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Welcome everyone to my seventh ever Hunger Games! My last games, The 327th Annual Hunger Games, are still going on but they're ending soon and that's why I'm making these now. Also, in these games I will be making some changes in sponsoring and a few other things, my aim is to make things a bit more realistic. I hope you'll join as I plan on making these Games the best I can!
The 398th Annual Hunger Games will be taking place as usual, despite a large scale rebellion that took place immediately following the 397th Games. The rebellion rocked the entire country of Panem with most of the District's fighting against the Capitol. This was not a small rebellion, and with the help of technology received from unknown sources, the rebels has the fighting lasting almost an entire year before the Capitol managed to crush it. However, the until then untouchable Capitol suffered many losses, including the life of then President Dolan Stryker, the son of Tiberius Stryker, who had been assassinated by rebel forces. At first this blow severely weakened the Capitol until Dolan's son, a boy who was only eighteen years old, took control. With this newfound leadership the Capitol struck back hard, annihilating the rebel forces and regaining control of the District's, which suffered immensely for their actions. Now, only a few months distanced from the end of the war, President Leopold Stryker announces that the 398th Annual Hunger Games will continue as planned...
1: There will be twenty-eight Tributes
2: You may have up to three Tributes (number may change)
3: Each Tribute has $150 in sponsor money for their mentor (creator) to use as they see fit. Yes, this may seem too low at first but sponsoring will be handled differently in these Games but more about that later.
4: I will write Reapings, Group Training, and of course the actual Games
5: I will not accept any Tributes that have been in my previous Games
6: Reservations last exactly 48 hours
7: The Capitol is a Career district in my Games
8: These Games take place seventy-one year's after my 327th Games
9: Tribute Form:
Alliance: (can be filled out later)
|Capitol||Male||Furcifer Soror||18||???||Sword, Knife||Hybrid Shadow|
|Capitol||Female||Aemilia Wonder||14||5'3||Throwing Knives||mistymolla|
|1||Female||Trinity Mace||17||5'2||Knife, Mace||YFS|
|2||Male||Luigi Wilkins||17||6'1||Sword, Throwing Knives||MyWorld|
|2||Female||Avia Stafford||15||5'5||Throwing Knives||Moviestarplanet|
|3||Male||Shuppet Jorravaskr||14||5'3||Sword, Bow||tehblakdeath|
|3||Female||Sombra Celesta||14||5'4||Axe, Throwing Knives||Mistfire333|
|4||Male||Nikki Heart||16||5'8||Scythe, Trident||Aerialchinook|
|5||Male||Johnathan Mikeal||17||6'5||Sword, Spear||YFS|
|5||Female||Lucinda Kidd||16||???||Blowgun, Poison||Hybrid Shadow|
|6||Male||Buck Rockwell||16||5'11||Spear, Sword||YFS|
|6||Female||Amore Madness||16||5'6||Spear, Crossbow||Mistfire333|
|7||Male||Nick Maclachlan||14||5'5||Knives, Bow||AwesomeAidan|
|8||Male||Banette Tsukomogami||15||5'5||Needles, Knives||Mistfire333|
|8||Female||Aisha Hakeem||15||5'6||Throwing Knives, Axes||Aerialchinook|
|9||Male||Lyman Milton||16||5'10||Sickle, Knife||Hybrid Shadow|
|9||Female||Juline Cenia||17||5'4||Sickle, Sword||Blissfully Mine|
|10||Male||Stephen Star||15||5'9||Dagger, Throwing Knives||MyWorld|
|10||Female||Cleopatra Royalty||18||5'8||Whip, Claws||Pumpumpumpkin|
|11||Male||Crimson Typhoon||14||5'6||Bow and arrow, Sword||AwesomeAidan|
|12||Male||Drago Fire||18||5'11||Sickle, Brass knuckles||AwesomeAidan|
|12||Female||Celica Rotas||15||5'4||Bow and arrows||~Poptart~|
|13||Male||Radiant Tayz||16||5'11||Sword, Crossbow||tehblakdeath|
|13||Female||Zoey Proasheck||15||5'8||Axe, Katana||tehblakdeath|
|14||Female||Angel Orthodox||17||5'8||Machete, Scythe||FairyYuki|
Note: These alliances are not yet official and can change any time from now until the start of the Games
Careers: Trevor Gold (1), Trinity Mace (1), Avia Stafford (2), Luigi Wilkins (2), Sombra Celesta (3), Scarlet Avalon (4), Buck Rockwell (6), Fiora Waltz (7), Juline Cenia (9), Zoey Proasheck (13), Odin Amarth (14)
Rebels: Aemilia Wonder (C), Aelia Freedome (0), Nikki Heart (4), Nick Maclachlan (7), Lyman Milton (9), & Stephen Star (10)
District 11 & 12 Alliance: Crimson Typhoon (11), Drago Fire (12), & Radiant Tayz (13)
District 3 & 8 Alliance: Shuppet Jorravaskr (3), Banette Tsukomogami (8), & Johnathan Mikeal (5)
District 6, 8 & 12 Alliance: Amore Madness (6), Aisha Hakeem (8), Celica Rotas (12)
Loners: Solar Energy (0), Lucinda Kidd (5), Cleo Royalty (10), Raven Night (11), Angel Orthodox (14), & Furcifer Soror (C)
Bold signifies the leader of the alliance
Italics means the tribute is requesting to join the alliance but has yet to be accepted
Careers: Luigi Wilkins (2), Buck Rockwell (6), Fiora Waltz (7), & Odin Amarth (14)
Rebels: Aelia Freedome (0) & Stephen Star (10)
District 11 & 12 Alliance: Crimson Typhoon (11), Raven Night (11), Drago Fire (12), & Radiant Tayz (13)
District 3 & 8 Alliance: Shuppet Jorravaskr (3), Banette Tsukomogami (8), & Johnathan Mikeal (5)
District 6, 8 & 12 Alliance: Amore Madness (6), Aisha Hakeem (8), Celica Rotas (12)
Loners: Solar Energy (0), Nikki Heart (4), & Angel Orthodox (14)
In these Games sponsoring will be different then my previous Games. Each tribute will initially only have $150 in sponsorship money, however more can be earned later on. At various intervals people who are reading the games, will be allowed to select up to four tributes to give $50 in sponsoring money. The four chosen tributes cannot be chosen in repeat BY THE SAME PERSON and at the next Sponsoring Period four new tributes must be chosen. After this, at the third period, the four tributes who were chosen at the first period are eligible to be sponsored again.
Example: Person A chooses to sponsor Tributes, B, C, D, and E at the first Sponsoring Period. At the next period, Person A will not be able to sponsor any of the four, however, Person B who had sponsored four different tributes, will be allowed to sponsor Tributes B, C, D, and E while Person A will have to sponsor different tributes. I hope this makes sense. If you have any questions feel free to pose them in the comments.
Along with this way, tributes can earn more money in several other ways. Training Scores will effect the amount, either positivity or negatively, depending on what score the tribute obtains. Making a kill during the Games will also increase a tributes total.
Aisha Hakeem (8)
Odin Amarth (14)
Banette Tsukomogami (8)
Luigi Wilkins (2)
Shuppet Jorravaskr (3)
Solar Energy (0)
Raven Night (11)
Buck Rockwell (6)
Antidote (cures poison): $150
Burn Cream: $125
Camouflage Paints: $100
Darts (12): $25
Dried Meat: $75
Dried Fruit: $50
Flares x3: $125
Instant Relief: $400
Knife Glove: $100
Mace (Chained): $175
Morning Star: $175
Needles (3): $125
Net Trap: $125
Night-Vision Glasses: $150
Piece of Plastic: $15
Quiver of Arrows (12): $50
Shield (Spiked): $200
Shurikens (5): $125
Sleeping Bag: $50
Sleep Syrup: $125
Spike Trap: $250
Throwing Axes (3): $200
Throwing Knives (3): $200
Wooden Club: $100
Wooden Club (Spiked): $150
District Zero: Aelia Freedome
The whistling wind wakes me from my sleep and when my eyes blink open I am staring at the wooden ceiling. Shivering, I pull the blanket tighter around me and try to get back to peaceful sleep. I feel myself drifting off when the howling wind returns, this time even stronger, rattling the wooden boards of the house. I won't be getting any more sleep this morning.
"I hear you, I hear you!" I grumble as I roll out of the bed and check on the small fireplace in the corner of the room. It's nearly out and I will have to find some more kindling later today. I recall my prior life, living on a boat that was anchored just off shore of the District's coast. I smile fondly at the memory. That boat was a great living place. It had a generator on board which kept me warmed, now all I have is this dingy fireplace. Too bad the Peacekeepers destroyed when they found me.
With no running water in the house I take out a bottle of water from a pack that I keep under my bed, in case the Peacekeepers ever find me again, and pour some of the water onto my hands, which I precede to clean my face with. When I finish, I pull an old hair band out of a small drawer and look into a dirty cracked mirror on the wall.
"Looking good Aelia," I tell my reflection with a smile. "Looking real good" I don't know if that's technically true. While I have been called beautiful by many people over the years, I don't resemble that much right now. My skin is a pasty white from the lack of sunlight here in District 0, my face is tired looking from the night antics against the Capital, and my blonde hair is dirty and all over the place from a lack of viable washing methods. As I tie my hair back I think about how I use to live in District 4, where I had all the essential amenities of life. But only because the citizens of District 4 are the Capital's lapdogs, because they have no sense of morality and love competing in the Hunger Games.
The Hunger Games.
I can already feel the anger rippling through me as I think of the Games. The most inhumane thing the Capital forces upon us, where they force us to celebrate the death and misery it inflicts. I tighten my fists into balls in effort to prevent myself from punching something. I hate the Capital! I want to do everything in my power to dethrone them, to show they can't keep us down forever!
And I think I know how. Already in my short time here in District 0 I've been building up a rebel force. It's not enough to overthrow the Capital, not yet. What makes this even harder is that the Districts just had a rebellion. They actually rose against the Capital and fought back!
But they lost.
In the end the Capital crushed the rebellions and in an effort to stifle any further attempts they captured the leaders of the rebellion, paraded their entire families in front of them and had them publicly executed. It didn't matter the age. As young as two or as old as ninety, if you were related to the guilty you were killed. Simple as that.
I let out a screech of fury and punch the mirror and it cracks and shatters, leaving my fist cut and bloody but I don't care. I'm too angry to care. That should have been the tipping point, it should have shown everyone that we're not safe and we all need to rise against them NOW. They can't execute all of us! But of course, they didn't. They cowardly slunk back into the shadows, giving the Capital victory.
No...not everyone. The people with me still want to fight, no matter the cost. These people give me hope that maybe this war isn't over just yet. We can still win.
Ding! Ding! Ding!
I stiffen as I hear the bell. The bell that signals it's time to head for the District square for the Reaping. Dammit. I forgot it was today. I look down at my bloody hand and wince. Now that the adrenaline is wearing off I feel the pain. I should not have threw that punch. I look for a cleanish cloth and upon finding one I wipe the blood off before covering it with a bandage from ny emergency bag. I then head for the square.
My journey to the square, which is about a twenty minute walk from my cabin, is made more difficult by the blizzard going on. The blessing and curse of District 0 is that it's always snowing. The blessing part is that the Peacekeepers hate the cold and often have difficulty enforcing rules on the outskirts of the district and that they rarely go out of their way harass innocent civilians. The curse is that the cold temperatures can often claim the lives of those too poor to afford warm lodgings and that it makes planning raids for my Rebel force difficult.
When I finally arrive at the square I join the jostling line of people as they get their blood taken. I avoid showing my face to the blood taker as I am a wanted criminal. They don't recognize me and I take my place in line. I look up to the people on stage with utter spite. These people encourage the Games by not taking any effort to stop them, especially the escort, Elsa De`Cour, who thinks the Games are all fun and joyful. She's an idiot.
After everyone gets themselves in line the Mayor makes his usual speech but with a new addendum. "The Hunger Games are still necessary as the District's have shown that they still do not appreciate the generosity and love of the Capital. Thus, the Games shall go on for yet another year"
He's referencing the recent rebellion of course. I make sure I show no emotion as doing so in public would be a detrimental to my health. The Mayor finishes his droll speech and passes it off to Elsa who takes the Mic and immediately begins to blab about how great the Games are. The only good thing is that the wind has gotten so extreme that we can barely hear her.
"Lets see who are fine tributes will be!" She finally manages to shriek over the wind. The bowls are rolled over but the wind is savage that two men must hold onto it to prevent it from tipping. Elsa dips a hand in and tugs a slip free.
"And District Zero's female tribute in the 398th Annual Hunger Games is...Whoops!" She loses her grasp of the slip and the wind automatically whips the piece of paper away. I watch it disappear into the snowfall and Elsa shrugs before selecting another name.
"And the tribute is...Aelia Freedome!"
A shiver that has nothing to do with the cold runs along my spine as the name is echoed through the wind. How ironic that I would end up being Reaped. I, who fought so valiantly for the Games to be abolished would end up going into them as a sacrificial lamb. As I climb onto the stage I want to scream, to tell the people gathered below to fight, tell them not to accept fate as slaves and rise against the Capital. Individually we are weak but together we are strong. I want to tell them all this.
But I don't.
There's no point. Few would listen and I would most likely seal my fate. The Capital would have me die in the Games most certainly. Instead, I stand stoically beside Elsa as she draws the name of the boy going in with me.
The name hangs over the the crowd for a moment before a hooded boy takes to the stage. He doesn't say a word as he stands beside me, strands of red hair drooping across his forehead. As I feel for all tributes, I feel bad for him. But unlike most, who I cannot do thing for, I could possibly help this boy out.
"Give it up for the District 0 tributes of the 398th Annual Hunger Games!" Elsa claps wildly and a few people in the crowd join in. Elsa tells us to raise our hands but I give her a glare and refuse. I may not be able to say my mind but I don't need to act like it's an honour. Solar doesn't do it either, opting simply stare off into the distance with a glazed over look.
The Reapings come to a close and Elsa hands us off to the Peacekeepers who lead us toward the Justice Building. Already a plan is formulating inside of my head. Just because I'm going into the Games doesn't mean I'm done fighting the Capital.
District One: Trevor Gold
"It's Reaping day! It's Reaping day!"
The shout is picked up by the rest of the little children running down the street and I know that the shout will spread throughout the District. It's not like this is news though, people have been anticipating this moment for the whole year. It's Reaping day and that means two lucky kids get to represent District 1 in the most prestigious way. By being a tribute in the Hunger Games.
This year is my year. Not only will I participate in the Games but I will win them. I've been training for this my entire life and won't let myself down.
I jog down the streets of District 1, a smile on face. Everyone is getting excited for the Reaping later this morning and this is reflected on their faces, they all have smiles on their faces and joy in their eyes. I couldn't have asked for better weather either; it's a beautiful day, the sky is a pure blue with no clouds in sight and a slight breeze gently blows by.
Two boys come up behind me and I smile and shake their hands. I know them both from the Training Academy, they're two years younger then me but are excellent fighters, I know that when their time comes they will do well in the Games.
"Hey Sheen. Mornin' Ray" I greet the two with a nod the head and Sheen grins.
"You really going in this year?" He asks. He already knows the answer to this. It's common knowledge amongst those at the Academy that I'm volunteering this year. No one really objects to this; I'm unquestionably the best person for the position and this isn't even me being arrogant, it's simply true.
"Yep. I'm definitely going to be the District 1 male this year"
"I thought you might decide to wait another year," Sheen says thoughtfully. "You have another year of eligibility after all" That's true enough. I could wait another year, brush up my weaknesses and further hone my strengths but I don't want to wait. I've already proven myself to District 1, now I need to prove it to the rest of the nation. I tell them both this and they concede that I'm right. I can't get much stronger then I currently am
"The other District's could though," Ray says as we begin making our way down the sunny street and towards the square. "Who knows who Two and Four have been training up"
"They could have a real strong threat this year too though," Sheen points out and they begin to squabble about whether waiting is profitable or not when I cut in.
"It doesn't matter who they have," I tell them. "I'm strong enough to win. Austin Aitken in his prime could be out there and I'd still win. So don't worry about it!"
"I'm not worried!" Sheen tries to speak but Ray cuts him off and the two fall back into another argument. I don't bother interrupting this and instead ignore them. Today is my day and I should enjoy it know that every day after this will be business.
When we arrive at the square we find already packed full of people. We all get our blood taken and then Sheen and Ray go off to the fifteen year-olds line and I take my own place in the seventeen year olds.
"There's Mr. Victor," a boy sneers as I walk by his line but I ignore him. He's one of those people who always hate on the highest ranked students at the Academy. They are always so volatile and upset that someone's better then them. I don't even rub it in and they still act like that, at least majority of people have the sense to know I'm only doing the District good.
"Oh please! You're just upset that your family is a bunch of nobodies!" Another boy comes to my defence and I hide my smile. That's another good thing about being the best fighter. People will come to your aid more often then not. The boy grumbles something derogatory and turns away as I place my full attention on what is happening on the stage. The Mayor is beginning to talk about the grandeur of the Games and District One's long history of excellence in them, something that he "wishes to continue this year". When he finishes he passes off to the Escort, a lady who seems to be trying her hardest to imitate a flamingos.
"Hello District 1!" She waves to the crowd whilst giggling to herself. "I'm Delilah Gaulle and I am your Escort!...but of course you already knew that!"
That's her introduction every year. I suppose she thinks it's funny because she always laughs afterwards and I guess it must be as most the crowd always joins along.
"I wonder..." She places her hand on her chin as if she was thinking. "Does District 1have a Victor this year?" This is also apart of her shtick. She asks that every year and the crowd always answers with a resounding-
The crowd shouts the answer and Delilah excitedly claps her hands together as she takes her place in front of the first bowl. As she hypes the crowd up some more I ready myself for what comes next. My volunteering. I'm so busy thinking about this I almost miss Delilah asking for the volunteers, which everyone from the Academy knows will only be me.
"I VOLUNTEER!" I shout and the crowd parts as I jog for the stage, a wide grin forming on my face. Delilah claps with frantic excitement and the crowd for nuts as reach the stage. This is just like how I imagined it! The entirety of the District behind me as I go to conquer the greatest competition of them all. Delilah asks for my name and I waste no time in answering.
I'm Trevor Gold!"
The crowd let's out another round of rambunctious applause and I soak it all in for several minutes before stepping back and allowing Delilah to proceed. She doesn't waste another minute and steps to the girls' bowl and plucks a name out.
The name floats through the crowd for a moment or two before a girl begins to head for the stage. I was kinda expecting some volunteers but then again I guess everyone at the Academy knew I was entering this year and didn't want to face me, or maybe they just didn't feel like entering this year. I don't know.
The girl reached the stage and while initially the name didn't ring any bells I recognize her up close. She's probably the best looking girl at the Academy with her flowing blonde hair and blue-grey eyes. It's not a surprise that many of us guys like her but she was always turning us them down, though I figured she wouldn't have turned me down, I had never tried her.
"Hey there!" I smile at her. Though she's going to have to die for me to win, we will be allies in the Careers at first and I might as well try my luck.
"Um. Hi" Her eyes dart around the stage as her fingers play with her hair. I can tell she's nervous, which for some reason makes her more attractive. Delilah motions for us both to join her in the centre of the stage and when we do she repeats our names to the crowd, who go nuts for us. I raise my fists to the sky as the crowd begins to chant Trinity's and my name.
These Games will be mine. I can feel it!
District Two: Avia Stafford
I absentmindly chuck knives at the wall, smiling as each one sticks into its hard surface. Knives are one the things in life that I care for. They don't judge you, they don't yell at you, they don't abandon you. They simply help you harm others.
I throw the last knife in the drawer when the lady who runs the orphanage comes in and immediately begins to scream at me for "being reckless and handling dangerous weapons". I ignore her jabber and she ushers me out of the kitchen and into the hall. She orders me to get dressed because she'll be taking me and all of the other girls to the Reaping soon.
I hate this place. I hate the people who run it and I hate the other girls here. I think I hate people in general. I don't bother getting dressed in any fine dress like all of the others. I don't need to look pretty or respectable. I sullenly join the other girls' in the main lobby where they all talk and gossip to one another. I don't join them and instead think about how I'm going to volunteer this year. I'm tired of living in this place and the Games seem like a fairly great way of getting out of here, not to mention I can enjoy all the killing and fighting it will offer me. I can finally fight without getting into any trouble. Unlike the time I broke two girls' noses and I was forced to listen to an entire lecture on how that's "inappropriate". I'm sick and tired of being confined to rules!
"Ready girls?" The lady comes down the staircase dressed in a sparkling satin dress and I snort loudly. What does she have to dress up for? She's not going into the Games! She can't! I'm suspecting she's trying to get some wealthy man to notice her so she can finally move on from watching us worthless scum. That's what the most of us are. Everyone of any worth is at the Training Academy, learning how to fight. I wish I had gone but the orphange doesn't put their kids their and I was forced to train myself. That won't put me in any disadvantage though. I'm tough enough to win regardless of any special training. "Then let's go!"
We're lead out of the building and down the street, towards the main square where the majority of District Two has already gathered. All of us girls are split into our correct lines and we wait as all of the last minute arrivals put themselves in position. I'm sick and tired of waiting on other people and wish they would just get this show on the road! Thankfully, it's not much longer before the Reapings commence. Soon enough things are handed off to the Escort Waco Dawls.
"Greetings to the glorious District Two! We have conjoined this fine morning for yet another Reapings!" The usual fare of applause and cheers greet this and a wide smile breaks out Waco's face as he continues. "On this day two fine children shall enter themselves into the most glorious and greatest of all things...the Hunger Games!" His shout echoes throughout the stone buildings that surround us and the crowd starts up a chant of "District Two!" which carries on for minutes before dying down. "These two children shall have the most prestigious honor of fighting for their District against the other thirteen contingents of Panem!"
I snort loudly. I couldn't care less about the honor of winning the Games. I only want the opportunity to fight, who cares if I bring "pride" to District 2? I don't. Wako continues on about this until he finally decides to head over to one of the bowls and speaks.
"Lets find out who our male tribute will be!" He digs a hand into the bowl but before he can latch onto a slip of paper many voices shout out "I volunteer!" and he turns to scan the crowd, making a big show out of it. He finally selects a tall haired boy in the front the crowd who heads to the stage showing zero emotion.
"Your name, my stupendous lad?" Wako grins as he asks the boy.
"Luigi Wilkins," He answers in a deadpan voice, staring straight ahead. I wonder if his stoicism is a learned habit from the training academy or that's just how he normally acts. I suspect the latter, as most District 2 tributes make a huge show of how honoured they are.
"Well Luigi, you're going to be representing District 2 in the Hunger Games! It's such an honor, isn't ?"
"It is" The boy doesn't elaborate further and Wako moves on to the girls' bowl, where I don't even permit him to reach a hand before screaming my volunteerism and rushing to the stage. The orphanage girls around me let out short surprised gasps but then I'm on stage and out of earshot. Wako grins like an idiot and shoves the microphone in my face, requesting my name. I tell him to shove the microphone where the sun don't shine and then shout my name to the crowd.
"I'm Avia Stafford! Remember the name because I'm going to be your next Victor!"
The crowd claps and applauds me, causing me to briefly flush with pride before shoving it away. I don't need their acceptance. I've already told myself that. But for some reason it feels great to be cheered and not ignored or insulted...No! I won't go weak on myself!
I turn my back on the audience as Wako begins to repeat our names and then we're led to the Justice Building where I unsurprisingly see no visitors. I suspect everyone at the orphanage is just as glad to see me going as I am at actually leaving. My next stop is the train station where the cameras film as Luigi and I board the train headed for the Capital. The thing is posh and looks just like how I imagined it would. I enter the amazing kitchen and immediately grab several fruits off of the table and stuff them into my mouth as Luigi calmly takes a seat around the table, his blue eyes silently taking everything in.
"You ever speak?" I ask throwing him a contemptuous glare. He's not exactly the raging beast boy that District 2 often has. He seems more like the silent but deadly kind. As I expected he doesn't answer, simply shrugging. Whatever. I'm too important to be talking to him. I content myself by staring out the window when our mentors come in and begin babbling about strategies. While Luigi seems to pay close attention I tune them out. I don't need any help. I already know these Games are mine for the taking.
District Three: Shuppet Jorravaskr
I stare out into the street as heavy rains pounds the cobblestone paths. The rain began early this morning and hasn't slowed down since. The entire District must be drenched by now and I know that the Reaping won't be any fun, not with us having to stand out in the downpour. Not like any of us have a choice though. We either show up for the Reaping or get executed later today when they go through the no-shows.
I sigh and look away from the doorway. I guess in a way that it's fitting for the day to so depressing when two kids will be sent to their deaths. The Rebellion that had taken place early this year hasn't changed a thing. We fought, we lost, and then we died. All of our fighting was pointless when you look back at it. The only thing it has done is made our lives harder. There's more Peacekeepers now then there ever was before and rules are enforced even more harshly. All too often do you see people begin whipped in the streets.
The little cuckoo bird in the clock goes off and I know that I have to get going soon. I find an old tattered jacket in the back of a closet and pull it on. It's not much but it's better then nothing. Stepping out into the street I'm immediately doused by the deluge and I shiver as I begin to run down the street. On my way I pass several of the factories where the technology is created. I figure that these factories are why District 3 suffered so heavily in the Rebellion. The Capitol figured that all of the advanced technology the rebels used. It would make sense that the District that specialized in technology would be the place where the most advanced technology was created.
But it wasn't.
At least, that's what the word on the street is. Many say that the Rebels weren't even the ones who made the technology. That it was granted to them by others.
I don't know.
I didn't pay attention or participate in the rebellion. If the rebels didn't create it where did it come from? The Capitol certainly didn't give it to them. But there's no one else who could have....is there?
I slow my walking as I approach the ruins of a factory that was destroyed in the Rebellion. The reason for its destruction was that it was where the Rebels had their meetings and made their plans. It was also where they stored their weapon caches. I stare out at the ruins, wondering if the Rebels had really made their own weapons. It's not like I can ask though. The only people who would know are the rebel leaders, and they're all dead.
As the rain slides off of the hood of my jacket I shake the thought away and realize I have to get going. I'm going to get sick if I stay out here. Not to mention the Peacekeepers might get suspicious. I turn my back to the factory and trot to the Reaping square. The citizens gathered in the square look as thoroughly unhappy as a bunch of starving, mistreated, oppressed people forced to stand out in a raging downpour could look. That's to say, very, very unhappy.
I join the blood taking line and the Peacekeeper in charge firmly grabs my arm and jerks me forward, taking my blood before shoving me back. Ow. I rub my arm ruefully as I realise that guys just sore that he has to sit out in the rain while his buddies get to loaf about on stage under the shelter of a veranda. I would be pretty phased if I was him too.
I join the other fourteen year olds in line and most of us huddle together in an effort to keep warm as the onstage antics begin. It seems to take forever and it goes even longer when the Escort Lysander Bilegin, a paper thin man with glasses perched on a long vulture-like nose and hair worn in a style that vaguely makes me think of buttercups, decides that it would be a good idea to give a verbal history of the Hunger Games, starting with the first ever games. He lists the name of each Victor and it takes forever to get going.
"How long will this dork blabber?" A dark haired girl who is standing beside me mutters. The other kids all murmur their agreement and it spreads throughout the crowd but Lysander continues regardless. When he reaches the point where games where won by living District 3 Victors he pauses to introduce the said person.
"And one of the Victors of the 327th Games, Watt Chargy!" He motions to an elderly old lady who gets a small reaction out of the crowd, which is surprising considering everyone is freezing their butts off. Lysander goes on to tell of the 328th games, which were won by a boy from District 6, when the girl sitting next to me has enough.
"Just SHUT UP you stupid nerd! Get on with the Reaping already!"
Lysander looks up from the huge book he was reading from in shock and gapes at the girl as the crowd begins to murmur in agreement. Just about everyone has had it with this guy! The noise from the crowd gets louder as Lysander looks back and forth from the crowd to his book. Finally he relents.
"Alright! Alright! Fine! I'll get on with it!....once I finish my reading. Now where was I...Oh yes! The 1st ever Hunger Games were won by..."
The crowd begins to shout in protest when a Peacekeeper fires his gun into the sky, effectively shutting us all up. After this Lysander seems to take great pleasure in drawing out each and every word and often looks up to smirk at the crowd. I hate that man.
The rain doesn't let up at all and by the time he finishes I'm so cold and wet that my hands are bone white and my entire body is shaking. I can't feel my feet and things are even worse for those who are younger or weaker. Lysander finally heads for the boys bowl and dips a hand in to procure a name.
"The male tribute from District 3 who will compete in the 398th Annual Hunger Games is...Shuppet Jorravaskr!"
A relieved hush falls over the kids around me as they learn that it won't be them going into the Games. I shut my eyes. Of course. Of course it would be me. That's just how awful this day has been. My feet move but I don't feel them. They carry me all the way onto the stage where the veranda shades me from the rain. I briefly note how weak I must look to all of those watching on TV. All drenched and pale, visibly shaking from the cold but they don't know that. They just might think I'm frightened, which is one thing I'm not. I'm not afraid of the Games or the people in them.
