Disclaimer: We don't own The Hunger Games.
Note: Thank you to everybody for your patience. We only ended up with a few more than 24 submissions, so everyone who submitted got at least one tribute in. Tribute list is at the bottom of the page. *Waits for everyone to scroll down and back up.* The tribute page is also up on the website. Bios will be added as the tributes are introduced.
Words Are Power
Laurel Seward, 21
District Twelve Mentor
These past two weeks hadn't been entirely what she was expecting, but they were good anyway.
It'd already gotten off of the plan on the first day. Gryffin and Gabriel had been debating about having a formal improvised introduction ceremony in District Twelve, and it seemed like Gabriel would have given in, as he'd conceded that it could be favorable to have the District get to see her in something not directly related to the Games. However, when they'd arrived in District Seven, Dakota had been busy, and that hadn't been taken into account as a potential delay. So by the time they the train had arrived in Twelve for the night, Gryffin had decided it would be better to not rush anything. Bekki and Dakota had to run over some things anyway, since he'd wanted to add some things in about some of the tributes he'd actually known better into the generic speech outlines that he'd been given.
The rest of the tour had gone mainly according to plan. Sure, there'd been the occasional time someone had to improvise or had gone off tangent for a minute, but there was room for that, and it was a good thing there was, too. After yesterday, she'd finally gotten to actually meet the last of the Victors in person officially. Now, right on the grass outside the Victor's Palace, the final ceremonies were about to start.
As she glanced at the pavilion from backstage, Laurel could see the Victors mingling with each other, and some had split off into groups. Eventually, her eye settled on Jarius and Gabriel, who were already sipping drinks together. Bekki was apparently convinced that Dakota was good to go for the final speech he'd need to handle for a while, and joined in that conversation right away. As Gryffin walked up to the stand, the Victors eventually quieted down enough that the signal was given to start rolling the cameras for the broadcasted parts of the ceremony.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Gryffin said, as he gestured to the cameras and the Victors, "welcome to the final ceremony of the 10th Hunger Games! Now please join me in welcoming to the stage for the last time until the next Games, our most recent Victor, Dakota Alder."
As the ceremony continued, it was obvious to her and most likely the rest of the Capitol that even though Dakota might not see these speeches as the most interesting thing, he'd started to get more into them as he went on. Soon enough, he wrapped up what little speech he'd been tasked to give, but then it seemed that he started to improvise the final part, as he encouraged the other Victors to join in on a toast.
As Dakota left the stage, he gave the mic back to President Gryffin, who said, "Thank you, Dakota. One more announcement to make." He gestured for Laurel to take her place beside him. "Tomorrow, District Twelve's new mentor, Laurel, will be joining them for a proper introduction ceremony. For now, enjoy the closing ceremony. Let the party begin!"
She hadn't been expecting that, but she tried to do her best to hide her surprise. After they'd mutually agreed that it wouldn't be a good idea to rush it when they got to Twelve just two weeks ago, she'd assumed that it was completely off the table. As she smiled and looked out into the crowd, she could see Gabriel, who looked equally surprised. He'd seemed relieved when he had convinced Gryffin to call off the earlier ceremony, so it was easier to spot his annoyed reaction this time, and that either meant that he hadn't been informed of the update to the trip, or that his advice had been ignored.
As she left the stage, she planned to search him out and see what had happened, as the more she knew, the better she could plan on how she should prepare to address Twelve. However, once she got down to the main level, she'd lost track of where he'd ended up, and began to mingle among the Victors. She'd seen most of them the previous year in the Capitol, but hadn't actually gotten to talk with them much until these past few weeks. As she was about to resume trying to figure out where Gabriel had gone off to, she saw a couple of Victors approaching her.
"Guess he hadn't told you either." the younger of the two said as he approached her. "Figured I should properly introduce myself, I'm Cedric, and that's Bastian," he said, gesturing to the other man next to him.
"I'm Laurel, although I'm sure you've already been told about me," she said, shaking his hand, and then shook Bastian's. "Yeah, I knew it had been discussed as a possibility attached to the victory tour, but I could have sworn it had been scrapped. Have either of you seen Gabriel around? I was planning to see if he had any details on what exactly the new plan was, but he slipped off before I could get to him."
