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The Retribution Series Part I
People always assumed that the Hunger Games may be for the better good, that it was the only thing that united the districts of Panem, but they were wrong. After the Second Rebellion, Katniss and Peeta Mellark gave birth to two intelligent children, two children that will betray their parents when the time came. They were kidnapped, tortured, and their entire minds and souls were twisted to believe their parents were murderers. While their parents search endlessly for their children, the children were trained to murder. By the time the girl turned eighteen, they were released into District Twelve where they went on a rampage.
The citizens all called for Katniss and Peeta Mellark to come and help them, but when Katniss held up her bow right to her childrens' faces, it was the hardest thing she ever done. After a moment's hesitation, Katniss released the arrow right towards her children's hearts, but they were swift and knocked the arrow right away from their hearts. With katanas, they attacked their parents, brutally cutting them, but Katniss and Peeta eventually got away.
Their children fought their way to the top, killing everyone and everything that got in their way. Katniss and Peeta were called to join the A.H.G.A., otherwise known as the Anti-Hunger Games Association, where they were instructed to kill their own children. Annie Cresta's son was also kidnapped, and she was called to join the A.H.G.A. along with Johanna Mason, Beetee Latier, and Enobaria Golding, but none of the victors were every able to kill the three children.
The children took out District Eleven, Ten, Nine, and even Eight. The few survivors were brought to a secret district, District Fourteen, where all the mutts were created. After too many fatal mutt attacks occurred, District Zero was created in a concealed region on the North American continent. The three children burned District Seven to the ground, drove District Six right out of town, and went right on into District Five. But none of the districts powers were anything but an obstacle for the three children. After conquering Districts Four, Three, Two, and One, they went right on into the Capitol.
Now, the Capitol was the real challenge the children were trained to face. However, many Capitol citizens who wanted the rebirth of the Hunger Games started to join the three children and they murdered the citizens who went against the Hunger Games. The A.H.G.A. was located right in the heart of the Capitol, but the children shot down their own parents and past victors in order to bring the Hunger Games alive. When their job was finished, they committed suicide, as they were instructed.
These events led to the rebirth of the Hunger Games, into a Reconstruction Era, until now, over a hundred years later, where the Hunger Games are nothing but revenge on everyone. Districts Zero and Fourteen were founded and forced to participate in the Hunger Games, and District Thirteen was rebuilt during the Reconstruction Era and, as well, has to participate. Even the Capitol has to participate for not being loyal to the Hunger Games during the Third Rebellion. And this is where the story begins.
1. You are able to submit up to two tributes, but when you're reserving a tribute, you can only reserve one. If the tribute is going to be new, you can hold the spot(s) for up to an hour. If you're going to post a link, you can hold the spot(s) for up to thirty minutes. Reservations last up to forty eight hours, meaning that you have two days to complete the tribute. However, holding a spot is different and it means that you're creating the tribute(s) right away.
2. Please, don't spam. If you want to get more people to join your Hunger Games, just ask me first. I could help you out by giving a sponsor reward for anyone who joined or who has joined, but if you do it without my permission (a.) it's rude and (b.) I'll kill your tribute right away (if you have a tribute). Also, trying to reach comment 100, or 200, or 300 is also extremely annoying. I'm fine if it's maybe two comments, but if you have three repeated comments (or more) I'll just ignore you and (possibly) kill your tributes. Keep in mind that I don't reward people for reaching these comment numbers on my Hunger Games.
3. Please stay active. If you submit a tribute, you're also secretly signing an agreement to stay active during the months these go on. My Hunger Games may range from one month (meaning I'll be quick in writing) to up to four months (meaning I'll be more descriptive and have longer writing). I may even go over four months, but if I do, then I'll be perfectly fine if you no longer are participating. Also, I don't figure out a victor until the last day of the Hunger Games. If I like a tribute, they may survive longer, but if their user is not active, don't expect them to win. It would be completely unfair to those who have participated and stayed active during these months.
4. I will try to update any where from once a day to, at the latest, once a week. Keep in mind that this isn't including anything that may happen to me or things that happen around me. I usually try my best to stay active and update, but I do experience times where I don't know what to write and it's a pain in the ass! I'll do everything in my power to keep on writing during these times, but since I practically have OCD, I may absolutely hate it and rewrite it.
5. I will be swearing a lot during these Hunger Games. I try not to go off on a crazy swearing spree, but with children killing children, it'd only be appropriate that some would be swearing. I mean, who wouldn't swear if they're trying to run away from an angry pack of mutts? I've heard people swear when they stub their toe, trust me, I could be a lot worse since someone may be shoving a sword right through you chest or stomach.
6. I appreciate advice and will follow it as closely as possible. While I may not be spot on, it will be close enough that I'm following the guidelines. Please keep your advice open for possibilities and incorporate as much into as you can. If you want your tribute to lay low for a day, tell them what they should do. Maybe they should try to preserve their food during the day or gather berries, because "laying low" might mean drowning in an ocean or sleeping in the middle of the ground.
7. I'll allow you to comment on my writing, including whether you like it or not. While I do really get angry if someone completely blows off my writing, I'll try my hardest not to have it affect the placings. However, if you're commenting on how bad my writing is, please turn it into constructive criticism. If you don't like my writing a certain way, I'll try my hardest to change it. However, if I truly don't like your ideas, then I will, nicely, say that I don't like it or that I don't really think it'd be the best for my Hunger Games.
8. These Hunger Games were revived since it was created 14+ months ago, and I've failed to stay active at them. Due to this, all the tributes were originally from those Hunger Games, and will stay in their places unless the creators want to take them out of the Hunger Games. If this happens, the spot will go to whoever puts a tribute in first, as there will be no reserving these tributes.
I honestly don't really mind what you have on your tribute template, but I do recommend you having all of the following. If you don't, your tribute will be at a huge disadvantage since I won't be able to connect with him/her as well or I won't have any ideas for them. Make your tributes interesting and open for change, but not too open where a nice, little girl becomes a serial killer over night. Also, make your tributes realistic. If someone is nice and quiet, why would they have a killer side to them? I may in fact like your tribute enough that I allow them to survive longer than they should have. Without further ado, here's the recommended template:
Name: (This is required, both first and last. Names that are boring or regular will be completely ignored.)
Age: (Ages twelve through eighteen. If I want someone younger, I'll ask a user to create one.)
District: (The Capitol and Districts Zero through Fourteen will be cooperating. If there hasn't been an update in a while, post two or three alternative districts just in case. It'll ensure they get a spot.)
Gender: (Male or female. This is pretty self explanatory.)
Personality: (This should help resemble the backstory. If a tribute spent their entire life playing sports, then they'd be athletic and competitive, not quiet and weak. Please, just think about if you were this tribute and went through the same things they went do. If it is a nice person, do not add that she has a killer side to him/her, all the tributes will need to kill another and you just don't need to add it.)
Backstory: (I don't care if you call it history or background, but please put some thought into this. Tell me what your tribute's life has been like, and please include as much as you can. I don't care if they're the most boring tribute possible, but I need to know why they're so boring or why they act a certain way.)
Weapons: (I'd prefer only one to two weapons, but three is tolerable. Anything above three will be ignored. Please try to have your weapons resemble your tribute, like if they've been living in District Seven their lives and throwing axes against trees, don't say their weapon is a baton or a mace, it should be axes, since they're better at it.)
Appearance: (This should be shown in a lunaii and a real life picture, but if you post a description, I'll try my hardest to create a lunaii and find an image that relates. It may not be exactly how you pictured it, but if you don't get it yourself, I'm not going to say that I'm sorry, since you should have got it. If you don't post a lunaii or real life picture, please post as accurate of a description as you can. Saying that she has green eyes and blonde hair is not descriptive enough.)
Reasons for Winning: (This is a section completely new and completely optional. Every tribute wants to come home for something or someone, so tell me. However, if you say they want to come home for their girlfriend and there was no girlfriend in their backstory, I will ask you to try and add her in the backstory or tell me about what the two did together, like would they kiss each other or were they stuck in the friend zone?)
Fear(s): (Every tribute is afraid of something, but please, try to keep your fears similar to their backstory. If they were attacked by crows when they were younger, don't tell me that they fear something like heights, they'd fear crows. I'd prefer to have at least two fears, but the more you have, the more I'll like your tribute.)
If you want to add anything else, such as strengths, weaknesses, height, etc. please feel free to. These are just the ones I'll be looking the most at and the ones that I'll use to determine whether your tribute survives longer than the others or not. Advice may also influence how long your tribute lasts, but the better the tribute template is, the more I'll enjoy your tribute. Please put a lot of consideration into making your tributes, because the nicest tribute might win, or may the meanest. You never know.
|District||Male Tribute||Age||Weapons||Female Tribute||Age||Weapons|
|17||Saber, Knife||Marielle Ferde||18||Bow, Axe|
|District Zero||Skeet Callaway||17||Knife, Dagger||Cadence Snowfall||16||Spear, Bow, Mace|
|Uzi Kystrel||15||Machete, Throwing Knife, Trident||Wonder Frowiss||17||Bow, Axe|
|District Two||Sebastian Hive||18||Butcher Knife, Hurlbat||Thalia Combe||16||Longbow, Crescent Throwing Knife|
|District Three||Jrue Maclin||17||Dagger, Throwing Knife||Stacy Sidrat||18||Wire, Blowgun, Machete|
|District Four||Billie Tatium||18||Baton, Knife||Paulette Cerulean||16||Longbow, Flail|
|District Five||Pompey Wattson||18||Knife, Poison||Zara Masarie||17||Bow, Sword, Spear|
|District Six||Connor Smitherson||14||Scythe||Kade Glow||13||Blowgun, Sai|
|District Seven||Freddie Peck||12||Awl, Whip||Zoey Oakley||14||Axe, Throwing Axe, Battle Axe|
|18||Crossbow, Knife||Chakra Fatalis||17||Dagger, Scythe|
|District Nine||Elias Angerrage||14||Axe, Sword, Throwing Axe||Savannah Darnell||12||Blowgun, Knife|
|District Ten||Lofton Gifford||16||Sickle, Sword||Wisteria Widow||16||Machete, Tomahawk|
|District Eleven||Taylor Dett||14||Sword, Knife||Crescent Ombra||16||Axe, Machete|
|District Twelve||Breccan Gateson||13||Slingshot||Silvia Peck||16||Sword|
|District Thirteen||Niels Werner||16||Scythe||
|17||Bolo Knife, Crossbow, Hatchet|
|District Fourteen||Julius Spring||17||Sword, Throwing Knife||Amber Tempest||17||Poison, Throwing Knife|
Italics means the tribute needs to be confirmed by their creator to reapper in these Hunger Games.
