their own right.
There aren't many moments in an average person's life where they feel their eyes bulge out of their sockets and their jaw hit the dirt. Where they witness something so... unbelievable that their brains can't comprehend that it is actually happening.
However, as a Gamemaker, those moments occur to me on an almost regular basis.
Several instances come to mind, and each of them left audience members staring on in absolute awed wonder. Even when you're watching, safe behind the screen, you somehow manage to forget that it's not fake. It's not just a show. It's really happening. Each of these memories still has that affect on me, even when I watch and re-watch those tapes.
The three instances I can think of have their own names, dubbed affectionately by the watchers with their own titles. Their individual names for those moments are the 'Revenger', the 'Reaper' and the 'Ranger'.
The 'Revenger' was the first I witnessed back when I was just starting out as a Gamemaker. I was in my mid-twenties and still hadn't been trusted with anything too important at that stage. I was in charge of supplying the Gamemakers with food and coffee- cigarettes for the Head- but nothing to do directly with the Games.
It was late on the fourth day. There were twelve tributes left, all the careers were alive and only a handful of a few other Districts remained. We were all fairly tired and it was about time for change-over when we realised that the pack of careers were on the move and were closing in fast on the eighteen year old boy from 8.
We watched in mild amusement as the boy awoke to the six careers brandishing their weapons and bearing down on him. There was no time for him to get away. Within minutes he was skewered by arrowheads and blade tips- howling in pain as the careers cheered and celebrated their newest win as his cannon boomed through the night air.
As most careers would after an easy kill, they began to move on- leaving behind the girl from 4 to search the boy for anything of use. There were no other tributes nearby, so we all looked away from the screen and began packing up for the change-over.
Then a high-pitched scream pierced the still air. We all whirled around to face the screen. Deep in the arena's icy forest, the careers sprinted back to the scene of their crime to see what had happened to their ally.
Not one of us- Gamemaker nor Career- was expecting to see the dead boy standing upright, sword impaled straight through the girl's chest cavity.
As the careers roared and panicked- we frantically checked our equipment to see why the cannon had gone off. Sure enough- the tracker was still operational inside the boy's arm; moving with him as he ducked and dodged the groups' attacks- but there was no heartbeat. He was definitely, medically dead.
But he continued to move. He drew his sword out of the girl's chest as if it were a sheath- and began his undead massacre while blood and entrails slipped and oozed out of his body. Even as the careers struck him in the head or the chest- he continued on- slashing and cutting his way through them, blank faced and dead.
It wasn't until one of the tributes- the boy from District 1- cut off the boy's leg did 8 slip and fall over the blood-slicked ground; where he lay twitching for several minutes- sword clasped in hand. Just to make sure he was really gone, they cut off his head to be absolutely certain.
Only two careers survived the fight. And all across Panem a maniacal cheer went up for the greatest display of defying medical logic that had ever been recorded on live television.
I never believed something that amazing would ever happen again. It was a once in a lifetime occurrence. As far as I was concerned, I believed nothing of the same scale could happen again.
Until six years later, when something just as remarkable happened.
Most non-career tributes don't show their capabilities from the word 'go', out of fear that their skill will bring unwanted attention from the careers. It's a fair point, and no one can blame them for common sense. Usually they wait until the fourth or sixth day until they show their true colours- and that's when the real fun starts.
So when the gong rang and the bloodbath began- no one expected the twelve year old girl from 11 to fly to the cornucopia, snatch up the scythe meant for the girl from 2 and start slaughtering everyone in sight.
For the first time in the history of the Games, the bloodbath was dominated by this tiny scrap of a girl, with skin and hair as dark as night, who was screaming with laughter as she repeatedly lunged and dug the blade of death's instrument into her dumbstruck opponents' necks and stomachs. As Gamemakers we almost felt the need to stop her before she got too far- as she managed to kill eight tributes on her own- and scatter the careers to four corners of the arena out of pure terror.
That tape is one of the most haunting to watch. If you slow it down- which was done for the victor that year during the recap video- you can see that the girl's movements were like some sort of beautiful dance. Each step was purposeful, bold and strong- and each time she moved the scythe's blade it was in a rhythm- over her head, around her back, through her arms and over again.
