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6/13/2019 c77 12shadesunrider13
So propaganda goes both ways - and it is propaganda, even if most or all of it is true. I appreciate that they targeted a teenager, and that they played upon her sympathy first, knowing that she'd be able to influence her parents in a way a sibling, a friend, or a spouse might not have been able to. And I'm always fond of stories that show that the average Capitolite is, shockingly, not a moron. Nevaeh's mother immediately assesses the threat and takes action to remove it. The calculation is very clear - possibly get killed for distributing seditious material, or definitely get killed for having seen said material in the first place.

The use of the power of the purse here is an angle that I don't see often in pre-rebellion fics, which is odd given that it's one of the most effective ways to cause societal uproar. No matter what standard of living an individual currently experiences, they're unlikely to tolerate a drop in said standard without a fight - although the Capitolites are losing quite a bit less than the people who are going hungry in the districts.

Peacekeepers were always going to be a dangerous proposition for Snow, or anyone. When you're a minority trying to subjugate a million people (I'm not sure what the population figures are, but I'm guessing they top out somewhere around 1.5 million) you have to count on at least some of those people to police the rest. I don't see the rewards being offered as good enough to break Peacekeeper loyalty to their home districts, particularly not when Snow's been cutting their benefits and pensions. They need a union.

I'm wondering what year Annie will be a victor in. For some reason I'm spotlighting that year as the one where Mags has her stroke.
6/13/2019 c76 shadesunrider13
I loved that we saw Snow be suspicious of Finnick. The easy thing to do would have been to have Snow swallow the entire story hook, line, and sinker - but he wouldn't have gained power if he were gullible. It felt very realistic and very creepy, particularly with the amount of drugs that Finnick was on during the scene. A note about the drugs - I assume it's a fast-acting sedative of the benzodiazepine variety, and those are highly addictive. Is there an addictive quality to them, and if so, how is Finnick going to manage withdrawal? In addition, how is it that only the victors from Five and Six wind up addicted to morphling? I imagine they're far from the only ones who use.

It was great to see Glynn again. She was one of my favorite characters from the first section of the story, and she's managed to maintain a lot of relevance and power within the story. I will confess I was a bit confused by the discussion of Career victors - I came away with the main idea being that they need a stable victor instead of the flashier characters like Enobaria and Cashmere. I assume doing that would lull the Capitol into a false sense of security, as they won't have to break or bend their rules to get an exciting Games. Mags and the other rebels are in the uncomfortable position of having to step up their activities while simultaneously keeping them even further underground than they were previously. It's quite a bind.

At the moment I think stress is going to have something to do with Mags's decline over the next nine years, but it could just as easily be poison. Snow might be just dumb enough to risk it.
6/13/2019 c75 shadesunrider13
It never ceases to amaze me how much of an idiot Snow is. You've walked a very fine line here of making him a credible threat while contrasting him to his predecessor, who actually knew how to lead. It almost parallels the way you contrast Mags to the other victors and rebels - the people who weren't patient, the people who didn't wait, the people who didn't understand that a structure has to be in place to organize an effective rebellion. I've really grown to appreciate the extremely grudging respect Mags has for Achlys. In some ways it feels to me like she learned much of what she knows from her opponents, and the tougher the opponent, the stronger she became in response. You've really nailed her characterization.

Another thing I liked here was the origin of the two-victor idea. It always struck me the wrong way that the idea just popped out of nowhere during the Seventy-Fourth, because it has such a high potential for drama and violence. I love that it originated with Mags, and the perspective it gives me on canon is that so much of what occurs in the books was the result of one person playing a very long game. I was a little worried about her treatment of Delfina up until this point, but I was so happy to see Mags acknowledge her and honor her agency and her sacrifices. It was very poignant in a way.

Snow is very clearly driven by rage rather than strategy. It seems that he doesn't have a handle on where Mags's power actually comes from. He thinks it's in the Capitol, and his Capitol-centric worldview doesn't allow for the possibility that real strength exists outside it. He's reacting to the tip of the iceberg with no idea of what's going on below the surface, and in murdering Esperanza he just gave Mags more reason to destroy him - and I don't think she needed more reasons in the first place. It was heartbreaking to watch the family try to come together in the aftermath of her death, but I appreciate how you let your characters face death with dignity.

