A/N: Hello, and welcome to '75 Games: After the Mockingjay'! This story can be considered a sequel to my first story of this variety, '75 Games, 75 Victors, 75 Oneshots'. I'd recommend reading that first, and this story is basically a continuation of the themes of my first story of this kind. Speaking of which, the first story is not complete (I'm currently 84% through), and I'm in the process of writing chapters for the Third Quarter Quell, the final Hunger Games of the series.
All features of the original story will be kept. I'll be quoting lyrics at the beginning of chapters (I use songs on my iPod for inspiration for each chapter), and I'll be writing a summary of the Games' events at the end.
The rebellion is over, District Thirteen crushed by the Capitol bombings in 'Mockingjay' (I trust you all remember that from the original trilogy), and the districts never recovered.
District 12 is gone.
But the Hunger Games continue.
And so, I present to you the 76th Annual Hunger Games.
For those of you unfamiliar with my previous works, this story will be a collection of oneshots taken from the perspective of a Hunger Games victor during their time in the arena. There will be one chapter for each Hunger Games, starting with the first after the 'Mockingjay Rebellion', as it shall be known from hereon in.
I hope you enjoy the first of many, many chapters :)
P.S. All author's notes from this point will be written and left unedited from the time of publishing, so if you're catching up with this story rather than reading it as updates are published, then some of the things written may seem a little off-topic.
"Half of the time, I pretend that I'm fine
And I keep it inside, keep it inside
But every inambition is crying
Crying outside, I'm crying outside."
- Colin MacDonald, 2003.
The 76th Annual Hunger Games
Lionel Compton (17), District 7 Male
The Trews - Every Inambition (2003)
The glass doors slide shut, and the light of the launch room is taken from me as the capsule rises slowly upwards, leaving me in complete darkness as the grim reality of my situation finally begins to sink in.
It's almost unbelievable, considering where we were a year ago. Watching yet another Hunger Games, as those few who had dared make a stand in District 7 were punished for their crimes. There had been discontent building all year, ever since the pair from District 12 survived the 74th Games together. We'd heard rumours of defiance against the Capitol from other districts and that summer we had planned to make a stand.
But nothing had really worked out as planned. At least not until after the Quell. By September, Panem was in full-scale war. All twelve districts stood hand in hand with each other, all a part of the war due to their new commanders from District Thirteen. I say twelve, but District 12 is gone, the first to fall at the very beginning of the Mockingjay Rebellion, seventy-five years after the Dark Days.
Very few people back home in District 7 remember the first war, and almost nobody cold have played a part fighting in it. Any that could have would be almost a hundred years old by now, and that's a near-impossible age, and an old one even for the citizens of the Capitol. But everyone who felt as though they had been punished for the sins of their ancestors rose up in anger at the Capitol and all that they stand for.
The war was going well for the districts at first, with several falling into rebel control as autumn drew on, until the Capitol retaliatory strike, destroying the rebel headquarters, District Thirteen, in just a day of intensive, possibly nuclear bombing. Leaderless, the rebels' strength waned as November began and the Capitol wrestled back control in all districts but Eight and Four by the turn of the year.
Eventually the last rebel stronghold, District 4, surrendered to Capitol forces at the beginning of March, and President Coriolanus Snow announce the Mockingjay Rebellion to be over on the seventh of March, just over three months ago. During the same announcement, he gave news that all in the districts feared.
The Annual Hunger Games were to continue, with the reaping for the 76th Games to take place on the second Sunday in July, as is traditional.
And so here I am, a tribute in the Hunger Games.
There may now be just twenty-two tributes, but the principle is the same. Kill or be killed. Only one will make it out of whatever demonic environment the Gamemakers have created for our displeasure alive.
