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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2. 1- The Speech

Two years later

    Electra checked her reflection in the mirror. She smiled at it with a secret delight. She so rarely got to smile anymore. The Mockingjay was required to keep a calm and impassive face for the public, something that Electra- enthusiastic and extroverted as she was- had trouble doing. But she could do it, and was good at it. Which is why she was a good Mockingjay.
    It had been nearly seventy years since the revolution. Since then, a young girl would be given the role of Mockingjay for four years. There were only a few requirements. You had to be able to sing, and you had to be beautiful.
    She hadn’t wanted this role. She’d fought it at first. But she grew fond of it after a couple years. A girl could get used to preferential treatment. They didn’t ask much of her. Just that she could sing. And singing was one thing Electra did very well.
    She took a deep breath, checking herself over. She had to make an address to the entire country, and she still wasn’t sure what to say. Not that it would matter. Someone would probably write out a speech for her. All she had to do was think of some new melody. That was easy enough, especially with her vocal lessons that she received twice a day. This would go smoothly, like it always did. She had no reason to be nervous.
    She searched with her hands until she found a brush, then ran it through her long, dark hair. Technically there was no reason for her to be doing her own hair, but she enjoyed it. And being a Mockingjay left so little time for enjoyment.
    There was a knock on the door and she turned, quickly dismissing the smile from her face. “Come in.”
    The door opened, and an unfamiliar face appeared in the doorway. Electra’s neutral face was quickly replaced with a small frown. She had her usual retinue of people that would help her prepare for a large scale address, and this girl wasn’t one of them. The girl saw the frown, and stepped further into view, holding her hands up with a good-natured smile.
    “Hey, I’m sorry, didn’t mean to startle you, but President Rikerson sent me to get you. I’m new on the job, so they gave me something harmless to do.” She let out a little, self-deprecating laugh. “I figure you know your way already.”
    “Right, of course,” Electra gave the girl a small smile to let her know that she hadn’t done anything wrong. There really was nothing threatening about the girl. She was small, and incredibly skinny, with choppy red hair and a splash of freckles. She was wearing the traditional uniform of a mockingjay attendant. She was fiddling with her hands as she waited for Electra to follow her. She was obviously nervous, and Electra felt bad for alarming her. “It’s alright. I’m nervous about the address today.”  That instantly put the girl at ease, and Electra knew she’d done something right. She’d always been good at getting along with people.
    “What’s your name?” she added. A few friendly words and a couple names, and it was easy to make friends with somebody. Most people were in awe of her, and fortunately this girl didn’t seem to have the same qualms.
    “Eva.”
    “I’m guessing you already know mine?”
    “Yeah, I do- but it’s not proper for me to be calling you that, obviously.” Her eyes slid away quickly. “Come on, we should go or I’ll lose my job.”
    Electra sighed. Again with the position. She wished she could complain to Rikerson about scaring people away from her, but it was the Mockingjay’s job to remain aloof and untouched by outside influence. It was her least favorite part about the job.
    She tried to start up a conversation with Eva again, but the smaller girl refused to answer. She kept fidgeting with her hands, and eventually Electra decided that if she kept trying to talk to her she’d just make her more nervous. Finally, she gave up.
    She reached the room that led out to the main balcony where she would make her address. President Rickerson was already waiting for her and he smiled warmly, taking her hands in his.
    “Electra, lovely as always. Are you ready for the address?”
    “Ready as always,” Electra murmured. In truth, her heart had sped up like it always did when she spoke before large crowds of people. Addresses were important, after all.
    “A speech has been prepared for you,” Rikerson promised, pressing several pages into her hands. She took them, letting out a soft breath of relief. She wasn’t good at making up her own speeches. That was one thing they’d never taught her. It was a relief to have one already written out.
    She heard the national anthem playing outside, and Rikerson nodded to her. “Go on.”
    Electra took a deep breath, calming her nerves. Then she pushed the doors to the balcony open and stepped out to a roar of noise.
    The first time Electra had made an address, she’d wanted to run and hide from the world. Now she was used to being watched, and had started to enjoy it.
    A large crowd had gathered below the balcony. Countless cameras picked up her face, and displayed it on equally countless screens. Electra allowed herself to smile slightly, and the crowd went wild. She lifted a hand, and the entire square went silent, waiting for her words.
    Even the most shy person could become fond of this, she thought. She would miss her days as a mockingjay when she went home. There was something to be said for being able to control an entire crowd with one wave of her hand.
    She glanced down at the sheets of paper, and took a deep breath. Then she began her speech with the customary greeting.
    “Friends. Neighbors. We are Panem!” She lifted her arms, and the crowd went wild, screaming her name. She let her smile break fully through now. She knew somewhere her parents were watching her, and she smiled straight at the cameras, to the flickering screen of her hometown. I miss you all terribly, she thought. Then she lowered her arms, and the crowd fell silent again. It was like a game of stop and go. She would get the crowd riled up, then instantly calm them down with a single wave of her hand. It gave her a feeling of immense power as she glanced back down at the pre-prepared speech.
    “We are Panem,” she read, repeating the greeting, “and Panem is peace.” The crowd loved that too. She flicked her hand at them, to indicate she wasn’t done. An expectant hush fell over the crowd once more. “But peace has a cost. Fifty years ago, we were trapped in a brutal cycle of slaughter and death. Children were sent to die as the land was oppressed. But the revolution changed that. We have had peace, joy, wealth. Our children are safe, living in a mutual state of prosperity.” She paused, her brow furrowing in confusion. There was something wrong with those words. She thought of the flickering screens of her home. The hours spent in the fields. The families that went hungry, or died of sickness because they couldn’t afford medicine. And the murmurs of a second uprising. The Second Wave, they called themselves. Watching and waiting. Striking against capitol officials. This land was far from prosperous.
    She shook her thoughts off, gripping the sheet of papers a little tighter. There was a ripple of concern from the crowd as they sensed her confusion, and she quickly smiled again.
    It doesn’t matter what the words say, as long as you read them, she reminded herself. She was the voice of the capitol, after all. They chose the words she spoke. She took a deep breath, and kept reading, hoping for some clarity. But there was none to be found in the words before her.
    “Despite our prosperity, there are those who would seek to undermine it, and lost this world to war, as it once was. They kill your children, steal your food, corrupt your young and old alike with their false promises, and destroy the peace we have worked so hard to build.” She paused again. There’s something wrong with this… The government knew about the Second Wave, of course, but they’d never had her make a public statement about it before. Why now?
    “You know what I’m talking about,” she continued. “The Second Wave. You may know them. They may be in your sector. Your town. Your neighborhood. Even your home. Well hear this. We have tried and tried to stifle them peacefully, but now if the time for retribution. A new order must be set up, and new powers established. It is time…” her voice caught on the last few words, “for the end of the Mockingjays.”
    There was total silence. Electra stared at the papers in her hand. She wasn’t sure what this meant. Should she be happy? Sad? Or, as her instincts were telling her, frightened?
President Rikerson came up beside her, putting an arm around her shoulders. “Yes, it is time to end the Mockingjays!” he announced, smiling at the crowd. “The threat of the Second Wave grows. The people forget their place. It is time to remind them. Once, the Hunger Games were used to keep order. Now we give you the Mockingjay games!”

