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The 93rd Hunger Games

Hey everyone! I'm District1 Obsessed. I'm still fairly new to this wikia, so this will be my first Hunger Games. I've participated in plenty of Games, but this is my first time writing one, so if I'm doing something wrong, please let me know. I will be doing the reapings, training, and the Games. I will be leaving out the chariot rides and the interviews, because those take too long.


Rules

  • Four tributes per user
  • Reservations last 2 days
  • Please no perfect tributes or they will die in the bloodbath
  • Guys, you all have amazing tributes, but there's a pretty good chance they're going to die, so please don't get mad if they do!
  • I will go to profiles
  • Please use the tribute template ^_^
  • Tributes with advice have a higher chance of survival.
  • I only need the name, district, and age of your tribute, but I would like them to be detailed so that it could be easier for me to write them :)

Tribute Template

Name:

Gender:

Age:

District:

Appearance:

Personality:

Backstory:

Weapon(s):

Strengths:

Weaknesses:

Fear(s):

Interview Angle:

Alliance:

Bloodbath Strategy:

Games Strategy:


Tributes

District Gender Name Age Weapon User
1 Male Dragon Lord 17 Katana, Spear Hybrid Shadow
1 Female Saffron Starr 16 Katana EHKnight
2 Male Mason Spartan 17 Wooden Staff Hybrid Shadow
2 Female Lily Moon 18 Dagger, knife Ducky35
3 Male Hybrid "The Shadow" Javeline 17 Catclaws, knives EHKnight
3 Female Kathrin Sandstone 17 Spear/trident, logic PolkaDottedLizard
4 Male Lime Verandi 14 Net, trident Obnoxious Blue Unicorns
4 Female Lemonade Verandi 14 Net, trident Obnoxious Blue Unicorns
5 Male Martin Meyers 16 Spear Ducky35
5 Female Eliza Garret 14 Sword, throwing knives FrostSnake
6 Male Connor Houck 13 Hammer, stone, and slingshot Obnoxious Blue Unicorns
6 Female Avala "Ava" Poppythorne 16 Mace, Throwing axes Blissfully Mine
7 Male Kota Jimslim 17 Hammer, axe, knives Katniss992710
7 Female Mary-Ann Hunter 15 Axe EHKnight
8 Male Nile Flame 15 Blowgun, throwing knives FrostSnake
8 Female Galina Kiltova 14 Archery, knives, axes Andy1854
9 Male Oliver Hemmingway 15 Traps, wire Obnoxious Blue Unicorns
9 Female Kassidy Feeks 16

Tomahawk/ axe, throwing knives

Katniss992710
10 Male Maiko Fornis 13 Awl, bow & arrow ViniciusDeAssis1999
10 Female Holly Wintercrest 15 Throwing knives, machete FrostSnake
11 Male Scorch Flare 18 Sword, slingshot Hybrid Shadow
11 Female Violette Meadow 12 Slingshot, bow and arrow UniCandy
12 Male John McCall 15 Spear, axe Ducky35
12 Female Lillian Pumpkin 13 Bow and arrows EHKnight


Tribute Gallery


Alliances

Careers: Dragon Lord (1), Saffron Star (1), Lily Moon (2), Lemonade Verandi (4), Lime Verandi (4)

Districts 2, 3, and 11 alliance: Mason Spartan (2), Hybrid Javeline (3), and Scorch Flare (11)

Districts 3, 6, 7, 8, and 12 alliance: Katharin Sandstone (3), Ava Poppythorne (6), Mary-Ann Hunter (7), Nile Flame (8), and Lillian Pumpkin (12)

Districts 7, 9, and 11 alliance: Kota Jimslim (7), Kassidy Feekes (9), and Violette Meadow (11)

Districts 5, 10, and 12 alliance: Martin Meyers (5), Maiko Fornis (10), and John McCall (12)

Districts 5 and 10 alliance: Eliza Garret (5) and Holly Wintercrest (10)

Loners: Galina Kiltova (8), Oliver Hemmingway (9), Connor Houck (6)


Reapings

(Warning: There may be some cussing so please don't get mad at me ^_^)

District 1: Dragon Lord's POV

Creak. Creeeeaaaak. I curse under my breath as I slowly pull the door open. When did this person buy their house? 1840, or something? It's so dusty, and looks like it hasn't been cleaned in centuries. And it smells awful. I recognize the smell. It's the smell of death. My heart falls. I was really looking forward to killing the person that lives here. Yes, I know. I'm crazy. Insane. Go ahead and call me those words; they don't offend me. Death has always excited me - I don't know why. Ever since I killed my parents, I've felt like I have to go around killing people, like I'm required to or something. I go deeper into the house; the death smell grows stronger. Suddenly, I hear soft, quiet crying, coming from the house's bedroom. I open the bedroom door and walk in - the girl on the bed doesn't even notice me. She's hunched over a limp body, tears rolling down her cheeks. The body belongs to a boy around her age. I'm guessing it's her boyfriend, or maybe her brother. But who am I to care? This house isn't completely empty. No, there's still someone left. I reach for the knife on my belt and pull it off. I creep towards the girl, slowly raising my knife. I place the blade to the back of her neck. She screams as she feels the cold metal pressing against her skin. She starts to ask, "Who's there?" but I dig the knife into her flesh and she falls over, blood seeping from her neck. She stares up at me, eyes widened with fear, then her eyelids slowly begin to close. After a couple of minutes, the room stinks, and I know she's dead. Both of them are. I go over to the boy's body and inspect him. There's a long, jagged cut on his chest, but I can tell that wasn't the cause of death. It's partially scabbed over, so it must've formed a couple of days ago. There's a fresh wound on the side of his head, though, likely created by a knife or an icepick. I take both of the corpses and lay them on the bed, then pull the blankets over them as if I were tucking them in bed for the night. Then I walk away without a second glance and step out of the house, softly shutting the door behind me. I dust off my black suit and head down towards the central square, where the reapings would begin in about 10 minutes. This has become a normal routine for me. Every reaping day, I would kill someone random on the outskirts of District 1 before going to the reaping. Again, don't ask why I do this. I just like it.

A Peacekeeper pricks my finger, however I barely feel a thing. I stand in the 17 year old male's section and wait patiently. Eventually, the escort arrives and she takes her place up on the stage. She has bright green curls that fall to her shoulders and her silver skin glitters like diamonds. I chuckle half-heartedly to myself. Clever, I guess.

"Welcome, welcome," the escort says excitedly. "To the 93rd annual Hunger Games!" Her words are met with excited cheers, but I remain quiet, even though I'm probably the most excited person there. "Ladies first, shall we?" A bunch of girls start screaming. I can barely hear the name the escort reads from the slip of paper she pulls out over their screaming. One girl, who wasn't busy screaming at the top of her lungs, makes her way up to the stage. "I volunteer," she says. She is already up there when the screaming girls realize that the name was called. They yell at her but she just stands there, a smirk on her face. "And what is your name?" the escort asks her kindly, handing her the microphone.

"Saffron," the girl says. "Saffron Star."

The escort praises her, then goes over to the ball that holds thousands of boys' names. My eyes brighten and I wait, crossing my fingers behind my back. Please let it be me. Please let it be me...

"Dragon Lord."

I let out a sigh of relief, and begin to make my way towards the stage, when I hear someone yell, "I VOLUNTEER!" I turn around, watching as an 18 year old guy runs over to the stage. "You have next year, kid," he says to me. "This is my last year."

I shake my head. "Sorry, kid," I say, mocking him. "But I was reaped. This is my year." When he tries to retort, I wrap both my hands around his neck and twist it. I hear a loud SNAP! and let go. The boy falls to the ground, his head awkwardly turned to the side. Ask the Peacekeepers rush him to the hospital, I calmly make my way up to the stage, where I scan the audience. They're all staring up at me with horror. Without asking the escort for permission, I take the microphone from her and say, "Dragon Lord, your victor for this year." A few people clap, although they seem unsure. I grin. I'm intimidating; that's good. I turn to face Saffron and kindly hold out my hand for her to shake. She stares at me.

"Shake my hand," I say. She shakes her head, and I laugh. "What, are you scared of me?" I shake my head. "Some Career you are."

Saffron scowls and slams her foot against mine. I yelp loudly, but before I have time to hurt her back, she's already hurrying down the stage and towards the Justice Building. I smile a little. Man, these Games are going to be interesting.

District 2: Lily Moon's POV

Today's the day! I can barely contain my excitement. Ever since I was a little girl, the Hunger Games have been something I've always wanted to do. When I first started watching the Hunger Games, I thought the only way you could participate was if your name was called. I was never that lucky - take prize raffles, for example. I rarely ever win those. So put my name with thousands of other girls, from 12 to 18 years old. My name is only entered seven times. I have a very slight chance of getting picked.

Then my mother explained to me that you could volunteer for another tribute. The process was simple. If someone was reaped, you would simply raise your hand and yell, "I volunteer!" and then YOU would be the tribute for that year, not the person that was reaped. Ever since then, I promised myself that I would volunteer when I was 18.

I'm 18 years old right now. Today's the day.

But, I'm not just doing this because I want to. I mean, it would be great to win the Hunger Games and return home with a truckload of money. I would live in one of the nicest houses ever built, and everyone would respect me. Not that they don't respect me now - I am the most popular girl in school - but you know what I mean. Anyways, I'm also doing this for my deceased friend, Jenny. She was my best friend in the whole world when we were 11 years old. One afternoon, I went to her house to hang out with her, and I found her laying dead on the living room couch. Her parents had beaten her to death. I smiled to myself when they were executed by the Capitol; I know that's a cruel thing to do, but they killed their own daughter, for God's sake. And their daughter was my best friend. I'm going to volunteer for the Hunger Games this year in Jenny's memory, but also because, when I win, I'm going to give my parents some of the money I get to help them promote their foundation that deals with helping abused kids.

Everyone loved Jenny (except for her parents, obviously). She deserves some credit.

I'm standing in between two of my friends, and I talk excitedly with them. I wear a white flannel dress and my golden hair is curled and bounces so elegantly off of my shoulders. I wait for the reaping to begin in anticipation. I still try to make conversation with my friends, but it's getting harder and harder as I really just want the reapings to begin.

Finally, our escort makes it to the stage. Her name is Vixen. Every year, she dresses in an outfit that gives us a hint about the arena. Last year, she was wearing a sparkling blue dress and a snowflake crown - the arena turned out to be an icy tundra. This year, however, she was just wearing a plain yellow dress.

Huh. That's disappointing. I guess they wanted to keep the arena a huge secret this year.

After what seems like years of her going on and on about the Dark Days and how the Hunger Games came to be, she finally goes over to the girls' ball and selects a name. "H-" She barely gets a name out, when girls start yelling as loud as they possibly can, "I volunteer!" They scramble their way to the stage, and cat fights break out all around. But I'm smart. I slip through the crowd without bothering to fight anyone and I'm the first one at the stage.

"No, volunteer," I say. The girls below me stare up at me coldly, and I smile smugly. I say my name to the crowd, and then the escort selects the boy's name.

"Jason Black."

Right at that moment, a 17 year old boy calls out, "I volunteer." I watch as a boy with pale skin, black hair, and a scar on his cheek makes his way up to the stage. He would be normal, if not for the fact that he has no eyes. It freaks me out. I recognize him the moment he tells the escort his name. Mason Spartan. I don't let his lack of eyes creep me out too much; after all, I am going to kill him sooner or later. So I straighten my back, turn away from my district partner, and grin at the crowd. They applaud for me. Not him. Me. I let myself think that, and I assure myself that it's true.

The escort tells us to shake hands. I make a face, and laugh to myself when I know he can't see it. And if he can't see a funny face that I make, then he obviously won't be able to see a tribute coming at him with a weapon, which means he can't win the Hunger Games. Even if he does somehow make it past the bloodbath, he won't win. You know why?

Because I'm going to be the victor of the 93rd Hunger Games.

District 3: Hybrid "The Shadow" Javeline's POV

The Shadow. That's what they call me. It's what they've always called me - 'they' being the people of District 3. They've never told me why that's their nickname for me. Maybe it's because I'm very elegant, and I can hide easily among the shadows. Or maybe it's because I'm cold and dark. I'm practically evil, some would say. I try not to let that word get to me.

They're just jealous that they aren't as good as me.

I walk down to the town square, adjusting the blood red tie on my black suit. Thousands of citizens are filling in their required roped-off sections. I have my finger pricked by a Peacekeeper, before standing in my designated area with a bunch of other 17 year old boys. They all seem very anxious. I'm not, though. I'm calm. I've always been calm, during every single reaping I've been to since I turned 12. It's not likely that I'm going to be reaped. I've never taken tesserae. And even if I am reaped, I know that I definitely have what it takes to win.

The escort, Razor, who wears a bright, sparkly purple suit and silver chains walks up onto the stage. He tells us how the 13 original districts rebelled against the Capitol, then rebelled later on, 75 years later, and called their rebellion the Mockingjay Rebellion. Then he graciously shows us a video from President Snow III, explains the very few rules that you must follow when in the Hunger Games, then finally reaches his light blue hand into the gigantic diamond ball that contains thousands of female names. Razor pulls out a slip and reads it loudly, his voice clear, so that he makes sure everyone can hear. "Kathrin Sandstone," he says. I watch as a cute girl about my age with short brown hair and green eyes nervously makes her way up to the stage. Her cheeks are flushed, and I can see her hands shaking by her side.

"Now for the males, shall we?" Razor says, grinning at the crowd. The boys around me hunch over as they stand. I can see one kid with his fingers crossed behind his back. I, however, slump back in my seat, not the least bit worried.

"Hybrid Javeline," Razor calls out. I freeze in my spot. No...no, that can't be. My name is only in there six times. I've never taken tesserae. How did this happen? How...

"Hybrid Javeline?" Razor repeats. "Come on up; there's no need to be afraid."

I take a deep breath. He's right. There is no need to be afraid. I can win this. I've got what it takes. I can use catclaws. Knives. I'm strong, merciless, agile, and sneaky.

That's why they call me The Shadow.

I rise to my feet, ignoring the sympathetic looks that the other boys shoot me, and walk up to the stage. Obviously, there's still some fear inside of me, but some of it has washed away. I can do this. When Razor orders Kathrin and I to shake hands, she offers me her hand and I take it. I squeeze it so hard that her face turns red. And then, when she passes by me to get into the car that will take us to the Justice Building, I whisper in her ear, "Do you know who I am?"

She looks at me. "Yeah. You're Hybrid Javeline."

I shake my head. "No. That's not me at all."

She tilts her head, confused, and I smile darkly at her.

"I'm The Shadow."

District 4: Lemonade Verandi's POV

I'm running. Running as fast as I possibly can, the trees passing me in a blur. I try to catch up to him. My enemy. He holds a long knife, and he's chasing my brother. I take a deep breath and quicken my pace. I'm so close to reaching him, so close to being able to slice him open with my trident, when he tackles my brother to the ground. He holds him up and smiles at me, then presses the knife to his throat...

I jerk awake, sweat rolling down my forehead and cheeks. Sunlight pours in through the window, illuminating the room that my brother Lime and I share. It takes me a few moments to realize what day it is. Reaping day. Volunteering has always been something I wanted to do. I need the money for my family - we're not poor, but we're not exactly the wealthiest family in District 4, either. Plus, my mentor at the training center said that it would be a good idea to volunteer this year. So I am. I'm really excited, but I'm also kind of nervous.

I watch Lime as he wakes up and stretches his arms out above his head. He looks at me for a minute, then his eyes move to the clock above my head, and his eyes widen. "The reapings begin at 2:00, right?" he asks me.

I nod. "Yeah."

He jumps out of bed. "Crap. It's like, 1:05. Why'd we sleep so late?" He dashes into the closet, and comes out wearing a plain button-down and some faded jeans. I change in the bathroom and put on a knee-length turquoise dress and a pair of soft black slippers. I let my green hair hang loosely beneath my shoulders. We eat breakfast as a family; when I'm finished, I check the time again. 1:45. I have like, 15 minutes. I glance at Lime, who's shoveling bacon and eggs down his throat.

"Hey, piglet," I say to him. He looks up at me. "You ready to go?"

He nods and wipes his mouth. He starts out the door and I follow him. We walk together in silence until we reach the town square, then go our separate ways.

When everyone has arrived, the District 4 escort, Tanya Bahamas, struts up onto the stage, wearing a light orange dress that glimmers under the sunlight. She's very pretty, but underneath that fair, flawless skin is a mean old bitch that hates everything and everyone. To prove my point, she goes up to the microphone and says, "Screw this shit, I'm just going to draw the girl's name and get it over with. None of that history crap."

Yes, she's a bit rude, but hey, that's better. I don't have to wait too long. Actually, I just have to stand still for a couple more seconds then I can volunteer. I watch Tanya closely as she puts her hand in the ball and pulls out a slip of paper.

"Hannah Blake."

"I VOLUNTEER!" I yell. Nobody else made a move to hurry to the stage. That's different, but flattering. Everyone knew I was going to volunteer this year. And they wanted me to volunteer; I'm great, and they know I'll return home with the crown. I go up to the stage, and Tanya asks me what my name is.

Ew. I think she spit on me. Gross. But I answer her anyways. "Lemonade Verandi," I say proudly. I make myself appear determined and fearless, when really, every part of me is shaking and I feel like I'm about to pass out. It's not that I'm nervous; I've just never done really well in front of lots of people.

The boys were next. I can't wait to see who my competition is. Tanya draws a slip from the ball. "Christopher-" she begins. I am not surprised when I hear someone yell out, "I volunteer!" I turn my head to the crowd to see who it is,  but I almost wish I hadn't.

The volunteer is my brother.

He comes up onto the stage and tells Tanya his name. "Ooh, sibling rivalry," she purrs. "Excellent! Shake hands, darlings."

Lime turns to me and takes my hand, avoiding my gaze. But I look at him closely. "Why'd you volunteer?" I whisper. "I don't want to kill you."

He sighs. "And I don't want you to die. I have to protect you, Lemon."

I scowl at him. "Idiot. I can protect myself." I slap him on the shoulder and then storm away. But I'm not angry. Just confused. And scared. I'm really, really scared.

I want to win. But I don't want to kill my own brother.

District 5: Martin Meyers' POV

"No, no, this will not do!"

I watch as my mother frantically digs through her closet, throwing dresses that she had designed herself onto the floor. I see a pretty green dress with a purple floral pattern laying on the floor of the closet that she seems to have missed. I go over to it and hold it up. "Mom," I say. She looks at me. "What about this one?"

My mom smiles a little. She takes the dress from me and hangs it back up in the closet. "Thanks for trying to help, Martin, but I don't think I should wear that dress. It probably doesn't fit me anymore; I made it when I was 16." She inspects me carefully. "Plus, you're more important than me right now. The reapings are in one hour and you still look like you just woke up!" She takes me to the bathroom and starts to brush my hair.

"Mom, I can brush my own hair," I tell her. She nods and goes back into her room to look for a dress to wear. I roll my eyes and comb my red hair. When I'm done with that, I quickly brush my teeth and then head into my room, where I find that my dad - also a fashion designer - has laid a fine black tuxedo on my bed for me to wear. I get dressed, then walk back to my mother's room to check up on her. "You find a dress yet?" I ask.

"Yeah. I think I'll wear this one." Mrs. Meyers holds up a slightly frilly sky blue dress. "Go eat breakfast while I get dressed, honey." I bow my head in response and obediently head downstairs and into the kitchen, where I find my 18 year old sister Lauren making toast and scrambled eggs. It takes her a moment to notice me, and when she does, she leaves the steaming food alone for a few minutes and hurries over to me.

"There's my handsome little brother," she says with a smile. She obviously can't help adjusting my tie real quick, then places a kiss on my forehead and goes back to fixing breakfast.

Around 10 minutes later, the food has been made and my mother has finally finished fixing her hair and painting her nails, and doing whatever else it is that women do. My family and I sit down at the table and eat in silence. My father often tries to bring up some new designs that he's been working on, but other than that, the house is quiet. Usually, every member of the family is quite chatty, but not today.

It isn't possible to be chatty on reaping day.

When everyone's stomachs are full, my dad puts the leftovers up, then checks the watch on his wrist. "Reapings start in 20 minutes," he says. "Let's get going." We leave the house together, and walk quietly down to the town square. After I have my finger pricked, I start to head over to the 16 year old boys' section, when Lauren pulls me to the side for a minute and wraps her arms around me.

"I love you," she says.

I sigh. "You're acting as if I've been reaped."

Lauren pulls away from me, and looks me in the eyes. "You might be," is all she says before she walks away. I watch her go, slightly confused, when I feel something slap me across the back. I turn around to see an angry looking Peacekeeper, glaring coldly down at me.

"Go to your damn section," she yells at me. I dip my head and shyly walk over to where the other 16 year olds stand, trying my best to ignore the snickers that I hear from the people that saw the incident. I try not to let them get to me. They wouldn't be laughing if they had been in my position. I stand still, looking downwards, when the District 5 escort, Ramen, finally makes his way up to the stage.

"Welcome to the 93rd Hunger Games," he says. The only sounds of cheering that her words are met with are from the Peacekeepers, and a few claps from the mayor. Everyone else remains silent, staring grimly up at the stage, although I continue to keep my eyes on the ground. Frankly, I don't care about Ramen's 5 foot tall orange hair and bright, cherry red skin. I just don't.

