Perfection. That is what I see as I gaze pleasantly at my new Capitol.

A city of power. A city of wealth. A city of justice.

The door to my office opens. “Excuse me, Mr. President?”

I turn and see Augustus standing in the doorway expectantly. “Yes?”

I answer in a tone reflective of my good mood.

“We’ve organized in the war room, sir. We’re awaiting your arrival.”

“I’ll be there shortly.”

Augustus smiles and closes the door. I take one last glance at my

beautiful empire before affixing a fresh white rose to the lapel of my

white suit. It is then that I truly begin to comprehend how my plans

have gone full circle, with the help of recent events, that is. I must

admit, however, I do regret having to assassinate the late President

Raleigh. He was a good man, but his death was necessary; at least,

that’s what I try to convince myself of. I look at my watch and realize

my tardiness. Today is the big day, after all. I open the door and walk

briskly from my room and down the hallway.

The attendant asks me how I am and opens the elevator doors with

the press of a button. I step in, followed closely by the attendant. He

presses another two buttons, the first closing the doors, and the

second designating our destination. The breath is stolen from my

lungs as we shoot down the barrel of the elevator shaft.

The doors open as we arrive at the correct floor. I find myself

gasping, my lungs attempting to regain lost air as I stride towards the

war room. Another attendant, this one stationed outside the entrance

to the room, nods and opens the vast wooden door. I walk in, fully

composed now, and take my seat at the head of the large glass table.

The Servantry watches me anxiously, waiting for words of

encouragement to abate their nervousness.

“This day,” I begin grandly, “is the most important day in the short

but relatively busy life of our nation. Today, the twelve remaining

districts will begin their eternal punishment for daring to cross the

line and challenge our commanding authority over them. The tributes

will shortly enter our special arena and the 1st Annual Hunger Games

shall begin.”

I turn to Augustus. “Have the people assembled?”

“Yes, sir, they have. Our hovercraft operators are reporting little

opposition to the mandatory assembly. Armed Peacekeepers are

currently surrounding the massive gatherings in the centers of each

district to make sure there is no trouble.”

I nod approvingly, and turn to Marcius. “Are the tributes in their

underground launching zones?”

“They are, sir.”

“Has the Cornucopia been stocked?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Have the tributes’ trackers been injected?”

“Yes, sir.”

I release a deep breath I hadn’t known occupied my lungs and sit

back in my throne. “Servantry, do you have any concerns? Anything

that should be brought to my attention?”

The members shake their heads in unison.

“Excellent. We are ready to begin the Games.”

Augustus’s pent-up nervousness spills over and he blurts out “Sir,

with all due respect, the Games aren’t scheduled to start for another

hour. Shouldn’t we wait?”

“Templesmith, I am very well aware of that circumstance. That

wasn’t what I was referring to.”

Augustus hangs his head. “I apologize, sir.”

“Apology accepted.” I eye him curiously. “By the way, how old is

your son Claudius?”

He beams with pride. “Thirteen, but he sounds like he’s twenty. His

voice is rather deep for his age.”

I beam back. “Perfect. He’ll make a suitable replacement.”

“For whom, sir?”

“You know the answer to that question, my dear friend.”

He pales. “Sir, no. Please.”

I nod at the fit security guard standing by the door. “Fowler, you know

what to do.”

Templesmith begins to panic. “Sir, you can’t be serious.” Fowler lays

his massive right hand on his shoulder. “Sir, please, don’t do this.” He

panics even more as he is quickly and skillfully arranged in a rather

painful-looking headlock. “Sir, no! Please, sir! You don’t want to do this!”

“You’re right, I most certainly don’t. We were good friends, but you

made the mistake of crossing me. You know very well how I don’t like

to be crossed. You did this to yourself.”

He begins to scream even louder. “Sir, I’m sorry! Please! I have a family

to support!”

“Rather unfortunate for them, isn’t it? What should I tell little Trajan?

‘I’m sorry, little one, but Daddy’s not coming home’? Or maybe ‘Your

father made a big mistake at work today’? I don’t know. I’ll work on it.”

I turn my back on him as he continues to scream and cry out for

salvation. “Please, no! Please let me go! Please don’t – ” He is cut off by a

sickening sound as his neck is snapped by the large arm around him. I

turn back around as his limp body falls from the arm to the ground. I

draw closer, only to see a single tear rolling down his left cheek.

Augustus Templesmith lives no longer.

Fowler lifts the body from the floor effortlessly. He strides to the

fireplace and dumps Templesmith inside. He reaches inside his pocket

and withdraws a singular match. He lights it and tosses it carelessly into

the furnace, where the small flame catches on Templesmith’s sleeve and

spreads to consume his body.