"He was sitting with us and Jarius when the announcement was made, but as soon as the actual mingling started, after he went off with Jarius for a minute, he came back and said that he had to figure out what the plan was, and that he was going to try to find a way to make sure that he was on the way to District Twelve as well," Bastian said. "So don't worry too much; he'll catch you up after this is all over tonight, I suspect."
"In the meantime, he also asked us to give you some advice on mentoring," Cedric chimed in. "So while I'm sure he'll give you his own advice, and you're free to ask anyone at any point before or even during the Games, is there anything you'd be interested in having a second opinion right away on?"
She pondered it for a second, before deciding what she would ask. "Well, there's a chance I could potentially see some tributes of reaping age these next few days anyway. What advice would you give to some tributes who could be… potentially troublesome in one way or another?"
"You mean some that might end up being rebels?" Cedric said with a chuckle. She hadn't intended it to be that obvious, but he didn't seem to mind, as he was still smiling when he continued on. "Well, I'm here as proof that not everyone who could be even seen as the largest threat once the field narrows isn't given a death sentence. I'd just start with not trying to make them something they're not."
"What do you mean?" Laurel asked.
"If you try to build them a fake persona, it won't do them any good," Cedric explained. "The Capitol will likely know what they're trying to hide anyway. While they'd try to force the tributes to reveal it themselves to the audience after being prompted by the hosts, if that doesn't work, word would get out anyway. It'd be better just to let them be themselves and allow them to have a chance to prove that they're willing to do whatever it takes to get out. Once they show that, it won't likely matter if they are pro-Capitol or even rebellious; their fate will likely be in their own hands."
"Now I'm sure you have other questions," Bastian said, "but there will be time for those later, and you might find your own answers before you even ask them. In the end, there are no right or wrong answers, and you'll have to find your own path of mentoring. For now, let's enjoy the last night we've got in the Capitol."
Jarius Marl, 22
Victor of the 2nd Hunger Games
The ceremonies had never been what he had enjoyed the most.
Jarius always felt that the ceremonies, even though they were spotlighted on the previous Victor, never actually told anything meaningful. Sure, it was all coverage about them for the entire two week span, but they never got into what really mattered about them. The Capitol always wanted to portray them exactly the way they'd sold themselves to the audience in the Games, but that was never who any of the Victors actually were.
What Jarius enjoyed the most about the Games was actually getting to know the other Victors better by observing how they reacted. Most of the time, the Victors didn't show their true colors until they were mentoring at least. Then they got to put their own touch on it. Sometimes, though, you could find a way to get a glimpse of their true personality before then, and that was when you could really get to know them. Because that was when you could be most sure that they were just being themselves, as they were off camera for the most part. That wasn't even the case when they were mentoring, so the facade still continued at least somewhat through mentors, but they had less to lose if they slipped up than tributes.
That was why when Gabriel had whispered that he should get to know Dakota more during the dinner, Jarius' curiosity about the newest Victor had gone through the roof. Sure, Jarius had always wanted to at least get to see parts of other Victors' personalities, but when Gabriel, his former mentor, who had gotten to know him better than anybody else had ever attempted, was pointing him towards a new Victor when he hadn't done so before, but knew of Jarius' interests, that meant that he had to know what was going on.
Jarius glanced around the pavilion, and eventually saw that Dakota was talking with Bekki and a few other Capitolites. Even from this far away, Jarius could tell that while Dakota was participating in the conversation, he was obviously not as interested in it as the others. As he approached the group, he could see that Dakota was glad to see another district citizen's face, even though they didn't really know each other.
"Dakota, I meant to meet up with you when we were still in my district. I always hope to get a chance to show Victors around, let them see what other districts are like, but it seems like the Capitol always crams the schedule so they have no spare time," Jarius said, taking a seat next to Dakota as the other Capitolites moved on to conversations that suited their taste better. "Anyway, I wanted to congratulate you once again on your victory."
"Thanks, but do you really mean that?" Dakota responded. "After all, your tribute was right there at the end too. A few cards the other way, and she makes it out and you've got yourself another Victor."
