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Saruviel surveyed the Multiverse. In his angelic powers he was at a pinnacle point, looking down into the multiverse, his senses feeling through its history and life. He was here today with a new project, yet again. A world of Slipstream had come to be. A new aspect of the Mutliverse. And now, the 50th of the Universes of the Multiverse, Earth Jubilee. The project with its destiny were a few focuses of children of destiny – a Snowy River project in Australia on Earth Jubilee, a French madman named Crackwheezel, a pommy with a bit of spunk called Danny, and a bunch of Rugby League Bulldogs who would have a bit about them. But the latter stuff was interesting, when the breakdown had come to be, and Panem emerged, which was a history of Earth Jubilee filled with excitement and ideas which had been born deep in the heart of the Seventh Seraphim of the Realm of Eternity. But it was the beginning of things, and for now, LET THERE BE LIGHT.


The Power Games

Book One - Snow in Winter

by Daniel Thomas Andrew Daly

Copyright 2017 CE



Celestia Snow looked up the long steps to the capitol hall of justice.  It was 'Their' glory.  The glory of the rebel's who had deposed her grandfather.  She'd loved Mockingjay, so much she had adored her, but when her grandfather had been killed it didn't hit home straight away.  And then she'd been with the rest of the capitol children, in re-education and rehabilitation, embracing democracy once again.  But she knew her history.  Panem had come to be the way it was because democracy didn't work in the end.  It created Gameplayer after Gameplayer, all of whom were little despots of hypocrisy, who didn't know how to rule.  Who didn't know true authority.  That was all that worked, in the end, an iron thumb.  Humans were strange creatures, her grandfather had taught her. They were capable of so much beauty and wonder, but they were also the weakest of vessels, who would refuse to work, and claim power and bickering and crime and greed.  Only the strongest rulership could rule humans, and so many of them were fit for nothing more than the strongest of rulers.  The districts served the capitol, and the capitol ruled the districts with law and definite order.  And nothing else was eternal, and nothing else could rule Panem, and in the heart of Celestia Snow, nothing else ever would.  She climbed the steps of the capitol hall of justice, in her 25th year, now finally free, and came inside the main hall.  There were people all around, and she noticed the statue of the Mockingjay, the heir apparent president of Panem, and she knew her adversary, as she had known her, and hated her, these past 13 years.  She would pay.  Whatever else Katniss Everdene would be made to pay.  For the old capitol still had its heartbeat alive in the heart of Celestia Snow, and people always liked to be told what to do in the end, didn't they.  They always liked to be told what to do.


Chapter 1

Katniss,’ said Peeta.  ‘There are several points of law which are problematic with this proposal.  We can’t conclude all of us are equal in the eyes of the law.  We never have been.  Panem has not really changed since the last Hunger Games.  Life has gone on as normal, and while the Capitol doesn’t dictate anymore, is it really any different?  The elite live in the capital, and the wealthier districts serve them, and we in district 12 do menial work, and it’s never changed.  All that is different is that Snow told us what our lot in life was.  Now we just pretend it is different.  But it’s not.  13 years, and there has been no real change.  Panem is set in its way.  It is set in what it thinks, and what it must do.  You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.’

It doesn’t mean we should just accept that, Peeta,’ replied Katniss.  She finished polishing the flute she had been polishing, and put the mouthpiece to her lips and started playing.  It was the song of the Mockingjay.  She rarely played anything else.

Like your Mockingjay melody.  You don’t ever play anything else,’ said Peeta.  ‘Set in stone.’

Katniss looked at Peeta for a moment, and put the flute on the stand, went to the couch and set down.  She picked up the cat Buttercup, who was quite old now, and stroked it.

In the world which came before democracy ruled,’ said Katniss.

And that world failed,’ replied Peeta.

We failed it.  We gave in to bickering and gripes and endless Power Games.  Panem emerged from the chaos at the end of all that in the only way it knew how to survive at the time.  But we’ve learned.  I know we’ve learned.  Perhaps we needed a harsh ruler for a while, to get back on our feet, to make us strong again.  Through adversity we learned courage.  But we are strong again now, and wiser.  Panem is wiser.  We’ll survive and go forward.’

But this is backwards,’ said Peeta, and dropped Katniss’ proposed amendments to the Panem Constitution to the desk.

We must face the awful horror of moving on Peeta.  We’ve tried everything, and it is like nothing works.  So we must do the best within us of what worked as well as it could.  We can’t go back to Snow. That way is unthinkable now.’

Yet it is all that really works,’ said Peeta, and stood, looked at his wife, and left the room.  Katniss stroked Buttercup, thinking on the words her husband had said.

*   *   *

It was the hunt.  Katniss was in the forestlands not far from her tribute home.  She still resided in the tribute home with Peeta.  It felt weirdly appropriate in its own way.  It’s what she had earned, and she had decided it was what she would keep.  Hunger Games justice.

It’s a bear,’ said Peeta.  ‘Be careful.’