“Now that that’s been taken care of, go and fetch Claudius. Inform him

that his father has been relieved of duty.”

He nods and walks from the room.

I turn to face my Servantry, its members’ faces illuminated by the

flames and by fear. I sigh and walk towards the furnace and stop just in

front of the blaze. “He was a good friend, honest and thoughtful. He

would speak his mind, and things would be accomplished. You could

always count on him for that. However, it is also when someone gains your trust and support that it becomes easier to skirt under the radar and, say, assist the subversive forces from District 13.” I point at the burning carcass. “He did just that.”

The Servantry draws in a collected breath at the shock of the news. “Indeed, Augustus assisted the rebels. He was even directly responsible for the loss we nearly suffered in the final battle. He gave Gabriel Everdeen the Capitol’s blueprints during his so-called “peace talks”, allowing him to invade the city from the sewer system.”

I stride back towards my seat, well aware of the looks of astonishment I am receiving from my Servantry. I sit back down and gaze at the flames. “You may all pay your respects.”

I wait patiently as they rise from their chairs and form a line in front of

the fireplace, and as they return to their seats one by one, having paid

their respects and offered their best wishes for the family and shed their


Once the members are settled, I clear my throat, re-establish the last few

points I have made, and am about to begin the meeting where we left off

when I hear a voice through the open doorway.

“Where is my dad?” it asks fearfully.

I look up just in time to see Claudius shoved through the doorway and

fall on the floor. He stands and looks me right in the face. “Well, where is

he?” he asks brokenly. His eyes are red from crying and his skin pale with


“Ah, Claudius. How are you, my friend?”

“Answer the question.” he says, his tone turning fierce.

“Are you sure that you want to know the answer?”

“Of course I do! Where is he?!” he demands.

“I see no need for you to raise your voice.” I say calmly. “Now, before I

answer your question, I want to make a deal.”

He eyes me curiously. “What sort of deal?”

“Well, actually two. First, I think we’ll make this whole situation a lot

simpler by agreeing not to lie to each other. What do you think?”

He considers this for a moment. “Yes, I think that would save time.

What else?”

“Second, I want you to attempt to get your attitude under control. There’s

no need to lash out. Let’s all act civilized, hmm?”

He nods and takes a series of deep breaths to calm himself down. He

knows better than to cross me.

“Now, ask me again.” I say slowly.

“Where is my dad, sir?”

“Better. Your father and I were having a discussion, and he said something

very out of line.” I see the redness return to his eyes. He knows his father’s

fate. “Yes, Claudius. Your father has been killed.”

He screams in rage and mourning. Fowler restrains him as he lunges

forward, fists balled and poised to strike. He struggles as Fowler tightens

one arm around his throat and places his left hand on the right side of his


I stand and walk calmly to his side. “Your father was killed in this exact

way, Claudius.” I say to him. “He was discovered to be a subversive, and was placed in this very same, very uncomfortable position. However, the last part of his life

doesn’t have to be the last part of yours.”

He struggles even more as I lean down next to him. “There is a way out,

Claudius. You and I both know how this will end. Either you agree to do as I wish or you suffer the penalty. It’s your choice.”

His face relaxes. I nod to Fowler, and he releases the boy in an instant. He gasps for air as he drags himself to his feet. His rage returns and he whirls to face me. “A subversive? My father was not a traitor. He loved the Capitol with all of his heart and swore to defend it! How can you even suggest that that was all a lie?”

“Because it was,” I say, looking into his puffy eyes. “Now what I must know is: do you share in his hatred for the Capitol? If so, you know what must be done. If not, then you shall join me and take your father’s place as announcer for our little contest, and will never speak out against the Capitol as long as you live.”

I offer my hand to him. He takes it weakly, and we walk from the room, followed by the Servantry and surrounded by guards.

“Where are we going exactly?” he asks.

“To the execution.”

We approach the large glass doors, through which I can already see the crowd of thousands surrounding the Fortress steps. I chuckle to myself. “They must want a good view.”

Fowler opens the doors ahead of us, and I am overcome by both the radiant sunlight and the cheers of the masses as I step outside, Claudius beside me. I walk to the beautiful mahogany podium fixed at the center of the stage. “Welcome!” I say into the metal microphone in front of me. The crowd quiets in expectation. “Today is one of the best days in Capitol history, as young as it is. Today, the rebellion suffers its final blow. Today is the day that District 13 loses a devoted comrade and leader. It would not be so had he just known his place.”

The prison doors open, and the crowd murmurs as the great General Gabriel Everdeen is brought out in chains and surrounded by guards. He is lead to the center of the courtyard, where the guillotine lay waiting to claim its victim, its magnificent steel blade glistening in the morning sun. He is forced to his knees and restrained by two guards while two others position themselves to operate the great device.