Finnick's eventual fate is making my skin crawl. But I love the connection to District Thirteen that's coming into play at last.
6/2/2019 c74 shadesunrider13
This was action-packed! One of my favorite things about this chapter was the very clear strategy that went into it. You set up a very dangerous situation for Finnick after the breaking of the Career pack, and he and Delfina executed their escape just about flawlessly. I was surprised to see Marten go down so easily, although I suppose he was the decoy villain. In the world you've set up, nearly all the villains are the decoy villain compared to the greater evil of the Capitol. Still, well-done on that front - he was very creepy and horrible, and I was not looking forward to Finnick having to kill him. I also think it's possible that Finnick couldn't kill him (too young, not enough training, not enough psychological toughness) and that the Capitol would have taken him out to ensure their preferred winner. I can see it being done, although I shudder to think how the Ones would react.

On that note, I wonder how the Capitol really responds to the idea of the Career alliance. It definitely provides some entertainment value in what's otherwise a bloodbath and a nightmare, but beyond that, what purpose does it serve for them? A lot of victors are Careers, but not all of them, and there's definitely a formula to the Games. Does the Capitol ever purposely prevent the Career alliance? Have they ever broken it to serve a purpose? Are there any circumstances under which one of the districts would simply refuse to form the alliance? Not particularly relevant questions, but interesting ones, at least to me.

I liked that Finnick's kills were messy and upsetting, and it really came through both in the description and in his internal monologue. Even though he's the most unprepared Career in the history of the Games, enough of his training came through that he was able to dodge Colt's fight-like-a-man routine and take out his opponent. I liked the parallel between Shani's death and Paige's. I felt like it really showed Finnick's devolution, which wasn't something he was going to be able to avoid, as he went from trying to give his opponents "clean" or "peaceful" deaths to just attempting to end it as fast as possible. Mags is going to have a hell of a time patching him up, and it's not likely to last very long - particularly not once he gets funneled into the Capitol's system.

Delfina's death scene was heartbreaking, but I felt like there was a lot of dignity in it. Good work. I'm looking forward to seeing Mags put Finnick back together to the best of her ability.
5/31/2019 c73 shadesunrider13
Well, then. I was expecting to be surprised, but there were a couple of twists here I wasn't expecting.

Psychologically, your explanation of Delfina's trauma/motives is brilliant. Internalization of negative emotions leading to self-destructive behavior, self-worth damaged enough by primary attachment figures that she basically glues herself to anyone who offers her the smallest bit of support or understanding, willingness to do whatever will please the people who've supported her. I wonder if her perfectionism is an outgrowth of her experiences or whether she would have been that way on her own, but I imagine it doesn't matter now. Part of me thinks Mags chose Delfina as the volunteer specifically because she knew Delfina would be totally compliant for Mags's plans, whatever those are - but then again, I think it's way too cold. Mags is pragmatic and vaguely fanatical, but she's not a monster. Still, it's quite convenient for Mags that Delfina's loyalty is hers, because she can trust that Delfina is going to do exactly what Mags says, or even what she doesn't say.

Oddly enough, this chapter served as a reminder that the tributes and volunteers are all just kids, and therefore, how sick the system and what they're expected to do within that system is. No matter how well-prepared they are, they aren't equipped to deal with this. It's almost heartbreaking how surprised the other Careers were to see the unofficial rules being broken, because it's clear that they expected those rules to hold and to protect them. Contrast that to Paige, who most likely knew going in that she was going to die, and early on - I appreciated the way she challenged Finnick, and exerted some small manner of control over her death.

The bit with Mags working the sponsor floor made me laugh and cringe at the same time. The brand name dropping, the small-talking, the trying not to react to shocking news - and how Mags exerts her considerable influence over the others. The victors chipping in to help Mags and Finnick was a nice touch, with that blend of sweetness and horror that this story does so well. On the one hand, they're helping out a friend. On the other, they're potentially sacrificing their own tributes - something the outer districts are probably resigned to given that their tributes won't live, but something surprising out of Districts 1 and 2.

