Lazarus Umber, 31.

Head Gamemaker.

The man was making a comeback. Not to be recognized by every bloke who owned a television. Or be the man everyone was talking about at parties. The fame didn't mean a thing to him. No, he took the job for his family. To give them the life he had promised them before the rebellion. Before the Districts took control of Panem and Gamemakers young and old were punished for their part in the death of hundreds of innocent children. He didn't blame them. Their desire for retribution was an understandable response to the years of tragedy they endured. For Lazarus however, it had always and always will be nothing more than a job.

He stood at the center of his one bedroom apartment gazing at his rugged features in a cracked mirror. An overhead light flickered ever so slightly, illuminating the near empty space. His eyes shot to the loose tie around his neck as his hands instinctively went to tighten it. After doing so Lazarus turned to an outdated television sitting on a stand to his right.

"Want me to turn it up?" His wife, Ophelia, exclaimed placing a gentle hand on his shoulder.

Grabbing a comb, Lazarus moved to plant an affectionate kiss on the cheek of his wife before running the utensil through his dark locks of hair. "Why? There's never any happy news anyway," he replied dryly.

Not to his surprise, the volume was turned up and his attention shifted to the bellowing of Panem's President, Marcus LeGrand. The District Nine native was a tall, unhappy looking man. What hair he had atop his balding head whipped about in the wind as his lips curled in disgust.

"It has recently come to my attention that there has been a disturbance in the eastside of the Capitol. Troublemakers have gathered and protests have formed but know this. It is a dark road you are traveling down my friends. Protests lead to riots. Riots lead to rebellion. Rebellion is something that will not be tolerated. Even in its simplest form. Any man, woman or child seen to be apart of these treasonous acts will dealt with swiftly. For the greater good of our nation we need to stand united in these times. Now, more than ever before. Thank you!"

Lazarus couldn't help but roll his eyes. The hypocrisy of the Districts was something most were aware of but few did anything about. Those that did try and do some good in the eastside were in the minority hiding in the shadows of drug cartels and gang violence. The eastside was a dangerous place for the middle and upper class, as many residents felt betrayed when they received no aid from the rest of the Capitol. Honest jobs were hard to find. Homes were still damaged from the war. It seemed as if things would never change. That the only way an eastsider would escape the rut of their community was to claw their way out and that was exactly what he would do.

"You know I still don't like the idea of you becoming Head Gamemaker," Ophelia turned to him a frown forming on her face.

"I know dear, but it's a job. The first real opportunity I've had in months." It was the truth. The best he had been able to find was clearing rubble. The pay was mediocre and his superiors were crooks. Not an ideal situation but it was money all the same.

He watched as her brows furrowed and her stare grew more intense. Her forest-like eyes shot daggers at him, penetrating any sense of calmness he once felt. "Remember the last real job you had Lazarus? We are still paying for it. The Gamemaker Tax hasn't been kind to us, and you're just going to stroll in and do it all again?"

Stepping towards her, Lazarus placed a hand on the small of her back and the other on her swollen stomach. Almost instantly the woman relaxed, pulling him closer and burying her face into his chest. "You know why I have to," he stated plainly.

Their lips pressed against one another and for Lazarus, time seemed to slow. She nodded in agreement but didn't say a word as he held her and for a moment they simply remained intertwined in silence. Only the murmurings of the television filled the room.

"This just in, a string of disappearances has risen right here in the Capitol. Men and women, young and old have vanished without a trace. If you have any information regarding these disappearances, we here at Vanity News urge you to check in with your local authorities."

Lazarus moved to turn the television off, he had heard enough bad news for one day. As the screen went black however, his cell phone went off. With a sigh and an apologetic glance to his wife, Lazarus answered the phone.

"Mr. Umber, your limo has arrived."

"Thank you, I'll be right down." Lazarus stated briefly before hanging up the phone. His lips met Ophelia's forehead and his hands found her waist. "I've gotta go."

"Be safe."

"Always." He replied with a smile. A smile that was genuine as he gave the love of his life one final look before stepping back into the spotlight. Back into the world he was forced to leave behind.

He made his way down the dusty staircase. The creaking on the steps had always made it seem as if he'd fall through but it was something he had grown quite used to. Even if it did send an unwanted chill down his spine at times.

Lazarus made it down stairs to find his neighbor, an elderly woman who was once an Avox, collecting her mail. She glared at him before scurrying back into her apartment. The woman had always been a bit standoffish but never rude.

