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He Says He Volunteers As Tribute

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And we're back! In case you're just joining us, viewers, we're in the middle of a quick recap of the District tributes for this year's Hunger Games.

Next up, my absolute favorite: District Five, male: Carlos! Just look at that face, Panem. That strong jaw. That hair. Isn't he beautiful?

And brave, too! Carlos has the distinction of being one of the only volunteers ever seen in his district, taking the place of his younger brother Michael. It's especially gutsy this year because, as of just recently, District Five has no living Victors to act as mentor. You may remember that their one living Victor last year, Joel Isenberg, succumbed to a bout of throat spiders several weeks after the end of the Games.

Ah, throat spiders. That rare but deadly infection, whose final throes just happen to look not-at-all-suspiciously like self-inflicted knife wounds to the jugular vein.

Well, viewers, our initial reports in from Five tell us that sixteen-year-old Carlos is not only beautiful, but smart — one of the most intelligent students in his class. I bet you he won't even need mentoring to get through the Games. In fact, if I were legally allowed to place bets, I would be putting several large ones down on Carlos already.

I'm sure we'll be hearing plenty about this young man over the next week. Possibly even from people other than me.

Now, I'm being signaled by Games management to move on, so, reluctantly, let us go on to District Five, female....

 

***

 

...and, oh my, are those really their fashion choices? Let me tell you right now, viewers, the District Four stylists are not going to be setting any trends this year! The opening ceremonies are for making a splash, and the Four tributes, I am sorry to say, are simply all wet.

Oh, good, here comes the Five chariot! With its tributes, Simone and fan-favorite, national treasure, Carlos —

— who did that to his hair?

It's so short! So tragically, dreadfully short? What stylist would do this? Are they trying to lose him sponsors?

I don't care for their outfits either, but I must say, Carlos' is at least flattering to his physique, and would look downright passable if it were merely a framing device to accentuate his now long-lost flowing locks.

 

***

 

"I guess...I'm just real worried for my pets."

An animal lover, then! Don't you worry, Simone, even if you don't make it, I'm sure there will be plenty of kind people back home in your district to take them in.

"..."

...Simone? Still with us?

"The world ended three or four decades ago."

Are you referring to the Uprising, or...?

"Dunno what this is we're living in. But it's not the world. Turkey with extra swiss."

I...see. And we are out of time! Thank you for that thought-provoking reflection, Simone, and please do your best to come back and talk to us again.

And now...Carlos!

[Applause.]

It's lovely to see you. Sit down, sit down.

"Nice to see you too...Cecil, right?"

That's right! Gosh, all this must be so new to you, huh?

"Sort of. I've heard your voice plenty. I just never had a name to put to it until now."

Wow! You've listened to me before?

"Well, you do commentate the Games, and watching them is mandatory...."

Of course, yes, let's talk about the Games. We understand, Carlos, that you got an eight on your training score. That's very good, remarkably so for a young man from outside the traditional winning districts, and I'm sure you did something impressive to earn it...but more importantly than that...your outfit is much more flattering than the last one! How are you liking your new stylist?

"He seems to know what he's doing. But I thought the last guy did too. What happened to Telly, by the way?"

The treacherous Telly? Seems the Games Committee had the good sense to dismiss him. After the disaster he made of your gorgeous locks....

"You realize I asked him to cut them, right?"

What?

"Long hair gets in your face. It gets tangled in things. It's easier to grab, it's better at catching fire...I don't understand why anyone would keep their hair long once they knew they were going to be a tribute. The smart thing to do would be to cut it the first chance you got."

Huh. I never thought of it that way. You're so smart, Carlos!

You do like your new stylist, though, right?

His tan jacket is iconic, and he's been working with tributes for a lot of Games. I bet he could even give you and your district partner some advice, in place of the mentor you two are tragically lacking at the moment.

"Actually, he's given me a little bit of advice already."