I'm still hoping Finnick won't have to kill Delfina. Right now I'm predicting her to die protecting him - not from Marten, but from an outlier like Colt. For maximum emotional torture on Finnick's part, though, it needs to be he and Colt (who he made the mistake of humanizing) or he and Delfina in the final two.
5/30/2019 c72 shadesunrider13
I was surprised by how quickly Delfina gave up, and how comfortable Mags is with abandoning her. Of course, it's the Hunger Games, so it's obviously never going to be fair, but it seems like that's a lot to ask out of someone, to sacrifice their life so your family member can win. I'm almost expecting Delfina to go after him, given that she's forced the alliance with the other Careers, but in the end I think she won't cross Mags. After all, she'd have to go back to the districts with Mags if she won, and I don't think Mags is capable of letting something like that go.

Mags was very rough on the other victors. I think part of why it's so jarring to see her act selfishly is that she just hasn't done it. We've seen her go through hell and back over the past seventy-one chapters and she's never gone to this kind of extreme. I don't imagine this endears the outer districts to her very much (if they got along with her at all in the first place) and I can see things being much more difficult for Finnick after he wins given that she came down on them so hard. Hard is, of course, a relative term given the way this world works. Even so...

I'm really stuck on how awful this is going to be for both of them (Mags and Finnick). He's going to lose even if he wins, and he's got no idea what he's headed into even if he thinks he does. I'm sure it will be well-written, like everything else.
5/30/2019 c71 shadesunrider13
That was a twist I didn't expect. I have to wonder if Snow had something to do with it - like Mags said, he's not very bright, and he only cares about holding onto whatever power he's managed to consolidate. I wouldn't put it past him to have taken a shot at Mags, but he's ten years out from the fall of the Capitol and I doubt he sees it coming.

I loved reading Mags's deconstruction of Merrill's motivation. She's been around the block a few times and she doesn't have patience for either blind idealism or cynical self-interest. I can't quite decide if she's pragmatic or ruthless, or if the distinction really matters all that much. She's good at what she does and she doesn't have the time for literal children who think they know better.

With regard to Finnick, I hope he doesn't wind up having to kill Delfina. Either way, his friendship with Shale is pretty much gone. I'm expecting a lot of tragedy over the next few chapters, particularly given what happens to Finnick after he wins.
5/30/2019 c70 shadesunrider13
Lots going on in this chapter. It was unexpectedly sad to see Finnick struggle like this, particularly in light of what happens to him after his victory. Talk about harsher in hindsight. I like that Mags allows him agency - he gets to make his case, choose (to some extent) how to solve the problems, and accept and prepare himself for whatever consequences might arise. If I remember correctly, we're down to the year before Finnick goes into the arena, and I'm interested to see how he goes from training with the older students to volunteering ahead of them in that space and time.

I was surprised to see that Mags was willing to sacrifice her tributes in order to compel Lyme and Brutus to help her. I suppose in this case, it's more important that her network of victors remains intact than that she battles to the last for tributes who aren't going to win (I was intrigued by her certainty on the matter). I might not be remembering this correctly - it's been a while since I read the books - but I believe Cecelia predeceases Mags in the Games. One of my favorite things about this story is how complex and fully realized the characters become, because we only ever see them through Katniss's viewpoint, and Katniss is very black-and-white as far as her morality goes.

I like seeing the difference between Mags's interactions with Achlys and her interactions with Snow. He's much more dangerous as an opponent, and yet she takes him almost less seriously in their face-to-face interactions than she took Achlys. It matches in some ways with canon in that he's very much a caricature, and his policies accelerate the rebellion. I wonder if Mags thinks she'll see the end of the Capitol's dominance over the districts, or if she doesn't believe she'll make it to the end of the rebellion.
5/30/2019 c69 shadesunrider13
It's been a while, but I'm happy to be reading Mags's story again, and it's just as good as I remember.