Ramen goes over the concept of the Games and the history of Panem. I'm hugging myself without noticing it, my entire body shaking with fear. Even after not being reaped for five years since I was eligible to compete in the Hunger Games, what Lauren said earlier worried me greatly.

"Ladies first, as always," Ramen says. He pulls out a slip of paper and reads the name in his head before saying it out loud. "Gracie Garret."

I look up when I hear someone cry out in shock. I watch as an 18 year old girl makes her way up to the stage. My eyes widen when I see a bump on her belly. Making a pregnant girl go into the Hunger Games? I think to myself. That's not right.

Just when she's about to reach the stage, I hear someone yell, "I volunteer!" Ramen has a look of surprise plastered on his face, since District 5 doesn't normally have volunteers. I watch as a girl younger than Gracie runs up the the stage. She throws her arms around Gracie and tells her to go find their mother and father. This girl is obviously her sister. But isn't the older sister usually the one that volunteers for the younger one?

"Well, that's quite a surprise," Ramen says cheerfully. He takes the girl's arm and helps her up onto the stage. "And what's your name, dear?"

"E-Eliza Garret," the girl says. She's shaking with fear and she looks like she's about to cry, but she straightens her back and attempts to smile a bit.

"That was your sister, I'm guessing?" Ramen asks. Eliza nods, and he chuckles. "Well, good thing you volunteered. A pregnant girl would be quite useless in the Games." Eliza glares coldly at him, and he hurries over to the other ball, afraid Eliza will twist his head off or something. He draws out a slip of paper with a boy's name printed on it. "Martin Meyers!"

Suddenly, I feel like the whole world freezes just then. I look up slowly, and every other person in the square turn their heads to stare at me. I can faintly hear my parents crying and begging for my life, but I barely pay them any mind. The person I focus on his Lauren. She's standing with the other 18 year olds, frozen in place. She's sobbing because she can't volunteer for me. I feel like crying, too.

I can't do this, I think. I CAN'T DO THIS! 

Without realizing it, I leap out of my spot and try to run away. I know I'll get myself killed for this, but I can't go in the Hunger Games. I hear my mom screaming at the top of her lungs, telling me to stop running, but I ignore her. I shove past other kids who watch me run with widened eyes. That's when I feel a sharp, burning pain in my leg, and fall over. A Peacekeeper had shot me in the leg to get me to stop running. I feel tears roll down my cheeks and I try to get up on all fours and scramble away, but my leg hurts too much. The Peacekeeper drags me to the stage by the collar of my shirt. I recognize her as the mean lady that yelled at me earlier. She throws me onto the stage and I lay there, paralyzed with fear, before everything turns black.

District 6: Ava Poppythorne's POV

Fate and cruelty. They're like brothers. Twins, actually. Fate is cruel. It has always been cruel, and it always will be. For me, at least. Fate graciously decided that it would kill my parents several years ago. Fate also thought it would be cool to have me be captured by the Capitol and forced to go into the Games when I was 16. Fate has been an enemy of all human beings since the beginning of time. If it weren't for fate, there wouldn't even be a Hunger Games. Who agrees with me?

I'm sitting on the window-sill, staring out into the forest that lays beyond my small house that my sister and I live in. I'm playing with a small gold ring, twirling it and rubbing it in between my fingers. I hear a door open and close, and I watch as my little sister Herbert walks into the room. I've been taking care of Herbert ever since our parents died. She means the world to me, and if it weren't for the Capitol, I would definitely stay here with her and take good care of her. She's so young, so innocent. But I have to volunteer. And she's going to have to live in the foster home for a few weeks.

"I can't believe the Capitol is making you do this," she whispers to me. I sigh and hug her.

"Me neither." I frown. "Fate is cruel," I say grimly, using the phrase that people in the district have heard me say often. I sit with Herbert, hugging her for several long, minutes. The few moments of time that I can share with her in peace before I'll have to leave District 6, either for a few weeks or forever.

"Hey," I say quietly. I look down at Herbert and smile gently. "There's no need to worry. I'm going to come home, okay?"

Herbert just sniffles and wipes her eyes with the back of her hand. "Promise?"

I nod. "I promise." I glance at the golden ring that is still in my hand, and I give it to her. "I want you to have this," I tell her. "It's one of the rings that I've found in the soil." Herbert is the only one that knows about the riches I discover when I explore the woods. She takes it gratefully and slips it on one of her chubby fingers.

"We should get going," I say quietly, after a few minutes of silence. Herbert nods, and I help her up out of her seat. We walk down to the town square together. Herbert is only 10, not yet old enough to be reaped, so she doesn't have to have her finger pricked. I place a kiss on her cheek, and assure her that I'll be fine. She hurries over to where the citizens not eligible to be reaped are told to stand. She goes to the front of the roped-off section so that she can see that stage better. A Peacekeeper takes my finger and pricks it. He inspects me carefully, then smiles slowly when he sees who I am. "Avala Poppythorne," he purrs. "Pleasure to have you here."

I shyly hurry away from him and over to the 16 year olds section, where I stand in between two nervous looking girls. I, of course, am nervous also, but I try not to let it show. Nervous people don't usually volunteer. Instead, I try to keep an emotionless expression as I gaze at the stage, waiting for the reapings to begin.

The District 6 escort comes up onto the stage. Her skin is dyed bubblegum pink (it was light blue last year) and she's wearing a neon green bikini. I don't wonder why. The citizens of the Capitol are very strange. The moment I say the word "Capitol" in my mind, my face slowly transforms into a small scowl.

They say the most colorful things are usually the darkest at heart. Well, maybe it's just me that says that, but still. It's true.

"Welcome, ladies and gentleman, to the 93rd annual Hunger Games!" says the escort, Bianca. Her voice is high and squeaky, and she's waaayy too excited. "As you all know, the Hunger Games is the outcome of the Dark Days, when the 13 districts rebelled against the Capitol..." Blah, blah, blah. I'm sure you know the rest. I wait impatiently, tapping my foot against the ground, when Bianca finally comes to a conclusion, and she says, "As always, ladies first!" She draws a slip of paper from a large glass ball. Whether that slip of paper reads my name or not, I still ready myself to jump out into the aisle and go on up to the stage.

"Tara Beatrix."

"I volunteer," I say shyly. Gasps rise from the crowd. Tara Beatrix is one of the most popular girls at my school, and everyone knows she doesn't have a sister that would volunteer for her. Maybe it's one of her friends, I'm sure they're wondering. I know I'm going to surprise them when I head up onto the stage, and the next set of gasps are even louder. Is that Ava Poppythorne? they're all thinking. The girl who's parents were executed by the Capitol?

Bianca smiles at me and puts an arm around my shoulder. "A volunteer! We don't get those everyday." She hands me the microphone. "And what might your name be, dear?"

"Avala Poppythorne," I say in response. I take a step back so that Bianca can pick the boy's name. While I wait, I anxiously bite my fingernails, barely realizing that I'm actually doing it. It's a bad habit of mine, but it helps me think.

"Connor Houck," Bianca says. I watch my new district partner closely as he makes his way up to the stage. He has muddy blonde hair and freckles that dot his face like sprinkles on a cake. He smiles even though he's obviously on his way to his death, and I can't help but presume he's idiotic and childish. When Bianca tells us to shake hands, he extends his hand towards me and grins, showing two rows of pearly white teeth. My hands don't budge from where they hang by my sides. I stare at Connor, inspecting him carefully. He looks a bit wimpy, but his legs are actually well built, giving the idea that he's pretty fast. He might be a good ally to have in the Games, but who's to say if he's trustworthy or not? And he might prove to be a distraction.

And I just can't take my eyes off his damn clown nose.

District 7: Kota Jimslim's POV

The girl is running, running as fast as she can, as buildings topple over behind her. The once fascinating city was now a mountain of rubble. She was breathing heavy, but she refused to stop running. There was one tribute left, but she wasn't focused on killing him right now. She just wanted to get out of the falling city - alive.

Just then, she flew through the air and hit the ground, the remaining tribute on top of her. He grinned at her and raised his sword. She begged for him to stop, but he deliberately ignored her pleas, and plunged the sword into her chest.

My girlfriend, Madyline, pries the TV remote out of my hand and turns off the re-runs of the 91st Hunger Games that I had been watching. She turns to face me, her hands on her hips. "You're obsessed," she says flatly.

I shake my head. "I'm just observing what the victors did in order to win," I tell her. "I could be reaped this year; you never know."

She sits down next to me and rests her head on my shoulder. "I hope you aren't," she says quietly. I sigh and pull her closer to me in a reassuring embrace.

"Yeah, let's hope I'm not," I say. I kiss her gently, although I part from her only a few seconds later when I hear my younger sister yell, "EWWW!" from the kitchen. I hear Madyline grumble something under her breath, something like, "Snobby little girl." I shoot her a glare, and she shrugs. "I know you love your sister, Kota, but you need to tell her not to interrupt our lovely, romantic moments, like the one we were just having."

"Fine." I storm into the kitchen and look down at Addie. "Can you not be so damn immature for once in your life?" I snap. "You're gonna wanna kiss boys later on, you know."

Addie sticks her tongue out. "No way! Boys are gross!" She shoves a handful of potato chips into her mouth.

"Shouldn't you be getting ready for the reapings, anyways?" I ask, taking the bowl of chips from her. She reaches into the bowl and quickly takes another handful of chips before skipping down the hallway and into the room. I sigh and take the bowl back into the TV room, only to find one of the other kids that live in the group home, Derrick, flirting with Madyline. My girlfriend is looking at him with a disgusted look on her face, but I'm bothered by what I'm seeing nonetheless. I walk over to them and slap Derrick's shoulder.

"Go get your own girlfriend," I snarl. "And don't mess with mine."

"I was just asking her about the science homework that's due next week, sheesh," he says. Ha! Like I'd ever believe that. I spin around and look at Madyline. "Is that true?"

Madyline opens her mouth to reply, when the owner of the group home tells everyone to form a single file line. "The reapings are going to begin very soon," she announces. I shoot one last intimidating glare at Derrick, before taking Madyline's hand and stepping into the line with her. I don't even know where the fuck Addie is. "ADDIE!" I yell. "GET YOUR FACE OUT OF THOSE POTATO CHIPS!"

Addie barges out of her room, wearing a sunset orange dress. "I wasn't eating any freaking potato chips, gosh," she retorts, rolling her eyes. She slips into the line with her little group of friends and begins to chat with them.

"What do you think she's going to be like when she grows up?" I ask Madyline.

"Well, she did tell you she wasn't interested in boys," Madyline says with a giggle. "So maybe she's going to be a crazy cat lady or something." This statement cheers me up a bit. After everyone has gathered together, the owner of the group home takes us down to the town square. Once we're there, we all separate from each other to go off to our designated roped-off sections. I kiss Madyline quickly before hurrying to get my finger pricked. Who would've known that kiss would be our last?

"Ladies first," I hear the escort say, after she had finished rattling on and on about what the escorts are told to say to us before the legit reapings actually begin. She pulls a slip of paper out of a glass ball and reads it in her exotic Capitol accent. "Mary-Ann Hunter! Congratulations!"

Congratulations? Why would you say that? You've picked a tribute to be sent off to their death. A frail girl with wavy blonde hair and light blue eyes nervously makes her way up to the stage. Damn, she's hot. My eyes flicker over to where Madyline stands, and she's glaring at me. Oops. Guess she saw me staring at that Mary-Ann chick.

She won't be able to get in a huge fight with me though, because a very familiar name rings through the air. "Kota Jimslim!" the escort says. "Interesting surname, Kota!" Madyline's glare has turned into a look of shock and fear. Even Addie, who was screaming at me just ten minutes ago, is now sobbing into her friend's shoulder.

Crap. Wow, okay. Didn't expect this. And to make matters worse, I would've been able to get a new house next year. Well, either I return home and get an even better house in the Victor's Village, or I die in the Hunger Games. I'm not weak. I can do this. For Addie. For Madyline. For District 6, and for my parents that were turned into avoxes years ago.

...When did I get so soft?

I walk up to the stage, my arms and legs shivering with fear, but I keep a straight face and I grin proudly at the crowd. They look up at me, confused. The escort tells Mary-Ann and I to shake hands, and I do. I take her hand in mine and I wink at her. She blushes and looks away from me. My eyes then move to the crowd, where I see that Madyline is once again glaring. Just before we're taken off to the Justice Building, I yell, "I promise I'll win for you, Mady!" and she starts crying again. I had no idea my girlfriend was so damn moody.

District 8: Galina Kiltova's POV

I'm sure no one has felt pain as great as I. Plenty of people in Panem have lost a sibling or a friend to the shadows of the Hunger Games, I'm sure, but not one has witnessed betrayal and murder on a bright silver TV screen in the same way I have. As I stand among about a hundred other 14 year old girls, waiting patiently for the reapings to begin, the memory of Clefter's death comes flooding back to me.

. . .

"Congratulations to the final five of the 89th annual Hunger Games!" Head Gamemaker Rowanne Ambrose's voice boomed, her voice echoing throughout the entire arena. "The Games are coming to an end, but they're not over just yet. Please continue with the bloodshed and we absolutely can't wait to see the one that remains standing!" A clicking sound signaled that she was done speaking. The remaining Careers exchanged glances.

"Well," said Clefter. "I guess it's time our alliance splits up now." Her allies nodded in agreement. Clefter gathered her share of the supplies and bid farewell to the girl from 1 and the boy from 2. "Good luck, guys," she said, before heading off into the woods. The other two watched her go in silence. "Good luck, Clefter," the girl from 1 called.

Not too long after Clefter started to leave, 1 and 2 looked at each other, nodded, and grinned maliciously. The girl from 1 leaped into the air and tackled Clefter to the ground, while the boy from 2 wrapped both hands around her neck. "We're true Careers," he whispered in her ear. "We don't just let our allies go safely."

Clefter started wheezing. "You're going to hell," she rasped. The girl from 1 grinned.

"Well, I guess we'll see you there," she purred. She nodded to the other Career, and cleanly snapped her neck with a flick of his wrists.

. . .

A shiver runs down my spine as I remember how shocked I had been when Clefter died. Nobody knew we were related. We were both separated at a young age when our father got a job as a Peacekeeper and was moved to District 4. Clefter's death didn't only surprise me, but it left the entire continent of Panem in a state of shock. She was so strong, so powerful, and she was the Capitol's favorite to win. Her odds of winning were 3-1, and she received a whopping training score of 11. After I cried my eyes out for weeks straight, I suddenly felt angry. Like I wanted to personally storm the Career districts and kill each and every person living there. It's not fair that the girl from 1 stepped out of that arena victorious. It should've been Clefter. Ever since her death, I've wanted revenge on the Careers. And if I am to be reaped today, I'll make sure that the Careers stain the grass red beneath my axe.

The District 8 escort, Shiver, struts up to the stage, his nose pointing towards the sky as if he owns the place. He could've been born in some place other than the Capitol, as he has tanned skin and shoulder-length brown hair, however is pursed lips are an unusual white and he gazes at the crowd with blood red cat eyes. He smiles cheerfully at us. "Welcome, one and all, to the District 8 reapings of the 93rd Hunger Games!" he yells out in his thick Capitol accent. When his mouth opens, you can see two pointy, bloodstained fangs that stick out of his gums. Either he likes his steak rare, or that's fake blood. How should I know? People from the Capitol are freaks.

I don't seem to realize that I'm dozing off a bit until Shiver finishes his speech about the Dark Days and announces, "Time to pick the girl tribute!" I watch, interested in seeing who's going to be one of the District 8 representatives for this year. I'm not worried about getting reaped myself - I mean, I've never taken tesserae, and my name has only been entered 3 times. And there are thousands of other girls that are just my age in District 8. It's more likely to be Sandy Burlow from my school; she's 18, and she's taken the tesserae for her six younger sisters, so it can't-

"Galina Kiltova!" Shiver says. My eyes widen. Is it really...? No, I must be hearing things. It was someone else. Someone with a name similar to mine, and I just heard it wrong.

But by the way everyone turns their heads to look at me, I know I'm the one that's been reaped. I sigh. Well, there's nothing I can do about it, is there? Plus, this might actually be a good thing. This will be the only chance I have to avenge Clefter's death - even if it means dying while trying. I make my way up to the stage, putting on a proud, determined expression for the cameras. I stand beside Shiver, straightening my back, and watch him while he reaches his hand into a separate diamond bowl and pulls out a slip of paper that reads, "Nile Flame!"

I scan the audience, trying to find this Nile kid. He looks pretty average, and he blends in with the other boys his age, but I can easily tell he's the one that's been reaped because his thin body is shaking with fear and his face is beet red. He shyly makes his way up to the stage, his head facing towards the ground. When he's standing beside us, Shiver inspects us carefully, then says, "Please give a hand for this year's District 8 tributes!" A few people clap half-heartedly, while I can hear some soft crying near the back of the square, probably belonging to whoever Nile lives with or my mother. Shiver tells us to shake hands, and we do. Nile looks so shy, so helpless. I feel a bit sorry for him, but I instantly shove my sympathy for my new district partner out of my mind.

These Games are all about me. It's me that's going to return home, not Nile. And I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that happens.

District 9: Oliver Hemmingway's POV

"Who's Oliver Hemmingway?"

"He looks familiar, but my memory of him is very vague."

"Guys, remember? He's the guy that killed his own parents."

I feel like crying. Not only was I reaped for the Hunger Games, but everyone knew who I was and that I am the reason my parents were killed two years ago. I remember that I was the smartest kid in my class, and all of my teachers loved me. I promised them I would create the most amazing science fair project in history. Well, it was definitely amazing, and definitely one to be remembered, but it left the school in ruins, the burned corpses on my parents underneath...

. . . 2 hours earlier . . .

I'm wandering around the busy streets of District 9 - people are rushing around to get things done before the reapings begin, and the town square is very noisy and clustered. I decide to leave the square and walk down to the edge of District 9, where the grain fields are. The fields have always been the place where I can feel at peace. Normally, I'm stuck at the foster home, since my parents are...not around, I guess you could say, and I'm surrounded by loud, bossy other kids all day long.

Before I reach the grain fields, something else catches my eye. It's a ruined building that hasn't been paid attention to in ages. I go closer to it, and my heart breaks when I realize what it is. I see a metal plate sticking out of the ground that used to hang above the doorway. On it reads Jonathon H. Nine Middle School - the school that I used to attend. I drop to my knees and bury my face in my hands. This is where the accident happened. It's where I brought in my science fair project and started to show my teachers how it worked, how cool it was. But it shorted out... a fire started to spread, and my teachers frantically searched for a phone to call the Peacekeepers on, but the fire was spreading fast. I was able to jump out through a window along with some of the other students and a few teachers, but everyone else burned to death. I was thinking to myself, At least I'm safe, and my parents are safe... That's when I remembered that my parents had been watching me demonstrate my science project. I watched a group of Peacekeepers drag out of the bodies of the victims. I saw my dad first, and then my mom...

I had killed my own parents.

Nobody would ever understand what I went through. It's not everday an innocent young child kills his own parents by accident, and then he starts to become to shadow of District 9. The person that everyone avoids.

I lift my head out of my hands and wipe the tears from my eyes. Then I adjust the tie on my suit and make my way back down to the town square, where I walk around, lost in thought, until 15 minutes before the reapings begin. My finger is pricked and I sit down with the other 15 year old boys. The ones near me slowly scoot away. I'm slightly offended, but those actions are expected. I would also scoot away from a murderer if I were them.

The escort comes out, and she talks about the origin of the Hunger Games and excitedly shows us a video that was delivered from President Snow III. Then she reads the female tribute's name. "Kassidy Feekes."

I watch as a pale girl with brown hair and freckles, probably around 16 years old, nervously makes her way up to the stage. Once she's there, she stands very still as if she is a statue, her eyes wide.

"Now for the male tribute," the escort says, after giving Kassidy a reassuring pat on the back. She draws a slip of paper from the males' glass ball. "Oliver Hemmingway," she calls out.

It's as if the world stops spinning just then. The atmosphere is extremely quiet for a few moments, when I hear a few people speak up.

"Who's Oliver Hemmingway?" somebody asks. The boy on my right pushes me out into the aisle so that everyone can see me. I hear a few people gasp.

"He looks familiar," a girl replies. "But my memory of him is very vague."

"Guys, remember?" someone yells. "He's the guy that killed his own parents."

People start muttering thoughtfully about the fire that occured two years ago, as if I'm not even there. I quickly hurry on up to the stage and take my place beside Kassidy. When we're told to shake hands, she looks at me with a worried expression.

"I'm not who you think I am," I say to her. "I promise."

She just shakes her head in disgusts and walks away without bothering to take my hand and shake it. All I want to do is curl up in a ball and die. I didn't mean to kill my parents!

District 10: Holly Wintercrest's POV

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. I watch the clock intently, my foot tapping against the ground in anticipation. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Usually the sound of a ticking clock helps me think better. I don't know why - just having something else in the background, like a soft, rythmic noise, is better than complete silence.

