"Welcome back to the final 24 interviews!" The crowd cheered. "Now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the parents of Smash and Crash Hatch!"
Ember and Stallion Hatch walked onto the stage. Many Capitol citizens could remember their victories in their Games.
"It is so nice to see you again, Ember and Stallion," said Caesar, a little too graciously. "I remember interviewing each of you before and after your Games, and now I get to interview you for your children's Games."
"We're both glad to be here," said Ember.
"Now, I know you both are desperate for your children to be Victors. What was your reaction when your daughter was reaped and your son volunteered?"
"Well, we were initially very scared," said Ember. "We had a plan for Smash to volunteer and win at 17 and Crash to volunteer and win at 18. I was a bit scared when they were Reaped. But then, we realized that both children are incredibly well-trained. We also knew that they would have three additional days of training before the Games. So, though we had initial worries, we knew that they could, and will, win."
"We all know that you favored Smash over Crash. Do you think that was a wise choice, and has anything happened over the course of the Games that has change your mind?"
"To be honest," said Stallion, "picking a favorite was probably a bad idea. The thing is, Smash was more open to criticism. She, therefore, improved faster. Crash, however, didn't take criticism as well, so we couldn't get through to him as easily. Because Smash improved faster, we could teach her more, so she became our favorite."
"Crash has proven himself though," added Ember. "He has, what, two kills or something? That's pretty good."
"Over the course of a given Games, siblings who are forced to go in together tend to grow apart. Yours have become closer. What do you think of that?"
"Smash and Crash never got along, even as little kids. When they were in the room, they even began to kick each other! If you'd show the picture..."
A picture popped up on the large screen behind Caesar, Ember, and Stallion. It showed two babies with cake all over their faces. The crowd laughed.
"This picture is from the twins' first birthday party," explained Ember. "Smash and Crash were each given a birthday cupcake. Smash wanted Crash's cupcake in addition to her own, so she took it. Crash got mad, slammed Smash's face into her cupcake, and took his back. Smash then took Crash's cupcake and slammed it into his face. We took this picture and then sent both twins into timeout."
"That's so cute!" exclaimed Caesar.
"Yes. We never expected them to get along, ever. Eagle must have been a miracle worker to get those two to get along."
"If they both survive, will Smash still be your favorite?"
"Now that there is no pressure of the Games, we will try our best to treat both children equally."
"Thank you, for being here, Ember and Stallion Hatch! And now, please welcome, Jaden Leonard and Cannibal Thomas!"
As the Hatches left the stage, two boys, one with red hair, the other with sandy brown hair, came on stage.
"Welcome, Jaden and Cannibal. You are Smash's friends, correct?"
"Yes," answered red-headed Jaden.
"What do you think of Smash?"
"She's bubbly and sweet. She's also pretty popular. We were sort of hand-chosen as her closest friends."
"Do either of you train?"
"I do," said Cannibal. "Smash, Crash, and I were at the top of our class."
"If you could give Smash any advice, what would it be?"
"Keep your guard up," replied Jaden. "Don't let anyone fool you."
"Thank you, boys. Ladies and gentlemen, Jaden and Cannibal!"
"Next up, the parents and sister of Acacia Andalu!"
Acacia's father, Gregory, mother, Lavadia, and sister, Tripple, came on stage.
"It is so nice to see you again, Gregory. And your family as well. It feels like just yesterday that we interviewed you about Avery."
"It's been two years," said Gregory wistfully.
"After Avery's death, were you still desperate for a Victor?"
"Actually, his death renewed our desire for a Victor, and we also wanted revenge for his death."
"Enter Acacia," said Caesar.
"Yes, exactly," said Gregory. "It came down to one or the other, Tripple or Acacia, and since Acacia is less rebellious, we chose her."
"Acacia is our last hope for a Victor," added Lavadia, "because Tripple is now too old for the Games. Acacia HAS to win."
"Tripple, you and Acacia did everything together, if I remember correctly," said Caesar. "What is it like being alone now?"
"It's been very difficult. I miss her a lot."
"Has your life changed after the reaping?"