I love how Mags uses the institutions she's created. She's working within an impossible and unfair framework, but she manages to improve conditions for many at the cost of a few. I imagine there's a degree of cognitive dissonance with regard to FLASH, in that she rescues these kids with the expectation that at least a few of them will go into the arena and die horribly. But she's pragmatic, and I imagine she doesn't have a hard time sleeping through the night, particularly not with the family she's built for herself.

I really enjoyed Annie's introduction. We see so little of her in canon - she's pretty much restricted to being Finnick's motivating factor, but she's a victor in her own right and still pretty resourceful to survive her Games. I'm looking forward to reading on and seeing their relationship develop through Mags's eyes. Beyond that, I'm interested to see the backstory behind Mags volunteering for Annie. In canon I always imagined her doing to avoid putting Finnick in the arena with someone he's in love with - but now I'm thinking she'll do it because Annie is one of her victors, and therefore, one of her family members.

In any case, it's nice to be reading again.
4/22/2019 c102 The Amol
So I finally finished this gigantic story. You have build an impressive world. That is actually very difficult thing to do. So credits to you. This was one good story.
I do have one complain though. You reduced importance of Katniss Everdeen drastically. The way Suzanne Collins wrote she had became a mythical figure for people. Districts were united with her name. She wasn't just one of the many important victors. She was the most important person in Panem as far as rebellion goes. The way you wrote, Katniss was redundant as districts were already more or less united. You made bags a legendary figure instead of Katniss. I mean in your story I really saw no rebel ever talking about Mockingjay. She was merely an after thought. You even wrote on chapter that Cressida was as much of symbol a Katniss was. Nobody was in same category as Katniss. I am not saying others weren't important because they most certainly weren't but this rebellion wouldn't have happen without Katniss. Your story doesn't Impresses that fact. That is not the story those 3 books told us. For better or worse, Katniss was a Messiah figure for rebels.
Another thing is that Katniss didn't actually support next Hunger Games. Neither did Haymitch too. It is implied in books that Katniss said that to make sure Coin believes she was on her side and there is entire monologue of Katniss wishing Haymitch would caught up on her plan. Haymitch's entire mannerism was off someone who had made a tactical and careful decision. They were not supporting next Hunger Games. Because if Katniss had actually supported them, they would have happened. There was a reason Coin was so afraid of Katniss. Amount of power Katniss wielded even unknowingly was unparalleled.
So yeah only complain I have with this fic is just reducing Mockingjay's overall importance. Otherwise you wrote an excellent story.
1/28/2019 c101 20livebyinsanity
This is the second time I've read this and I still love it so much!
2/26/2018 c45 Guest
This story is wonderful!
11/3/2017 c102 leahrivka42
I’m not sure if you still check your reviews but I want to thank you for sharing this story. The original Hunger Games Trilogy always seemed to lack something deeper to it. It never made sense why Katniss became the symbol of the rebellion. Your story provided a solid framework to it. To me this is now canon. Yup. I wish I had it in book form.
1/13/2017 c102 livebyinsanity
Beautiful from start to finish! I loved reading this fic so much!
4/21/2016 c12 7ToxicatedRose
Sorry about the lack of updates – I've been focusing on my own fic, and on top of that my professional and personal life has suddenly gone quite topsy turvy, but this fic has still been in my mind and it was nice returning to it.

Hm, I'd liked Fife anyway, although I didn't know why as she wasn't pleasant. Her own POV made her much more sympathetic, and it was really well needed and executed; I feel like I know her motivations and psychology a lot more clearly. It's nice to see the trio opening up to one another, and they're getting close (a little too close?). I'm enjoying their dynamic. I smiled when Fife teased Constantine about the other guy checking him out.

Ah, so they're IN the Games. A part of me had suspected this, just because of the death toll, but I was still taken by surprise. It makes sense. I'm guessing this arena isn't artificial? Was the citadel full of actors? I'm guessing not. Maybe that's the Capitol's way of hunting these splintered factions down, which is quite clever.
I hope they haven't listened in too much though, as Mags has expressed rebellious sentiment which could mean she's screwed. Thankfully, I know she's not, or not completely, for another handful of decades.
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