The sounds of my house clock are interrupted when the tall clock standing in town square rings out loudly, signaling that it is a quarter before 2 o'clock. A quarter before the reapings. I sigh, and bring my knees up to my chest, then I begin to softly rock back and forth. I'm only 15 years old. Whenever my sister Seline, sees that I'm nervous, she points out that I'm very young and it's not likely for me to get picked. But she's much younger than I am, too young to understand. You all know what the tesserae is, I'm assuming? Seline just thinks it's something that the older kids do in order to get food for their family. But it's much more complicated than that. After I began taking the tesserae, I have had my name entered much more times than typical 15 year old girls. Sometimes I hate myself for taking the tesserae in the first place. I'm putting my life closer to danger, every single year. I mean, I'm very talented with throwing knives. Most of the food my family eats comes from the forest outside of our district anyways. The food that I catch. However, I found out that I was able to sneak into the forest after I took the tesserae.

My mom comes into my room, interrupting my thoughts. She smiles gently at me, and lays a mint green dress out on the bed for me to wear. I quickly bathe and then slip my skin into the soft, silky fabric. I head downstairs, where I find my parents and Seline, all waiting patiently for me.

"Let's go," my dad says. We start out the door and quietly walk together to the town square, where the reapings are going to be held. I hold Seline's hand so that she doesn't wander off. She's quite adventurous and outgoing, the opposite of me, and she'll talk to anyone, whether that person be someone from her school or a Peacekeeper.

To prove my point, when we pass by the train that came from the Capitol, Seline waves to the District 10 escort, Trinity, who's just stepped out. "Hi Trinity!" she yells. Trinity smiles at my sister but I can tell it's forced. One time, when Caesar Flickerman was interviewing Trinity on TV, she told him that she hated kids but her boss told her to put on a sweet act for the younger citizens of District 10. Around the tributes my age and older, she's snobby and mean, and she doesn't care about people's feelings.

I gently yank on Seline's arm. "Come on, Sel," I whisper to her. She starts bothering me, asking ever so dramatically why she can't say hi to other people and just live her life. All I do is roll my eyes and continue to walk. Over the years, I've learned how to ignore Seline. Not all the time, of coruse, but I ignore her when she's acting like a total drama queen.

My family and I finally reach the square, after a long walk from the outskirts of District 10 where we live to town, which is right in the middle. I wait in line to have my finger pricked. When I reach the front, the Peacekeeper roughly yanks my hand towards her and pricks my finger. "Next," she grumbles. I bring the now red area on my finger to my lips to keep it from throbbing. It hurts way less than a small paper cut, but this is only my fourth reaping and I still have to get used to it.

I shyly make my way over to my roped off section, where I stand in between two girls from my school. I watch as some of the girls meet up with their friends and stand by them, chatting to them before the reapings begin. I, however, have no one to talk to. I just stand there, playing with a loose piece of thread that's hanging off of my dress. I've always been a loner, mainly just because I prefer to keep to myself most of the time. My only friend is Drake, a 16 year old boy that I met while I was hunting in the woods. He's the only other person I know of that goes there. My eyes search for him, but I don't have much time to look because the reapings begin just a few seconds later. Trinity gleefully exclaims the line that all escorts are told to say: "Welcome, welcome, to the 93rd annual Hunger Games!" She flips her bubblegum-pink hair out of her face and beams at the crowd. "Don't you all just love the Hunger Games?" She giggles. She obviously knows that District 10 is more of a rebel district, and she understands that all of us (or most of us, at least) hate the idea of the Hunger Games with every fiber of our soul. But she talks about how interesting and inspiring they are anyway.

After a brief introduction, she gradually turns into her normal self. "Now," she says. "You all know how this begins and ends. 13 districts foolishly rebelled against the Capitol, the people that loved them and cared for them dearly. I mean, how can you guys be such idiots? Sure, you had to pay taxes and work hard to recieve food and supplies from the Capitol, but didn't you have to do that before they took over? Seriously. I'm sure you know what happens next. The districts - weaklings, you all were - fell to the wrath of the Capitol, or so you all say. We don't really have a wrath. We just care about training and fighting, because what if we're sucked into another war?" She puts her hands on her hips. "That's why I like the Career districts better than you guys. Seriously, I'm super jealous of Vixen and Tanya for getting to be the escorts of districts 2 and 4. They actually want to train for the Hunger Games. They're smart - they know they have a pretty fucking high chance of getting reaped and they're gonna want to know how to fight and protect themselves. I especially love the people who volunteer. It's good to want to bring honor to your district. Not like you, District 10. Don't you want that? Don't you want to be bathed in riches? I know I would. But nooo, you would just prefer to live the slobby life of working with noisy chickens and cow shit all day long. Disgusting."

I tune Trinity out as she continues to blab on and on and on. I begin listening again when I see her head over to a gigantic glass ball. Tiny slips of paper are filled to the top and are close to overflowing. So many slips. So many girls in District 10. I have a tiny chance of getting reaped. I keep telling myself this, and I feel a bit better. "And the girl tribute for this year is..." Trinity opens the small, folded piece of paper. "Holly Wintercrest."

Dizziness. That's the sensation I'm feeling when Trinity calls my name. Like I'm going to fall over and pass out. Me? How was it me? That's when I remember - I took the tesserae. I have a higher chance of getting reaped than all the 16 and 17 year olds combined. I take a deep breath in through my nose, and let it out through my mouth. I force myself to step out into the aisle and begin walking towards the stage.

"Holly, wait!"

I turn around, my eyes widening a bit when I see Drake running towards me. He grabs my shoulders and I tell him to go sit back down. I don't want him to get carried away by the Peacekeepers.

"Holly, just let me do this real fast," Drake says to me. Before I can ask what he wants to do, he kisses me. Gasps rise from the crowd, and my heart quickens. I'm so confused, yet excited and happy at the same time. But also sad. Did he really think it would be okay to kiss me, right before I'm sent off to my possible death? Now I'm going to miss him so badly while I'm in the arena. And it's not good to be distracted while-

My thoughts are interrupted when Drake pulls away from me and reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a silver locket, and opens it, showing a picture that him and I took together. He puts the locket around my neck and hugs me tightly. "I love you, Holly," he says quietly. "Win for me."

And just like that, he's gone, heading back into the guy's section. It's as if that was all just a dream.

People in the audience are staring at me. Some of the popular girls from my school are giggling. I blush madly and hurry up to the stage. Trinity looks at me and grins. "Well. That was...interesting." She chuckles a bit, then draws the boy's name. "Maiko Fornis," she says.

I watch as a young, dark-skinned boy steps out of the 13 year olds section. I recognize him. He's a total nerd at my school. I'm not like any popular girl, though, and I don't judge him. He nervously comes up to the stage, and I feel bad for him when I see tears forming at the corners of his eyes. He turns his body and faces the crowd. Then, for some reason, the audience starts to clap. Some people even cheer for him. Either they're excited that a nerd like him is going off to his death, or I haven't been paying attention much and he's greatly respected by the people of District 10 or something. Either way, it confuses me.

I shake Maiko's hand, giving the poor boy a reassuring squeeze. He looks at me and smiles a little, as if saying thanks for the small act of kindness that I showed. Then, Trinity leads us into the Justice Building.

District 11: Scorch Flare's POV

Everyone calls me a badass. When I was younger, I was considered a mistake, the kid my parents would be embarrassed to have. Those people were wrong. They're fucking idiots and they don't understand that my parents love me. Even though they love my brothers, Jimmy and Hontri better, they still love me. I have to remind myself that. Whenever I'm causing trouble in some way or another, I remind myself that my parents will still love me even if I get in big trouble some way or another. Little did I know that what I got into three hours before the reapings for the 93rd Hunger Games could possibly cost me my life.

I found a bomb. Don't ask me how I got it, because I'm not going to tell you. I took the bomb and I snuck it into the Peacekeepers' quarters. I'm such a badass. This is so damn scary for me but when I walk out of the quarters, the timer on the bomb slowly ticking down to zero, I can't help but feel super proud of myself. I might go to hell for doing this, but the Peacekeepers will be in hell first. They deserve to be blown up. Plus, you only live once, right?

I duck behind a tree and wait for the bomb to go off, counting down in my head. 5, 4, 3, 2... I cross my fingers behind my back, praying that the bomb will work, and it does. An explosion forms inside the quarters and a fire spreads throughout the inside and around the outside of it. I hurry back home, chuckling quietly to myself, then slip inside my house as if nothing is wrong. My mom sees how dirty my brand new suit is, and she sighs. "Scorch, I just bought that." She wipes off the dirt and holds me firmly in place. "I want you to stay right here until the reapings. Okay?"

"Okay," I respond. She nods and continues to make breakfast, when a loud crashing sound catches my attention. I spin around and watch as the Head Peacekeeper knocks down the door and storms into my house, angrily looking around.

"Where's the boy?!" he screams. He sees me, and I swear I can  see steam coming out of his ears. He yanks me upwards by the collar of my shirt. "You," he hisses. "YOU BLEW UP MY HEADQUARTERS!"

"Oh," I say, calmly crossing my arms. "Those belonged to you?"

He seethes at me. "You're coming with me, boy." He takes me out of the house, ignoring my mother as she begs for him to put me down. The Peacekeeper slams the door of my house and tosses me into his car, where I black out.

. . .

My eyes open. I find myself in a dusty cell, laying on a dirty cot. I sit up, frowning when I see the Peacekeeper, staring coldly at me from the outside of the cell. "You're awake," he says.

"Yeah." I fold my arms over my chest. "What are you going to do with me? Kill me?"

The Peacekeeper laughs. "Oh, no. No, I'm going to do something much worse than that." He steps into the cell and pokes my chest. "Listen, boy, if you ever want to see your parents again, you're going to volunteer for the Hunger Games this afternoon. Understood?"

A shiver runs down my spine. "What if I refuse? Are you just going to keep me here?"

He laughs. "No. If you refuse to volunteer, I'm going to take you to hell." He grins at me. My eyes widen; I don't have to ask what he means by hell. I know. He means the prison in the Capitol. Where they torment your mind with tracker jacker juice and whip you and cut your skin open little by little...

Yeah, I'd rather volunteer for the Hunger Games.

The Peacekeeper leaves and I sit alone until a different Peacekeeper comes and gets me, telling me that the reapings are going to begin soon. I get in the car, and she drives us down to the town square. I get out, have my finger pricked, and stand in the 18 year old guy's section. I'm standing there for a long time - since I came with the Peacekeepers, I'm like, the first one in the square. Eventually, though, more people begin to fill in, and soon enough, everyone's here and the reapings begin. The escort jumps up and down on the stage, her icy blue pigtails bouncing in sync with her body. Man, she's excited. "Welcome, one and all, to the 93rd annual Hunger Games!" she chirps. She talks about the history of Panem that I've heard oh so many times, and finishes off with, "The Hunger Games are an event where a young man and woman are picked to represent their district in the honor of competiting in the annual Hunger Games, where they will fight against 22 other tributes from 11 other districts to the death until only one tribute remains and is crowned victorious. They are then bathed in riches and taken back home to their family and friends." She sticks her hand into a diamond ball. "Will one of District 11's tributes be this year's victor?" She pulls out a card and reads it. "Violette Meadow!"

A small girl steps out into the aisle, and all I want to do at that moment is reach up and snap our escort's head clean off. Violette is 12. 12 year olds should NOT be forced to go into the Hunger Games. They're so young, so innocent. It should be 15 to 18, if you ask me, not 12 to 18. Actually, it should be no Hunger Games at all. If you know what I mean.

I feel relieved for the little girl when someone yells out, "I volunteer!" A 17 year old makes her way up to the stage, but Violette steps to the side, blocking her path.

"Thanks," she says, "but no thanks. This is the only chance I'll have to get revenge on..." She trails off for a moment, then speaks up again. "Revenge on District 4." The 17 year old sits back down and Violette heads on up to the stage. When she turns and faces the crowd, I recognize her, but I can't tell where from.

"And now for the boys," the escort says. She pulls a slip of paper out of the second diamond ball. "Thomas Monk."

"....I volunteer." I ignore the surprised faces that turn my way. I just hurry up to the stage and face them, a proud, determined look on my face. I notice the Peacekeeper in the back, who nods at me and gives me a thumbs up. But I don't care about him. The people I focus mostly on are my family. My mother is crying and my dad looks shocked and angry. Shocked that I would volunteer, angry at the Peacekeepers for making me volunteer, I'm assuming. But I just stand there, staring at the crowd, not nervous at all. Well, maybe I am a bit nervous. But I know I can win. I've done dangerous things before, and if I want to return home to my family, I can win.

I can prove to that old ass Peacekeeper that I am not the one to be messed with. And when I come back, I'll kill him personally.

This makes me even more determined to return home.

When the escort tells us to shake hands, I turn to face Violette, and suddenly remember why she seems familiar. Her brother fought in a Hunger Games two years ago, but he died in the top three, killed by the two District 4 tributes. I guess that's why she said she was going to get revenge on District 4. Violette doesn't seem scared, however - not like most 12 year olds. She stares up at me with a fierce glow in her eyes, and there is an extremely confident expression on her face. I admire her determination, but I admire mine more.

I know this is cruel to say; I mean, she is only 12 years old. But District 11 is going to have a victor this year. And it's going to be me.

District 12: Lillian Pumpkin's POV

"Mommy, who is that strange man outside?" little Lillian asked her mother. Her mom peeked through the house window.

"I don't know, dear," she replied. "Don't say anything." She sat Lillian down on the couch and continued to look at the window, observing the strange man. He was walking closer and closer to the house. Once he reached the door, he stopped walking for a long time, just staring at the door. Then he pulled something out of his pocket and used it to pick the lock. Lillian's mother went up to him, picking up a glass bottle on her way there.

"Who are you?" she demanded. "What are you doing here?"

The man just roughly pushed past her, knocking her down on the ground. His eyes were focused on Lillian; she was the reason he came. He started taking off her clothes. Lillian was so scared, and she didn't know what to do, so she stayed still, frozen with terror.

"GET AWAY FROM HER!" Lillian's mother screeched. She ran at the man, the glass bottle in her hand. She hit him on the head with it, the same exact moment the man grabbed a nearby kitchen knife and stabbed her in the stomach. They both hit the floor at the same time. Lillian's mother dead, the man unconscious. Poor Lillian, whom was shaking with fear, did her best to push the heavy body of the man out of her house. She dragged him deep into the woods and pushed him down a water hole, where he fell and fell. Only when Lillian heard a soft thump deep in the earth, signaling that the man's body had hit the ground, did she run back to her house, only to find that her mother was still barely alive.

"Lillian," she rasped. "Don't leave this house. Ever. Don't even call the ambulance to come and take me away. The world is dangerous." Those were her last words. Lillian sat by her mother's corpse and cried and cried until there were no tears left within her. Then she buried her mother's body right outside her house, then went back inside and cried on her bed. She cried deep into the night, and tears poured out of her eyes even as she slept.

But she would obey her mother's words.

Ever since that night, I've never gone outside my little house in the middle of the forest. The last time I ventured into town was so long ago that I can't even remember. Not speaking for so long has turned me into a mute. But that's okay. Even with my mother gone, and with no other human beings around, I have plenty of company. Nature is my friend. I see plenty of animals every day. Although I have to kill some of them for meat, I'm friends with creatures such as birds and bunnies and foxes. They trust me. Ever since that strange man tried to rape me when I was seven and...killed my mom...I've been afraid of most humans. I've begun to understand why some animals aren't friendly around people. They're just afraid of them - they want to defend themselves. I guess you could relate me to an animal in some ways. I'm afraid of other human beings, I don't talk, I can survive on my own in the wilderness, and I've taught myself how to hunt and how to fight. I don't even know if I'm like a human - I haven't seen another one in so long.

I load my bow and go outside, and begin searching for lunch. I see a pigeon resting near the bottom of a tree, and I aim to shoot at it. Just when I'm about to release an arrow, I hear shouting in the distance. I freeze and spin around. A vehicle has been parked on the grass and four strange men come out of it. All of them are wearing white suits and helmets, and they're holding small weapons with triggers on them. All I can think to do is run. I turn around and start to run, but the men easily catch up to me. They tackle me to the ground and drag me back into the vehicle. Two of the men drive me away, while the other two raid my house. I'm so confused. What is going on?

I'm in the vehicle for about a half an hour. I have no idea where we're going. The men often try to ask me a bunch of questions, but I don't answer them. I can tell they're frustrated but they eventually realize that I'm mute. When I see buildings and more people come into sight, I duck beneath my seat. "What the hell is wrong with this chic?" one of them ask. I hug myself, my arms and legs shaking with fear. The vehicle parks, and one of the men yanks me out of it and takes me to a tall building, where they sit me down in a chair and talk to a man with a beard wearing a fancy suit.

"We found her in the forest, Mr. Mayor," the taller helmeted man says. "I've never seen her in town before."

"What's her name?"

"She won't say, sir. She's mute."

The mayor picks a folder off his desk and reads through a bunch of names, asking me which one is mine. When he says the name "Lillian Pumpkin", I nod slowly.

"She hasn't attended a single reaping," the mayor tells the two helmeted men with the weapons. "The only reason her name is on this list is because she was a student at the District 12 elementary school. She stopped going to school when she was seven years old and she hasn't been seen since."

The three humans talk for a few more minutes, then the men, who I learned are called "Peacekeepers", take both my arms and drag me down to a square. I cower in fear when I see the thousands of people that are gathering together. The Peacekeepers take me to another one of their kind, though this one is a woman. She puts something on my finger and I feel a sharp pain shoot through it, and I let out a tiny little scream, but it goes unheard. Even though I'm mute, I can still produce some noises, although they're really quiet.

The Peacekeepers then take me to an area that's roped-off. They tell me to stay here, and then they walk away. I try to keep up with we're they're headed to but they disappear among the crowd of people. I think about leaving this place, but I'm so scared and I believe it's best that I don't move. I stand still for what seems like hours, when suddenly, the entire square goes quiet. I watch as a lady with short orange hair and yellow skin walks up onto a big stage at the front of the square. She smiles at the crowd. "Welcome, one and all, to the 93rd annual Hunger Games!"

When she says the word "Hunger Games", I have a flashback.

Lillian was watching something on TV with her mother, who was out gathering nut and fruits for the winter. Lillian wasn't allowed to watch the small, old TV that they had in their house, but she did so anyway. When she turned it on, a large field with a golden horn in the middle appeared on the screen. Someone was counting down from 60 to 1, and then there was this loud noise and a bunch of people started running towards the horn. They grabbed dangerous-looking instruments and started slashing at each other, which caused a lot of blood and booming sounds. Her mother came in and slammed the TV off, asking her why she disobeyed her and turned it on. Lillian apologized, but she couldn't help asking what she was just watching. Her mother explained the Hunger Games, and that's why they lived in the forest. That's all she said.

I know understand why my mother told me the world was a dangerous place right before she died.

The weird orange-haired lady says some stuff that I don't really pay attention to. I do focus my eyes on her, however, when she walks over to a glass ball, her heels clicking against a stage. She pulls a small piece of paper out of the ball and reads my name off of it. "Lillian Pumpkin," she says.

I'm not quite sure what to do. I stand there, looking a bit confused. Then the Peacekeepers from earlier come over to me and lead me to the stage. I stare at the crowd, my eyes as wide as marbles, and I just want to hide my face. The orange-haired lady then goes over to a different glass ball and pulls out another slip of paper. "John McCall."

A boy with brown hair and glasses nervously makes his way up to the stage. I recognize him - I think he was in my class when I went to school several years ago. I don't know why, but I feel a bit more comfortable when I'm standing by him. I'm still scared, but for some reason, he seems like someone I can trust. The orange-haired lady tells us to shake hands, and we do. Then we get into the vehicle like the one I was in earlier and we drive towards the building I was just in.

I know the world is dangerous. But based on what I've heard, the Hunger Games arena is always worse than the real world.


Training

Training Day 1

Saffron Star's (D1) POV

"In a few days, only one of you will be alive. 24 of you will be dead. In training today, you'll need to learn how to weild a weapon, however weapons aren't the main thing you need to focus on in the arena. Starvation or dehydration could be deadlier than a knife."

This statement that comes out of the head trainer's mouth sends a shiver down my spine. No doubt I'm going to practice using a katana, though I'm also going to do simple things, like running, climbing the fake trees, and swimming. There's no point in learning how to start a fire. Since we're Careers, we'll be able to overtake the Cornucopia when the Games begin and get matches. Seriously.

The head trainer ends her speech, and she tells us to go off and do our own thing. I find myself headed immediately towards the katana and swords station. I'm the first in line, and my allies gather together and watch me, as if looking to see whether I'm worthy of being a Career or not. I'll show them. I pull a katana off the rack and ask politely for someone the train with. A big burly man steps out, armed with his own katana. He asks me if I'm ready, and I say, "You wanna find out?" I grin at him. Obviously he thinks I'm distracted, and he swings his katana at me, however I easily dodge the attack. I slide low to the floor and press the blade of my weapon to his leg. I want to dig it into his leg but I know the tributes aren't allowed to cause any life-threatening physical harm to the trainers, so I pull my katana away and stand up. The trainer shakes my hand and tells me that I exceed in any performance with any kind of blade. This makes me feel good about myself. I walk over to the other Careers.

"Well?" I ask. I place one hand on my hip and swing the katana around using the other. "Did you enjoy the show?"