Really! Care to share? Or are you keeping it in your pocket until you get to the Arena?

"No, no, in this case it was advice about these interviews. He said...'Smile for Cecil.'"

[Awwws.]

 

***

 

Here it comes, viewers! The moment of truth, the very first sight our tributes will get of this year's Arena.

Watch the clock with me....

Ah! What an interesting choice! It's been a while since we've had a desert Arena. Very little cover, and only time will tell how much water there is. Some of our tributes look quite startled by this turn of events.

And...oh, are you seeing this, Panem? Everyone else is either staring at the Cornucopia or looking left and right, but Carlos is the only tribute turning around. Getting a full view of his surroundings! It's that kind of intelligence and planning that will give you a leg up in the Games, perhaps even over those tributes who might have more physical training or —

There's the cannon!

They're off!

 

***

 

And as we sign off for our broadcast tonight, we leave you with today's deaths:

District Three, female; District Six, male; District Eight, male; District Eight, female; District Nine, female; District Ten, male; District Ten, female; District Eleven, female.

Good night, Panem. Good night.

 

***

 

Oh, dear. That certainly is not a clean kill, is it, Panem?

I suppose this is it for Simone Rigadeau. Her pet cans back in Five will no doubt miss her. I do hope someone takes them in.

My, this is really getting...oh, good, a new scene! As we've shown you on the map earlier, this canyon is one of the few places in the Arena with any cover, including some caves and crevices in the stony walls. It also has a small stream at the bottom, but the water is not safe to drink. Will this young man, our candidate from District Three, think to purify it first?

...I guess he won't.

I must say, that was not a satisfying level of suspense.

But wait — can it be? — it is! Stunning, strikingly windswept Carlos, whom we have not seen much of since yesterday afternoon, has emerged from a hiding place in the rocks to examine the body. Let's go to the diagram tracking his position over time, to find out how long he's been there. Do we have that diagram?

Ah, there we go. Ladies and gentlemen, it looks like Carlos found his way to the base of the canyon several hours before sunrise. You may recall that Carlos did not retrieve anything at the Cornucopia, so he has spent nearly twenty-four hours without liquid. Brave, self-restraint-practicing Carlos! Let's go back to the live feed and see what he's gained from this less-cautious tribute's bag.

A knife...a plastic bottle, empty...some beef jerky and dried plums...nothing especially liquid-y, and I'm being handed a note saying this bag was not equipped with water-purifying tablets.

Oh, that's smart, Carlos, getting back under cover before you eat! You enjoy what little feast you have there. You've certainly earned it.

 

***

 

Once again, we sign off, leaving you with the day's deaths:

District Three, male; District Five, female; District Seven, male; District Nine, male; District Twelve, female.

Good night, Panem. Good night.

 

***

 

Thank you for talking to us today, Shadow! Again, that was Shadow Haze, the genetic designer who personally created these wonderful diving-bird-of-prey muttations you're about to see in action. Let's go to the live feed!

You'll recall that the tributes from One and Two have formed their traditional alliance, and are currently camped out at the Cornucopia, defending their spoils. Our highest scorer this year was the gentleman from District Two, but in this case the person to watch is probably the young lady from District One, Glow, who has demonstrated exceptional skill with a bow. And here she is now!

Oh, that was a good shot!

And another! Isn't she fast? Dead mutts are just dropping out of the sky right now. Well done, Glow!

...Whoops, looks like she missed that one. And there goes our highest scorer! Sadly, we do not have cameras mounted on the muttations themselves, so as our top scorer is carried into the sky, we are unable to follow him as effectively as we would like.

Wait, never mind! He's coming down now.

 

***

 

District Two, male; District Four, female; District Four, male.

Good night, Panem. Good night.

 

***

 

If you're just joining us, we are currently viewing the part of the Arena our designers have dubbed Radon Canyon. We're following Vithya, from District Seven, who you may recall was provided with water yesterday thanks to a generous sponsor. I am looking at a report saying that the backpack currently in her possession contains purification tablets. Will she use them?