What is it doing out in winter?  It should be hibernating,’ replied Katniss.

I don’t know.  Maybe it hasn’t eaten enough food yet and is still gathering,’ said Peeta.

They watched the bear as it came near, Katniss bow poised and ready to shoot if necessary.  The bear came near, and suddenly stood up on its feet, growling at them, and Katniss was prepared to fire at any instant.  But then it seemed to make a growl of sorrow, and returned to its paws, crawling away, snooping at the ground.

Strange creature,’ said Peeta.

Maybe it’s lost something,’ said Katniss, watching the bear.

They continued on with the hunt.

You’ll be going to the capitol next week, then, I take it,’ said Peeta.

I’ve been in the party a few years now,’ replied Katniss.  ‘They are thinking about putting me up for election.  You know this.’

How could they not,’ replied Peeta.  ‘Everyone will vote for the Mockingjay.  The Progressive Alliance’s revered hero of truth, justice and the Panemerican way.’

Katniss did not respond.

And it would be the Progressive Alliance party, wouldn’t it?’

I’m hardly going to join Fitzroy’s Conservative’s,’ replied Katniss.  ‘He’s an ex peacekeeper for Panem’s sake.’

Reformed ex-peacekeeper,’ replied Peeta.  ‘He did his time in the re-education centres, like so many did.’

Yes.  Like Celestia Snow did,’ said Katniss pointedly.

Peeta turned to her.  ‘Again with the grudge against Celestia.  She can’t help her heredity.’

I see her grandfather in everything she says and does.  Snow hasn’t died.  He’s just adapted to a new generation.’

Like I said,’ replied Peeta, pointing at the deer in the distance, to which Katniss got her bow ready.  ‘Things never really change in Panem.’

Katniss aimed, fired, and the arrow shot true.

*   *   *

The deer was around Peeta’s shoulder as they came along the road to the tribute home.

It’s Haymitch and Effie,’ pointed Peeta.  Katniss looked up.  Haymitch and Effie, who’d married and had a solitary child, a boy, were standing in their garden, looking at the flowers.  Peeta and Katniss came and stood next to them.

What does a flower in winter have any right still being in bloom for,’ said Haymitch, looking down at the solitary white rose in the garden.

The bear must be looking for it,’ said Katniss softly.

Effie looked at Katniss.  ‘The bear?’ she queried.

We met a bear roaming the forest,’ said Peeta.  ‘Wondered what it was doing in winter, not hibernating.’

Looking for a flower,’ said Haymitch, looking at the white rose.

It’s appropriate for winter,’ said Katniss.  ‘The name of the rose is ‘Snow’.  It was bred in the capitol for celebrating the 60th Hunger Games in honour of the president.  It is very hardy.  It can survive, even in adversity.’

It’s not the same as the white flowers the President liked,’ said Effie.

No,’ said Katniss.  ‘He kept a small patch of these ones in a back garden of his palace, where he and his grand-daughter Celestia used to have afternoon tea.  Celestia remarked to me in the Capitol last week that there were common white flowers kept in the greenhouse and there were special white flowers reserved for the elite, and commoners were given common things, and special people were given special things.’

When they bombed us in District 13 during the final war they flooded us with the ones he grows in the greenhouse,’ said Peeta.

Common things,’ said Katniss softly.

Let’s go inside,’ said Haymitch.  ‘Enough of this.  Feeling morbid practically.’

They were soon inside the tribute home and Katniss had put on the kettle, which was starting to boil.

Well, this is nice,’ said Effie, seated on the couch, looking round the room.

Not the comfort of the capitol?’ replied Katniss.

Oh, my dear.  Your home is - lovely,’ said Effie.

Ever the sincere one,’ said Haymitch, sipping on his coffee.

We try to make it a home, said Peeta, massaging Katniss shoulder.

It is our home,’ said Katniss, taking Peeta’s hand.  ‘As humble as it is.’

To each their own,’ replied Effie.

Indeed,’ said Haymitch.

Anything new happening in the Capitol?’ asked Katniss to Effie.

Not much in 8 days,’ replied Effie.  ‘But Celestia Snow is, as you know, making waves.’

Re-education has worked wonders on her,’ said Katniss.

Oh, you know,’ said Effie.  ‘She’s her grand-fathers child.  What would you expect my dear?’

The TV suddenly came to life, and a capitol TV news report came on.

Hi.  I’m Caesar Flickerman.  It’s a wonderful winter’s day in Panem.  Want to know what’s making waves?’ asked the familiar face.  ‘Celestia Snow!  Who else?’

Who else,’ said Katniss to herself.

13 years of Re-education has done wonders for Celestia,’ continued Caesar.  Heaven knows it did wonders for me.’

Katniss couldn’t help but notice the slight mockery in Caesar’s statement.