Real Life Gallery
|User||Tribute #1||Money||Tribute #2||Money|
|Hybrid Shadow||Lionel Armani (Cap)||Pompey Wattson (5)|
|PumPumPumpkin :3||Marielle Ferde (Cap)|
|Kaeghan-is-a-Tribute||Skeet Callaway (0)||Wonder Frowiss (1)|
|Pippycat||Cadence Snowfall (0)||Savannah Darnell (9)|
|Tehblakdeath||Uzi Kystrel (1)||Daenerys Kystrel (13)|
|Nommyzambies||Sebastian Hive (2)||Thalia Combe (2)|
|MyWorld||Jrue Maclin (3)||Julius Spring (14)|
|MissRandomStuff||Stacy Sidrat (3)||Amber Tempest (14)|
|ViniciusDeAssis1999||Billie Tatium (4)|
|Yoonie||Paulette Cerulean (4)||Niels Werner (13)|
|El Funk||Zara Masarie (5)|
|HaraiGoshi345||Connor Smitherson (6)|
|Alyssa101||Kade Glow (6)|
|Rayplayzlol70||Freddie Peck (7)||Silvia Peck (12)|
|YourFavoriteSalmon||Zoey Oakley (7)||Elias Angerrage (9)|
|LightStone123||Ace Merciless (8)||Lofton Gifford (10)|
|District3||Chakra Fatalis (8)||Crescent Ombra (11)|
|AngelsHolocaust||Wisteria Widow (10)|
|Meoryou||Taylor Dett (11)|
|Toast With The Most||Breccan Gateson (12)|
The Sponsoring Gifts
The Sponsoring Money System
The Capitol Favoritism will show who the Capitol is rooting for, but only the top eight will be shown. Each day, including training, a new chart will be added, showing who is being rooted for the most. A tribute that is on the training favoritism chart were being rooted the most during training, and the entire training days. The charts will most likely chart every day, so there'll always be a new chart at either the end of the previous day or the start of the new day. When the day starts, the chart will not change. When there's less than eight tributes left, the chart will only contain as many placings as the tributes that are left.
Training scores, amount of kills, romantic relationships, and other impacts your tribute does to the Hunger Games will influence the favoritism chart. Tributes that seem to be surprising, even if they may be weak, will also influence the decision, especially if they suddenly turn out to be a crazy killer while they performed terribly on training. Many different qualities will also influence the favoritism, as those who are charming will be liked more by the Capitol than someone who is rude.
This concept was originally created by Kaeghan. If you plan on using this in your own Hunger Games, please credit Kaeghan-is-a-Tribute, also known as Kaeghan, for the creation of this.
The Capitol: Marielle Ferde
The day of the reaping is always the best day in the Capitol. It's the day where two of their citizens go into the Hunger Games to fight to the death while they watch and cheer and supply sponsoring gifts and everything. But even though our district always seems to die fairly early, the Capitol is still upbeat and happy while they continue, until one tribute emerges as victor, usually a Career tribute. I'm usually with the other children in the Capitol, cheering away at our friend who is sadly reaped or volunteered, and crying a little while they die, but then going on in life like it never happened.
I meet up with one of my best friends, Robin Reventus, who I first met in preschool. Even though she was very shy, she treated me as if I was a regular child, even though my parents, Bernard and Henrietta Ferde, are famous for their musical talents. Even when my parents told my friends and I that they were going to be shooting in a major blockbuster, Robin still treated me indifferent, unlike my friends Geneviene Rain and Siventus Avenici, who made a huge deal about it and kept congratulating me.
"Marielle! Robin!" I glance behind my shoulder to see Geneviene running towards us with the angry Siventus following close behind. She embraces the both of us. "I need your help. Siventus is being a little bitchy because his crush told him that he was going to volunteer this year. Now, Siventus wants to volunteer instead."
I turn towards Siventus who angrily kicks a rock across the street. "You realize that there might be some other volunteers, right? I heard that one of the Armani twins were going to volunteer as well."
"How do you get the two confused?" Robin chuckles. "They don't look much alike." She turns towards Siventus. "And I also heard that the other day. Apparently Winter, that's the one with larger muscles and a stockier appearance," she adds for my sake, "has been training for ten years and is eager to volunteer. It's weird, though. Why wouldn't he just volunteer next year, when he's eighteen?"
The look of hurt in Siventus's eyes makes me cringe. "Maybe we should just go," I say weakly. I clear my throat. "I mean, if we don't keep walking, we're going to be late, and we all know what happens if you're late."
Actually, none of us knows what happens if you're late to the reaping, but the conversation is getting into a touchy subject. If the conversation continues, we'll just talk about things that I'd prefer to forget, like me getting kidnapped and raped. The rest of the walk to the President's Mansion—where the reaping takes place, since the Capitol doesn't technically have a City Square—is quiet, with only a little murmurs from Robin or Geneviene about who they think will volunteer for the girls—if someone volunteers for the girls. We may live in the Capitol, but even though we host the Hunger Games, very few do volunteer.
I look around at the houses, noticing all of them made up of beautiful exterior walls—white vinyl siding, faux stone siding, wood shingles—but none of them are made up of plain brick like the mansion my family owns. And, while most houses are usually multiple floors, ours is a simple three-floor mansion. Other houses have chandeliers right in the middle of their house and a beautiful fountain in their front year. My house is simple, with regular landscaping and furniture. It's as if we don't belong in the Capitol!
I take a right down Odair Street—all the roads in the Capitol are named after victors—and keep walking until I'm at a four-way intersection, with Stafford Avenue going from the east to the west. All the roads are also coordinated by the district the victor was in, for example, Odair Street, Selkirk Avenue, Stafford Avenue, Ogilvy Boulevard, Cohen Boulevard, and Cresta Street—the roads named after the victors from District Four—are all organized towards the heart of the Capitol, whereas the roads named after the victors from District Twelve are located towards the west.
After finally making it to the President's Mansion, we stand in line. I hear a lot of people whispering about me, but I just zone them out as I try to analyze Siventus's face. He shouldn't volunteer . . . should he? The Capitol probably wouldn't sponsor him due to him being gay, and he isn't the strongest person I know. He turns towards me. I no longer see the hurt in his eyes, but the sheer determination that he's going to volunteer. I didn't think he was serious about it.
Before I can try to convince him not to, someone grabs me by my arm. I recoil my arm from instinct, before I realize it's the women who's supposed to prick my blood out. She raises an eyebrow towards me, but I just smile and calmly stretch my arm towards her. There's a little prick before the women pushes my finger onto the piece of paper. Apparently, this is a ticket to the reaping: our blood. I turn around again, hoping to quickly change Siventus's mind before we have to separate to our sections, but he's no longer there. I shrug and walk away. I only have to wait about ten minutes before the reaping starts. During the time, I talk to Robin and Geneviene about who Siventus has a crush on. No matter how close we may be, he never told me, but I assume he had his reasons. Apparently, he has a crush on a boy named Virgil Sloane. With black hair, blue eyes, and a muscular body, he sounds really attractive, but apparently, he has a huge scar across his cheek which makes him look scarier.
Geneviene's barely done talking before the president himself walks up onto stage. "Welcome citizens of the Capitol! Today, we are honored to have the chance to allow one male and female from the ages of twelve to eighteen to participate in this year's Hunger Games." A loud chorus of claps rings out throughout the City Circle. "Nearly a hundred years ago, we had to deal with the A.H.G.A.—the Anti-Hunger Games Association. But after years of fighting and forming, we were allowed to defeat our greatest enemy, ourselves, in order to reinstitute the Hunger Games.
"Now, after years of rebuilding, we are proud to announce the 190th Hunger Games. District Zero, Thirteen, and Fourteen were added along with the great Capitol to participate in the Hunger Games preceding the Third Rebellion. This year is roughly two hundred years after the Hunger Games were reinstituted, and throughout that time, we've proudly had three of our tributes emerge as victors." Only three victors from the Capitol, worse than District Twelve. "But who will lead us to victory this year? We shall start with the females."
The clicks of the president's heels ring throughout the City Circle, anxiety rushing through all the females around me. I notice Robin's hand trembling hold onto it. She silently smiles towards me, before she glances back to the president, who skims his hand over the glass bowl before selecting one slip. To my right, I hear Geneviene's teeth chattering, even though it's not cold. I notice some other girls all having anxiety attacks as well—bodies shaking, arms trembling, neck hairs prickling.
"And the female tribute is," the president says before coldly pausing, making the anxiety swarm over all the other females. I feel my own loose hand shaking, so I push it against my dress. "Marielle Ferde."
Something inside of me deflates. Robin's releases her grip in my hand and turns towards me, mouth gaping open. I can't look at her. In my peripheral vision, I notice a tear trickle down Geneviene's face. Who can blame her? Two of her best friends could be going into the Hunger Games if Siventus is chosen as the volunteer, if he's still going to volunteer. The surrounding girls take a step away from me, clearing a path for me to the aisle.
The first step towards the aisle is difficult, my entire body is rigid and I can't look at the faces of anyone. A few steps later, I'm in the aisle, looking up towards the president. I continue walking towards stage, although I know that every eye is towards me. This'll be news, I can already see it: Daughter of Bernard and Henrietta Ferde, Saved from Kidnappers, Not from the Hunger Games. And if I die, they won't even care. They'd just shrug and say, "Too bad."
I nearly trip up the stairs, lost in thought, but the president reaches out and catches me by my arm. I silently thank him before noticing just how old he really is. From up close, I can see the wrinkles under his eyes from stress and the faint balding on the top of his head. When I watched on television, his entire skin seemed clear and he had a full head of black hair. He's much taller in real life, as well, with a straight posture and long strides. He aligns me to the right of him before walking away to select the male tribute.
I look towards the male section, but I can't see Siventus anywhere. I notice the two Armani twins; they stick out so much, even though they just look naturally beautiful. Close behind the group, in the eighteen year old section, is undoubtedly Virgil Sloane. Even from here, I can see a huge scar running down his cheek in a lightning bolt pattern. He does look scary, not only with the scar, but how he doesn't seem to show any emotions. I don't need to know him to see that he's like many other teenage boys, trying to hide their emotions.
Before I know it, the president is back on the microphone, trying to open up the slip. Siventus, Virgil, and the two Armani twins all scream in union, "I volunteer!"
"Oh, so many volunteers this year," the president says with delight. The four males all raise their hands, helping the president pick out which will go into the Hunger Games. "I think . . . you." His finger points towards one of the Armani twins.
I sigh with relief. I hadn't realized how stiff I was, but now, I'm all right. I might be going into the Hunger Games, but I don't need to go with one of my friends. The volunteer—Lionel Armani—is, like the rest of his family, naturally beautiful, with an athletic build unlike his twin with the stocky build. As he shakes my hand, I notice a small, barely noticeable scar along his palm, but I don't have time to ask him about it as we're brought into the President's Mansion, where we'll say our final goodbyes.
This could be the last time I see my friends, my family, my home. When I went to help Siventus come out as gay to his parents, I remember telling him, This is just an obstacle today, and tomorrow it'll be history. You can't let your own fear come into your way of happiness, or else you'll live an unhappy life. And once you start going up against your fear, you realize how stupid the fear actually was. Trust me, it'll be over before you know it. Now, I don't know how loyal I can stand by my words. But this is different, this is the matter of life or death, not about a secret.
District Zero: Skeet Callaway
The streets of District Zero are always snowy, whether it's summer or winter. Little children are always outside in heavy, winter gear building snowmen or making snow angels. It's truly a beautiful district, with beautiful, conifer forests surround the large district. When I was little, I remember trying to climb hemlock trees with my older sister, Mabel. Although the needles of the tree would dig into our palms and leave a trail of blood, it was always fun to try to grab onto one of the cones before Mabel. But she always won, even though being a year older didn't really make much of a difference.
I nearly slip on a patch of ice while I'm deep in thought, but my little sister grabs onto my bicep and keeps me balanced. I silently say thank you before I realize how similar she looks to Mabel, at least the last time I saw Mabel. Both have jet black hair with tanned skin and dark brown eyes. Some might even classify her as beautiful, but with her being my sister, I never see them as attractive. She wears one of Mabel's old dresses—a knee high, baby blue dress with a golden hem—with fake, gold bracelets and baby blue high heels. She walks a few strides ahead of me so she doesn't notice me staring.
