If you are familiar with my two previous novels The Lumberjack and the Tree-Elf and Fall Into the River (in progress), you will know that I harbour a fascination with the Victors in Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games. While Collins obviously focuses on the story of Katniss, and to a lesser degree Peeta and Haymitch, my work focuses on expanding the story of the seventy-one previous Victors. My hope is that it expands the Hunger Games universe in such a way that encourages people to see lives and faces behind the names dropped so briefly in the trilogy and to further encourage people to sit down and start writing themselves.
I am, of course, not Suzanne Collins. All my work is fan-based and non-commercial. I'm just playing in the sandbox that Collins built. My work is not meant to be taken as canon. Just fanon. Because that apparently is a word.
That being said, everything here is subject to revision if I get better ideas. So there.
With that, I hope you enjoy….
The Victors Project
"Well, I think it's a wonderful idea," says Annie. She pushes her long brown hair out of her eyes and smiles at the room.
"You would," I say. I toss my axe into the air and catch it as it comes down without looking at it. I test the edge for effect.
Annie narrows her eyes. "Would you stop doing that, please? You'll upset the baby."
I roll my eyes and don't bother reminding her that her little whelp isn't even in the room with us. She'd probably launch straight into a panic and start screaming that they're taking her boy away again, to the Games or to the Capitol. It's a miracle she was even persuaded to let someone volunteer for babysitting duty long enough to come to this meeting.
I hope she asked Gale.
Beetee is saying something inane about brain-medicine, like a tech expert knows anything about human psychology. I tune him out and walk to the window. I push away the cloth-of-silver curtains and stare at the Capitol glowing in the summer sun. The steel and silver towers soar, less than there were a year ago, but still imposing. The golden domes and colored windows have mostly been replaced, the craters filled in, and of course the bodies were removed right away. Paylor has done a good job fooling people into thinking things are almost normal.
The Victors know better, of course. The Games are over, but there is no normal. Not for us.
It's the sight of the Capitol population milling around in the City Center below us, dressed in their silk and satin and feathers, walking and gossiping and shopping and breathing like they deserve to that makes me turn away and return to the conversation.
"- all for it," Connor is saying. "I know Blight had access to the National Library before the Quell. He told me there were books on every subject hidden away in there. It shouldn't be hard to get in there and find some on the history of Panem and the start of the Games. Some of the old Victors even had their old journals stuck in there after they died, according to him."
I glare at my fellow district Victor. "Aren't you supposed to be dead?" I ask. "Coin said there were only seven of us left. Me, Cresta, Bread-Boy, the Edible Root, Dental Hygiene, the Bar on Two Legs, and Volts."
"What Coin didn't know didn't hurt her. Or me," Connor adds as he rubs the stump where his left arm used to be.
Beetee clears his throat. "During the last meeting that Alma Coin held with the Victors, the districts were still in disarray. Communications were down, infrastructure had collapsed, and there was no travel except by hovercraft, and those were extremely limited. A number of Victors went underground when the revolution was launched, either in fear of the Capitol or of Coin's regime. We've located eight other survivors thus far, with several others still unaccounted for."
"And I suppose you think this is a fantastic idea," I growl at him, crossing my arms.
Beetee raises an eyebrow. "Of course. Preservation of the past, especially of past atrocities, is necessary to ensure a better and more enlightened future for our next generation."
"Your next generation, maybe," I say. "I don't see what's so special about popping out some spawn anyway."
Annie smiles. "I wonder if Gale is of the same mind?" she mumbles.
I really hate it when she's not in her own little zone sometimes.
"The point is, it helps," says Peeta, speaking for the first time since he brought up the idea. "It's helped Katniss tremendously. She's hunting and singing again. She talks on the phone and answers her letters. She's even made several trips out of the district, for the funerals and to see her mother."
"Well huzzah, let's get Paylor to drape her with another medal," I say.
Bread-Boy ignores me. "The book has done a lot of good. Not just for her. For me. For Haymitch. For everyone who's contributed to it, I think."
I can't exactly argue with this, having pasted the picture of Blight and Jason into that book myself. I content myself with throwing my axe into the mahogany paneled wall. I'm disappointed when no one jumps.
"So we're going to make a new book. For us," says Connor. "A page for every Victor."
Peeta nods. "They deserve it. No one ever won the Hunger Games. Not really. We've honored those who fell. Sometimes it's just as important to remember those who had to survive, who were forced to go on living. I was only a Victor for a year. The Quell was when I met most of you. But you've been friends far longer than you've known me. You laughed with each other, comforted, drank with, allied with, fought with each other. I need your help. All of you."
"So that's why she's here, huh?" I ask, nodding towards the dark figure leaning against the door. "Where have you even been?"
Enobaria's eyes flicker towards me. "None of your business, Mason. If we are honouring my district's Victors, I will be a part of it."
"Me too," says Connor. "For Blight. And Vera, and Jules."
"As will I," says Beetee. "Wiress deserves as much. So do Circe, Mitt, and all the others.
"For Finnick," says Annie. "And Cerulea. And Mags, bless her."
"For Katniss," says Peeta. "For when she's ready."
There's a long pause as everyone seems to glare at me.
"Fine," I say. "Fine. For…for everyone. I hope you have a big enough book, Mellark. I wouldn't even know where to start."
"The logical place would be, of course, to start at the beginning," says Beetee. "The very first Hunger Games."
"The first Career," Enobaria's teeth glint in the summer sun. "The first Victor."