"Maybe she does, maybe she doesn't," Jarius mused. "Either way, you're here, and I'm still impressed by the finalists every year. They've done what it takes. In fact, I think the moment that would be changing thing potentially wouldn't have been anything in the finale, but even earlier."
"I think I see where you're going," Jarius said, clearly more interested in this conversation than he was letting on, and obviously glad to be rid of the Capitolites who had continued their prior conversation elsewhere. "But go on anyway."
"Well, I feel like every Victor has a point that they'll question for the foreseeable future. What would have happened if they had done something else? What if they'd played a different angle? So, I've been curious, what moment have you been thinking about?"
"You're right about early in the Games. What if I'd shot the other boy earlier? What if I'd made my way to Sabrina instead of insisting she made her way over, or what if I hadn't even given any signal at all, and just let her make her own decisions?" Dakota said slowly. "She had almost the same skills as I had if not even better stealth, so if we'd been in each others positions, I feel it's likely she could have made it out better than I did, and maybe she'd have a better grip on mentoring these upcoming tributes than I will."
"You're forgetting the important part of that statement," Jarius said with a sly grin. "You did make it out. Sure, she might have had what it took had she been given the opportunity, but you had the opportunity, and you took it and you were able to do what you needed to do, even if it meant leaving or still having questions afterwards."
"But now, the real test is coming." Jarius said, slowly standing up. "Will you be able to help the other tributes realize what it will take? Can you help them identify where their own questions could be after the Games, and guide them on a path that allows them to have questions afterwards? Because what's more important than the fact that you've made it out, is realizing exactly what it took for each Victor to get out of their own Games, and then finding a way to allow your tributes to find their own path to get what it takes."
"Hold on a second," Dakota said, and as Jarius could see Dakota's mind start to think of a variety of options to answer his own question. "You said that every Victor has these questions, and there were no exceptions, so what are you asking?"
"That, my friend," Jarius said, with a smirk before he turned to walk away, "is something you should try to figure out for yourself. If you can put yourself in the other Victors' shoes first, then it's even more power to you when you try to help your own tributes."
As Jarius walked away, he allowed himself to glance back, and he could already tell that he'd been able to spark a thought process in Dakota that wouldn't go away any time soon.
Dakota Alder, 18
Victor of the 10th Hunger Games
As soon as the first hint of light started to peek between the lowest levels of the building, Dakota couldn't wait any longer.
Over the past two weeks, he'd tried his best to find time in the crowded schedule to try to get permission to go hunting, or at least get in some target practice if there wasn't any game in there area. However, each and every time, his entourage reminded him that they were on a tight schedule, and couldn't afford letting him off again, especially since he was late to show up to the first train. He was ready to get back to District Seven and get back to hunting, but he also feared that there was a chance that the entourage that was with him now might just be replaced by peacekeepers when he got back. He was glad that Jarius had been able to take his mind off it for a while last night, but after that conversation had ended, he'd found himself with more questions he didn't even know he was looking for prior to that night than answers to any questions he'd had about mentoring going in.
As he had one of the earliest leaving trains, Dakota quickly got everything thrown into his bag before making his way to the station. The sun began to rise over the horizon by the time he arrived. He knew that the train wouldn't be leaving until almost a half hour later, but the sooner he got back, the sooner he could escape back off into the woods away from all the attention. As he arrived at the station, he was surprised to see another figure standing on the platform.
"Jarius get you thinking so much you couldn't stay asleep?" Gabriel asked, with a smile on his face.
"Well, yes," Dakota said, "but he does know what he's talking about, and he knows how to get a person thinking the way he wants them to."
"You thinking that it might not be the best idea to try to use the same thought process another Victor is using?"
"That did occur to me, but I don't feel there's any harm in at least listening." Dakota said. "Even if we end up having similar thought processes at points, our views on the process as well as the execution will be varying enough from person to person. So even if all the Victors got told the same thing, you'd get enough variations on the same ideas that you wouldn't have the exact same advice in every district."
"Well, it seems you've thought that through," Gabriel said. "So that's not the only reason you're up early and eager to get out of here, is it? It's clear to talk, Dakota. There isn't much that I haven't already been informed of, I'd guess."
