23 Cannons: The 69th Annual Hunger Games.

24 tributes are reaped by the Capitol to enter the 69th Hunger Games, marking the end of the sixth decade of Games. And as they all prepare for the fight of their lives, none of them know the true extent of the twists that will face them in the arena. With rebels, liars, and killers thrown into a deadly arena governed by power-mad Gamemaker, who will live to hear every one of the twenty three cannons sound out?


1. The Final Stage

Success. That was all Dew knew; all she cared about; all she saw. Three years of pure success as head Gamemaker had risen her ego astoundingly. And especially after last year’s success with the sixty eighth Hunger Games, that was all that existed. The victor was so perfect, it caught her by surprise, not like that small girl that won during her first year as head Gamemaker. No, last year’s Hunger Games was so perfect, that the entertainment factor rivalled that of the Quarter Quells - a difficult feat indeed.

So, after floating in an egotistical bubble of fame, fortune, and success, Dew had never anticipated the call from President Coriolanus Snow. Eight words had completely caused her world to crash and burn, and no matter what she would be able to do, it was inevitable what was going to happen.
“This will be your last year as Gamemaker.”

Snow’s voice in her head caused a chill to run up the red haired woman’s spine, followed by the familiar bristling of rage. Why should she have to leave?! She was perfect; every year there had been zero rebellious comments from any of the tributes. But apparently, her face was becoming redundant in the Capitol’s magazines. What did it matter, she was the freaking head Gamemaker! She was more at home in a control room full of countless cameras and models of the arena, not being bombarded by the press. That job went to the tributes, and even more so with the victors.

Returning to reality, Dew stood up from her office; the place was essentially her second home, and walked towards the door, clutching a diamond encrusted binder full of every last delightful detail for the sixty ninth Hunger Games, down to the placement of each blade of grass. She was ready, even more than last year, and was entirely certain that it would go down wonderfully with the Capitol.

Dew punched a combination of buttons into the door, and it swung open, revealing a sandy haired young woman with alert green eyes; an avox. They were filthy creatures; citizens that defected from the perfection that was the Capitol and had their ability to speak removed as a result. In Dew’s eyes, they didn’t deserve to live at all. After all, what sane person would go against the Capitol? It was unheard of; the Capitol was too perfect to be hated by anyone, even the scum that littered the twelve districts.

She stepped inside the elevator, and glared at the avox, who nervously gulped.
“Top floor, the Rose Garden. Now!” she barked, and the avox blinked away tears, before pressing three adjacent buttons. They lit up, and Dew felt the subtle shift in gravity as the shining steel box shot skywards. She closed her eyes, and focused on the slight hum of the elevator that caused vibrations to shudder throughout the enclosed space.

Eventually, the vibrations stopped, and the elevator came to a halt; they had finally reached the top floor. The pristine doors slid open, and Dew skimmed over her files once more, before stepping out, glaring daggers at the avox as the doors slid shut, the elevator disappearing back down to the lower floors. Immediately, the warm summer breeze whipped around the Gamemaker, carrying the delightful scent that was always abundant on the top floor of the mansion.

Roses. The sweet scented flowers lined endless rows of bushes that went on, and on, and on, for as far as Dew could see. Green mixed with red and white in a breathtaking array of flora, the colours almost distracting the head Gamemaker from her purpose of being up there.

Taking in the scent of the Rose Garden once more, Dew set off down one of the narrow, spindly paths, walking over the patterned tile floor. It actually told the story of Panem, if you followed the right path. It started out with the United States of America; a large, major country that influenced the majority of the planet. That path was full of hope and inspiration. But then, it began to take a darker turn. The hopeful vision of the USA was quickly swallowed by torrential rain and surging tidal waves that devastated the coastlines, killing millions. That was followed by earthquakes that completely reshaped the topography of the country, killing even more people, then a near total crop failure, plunging the survivors into a famine like no other. But there were still pockets of fertile land that produced bountiful foods, and this caused the biggest disaster of all.

War. A full scale war broke out between the population, decimating nearly all of civilisation, bringing mankind onto the brink of total extinction. But then, out of the ashes and bodies, rose a group of nameless people. They had the idea and goal of uniting the country as one, eliminating all traces of the failures brought on by America. They succeeded, and managed to create a country equally split into thirteen districts, with a city that was separate from the rest; the Capitol. Its name: Panem.

All went fine for Panem, until the district citizens turned nasty. They started out by complaining that they weren’t getting paid enough for the work they were doing. So of course, the gracious Capitol provided the hard workers with pay rises. But they still weren’t happy. They staged public protests, whilst starting small with a handful of people, that eventually became district-wide, and then, uprisings. The citizens freely destroyed their mines, their plantations, their factories and refineries, and their fields, all in the name of freedom; they weren’t oppressed to begin with.

