GAMEMAKER CRISPUS SCELESTIBER

Cornelia Thames managed to bring around one good arena, but the plan this year- a Wild West ghost town? Really?- is utterly stupid. We came close enough to that when we had a small neighborhood as the arena during the Seventh Games. The rest of the Gamemakers are dissatisfied, and we have our own ideas. Mutts with evil intelligence, traps with subtlety and style, we even have the Cornucopia setting finished down to the last pebble. We won't let her turn in those stupid town arena plans tomorrow. I won't let her turn in her plans at all. However, this is my plan and my plan alone. The others are too afraid to speak up.

My black cloak whips around me in the brisk night wind. I feel like one of my arena creations, waiting for the precise moment to strike. Cornelia should be arriving home any time soon. Any moment now… The clouds above obscure the moon- the lights from the Capitol hide any stars that may have shone- and make the night pitch black. Perfect. The chilling mood I need to achieve my goal. The others weren't brave enough. They design plans, not carry them out. I'm the one who started out as an arena construction worker. I clawed my way up and I'm willing to go further.

The limousine pulls up alongside the apartment building, and Miss Cornelia Thames steps out in her purple heels, alongside her fiancée Aelius Valens. No! This can't be happening- the night of the plan, she decided to take a man home with her? Just my luck. But then he only escorts her to the door of the building, and the moment of panic subsides. She'll be alone after all, and the conversation to come can really only have two participating parties. And I'm the competent one here- she was only a deputy Gamemaker when she was given her current position, not even a full designer. The deputy Gamemakers spend more time fetching food than creating the arena. They're our betas, even our omegas. It's barely more than a job title. She just had the good luck to be the favorite of her predecessor. I'm not going to be put down by this woman again.

I give her about two minutes until I step from the shadows and move silently into the shining building. Her apartment is on the third floor- quite basic living quarters for a Gamemaker. The rest of us own mansions and penthouses. I stalk up the creaking stairs until I'm on Cornelia's floor, then I locate her apartment- the fourth door on the left. Arranging my cloak and suit in a more professional manner, I knock on her door. Everything is silent for a second- she must be looking through the peephole. Or maybe she's checking a security camera. Miss Thames must have several.

A lock clicks and Cornelia Thames flings the door wide open. She has dark circles under her eyes. "Crispus! What brings you here this late night! Come in, come in." Even her voice is weary, and this woman is younger than I am by at least a decade. I step into the small living space and hang my cloak on the coat rack she points out to me. "So tell me, why are you here? I don't believe you were invited."

"The arena."

"What about it?"

"You're sending in the plans for it tomorrow."

Cornelia Thames is the only person I have ever met who has never shown signs of fear in regard to my voice. It's extremely deep, but what makes it scary is a popping, growling rasp that I obtained in a construction accident for the arena in the Sixth Games. I pride myself on my voice. "Yes, I am sending in the plans tomorrow. Your point?"

"The Gamemakers and I don't approve. We have a better idea. Use our plans and you will be fine."

"We'll use it next year, I'm sure! And what do you mean, if I change the arena at the last minute 'I'll be fine!'"

"Your idea is not satisfactory to the President."

"How do you know?" Oh, I struck a nerve with that one. Good. Her judgment will be clouded with emotion.

"He has named your successor- he chose one of us to replace you since this arena is not to his liking."

"NO! He hasn't! How do you know?" Cornelia's face is tomato red.

"He tells me these things," I feign innocence, "You mean to say he didn't tell you?" She shakes her head, tears forming in the corners of her eyes. "Well then…" I spread my hands as if to say nothing can change her fate.

"You're lying, Crispus Scelestiber. I don't believe you. My plans are fine, the mutts are amazing, and the traps are genius. You said so yourself!"

"Maybe that's what I was told to say by one who ranks higher than us both. Maybe you are wanted gone."

"Liar!" She slaps me across the face. Oh. So that's how this will go. I had been hoping she would be reasonable, but you can't always have your way.

"Cornelia, Cornelia, Cornelia…" This time she reacts to the quiet anger in my voice and sits down in her chair with a thud. I reach into my suit pocket and pull out a knife- the same model that Delany Lavis died on in the most recent Games. The Head Gamemaker's breath hitches in her throat. "I am the one who would take your place. Haven't you seen a second-in-command kill for power before? Why, it happens in your precious Games annually!"

"No, Crispus, you wouldn't do this. You wouldn't, we have more sense than this!"

"You quite obviously do not have sense. You could have prevented this." I advance on her with the knife raised, "I didn't want you to have to die. I don't like getting my hands dirty… in person."

Miss Thames tries to scream, but I clamp my thin hand over her mouth and pull my blade up to her throat. A quick slice right up under her jaw finishes the job without much of a struggle. And my hands are free of sticky blood. The irony makes me smirk. Because I really do dislike getting my hands dirty.

Cornelia's corpse sags to the ground as I wipe the blood from the knife with a pure white handkerchief. "President Riker and I get along so well. It's a shame you won't be around to see the best Hunger Games of them all."


Chaos here! Welcome to The 18th: Standing in their Graves. This is a sequel to The 17th: Rubber Rooms and Deadlines, so if you haven't read that it might be a good idea to check it out. However, it's not necessary to read RRD to understand this story as well. :) There will be some references but it will be all right.

Tribute List

District One Female: Desire Blanchard, 18 (Cashmere67)

District One Male: Ainsley Jett, 18 (ImmyRose)

District Two Female: Melody Lark, 17 (JGrayzz)

District Two Male: Andras Fey, 17 (The Yellow Duckling)

District Three Female: Cathodra Steinmetz, 18 (Lupus Overkill)

District Three Male: Phi Pandit, 15 (Anla'shok)

District Four Female: Sawyer Aurora, 18 (SafeEyesOpen)

District Four Male: Calder McCullin, 16 (stareyed in LA)

District Five Female: Marlee Stark, 17 (LoveIsBlindness)

District Five Male: Elmo Acoba, 14 (hublub)

District Six Female: Noalee Tyler, 14 (istheplacewhereIloveyou)

District Six Male: Kalen Ram, 16 (Thomas J. Flynn)

District Seven Female: Alyx Faith, 16 (jakey121)

District Seven Male: Barke St. Claire, 18 (Acereader55)

District Eight Female: Visca Martin, 14 (Jayfish)

District Eight Male: Shiloh Tyne, 15 (JabberjayHeart)

District Nine Female: Rhain Miller, 15 (Anime'sPrincess)

District Nine Male: Knox Blake, 13 (Foxface5)

District Ten Female: Inez Carmen, 18 (LexisZ-10)

District Ten Male: Aeden Arthur, 16 (DA Member - Hogwarts)

District Eleven Female: Lydia Fern, 15 (Even when musics gone)

District Eleven Male: Damien Summers, 18 (SparrowCries)

District Twelve Female: Kyra Montgomery, 15 (our little infinity)

District Twelve Male: Eris Ira, 13 (KnockingBells)

Thanks to each and every submitter: I had a very difficult time deciding which tributes to accept and I loved reading all the forms I received. The decisions I made were difficult but I do think this story will turn out wonderfully and I am eager to write! XD

Please review. It allows me to see which readers will keep up with the story and of course the feedback is invaluable!