Lily looks at me and giggles. "Sure, Saffron. You're great. But I'm better." She gestures for us to follow her, and walks over to the throwing daggers station. The trainer hands her a dagger and she throws it. I watch as the tiny metal weapon flies through the air and lands on the bullseye of her target - right where a tribute's neck would be. Honestly, she's alright. What she did wasn't downright amazing, but it was good. After a few more throws, she returns to us and asks the same thing I did. We all just reply by nodding or muttering "Yeah". Lily rolls her eyes and walks off to the weight-lifting station. Lemonade and Lime both go to the swimming station, and I follow Dragon to the spear-throwing station. I don't particularly excel in spear-throwing, however my district partner asked me if I could watch him. And I quote: "You know you want to, Saffron. And even if you don't, you just have to observe my awesomeness."

On our way there, I decide to strike up a conversation. "What do you think of the other tributes?" I ask him. He unexpectedly lets out a loud, creepy-sounding laugh.

"I don't think any of them pose a threat, if that's what you're trying to get out of me," he says. "They're all weak and I could easily kill all of them in the bloodbath. However, I will compliment the girl from 10 on her skill with throwing knives and a machete, and male from 7 seems to have had some practice with using a hammer. However, he is extremely conceited, and self-centered people normally die first. And the girl from 12 is a weakling." He points to the red-eyed mute girl, who is at the bow and arrows station. The girl from 6 passes through the line waiting to try out the bow and arrow to get to the maces, and accidentally bumps into her. 12 lets out a loud shriek and ducks underneath a rack of weapons. Dragon chuckles and turns his attention back to me. "See what I mean, Saffron? She's afraid of humans. She won't last a day in the Hunger Games."

"What about our allies?" I ask him.

"Lily seems like the popular kind. A kind that I really don't like. She is, however, quite talented with the dagger. Lemonade and Lime seem like they are going to refuse to kill each other once the alliance splits up. I like Lemonade, she seems like a cool gal, but she needs to break her relationship with her brother. She could last longer in the arena if she takes her mind off of Lime and just focuses on winning."

What a jerk!

"Mason, oh my god," Dragon continues, rolling his eyes. "I know he's not a Career, but he should be. Even though he's blind and useless and will probably die at the Cornucopia, he shouldn't have gone off looking for another alliance like that. He needs us." He shakes his head in disgust. "And when that gong sounds, I will grab a spear or a katana and personally slice right through his neck." Wow, I swear, my district partner is the scariest person you'll ever meet. He's not afraid to kill. Well, I'm not either, but he could kill for hours and hours on end. However, acting like this will earn him some sponsors and intimidate the other tributes, giving him an advantage in the arena, so I admire him a bit for how he acts. But he still scares the heck out of me.

"What about me?" I question. Dragon looks at me blankly.

"Well, Saffron, I actually have faith in you." His voice is very emotionless, so I can't tell if he's being sarcastic or not. Before I can reply, he walks off, saying that he's wasted enough time and needs to get back to training immediately.

Mary-Ann Hunter's (D7) POV

Kota keeps staring at me. It's creeping me out a little. He winked at me at the reapings, but even worse than that, he told me I was hot on the train ride to the Capitol. And he has a girlfriend back in the district. I should know - everyone knows, really. Worse of all, I don't even like him. I know he's my district partner, and I know I'm not the killing type, but I'll gladly take him out if I have to. All he cares about is himself. It annoys the heck out of me.

Shaking the thought of my mind, I decide to see if I can find some allies for the Games. I go over to the axes station, and watch as the girl from 6 throws some, one after the other, each of them hitting her target either spot on or extremely close. When she's done, I gather up the courage to go over to her. I'm usually not super shy, but these people are tributes. They could say - or do - anything to you. "Hi," I say. She looks at me and smiles. "Oh...hi. Mary, right?"

"Mary-Ann," I correct her. I hold out my hand and she shakes it.

"I'm Ava." She points to the rack that hold a bunch of axes. "You good with those?"

I nod. "Pretty good." There's an awkward silence between us for a few moments, when remember the District 6 reapings that I saw on TV and say, "Hey, if this is too personal than you don't have to reply, but if I may ask, why did you volunteer? You didn't seem like you wanted to." I thought she would've gotten angry, but she didn't. She just looks at me plainly, a hint of sadness in her eyes.

"Too personal."

"Okay." I scan the training center, observing some of the other tributes, when my eyes come back to Ava and I'm finally confident enough to ask, "You wanna be allies?"

Ava looks a bit taken aback by the offer, but she offers me her usual little smile and nods. "That'd be great."

"Cool," I say. "You wanna go see if we can find any other allies?"

"Sure."

We walk around the training center together, discussing with each other who would make a formidable ally. We both wanted someone that was strong and talented, but not super violent, like the Careers. We also needed someone that wasn't useless, though trustworthy and reliable. Ava decides to ask Kathrin, the girl from 3. She's good with a spear, and she seems to know how to deal with surviving in the wild. She can build a fire and has a seemingly good plant knowledge, and that would prove to be useful. Kathrin accepts the offer to join our alliance. I ask her if she wanted to ask her district partner, but she quickly shook her head.

"No. Don't trust him," she tells us. "He's creepy, and I have a feeling he won't prove to be trustworthy in the arena." She tells us about how he seemed so calm and mysterious when he was reaped, and how he told her not to call him by his name, but to call him "The Shadow". The Shadow, huh? That's all I need to hear. We cross him off the list, and I ask the sly, cunning girl from District 8 if she wants to ally.

"Sorry," she says. "But I prefer to work alone." Without waiting to see our reactions, she jumps onto one of the fake trees and scrambles up nearly effortlessly.

Meanwhile, Ava had told us she wanted to practice the obstacle course stations while we searched for an ally. On her way there, she bumps into the boy from 8. "I'm sorry," he says shyly.

"It's fine," Ava assures him. She looks at us, and we nod, as if telling her to ask him if he would be willing to join our alliance. Ava does so, and after a few seconds, the boy from 8 (who we later learn is named Nile) nods his head in agreement. He and Ava complete the obstacle course a few times, then he tells her he's going to ask the mute girl from 12.

"I don't think you can," I tell him, butting in on the conversation. "She's pretty scared of other people."

"I'm going to ask her anyway," Nile says. He goes over to the silver-haired girl and says something to her. Ava, Kathrin and I can't hear what he's saying because he's too far away. Lillian (I think that's her name) seems scared out of her wits at first, but after pondering Nile's offer, it seems like she realizes that Nile is a person that can be trusted, even though she still keeps her distance from him. She nods, and Nile brings her over to us. "Lillian, this is Ava, Mary-Ann, and Kathrin. And I don't think I mentioned my name; I'm Nile."

Lillian nods shyly. She taps Nile's shoulder and points to the plant identification station, as if asking him if she can go over there. He nods, and she quickly hurries away.

I think I have some good allies. Let's just hope I don't have to kill them when the Games begin.

Kassidy Feekes' (D9) POV

Did it have to be me? Of all the girls in the district that could've been reaped, it just had to be me. I know that sounds cruel, but still. I shouldn't have to throw my life away. None of the tributes in here have to, not even the Careers. I know people like the deadly boy from 1 and the feisty-looking girl from 2 believe they can make it home, but all their life, they've been too focused on training and volunteering. Not like the outliner districts. We actually have some sense, and we know that it'll be hard to come home - and that it might not actually happen.

I'm going to try to, though. Before my family's house burned down, I had such a great life. I was rich and well-cared for, and I wasn't a snob when it came to how much money I had. I had so many friends, and I always believed things could never get any better. But then a fire started in our house and we lost it, our shelter and our food and all our money and precious valuables. My foolish father remarried a wealthy woman and left us to fend for ourselves. I hate him. I know he's my father, but I hate him with every single fiber of my body.

If I can win the Hunger Games, I can get my family's life back. And I know I have what it takes.

I go over to the tomahawks and axes station, where I wait in line for about five minutes before it's my turn. I watch as the girl from 6 teaches her knew allies how to throw an axe. They're taking forever, and I'm thinking about just leaving and going over to the fake trees to practice my climbing skills, when the trainer tells them that they're holding up the line. The boy from 7 goes, when finally, it's my turn. The trainer hands me a tomahawk and I throw it, aiming it for the heart of the dummy. Instead of going through the heart, however, it slices clean through the dummy's neck, and it's head topples off and onto the ground. I stare at it, wide-eyed, when I hear a few of the tributes begin to clap. I blush madly and give the tomahawk to the next person in line, then hurry off. I feel really good about myself now, but whenever you do something amazing and people applaud you, don't you get just a little bit embarrassed?

I climb the fake trees a couple of times, perfecting my ability to come up and down trees in an instant. After my fourth time, I decide to practice with the throwing knives a bit. On my way there, I bump into the boy from 7 that was at the axe station earlier. I fall down on my butt, and angrily stare up at him. He gasps and helps me up. "I'm sorry," he says. "Really, I am."

I giggle. "It's fine. Kassidy Feekes, District 9."

"Kota Jimslim, District 7." He holds up my hand and kisses it, and I blush. What a gentleman! We talk for a few minutes, when he asks me if I want to ally with him. I agree without any hesitation. I need someone with me during these Games if I want to come out alive. I wouldn't cope well alone.

Kota shows me his talent with a hammer and how strong he is at the weight-lifting station. While he's teaching me about the different edible plants and insects at the plant identifcation station, my eyes land on the small girl from 11. She's using a bow and arrow, and the arrow makes it right in the middle of the bullseye every two or three tries. She's really good, and if she wasn't as small as she was, I would've mistaken her for a 15 or 16 year old. She seems so fearless, so determined. But she's still a 12 year old, and I still feel sorry that she was reaped. I look at Kota and say, "Can Violette join our alliance?"

"The small one from 11? Sure."

I walk over to Violette when she's done with her bow. "Hi!" I say cheerfully. "Violette, right?"

She looks at me and smiles. "Yeah. And, um, Kassidy, right?"

"That's right," I say. "Hey, I was wondering - do you need an alliance? Because Kota and I are open for members."

Violette shrugs. "Sure, why not? I could use some allies." She points to a difficult-looking obstacle course. "You wanna try to do that with me? I tried a few minutes ago, and it's hard. Have you tried it?"

I shake my head. "Nope. I'll check it out." Violette and I run over to the obstacle course, while Kota just shakes his head and smiles and turns back to his plant indentifying.


Training Day 2

Lime Verandi's (D4) POV

I rose to the surface of the water that filled a gigantic pool in the training center. This is basically the only place I've been to, yesterday and today, aside from practicing my skill with a trident and tying nets a couple of times. I float by the edge of the pool, feeling as if I'm back home. My heart sinks when I realize I'll never be at home again. I only volunteered to protect Lemon, not to win. I actually want to die if it means allowing her to be the victor of the 93rd Hunger Games. And it will be. I'll do everything in my power to make sure it is.

I watch as Lemon walks away from the trident throwing station and dives into the pool, creating a loud splash. When she resurfaces, I swim over to her. "Hey."

She just glares at me. Ever since I volunteered, she's refused to speak to me. I don't think she's mad, I think it's just a lot to take in. You know, me volunteering unexpectedly. I've tried to explain to her, but she just keeps saying, "I don't need protection" or "I can take care of myself". And I know that - I just need to make sure she has enough protection to win the Hunger Games. More than enough is always better than none at all.

I try to get some words out of her. When she still refuses to speak to me, I tell her I'll see her later, and I swim away. I climb out of the pool, dry myself off with a soft white towel, then change into some warm, clean clothes. I then walk over to where Saffron is waiting in life for the plant identifying station. "Hi," I say. She looks at me and nods in acknowledgement. "Hey, Lime. What's up?"

"Nothing much." I point at the large screen in front of us where the boy from 10 is tapping icons with pictures of edible and non-edible plants and insects that I've never even heard before. A timer is counting down, but he looks like he's in good shape, his fingers easily sliding across the screen. It's obvious he's probably not going to die due to poisonus berries or something like that in the Hunger Games. "You good at plant recognition?" I ask Saffron. 

"Yeah," she says to me. "I used to bake a lot back home, so I know about a lot of edible berries and plants that spices come from." That surprises me a little. It's not every day you meet a Career that likes to bake.

"What do you normally like to bake?" I ask, deciding to strike up a conversation while Saffron waits in line for her turn. Plus, it's good to learn more about your allies.

"Lots of things. Cake, bread, muffins, cookies. As long as we have the right ingredients, we can make our own food. Well, 'we' being my mother and I. My dad is usually out working."

"Do you have any siblings?"

Saffron stares at me. She doesn't say anything for a few moments, but I'm sure I know what she's thinking. She's thinking about Lemonade and I. It's a big deal, a brother and sister being in the Hunger Games together. After Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, two victors have been absolutely forbidden. Few people have tried to die at the same time, but instead of making two victors, there are just no victor at all. This is why Lemon's going to have to let go of me in the arena and focus on winning. It's going to be hard, but if anyone deserves to win, it's her. Not me.

Back to the present. Saffron replied simply saying "No, I'm an only child", then it was her turn to identify some edible plants and insects. I said bye to her, then started walking away, when I accidentally bumped into the blind boy from 2. Mason. He's holding a wooden staff, I think to help him find his way around.

"Sorry..." he apologizes slowly. I don't think he knows exactly who he bumped into. He hurries past me and over to where his allies, the boy from 11 and the boy from 3, are watching the boy from 11 show them his skill with a sword. I sigh and head back to where the tridents are, passing the fake trees on my way. I don't even give them a second glance. I suck at climbing. No joke.

When I pick up a trident and prepare myself to throw it, I see Lemon sitting down on one of the benches, observing the other tributes as they train. I set the trident back down and go over to her. "You okay?"

She looks up to me, and I hear her speak for the first time since she yelled at me after the reapings. "No."

"What's wrong?"

I can tell she wants to slap me for asking that. "Everything, Lime. Okay? I'm ready. I don't need to train anymore. The Games are going to start soon and I'm ready." She stares at the ground. "I've wanted to do this my whole life. But ever since you volunteered for me, I've been thinking - do I really want this enough to kill my own brother?"

"You won't have to kill me," I say softly.

"Maybe not, but I don't want to watch you die."

I sigh. "You need this more than I do. I'm going to let you win this, Lemon. And when you do, just remember that I wanted you to be the one that returns home with the crown."

"That's the thing, Lime. I don't want to go back home if you're not coming with me."

She glances at me one last time, before getting up and walking away without giving me time to respond.

Eliza Garret's (D5) POV

Swish. Swish. Clink.

I swing my sword back and forth, all my attention focused on the trainer that I'm dueling with. Our blades often hit each other, but I'm determined to confuse him so that he won't be able to block my attack. I pretend to start to swing my sword, and he makes a move to strike back, when I point my sword down at the ground. He looks at me, confused. "Are you done?" he asks me. And just like that, I bring my sword up and poke the tip of the blade against his stomach faster than the speed of lightning. I thank the trainer for practicing with me, and put my sword back on the rack. The trainer tells me that I'm more than ready for the Games. I smile in thanks, but I don't believe him. A sword isn't the only thing that's going to help me survive. All the Capitol thinks is, "Oh, these people wanna win so they're gonna fight and it's gonna be so bloody and epic." I'm sure that's not exactly what they say, but I think it's something similar than that. Well, I'm not going to give them what they want. My new ally Holly and I are going to run away from the bloodbath right when the gong sounds, only grabbing the packs nearest to us. We have it all planned out. No fighting the other tributes - not unless we need to.

I spot Holly with the throwing knives, and I begin to make my way over to her, when the two Career girls from 1 and 2 step to the side, blocking my path. I fold my arms over my chest. "What do you guys want?" I ask them rudely. I ain't afraid of no Careers.

"That was quite a show you put on," the blondie from 1 says to me. "Your talent with a blade is applaudable."

"Um...okay."

"We were wondering if you'd like to join the Careers," the girl from 2 says suddenly, out of the blue.

"Um...okay," I say again. "Thanks, but no thanks. I have an ally."

"We know," says the blondie. "The girl from 10, right?"

"That's right."

"Well, it's either one ally, or us, a big group that will surely protect you at all costs." She offers me a smile that's sickening sweet, and I know she's just trying to put me under her spell. Well, it's not gonna work. I straighten my back so that it looks like I'm taller than her.

"I don't want to join the Careers," I say loudly. Several tributes turn to look at me; good, that's what I want. I need to stir up a little trouble around here - it's been too boring these past few days. Normally, I prefer to keep the peace, but these Careers seriously need to be put in their place. "All you guys want to do is kill, kill, kill. You don't even care about each other - and you're sooo overconfident. I mean, I'm confident I'll return home, too, but you guys just don't seem to notice that these Games are going to be tough to get through."

"I'm a Career," the girl from 2 snaps. "I totally have what it takes."

"Shut up, Lily," blondie growls at her. "Let the bitch say what she has to say." When she sees how irritated I look after she makes that comment, she grins at me and raises an eyebrow.

Ohhh, it's on.

By now, everyone in the training center is watching. I grab a nearby knife and throw it. Peacekeepers rush towards the scene, afraid I'm going to take out blondie before the Games. But I don't. I purposely made it miss. It whizzes past blondie's ear, taking out a couple strands of her hair, but that's it.

"I don't kill," I say to her, my voice mysterious. "Not for fun, anyway. But I will if I have to."

The girl from 1 gets up in my face. "I'm going to kill you first."

I smile. "Try me."

Maiko Fornis' (D10) POV

The Games are going to begin soon.

Ever since I came here, I've tried to make myself feel happy. That's how I've always gotten by my entire life - just being positive and knowing that the best is about to come no matter what. When all of my siblings died and I was nearly starving because my parents were unable to give food to me several years ago, I still thought to myself, "Hey, things could be worse." Now that I was reaped, I knew I was right - things can always get worse. But everything has a solution. For instance, when I was half-starved to death, I met a kind old lady in the woods who gave food and clothes to me. She was like my fairy godmother, or something like that. What I'm trying to say is, even though I'm in the Hunger Games, even though I might die, it's no use worrying and stressing my butt off. Because something good always happens, no matter where you are.

Unless fate isn't in my favor at this time.

I'm at the fake trees with my allies, Martin from District 5 and John from District 12. They each have their own strengths and weaknesses, but I know they're trustworthy. They needed someone to help them during the Games, and we were all here for each other. I refuse to call them my friends, however. I've never had friends, mainly because I'm the school nerd - I still don't understand why everyone clapped for me at the reapings - and I know meeting these knew people that respect who I am could be considered friends, but the thing is, I don't want them to be. I don't want to get attached to them and then possibly lose them later on. They're just allies - they're just people that I'm going to stay with in the arena. People that will help keep me alive.

Not friends.

My allies and I are discussing a plan for the Games. We have all decided that we are going to immediately make a run for it when the gong sounds. Well, they decided, and I agreed with them. But I'm going to do something that I won't tell them about.

I'm going make a trap right by the entrance of the Cornucopia.

I don't exactly know how I'm going to do it, but I will. Everyone seems to hate the Careers this year. Some of them are downright scary ("some" being that psychotic maniac from District 1), while the others are simply just way too overconfident. I'm going to make a trap to put them in their place. The girl from 5 attempted to do so, but she didn't seem to realize that pushing their buttons was only going to make her their first target.

Her mistake.

I sit down at the snare-building station and begin working, while my allies remain at the fake trees not too far from where I'm currently at. I'm focused completely on the snare that I'm building - while I create it, I think about the different arenas that we may be fighting in and the resources that I'll need to collect in order to build a trap by the Cornucopia entrance. If it's a forest, I could use sticks and weeds. If it's a rugged mountain terrain, I could put down a rock and tie a weapon on a stone lever to it, so that when one of the Careers accidentally step on the rock, the lever will shoot up and the weapon will dig into their flesh. But you never know where the Gamemakers are going to put us, so you can never be sure.

And with the way the Gamemakers are observing us while we train, by the looks on their faces I can tell that they have something totally unexpected in store for these Hunger Games.


Training Scores

District Name Gender Score
1 Dragon Lord Male 11
1 Saffron Star Female 10
2 Mason Spartan Male 7
2 Lily Moon Female 9
3 Hybrid Javeline Male 8
3 Kathrin Sandstone Female 7
4 Lime Verandi Male 8
4 Lemonade Verandi Female 10
5 Martin Meyers Male 6
5 Eliza Garret Female 8
6 Connor Houck Male 5
6 Avala "Ava" Poppythorne Female 9
7 Kota Jimslim Male 8
7 Mary-Ann Hunter Female 8
8 Nile Flame Male 8
8 Galina Kiltova Female 9
9 Oliver Hemmingway Male 4
9 Kassidy Feekes Female 7
10 Maiko Fornis Male 6
10 Holly Wintercrest Female 9
11 Scorch Flare Male 10
11 Violette Meadow Female 7
12 John McCall Male 6
12 Lillian Pumpkin Female 7


Sponsoring

Weapons

(All tributes start out with $500. Polls will be held throughout the Games and that will give you a chance to earn a free sponsor gift to give to either your tribute or your favorite tribute if yours are dead.)