"It's just that…" Dakota started, trying to find a good way to word this. "The supposed help that comes with me when I actually inform the peacekeepers that I go hunting isn't actually much help, and there's no good reason for it."
"You realize that the reason Gryffin has insisted on that is you're the only Victor who's been treading the line of illegal things at this point. Sure, there are some that take more risks than others, even you, but even then, most of that is actually legal," Gabriel said. "You realize that they are only there for your protection from other peacekeepers from suspecting you of being an actual poacher, correct?"
"Yes, but I'm a Victor, Gabriel," Dakota said. "I've made it through a week of people trying to kill me for an actual good reason. I think I can keep myself safe enough, especially if I inform them that I'll be out anyway. Then they can just spread the word instead of making enough noise to wake up the Capitol citizens."
"Well, if you're willing to take the risk, I could run that by Gryffin," Gabriel said. "It'd take some convincing, but I bet I could get him to see sense in what you're suggesting. It might take a few weeks, but if this is what you're spending all your time trying to avoid anyway, he'll come around eventually."
A smile appeared on Dakota's face, but it immediately turned into a look of suspicion.
"Thank you, but there's one thing I don't understand," Dakota said hesitantly. "Why are you helping me out here? You get nothing out of this, and you've got no reason to go out of your way to please me."
"Well, of course I do," said Gabriel. "Even if you're trying to keep it in the back of your mind, it's always going to be nagging you until you get it resolved. And if there's one thing that we wouldn't want, it's Victors even for a moment seeming that they aren't fully thinking of how they can help their tributes while they are still alive. If this went on, it could distract and cloud your judgement in the Games, and it would cause a closer regulation of Victors during the Games."
"Well, thanks again," Dakota said as the bus was pulling into the station.
"Oh Dakota?" Gabriel said just as Dakota was boarding the train. "One last thing."
"Yes?" Dakota said, wondering what could possibly still be on Gabriel's mind.
"You owe me one next time."
Minerva Marquette, 17
Victor of the 8th Hunger Games
There was a time when she would have wanted the party to last forever.
Minerva stared out the window as the train whistled down the tracks, the wheels almost feeling motionless beneath them. The party the night before had been everything she had once dreamed of – extravagant, luxurious, and so many other fancy-sounding words she'd associated with the Capitol. The place she had once thought of as her home.
That was why she had volunteered for the Games, after all – for a chance to get back there. During the chaos of the rebellion, her family had fled to what had seemed like relative safety in the wilderness between the Capitol and the districts. When the dust had settled, she had assumed they would be sent home. As it turned out, the Capitol hadn't much cared who ended up where, as long as the Capitol's own borders stayed shut.
She'd been only a small child then, but she'd grown up with her parents' stories of the Capitol and how wonderful life was there. They'd wanted her to know where she had come from, but now she was certain they'd never imagined what she would do with that information, how obsessed she had been with returning to a place she could barely remember. They'd told her fairy stories, and she'd treated them as real.
And now … now the Capitol was simply the place she had survived. A place whose citizens had decided to help her because they'd found her story compelling. They'd bribed the Gamemakers, and that action had saved her life. More than once. She shouldn't be here, but she was. She owed them that.
And it made her sick.
She wasn't a child anymore. The Capitol wasn't something out of a fairy story. The people there decided – sometimes on a whim – who lived and who died. Who was worth saving and who was a hopeless cause. It wasn't fair. It wasn't right.
But it was the way things were now.
"Mind if I join you?" Ellis' voice cut through her thoughts as he joined her beside the window, stepping up onto the ledge for a better view. There wasn't much to look at now; they'd passed the mountains soon after leaving the Capitol, and now there was nothing but plains as far as the eye could see.
Minerva nodded casually. Ellis was pleasant enough company; it was their other guests who were a bit unsettling. The eastbound train ran to District Three before splitting off onto three tracks heading to Six, Eight, and Twelve. For as long as she'd been mentoring, though, there'd been no one heading to Twelve. Now Laurel was on her way there, along with an entourage from the Capitol, for some sort of introduction ceremony.
It wasn't that they were bad people. There was a time, after all, when she would have thought of them as her people. But now they seemed world away from people like her and Ellis and Heather.