“My fellow citizens, before you is the great leader of District 13 and the force behind the rebellion! Before you is the revered soldier Gabriel Everdeen! He was captured during the Battle of the Capitol, and has been held here ever since. And now, to serve as a permanent example of the superiority of the Capitol, he shall be put to death.”

I walk from behind the podium to where Everdeen kneels in the grass. “Are there any last words you have for the world? If so, speak n-”

“Citizens of Panem!” he bellows before I can finish speaking. “I know you can hear me. I know they are broadcasting this very moment in history far and wide. They will only allow you to see this once, so hear me now and never forget these words. The Capitol is not superior. It is not undefeatable. It is not governed by justice, but by hate. If there is any hope to restore to this world the rights of the people, it rests with you. If you ever, now or in a future time, rebel again, I leave you this message: fight strong, and may the odds be ever in your favor.”

I, though enraged by this inferior encouragement, retain a semblance of calm when I address the people again. “I must say that was a very interesting choice of words, my friend. Very compelling. However, they were in vain; this rebellion shall never happen again. I will make sure of that.”

I walk backwards a few steps to be clear of any spray of blood. I nod to the guards. They nod back, and the blade slides down the shaft, ending the rebellion.

Claudius sobs as we walk, heavily guarded, to the train. “He had to die, Claudius. He betrayed us all.”

He glances at me quickly and looks down again. “I know he had to,” he says between shuddering breaths. “I just wish I hadn’t watched.” He breaks into tears again as we board the train and speed away.

I gaze pleasantly out the window. It’s finally over, I think to myself. This nation is mine, and mine alone.

The Obelisk seems to grow as we near it. “What is that exactly?” Claudius asks. “I’ve never been inside before.”

“It’s a memorial of one of the past leaders of this nation,” I say. “President Raleigh discovered it when he journeyed east. He had it brought to the Capitol soon after his return.”

“Why are we going there?”

“It’s been converted into the control center for the Games. We’ll be going to the top floor, where you will begin the contest.”

He looks at me, surprised. “How will I do that?”

“With your voice.”

We arrive at the Obelisk and leave the train. We walk inside, once again heavily guarded. We walk as a single unit down the marble-floored hallway and arrive at the elevator. The doors open, and we step inside. As the doors shut, Claudius begins to whimper once more. Nerves, I think to myself as we accelerate up the shaft.

When we arrive at the top floor, we step out without the guards. Claudius looks back as the doors shut once more, cutting us off from protection. He shakes as we near the main control panel. The Gamemaker looks back, notices us, and promptly moves aside.

“When will I announce the beginning of the Games?” Claudius asks him.

“T-minus 6 minutes and counting, sir,” he responds after a quick glance at his diamond watch.

He nods solemnly and walks to the bathroom. As the door shuts behind him, I sigh and turn back to the Gamemaker. “I do feel sorry for that boy. He’s suffered quite a bit today.”

“May I ask what happened, sir?”

“Certainly. His father, Augustus, did you know him well?”

Did?” he asks gravely. “He’s not…”

I nod solemnly. “He was discovered to be our leak to the opposition. He even personally gave them the Capitol’s plans. You know how we deal with traitors.”

“Yes, sir.” he says quietly. Tears begin to form in his eyes. “He was one of my best friends from childhood, sir. Forgive me,” he sobs.

I lean down next to his ear. “Of course you’re forgiven. It’s normal to miss somebody you knew well. I will allow you your moment of grief.”

“Thank you,” he whispers. He takes in several deep breaths in an effort to compose himself. He glances at his watch again and gasps. “Two minutes, sir. We need him out here immediately.”

“Thank you,” I say, and briskly walk to the bathroom to retrieve Claudius. I enter the bathroom. “Claudius?” I call out. I walk briskly towards the sound of sobbing in the farthest stall from the door.

As I near the stall, the door opens and Claudius steps out, his eyes puffy. “I’m ready,” he says as he dries his face with a towel.

“Good.” I walk out, Claudius in tow. We re-enter the room, and Claudius clears his throat loudly as he steps towards the microphone.

“Is it time yet?” he whispers to the Gamemaker.

“Yes, sir. The tributes are on the platforms waiting for your announcement.”

“Do I need to say anything specific?”

“No, sir. Announce what you like, but remember, it must be entertaining.”

A rather dark twist, I think.

“I think I know what I’m going to say,” says Claudius. “Turn the microphone on, please.”

The Gamemaker reaches over and flips a very small switch on the side of the microphone. “It’s on, sir,” he whispers.

Claudius leans down over the microphone and takes a deep but silent breath as he prepares to begin the Games for the first time.

“Ladies and gentlemen, let the 1st Annual Hunger Games begin!”

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