The New Mockingjay

The revolution is over. Panem has been changed. Now, each year, a young girl is chosen to be the Mockingjay. There are only two requirements- she has to be pretty, and she has to be able to sing like no other. When Electra becomes the Mockingjay, she thinks she's in for a life of public performances, and putting forward a pretty face. The reality is much, much worse than that.

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1. Prologue- The choosing

    “Stand in a line now!” the soldier barked. He clapped his hands sharply several times to get the point across. Today was an important day, and he didn’t like how long it was taking.

Since the revolution of district 13, the annual Hunger Games had been replaced with Choosing Day, every four years. On that day, a girl would be selected as the Mockingjay- a girl whose duty was to represent the capitol in a number of public addresses. The girls duties were simple, and their lives privileged for those four years. At the end, they would be sent back to their respective sectors- sectors that strongly resembled the original 13. The position of Mockingjay was an honored position, but also a feared one. Those selected would be asked to leave their homes and families for four years, plunged into the vibrant life of a celebrity. For some it was overwhelming. And so some fought to attain the position, while others dreaded it.

The soldier clapped his hands again, repeating his orders to the assembled girls. Slowly, the girls fell into line. Some had done themselves up like little dolls in the hopes of getting chosen. Others had done the opposite, trying to make themselves less pretty, to decrease the chances.

    Off to the side, Electra watched the proceeds with a detached interest. This was her second choosing. Her first had been when she was ten, a nervous child clinging to her parents hand in apprehension. She was now old enough to be selected, and her heart beat faster at the thought. She did her best to still herself. She knew there would be those who were fighting to make themselves more or less prominent. Electra had done neither. She had no fear of being chosen as Mockingjay, but she had no specific interest in the position either. She believed that if she was going to achieve the position, she would have to do so on her own merit. She was what she was. If they didn’t like it, then she would at least know that she had lost honestly- without any unfair advantages.

    The solder moved through the assembled girls, and Electra found herself holding her breath. She knew she shouldn’t be tense- this was only the preliminary sorting, where the girls would be put into groups based on their looks. Then, they would be tested for their voice. The winner would go on to the capitol to become the Mockingjay- the most important girl in all of Panem. Some of the girls wanted it. Some of them didn’t. That was how it went. That’s how it had gone for as long as Electra could remember.

    Roughly, the soldiers began to shove girls into two groups. Electra waited patiently, dodging a sharp shove with a small sigh, and moving away towards her assigned group with a curious eye.

    As Electra shifted towards the other girls, the sound of soft crying reached her ears. She turned, to see a little girl- 12 years old- sobbing miserably into her hands. Tears ran between her fingers- she was obviously terrified.

    Electra spared herself a quick glance around. She was the most calm in her group. Already, the soldiers were moving away to test the other group.

    Too skinny, Electra thought, studying herself. She couldn‘t decide whether or not she was disappointed that she’d missed her chance. Another four years and she’d be too old.

    She turned away from watching the soldiers, and went over to the girl. She put an arm around her, murmuring gentle words of comfort.

    It wasn’t enough- the girl kept crying.

    Electra sighed, and leaned down. “Shh,” she murmured comfortingly. “They’re not going to take you away.” More crying. “Easy now. Dry up your tears. You’ll be alright. Let go of your fears, and the clouds of night.” The rhyme was part of a song that Electra’s mother sang to her when she was sick. She started singing this song now.

    Electra started out quietly, but her voice began to swell softly, riding over the smooth, beautiful notes with a delicate ease. Her voice was made for songs like these- sweet, clear songs.

    When she finished, the girl was no longer crying.

    “That was beautiful…” she whispered, expression full of awe.

    “Thank you,” Electra murmured. “Are you alright now?”

    “Yes… but… you… they…”

    That was when Electra noticed the silence.

    Before, the square had been full of chatter- girls crying, laughing, murmuring to each other. Soldiers barking orders. General chatter of the crowd. Occasionally bursts of song from the girls being tested. But now, all the sound was gone.

    Electra looked up, eyes widening. Everyone in the square was looking at her.

    Everyone.

    She caught her breath.

    The soldier approached, eyes narrow. “Who was that?”

    He didn’t really need to ask. All eyes were on Electra. The soldier noticed, and strode up to her, expression vicious.

    “Do that again,” he ordered.

    For once, Electra was dumbfounded. “I- what?”

    Sing,” he ordered.

    Electra took a deep breath, and launched into the song. She was aware of the people watching her, but she locked her eyes shut, and quickly lost herself in the song. Her voice soared again, rolling over the notes with an effortless kind of freedom. She finished off with a low note- so low that she could imagine the stones underneath her feet reverberating.

    When she opened her eyes, the soldier was studying her with interest.

    “Tell me girl. When you sung to that girl, was that just a last-ditch effort to win?”

    Electra stared at him in disbelief. “You think I- a last ditch effort?” was all she could manage. “No! I just… just… she was… upset, and I wanted to… help.” Her eyes slid away as she realized how foolish she was sounding. “I’m… sorry?”

    “Don’t apologize,” the soldier replied. He gestured to his companion. “Check this girl’s records. What’s your name?”

    “What?”

    “Your name, girl!” he barked. “Don’t make me ask the same questions twice.”

    “Sorry, sir! Electra.”

    The soldier’s companion looked up from the tablet he was holding. This would hold all the names of the girls, and any notes taken on them from past trials.

    “I see… you were too young for the testing then?”

    “Yes sir,” Electra murmured, dipping her head respectfully.

    “Hm…” the soldier muttered. “Just as well, I suppose…” He turned to the other soldier, expression masking any emotion. “I think she might be the one.”

    The companion looked up, eyes widening. “You mean, it should be her?! She’s so young though…”

    “She’s a survivor. That song wasn’t a last-ditch effort, it was to comfort another. She’s what we need. And her voice is impressive. She’s the one.”

    Electra could barely register what he was saying. “You mean-”

    “Congratulations, girl.” He interrupted her smoothly. Then he turned, and announced to the crowd. “Applause for our new Mockingjay- Electra!”

    Cheers resounded- except from the group of the ‘favorites’. Those girls were all watching Electra with murderous expressions. They probably felt that their chance had been snatched out from under their noses.

    Electra shrugged apologetically at them. The wave of sound blew her away. How could she have been granted the position of Mockingjay- just like that?

    This must be a dream. Any minute now, I’ll wake up.

    But she didn’t wake up. It wasn’t a dream.

    Electra was in a daze. She was guided into the town hall, and told to sit and wait. They told her people would come to say goodbye to her. To give her gifts. To give their best wishes.

    It finally began to settle in, when Electra’s parents entered the room, sobbing.

    “My poor daughter…” her mother cried, holding her tightly. “My poor, sweet daughter. Why did they choose you? Why did they have to take you away?!”

    “It’s okay, mom,” she whispered. “It’s okay. I’ll be okay. I’ll come home soon. You’ll see me. Don’t worry.” But despite her hurried reassurances, her mother remained inconsolable. Finally, their time was over, and her parents retracted. But before they did, her mother gave her a simple wooden ring, with a simple knot of wood where a gemstone would be.

    “Never lose it,” she said softly.

    “I won’t,” Electra promised. Then they left her alone, to be escorted away to her new fate.

    

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