President Snow’s grand-daughter… forgive me.  Former President Snow’s grand-daughter, was all the rage at Club Nouveau last weekend.  She was seen dancing away the night, all the ambitious capitol executives eager to meet our young new starlet.  Everything old is new again, it would seem, and with young Celestia indicating that she is intent on a political life, with her re-education complete, and her commitment to the new Panem constitution as solid as a rock, what newfound wonders can we expect from such a stunning and beautiful ‘Go getter’.’  The screen showed shots of Celestia dancing, and in an expensive suit talking with people, looking every inch the young capitolist.  ‘It’s a new day in Panem, my friends, and success is for everyone.  If you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty and give it a go,’ he finished in a jovial voice.

Peeta flicked off the TV with his remote. That was enough of Caesar Flickerman for the moment.

Re-education has certainly done wonders for him,’ said Katniss dryly.

Oh, you know Caesar.  He’s a survivor,’ said Effie.

That he is,’ replied Katniss.

Play the flute,’ said Peeta to Katniss.

Katniss looked at Peeta for a moment, and stood, went to the music stand, opened her flute case, and pulled out her flute.

I’ve been working on a new tune,’ said Katniss.

Since when?’ asked Peeta.

Katniss raised the flute to her lips and started playing.  The tune was strangely familiar to the ones present, as if etched deep in their souls.  She played, with something approaching competence, for it had been taken up later in life, and she was no prodigy by any means.  But it was sincere, and real. That is what Katniss Everdene, the Mockingjay, was to so many people.  Real.  She played, and the cat Buttercup scratched on Effie’s legs, before jumping into her lap.  Effie was reluctant at first, but soon patted the cat, treating it almost as something alien.  Something not part of the life of Effie Abernathy.  Katniss continued playing, and it seemed something of a parochial tune, a song of courage and strength.  She finished, and they clapped softly.

What’s it called?’ asked Haymitch.

Star Spangled Banner,’ replied Katniss.  ‘I found it in the forbidden books in the Capitol archives.’

I know it,’ said Effie.  ‘When I was young my mother used to hum that tune to me.’

Does it have words?’ asked Haymitch.

Katniss looked at him squarely.  ‘Before the dark days,’ she finally replied.  ‘When they meant something.’  Nobody commented, but the others glanced at each other.

Effie straightened herself and adjusted her wig.  ‘How are your children?’ she asked.

They’re fine,’ said Katniss.

They are doing well in school,’ said Peeta.

Ambitions?’ asked Effie.

They don’t want to move to the capitol, if that is what you are asking,’ replied Katniss.

Oh, I would never imply such a thing,’ said Effie.  ‘The capitol life is suitable to some………’ she trailed off, and never finished what she was going to say.

But not others,’ finished Katniss, and gathered the empty mugs and left the room.

Is there a problem?’ asked Effie to Peeta.

Peeta looked at Effie, and then towards the kitchen, and returned his gaze to Effie.  ‘No.  No problem,’ he said.  ‘How is your son?’

Angus is doing fine,’ said Haymitch.  ‘He’s the spitting image of his namesake.’

His grandfather if I remember you saying,’ said Peeta.  Haymitch nodded.

He has all the traits of a true scholar,’ said Effie, but she was exaggerating.  Angus had all the traits of his father, excessively so.

So does he have ambitions?’ asked Peeta.

Nothing – concrete,’ replied Effie.  ‘We’ll see what he decides when he is old enough.’

The kid doesn’t give a damn,’ said Haymitch.

Haymitch,’ scolded Effie.  ‘Angus is a fine young man.  All my friends hold him very dear.’

He hangs around with other deadbeats in his class,’ said Haymitch honestly.  ‘He’s an underperforming student, and doesn’t seem to care.  Life is easy for him in the Capitol, and he doesn’t really care for putting in any real effort in life.  Just goes with the flow,’ finished Haymitch, making a wave sign with his hand.

The Capitol always goes with the flow,’ said Katniss, re-entering the room.  ‘It’s what it does best.’

My my, Mockingjay,’ said Effie.  ‘Mockery has never been your forte.’

Life is a tough teacher,’ replied Katniss.

That we know well,’ said Haymitch somberly.

Recently Panem embraced change.  It went through some more dark days, but emerged stronger for it.  But I don’t like the history lessons I know.  Thing’s I have read in the old forbidden books.  They say in them, here and there, history has a funny way of repeating itself.  As if humans are not capable of learning from their past mistakes,’ said Katniss.

Oh, but we are my dear,’ replied Effie.  ‘Re-education has profited so many of our lives.  We are eternally indebted to the sacrifices you have made.  You and Peeta.  You were positive inspirations to us all.’

I’m going to try again,’ said Katniss.  ‘Presenting my views.’

You are not, high, in the congress,’ said Effie.  ‘Oh, you are well respected.  Everybody loves you.  Yet the changes you speak of are a foreign thing, almost, now.  We have grown accustomed to a certain way of doing things in Panem.  Things which were taught us about the failures of the past.  We daren’t repeat them.’

Yet the oppressed soon became the oppressor,’ replied Katniss.  ‘Whatever Snow was, he was no redeemer.’