Sword - $250

Katana - $200

Throwing Knives (3) - $130

Throwing Knives (6) - $210

Throwing Axes (3) - $200

Axe - $100

Tomahawk - $100

Spear - $150

Mace - $200

Hammer - $70

Food

Box of crackers - $20

Beef strips - $30

Bread - $25

Berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc.) - $25

Soup - $30

Cheese - $10

Medicine

Burn medicine - $70

Cut medicine (small container) - $30

Cut medicine (large container) - $45

Instant relief - $100

Painkillers - $30

Extras

Sleeping bag - $40

Rope - $15

Empty canteen - $10

Water - $50

Water purifier - $20

Jacket - $45

Body armor - $270

The Games!

Day 1 - The Bloodbath

This was it.

The several days the tributes had to cherish their live once more was gone now. It was time for destiny to put their lives in it's hand.

In one minute, the Games would begin.

Each of the 24 tributes rise up into the arena on their metal plates, one by one. They blink a few times to adjust their eyes to the light, and when they do, they are amazed by what they see. Some people expected a forest; maybe a river, mountains, or a ruined city. But what looms before them proves that the arena the Gamemakers have put them in is anything but. 

A few yards away from the Cornucopia stands a ferris wheel. But this isn't no ordinary ferris wheel. It's so high - it must be over 100 feet - and it looks like it reaches the sky and beyond.

A little ways to the right of where the metal plates are is a tall hill that holds a nice view of the arena if you're at the top. To reach the Cornucopia, you'll have to climb up the hill. However, some supplies are scattered along the sides, and a few small packs lay on the ground below the hill. Behind the hill is a house of mirrors, and to the left of the metal plates is a carousel, with horses that represent each of the tributes. For example, there is a dark gray horse with blood stains on it's fur to represent the male from 1, and a small, brown horse with flowers woven into her mane to represent the girl from 11.

10....9....8...

The atmosphere was strangely still and quiet. The tributes drop into a running position, their attention focused completely on either the few supplies near them or the large golden horn at the top of the hill.

7....6....5....

Allies glance at each other and nod. The Careers look as ready and determined as ever.

Ready to kill, determined to win.

4....3....2....

1.

GONG!!!

The first tribute off his plate is Dragon. He dashes up the hill nearly effortlessly, and snatches a katana off of the weapon rack inside the Cornucopia. The sly girl from 8 tries to sneak past him and get into the Cornucopia. Dragon sees her, though. He yanks her upwards by her throat and slams her against the Cornucopia. A loud snap! can be heard, most likely her back breaking, but she isn't dead yet. Dragon shoves the blade of his katana into her chest and twists, smirking as he hears the satisfying sound of her ribs snapping within her. She falls to the ground, dead. He runs off to search for more victims.

The boy from 9 runs halfway up the hill, grabs a backpack, and starts to head back down, but Lily from District 2 sees him and throws her dagger at him. It pierces him in the neck.

Kathrin, Mary-Ann, Nile, and Lillian start to run away from the bloodbath, when they see Ava engaged in battle with John from 12. "Ava!" Mary-Ann yells. "Don't fight anyone! We have to go!" Ava glares at her ally, at the same time bringing her mace to John's head. Then she picks up a knife and throws it at her allies, although not aiming it at them, just using it as a distraction so she has enough time to run away. When the knife has whizzed past her and her allies, Mary-Ann searches for Ava, and spots her already miles away, running off into the distance.

"It was all an act," she says sadly. "She was never really our ally."

"We have to go," Nile tells her. The remaining members of the alliance escape quickly, but not before seeing Dragon throw a spear at Kathrin's back while she tries to pick up a backpack.

Saffron glanced around for a victim, grinning when she saw Eliza in the Cornucopia, removing a sword from the weapon rack. She charged at the girl from 5 and tried to slash at her with her katana, but Eliza was quick enough to notice the Career and dodged out of the way. Holly handed her ally a knife and she threw it at the person nearest to her; Lime from District 4. The knife entered his chest, and he stood there for a few moments, eyes wide.

Lemon gasps when she sees her brother with a knife protruding out of his chest. She runs over to him, but he had already fallen down on the grass and closed his eyes before she reaches him.

Outraged, Lemon aims a trident at Eliza, but her hand is shaking so much due to fear and shock, and it misses by a lot. Eliza and Holly escape safely.

Lemon wails and crouches by Lime's side. She weeps into his chest, and starts begging to no one in particular, "Why? Why him?" Saffron puts a comforting hand on Lemon's shoulder.

"He's gone," she tells her ally. "Come on. We have to move out so the hovercraft can collect bodies."

Lemon kisses her dead brother's forehead, before reluctantly rising to her feet. As the Careers make their way down the hill, they listen to the cannons as they fire.

BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!

Five deaths.

Are the odds really in my favor? Lemon wonders.

Day 1 - Bloodbath Aftermath

Mason Spartan's (D2) POV

I heard five cannons fire just a couple minutes ago - I may be blind, however I know for sure none of those cannons belonged to my allies, for I can sense their presence as they run beside me, away from the bloodbath. Scorch has a tight grip on my arm, guiding me, while I hear Hybrid's footsteps about a yard ahead of us. I'm getting tired, but they haven't stopped running yet, so I won't either. Plus, it's best that we know for sure that we're a safe distance away from the Cornucopia.

After what seems like hours, we skid to a stop. I poke my wooden staff at the objects near me. It touches a rounded shape with a smoother back that I immediately identify as either the horse or the pony animal. I reach my hand out and feel it. It has a smooth, glassy texture, so it obviously isn't real. Soft carnival music can be heard, and my staff falls off of the fake horse as it slowly spins out of reach.

"It's a carousel," Scorch says, since he knows I can't see what it is. I nod and sit down on the concrete ground.

"Did you manage to get anything?" I ask him. I can hear a bag being zipped open and it's contents shuffling out of it as Scorch looks at what he was able to collect.

"Crackers, a sleeping bag, and an empty canteen," he says. "It sucks that I wasn't able to get a sword. Hopefully my mentor will send me one." I hear the nearly unnoticeable sound of him turning his head to look at someone or something. "Did you get anything, Hybrid?"

"No."

"Well, I guess the main thing we need to look for is water," I say.

"You're right," Scorch replies. "But the thing is, we're in an amusement park. Where do you find water in an amusement park?"

"I thought I saw a restaraunt while we were running," Hybrid says. "There could be some water in there."

I stand up. "Let's not waste time, then."

"Mason, sit down," Scorch tells me. "We ran so much, and I'm really tired. We need to rest a bit."

"Tributes could find us," I point out.

"I'm sure we're very far from the other tributes," Hybrid grumbles. "Plus, it's almost nighttime. We'll go look for water tomorrow. Now shut up and get some rest."

"Fine." My allies and I sit there for a few hours - I often hear the munching of crackers in Scorch's mouth, while Hybrid's presence is still and silent. I get really bored and I start drawing something in a patch of dirt with my wooden staff. Scorch looks at it.

"Why did you draw that?" he asks.

I rise my head so that I would be looking at him if I had eyes, and I tilt my head in confusion. "What did I draw?"

"A flame."

My face twists into a snarl when I remember what happened years ago.

Why my parents are dead.

Why I have no eyes.

"That's none of your business," I snap.

Sometimes I wonder; if that fire never happened, would my fate have changed? Would I not be participating in the Hunger Games if it weren't for that accident?

Or would destiny have been cruel to me either way?

It's not fair, why I'm the way I am. Why I'm sitting in an arena right at this moment, praying that I'll wake up tomorrow morning. And if I do wake up, I'll have to continue to fear this nightmare that I've been living.

At least I won't be able to see the amount of blood that is shed.

Martin Meyers' (D5) POV

I still can't believe I safely escaped the bloodbath. Despite being away from the Cornucopia for several hours, my heart continues to pound. I follow Maiko as we walk around the arena, observing our surroundings. I'm still pretty phased by John's death, though Maiko doesn't seem that upset. I decide to ask him why.

"He wasn't a friend," he tells me.

"No, but he was an ally," I say. "He cared for us, and we cared for him."

"I didn't," he says. "And I didn't want to. I don't want to get all depressed over the death of an ally if they die, because that will affect my chances of winning. I'm not saying I want you to die - I'm just saying I don't want to be sad if you die, and I don't want you to be sad if I die."

I blink. "Of course. I understand." We go back to silence as we continue to explore. Even though we're miles from the Cornucopia, we can still see the ferris wheel that had been near it, towering above everything in sight. I wonder if the Gamemakers intended for the wheel to have a purpose.

If I stay alive long enough, I guess I'll find out.

Maiko nudges me in the shoulder, and points to a large building with lots of windows. "I think that might be a hotel," he says.

"Why would there be a hotel in an amusement park?" I wonder.

"Well, it is on the very edge of the arena," he points out. I glance back at the tall hill which the Cornucopia rests on top of. I hadn't realized we were so far away until now. We might even be close to the force field that surrounds the arena. I guess the amusement park was only a section of the arena, although I can see a few games and rides scattered about several yards away in every direction from where we stand now.

"That might be a good shelter," I say. Maiko nods, and we step inside the hotel. I examine the interior, amazed. The floors are sparkly clean and velvety couches are set up against the walls. Maiko goes over to one of the elevators, but I stop him.

"It could be a trap set up by the Gamemakers," I warn him. "The elevator could fall, and we could break our necks."

"You're paranoid," he says.

"Maybe. But that's just because I don't want to die." I point to the couches. "Let's sleep here tonight until we're sure the elevators are safe."

"Okay, fine." Maiko lays down on one of the couches and gradually makes himself comfortable. I, however, poke my head out of one of the windows so that I can look at the sky, as the anthem begins to play and they are about to show the tributes that died.

First, the girl from 3 is shown, her spiky brunette hair falling down to her chin. Next, the face of the boy from 4 appears, smiling down calmly at the tributes below. I feel sorry for his sister - I wonder how she was able to cope with his death. Then, the sly girl from 8, which surprises me; I had expected her to live longer, since she appeared to be very clever and smart. The quiet boy from 9 is shown, then finally John. My chest tightens, but I refuse to cry.

It's like Maiko said. He wasn't a friend. Just an ally.

Day 2 - It's Kill or Be Killed

Ava Poppythorne's (D6) POV

When I wake up the next morning, the first thing I feel is relief - relief that I was able to live another day. The second thing I feel is thirst. I look through the backpack I managed to retrieve, hoping to find water, but of course there is none. Only an empty canteen and a purifier. I eat two dried beef strips in order to calm my stomach for at least a few hours. I decide to explore, so I rise to my feet and begin walking around, my hand tightly clutching the ebony leather handle of my mace, just in case anyone is to attack me out of nowhere. 

After around a half and hour of walking, some guilt begins to build up inside me. I remember the bloodbath - of course I didn't expect myself to kill that boy from 10, but that's not why I feel regret. I feel guilty for abandoning my allies. They were so kind to me, and it seemed like they would honestly protect me until the very end. But I abandoned them. I didn't want to, but I feel like they should know that; however, I can't just waltz into wherever they're camping out unannounced.

I spot a hotel, and I quietly slip in through the doors. I nearly let out a scream when I see two boys sleeping on couches, but I'm able to keep my mouth shut as I sneakily creep up the stairs. I walk into one of the rooms and breathe a sigh of relief when I see a ballpoint pen and an index card sitting on a wooden desk. I grab the pen and scribble down a few words on the card.

"I didn't betray you guys. I didn't wanna leave you. It's because I have to. But one day, I promise to visit. Just so you can see that I didn't exactly leave you. I still think about it. I didn't just want to leave so I can win. I have to go now, though..." I decide to end the note there. They don't need to know why I have to 'go now'. I fold the note up and slip it in my pocket, then make my way down the stairs. I stop in my tracks when I see the two boys stretching and waking up. I quickly roll under the staircase and hide, listening to their conversation.

"Oh, you're awake. Good," the boy from 10 says grimly.

"What, you didn't think I'd be awake?"

"It's the Hunger Games, Martin," 10 says - I think his name is Maiko. "Anything can happen."

"You're right." A couple minutes of silence, then Martin speaks up again. "We need to look for water."

"You think?"

"Do you think there could be some in that restaraunt a few yards across from this hotel?"

"Maybe."

I eye the two, large glass doors longingly. I need to get this note to my ex-allies. But I can't do that with two boys standing right in front of them, who'd notice me and possibly kill me.

I make my decision.

I leap up from my hiding place and bring my mace down on one of the boys' skulls - I don't really pay attention to which one. I hear them scream out in agony as I sprint out of the hotel. BOOM! A cannon fires, and I glance over my shoulder, wincing when I see Maiko dash out of the building and agrily come after me. He tackles me to the ground and tries to poke at my eyes with his awl, but I move my head out of the way and he ends up scratching my cheek with it. I roughly ram my knee into his stomach. He starts wheezing and loosens his grip on me, giving me the chance to push him onto the ground and run away. I hear a loud growl rise from his throat and try to come after me, but I'm too fast for him, so he eventually gives up and falls down on a patch of light green grass, burying his face in his knees.

I'm sorry, I think. I really am.

Once I've made it back to where I had slept last night near the carnival rides, I rest for a few minutes before getting up again. Being the great climber that I am, I'm able to climb up the side of the extremely tall ferris wheel that is facing away from where the Careers are. Once I'm around 20 feet off the ground (which isn't nearly halfway up), I'm able to locate Mary-Ann's blonde hair, Lillian's worried red eyes, and the glinting silver blade of one of Nile's throwing knives attached to his belt. They're near the carnival games. They look like they're pointing at the restaraunt Martin and Maiko were talking about at the hotel. Maybe they're going there to get water, too. Everyone is, it seems like. Once they're gone, I climb down from the ferris wheel and hurry over to the carnival games section, where I leave the index card on top of one of the game stands, before hurrying back to the carnival rides where I hide quietly, hugging my mace to my chest as the day continues to drag on.

Violette Meadow's (D11) POV

When I was reaped, I wasn't worried.

When someone volunteered for me so kindly and I rejected the offer, I wasn't worried.

When I presented my skills to the Gamemakers during private training, I still wasn't worried.

But the moment that gong rang out, my heart started to pound. Even after escaping safely with my two allies, I wasn't sure why I declined that kind, 18 year old girl's offer to volunteer in the first place. I'm only 12 years old. I can fight, I can use a bow; I can climb, and I know how to survive. I did this so that I could get revenge on District 4 for killing my brother a few years ago... but last night, before I went to sleep, I had doubted that I would find myself awakening the next morning.

Kassidy and I are currently eating a breakfast of bread and crackers, while Kota is searching the restaraunt for some sort of water source. After a few minutes, he returns to our hideout, a grin on his face.

"I found a sink," he says excitedly. "It might be tap water - not that fresh - but we can still drink it."

"That's good," Kassidy says. "But you do realize that the other tributes are probably coming here to look for water, too, right?"

"...Oh. Yeah, you're right."

"We can fight anyone that intrudes," I grumble, putting on my 'tough little girl' cover up once more. I rise to my feet and load my bow. "No one's going to be stealing our water, not while I'm around."

Kota smiles at me and nods; I'm sure he's smiling because he thinks that it's cute how I try to appear so tough. I couldn't care less, though. I dip my head towards him.

"Show me where the sink is," I demand. Kota nods and leads Kassidy and I into a room near the back of the restaraunt. Kota twists a dial and cold tap water pours out of the glowing silver fossit. Kassidy slips out of the room and comes back with three plastic cups that she found in the kitchen. We each fill up our own cup and sip the water. Kota was right; it isn't that fresh, but it's still water, and the cold liquid feels good as it slides down my throat.

I don't have much time to enjoy Kota's discovery, though, as I can suddenly hear the little ringing of the bell that is sometimes above the entrance doors to restaraunts, signaling the presence of more tributes. I turn to face my worried-looking allies, and I raise my weapon.

"Looks like we have customers," I say. Before my two allies can stop me, I walk out of the sink room and make my way back into the main lobby, where I spot an alliance of three; the girls from 7 and 12, and the boy from 8.

"Get out of here," I hiss.

"We're just looking for water," the boy from 8 assures me.

"Listen to the girl," I hear Kota growl as he walks up behind me. "We won't allow you to take our water."

"If there is water," the girl from 7 says. "Which there obviously is - we're going to have to fight for it."

Kota straightens his back and removes an axe from his belt. "So be it."

Just like that, the boy from 8 throws a knife at Kota. My ally dodges out of the way and pins the other boy against the ground. The boy from 8 takes another throwing knife and begins to repeatedly stab Kota in the shoulder. Despite the dark red blood that trickles down his arm, Kota is able to dig his nails into the boy from 8's shirt and fling him across the room. He slams against the wall and slides down to the floor. Nothing seems to be broken, but it's obvious that he's brouised around his stomach and arms after that hard impact. I fire an arrow at him. His eyes widen, but the mute girl from 12 bravely grabs his arm and pulls him out of the way so that my arrow digs into the wall instead of his flesh. She pulls an arrow from her own quiver and inserts it in the bow.

"Violette, watch out!" Kassidy screams, but it's too late. The girl from 12 fires the arrow and it lodges itself in between two of my ribs, puncturing my heart. The girl from 7 and the boy from 8 distract Kota and Kassidy by fighting them while the girl from 12 takes the arrows out of my quiver, and I can't do anything about it. The other alliance then leaves quickly, while Kassidy and Kota crouch down on either side of me and begin to weep.

"I'm so sorry, Violette," Kassidy cries. "I should've warned you earlier."

"It's not your fault," I assure her, my voice raspy and fading. My shirt is soaked with blood, and I can feel the tip of the arrow poking at my slowly dying heart.

"I'm sorry you couldn't get revenge on District 4," Kota says quietly. "I promise we'll get rid of the girl tribute for you."

I offer him a weak smile. "Thank you, Kota." He squeezes my hand and holds it while I die.

I may be hallucinating, but what I see at that moment calms me once more, and I no longer feel worried. My brother is reaching out to me, a smile on his face. I've missed you, Violette, he says. But now we can finally be together.

The smile on my face stretches wider, before my eyes close for the final time. BOOM!

Eliza Garret's (D5) POV

"This is all your fault," Holly snaps at me, as she paces back and forth.

"What is?"

"If only you hadn't challenged that girl from 1 during training," she says. "Then we wouldn't be one of the Careers' main targets."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I tell her. She shoots me a disbelieving look, and I smile innocently.

"Okay, so that must've been someone else that was almost taken out by a katana and a trident during the bloodbath," she says sarcastically, rolling her eyes. 

I defensively fold my arms over my chest. "The thing is, I wasn't taken out by the katana or the trident. Saffron doesn't know who the hell she's up against."

"They're the Careers," Holly points out. "You might be strong, but no matter how much you believe that you're stronger than them, that's not true. Have you been training since you knew how to breathe?"

They haven't been training since their birth, I want to retort, but I just glance down at the ground and shake my head.

"And, you didn't cut off your parents' faces when you were seven, either."

"I get it, Holly." We sit in silence for several minutes, when Holly states that we should locate the other tributes. "I know we're very far from the Careers," she says. "But some of the other tributes could be huge threats, too, like the boy from 11 and the girl from 6, so we have to find out where they're at so we know we aren't close enough to them to be their targets."

"Okay. I need to get up and stretch my legs, anyways." I rise to my feet and begin walking, holding my sword by my side. Holly collects her six throwing knives before following me. This is the Hunger Games; wherever we go, we need to be armed.

We walked past the hotel, which seems quiet on the exterior, but there could be an entire alliance on the inside for all we know. A few yards later we come across a restaraunt, but there's no point in risking our lives by going inside there as we already have enough food and water supply. Later, we spot the girl from 6, crouching behind one of the carnival rides. She sees us and tightens her grip on her mace. Worried, we break into a run and quickly pass.

When we reach the carnival games section, we see the other tribute from 6, playing one of the games and laughing his head off. I don't think he realizes that he's in the Hunger Games, and if an alliance hears him laughing, they'll kill him immediately.

Suddenly, Holly and I stop in our tracks. Do the Gamemakers know how to read minds, or something? The moment I thought the words an alliance my ally and I spotted an alliance of three, camping out by the carousel. It's the boy from 11, the creepy "Shadow" from 3, and the blind kid from 2. The first two tributes I stated are the only threats, but it's still 2/3, so my first instinct is to raise my sword and take a step back.

"What do we do?" Holly whispers to me. "If we make a run for it, they'll hear us."

Just as I open my mouth to reply, I hear the sounds of excited chatter rise into the air. I turn my head, and my eyes widen as I see the Careers make their way towards the carousel. They haven't spotted the other alliance yet.

"We have to warn them," I tell Holly, who also sees the Careers.

"Eliza, wait," she says, but it's going to take a little bit more to stop me. I creep over to the alliance, my grip still tight on the handle of my sword. The boy from 11 sees me first, and he unsheaths his own sword.

"Stop!" I hiss. I point in the direction of the Careers. The boy from 3 starts to yell but I kick him in the shin, which silences him.

"Come on," I say to them. "Follow me and you'll be safe." After a few moments, the boy from 11 nods and reluctantly rises to his feet. He helps the blind one from 2 up, and then finally, the boy from 3 stands up as well.

"Why are you helping us?" he growls to me.

"Because no one deserves to die," I say simply. I turn and begin to head back to a worried-looking Holly, when out of nowhere, a cannon sounds. BOOM! I hear a scream and I spin around, eyes widening when I see the boy from 3 sprawled out on the ground, a knife sticking out of his neck. I see the girl from 2 grinning maliciously, as she walks over to us so that she can retrieve her knife.

