In a world where kings, queens, and royalty rule, you are a conqueror.
A man worthy of his own reputation, built upon a legacy of roughened up hands and broken complexities he's had to slain in order to make it as far as he has. There's only one way forward. Up and up into the world of relevancy, burning the seal of his own name into the capitol. Every step is a step into the unknown, where mutts lie with bared teeth and hissing anger. Who would have guessed, the conqueror of Panem had come from a silly little boy with a love for zoos and animals. It's ironic in a way; people expect him to be intense, terrifying, and all sorts of other indicators of the insanity, but Saber's never been those precognitive intuitions. He's always been Saber Bancroft of the Bancroft Family; a man who's got the desire and passion to match any other capitolite.
The Bancroft Family isn't like any other. A legacy of Peacekeepers, Security, and Technology agencies made from their hands, built up before even the dark days had ended; he grew up surrounded by success. As a kid, he grew up surrounded by wealth, prosperity, and everything he could ever want. A spoiled brat as some of his nannies would call him behind closed doors. Every day, he was pushed to success and prosperity. Alone, he grew up being self sufficient in a way that no other capitolite could compare to. Nannies could only provide so much for him before he broke them; wanting to see the ways they'd snap at him.
No one was home most of his childhood. The days when his father or mother stopped by, the visit would always be a publicity stunt or a business endeavor. Scolded by his father for never standing up straight enough and by his mother for never smiling enough; he stayed quietly alone in that house which felt more and more like a prison as a kid. The nannies would take care of him as would the avox house staff who kept quiet no matter how much he had tried to get them to talk to him. Alone. All he ever had was himself and the servants who were paid to take care of him.
School had become an outlet for him, but every day he would come home to an empty house where comfort doesn't exist. Parents who never wanted to be parents, but expected him to follow in their greatness. A father who was known as one of the most powerful people in Panem's Security business and his mother who was a famous actress that's retired, but still continues to hold shoots and commercials and all sorts of stuff he follows on the screens in their mansion. The only time he ever got to see his parents was on the screen and the few times they came home. Days spent wishing they'd come home and act like the parents he's heard other students have, but he bites down the thought and focuses on keeping his head down in his books.
His passion for nature didn't start with school, but it had blossomed from it. As a child, he had grown accustomed to lonely nights where he had spent looking in books. Photobooks of animals when he was just barely able to walk and talk. Animal facts by the time he was just starting school. Every day as a kid, he wanted to see more and more. Running around the house telling nanny and avox fact after fact finally got through to them. It was on a particularly rough day, when the sun burned through the sky and a phone call that left him feeling bruised and battered by his father's scolding of causing trouble for the staff that he finally asked his favorite of the nannies.
"Can we visit one of those mutt zoos on the tv?"
Every time he asked, they took him. Spent the day watching the mutts live out their day, his face always pressed to the glass. Eyes always watching their reactions to specific sounds, movements, and all sorts of things. His own brain coming up with conclusions that he learned were true, but as a kid he couldn't figure out. Days spent asking Mutt Zookeepers what they do and how they feed animals. Birthdays spent following Mutt Zookeepers who all seem so excited about his passion for the animals. Every time he comes, he learns something new and becomes that more obsessed with them.
Once his youth bleeds away into the awkward age of his teenage years, he goes less and less. His father pushing security, technology, and even a possible future as a peacekeeper down his ears. Pressure of living up to the Bancroft name; he drops the visits down more and more. Focusing less on mutts and the zoos themselves and more on school grades and staying relevant in the public eye. Days spent studying in his room feeling his head spin with knowledge until he's drowning in the pressure of his own name.
And so, he breaks.
Falling down the depths of teenage rebellion.
It starts with a single party and a night of exploring what comes to him. Then it turns into blowing off his father's or mother's calls. A single feeling of frustration burning the bridges of his own life for a moment. Avoiding those meetings with his parents, until he couldn't escape them anymore. The days of parties and youth leading up to an intervention finally. The last few years of his teenage life are spent in a private boarding school on the other side of the capitol. Days spent rooming with another rich kid until he feels lost in all of it.
It's when he's alone at the private boarding school where he finds psychology. The specialty classes becoming just as interesting as the animals had been in his youth. Growing up, he liked to push buttons and psychology ended up feeling like a way of rebellion in his small part of his life. Days spent taking notes and reading books about human thought until he finds ethology books and the two worlds collide in a surprising collision for himself. Animal behavior and the way they react to their environment and people get him interested in the field of Mutt Psychology and Mutt Ethology.
