Disclaimer: I don't own The Hunger Games. Neither does my brother.
Note: Yep, you read that right. This is a collaboration with my brother, Howler33. Completely different 'verse than my other stories, so there's nothing for you to catch up on here. More info and the tribute form are on my profile.
Rage Towards It: The 11th Hunger Games
District Seven Mentor, 32
"Ladies and gentlemen, your victor of the 10th Hunger Games, from District Seven, Dakota Alder!"
It was a half hour after the Games, and the announcement was still being routinely aired across the casino as the staff rushed to transition to the post-Games setup in the morning. Bekki had stepped outside to give a quick interview with the on-site camera crew, as was the custom. No filming was allowed in the back room casino, but once they stepped foot out the front door, a mentor was expected to at least give a brief reaction. Eventually, she was able to wrap up the interview and return to the back room. They'd have the upcoming days of post-Games ceremonies to pelt her with questions, but at least now she could deflect them to Dakota.
As she entered the room, Bekki was surprised to still see Gabriel at the back exit, seemingly saying something quickly to Jarius before the latter returned to District Two. All the other victors had left the room soon after the Games ended, so she hadn't expected anyone to still be around. After Jarius had left, Gabriel made his way over to her.
"Well, congratulations. That just leaves two of the districts stuck with some of us now," Gabriel said as Bekki wandered over to the bar where he'd left his briefcase, presumably when the Games had ended. "By the way, Laurel stopped by, said Gryffin wanted us to come by his office whenever you were done."
After they made their way through the back exit, Gabriel took them down a couple back alleys. "I never got an answer before," Bekki said as they turned the corner and they could see the capitol building. "Why did you choose to come back?"
"Why did you step back into mentoring after those years off? You had time to get back on whatever path you wanted, but you came back once Alyssa decided she'd had enough of District Nine."
Gabriel sighed as they started to climb the steps. "They needed someone with experience, and nobody else seemed eager to come back, so I figured I shouldn't make Gryffin's decision harder than it needed to be."
The lobby was eerily empty, as all the usual staff members were likely either assigned to prepare the final ceremonies, or already back in President Gryffin's office. Bekki and Gabriel were quickly ushered in by Laurel, and they were surprised to see that the only other people there were Vice President Edwina Warrick and Head Gamemaker Bryanna Dorsey.
"Alright, we should be able to get started now," President Gryffin said as Laurel closed the door and they made their way to the seats. "First, congratulations, Bekki, on mentoring Dakota this year. That leaves us with only two Capitol mentors. Gabriel, have you had contact with Frazier since he left the casino?"
Gabriel shifted around before he answered. "...Yes, I heard from him the night after he left. It was particularly rough on him this year, with both of his tributes dying so early. He gave me his resignation, and I haven't heard from him since. Since he hasn't actually given any paperwork, it's not official yet, but I expect we'll need a new mentor for District Twelve."
"Alright, that's what I feared," President Gryffin grumbled. "That was the main reason I called this meeting. So I guess the first question is, Bekki, would you want to get right back into it? You did just bring home a Victor, so maybe it could give Twelve a bit of hope?"
Bekki shook her head. "I'll have to pass on that." She'd been expecting the question, but she had something else in mind. She turned to the Head Gamemaker. "Bryanna, a few years ago, you were offering to take some former mentors on as assistant gamemakers in order to make sure there were options in the future. Is that offer still open?"
Bryanna nodded. "Yes, it is. I was hoping someone would take me up on it eventually. You might spend a while as an assistant, but it's always better to have backup options."
Gryffin nodded, unsurprised. He'd probably been hoping to find an easy solution to his problem, but he'd always known her ambitions went farther than simply mentoring districts until a Victor came along. He turned to Laurel. "Think we might be able to persuade any of our previous mentors to come back for a few more years?"
"I already contacted Daniella, Justice, Alonzo, Olwen, and Aurelia, but none of them wanted to stop what they were doing now to return to mentoring after having a break."
"Alright, there go the obvious choices." Gryffin said. "I'm open to most ideas at this point. We need to figure this out now, though; it's important that we make District Twelve more stable, considering the stir Frazier caused on his way out."