"I presume you are Mr. Jorravaskr?" Lysander asks in his grating nasally voice as he stares with a look that shows he thinks very little of me.
"What do you think?" I growl attempting, to no avail, to stop my body from shaking. It just won't stop. I'm so cold it needs to keep going.
He glares at me then clears his throat before announcing me to the crowd. They don't react and I didn't expect them to. I'm not some well-known person. I'm just some guy. Lysander reaches into the girls bowl and takes out another name.
"The female tribute from District 3 who will compete in the 398th Annual Hunger Games is...Sombra Celesta!"
I'm shocked to see the dark-haired girl in the fourteen year olds line, the one who stood next to me and yelled for Lysander to hurry, respond to the call and join me on stage. If the freezing rain effects her, she doesn't show it. Lysander must recognize her also as a grin breaks out onto his face and he lets out a snicker.
"I'm betting you wish that my speech had gone on a little longer now, don't you?" The girls expression darkens as he turns back to the crowd.
"Hey buddy!" She calls out to him and when he turns back around she raises both middle fingers in the air. "F--- you!"
I break out laughing at this as Lysander looks visibly flustered. I wish I had thought of that first! Lysander shakes a fist at us when the Mayor retakes control of the situation and Lysander let's out a complaint of him having "not finished!" I smile at the girl and to my surprise she throws me a nasty look.
"What are you looking at blue boy?" She sneers whilst turning her back on me. Whoa. That was unexpected. I had thought the girl could be a possible ally but that little interaction kinda just broke that possibility. As the rain continues to pour down onto the poor people of the District, I think about how the next week will be very, very interesting for me.
District Four: Scarlet Avalon
I stand over the crib smiling down at the two babies inside, sleeping gently. I whisper a goodbye to each and kiss them on the foreheads before exiting the room and shutting the door gently behind me. I go to the kitchen and sit myself down at a table though I have no appetite. I'm too apprehensive of what I am doing to eat. Another door swings open and my mother enters. She sits across from me and I smile weakly at her.
"How are Trent and Tyler" She asks me. She knows that I don't really like this plan but I really don't have another option at this point.
"They're fine. They're sleeping right now..." I fade off as I think of the two sleeping babies, my sons. I will be leaving them soon, but only because I have to. For their sake.
I once thought my life was perfect. I had a great family and a loving boyfriend. I didn't have any wants or needs and everything was great. But then I got pregnant and well....my boyfriend left me. He didn't want the burden of taking care of a kid and he was even more upset when he learned that there were two of them. I was having twins. I had thought he was the greatest boyfriend ever but well...when he left I quickly learned the truth about him.
I didn't care much at first. I pushed him out of my mind and moved on. My mother was still here and she was supportive of me. We were going to raise the twins, who I named Trevor and Tyler, and everything was going to be fine. We would all live happily ever after.
Until a doctor discovered that Trevor had a tumor deep in his brain and would need special surgery to remove it. If it wasn't removed, he would die. It was a frightening ultimatum and I knew I had to do all I could to save Trevor's life. But the surgery was too expensive. Neither me nor my mother could afford it and in the end we had to accept that Trevor would die or....
I would enter the Hunger Games.
My mother didn't understand at first. She was incredulously wondering why I would go off into the Games when I still had Tyler to taker care of. Then I reminded her that if I won, I would become filthy rich. I would have more money then I would ever need and we could pay off Trent's surgery. And if I didn't win....I still had her to take care of Tyler.
"Everything will be fine Scarlet," My mother reassures me and I give her a comforted smile. "I'll take care of the boys. Just focus on winning. You can do it, you've trained for it"
"I know. I know I can," My voice is cracking and I shut my eyes tight. I don't want to do this. The odds of me winning aren't that great, even with me being a Career. The other Careers will have all trained harder than I have in the past few months, they've all known they were going to be volunteering their entire lives. Whereas I only ever trained for the experience, thinking I would never have to actually compete. Even back then, when I was a huge Hunger Games fanatic and watched with gusto, I didn't actually think I would be in them.
"Don't look so down!" My mother scolds and I blink my eyes open and look into her face. "You were one of the best students at the Academy!"
"Yes, I was but I've been gone for months..." Ever since I learned about the boys I haven't stepped foot in the Academy. That's where my....ex-boyfriend works. He's a trainer there and I don't want to ever see him again. "I don't think I--"
"Scarlet!" My mother's voice is firm as she rounds on me. "You still have your skills don't you? You didn't lose them. You're still one of the best fighters in the District. So don't you dare make any excuses. You are going to win these Games. Don't disappoint me and your father!"
"Maybe if I win father will actually care about me!" I say bitterly and my mother glares at me reproachfully. The both of them were always telling me that I had to win the Games, that I had to push myself as far as possible. My father hasn't even spoken to me since I dropped out of the academy. I've barely even seen him in the last few months.
"You better get going," My mother says coldly and I suddenly feel bad. She's the reason I can even do this. Without her I would have no one to watch Tyler and Trent while I was gone, no one to take care of them if I lost. I shouldn't have said that about father in front of her. I try to speak but she cuts me off. "Get going! The Reapings will start soon. I'll bring the boys. Go"
She ushers me out of the house and into the bright sunny day outside. I wish I could enjoy the perfect weather, but I haven't been able to enjoy anything after learning about Trent. I slowly walk down the street towards the beach where the Reaping will take place. I zone out for most of the process until I am in the middle of the crowd gathered around the stage, my blood already taken and in my proper line. Karis Aeris is talking about the great history District 4 has in the Games when I start paying attention again.
"Will that thunder boom again this year?" Karis asks aloud. "Or will District 4 fail to live up to its history? We're on the road to finding out and let's see who are tributes will be!" Girls are first, as always. My body goes rigid as I anticipate my next move. Surely there are others who wish to volunteer but I can't allow them to do it before me. I shout out before Karis even reaches a hand into the bowl and I'm invited up onto the stage where I shake her hand and say my name to the crowd.
As I look out into the crowd I see "him" watching, his eyes narrowed as he examines me. Is he wondering why I'm volunteering? Does he even care? I doubt it. I'm sure he's hoping that I die in the Games so he doesn't have to see me ever again.
"You certainly are a brave young woman!" Karis beams at me and I offer a weak smile. Am I brave? I guess I am. I'm risking my own life for the sake of my son but isn't that what all mothers should do? Put themselves at risk for their children? Karis pats me on the shoulder and goes to select my District partner when I realize something: I'm going to have to kill other people.
It's something that I didn't mind before I had the twins. Something that didn't bother me. I watched kids die in the Games forever, not batting an eye. But now I feel differently. I don't want people to die, not for some stupid game. And I definitely don't want to be the person who kills them.
I missed the name drawing and watch as an average looking boy takes to the stage. He doesn't look like the prototypical District 4 tribute and I suddenly have a strange urge to protect him, I guess it's just my motherly instinct, wanting to protect something I know will be in danger soon enough. When the boy reaches the stage Karis shakes his hand and then goes back to the mic. I watch the boy as he shuffles his feet nervously. I hope he will do well....
I'm lead out of the Justice Building and towards the train stations, tears still lingering in my eyes from a heartfel goodbye with Trent and Tyler. I'm heartbroken knowing that this could be the last time I ever see them. I could be dead within a few weeks. It's even worse, when I know that if I die so will Trent. And even Tyler could be in danger, as I know my parents will train him for the Hunger Games. They wanted a child to become Victor so bad that I don't doubt that if I fail they will force Tyler to try and succeed in my place.
Two Peacekeepers open the train doors for Karis, Nikki and me and then they shut behind us, the train beginning its journey to the Capital. Karis quickly excuses herself and goes to find our mentors. I sit down on one of the long couches and decide to speak with Nikki.
"Um. Hi there! I'm Scarlet!"
His eyes flicker towards me and he nods his head slowly but doesn't speak. I frown, thinking he's not exactly an outgoing person. I try again, asking him if he's nervous and he simply gets up and rummages through a drawer behind him. At first I just think he's rude but then he comes back with a sheet of paper and begins to scribble furiously in it. When he finishes he shows it to me and I read it aloud.
I can not speak. I am mute. Sorry, but I can not communicate with you well
"I...uh...oh" I don't know what to say. He seems to understand my discomfort and smiles reassuringly. I try to return it but it feels forced. I was sort of hoping that this boy would be able to join the Careers with me, despite looking decidedly average. But now I know that won't be happening. They would never accept a mute kid into the Careers. I want to say something to him, something helpful, when Karis returns with our mentors and they begin to give us a rundown of the upcoming things. I try to remember it all, knowing that it could be the difference between me and my family living...or dying.
District Five: Johnathan Mikeal
The man slides the crowbar out from the door and stares me down with a decidedly uneasy look. He certainly wasn't expecting my appearance.
"Should you report this the Peacekeepers or should I?" I ask him innocently. The man's eyes flicker from the door he was just attempting to break open to me and back. If my sudden arrival wasn't enough to unsettle him then my appearance certainly has. I'm nearly six and a half feet tall and very muscular. He may be an adult man but I am much bigger than him.
"How about you run off before you get hurt?" He snarls finally regaining his composure. I smile at the man, knowing full well I won't be the one getting hurt here.
"I'm still giving you a chance leave," I tell him. "You can drop the crowbar and go. I won't tell the Peacekeepers and everyone is happy"
"You think I'm afraid of you?"
"No. I was hoping you'd do the right thing. But people like you never do" The man springs forward as soon as I finish, swinging the crowbar straight for my head. Unfortunately for him I had anticipated such a move and calmly step aside as his weapon clashes against the brick wall of the alley. He staggers backwards, slightly confused, when I take advantage of the situation and slam an elbow into the side of his head. He falls into a group of trash cans and knocks them over sending the garbage inside all over the alley. A cat, startled by the ruckus, out from a dumpster and out of the alley.
"You done yet?" I ask him as he sits up with a dazed look on his face. I'd prefer to let the fight end here but oftentimes my opponent thinks otherwise.
"I-I I'm done!" He raises his hands into the air and stands up. For the first time I take in his ripped and filthy clothing and realize he might have been forced into this act through desperation and feel a pang of guilt for hitting him so hard.
Than his next move erases all that guilt.
He scoops up one of the empty garbage cans, raises it over his head and chucks it at me. I only barely dodge the throw and grab him by the collar of his coat. He yelps in terror and I throw him against the dumpster. He hits it hard and I bend down and pick up one of the fallen dumpster lids as he gets back up yet again.
"Seriously? Don't you ever give up?"
My question seems to only enrage him and he lets out a tremendous howl, beating his fists against his chest before charging me headfirst. I sigh and hold out the lid.
He runs full speed into it and knocks himself out. I shake my head in disappointment at his performance but am glad that he was subdued. It's a good thing I came along or he could have broken into the local bakery and potentially have caused some serious trouble for not only the baker but also his customers.
"What am I going to do with you?" I ask myself as I look at his unconscious body. Leaving him here would cause him to miss the Reaping and will put him in trouble. While he certainly deserves punishment, he deserves it for his proper crime and not some ridiculous Capital offense. I shrug as I come to a decision. "Guess you're coming with me"
I pick the guy up and sling him over my shoulders as I head off. The urban streets are empty as I walk down them carrying the man. Most of the District's population has already left for the courtyard of the largest factory in the District, where we hold the Reaping due to it being one of the few places large enough for all of us to gather. That's probably why the man chose to try and rob the bakery now, while everyone is at the Reaping he would have had an easy time getting in and out without anyone noticing. Unfortunately for him I just happened to choose that alley to head down.
The deep murmur of voices in the wind tells me that I'm close to the factory and the gigantic building soon comes in sight. The large black gates that lead into the clearing have been thrown open and the Peacekeepers have set up a checkpoint in between them.
Two Peacekeepers come walking up to me as I approach and I slide the man off from my shoulders and deposit him at their feet.
"I caught him trying to break into the bakery," I tell them. "Figured I'd hand him over to you" One of the Peacekeepers nudges the man with his foot and he stirs slightly, grumbling softly. The other nods at and thanks me. I brush it off and tell them I was only doing my civic duty and as they begin to pull the man to his feet I go get my blood taken. I like those Peacekeepers. They showed that you can't just judge someone because of their position. Everyone is different and you can't just make generalizations about people or you risk looking like a fool.
After getting my blood taken I enter the gates and join the enormous crowd that has gathered inside. The stage is set up at the entrance to the factory and from this distance it's difficult to see the people on it. I join the line of eighteen year olds and since I'm so much taller than everyone else around me I have a clear view of the stage, even if they're hard to make out. The proceedings begin soon and I'm able to hear due to the microphone sounding throughout the clearing. It doesn't take long before the brand new escort, Maxwell Ibrahim, selects the first name from the girls bowl.
The name hangs over the crowd and then a girl from the front of the crowd heads onto the stage. I'm too far back to see her clearly but I can tell she's shaking Maxwell's hand and he then goes to pull out the boys name.
I freeze. I know that name, I know who it belongs to. Who just got a death sentence handed to him. I see him now, shaking as he walks up the steps to the stage. I know I can't allow him to head to his death. I don't even think twice as I throw my hand in the air, shouting that I volunteer. The crowd makes way for me as I push through them towards the stage. Stewart stares at me in shock as I reach him and tears automatically begin to pour down his face. He's a small boy, probably only thirteen years old. I remember the first time I saw him, when he was being bullied and beaten up by a kid much older and bigger than him. I couldn't just sit there and let it happen so I stepped in attempting to stop the fight. The bully of course didn't listen and I was forced to fight and defeat him. I've looked out for Stewart ever since then and I will look out for him here too.
"I defended you once and I'll do it again," I tell him and he rushes forward to hug me. I clap him on the back and tell him I'll be fine. Stewart wouldn't last in the Games but I'm a different matter. If shown that I'm strong and can fight, haven't I? I could win. It will be difficult but certainly not impossible.
"Don't lose!" Stewart begs as Peacekeepers pull him down from the stage and Maxwell, who now that I'm closer I can see he has bright purple hair and is dressed in a business suit, pats me on the shoulder and shoves a microphone in my face.
"Well you brave boy, me and the entire District are just dying to know your name!"
i look out into the crowd. They're all staring ahead with varying expressions. Some are shocked, some are happy seeing that they have a strong tribute this year, and others seem to simply not care. Its not them on stage so why shoukld they?
"Johnathan Mikeal" My name doesn't drive the crowd to any real emotion beyond a quarter of them applauding for me. These people realize that I am doing this to save Stewart and they respect me for it. I respect them too, for they know what true honor is. I won't let them down. I will try to win these Games not only for myself but for them as well. I will also win for someone else. For Stewart. For a friend.
District Six: Amore Madness
I roll the apple across the table from one hand to the next. Back and forth. Back and forth. It's comforting repetitiveness makes me feel relaxed. The motion helps stimulate my mind. Back and forth. Back and forth. The door to the kitchen swings open and in come my parents, my mother sits down at the table beside me. While my father starts himself a cup of coffee. Both of them are dressed in Reaping day finery.
"It's okay to be nervous Amore," My mother says gently and I shrug.
"I'm not nervous. Why would I be nervous? There's no reason to be nervous!" My denial helps myself. Why am I nervous? There really is no need for me to be nervous. There's only a few slips of paper with my name on them in that bowl. There's tons of other kids with more slips in there. I shouldn't be nervous in the slightest. I'm not nervous in the slightest. Only a little bit wary.
"Being selected in the preliminaries doesn't mean anything," My father agrees setting his mug of coffee down at the table and joining us. "Loads of people get selected their" The Preliminary Reapings. The Reapings that decide whether your name will be in the final main Reaping. Most Districts don't have any preliminaries but due to District Six's sheer size they are a necessity, otherwise all of the citizens would have to cram ourselves into one tiny area and the bowl would have to be ginormous to hold all of the names needed. I smile to myself as I think of this bowl. It would look so comical and funny. I imagine District Six's escort Calpurnia Joffree reaching into the bowl and accidentally falling in and start laughing at the hilarious image.
"What's so funny?" My dad frowns and I quickly explain my mental image and start laughing again. My mother joins in and my dad simply shakes his head in amazement at our laughter and then looks at the apple in my hands. "You picked a nice red one Amore"
"Did I?" I stare at the fruit in my hands. I am color blind. I have been since birth. I've never even seen the color "red" and have no idea what it even looks like. Whenever I ask people about it always they say things like "its the color of an apple!" But that's not helpful when to me an apple looks just like everything else. A better answer is that its a color that reminds them of warmth or heat, because its the color of fire. It doesn't really help me visualize things but I always feel a little warmer when I see things that are suppose to be red. "Looks just like all of the others to me"
"Trust me. It's much redder then the rest. Probably tastes better too" I decide to trust him on this and take a bite out of the apple. He's right. It is one of the better tasting apples I've had in awhile.
"We should get going. The Reapings are about to start" My mother rises from her chair and heads for the door, grabbing her coat along the way. I slowly follow suit and as I reach the door my father speaks.
"Listen Amore," I turn to face him and see a serious glint in his eyes as he continues. "Even if in some chance you are Reaped, I want you to know you still have a shot of winning. Your mother and I have passed down our skills to you. You're a Madness and that means the Hunger Games are in your blood. You know what to do and how to do it. It won't be a death sentence. Not for you"
My mother nods sagely. Yes, the Games are in my blood. Both of my parents have won the Games before, they both are Victors. That's why we live in Victor Village, why my name is in the bowl so few times. I've never had the need to take tessarae and I never will. But that doesn't mean I can't get reaped. My name is still in there, in smaller amounts then others but still there. I could still get taken but....my dad's words encourage me. They've taught me how to survive in the wild and basic fighting skills since I was a small child. They always knew that in Panem it was important for any child to be prepared for the worst, even the child of two Victors. Especially the child of two Victors. The Capital would expect them to do well, to be strong.
"I'm not worried," I say once again, this time more sure of myself. I don't think I will be getting Reaped and if I do, well, I think I could handle it. "I'm just wary"
"Good!" My father smiles broadly and pats me on the back as he steps out the door. "Because a smart person is always wary. I learned that in the Games" He motions for me to join him and I step out onto the porch into the sunny morning. We all pile into the car and dad drives us to the parking area for the reapings, where we're forced to exit and continue on foot. The stage is set up at the foot of the train station and everyone whose name was drawn in the preliminaries have already gathered there, awaiting the two kids named to be drawn by the always ridiculously dressed Calpurnia Joffree.
This year she's dressed in some sort of ostrich costume, with a large feather that empirically swirls above her head. I can't see it but I'm sure its some gaudy color. People always tell me that the Capitol loves gaudy colors. Not that I know what a gaudy color is though...
"Welcome!" Calpurnia shouts into the microphone with a broad smile etched on her face. "Welcome, welcome to the reapings for the 398th Hunger Games!" She pauses for the small amount of applause and then continues, the feather on her head bouncing around with every word. "This year two brave children shall face fire and tribulations of the Games, in an effort to emerge victorious and bestow upon District 6 the glorious honor and prestige of winning a Hunger Games!"
This sort of drudgery continues until she finally prances over to the girls' bowl and reaches in for a name. All the while I'm silently begging for the name not to be mine. For it to be anyone else s but mine. Despite my belief that I would do well, I don't want to see if my beliefs are well founded. I don't want to be in the Games. Even my parents, who try to conceal the agony the Games inflicted upon them, still have nightmares about what they faced. I don't want to face that possibility if I somehow survive. Calpurnia holds the name up to her lips, smiling as she reads it silently. Then she reads it aloud.
For all of those who could see it, I bet the color drained from my face. Silence befalls the crowd as I step forward. The faces of the people looking at me are all different. Some of them seem to recognize my surname and eventually an excited whisper starts as I ascend the stage and stand beside Calpurnia. She smiles at me but my eyes go to the ridicoulous feather on her head, I watch as it flutters in the wind. She's saying something but I'm so focused on the feather that I don't hear it. I think she's mentioning my parents but I'm not sure. I'm not sure of anything but that feather. I don't even pay attention to the rest of the Reaping until another name is called.
The owner of that name turns out to be a muscular darked haired boy. He climbs on the stage with a stony face and Calpurnia begins to congratulate him on being reaped. I rip my gaze from the stage and survey the crowd, trying to see my parents. I can't spot them and before I know it I'm being dragged away by Peacekeepers towards the Justice Building. Buck and I are both taken up a flight of stairs and into adjacent rooms. The Peacekeepers shut the door and then I'm alone.
I fidget uncomfortably in my chair. Where are my parents? Shouldn't they be here to say goodbye and giving me last minute advice? Why aren't they here? I'm starting to worry when I realize it hasn't been that long. They'll arrive soon.
But they don't.
I wait and wait but they don't show. I worry that they have given up on me but then I dismiss that as a stupid thought. They would never just give up on me. Never. But then where are they? I pace across the room and when I reach the far wall I hear voices on the other side. I recognize one as Buck's and can't help but pressing my ear against the wall to hear better.
"Rosalina I'm telling you, watch out for Joshua! He's the reason I'm going in the Games. I'm worried about what he might do if I don't come back!"
"Buck you're not making sense. Why would Joshua do that? Why would he rig the Reaping? He's our brother, he wouldn't want this..." The second voice is feminine and judging by what it said, his sister.
"He did it because I pissed him off that's why! And I'm afraid that if I don't return and you piss him off he'll do the same thing to you!"
"Buck, I really don't think-"
The sound of a door swinging open behind me has me swiveling around, taking my ear off of the wall and not hearing the end of the conversation. My parents have finally came!
Two Peacekeepers come in, telling me that its time to go to the train. I try to protest, to tell them my parents have yet to arrive but they don't listen and I'm dragged off for the station. Calpurnia meets both Buck and me at there and we're passed off into her care. She drolls on about her makeup and hair but I don't think either of us really listen. I'm too depressed thinking about how my parents didn't come. Why? Do they not care if I never return? Maybe they're disappointed in me for getting reaped at all...
"You two hang tight!" Calpurnia is by one of the doors leading further into the train. "Your mentors shall be with you in a moment! I'm going to go freshen up. Ta-ta!" She prances out the door, leaving me alone with Buck, who is angrily scowling at everything and anything. When he scowls at me I can't help but lash out at him.
"What's your problem?" I ask him. "It's not my fault your brother rigged the Reapings!" His face flushes and he opens and closes his mouth several times. I feel slightly bad for making him so uncomfortable and about to apologize when he realizes something.
"Wait. How do you know that?" His eyes glow angrily as he comes to the only possible conclusion. "You were spying on me! Weren't you!?"
"What? No! I mean yes! But I can expla--"
He lurches across the room and grabs me around the throat, shaking me with a sudden fury that I've never seen. My breath is cut off and I struggle uselessly to escape his grip as he rants. "You STUPID little conniving bitch! You think you can just spy on me?!"
I try to shake my head but he's shaking me so hard I don't think he can even notice. I feel myself losing conciousness and I fear that he might kill me, I might die before I even get into the Games. But no. Seeing my condition he throws me across the room and I bounce off of a sofa, hittting the ground and rubbing my throat as I breath gratefully. I thought I was done for. Buck growls to himself and flips over a coffee table when the doors suddenly swing open and our mentors walk in. I gape in shock at their familar faces, their friendly eyes. I don't believe it but my eyes don't lie.
My parents are my mentors.
District Seven: Nick Maclachlan
The morning sun shines as I walk through the forest. Today is unquestionably the worst day of the year. Reaping day. The day where the Capital forces it's will and power upon us all and force us to send two kids to their deaths. Yes, they could end up surviving but they would be better off dead then living through the horrors they will endure in the Games. I don't understand why most people find it preferable to live in fear then fight for their rights. Not until the rebellion last year did anyone in District 7 other then me fight against the Capital. I, however, have been fighting majority of my life.
The first time I learned about the Games I freaked out. I couldn't understand why no one wanted to fight against them, why everyone just accepted everything. I fled from my home and somehow wound up in the Capital, where I set a building on fire and then proceeded to stab a person on the streets. I didn't care that they died. They weren't like us, they were evil people who enjoyed killing us all. One of them was even a Gamemaker. He deserved his death the most.
I try to purge my mind of these unpleasant thoughts as I stroll through the forest, enjoying its natural beauty. Life could be an enjoyable thing, if only the Capital didn't exist. A faint buzzing sound stops me and I peer through the thick foliage to see the outline of a fence. The fence that prevents us from going to far into the forest. This forest is different from most others as it is untapped and untouched by the logging industry. It's also the place where yearly escape from the District and head back to the Capital to kill more Capitolites.
My next journey to the Capital will have me targeting my biggest challenge yet. The Head Gamemaker. I have just narrowed down his location and I have a plan in place to get him. My original plan was to strike him down during the pre-game festivities. That would certainly bring disorder and terror to the Capital, seeing their head executioner killed.
I could instead go now. Find him and kill him before he even has time to give his early thoughts on the Reapings. Nothing could stop me, I would be able to do it without much hassle. Except...I can't go today. Today is Reaping day and if I don't show up to the Reaping they will investigate and discover I'm gone. They could even punish my parents in my place and I don't want that.
Furiously I kick a loose stone into the fence, where it sparks and shoots off. That's just another way the Capital can control us. By threatening the ones we care about and not letting us do a thing about it. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I have to get to the Reaping right now. I turn back and walk the path back the way I came, trying not to get myself too angry.
Stepping out into the clearing where the stage has been deployed I get my blood taken, trying to avoid looking into the face of the Peacekeeper. I might have an urge to punch him if I look at him. After this I get in my proper line and glare at the escort Wan Dirx. He's wrapped up in bandages, apparently trying to resemble a mummy or something, and is taking to the Mic to speak but all he says is that it is now time to reap our tributes. A bandaged hand goes into the bowl and a name is plucked out.
My breath catches in my throat and I stumble backwards. No! I can't be reaped! I have to kill the Head Gamemaker! I can't go into his game! I will face certain death there. No! I turn and push through the crowd, trying to get the the edge of the clearing so I can disappear into the woods and escape. They will never catch me once I'm in there, I know the woods too well and I can slip out through the fence. They won't have me in their games.
No one in the crowd attempts to stop me as I push through them. Maybe they're just interested in seeing how far I can get. Or maybe they want me to get away. It doesn't matter. I reach the edge of the clearing when a group of Peacekeepers block my path. I turn to veer away when I'm grabbed from behind. I shout in protest as they drag me onto the stage but it doesn't change a thing. They have me.
"That was quite a show," Wan frowns as the Peacekeepers hold me in front of him. I shake their hands off of my arms and they let go. Apparently they don't need to constrain me on the stage. "Do you have anything to say about that young man?"
My answer is to spit in his face.
He wipes his face as I'm struck hard in the back of the head. My ears ring as I hear the crowd gasp and someone delivers a swift kick to my gut. I roll over in pain but refuse to show it. I can't let them win. A Peacekeeper goes to hit me again when the Mayor waves them off and they comply. I'm certain that was only to save face in front of the other District's watching on television then it was to help me. I try to get back on my feet when my hands are grabbed and held out behind me as they clamp a pair of handcuffs around them. Now totally captured, I'm forced to watch the remainder of the Reaping.
Wan ignores the previous altercation and goes to select another name with a giddiness. He's good, I'll give him that. He certainly knows how to ignore the cruelty of reality. As he pulls the next name out I notice Peacekeepers tightening around the crowd. They obviously hope to avoid another attempt at fleeing. But as it turns out, that wasn't necessary. Before Wan reads the name a girl in the audience volunteers.
I'm shocked, the crowds shocked, even Wan's shocked. No one expected a volunteer after what I just pulled. I myself am angry that some moron in the crowd has the audacity to want to be in the games.
The girl, who has black neck-length hair with red highlights and a fierce expression, wastes no time in climbing the stage. Wan smiles at her, his happiness at a willing volunteer apparent, and asks for her name.
"I am Fiora Waltz! Head of House Waltz and the greatest duelist that has ever lived! I am going to not only win these Games but dominant them! I will show all of Panem my skill and perseverance!"
The girls an idiot, I realize. Receive honour from winning the Hunger Games? Ha! As if! She's delusional, obviously eating what the Capital feeds her. Unfortunately her stupidity is encouraged by some morons in the crowd who actually cheer for her! I look around and see that the Peacekeepers have also joined in on the applause, Wan even has tears in his eyes! The world truly is stupid.
The girl has a few more things to say but already knowing her idiocy I tune her words out and wait for the Reapings to come to a close, which they do. Once they're finished I'm lead past the Justice Building and straight to the train, where I'm shoved aboard without even having my handcuffs removed.
There's not much to preoccupy me inside of the train car. I sit on an eloquent chair and wait, all the while taking in my oppulent surroundings.
Do they really think that this is right? That they can have this sort of stuff while the rest of us labor in the hot sun and slowly starve? Or do they realize it but simply not care? Either way, they're despicable and deserve death.
It's about a dozen minutes later when Fiora arrives. She sits on the opposite side of the train and stares at me. I try to ignore her for awhile but the burning intensity of the look and my hatred for what she did finally gets to me.
"Oh look! It's Fiora Waltz! The Head ouf House Waltz and the greatest duelist that ever lived!" I say the last part in a ridicoulous falsetto voice, complete with her horrid noble accent. She doesn't take this well, her face contorting in rage as she stands up and points an accusing finger at me.