She takes a right down a street where all the markets are. The markets a large building, both in length and height, with large heaps of snow in front of the windows. I remember racing Mabel down this street. Although the stone pavement was slick and slippery from the ice, we would still run full speed until one of us fell, making the other one the winner. Some days we would come home with twisted ankles and large bruises on our elbows, making my parents a little concerned, but all the pain from the injuries were drowned out by the amount of fun we were having. Even when I slipped on a large patch of ice and slid face first into the brick store at the end of the street.
"You know this is her last year for the reaping," my little sister, Ivory, says, slowing down so I can catch up. At first, I don't know who she's talking about, but then it clicks to me. I'm seventeen, so Mabel is eighteen. This is her last reaping. "And odds are her school is probably ending this year as well, unless they go all the way up to college . . ."
"Well, if she were reaped, then that would just stink," I say without emotion. "But then I guess we would be able to see her again. Maybe her forehead is huge now because her brain is at its max capacity."
"Oh shut up," she says, although she laughs a little. "You know, she's been away for like, what, three years now? She could have changed like a lot over the years."
I stifle a laugh. "Yeah, she could have neon blue hair, be goth, have piercing all over her face." I pause for a brief moment. "Actually, it would be kind of cool to have a sister with a lot of piercings. It could be really funny to hide all the earrings and poke at the holes all over her face."
"That's more disturbing than funny," she says. "And that would be super gross. Have you ever seen Gavin Petronilla?" Although the name is unfamiliar, I nod. "Yeah, he has piercings all over his face—nose, ears, lips, even his eyelids. Yuck!" She sticks out her tongue and shakes her head. "And one day he came in without his earrings on and his face looked like someone was jabbing holes in him with a screwdriver. It was the grossest thing I've ever seen!"
"Maybe he has issues," I say firmly. If there's one thing I can't handle, it's when someone makes fun of another for doing something bad. I may be a sarcastic, humorous guy, but I will not stand for someone being picked on for their mistakes. That's why people look up to me. "You know, it isn't nice to make fun of someone."
"I wasn't making fun of him," she says defensively. "I was just telling you about how much our sister could have changed over the years! The part about Gavin was just like an example."
"Whatever," I mumble. "Anyways, where are we going?" For a second, I realize how stupid the question sounded. Obviously, we're going to the City Square for the reaping. "I mean, weren't we supposed to take a right turn somewhere? If we keep taking lefts we'll just be going in a circle and end up back home."
"We turn right there." She points towards an intersection just a few yards away. "I know what I'm doing. When we turn right, the City Square is just up ahead and we'll be at the reaping . . ." I notice her shudder. "Man, I really hope I don't get reaped."
"That is possibly the dumbest thing I've ever heard." I crack a smile. "I don't think anyone ever wants to be reaped, even if they're from a Career district. Obviously, they must realize that their chances of surviving seems to be dimming over the years. There originally was only twenty four tributes, now there's thirty two."
"Eh, I don't know." We take a right at the intersection, and I can see the City Square less than half a mile away. "I've heard some weird things. I mean, the Capitol now takes part in the Hunger Games, and I doubt that they're very energetic and excited about that."
I open my mouth to respond, but a group of girls run right up to Ivory and they all start to gossip, as if I just magically disappeared. Ivory, finally realizing that I'm still there, whispers something into one of the girl's ears. The girl nods and drags the other two girls away. Ivory turns towards me, arms folded on her chest, and just stares at me. I can hear her foot tapping against the ground. I smile. "You can go with your friends," I say. "I know how boring I am."
She smiles and wraps her arms around my neck, kissing me right on the cheek. "I love you!" she exclaims and runs in the direction towards her friends. I stare at her as she accidentally knocks an eighteen year old boy to the ground and lamely apologizes. I chuckle.
"Excuse me, young man." I turn to see a women with a needle in her hand. "Your girlfriend may be adorable, but we need your blood." I want to explain to her how Ivory isn't my girlfriend, and that she's my sister, but the women grabs my wrist and pricks my pointer finger. She squeezes at the spot until the blood starts to flow, and then pushes it against a piece of paper. "Next!" she screams, pushing me away.
I find my way towards the middle of the seventeen year old male section, right besides two taller boys. They both share the same, bulking muscles and the same brown hair, but they don't look too similar to be twins or even to be related. The one on my left smells of lemon and roses, but it doesn't completely cover the stench of sweat seeping through him from anxiety. The other boy smells of cheap cologne, and constantly keeps tapping his feet. I focus on listening to the rhythm of his foot beating to try to manage my own anxiety, although I still feel the general anxiety about being reaped, which in District Zero, is practically being publicly executed.
Although I wasn't one of the first people at the City Square, I still have to wait an estimated twenty minutes before the reaping is scheduled to start. I'm able to pick out my sister's jet black hair through the crowd, and watch her as she talks to her friends. She reminds me just of Mabel as she's talking to her friends, with large gestures and overexaggerated emotions. When Mabel was thirteen, she didn't have a care in the world—she was smart, had a lot of friends, and always seemed generally happy. I can't even imagine her now, especially as she got more stressed while her acceptance into the special academy was pending. Who knows, maybe she could be like Gavin Petronilla—tattooed and pierced all over her face?
Two Peacekeepers open the doors of the Justice Building—made entirely of stone—and out walks the escort of District Zero, Gemini Cerelia. Gemini comes from a long line of escorts, with her twin being the escort of District Twelve and her younger brother being the escort of District Three. All three siblings have tattoos on their arms, but only Gemini's is colorful and bright. Out of the siblings, Gemini is the craziest, even though she doesn't wear as much make up as some of the other escorts I've seen on television, but her long, teal hair is enough to show that she's a citizen from the Capitol.
"Welcome citizens of the chilly District Zero!" Gemini screams into the microphone, making my neck hairs' prick. "Today, I have the priveledge to select the male and female tributes—ages twelve through eighteen—who will represent District Zero in the upcoming Hunger Games." She stops, as if expecting an applause of some sort, but the entire district is rigid and silent. She clears her throat. "District Zero wasn't one of the original districts of Panem, but after fighting the Anti-Hunger Games Assosiation—or A.H.G.A. if you prefer—it was introduced and given the opportunity to participate in the Hunger Games, along with Districts Thirteen and Fourteen, along with the Capitol itself, to show how all of us are equal."
Equal? I would laugh right in the Gemini's face, if it hadn't been for the anxiety. The boy who was tapping his feet before had gone silent, although his hand is shaking and keeps hitting my thigh, since we're so tightly packed inside the City Square. While District Zero isn't exactly one of the larger districts, the City Square cannot occupy the entire district.
"Since the Third Rebellion marked a new beginning to the Hunger Games, we decided to start from the beginning, with the 1st Hunger Games. The victor of those Hunger Games was a citizen of District Zero by the name of Audrina Enid. To this day, her story of outsmarting all the tributes of her Hunger Games lives on and shows how, even a little twelve or thirteen year old has the chance to win the Hunger Games." Audrina was actually fifteen when she won her Hunger Games, but she looked so young that the Capitol and the other districts got confused and thought she was only thirteen. Only District Zero knows the truth. "And then, throughout the next one hundred and ninety years, District Zero has been proud to bring home fourteen other tributes, currently being tied with District Four for the third largest pool of victors.
"And today, we have the opportunity to possible bring home another victor! Whether this victor shall be our female or male tribute, or maybe neither, will be determinant on the courage they exhibit today, whether they are reaped or courageously volunteer. So, shall we start with the females first?"
There's a moment of silence before Gemini turns to the female bowl and starts walking. Her sleeveless, yellow dress with a black belt reveals her tattoo along her right arm. The tattoo goes all the way from her shoulder to about her forearm, and seems to be even more colorful than I remembered. On her shoulder, it looks like there's a tattoo of an orange face wearing blue mascara, and there's multiple streaks and random images that separate the face from a red and a yellow flower. The images range from gray clouds, to a purple arch, to ocean waves. It truly is a masterpiece, although it's very hard to point out what everything is. As she reaches for one of the slips, the image seems to become a little distorted, but shortly regains its composure as she pulls out the slip and proceeds towards the microphone.
She opens up the slip, and I nervously hold my breath. My sisters—Mabel or Ivory—could both be reaped, and that's the worst thing that could possibly happen with Mabel coming home within the year. "And the female tribute is . . . Ashlyn Marisol."
I hear a young girl—no older than thirteen—sharply screech. Everyone's eyes rest on the girl whose hands are covering her mouth, tears slowly forming in her eyes. From the female section verticle of mine, someone else screams, her voice destroying the silence among the City Square. "I volunteer!"
Everyone's head snaps towards the direction of the voice. A group of girls in the sixteen year old section take a few steps away from a girl with pastel pink hair and pale skin. While it's obvious that she volunteered, she seems to be hesitant for a moment—as if she was just reaped, not volunteered—before advancing towards the aisle, where four Peacekeepers align themselves. As she starts walking up on stage, I hear a younger girl crying, but I'm unable to see who it is.
As the girl who volunteered situates herself on the stage, looking towards the ground, Gemini glances from her to the crowd, and smiles. "We haven't had a volunteer for years! In fact, I think the last volunteer here was Estelle"—Estelle Amaya was the victor 160th Hunger Games who volunteered for her reaped sister—"This is truly going to be an amazing year! And what's our volunteer's name?"
"Cadence Snowfall," the volunteer—Cadence—says, looking up from the ground. Her gray eyes scan the crowd and stop once they land on someone. "Save one death for me."
"Well that was a little bleak, don't you think?" Gemini jokes, directing the question towards the crowd, not Cadence. Nobody responds, not even with a smile. "Anyways, shall we select the male tribute who will represent our district along with Cadence?"
As Gemini walks off to select the male tribute, my eyes scan Cadence. She looks a little childish with pastel pink hair, but she wears black eyeliner that gives the possible impression that she may be gothic. There's also a stemless rose pinned in her hair, which would normally look cute, but with her eyeliner and facial expression, encourages the idea that she may be gothic. Her eyes still remain on the person they were before—probably the girl that was crying, perhaps a sister or friend—and she keeps gnawing at her bottom lip, as if she's worried or afraid. I would be afraid too, having to explain to your family the reason why you volunteered and say goodbye to them, since it could very well be the last time you ever see them.
Gemini returns with a slip in her hand. She steadies the microphone, opening up the slip with one hand. "And the male tribute is," she says, "Skeet Callaway."
A sudden rush of emotions crashes onto my like I've been stabbed in my heart. The taller boys next to me seem to sigh out of relief, and when they notice the stiffness in my posture, they take a step away. It's as if my forehead has a imprint saying "I'VE BEEN REAPED" because shortly after, everyone around me takes a step away, clearing a path for me to the aisle. I already feel myself falling into the deep abyss of misfortune which I recently recovered from, but this is different. I could easily stop—and did stop—taking the drugs, but you can't get out of the Hunger Games. Unless you kill everyone in the arena.
The first step towards the aisle is the hardest. It's as if I've been enclosed in dry cement, unable to move out of my rigid state. The next steps come easier, but hold the same reluctance as the first. When I reach the aisle, four Peacekeepers surround me—two in front of me and two behind me. They move in union, walking at the same pace and taking each step at the same time, as if they've been practicing this for a recital or show or something.