She is not drinking straight from the stream. She is filling up a water bottle....

Carlos comes up from behind!

Oh. Oh dear. I begin to see what Carlos meant about long hair being distressingly easy to grab.

Vithya is struggling...she is bleeding out....

Don't look so sad, Carlos! You'll have drinkable water now! And even if the stream is not safe to drink from, you will at least be able to wash off your hands.

Wait, he said something. Can we get a close-up and play that back, louder?

"I need ammonia. Anybody want to drop some for me? Ammonia. The kind you'd have around the house is fine."

How exciting! He has a plan! I wonder what it is?

Excuse me for a minute, viewers. I need to look up some prices.

 

***

 

District Six, female; District Seven, female; District Twelve, male.

Good night, Panem....

 

***

 

If I may interject my personal opinion for a minute, viewers: acid rain, while it sounds quite dramatic, is really not much of a vehicle for drama. All it does is encourage our remaining tributes to stay under cover, and how much conflict can you get out of that?

 

***

 

District Two, female; District Eleven, male.

...good night.

 

***

 

Sitting down with us now in the studio is Leann Hart, a long-time Capitol escort for our honored Hunger Games tributes. This year she was the escort for the late Simone, and the un-late, strong-jawed Carlos. Thank you for joining us, Leann!

"Cecil, you are the most ridiculously biased commentator the Hunger Games have ever seen."

Thank you for that assessment, Leann. So, when you first accompanied Carlos to the Capitol, did you have any idea he would make it to the final three?

"Of course! I don't know how anyone could miss it. I certainly didn't bet a large amount of my personal income on some other candidate. Hahaha, that would be stupid!"

Also, people whose positions are as closely involved in the Games as yours are not allowed to bet on the outcome, isn't that correct?

"What? I mean, of course! Yet one more very good reason why I did not bet anything on one of the late candidates from District Two. Certainly not my house. That would just be ridiculous. Anyway, I don't even have a house! Who told you that? Houses are not even a thing."

 

***

 

We interrupt this Arena retrospective to bring you a breaking development: the candidates from District One are on the move!

They are both well equipped with full water bottles and packs of food. It looks like that was the last of the food available at the Cornucopia, which means they have to either find a new source or bring an end to the Games.

The only other tribute remaining, of course, is the Capitol's favorite new arrival, Carlos! We haven't seen much of Carlos for the past two days, which is a tragedy for our time, but our thoughtful interns down in the editing room have cut together a short summary of what he's been up to in and around that little cave of his. Let's watch!

...I have no idea what Carlos is trying to do here.

He's so smart.

 

***

 

This could be it, viewers! As you can see on the overhead map here, the trackers of our intrepid young volunteers from District One are approaching the hideout of the also-intrepid even-younger volunteer from District Five. Let's go to the live feed.

As you can see, Glow has her bow at the ready, and....

A noise! They've both heard it. They're suspicious, and rightly so — for all they know, it could be another muttation — but we know better, don't we, Panem? And, oh dear, it looks as if the young man is deciding to go for it. He's approaching that little walkway up to Carlos' cave — he has a spear —

Oh!

Um.

...

That is quite a lot of smoke, isn't it?

...

And now Glow looks very distressed. She is aiming at the cloud of violet smoke, which expands every time there is a new explosion, but she is unable to see her target, and all the echoes make it hard to pinpoint the source of the screaming. Just shoot into the cloud, Glow!

Shots fired!

And there's the cannon! I am not sure if it was one of the shots or the continuing explosions that did the trick, but I will let you know just as soon as we get the autopsy results back.

Glow is keeping her distance now. She appears to be...gathering a handful of the sandy dirt from where she is standing. Oh, I see her strategy! Throw it onto the area leading up to Carlos' cave, see if she can trigger all the explosions to pave a safe path for her approach. I do hope Carlos has a backup plan.