"Words from a coward who tried to flee his fate! You're a disgrace to society!" I snort loudly and then let out a condescending laugh. I'm a disgrace to society? If that's true then society doesn't deserve to even exist!
"You think you will find honor in the Games? You think that anyone cares about your skill? Think again! All that's awaiting you is death and when it happens I'll be there laughing" I finish with a triumphant smile. Fiora stares at me with an uncertain look and I might have actually gotten to her.
I couldn't have been more wrong.
She leaps across the room and punches me square in the jaw. My hands are still cuffed and I'm unable to soften my landing as my chair flips over. Fiora doesn't give me an opportunity to regain my balance and mounts me, punching and clawing at me all the while screaming about me "insulting her honor"
I have no way to defend myself and curl into a ball as the beating continues. I just try to cover my face to avoid any severe damage and hope that it stops soon, which it does when some of the staff on the train appear and pull her off of me.
"What is going on?!" Wan blusters as he comes in. He's blurry and out of focus for me. My eyes both must be bruised and my lip is bleeding. Fiora is still shouting angrily as the staff drags her out of the room.
"Sheb attahced meh," I try to say through my swollen lips and Wan lets out a curse as he peers down at me.
"Why did you just sit there and take it?" He demands and I meekly hold out my handcuffed wrists. He shakes his head and mumbles something about the Peacekeepers and takes out a key proceeding to unlock the cuffs. "Next time don't antagonize her!" He snaps and follows the staff out of the room, keen to check on Fiora. The stupid little brat.
My face sore and bloody, I go to a mirror and stare into it, seeing the damage done. Damn. She really did a number on me. If this is just the start then I really have my work cut out for me
District Eight: Aisha Hakeem
As I sit in the crowd assembled affront of the stage where two kids will soon be sent off to the Hunger Games, I wonder whether I am making the right choice. Should I be volunteering for the Games? Am I moron for doing this? Maybe. But I don't see any other way for me and Colin to be together and I know that I couldn't stand not being with him.
I remember the first time I saw him, when I had awoken from being beat unconscious by a discriminating Peacekeeper. He helped me recover and brought me home when I might otherwise have never made it. After that moment I quickly fell for him and everything was perfect...
Until a year later, when I finally met his parents.
I shake my head as I remember. I always thought it was odd that for the entire year of our dating that I had never met them. I should have known there was a reason for that. I should never have urged him to have us meet and then this wouldn't be happening. We could still be together.
But it did happen and now I'm here.
"District Eight are you ready?!" Our escort Escrow Bestow screams into the microphone as he bounces back and forth on the stage with his disturbing velvet skin. For some reason he had a full skin transplant, changing his flesh into soft red velvet, years ago and now he looks like some sort of deranged, skinless monkey bouncing around on the stage with a mic. "We are about to find out who are tributes for the 398th Annual Hunger Games are!"
My eyes drift from the stage and begin examining the crowd, trying to spot Colin. I hope he understands what I'm about to do. Escrow continues talking as I search and then I see him. Not Colin, but his father. He's lined up with the other Peacekeepers at the edge of the clearing, his cold hard eyes analysing everything that goes on. As always, a shiver runs up my spine when I see him.
Because he was the Peacekeeper who beat me.
That's why Colin and I can't be together. The day I came to meet his parents I saw him and recognized him. He recognized me as well. And since he has a hatred for me and all other Muslim people, he attempted to attack me again. Yes, the reason I can't be with Colin is because I am Muslim. It's ridiculous but...
Colin tried saying the sane thing when he stepped in to stop the beating. But he didn't listen. I fled the house and Colin took the beating for me. The next day he called and told me we were done.
I can't say how much it hurt me for that to happen. Not only that we were apart but that I caused Colin pain. I, however inadvertently, made him suffer. I would have rather taken the beating then have him get beat. I would do anything to stay with him.
Which is why I'm volunteering today.
As much as his father despises Muslims he loves Victors. He thinks they are the best of the best and if I can somehow become one, he'll have to know I'm worthy of Colin. And even if he still refuses, I will be a Victor and those are the most influential people in the country. I could get anything.
"It is time to reap our female tribute!" Escrow shouts and digs a hard into the bowl. I take a deep breath, preparing myself. There will be no going back once I do this. I will have no choice but to go into the Games and fight for my survival. Do I really want to do this? I open my mouth to shout then...
Fear grips me as I realize if I lose there will be no chance of being with Colin. But if I don't even try then there is no chance. Period. I watch as Escrow pulls a slip out, as he raises it to his face, as his lips begin to move. I make a decision.
Gasps spread throughout the crowd. No one thought that there would be a volunteer. But they all thought wrong.
I climb the stage with everyone's eyes on me. Escrow laughs like an excited clown and smacks me heartily on the back. I avoid falling over and meekly speak into the microphone as my eyes search for Colin in the crowd. I spot him just as I finish my name. He's staring at me with horror filled eyes and attempts to move when a friend of his grabs him and prevents it.
I close my eyes, silently praying for him to understand why I'm doing this. Escrow doesn't seem the least bit effected by my reaction and continues blabbing furiously into his Mic, saying that he bets this year "will be the best year for District Eight ever!" Before going to select the boy's name.
Silence first then laughter. A group of boys point and laugh at a lone figure in the middle of them and then push him toward the stage as he remains frozen in shock.
I feel bad for the guy, with all of his peers laughing at him. It reminds me of how I'm always being judged. My pity grows, when I see that the boy, dressed in a black hoodie and bandana that covers his face, is crying.
This doesn't stop the boys though, as they continue to laugh and throw insults. I watch as he feebly climbs the stage and as he reached us Escrow asks him what's wrong.
The boy looks up, his eyes a strange reddish pink. He stares straight into the crowd and then pulls the bandanna down, revealing a grotesque metal thing that at first I'm unable to recognize until I see the zipper hanging there. His mouth is a zipper.
The crowd gasps at this reveal and the boy unzips his mouth and let's out a shout.
"F---. YOU. ALL!"
Peacekeepers don't hesitate to grab him and they drag him off. He goes without resisting, merely hanging there as he's dragged off. I throw a glance towards Escrow and then more Peacekeepers surround me and I'm lead off after Banette and the others. I'm running the words I'll say to Colin through my head when I recognize one of the Peacekeepers with me.
I'm dropped off in a room in the Justice Building and as the doors sling shut with his father standing guard, I realize I won't be able to say goodbye to Colin.
District Nine: Lyman Milton
The old country lane that is so often empty is crowded with people as I walk down it. They're all gathered around something on the side of the path and I come to a stop, the others who also have come from the outlying fields of the District stopping as well. A Peacekeeper steps back from the group and waves a hand at us.
"Back off!" He orders us and the crowd all does as he says, revealing a oddly body shaped figure under a yellow tarp. "Get moving!" The Peacekeeper ushers the people along. "Get to the Reaping!"
The people who had gathered around continue on their way down the path and I, along with the others from the fields, look at the Peacekeepers with interest. It ain't every day when there's this much commotion going on near the outskirts of District Nine so 'course we're eager to know what's going on.
"What are you all gawking at?" The Peacekeeper demands when he sees that we haven't moved on. "I thought I said to--"
"Looks like a homicide Albus," Another Peacekeeper speaks as he peeks under the tarp. "Girl was seemingly bashed to death with a rock."
Homicide? It ain't every day when one of those happens here in District Nine. Usually it's the Peacekeepers doing the killing, executing rebels and those who simply don't co-exist with them. It's rare to see one citizen kill another.
"Well, do we have any suspects?" The first Peacekeeper says irritability turning his back on us.
"Not really, no. Could check the rock for fingerprints though" The two of 'em begin discussing theories when they recognize that we haven't left yet and one makes a sharp motion for us to get moving, which I do. It ain't worth it to get involved in something that likely won't ever 'fect me.
Besides, I got other things to worry 'bout. Reaping day is today and we gotta get to the square before it begins or we'll really be getting it.
Focusing all my energy on staring down at the simple dirt path below my feet I try not to think 'bout the possibility of me getting Reaped. Death would come to me for sure, District Nine hasn't had a Victor since way back in the 325th Hunger Games, where a lass named Hazel Dyer won. She had a polarizing 'fect on the District. Some people hated her, others loved her...at least originally.
Nowadays 'bout everyone curses her name. They all say she's the reason we haven't had another Victor, think that betraying and killing her own District partner cursed us. I don't know 'bout curses but I do know that all of our tributes have died since she won. I ain't expecting any different of a result this year. The poor saps who get put into the Games are gonna end up deader then driftwood. People say that the curse probably won't ever be broken until she dies, which hasn't happened yet. She's still alive living off in the Capital.
I keep my head down as I continue along to the main part of District Nine, where they keep all the buildings and houses. I usually ain't got no business coming up here. Those of us who live out in the fields don't need to come here often. There's no point.
"There you are!"
As we round a street corner we come into sight of the square and a weeping boy. A girl with long sunset orange hair rushes forward and throws her arms around him in a hug.
"I heard about Azera! It's just horrible! Who would do such an evil thing?!" The girl begins crying and it doesn't take a genius for me to realize they're speaking about the dead girl we passed earlier. I hadn't given any thought to the people that death may have effected but now I feel bad for the two of them as I walk past on my way to the stage but then, out of the corner of my eye, I see the girl smile over the guys shoulder.
Well, I'm bewildered. First she's crying her eyes out, now she's smiling while the guy comforts her? Something is fishy here or my name ain't Lyman Antonious Milton. But once again, this ain't my concern. I just gotta put my head down and keep moving, heading to the Peacekeeper booth and getting my blood taken and then joining the line of seventeen year-olds.
The Reaping doesn't begin right away, I was early and people are still shuffling into their places, the smart ones keeping their heads down and minding their own business. Ever since that rebellion stuff the Peacekeepers don't need much to set them off. They're eager to dish out the punishment for just about anything.
When the Reaping does begin it starts with the Mayor talking 'bout the first, second, and third rebellions and how they're the reason the Hunger Games are necessary cuz us District's simply won't accept the Capital's generosity and continue to defy them.
I ain't an expert on this but I didn't get the feeling that the Capital was going to be changing the Games if we didn't rebel. There had been a hundred years between rebellions after all.
"And now, I give to you, Pomona Radsi, our beloved escort!" Mr. Mayor sweeps his hands to the side, gesturing towards the small woman dressed in a sparkling golden dress with a gilly hat made of wheat.
"Well hello District Nine! I am glad to be able to join you on this fine day!" Pomona smiles sweetly as she speaks and though she is a nice enough lady, she doesn't get any reaction out of this.l crowd So use to death. "Today we will meet our...tributes...of the 398th Annual Hunger Games!" She struggles with the word tributes, well aware that it's more of the line of "sacrifices" or "victims" or maybe even "future corpses". All of those would be far more accurate. "And well...uh...let's meet them now! First the female..."
A shrieking voice pierces the silence of the day. I look around, trying to see who volunteered but everyone else has the same idea and I can't get a good look. I can't help but wondering why anyone in their right mind would be volunteering. Everyone knows that no one from District Nine can win. It just ain't done. But this girl is certainly going to try.
"Come on up sweetie!" Pomona urges and as the girl listens I start in surprise. It's the girl who was crying over the death! The one I had a bad feeling about! Well, my feeling is even greater now. Why in the world would she volunteer at this moment? Right after learning her friend was dead? Something really ain't right.
The girl is swaying with delight as she stands on the stage and when Pomona offers her the microphone she doesn't hesitate to take it. "My name is Juline Cenia and I'm your next Victor!" She finishes with a smirk and tosses her hair as she crosses her arms. There's an awkward silence as we all think over her words. Next Victor? Good luck with that. She doesn't seem to mind though and she taps her feet impatiently as Pomona finally decides to select the next name.
"And Juline's District partner will be...Lyman Milton!"
I think about all of the District Nine lives claimed by the Games in this past century and feel an overwhelming sense of dread as I climb onto the stage. The crowd is dead silent as I stand before them, an obvious sacrificial lamb. Juline laughs at my appearance but I don't care what she thinks. She'll be as dead as me in a few weeks. I gaze over the crowd, searching for my parents. When I find them I see their sad faces and feel like I disappointed them, though I know there was nothing I could have done to prevent this.
"Why you look like a hardy young lad!" Pomona says to me as I hold off hope that there will be another crazy like Juline willing to volunteer in my place.
The Reapings go on as usual and I know that my fate is sealed. I will be going into the Hunger Games...and I will die.
District Ten: Cleopatra Royalty
Lounging around on my luxurious tan L shaped sofa with my cats beside me I feel as if life couldn't get anymore purrfect.
The purring heaps of fur roll around my ankles as I rest, content to rest in idyllic peace, my morphling inspired visions having died down, leaving me in a giddy state of mind. I wouldn't mind spending the rest of the day here, I would too, if it weren't for the Reaping later this morning.
Who do they think they are?! Able to boss me, Cleopatra Royalty around? I am royalty! In both name and title! I deserve the utmost of respect and dedication! I shouldn't have to attend the Reaping if I don't want to!
Not that I don't want to attend though: I certainly do. I love seeing the horrified looks on the kids faces when they get reaped, knowing that they face all most certain doom. It never fails to pleasure me. I enjoy others suffering, almost more then anything else in the world.
Perhaps...perhaps I should volunteer? I would love nothing more then to receive the opportunity to inflict carnage and chaos on all of those unfortunate enough to get Reaped. It would most certainly be an adrenalin rush and I do so enjoy those...
I shall decide later. For now I shall content myself on getting to the District square.
I stand up and head for the door. My cats follow me, mewing at my feet. I bend down and stroke their soft fur as they purr contentedly. "You cannot come with me," I tell them with slight disappointment. They follow me around most of the places I go, but not to the town square. "Those Peacekeepers would never allow you in the square. But don't worry; I would claw their eyeballs out, oh yes I would! I would gouge out those mean old men's eyes for you sweeties!" I lose myself in this conversation and am only able to regain my composure when a clock chimes. I gently brush the cats aside and as they bundle off to chase a fly that had gotten in, I slip out the door.
I don't waste any of my valuable time, setting off down the streets at a brisk place. I live in one of the more glamorous and exorbitant parts of the District, not that there are many. My area and the Victor Village are about the fanciest things here, which is a disappointment to me.
"Out of my way!" I growl as I push my way through the streets that are gradually getting more crowded as I get closer to the Reaping area. "You are in the presence of royalty!" I shove one of the girls in my path so hard she falls to the hard pavement beneath her. She gets up, rubbing her elbows ruefully but knowing better then to try and argue with me. The last girl that tried that had my fingernails raked across her face.
The square is buzzing with people and voices and has a disgusting odor of cows and the sort. These hideous people tend to smell like manure, mostly because they spend all their time hanging around it. I impaiently wait in line to get my blood taken and as soon as its finished I shove myself past everyone to get to the front of the crowd.
"Hello District 10!" The escort Thaddeus Stubbins says, his long brown beard swaying in the light breeze. "I welcome you to yet another Reaping! May the odds ever be in your favor!" Compared to the style backwards people of District 10 he's dressed fashionably in a long black gown with gold fur rimmed edges.
"I hope you are all ready to find out who are tributes are!" Thaddeus rubs his hands together gleefully as he approaches the males bowl. He digs a hand in, taking his time rummaging through the slips of paper, trying to find one to select. He finally decides on one near the bottom and pulls it out, slowly opening it up.
"District Ten, your male tribute for the 398th Hunger Games is.....Steeeeephennnnnn Staaaaaaaar!" He draws the name out in dramatic fashion as he reads. I spin around, my elbow smashing into a nearby girl's face, and look for the selected boy. I spot him moving in the fifteen year-olds line. The boy looks decidedly average, brown hair, typical height, maybe a little paler then most citizens .
Ha! He's nothing special. Not that anyone in District 10 is special, besides for me of course. The boy, I've already forgotten his name, is shaking Thaddeus's hand and then he is brushed aside as he moves for the next bowl. As he digs for a name I contemplate volunteering but ultimately decide against it. I have a feeling this will sort itself out.
"And District Ten's female tribute is...Cleoooooopaaaaaatraaaa Royaaaaaaltyyyyyy!"
I beam at the announcement of my name and the spectacular fashion it was announced in. I shove past the few girls beside me and leap onto the stage. Thaddeus congratulates me and my District partner, Stave or something, offers his hand at me. I look at him with distaste. He is a mere peasant to me, true royalty. I don't interact with those below me, unless I am killing them of course.
Thaddeus finishes the Reaping off and then next few things just blow past. Soon enough I am sitting at a fabulous table in the train car with Thaddeus and Scrave. I pull a bottle of wine out from a bucket on the table and lounge back as I pop it open. I begin drinking when Stove speaks, staring at me with a dubious expression.
"Should you be drinking that?" He asks and I laugh in his face. What a ridiculous question! I can do whatever I please!
"I don't believe I permitted you to speak," I tell him with hostility and take a long drink from the bottle. It's exceptionally well aged and I must commend the Capital on their excellent wine. "So if you wish to keep your tongue you'd best shut up!"
"Should she be drinking that?" Striven a turns to Thaddeus. "And can she threaten me like that?"
Thaddeus shrugs. "I don't care. Anything goes in my book"
"You'd better listen to him Scoopin!" I laugh as I finish off the bottle and Chuck it over the back of my head where it shatters pleasantly on the floor. "Now pass me another slave!"
His eyes darken considerably as he rises and picks up the bucket of bottles. I'm thinking he's going to hand them to me when he faces Thaddeus. "Anything goes right?"
Thaddeus stares at him with an uncertain look. Even I am slightly unsure on his thoughts. "Um, yes. I did say that...anything beyond actual physical interaction..."
Staten marches over to one of the trains windows, slides it open and chucks the bucket right out of the speeding train. Thaddeus sputters in disbelief, moaning about the loss of the wine but I couldn't care less. A cheshire like grin spreads on my face as I realize this boy is a fighter. He stares me down with a fierce look and I keep his gaze. I am quite intrigued at this show!
Finally, he breaks the gaze, striding across the room with authority. He swings the door open but not before turning to give me some last words. "And by the way, my name is Stephen!"
He then proceeds to slam the door shut.
District Eleven: Crimson Typhoon
I stare at the broken down fence, the barrier that separates the uncharted forest from the fields of District Eleven. I know what awaits me in there, I know the huge risk I will be taking in doing this. My hands are shaking, my body trembling. Not out of fear for myself but for Connor. He's in danger and the only way to save him is to put myself in danger too.
I throw a longing look at the forest behind me. I could just leave. Leave Connor to his fate and disappear into the forest, never to be found again. I could disappear easily, no one would ever find me and I would be safe from everything.
Except from my thoughts.
If I did that, if I left Connor to die, after all he's done for me...I could never forgive myself. I wouldn't be able to live with the guilt, it would crush me. I sigh. I look down at the letter in my hands, the letter that I've probably read a million times since receiving. The letter that orders me to volunteer for the Hunger Games or have Connor die.
I've had a very different life then most kids in District Eleven. I don't know if it's worse, I'm still alive after all and a lot of others aren't, but it certainly was different. Not at first though. At first I was just a normal kid. I went to school, got bullied, normal stuff. But one day I got fed up with a bully and wished that a tornado would come, pluck him into the sky, and kill him. Stupid threat, I know. But the strangest thing was, that on the next day, it actually happened. The tornado came, it plucked him up, it killed him.
It was just a coincidence, I knew. But everyone else thought differently. District Eleven is a very superstitious place and when someone makes a threat, especially a very obscure unreasonable one, when it actually happens everyone automatically assumes wizardry.
That's what they all thought I was, a wizard. I wish I was joking but I'm not. Everyone, including my own parents, chased me from the District and out into the forest that surrounds the outlying fields. I didn't, and still don't, understand that. Why would you want to drive off and anger a wizard anyways? Why not try to get him to help fight against your oppressors, the Capital? That's what I would have done. But of course they didn't.
I escaped into the woods, where I lived for a few days afraid and alone. Then I met Connor. At first I was frightened by his hardened appearance. He was only a few years older than me but he was bigger and stronger. He looked menacing and at first I feared he was against me but then he spoke. He told me about how he was also driven off from the District and how he learned to survive in the wild by himself. He offered me the chance to join him and he would teach me how to survive as well. I accepted and my life changed.
I learned, I became strong and fit. I was no longer a scared little boy but a fighter. Connor and I lived out in the woods for two years without ever contacting the District. But then, when we headed back into the District once, we were attacked by a group of men.
We fought back but there too many of them. We thought we'd lose when Peacekeepers came and killed several of the men. We automatically fled back for the forest and hid. Obviously the District still hated us. Two more years passed without incident then, when we were out hunting, we were attacked. It was one of the men who had survived the Peacekeepers. He knocked me down and kidnapped Connor before fleeing. I thought I would never see him again when...I received the letter.
Now here I am, waiting at the edge of the District, ready to volunteer to save my friend. I don't know what the man's motive is, nor do I care, I only want to save Connor and I can only do that with one thing. Winning the Hunger Games.
I'm strong, yes. But I'm no where near the strength level of the Careers or the raging beast tributes who seem to always be present. I'm from an outlying District as well. That will hurt my sponsors, at least early on, once I show them my fortitude I will gain their respect but will I last that long? I don't know. But I have to try.
I slip through the deactivated fence and into the fields. There's hardly anything out this way so the Peacekeepers don't even bother with the fortified fences they have elsewhere in the District and they're too frightened by the rumours of a "wizard" living in the woods to send any patrols. I guess my reputation has at least one benefit.
I encounter no people as I travel through the fields, towards the main part of the District. Everyone should already be off at the Reaping so that's not unexpected. When I do finally see some, a group of harvesters walking along one of the main paths, I hang back and try to conceal my face, least one of them recognize the "wizard".
I follow behind them all the way to the main square. Security has been ramped up immensely since the last time I was here, probably something to do with the supposed rebellion that was going on. Watch towers with armed guards loom over the proceedings and many Peacekeepers move amongst the crowd, daring anyone to try and make a scene. I duck into line and keep my head down as the escort, a vain woman by the name of Lillia Onslow, does the introductions with her ridiculous Capital accent. The whole time she speaks I can't help but think of Connor. What is happening to him? Is he being tortured? Beaten? Does he have enough food? Does he know I'm trying to save him? All of these thoughts and more run through my head, furthering my determination to save him.
"Now let's see our little male tribute, shall we?" Lillia strolls over to one of the large bowls and as I prep myself to shout I think about the irony of the "evil wizard" being about to save some kid from death. "Mongol Man--"
I don't even need to shout. There's not enough noise to make that necessary. No one moves an inch as I ascend the stage, every muscle in my body rigid in anticipation. Not until Lillia asks for my name and I answer does somebody react.
"It's the wizard!"
Panicked screaming results and I fear for ny safety when the Peacekeepers descend upon the crowd, whipping out batons and waving them menacingly at the more unpredictable citizens. One man has the idea of trying to fight back, he takes a concussion blow to the head for that and is quickly dragged off as everyone else begins to settle down. Lillia, urged on by the mayor, continues the Reaping as if nothing had happened.
"And the female tribute is...Raven Night!"
I look out into the crowd to spot the selected girl. She's a small twelve year-old with long black hair and pale skin. The crowd barely reacts, obviously upset with such a young child being picked but knowing they have no chance of changing anything.
The girl takes to the stage stoically enough, not showing much emotion as she stands beside Lillia, her wide eyes attempting to take everything in. Lillia introduces her to the crowd and then has us shake hands.
"Are you really a wizard?" She asks me with an innocent smile. I can't help but adore this little girl.
"No, I'm not a wizard"
"I knew it!" Her smile widens and I allow myself to smile back. She's just a little girl, someone who shouldn't have to be exposed to this barbarity. I want to help her in the Games, maybe ally with her but...I know there can only be one Victor. If I aligned with her I would have to be present when she died or even worse; be the one to kill her. No. I can't ally with her.
"You're a smart girl," I say with my voice cracking somewhat. I hadn't put any thought into it before but if I want to win and save Connor, then thirty-one innocent kids will have to die and I will have to commit murder. It's a hard thing to accept...but something I'm willing to do.
District Twelve: Celica Rotas
I slip under the deactivated fence, a small bag filled with two rabbits over my shoulder. Usually I would have a lot more then this but today my thoughts were clouded with fears of the Reaping. I missed a shot I would normally always make when my mind wandered off to what may happen later today.
I creep through the edge of the District, keeping a close eye out for any Peacekeepers. If I got caught hunting outside the fence in this post-rebellion period I would be shot on sight. Or captured and subjected to torture. Neither of which I desire.
The small tent soon comes into sight and I sigh. While the others won't voice any displeasure at this small haul, I will still feel like I let them down. I approach the tent and gently rap on the top. "I'm back," I say softly and then the opening is zipped open and a small boy a head peeks out.
"Look guys! Celica is back!"
He has such a look of joy that I can't help but smile back, though I still feel bad about the small amount of food I brought. "Calm down Niles," I say as I ruffle his hair and slip inside of the tent. "It's not that special"
He laughs and rolls on the ground. I frown as I spot the outlines of his ribs. We've not been eating well. A combination of the recent rebellion and my distraction.
"Whatcha got Celica?"
I look at the others. The other displaced people of District 12 who have nowhere else to go. There's currently five of us in total. Peter, a forty year-old man who broke his arm and couldn't provide for himself anymore and his wife then left him, Aurora, a relatively young woman in her twenties who was abused by her boyfriend, Rosary, an elderly old woman whose home was invaded and subsequently taken over by a gang and then Niles and me. Niles lost his parents to Peacekeepers and I, well....
I never knew my father and my mother wasn't the best mother. In fact, she was one of the worst. She was technically classified as "mentally sick" and often neglected me in place of many other things such as alcohol, drugs, smoking and wh---ing herself out. I didn't know she was a bad mother at first though, for years she was the only human I had actually even seen. I thought everything she did was normal. Like how she often forgot to feed me, or how she barely spoke to me, or how I was never allowed to go outside. One day she just disappeared. Apparently she had gotten murdered by some guy she was off sleeping with but I didn't know that and just wandered the house by myself for a week before accidentally creating a loud noise that brought the neighbours over. They found me, I was placed in an orphanage but only for a few years before they decided they couldn't support me anymore and kicked me out. That's when I met the others. I've been living with them ever since.
"Two rabbits," I answer Peter's question and drop the bag at his feet. He frowns as he picks the bag up, looking inside. I feel guilty and am about to apologize when he smiles at me.
"It's perfect. Thanks Celica. I wish I could help you more but my arm..." He trails off and I quickly reassure him, telling him I'm fine with it. He nods and goes to store the rabbits away when I look to Aurora.
"What did you two get today?" I ask her. Every morning Niles and her head out into the District where they do anything to find food or money. Stealing, picking pockets, begging. Anything that could supply us with food is done.
"I...we got some of these..." She digs her hand into her coat pocket and pulls out a fist full of coins. "Niles is becoming quite adept at this" I nod and smile, though I don't feel so joyful. We shouldn't have to be doing this. Niles shouldn't be becoming a good pickpocket. I shouldn't need to be illegally hunting in the forest, Rosary shouldn't need to work her fingers to the bone making snares and traps for us. We shouldn't have to do these things. But it's not like I can do anything to change it.
Aurora goes to help Peter and I sit down in the corner of the tent, thinking a bit. I don't think for long though before Rosary looks down at me. A gentle look on her face.
"Are you nervous honey?"
I open my mouth to deny it but don't. I don't want to lie. I am nervous. I'm frightened by what could happen today. Instead, I glumly nod. Rosary smiles and her old fingers wrap around mine.
"It's only reasonable to be nervous. It's okay to be afraid. Just don't let that fear control you"
That's an odd thing to say. But I understand. No matter what happens I can't let my fear get in the way. I have to power through. I thank Rosary for the encouragement when Peter calls us all together, saying it's time for us to get moving. Rosary and I get up, me taking a large breath. I'm the only one who has something to fear this day. The Peter, Aurora and Rosary are too old to be Reaped and Niles isn't old enough. I'm the only one with my name in that bowl. Mine is in there multiple times. I've taken tessarae despite the others advising against it, I just couldn't not do something that would help us get more food and help.
Now as I walk towards the small square, I wonder if this was helping me or if it was only making my odds of getting reaped that much higher. It was worth it though, no matter what happens.
I don't look at my surroundings for the first few minutes but once we get further into the District I start taking in my surroundings. I see the people, starving and beaten, and realize things could still be worse for our group. We could not have one another.
The people around me don't look at anyone else as they carry on their way. Peacekeepers stroll about, ushering everyone on towards the square. The District has always been this way for me but Peter has told me that once things were better, back when a pair of Victors named Soot Dustcloud and Charce Firre improved the quality of life for everyone. Things weren't that bad. But things have changed a lot since then. Especially thanks to the rebellion. District 12 had one of the larger rebel populations and thus has suffered for it. Already I have seen many stocks set up, where prisoners are still being detained and punished.
"There's the square," Peter says as we arrive. Security is tight. Peacekeepers form a taut line around the streets, snipers are poised on the rooftops and two large machine gun nests are set up on the corners of the stage. They could massacre about everyone in the entire square within minutes with those. "They really mean business, don't they?"
"It's scary," Niles complains as a shudder runs down my spine. What if I'm reaped? There will be no escape for me. I would be going into the Games bar nothing.