"RUN!" I yell. I try to tear my gaze away from the boy from 3 and yank the other boys' arms. They seem to be in a daze after seeing one of their allies get killed, but once I get them to run they start going fast. When I reach Holly, they begin to stop but I shove both of them. "Run," I say. "Just keep on running!" They obey, and sprint towards the carnival rides, away from the pursuing Careers.

I turn back around. The Careers are close now. Saffron obviously believes this is her chance to kill me again, but I'm not going to back down so easily. When she tries to stab me with her katana, I jump into the air and out of the way. I yank her by her blonde ponytail and throw her onto the ground. The girl from 2 yanks her knife out of the boy from 3's neck and aims it at me, but Holly throws one of her own throwing knives at the same moment, and it hits the Career square in the forehead. BOOM!

I can tell Saffron is now enraged. She stands up and starts to come at me, but like last time, Holly and I dodge out of the way and are able to escape. Also similar to the bloodbath, Dragon throws his spear at me. It misses just barely and removes a few strands of my hair. "Fuck!" I hear him yell. I glance over my shoulder. Damn, I didn't realize Holly and I were such fast runners, as the remaining Careers are getting smaller in size by the moment as we run further and further away from them.

Once we return to our house of mirrors, we wait tensely for a few moments. When we hear how silent it is, we let our muscles relax a bit, and we sit down on the ground. When I look at Holly, I see that she is shaking all over.

"I-I....I killed someone...." she whispers. I sigh and give her a hug.

"Holly, with the position we're in, you would've had to eventually."

That night, we glance up at the sky when we hear the anthem playing. The faces that are shown in the sky are the girl from 2, the boy from 3, the ADHD boy from 5, and the small girl from 11. Man, we're already down to 15 tributes.

Who knows what the Gamemakers will have planned for tomorrow?

Day 3 - Expect the Unexpected

Dragon Lord's (D1) POV

After the anthem ends, I look at my remaining allies and tell them that I will be taking watch overnight. They seem extremely unsure, but they also know to obey me or else I will kill them on the spot, so they reluctantly tuck themselves into their sleeping bags. I sit down and wait until their breathing has slowed and their chests rise and fall rythmatically, signaling that they have fallen asleep. I pull my knees to my chest and glance up at the sky. I think about what happened today. Lily died, and we're already down to three Careers. Normally I'd be fine with that, except, a non-Career killed a Career. That means there are more threats in the arena then I had thought. I glance at the sleeping bodies of Saffron and Lemonade.

There's no need for allies anymore. 15 is still a large number, but tributes are dying off pretty fast. If I'm to return home, I need to make sure they're taken out even faster. It's time to betray the Careers so that they don't slow me down. I crawl over to our supplies and started filling up a backpack, when I think, What's the point of betraying them if I'm just going to kill them later?

I look at my allies again, and a smirk slowly stretches across my face. I grab my katana and stand up as I examine their bodies. I'll kill them both, I decide, and then we'll be down to only 13 tributes. I decide to kill Lemonade first. She's the weaker one, and at least Saffron won't cry day and night about how she lost her brother two days ago. I take the curved silver blade and bring it down into the girl's chest. Her eyelids fly open as pain shoots throughout her body. I was hoping she would remain silent, but she lets out a loud, ear-piercing scream. "Fuck," I whisper. Saffron is definitely going to awaken now. I push the katana deeper into Lemonade's chest. Her body grows tense for a few moments, before it falls limp and her eyes close once more. BOOM!

Her blood soaks through her sleeping bag. I dip a finger into the thick, maroon liquid and dab it against my tongue. I'm no cannibal that will eat the skin and muscle of my victims, but I do enjoy the salty taste of blood. I don't have much time to savor it, however, as I hear a shocked voice speak up.

"You're a monster."

I turn my head to look at Saffron, who's propped herself up on her elbows. She's staring at me with horror, and I can't help but grin.

"I just want to win," I say innocently. I reach for my spear and throw it at her, but she rolls out of the way. She wraps a hand around the handle of her katana and stands up. I rise to my feet as well. I know my district partner will definitely put up a fight, so I do what a coward would do. I grab two backpacks and sling them over both of my shoulders and pick up both my katana and my spear, and make a run for it.

"Come back here, you bastard!" Saffron screams. She throws her katana at me, and it's aimed for my head. I drop to the ground and roll in a panic, but I'm not able to dodge the blow completely. The blade of the katana cuts through my flesh, leaving a long wound stretching from my shoulder blade to the base of my neck. I swear under my breath, and I'm forced to shake one of the packs off my injured shoulder. I spin around just in time to see Saffron swing her katana at me. I block the blow with my own blade. She strikes again and the katana is knocked out of my hand.

In order to distract her, I bring up my fist and punch her square in the nose. I hear a cracking sound that tells me her nose is broken. Blood flies into her eyes, blinding her for a few moments. This gives me the advantage to retrieve my katana and escape with my two weapons and a single pack. The world around me dissolves into a blur as I sprint down and away from the hill. I hear Saffron shouting for me to come back, as well as taunting me, saying things like, "You're a coward! You won't stay and fight me!"

But the thing is, I'm not a coward. I'm just smart.

I'll get Saffron another time. And I'll make sure her death is as painful and grotesque as the ones my parents experienced years ago.

Kassidy Feekes' (D9) POV

Six hours later. . .

I'm awoken to the peaceful sound of birds chirping excitedly. It's almost as if I were back home in District 9 - but when I open my eyes and see the interior of the restaraunt, my eyebrows furrow in pain and I frown as I remember what has occured over the past few days. Violette's death flashes through my mind, and every time I remember her innocent little figure laying on the ground with an arrow sticking out of her chest, I feel broken and sad. She was only 12 years old, and her death made me realize that nobody, not even the Careers, deserve to be a part of these disgusting Games. We're all human beings.

I look up to see Kota, already awake and gazing out of the window. I stand up and go over to him. "What's wrong?" I ask.

"There was a cannon during the night," he says to me. "They didn't show the tribute's face in the sky because it was already a new day when it happened."

I sigh. "Who do you think it could've been?"

"I don't know. But I'm afraid. Even though I'm one step closer to coming home, I'm also one step closer to getting killed since the numbers in tributes are slowly decreasing."

"I'm afraid too, Kota, but you just have to have enough hope."

Kota looks at me. "You're right. But it's so hard to have any hope at all when you're in a situation like this."

I don't respond. Kota takes out some bread for us to eat, which is all we've been having since the start of the Games. I'm kind of sick of bread, but I'm thankful that I'm at least not starving to death. We refill our plastic cups with tap water. When my cup is filled halfway, a few drops of water fall before nothing comes out at all.

"Damnit," I mutter.

"What's wrong?" Kota asks me.

"There's no water left. We've used it all up."

Kota sighs. "We'll have to make do with what we have now. Just take a few sips every once in a while, and let's hope that our mentors send us some fresh water." I nod in agreement and take a tiny drink of water before setting it down on one of the marble counters in the bar section of the restaraunt. Then I tell Kota I want to stretch my legs a bit. He says he's going to come outside with me. I can't tell whether he tells me that because he also wants to get out of the restaraunt, or if he feels like he needs to protect his only ally. When he retrieves his axe, I know it's the latter.

We've only walked a few feet outside of the restaraunt when Kota hunches over in pain. His shoulder is still wounded - we haven't been set cut medicine yet. I glance up at the sky and mouth, "Cut medicine, please." I hope I'm on the screen right now so that Kota's mentor was able to catch that. I grab Kota's arm and help him over to a bench near the carnival games section, where he sits down to rest for a few moments.

"Are you bleeding out?" I question. He rolls up his sleeve, and my eyes widen at the gruesome sight. The wound is deep enough so that you can see some of the muscle, and lots of blood has dried around it while liquid blood continues to seep out.

"We need to get that fixed," I tell him. "I don't want you to die of blood loss."

"The only way to have it fixed is by getting cut medicine or instant relief," he says. "We don't have either of those things."

When Kota states that it hurts a little less, we stand up and begin to walk past the carnival games section.

"Wait, I left my axe on the bench," he says suddenly.

"I'll go get it for you," I offer. I head back to the bench where Kota's axe is placed. Once I'm there, I retrieve it and start back to where my ally stands, when the boy from 6 jumps out from behind one of the games and brings his hammer down against Kota's skull. Kota screams and falls to the ground. He thrashes a bit, but having a dented skull is an injury more serious than a deep wound, and he dies several moments later. BOOM!

"NO!" I yell. I stare at the boy from 6. He's laughing. He's staring at Kota's body and cracking up as if someone just told the most hilarious joke in the universe. I swing Kota's axe and it slices clean through his neck. His head topples over and onto the ground, a wide smile still on his face. BOOM! My head is spinning and I feel like I'm about to pass out. What the fuck just happened?

I crouch down beside Kota's body and hot tears roll down my face. He died with his eyes wide open with fear. I close his eyelids and kiss him on his cheek.

"I'm so sorry..." I whimper. "Kota, I'm so, so sorry...."

I look up and see that a hovercraft is waiting for me to move out of the way so it can collect the bodies. I let out a long, melancholy sigh, and attach the axe to my belt. I look at Kota's body one last time before turning away from him for good.

Scorch Flare's (D11) POV

When I hear two cannons fire in a row, I count up all the deaths that have occured since the start of the Games. 5 victims of the bloodbath; four yesterday (including Hybrid), and three so far today. We're down to 12 tributes. These Games are going by pretty fast, and soon I know I'll have to split up with Mason. I can tell he has that thought, too.

Mason and I sit in silence for hours and hours. He is perched with his back pressed up against a column near the carousel. He's drawing pictures in the dirt with his wooden staff as he often does. I, however, keep myself from dying of boredom by building my own slingshot. You can't exactly hunt with a blade. I explore the area around the carousel and find half of a strip of rubber buried in the grass near the ferris wheel, as well as a piece of string between a crack in the concrete. I actually like the Gamemakers for once - apparently, they have their favorite tributes, the ones they leave stuff scattered throughout the arena for. The second I feel honored by them I push the feeling out of the way. I'll always hate them, no matter what they do. Thanks for the supplies, I think crossly. I head back to the carousel and sit down across from Mason.

"Where were you?" he asks me.

"Just stretching my legs," I say. He crosses his arms and strictly tells me how I shouldn't be wandering around in the open unless I want to be killed. I ignore him. I've gotten used to his overprotectiveness, and even though I'm thankful for it, it can get a bit annoying at times.

I sit back down and start making my slingshot. I don't exactly know how I made it - really, I just experimented until I was able to shoot a rock out of it and it hit another column with a loud bang! A curious bird flew down from the sky and pecked at the ground. I grinned, grabbed another stone, and shot it at the bird. It dented it's tiny little skull and the animal flopped lifelessly to the ground.

"Mason, we have dinner," I announce proudly. I head over to the bird and carry it back to my ally.

"Now... how do you make a fire?"

. . .

The rest of the day is quite peaceful. No cannons can be heard, and at once I actually feel happy - despite the fact that, since I can't find any matches or sticks to make a fire, I have to eat the bird I caught raw. It's disgusting and I can only swallow a few mouthfuls. I throw it up a few minutes later and simply return to munching on crackers as I've been doing the past few days. Mason and I sit beside each other as we - well, I - watch the sun set slowly, when he says something I don't expect.

"We have to split up."

I glance at him. "What?"

"We're already down to 12 tributes," Mason says. "I don't want to get super close to you so that I wouldn't be able to kill you in order to come out of this arena alive."

I sigh. "Of course, Mason. I understand." I rise to my feet and pack up my share of supplies.

"You can leave tomorrow, though," he says. "If you want to sleep here one more night." I shake my head.

"No. I should go. Good luck, Mason."

"Good luck."

I bid him farewell, then I turn and walk away without sparing another glance at him. I swallow my tears. He was just an ally, I tell myself. Nothing about him is important.

I decide otherwise when I hear him scream. I know I should keep on walking since we aren't allies anymore, but I can help but spin around and head back to where I came from. BOOM! No, oh god no. I break into run, my fingers crossed. Please don't let it be him, oh god, PLEASE don't let it be him...

I skid to a stop once I reach the carousel, and so many different emotions mix together inside of me the moment I see Mason with a spear sticking out of his chest. Sadness, shock. I look up. Dragon towers above his body, bending down in order to retrieve his spear.

Sadness, shock, and anger.

Dragon yanks his spear out of Mason's flesh and grins when he sees me. He twirls his spear and my hand flies to the sword on my belt. But I don't unsheath it. Instead, I look at Mason's corpse, tears sparkling in my eyes, before taking my slingshot and firing a rock at Dragon's stomach. He hunches over, wheezing, giving me enough time to take Mason's pack and run away as fast as I can. I don't stop running until I've reached the entire other side of the arena. The hotel looks quiet and abandoned at first, but then I see a glimpse of a dark-skinned face through a window, so I dive into one of the bushes on the sidewalk near it. Everything happened so fast, and I'm weeping and fuming with anger at the same time. I hear the anthem play a little while later, and I glance up to see Lemonade from 4, Kota from 7, the crazy joker kid from 6, and...

And Mason.

I cry myself to sleep that night, and when I wake up the next morning, there is only a single thought in my head.

I need to win. Not only for my family back in District 11, but also for Mason. And I will do anything, anything at all, to make sure that happens.

Day 4 - Falling Fast

WARNING: Gruesome chapter! If you're uncomfortable with lots of gore and violence I suggest skipping this point of view.

Nile Flame's (D8) POV

The next morning I awaken and realize that only 11 tributes are still alive, including myself. I try to remember the tributes that are remaining. My allies, Mary-Ann and Lillian, the two tributes from District 1, Ava, the boy from 10, the girl from 9, and the two allies from 5 and 10. Mary-Ann wakes up and props herself on her elbows, and glances at me. Her expression is pretty emotionless and exhausted besides the sad glow in her eyes. She's made it so far, and I think, since she truly believes she has the ability to win, that she doesn't want to kill us in the process. I hate to admit it, but we're more than just allies. We're actually friends, and I don't know what I'd to if I had to put a knife to their throats. A shudder overtakes my body and I hug myself. No, Nile, don't think about that.

The day is pretty peaceful for a few hours. I keep a watchful eye on my allies. Mary-Ann stares off into the distance, lost in thought, while Lillian continues to sleep, her arms folded under her head and neck. I can't help but smile a little as I watch the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest. When her deep, unusual red eyes open, something glows inside of me. I try to ignore the feeling but it eventually gets to my head. You can call me a hopeless romantic if you want, but it's true - I think I'm falling in love with her. Man, that sounded really cheesy, didn't it?

I think of the Second Rebellion that occured a little more than twenty years ago, led by that female tribute from District 12 that fell in love with her district partner. They managed to win together. Despite the new rule that the Capitol made - "If two or more try to win together by making a move that shows they're about to kill themselves at the same time, we'll just let them both die, and there will be no victors" - could I actually manage to escape this arena with Lillian, and hopefully Mary-Ann as well? I sigh when I realize that would never happen. And as much as I care for my allies, I'd still rather return home to District 7 than die.

That's when I realize - if I win, and my allies - my friends - are all dead, wouldn't I be haunted by the memory of their deaths forever?

The quiet calmness that has caused me to drift deeper into my mind for several hours is interrupted when I hear a soft growling in the distance. At first I think it's Lillian's snoring, because it's an extremely quiet and gentle sound. But over a timespan of just a couple minutes it grows louder until it resembles the growling of a large dog.

And that's exactly what it belongs to.

It's as if the growling is right behind me and I spin around, only to come face-to-face with a giant dog muttation. It has pointy brown ears and short ebony fur, and it wears a spiked collar around it's neck, giving it an intimidating, dangerous look. It's long claws point downwards and dig into the earth, and saliva drips off it's razor-sharp canines as it glares at me with a hungry look in it's eye. I shriek, causing Lillian to wake up. I stand up and back away. But it's only one dog, right? My allies and I can easily overtake it.

When the dog sees Mary-Ann reaching for her axe, it lifts it's muzzle and howls at the sky. A few moments later, three other dogs have joined it. And when I say these dogs are gigantic, they literally are huge. They're around seven to eight feet tall and they stare down at each of us as if we were mere prey. And that's what we're going to end up as, if we don't make a run for it.

The dogs slowly advance closer. Lillian jumps up and starts running as fast as she can in the other direction. Mary-Ann and I follow her lead and run after her. But the dog mutts are as fast as us, if not a bit more. After I've ran just a few yards, one of the dogs catches up to me and pounces, pinning me against the concrete. It's jaws are open wide and I'm staring right up at it's sharp, deadly white teeth. I'm thinking that this is the end, when the dog freezes and topples over, an arrow sticking out of the left side of it's head. Thank god for Lillian. I scramble to my feet and begin running again. There's one dog down, but three are still left.

I'm running so fast and I'm completely focused on losing these mutts that are chasing me, that I barely notice when Lillian trips over part of a carnival game and lands face-first of the ground. She tries to the stand up but the dog mutts don't allow it. Mary-Ann looks about ready to throw her axe, but one of the three dogs wacks her with it's tail. As I said before, these dogs are huge, which means it's tail has enough force to knock her backwards, giving them enough time to go back to Lillian. I reach for my throwing knives, when I painstakingly realize that I must've dropped them while I was running. Lillian is screaming her head off - I can't just let her lay there while the dogs tear at her skin. I sneak past the dog mutts and discover my throwing knives tangled in a patch of weeds. I remove them and hurry back to the dogs and Lillian, and where Mary-Ann lays unconscious several feet away from the scene.

What I see nearly causes me to pass out.

The dog mutts are feeding on Lillian like she's a simple hunk of meat. She's stopped screaming because I'm sure she simply doesn't have the energy left. She looks weak and torn apart - literally. I throw one of my knives at a dog mutt, and it digs into it's skull. One down, two to go. Mary-Ann has woken up, and when the final dog steps away from Lillian and slowly makes it's way over to me, she sees and throws her axe. It decapitates the dog mutt. While the final dog is staring at it's fallen comrad, I'm given enough time to jump onto it's back and stab my knife into it's neck.

When I'm sure all of the dog mutts have been killed, I immediately go over to Lillian and crouch down by her side. I can barely look at her. She's laying in a pool of blood, and her skin is no longer the simple olive color that it once was. It's all pink and red and... and gone. The only skin that remains is on her face, and she stares up at me with red eyes widened in shock.

And then, something happens - something that I'd never expect.

"Kill me, Nile."

I sit there, in shock that she would say that, and also because she said anything at all. The girl that's been mute ever since she was forced to live alone after her mother died years ago as spoken for the first time since then.

I bring myself back to reality. "I... I can't."

"End my pain, please," she begs. 

I shake my head. "I can't do that, Lillian."

She looks me in the eye. "Please."

I stare at her for a few moments, then take a long, deep breath and tighten my grip on my knife. I raise it slowly.

"I'm so sorry, Lillian."

She smiles weakly. "I love you, Nile. Thanks... thanks for everything."

I love you, too, I want to say, but I don't have the guts to say it. Just wanting to get this over with, I bring my knife down as fast as I can and turn away when it hits her chest. A few seconds past before the most terrible sound can be heard.

BOOM!

I slowly pull my knife out of her corpse, still refraining from looking at it, and I rise to my feet. I look at Mary-Ann, who's a miserable wreck. Her and Lillian had become very good friends since we entered the arena. Tears are streaming down her cheeks, and she buries her face in her hand. I walk past her a few feet, before standing still and glaring up at the sky.

Fuck you, Capitol, I think. You'll pay for making her die.

Saffron Star's (D1) POV

That cannon that fired only minutes ago was like a sign. A sign that something was up. For some reason, I could feel that that cannon fired not simply because it belonged to a tribute that was killed by another tribute out of the ordinary. The sky had darkened and everything seemed still. Quiet. Something was up.

When I saw a gang of dog mutts come out of nowhere, I knew my thoughts were correct. There were definitely at least thirty of them. And their beady yellow eyes were staring at me, as if they wanted me and only me for their dinner this evening. My heart pounds and my breathing quickens, and I do the first thing that pops into my mind. I spin around and begin climbing up the over one hundred foot tall ferris wheel that looms before me. I'm adept in climbing - I can escape from these dogs, right? Thing is, I've never climbed a ferris wheel. It's made mostly of metal bars and nothing else. I'm used to climbing the fake trees and rock walls in the training center back in District 1.

I carefully begin to make my way up the ferris wheel, my arms and legs shaking with fear. The dogs sound as if they're growling right by my ear. They're close, I know it, but I refuse to look down. Before I know it I'm nealy 40 feet off the ground - although nowhere near the safest point of the wheel, which is the top. Around 30 more feet later I hook one of my legs over to the other side and hook my arms around one of the metal bars. Only when I feel as though I'm strapped in place do I glance down. The first thing I see is the dog mutts far down below, glaring up at me with hunger. But then I realize they're not looking at only me. The girl from 9, Kassidy, is making her way up as fast as she can. She looks like a spider monkey, more adept in climbing than I am. I cough loudly so that she realizes that I - a talented Career that will kill her in less than a second - is up here also. She glances upwards.

Big mistake, honey.