After a few moments passed, Warrick took a sip of her drink before saying, "Well, if nobody else has a suggestion, I'd be willing to go out there."
District 9 Mentor, 34
"Well, if nobody else has a suggestion, I'd be willing to go out there."
It took all of Gabriel's composure to not spit out his drink in surprise. He knew that Warrick was ambitious; that was how she'd gotten the position in the first place, going to Gryffin with a proposal that he could win the election if he named her Vice President. She'd gotten exactly what she'd wanted, but what was she trying to gain by pushing for this?
Thankfully, Gabriel didn't need to intervene, as Gryffin was equally surprised at the notion. "Warrick, you know that you have duties here. Besides, that'd put us in an even worse position in the long run, as you would have to step down, and we'd need to be able to agree on a new Vice President."
Gabriel scoffed. "That, and the fact that I don't imagine any district, let alone Twelve, would be thrilled to see you so close after the stunt you pulled at the end of the rebellion. Twelve's gonna need someone they can at least listen to, not someone they're going to want to punch in the face every year you're there."
"Well, you've got a fair point," Warrick said, "but maybe I could take over once they get here. Everybody knows they could use all the help with weapons they can get. Besides, they're getting to the point where they might be too young to remember."
"No," Gabriel said sternly. "Sure, they may not remember for themselves anymore, but they have certainly heard stories about the woman who sealed the district's fate, especially since you became Vice President. That's final; you shouldn't be having any more contact with the tributes than necessary."
"Gabriel's right, Warrick," Gryffin said, slowly sipping his drink. "Getting you the Vice Presidency caused enough stir with the districts. That has only now started to heal. Having you as a mentor would not only cause more issues than it solves; it'd rile the districts."
"Well, I don't see any of you coming up with brilliant ideas," Warrick said, finishing off her drink.
"I might have a possibility." Gabriel said. "What would thoughts be on giving Laurel the chance to mentor?"
Immediately, Warrick started to protest. "But she's too young! What makes her qualified to go into Twelve right away?"
Bekki shrugged. "Actually, she's about as old as I was when I was chosen."
"And ideally," Gabriel added, "we'd want someone on the younger side, anyway. Sure, we had some older mentors at the start, but as the years go on, the districts still without Victors will need to have some consistency. If we were to pick someone older, especially if they've already been away from mentoring for a few years, they might decide after a couple years back that they were better off not getting involved, and then we're back in the same situation; we'll have only kicked the can down the road a couple years."
"As for qualifications," Bryanna chimed in, "she actually would be overqualified, if anything. She was involved working around the arena set up last year, so she'd be able to give tributes another perspective on the Games, even if she might not have the personal fighting experience."
"But what about the issue that she's Gryffin's niece?"
"Which is exactly why I need to start soon," Laurel said, chiming in for the first time. She turned to her uncle. "The longer I go without making a name for myself, the easier it is for everyone to think I'm only here because I'm related to you. They'll never say that directly, but I finally got a shot to influence things last year because of who I am, not just who I know, and this is an opportunity to expand on that."
"Laurel, I take it you're willing to accept this position?" Gryffin said, and Laurel immediately nodded. "Then unless anyone has any other suggestions, I think we can wrap this meeting up. Laurel, as of now, you'll be the active mentor for District Twelve. Bekki, you should get going, Dakota should see someone before he speaks to the press. Warrick, Bryanna, I'll see you around later, we should probably go over the details of a few things before the week's out."
As everyone started to get up, Gryffin spoke again. "Laurel, stick around; I've got a little bit of a briefing we've given all newly appointed mentors. Oh and Gabriel? Would you mind staying for a bit too? I'd like you to add in any advice you may have from experience."
2nd President of Panem
"I'd like you to add in any advice you may have from experience."
As it turned out, Gabriel was more than pleased to add any advice he had. Gryffin had expected him to add some in here and there, but instead he let Gryffin give the two to three minute long briefing, and then just started talking about what he'd experienced. Gryffin watched the two of them as Gabriel continued finding example after example to expand on what he'd already said, and Gryffin was grateful that Laurel would be one of the best prepared Capitol mentors that they have been able to provide.