To a degree, I have less reasons to worry than most tributes will have. I have no family or home to return to; our district has been ravaged by the war, and we are only in the first stages of rebuilding our society under the close eyes of the higher powers. As for my family, I was an only child to two parents who both died during the war, fighting for freedom that we never got. I've survived since the end of the fighting by offering up myself for help in rebuilding our district, working on construction, putting the civic buildings back into shape so that District 7 can return to what it once was. It might not have been much, but it is better than nothing, which is what we currently have. In return, I receive meagre pay and temporary accommodation, until the Mayor can sort out a permanent home for me when District 7 is in better shape.
But for the last week, I have had more important matters to concern myself with, namely the twenty-one other tributes whose lives I must take if I want to survive. I don't know many of them, from the four tributes of the Career Alliance (District 2's Training Centre was destroyed during the Mockingjay Rebellion and none of their victors are left alive, so their position in the Career pack has disappeared) to my own district partner. She's a girl called Ashley who I'd seen around the District a couple of times before the war, but I know little about her other than the fact that she's two years below me and only scored a four in training. I haven't really paid any attention to her, despite having to spend much of the last week in close proximity to her.
I'm going into this without allies, as my escort Vanessa insisted. She's had to double up as a mentor to both me and Ashley this year as we have no living victors in District 7, so her advice is the best that I'm going to get. She's a new escort to our district this year, but everything seems to have changed at the Capitol end this year, too. It's as though Snow has ordered this Games to symbolise a fresh start. All of the escorts and stylists are unrecognisable to me, as though any connection to the Games from before the war have been severed. Even old Caesar Flickerman, the perennial host of the Hunger Games, has lost his post to Peeta Mellark, the eighteen-year-old who is possibly the only surviving person from District 12 and only one of six victors to escape Snow's wrath during the Mockingjay Rebellion. During my interview, I couldn't help but notice the differences to the boy I watched in the Games just two years before. It was almost distracting at times, which I'm using as an excuse for my mediocre interview. But Peeta is a different man now; he's Snow's man, through and through. Who else would willingly take an important role in Snow's weapon against the districts?
Suddenly I'm jolted from my thoughts as my capsule comes out into cold, crisp air, and I know that my time in the arena has begun.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, let the Seventy-Sixth Hunger Games begin!" a loud voice booms out over the arena, and it takes me a moment to realise that it isn't the voice of Claudius Templesmith but that of his replacement, another victor, Finnick Odair of District 4. He certainly wasn't a supporter of the Capitol, but with a failing cause, I wouldn't put it past Finnick to find a way to survive on his own. He must have some sort of bargaining tool with Snow, because he was a rebel leader. All others who survived the bombing were publicly executed at the end of the war.
For the first time, I look at the world created by the new Head Gamemaker, Florian Marshall. I get sprayed by cold water, and I turn behind me to see a sheer cliff-face, possibly thirty or forty feet high. At the bottom lies a churning sea and jagged rocks, and above it hangs an eerie mist. Whatever the situation, there is no way that I'm ever going to go over the edge. At least, not of my own choice.
Looking towards the golden horn known as the cornucopia that hangs like an ominous shadow through the mist that I now see to be all around me. The cliff-face that is a mere metre behind me curves away towards the pedestal on my left, passing just a metre behind where the boy from District 11 stands. On the other side, its path is identical until it passes the pedestal of the girl from District 4, one of my strongest rivals. She didn't score as highly as me in training (she scored a seven to my nine), but I know that she will still be a threat. Admittedly, I'm more concerned with her allies, particularly the boy from District 1, the only tribute to outscore me in training, in a year that yielded no absolutely outstanding tributes. The average score was surprisingly low this year.
Looking around the circle of tributes, I realise that I can only see around ten others, as almost everything beyond the cornucopia is obscured due to the fog. None of the other major threats (at least, in terms of tributes) have been revealed to me yet.
Without warning, the gong rings out over the arena, and the 76th Annual Hunger Games begin. For a couple of moments, my feet are indecisive as to where to go, until I realise that the only option is to stay and fight. I'm tall and thin, and I run over the short, wet grass that covers the ground between myself and the cornucopia quickly and safely, but I'm still surprised when I see that I'm the first tribute to arrive at the cornucopia.