Heather. Where was she? "Have you seen Heather around?" she asked Ellis. She couldn't have gone far, after all – not on a train this size.
Ellis barely hid a smile as he gestured towards the roof. "Up there."
Minerva blinked. "What, on top of the train? With how fast we're going?"
Ellis shrugged. "She says she likes it. To each their own, I suppose. Mind you, it's the sort of thing they'd love to see in the Games – tributes racing across the tops of trains, fighting to stay upright in the wind, clinging on for dear life. She'd probably have sponsors lined up fighting to send her something if she were in the Games now."
Minerva looked away. He hadn't been able to hide a twinge of bitterness in his voice. He was right; Heather would have gotten sponsors. And she had gotten sponsors. But even if the practice had existed during Ellis' Games, he wouldn't have. His height, his stubby limbs, his quiet demeanor … No, definitely not sponsor material.
And worse, none of his tributes had been, either. For the past three years – her year and the two after – none of the tributes from Eight had really stood out. They had been poor, badly nourished, hardworking, but ultimately, unremarkable. And more and more in the Games, being remarkable was what seemed to matter.
It wasn't fair.
"I would have sponsored you." Minerva was surprised to realize that she almost meant it. She had chosen to go back to District Six after the Games, after all, because she hadn't liked how the Capitol had made their decisions. Yes, it had meant that she lived, but it had also condemned every tribute after her to having to battle for the Capitol's attention in the middle of fighting for their lives. There was something to be said for tributes who didn't. Who didn't shine, didn't grab the audience's attention, but had somehow still managed to live.
Ellis fiddled with one of the buttons on his waistcoat. Before he could say anything in reply, however, the window in front of them rolled down, and a figure came crashing through, tumbling to the floor in a heap of laughter and gasping breaths. "That was amazing!"
Ellis smiled, grateful for the interruption, as he hopped down from the ledge and helped Heather to her feet. "What's it like up there?"
Heather beamed. "Fast and freezing and … wow. You should try it sometime."
Ellis shook his head. "Thanks, but no. I don't have a death wish."
"It's not a death wish," Heather insisted. "It's a life wish. What's the point of winning these damn Games if you don't get to live a little, have a little fun with the rest of your life?" She turned to Minerva. "What do you say?"
Minerva hesitated. There was a part of her that wanted to. There really was. But there was a bigger part that was still afraid. What if she did fall off? What if she did die? She'd come close to dying in the Games, and she never wanted to feel that again. "What's the point of winning if you can't live the rest of your life in peace?" she countered. "There are plenty of things that are fun that won't kill you"
"Name three," Heather chuckled, but she'd disappeared into the next car before Minerva had a chance to answer.
Ellis pulled his coat a little tighter and shut the window. "Books," he muttered.
Minerva raised an eyebrow. "What?"
"Books are fun and won't kill you. Sewing is fun and won't kill you. Cats are fun and won't kill you."
Minerva giggled. "Most of them, anyway."
Ellis rolled his eyes. "I said cats, not tigers."
"Tigers are cats."
"Okay. Housecats are fun and won't kill you."
Minerva nodded. "Better." She'd always liked cats. They weren't like dogs, waiting for people's acceptance, craving it, needing it. Cats simply wandered in, settled down, and decided that this was their home now.
And District Six was now hers.
"Funny how a single word can change everything in your life."
"It is not funny at all. Steel is power. Money is power. But of all the things in all the worlds, words are power."
Carwyn Martell, 15
Ren Okada, 17
Phoebus "Ace" Julian Costa, 13
Cassandra "Cassie" Ladon, 17
Ridley Abano, 16
Gamma McNamara, 14
Percival "Percy" Alvarez, 18
Enya Ardis, 18
August Petrov, 13
Pandora Reginae, 15
Tarian Parillo, 17
Lea Dellar, 14
Lysander Yang, 14
Gehenna Veredis, 17
Rhys Cade, 12
Angelica "Angel" Sykes, 14
Vehaan Sirat, 18
Lior Halvard, 16
Dodge Privett, 16
Miriam "Miri" Alona Pereira, 15
Hezekiah "Haze" Haroun, 16
Luna Makello, 18
Fiorz Estrada, 13
Jina Burnbrook, 12