Yet whatever he was it was not what had been,’ said Effie.  ‘And life went on, dare I say it, even under President Snow.  And the people accepted that, and that was that.’

We are capable of so much more,’ said Katniss.

And what dreams may come,’ said Effie snappily, and stood, and straightened out her skirt.  ‘Well, it has been lovely.  A delight to see the two of you again.  But we can’t stay.  We are guests with a lady of distinguishment here in district 12 this weekend, and we should not keep her waiting.’

Haymitch rose to his feet, and grinned.  ‘Can’t keep her waiting,’ he mouthed softly to Katniss, who smiled.

You are always welcome to visit,’ said Katniss, taking Effie’s hands.

As you are also,’ said Effie.

When the Abernathy’s had left Katniss looked at her flute.  She picked it up, and played the Mockingjay tune once more.

The Katniss I know,’ said Peeta softly.

*   *   *

The piano melody echoed through the rooms of the capitol palace.  Some workers were listening intently, but most were about their business, now used to the musical offerings of the grand-daughter of their former illustrious leader.  A grim looking figure stood nearby the beautiful young pianist.  He was every inch the splendor of a Capitol man, especially a Capitol man of this new era, on the brink of power and glory.  He was shaven, short haired, in an authoritative looking green suit, with a belt around his waist, and badges on his chest, awards from former glories.  He was a peacekeeper – or to be precise, and ex-peacekeeper.  Yet it was something he reminded the world of Panem still, despite the careful glances and looks citizens occasionally gave him, as if reminded of past histories not yet quite forgotten.  His name was Roary Fitzroy, and he was the leader of the Conservatives in the Panem Congress, and soon to be, by all poll reckonings, the next leader of Panem.

Who is the composer?’ he asked in a strong and precise voice.

Celestia Snow continued playing, and looked at Fitzroy, then stopped.  She stood, and walked to a couch, seating herself, taking up a copy of a Panem magazine.

I hardly think you would concern yourself with composers of a bygone era,’ she finally replied, the air of confident casualness quite apparent in her voice.

I have an interest in the arts,’ replied Fitzroy, turning to look out the window of the palace grounds.

Something to keep the people amused, I take it,’ replied Celestia.

Culture is also important in Panem.  Your grandfather was an admirer of the Capitol’s finest of talents,’ said Fitzroy.

Grandfather had taste,’ replied Celestia, with more than just a hint of pride in her voice.

And you appear to have a taste.  For much of the glitz and glamour of the Capitol, for which I will in no way fault you, but it seems you have political motivations now also,’ said Roary.

Panem needs Snow, as Snow needs Panem,’ said the young up and comer, without the slightest hint of doubt in her words.

As if you are born for glory,’ replied Fitzroy.  He looked around the room.  ‘Like this palace.  Not the slightest question of you taking up residence and now, it would seem, running the place, from all I hear.’

Ironically those who deposed my grandfather have a strange sense that they should keep the rule of law in the end,’ said Celestia.  ‘And I am the legal inheritor of this estate, and they had no desire to yet confiscate it from me.’

Fitzroy smiled.  ‘They are democrats.  But they are Capitolists also.  They ironically honour freeholdings and enterprise and initiative.’

What went before the dark days was apparently the same,’ replied Celestia.

From what I gather,’ replied Fitzroy, and went to the cabinet to pour himself a glass of scotch.

Do you have a vision for Panem?’ asked Celestia to the rigid figure by the window.

Fitzroy turned to her, and came and sat down on the couch opposite her.  He sipped on his scotch, a quite proud smile on his face.

Naturally, Snow.  Naturally,’ replied Fitzroy.

Well, that is good then,’ said Celestia, returning her focus to the magazine.  Looking her magazine, and not raising her eyes, she asked, ‘A successful vision?’

To rival the gods, dear Celestia,’ said Fitzroy, with not the faintest trace of humility in his voice.

The gods?’ queried Celestia, eyebrow raised.

Jupiter, Zeus.  Even Yahweh perhaps,’ replied Fitzroy.

Fascinations of mankind from a more primitive era,’ replied Celestia.  ‘I need no god to guide me.’

But, my dear.  You are a goddess to Panem regardless,’ said Fitzroy, in not a slight tone of mockery.

This I know to be true,’ replied Celestia.  ‘My splendor is apparent to all who meet me.  It is my training, you see.  Grandfather was incessantly strict and insistful.  Do it right, he would say, or do not do it at all.’

Is that so,’ replied Fitzroy.

So when I come to power, I will do it right,’ continued Celestia.

Yes,’ said Fitzroy, looking at his comrade.  ‘When you come to power.’

You have accepted my application to join the conservatives, have you not.  It is why we are in each other’s inestimable presence today, is it not?’

Your application was processed by a low level clerk, and referred to a junior executive for assessment.  I am sure he will get to it.  One day,’ replied Fitzroy.

Oh, I have sought more than my station in life permits, I take it?’ responded the cute young miss.

