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"In the seventy-five years since the Dark Days—when 13 was said to have been obliterated in the war between the Capitol and the districts—almost all new construction has been beneath the earth's surface. There was already a substantial underground facility here. ... Most important for the people of 13, it was the center of the Capitol's nuclear weapons development program. During the Dark Days, the rebels in 13 wrested control from the government forces, trained their nuclear missiles on the Capitol, and then struck a bargain: they would play dead in exchange for being left alone. The Capitol had another nuclear arsenal out west, but couldn't attack 13 without certain retaliation. It was forced to accept 13's deal. The Capitol demolished the visible remains of the district and cut off all access from the outside. Perhaps the Capitol's leaders thought that, without help, 13 would die off on its own. It almost did a few times, but it always managed to pull through."
—The effects of the Dark Days on District 13[src]

The Dark Days is a term commonly used to describe the collapse of the First Rebellion in Panem, which occurred 74 years prior to the beginning of the series.[1]


The First Rebellion lasted for three years,[2] and was waged between the thirteen districts of Panem and the Capitol. With support from District 13 and its military arsenal, the rebels were presumably able to fight on par with the Capitol's forces for some time. During the final two years of the conflict, the rebels decidedly had the upper hand. The Capitol had been entirely cut off from outside support, causing massive starvation and dire poverty among its residents. Many families had to sell their possessions to the black market in order to survive, and some even turned to cannibalism.[3] In addition, the rebel forces regularly bombed the city. Having taken over District 5's bomb warning system, they were able to deliver fake warnings to the Capitol, allowing them to do extra damage during the real bombings.[4]

However, at some point, the rebel forces decided to invade the Capitol itself. They scaled the surrounding Rocky Mountains in hope of invading the city. Unfortunately, such an undertaking proved extremely difficult and costly. The Capitol's Air Force was easily able to locate the rebels and bomb them before they could reach the other side, and the invasion was ultimately a failure. This massive loss of manpower presumably had a devastating impact on the rebel war effort and most likely led to the war turning in favor of the Capitol.

Ceasefire deal[]

"After all, it was 13 that started the rebellion that led to the Dark Days, and then abandoned the rest of the districts when the tide turned against it."
Coriolanus Snow[src]

When it became clear that a rebel victory was no longer achievable, District 13 abandoned the other twelve districts in order to secure its own freedom. Rebel forces in the district wrested control of the Capitol's nuclear missiles and trained them on the Capitol, threatening to destroy them, even if the result was mutually assured destruction.

Unbeknownst to most of Panem's residents, District 13 set up a secret ceasefire deal with the Capitol in which they would withdraw their forces from the war and present the illusion that the Capitol had destroyed District 13. The Capitol reluctantly agreed to the terms, and allowed District 13 to withdraw from the war and rebuild their district in their underground bunkers. Following this, the Capitol's Air Force bombed the district on the surface. Without the support of District 13, the rebel forces in other districts were quickly defeated by the Capitol.[5]


Following the defeat of Districts 1–12, the Treaty of Treason was put into effect. This led to the creation of the Hunger Games as a reminder of the failed rebellion and required that each district had to select one male and one female between the ages of 12 and 18 by a lottery system each year. The selected children were to fight to the death in an arena until only one remained.[1]

The Capitol had hoped that without outside support, District 13 would simply die off. Indeed, its inhabitants struggled to survive for a long period of time, and despite their arsenal of hoarded weaponry, they were in no position to take on the Capitol again until seven decades later. Over the next seven decades, the citizens of District 13 continued to function[6] in an underground facility with technology on par with that of the Capitol,[5] rebuilding its military forces and weaponry. This allowed them to lead the remaining twelve districts to win the Second Rebellion and their freedom.