Peter reminds me that I need to join the other kids in line and I nod, moving to get my blood taken before squeezing myself into the fifteen year-old line.
Up on stage the Mayor and our escort, Pippy Kotu, are speaking. There's not much they say that's new or original: they simply repeat the usual stuff. I never paid much attention to it before and I don't this time. Whenever they finish speaking Pippy goes to one of the bowls giggles, "Gentlemen first!" And then shoves a fist into the bowl and pulls out a name.
Usually the selected tributes are rather small and weak looking but this time a athletic looking redhead boy from the eighteen year-olds line comes up. I wonder why he volunteered. Judging from the unhappy on his face he doesn't seem to be one of those Games lovers. He looks more like he's desperate to get out of here. That's odd but it's what it seems to be.
"Why it looks like we have a volunteer, District 12!" Pippy squeals in utter joy and dances around on stage as the boy stares at her with a weirded out expression. She doesn't seem to be fazed by this though and asks him for his name.
"Good! Good! What a splendid name! You will do well in the Games! I bet my feathers!" Puppy has always been this erratic and strange but I'm used to it. She's so stupid you kinda have to love her. "Lets see your District partner!"
Skipping over to the bowl she pulls a name out and then reads it aloud. I freeze automatically as the name is read. I didn't expect it. I wasn't ready. It came so quickly. I was worried, yes. But my sorrow had been evaporating as the Reaping went on, I began believing it wouldn't happen. But I was wrong.
Because the name that was Reaped is Celica Rotas.
District Thirteen: Zoey Proasheck
Two words. Two words that have sealed my fate. Two simple words, read from a small slip of paper, coming out from the escorts mouth. My legs move me forward as the crowd stares at me in silence, watching the girl whose fate has been sealed.
Am I going to die? No. Not necessarily. I could still survive the Games. It won't be easy. It will probably be the hardest thing I will ever do in my life but I could conceivably survive this.
On the stage the escort has me shake hands with my already selected District partner, Radiant Tayz. He has a mop of messy black hair and a scar sits across his eye. He seems like he could be a tough competitor in the Games. When we finish with our handshake the Reaping is officially wrapped up and we're lead off to say our goodbyes. I get through mine quickly and then I'm lead to the train. Radiant is there as well and the both of us sit down on a long couch, settling into an awkward silence.
"So...ummm," I wrack my brain for something to say but come up empty. I can't think of anything relevant. But it doesn't matter as our mentor strolls in just then. He welcomes the both of us and then turns on the other Reapings that have already taken place. We start with District 1, which has the usual pair. The beautiful girl who seems like a airheaded clutz and the menacing looking boy. District 2 seems just as formidable. A strong but silent guy and the pompous arrogant girl. Despite their traditional looks they will almost certainly be a force to be reckoned with in the Games. It might be in my best interest to join with them...
District 3 breaks the mild with two almost gothic looking tributes. The girl blatantly flips off the escort and has a dark and somber tone and the guy has dark blue hair and almost hypnotic golden eyes. They're a far cry from the usual techno whizzes that hail from District 3. District Four is next and they have a strangely mute boy and a simple looking girl. As the District 5 Reaping comes on I turn to ask Radiant a question.
"What do you think about the Careers this year?"
He purses his lips and puts his folds his hands together as he thinks. He looks pretty relaxed but I'm wondering if this is all just an act and if he's really as nervous as I am. "They look very strong," he answers slowly. "I'm probably gonna have to kill them all"
"I think I'm going to join them," I say suddenly and Radiant raises his eyebrows at me, then after apparently deciding that I'm not joking he makes an amused expression.
"Seriously? You? An average girl from Thirteen? You think they'll accept you?"
"I'm a lot stronger then you think!" I snap angrily at him. I don't appreciate him taking jabs at my strength, especially since he knows nothing about me beyond my appearance. "How about I show you how strong I am?"
He laughs suddenly, almost maniacally, and I narrow my eyes at him as speaks. "I don't question that you're tougher then you look. But the question is, will the Careers? I don't think they'll be so easily persuaded"
"We'll see about that," I mutter darkly and turn my attention back to the television screen, where the announcers are now discussing the girl from District 6, who is apparently the daughter of not one but two Victors. That will make her a betting favourite and serious contender by default, despite her not-so strong appearance.
District 7 is next and they appear to be polar opposites. The boy runs from the stage while the girl runs towards it. They both look strong and hardy but that's not unusual for District 7. The next three District's aren't anything special. District 8 has a pair of depressed looking tributes, District 9 has a pair of redheads who Radiant jokes "I would fit right in with" and begins laughing at his own dumb joke until I punch him in the shoulder and he mumbles something about lightening up.
I don't take much note of District 10 and then District 11 makes a splash by having a boy volunteer, a rarity there.
"This is surely an interesting development!" One announcer joyously said, obviously glad that District 11 finally has something "entertaining" happening.
"Anytime District 11 has a volunteer you have to take notice!" The other agrees. The next Reaping then flickers in but I've already burnt out on watching. There's not much I can gleam from these Reaping's anyways. All of the real scouting will take place in the training period.
"Wonder why that kid volunteered," Radiant wonders softly. I shrug. Does it really matter? It's just another kid we'll have to face. Nothing more then an obstacle I our way. Radiant begins to say something about having participated in the Games before, which is ridiculous, when the District 14 Reaping begins to start up and het leans in to watch as I head for the bathroom. I already have a game plan, now I just need to execute it.
District Fourteen: Odin Amarth
Today is the most glorious of days. Today I shall prove to the entire world the almighty power of Odin! I shall volunteer for the Hunger Games and win! No one shall be able to overcome the odds and defeat me! I am the invincible one!
I cannot wait any longer and drive myself out of the house and into the sunny day of the tropical District 14. I have always thought this was a strange location for me, Odin's chosen one, to be living. Odin himself lived in a cold climate and I'm in the District that basically is the furthest from that. The tropical jungles and beaches of District 14 stands as a stark contrast of Odin and his frosty biomes.
But it matters not!
I am his chosen hero and I will bring honor and glory to his name by conquering the Hunger Games! I break off into a steady jog down the jungle path as I head for the outset for the Games. The path curves and turns until it winds up leading me to a sunny beach. The sun reflects off of the sand a burns my eyes. I dislike bright lights almost as much as I dislike water. Another reason to not link this District, which is full of both of those things.
It's not that I can't swim. Swimming is something I do very well. No, I merely detest having to swim. I am always fearing that I will fail and end up drowning. I would never, and will never, tell anyone this but I am deathly afraid of drowning. It is one of my biggest fears and I hope that the arena will not contain vast amounts of water for this reason.
I travel to the west and over to the large docks that hang over a large stretch of water that connects the two main islands that make up District 14. The Reapings are always held upon the docks and I always hated this. Why not hold it over land? Why crowd everyone in the District onto a dock that creaks and groans under their weight? I should have this changed!
The blood taking station is set up as at the entrance to the dock and I get my blood taken and travel to the exact center of the dock where the stage has been set up and everyone is gathered around.
"Welcome people of District 14!" Our Mayor smiles down upon us all as he takes to the Mic. "I would like to welcome you to yet another brilliant Reaping! Let us hope for a pair of strong and righteous tributes this year!"
That they will receive in me. I am the strongest person here, stronger than even the Peacekeepers. I am the ultimate fighter! I am Odin! The mayor passes the microphone off to the escort, some foolish woman who has had some sort of surgery to make herself resemble a fox, and she makes haste to pull a name out of the girl's bowl.
The name belongs to a vicarious tan blonde who has crystal blue eyes and takes to the stage with an imperious attitude. Many guys in the crowd beside me make cat calls and a few other groan as they see the pretty girl get selected. I care not for anything but her strength. I wonder if she will be a worthy adversary for me? Perhaps. I will have the hour tenfold to examine her later.
"What a pretty young woman!" The Fox lady exclaims and has a short conversation with herself before going to pick the next name. I do not give her the opportunity to do so however as I shout out my volunteerism and the crowd parts for me to ascend to my rightful place.
Fox lady goes to ask me my name but I pull the microphone away from her and face the crowd. "I am Odin Amarth! Odin's chosen one! I shall conquer and vanquish these Games in honour of him and bring forth glory and prestige to his name! Almighty Odin!"
The crowd has no choice but to cheer for me, my presence and prowess showcases my ultimate strength. They all know that I will not be stopped!
I turn and thrust the microphone back into Fox lady's hands and go to depart this stage when Angel looks at me, smiling obnoxiously. "Oh...It's Odin's "chosen one!" Where's your brother Thor?"
This girl is peculiar. I have no brother named Thor. Her tone of voice is not quite up to snuff either. "Are you disrespecting the almighty Odin's champion!?" I demand, my voice rising. I do not tolerate disrespect!
"Oh no! I would never do such a thing! Disrespect the almighty Odin? Me? Never!" The girls tone is the same as her eyes widen in strange surprise.
I frown. I do not like her tone but her words clearly show she means no disrespect. Regardless of whether it was intentional though, it was done. "Next time show more care for the words you choose!" I tell her menacingly. "Or next time there will be severe punishment!"
She smiles sweetly and laughs a clear haunting laugh. "Oh I believe you. Next time there will be punishment!...Just not in the way you think..."
I move to respond to the girl but the Reaping ends and Peacekeepers arrive and take us away. I do not have time to deal with her. I need to prepare myself for the battles that lie ahead.
The Capital: Aemillia Wonder
I move the brush through my black hair, staring into my insecure hazel eyes that reflect back at my through the mirror. I haven't been here, in the lap of the Capital, for very long. Only a year at most. But already I am afraid that I am becoming one of them. One of those Capital freaks who love the Games and watching kids murder one another. I'm not afraid I'll start liking the Games, I know too much for that, but I am afraid I'll start becoming apathetic about the whole thing.
I finish brushing my hair and sigh. I used to be apart of a large rebel group that fought against the Capitol and the evil they stand for but not anymore. I miss those days.
Originally I lived in some other District, I don't even remember which one it was, but I was always one for running off and exploring new things, something that wasn't permitted by the Capitol. They prefer for you to know nothing but what they tell you so when it was discovered I was sneaking out of the District boundaries well....
I was beat and not gently. I still bear scars from that beating, I still feel where the whip stung against my skin. My wounds still burn when I think of the incident. It was beyond horrible. But...it only made me stronger and more determined to stop the Captiol's evil. I ran off from the District and never looked back. I ended up discovering District Zero and meeting a girl there. She hated the Capitol even more then I did and I joined her rebel group that worked against the Capitol. We worked tirelessly to fight them, causing havoc and chaos wherever we could. It was nice.
But I couldn't stay forever.
I hated the cold, I couldn't stand it. My scars also began getting infected and I had to leave just as things in the rebellion where getting heated. My friend understood and let me go with her blessing but...I feel like a coward. I feel as if I abandoned them when they needed me most. What kind of friend was I?
And now....and now I'm here, in the very epicenter of the Capitols evil. The Capitol itself. I don't even try fighting against the Capitol anymore. It's pointless. I'm only one girl. What could I do by myself?
Ugh! See! That's the apathy I was thinking about! I just can't shake it!
I drop the brush into a small box near my feet, my hands shaking, I sit down on a wooden bench and cover my face with them. To everyone else I'm dead. I died a long time ago. I know because I've seen my own grave. My parents have written me off and no one thinks I'm still alive.
That's good....in a way. The Capitol won't ever come hunting for me, not here in this tree-house on the very outskirts of the Capitol. I'm safe. Safe from everything.
But that hurts me more then the beating I took.
Why should I be safe when no one else is? Why can't I help everyone else? Why can't I be a great leader like my friend back in District Zero? Why can't I motivate people to fight with me? Why?
A loud trumpeting noise suddenly blares through my window and I jump out of my seat. The sounds of whooping and cheering reaches my ears and I recognize it as the annual Reaping Day parade. All day many large floats travel throughout the Capitol until dusk where they end up in front of President Stryker's Mansion. The Reaping then takes place and two tributes are selected to go into the Hunger Games and everyone celebrates as things are readied for the Chariot rides.
It makes me sick, the whole spectacle of the thing. But I still go. I don't have to, everyone thinks I am dead, they wouldn't notice if I didn't come. But I do anyways. I guess its a sort of penance I take for my safety. A way of putting myself into danger even though I don't need to be in it.
I guess I should be going then. If I can hear the parade now that means its heading up main street and will soon arrive at the Mansion. I throw all of my stuff into a box hastily and then slide down the ladder of the tree house and jog to the streets of the Capitol. I slide in amongst a large group of people watching the parade and walk along with them as we head for the President's Mansion.
Fireworks shoot off as we arrive and everyone goes nuts, cheering and screaming like maniacs. I try not to pay much attention to them. They're just brainwashed sheep, they don't know any better. It's a hassle for the Peacekeepers to settle everyone down and get every kids blood taken. When this is finished and everyone is put into a suitable crowd, President Leopold Stryker himself comes out onto stage followed by Stryker's Strike Force, his own personal guards.
They are the elite of the elite. Handpicked from the ranks of the Peacekeepers and pushed through a series of grueling training sessions to make them the strongest, toughest, soldiers possible. They listen to only Stryker himself and are completely ruthless, doing anything and everything he asks, even mass murder.
I glare at them as they surround the young President. My days as a rebel gave me some information of them and I know too much about both them and Stryker.
He's young, very young. Only having recently turned eighteen. After his father was assassinated he took charge and his polices and tactics completely changed the course of the war. He stopped the rebels and captured their ringleaders, publicly executing both them and their families. He may be young, but he's still a monster.
"Hellooooo citizens of the Capitol! Are....you....EXCITED!" A wide grins breaks out onto his face as he speaks to the crowd, spinning around in his casual attire of a red polo shirt and black trousers. With his styled black hair and friendly green eyes he certainly doesn't look like a tyrannical maniac who wishes to enslave everyone. But looks can be deceiving.
The people in the crowd enthusiastically respond to his question and his grin gets even wider as he stops his spinning and rests casually against the mic stand. "Are you all ready to find out what two brave young man and woman will be representing the glorious Capitol in the 398th Annual Hunger Games?"
Another loud response. He really has these people in the palm of his hands. I wonder if any of them realize that or if its just me. Stryker goes on to ask them several more questions such as, "Do you think we have a Victor this year?" to "Do you think I should hand out free cake to everyone?" after each and every question the crowd shouts out a resounding "Yes!" and he bobs his head happily, as if he's listening to music. It's strange to think that this is the man who could so casually murder hundreds of people. I now certainly understand how he's fooling the Capitol into thinking he's a great benevolent ruler though.
"Let's cut pass all those boring formalities and get to the fun part, shall we?" He waves his hands and two bowls are rolled out in front of him. He asks the crowd which one they want him to do first and they scream out "Yes!". Stupid people. He just waves this off and asks them again. This time they say, "Girls!" and he nods in acceptance, plucking a fine envelope out of the bowl and ripping it open with no sense of grace or drama. "And your female tribute is....Aemillia Wonder!"
I don't believe it but it's true. There's no contesting the name that was drawn. I was Reaped. My name shouldn't have even been in that bowl. I was dead to everyone, how could it have been?
Everyone in the crowd are moving their heads about, looking to see the "lucky" girl. I don't want to have the Strike Force swoop down on me so I move my unwilling feet and head for the stage. The crowd notices my movement and they begin to applaud me, something that hurts me more then the shock of getting Reaped. I don't want to be cheered for being put to death, I want them to object to this barbarity and fight against it. But that's too much to ask.
President Stryker smiles at me when I reach the top and I'm suddenly even more nervous then before. My body begins to shake uncontrollably as I look into his eyes. He sticks his hand put but I don't want to touch him. I don't want to show him any respect. He deserves none. Besides, I can barely move my arms right now.
"It's not polite to ignore a government official," he says softly, so softly that even I, who am only a foot away, can barely here him. His words sound kind, but there's a harsh edge to them, as if it's a warning to me. I have no choice to comply.
I reach my hand out and shake his. He nods his head and mouthes "better" before turning to the crowd and asking for them to give me a round of applause, which they do. He then laughs and says that I'm so excited that I simply can't stop!
That gets a laugh out of the crowd and I realize he's trying to save face. Me acting like I was frightened or nervous wouldn't play well for the cameras, instead, he decides to spin it to fit his own agenda. I want to say something, to make some sort of protest, but at the same time I don't. The Strike Force on stage frightens me and I'm not willing to do anything to upset them. Once again I'm appearing apathetic.
"Who wants to meet our male tribute!" President Stryker asks, throwing his arms in the sky and grinning wildly. The crowd goes nuts and he goes for an envelope in the second bowl. He opens this one as quickly as he did mine and he reads it off.
"And your male tribute is...Furcifer Soror!"
The boy who answers the name isn't one of the many dressed up, coloured freaks but a rather tall pale boy with dark hair. He simply takes to the stage and President Stryker greets him with much gusto.
"It's an honor to have you here Mister Soror!" He smiles as they shake hands. I get the feeling that he's happy that not both tributes were shaking messes.
"Please, call me Furs"
Stryker inclines his head slightly at the boys request. "Why most certainly Furs," He turns to the crowd and raises the boys hand. "Ladies and gentlemen of the Capital please welcome your male tribute in the 398th Annual Hunger Games, Furs Soror!"
The crowd goes wild of course. They never do anything differently. It's always a celebration for them, not caring at all that both Furs and I could soon be dead. And why should they? Even if we both perish in the bloodbath they still have thirty other tributes to root for and one of them is guaranteed to survive. Why care for two unimportant kids?
President Stryker concludes the Reaping but not the celebration. That will continue long into the night. The people of the Capital will be partying as us tributes lie in our beds, thinking about all of the horrible ways we could die..
Banette Tsukomogami (District 8)
The beeping of a clock, combined with the sound of shouting voices, roused me from my sleep. In this way it's not much different than back home. There someone was always yelling for me to wake up too.
I stare up at the ceiling above me. Training is today. It will begin the three day period of training before we're thrust into the actual Games. I have no particular interest in attending but the voices that are still on going seem to indicate that I don't have much of a choice. Attendance is mandatory, at least for District 8. Apparently Escrow Bestow doesn't want to look bad in his first year on the job.
I roll out of the bed and notice that my bandanna is still drapped over my face. I must not have taken it off last night. I don't remember much about it. I argued with my stylist over whether or not I'd wear a ridiculous costume for the chariot rides and after I won that argument and the rides ended and we returned to the apartments I crashed onto my bed and fell asleep instantly.
I beam a pillow at that alarm clock that incessantly beeps and boops but it does nothing and I have to walk over and forcibly unplug the damn thing. Afterwards, I fall back onto my bed and close my eyes, hoping to have some dreams that aren't haunted by the destruction of Shuppet...
I don't even get the privilege of trying. The door swings open and Escrow stares in at me, tapping his feet impatiently. "Where you just going to ignore me?"
"I was trying to, yeah" Escrow frowns unhappily but I couldn't care less about what he thinks. His just some guy obsessed with kids killing one another. I don't need to please him.
"Well, you'd best be moving young man!" He blusters at me and herds me into the hallway and towards the dining room. "District Eight will not be the laughing stock of these Games! Not with me around!"
He is the laughing stock here but I don't have the opportunity to tell him so as I'm ushered into the dining room and see the table laden with all sorts of delicious food. My stomach growls, reminding me that I hadn't eaten last night. I step forward but Escrow pulls me back by the collar. "Ah ah ah! You missed your breakfast! We need to get down to the Training Center. The other District's are already there!"
I try protesting but Escrow isn't having it and he has several Avoxs clear the table as I'm led to the elevator, where I see Aisha waiting. "Why is she still here?" I mutter indignantly, noticing how she avoids making eye contact with me.
"I couldn't send one down without the other! That just wouldn't do! No. The both of you must go as a pair!" Great. We get to arrive as a pair. That will go down just swell. "Now off you go!"
Escrow pushes the button and then Aisha and I step in. The doors shut behind us and we're alone as we begin to descend. I shove my hands into my hoodies pockets and lean against the wall.
"You're not wearing the training outfit," Aisha comments throwing a sidelong glance at me. I shrug. Why would it possibly matter? I'll stand out either way. She will too, now that I think of it. Her ethnicity is different from all of the other tributes I saw on the TV during the train rides. She'll stick out like a sore thumb and possibly be a target to those slow thinking Careers.
Aisha looks like she's about to comment further when the elevator reaches the bottom and the doors slide open, revealing a line of tributes assembled before the Head Trainer. Of course they all turn to gawk at us and Aisha murmurs a quick "good luck" before speed-walking to the end of the line.
I simply step out of the elevator, the doors closing behind me, and with my head and face covered by my hoodie and bandanna, stare back at the tributes. I don't care for them, for their judgment and mocking faces. They're just like the bullies back home, the ones who tormented me each and every day. Nothing more then a bunch of frightened children wishing to make their self feel better by insulting another. Back in District Eight there was nothing I could do to stop them but out here I'm allowed, no encouraged, to fight back. To hurt them. To kill them.
So I stare back, knowing that they don't have anything I don't, that we're all in this together. We keep this up, starring at another, until the Head Trainer calls for everyone's attention and their heads swivel around like owls.
I don't listen to anything the man says. I really don't see the point. I wait for him to finish and then when he finishes he starts the timer and training begins. Immediately the Careers head for the weapons and start calling for everyone who wants to try and get into the Careers to join them. I'm not joining with them of course. Instead, my eyes search out the boy whose stood out since I saw his Reaping. The one named Shuppet.
Shuppet...the name alone makes him interesting but I get the feeling that he is more like Shuppet then just in name. I see him now, as he make his way through the mass of tributes towards the climbing station. I waste no time in heading over to him and he looks up at me as I arrive.
"Allies?" He offers a hand to me and I stare in silence. Never before have I simply accepted someone as an ally, as a friend. But this time I feel a strange pull. As if I can feel that this boy is trustworthy and deserving of life. I look into his strange golden eyes and come to a quick decision.
I reach out and shake his hand. "Allies"
Luigi Wilkins (District 2)
"What the hell do you mean?!"
Trevor, the boy from one, glares furiously at the giant from District 5 as he blatantly turns down an offer to join the Careers. Already at least a half a dozen tributes have approached us, asking for acceptance into the alliance. However, seeing this boy's enormous size we went and asked him to join. And he just declined.
"I mean no!" He stares down at Trevor with a cold look that tells me he doesn't think very much of the spiky haired boy. "You guys have no honor! You enjoy fighting and killing, you target the weak and defenceless. You are despicable and I refuse to be apart of your alliance!"
Strong words. False words.
"We have no honour?" I speak, something I don't do very often but right now I feel the need to. "We do this, everything, for honor. We aim to bring honour to our names and glory to our District's by winning these Games. We have more honor then you ever will"
"You really believe that to be true?" He asks me with a stony gaze which I return.
"No. I know it's true. We have honor. You do not."
He looks to make a response but then he shakes his head and turns his back on us, walking away. Trevor spits out curses at him as he goes then stalks back to the rest of the Careers, all of whom were watching the interaction. That boy made a mistake. I give him only a few days of living in the Games and then he will die.
"Okay. You all want in with the Careers?" Trevor strolls in front of the possible recruits. There's six of them altogether, the gothic girl from 3, the boy from 6, the pompous looking girl from 7, the redheaded girls from 9 and 13, and the long haired blonde boy from District 14. "Well first you're going to have to prove your worth," Trevor stops his pacing in front of a rack of spears and after pulling it down he tosses to the boy from 14, who catches it with ease. "You first!"
"I am Odin Amarth! Odin's chosen one!" He lets out a bellow and charges a stand of dummies, slashing and slicing at them with the spear. He makes quick work of them, leaving them with many tears and rips, then he does a complete 360 and throws his spear twenty feet across the gym, where it hits a dummy in the chest so hard it gets knocked over.
Trevor nods and then motions for the girl from three, who introduces herself as Sombra Celesta "eternal enemy of the Spectrus family" and then goes to make some decent work with an axe. I look to the faces of the other Careers, Trinity from one, Avia, and Scarlet from Four. Her District partner didn't join us. He was mute and decidingly average looking. It wasn't a big loss.
Sombra finishes with the weapon and shows off some snare making skills. Trinity leans over to whisper something into Trevor's ear and he nods. They are most likely discussing the great help we could get from her traps.
When she finishes the other recruits go. Buck (6) is great at lifting weights and improvising with weaponry, Juline (9) despite being from an outlying District that hasn't won in decades, unleashes a flurry of sickle swings, and Zoey (13), like Sombra, is decent with an axe. However, unlike Sombra, she doesn't have great trapping skills.
I stand around the other Careers as they discuss what we just witnessed. They almost come to a decision when Scarlet points out that there is still one more recruit left and they go to face the girl from 7, who introduces herself in a tone as pompous as her appearance.
"I am Fiora Waltz! Head of House Waltz and the greatest duellist in the whole of Panem!"
Big words. Avia rolls her eyes and Trevor lets out a small grunt, urging her to show her work off. She steps forward with a flourish and then begins to go over the rack of sabres and rapiers, finally selecting one and approaching a dummy.
"She's gonna suck," Avia whispers. "Everyone that is that arrogant has no skill" Behind her back Trinity and Trevor exchange an amused look. Avia herself is about the definition of arrogance.
As it turns out though, Avia was wrong. Fiora shows unheard of skill, as fast as lightening as her rapier darts in and out of the dummy. She has the most skill in a single weapon that I've seen. When she finishes she drops the weapon behind her head and grins.
"Amazing!" Scarlet (4) breaks into applause for the girl but the rest remain silent. Avia even has a furious glare on her face as Trevor backs off and calls for us all to talk over what we're going to do.
"I like them all," Scarlet says immediately and Avia turns her glare on her as Trevor sighs.
"We only choose the ones we need," he says throwing a look back at the assembled recruits. "We don't need the ones that are similar to what we already have"
"I don't want Fiora!" Avia tries to say but she's cut off by Trinity and they both begin squabbling until Trevor quickly cuts it off. The four of them then continue the conversation until coming to a decision. We will be accepting them all except for Zoey, who Trevor describes as "Sombra without the traps" thus he says we have no need for her.
Trevor calls the recruits over and they quickly assemble their self in front of him. He tells them all that they showed sufficient enough skill to get into the Careers with the exception of Zoey, who needed "to try a little harder"
Zoey (13) protests but is drowned out by the rest of the other recruits who all start speaking at once. Trevor step away and we all turn and follow him.
Drago Fire (District 12)
I watch the boy from 13 run across the gauntlets. He does a decent enough job of avoiding everything and gets to the end without losing his balance. He did a good job.
The first two hours of training have already gone by. At first it was complete chaos with everyone wandering around looking for allies and trying to get to their desired stations. I wanted to try out the weapons at first but the Careers were hanging around there holding their tryouts and I didn't want to possibly anger them by interrupting. I already have enough people with me on their watch list. I am one of the largest tributes here, in height and width. Only Luigi (2), Buck (6), Odin (14), and Johnathan (5), are bigger and of them three are Careers and the other is Johnathan, whose some sort of giant. I don't have the skills or strength of them.
Well, since I couldn't use the weapons right off the bat I instead spent some time trying my hand at shelter making. I wasn't great but I think I did a passable job.
The Careers eventually spread out after they finished their recruiting process so I finally got my chance at using some weaponry and swung some swords and threw a few spears. While I wasn't anywhere near Career level good I did better then most of the other tributes I watched go.
Now I've finished with that and I'm trying to find what I should try next. My District partner, Celica, is off shooting arrows. I could join her but I have zero skill with a bow and I know it takes a lot of practice to become competent enough to use that as a weapon. Even if I spent the whole training period practicing I probably wouldn't be skilled enough to dependably hit my target. So that's not something I should try. The boy from Nine and Ten are at the Edible Plant station and seem to be struggling slightly. I keep my gaze spinning around the gym and finally settle on the boy from Eleven as he makes snares with rope. Deciding that this is a decent course of action I approach him.
"Uh. Hey there!" I smile awkwardly at him and he looks up from the complex looking snare, rubbing his hands together.
"Oh, hello. You're Drago, right?"
He must have seen my name during the replay of the Reaping on the train rides. I can't seem to remember his name though and I simply nod.
"Oh right, I didn't introduce myself. Names Crimson" He offers me a hand and I shake it, happy that I've met someone whose willing to be cooperative. He asks me if I know anything about snares and I shake my head. I know next to nothing about those. I never had any need to learn this sort of stuff back in District 12. "It's not that difficult really," Crimson (11) says as he begins to make a trap before me. His fingers weave rope into complex knots and I watch in amazement as he works, all the while explaining how to do what he's doing. It's incredibly informative and by the time he's done I can make myself a decent enough replica of his snare.
"Nice job!" We high five and continue with the snares for awhile. While we work he tells the tale of his life and how hee was forced into the woods and had to learn how to survive. As he tells his tale I can't help but wonder if I should tell him about myself. About my...problem.
"I think we're about done here," he says after we finish one of the hardest snares available. "We should learn some other stuff. Maybe should check out the fire building station"
He says more but I don't hear him. I zone out at the word "fire"'. I freeze and my arms begin to shake as sweat pours down my head. I can't build a fire! I can't! If I see a fire, even the tiniest of one, I won't be able to stop myself from burning this whole place down.