You lack experience.  You may indeed be Snow, and that I do not doubt, and while your re-education has done a service to our new Panem, I am not yet convinced you should take any serious position of office.’

Then I will have to persuade you,’ she responded.

Then that is what you will do,’ said Fitzroy, and stood again, returning to the window and his gaze on the palace ground.

Yes, that is what I will do,’ said Celestia to herself, looking at the magazine once more.

*   *   *

Effie Trinket worked the room.  Of course, she was Effie Abernathy, usually, but not tonight.  It was another Panem affair, and much of the usual crowd, the new young execs in the corner of the room, smoking cigars, discussing boring business and entrepreneurial things, a word she could never say correctly, and rumor had it that Celestia Snow was upstairs, with the hostess, chatting.  She liked to do that, apparently.  Chat.  There were the usual Capitol delicacies on hand, but district fare had entered into the Capitol somewhat, and the former vanities she had been used to in past years had been invaded by things like pie and these cute little pastries filled with meat and a weird obsession with lettuce and carrot mixes, which the exec ladies were so fond of to maintain a trim figure.  It was not what she was used to, the foods which melted away in the mouth, to be regurgitated so that more could be delightfully consumed.  She’d even been to a strange affair called a ‘Barbecue’ where they had big piles of roasted meat, in primitive looking bread rolls, with the most banal of basic sauces to cover them all over.  It was food the districts had revived, and she was not sure she liked them one little bit, especially the rather crude and excessive consumption of beer which went along with them.  This, they called, the Panemerican dream, a most strange detour into older history, uncovered from some of the forbidden books, but a growing fascination in Panem, even in the Capitol.  Not at all what she deemed suitable as a way of life.  She came into the large central hall, and in the centre of the room was the newfound princess of the Capitol, Celestia Snow, surrounded by admirers.  Perhaps a time to acquaint herself with the granddaughter of their former president.

Celestia.  How very charming it is to meet you,’ said Effie, offering her hand.

Oh,’ replied Celestia.  ‘The old brigade.  They still invite you to these gatherings I see.’

Effie didn’t miss a beat.  ‘Fraid so.  We are the society of the Capitol, and things don’t really change much in the end.’

Celestia sipped on a glass of champagne.  ‘Vomited this evening already?  Can’t stomach actual food?’

There were a few chuckles from those around Celestia on that comment.

Not yet,’ replied Effie, now a little taken aback.  ‘But I am sure there is so much to delight in that I will make room if necessary.’

I heard it once said,’ began Celestia, head held high, ‘That a French queen was once so vain, that she told the people to eat cake, so cut off from the real world she was.  I dare say she vomited many a time, to make room for more delicacies.’

My,’ said Effie, putting her hand to her chest.  ‘I, I,’ but she was lost for words, and excused herself, as those around Celestia looked at her with amusement on their faces.

Some people never know when their time is up,’ said Celestia to those around her, which brought a murmur of approval from her entourage.

Effie, as politely as she could, excused herself from the party, and left for home.

Coming in to her apartment she shared with Haymitch, she found him in the lounge room, drinking, lights dimmed.

She is a BITCH,’ said Effie, in the most exasperated of tones.

Haymitch looked up to Effie, his drunk state quite obvious.  ‘Effie Trinket.  In all my years I don’t think I have ever heard you swear even once.  Who is a bitch?’

Celestia Snow.  She, she.  She is not a lady of the Capitol as I felt at all.  She is abhorrent.  A pretentious little so and so,’ said Effie, taking off her wig.

That’s rich,’ replied Haymitch, and sipped on his bottle of grog.

This, NEW, Panem.  I don’t like it.  I don’t like it one little bit,’ complained Effie.

Time’s change,’ said Haymitch.  ‘Go, have a shower or something.  Take a bubble bath.  You’ll feel better in the morning.’

Effie stormed upstairs to her room, leaving Haymitch shaking his head.  Times had changed in Panem.

*   *   *

Why would you join the conservatives?’ Katniss asked the man opposite her.  It was a familiar face, Gale Hawthorne.

Because I’m traditional.  We’re not all heroes of the people like you Katniss Everdene,’ replied Gale.

Katniss Mellark,’ she corrected him.

They represent change, now, in Panem.  Since the deposing of Snow we knew it was a brave new world we were coming into.  One with hope.  One with promise.  One which the Mockingjay had given us,’ said Gale.

The Mockingjay didn’t do it,’ replied Katniss.  ‘The people rose up and stood for what was right.  They resisted a tyrant, and justice was honoured.’

You were honoured,’ said Gale.  ‘You inspired all of us.’

Don’t underestimate yourself,’ said Katniss.  ‘We were honoured.’

People liked that for a while,’ continued Gale.  ‘That hope.  That arrow of the Mockingjay on Snow’s judgment day.  They say that now. The arrow hit its mark.  It didn’t miss.  There was something in Coin which was just the same as what we already had, and the Mockingjay saw that right away.  She saw it and killed it before we had to endure a world which might have been just as dictatorial in the end, even if in the supposed name of freedom.’