Everyone thought it was a shame when she died on the third night in from the pack of wolves. It was a little anti-climatic given her earlier performance. However what kept audiences' eager was when her Mother tearfully told a cameraman that her daughter had never handled a weapon in her life- let alone a scythe.
Those Games left me thinking 'That has to be it. There is no way anymore of miracles could happen. It's just not feasible.'
And of course, I was proven wrong- just as reality had been so many times before.
It was seven years after the girl and her scythe danced across the television sets of Panem. I had finally risen through the ranks and been given the coveted robes of 'Head Gamemaker'. While I was proud of my accomplishment and more than eager to head the work on yet another Game- I can't say that I really expected another one of those elusive 'miracles' to happen again.
He was an ordinary boy, District 10. We had overlooked him to shine on the more eccentric characters, the careers and a particularly firey girl from District 6. There was no reason to believe he would be that important in the scheme of things.
The arena in question was a snowy pine forest, based on the Northern part of Panem before the dark days began. Plenty of caves and lakes, and a great mass of trees. There was only one battle field- and it stood where the cornucopia did- in a great open field covered with sparse trees and snow.
While the careers had set up camp on the field with the supplies, other tributes had retreated into the woods and fallen prey to its many vicious inhabitants. There were altered eagles that swooped down and snatched up tributes and would drop them as they struggled, wild dogs who hunted in their dozens- and, our coup de grace- the bears.
These weren't ordinary bears. They were our creation- 'Omega Bears'. Based on the black bear, they were bred to track and hunt a tribute for days without rest- and to shred them up into miniscule pieces on contact. They had a thick, shaggy mane of black fur, beady little eyes and teeth as long and sharp as stakes.
After a week, the tributes' numbers began to dwindle. There were only four careers left, one girl and three boys, the firey girl from 6 and the boy from 10. The boy from 10 had been injured by a wild dog on the seventh day, so coverage of him lying wounded in his cave was minimal- and all efforts went towards the girl and her plot to ambush the career camp solo.
So just as the girl rushed into battle and the careers took up their arms- no one was expecting to hear the horrifying roar of an omega bear charging into the field. When we heard it over the transmission we couldn't believe it. The field wasn't part of its territory.
-that's when we saw the most... epic, miraculous feat ever pulled off by a Hunger Games tribute in all of history. I could hardly believe my eyes. It wasn't possible.
The boy from D10, brandishing his chain whip and gripping on tight, was riding on the back of an omega bear.
We could only watch as the girl and the careers stopped dead in their track- pure terror washing over their faces.
There was no way of winning.
It was a fast, brutal end- one that isn't common for the Games. The boy had somehow managed to break the bear in like a wild horse. It obeyed him when he dug his heels in tight and would rear up to claw at the poor tribute standing nearest. With a slam of its paw they'd go flying- dead on impact as the claws drove themselves into their skull or their face- or in worse cases they'd fall to the ground alive and be finished off by the bear as it fell down upon them with all its weight and teeth, gnashing and biting for their flesh.
He didn't slow until the last career. Everyone else was dead. The District 2 boy could only stare up at him in pure disbelief, most likely never having dreamed that this would be the way he'd go out.
There was no way or running. Not from a bear. The sword he had in his hand could do no harm against its toughened hide. And to throw it would claim no results either.
The boy knew he had lost. Everyone in Panem had. Which is why when he looked up at that boy from 10 and spoke his final words, I could almost feel myself standing in his shoes- not terrified, but actually impressed with my competitor.
"Tell me how you did it."
And we all waited. Breaths were held across the nation as the boy from District 10 raised an eyebrow and answered plainly-
"Call it a miracle."
I'm proud to be a Gamemaker. I wouldn't want any other job. Nothing else could have given me that same adrenaline I felt when I witnessed those 'miracles'. Nothing else in the world offers this experience.
And it's because of those moments that I will continue to support these Games.
Until the end of time, miracles and belief itself.