“Hello-hello-hello!” said Caesar Flickerman to the roaring crowd. “Welcome to this very special edition of my annual pre-Games interview! We’ve reached our 100th Annual Hunger Games, which is not only a landmark event in its own rite, but the fourth Quarter Quell!”
The crowd of brightly-colored, oddly-dressed spectators cheered.
“Why are we being watched by a bunch of transfigured peacocks?” Ginny whispered in Harry’s ear.
“Dunno…they’re dressed even weirder than wizards...” Harry replied.
“Now, as you all know,” Caesar went on, jovially addressing the audience, “For this year’s Quarter Quell, instead of taking tributes from twelve different districts, we took tributes from twelve different universes, just to show the multiverse how far Panem’s dominance goes!”
Again, the crowd cheered.
“Now, since these twenty-four tributes have no clue what is going on, we’ve opted to have these interviews before the opening ceremonies, so their designers have more time to get to know them. They were brought in just a few hours ago and had all the rules explained to them. Now, without further ado, let’s bring out our first duo--from the wizarding world of Harry Potter, we have none other than HARRY POTTER!”
He paused so the crowd could cheer.
“Why is it always me?” Harry muttered.
“And of course, his lovely wife Ginevra.”
“C’mon, let’s just get up there,” Ginny urged, taking him by the hand and pulling him up onto the stage.
“My my, she looks like a fiery one! Tell me, Mr. Potter, what is your plan to keep your new bride safe?”
The newlyweds had been kidnapped on the second day of their honeymoon. Harry should have known he couldn’t have one moment of peace, one week without someone he loved being in danger.
“I’m actually quite capable,” Ginny chimed in when Harry didn’t say anything.
“Yes, she’s a great witch. And a good flier too. Of course, we don’t have wands or brooms, or anything for that matter...”
“If we did, we would just apparate home,” Ginny added.
“Hahaha!” laughed Caesar. “I think it’s clear what their strategy will be. Get some wands from the cornucopia! I imagine if you manage that, you’ll be tough to beat. But who knows what the Gamemakers will choose to supply you with.”
“Gamemakers?” said Harry. “Bloody hell, this whole thing is worse than the triwizard tournament.”
Caesar laughed again. “Now, now, you two should consider yourselves lucky! Ever since the last Quarter Quell--the 75th Hunger Games--we’ve allowed tributes to compete in teams from their district, so there can be two winners instead of one. At least you don’t have to kill each other!”
“Right, thanks, that really puts things in perspective,” said Harry.
“Alright, enough of your sarcasm! Good luck to both of you.” He ushered them off the stage. “Let’s meet our next tributes! From the world of Criminal Minds, we have Spencer Reid and Penelope Garcia!”
A man and a woman walked cautiously onto the stage, looking around as if waiting to receive orders from a superior. The man was thin, with unkempt hair and a sweater-vest. The woman was a full-bodied blonde that fit in surprisingly well with the Capitol audience in her bright outfit, high heels, and oversized jewelry.
“Ah, Miss Garcia, don’t you look lovely today,” Caesar said, motioning for them to have a seat on the sofa.
“Th-thank you,” stammered Garcia. “I hadn’t really planned on being kidnapped and brought to a death tournament, otherwise I might’ve worn something more practical.”
“Oh, don’t you worry, you’ll be given special uniforms for the Games.” Caesar smiled. “Everyone, where these two come from, they are special agents who catch criminals by analyzing their behavior. Tell me, Spencer, do you think you will be able to use this to your advantage?”
Spencer looked carefully at Caesar, eyeing his blue hair and white suit. Even he had to admit these Capitol people were a tough bunch to profile--he had no background knowledge of their culture. Still, he analyzed their situation, going over thousands of variables in a matter of seconds before he decided how to answer.
“Yes, of course. We’ve taken down serial killers, terrorists, and plenty of other criminals much stronger than ourselves using only the power of our minds.”
“And my amazing computer skills,” Garcia added.
“That too,” Reid agreed. “Although I’m not sure how useful that will be in the arena.”
Garcia frowned. It was about the only way she knew how to be useful.
“Well, if you don’t mind me saying, you don’t seem like a threatening bunch--but I also get the feeling you’re both a little more than meets the eye.”
“We most certainly are,” Garcia agreed, trying to sound confident.
“That’s what I like to hear! Now, if I may, let’s bring out our next two competitors...”
Garcia and Reid gratefully left the stage, while a blond man in a yellow uniform walked confidently onto the stage, followed by a black woman wearing a very short red uniform-dress.
“And you must be--”
“Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise.” He extended his hand. “Greetings from the Federation’s Starfleet. I hope we can come up with an agreeable solution to this situation.”
“You seem quite self assured, sir. Would you say you are confident that you will win?”
“Win? I have no intention of winning. Mark my words, I will bring this entire operation down! There are no winners in competitions to the death!”
“Except perhaps the spectators,” said Uhura.
“Note once we’re through with them!” Kirk scowled around at the audience. “Can’t you all see that your society is broken?”
“Looks like we have another wannabe rebel,” said Caesar with a grin. “And since Mr. Kirk--”
“Captain Kirk, to you--”
“Excuse me, Captain Kirk, didn’t give us a chance--everyone, this is Lieutenant Nyota Uhura.”
There was a smattering of applause as Uhura nodded to the crowd.
“Tell us, Lieutenant, what is your strategy for the Games?”
“We have been trying to get in contact with Starfleet for backup,” said Uhura.
“Have you been able to contact them?” Kirk asked.
“No, sir. As you recall they took our transmitters as well as our phasers.”
