Animal; Part One.
And I won't be denied by you, the animal inside of you.
Wild One - 105th Hunger Games.
Head Gamemaker Knightley Knox.
The alarm clock buzzes softly in the background, a constant, droning sound that eventually pulls me from my sleep. It takes a while to actually blink away the dreams and dust in my eyes, tossing over to face my wife. Ellery stares at me fondly, having awoke alongside me.
"Morning sweetheart," Ellery kisses my cheek. "I take it you wanted to get up early?"
"Today's the day I show the President the new arena for this year. I wanted to get in a little early and make sure that Clyde has everything sorted properly before Esmeralda arrives."
"Everything will be fine, you know it will. You've been doing this job for three years now."
I, Knightley Knox, have been Head Gamemaker for the longest term Esmeralda Snow has been in power. When she came in, her first Games being the Ninety-Eighth. Up to the Quarter Quell, she had a Head Gamemaker every year, constantly switching them out. Then, Lilia Short, whom I worked under, lasted but two years, the Quarter Quell and the Ninety-Ninth. She was dismissed after performing a magnificent Quarter Quell. Then, the job was thrusted upon her second-in-command, Ophelia Hyriett, who, like Lilia, lasted two years. The job was then handed to me, and since then, I've apparently never failed, seeing as this is my third term, longer than both Lilia and Ophelia. Clearly there is something about me that Esmeralda admires.
"I know," I say, climbing out of bed. "It's something that you can never shake."
"Don't be so melodramatic, Knightley."
I smile at my wife, opening our bathroom door. "No idea what you're on about."
All year I've prepared for this arena. Esmeralda has always liked unique arenas. Forests, tundras and deserts have been so overused. This year, I planned big, and that was what Clyde was for. Clyde is specifically Head of Muttations. I needed him this year to really jazz up my arena plans. I flick the light on, get washed and changed, sliding into my suit and gelling back my amber hair. When I walk back out, Ellery is sat on the edge of the bed, our daughter, Tiara, sat in her lap.
"Someone wants to come to work with you." Ellery smiles and Tiara just grins.
"You know I would," I frown. "But with the presentation, I doubt Esmeralda will like Tiara being there. I can't get caught out."
Tears brim in the corners of Tiara's eyes and my heart wrenches. For Tiara, I would do anything. I would give my life for her. She's a bright, spunky six year old that looks like her mother but with my coloured hair. And just like me, Tiara is creative. In fact, she helped inspire me for the arena this year by a crayon drawing. Tiara's arms sweep open and I can't help but scoop her up.
"I suppose so. I could always get Helena to look after you if things get hectic, as long as I can hide her."
Ellery kisses us both goodbye as she heads into the bathroom. I take Tiara to the kitchen, grabbing some toast and an apple for the journey to the Gamemakers lounge. Before the presentation, we'll all meet and clarify everything. Then, someone will bring in Esmeralda and she'll proceed to give her verdict. The arena hasn't been fully built since the Games are around two months away. After we've ate our breakfasts, I load Tiara into her buggy and begin the tiresome walk to work.
"Knightley, today of all days?" Helena whispers so that Tiara doesn't hear her.
"I couldn't help it," I whisper back. "Her eyes are just so damn big."
"That'll be your downfall, you know."
"I know," I smirk. "But for now, please, look after her until after the presentation?"
Helena grumbles something but takes the handles of the buggy and begins pushing her towards her small office. Helena is another Gamemaker like us, but usually, she's the Gamemaker to project the faces onto the sky. For now, she can wait and relax. I smile as they disappear behind the door, when someone thumps into me.
I stagger back a bit, staring as Clyde scoops up the papers and tilts his glasses. "Sorry..."
"Clyde, just the man I wanted to see," I say, ignoring his apology. He has nothing to say sorry for. "How are the mutts coming along?"
"We've created them all now," Clyde nods furiously. "Each one has been finalised and altered for specific purposes. But, we stuck to the drawing you gave us."
"My daughter drew that you know. She's only six." I grin proudly.
"So you've said," Clyde nods again. "Are you ready for the presentation?"
"But I wanted to give the arena one more look over and make sur-"
"President Snow has already arrived." Clyde cuts in.
No-one can deny the icy feeling that targets your body when you think of President Esmeralda Snow. Like her namesake, she's a cold, sociopathic woman. And like her grandfather, she strikes fear into everyone's hearts. Her father was much more kind; not that kind, it must be the last name, but much more reserved and striking than evil. Clyde flounders for a moment, shuffling the papers before he hands me a few and leads me to the Gamemakers' Room.
Esmeralda Snow sits in her seat, white curls cascading down her body and white dress flowing to the floor. She turns her head and ice cold orbs find my own.
"Knightley. What a pleasure it is to see you again."
"President Snow," I bow courteously. "I presume you would like to see the arena?"
"I wasn't visiting for memories, Knightley, so yes, I would like to see the arena if you would please."
I nod once more and walk across the room, the other Gamemakers all sitting quietly at their seats, staring at their individual screens and tapping away solemnly. I motion for Clyde to come down and join me, and after a brief moment, he does, still looking as flustered as ever, the wad of papers folded into his hand.
I look to Clyde who looks onto a Gamemaker that presses the button. The hologram drifts in mid-air, rotating slightly, an ice blue.