The sight of a Career causes her to get distracted. Lose focus. Her hand slips the tiniest bit. She tries to grab on once more but it's too late. She's already falling, down towards the ground. My heart is beating fast even though it's not me that's falling. It seems to be going in slow motion even though the ground is obviously coming closer and closer to her by the millisecond, until finally she slams against the concrete with a sickening thud. The dog mutts, frightened, jump backwards and examine the limp body. BOOM! One of the dogs noses her head and it flops uselessly to the side. Her neck must have broken. Some of the mutts sniff her and start chewing at her skin, but they obviously don't want to feed on someone that's already dead. They kick the cold corpse into the dust with their hind legs, shoot one last glance at me, before padding away.

I sit there, my head spinning in shock. I stay holding on to the metal bars for hours and hours on end, until the sun sets and the sky turns completely black. I slowly and carefully make my way back down until I'm able to safely place both feet on the concrete. The anthem plays and I gaze up at the starlit sky. Well, it's normally starlit, but tonight it's pitch black with not even a trace of light in the sky. The reason I can see where I'm going is due to the street lights in the amusement park. But it's so depressing and eerie... and when the sky shows the girl from 9 and the girl from 12, I realize with a pang of fear that there are only 9 of us left.

Dragon is one of those 9.

Day 5 - The Feast!

Mary-Ann Hunter's (D7) POV

I'm awoken by the sound of Claudius Templesmith's voice booming throughout the arena. I prop myself up on my elbows and glance around groggily as he makes his announcement.

"Congratulations to the final nine!" he says cheerfully. "Today there will be a feast, held at the Cornucopia. You are all expected to attend, for there will be a pack containing an item that each of you severely need."

I glance at Nile. His eyes still look red and sprinkled with tears, and my heart sinks. He had been crying all night after Lillian's death yesterday. I sigh quietly and listen as Claudius continues.

"Only nine of you are left," he says. "And I would prefer for this to be the last day. Keep on fighting, tributes! Attend the feast or not; the choice is yours. But just know that you're not entirely safe whether you go or not. Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor!"

"Are you going?" I ask Nile, once the announcement has been concluded. He shakes his head.

"No," he says quietly. "You shouldn't, either. We have enough supplies already, and neither of us are hurt. And I can't afford to lose someone else again." His voices is firm and strict. I dip my head and lay back down on the grass as I stare up at the sky. I know for sure the Gamemakers are watching us right now, and they're probably laughing, perhaps saying that we're cowards or that Nile is a total softie.

I'm not going to give them what they want, though. They can be bored for a few minutes in their life. But this doesn't mean I'm not going to put up a fight if I need to.

Maiko Fornis' (D10) POV

I can't believe I'm doing this. I'm actually attending the feast. I'm putting my life in danger. I'm going to get myself killed. I keep telling myself this, but at the same time I continue to walk away from my safe hotel and towards the Cornucopia hill. My heart is literally beating against my chest and I swear I can barely breathe. 

Once I reach the hill, I sneak behind a bush that hides me well. I sit here for about an hour in complete silence. There must be other tributes around. I'm not the only one here, am I?

Only one way to find out.

I'm going to get myself killed.

I grab a nearby rock and hold it in the palm of my hand for several moments, unsure if I should actually do this or not. I suck in my breath and throw it as hard as I can. It's aimed for one of the District 1 packs. It doesn't hit the backpack, but it slams loudly against the golden metal of the Cornucopia near the pack. As expected, the District 1 female tribute leaps out of her hiding spot in one of the ferris wheel seats and runs as fast as she can up the hill. And I'm not lying when I say she's nearly as fast as lightning. I have to do this quick or I'll end up with a sword in my skull. I slip out from behind my bush and sneakily make my way over to the Cornucopia, where I grab the dark green backpack labeled District 10. I begin to run back down the hill when a spear whizzes past my ear. I spin around, my eyes widening when I see the maniac from District 1 that cut off his parent's faces run up to me. He removes his katana from his belt and slashes at me. I dodge out of the way and kick him in the.... you know, causing him to stumble backwards. This gives me enough time to throw my awl and it pierces him in the arm. He starts yelling very unkind words, but fascinatingly I'm able to escape.

I survived, but it's not over yet. Once I'm a safe distance away from the Cornucopia I crouch beside the ferris wheel and open my pack. My heart soars when I take out a bow and a quiver that holds twenty arrows. I hold the weapon close to my chest and glance up at the sky. "Thank you," I whisper. I rise to my feet and load my bow, glancing around the area warily before running off.

Ava Poppythorne's (D6) POV

I tried to arrive bright and early but I was held up because for some reason, the Gamemakers thought it would be a good idea to make all of the carnival rides fall over, which blocked my path to get here. When I arrive, I see the boy from 1 running across the hill to receive his spear, while the girl from 1 is reaching for her pack near the Cornucopia. I don't see anyone else. Gripping my mace, I slowly and carefully climb up the hill, making sure my footsteps are silent so that nobody sees me. I slip in behind a bush and wait in desperation for the right moment to go for my pack. The girl from 1 slings her backpack over her shoulder. She looks around, then reaches for my pack, as well.

No way, bitch.

I'm quite stealthy, so with my mace in hand, I'm able to sneak up behind her. I begin to raise my weapon. No one messes with the backpack that belongs to me and me only, and gets away with it.

"I'm going to kill you," I say calmly. As she begins to turn around I swing my mace, planning to decapitate her. Then, just like that, another tribute comes out of nowhere and rams into her, knocking her out of her way. I end up releasing my grip on my mace out of surprise, and it flies through the air.

"Dragon!" the girl from 1 gasps in shock, staring up at her savior. "Why did you just save my life?"

"Because I want to kill you personally," he says, winking at her. I can't exactly tell if that's a joke or a truth. Oh well; I can't focus on that now, because I have to get out of here. Just my luck, I think crossly. I run over to where the girl from 1 dropped my pack and sling it over my shoulder, before attempting to run back down the hill, but Dragon catches up to me.

"Nuh-uh," he says, shaking his head. He wraps his hands tightly around my throat and then throws me, and my back slams roughly into the Cornucopia. "I'm not letting you off that easily."

"Just kill me now and get it over with," I growl.

"Oh, no. I'm going to put on a show for the Capitol, dearie," he purrs. "Don't you have any logic?" He takes his katana and uses the edge of the blade to cut delicately through the skin on my face. It feels as if it is on fire.

"Stop, please," I beg. "I have a sister I need to return home to."

"Like I care," Dragon snorts, rolling his eyes. He suddenly sinks the katana deep into my stomach. I can feel the cold pierce through the muscle beneath, and blood pours out of the open wound. My eyes squeeze shut as I try to ignore the sticky maroon liquid that stains my shirt.

"Just kill me," I plead.

"You're no fun," Dragon complains. Nonetheless, however, he yanks the katana out of my stomach and brings his hands to my neck. I know what happens next. With a single flick of his wrists, I've sunken deep into an ocean of darkness, although I'm alive long enough in order to hear my own cannon fire. BOOM!

Saffron Star's (D1) POV

As I expected, Dragon is on a killing spree. I understand why he saved my life - he just wants to get rid of me himself. But I'm not a coward, not like he was the other day. I've been waiting for this. I'm going to put up a fight and make sure he's on the ground, laying in a pool of blood by the time I've finished.

Once he's done with the girl from 6, he comes over to me, a wide grin on his face. "Shall we dance, Saffron?"

"You're asking me," I say. Dragon chuckles evilly.

"Come at me, then."

Time for round 2, I think, as I swing my katana at him. He blocks the blade with his own katana. We swordfight for a couple of minutes and I can tell he's easily getting bored. The next time I strike he leaps backwards, thus dodging the attack. He runs at me and rams me into the Cornucopia with his shoulder. Once I'm pinned he presses the blade of his katana to my throat.

"This was too easy," he says calmly. "Any last words, darling?"

"Yeah." I headbutt him, and when he's released his grip, I swing the blade of my katana and it slices through his chest. "Fuck you."

Dragon takes a step back and clutches the long, jagged cut that stretches across his chest. He chuckles for some reason. "You actually have some fire, in you; that's good," he says. "But it's not enough." He drops his katana but I know he's not surrendering, for he also has his spear that he throws at me immediately. It's aimed for my head and I notice this at the last second. I duck quickly and the spear flies over my head.

"Miss me, miss me, now you gotta kiss me -" I pause. "Wait, no. Don't do that." I stand back up and punch him in the mouth. That's the hardest I've ever hit another person in hand-to-hand combat. I'm surprised when I see a couple of his teeth fall out. "That's for my nose," I hiss. Yeah, it's still broken, god damnit. My mentor hasn't sent me any instant relief yet.

"Maybe if you win, the Capitol can get it fixed for you," Dragon suggests.

"Maybe?" I laugh. "Dragon, we both know I'm definitely going to win."

"Shut the fuck up. You may be a great fighter but no matter how bad you injure me you aren't going to wi-" His words slowly transform to the sound of gurgling blood for I manage to pierce him in the throat with my katana unexpectedly. I let out a triumphant yell as he collapses to the ground.

"I did it!" I do a little victory dance. "I, Saffron Star, have killed the unbeatable Dragon Lord!" BOOM! The sound of a cannon proves that I am correct. I smile - I'm in a much better mood now. I grab my pack, Dragon's pack, and the girl from 6's pack, and escape the feast as fast as I can immediately. A tear slides down my cheek as I run. With the biggest threat in the arena gone, I actually have what it takes to return home.

Damn, I'm getting soft.

A few minutes and several yards later, something digs itself into my shoulder. I think it's a knife. I yank it out and pull out the instant relief that was in Dragon's pack. We have the same mentor, so I knew I was getting that. I take a sip and the wound in my back closes up immediately. Once I feel all better, I turn around and glare at my enemies. It's Eliza, and her ally, Holly.

"...Whoops," I hear Eliza say flatly. I grin and run up to them. As I move I decide in my head who I'm going to kill and who I'm going to take out later. I kick Holly in the stomach, sending her flying backwards. Even though she's the one that knifed me in the back, she wasn't the one that threatened me in the training center in the first place. I turn to glare at Eliza.

"I may have not gotten any kills before I got rid of Dragon," I say to her. "But you know what? Saffron Star is making a comeback!" With that, I swing my katana. She blocks the blow with her sword the first time, but the second time, I gradually manage to dig the blade into her chest. I roughly yank it out once her eyes glaze over and she falls over, limp, all while Holly is screaming her head off nine feet away.

"Any last words, darling?" I ask. I mentally facepalm when I realize I just used the line Dragon always spoke before he killed his victims.

"Yeah," Eliza says weakly, and uses the remaining amount of strength in her to smirk at me. "You better watch your back, darling." She closes her eyes and takes one last breath. I turn my head and see that Holly has regained her strength and is rising to her feet. BOOM! The moment Eliza's cannon fires, I immediately get the heck out of there.

Holly Wintercrest's (D10) POV

It would've had to arrive eventually. My heart aches greatly as I watch Eliza fall to the ground, her chest pierced by that katana. It was even more awful when I heard her cannon sound for I wasn't even able to share a few more moments with her. My only ally. My friend. I now know why lots of tributes don't tend to want allies. When you lose them it's like losing a part of yourself.

I stand by Eliza's side, unsure of what to do. Right at that moment I can help myself and I break down. I fall to my knees and bury my face in my hands. "Eliza... why did you have to leave me?"

I sniff and place her sword over her chest. I move her hands so that it looks like she's holding the sword in place there. Then I stand up and bid her farewell. "Rest in peace, Eliza." As I walk away from her corpse, I can't help but think how her older sister Gracie is going to take this. It's always the worse event when someone volunteers for a sibling or a best friend, and then they end up dying.

I decide that since Saffron - the only Career left - is gone, maybe it's safe enough to retrieve my pack from the Cornucopia, as well as Eliza's. I quietly walk up the hill and slowly towards the Cornucopia, when the boy from 11 comes from around the other side. He begins to reach for his own backpack when he sees me. Damnit. We stare at each other, eyes widened in fear. I take a step away from the packs. Surprisingly, though, he doesn't make any move to attack me. He just quickly grabs his own pack and sprints back down the hill. I let out a sigh of relief and shoulder both mine and Eliza's backpacks before leaving for our - my - house of mirrors that we used as shelter since the beginning of the Games.

Once I arrive, I feel like sobbing again. This area has the memory of Eliza smeared all over it. I see her backpack that she received during the bloodbath, and the picture of her and Gracie that she took to the arena as a token is beside it.

I can't stay here. 

I gather the supplies Eliza and I had used to survive before the feast, as well as her token. If I win I'm sure she would want me to return it to her family. I slip it into my pocket and start heading somewhere. I don't know where, but somewhere away from the house of mirrors, and away from the Cornucopia as well.

Day 5 - Feast Aftermath

Nile Flame's (D8) POV

"I think the feast is over," I say quietly to Mary-Ann. From our little makeshift camp near the carnival games, we had been able to hear a lot of the fighting that had been going on during the feast on the Cornucopia hill. Screams, cries of agony, pleads, the whole deal. Around an hour after it began it stopped, and the arena was filled with quiet, still air. It was almost one of those comfortable silences, but I wouldn't be able to feel content until I escaped this arena.

"Yeah..." my one remaining ally replied. She offered me a handful of crackers, but I kindly rejected it, saying I wasn't that hungry and that I'd prefer to save the little food we had left for later. She nodded and slipped the crackers back into the box.

"You know, Lillian would expect for one of us to win," she said quietly. I grumble something inaudible under my breath. Why the hell would she bring up Lillian right now? The moment she mentions our deceased ally's name my eyes begin to shine with tears, and I glance down at the ground so Mary-Ann doesn't see them.

"Okay," I respond, my voice tired and sad. "Yeah, I know." I lay down on top of my sleeping bag and close my eyes. I picture Lillian, with her silver, almost-white hair and glowing red eyes. I remember how she was that shy, fearful mute girl at the beginning, but she slowly grew to be much more brave and adventurous. I can't help allowing a tear slip out of one of my eyes. It slowly rolls down my cheek and off of my chin. If Mary-Ann sees me crying, she doesn't say anything.

Like most of the previous days, today is slow and quiet for us. When boredom overcomes me I rise to my feet and keep my pack of throwing knives clutched closely to my side. "I think I'm going to go for a walk," I tell Mary-Ann.

"No, you're not," she replies sternly. She grabs my arm and yanks me back down. "You're not going to get yourself killed."

I let a sigh escape my lips and fold my arms over my chest. There's no arguing with Mary-Ann. She annoys the heck out of me sometimes but I feel thankful on the inside knowing that she just wants me protected and alive. I turn my head to look at her.

"So, top six," I say, attempting to start a friendly conversation with her. We haven't had one since we were at the training center back in the Capitol. "I honestly didn't think I would make it this far."

"Me neither," she agrees with a curt nod. "I really hope I make it out of here alive, but if not, I want it to be you..." She stops suddenly, her eyes widening. I cock my head to the side. "Mary-Ann? What's wrong?"

She ignores me and jumps to her feet. "Hand me a throwing knife," she demands.

"...Why?"

"Nile, just do it!" She's screaming now. "Hand me a throwing knife! NILE!"

Out of the corner of my eye, I see an arrow flying through the air. I start to get up in order to run away but I'm too slow, and the arrow pierces me in the side of the head. Blood leaks out of the wound and flows down the side of my face as if it were a small, skinny maroon stream. My whole body goes numb and I limply collapse to the ground. Although my eyesight is blurry, I can see Mary-Ann throwing a knife at the smart, dark-skinned kid from District 10. He lets out a loud yell and jumps out of the way. He shoots another arrow that Mary-Ann gracefully dodges, before running off into the distance. I can see that the skin on Mary-Ann's face is soaked with tears, and she bends down beside me.

"Nile..." she whispers, her voice cracking. I hold her hand in mine.

"Win for me, Mary-Ann," I say firmly. "You can do this thing."

She nods and smiles sadly. "Say hi to Lillian for me, Nile."

I return the smile. "I will." I close my eyes and keep a grip on Mary-Ann's hand, wanting her presence to surround me as I die. I'm nearly inches away from death. Just a few more moments, I presume. I get to see Lillian again is the last thought in my head before my heart ends it's rhythmatic thumping and the cold hands of death drag me away to darkness. BOOM!

Scorch Flare's (D11) POV

I blink my eyes open and find myself staring up at the ebony night sky, dotted with thousands of tiny white stars. I hadn't realized I had been sleeping, when I remembered how I ran away from the girl from 10 as fast as I could after the feast. I had tripped over one of the fallen carnival rides and hit my head on the concrete. It had been covered with a patch of soft grass so it hadn't given me a concussion or anything, but it had knocked me out cold. I rubbed the bruise that had appeared on the side of my skull and crawled on my knees over to my pack that I had retrieved from the Cornucopia during the feast. I zipped it open and pulled out something that caused my eyes to burn with tears. They were three pictures of Mason, young and spirited, before he had lost his eyes. One of them was him wrapping an arm around a dog, one was a family picture with him standing in between his parents, and the final one was the last school picture that had been taken of him before he lost his eyes. I blinked away the tears that threatened to slip from my eyes and shoved the pictures back in the bag. Despite the depression that crawled through my insides and haunted my mind after my best friend's death, I was also motivated upon seeing those pictures. I had to win this thing, no matter what it took.

I heard a beeping noise near my ear, and I turned my head slightly, my gaze falling upon a silver parachute that was slowly falling from the sky. It landed on the ground in front of me, and I opened it. I pulled out a fresh steak, cooked medium rare. It also came with a fork and kitchen knife so that I wouldn't have to use my hands to eat it. I muttered a thanks to my mentor before taking a few bites. I ate about half of it before putting it away, deciding that I would leave the rest for lunch tomorrow. If I stayed alive that long. I scolded myself the moment that thought entered my mind. You'll make it that far, I tell myself. You'll do it for Mason.

I hear footsteps against the concrete which triggers my senses and makes them more than alert. Making sure I have a grip on the leather handle of my sword, I jump up to my feet and take a step backwards into the shadows of the night. I hear the footsteps coming closer. Thump, thump, thump, thump. I start to panic. I can't tell whether the footsteps are coming from behind me or in front of me. Nonetheless, I ready my sword and I do something risky that might get me killed. "Who are you?" I call out, surprised that my voice actually sounds as if it is laced with fear. "Show yourself."

Suddenly, I feel hands wrap themselves around my neck. I feel hot breath on my ear and the presence of another tribute surrounds me. I take my sword and ram the butt of the handle into the tribute's stomach. This causes them to stagger backwards, and I spin around on my heel in order to see who it is. It's the girl from 7. Mary-Ann, I think her name is. She lifts her head and snarls at me, her eyes insane with bloodlust. She used to be so sweet and kind. What happened to her?

"I have to kill you," she says, almost apologetically. "I have to do it for Lillian and Nile." Oh, so that's probably why she's turned into a psycho. She had to watch both her allies get murdered before her eyes and she probably promised to do whatever it takes to win for them. The same way I promised to win for Mason.

"I'll kill you first," I respond with an even tone. She growls at me, and brings her axe to my neck. I leap out of the way just as the blade is about to dig into my flesh. As I have much more physical strength than the frail girl, I'm able to pick her up my her waist and flip her over. She slams roughly against the ground and yelps in pain. I try to stab her in the stomach with my sword but she scrambles to her feet just in time and runs at me, this time attempting to slice open my chest with the axe. I dodge the blow, though not fully and the blade ends up digging into my shoulder. Pain shoots through my arm several times before it goes numb. Ugh, that can't be a good sign, I think. I try to lift my sword but my arm is now as limp as a leaf. Damnit. I try to wield my sword with my non-dominant hand. I can't fight as well but I will do anything in an attempt to protect myself. Of course, when I try to slash at Mary-Ann's skull she ducks. She brings up her boot and kicks me in the stomach, nearly knocking all the air out of me. I stagger backwards and she runs up to me, aiming to bring the axe down on my head. I close my eyes, showing her that I'm ready for the end.

But I'm not.

Just as the blade of the axe is about to puncture my skull, I raise my sword and slice clean through Mary-Ann's arm. The axe falls to the ground below my eyes, along with her hand. Mary-Ann lets out an agonized scream, and tears fill in her eyes. I feel a bit guilty for what I'm about to do, but I don't stop. Now that she can't attack me I'm able to shove her against the ground. I place the blade of my sword to her neck and she stares up at me, the tears rolling down her cheeks now. "Just kill me," she whispers. "Please."

A lump forms in my throat, and I nod. I stare up at the sky so that I don't have to watch myself kill this innocent tribute. As fast as I can, I draw a dark red line in her throat with my sword. Her body stiffens and she lets out one final scream, before she falls limp completely and her cannon fires. BOOM! I stand up weakly, my head spinning. I still refuse to lay my eyes on her corpse. I haven't had a kill yet in the Games whatsoever - since this is my first one, I feel extremely sick to my stomach. I stand there for a few moments, feeling as if I'm about to pass out, when I sheath my sword and hurry away from the 7 girl's cold body. I make my way back over to my makeshift camp that I kept near the carousel, even after Mason died. I sit down and take out his pictures again. As I stare at them a single tear slips down my cheek. Why am I torturing myself? I put the pictures back and lay down on top of my sleeping bag. Minutes later, the anthem plays and the faces of the dead tributes are projected into the sky. The first face I see is of Dragon Lord, one I didn't exactly expect but I'm glad that I see it in the sky. He killed Mason, and lots of other innocent humans - he deserved to die. The next tribute I see is the tought girl from 5, the one that challenged the Careers during training and wanted to prove to them that they weren't the leaders of the arena. She stuck by her promise until the very end, and I admired her for her cause. Ava Poppythorne's face is shown next, and I'm sorry that it's there. She was one of the strongest tributes in the arena, one of the biggest threats. Despite this she was also one of the kindest, and she was definitely one of the ones that didn't belong in this arena. Then I see Mary-Ann's, and my head feels as if it's spinning once more. The final face shown is the boy from 8's before the sky turns black once more. I curl up on top of my sleeping bag, not bothering to slip into it for it is quite warm and humid tonight. As I fall asleep I can't help but wonder - do I really have what it takes to win for Mason? I want to and I'm determined to step out of this arena alive, but there are only four tributes left. The reason the other three tributes and I are still here is because we are the strongest.