In the meantime...along with probably most of the rest of you, I have no idea what just happened. Could we get a slow-motion playback, please?

Here we go! All right. The young man from District One approaches. He steps on...I don't know what! It looks like there's nothing there besides ordinary dust and grit, but it clearly explodes on contact. Now, it looks like the first explosion largely only goes through his shoes, but of course that's enough to make him trip, and he lands on even more of the explosive substance. The scene is quickly enveloped in violet smoke, but as you could hear by the ongoing series of bangs echoing around Radon Canyon along with the screaming, new explosions were being continually triggered for quite a while there.

I for one am very impressed. I didn't realize Carlos knew science!

 

***

 

Final showdown time, ladies and gentlemen.

It has been a long time since the last explosion. The smoke has nearly cleared away. Glow is making her approach.

Cutting to the view inside the cave, we can see that Carlos is awake and alert. I suppose it wouldn't have been easy for him to fall asleep with all that noise.

You will recall that Glow's strength lies in long-range fighting, but since there is no angle from which to fire an arrow into Carlos' cave, she will have to test her strength in hand-to-hand combat. She has retrieved her late district partner's spear. Carlos, of course, still has his knife....

Here they go!

Carlos takes a whack to the head, but gets a grip on the shaft of the spear, nearly throwing Glow off-balance. She lunges — he takes a punch to the gut — uses the cliff wall for leverage — and they're on the ground! The spear goes clattering across the rock — they're grappling over the knife — Carlos gets a good slice out of her shoulder —

And the knife goes flying out of reach! That can't be good —

Oh, never mind! I see Carlos also has a rock.

 

***

 

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...the Victor of this year's Hunger Games...Carlos the Scientist!

[Thunderous applause.]

Welcome back, Carlos, welcome back! It's so wonderful to see you.

"Hi, Cecil. What do you mean, 'the Scientist'?"

Hasn't anyone told you? I suppose you've been rather busy, what with getting yourself re-hydrated and recovering from malnutrition and having a few unsightly scrapes and bruises touched up, but you would think one of the doctors and/or plastic surgeons would have mentioned it! That's all anybody's calling you these days, because of your brilliant Games-winning strategy. Isn't it a charming nickname?

"I...yes."

You absolutely must tell us how you did it. Of course, our own scientists have been talking about practically nothing else for days, but I've been dying to hear it straight from you.

"...Have you, now."

Absolutely! Soooooo?

"The tablets, for purifying water: they're iodine. Dissolve them in ammonia and filter it, you get nitrogen triiodide. Very dangerous. Have to let it react where you'll use it. Explodes if you move it."

So what you're saying is that our viewers should not try this at home?

"Please don't."

And how did you get the idea to try it in the first place? Did you come up with it all by yourself?

"I knew what kinds of chemicals are normally sent into the Arena, so I did a little research. That's all."

Wow! Gosh, I guess this sends a pretty clear message to all you kids out there: study hard! It just might save your life some day!

[Appreciative laughter.]

I have to admit, Carlos, we were all pretty worried, seeing you go in there without a mentor. But it sounds like you haven't needed any help this whole time.

"I had some. From the man in the tan jacket. I wish I'd had more."

Well, the good news is, next year's tributes from Five will have you to count on! I certainly hope your stylist will stay with your district too. He's done such beautiful work — you look stunning right now, by the way — and the lab coat is a wonderful stylistic touch. Has he given you any more tips since you got out of the Arena?

"He said one thing right before I came out here."

Do tell!

"Smile for Cecil one more time, and then you can go home."

 

***

 

Well, we are just about out of time. Let's give another big hand to Carlos the Scientist, everyone! May the odds be ever in his favor.

Stay tuned next for Capitol Fashion, featuring a new line of fur pants and an exciting collection of footwear made entirely of sand.

Good night, Panem. Good night.