I didn’t see liberty in her,’ replied Katniss.  ‘Just the opposite of Snow, yet just as diabolical if left alone long enough.’

And that worked, that arrow.  And killed a lot of things.  But we knew still it was a new beginning, and we’ve had that.  But even now there are voices in the districts.  Paylor is finished.  She has no new ideas, no new inspiration.  She’s run dry.  What she built with inspired us all for a while, but the people are starting to rebel against her ideas, because they haven’t worked that well.  We’re used to the old authoritarian way, and Snow kept us in line.  He was madness, in the end.  But the people worked, and they produced things, and got on with life.  But ease has crept in under Paylor, and people lack motivation now, and don’t care as much about doing their job properly, and we’re full of youths who are reaching their teens who expect everything to be easy, and that they’ve all got it coming to them, and more than that.  They have their freedoms, and can do what they want.  Problem is, they are doing what they want.  And sometimes it’s not always in everyone’s best interests.’

So Roary Fitzroy is the answer, you think?  He’s an ex-peacekeeper.  Are we brave enough to risk such a thing?’

Times have changed.  Fitzroy knows that.  But he knows that times need to change again, because of they don’t we’ll be in equally a bad a mess as we were before.  And perhaps worse in some ways.’

Paylor knows what she is doing,’ said Katniss.  ‘Young people will learn.  They just need good role models.’

And will you be that to the people?’ asked Gale.

I’m trying to be,’ responded the Mockingjay.

And I will try to do what is right also,’ said Gale.  ‘But not as a Progressive.’

To each their own,’ replied Katniss.

Gale looked at her.  ‘Is it working then?’

Katniss frowned.  ‘Is what working?’

Being Katniss Mellark?’

I am a mother, and a proud wife.  All is fine.’

Really?’ he asked.

What are you driving at?’ asked Katniss.

Gale looked at her harshly for a moment, then softened.  ‘Nothing.  Nothing really.  Just old feelings I think.  Probably jealousy.’

You’re married now.  It’s working isn’t it?’

Well enough,’ replied Gale.  ‘It’s not what I had before, though.  What we had before.’

No,’ she said.  ‘But times change.’

You’ll be back in the Capitol for debate next week I have been told.’

I have things which need to be said,’ replied Katniss.

Till then,’ he replied.

When Gale had left Katniss picked up her flute and played a new tune she had been working on.  Peeta came in through the front door, and her two children were with him.  They hugged their mother, and ran to the back yard.

Busy day?’ she asked Peeta.

Busy enough,’ he replied.  ‘Was that Gale Hawthorne I saw leaving?’

He came to talk work,’ replied Katniss.

Oh,’ said Peeta, and said nothing more, but Katniss noticed the tone in his voice.

And what is that supposed to mean?’ she asked him.

Peeta looked at her.  ‘Nothing, nothing.  I know there is nothing going on between the two of you.’

And why would you think there would be?’ she asked, a frown on her face.

I trust you Katniss.’

But you don’t trust Gale, is that it?’

I didn’t say that.  You’re putting words in my mouth.’

Gale is joining the Conservatives,’ she said.

If that is what he thinks best,’ said Peeta.

She was going to say something, but stopped.  ‘Yes, I guess it is Gale’s choice, isn’t it?’

We’re not all made of the same noble spirit that Katniss Everdene is,’ replied Peeta.  ‘Gale thinks about life in his own way. We all do.  It’s why we chose democracy and not dictatorship.  It’s the price we pay for getting along.’

Some prices I’m not sure we should pay,’ replied Katniss.

The Mockingjay was willing to,’ replied Peeta.

Katniss looked at Peeta thoughtfully, and put her flute to her mouth.  She played a soft tune, and Peeta listened, watching his wife, letting the music run over him, soothing him from his day’s work.  She put the flute down when she was finished the song.

And the Mockingjay does not regret that either,’ said Katniss, to which Peeta raised his eyebrow.

Later Katniss stood on the back porch, watching her children play in the back yard.  These were quite obviously difficult times for Panem.  They had embraced change, and gotten exactly what they had asked for.  And that was something of the problem it seemed.  They had gotten exactly what they had asked for.  And because of that people had taken many things for granted, and let go of many things they had assumed would just continue on.  But they hadn’t, and it was a new world, and more was yet to be done to bring some sort of decent life to Panem.  Some sort of world where they could be happy, and live peacefully, and get along, not worrying about tyrants called Snow, and tributes to the Hunger Games.  But that cost something. There was a price to pay.  And when you thought that price had been paid there was yet more charges.  Ironic, she thought.  Nothing good came easy.  And thinking of Roary Fitzroy and the rise of the Conservatives there was this little voice in her head which told her the Mockingjay’s work, something which she had never wanted, but which had been thrust upon her, was not yet finished.  And looking at her children, and the hope for their future she wanted, she knew she would have to lift her bow, and continue on with the hunt, and use the spirit of the Mockingjay, once more, as that cry for freedom.