"This year, we decided to bend everything that has ever happened," I start, directing to the hologram. Esmeralda follows with deadly eyes, nodding stiffly for me to carry on. "Most years are either outdoor arenas that are based on survival alone or Gamemaker playgrounds, filled with deadly traps hidden around every corner. However, to my knowledge, we've never had an arena like this."
"And what exactly is this?"
"It's a game reserve," I force out around the lump in my throat. "Game reserves are known for being vast grassland, with hot weather, many hills and slopes, rockery, shrubs and spaced trees. Our tributes will start off here, around the Cornucopia, with the rest of the arena behind them and around them. Now, game reserves are ecosystems and protected. Everything is natural but watched; that is our idea this year. For our Gamemakers to watch, but not intervene unless completely necessary."
"And what is your goal for this?"
"To be unique," I choke once more. "Most years, Gamemakers throw in tricks and services to influence our tributes. This year, it won't happen. Everything will be down to our tributes and our guests. Gamemakers will only intervene if completely and utterly necessary."
Esmeralda studies the hologram, and slowly, with a flick of my hand, it descends downwards.
"Thank you," I mutter under my breath. "As I said, our goal is to allow everything that will happen to be caused and directed by our tributes. Of course, I also said our guests. Clyde?"
Clyde steps forward, placing some pieces of paper onto the table. "Madame President, these are our guests. Mutts."
"Game reserves are home to actual game and their predators. We thought there was no point in taking the reality away from the actuality. We created a dozen or so Mutts, all different with special twists and turns to them, that will find their home based in the arena."
"This one here is based on a rhinoceros," Clyde mumbles, pointing to one. "And this one here is based on a lion."
A small, hidden smile forms on her face.
"Our aim was simple; our tributes are nothing more than game, so why not make it obvious to them? They will simply become another factor to the ever-growing food chain in our game reserve."
When the 74th Hunger Games came around, a girl named Katniss Everdeen from District Twelve, volunteered herself for her younger sister. On a journey of self-preservation, Katniss Everdeen and her district partner, Peeta Mellark, became known as the star-crossed couple, doomed to die as only one can survive.
They broke these rules.
Katniss Everdeen, the driving force of the pair, had unknowingly became the face of a rebellion, hidden away under the depths of despair throughout the districts. Victors from the past joined forces in order to permanently remove the Hunger Games and execute President Coriolanus Snow.
The 75th Games, a Quarter Quell, saw many old faces go back into the arena to fight once more, claiming the title as Victor among Victors. Katniss and Peeta went back in alongside some famous Victors; Cashmere and Gloss Arvoy, sibling Victors from District One, Enobaria Nasica, a gold-tipped tooth monster from District Two, Finnick Odair, the beautiful boy from District Four and many more. Without Katniss' knowledge, out of the surviving 50 Victors including herself and Peeta, many were behind her cause and many were in the arena with her.
The plan was simple; blow the arena up with the help of Beetee Chambers from District Three.
They never planned on Enobaria Nasica, a Victor not within the cause, to kill Beetee before the genius could master his plan. Hell broke loose and the plan soon floundered. Brutus Steiner of District Two murdered Chaff Barnwood of District Eleven. Peeta then murdered Brutus whilst Enobaria murdered Johanna Mason from District Seven. Finnick managed to overpower and kill Enobaria in the ensuing fight. This left the three that had become the faces of the Capitol and rebellion.
Finnick Odair - overcome with both madness and a drive to see his girlfriend, Annie Cresta and their unborn child - plunged his trident into Katniss Everdeen, killing the Girl on Fire almost instantly. Peeta, losing his love, fought and killed Finnick. He was deemed the winner, but of what?
The aftermath was simple.
Everyone knew that President Snow had rigged the Quell to crush the flames of a growing rebellion.
And with the face of the rebellion dead, it became too easy.
President Snow started what became known as the great Victor's Purge, where the remaining Victors that weren't sentenced into the arena, were killed in order to avoid treason against the President.
50 Victors became 27 through the deaths in the arena; 17 Victors were then executed through the threat of joining the rebellion or restarting, leaving only a handful of 10 Victors alive. Nobody knows why these 10 were spared - it could have been another act of the Capitol and President Snow's control. It could have been a way to restrain the districts. It could have been them not being involved, or it simply could have been a way to torture them with seeing the Games continue.
Annie Cresta of District Four and Haymitch Abernathy from District Twelve were two of the ten spared. Annie was more so deranged, but managed to live a peaceful life with her newborn son, Finnick Jr. She was often spared for her state of mentality. Haymitch Abernathy was speculated to have been spared in order to retain the head of rebellion responsible. His crime? More innocent children's death on his hands.
Peeta Mellark became the Victor of Victors, and so, was also spared. The other seven Victors became famous, their names previously unheard of.
The Hunger Games continued.
Coriolanus Snow died around the 80th Hunger Games through old age. His child, Juniper Snow, took control as President through his wish. Eventually, the post was pasted down once more to Coriolanus' granddaughter, Esmeralda Snow, who took presidency during the 98th Hunger Games at age 30.
Haymitch Abernathy drunk himself to death during the 92nd Hunger Games.
Annie Cresta lived quietly and happily, mourning Finnick and treasuring his son - she held him tight, fearful that one day, he might be ripped away.
9 Victors lucky enough to see the rebellion start and fail are still alive, saved from execution.
All tributes have been collected, and we got a great bunch!
For anyone whose interested, the blog to this story is wildonehungergames . blogspot . com - all deaths will be notified here, so please, only look if you don't mind spoilers!