I force myself to keep my eyes looking straight ahead, at Gemini motioning for me to hurry up, but the burning sensation in the corners of my eyes intensify with every step. Against my will, my eyes quickly glance towards the female section, where I see my sister standing right at the edge of the aisle. I'll never forget the hurt look in her eyes, the way the tears are forming in her eyes, but they haven't fallen down her cheek yet. Part of me wishes I could reach out and comfort her, but I know I can't do it. I can't lie to her and tell her I'll be okay. I can't.
When I finally make it up on stage, I blink multiple times to hold back the tears. The words of the escort seem to be mute as my eyes lock with my sister once again. It's as if we're in a far away place, away from all these troubles and madness, as if we were safe. I will try my hardest to come back for you, I silently think, hoping Mabel will be able to read my expression. I will do whatever it takes for be safe again.
District One: Wonder Frowiss
There are two Career Academies in District One, one in the northern part of the district, the other in the southern part. Every child between the ages of five to eighteen have the opportunity to attend one of the Career Academies, recommended to attend the one closer to their home. However, even with this recommendation, my father forced my sisters and I to attend the North Career Academy, even though we were in the district for the South Career Academy, but my father was trained by the North Career Academy, so he thought they would be the best for his daughters. Because of his strict decisions, I grew up a far distance away from my friends, and never was able to make friends with my neighbors.
The sun hasn't even risen yet, but my father will be awake. When it's the day of the reaping, all the fathers and men in the district come to the City Square at midnight to enjoy drinking and placing bets on which of their children will volunteer this year. My father's probably betting on one of my siblings to volunteer, since they passed their "tests" while I failed. The "tests" were actually an evaluation of a person's skills, where they were tested on a combination of physical ability, mental ability, and finally, a written exam. The tests were only available for the children attending the North Career Academy, and if you didn't pass, they didn't allow you to volunteer, or at least, that's how it's supposed to be.
Being as quiet as possible, I slip out of my bed, and cringe when the floorboad beneath my feet squeaks. I stay as quiet as I can for a few seconds, making sure that none of my sisters or my mother woke up, but their snores and deep breathing reassures me. Slowly, I open up my closet, and pull out one of my exercise outfits—a dark sports bra; a pink tanktop; a dark, dry-fit hoodie with black sleeves and a gray front; black, tight-fitting yoga capris; and some neon pink tennis shoes with a black bottom. I throw my pajamas underneath my bed, and put some pillows under the covers to make it look like I'm still sleeping, in case one of my family members comes to check on me. I pull my hair back into a ponytail, and put some hair pins in to keep it from falling into my face.
I open up the window in my bedroom, and look to see how far down the fall will be. I live on a two-story house, so I wouldn't die if I jump out the window, but I could easily break my legs. If the house didn't have stucco siding, I might have been able to climb down the house using the material, but with it being so smooth, it'd do nothing besides leave a nasty scratch mark on my back. Carefully, I stand on the ledge of the window sill, holding onto the window to support me, and look up towards the gutter. It's about a foot or two above my head, a fairly easy jump, but if I don't grab onto the gutter at the right time, I could fall.
Using all the courage I've built up, I bend my knees and jump. I reach up, and my hands grab onto the cold metal of the gutter. For a brief moment, I stay there, feeling a little laugh in my throat, until I hear the gutter make a raspy, creaking noise. My entire body is alarmed by the noise, and I realize that the gutter isn't able to hold my weight. Quickly, I pull my body onto the roof of my house. Most people would assume that I'm a weaker girl, due to my looks, but I would be able to manage myself against a buff, eighteen year old, although I would ultimately lose.
To pull myself away from the gutter and the edge of the roof, I plant my foot on the gutter and push off, bringing me a few more feet away from the edge. However, the power from the push makes the gutter creek and unhinge from the roof. I dive forward, reaching towards the falling gutters, and barely catch them before they fall two stories to the ground. My toes press against and act as an anchor on the roof shingles, being the only thing that keeps me from falling. I try to pull my body towards the roof, trying to use my legs to pull me up, but I'm not strong enough to bring both my body and the gutter to the roof.
Without much time to think, I examine how far the gutter will fall, since not all the hinges have become loose. I balance the gutter as far as my arms can reach towards the ground before carefully releasing it. I hold in my breathe as the gutter drops less than a foot below me and stays still. I exhale, and pull my body up with my legs. There's a little tear in my yoga capris and a rough-looking scratch has appeared near my heel, but besides this, there's no visible injuries.
I finally stand up on the roof, balancing myself, and carefully run to the opposite direction, so that I'm facing the backyard. A few feet away from the house, to the side of the patio, is a screened-in porch, overlooking a semi-large pond that belongs entirely to my family. It's a pretty far jump from my position, but it's pretty large, so the worst that could happen is a few bruises, maybe a twisted ankle. And the best part is that, on the side of it, there's a ladder. When I was younger, my family would have a picnic on the roof, overlooking a beautiful sight of the sundown, with the colors flickering and playing in the pond. Then the fireflies would com out, and my sisters and I would run around, trying to catch them. But things aren't like that now.
Figuring that I've already come too far to gack out now, I drop my body over the side of the house, holding onto the gutters. From here, the screened-in porch is roughly five to six feet below me, and a few feet away from the house. Kicking off the side of the house, I release my grip on the gutters, and my body goes flying towards the roof of the screened-in porch. I barely have time to turn around so that I land on my stomach before I hit the wooden. As I stand up, blood runs into my mouth, but I simply wipe it on my hand and walk towards the ladder. A bloody nose is a small price to pay for my recent actions driven by both stupidity and courageousness. The ladder is a little old, so it creeks a little when I climb down it, but I don't really worry about it, since my mother nor my sisters could hear it way out here.
I take one quick look at the house, for this may be the last time I see it, and I spit in its direction. What started off being a safe home for me as a child just became a place where my shame and disappointment was amplified. Tears try to form in my eyes, passing through the sturdy barrier I've built within my body, but I blink them away. I turn towards the pone and start jogging around it. I keep jogging until I reach the stone sidewalk, where I break into a sprint. I move soundlessly throughout the streets, running towards the direction of the men shouting and cheering and gambling. At the intersection before the City Square, I take a right, and follow my normal path to my destination. When I finally arrive, my shirt clings to my body and my hair is slightly damp from the sweat.
The Career Academy is located a few miles east of the City Square, close to the Victors' Village. It's a steel and glass building, with glass so durable that gunfire wouldn't even leave a crack in it. Being the largest building in the district, with an amazing circumference of about one and a half miles, it's the most notable and most obvious. If it wasn't for our close bonds with the Capitol, the Career Academy would have been discovered and destroyed within a month. At the front of the academy, though, there are two glass doors with metal framing and handles that are locked with sturdy metal chains and a large padlock.
Bolt cutters might have been able to unlock the academy doors, but running with the cutters would have been an unnecessary weight, compared to my hair pin. I pull the hair pins out of my hair, some of them having to be yanked so forcefully that I bite onto my tongue. Using one of the five hair pins, I try to unlock the padlock using it, but it doesn't even show the slightest sign that I'm unlocking it. When my hair pin becomes so bent and out of shape that I can't even put it in my hair anymore, I flick it away and move to the next pin. Two attempts later, I'm down to my last two pins.
Finally, with my last pin and my hope decreasing, the padlock unlocks. It takes me a minute to untangle it from the messy and tangled chains, but when the padlock falls onto the ground, the chains become easier. When both the chains and the padlock are under my feet, I kick them aside, and open the doors of the Career Academy.
Despite the fact that it's warmer inside the Career Academy than outside, I shiver and goosebumps run along my arms. This is the place where the evaluators claimed that I wasn't worthy to be a volunteer for District One, and caused my father to shun me. They're the reason why my life has become an utter dissapointment and failure. I never intended on volunteering for the Hunger Games—I always knew that my odds of winning would be slim, especially for Career standards. But as compared to living the rest of my life as if I was a failure to my father, I've decided to that I would rather die. My father and I don't have the best relationship, but as a daughter, we all try to impress our parents. Success doesn't mean anything if they don't accept it.
I glance around the Career Academy, making sure nobody else's around. There's been times in the past where I've ran into one or two teenagers sneaking around here setting up a prank. Much to their surprise, they didn't really expect a blonde, pretty girl like myself to be able to put up a good fight until they were unconscious on the ground.
The interior layout and the design of the Career Academy is fairly simple. In the general gathering area are three corridors—one to the North, one to the East, and the last to the West—which branch out into different rooms. The North corridor is where the all the tests take place, including the test which deemed me ineligible to volunteer for the Hunger Games. The West corrdior is where the weapon rooms are, with a room for each category of weapons. The East corridor is full of survival techniques, including a class on the strategies of each victor of the Hunger Games. But as you can expect, very little students spend time in the East corrdior.
I walk briskly to the West corridor, the sounds of my footsteps echoing off the thick walls. Stopping right in front of the corridor, I glance to the golden portrait to my right—the only decorations in the gathering area are portraits of each victor from District One. Lucius Valentine is printed neatly on the bottom of the golden picture frame encasing a photograph of the healthy, young man.
Being the most recent victor from District One, he'd be one of the two mentors for my district. With flowing brown hair and dull gray eyes, he's the ideal image of a Career, with both the looks and the heartlessness. While he definitely looks much better now that he's grown into his features, his looks attracted sponsors. If it wasn't for the sponsors, he would have died.
The other mentor from District One—my mentor if I volunteer—won their Hunger Games nearly two decades ago. With luscious blonde hair and beautiful green eyes, she partially won because of her looks. But what really stood out about her was her loyalness to her allies. Unlike the others, she didn't try to turn against them—which caused her to be in many life-threatening situations.
All the girls in District One seem to be extremely underestimated, especially when it comes to our outcome in the last few Hunger Games. While the last few female tributes have survived the bloodbath, they don't survive much longer, usually lasting until the fourth or fifth day. And they usual die from being betrayed by their allies. But not this year. I'm not some blindly faithful bitch—I know how to protect msyelf and watch out for myself. I've practically been doing it my entire life.
I shake my head before my mind drifts to unpleasant memories, and continue walking. I walk all the way down the corridor until I stop in front of a glass door labelled "Archery." The bow seems to be the favored weapon of District One females. So many boys refer to us—the District One females with a bow—as "Cupid's Servants," because of our naturally beautiful looks and our weapon preference. Honestly, it's a stupid joke, but it's always fun to watch the boys' expression when a girl shoots an arrow into a dummy's butt.
I walk through the glass doors, and stop dead in my tracks when I notice something moving in the darkness. Before I can hide, the dark figure turns towards me, and takes the shape of a man. I open my mouth to speak, but the person beats me to it.
"I thought you'd show up," the masculine voice says. The man takes a few steps forward, stopping in the moonlight coming from the windows. His light brown hair seems to dance in the light, and his dark eyes seems to brighten. "You upset?"
"Why are you even here?" I ask my archery teacher. "Aren't all the men gathered in the City Square for the gambling and betting on this year's tributes?"
"You're going to volunteer, aren't you?" I tense at my teacher's words, and immediately open my mouth to reject, but he continues, "You should at least know what you did poorly during the evaluations."
"Wait," I say quickly before he keeps talking. "Why are you trying to help me? Isn't there like a rule saying you can't help someone who didn't pass the evaluation?"
"Nothing official," he responds firmly. "But when you go to the Capitol, make sure to work on your sprints. Oh and if you—"
"I didn't pass the test because I wasn't the fastest sprinter!" I shriek. "At least I can run distance. And I was stronger than almost all the other girls in my group!"
"But in the bloodbath, if you're not one of the first ones to the cornucopia, you'd be weaponless against a faster tribute," he argues. "And that's not even what I was trying to get at! If you want to be a Career, then you have to dumb down a little."