Crimson stops as he notices my condition. He pokes me gently and I finally regain control of my body and back off, shaking my head furiously. "No...No! I can't build a fire! I can't!" His eyes widen and he says my name as I begin to breath heavily. I can't do this. I can't alienate my only friend here. I try to calm my mind. I haven't seen any fire yet, I tell myself reasonably. I won't lose control unless I do. I can approach this rationally, tell Crimson what's wrong.
"I...I can't see a fire," I stammer out. I'm probably ruining my only chance of having an ally, after all, who would align with a pyromaniac who could set you on fire at any moment? "I'm...I....I lose control at the sight of fire. Immediately I try to set anything and everything on fire but once I do...I regain control of myself. And I what I've done and....and...."
I can't finish. My tears are running down too fast. I expect Crimson to leave, to back off like any sane person but he doesn't. He pats me on the shoulders and asks me if I'm okay. I croak out a small "yes" and he nods. I'm gratified that he didn't leave me. He's already a true friend.
"It only happens when you see fire?" He asks me and I nod, going on to tell him I'm fine every other time but just lose it when I see any flame. He takes this in stride, saying we'll just avoid fires. I can't believe he's not deserting me but I nod. I should be fine as long as we don't see any fire.
"So...," he turns and surveys the rest of the gym, who somehow didn't see my breakdown. "I guess we should go make some hammocks?"
Fiora Waltz (District 7)
Things have been going as well as planned so far. I may not be the leader of the Careers as I had originally thought I would be but things are going as smooth as possible despite this.
My first order of business was to secure myself some competent allies. Not trustworthy ones, none of them are trustworthy. You'd have to be stupid to trust anyone out here. No, I don't trust them but I know they're competent and good at following orders and killing. Take the girl by my side for an example, Juline (9). She's made herself my right hand so to say. She's acts nice and sweet and with her pretty red hair and innocent looks no one would think otherwise. I, however, can sense her true self. She's a coldhearted killer who has no mercy. That makes her even better of an ally.
I have other ideas and plots as well. Buck (6), I am looking at bringing on as an enforcer. He's tough and strong but doesn't look like one of those pesky "alphas" who always need to be in charge. He's more of a follower and getting him to follow me would work out very well. And perhaps I should set Juline on attempting to seduce Odin (14). If I can get him in my pocket then I'm well set on my way to becoming leader.
Not that I have any current plans to displace Trevor (1). He's a useful asset and more importantly, if an outside alliance where to try and cut the head off the snake...they would go for him and if they were to be successful in killing him they would simply put me, with the support of my three inner allies, in charge.
I smile to myself. It takes more then just brawn to win these Games and while I have plenty of that I also have a huge amount of intelligence. Those without a plan never when the Games. It's always the one who thinks out every little detail that comes out victorious. And when I do, I will show the world that the Waltz family still has honor and prestige, despite what my maggot of a father has wrought upon its once sacred name.
"You're a little bitch, you know that?"
I spin around to find the speaker and see Avia (2), a disrespectful sneer on her disgusting face. She opposed my induction into the Careers and has been extremely vocal in her hatred for me, much like my District partner Nick (7) has been. Also like Nick, she's a cowardly little weasel.
"Shut up Avia!" Juline (9) comes to my defence but I tell her to be silent. I can handle my own battles. Especially ones against jealous little girls.
"No, you shut up Juline!" Avia (2) rounds on her with a ferocity. "Who do you think allowed you into the Careers? Me! I let you in and God help me I'll kick you right back out!" I smirk and she turns back to me. I watch her angry features with much amusement. It's cute how she believes she has that power over us, that she's in charge here.
"I was under the impression that Trevor was in charge here,"I say slyly knowing well that this will rile her up even more. People like her hate being told they're not in control. "You didn't even want me to join but I did, didn't I? And you couldn't stop it!" Her eyes darken considerably as she begins to breath heavily out of her nostrils. I'm hoping that shouldn't will attempt to strike me, so I can beat her into a bloody pulp but she doesn't. She merely backs off muttering many curse words under her breath.
"He's not the boss of me and neither are you!" She tosses her long hair over her shoulder as she retreats with her tail between her legs. "I'm my own boss! And if I were you I'd watch my back. Because you never know when I'm going to plant a knife in it!"
Oh. I'm counting on it.
Solar Energy (District 0)
The lunch bell rings, drawing the attention of every tribute. They march like ants over to the tables and take their places. The Careers are the loudest and most boisterous, they commandeered the largest table for themselves and they all sit around it laughing and telling jokes while the other tributes nervously claim their own tables, or in the case of loners, sit by themselves or join other loners.
I slink around the outskirts of the dining area and sit at a small table in the way back. I have zero desire to interact with the other tributes. Why get to know someone you will soon be fighting to the death? Better they remain a faceless person in the crowd then get to know them and learn their every quirk. That would just make coping with their deaths even harder then it already is.
But that doesn't mean I won't keep an eye on everyone. I still need to know just who I'm going up against. My eyes watch the second largest alliance, the one led by my District partner Aelia. I've heard they've been calling themselves "The Rebels" which doesn't seem very smart considering the rebellion that just went down. The Capitol won't overlook that slight. But dangerous name choice aside, they appear to be formidable. Not anywhere near as strong as the Careers of course but anytime there's an alliance of six tributes you have to take notice.
Other than them and the Careers there are two smaller alliances of three. One has the males from District 11, 12 and 13 and the other has the giant Johnathan (5) joining with the males from Eight and Three.
I'm going to have to keep a sharp eye out for them in the Games. I couldn't possibly take on three tributes by myself so avoiding these alliances will be a major priority.
And all of the other tributes are loners as of right now though they keep bouncing around speaking to another or the already formed alliances. I wouldn't be surprised if another alliance was formed in the last few hours or tomorrow. There's too much potential with the remaining loners for that to not happen.
My examinations done, I focus on eating my meal and I soon finish that. Most of the other tributes are still eating with the exception of Furs (C) who is practicing wrestling with a trainer.
I slip out of the dining area, keeping my head low as I approach the spears station. I already have a slight skill with these from my occasional training back home. I never accomplished much but I've read a lot about proper techniques and fighting styles.
I select a sharp looking spear from the rack and test its weight. Feels good. I experimentally lift the weapon and note it's lightweight design. I'll make sure to try and get my hands on a weapon like this in the Games.
I select a target and then wind up and heave the weapon, putting my whole body into the throw. It sails across the target area and then smashes into the direct center of the target. A smile breaks onto my face. I may be a dark horse, but I certainly have a shot at winning these Games.
Aelia Freedome (District 0)
Have you ever had a friend that only was around for a short while? One that in the short time you interacted was one of your best friends? And then did that friend leave and make you wonder whether you'd ever meet again? And did you finally meet up with that friend once again, but this time the both of you were stuck in a game where you where pitted against one another in a fight to the death? No? Well all of that just happened to me.
I look at my friend, Aemillia Wonder, the female tribute from the Capital. I had never expected to run into her here, of all places. When I was Reaped I'd figured we would never meet again. But here we are. Rebels in arms once more.
"I still can't believe this," Aemillia (C) sighs as we sit on one of the many dining tables. Lunch finished awhile ago but the both of us decided to hang back as the other members of our alliance train. "The both of us being in the same Hunger Games? I never thought this could happen!"
I can hear the disbelief in her voice and it echoes what I think. This was the most unexpected of things. But it's not all bad. We have a mighty alliance at our backs and I still have my trump card in my pocket. I glance at the other willing tributes who aligned with me. Nick (7) is off swinging an axe and I must admit he was the most eager of everyone to join. I approached everyone asking if they wanted to be apart of an alliance of rebels and he jumped at the opportunity, saying he was thinking of making the very same alliance himself. He's probably one of our best fighters and I think I trust him the most, just behind Aemillia of course.
"It's a good thing we have such strong allies," I speak to her right now. "It would be much worse if we were alone" She nods and I seek out two more members of our alliance, Lyman (9) and Stephen (10), as they quietly debate over the best way to start a fire. The two of them had already paired up when I first approached them about joining. They had been shocked I was willing to have them and Lyman (9) said he was "just a little ol' country boy". But I knew the Both of them were more then that. They're fighters, the kind of people I want on my side.
My gaze slides to the last member of our alliance, Nikki (4). He's from a Career District but he's nothing like them at all. He's a shy quiet boy who goes unnoticed by everyone. The fact that he is mute might have something to do with that. Aemillia was skeptical about bringing him into the alliance, after all it would difficult to communicate with him. But I knew sign language from having a mute kid back in the rebel force in District Zero and I was willing to be his translator. I just had this connection with the kid and I couldn't just leave him by himself.
"How are we going to win this?" Aemillia (C) speaks, her eyes trained on our allies as well. "And how are we suppose to let our allies die? Or even kill them?"
"We don't need to," I say quickly and she raises her eyebrows in question. She's probably wondering if I've gone nuts. After all, there's only one Victor in the Hunger Games right? Well....not if the Games don't end. "Do you trust me?" I ask her, lowering my voice a after glancing around to make sure no one was close enough to hear.
"Of course I do!"
"Enough to not tell anyone, not even our alliance, what I'm about to say?" She's surprised and looks uncertain on where I'm going but she nods. I take a deep breath, wondering where to start. "You know the group I have back in District Zero? The rebels? Well, I've tasked them with our biggest job yet. I having them come here and...I don't know what. Figure out a way to stop the Games. To free us. If they succeed we can all escape, not just our alliance but all the tributes, we could escape!"
I don't know if she believes me. She scratches her head and looks around murmuring in a low voice. "I don't know Aelia..."
"Look, I'm not saying it will happen, just that it might. And if it does...I want you to be ready for it, okay?" She nods and gives me a confirmation. I smile at her and she returns the smile. I have no idea if my friends will be successful in finding a way to get us out of here. But I do know that I have to trust them....because if you can't trust your closest friends, the who can you trust?
Buck Rockwell (District 6)
I don't think my mentors give a damn about me. And why should they? I'm just some guy who's competing against their precious daughter, who they're also mentoring. They have no reason to mentor me.
I watch the weird silver haired girl now, as she sits across the table from me laughing hysterically at her own jokes that she's telling her parents. She annoys me. Greatly.
"How has your search for allies gone?" Her father asks and she looks up with a now non-happy expression.
"Not so well," she mumbles suddenly looking bashful. "I forgot to ask anyone and now most alliances have already been selected. I don't know if I'll be able to get one now"
I can't help but snicker at this and they all turn to look at me. I shrug and then shovel the rest of the food on my plate into my mouth. "Your not going to find any alliance," I tell Amore (6) as I stand up and cross the room to the elevator. "So good luck on dying early!" I press a button and slide in, the doors shutting behind me. Heh. Stupid girl. Only the dredge is left to choose from now. All of the tributes of any worth have already chosen their alliances, all the smart ones joined the Careers.
When the elevator deposits me in the gym I cross over to where the Careers are readying themselves for a gauntlet run. I take my place behind Trevor (1). Odin (14), after shaking off Juline (9), joins us with an irritated look. Trevor asks him what's the problem and she complains about Juline constantly flirting with him.
"Think she's annoying? Try hanging around Sombra. That girl is insufferable!" I glance at the dark haired girl now as she crosses the gauntlets with only slight hiccups. I don't really like her attitude either but I can deal with having her as an ally. I'm about to complain about Amore being the worse of all when we're interrupted by the arrival of Zoey, who has a determined look set on her face.
"Back again? I already told you, you're not good enough to join us. Not even if you keep asking"
Trevor sounds annoyed at her arrival but she's not effected by this and crosses her arms. "Oh yeah? Even if I told you that I had medical knowledge? Enough that could save your life?"
"How did you learn that?" Trevor asks with disbelief in his voice.
She shrugs. "My moms are nurses"
"Moms?" Odin (14) mouthes silently to me and I shrug. That would explain the girls quirkiness alright. Trevor doesn't pay us any attention and asks Zoey to showcase her abilities and she goes to show it off. I don't know a thing about healing stuff so I don't pay much attention to the things she does but once she finishes Trevor calls Odin and me over to discuss her inclusion, along with Trinity who joins us.
"She certainly has some skill in healing," Trinity starts the conversation.
"But we'll seem weak if we let her in after denying her yesterday," Trevor grumbles throwing a covert look at the other tributes. "And we don't want them to start thinking they can take us. Thinking you can do something is the first step to actually accomplishing it!"
"But if we don't take her," I begin and the others turn to watch me speaking. "Some other alliance will. While we may not need her healing hands all that my much; the others do. We don't need to make them any stronger then they are"
The others see the sense in my words and nod. But I still not certain if they're going to accept, after all, to some people their egos are more important then logic. So I add a bit more for good measure. "And I doubt she'll be much of a threat to us anyway. We could end her anytime we wished"
"True enough," Odin says and the others murmur their agreements. Trevor orders Trinity to go inform the others of the new arrangement and then goes to confront Zoey.
"We thought it over," he begins, making sure to stand over her with an authoritative presence. "And decided that our victory is so guaranteed that we will accept you anyways, even if you don't meet the minimum requirements" True to self he found a way to make himself look superior. Zoey either doesn't notice or doesn't care as she thanks him and says she'll be a useful asset to us. Trevor gruffly orders her to speak with the others and she speed off to do so.
"Nice job on that one!" I highfive him and he grins.
"Yeah, she's no threat to us. We'll use her healing skills for a bit, then once we've outgrow the need for that, we can cut her loose!"
Nikki Heart (District 4)
I sit silently as on a small wooden stool as I watch my allies train. Nick (7) is swinging an axe while Aemillia (C) watches. She keeps on letting out giggles as he stops to let out a boastful comment after each swing. I think she may have a crush on him.
Lyman (9) and Stephen (10) each take turns chucking spears as Aelia (0) stands by, giving tips and techniques to the two of them. I notice several tributes keeping eyes on them, including a few Careers. I have some strong allies. But...
I can't help but feel like an unnecessary component. I know none of my allies feel that way, but I do. I can't speak with them, so I have no real way of connecting with them. The only reason I'm even in this alliance is because of Aelia asking me. I don't know why she did. Maybe she thought that since I was from District 4 I was stronger then I really am.
I really have to stop thinking like this. I need to concentrate. My only hope of regaining my ability to speak and having a shot at getting a somewhat normal life is hinging on these Games. I need to win.
But so does everyone else. We're all in this "kill or be killed" situation where you literally have to kill or be killed. No one is looking out for anyone but their self and I should be doing the same. I need to stop worrying about my allies whether I'm needed or not. I should focus on learning all I can.
I rise from the stool and head for the Plant Identification station . The girl from District 5 just finished with subpar results and I check out the board, immediately committing everything I see to memory. If there's one thing I'm good at its memorizing things and figuring our patterns. My mind is my greatest weapon here.
I spend a few more minutes studying them and then I decide to take the memorization test available. I fly through it, perfectly matching each and every plant to its name. The trainer is surprised, congratulating me when I finish, saying that I was the first to completely ace the test this decade. I smile at him and to myself. I may not be as strong a most of these other kids but I do have some advantage.
"Good job Nikki!"
I didn't hear Aelia (0) as she came up behind me. I smile at her and she embraces me in a hug. "You did even better then Nick and he's from District 7, there's loads of plants there!"
I pull a small sticky note out of my pocket and hastily scrawl 'Thank you!' on it and show it to her. She smiles warmly and then walks off back to Lyman and Stephen, who are now having trouble constructing a shelter.
I'm glad I could make her proud, even if it was only over for a training exercise. But...I feel a sinking feeling in my stomach as I remember the fact that if I want to survive these Games and get my life back, that not only will she have to die but so will the rest of my allies.
It's a depressing thought.
Furs Soror (The Capital)
I've been flying pretty low under the radar since the Reapings. No one has ever paid me any attention. Maybe that's good or maybe that's bad. I don't know.
What I do know is that I'm not underestimating myself. In my eyes I'm the odds in favourite to win these Games. No one else is as likely to succeed as I am.
I bring my attention back to the Ropes Course that sits before me. Most tributes have attempted this already. Very few made it all the way across but I'm certain that soon I will be added to that list. At least I think so.
I reach a hand out and touch the thick coarse rope and give it an experimental tug. Seems sturdy enough. I slowly transition my other hand to the right side and when I make certain that I won't fall I slid my feet off of the platform.
Things seem fine at first but then I quickly realize I didn't factor in that I would need to move my hands along as I go. I throw my right hand forward and catch a further part. I travel along, moving one hand at a time for a few more paces when the ropes sway slightly to the right and my wrists turn at an odd angle. I kick my feet out in a futile attempt to grab on when my grip loosens and then I'm sent plummeting to the padded mats on the floor. A booming laugh is directed at me and I look up to see the familiar face of Odin (14) grinning down at me.
"Foolish mortal! Did you think you would succeed with those puny arms?"
"Think you could do better?" I grumble at him as I get back onto my feet.
"I will most definitely do better!"
"Then prove it!"
He shoves himself past me and climbs onto the platform, effortlessly transitioning his hands onto the rope. He begins making his way across with ease and I grimace. I don't want him passing my mark. Without thinking about it, when his eyes are focused on his left hand, I jump up and grab the side of the ropes. The sudden addition of the weight causes the ropes to spin to the side and I let go as Odin shouts in surprise and falls.
"You could do better huh?" He glares at me then looks up at the ropes, grumbling about sudden swinging. "Maybe you should call your brother Thor to help"
"I do not have a brother Thor!" He shoves past me once again and I watch him walk away with a grin on my face. Of course he doesn't. Thor is supposed to be Odin's son, not brother. But mythological thematics aside I'm happy that I just proved that I can out think the Careers.
Aisha Hakeem (District 8)
I sit with my two allies as the lunch period begins. This morning I was worried I wouldn't be able to find myself an alliance when I bumped into Celica (12). She immediately asked me to join with both her and her other ally, the girl from District 6, Amore.
I accepted of course. I didn't have any other alliance to choose from. I think the two of them have some potential as well. Celica has already shown how skilled she of with a bow and Amore is the daughter of two Victors, making her a very rare and useful ally to have.
"It's weird how we were the last ones to get allies, huh?" Amore (6) grins as she faces us. "I mean, everyone else who doesn't have an alliance right now obviously isn't trying to get one. It was just the three of us who no one had any interest in aligning with!" Somehow she finds that funny and breaks out laughing. I don't exactly find that funny but I guess people's humor differs.
"I was expecting it," Celica (12) shrugs as she lifts a spoon of mashed potatoes into her mouth. "Back home no one wanted me either"
I smile. That's another reason I like this alliance. It has people like me, people who aren't just simply accepted by most of society. Celica has been an outcast her entire life, Amore has her share of friends but a good deal of people brush her off as a quirky oddball who has no practical use and for me....I've been rejected and mocked more times I can count. Not being invited into an alliance is nothing compared to other things I've been through.
"We're just the weird ones then!" Amore grins happily. "And I've always liked being weird!"
"Nothing fazes you, does it?" I ask with a wry smile. She beams back at me and shakes her head.
"Nope!...well I haven't been through any real trying stuff yet. Who knows how I'd react to my arm being chopped off?" She goes on to give a detailed account of what she thinks it would be like, complete with the things she'd shout, and I exchange a glance with Celica. The girl certainly has a sense of humour alright. Maybe I should be more like her and less...mopey I guess. I've been stuck dwelling on the upcoming days and the prospect of having to kill the rest of these tributes. Maybe some levity would be good for me.
"The private training sessions are tomorrow," Celica says. "Do you guys have any ideas on what you will be doing?"
"I haven't put much thought into it," I answer truthfully. "I'll just show off an assortment of skills I guess"
"I'm going to do something amazing!" Amore exclaims excitedly. I let out a laugh and ask what that will be but she shrugs and tells me she has no idea. I think back to my own session. What will I do? Something that will get a good enough score to impress Colin's dad...but how high will that have to be? An eight? Nine? Ten? Even higher?
Oh great. Now I have another thing to obsessively worry over...
Angel Orthodox (District 14)
I watch the girl from District Ten run across the gauntlets with lithe agility and amazing athleticism. She's a real talent...and a sure fire enemy.
As she finishes with a flamboyant flip of her hair I let out a condescending laugh and her eyes immediately swivel to meet mine.
"Do you find something amusing?" She asks me darkly. I smile but remain silent, watching the fury that reveals itself in her eyes. She's not use to people ignoring her. She gets angry when someone laughs at at her...we have a lot in common. And that means she is a threat.
"I was merely amused that you thought what you did was impressive...because it was pretty mediocre!" As I anticipated she steps towards me, her face controting in rage. She is so easily manipulated! I smile again and she throws an open palmed slap at me. I move fast enough to grab her wrist and yank backwards. She lets out a gasp of pain and as I stop to smile about my victory she sweeps my feet and as I hit the ground she mounts me and holds my hands down.
"You thought I was weak?" She hisses in my face and I smile coyly. She may think she's in control but my plan is going as expected. "Well you just learned that no one can out plan Cleopatra Royalty!"
I smile innocently. "Oh, is that so? In that case....HELP!" I let out a scream that immediately brings the attention of everyone else in the gym. "Help! I'm being assaulted! Help!" I smile wickedly at Cleopatra as two training staff members appear at her side and pull her off. She tries to struggle free but it's impossible and she's dragged back into the elevator.
Now I just limited her training time substantially, thereby weakening her and showing her up. No one out plans Cleopatra Royalty? Looks like that's a farce, because I just did!
Juline Cenia (District 9)
The day of training begins to wind down and a few of the tributes begin to turn in early. Not me though. I want to get as much training in as possible, especially since this is the only time I've ever gotten my hands on actual weapons. Back home I had to make do with improvised weapons and simple farming sickles but here, here there's tons of wonderful, flesh cutting tools to play with.
"How goes your play to get Odin?" Fiora (7) asks as she stops beside me, examining the smooth edge of a sword. I grunt irritably. Odin has been avoiding me all day. I think he's on to me and I tell Fiora this. I expect her to be upset but she merely shrugs it off. "His loss. If he doesn't want to join the strongest side then that's on him"
"You're not upset?" I ask incredulously. I've only known Fiora for a few days but in that time she's made it clear that she's not a person who takes well to roadblocks.
"Did I say that? No! So don't be stupid!" I flinch at her reprisal but then she continues with a less cutting tone. "I'm not going to outright tell him I'm mad but I'm not going to forget his actions either. Once I become leader he'll wish he had chosen differently!" Now that's more like her! She nods curtly to me then goes back to swinging her sword and I start practicing with my sickle. By tomorrow I want to be the best fighter possible.
I hack and slash at the dummies, imagining if they were real people. This makes me think of back home when I killed Azera. Did they ever figure out it was me, I wonder? Or did they give up on the whole thing? While I'm interested in it, it doesn't really bother me in any way. Whether they know I did it or not there's nothing they can do to me once I win these Games. I'll be untouchable. My Victor status will ensure that. I smile, imaging the looks on Azera's parents faces when they learn that fact. Oh how marvelous it will be!
But first I have to deal with these Games.
Odin refusing to join us could be a setback. It now means that whenever it is that Trevor (1) dies Fiora and I will have one less person supporting our leadership, and even worse, we might have opposition. He could try and get himself in that leadership role. He made himself go from ally to liability. We'd be much better off without him breathing now.
A whistle suddenly blows, signalling the end of training. I, along with respect other tributes still present, walk over to the elevators. I climb into the one heading to the District Nine with Lyman who tries his best to avoid looking at me. He's avoided me since the Reaping. I think he might have made the connection between me and Azera and figured out I was the one who killed her. I don't really care if he did but I enjoy the fact that I scare him.
"You and your alliance won't last long," I comment off-handedly as the elevator begins its ascent. "Naming yourself the Rebels? Dumb mistake. You just brought on the Capital's ire!"
"You don't know that!" He mutters quickly, his eyes locked firmly on the ground.
"Maybe not. But I do know that the Careers will be targeting you guys. We even got specific people to kill. And guess what? I got you!" This is a lie of course. I have no idea what our plan is and I definitely wasn't told to kill Lyman. But seeing his terrified expression was worth it!
His eyes are glancing around with fear as the elevator comes to a halt at our floor. He slowly steps out into the hallway and then hand shoots to the buttons and he presses each and every button. I shout him and try to get out but the doors slide shut too soon and I'm locked in. I let out a loud curse as I realise I'll have to go all the way up to the rooftop before being able come back here.
That Lyman may be a scared weakling but boy is he intuitive!
Training Scores & Odds
Name & District
|Score||Odds to Win|
|Aelia Freedome (0)||9||9-1|
|Solar Energy (0)||7||25-1|
|Trevor Gold (1)||9||7-1|
|Trinity Mace (1)||8||12-1|
|Luigi Wilkins (2)||10||5-1|
|Avia Stafford (2)||8||13-1|
|Shuppet Jorravaskr (3)||6||29-1|
|Sombra Celesta (3)||8||16-1|
|Nikki Heart (4)||5||35-1|
|Scarlet Avalon (4)||9||9-1|
|Johnathan Mikeal (5)||11||3-1|
|Lucinda Kidd (5)||4||47-1|
|Buck Rockwell (6)||8||12-1|
|Amore Madness (6)||6||30-1|
|Nick Maclachlan (7)||7||19-1|
|Fiora Waltz (7)||11||3-1|
|Banette Tsukomogami (8)||8||13-1|
|Aisha Hakeem (8)||7||20-1|
|Lyman Milton (9)||7||21-1|
|Juline Cenia (9)||9||10-1|
|Stephen Star (10)||5||32-1|
|Cleopatra Royalty (10)||8||15-1|
|Crimson Typhoon (11)||7||19-1|
|Raven Night (11)||3||60-1|
|Drago Fire (12)||8||14-1|
|Celica Rotas (12)||7||19-1|
|Radiant Tayz (13)||8||12-1|
|Zoey Proascheck (13)||7||21-1|
|Odin Amarth (14)||10||6-1|
|Angel Orthodox (14)||9||9-1|
|Furcifer Soror (C)||6||29-1|
|Aemillia Wonder (C)||5||36-1|
This time around Training Scores will effect the amount of money a tribute has available to them, either negatively or positively. Below is the key that shows you what score earns what.
Trinity Mace (District 1)
I'm woken up early this morning by an Avox and I quickly take a shower before joining Trevor and our mentors in the dining room. Trevor is irritability listening to his mentor, getting last minute advice. He's been in a bad mood ever since the Training Scores were revealed last night. He was banking on the fact that he would receive the highest score. That wasn't the case.
Five different people received higher scores then him. Fiora, Odin, Luigi, and Johnathan. That last one hurt him the most. Being outscored by a non-Career was almost unbearable for him. It was made even worse by the fact that he had defied him in training.
I myself was just happy with the eight I received. Despite majority of other Careers getting higher I know that having a high score doesn't mean anything once the Games begin. A higher score won't stop a sword from cleaving through your neck.
"Eat a hearty breakfast," my mentor tells me as I sit down before the food laden table. "You never know when you'll get time to eat in the Games"
"What are you talking about?" Trevor snorts indignantly. "We'll have a full cornucopia of food to eat once the bloodbath ends!"
"You can't count on that," His mentor warns him. "In my Games another alliance gained control of the cornucopia and I had to fight for my food and drink!" Trevor shrugs this off, saying that as long as the Careers have him they won't be losing the cornucopia. Our mentors don't argue and instead concentrate on eating. When we finish they lead us to the elevators and tell us that we'll receive further instructions once we reach the bottom.
I take a deep breath as the doors slide shut. We're nearing the start of these Games and I can feel the intensity.
Raven Night (District 11)
The elevator rumbles as it heads down. I give Crimson a frightened glance but he doesn't see it. He's too busy staring ahead determinedly.
He's the only person here who I feel safe by. For most of training I had silently followed him around, too afraid to branch off on my own. I didn't ally with him though. I was too nervous to even ask and besides, Idon't know if he would have accepted me. His two current allies are too of the older, stronger guys from fellow outlying Districts. I'm afraid of them but since I can trust Crimson I know they're good people.
"Are you scared?"Crimson's head turns around around and I'm surprised to see that he was paying attention to me.
I don't want to lie. I am scared, scared out of my wits. Just about every single other tribute could kill me. I'm not stronger then a single one of them.
"That's normal," Crimson nods his head. "I would be surprised if you weren't"
"Are you afraid?" I ask with a sudden surge of confidence. Crimson slowly nods his head, his blue eyes misting overwith sadness.
"Yes. But not for myself"
I don't understand. He's not afraid for himself? Then who is he afraid for? I'm going to ask him when the elevator doors slide open and two Peacekeepers approach us. I shrink back in fear behind Crimson as they order us to head down the hallway and enter the hovercraft.
We follow their instructions and as we come to the hovercraft we see the other tributes climbing aboard. We do the same and take our seats inside as the others do the same. We buckle ourselves in and when we're in people come to insert our trackers.
I wince in pain and involuntarily let out a gasp of pain as the tracker for into my arm. Crimson smiles reassuringly at me and I try to return it but I'm too nervous to really smile right now.
"Lets get this party started!" The boy from 6 let's out a joyous shout and his fellow Careers howl in laughter as the hovercraft takes to the sky.
Stephen Star (District 10)
I don't know how long the hovercraft flies for but eventually it touches down and our buckles come off and we're each lead down off of the craft.