Chapter 2

President Paylor sat in her presidential office, overlooking Panem.  Life was good in the Capitol, life had to be good.  They couldn’t afford it to be any other way.  If they had really been serious in the end, about deposing Snow, and establishing a new order, then they would have to provide the inspiration and stability for citizens of Panem to find that new life and that new freedom from tyranny.  She liked to think they had.  She knew she was lying to herself.  Things had been good, for a while. Positively inspirational.  But the new found zeal gave birth to an offspring which didn’t quite share that same view.  The youth.  They were often lackadaisical, accustomed to their freedoms and promises that everything would be well in the world now.  And while that was what they had hoped to be born in them, and indeed was, something else, a little more sinister, accompanied it.  It was probably the sickness endemic in Panem from former years, she reassured herself.  But she knew she was fooling herself.  It was human nature, when given rights and freedoms and a way of life, a new way of life, which afforded a new luxury, but one which didn’t know that luxury had to be paid for with work.  Hard work.  It was taken for granted by the young that everything would come to them.  And if one thing Paylor knew now was true, it didn’t.  It had to be worked for.  Blood, sweat and tears went into the building of anything useful and lasting, and while blood, sweat and tears had gone into the creation of the new Panem, it hadn’t really endured very long.  The people took too much for granted.  And with that reality, and the sinking popularity of her Progressive Alliance party, came the rise of the Conservatives, who the people, especially the Capitol, seemed to now believe had the answer Panem was looking for.  And right in the centre of that answer was an old peacekeeper, and a young lady, whose name still sent shivers up Paylors spine.

The polls, are not good,’ said the assistant to the president.

Poll numbers rise and fall regularly,’ replied Paylor.  ‘And we have remained in office regardless.’

Yes.  Of course you are right.  But we’ve won the past elections on the promises we have usually been able to deliver.  It’s not like that now, though.  People don’t really believe us anymore.  They don’t think we can deliver like we have in the past.  They want change, they are saying as much, and unless we do something to inspire them they will choose the conservatives, and we can’t count on anything being the same after that.’

We have cards yet to play,’ replied the President.

Unless it’s a Mockingjay I don’t think they’ll beat the hand against us,’ said the aide.

She’s inexperienced.  Hasn’t been in office very long,’ said Paylor.

People look to her. They did then, they do now. If you make her your new deputy president it will be a rallying cry, and we can likely assume that will be enough on election night.'

'It's too soon,' said Paylor. 'She's a beacon of hope, true. But she's no beureacrat. Far too idealistic. Her current proposals speak of things too intangible to actually put into legal practice. Unrealistic expectations of service to ideas of equality and liberty and freedom. So much rhetoric, without any real substance of duty. It's not what works in legal language, and it is no good to administer a nation on goodwill. People like procedures and rules and law and things they can obey. Mockingjay is a catchcry. Not an actual president.'

'And President Paylor is a voice which no longer cries to the heart of Panem, much less the Capitol. Forgive me Madame President, but while you have done us so much service people need a figure to believe in and place their faith in. In this strange democracy, from what I have read, they come and they go, and they never really last very long. People want change after a while, or if it is stability and permanence that they want, it is usually from the more conservative side of things. Even now they call you a bleeding heart who has no real common sense.'

'I admire your honesty,' replied the President. 'But we will play this out to the end. If they insist on change, then that is the choice they will make. But it is the choice of the people, and that is what we chose after all. We can't have it another way.'

'Which gives us Fitzroy and probably Snow. All the party are worried about that. Fitzroy is bad enough, and while people like the fresh young face of Celestia Snow, not seemingly at all bothered by her heritage, it is as if that heritage is something they expect, and couldn't care less about the rule of law it once imposed. Yet some of us fear that. We remember the kind of rule of law that heritage imposed.'

'She's been through re-education. Like all of us she deserves another chance,' said the President.

'Expect her to run with that, you know. Expect her to take that as a mandate that Snow is in business, and people accept what she delivers,' said the aide.

'Then that is what we will have to face,' said the President. 'For the sake of democracy we can't really afford it to be any other way either.'

'For the sake of democracy,' replied the aide, shaking his head, and looking once more at the poll sheet in front of him.

*   *   *

'Solstice. It's a lovely time to be alive,' said Caesar Flickerman to the Panemerican audience watching on TV. 'We here at Capitol TV have braved this oh so cold solstice night to witness a spectacular event. The inaugural Capitol Spectacular. All of you will be certainly surprised at what we have planned for such a special evening. And, of course, the theme is bringing honour to our wonderful new democracy and the capitolist dream so many of us are now reaching in our aspirations to achieve. So sit back, curl up tight, and enjoy the show.'