"What?" I feel my pulse rising along with my temper. The one thing I hate more than anything is people thinking that my looks mean I don't have a high IQ. "You want me to be a cliche dumb blonde?"
"Not necessarily. But if you want to be in the Careers, you have to sometimes act first, think later," he explains. "They don't give a crap about any strategies, especially during the bloodbath. Just keep fighting without hesitating and letting your mind interfere."
"I won't." I shake my head. "And I don't plan on staying with them the entire Hunger Games anyways. They'd kill me in my sleep eventually."
"Well I agree with you completely. When my cousin went into the Hunger Games, my entire family was scared to death that she wouldn't suvive because she was so faithful to her allies. But don't test your fate like she did. It doesn't always work out."
"You're related to a victor?" I ask, my mind tracing back my previous conversations with him. But I remember nothing about him mentioning he was related to a victor. "Who?"
He smirks, a small chuckle escaping. "Coincidentally, your mentor." Upon my shocked expression, he continues, "Yep, I'm related to Noelle Fidelity."
"How come I didn't know about this?" I ask. "You didn't even talk about her at all." Or at least I don't remember him talking about her before.
"That doesn't matter," he says, waving his hand. He looks down at the watch on his wrist, subtly trying to hide his reddened cheeks. "I should probably go. The reaping's in just under three hours." He looks up. "Make sure to lock the doors when you leave."
He walks right past me, but before he leaves, I stop him. "Wait." He turns towards me, his hand on the door handle. "Thanks for everything, Mr. Boone."
"Please, call me Sebastian." He smiles, but it doesn't seem to reach his eyes. "Good luck, Wonder. You can survive as long as you keep fighting." With that, he leaves.
For almost an hour, I shoot arrows at dummies, at which they're so disoriented that some of the limbs have fallen on the floor. Of the four dozen arrows I shot, only one missed the target completely. A few snicked the dummies, but the vast majority of them are deep inside the dummies' torsos and heads. With my last arrow, I shoot the farthest dummy in the eye.
I smirk to myself, realizing how wrong the evaluations were. I'm probably one of the only few girls to be able to shoot a dummy in the eye at this distance. Maybe my lack of speed gives me some disadvantages, but once I grab onto a bow, I'll be hard to knock down.
I debate trying to activate a simulation room, but at the last moment, decide against it, seeing as it might trigger an alarm. Instead, I find myself locking the doors of the Career Academy with the padlock. I pause momentarily, taking in one last sight of the place where I found a chance to escape reality, and run back home. With the sun starting to rise, there's a few other people—mainly young adults—who have started doing their morning jobs, so I'm no longer alone on the streets. More cars are parked in the streets nearby the City Square, and some of the children are already arriving. I quicken my pace.
By the time I reach my neighborhood, some of my neighbors are already getting in their cars or walking towards the reaping. I don't bother trying to climb through my window when I get home—normally, I would have been a lot stealthier and came home earlier, but I didn't bother today. Hell, I might not even see my family ever again if today goes as planned.
"Did you go for a morning run?" My mother asks from the kitchen as I walk through the front door. I simply ignore here and proceed up the stairs to my bedroom. "I have a dress laid on your bed," she yells.
I slam my bedroom door shut, and turn to face the dress. To my mother's credit, it isn't as bad as I would've expected. The sleeveless, blue dress clings to my body in all the right places, and has the perfect amount of cleavage so I look sexy, rather than looking like a slut. The dress ends just a little below my waist—a tad too short for my taste—but when I look in the mirror, I realize how attractive it looks.
After washing my hair in the sink, I brush all the knots out of it, and leave it flowing. While normally I would pull it back in a ponytail, I want to make sure the Capitol and all the other tributes recognize my beauty, so they assume I'm more looks than brains. I guess that's the first strategy to win, thanks to Sebastian—have others underestimate your skills. In fact, I'm pretty sure most of the victors who won were underestimated, and when they revealed their true colors, it was already too late.
"Girls," my mother calls from down the stairs. "Are you almost ready? The reaping starts in thirty minutes. We need to leave in five minutes."
"Oh sec," I reply, pulling out my makeup bag from underneath the sink. "Let me just finish getting ready. I'm almost done."
Quickly, I massage a thin layer of foundation on my face. Dark mascara and eyeliner are applied swiftly and accurately—there's been times in the past where I've had to apply all my makeup in an even smaller time frame, so I'm practically an expert. I put on some dark red lipsticks, but once I realize it makes me look like a whore, I dab it off, putting on some light pink lipsticks instead. With a quick check to make sure I don't have any hair between my eyebrows, I leave the bathroom, grabbing black high heels and a belt as I leave.
Since it takes much longer than expected to reach the City Square, my mother drops my five sisters and I off as close as she can—about a half a block—before driving away to find a parking spot. While my sisters gossip about who's apparently going to volunteer this year, I start walking faster, putting a little distance between myself and them. I would've enjoyed walking by myself, but since we're sisters, I feel morally obliged to walk to the reaping with them, even if they are a pain in my ass.
By the time we arrive at the City Square, the line to check in is short, containing only a few other teens. Within five minutes my sisters and I are all separated into our age groups, waiting patiently for the reaping to start. I stand next to a girl around my height whose blonde hair is pulled into a fish braid. She barely acknowledges me when I stand by her, so I don't even try to start a conversation with her.
When the last few stragglers finally settle into their designated age groups, the crowd gradually becomes quieter. There's only the sound of the crowd breathing when two Peacekeepers open the doors of the Justice Building for Seraphine Faye, the escort of District One.
Unlike most people from the Capitol, Seraphina doesn't look like a rainbow of fashion just threw up on her. Instead, she sort of looks like someone shit on her, and she's had to scrub it off so forcefully that her entire skin tone's lighter. Her black dress and leather coat makes her paleness even more distinct. Her bright red lipstick matches her hair, and for whatever reason, she wears thick sunglasses, even though it's a cloudy day.
"Welcome citizens of District One!" Her voice sends a chill through my spine. "I've been given the priviledge to select one young man and woman to represent this beautiful district in the 190th Hunger Games. The lucky man and woman shall fight to the death against thirty other tributes, two from each district in Panem, until only one's alive. And hopefully, that one will be someone from this district.
"As per rule, I have to give a brief explanation and summary about the history of Panem, including why the Hunger Games serves as a 'penance' for our ancestor's actions." Penance? "Following the Second Rebellion, three children, whose parents were victors of the Hunger Games, were trained to destroy all the districts for not being loyal to the Capitol during the Rebellion. These children bascially destroyed all of Panem, which is why two new districts were created to preserve the population—Districts Zero and Fourteen.
"When these children went on to destroy the Panem our ancestors fought so hard to maintain, nobody was willing to go against them. Even their parents, the bravest and strongest of the nation, were too weak to kill their own children. It's rather poetic if you think about it, the parents loved their children so much that they couldn't kill them, even if they were monsters. Sadly, the children didn't feel the same, and killed everybody involving in the A.H.G.A. before killing themselves.
"Panem was basically left to die until a major power rose from the destruction of Panem, helping reconstruct all the districts and increase their population. However, as a punishment, every district, including the Capitol itself, was forced to participate in the recreated Hunger Games, as our nation seemed to be more united when they were around.
"One hundred and ninety years later brings us to today, where this district has successfully brought home twenty of their tributes, having the second largest victor pool for a district." She clears her throat. "And now, I shall select the lucky female tribute who will bring pride and joy to this district."
As Seraphina starts to walk towards the glass bowl containing the names of all the eligible female tributes in our district, I notice some of the older girls start to straighten up. Obviously, they're going to volunteer, but it seems as if they're uncertain as to when they should. I wonder if any of them are like me, volunteering against what others have told me, or if all of them have been cleared by the Career Academy to volunteer. But it's not like you really have to be cleared to volunteer, anyone's eligible to do it.
Immediately after Seraphina grabs one of the slips, I open my mouth, refusing to wait another year if I end up missing my opportunity. "I volunteer," I scream, following by a chorus of girls echoing me.
Before any of them try to take credibility for volunteering first, I walk towards the aisle, the girls surrounding me taking a few steps back to clear the way. I refuse to look at the faces of the other girls as the Peacekeepers lead me to the stage, where Seraphina motions for me to stand beside her. I straighten my stance as I walk onto stage, and, with a blank expression on my face, I look out into the crowd. With all my strength, I refuse to look at my parents, whose somewhere in the mass of parents, afraid of what their expressions might be.
"Well, it seems like we have ourselves a volunteer," Seraphina says with a small smile. "What's your name, sweety?"
"Wonder Frowiss," I say rather monotone, much to my dismay.
Seraphina says something to me, but I accidentally zone out, so I just nod in reply. When she starts to walk to the glass bowl containing the eligible male tribute's names, I look at all my possible district partners, and wonder which one's going to volunteer first. Some of the boys from the Career Academy have proven their strength, and would've been a dangerous competition in the Hunger Games. But only one person can volunteer, and whoever that is, hopefully, they won't try to underestimate me.
When Seraphina returns with a slip of one of the boy's names, she barely opens her mouth when about three boys shout in unison, "I volunteer!"
The first boy is from the eighteen year old section, and is clearly a threat. With bulging muscles and chiseled features, he's clearly able to get enough sponsors to support him the entire Hunger Games. And the Careers will probably appoint him as their leader, so the Peacekeepers will adore him. The second boy is younger, either sixteen or seventeen, and much less threatening. It's hard to describe his features from the distance, but he doesn't seem that attractive. I can't see who the third boy is, but he's waving his hands violently in the arm and pushing his way to the aisle.
"I believe you said it first," Seraphina says, pointing to the third boy, who finally makes his way to the aisle, where four Peacekeepers surround him to guide him to the stage.
Compared to the other boys in District One, the boy is in the middle of the attractiveness spectrum. While he isn't that unattractive, he just doesn't look like he would be a volunteer. Instead of looking threatening, his freckles and unkempt hair make him look like a confused child. Puberty definitely hasn't entirely hit him yet, as he still seems to be growing into his features, but once it does, a lot of girls will be chasing him. Freckles do make guys look a lot sweeter, even if they act like an ass.
"Oh, come over here," Seraphina says, grabbing the volunteer's hand and pulling him towards the microphone. "And what's our courageous volunteer's name?" she says into the microphone.
The volunteer smiles widely, but it doesn't seem to reach his eyes. "My name's Uzi Kystrel," he says in a matter-of-fact tone. He can't be older than maybe fifteen, but he's radiating confidence and seriousness. It would be a huge mistake to try to underestimate him.
"I'm proud to announce the representatives of District One in this year's Hunger Games," Seraphina says in her chilly tone. "Wonder Frowiss and Uzi Kystrel." As she says our names, she gestures towards us. "This concludes this year's reaping. And I will see you guys again next year."
Uzi and I shake hands good-naturedly before we are escorted to separate rooms in the Justice Building. Hopefully, my parents won't visit me before I'm sent to the Capitol—I really don't want to deal with them now—but at the same time, I kind of want to say goodbye if it's going to be my last time seeing them. Now, I'm truly in a life-or-death situation, one that'll prove how strong I truly am. This could be my final test.
Journey to the Capitol
District Two: Sebastian Hive
For as long as I could remember, District Two always had two volunteers go into the Hunger Games. Maybe there were a few times a person was reaped, and refused for volunteers to take their place. But this year, the female tribute, Thalia, was reaped, and not a single person tried to volunteer. Maybe it had something to do with the other girls fearing her. I've heard rumors about Thalia before, but nobody's really sure what's true about her. In fact, the only thing I know about Thalia is that she's very manipulative by acting sweet, and the only reason I know that is because I have a similar personality.