Electra’s pulse spiked. She knew what the Hunger Games were. Who didn’t? She’d found the old footage of the first Mockingjay, and had watched in horror as children her age slaughtered each other in a massive arena. They were past that though! She wasn’t sure what the Mockingjay games were, but they sounded bad. Especially since she was the current Mockingjay…
    “And what better way to begin the games than the end of our last Mockingjay?”
    Electra froze, all the muscles in her body tensing. She readied herself to run. But where could she go? If she jumped from the balcony, she would fall and die. The building behind her was full of soldiers. She had no proficiency with a gun, even if she could get her hands on one. She wished she had a sling- the kind she used to stun predators that came too close to her home. But she had nothing. She was totally defenseless. Were they going to kill her? Make her fight others? Rikerson’s grip was tight around her shoulders, keeping her from escaping. She heard a soft intake of breath from behind her, and she turned in time to see Eva vanish down the hallways.
    What’s that about?
    At a hand wave from Rikerson, all the cameras went dark. The crowd cheered, like they always did at the end of an address. Was it so easy for them to cheer? She knew the crowds loved a good spectacle. Even one that would mean death? Was it so easy for them? The crowds that had cheered for her when she first appeared before them now cheered for the last time she might ever appear before them.
    Rikerson guided her back inside the building, signaling a couple guards.
    “Escort her back to her rooms, and bring her to the craft tomorrow morning. Make sure she’s ready.”
    Electra finally managed to speak. “Why?!” she demanded. “Why me? Why start the games again?! The people are going to tear you apart!”
    “The people have too much freedom,” he replied, smiling at her as if he hadn’t just ordered her death. “Trouble and chaos reign free. With the re-establishment of the games, we re-establish order. This has nothing to do with you, Electra, and thank you for heading our cause for so long.”
    “You’ll kill me,” Electra whispered numbly. She took a deep breath. She’d gotten used to living in comfort, so much that she sometimes forgot where she’d been before now. She forced herself to be brave- the way she had been facing down a cougar stalking her hometown. “You kill me, they’ll kill you. A lot of these people have grown to like me. If you kill me, they’ll go crazy. You won’t last a week. They’ll tear you apart.”
    “You might live,” he replied matter-of-factly. “I give you two weeks- the time it took for the first Mockingjay to survive. Should you live that entire time, then perhaps you will become a true figurehead for the Mockingjay games. Now go. Tomorrow will be a very important day for you.”
    The soldiers fell in step behind her as she started back towards her rooms. Every part of her was numb with shock. She was going to die. Two weeks. Two weeks in what? One of those awful arenas that they had used for the Hunger Games? At least she had a slight chance. But would she have supplies? Would there be other people? Would she have to fight? To kill?
    They reached her rooms, and one of the guards pushed her inside, locking the door behind her. She took a deep breath, and sat down hard on her bed, trying not to cry.
    I’m going to die, she thought, disbelief filling her. They’ll kill me. Just for… for what? For some perverted form of order?
    She took a deep breath, lying back and staring at the ceiling. Two weeks. It was a better chance than none. But it still wasn’t much of a chance.
    She let out a soft groan, standing up and pacing the room, feeling like a caged animal. She had no idea what she would be facing. She didn’t know if she’d have food, water, supplies, anything. She could always find them- she knew how to hunt- but if they were trying actively to kill her, then she would die. She had no chance.
    She took a deep breath, forcing herself to calm down. Right now, there was nothing she could do. She had to prepare herself for the upcoming games. She would need a weapon of some sort. A sling would be best, but a bow and arrow would work well to. She wished she knew more. At least the tributes in the games had known who or what they would be fighting.
    She sighed, forcing herself to walk over to the bed and lie down. If she was going to be trying to survive, the first thing she needed to do was get some rest. She closed her eyes, and in minutes was asleep.

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