Gryffin still was wondering why Gabriel had pushed to have her mentor now, though. Sure, he'd known that Laurel had expressed interest in the districts, as well as the Games, since soon after the rebellion, but he'd been thinking of having her assist someone as a mentor first – potentially even Gabriel. He'd had no reason to think that she wouldn't be capable of the task, though, and he was glad to have her instead of Warrick. Still, Gabriel could have just as easily pushed for any other assistant that he'd run across over the years.
Finally, he pushed the thought aside. He could run himself in circles trying to figure out why Gabriel did anything he did. The fact of the matter was, he hadn't nominated anyone else. He'd pushed for Laurel, and the rest of his council had approved of the appointment for the most part.
"You see, it won't really matter what your first impression of a tribute is," Gabriel continued. "Sure, there will be some that are more promising than others, but in the end, it's not how they act at the beginning or even when they get to the Capitol that matters the most. What matters is how they act and react when the Games get going. So while it's important to attempt to make sure your tributes are appealing to… sponsors at the beginning, in the end it'll be up to what they can do mainly, not who they can please."
Gryffin winced as Gabriel hesitated on the word "sponsors." None of the previous instructions had included that, and for good reason. It wasn't until one of the assistant gamemakers went rogue during the 8th Games that anyone had even thought of favoring certain tributes over others. During his first Games as president, he'd considered tilting the odds against a potentially rebellious tribute, but in the end, he'd decided that the risk of one uncooperative Victor outweighed the potential reaction to favoring another tribute for political gain. After the 8th Games, however, he'd had to figure out how to spin the sponsorships, as they were now called, in a good way, rather than admitting that it had happened without his knowledge at the start.
"And lastly," Gabriel said, "while Warrick may not have even realized it when she said it, she's right about something. The fact that you're related could cause some issues. So while I'm sure it's not a secret from most of the Capitol, it might be best to try to keep it under wraps around the other mentors."
Gabriel was right about that. Now that Warrick had been shunned in front of the entire council, it was anybody's guess what she would do, and the less she was able to make public knowledge at this point was better. Laurel looked as if she might not agree entirely, because it wasn't exactly a well-kept secret that they were related in the Capitol, but they'd been careful on what was made public to the entirety of the districts for a reason.
"He's right," Gryffin said. "While it might not be horrible if the mentors know, the more people that are told, the quicker it can spread out of control. It'd be better not to risk. Besides, you did say that you wanted to make a name for yourself now, so this'll be your chance to prove yourself to the districts without any help."
"Alright, that makes sense," said Laurel. "If there's nothing else right now, am I free to go? Bryanna said there were a few things that still had to be wrapped up with the arena, and I figure the more hands she has, the quicker we'll be done."
"Very well. Just know that your appointment will likely be announced before Dakota leaves in order to reassure Twelve that we've got a plan," Gryffin said. Laurel quickly left the room, and Gabriel glanced at Gryffin. "You're having doubts about Warrick again, aren't you."
"They never stopped," Gabriel replied. "I never approved of her actions in the first place. She's always been a wild card; who knows what she'll try next? I certainly wasn't expecting her antics today; wouldn't have blamed you much if you'd jumped at the chance to get her out of your hair with a less controversial candidate this time."
"You know I only chose her during the election because she could have tried to sway the vote any way she liked. I didn't let her go to Twelve because at least here, in theory, I'll be able to step in before she gets too carried away."
"Oh, does that mean you trust me?" Gabriel said, with a smirk on his face. "You haven't kept me cooped up in the Capitol"
"Gabriel, we may not agree on quite a few things, but I trust your judgement. I showed that today, didn't I? But more importantly, I also know that I think I can trust you not to do anything stupid at this point. I've given people plenty of opportunities for that without even trying at this point with Cedric and Minerva. Even if we don't agree on the course of action, I know that you'll have a plan, and that in the end, we both have similar goals."
Gabriel snickered. "I'll have to remember that. I've overstayed my welcome. See you later at the festivities, Gryffin," he said as he walked out the door.
The Victor writes History with the blood of the vanquished.