After he graduates from high school, his father and him get into a fight. A blow up that leads to angry shouts and broken glass. His mother's tears still burning through his skull as he can feel the frustration in his own hands, but he's been alone. He needs no one else, but himself. Saber's grown up to be capable of anything and he truly knows that. Pushing and pushing, he feels at his limit, so an ultimatum is set. There's a long discussion about the past and how all he ever wanted was a family and that he's found his place in the world.
"Can't I just do what I want? Does it fucking matter if I follow the Bancroft legacy?"
"You're still a Bancroft. Don't let your childhood dreams lead you astray, Saber."
The frustration bleeds through his skin; finally taking his father's desire to set him straight. Saber enlists in the Peacekeeper Force for the one year reserves. On the day before he leaves for training, he visits the Mutt Zoo his nanny used to take him too. Smiling down at the head Zookeeper as they feed his favorite exhibit. There's a silence in the way he stands tall, forcing himself to watch as the day slips away. A breeze cutting through until the man he saw before is now next to him. The muttations below fighting for a piece of meat between them; eyes darkened with a fire that he can just read almost instantly as desperation.
The silence of the early evening leaving him feeling comfortable. A silence as he watches the muttations finally split the prize; laughs from their lips that trigger his brain to connect them to hyena dna. A pack of mutts who dare to fight for fun and then give in as a group to help one another. His eyes scanning the environment before he speaks up carefully to the older gentlemen who's a zookeeper that stands silently as if waiting for him to speak.
"They need more entertainment."
A stunned silence as he can hear the older gentlemen behind him; Saber's arms unfurling from across his chest before he starts leaning forward a bit more. The way the smaller of the pack runs in a circle reminds him of the time he wished for a dog, but his father refused claiming he didn't want a pathetic animal making him weak minded. The older gentlemen finally leans forward to match his own pose; fingers taut on the edges of his elbow before he speaks back, a smile on his lips.
"Good eye, Champ. No surprise there. You've always been able to tell what they need. It's been awhile, Saber."
Something akin to recognition comes forth on his face before there's a memory of himself almost too small to be able to see. Hands lifting him up onto a stranger's shoulder to see a bear-like creature with it's cubs holding them close as he laughs. A younger man holding him there up high until he asks him a dozen of questions and Saber answers every single one. A silence fills him as the memory floods his vision before he laughs calmly. The days when he'd beg to see Queenie's mutts up-close and wishing he could be like the zookeepers he always saw.
The eerie quiet of snoring hits the air. Muttations finding their peace.
"I'm gonna be gone. Going to Peacekeeper reserves. It'll be awhile more."
The zookeeper smiles. Eyes crinkling at the corner as age seems to have taken over. The words slipping from his lips feel like a dream that he can't wake up from. His eyes scan the man before he listens fully. Ignoring the pang of fear and worry that comes forth, days where he wanted nothing more than to be at the one place he never felt alone.
"That'll be a year. Do you really want to go?"
"No. I don't."
The world is quiet.
"Here's the thing, I am going to be retiring soon. The work's getting to be too much for my age. I saw your eyes. The shining behind them at such a young age. The pain that had subsided vanishing when you were here. This sanctuary of yours. You found solace here and it's only right to offer you a chance."
The air feels tense. His own words choked up in his throat.
"What do you mean?"
A smile as the world turns slowly.
"I'll push for a year, but when you come home. The job is yours. It's nothing special, just enclosure cleaning, but it's better to find a start than not. You could work part time while going to school."
A nod and the world seems to burst for a moment. His tears coming through as the older gentlemen laughs and laughs. The darkness of the night fading away until morning comes and he sets off for the Peacekeeper Reserves.
A year seems like a long time, but it blows by for him. Training coming naturally as his body builds up mass and he finds out he's much better equipped at handling people and fucking with their heads. Hand to hand combat becoming his favorite part of training. The mental game of messing with someone until they fumble. His eyes always seeking out the right strike and taking down opponent after opponent, but when he's sent back the capitol to serve out the rest of his reserve time, he breathes at ease. Not wanting to even step foot in one of the districts. It's during his time in training that he gets more and more involved with the Hunger Games and becoming a fan of them.
Most of the time as a kid, he watched the muttation replays and small games moments, but now he's gotten more involved in the betting that goes around the barracks. A laugh as he watches tributes fail and victors being crowned. A year ends up flashing by and once it's over, he finds himself home. Alone and his father finally sits him down for a talk. It's a long one filled with anger, but maturity. He's found a sense of calm in knowing his father is treating him like an adult. The age finally greying his hair and leaving him looking more like a stressed father than the security official he was.