We're in a large circular room and there's many different branching hallways, each with a District name above it. A Peacekeeper orders me and Cleo (10) to head down the "District 10" hallway. We follow orders and walk down the long straight hall in silence. My mind is going over all the possibilities of what could happen in just a few more minutes. I could be lying on the ground, bleeding out for all I know. The moments before the bloodbath are the most agonizing, my mentor told me. And it turns out he was right.
"Girl to the right. Boy to the left!"
The Peacekeeper we've been following stops at a two way intersection of the hallway and stand still as he dishes out the orders. I waste no time in heading down the left path and after going down a long, Amber coloured hallway, I come to a door and enter into the Launch Room.
"Hey Stephen," my stylist is inside, waiting. For someone from the Capital she's rather normal. Apart from golden skin and bright emerald green hair she's not creepy looking and she doesn't try to tell me that the Games are awesome or anything.
I nervously sit down on a bench as she pulls the arena wear out from a locker. The first thing I see is the pants. They're military style and black with dark brown stripes, the official colour for District 10. Next, I'm given a normal tee shirt, also dark brown, and a jacket primarily colored brown but with some secondary black.
"This is pretty tough," my stylist says as she rubs her fingernails across the jacket. "It should protect you from bumps and bruises"
"What about weapons?" I ask nervously.
She gives the anticipated answer. "Won't stop them. This seems more designed to protect you from falls and trips" I guess that's good...She then hands me a pair of thick woollen socks and black combat boots. I put the outfit on and stand before her as she analyses the outfit.
"Expect a rough environment," She tells me. "And possibly some cold nights." I nod. I'm from District 10, I'm use to rough environments. Just then a voice informs us that I need to step into my tube and I say goodbye before doing so.
As the door shuts, locking me in the tube, I feel my legs trembling in fear and anticipation. There's about a million things that could go wrong up there and only a few that could go right. I could get slain before the eyes of my family and friends...I would never get to play basketball again...
The tube begins to rise. My stylist disappears from view and there's nothing but the pounding of my heart until the platform for up and light pours into my eyes. It takes a few seconds for them to adjust and then I see the golden cornucopia lying forty feet away. I notice the ground, which looks like a road and then see the large shadows looming behind me and I see them.
Buildings. Large buildings.
We're surrounded by them. As I gaze in awe at them I notice that they're all run down and desecrated. They're like the ruins of a modern civilization. With us tributes at the center. I look back to the cornucopia just as the voice of Tomas Tompkins rings out.
"Ladies and Gentlemen! Let the 398th Annual Hunger Games begin!"
The majority of the arena is large urban, desecrated city. Tall buildings are present everywhere in the city and offer many landmarks, abandoned cars also litter the streets. The cornucopia is located in the exact center of the city and has streets leading to many other of the arena's venues. Notable buildings include, a restaurant, a gas station, a library, a church, an abandoned fighting arena, and a grassy park.
The eastern and southern sides of the city are bordered off by a lake which is unreachable for the tributes. The only way to the surface is through a twenty foot drop into the water from the pathway that borders it.
The western edge of the city gradually fades into a small forest like area. This place contains several non-mutt animals that can be hunted for food as well as a few berry patches.
The northern edge of the city gives away to a desolate plain which eventually leads to a small farm area, which holds some sheds and a small farmhouse
Day 1: Bloodbath
Shuppet Jorravaskr (District 3)
Sixty seconds. The countdown begins from sixty seconds.
I glance around in search for Banette (8) and see him not far from me, only about four spots to my left. Johnathan (5) isn't close by but I can spot his large frame sitting on a platform all the way across from me. He should be fine. He's strong.
This arena, however, was surprising. Tall modern looking buildings surround us, though they're so dilapidated that they look more like something out of a monster movie. The cornucopia appears to be in some sort of intersection. Four different streets lead away from it, all in different directions. Which way should we go? I try to catch Banette's eye and succeed. He nods his head towards the northern street then points at his own chest then at the cornucopia and all of the items spread around it. He's obviously going to try and get something, which means I need to go in and help him, despite his obvious instructions for me to run north. He's my closest friend and I'm not letting him face any dangers alone.
All of the tributes around me have their faces set in determined lines. But not all of them are pointed in the same directions. Aelia (0), who is on my right, is facing down the cornucopia with a stone cold look. But Raven (11) who is on my left, is looking straight down the road directly behind me, obviously eager to get as far away from here as possible. I try to look for an item around the cornucopia, something for me to target when the gong rings, but nothing stands out to me. I'm just going to have to wing it.
Banette is primed, his hands clenched in fists at his side, his pink eyes peering out from his bandanna, focused in on something. I focus on him. Five seconds....four seconds....three seconds....two seconds....one second....
Banette leaps off of the platform and goes sprinting towards the cornucopia. I hesiate for only a nanosecond and then I take off after him.
Trevor Gold (District 1)
I take off for the cornucopia, easily out pacing Amore (6) who runs besides me. I am one of the first to reach the cornucopia and after ripping a sickle off from a rack I turn to watch the others.
Already Solar (0) has a backpack drapped over his shoulders and running down one of streets as most of the other tributes are still running for the cornucopia. I watch as both Trinity (1) and Scarlet (4) arrive and I quickly bark out orders for them to encircle the cornucopia and let no one escape. They nod and move off as I go to turn around...and come face to face with Lucinda (5).
She starts in surprise and attempts to move but she's too slow. My sickle slashes across her throat and blood sprays from the wound as she collapses to the street, gurgling and choking.
I smile as I realize I just made the first kill of the Games. I may not have gotten the training score I desired but I just showed that I'm a force to be reckoned with.
Luigi Wilkins (District 2)
I start for the cornucopia and as I do so the boy from District 10 comes bumbling towards me, a backpack clenched tightly in his arms. As he runs past I throw an arm out and clothesline him. He falls, smacking his head hard against the concrete ground. I strip him of the backpack and chuck it deeper into the cornucopia. No one is getting away with items if I have a say in it.
I run straight towards the mouth, avoiding Buck (6) and Furcifer (C) who are rolling around on the ground, their hands clenched around each other's throats. and grab a sharp silver sword off of the side of the cornucopia. It's perfectly designed for both thrusting and slashing. I look around for a target to test my new weapon out on when someone leaps out from behind a crate, brandishing a hatchet.
I recognize the enraged face of Nick (7) as he furiously swings the hatchet at me. I back off as he unleashes his barrage. They have a lot of force behind them but they're wildly uncoordinated and I have no problems avoiding them. I realize I could easily dispatch him just as soon as he gives me an opportunity.
He swings the hatchet toward my head and I duck. I hear the clang of metal against metal and Nick lets out a growl of fury as his hatchet sticks into the sun softened side of the cornucopia. I smile as I realize he just gave me my opportunity.
My sword drives itself into his chest. The force behind the thrust is enough to push it's way through his ribs and I grimace at the sound of them cracking apart. I savagely pull the weapon back out and his body collapses to the ground.
"Good job!" Trinity (1) appears at my side, a hefty mace in her hands. I'm surprised that such a small girl can even lift that weapon, let alone use it. Looks can be deceiving.
"Anyone else down?" I ask her as I scan the battlefield. The girl from the Capital is running off for the shelter of one of the buildings as majority of the other tributes remain fighting.
"Trevor got Lucinda but that's it for now," Trinity informs me.
"Then let's get to work"
Scarlet Avalon (District 4)
With a black and silver trident in hand I circle around the outskirts of the cornucopia, following Trevor's earlier orders. Already a few tributes have slipped away with items. Just now the boy from District 13, Radiant I think his name was, is running for a building with both a sword and backpack.
I contemplate throwing my trident after him but I know that it won't reach him; I'd only be disarming myself.
But it doesn't matter because as soon as he's gone another tribute comes running. This time it's Angel from District 14 and she appears to be wearing a jacket full of knives. But unlike Radiant she doesn't go running away from the bloodbath.
She comes running towards me.
My trident is thrown before she even fully adjusts her trajectory. She sees it at the last moment and dives to the ground and just narrowly avoids a certain death.
I run towards her and she quickly pops to her feet, slashing at me with a knife. But I know more about fighting then just tridents and I grab her wrist, twisting it backwards until she's forced to drop the weapon.
She hisses at me and throws a savage headbutt, knocking me back. It's a dizzying blow but she's just as effected as I am and by the time she has recovered so have I. A feeling of adrenaline pulses through me. I can't lose this fight. Losing means dying and dying means I lose Tyler and Trent. I will not allow that to happen. Ever.
I punch Angel in the face and she falls down, a large black bruise forming on her otherwise perfect face. I fall on top if her and my hands fly for her throat. I squeeze, trying to cut off her breath. She thrashs about desperately but is unable to escape my grasp...until she pulls a knife out from her jacket.
Her knife slashes across my forearm and I let go, screaming in pain. Angel gets up quickly and grabs me around the throat, raising me up. Tears pour from my eyes and I look off into the distance.
"Tyler... Trent.....I'm sorry. I couldn't save you..."
A sharp pain digs into my head and then...nothing.
Banette Tsukomogami (District 8)
I quickly stick two knives into my jacket pocket. I only need to get myself a few weapons and a pack then get the hell out of here and join up with Shuppet (3) and Johnathan (5) a few blocks north of here.
I see a relatively close backpack and as I sling it over my shoulder as shadow descends upon me. My hands instantly fly for the knives in my pockets but they're in a clumsy position and before I can reach them a knife slashes across my face.
The blade slices through my bandanna and I instinctively reach for my face. There's a small rip in it and beneath I can feel blood coursing out from a cut in my skin.
"Damn you!" I scream at my assailant and try to get up when a swift kick hits me in the back of the knee and I buckle, falling to my knees where another kick smashes into my ribs. I roll over on the cold hard concrete, groaning in pain as my attacker leans over me, a cheshire like grin on her face.
"Aww. Are you in pain?" Cleopatra (10) asks me with faked concern. "Do you need a bandage?"
I throw a punch at her stupid smug face but she dances out of the way, giggling to herself as I climb back to my feet. A little scratch and a few kicks aren't enough to keep me down. She eyes me as I stand, pulling the two knives out from my jacket. I'm going to end her. She's just like those bullies back home. She deserves death.
I take a step forward when she suddenly pulls a knife out and draws it back. She's going to throw it when a heavy object slams into her back and she crashes to the ground.
"Shuppet!" I scream at my friend as he smiles grimly at me, standing over Cleopatra.
"Oh, hey Banette. I thought it would be a nice time to drop in!"
"I said to meet me north!" I growl in annoyance at his confidence. "I was supposed to do this alone!"
"I couldn't just let you face the danger alone! And besides, now really isn't the time to be discussing this--Ahhh!" He breaks off, howling in pain as Cleopatra digs her dagger into his thigh. I scream in anger and charge her as she stands, not thinking things through in my single-minded fury. She hurt Shuppet. Just like those people back home. I'll make her pay!
She blocks my two swings of a knife and plants a kick to my chest, driving me back to the ground. I spring up immediately but by the time I do she's holding Shuppet, her knife pressed against his throat.
I failed. I was supposed to protect Shuppet and I failed. Cleopatra lets out a ringing laugh and as she's about to finish him she's savagely hit from behind. She tumbles to the ground, her knife harmlessly skittering across the concrete, away from Shuppet. I start for Cleopatra, eager to finish that bitch off. She looks up at me, her eyes wide in surprise, when a foot brutally kicks her in the head.
I can hear the pop of her neck as it breaks and beneath my bandanna I smile at this welcome surprise.
"Good thing I wasn't late," Johnathan, the new arrival and saviour of Shuppet, says as adjusts his boot that just smashed Cleopatra.
"Pick Shuppet up!" I order him, quickly pulling a backpack off of Cleopatra's back. We have no time for speaking or thank you's. We're in the middle of the bloodbath and could get attacked at any moment. "We need to get out of here!"
He nods and complies immediately, picking him up with only one arm. The other holds a spear. Shuppet only makes a groan of pain as he's lifted but doesn't object. I take a look at our surroundings and seeing that we're clear I lead us out down the northern street., away from the carnage.
Fiora Waltz (District 7)
The rapier is perfectly shaped, perfectly created. I admired the silver blade, the smooth black handle. This weapon is a true masterpiece. And now it's mine.
All around me people scream and howl as they fight. Nearby Odin is brawling with Lyman. He's beating the smaller boy to a pulp, dealing several punches to his face before hoisting him up and tossing him into a pile of crates.
That's the reason I had wanted him on my side. His strength and superior fighting skills. Too bad he had to have an ego and refuse to pin with us. But alas, there is nothing I can do about that right now.
I don't know how I know. One moment I'm just watching Odin (14) pick up a spear and the next I sense something coming at me from behind. I spin around and my rapier slashes a knife out of mid-air as Avia (2) howls in fury. She glares at me and I see the two knives in her hands, knowing full well that she just attempted to kill me.
"So, not only are you a traitor but you're a coward too!" I throw out the accusation.
Her face contorts in rage and spittle flies from her face as she hisses at me. "No! I'm not the traitor! I'm trying to protect the dignity of the Careers by getting rid of swine like you!"
"Oh ho ho! So you say!" This girl has infuriated me since the day I met her, caring for nothing except her own ambitions...just like me. And that makes her dangerous. Too bad she's so stupid or she may actually have been a viable threat. "Whose the one who's skulking in the shadows, attacking people while their backs are turned? Not me. If you wish to find some swine, look no further than yourself!"
"Just shut up and die!"
Her knife flies past my head pitifully. Her rage has gotten so great that she cannot even properly throw her own weapons! I glance around my surroundings and spot both Juline (9) and Odin (14) watching. They both will act as witnesses that Avia clearly attacked me first, so now I have nothing preventing me from acting out my desires.
"Your reckoning has come coward!" I shout at her as she stares me down with two fiery eyes of fury. "You will pay for betraying the trust of your allies!" I never trusted her and I doubt many others did as well. But I need to put on a good show for those who are watching, let them believe they can trust me. Avia must see that the writing is on the wall. She backs off slightly, her eyes trained squarely on my rapier. She knows that her puny knife is no match for me and my skill. She will die here. Now.
I lung forward, my rapier going straight for her heart. She didn't have a chance. My weapon rips through her like a knife in hot butter. She falls to her knees, staring up into my face with hate filled eyes. I regard her coldly. Not only was she a coward but she was an unworthy opponent. She deserves no honour in death.
I slap her across the face in a sign of disrespect and then pull my weapon out. She falls face forward onto the cold concrete and I calmly wipe the blood off of my weapon. My first threat is dead and I'm well on my way to dominating these Games.
Aisha Hakeem (District 8)
This may have been a reckless, foolhardy decision but I ran straight for cornucopia's mouth the moment I had a clear shot. Now I'm inside the golden horn, a curved knife gripped tightly in my hand as I pull a backpack off of a hook on the very back wall. Surely this pack must contain something extremely valuable. Why else would it be positioned in the deepest part of the cornucopia?
I want to look inside right away, see just what I'm risking my very life, completely disregarding my mentors wish, to get. But I don't. I know I don't have that much time before the Careers kill or drive everyone else off and I have to be far away when that happens. I strap the pack to my back and turn to leave when I see that my way is blocked.
The girl from District 13, the redhead, is standing in the mouth of the cornucopia, an axe in her hands.
My lips briefly move to ask for her to spare me but I stop myself. Not only is there no chance she would listen but I would make myself look weak as well. And that's one thing I cannot afford to do.
The girl spots me immediately and comes hurtling towards me. I dive behind a crate as her axe swings where just moments ago my head was. This girl is not from a Career District but she's tough. She knows how to use a weapon and she has no qualms about killing me.
I poke my head over the crate and immediately duck down again as her axe swings for it. I roll out from my cover and onto my feet. The girl is still recovering from her swing and I get a free opportunity to rake my knife across her face.
She staggers backwards as a large gash opens up just under her right eye. Her hand touch's the wound and brings it up to her face, where she sees the blood.
I spring forward as she examines it but she side steps and I hit the wall of the cornucopia and bounce off, my head rattled. What happens next is in slow motion. The girl swings her axe at me, perspiration falling off her face due to the pressure of battle, I duck my head under the swing and slam myself into her stomach, dagger first.
And then we both slam into the back wall of the cornucopia.
My head once again hits the hard metal and I literally see several stars floating around my head. Everything feels dreamlike and I become aware of a wet feeling on my hand. I curiously pull it back and hear the noise of a a sharp metal object being pulled from flesh and I'm staring at a bloody hand holding a dagger.
I gasp and back off, finally becoming aware of the girls body, right next to mine.
A large bloody hole is in her stomach, right where my dagger entered. Blood trickles from her mouth and her eyes are dull and lifeless. I feel bile rise in my throat but I desperately choke it back down. I killed her...I killed her...
I'm faintly aware of a voice calling my name but it's not until a hand grabs my shoulder do I turn around and see Celica's brown eyes staring into mine, a quiver and bow is drapped over her shoulders.
"I didn't mean to! I didn't try to!" I don't know why I'm defending myself. After all, didn't I volunteer for this? So I could prove myself to Colin's father? Why am I so upset?
"Aisha I don't know what you're say--" Her eyes drift over to where the girl from Thirteen is lying against the wall. Dead. By my hand. She shows concern in her eyes but then quickly shakes her head. "It doesn't matter! We have to go! Now!"
I don't resist as she pulls me along and once we exit the cornucopia my feet begin moving by their self again and I follow Celica (12) as she runs over to Amore (6), who is watching with wide eyes from the outskirts of the cornucopia.
"Go! Run! The Careers are distracted on the other side of the cornucopia!" Celica urges us on and we run. But when we're just reaching the platforms that raised us into the arena, Amore trips.
"My ankle!" She howls and clutches her foot as she rolls on the ground. "I think I sprained it""
"God dammit!" Celica lifts Amore left arm and inserts herself under it, ordering me to the same with her right. I do so without question. My mind is still back inside the cornucopia.
With our support, Amore can hobble forward and we all retreat down the southern street, into the dark and menacing city.
Drago Fire (District 12)
The Careers are descending upon me. Their faces twisted into cruel sneers, their weapons shining brightly in the mid-morning sun. There no escape for me.
I clutch the container of gasoline I've received tightly against my chest. I didn't want to, I didn't plan to go get this but...the moment I saw it while surveying the cornucopia I lost control. I went for the gasoline and now I have nothing except for it and a lighter.
"Face it. You're not getting out of this alive!" Trevor (1) laughs cruelly as they slowly approach me. I could try to flee, but I would only be run down from behind. I couldn't out run them all. Besides, I'd be placing my allies in danger. I can see both Radiant (13) and Crimson (11) behind me, watching from behind the corner of a building. They know I'm trapped.
I turn to face the Careers. I may be done for, but I'm not going to go down without a fight. I lift my head high as I address them. "Who wants to take me? Huh?!"
They laugh. They don't fear me. They know I don't have a weapon...or do I? I look at my hands and see that I have a way out, an escape. I just have to be willing to use it.
"Someone cut his throat already!" Trevor shouts arrogantly. "We haven't the time to be twiddling our thumbs!"
Before he's even finished speaking someone steps forward. Sombra, the Career recruit from District 3. Her face shows nothing but arrogance and cruelty as she approaches me, her lips curling into a distasteful sneer. I shakily pull the cap off of the container and she lets out a condescending laugh.
"What are you going to do with that? Hit me over the head? Splash me with water?"
Of course she doesn't know what's inside. Why would anyone think someone would pass over nourishment and weapons for some gasoline? No one does that. Except me.
"Don't come any closer!" I shout in warning. "You'll regret it!" This is for me and for her. I don't want to harm anyone else I don't want to be like this anymore. But I want to live too.
"Oh? So I shouldn't do this?" She slowly and deliberately moves her feet forward. I swallow nervously. I only have one shot. She continues moving closer, the other Careers cheering her on. When she passes a certain threshold I act. Throwing the container at her, the brown gasoline splashes over her entire body and she sputters in disbelief. While she is distracted I quickly light up my lighter and toss it forward.
She goes up in flames immediately, screaming hysterically as the flames spread across her body, engulfing her, making her a human fireball. The other Careers shout and scream in shock as I turn tail and run.
I run for my allies on the corner. They shout praises at and run alongside me while the desperate screams of Sombra fill our ears. Tears slide from my face as we go. I had volunteered to stop my pyromania, so I wouldn't hurt anymore people. But here I am, setting people on fire. As we run to who-knows-where I realize that nothing has changed.
I'm still a pyromaniac.
Day 1: Aftermath
Trinity Mace (District 1)
Sombra collapses to the ground, thrashing about in unnatural ways as the flames wreak havoc on her body. The fire was so quick, so instantaneous, that none of us had a thought to move or even to try and catch the boy from 12, who has long disappeared into the horizon.
"Somebody put her out!" Trevor (1) is the first to recover and barks out orders. Odin (14) and Buck (6) quickly fetch some water canteens and pour them out onto the now still Sombra. I'm afraid that it's far too late to save her and when the fire is finally extinguished my worries are shown to be just.
Majority of her skin has burnt away, leaving fleshy red blobs and bone behind. It's a gruesome sight, one made worse by the fact it happened right before our eyes. Trevor is livid, shouting about how someone should have chased the boy down then at least her death would have born some fruit. No one feels like pointing out that he didn't move either but I don't blame him the slightest for his anger. He's just venting out his frustration at this situation.
A frustration that is made even worse when we discover the bodies of Scarlet, Zoey, and Avia. Four Careers down in the initial bloodbath and only three others. A pitiful performance.
However, Fiora (7) quickly points out that Avia had gone rouge my attacking her. Normally I wouldn't believe a thing that girl said but both Juline (9) and Odin (14) vouch for her, saying they witnessed her betrayal their selves. I don't miss her then but Scarlet and Zoey are another matter. Scarlet even had two little boys at home...thinking of them now being motherless saddens me so I quickly push it out of my mind, following Trevor as we rifle through our hard-won possessions.
"That sucked!" He growls under his breath as he compares sickles. "I knew those recruits were useless!"
"We still have four of them," I point out fairly but he shakes his head in disgust.
"Maybe. Or maybe they'll decide they don't need us anymore!"
"They wouldn't do that!"
"Don't be so sure. Just look at them over there!" He gestures to where Fiora is standing with Juline and Buck, picking out their items they'll carry with them. They appear to be in deep conversation and Fiora is quite animated.
"They're just talking," I tell Trevor. There's certainly no harm in That but he's already shaking his head.
They're talking in low voices!" He whispers fiercely. "And that's suspicious!"
"We're talking in low voices. Are we suspicious?"
"That's completely different!"
I don't see how it is but there's no point in arguing further. The cameras may not be able to pick up on our conversation but they can surely tell we're disagreeing and I don't want us to appear inadequate in any way. "Just don't start anything, okay? We already have eighteen other tributes going for our throats. We don't need to add our allies to that list!"
"I'm not going to start anything! They are!" He shakes his head like a moose being troubled by gnats. "And keep in mind how many victors there are in this game. Or should I say, how few there are!" He turns and walks away, leaving me with that thought. There is only one Victor here, we can't all just walk across the finish line holding hands. But that doesn't mean we need to start accusing each other of betrayal. We still have always to go before that becomes an issue.
I walk across the clearing, making sure to steer well clear of the bodies of the people killed at the bloodbath, and collect my items. I tuck a few knives into the holsters on my boots, the ones my stylist pointed out to me, and an extra mace before joining the others in a semi-circle around the cornucopia.
I look at their faces and despite myself I wonder whether Trevor was right and if I can trust any of them. Fiora (7) and Juline (9) are both conniving vixen but at least I know what I'm getting with them. Buck (6) strikes me as the sort of mercenary type, a person who would align himself with whatever side offers him the most. Odin, well, Odin is kinda weird with his "champion of the almighty God Odin" thing but he sure is handsome. Then there's Luigi...truth be told he creeps me out. He's always just standing there with a vacant look in his eyes. Who knows what goes through his head?
"Listen up people!"
Trevor calls for our attention, walking into the center of the circle armed with two sickles. "We need to clear out so they can collect the bodies, but we're also going hunting! I want to find each and every tribute hiding out there and teach them that no one messes with the Careers! No one!" He seems to be striving for our applause and he gets it, though it's not as rambunctious as he would hoped. Regardless, he leads us out into the city with an air of confidence. I hope the other tributes are ready, because we're coming.
Solar Energy (District 0)
Panting heavily, I come to a stop. I've been running since the gong rung out. First to the cornucopia to grab the closest bag and then away from there and all of the bloodshed. I've followed my mentors advice to the letter. Now I just have to find water.
I walk down the streets with an uneasy feeling. The dark shapes of the window could conceal any watchers that may be lurking. It's a disturbing thought, that I could be being watched without my knowledge.
But who would be watching?
I was the first tribute away from the cornucopia and I didn't see anyone else running this way. No one should be around. But I still have that nagging feeling...
A sudden noise alerts me to its presence. The sound of moving water! I confused first, until I turn away from the buildings and see behind me is an empty horizon. I walk over to a guardrail alongside the sidewalk that travels parallel to the road and when I look down I see water. Lots of it.
It's a lake of some sort. It's vast and I can't see the end of it, not that it matters. There's a twenty foot drop from the sidewalk to there and from what I can see, that extends through the whole duration of the city.
Well, I found water, just like my mentor told me. But I can't drink any of it. I'm wondering what I will do for my thirst when I remember the backpack retrieved from the bloodbath. No better time then now to open it I guess.
I find a small bench near the rails and I sit down, pulling my backpack up and unzipping it. What I find is a treasure trove of items.
Bread, cheese, strips of dried beef, a bag of candy, a small knife, and two canteens of water! This could sustain me for days with proper rationing! And that's a very good thing because with this urban environment I don't believe food or drink would be easy to come by.
I pop a few of the sweets in the candy bag into my mouth and begin sorting the items when my hand brushes against something else and I absentmindly pull it out. I nearly gasp in shock at what I find.
In each Hunger Game I've ever witnessed there was only ever one--if any-- of these items supplied at the cornucopia. And majority of the time it was found by a Career or some other strong tribute who braved the battles and fought to the way back of the cornucopia. Never was it received by someone who was considered an underdog
Until now, I guess.
I briefly hold the item up, hoping the sponsors see it and learn that I'm worthy of their sponsorship, before stowing it back into my bag. So far things have been going my way but I'm still too exposed. I need to find better cover before nightfall.
I get up and stealthily head off, my destination unknown.
Celica Rotas (District 12)
We push through the door into the restaurant. Inside many tables and chairs are positioned around like those in a normal restaurant, though there's a thick layer of dust covering nearly every item. The place seems to be a decent place to hang around and more importantly, and it was nearby.
I lead Aisha (8) who's helping me support Amore (6), behind the counter and out of sight of the wide windows. Amore grimaces in pain as we set her down gently and I slip the quiver and bow off of my back.
"Are we safe here?" Amore asks as she slowly pulls her right boot off. Her ankle is red and swollen. It looks pretty nasty but it will only effect her for a day or two. As long as she doesn't need to run anymore we should be fine. I stand up and load my bow with one of the three arrows in my quiver. I look around the dining area, searching every nook and cranny and then my gaze switches to the kitchen where I also thoroughly look it over. I don't want to take the risk of another tribute hiding in here and getting the drop on us later. But everything seems clear so I turn back to the others and answer Amore's question. "Yeah. Yeah we should be safe here"
I see that Aisha is quietly hugging her backpack, her eyes blank and staring. I'm going to ask her what's wrong when a cannon rings out, then another and another. I count along as the cannons continue, all the way up to seven. "Seven tributes dead!" I announce to the others.
"And I killed one of them!" Aisha puts in bitterly. Ah. So that's what's bothering her. It's kinda unexpected as she had volunteered for this but then again no one could anticipate how you'd feel after ending someone's life. I'm not entirely sure that I won't feel the same way after making my first kill.
"It wasn't your fault," I say trying to make her feel better. "She attacked you first!"
"Yeah! She deserved it!" Amore pipes up. "If you kill someone whose trying to kill you then that's just poetic justice!"
"And furthermore," I try to bring some cold hard truth back into this conversation. "She was going to die anyways. Everyone but one person is going to die here. What difference does it make if you're the one who killed her versus her being killed by say, Angel?"
"Because I have her death on my conscience!" Aisha responds fiercely her eyes flashing. "And I...I....Oh nevermind!" She buries her face in her backpack and I share an uncomfortable look with Amore. Maybe I should have been more comforting. After all, this is a huge thing for her. I'll try again later I guess. Right now I have to focus on our physical condition over our mental condition.
I didn't get any supplies from the bloodbath beyond my bow and quiver but Amore retrieved a small duffel bag and we go through it now, finding a flashlight, a pocketknife, and a digital watch.
"I guess we can now tell the time," I say as I pull out the last item. I hand the pocketknife and flashlight to Amore and congratulate her on getting the items. I decide to take a quick look through the kitchens pantries and cupboards in search for food or water. This is kitchen, it has to have food in it, right?
Well, yes it does. I manage to find several pastries in the furthest cupboards and I bring these to Amore and Aisha. I then try the sink and to my surprise it actually funnels water through the faucet.
"Good news," I say shutting the tap off and returning to my allies. "We have food and water" They murmur in appreciation for the new found supplement. I sit down next to them and Aisha looks at me.
