Well, everyone, this is it. The very end of The Victor From Twelve. :'( It's been really, really, great writing this story, and I'm going to miss it a lot. And probably write a long series of emotional one-shots about the characters and post them in my other story, Rollercoaster (Check it out? There's already one there about Alder and one about Julius! :D) And I hate to leave the 6th Games behind (Though Alder wishes he could!) After I write this epilogue, I'm going to focus on my other full-Games story, Inevitable, which is a rewrite of my first-ever fanfiction. :) After I post this, I'm going to switch this story from In-Progress to Complete. :D I want to thank you all for following this story until the end, and putting up with my obsessive updating towards the end. And for those of you who posted reviews, I love you. 3
44 YEARS LATER
I board the train alone, as I always do. The kids are still saying goodbye to their families. It sounds like we're taking a trip, and I'll admit it, we are. But it's no vacation. This is the Hunger Games.
They started fifty years ago, exactly. When the districts rose up against our Capitol. The Capitol quelled the revolution and punished us by forcing us to participate in the Games as a kind of entertainment to them. To us, it's meant to be a reminder that we must never rebel again. But in all honesty, it just feeds the fire.
The idea is that a boy and a girl from each of the twelve districts, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, are sent to the Capitol every year. The "tributes" train for a week, learning the skills they need for the Games. Some of the wealthier districts train their tributes in advance, and they volunteer. They're ready before they reach the Capitol.
After training, all the tributes are thrown into an outdoor arena—a blazing desert or an icy tundra or a wild rainforest; whatever form of torture they've come up with that particular year—and must fight each other to the death. The last tribute alive is declared the victor, and they are allowed to live.
I was picked for the Hunger Games when I was fifteen years old. I lived in the Seam, the poorest area of District 12, but I would much rather have stayed there. I had to leave my family and friends and travel to the Capitol to fight in the arena. In the end, I was so close to death I could feel it. Accept it, even. But yet, here I am. I am a victor now, the only victor in my district. Which means I mentor every year.
Mentoring is the only thing about the Hunger Games considerably worse than actually being in them. Every year, I meet the tributes. I have to get to know them, learn their strengths and weaknesses. Then, I try to help them through the Games, giving them advice that helped me when I was a tribute.
But not one of them has made it out of the arena alive.
I take a seat by the window, waiting for the tributes to arrive. Every twenty-five years, they turn the Games into something called a Quarter Quell. There's always a twist that makes it even more horrible than before. For the 25th Games, we had to vote for the kids sent into the arena. This year, for the 50th Hunger Games, there will be twice as many tributes. Which means I have four tributes to mentor. Chances are, they're all going to die, just like the rest of them.
The tributes are escorted to the platform, and I find I don't remember their names from the reaping. I watch them as they wave to the crowd. A blonde merchant girl wearing a gold pin, a Seam boy who's scowling, a younger Seam girl with tears running down her face, and a redheaded boy who looks to be the oldest. When they're allowed to board the train, the younger girl and the redheaded boy go directly to the food table, as the Seam kids always do. The scowling boy, however, takes a seat at the table. He doesn't say anything, just sits there and expects me to start speaking. But I wait until the rest of the tributes have taken their seats as well. And then I keep waiting.
"I'm Haymitch," the first boy says. I nod.
"Peony," says the little girl, looking down the table.
"Eli," says the redhead. From the pile of cakes in front of him, I'd say he was from the Seam, as well. Though with his hair, it'd be impossible to tell by his features.
"Maysilee," says the girl with the pin. I nod again, and there's a brief silence.
"Well?" says Haymitch finally, "You're the mentor."
"So mentor us."
"Be specific," I say. It looks like I'm pushing Haymitch a little too far. Eli speaks up before the other boy can open his mouth to argue.
"How do we find shelter?" he asks.
"Anywhere that's well concealed." When I was a tribute, my escort and I came up with a four-word rule for the interviews. And yes, it still applies to mentoring.
"Like…" This is Haymitch again.
"Trees. Tie yourself in."
"With a rope?" asks Peony. Haymitch looks at her like she's an idiot.
"So you don't fall." I nod.
"What if there are no trees?" asks Maysilee, "If the arena's a desert?"
"There's plenty of sand." I say. Maysilee, looking miffed, gets up from the table and walks off without a word. Slowly, but surely, the other tributes go their own ways as well. I shake my head, though none of them see me.
If they can't take me seriously, there's no way they're going to survive the Games. This begins another journal entry. Since I became a victor, I've started writing. It helps me get all my thoughts in one place. I start to take notes about my new tributes, anything that catches my interest. How Eli seems like a cheerful character—maybe that could be his angle for the interview. Maysilee's token is interesting. When she sat down across from me, I saw that her pin depicted a small bird. I wonder if it represents something.
Someone clears their throat, and I look up. Haymitch has returned. He sits down in the seat across from me.
"What are you writing about?" I don't reply, and slide the book across the table so he can see for himself. He looks amused as he reads what I wrote about him.
"Stubborn and short-fused, huh?" I nod. Haymitch picks up the pen and writes something else below his name. He hands the book back to me. I read the words, written in his messy scrawl, and smile slightly.
Haymitch Abernathy can win the Hunger Games.
Prove it. I write.
You can see for yourself in the arena.
Not if you die in the bloodbath, I can't.
I won't die in the bloodbath.
Really? How do I know?
I'm going to listen to you.
Yeah. I am. If you give me some actual advice.
I've met nearly a hundred kids since I became a mentor. Of all ages, Seam and merchant alike. All of them have died in the arena.
I know I'll always remember that morning, before my own Games. My district partner gave me the only real piece of advice I'd gotten all through my stay in the Capitol. When you think about it, there's only one thing you need to do to win the Hunger Games. I put down my pen and face my new tribute.
"Here's some advice," I tell him, "Stay alive."