The conversation was built upon respect, but also responsibility. The Bancroft name was important, but Saber had already made his decision, looking into schools and subjects to learn. His father having not known what he's been working on. A presentation of his schooling degrees he's going for and a full blown explanation of everything. A degree in human psychology and mutt psychology. Another degree in Ethology. The last degree in Gamemaking and the desire to become a future gamemaker. There's a silence when he finishes wondering if his father will just throw him out by this point.
Instead, only a few words come out making his skin crawl.
"I'm proud of you for finally finding respect."
The silence of his held tongue burning over and over again. The feeling of being clawed apart by his father's own chilly gaze until a silent moment passes.
"Alright. Let's say I agree to this. How are you going to find the funds yourself?"
The walls fall as he can see that he's never going to get to where he wants to go without fighting for it. His family never provided him with care. He's had to do everything himself for so long, so he just smiles and gives his father the answer he's always given him.
"I'll figure it out for myself. I don't need your help."
The zookeeper ends up hiring him and he spends most of his time at the zoo unless he's working on college work. Days spent surrounded by animals and people as he clears out enclosures, telling people of facts about the muttations. Many of the animals having grown used to his presence after weeks of work. All of the zookeepers getting along with him. He slowly works his way through the chain, building up his name as the enclosure cleaner who knows everything about everything. Even more so than some of the zookeepers that work there.
College goes about as well as it can, there's a struggle for a bit, but he finds a rhythm and his own desire to create something more for himself. His eyes scanning the classes and sitting in on every lecture and event he can. It's during his days at the college and the muttation zoo that he meets his hero for the first time. Queenie is everything people say she is. The childhood he never had burns in his chest, but he keeps his cool only asking a few questions before his life continues to move on.
In his final year, he's asked to shadow a gamemaker and write his thesis while doing so. Amethyst is young, but older than him. She works harder than he expected her to, but it's informative. Even if he pokes fun at her a little for her work with Hei Hei, luckily the capitol takes it as a meme rather than a failure. After his time working with Amethyst comes to a close, he continues as a gamemaker in training. During that time, his schedule grows and grows until he's so busy he doesn't know what to do.
The work keeps his mind busy and his personal life starts to blend with his work life. The muttation zoos eventually hire him as a permanent zookeeper after he gets his degrees. Days spent working with mutts by hand and soon enough, he takes tasks to teach muttations how to do simple tasks. Writing down his findings until he's got a journal full of ways to control a mutt's intentions. From positive reinforcements to negative reinforcements to positive and negative punishments; he's got a keen eye for muttations, watching them and their behaviors and figuring out how to stop them from going aggressive on everyone. Some visitors even started to call him the Muttation Whisperer.
Over time, he was offered more positions at the muttations zoon while working as a gamemaker in training, many of the jobs geared towards studying the muttation behaviors and how to get them to listen in environments that aren't their own. Where most muttation specialists wouldn't dare go into a room with a mutt, he breaks that norm and steps into their space, unafraid of them. Having had to take bites, stings, and claws of all sorts, he's used to the aggression. He's learned how to handle them with his own hands. Over time, he manages to get muttations to listen to him. Follow his words and commands after breaking them of their habits and nature; all of it takes time, but he's got enough time in the world.
Days spent learning patience from his nannies and knowing when to strike having given him a keen eye and a keen sense of knowing how long it could take. After this, he is offered jobs working with capitolite television in wrangling mutts for shows and movies. Days spent showing producers and workers how it all works and asking if they need him to step in on specific moments. He learns the world of media and actually finds a lot of enjoyment out of finding his mutts doing exactly what he says and the final product of seeing it on a silver screen made it all worth it.
In the present, he's found himself shuffling between many jobs, all of which require his specialty, but he's been asked to do performances and even appear on capitol tv. He's taken those and even appeared on shows where he talked carefully like his mother used to do. Calls would come in from his mother praising his appearances and eventually his parents had felt he was enough apart of them to invite him to their dinners and galas, but he refused every time. The days would pass where all he could do was work and work and work, but he's finally found his place in the world.
He's found himself a conqueror in a place where the royals stay in their respective spots. Saber Bancroft had broken the system of his family and branched himself off into a new path. A new life set before him. All of it coming from his own hands having to take control of his own path. Most days, he spends at the muttation zoos, teaching others his talents and also spending time with the mutts he's always wanted to be surrounded by.
People call him the Muttation Whisperer and rumors about how frightening he can be spread, but he's never cared about his image. All he cared about was doing his job and enjoying the life he had. Some would call his work brutal and think of him as a workaholic, but he loves what he does with all of his heart. Days spent wrangling mutts and forcing them to do what he wants gives him such a rush of joy that he just wants to push and push even more.