Prelude

"You didn't actually believe that Panem, a corrupt, oppressed country under totalitarian rule, would allow for the fair and random selection of their tributes?"

"No, of course not."

I look on at my new colleague. Three weeks ago I had thought I'd blown my chances at this new position. That was until Edon Maen had personally recommended me to President Snow himself. I'd jumped at the opportunity to take my place in the Capitol's upper circle of influence. As the CEO of the only major infrastructure company in the Capitol I most certainly deserve to be here. But this is my first meeting, and I am slightly nervous as I sit in the foyer with Edon waiting to enter the boardroom.

I have known Edon since high school. He sits opposite me now, as cynical as ever. He is a petite man in his early 40s with neatly cut short brown hair and a cream suit that I swear he lives in. It's not his personal appearance however that invites him to such prestigious meetings. Edon is the Head of Finances for Panem. This means that his company regulates interest rates by the printing of lawful money. He chooses who gets first use of newly printed money in that; if you're friends with Don and you need some money he will print it for you. Needless to say his influence on Panem is bested only by President Snow himself.

The foyer begins to fill up. I see Godrich Hardich the Supreme Court judge and barely recognise Bobrit Figune. The Capitol's Head of Fashion looks like some kind of multicoloured parrot today sporting a pink Mohawk, orange velvet cloak and dark sunglasses. A group of five suited figures walk past headed by the Capitol's religious leader Dud Hogue, media tycoon Gun Walker and Head of Defence Gert Purnim. At the back of the group I see him for the first time. This year's Head Gamemaker the highly acclaimed Jeft Finwip. Jeft is a popular and powerful figure in his own right. His work in History and Archaeology is famous in the Capitol, and has led to the wide spread adoption of ancient recreational activities and games. However, beyond the superficial, Jeft specialises in revealing the technological secrets left behind by ancient civilisations. Such research has proven critical in the war against the rebellion.

All of a sudden the babble of noise around me subsides. The man himself is here. We file in behind President Snow and each take a seat in the massive boardroom. The President stands from his seat at the end of the table to address the group.

"Greetings all. As you are well aware we meet here today to discuss the upcoming extravaganza that is the Sixty-ninth Hunger Games!"

There is a round of applause. I clap my hands with everybody else. What is not to love about inter-District gladiatorial conflict? The Games are such a spectacular event. They bring the country together every year. Most of all I love the drama, the betting and the sponsorship system that surrounds the games. As I have found, if you have enough money the Games can truly be an interactive experience!

"I will now pass you over to this year's Head Gamemaker, Jeft Finwip."

There is another round of applause as the tall historian stands up from his seat at the centre of the table.

"Greetings everyone," he booms in a confident voice. "I would like to announce that thanks to the brilliant work of our newest member, Gilt Finning Head of Infrastructure, construction of the arena for the Sixty-ninth Hunger Games is all but completed. All that we are waiting for now are the muttations. Can the Head of Science give us a time frame by which they will be ready?"

"Yes, we have fifty mutated boars ready to go. We are just training behavioural characteristics into them. Got to be aggressive after all. Those dragons you were after will be more difficult as we have yet to find a base creature from which to modify. I can't promise that they will be ready in time."

"OK, we'll play it by ear. I'm sure one of us will be able to think up some exciting alternatives. How are the costumes coming along, Bobrit?"

"I just need some more time to finish off several of Caesar's outfits. We have appointed the stylists for each tribute but we need to see the tributes before we can make the outfits for them."

"Right, yes of course," Jeft continues. "Which brings us to the reason we are here tonight, which is to pick the names that will be 'randomly' selected on reaping day. I've recently visited the Tribute Academies in Districts 1, 2 and 4 and I liked what I saw. Lots of potential for storylines. I think we'll wait for the Academies to release their final grades before we select which tributes we want in the games. However there is a boy from District 2 who could really add a touch of nostalgia to any potential storyline. His name is Fin Lay, and he is the 18 year old son of Dund and Ficus Lay. Dund won the Fifty-first Games and Ficus the Forty-ninth. I've spoken to Fin's Commander, apparently he is a smart student, top of the class, who would bring a ruthless attitude to the Games."

"Make sure he is in the Games," President Snow commands, in a voice leaving no doubt that it will happen.

"OK, we will make sure of it. There is also a giant of a boy whom we have been keeping our eye on over the past year. His father is a giant of a man and a District 5 patriot. His son is now eighteen and has grown to be as big as his father. He has been trained to be a Career tribute from the age of three, and would act as a true threat to the tributes from one, two and four."

"Brilliant, make sure he is in the Games."

"OK, yes of course. He could become a real icon of the Sixty-ninth Hunger Games. Right so those two are settled. Also we need to make sure we have a few younger tributes for the bloodbath and some good looking tributes. The way the arena has been constructed we will have to pick out some good climbers if we are to prolong the Games for at least a week. The weapons available are not very deadly so innovation and brute force will be crucial. We will select individual tributes from each District depending on how well they fit into our storyline. I know you are all busy people, but it would be brilliant if you could submit details about interesting tributes that could supplement our storyline."

"Sponsors?"

"Well as usual we are going to have an internal sponsorship system amongst ourselves. The cost of sponsorship items will increase by one point for each day that passes. I'm so excited, this is going to the best Games ever!"

"It better be!" President Snow states with authority. "We have the beginnings of a rebellion in District six. It is imperative that we give the Districts a taste of the pain they would feel if there were another rebellion."

President Snow gets to his feet.

"This meeting is now closed," he states. "Now go find us some interesting tributes!"