The final day is going to be tough, and I'm nervous.


Day 6 - Fate's Decision

Maiko Fornis' (D10) POV

The next morning I awaken and stretch my arms above my head. The first thing I notice is how hard the wind is blowing outside. I stick my head out of the little tent in the carnival games section I had been staying in, and my eyes narrow as a raindrop falls on my nose. I sigh and slip back into the tent. The Gamemakers must be ready to create a huge storm, maybe as a dramatic effect because they know today will be the last day. I sit down on the ground and pull my knees up to my chest, before gently rocking my body back and forth. I can literally feel my heart pounding against my chest. These Games went by so fast - it seems like only yesterday I was dressing myself for the reapings. I had seriously thought I would've died early. I'm not the best when it comes to killing other tributes and no one even knew who I was until I made it to the final eight. And now that I'm in the top four, I've finally managed to leave my mark on the world. But will it be able to stay there?

A gigantic gust of winds interrupts my thoughts as it almost knocks the tent over. When it moves violently, I hear a thump and jerk my head around, alarmed. Relief floods over me when I see that the only reason I heard that sound was because a strange glass object had fallen off one of the high shelves within the tent. I walk over to it and pick it up. It's a crystal ball, the instrument that fortune tellers use to show their clients what their future looks like. I stand up on my tippy-toes to put it back on the shelf, when the crystal ball starts to swirl with color. I stare at it, confused. The colors continue to swirl until they eventually slow down and gather together into the form of - well, me, actually. I see myself laying on the ground, my eyes widened. I almost fall over when the crystal ball shows a knife sticking out of my chest. I let out a little yelp and drop it, and it shatters into pieces. I take a step back, my heart pumping so fast I can barely keep up with how many times it beats in a second. That's just something the Gamemakers set up to scare me, I'm sure. It can't possibly be true; can it?

I pull the tent flaps open and step out into the rain. It's actually not the biggest storm at the moment, and even though the wind is pretty fierce it just kind of seems like a simple rainshower, although my clothes are soaked within minutes. I'm afraid to go back into that fortune teller's tent, though, after seeing that crystal ball. So I begin walking away from the carnival games section and towards the carnival rides.

Once I arrive in that area I sit down on one of those teacup rides. I sit in criss-cross position and simply stare out into the distance, watching the rain as it falls from the sky and splashes against the ground. I reach for my backpack to pull some of my dried fruit out of it because I'm hungry - only then I realize that I left my pack in the tent. Damnit. I had grabbed it on my way out, hadn't I? Guess I didn't. I stand up and begin to make my way back to the fortune telling tent, a bit warily because who knows what can happen in this arena? The Gamemakers can make the ground collapse underneath my feet; a huge mutt can jump out of nowhere and maul me. Eventually, though, I arrive to the tent and slip underneath the shelter of it's fabric roof. I unzip my pack that I find set up against a small wooden table and pull out my pack of dried fruit. Just as I'm about to eat a dried orange, a huge, and I mean huge blast of wind knocks the tent over. It happens so fast, and next thing I know I'm laying sprawled out on the ground, the tent on it's side. I stand up on wobbly feet and search for the opening flaps. They're gone! As I start throwing things out of the way in an attempt to find them, I discover that the wooden table is blocking the entrance. I try to move it, but it's way heavier than it looks, and it's as if it's glued in place.

Suddenly, I hear an odd sound. It kind of sounds like scissors or a knife cutting through fabric. I lean towards the sound - it sounds like it's coming from right behind my ear. I turn around, eyes widening to the size of marbles when I see another tribute attempting to cut through the wall of my tent. Once they've cut out a big hole they stick their head through it, and my heart stops. It's the girl from one, grinning at me wickedly, clutching a knfe in her hand. I run over to where the table is blocking the entrance and pull on one of its legs as hard as I can. It doesn't budge. I yell in frustration and turn to glance at the wall that had been cut through. The girl from 1 continues to slice through the dark red fabric, attempting to make a hole big enough for her to slip through. Panicking, I grab my awl and try to make my own full-sized hole that will help me escape through this side. But an awl is a smaller weapon, and by the time I have a hole as big as my hand, the girl from 1 has entered my tent. I'm sweating buckets and I slowly turn to face her.

"W-What are you going to do to me?" I stutter nervously. She doesn't reply - she simply continues to grin insanely as she slowly makes her way towards me, knife in hand. I slowly move backwards until my back has hit the wall and I can't move any further. "Please don't kill me," I beg, but I must be stupid if I think she's going to listen to that statement. She's a Career - a strong, blood-thirsty Career that is determined to win, and she isn't just going to spare my life. I can't help but think how the Gamemakers managed to create a crystal ball that was correct about my future as she places the tip of the knife to my chest.

"Any last words?" she whispers, just beside my ear. It causes a shiver to run down my spine.

"Y-Yes," I quietly tell her. Then I straighten my back and glare up at the sky, hoping the camera is on me just at this moment. I take a deep breath and say, "I might die today in the arena - no, I'm definitely going to die. But all of you back in District 10 -" A river of pain floods within me as the girl from 1 slowly sinks her knife into my flesh. "And the Capitol, and every one else in the country of Panem: I, Maiko Fornis, am one to be remembered." With those words said the girl from 1 decides to get this over with and quickly plunges the knife deep into my heart. Then she mercilessly yanks it out and I crumple to the ground, my eyes glued on the ceiling of the blood red tent as I'm much too weak to move my head. The world around me blurs and darkens until I can no longer see a thing, and I'm entirely sure that my life has been taken from this earth when I hear my own cannon fire. BOOM!

Saffron Star's (D1) POV

I step out of the tent and into the rain, cleaning the blade of my bloodstained knife with a small square I tore off of my sleeping bag. It doesn't really matter that I demolished it - this is going to be the last day, anyways. A grin spreads across my face when I think about what it's going to be like when I return home. I'm going to bring so much pride to my district and everyone is going to love me. They never cared about that psycho Dragon anyways. It was always about me. Now, I know that may sound a bit selfish, but it's the truth. It's been my destiny to win these Games ever since I volunteered - no, actually, ever since I was born. I can feel it - some invisible force that's slowly drawing me towards the crown.

I climb up one of carnival rides that had fallen over the other day. Some of them still remain standing, but I make my way to the top of a fallen rollercoaster. It's not that scary if it's down on its side, because then it's not far up into the sky and I don't have to worry about falling off. Once I reach the top I scan the fraction of the arena that I can see from up here, despite the pouring rain that blurs most of the view ten to twelve yards in the distance.

That's when I hear a soft splashing sound, like someone trying to be stealthy but they can't help the noise they make because their feet hitting the water that slightly floods the ground will create a sound no matter what. Suddenly alert, I move my gaze to where I believe the sound is coming from, and I watch intently. Eventually the girl from 10 steps out of the fog, her normally long, wavy ebony hair currently tied back in a ponytail. She doesn't notice me, sitting up here on the fallen rollercoaster. I smile. This could be the perfect chance for a surprise attack. All I have to do is quietly grab one of my throwing knives and aim it at her head - that simple. She'll be dead within moments and then all I'll have to do is get rid of Scorch. He would be the biggest competition left, but I can take him out easily. Can't I? I mentally slap myself for questioning my logic - of course I can!

The girl from 10 - Holly, I think her name is - pulls out a canteen. It's clear, kind of like a water bottle, and I can see that the water she had in it only fills a thin line at the bottom. She unscrews the cap and holds the canteen up over her head. I see what she's doing; she's catching rain drops as a water source. It must be a smart move, but it's also a stupid one. She's distracted upon doing this - this is the perfect chance!

I slowly unstrap a throwing knive from my belt, making sure that all of my movements are ghostly quiet. Once I have the small silver weapon clutched in my hand I narrow my eyes and picture an invisible target on Holly's forehead. I bring my knife back behind my ear, and then I chuck it, aiming it for where the bullseye would be. Just as it's about to hit her in the skull, a gust of wind blows through the air and pushes the knife out of the way. My weapon is simply carried with the wind before it's suddenly dropped and lands with a splash! in the water. Irritated, I turn my attention back to Holly, who stands there with a look of shock and horror plastered on her face. I snort and climb down from the rollercoaster. She sees me and starts to make a run for it, but she seems to have forgotten that water has risen to three inches above the ground and she slips, landing face-first on the concrete. She quickly rolls over on her side and props herself up on her elbows, but by now I've reached her and I'm holding the tip of my katana to the bottom of her chin.

"I'm going to kill you," I say matter-of-factly.

"Sure," Holly replies quietly. I can see water on her cheeks and beneath her eyes, though I can't tell if it's rain or tears. By the way I hear her sniffle a few moments after she speaks, I know it's the latter. I don't feel any guilt rise within me, however. I've learned to ignore tears and the pain of another human. I'll do whatever it takes to win.

Holly then rolls her eyes unexpectedly. "Sure you are," she says again. "But you aren't going to win."

I snicker. "Yeah? Listen, honey - do you think I'm unable to beat that pesky boy from 11? You've seen me kill the most talented, blood-thirsty boy in the arena; your ally - you've seen what I can do, but you don't think I can win?"

"I think you have what it takes," she responds simply. "I just don't think the odds are in your favor."

That's it, bitch, I think. My hands shaking with frustration, I yank my katana to the right, causing the edge of the blade to dig into the flesh on her throat. Blood pours out of the open wound and seeps into her shirt. I step away from her and let her fall backwards into the water. Her blood stains the water red, and she continues to glare up at me despite the fact that her life is quickly leaving her body. BOOM! I stand up and forcefully kick Holly's corpse in the side. As the water rises slowly she begins to drift downstream, until I see a hovercraft come and collect her body.

As I make my way back to the carnival rides, I can't seem to ignore the fear that wells up inside me. With three or four tributes left I really believed I would be able to win this. But now that it's just me and another tribute, I can't help thinking - was Holly right? Or was I correct the entire time, and I have everything that it takes to win?

Once again, I scold myself for thinking like that. Yes, Saffron. Yes you do. Determination lights up my eyes and I make my way around the fallen rollercoaster. "Good evening, Scorch," I say loudly. The boy several yards in front of me spins around and glares at me, before pushing his blonde hair out of his eyes.

"Good evening, Saffron," he replies darkly. He holds up his sword, and I raise mine.

Let the final showdown begin.

Scorch Flare's (D11) POV

Saffron lunges at me before I have any time to think about how I'm going to fight her. I jump out of the way the moment she's about to land on top of me, and she crashes against the ground. Just like that, however, she scrambles to her feet and runs at me again. She unsheaths her katana and tries to slash at me, but I block her blow with my sword. We fence for several minutes, the only sound in the intense atmosphere being the noise of clashing blades. Sparks come off the bright silver blades and dance through the air. Within minutes my face is soaked in sweat and my arms feel tired and limp from all this wielding I've been doing. But I'm afraid to stop.

Eventually, I manage to swing my sword towards Saffron without having it blocked by her katana. The edge of the blade hits her in the shoulder, and she staggers backwards, clutching the injury as blood seeps out of the wound and trickles down her arm. She glares at me, then kicks her foot into the air, bringing the sole of her boot into my eye. I feel blood gather around my eye and half of the world from my perspective is covered with a dark crimson color. But I can still see Saffron as she attacks, her katana slicing through the air. I dodge the attack, and when she strikes again I yank my sword towards her own weapon so forcefully that her weapon is simply knocked out of her hands. She looks at her sword, watching as it bounces down the concrete. By this point I've blinked all of the blood out of my eye. It slides down my face and lands in the rainwater that's on the ground.

Saffron turns away from her weapon and stares at me in horror. She starts to go get it, but obviously I won't let her. I bring my hands to her neck and squeeze as hard as I can. Her face starts to turn a bit purple. She starts wheezing, begging for me to let go. When I don't, she simply narrows her eyes and digs her nails into my side. Blood trickles down and I wince at the pain her sharp, neon green nails created. The pain causes me to release my grip ever so slightly, and this allows Saffron to grab one of my arms and twist it behind my back. I hiss in agony and roughly pry myself from my grip. I hear a disgusting cracking sound as my arm returns limply to my side. The girl from 1 grins at me when she realizes what she just did.

"At least the arm I wield my sword with wasn't broken," I say happily, and she frowns. In that one second of distraction I leap at her and throw her against the concrete. Then I stand over her, placing my feet on her legs so that she can't get up. She tries to squirm out of my grip - I pin her to the ground by pressing my hands against her shoulders just to make sure that she certainly can't.

"You can't do this," she hisses angrily at me. "I'm supposed to be the victor of the 93rd Hunger Games!"

I reach for my katana. As one of my hands leaves one of her shoulders she brings up her free hand and digs her nails into the side of my neck, but the moment I place the blade of my sword to her chest she freezes and her hand falls limply to the ground. Then, she does something I would've never expected.

Tears well in her eyes, and she blinks repeatedly as if refusing to let them fall. "I-I-I need to go back home," she whispers. "I can't die in the arena... please, Scorch, don't let me die here..." She gazes up at me with a saddened gaze. A lump forms in my throat.

"I have to," I say quietly.

"I know you do," she replies sadly. The tears are streaming down her face now. "Every tribute has their families and friends that they need to return home to. I didn't realize that until just now..." She sniffs. "But I just want to go home, so badly... I'll never get to see my family again..."

"I'm so sorry," I apologize. I squeeze my eyes shut as I bring my sword into her chest. A quiet gasp escapes her lips, and when I open my eyes I see that her own are dull and glassy. A few droplets of tears still remain on her cheeks. She seems so terrified, so upset - that's no way to die. BOOM! I sigh loudly and rise to my feet. My vision starts to blur and my head begins to spin. Blood forms in my eye again and I barely hear someone speak on the louderspeaker before I collapse and the whole world darkens around me.

. . .

Beep. Beep. Beeeeeep.

I open my eyes. Both of them are working perfectly, to my surprise. The last thing I remember before passing out was blood in my right eye. Why was it like that? I think. At that moment everything comes flooding back to me. I was punched in the eye by a sassy, violent girl with blonde hair. The punch was so forceful, the veins inside my eye must have busted. I move my hand towards the socket and place a finger on my eye. The new eyeball there isn't squishy and watery like most are; instead, it's made of glass.

A door opens. I turn my head. Three nurses walk into the room, two males and one female. The female sees that I have awoken and she comes over to me. Her hair is bright pink, her skin yellow. Capitol citizen. She smiles at me. "The damage to your eye was quite horrible," she tells me, seeing that I am confused about my glass eye. "The one we've replaced it with still looks like a normal eye, and it works just like one, as well - that's why you can see out of it."

See. That's why I can see out of it. Another memory enters my brain. Mason Spartan. My blind ally. My deceased friend. Where did I meet him? In the Hunger Games.

Was it all a dream, or...

"Congratulations, Scorch," says one of the male nurses, as if he can read my thoughts. "You indeed are the victor of the 93rd Hunger Games."

Victor's Interview

My stylist has designed a shimmering suit for me to wear. Whenever I walk, it looks as if flames are flickering on the clothing. An orange streak has been dyed on my hair where it partly covers my eye. I examine myself in the mirror. The nurses that spoke to me a few hours ago were correct. Despite one of my eyes being made out of glass, it still looked exactly like my other, real eye, and worked just the same. I sighed and turn to face my stylist. "Are you ready?" she asks eagerly.

I sigh. "Yeah. I'm ready."

She nods and kisses me on the cheek before gesturing towards the stage. I take a deep breath and slip through the red curtains, and the moment I step out onto that stage, thunderous screams and applause fill the stadium. Caesar Flickerman beams at me and invites me to take my place next to him. I do so obediently, while flashing a pearly white smile at the audience and waving to them.

"Citizens of Panem, I welcome you, the victor of the 93rd Hunger Games, Scorch Flare!" Caesar exclaims, holding up my arm. The screams and cheers that erupt from the audience get louder, although they eventually quiet down in order to hear the interview. Caesar smiles at me. "How does it feel to be a victor?" he asks.

I force a convincing smile. "Pretty good," I say.

Caesar laughs. "Pretty good? It must feel awesome!" The audience agrees. Then Caesar asks, "What are you going to like most about winning the Hunger Games?"

I think for a moment. "The pride I'll bring to my district," I lie.

"Not the money?"

"That, too."

Caesar chuckles. "Anyways, would you like to see your special moments during the Games?"

Not really. "Yeah!" I tell him. Suddenly, the TV above the stage comes on and I turn in my chair to face it. The stadium goes super quiet as everyone's attention is focused on the screen. First, I see me waiting impatiently on my metal plate, surrounded by 23 other tributes. Then the gong rings and I race towards a backpack. I see myself thinking about whether I should grab the nearby sword or not, but another tribute beats me to it. I then meet up with Hybrid - a lump forms in my throat - and Mason, and we run off. The screen changes to when we're sitting near the carousel, and the two allies Eliza and Holly come over to us and tell us to run because the Careers are gaining on us. We start to run, and I want to hide my eyes when I see a knife hit Hybrid in the throat, but I remember that I'm on live television and I simply stare at the TV with an emotionless expression. Then the scene changes once more, to when Mason and I are thinking about splitting up. Here it comes, I think, biting my lip and forcing myself not to cry. I walk away, then return when I hear a cannon. I see Mason's corpse and Dragon standing above him, a smirk on his wretched face. That's when I think - what was the point in winning if I have to live like this for the rest of my life, remembering my best friend's death and the way I killed two innocent human beings? The video ends and Caesar asks me if I'm proud of everything that I did.

"NO!" I burst out suddenly. The people in the stadium are taken aback. Caesar opens his mouth to question me, but I interrupt him. "You people are sick." I stare straight at the camera. "You think that just because I won that ruthless game of yours that I'm some type of god that should be proud of what I did. But I'm not! You know what I really am? I am fire. My mischeif causes annoyance and madness. Lying makes me unpredictable, you never know when I will start. I am the beginning and the end, a villian who is the hero. As the flames tire, I continue to loose what I love most in the world. My home, my friend, my innocence. You have taken that from me. Hear my plea as the restless flames blaze: You may have taken what I precious most in the world but this starts the flame, what keeps it going. Know this, I will have vengence for the lives you have taken and the fire you have started will live on for as long as I live. I live and I will not rest until the dying weeks of your lives have begun."

The room goes silent as everyone stares at me in shock. Then, I simply stand up and exit the stage.

That simple act of rebellion might get me killed. But not today.

Today, the flame lives on.


CONGRATULATIONS TO SCORCH FLARE, VICTOR OF THE 93RD HUNGER GAMES, MENTORED BY HYBRID SHADOW! THANKS FOR READING, AND STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT GAMES! (;

Death Chart

Placing District Name Killer District How
24th 8 Galina Kiltova Dragon Lord 1 Katana in chest
23rd 9 Oliver Hemmingway Lily Moon 2 Dagger in neck
22nd 12 John McCall Ava Poppythorne 6 Mace to head
21st 3 Kathrin Sandstone Dragon Lord 1 Spear in back
20th 4 Lime Verandi Eliza Garret 5 Knife in chest
19th 5 Martin Meyers Ava Poppythorne 6 Mace to head
18th 11 Violette Meadow Lillian Pumpkin 12 Arrow in heart
17th 3 Hybrid Javeline Lily Moon 2 Knife in neck
16th 2 Lily Moon Holly Wintercrest 10 Knife in head
15th 4 Lemonade Verandi Dragon Lord 1 Katana in chest
14th 7 Kota Jimslim Connor Houck 6 Hammer to head
13th 6 Connor Houck Kassidy Feekes 9 Decapitated by axe
12th 2 Mason Spartan Dragon Lord 1 Spear in chest
11th 12 Lillian Pumpkin Nile Flame 8 Knife in chest
10th 9 Kassidy Feekes None None Fell off of ferris wheel & broke neck
9th 6 Ava Poppythorne Dragon Lord 1 Neck snapped
8th 1 Dragon Lord Saffron Star 1 Katana in neck
7th 5 Eliza Garret Saffron Star 1 Katana in chest
6th 8 Nile Flame Maiko Fornis 10 Arrow in head
5th 7 Mary-Ann Hunter Scorch Flare 11 Throat slit with sword
4th 10 Maiko Fornis Saffron Star 1 Knife in chest
3rd 10 Holly Wintercrest Saffron Star 1 Throat slit with katana
2nd 1 Saffron Star Scorch Flare 11 Sword in chest
VICTOR! 11 Scorch Flare --- --- ---
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