When the train finally departs from the station, I'm sitting alone in my bedroom compartment, looking at all the clothes the Capitol has designated for the me. Everything clothing item in the closet seems to be fancy and clearly from the Capitol. But I don't want to wear something fancy, I want to wear something comfortable and lazy. After digging around in the closet for a good ten minutes, I finally find a pair of sweatpants and a loose t-shirt hidden behind the dress pants. I take off my dress shirt and dress pants, nearly ripping them off, and put on the new clothes.
When I'm looking at myself in the mirror, making sure the sweatpants don't look too short on me, someone knocks on my door. "Sebastian, we're meeting in the bar car in five minutes. Get dressed and get down there."
"I'll be there in a second," I respond. I take a few moments just to check myself one last time in the mirror, before leaving the room.
"What took you so long?" my mentor, Liam, asks. "I could've sworn you were putting on mascara or lipstick or something. Guess your just a slow dresser."
Before I have the chance to open my mouth, he starts walking down the hall, guiding me to the bar car. Liam won his Hunger Games about five years ago, his incredibly attractive looks giving him lots of sponsors. With brown hair styled in a pompadour fashion and a nicely toned body, he's ideal what girls look for in guys. And his mysterious, dark eyes—I can't tell if they're brown or hazel—add onto his attractiveness. As he's walking, I notice how confident he is, as if confidence is emitting off of him. But, while I don't remember much about his Hunger Games, I remember hearing news that he's engaged to the other mentor for District 2, Belle Serenea (soon-to-be Ianthe).
When I walk into the bar car following Liam, Belle is sitting on the couch with Thalia on the chair across from her. When the girls turn towards us, I notice how strickingly beautiful both girls are, even though their features differentiate from the other. Belle's wavy, jet black hair contrasts nicely with her pale skin tone, and her grey eyes still seem full of youth, a quality most victors lack. Her face literally looks like a baby's ass—smooth, unblemished, and round. She changed out of the dress she was wearing at the reaping, changing her clothes to a simple black hoodie, slim-fit jeans, and a pair of worn-out sneakers.
On the other hand, Thalia hasn't entirely matured, yet she's still strickingly beautiful. With her flowing hazel hair and dreamy blue eyes, should could attract any teenage boy—hell, maybe even adult men—with little effort. Her skin tone is a few shades darker than pale, and it almost looks like she has freckles on her nose from afar. While she may be half a foot smaller than me and have a less distinct muscle tone, she's definitely a lot stronger than she seems, and will last a long time in these Hunger Games. Similar to Belle, she changed out of her reaping outfit in exchange for more comfortable clothes—a plain white t-shirt, short shorts, and a pair of red athletic shoes.
Since Liam sits next to Belle on the couch, I sit in the chair next to Thalia. There's a brief moment of silence, before I break it. "So is this where you give us advice on how to win?"
"No," Belle responds. "As your mentors, we're supposed to help you come up with your own strategy. If we give you advice, it might not be what's right for you. Only you know how you can survive in the arena."
"So then what's the point about having mentors?" Thalia says in a rather sour tone. "I'm not trying to sound disrespectful, but if we're coming up with our own strategies, then why're you even here?"
"For the food," Liam answers sarcastically. "Why do you think we're here? We're here to help you survive the Hunger Games, just like we did."
"Then why aren't you giving us advice?" Thalia asks. "You have to tell us something about the Hunger Games to help us. There's got to be an easy way to win."
"We never said we wouldn't tell you about the Hunger Games." Belle's voice starts rising. "And we never said we wouldn't help you, we just won't come up with your strategy to win. And the Hunger Games is never easy to win, even for a Career tribute."
Thalia opens her mouth, but Belle cuts her off. "District Two has brought home twenty four victors—the most of all the districts—in the last one hundred ninety years. And we've all won because of the same technique: we came up with our own strategy. A strategy that would fit well with our strengths and avoid as many of our weaknesses as possible. Anyone can advise you to be charming to the Capitol, but only you know how you can charm the Capitol enough to be remembered.
"Do either of you remember how I won my Hunger Games?" Belle asks, exchanging looks with both Thalia and I for confirmation.
Both of us nod, as she won just two years ago. Like most tributes from our district, she joined the Career pack, and stayed with them until the final eight. By then, only two of her allies were still alive—one being her district partner—and, instead of just sneaking away during the night, she burned all the food she couldn't take along. Five days later, Belle had killed two more tributes, and only two tributes remained—Belle and her ally from District One. In a gruesome fight, Belle became the victor, having to practically rip the other girl's intestines out with her bare hands to do so.
"I assume you mean you remember me ripping out one of my friend's intestines," Belle says. "But there's so much more than the actually killings that led me to survive the arena."
"The Capitol views the Hunger Games as a dramatic television show," Liam adds. "So sometimes, to survive, you have to fabricate the truth. You make somethings sound so much more dramatic than others, and you create bullshit stories to keep them interested."
"During the reaping for my Hunger Games, nobody was willing to volunteer, as the previous year's tributes performed very poorly. So when my little sister was reaped, I was forced into volunteering to protect her. It really wasn't a big deal—people always volunteer for their family or friends—but the Capitol put so much emphasis on it, all my fellow competitors knew about me. And on top of that, they created this whole love relationship between Liam and I just because Liam was busting his ass trying to keep me alive."
"You don't love him?" Thalia asks with a surprised tone. "Then why are you guys engaged?"
"No, I do love him," Belle admits. "But more in a different way. We're cousin, we are not supposed to be lovers. But the Capitol created this love story, and we're forced to play the parts.
"Anyways, back to my Hunger Games. So during training, I hung out primarily with the girls from One and Four, although we had a good relationship with the other Career tributes. For some reason, actually, the guy from District Four decided not to volunteer with us, so the alliance only contained the tributes from One, Two, Fourteen, and the girl from Four, but we added the boy from Seven on the second day of training.
"I scored a high training score, a ten, although it wasn't the highest score in those Hunger Games. And when the interviews finally concluded, I couldn't even believe we were about to enter the arena. Like usual, you start to have regretful feelings and doubts about yourself, and they normally don't pass until you're the last tribute alive.
"I remember the bloodbath, though, in vivid details. The arena that year was an underground mine or a cave or something, but the lighting was so dim when we entered the arena that you could barely see what was at the cornucopia. I was stationed next to one of my allies and a weaker tribute, so when the gong sounded, I didn't really worry about being attacked right away, but I ended up being wrong. A guy from two spots down from me ended up tackling me into the ground, and was planning on stabbing me, but the girl from One saved me by killing him. If she didn't save me there, I wouldn't be alive today.
"I killed two people by the time the bloodbath had ended, and we only lost one of our allies—the girl from Fourteen. Twenty or so tributes still remained, though, so it wasn't really intense for a while. Every night, my alliance would go hunting, and on some nights, we were lucky and ran across a loner. But during one night on the fifth day, we ran into the Anti-Career alliance. They took out the boys from One and Fourteen in our alliance, but only two of them survived by the time they fleed.
"With five tributes left in our alliance, we tried to lay low for a while. When only a dozen tributes were left, we were comfortable with hunting again. But as we were hunting, someone must've set off a Gamemaker trap because some dynamite in the ceiling exploded, and the guy from Seven was crushed by the falling rocks. That night, the girl from Four woke me up with a proposition to leave the alliance, since only eleven tributes remained. I noticed her poisoning some of the food, but I wasn't really sure, as she knocked me unconscious after I declined. In the morning, she was gone.
"I didn't tell my district partner or the girl from One that the majority of the food was poisoned, but I did encourage them to only eat the things in their bags because we were going to go hunting all day. We didn't see any action for the entire day, but three tributes had somehow died, so we presumed either two alliances got in a fight, or an entire alliance died from starvation or dehydration.
"That night, I left my alliance. But instead of burning the food out of bad blood, I burned the food because my former ally had poisoned it. Either way, though, I would be seen as a betrayer to my allies. Another tribute died that day, and one more died the day after. When I finally encountered the girl from Four, I found that she had allied with her district partner, but I took them both down with a combination of shurikens and physical strength. While I did understand her reasoning for betraying the Careers, she still upset me, so I actually was a little happy when I was killing them.
"My district partner and the other remaining male tribute died, and it was finally a battle between the girl from One and I. During the fight, we both were using weapons that weren't what we usually use—she had a sword, I had a knife—but it was a great battle. She sliced open my thigh, nearly cut my entire arm off, and scratched my neck with the tip of the sword. I stabbed her in the shoulder and left a deep cut in her stomach so that she literally had to hold in her intestines. Our weapons kept slipping out of our hands because of the blood making the handle slick, so I ended up tackling her to surprise her. The sword went straight through my calf, but I ignored the pain for a moment, and dug my hand into her open wound. I remember apologizing to her before I twisted my hand, and suddenly, she was dead."
"So are you suggesting we don't make allies?" Thalia asks, eyebrow raised. "Or are you suggesting that we make sure other tributes kill our allies before we do?"
"That's your choice," Belle says. "Alliances are important, but they aren't necessary for survival. There's obviously pros and cons for having allies, but it's your choice to determine which one outweighs the other."
I turn towards Liam. "And how did you win?" I ask. "Because I remember you receiving a lot of sponsor gifts, but not much more about your Hunger Games."
"Ah." Liam scratches his stubble. "My Hunger Games weren't very . . . eventful, I guess you could say."
"Bull shit," Belle says bluntly. "Your Hunger Games were probably worse than mine." She turns towards Thalia and I. "His allies became jealous of him receiving so many sponsor gifts that they started torturing him. If it wasn't for Keith, he would've been dead."
"Who was Keith?" Liam's face goes red as he doesn't respond. "Was he your lover?" Thalia asks, jumping to conclusions. "Wait, you're gay? No, you're bisexual?"
"He was not my lover," Liam flusters. Belle glares at him, a glance that clearly tells that she's seeing past his lies. "Okay, he was my lover, but I never reciprocated the feelings."
"Meaning he was never able to have sex with Keith before he died," Belle clarifies. She turns towards Liam. "You totally had feelings for him. I don't see why you're so ashamed of it." Liam opens his mouth to respond, but Belle cuts him off. "Don't even try arguing with me about it. You're clearly either ashamed about falling for him or not coming to terms with your sexuality."
"I'm a twenty-two year old man," Liam states. "I'm no longer in high school, I'm way past the age of having an identity crisis." As an afterthought, he adds, "Hell, I've survived the Hunger Games!"
"Maybe it stunted your growth," Belle says, "because you're clearly having an identity crisis."
Belle and Liam continue bickering like an old married couple—the irony of that statement making me cringe—so I slump back in the chair with my head in my palm. I glance towards Thalia, confusion probably clear on my face. She, on the other hand, seems agitated, staring at the two with a glare that could cut through bones. When she looks towards me, I give her a little smile, which she doesn't return. Instead, she rolls her eyes, then turns towards our mentors.
Thalia clears her throat. "Should we leave?" Our mentors turn towards Thalia. "Or are we going to hear about the rest of the your"—she gestures to Liam—"Hunger Games?"
"We'll finish the story another time," Liam answers. Belle clearly seems upset about it, but doesn't comment. "Go back to your compartments and get ready for dinner. It should be ready in about fifteen or so minutes." As Thalia and I start walking away, he says, "And try to change into something besides sweatpants."