"I'm...you're right Celica," She begins and I raise my eyebrows. I am? About what? "I shouldn't let...that girls death effect me. I'm not going to forget!" She adds quickly. "But I'm not going to let it affect what I must do next"
Okay. Good. I smile at her and then she tells us that she's going to open the bag she received. We're pretty certain that it contains something good. It was positioned deep in the cornucopia for a reason. However, when she unzip the bag and empties it out out on the ground only a lone canteen falls out.
We all stare at the canteen in silence. I'm not convinced that is the only item in the bag until I take a look for myself and see that it's true. Nothing is there except for the canteen. Aisha picks it up and takes the cap off, looking inside. It's empty.
She throws the canteen with all of her might against the wall and it richoets off and bounces around the room for a moment before falling still. None of us speak as we realize that Aisha had fought that girl for nothing but an empty canteen.
Eventually Aisha let's out a loud breath of air and goes to into the kitchen. I feel as if it's best for her if we let her have some alone time. I turn to Amore and tell her that we'll hang around here for the day she asks me what we will do if the Careers come and I shrug.
"I'll shoot them," I answer simply.
"But you only have three arrows!"
I shrug again and state what I believe to be true. "Three arrows gives me three shots, three shots mean I will take out three Careers. The others won't be so eager to rush us when they watch three of their friends go down with arrows in them"
Johnathan Mikeal (District 5)
"This place looks pretty good!" I comment as I walk around the interior of the gas station, periodically stopping to examine the almost bare shelves. Every now and then I find the a few items, such as a roll of bandages or a Crunchy Ben's candy bar. Back home I use to eat those a lot. "We could stay here, if you guys wanted"
Banette (8) looks up from where he has just finished stitching up the wound in Shuppet's (3) leg, the one he got from Cleopatra's dagger. It was a good thing that we found not only a pair of needles but some string here in the gas station. Otherwise we might not have had a way to fix his leg. "We'll stay here," Banette responds. "If only for the rest of the day"
I glance out the window and we see that it's about the middle of the afternoon. There would be plenty of time to find a new spot before dark, if we so chose.
"Sounds good to me!" I say cheerfully. I look down at one of the bars chocolate in my hands and offer them to my friends. "Want a Crunchy Ben's?"
Banette shakes his head but Shuppet gratefully accepts the one I toss him. I tell them both that I will go watch the door and I drift over to the entrance and sit down on a small chair, holding my spear in hand. Banette and Shuppet sit in the back of the station, speaking in low voices. The two of them are close, brother-like even. They make excellent allies for me to have and with the supplies Banette retrieved from the cornucopia we are well set.
I watch the city through the window, wondering what the other tributes are doing right now. Are they desperately searching for food and water? Seeking shelter? The thought of this surprisingly saddens me. None of these kids, save the Careers and the few volunteers, asked for this. It was forced upon them against their will. I don't want any of them to die but...
I think of Banette and Shuppet. Both of them are good people, worthy of life. I made the ultimate sacrifice for Stuart and am certainly willing to make it for them. That leaves me with the fact that my days are numbered. As long as a tribute worthy of life still breathes I have no intention of winning these Games.
Hours pass as I stand guard. I watch as the reflecting sun off of the tall buildings turn a shade of orange. I'm dozing off slightly when I'm patted on the shoulder and Banette (8) arrives.
"I'll take watch," he tells me. "You should get some rest"
I nod, thanking him and get up, walking away when Banette says my name. I turn.
"I...I want to thank you. For saving Shuppet" I can sense his discomfort and understand the reason. All his life he's been alone, never having anyone to rely on. Now he does and its an odd feeling. He's not sure what to do or how to act.
"It's fine," I tell him. "I was helping my friend out. Like any good person should"
"Yeah...there's not much of those," he says softly.
"Much of what? Good people?" He nods his head and I bite my lip. That's sort of true, isn't it? But it's also not.
"There's lots of good people," I say slowly. "Just quietly living their life, doing good deeds. They may not be in plain sight but as long as you keep your eyes open, you'll find them"
He nods. His face is still concealed by his bandanna but I can see in his eyes that he's taking my words in. I start walking, ready to check on Shuppet but first I have something to do. I slip a Crunchy Ben's out of my pocket and toss it to Banette. He catches it easily and examines it as I continue walking. As I do, I hear Banette speak.
"Thank you Johnathan"
Radiant Tayz (District 13)
The sun is slowly setting behind the hills of the plains as we trek across them, on our way to well...somewhere. We don't exactly have a destination in mind but Crimson (11) has lead us away from the city and into the plains beyond.
It's been a long trek and many times I have wished we could stop to drink water but we don't have any. There was none in the backpack I received nor in the one Crimson got. Obviously water will be an important thing for us to get our hands on. I know from my past experience in the Games before I was resurrected by accident that water is very important.
Crimson gets my attention as he points over the crest of the hill. I jog up to join him and see several buildings, spread about thirty yards between one another.
"It's a farmhouse," Crimson says instantly. "There's loads of those in District 11. And I bet those smaller buildings are storage sheds"
"Lets check them out then"
We head for the buildings, careful to keep an eye out for any danger as we do so. There's more to worry about then just tributes out here.
The shed is dark brown and as we push the door open we learn it's also musty. A strong sense of abandonment hangs over the place but I know well enough that no one ever used this building. It was merely created for the Hunger Games.
"Look for anything useful!" Crimson orders as he steps into the cluttered room. I rummage through a stack of boxes that lie near the door. I find a bunch of wet newspapers in them and a old busted lantern. Nothing that will help. I go outside and stand guard, waiting for Drago (12) and Crimson to finish.
When they do come out they're armed with makeshift weapons. Drago has a shovel and Crimson holds an old rusty pitchfork. "You could give someone tetanus with that!" I joke and he smiles wryly.
"If they're lucky"
"Not much stuff of immediate use in there," Drago says slowly. He still seems effected by his close escape from the Careers. "But maybe we could use some of it later"
"What kinda stuff?" I ask having only gotten a brief look myself.
He shrugs. "A broken lawnmower, some batteries, a few lanterns, and a tool box"
Hmm. Some of that can certainly be useful, even right now. We have a short discussion over what to do when we eventually decide to carry the stuff from the shed with us up to the farmhouse. "Less chance of someone stealing it from us that way" as Crimson puts it. We load the stuff in boxes and bring it up onto the porch where Drago (12) stands guard over it while Crimson and I go investigate the house and make sure it's clear.
There's only a few rooms, namely a kitchen, a living room a bathroom and a small loft between the ceiling and the roof. While there's furniture in each room there's not really anything we could use.
"The place is pretty spiffy though," Crimson says as we climb down from the loft. I agree. This place could be fortified rather easily from attacks, as long as we block the windows. I'm telling Crimson this when we hear it, a shrill feminine scream.
Coming from the porch.
"Drago!" We both come to the same thought and rush out to the porch brandishing our weapons. I don't know what I expected but what we find wasn't it.
Drago is standing tall, the edge of his shovel pressed against the throat of Raven, the little girl who happens to be Crimson's District partner.
Crimson leaps forward, pulling Drago and his weapon away from the girl. She immediately crawls away backwards, her a large dark eyes watching us fearfully.
"She snuck up on me!" Drago says defensively. "I thought she was trying to slit my throat!"
"I wasn't!" The girls voice is barely over a whisper as she shakes her head. "I wasn't trying to kill anyone!"
"Oh yeah? Then what where you doing?" I demand, giving the girl a scrutinizing look. Twelve years old or not I'm not about to immediately trust her just because she claims to mean us no harm.
"I was only following you guys because of Crimson!" She further defends herself. "I...I... he's the only person I feel safe around"
I look to him now and see that his expression has gone soft as he stares at her. Obviously he trusts and believes her. I just don't know if I can.
"How did you know where to find us?"
"I saw you guys running through the city and followed. You never stopped moving but I kept up. When I saw you guys enter the house I was going to rest on the porch. My feet really hurt" She sounds pitiful as she finishes and while all of my misgivings don't suddenly vanish, I realize there's not much she can do unarmed against three larger, armed boys.
"Guys..." Crimson tugs us back, out of earshot of Raven. I know what he's going to say before he even opens his mouth. "We should trust her. She's not going to hurt us. Why not let her ally with us?"
"I guess..." Drago doesn't sound too sure of himself but he agrees. I do too. The girl won't betray us, I know. But will she slow us down? Hamper our mobility? I don't know but Crimson is willing to take the risk.
When we tell the girl, she's elated and asks Crimson if we have any food because she hasn't eaten all day. Crimson tells her that yes, we do have food and that we will be eating shortly. He then tells Drago and I to bring in the boxes from the shed. While we do this the sun continues to set and by the time we're finished, night has fallen on the arena.
Furcifer Soror (The Capital)
Slipping through the numerous alleyways in the cover of night is an exhilarating experience. It makes me feel like a bandit or vigilante on the prowl. Unfortunately I am neither of those. I'm just a guy armed with a simple machete wandering a city filled with people attempting to murder me.
I turn down yet another alley and break into a jog, right before bouncing off of a brick wall. I rub my shoulder ruefully and stand back up. This alley was a dead end. The wall blocks any further travel down this path.
"This is annoying," I mutter as I pick up the machete I dropped and look around the alley. There's a few garbage cans but nothing else. I walk over to the cans and lift the lid, peeking in. Nothing.
I drop the lid in annoyance. I was hoping for something. The only thing I have is this machete. No food, no water, no supplies. Nothing else. Well, I won't find anything by moping around. Maybe I should swing back to the cornucopia and see if it's being guarded. If I can find my way out of these alleys that is...
I freeze. A scraping sound, like the nails of an animal across a tile floor briefly fills the night and then it's gone. I'm confused but on alert. Is someone-or something- in these alleys with me? I adjust my grip on my machete and start for the other end of the alley when I hear something I recognize instantly.
I backpedal away when a large, four footed animal leaps into the alley. It lets out a loud growl and lungs at me. I dive and the thing misses but it lands lightly on all four and turns around. The alley is dark and its too fast for me to make out any solid details but the creature resembles a dog. A much bigger, scarier dog.
The beast lungs for me again but this time I'm anticipating it. As the animal flies at me I duck and jam my machete forward. The creatures momentum has it fly right into my weapon, my machete sinking into its neck.
The heavy creature drops dead instantly and I free my weapon from the animal, expecting the weapon to be bloodied. But it's not. Instead of blood my machete is caked in a thick black tar-like substance.
"What the hell..."
I look the creature over some more and quickly see that it has course blood-red fur. On its shoulders it has two bone looking plates and on each plate is a foot long spike-like object that appears to be connected. My mind is racing. This has to be a mutt, it's obviously not a normal animal. Normal animals don't look like this.
I further examine the animal and quickly discover that the mutt's thick knotted fur is covered in an oily substance. I try poking my machete against the fur and am surprised to see that it is unable to penetrate it. Curious, I check out the wound I made in the neck and see that there is fur there but the weapon got through anyway. The force of the mutt jumping into my machete must have been enough to penetrate.
My examination complete I stand up and get ready to move on. I've learned all I can from the body. I need to be on my way. But before I can go another loud growl pervades the night.
Fearfully I look to the alley entrance and not one but three almost identical mutts pad out of the shadows towards me.
I beat one on sheer chance but there is no possible way I could defeat three. I think of running but remember that the back way is blocked by a brick wall. I take a step back when suddenly one of the spikes on the mutts shoulder launches forward at me. I duck wildly and the projectile sails over my head. Those spikes are weapons!
I spin around, desperate for escape and see the ladder leading to a fire escape hanging nearby. My only chance of safety lies with that ladder. I look back to the mutts and then to the ladder and back.
Then I run for the ladder.
The mutts let out fierce growls and barks. I leap for the ladder and as I grab on two more of the spikes fly past my head. I start climbing and throw a look back, quickly wishing I didn't.
One of the mutts leaps at me, it's fangs snapping at my feet. I pull them up higher just as the mutt's teeth sinks into the metal rung of the ladder. I reach the first landing and then climb onto the second ladder as another spike is shot towards me. These mutts aren't giving up!
One of the mutts launches itself into the air and somehow makes it high enough to reach the lowest landing. The entire fire escape lurches and swings under its weight and I hug the ladder for dear life. But I can't just sit here.
I start climbing again as the mutt angrily attempts to pull itself up the second ladder. I reach the third landing when yet another spike is launched, this time it's deflected by the guard rail. Once again I'm saved by sheer luck.
I'm ascending the fourth ladder when a second mutt jumps onto the landing. The escape shakes and rumbles. I spot a screw coming loose and realize that this whole thing is coming down with me on board.
I desperately search for yet another escape route and see one just as the third mutt launches itself. As the fire escape begins to collapse, I throw myself through the glass window to my right.
I hear nothing but the sound of shattering glass and collapsing metal as I hit the ground and roll. Shards of glass cut my knuckles and face and when I finally stop rolling I can hear the pained yelps and howls of the mutts below. I hope that fire escape crushed them!
Clouds of dust circle against the ceiling as I lay flat on my back, exhausted from my flight for survival. Eventually, I sit up and take a around. I'm in an empty room, on the third floor of some building. I look at my bloody knuckles and think of how it could have been worse. Much worse.
Taking a look out the window I see a twisted pile of rubble that once was the fire escape. No mutts are in sight, which is disappointing as I raealize that they must still be alive. Well, no matter. They're now some other tributes problem.
I slump against the wall of the building and close my eyes. This entire day has been so tiring...I think I'm just going to rest for a bit...
Nikki Heart (District 4)
Our alliance walks through the dark forest with caution. You never know what could be lurking around and while most of the other alliances wouldn't attack us directly we still have to worry about telegraphing our position to them.
I'm just happy that we're out of the city. That place frightened me. I was always uneasy as we wound our way through the city streets. We could have chosen to enter any of the buildings but Aelia (0) was dead set on finding the edge of the arena. I don't know why.
"How much further?" Stephen (10) asks from the back of the line. During the bloodbath he took a nasty bump to the head and a large lump is visible on the back of his head. It's not as bad as Lyman (9) though, who has a crooked nose, two black eyes and a face caked with dry blood thanks to his run in with Odin.
"Not much, I'm sure," Aemillia (C) responds. She's up in front with Aelia and unlike the most of us she bears no wounds from the bloodbath. Like me, she only got what was close by before running for cover. She tries to put on a brave face but I can tell that the death of Nick is weighing heavily on her. We all miss him but she was the closest to him.
"We can't keep going much longer on the dark!" Stephen (10) complains and Aelia stops moving. At first it looks like she's going to object but then she nods and tells us that we will camping out here. Stephen and Lyman go over to rest beside a beech tree and the two girls sit down next to a holly bush, examining the packs Aelia has. I shift my feet uneasily as I watch them. I'm not sure where I should go. I finally decide to go sit in the sprawling roots of a tree when Aelia calls me and I jog over, wondering what she wants.
"Did you open your pack yet?" She asks me sweetly and I shake my head. I had completely forgotten about it. "Well, let's see!" I open the pack and pour the items out in front of us. A bag of apples tumble out along with a tin can of a cream of some sort.
"Those are some nice items Nikki!" Aemillia (C) tells me and I smile at her for the lack of better response.
"Those are some nice additions to our supplies," Aelia agrees and then when she sees the enquiring look I give her she gestures towards the packs she got. "Those contain some containers of water and a few supplemental items like a spile, net and etcetera" I nod. Sounds good.
The Anthem kicks in just then, illuminating the forest and shining lights onto our faces. Stephen and Lyman come over and we all watch the sky as the face of the girl from 2 appears. We're surprised. District 2 isn't known for losing a tribute this early. The next two faces are also surprising, Sombra and Scarlet from District's 3 and 4 respectively. The others murmur in content as they see them but I feel rather somber. Scarlet was so nice and she had two kids...
Lucinda, Nick, Cleopatra, and Zoey are the other four faces. Stephen isn't as sad to see his District partner go as I was and snickers as he sees her face. I have a feeling they didn't get along. And when Zoey arrives we're all stunned. Four Careers? In day one? Is it even possible?
The Anthem ends and then the forest is back in darkness. Aelia is the first to speak. "I'll take first watch. After a few hours I'll wake Lyman who--"
The loud ringing of a bell, the kind they have in District Four's square, rings out. The bell rings again and then again and again. I lose count as the sound rings throughout what I presume to be the whole arena. Finally, it stops.
"I counted seven rings," Stephen is the first to recover.
"So did I," Lyman says.
"I also heard seven," Aelia says thirdly and then discussion about the reasons begin. Aemillia thinks that it was a reminder of the amount of dead tributes but Stephen shoots this down by pointing out that they have already done that with the Anthem and cannons earlier today. Lyman suggests that it may have been a warning but for what? None of us can come up with anything so we end up heading to sleep without an obvious reason for the bell.
"Get a good night's rest!" Aelia tells us as we settle in. "Because we might not be here for as long as they think..." What does that mean? I want to ask but I don't think I'd get ananswer. I watch as she moves between us, a spear in hand, and eventually drift off to sleep...
"Wake up! Everyone wake up!"
My eyes blink open. Beside me Aemillia (C) stumbles to her feet, looking around groggily. It's still dark out and I can barely see anything as I get up, nearly tripping over a root as I do so.
Ahead of me in the clearing I can see Aelia addressing Lyman. His face is flushed and terror filled as he frantically points across the clearing to the shadowy trees on the other side.
"I saw em'! I saw em'!" He shouts repeatedly. Amelia grips his shoulders, her face set in a serious expression.
"Saw who Lyman?"
"I-I don't know! People! Lotsa them!"
Careers! I instinctively press against Aemillia, my eyes scanning the dark trees around us. I cannot trust my eyes, which show shadows dancing around. Have they surrounded us?...No. Stephen pulls a flashlight out of Lyman's bag and shines it across the trees, revealing nothing out of the usual. It was just my imagination.
"Lyman are you sure you weren't dreaming?" Aelia sounds exasperated as she addresses the energetic boy.
"I weren't dreaming! Honest! There where people or my name isn't Lyman Antonious Milton! Which it is!"
Aemillia throws me a sidelong glance and I shrug. Now that the sluggishness of sleep has worn off and Lyman's claims appear to be less real I'm no longer afraid. Just annoyed.
Aelia sighs, obviously thinking Lyman was just dreaming. "Okay. Where did you see these people?"
"Over there!" He once again points across the clearing and Stephen's flashlight searches the area, showing nothing but trees and bushes. Aelia takes a step forward, obviously planning on investigating the area herself, but I see something. Something alarming.
I leap forward and grab Aelia's shoulder, pulling her back. She gasps in surprise and looks at me questionably. "What are you doing Nikki?" In answer I simply point.
She gasps as she sees it, in the middle of the clearing, the shimmering transparent grid that marks the forcefield. "You nearly walked right into that Aelia!" Stephen admonishes as we gaze at our new find. We where much closer to the edge of the arena then we had thought.
"But...but...." Lyman trails off as he realizes that the people he saw couldn't possibly be real. No one can pass the forcefield. If he saw anyone beyond it he must have been imagining or simply dreaming. "I swear I saw them! They were as real as you and me!" Amelia doesn't answer. She's gazing at the forcefield as if she had just found the Holy Grail. I don't understand her fascination with it. Why were we even searching for it in the first place?
"Dude you should get some rest," Stephen mutters to Lyman who looks at his feet, mumbling about telling the truth. Eventually he turns and follows Stephen as the two return to their sleeping positions. Aemillia steps forward to gaze with Aelia at the forcefield and I'm as equally as confused as I was before. What is with them?
I want to ask but I don't. I go back to my tree and huddle amongst it's roots with my blanket as they begin to speak in hushed voices. I watch them for what seems like hours before falling to sleep for the second time this night.
Day 2/ Friends Never Part
Aemillia Wonder: The Capital
I rub my sleepy eyes as I stare out into the woods, the spear loaned to me from Aelia (0) in hand. I haven't gotten much sleep so far. First I was up all night wondering whether or not those were actually Aelia's friends we saw past the forcefield and then before I knew it I was roused for my turn to stand watch.
I throw a glance back at my sleeping allies and count us lucky that no one stumbled upon us in the night. A large group such as ours isn't easy to hide but somehow we managed to avoid detection.
The sun is just rising over the tree tops and I decide to take a walk along the clearing edge. I should be waking the others soon and then I can speak more with Aelia. We need to know what to do if her friends have came to rescue us....
A voice calls my name, off in the thicket of the forest. I freeze instantly, suddenly on high alert. All of my allies are accounted for, sleeping. They would be the only ones calling for me. At least, the only ones calling for me who don't intend on killing me.
"Aemillia! It's me!"
I know that voice! Nick! But that's impossible! I saw his face in the sky last night. He's dead, gone. Apart from this world. But that's his voice. I'm sure of it.
He calls for me again and this time I can't not follow. He might not be dead. He could have already been rescued by Aelia's friends, he could be calling for us to join them!
I push through the thick bushes, using my spear to whack away at the prickly advantages. "Nick?" I call out as I proceed. "Where are you?"
The voice comes from another clearing, a smaller one. I push past the bushes and see him. I see Nick!
He's standing with his back to me, calling out my name as he furtively searches the woods. I can't believe it....I can't believe it! I'm not going to die in these Games! I'm going to be rescued!
I rush toward him. "I'm here Nick! I'm here!"
I grin wildly as he slowly turns. I can't believe he managed to fool the Gamemakers! I have so much to ask him that I can't keep it all in. My words come bumbling out before he even faces me. But when he does face me, my grin fades, replaced by a look of horror.
It isn't Nick. His features are there but his face is pale and his cheeks sunken. His eyes dull and lifeless. His body flesh is decomposing and oozing yellow pus from his pores. I feel bile rise up in my throat. This isn't Nick! "Hello there Aemillia. I so ever wished to see you..." The voice is now deep and slow as he--no, the thing-- looks at me with a ghoulish grin. I stare at the hideous fiend in utter repulsion and then let out a ear-piercing scream.
Aelia Freedome: District 0
The shrill scream wakes me from my sleep and by the time I'm on my feet it's already cut off.
She was on guard duty last night and taking a swift look around the campsite I see no sign of her. Lyman (9) and Stephen (10) pull their selves up as we all look around in terror and shock.
"Aemillia! Where are you!" My shout echoes through the forest and comes back to me with no response.
"Where'd she go?" Stephen (10) asks in bewilderment. The clearing is empty. There is on one around save for us three and Nikki (4), who is now waking up with a confused expression.
I shout for my friend again and yet again I have no answer. This is not good. I rip the flail from Lyman's grasp, our only weapon beyond the spear Aemillia was carrying, and take off into the woods. Aemillia is fine. She has to be. She cannot be harmed. I won't allow it!
These thoughts race across my head as I smash through the forest, the heavy flail dragging behind me. I break into a clearing and that's where I find her. Aemillia. Or what's left of her.
A grotesque creature sits beside her, it's teeth ripping into her neck, feasting on her flesh. I let out a pained scream and the creature turns to face me just as the heavy spiked ball of the flail smashes down onto its skull, shattering it.
I don't stop there. I swing the weapon back and smash it again and again. Not stopping until the creature is a unrecognizable mess of green flesh and pus.
"What the hell..."
Stephen and the others arrive, murmuring and gasping in shock at the sight. I face them unevenly, my entire body shaking uncontrollably. No...no....NO! This isn't happening! This didn't happen!
"What was that thingy?" Lyman asks as he pokes at the mess with a long stick.
"It was...I....I don't know. It k-killed Aemillia...it looked like a person....and it was eating her!"
"I think I'm gonna be sick..." Lyman turns from the scene, his face turning a pea green. I feel numb as I look upon the body of what once was my friend. They did this...The Gamemakers, the Capital...they did all of this...Boom!
"We should...get going...," Stephen picks up Aemillia's dropped spear and hands it to me. I shakily accept it, my stomach still churning from what I see. "We don't have any thing to gain by hanging around...and besides, others could have heard the screams and be heading this way now"
He's right. We don't need to stick around. But I can't just leave Aemillia, not yet. I tell the others to go ahead as I kneel beside the corpse of my friend and whisper my apologies.
Juline Cenia: District 9
"Wake up! Get your lazy butts up!"
Trevor (1) shouts as he arouses us from our sleep, or at least most of us. Fiora (7) and Odin (14) were both already awake before his shouting began. Odin has apparently received a shield from his sponsors while we slept.
"Shut up. We hear you!" I grumble to myself as I stretch my arms, and looking around. The others emerge from the shelter of the cornucopia, murmuring to themselves. The mid morning sun is shining down on the large buildings that surround us as we all approach Trevor.
"It's past noon," He tells us when we're all assembled before him. "And most of you were still sleeping" I shrug. So what? It's not like anything has happened while we slept. We're all still fine.
"You all missed a cannon," Odin (14) tells us casually. "It went off right after dawn" Interesting. So either one tribute hunts through the night or there's more dangers in this arena then just tributes.
"What's the plan?" Buck (6) asks with an eager glint in his eyes.
"We need to send out a hunting party," Trevor begins. "But we don't want to leave the cornucopia undefended. Four of us will go hunting while three of us stay behind. Fiora, Juline, Buck and Luigi will go. Myself, Trinity, and Odin will remain behind to guard. Understand?"
No one has any complaints and I follow Fiora over to where we start collecting our gear for the hunting party. I don't trust Trevor's intentions here. He purposely put the four of us, the four he doesn't know he can trust, on the dangerous mission. Not that I mind, I can't wait to get into the action and kill again, but obviously Trevor fears us. I tell Fiora my thoughts and she laughs lightly.
"So what? He fears me. Good! Anyone smart should feel the same!"
"Oi! Someone's coming!"
Our heads spin like owls at Buck's shout and see him pointing down the street at four shambling figures. We all rush to the corner of the cornucopia and stare at the strange figures that approach us. They're tributes, obviously. They're wearing the arena wear that we all have but they're moving slowly down the north street towards us.
"Are they morons?" Buck mutters to me. "I mean, they're just walking right towards us!" I know, it's odd. They don't seem to even register our presence and that's not normal. Any sane tribute would run away from the Careers, not walk towards them. We sit tight, waiting for them to get closer. And when they do, we see that they are tributes. But not normal ones.
They're the dead ones.
"Scarlet!" Trinity gasps in shock as she sees the face of our former ally, or something that resembles her face. A ghastly shell of her former self. I look from each person, seeing the same thing with each of them. Zoey, Sombra, Avia. They're all here. Except they're not. They're not our allies; they're not even people.
At Trevor's shout the mutts suddenly dart forward, showing much more speed and agility then they previously had. One of them, the one who resembles Avia, lunges for me. I frantically swing my sword at the creature and slice off its right arm. As it howls in anger, I witness Odin take out the Sombra-Mutt with a well aimed spear thrust.
The Avia-Mutt flaps around, slashing its remaining arm, armed with long nails on it's hand, at me as it tries to strike me. I dance around as it fails to land it's blows. Behind me, I hear Buck plunge a sword into the Scarlet-Mutt's chest.
The mutt once again makes a wild swipe at me and this time as it misses and attempts to regain its balance I shove my sword into its throat. Dark blood and yellow pus shoot from as it gurgles and chokes on my weapon. Slowly the mutt sinks to the ground and goes still. Just as it does so, Trevor parries a strike from the Zoey-Mutt and then uses his sickle to take its head off in one lop.
"What...the....hell?" Buck rips his sword from the mutts chest and wipes it off on his jacket. "What were these things?"
"It's pretty obvious," Fiora (7) says, gesturing at the fallen mutts. "They're mutts made to resemble our allies. Meant to unhinge us" She lets out a baleful laugh. "Like that would happen! Still, you must give them credit for trying" I smile. It's a good thing I wasn't close to my dead allies, or any of my living one's for that matter. They pose no mental threat to me, a physical one, however, is still present.
"Think there's more of them?" Trevor asks.
"I would think so. If these four," She once again gestures at the dead circles of the mutts. "Were back, then it stands to reason that all of the tributes who died yesterday are out and about" Makes sense. The Gamemakers wouldn't just create mutts for our allies, they would create ones for every dead tribute.
"Doesn't matter right now," Trevor dismisses it with a wave of his hand. "We're not likely to run into them now. We should get on with our plan"
Well, none of us has anything else to say so we begin to break off into two groups, the ones standing guard and the ones leaving. I follow Fiora, who leads the way, with a spring in my step. I can't wait to get killing!
Crimson Typhoon: District 11
Hands grab me around the shoulders and roughly shake me awake. I see the green eyes of Drago (12) staring into mine, a worried expression on his face. Before I can ask him what's wrong he speaks. "Ravens gone"
I push him aside and roll off of the couch where I had spent the night. The living room is in the same condition it was last night, however the armchair Radiant (13) slept in is empty. "What do you mean she's gone?" I ask throwing looks around the room. Drago shrugs helplessly.
"She's gone. Not here."
"Where did she go?" I ask him. Raven wouldn't have just gotten up and deserted us. She's not like not.
"I don't know. Somewhere else?"
I roll my eyes. That much was obvious. I ask him where Radiant is and he tells me he's out on the porch. I head out there and when I do I'm surprised by the chilly weather and fierce wind. I involuntarily shiver.
"There you are bro!" Radiant comes around the bend, armed with his sword. "Thought you'd sleep the day away"
"Where's Raven?" I ask him.