“Yes...” said Kirk. “They must not want us to get help. No matter! This isn’t the first time I’ve been trapped alone on a dangerous planet. Don’t worry, Lieutenant, I will find a way to get us both home safely.”
“Well, there you have it,” said Caesar. “Let’s welcome our next contestants--Kimmy Schmidt and Titus Andromedon!”
The next pair to stroll onto the stage was a black man wearing a shimmery robe and a woman who looked a bit like the Wendy’s mascot. Both looked around in wonder, Kimmy’s eyes filled with excitement and Titus’s with fear.
“Wow!” Kimmy said before Caesar could ask her anything. “This is crazy. Were those people from the future? Also Harry Potter is all grown up and married now? Of all the times I’ve been kidnapped, this has gotta be my favorite!”
“Kimmy, this is a disaster!” shrieked Titus. “We’re going to be forced to fight to the death! And worse, whole universes are going to be watching!”
“Exactly!” said Kimmy. “Titus, this is your chance to shine!”
“Shine? Girl, we’re gonna get murdered!”
“It sure will be a spectacular murder though! Besides, I’ve been in situations almost this crazy, and I survived. You can survive most anything if you put your mind to it.”
“Well,” said Caesar. “It seems we’ve met our most optimistic participants--but not everyone sees the world with such rose-colored lenses. These contestants are here after quite a Series of Unfortunate Events. Everyone--Violet Baudelaire and Count Olaf!”
A man with a grey beard and a unibrow strutted onto the stage, followed by a girl dressed in old-fashioned, dark clothing who kept as far away from the man as possible.
“P-please, could you tell me where my brother and sister are?” Violet said. “Do they know where I am? They’ll just want to know I’m safe…”
“You should be glad the little brats aren’t here,” said Count Olaf. “Once I win this competition, I only have to get rid of one of them back on earth and keep the other for the fortune.”
Caesar raised his pink eyebrows. “Everyone so far has made quite a team, but you two seem rather tense with one another!”
“This man is rotten,” said Violet. “He locked my baby sister in a birdcage atop a tower. He murdered several of my guardians. He’s an arsonist and he probably set the fire that killed my parents and destroyed my entire home!”
“Quiet, orphan. Let the grown-ups speak,” growled Olaf.
“Now, now--you two are supposed to be a team.”
“Yes, well, Olaf prefers to work alone,” said Olaf, speaking in the third person, a vocal pattern which can become rather confusing if one does not know the name of the person speaking.
“You have an entire troupe back home which you use in your schemes,” Violet pointed out.
“Yes, well, I don’t intend to share your fortune with them, and I don’t intend to share my glorious winnings from this competition with you, orphan! There is a prize, isn’t there?”
“Haha! Nice to see such a motivated individual!” laughed Caesar. “Now, why don’t each of you tell me what skills you’ll be bringing to the competition?”
“Well, I am a world renowned actor where I come from,” Olaf began, his voice awash with false modesty. “I’m also very good at disguises. And of course, I won’t hesitate to use any weapon I get my hands on.”
“I’m very good at inventing things,” Violet put in. “It’s got me out of quite a few sticky situations in the past. Once, I saved my sister Sunny by--”
“Inventions?” Olaf barked. “Bah haha! No one wants to hear about your silly hobbies. This is about your ability to kill! Next you’ll be telling us how you’re very good at reading books! Haha!”
Caesar laughed as well. “Books! What a useless skill to bring to a killing competition!”
“Books can be essential to survival,” Violet protested. “My brother Klaus--”
“Haha! Surviving with a book!” howled Olaf.
“Hahaha!” Caesar roared. “What are you going to do with it? Hit someone over the head with it! Haha! That I’d like to see!”
The rest of the Capitol audience laughed as well. Violet scowled as she walked off stage,
joining the ranks of Harry, Ginny, Spencer, Penelope, Kirk, Uhura, Kimmy, and Titus. Olaf laughed with Caesar for another minute before joining them.
“Hahaha! Now, where were we... Let’s bring out one more group before the intermission,” said Caesar. “Everyone, give a warm welcome to…Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger!”
Harry and Ginny looked at each other and then at the two tributes walking onto the stage. “That can’t be...” Ginny said under her breath.
“That isn’t them,” Harry agreed.
Indeed, the man and woman who appeared before them looked kind of but not really like Harry’s two best friends. Hermione’s hair was appropriately bushy, but Ron’s hair was a little too red. And what was with the headband?
“YEAH!” shouted Ron, running onto the stage, pumping his arms. The crowd went wild. “I’m gonna win this thing thanks to the power and energy of RED VINES!” He held up a box of red liquorice candy. “Red vine, Caesar?”
“Thank you, Ron!” Caesar took one and bit it enthusiastically. “Ron, you are the sidekick of your story. What do you think your chances are of winning without Harry?”
“Well--” Hermione began.
“NOBODY ASKED YOU HERMIONE! GOD!” Ron shouted. He rolled his eyes at Caesar. “She can’t even draw.”
“But I can do magic!” said Hermione. “We don’t have our wands, but if we try hard wandless magic--”
“WE HAVE WANDS RIGHT HERE!” Ron brandished one of the red vines. “Expecto patronum! Expliarrums! Flipendo!”
“That’s not a real spell and those aren’t real wands!”
“Well, she sure is a spoilsport,” said Caesar in a mock-whisper, causing Ron and everyone else to laugh.
“I can’t believe I missed the NEWTS for this,” muttered Hermione as the two of them exited stage and sat down with the other ten tributes who had already been introduced.
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