Rooms across Panem were full of faces glued to the screen as a new endeavour in TV marketing got under way. It wasn't that the telethon to help impoverished children was a worthwhile cause that drew them in. It wasn't even the Presidential address on the making of a new Panem which inspired them. It was the stroke of midnight, when solstice was born, that stole the show. In the central Panem square where the show was being broadcast there were white solstice glowing lights everywhere, flickering, with solstice trees covered with glitter, and entertainers dancing, in elaborate solstice season costumes. It was all spectacular, as it was indeed intended to be, but it was when the gongs of Panem went off, and the cameras shot to the sky at a hovering spacecraft, with a beautiful celestial angel, with wings, and a crown of beams lighting her up, singing the theme song of the event, 'The glory of Panem', it was that it was none other than Celestia Snow herself, landing on the front stage, singing out her heart, and showing the world what the Capitol was all about that made the night unforgettable.

'I do this all for the people of Panem,' beamed Celestia. 'I do this all because we are one,' beamed Celestia. 'I do this all because - because I love you all,' beamed Celestia. The last words defined the mood of the press the following day, and the growing mood in Panem that change, now, was inevitable. The Conservatives had struck gold with Celestia Snow, Paylor knew it, and the old guard since the rebirth was finished. It was a done deal. Katniss, who was watching on television with Peter, turned to him after Celestia's final words, and said something Peter never quite forgot. 'I hate Snow, you know. You know what I mean?'

*   *   *

A religion is no good unless a religion has adherents,’ said Effie Trinket to Caesar Flickerman on Capitol TV.

And Panem has a fine religion.  Our customs are established, and we know our way of life.  Especially this brave new world,’ replied Caesar, smiling at the audience.
‘That was a work by Aldous Huxley,’ replied Effie.

We all know your fondness for the forbidden works,’ replied Caesar.

They were forbidden,’ said Effie.  ‘But they were not destroyed, but kept in archives.  President Snow was quite insistent that the old cultures didn’t work and the old systems failed, and that the new philosophy of Panem, were the Capitol’s ruled the districts, and the districts supported the Capitol, were what would endure.  But he was harsh, I guess.  I don’t know.  I liked him at times.’

Time softens even the harshest of elements,’ replied Caesar sighing, and smiling at the camera.

I have studied.  And our fine show ‘Lessons from History’ will unearth things I think we can learn, and perhaps must, from what has gone,’ said Effie.

And this will help us to fashion what will be?’ queried Caesar, he hand on his cheek, striking a very philosophical and serious looking pose.

It must,’ replied Effie.  ‘My God, life would not be at all fun if we did not repeat the mistakes of history.  Learning from the past to not repeat the lunacy became so bland and dry in the end.  I think a good apocalypse lightened everything up for a while,’ said Effie quite boldly.

Nothing like a good nuclear war,’ said Caesar, smiling at the camera.

Indeed.  But everything old is new again,’ continued Effie.  ‘And Panem is looking for a new formula of life, not so damn predictable to what has been, with a new hope of promise for the future.’

A tough challenge,’ said Caesar to the camera.

Exactly,’ continued Effie.  ‘So we must choose a new religion and a new paradigm, and while the noble truths of yesteryear have certainly had their say, they just become a bit too predictable as time passes by.’

You are a visionary, Effie Trinket, I will give you that much,’ smiled Caesar.

Peeta and Katniss, watching on, looked at each other.  ‘So keep it real,’ Peeta finally said, and stood, going off for a cigarette.

Keep it real,’ thought Katniss, sitting there, thinking new, creative, adventure.

* * *

'Mt Flatstone,' said Linus O'Neal.

'What about it?' asked Alexander Salt.

'I have an archive at Mt Flatstone. Need to go visit and look at a few items,' replied Linus.

'You and your archives,' replied Alex. 'Never ceases to amaze me the junk you have all over Panem.'

'Be prepared. Boyscouts motto,' said Linus. 'Saw everything coming, and prepared for years.'

'You must have written the manual on Doomsday Prepping,' said Alexander. 'Seen that, recently, at the institute. Going through forbidden works and things. The old literature. Quite a bit now somewhat legal for us to look at. When the council passes it.'

'I have things they won't release,' said Linus. 'Knowledge is power, and invention is society, and not everything of the old world was bad.'

'You've said that a few times,' replied Alex. 'When are we leaving?'

'Spring is in the air,' said Linus. 'Next month. Late. We'll drive up in the jeep, and stay a few days. Give me a chance to read up on some issues.'

'The agenda. I know,' said Alex. 'Always the agenda. You never give details about what the agenda is, but apparently there is one.'

'There's always an agenda,' replied Linus. 'Life is built on agendas. Now shush, and go get me some more bolognese and cheese from Matilda.'

Alex stood, stretched his legs, and wandered off from the camp, up the hill to a caravan, where Matilda, as old as Linus, had cooked some dinner. It was interesting, to Alexander Salt. He'd known Linus and Matilda a decade now, and they never aged. He claimed he was as old as the sun, which Alex knew wasn't true, but the old man had knowledge of the old world, and he'd seen a number of his archives. Somehow this fool had worked out the secret of eternal life and, because of that, Alexander hung around, amused, but keen on seeing what it could offer him in the long term.