Disclaimer: I do not own The Hunger Games.
Doomed to Die: The 9th Hunger Games
Prologue, Part I
A Red Sun Rises
President Richmond Hyde stood watching a crimson sunrise over the mountains, taking in one moment of peace and stillness. Away from duty. Away from politics. Away from the swarming masses of people in need of control.
The serenity of the moment was short-lived, however. It was interrupted by Head Gamemaker Helius Florum, an excitable, twitchy little man who came bumbling – and limping slightly – across the plains. "Mr. President!" Florum exclaimed. "Welcome! So glad you could make it! We're almost ready; it's going to be such an exciting year!" The chubby little man stopped to catch his breath. "What do you think?"
Hyde nodded approvingly. Florum had his peculiarities, but there was no denying his skill. To the north was an icy expanse as far as the eye could see – and probably farther. In front of them, the mountains stretched off to the left and right, with several paths that appeared to lead across, and a few cave-like entrances to the labyrinth within. To their right lay a grassy plain, littered with boulders that could provide shelter – or conceal an ambush. Behind the president, waves crashed against a rocky shore.
"You've outdone yourself, Helius," Hyde conceded. It was Florum's fifth year as Head Gamemaker, and this year's arena combined all of the elements that had made the previous four years a success, after the shaky start to the Games headed by Florum's predecessor.
Florum grinned and plopped down on a nearby boulder, stretching his right leg, which seemed oddly bruised. "Oh, nothing to worry about," he assured Hyde, noticing the president's curiosity. "Just had a few glitches while we were programming the forest; it's all worked out now."
"Forest?" Hyde asked, glancing around. "Were you programming it to be invisible?"
Florum laughed heartily. "Oh, no, not at all. You just can't see it from here. In fact, there's a lot that you can't see from the starting point. If I could interest you in a hovercraft ride, you could see it all."
"Quite all right," Hyde shuddered. Hovercrafts. He still didn't trust the things. "I'm sure seeing it onscreen will suffice."
Florum shrugged. "Suit yourself. You'll be in for a few surprises, then."
Hyde nodded. "I can live with that." He looked around. "There's something else that seems to be missing – besides your forest, that is." He gestured to the twenty-four platforms behind him. "I assume they enter here … But where's the cornucopia?"
Florum giggled. "Unless I can change your mind about that ride … you'll just have to wait and see."
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