But it didn’t stop there. The uprisings evolved into a full-scale rebellion against the Capitol, led by District 13; it’s speciality being nuclear weaponry. For fear of a repeat of America, the Capitol launched a counter attack, completely levelling District 13 to nothing more than a smoking pile of rubble. Without their leader, the other twelve districts surrendered, and new law enforcement officers, known as Peacekeepers, were introduced into the system. But they were soon back up to their old tricks, and another rebellion was imminent. The Capitol needed a solution, something that would break the rebellious spirits of the citizens. And that was where the Hunger Games came from; every year, each district was to offer up two children, one male, one female, between the ages of twelve and eighteen, to the Capitol as a sign of repentance. The twenty four ‘tributes’ were then sent into an arena, where they were to battle to the death until only one remained. This sole victor was to be bathed in riches for the rest of their life, as a sign that the Capitol still cared about the welfare of the districts.

Fast forward sixty nine years, and the unique tapestry ended with head Gamemaker Dew, who had reached the inner centre of the Rose Garden; a circle of individually crafted mahogany benches, surrounding a crystal water fountain, the crisp clear liquid trickling and splashing into the bowl that surrounded the fountain. And sat on one of the benches was Coriolanus Snow, the current president of Panem, being in power for forty years exactly. He was currently staring into the water, taking slow, deliberate, sips from his glass of wine; the whole scene made an unquenchable thirst creep into Dew’s system. She cleared her throat, and spoke up, wiping the few beads of sweat from her dyed brown forehead.

“Um, Mr President.”
“Ah, head Gamemaker Dew. How pleasant it is to see you.” Snow said warmly, a wide smile on his face. But the rest of his body language was anything but warm and welcoming. He had an aura that was chilling to the bone, like an icy serpent that had Dew paralysed by its glare alone. “I trust you have all the files for this year’s Games.”
“Right here, sir.” Dew moved her gaze to the binder for a brief moment, before returning her attention to Snow. He glanced at the bench, and began to motion for her to sit with him. Obliging, Dew crossed the president’s private sanctuary, and sat down on the bench, a butterfly landing on her hand. She watched inquisitively as the brightly coloured insect crawled around her hand, before fluttering its bright red wings, the same shade as her hair, with a beautiful diamond blue pattern on the avian appendages. It almost seemed to look up at her for a moment, before leaping off her hand, and flying into the afternoon sunlight.

“So Dew,” Snow began, taking another sip of his chalice, a loose droplet dripping off the crystal container and onto the ground. “Since this is your last year as Gamemaker, I’m expecting something bigger and better than last year. Which I trust you have planned, since the Capitol fell in love with the showdown between the three tributes at the volcano. Your timing of the eruption was perfect, killing them all instantly. I found it very, how do I say it, entertaining. Now, I hope you’re more than a one trick pony, and can end your career on a good note, unlike our late friend Pyrus.” Dew nodded enthusiastically, and handed over the arena details.
“How is it, sir?” she questioned as she resisted the urge to bite her nails due to her nerves. Instead of the worst case scenario, she watched as a genuine smile blossomed on Snow’s face.
“Excellent, excellent. Dew, I think you’ve managed to outdo yourself.” Snow said lightly, handing back the arena details. “Now, one last thing. I need to see the list of tributes that will be fighting it out in this spectacular arena.”
“Of course, sir.” Dew replied, pulling out a smaller file, full of images of names and faces: the tribute list.

Snow eagerly grabbed it, and skimmed it over, drinking in every last tribute’s name that would enter the sixty ninth annual Hunger Games.

Sixty Ninth Annual Hunger Games

Tribute List

District 1 (Luxury)
Male tribute: Osiris Garnet (17)
Female tribute: Topaz Doublet (18)

District 2 (Masonry)
Male tribute: Dylan Spelunk (18)
Female tribute: Kylee Harker (18)

District 3 (Technology)
Male tribute: Xander Bradley (15)
Female tribute: Rosaline Weathers (18)

District 4 (Fishing)
Male tribute: Ren Zanda (15)
Female tribute: Annabell Reeves (14)

District 5 (Power)
Male tribute: Markus Lucian (18)
Female tribute: Alexis Rays (16)

District 6 (Transportation)
Male tribute: Mason Irizarri (13)
Female tribute: Salvera Combe (17)

District 7 (Lumber)
Male tribute: Brinn Redwood (15)
Female tribute: Rosa Milne (14)

District 8 (Textiles)
Male tribute: Kaye Nylon (18)
Female tribute: Emily Horwitz (16)

District 9 (Grain)
Male tribute: Griffin Fairbain (12) 
Female tribute: Dixie Semming (17)

District 10 (Livestock)
Male tribute: Tavish Longhorn (12)
Female tribute: Erika Jersey (16)

District 11 (Agriculture)
Male tribute: Liam Aldair (18)
Female tribute: Lucy Caspian (14)

District 12 (Mining)
Male tribute: Derek Lemoine (14)
Female tribute: Gwen Levine (17)

“Perfect.” Snow mused, finishing the last of his wine. “This looks like an even better set than last year - exactly what we need.” He handed the files back to Dew, who carefully placed them in her binder.
“Yes, and after seeing their reapings, I feel that this will be a very interesting Hunger Games indeed.”
“Exactly, Dew. Now, let’s see just how memorable you will make your final Hunger Games.”

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