Knowing that I won't have much time before the hordes of tributes arrive, I grab the first decently-sized backpack that I see, and sling it onto my wet back. Thankfully, it seems decently heavy to have at last a few good supplies within it. I frantically search for a weapon to use and my eyes settle on a silver sword lying a metre or so inside the horn, at I reach down to grab it. Just holding it in my hands, I seem to draw strength from the solid metal blade that reflects my face in its shine.
However, this confidence doesn't last long, as I sense somebody approaching behind me, and I lash out with my new weapon instinctively, swing it round behind me. There is a sickening crunch as the blade settles itself inside the boy from District 4's skull. I watch the light fade in his eyes and I can still see his vacant expression in my mind as I pull my weapon from his limp body. Dazed, I turn to run from the cornucopia before his former allies can get their hands on me, and I struggle to duck a punch from an unidentified girl as I scramble away, the image of the dead boy's face still resonating in my mind.
I'm quickly at the edge of the cliff again, which still seems to be curved on the opposite side of the island to my starting pedestal. looking back towards the cornucopia, I can see that chaos that is starting to unfold, and I feel glad that for now, if only for a few moments, I have some space to myself. I have to get away from here. I follow the edge of the cliff for a few steps to confirm my fears that the cliff is circular. We are on an island, and the only way to escape is by going down.
I glance back towards the cornucopia once more, and notice at least three or four bodies on the floor. The Games are already over for them, after just a few minutes. For now, I am alive. Although I might not be for much longer, unless I get off this island. Looking down at the water and rocks below, the cliff-face, I'm not sure if I can bear to make the leap into the cold water. But I either jump or risk it against the terrifying, sadistic Careers, and I already know which option I'd prefer.
I take a moment to brace myself before leaving myself at the mercy of the cold, churning ocean.
The arena for the 76th Games appeared small at first, and to an extent, it was. Many of the twenty-two tributes died at the cornucopia, either due to the fighting at the bloodbath or the fear of jumping from the cliff into the water, leaving themselves at the mercy of the three surviving Careers.
Of the ten tributes who jumped from the cliff on that first day, six of them survived the fall. One of the casualties was the girl from District 1, leaving the boy from One and the girl from District 4 as the only surviving Careers.
The six who survived the fall into the ocean found themselves at the mercy of the currents, which pulled them towards previously unseen caves in the cliffside, and the water carried all six of these tributes to land in a large, dark cavern beneath the cornucopia. From this cavern, the arena opened out into a maze of dark passages and tunnels designed to confuse the tributes.
That first night, there were sixteen faces in the sky, one of the highest numbers in Hunger Games history, although not quite a record.
The following day, the boy from District 3 was killed by Lionel of District 7, taking the numbers down to five.
It was two more days until the girl from District 5 died of dehydration, and the girl from Four killed her final ally in his sleep, taking the numbers down to three.
The final three survived the night into the morning of the fifth day, when the Gamemakers flooded the outer passages, killing the boy from District 8 and forcing the final two tributes, Lionel and the girl from District 4, back to the large central cavern for the final confrontation of the Games. The last Career fought bravely, but Lionel's size and strength was enough for him to win out, crowning him the victor of the 76th Annual Hunger Games.
The Games were unusually short due to the Capitol's need to demonstrate their power over the districts with such a challenging arena, causing at least eight deaths from their designs alone, and killing off a large number of tributes in such a short space of time. it was a warning to any remaining rebels that the Capitol was back in control, and that the districts' crimes would never be forgotten.
A/N: And so ends chapter one of this new story! I hope that you all enjoyed chapter one, as there are some changes between this story and '75 Games ,75 Victors, 75 Oneshots'. I'd appreciate any feedback for the first chapter of what I hope will be a long story.
I would also like to point out that this story will be a community project of sorts, and that anyone can submit chapters to be posted in '75 Games: After the Mockingjay'. Details of how to do so are available on my profile, if anyone's interested.
I look forward to hopefully hearing from some of you soon.