As he stepped outside he took in the smells of the eastside. His nose crinkled as the unpleasant scents hit his nostrils. It didn't look any better. The gloomy sky mixed with the rubble and ruin was definitely a sight for sore eyes but it was home. In a way he'd miss it when they inevitably moved. The limo driver met him at the door and gave him a curt nod as they began walking to the vehicle. Today was his debut. He had an interview with the ever popular Destiny Lebeau on her talk show.

They neared the limo when a group of young men approached. "Where's your eastside pride Umber?" A tattooed gentlemen at the front of the group cried out. The limo driver flashed the gun at his hip causing most of the group to back off but not him. He stood his ground.

"I would think an eastsider finding a well paying job and getting out of the rut would be something of an inspiration to others," Lazarus began, "though I suppose when you have no goals other than being a deadbeat you'd see my elevation as a lack of pride."

With a scoff the man turned his back on Lazarus as he stepped inside the limo.

The door closing behind him, Lazarus couldn't help but let out a sigh. The city has changed tremendously. Things are no longer as black and white as they had been when Snow was in charge. There had never been "poor" people before. That was left for the Districts, which were now thriving. Free of the Games completely, they aren't even forced to watch. That was for the Capitol to suffer.

Not that everyone suffered. As twisted as it was, many still treated the Games as a holiday. Eager to watch, even if it was their own children paying the price. Having grown up in a culture that celebrated bloodsport for generations, it wasn't a surprise that folk still enjoyed and even obsessed over the Games.

The upper class wasn't any better. Sponsoring potential Victor's with the hope of giving their business the boost it needs to push ahead the competition. Clawing at any source of power they could find to provide some feeling they had in the past. They weren't able to step on the little guy anymore and so they turned to each other. Business was as cutthroat as ever, and nearly impossible to maintain.

As the limo reached its destination Lazarus took in a deep breath. The Capitol was a dangerous place. Climbing the ladder would be a difficult task but for his family, he'd do anything. With a professional smile on his face, Lazarus stepped out of the limo and into the blinding light of paparazzi.

Oh hey. So I'd like to address a few things before starting up this story. I know given my garbage track record with these SYOT's here may deter many of you, something I'm hoping isn't the case but am fully prepared for. The last few years have been a bit weird for me. Not really sure where my life was heading, dealing with family wondering where I was heading, getting into and out of a very toxic relationship, and finally striking out on my own to find myself and where I want to be. Which thus far has been quite lovely. I'm in my own apartment, living my life the way I want to live and no longer at the mercy of other's opinions. In doing this I've found myself missing writing, and have been encouraged by friends to do more activities that make me happy. So here I am again, hoping to slip back into this little community and enjoy a bit of nostalgia with you all.

That being said, I want to make it clear that this story is something that's going to be finished. However, it's going to be on my time. One thing that I've recognized after trying and failing so many times with these stories is that I always felt pressured to upload chapters in a timely fashion. Obviously I want to have somewhat of a schedule going, but we all have lives and I am admitting now that sometimes mine will get in the way. That being said, I'm not going anywhere. I love to write and it's something that has been missing in my life for far too long. So I hope to share in this experience with you all.

Secondly, reviews are very much appreciated however, not expected. Again, I know we all have lives and it can get very busy at times. For those who end up having very little time to review, I'll make it a promise to keep in touch. To chat about the story if we have the time but at the very least check in here and there. Before, I let the number of reviews I had lull me into a false sense of failure. I felt no one was reading and it killed a lot of my motivation and stories. I felt like I was writing for you guys and not myself. So if no one was reading why continue writing? I know now that isn't the case. I am also not only writing for you guys but also myself. I'm prepared for negativity as well, I know I've gotten a few spam reviews in the past, and that is something I won't let detour me from continuing to write.

Lastly, I'll be keeping submissions open until I have a full roster of 24 characters. The stress of coming up with my own characters to fill in empty spots or asking people to submit multiple characters prevented me from fully enjoying what this community has to offer. Seeing that people weren't submitting made me feel like people weren't interested in what I have to offer. So I quit before I could even start. This time around, if submissions are a little slower, I promise to them out instead of turning my back. This story is important to me, and I want you all to be apart of it as well. Now, for those of you who've read through this whole thing I commend you. I appreciate you! The submission form is on my profile. Please feel free to point your pals in my direction and I look forward to seeing everything you guys have to offer. Thank you!