Trigger Warnings: Abuse, (non graphic) suicide, mentioned death, major character death, profanity,
too many exclamation points, and mature themes. <--- I have no idea what I mean by mature themes, but oh well, just expect it as a possibility.
"Are you sure this will work, Cass?" Red fretted, eyes frantically scanning their plans for any weakness, any flaw they might have overlooked. "If this fails.."
"I'm fully aware of what'll happen if we fail, but we have to take the risk." Cassiopeia insisted, unwilling to listen to reason at such a crucial part of the plan. "I'm prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice for this cause. Now, for the last time, let me ask you: are you willing to do the same?"
Red glanced back down at the carefully labeled diagrams they had created together. She looked at their progress, at the record of their successes and mistakes. And yet, she still could easily recall her past, the feeling of makeup being brushed onto her lips, the wonder that she could instill into the very heart of humanity. And she remembered her future, the half blind husband and young twins she would have to abandon to see this plan come to pass without a hitch. Sometimes, she wondered if her close friend was blind to the feelings of those she would leave behind.
"I can't go through with this." Red decided at last, speaking the words she should have said a long time ago. "You can commit suicide all you want. You can even throw your daughter to the wolves for all I care! But, at least I have enough heart to tell Raven that you view her only as an obstruction in the 'cogs of progress'." She strode out, head held high. "I suppose love gets in the way of your grand vision of tomorrow."
White-hot fury coursed through her veins. She had the desperate impulse to drag Red back into the room and make her pay for deserting the cause. Cassiopeia had the very words to do so hovering on the very tip of her tongue, but laboriously swallowed them down. There would be time later, after the conclusion of the fight, for Red to be punished. When they read out her last will and testament, she had already ensured that the Hood family would be executed all together, due to Red's previous acts of betrayal.
"You say I don't love my own daughter, but you are the one who is truly blind to the depth of my affections for her. The child of a martyr is automatically granted a position of power, and protections with more weight than one could ever imagine." She smirked, smoothing out a crease in her blueprints.
"Even in death, Panem will remain my property forevermore!"
~ Interlude ~
War's haven is not on the battlefield. It lurks within the hearts of man, within their souls, and within their minds. War is not merely a force of conflict; it is a sickness that targets humankind. Wars are not waged between countries, cities, states. They are waged between individuals.
And, in a few moments, a bringer of war, a soul who has belonged to me since the day she was born, is going to perish. How do I know this? Well, I am Death, and all things are mine to take, forever and ever.
The 13th Chapter's Legion were stocked with talented soldiers, down to the very last man. All were armed and trained in multiple forms of combat. All knew how to survive harsh conditions without fail. And every last one of them was prepared to die for the sake of the rebellion.
"Is death painful?" One of them murmured to her partner, curious without fail. She had only been human for a short little while and had never felt pain, hunger, or anything other than wonder and joy and the occasional pang of forgetfulness.
"I suppose." They shrugged in reply. "No one knows but the poor souls in the grave."
"If we join them, I'd share my money!" The former puppet, generous to a T, brandished their gun and smiled brightly.
"You won't need money where we're going, hun." They clicked their tongue sharply and waited for the order to charge. Bubbly hunks of wood weren't the type of people they preferred to associate with in their final moments.
The opposing forces gathered at the base of the hill, appearing bedraggled and missing sorely needed ammunition. Despite having held the advantage at first, the Library, used to decadent living, had wasted all of their rations frivolously during the first few weeks of fighting. It had been two months since and their numbers had been depleted immensely. However, even at their weakest, they outnumbered Chapter 13's numbers 10 to 1.
"Ma'am, what are your orders?" One of her valued gnome strategists inquired, tugging at her sleeve gently. Cassiopeia gazed down at them, and for the briefest of moments, saw little Raven in their stead. She turned and looked out over the land that would be her grave, drinking up the visuals of acrid smoke drifting through the air and the loyal fools she was using as mere pawns in her master gambit for world domination.
"Ma'am?" They asked again, more uncertain this time.
"Excuse me." Cassiopeia shook her head and walked away towards her troops, clearing her mind of doubt. She had made her choice a long time ago. Backing down now would spell the end of her dreams. A little guilt wouldn't stop her from taking care of the hard choices for the weak souls who couldn't handle that. That's why she was the leader-
"Mama?" A timid voice interrupted her monologue, making the older woman realize how hard she was trying to convince herself that her path was right. "What are you doing?" She looked down, taking in the sight of her daughter. Raven looked to be on the verge of tears.
"Finishing this war, honey. Why?" Cassiopeia avoided looking at her directly. Sorrow had always been the one feeling she struggled to suppress. Her own flesh and blood sobbing would open up the emotional dam and flood her with even more worries and reminders of her flaws.
"... You're leaving me, aren't you?"
To her credit, Raven didn't wail. The miasma of violet energy pulsating around her did little to alleviate her mother's concerns though. Sadness and anger warred within the tiny girl's head, fighting for control.
"Honey, I-" Cassiopeia hesitated. "Yes." She sighed, the culmination of all her years piled on her. She felt like she was holding up the world. "I have to, sweetie. It's the only way."
"Liar!" Raven screamed, tears streaming down her face, fists clenched. "You don't have to do anything! You're just playing the hero again!"
Cassiopeia's gaze hardened. "Go inside!" She spat coldly, giving Raven one chance to be obedient and leave her mother to her own devices. "I don't have the time for your theatrics right now! Mummy's busy."
"No!" Raven snapped back, adopting a similar icy tone. "Since when do I listen to you anyway?!? You're hardly a good mother at all!"
Crimson filled her entire world. There was a momentary high pitched yell, but the culprit was unknown. When Cassiopeia's sight cleared, she didn't spare a glance for the crumpled form of her little girl. She didn't even care that she had flung Raven that distance with magic guided by pure rage. The only remaining thought in her mind was the urge to enact vengeance on unknown parties, the urge to indiscriminately kill.
Dropping to the ground, she dug her hands into the dead earth before expelling a rush of emotionally-charged arcane energy through her fingertips. A single cracking noise was all the warning anyone got before the mountain imploded, sending her forces tumbling to their deaths many yards below, burning their foes in rubble. Only those in Chapter 13's protected shelter were spared, and even they were culled by the rockets the Library sent to finish the job.
(Or so the story goes.)
Regardless of the true body count of that fateful night, Cassiopeia had ensured that Panem's Age of Rebellion perished in a hail of smoke and stone.
And from her malevolent hatred, the Destiny Games were born.