"A little bit. Since this was my last reaping, I've been given a bit more freedom. I've been allowed to make friends, have a later curfew, and be a kid. I just wish Acacia could be here with me."
"The two of you must be very close."
"Remember when we came last time? She practically sat on my lap!"
"Do you think that she would be in your position, had you volunteered instead of her?"
"That's hard to say. We're very different, even though we're so similar. I think she would have followed the rules just like it was before the Games."
"Could you have volunteered?"
"Acacia and I could have gone into the Games together, because of the Quell twist. My parents just didn't trust me, because I'm the more rebellious of the two of us."
"I guess she could have volunteered," said her father, "but Acacia was more likely to follow our orders."
"What orders?" Caesar inquired.
"To kill the girl from One."
Lavadia explained, "If you watch back the footage from the 98th Games, specifically that of the Career blowup, the girl from One encouraged the Careers to turn on Avery, and she was the one who killed him."
"Do you think she had something against Avery?"
"I don't know," answer Gregory. "But we've wanted revenge since his death, and we trusted Acacia to take revenge."
"Gregory, you are a Victor. Do you think that your experience will help Acacia?"
"Of course. It runs in the family."
"Well, thank you so much for being here, Gregory, Lavadia, and Tripple Andalu!"
"This next interview is a joint interview," said Caesar. "So please welcome Nicoli Mariner, the brother of Apollo Mariner, and Bolts Catalyst, the grandmother of Darren Catalyst!"
Nicoli wheeled Bolts, confined to a wheelchair, out on stage. The audience continued to cheer. Nicoli placed the wheelchair between Caesar's chair and the couch, and then sat on the couch next to Bolts.
"Welcome, Bolts. It is so good to see you again."
"It's nice to see you too, Caesar."
"And Nicoli, welcome. I must ask, is your family originally from Four?"
"Well, yes. My paternal great-grandfather was from Four, though I never met him.."
"Let's talk about the tributes. Apollo and Darren have known each other for a long time, correct?"
"Yes. As it turns out, they were born in the same hospital," said Nicoli.
"There is only one hospital in Three," retorted Bolts.
"There were two."
"Both children have lost their parents, correct?"
"Well, sort of. Darren's pants are still alive, but they're morphlings. My mother died in childbirth when she had Apollo, and my father died a few months later in a factory accident. Apollo and I moved to an orphanage."
"Nicoli, When did Darren and Apollo meet?"
"It was a while ago. They were maybe three. Darren and Apollo were in the same preschool class. Apollo is very outgoing, and when he saw shy little Darren, Apollo couldn't help but take him under his wing."
"Did they have anything in common, or did their friendship surprise you?"
"It surprised me," said Bolts. "I had seen Apollo around the district, though I hadn't noticed him so much, and he was a literal fireball. That little rascal would run around the streets of the district, forcing Nicoli to chase him. He almost bowled me over once! After I really met him, though, I was amazed by how sweet he is. He's so polite back home."
"What was your reaction to the reaping? Bolts, you first."
"I was very glad that Darren's parents are morphlings, first of all. They would have been heartbroken to learn that their son was reaped! Then, when Apollo volunteered to go in WITH Darren rather than INSTEAD of Darren... that confused me."
"I mean, boys don't have the best logic," Nicoli added. "I was a little shocked that Darren was reaped, considering the odds, but anything really can happen. The fact that Apollo volunteered didn't surprise me, but I agree with Bolts: I don't get why Apollo didn't just volunteer for Darren."
"What are your takes on their teams?"
"Apollo's team was undoubtedly carried by Shine Scott. She has a whole lot of kills..."
"Eight," interjected Caesar.
"Exactly. The only other useful person was really Cassie. And you would think that the other two Careers would have been useful! But no."
"Nicoli, remember, Emmet was useless from the beginning."
"On the other hand, Darren's team was more intent on his protection," explained Bolts. "Because he was so similar to Dek, Mica was just as intent in protecting him as she was with her brother. And Mica had a lot of control on that team."
"Nicoli," interjected Caesar, "what do you think happened to the dynamic of the silver team when Tyranny was added to the picture?"