Thalia and I walk without acknowledging each other, the sound of our footsteps being the only sound. While we haven't actually had a private conversation since we met, I've already concluded that she's entirely serious about winning the Hunger Games, and almost never shows signs of weakness. She only acted like a teenage girl once when we were talking to our mentors, but quickly pulled her act together in a moment. Her tolerance of nonsense is slim, and she becomes easily agitated over it, although she is able to contain it. Ultimately, she'll be a good ally during the Hunger Games.
"I don't know if I really want to win the Hunger Games anymore," I say, causing her to give me a confused look. "I mean, I don't want to have an identity crisis as an adult."
For the first time, I hear her laugh. It's just a really short, really quiet chuckle, but it's cute. And I hope to hear that cute laugh again.
District Three: Stacy Sidrat
I am no longer Stacy Noble, the curious daughter of Donna Noble who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. I did not venture into a blue phone box, which allowed me to travel through space and time. I was not from Gallifrey—in fact, Gallifrey never existed—and I did not meet the Doctor and Kinsey. And I absolutely never learned of a thing called TARDIS or the Sonic Screwdrewer. No, I am Stacy Sidrat, the clever girl with a funny last name. The girl who only has faint memories of her early life, and has lived in an orphanage ever since. I am Stacy Sidrat, and will always be Stacy Sidrat.
As I entered the train, my head started pounding, and the pain was unbearable. I don't remember falling—whenever my brain starts to "overheat," I don't really remember anything—but my nose was practically touching the ground. The "overheating" ends within a few minutes, and I slowly bring my head up, looking into the eyes of my district partner as I do so. He awkwardly stands a few feet away, clearly alarmed, but unwilling to help in any way. I would consider this a rude act, but the boy had such a geniune look in his eyes that I associated it with his possible shyness.
I haven't seen my district partner since as our mentors chose to separate ourselves to prevent any bonding. Apparently, last year when the tributes of District Three started bonding intimately with each other, it didn't turn out well. The male tribute was killed protecting the female, and the female poisoned herself to be reuinited with him. It's a tragic love story, one that probably left the Capitol feeling sympathy for them, but for their mentors, it was a sign of weakness. Love, itself, isn't harmful, but actions done out of love are destructive.
But the one thing I don't understand is why people feel inclined to fall in love. It's a pointless human emotion that causes more stress and disappointment than goodness or relief. I mean, I've honestly always wondered what it would be like to fall in love, but the Hunger Games terminated the chance for that. I refuse to fall in love if it's just going to result in my death, like the boy and girl last year. I'd rather die by myself, knowing that I fought to my very last breath, than to die from a broken heart. But so many tributes would rather die with someone else than to die by themselves. Luckily, I won't struggle with that.
"What're you thinking about?" my mentor, Jenna Starling, asks. She's a beautiful woman in her early fourties, with clear skin and blonde hair pulled into a bun. Thick, black-framed glasses rest on her rather large nose, causing her light blue-gray eyes to stick out. The only imperfections she seems to have is that she seems to have a lazy eye and doesn't really look like a victor with her skinny structure and prominent collar bone. I must've been silent for too long, as she adds, "It's okay to be nervous, you know."
"I'm not nervous," I lie. I know that she knows I'm lying, but I'd rather try to look strong in front of someone who'll hold my life in their hands than weak. "I'm just thinking about all of this."
"I know what you mean," she responds. She talks a seat across from me on the couch. "When I was reaped for my Hunger Games, I clammed up and could barely walk onto the stage." She laughs a little. "I must've look like a complete idiot in front of the entire Panem population; probably why I never received any gifts from sponsors."
"How'd you survive then?" I ask. In what I learned from the last few months after I came here from the blue phone box—no, that never happened—was that the more sponsors you get, the better the odds of you living are. It's simple logic: more supplies correlates with a better survival percent.
"I was smarter than everyone else," she says, tapping on her temple. "Strength, speed, and stealth are the three primary skills tributes focus on when they go into the Hunger Games. If you lack any of those skills, you're seen as an easy tribute to pick off. So a seventeen year old girl from District Three who's clumsy and lacked muscles should've been an easy kill. But the one thing they didn't incorporate was my intelligence. For intelligence can beat even the strongest and scariest tributes."
"How'd you beat them?" I ask. I'm clearly not the strongest of the tributes and when my mind "overheats," I tend to collapse. But I have exceptional intelligence. "Like did you create a contraption to kill the other tributes or did you create a stronger weapon against them?"
"Firstly, you must remember that I had very little supplies since I didn't grab much from the bloodbath and I didn't get any sponsoring gifts," she says defensively. "And secondly, be patient! I was going to tell you the story about my Hunger Games once Okello finishes assessing your district partner."
"Okello? You mean like our escort?" I question. From the reaping, Okello seemed to be an energetic man of questionable age. His neatly-groomed, white hair stuck out like a flashing light as opposed to the blondes and brunettes of District Three. "Why's he assessing Jrue?"
"Not a lot of people know this," Jenna says. "But Okello and his sisters, Gemini and Linnea, run a matchmaking website in the Capitol. They meet each of their clients in person and almost always find the perfect match. There's only been one major instance where the messed up, but that was because they were twins, so it doesn't really count."
"They matched twins up with each other?" I laugh. It feels nice to laugh after dealing with a terrible day of being reaped for the Hunger Games.
"No," she answers. "One of the twins went to the interview with Okello, to which he assessed her as being a nice, friendly woman. However, it was the other twin, the one with anger issues and terrible manners, that decided to go on the date with the unfortunate man Okello paired her up with. Long story short, Okello lost a client and no longer allows twins to be involved in his services, unless both attend the interview."
Suddenly, the train door opens, and Okello walks in. He changed out of the outfit he wore at the reaping, so his hair doesn't stick out nearly as much. He wears a button-down white shirt with the sleeves torn off, revealing a tattoo on his left arm. The tattoo appears to be of a skull with a mohawk, which for some reason reminds me of District Two. The tip of his black tie is tucked into his black slacks, the same color of his shoes. When he sits down next to Jenna on the couch, I notice his eyes are a mysterious teal color.
Jenna looks towards him, and he sighs in response. "They're not a match," he concludes. He sounds upset about it, but then again, he is a Capitol citizen and probably enjoys watching tragic love stories. "Not anywhere close to last year's tributes."
"Great," Jenna says, clasping her hands together. "Then I'll go get Enzo and Jrue from the bar car." She stands up and starts walking to the door. As she's about to leave, she turns and says to me, "You can change out of your reaping clothes if you want."
I nod, and she exits. I choose against changing into anything, as I'm already comfortable in my pastel pink dress. I do, however, kick off my high heels, placing them neatly underneath the coffee table between myself and Okello. We awkwardly stare at each other, waiting for the other to start a conversation, but I feel like neither of us will. Instead, we just wait for Jenna, Enzo, and Jrue to come back. When he scratches the side of his face, I notice a little tattoo, which has a fairly basic design, on his knuckle.
When Jenna, Jrue, and Enzo arrive, they each find a seat around the coffee table. Jrue must've taken up the opportunity to change out of his reaping outfit, as he's no longer wearing the suit coat, the buttoned-up shirt, nor the black slacks. Instead, he wears a simple black shirt underneath an unbuttoned, plaid flannel shirt rolled to his elbows. His navy jeans seems to be a little tight, as his bulge seems to pop out a little more than necessary, but it's pretty much covered by the black shirt. I just hope he doesn't get an erection, or else it would be really embarrassing for him.
"I dont think we met. I'm Lorenzo Brentano. Enzo for short," the young man—Enzo—says, extanding a hand to shake. With wavy, brown hair and a neatly groomed beard, he may very well be the most attractive man in District Three. Some strands of his bangs seem to be a lighter colored brown, which contrasts perfectly with his light hazel eyes. In fact, his entire face seems to be perfect, as he has perfectly clear skin and great eyebrows—not too skinny yet not too thick. He wears a buttoned-up salmon shirt with black slacks, clearly revealing his toned muscles. Clearly, he must've won his Hunger Games through his attractiveness and excessive sponsoring gifts.
"Now that we all know each other," Jenna begins, "I feel like we should talk about possible strategies for the Hunger Games so that both of you have the best chance for survival." She turns towards Jrue. "How do you plan to survive the Hunger Games."
"Well, I . . . um . . . I haven't really thought about it, to be honest," he stutters. "I guess I was just going to rely on my intelligence and athletics."
"You'll probably die before the feast," she says flatly. Jrue seems stunned, but doesn't say anything. "And you?" She turns towards me. "How do you plan on surviving?"
"I would rely on my intelligence as well," I say, knowing it's not the answer she's looking for. "Find a clean source of water and hide around there until I'm forced to move."
"You wouldn't even last the third day," she says. A wave of nervousness runs through me, and I find myself shivering. "Look, you two need some type of plan to survive the bloodbath, not just surviving through your instincts. Everyone in District Three is intelligent to some extent, but you don't find them winning every year. Hell, we've only had eleven victors in almost two centuries, and two of them are sitting in front of you. Intelligence is not enough to survive."
"Your ideas of how you planning are good," Enzo says. "But you to build on those ideas if you plan on winning." He turns towards my district partner. "So Jrue, you're planning on using your intelligence and athletics to win. But I can ensure that you won't be the best athlete out of all the tributes, especially since the Careers have been training all of their lives for this. So you have to do something to differentiate from them. Like if you can just outrun them for a little bit, you could lead them into some type of electrical trap to kill them.
"And for you," he says, turning towards me. "If you're planning on staying near a source of water, other tributes will obviously be attracted to the same area. Maybe, when you see other tributes around the same area, create a device to send electrical currents through it. It seems like you're advanced in technology, so I highly suspect you can create something like that."
"But what happens if a tribute attacks me?" I ask. "Like what if I'm hidding and a tribute approaches me from behind? Would I run or would I attack?"
"How confident are you with melee combat?" he asks. "Would you be able to take down a Career or just a weak tribute? Nonetheless, if you aren't confident, then run. But if you can't outrun them, then you fight. I'd rather you fighting with full energy than fighting when you're out of breath." He pauses. "And if you don't think you can outrun or out fight them, then you just have to hope they'll slip and give you an opportunity to escape or kill."
"Yeah, you always want to be looking out for other tributes slipping," Jenna agrees. "In the final fight for my Hunger Games, it was me against a Career tribute. They were far more athletic and far more trained at killing then I was. But I ended up surviving sheerly because they overswung their sword, giving me the perfect opportunity to stab them in the heart."
"And in any sort of attack, there's always going to be one moment where the other tribute messes up," Enzo adds. "But if they recover quickly enough, you won't ever notice they messed up in the first place. You just gotta be attentive to their attacks, so that you can dodge and deflect before countering."
"I want both of you to think about your plans of winning, in details, before dinner," Jenna says, checking the clock. "So you guys will have about fifteen minutes. But before you leave, I want to ask you both a serious question, and I want your full and honest answer, okay?" We both nod. "Good. Why do you want to win the Hunger Games?"
"I want to be known outside of just my family and friends," Jrue says. "I don't want to just die in this world without making some sort of impact on others. So I want to have all the fame of being a victor."
"You know you impact more lives than you might think," Enzo says. "There's so many people that might just look at you and view you as a good person without you knowing."
"I know that," Jrue responds. "It's just that . . . I want to make an influence on the public. I don't want there to be a few people that actually remember me as Jrue Maclin. I want the public and as many people as possible to remember me."
"And you?" Jenna asks, turning towards me. "Are you looking to win for the fame and fortune as well, or is there a family member that you're looking to win for?"
"Nope, no family members and not in it for the fame," I answer. "I'm just looking to find the blue phone box that brought me to this world and the Sonic Screwdriver."
Jenna and Enzo glance at each other, giving some sort of facial reaction only they understand. "F***ing hell," Jenna sighs. "She's not in the arena yet, but she's already broken."
District Four: Billie Tatium
When I heard the escort call my brother's name, everything stopped. I felt like I was in a dream, just one nudge away from being fully awake. Maybe if I pinched myself, I would be out of this nightmare. But I knew, I just knew, that this was reality; that I couldn't just wake up and find myself still in my bed. No, my brother was reaped, and I, without a single hesitation, volunteered. I don't know how I was able to scream it when my throat felt as dry as a desert, but when everyone turned towards me, I knew I said it loud enough. After that, I was lost in my thoughts, functioning primarily on my basic instincts. It wasn't until I was on the train that I actually came to terms with reality.
Paulette, the female volunteer from my district, keeps a bright smile on her face, although she doesn't give the impression that she's exciting for the Hunger Games. Her smile seems to be more from her bright, happy personality than from the circumstance. Her teal eyes seems to glisten with her smile, and the freckles on her nose and cheeks makes her look younger. The teal dress she wears, which matches perfectly with her eyes, goes down to her knees, and she wears simple, black high heels. The only jewelry she wears are silver earrings, which are hidden in her wavy, blonde hair. Boys probably used to swoon over her in District Four.
I sit down on a couch, and she sits down next to me. "It was your younger brother that you volunteered for, wasn't it?" she asks. Before I even nod, she continues, "That was very courageous of you."
"Well, he'll probably never know that his name was called," I say. Upon her confused look, I clarify, "He's deaf; had some hearing issues when he was born and became deaf."
"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that," she says, sincerely. It's unusual to come across sincerity when your going into the Hunger Games. "Are your parents going to watch him, then?"
"My parents died years ago during that little recession we had," I say. "We weren't being impacted too badly by it, so when an uprising broke out, they invaded our store. When the Peacekeepers came, they shot down everyone in the store, my parents included."
"The same thing happened to me," she says. "My family wasn't affected too badly by the recession, so people became jealous of us. A group of my classmates attacked me and my best friend, Ursula. I don't remember what happened, but I was knocked into a coma and Ursula died from the injuries." She repeatedly blinks her eyes to stop the tears from forming. "I actually volunteered for her. I want the people that killed her to know that I'm strong and that I won't be broken by them."
Before I can respond, the door to the car opens, and our three mentors enter. Clyde Windsor, my mentor, won the Hunger Games a few years ago, being the most recent victor from Four. Many people say he looks like a young god with his wavy brown hair and sharp jawline. In fact, he used his good looks to his advantage in the Hunger Games, as he tossed his shirt away, revealing his toned body and six-pack abs to the Capitol. Rumors are the reason the Gamemakers favored him in the arena was so that they could make a fortune off of him being a prostitute.
"Clyde Windsor," he introduces himself, shaking my hand. "I'm going to be your mentor, responsible for giving you advice and finding sponsors." He turns towards Paulette. "And your mentors are going to be Rosalie and Erin, right over there." He points to the two female mentors. He moves his head closer to us, whsipering in our ears, "Erin's probably going to be doing most of the mentoring, though, since Rosalie's having some issues."
Rosalie Eyre and Erin Flannery are twenty-something year old women with strikingly different appearances and personalities. Rosalie has lightly tanned skin, even though I doubt she goes out very often, and wavy, brown hair that falls right below her shoulder blades. Her and her twin brother both participated in the 183rd Hunger Games, but after his death, she lost a part of herself as well. Even since, her brown eyes have never seemed to show any signs of life and I have never seen her wear something that wasn't black. Erin, on the other hand, always seems to be lively and friendly. Her fair skin and gray eyes contrast nicely with her curly, fire red hair. Her strapless, white dress goes all the way down to her ankles, making her look a little less pale than she is. Neither of them seem to be as toned as Clyde, but they undoubtedly must have some degree of strength if they won the Hunger Games.
Erin guides Rosalie to the couch across from us, and sits besides her. "So, since you two volunteered, are you planning on allying with the Careers?" she asks. "How many years of training have you had?"
"I've never went to the Career Academy," I state boldly. Erin's eyebrow raises, but she doesn't say anything. "And I wasn't planning on joining the Careers, but maybe another alliance if I find one."
"And I've only started going there earlier this year," Paulette says, slightly blushing. "But I was planning on allying with the Careers. Maybe even try to be the leader of it."
"It seems like both of you have very different plans on how you're going to win," Clyde says. He turns towards me. "Billie, you will probably be hunted down by the Careers, especially if you prove to be a threat. They despise when tributes from Career districts refuse the alliance, but that doesn't mean your chances of survival are any slimmer. You never know, the Career alliance may be absolute shit this year. As for finding another alliance, make sure it is worth it. If you're allying with a young or weak tribute, they could very easily drag you down, making you a more vulnerable target. Just be as wise as you can possibly be when it comse to selecting allies.
"As for you," he says, turning towards Paulette, "becoming the leader for the Careers is a challenging task, as some Careers might've already plannd on being leader. If you're truly determined to be the leader, you have to show your worth. But by being leader, it means that you're solely responsible for the outcome of the Careers, and if you perform poorly as leader, they could easily turn against you. Don't try to become the leader unless you're absolutely certain you want to, as it's a very dangerous position. Otherwise, being second-in-command or a regular ally are less risky."
"We'll be responsible for gathering sponsors and sending you advice and gifts during the course of the Hunger Games," Erin says. "We'll do everything in our power to make sure the both of you survive far in the Hunger Games. But keep in mind that only one of you can win." She sticks up a finger for emphasis. "If we believe one of you has a better chance of survival than the other, we're going to shift our focus on them. It's more important for us to bring home a victor than to make sure both of you are receiving an equal amount of gifts and advice."
"How early would you start to deviate from equally distriputing gifts to us?" I ask. If Paulette is going to ally with the Careers, she clearly has a better chance at survival, so I'm going to be the one without any gifts.
"Usually when less than half of the tributes remain," Erin answers. "But also keep in mind that the Capitol plays a part in who'll receive more gifts, as they're the main source of sponsors. If the Capitol favors you and you are injured, expect medicine the next day. But if the Capitol hates you and you're injured, they'll be craving for your demise."
"Basically, you need to appeal to the Capitol," Clyde summarizes. "When the number of tributes start to slim, we'll shift our focus on who we believe has the best chance of survival, but we won't just leave the other for dead. We'll still send advice and gifts when possible, but we'll be focused on one of you."
"And if the tribute you favor dies, will your focus shift to the other one?" I ask, scratching my chin. "Given that one is still alive."
"Yes," Clyde confirms. "Once one of you guys die, our supplies and resources shift to the other one. Like Erin said, our primary concern is bringing home a tribute, so we'll do everything in our power to bring one of you home."
"Besides alliances and sponsors," Paulette says, "what other advice do you guys have about us going in the Hunger Games?"
"Excellent question," Clyde says. "In order for you to give you guys the best advice, you need to know who you're competing against. Your competition and allies play a huge part in determining the best method for survival." He turns away from us, yelling towards the door, "Noémie, how many reapings have taken place?"
Noémie Alcott, escort of District Four, is a crazy woman of questionable age. Neon pink and neon blue are the two most dominant colors in her hair, but there seems to be subtle hints of a dark purple. Besides her neatly combed bangs, it looks like a bomb exploded on her head, as it sticks up randomly in curls. Her eyebrows are perfectly trimmed, with the edges being a darker shade of neon pink than the rest. Honestly, it looks like somebody traced them on and colored it in. Her lips are the same pink color with dots of black or dark purple over them, which actually matched the print of her sunglasses that she wore at the reaping. She wears dark eyeliner and mascara, making her brown eyes look a lot darker than they should. Her dark blue and sea green dress goes all the way down the floor, covering her feet, and drags a little behind her.
"I think they're at the District Seven reaping," Noémie says as she enters the room. She pulls the front of her dress down a little, trying to make her cleavage look better. "Does this look good?" she asks, the question directed towards everyone. "I want to look good when I see my boyfriend at the train station."
"You look great," Clyde says. I can't tell if he was being sacrastic or honest, but Noémie seems pleased with the answer. In my opinion, she doesn't look that bad, considering she is a Capitol citizen. "Do you want to watch the rest of the reapings with us?"
"I wish I could," she says. "but I have to call some of the other escorts. We always place bets on who will reap the youngest tributes." She sighs, glancing towards Paulette and I. "I totally lost this year." With that, she leaves.
"Is she actually upset that we're older tributes?" Paulette asks. "Doesn't that mean we'd have a better chance of winning?"
"The escorts place bets to see who will select the most unlikely tributes," Erin clarifies. "They find it more of an accomplishment to select a tribute with only one slip as opposed to twenty slips." She pauses. "And besides, the escorts are crazy."
Clyde laughs, his entire face lighting up. "Come on," he says, motioning for us to follow him. "The tv is in the other car. It's also going to be where we're going to eat dinner." He leads us to the car next door, which has a long table on one side and a tv on the other. Two loveseat sofas opposite of each other and a couch in between are positioned towards the large, flatscreen tv. Clyde sits down on the couch and gestures for us to sit down. "Sit down. I promise I don't bite."
Paulette sits down on one of the lovaseats, and I follow her cue, sitting down on the opposite loveseat. "So if they're already at the District Seven reaping, almost half of the tributes have already been reaped," I say.
"Not necessarily," Erin says, taking a seat besides Clyde. Rosalie must've stayed in the other car, as she's the only mentor not here. "The Capitol arranges the reaping schedule according to popular demand, but also to even it out so not all the good reapings are in the morning. Every year, it always starts with the Capitol reaping, usually followed by either District One or Two."
"So what reapings happened before District Seven?" Paulette asks, tilting her head. "Have all the Career districts gone yet at least?"
"I think that this year, District Fourteen was after Seven," Clyde says. "But I'm not a hundred percent sure. Here, let me check. I know I wrote it down somewhere." He digs into his pockets, pulling out some keys, a pack of gum, his wallet, and a pair of earbuds. Finally, he pulls out a crumpled sticky note from his pocket.
"Why would you write it down on a sticky note?" Erin asks, laughing. "You could've just asked Noémie, she probably could've given you the list without even having to think."
"Maybe I just didn't want to ask her," he says. "Besides, she's too busy getting ready to see her boyfriend. This way's faster." He straightens the sticky note, saying, "So the order goes: the Capitol, District Two, One, Zero, Four, Three, Seven, Fourteen, Five, Six, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Eight, Nine, Thirteen."
"So we know most of the Careers, but not all of them," Paulette states. "When does the District Fourteen reaping take place?"
"The reapings take place at thirty minute intervals, starting with the Capitol at eight o'clock in the morning," Clyde says. "I think the District Fourteen reaping is at 11:30." He glances at his watch. "So in about two or so minutes."
"How do the other Careers look?" Paulette asks, leaning back in the couch and crossing her arms. "When are they going to show a recap of the reapings?"
"Not until all of them are finished at four in the afternoon," Clyde says. "But, as mentors, we're assigned a tablet that gives us all the information about the reaped tributes with both their official photo and a photo of them at the reaping." Clyde stands up, walking towards the exit. "I left it in the bedroom," he clarifies. "I'll be right back."
To Be Continued . . .