"I think it was easier for Shine, but there really wasn't much time for them to bond as a team, because there was immediately a twist and there is an upcoming twist. And with that five-team alliance messing with them..."
"Now, one final question. Do you think that they can win?"
"Honestly," admitted Nicoli, "I don't know."
"Well, thank you, Nicoli and Bolts!"
"Ending this group of interviews, please welcome Mr. Darya, the father of Toby and Moss Darya, and their friend, Brock!"
Two buff, strong men came on stage. With their tan skin and sea-green eyes, their district was self-evident.
"Mr. Darya, Brock, welcome. It is so nice to have you here."
"It is wonderful to be here, Caesar."
"So, Mr. Darya-"
"Nemo. Call me Nemo."
"All right. Nemo. What do you do back home?"
"I own one of the most prestigious fish shops in the district. We do every step of the business, from fishing to drying (if necessary) to selling."
"Did the boys help you?"
"Moss did occasionally in the shop, but Toby was a bit too young. He primarily helped our fishers, like Brock."
"Correct," added Brock. "Someday, I want to have my own business, but it doesn't hurt to help Nemo before that happens."
"Very nice! So, let's begin with the reapings. Toby was reaped."
"Correct," affirmed Nemo. "And that scared me."
"So did it surprise you when Moss volunteered to help Toby, or did it make you more nervous?"
"Well, I wasn't surprised, considering how much Moss loves Toby. And I wasn't nervous for Moss, because he trained in the Career academy. But I was VERY nervous for Toby."
"Statistically, Districts 1, 2, and 4 have won more than 50% of the Games since their inception. How does that make you feel about the boys' chances?"
"Especially because we know there will be multiple Victors, I think that they have good chances on the one hand. On the other hand, there are another 7 Careers, including one who is younger than Toby with more kills than Moss and Toby combined. Problem? Possibly. But we do have to remember how devoted Moss is to Toby."
"So, in short, Nemo has no idea about either boy's chances," explained Brock.
"A critical point of this year's Games was teamwork. What did you two think of the boys' team?"
"Putting the team color aside..."
"It is hilarious that the boys were put on the pink team," interjected Brock.
"Yes. As I was saying," continued Nemo, "putting the color aside, the people on the team were exceptionally diverse and interesting. Most of the team was very sweet, especially Lila."
"Yes. Let's talk about Lila Flemings. She is since deceased, unfortunately. What was your reaction to their 'romance'?"
"Well," began Brock, "personally, Lila seemed to be a very sweet girl. But personally, I doubt her relationship with Toby would have gone anywhere. Because, if they had both survived, they would have been sent to separate districts. And plus, I am NOT ready for Toby to have a girlfriend."
"But he is growing up!" said Nemo. "And I think it's a bad thing that you are more protective of my son than I am."
"Nemo, we mentioned earlier that Moss is a Career. However, he only has one kill. And your untrained son has the same number of kills as your trained son! Does that make you nervous or annoyed at all?"
"Moss has always been on the compassionate side of Careers. He trained for self defense, not to kill, and to defend Toby. So, no, I am not upset that Moss has one kill, or that he defended know team more than fought for them."
"Is there anything you would like to say to Moss and Toby?"
"Just keep your eyes out, boys," insisted Nemo. "Careers tend to have pretty large bulls-eyes on their backs."
"And remember. You are the only ones representing your district now. So don't forget that. And we are all rooting for you."
"Thank you so much, Nemo and Brock! When we come back, three very close families and one very dangerous Career."
Ok, I don't think I can apologize enough for how long it took me to get this chapter up. I had a lot of work this May and June, which was followed by camp, which was then followed by a severe case of Writer's Block. But now, I'm pretty sure that I know how to finish the story, which is good.
If any of you guys would be willing to help me out by submitting tributes for The Capitol Games, I would greatly appreciate it. This way, I can give you guys another awesome story that will hopefully not be as hard for me to write. And, don't worry, it will be awesome. I already have a nearly developed arena!
The interviews are always the hardest part for me, so hopefully I'll be able to get another interview chapter up soon. Again, I am so sorry this took me so long!
All the best,