"Dunno. She was gone when I woke up. Drago didn't see her leave" Shoot! I mutter to myself, staring out at the rolling plains that surround the farmhouse. Where could she have gone? And is she safe? The thought of her being in danger fills me with dread.
"She may have deserted us, you know," Drago says stepping out onto the porch with us. "She could even be allied with another alliance, telling our position to them right now"
I'm shaking my head before he's even finished. "No. No that's not the case. I trust her. She would never--"
"I would never what?"
I literally jump in surprise at the sound of our little allies voice. Somehow, without us noticing, she had crept onto the porch behind us. I smile in relief as my two allies mutter to themselves. Raven watches us with wide eyes, her little body swaying in the heavy wind. For the first time I notice that she's holding a pillowcase, full of...something.
"Where the heck where you?" Drago demands. "I thought you had gone to sell us out!" She seems genuinely taken back by this remark and shakes her head fiercely.
"No! I would never! I was just hunting! See?" She turns the pillowcase over and empties its contents on the porch. Three rabbits. Just like the kind you'd see in District 11.
"How did you..."
"I made snares!" She beams proudly as we ogle her catches. "I used some of the rope! There's tons of rabbits out in the field! And they're so easy to catch too! You'd think they never saw a trap before!" Her pride and enthusiasm make it hard to be mad at her, especially since she brought back food, but I need to stress a point.
"You shouldn't go off like that," I tell her sternly and her head falls in disappointment. "Not without telling us first. We were worried about you!" Or at least I was I add silently. Drago and Radiant where more worried that she betrayed us. "But...you did good. Real good. We're all proud of you, right guys?"
I'm surprised that both Drago and Radiant respond enthusiastically. I guess food is a motivating factor. Raven seems pleased by the reception and promises to never leave without telling us first and then I work on skinning and prepping the rabbits. I was taught how to do this awhile back by Connor...
Suddenly I zone out, my mind travelling back to the moment Connor was captured. It was all my fault. My fault...I have to fix this, I have to win these Games and rescue him. I can't let him down.
"Too bad we don't have any water," Drago's voice breaks through my thoughts and I see him approaching me. "Otherwise things would be going perfectly!"
Right. Water. The only essential that we don't currently have. We don't even need to worry about creating a fire because the farmhouse has a fireplace full of wood. Sure it'll elicit smoke but most tributes are off in the city, hardly anyone will see it. "We'll get some," I try to sound confident but my thoughts are still on Connor and I sound anything but. Drago helps me gather up the rabbit meat and we take it back into the farmhouse. I'm frightened for my friend back home...but I'm also frightened for my friends here. Only one of us comes out of this alive and to save Connor, it will have to be me.
It's past noon when I walk over to the others and tell them that we should get moving. They're slightly surprised but agree with me that remaining in one place for too long is not a good idea.
"Where are we going?" Shuppet (3) asks me as we make sure that we still have all of our items.
"I don't know. Somewhere else. Preferably somewhere safe" Shuppet chuckles to himself at this.
"Guess we have no idea what's in this town anyways" He grins as he stands up.
After making certain we have all of our items we exit the gas station door and into the street. I know that we're north of the cornucopia, which means that south isn't the way to go. I have no interest in encountering the bully Careers, at least not yet. For now I want to remain under the radar. I scan the side of the buildings, making sure there is no one watching us. Once I'm certain there is nobody around, I lead the others to the east.
The menacing buildings and desolate streets put us all on edge. Shuppet places himself between the two of us, his eyes flickering from one side to another. Johnathan (5) keeps his face stoic enough but his eyes show deep wariness and he keeps himself on high alert. I myself am reminded of District 8 and its all too often empty streets. I'm also reminded of a dream I had, shortly after the destruction of my Shuppet doll, where I wandered empty streets of a city.
I walked for awhile, not seeing another soul. Not until I saw Shuppet, sitting on the stoop of the entry way to a large bell tower. I approached, eager to be reunited with my friend, when a beast jumped me and tore me to pieces.
It was a strange dream, one brought on by my sorrow. I hadn't thought of it in awhile, but this city brought the memories back.
"Looks like a park," Johnathan says gruffly and my head shoots up. He's right. Just ahead of us lies what appears to be a fenced park, the kind you'd see in cities, with trees and bushes and benches. It's not like a forest but it's the first sign of nature we've seen since the start of these Games.
"I would like to be in there," Shuppet says wistfully.
"Lets circle around it," I tell them. "See if anyone is around" While we begin this I think about how in my life I've never really had the opportunity to see large expanses of trees. This park probably matches the size of the biggest I've seen.
We see no signs of anyone as we circle around. Everywhere, from the park to to the streets to the building windows are empty and devoid of life. I decide that the place is safe and lead us in. We follow a small path to the center of the forest, where we choose to make camp.
"The fence is rusty," I say as Johnathan shuts the gate behind us. "We'll hear it if anyone tries to climb over it" From what we've seen so far this part of the city isn't popular but I know that sooner or later a run-in with the other alliances is imminent. They both murmur their agreement and I sit down and lean my head against a tree trunk, ready for some rest.
Furcifer Soror: The Capital
My stomach growls violently and my throat is as parch as a desert as I go through the many rooms in the building, searching for something, anything, that could possibly be of use to me. I clear out about half a dozen rooms, finding nothing but basic office furniture and supplies and can't help but shout in anger. How will a bunch of pencils help me?!
I slam my fists on a desk and let out a long sigh. Maybe my only remaining course of action is to return to the cornucopia. It's risky of course but it's the only place that guarantees to have supplies. And I desperately need supplies.
I turn and exit the room, heading for the staircase down to the bottom floor, wondering which way the cornucopia was located. North of here? Or was it south? I can't remember. The maze of alleyways had be spun around last night and I have no idea where to go. I'm about halfway down the staircase when I hear it; the sound of a door opening, closely followed by voices.
I bound back up the staircase, my mind racing. I can't make out what they're saying but there's several voices, definitely tributes. And I'm willing to bet that they are the Careers.
Damn! Just as I thought my day couldn't get any worse!
The voices grow closer and I hear a female ordering the search of every room. Another voice asks why they're doing this again and the first replies saying they saw movement in one of the windows. I feel like slapping myself. Why didn't I take more care!?
Ny heart begins to race as I think of a way out of this predicament. I swing a door open and step into a room. Dead end. I'm about to turn back when I hear footsteps behind me, coming up the staircase. I have no choice. I shut the door behind me and rush for the window. There's a sheer drop to the concrete street below. I can't escape that way.
I take a shuddering breath and look around the room for a hiding place. Under the desk? No good. They'd see me there. Behind the doorway? I won't be seen if they only look in but if they enter they'll see me when I exit. In the large locker? Yes!
I open it up and stuff myself inside. There's not much room but I'm concealed. There's even a slit in the door for me to see out. My pulse begins to slow. I'm safe...safe.
Then the door swings open.
I stifle a gasp of fear as two people enter. One too many. I could use my machete to take them out from behind but I can't do that with two people. I'd get spotted for sure.
"This place is empty!" A dark haired boy who I believe is from District 6 says as they examine the room.
"Might not be," The girl, a redhead from District 9 replies. "This was the only room with a shut door" Shoot! Shoot, shoot, shoot! Why didn't I check the other doors first!?
"So?" The boy is confused.
"So, that means someone is probably...in here!"
Quick as lightning the girl lunges across the room and pulls the locker door open. I stare in shock at her grinning face and then adrenaline kicks in.
I slash my machete forward and the blade rakes across her right shoulder. She drops her sword and backs off, screaming loudly. Voices begin shouting from the floor above us and I know the others heard. I shove the girl out of my way and go running for the doorway when something sharp pierces through my lower back and everything goes black.
Celica Rotas: District 12
The plan is simple.
I distract the Careers while Aisha (8) goes in to collect supplies from the cornucopia. The plan was formed by Aisha, she told it to me and Amore the moment we woke up. Apparently she had been thinking on this for awhile.
Our first course of action was to head for the abandoned fighting arena we had briefly seen in passing yesterday, leaving Amore behind at the restaurant to heal her ankle. At first I was reluctant to leave her but once she told us she wanted to rest it became an easy decision. Once at the arena Aisha collected some fighting pads while I picked up some weights. The place was pretty interesting, especially with the large caged ring. But anyway, once we had these we carried them off. Those weights were a huge pain in the butt to lug around.
"Why do we even need these?" I had asked Aisha as we walked, grimacing under the pressure of the weights.
"I already told you, we need them for you to drop on the Careers," She had told me. I shrugged, accepting the answer. But now that I'm here, in the second story of a building near the cornucopia, running across the windows with a lit flashlight, bringing the Careers towards me, I'm wondering if those weights are really going to be of much use.
"What do you think that is?" A voice from outside the window has me stop my running and I quickly switch the flashlight off.
"A very stupid tribute!" Another, more masculine, voice answers. "One that's about to die to be exact" I press myself against the wall near the window and risk a look out.
Three Careers are lined up outside. The two from District 1 and the Norse guy from District 14. The others must be out hunting. Or they're still at the cornucopia, awaiting Aisha's arrival. No. I don't believe that. They must be gone.
Looking back down on them I see that they're in a discussion and not looking up. I bite my lip. According to Aisha's plan I'm suppose to wait for them to enter the building and then drop one of the weights. That could work, I would kill one of them and scatter the rest. I would be able to escape through the back exit and meet up with Aisha. Our plan would have been good.
Or...I could use my bow and arrow instead of the weights. Yesterday I told Amore I could take three Careers out with three arrows. Well, there's three Careers out there right now. Time to put my money where my mouth is.
I slide an arrow out of my quiver and load it into my bow as I take aim. There's a considerable amount of wind outside and finding an opportunity to shoot is my first priority. But I don't have much time. The Careers begin moving and I'm forced to act.
I fire my arrow.
It goes directly where I aimed, Trevor's heart. He collapses as the other two shout in shock. My other two arrows are already fired off. My second arrow is taken by a surging gust of wind and instead of hitting Trinity in the throat it pierces her right shoulder. My third and final arrow deflects off of the shield of Odin, who pulled it up the moment he saw Trevor go down.
Two out of three. Not exactly what I promised but good enough given the circumstances. But I'm out of arrows now and Odin (14) is charging into the building, armed to the teeth with weapons. I need to go.
I move for the staircase but then stop myself. Odin will be coming up that way. I look around for another exit and see one in the window. I look out and see a dumpster right below the window. I can make that jump. Easily.
I throw myself out the window just as Odin's pounding footsteps hit the stairs. There's a moment of pure adrenaline as I fall and then I hit the top of the dumpster and bounce off. I slither back to my feet and then I see Aisha standing by the back door with a shocked look.
"Run!" I shout and we both take off sprinting down the twisting streets. As we do so a cannon rings out and I know that the boy from 1 has died from my arrow strike. Boom!
Theres no sign in anyone following us but we take a long circular route around before returning to the restaurant, just to be safe. We push through the doors and Amore (6) pokes her head out from behind the counter. "Hey there! Did it work?"
Aisha nods as I sit myself at a table, the adrenaline still pumping through my system. I myself don't know what Aisha took burn in hoping it was something good. Though I guess taking out a Career was worth it anyway.
"Here's the stuff," Aisha says, lifting one of two backpacks she was carrying. "This one has weapons" She empties the bag onto a nearby table and several sharp objects come tumbling out. Three throwing knives tied together in a neat little package, a pair of curved daggers, and a hatchet. Amore oohs and picks up the hatchet, marvelling at it. I can't help frowning.
"Did you get any arrows?" I ask hopefully. That hope is dashed by the fallen expression on Aisha's face.
"I--No. I knew I forgot something!"
"No. It's fine. What you got is good enough" I take both daggers off the table. Yes, these weapons are a huge boon for us but I would have liked some more arrows. Without arrows my bow skills are completely useless and I'm ineffective from long range, meaning I will be forced into melee fighting. And I don't fancy my chances of taking a Career down in close combat.
"This bag contains food and water,"Aisha does the same for the second bag and I'm pleased to see a decent amount of supplies come out. Amore squeals in happiness and then asks Aisha for an account of what she missed. When she finishes I tell them my part.
"You killed the Careers leader!" Amore gasps in surprise. "Awesomeness!"
"You used all of your arrows?" Aisha asks her eyes wide. I nod and then shrug as if it doesn't matter all that much.
"I'll get more soon enough"
"So what's next?" Amore asks us, bobbling her head in excitement. "My ankle is feeling much better! I could help next time!" I don't know. But whatever it is, I'm going to be ready for it.
Solar Energy: District 0
Armed with my newly sponsored spear I wander the halls of the library. I can't help but be reminded of the library back in District 0, the one where I had spent most of my time, reading and learning. That's the reason I know how to use this spear, why I have knowledge of all techniques and skills.
I sit down at a dusty table at the back of the library and examine a book that lies upon it. It's red, with a golden hinge. When I begin to leaf through it I see that it's some sort of monster encyclopedia, complete with illustrations and descriptions. Huh. Amusing. With nothing else to do I begin to read. The book is pretty interesting, with a variety of monsters. Like what the book refers to as a "Buzzer". An insect-like creature that resembles a fly but much larger, the size of a small child, according to the text, and has two large talon like claws that the book describes as "perfect for ripping flesh"
Strange. I keep reading though, because literature has always interested me, even fantastical reads like this.
I read about more monsters such as; a red-furred dog creature that has spikes emitting from its back referred to as a "Biter", a monkey-like thing that has "a penchant for stealing objects", and a giant humanoid creature that has hard scales covering its body and "razor sharp teeth and claws" that apparently stands seven and a half feet tall and is able to "smash through walls and break solid concrete". It seems like it would be easy to notice but the book says it can "silently stalk its prey" without "giving the slightest warning" before striking. The book calls this creature "The Annihilator"
It's all pretty fanciful stuff and I'm enjoying myself as I read it, wondering what the author was thinking when he created these things, when I reach the last page and see a shocking sight.
The monster is named "Zombie" but that's not what shocked me. Zombies are a popular monster, seen just about everywhere. No. It's not the zombies name that is surprising. It's the appearance.
It looks just like the girl from District 5.
I don't know how or why but I'm certain of it. That's her alright. She may look more...undead but there's no denying its her.
I stand up abruptly, pacing back and forth as I try to think of a reason. Why would a girl in these Games be in this book? And why would this book be in here? I rack my brain. The girl died in the bloodbath right? Yes. I have a distinct memory of seeing her face in the sky. I stop my pacing and look the book as it slowly dawns on me. I know why this book is here, I know why the girl is in it. I know why those creatures are there. Yes. I know why.
And now I'm terrified.
Angel Orthodox: District 14
Traps galore! I skip along the road, giggling happily to myself as I see all of my splendid traps I've set up. It's really quite easy to find the proper materials, when you know where to look and what you're looking for.
Simple items like old nails, discarded rope, trash can lids, etcetera etcetera. All of those items and more can so easily be fashioned into worthwhile traps.
I see the spire of my church ahead and pick up my pace. The sun has already set and I'm certain that my traps will protect me during the night. They're set all around the church and the surrounding blocks. No overzealous Careers will catch me off guard! They will be struck down by my deadliest traps if they even dare approach my castle. And those that happen to get caught in my non-lethal traps? Well, I'll go collect those naughty little bugs and teach them what happens when you wander into the spiders web...
I reach the church now and enter through the large gaping hole in the wall, careful to avoid the trap I set up, the one that when the tripwire is touched, unleashes a volley of rusty nails. Oh what fun a girl can have when left to her own devices!
Inside the church I walk up to the pyre, where the preacher would hold his sermons, and climb up a pile of tumbled bricks. This place has seen better days...or not. After all, how could it get any better then now, when I am inhabiting it? The bricks lead me up to the rafters, where I am able to gaze down upon the entirety of the building.
This is my kingdom. No one comes here without my knowledge or permission. I pick up a small leather container that I have filled with water from sinks in varying buildings and take a sip as I watch from my perch. No one can attest to the fact that this place is mine. My name is Angel Orthodox for pity's sake! Yes, this is my kingdom. And I'd like to see anyone try and take it from me.
Buck Rockwell: District 6
It's well into the night by the time we returned to the cornucopia. After I speared the boy from the Capital, the one that escaped me in the bloodbath I might add, we searched every similar looking building from top to bottom. Fiora (7) was adamant that we leave no stone unturned in our search and it took us much longer then I had hoped. I was just waiting to head back to the cornucopia where I could have a good night's rest.
But when we returned we learned of Trevor's demise from a sheepish Odin and a wounded Trinity. Apparently they had been lured into a trap while we were gone. Not only did they lose Trevor but they didn't even know who was attacking them! What kind of Careers are they?!
Well...here we are now. Gathered around the cornucopia with no leader and no plan. I pace back and forth, my weariness forgotten in my new disappointment.
"It was someone skilled with a bow,"Trinity (1) says, wincing as Juline (9), who has already bandaged up her own wound, slathers a medicinal substance onto her injured shoulder. That will certainly hamper her mobility but she'll live.
"Sound like anyone we know?" I ask, scratching my head in thought. I don't really recall who was good with a bow. I didn't pay much attention to it at the time, thinking it was pointless.
"Only two I can think of are the boy from 11 and the girl from 12, Juline answers.
"I don't think it matters much right now," Trinity mutters as Juline finishes and goes to wash her hands with a canteen. "But what does matter is our leadership. Trevor is dead. Who is going to lead us now?" She looks to all of us as she speaks and I know that with her shoulder she doesn't plan on leading us. Well, now only she and Luigi (2) are from actual Career Districts amongst us and Luigi is being as silent as he ever is, clearly not willing to lead us.
"I suggest Fiora be our leader!" Juline suddenly speaks. "After all, she lead us perfectly today. Didn't she?" She looks to me and Luigi. I shrug. I guess she did. Nothing bad happened to us and we at least had a competent plan. I agree with her and Luigi gives a slight inclination of his head in approval. Juline beams.
"So Fiora it is!" She gestures at her friend, or master, it could be either, who has a confident smile on her face.
"Don't worry fellow Careers!" She speaks with authority. "We have lost a brave leader and many allies but now the winds have changed! I will lead us all to the glory that comes with victory!"
Yay and all that jazz I guess. The arena suddenly gets much lighter as the seal appears in the sky and the Anthem kicks in. Of course the first face to show up is Trevor's. He was a really disappointing leader for me. The next face is that of the boy from the Capital, the one I killed. The third and final face belongs to his District partner and then the Anthem wraps itself up.
"There's only four of those "Rebels" left now," I say with a hint of amusement. "I guess they're not much of a rebel group, eh?" Juline opens her mouth to reply but just at that moment a loud bell chimes. I instinctively cover my ears as it goes again and again. Just like last night. Unlike last night though, it only rings six times.
"By Gorlogs beard! What is with that incessant ringing!" Odin (14) roars as the sound subsides.
"It's the bell tower," I remark, pointing a finger at the large tower that sits on the northeast corner of the cornucopia intersection, looming over us in a strangely menacing way.
"We know where it comes from genius!" Fiora (7) snaps at me with a disdainful throw of her hair. "What we want to know is why it's happening!"
"Well excuuuse me, princess!" I say with mock dismay. She rolls her eyes and then gives out the guard order for the night. Luckily enough for me I don't draw the first shift, that instead goes to Odin and Luigi. I'm going to get some much needed rest. I am our biggest weapon after all. No one else managed to get a kill today. I yawn and wish our guards luck before going to the back of the cornucopia and wrapping myself up in a sleeping bag. Tomorrow the hunt will continue.
Day 3/ Flame On
Raven Night: District Eleven
I sit crouched in a ball, watching the flickering flames in the fireplace. Dawn is coming. I can see the light from the sun shining over the hill. My allies are still sleeping. Radiant (13) lies strewn across an armchair, snoring softly. Crimson (11) is sleeping on the couch. Occasionally he'll murmur to himself, usually saying the name "Connor". Drago isn't in the room. Apparently he can't see fire or he goes crazy or something.
I don't know what our plan for the Games is. I don't even know what our plan for the day is. I don't even know if we have a plan. A lone howl suddenly pierces the quiet morning and I throw a look at the window.
We had those back in District 11. A bell was often rung out in effort to warn everyone about the animals. I don't think there's a bell here. I get up and walk towards the window and peer out.
The empty plain is bathed in the morning glow and there is no sign of anything. I guess no wolves are overs here--
A large dark shape throws itself at the window. I fall back, screaming as the window cracked and shards of glass fly everywhere. "HELP! Wolf! Wolf!"
Just as I finish my warning the dark shape sticks its head in the broken window frame. I scream again as I see the creature. It's snapping jaws, wild eyes and red fur.
I'm pulled to my feet. Crimson is beside me, his pitchfork in hand. Radiant isn't far behind. Crimson pushes me behind him. "Go! Get to safety! We'll handle this!"
I nod fearfully and dart out the backdoor just as the animal pushes it way into the window, confronting my friends.
Crimson Typhoon: District 11
I've never seen this creature before. It's not like the wolves back home. Those would never smash their way through windows to get at people, not unless they were minutes away from starving. And they also aren't red.
"That's a nasty biter right there!" Radiant (13) takes his place beside me, his sword raised in a defensive stance. I can't disagree with that. The Biter growls and bares its fangs at us as it takes in the situation. It's big and looks mightily strong but we still outnumber it.
"We can do this!" I tell Radiant encouragingly. "We have it outnumbered!"
The front door smashes down just as I finish and two creatures identical to the Biter trot in.
"You were saying?" Radiant asks. I shake my head, mortified at this new revelation. Now we're the ones outnumbered! The first Biter strikes in our dismay.
It goes straight for Radiant and I'm shouting a useless warning when he counters the attack. His sword slices across the Biter's face in the first arc of his swing and then he pulls it back for a fatal stab to the skull. Sticky black....something, goops out from the wound and I'm so distracted by the action that I don't notice the second Biter running right at me until it's too late.
It leaps at me, it's jaws attempting to reach my throat, and I'm pushed back, and the both of us go flipping over the couch and onto the floor. We're both stunned. But not for long. The Biter recovers before I do and slashes a claw towards me. I duck my head as the sharp nails rake across the air over my brain. I nearly faint knowing my death was so close.
It lets out an ear-piercing howl at its miss and I take that opportunity to shove my pitchfork into its exposure chest, ending it's life...only, the pitchfork deflects off of the mutts thick matted hair.
"Well color me stupid..."
The Biter rams into me and I drop my only weapon as I roll across the room, towards the open fireplace. I get to my knees and vaguely spot Radiant tussling with the third Biter. I want to help him but I have pressing matters. Like that massive beast closing in on me.
The Biter lunges. I dive to the left, expecting to feel the searing pain of claws ripping through my side. But for some inexplicable reason the Biter pulls up at the last moment. I don't get ripped apart. I don't have much time to think over this though, becauyhse the mutt charges me with a blind fury. This time I dive out of the way without being in serious danger of being torn apart and the Biter smashes head first into the wall. That doesn't even slow it down though and it swiftly turns to face me.
I have a brief moment to look around and catch my bearings. I'm now on the opposite side of the fireplace. Radiant is in the kitchen somewhere, out of sight. I can hear the howls and gasps of fighting though and know he hasn't vanquished his foe yet.
My Biter growls to let me know it's back on the hunt and as I turn to look at it I see something else standing in the doorway. Drago.
He has his shovel in hand and is looking from me to the Biter and back. I don't know what he's thinking but then he sees something else. Something I wished he didn't.
"Drago...don't do it!" I can already see that crazed look in his eyes as he gazes upon the flames. I can see how his body tenses in preparation. "Don't look at the fire! Please! Listen to me!"
He goes rushing for the fireplace and in doing so draws the Biter's attention. The mutt goes for him. He goes for the fire. I can't explain what happens next.
Drago's shovel scoops a flaming log out of the fireplace and hurls it at the Biter. The log only grazed it, it bounces right off its armor fur but in an instant the entire creature catches fire. It lets out pained howls of fury as it rears onto its hind legs. I back off as it begins to throw itself around the room in an effort to extinguish itself. It doesn't work. In mere moments the creature perishes but not before setting the entire room on fire.
"Drago!" I grab my friend and pull him back as he chuckles softly to himself, a glazed over look in his eyes. He's completely under the fires spell. "Snap out of it man!" I smack him across the face but he doesn't even react to it. He's completely out of it. I have no choice. I throw him over my shoulder and go blundering for the backdoor as pieces of the house begin crumbling under the effects of the flames. Smoke pours out with me as I tumble onto the dew laden grass outside. I cough as Drago crawls off of me.
Confused, I look up and see Raven (11) staring down at me with her dark luminous eyes. "Radiant is still in there!"
"Stay with Drago!" I order her as I get back onto my feet. "And keep yourself safe! I'm going to get Radiant!" I plunge back into the flaming house, my eyes watering from the smoke. Where had I last him? The kitchen? I circumnavigate the flaming wreckage, the body of two Biters. Wait. What happened to the third?
That's when I hear the loud cry of pain from the kitchen, followed by a victorious howl.
I scoop up a non-flaming wooden board and push my way into the kitchen. Inside I see the last Biter with its teeth in Radiant's shoulder.
I smash the board across the mutt's back but it breaks apart uselessly on contact. It drops Radiant and with bloodstained teeth, faces me. "I...Uh...kinda didn't think this through!"
Something whistles through the air and into the Biter's side. A flaming pinecone. The effect of the small amount of fire is instantaneous. The mutt goes up in flames and starts howling and pushes away from me as it runs out the door. I don't care to see where it goes. I gently scoop up a moaning Radiant and go for the door. The ceiling starts coming down just as I pass the threshold. I run a far enough distance away from the wreckage and then collapse.
"Crimson...?" Radiant's eyes flicker open. "Th-thank you man..."
"N-no problem...," I lie my head back on the soft grass. "That...was....awful"
"But you survived!" Raven appears over me, Drago right behind her. He looks to be recovering. His eyes are no longer glazed over and he's looking around coherently. "That's what matters, right?" She sits down beside me and in her hands I see several pinecones.
"That was you who..."
"Yeah. But please Crimson. Just get some rest"
I lie my head back down and let out a long sigh of relief. Everything turned out alright. We survived. Thanks to our teamwork. "You did good," I tell Raven with a smile. "But you're not done yet"
"No. You need to watch Drago and Radiant. Because I think I need some rest"
Stephen Star: District 10
We're not doing very much, just sitting around. Aelia (0) doesn't seem to have recovered from the death of Aemillia yet. She sits stoically upon a rock, staring off into the distance. I hope she hasn't gone catatonic...
I nearly jump as Lyman (9) appears at my side, an uneasy look on his face.
"What's wrong?" I ask in worry.
"Nothing! I mean, everything!" He glances around nervously, as if he's afraid someone is going to overhear, before continuing. "I think we should jump ship"
"Ya know! Get outta here! We need to scram!" I'm confused. Leave? Why should we leave? Especially after losing two of our allies. Now definitely isn't the time to be leaving our other allies.
Lyman throws a nervous glance over at Nikki (4), whose now speaking with Aelia, and then licks his lips nervously. "If we stay we'll die next! We're dropping like flies and I don't think being a "Rebel" is helpin'!"
"Calm down Lyman!" His voice had begun to rise hysterically and I don't want him drawing the attention of the others. "This is the Hunger Games. People are going to die. It doesn't matter who we're allied with!"
"It does when your allies are challenging the Capitol!" He has a point. The Capitol could very well be enraged with out small act of defiance but....deserting our friends now isn't going to help in the slightest. In fact, it would just make it much more likely that we would wind up dead.
"Take a deep breath Lyman," I tell him. "And let's wait this out. If we lose another ally by nightfall and then maybe we consider leaving. But for right now let's just wait and see" He opens his mouth to speak but then shuts it as he considers my words. He scratches his head and finally nods.
"Fine. But if one'a us dies I'm leavin'!" That's all I can ask from him. To wait this out. He goes over to a tree and sits down, leaving me with my thoughts. Maybe he's right. Maybe we should get out of here while we still can. It's not like we're coming up with any plan.
Something taps me on the shoulder. Nikki has come up behind me while I was thinking. "Um. Hey dude." I don't know how to communicate with this guy. He can't speak so I usually just smile and nod at him. But now that he's attempting to directly communicate with me I have to try and respond.
He makes some hand gestures towards the woods that surround us and I frown. "You want to desert too?"
His eyes widen in fright and then he shakes his head rapidly as he makes a gesture that vaguely looks like a rope knot. "Uh. We playing charades?"
He slaps his forehead in an obvious sign of frustration and makes more rapid fire motions. I don't get what the guy wants and I feel bad. But there's not much I can do about it. I sigh as I realize my allies are a country boy who wants to desert, a mute kid, and a catatonic--
"Gather around! I've come up with a plan!"
Aelia's shout interrupts my thoughts as she steps into the centre of the clearing and calls for us. Nikki and I come pretty quickly but Lyman reluctantly sidles up to the group. Aelia doesn't notice though and goes right into her plan.
"We'll be heading back into the city. We need to find a gas station of some sort. Or a car. Maybe both. Then we head for the cornucopia and burn their supplies. All of it."
Silence greets her words. We have a plan now. But now that we have one I'm frightened. Will this get us killed? Was Lyman right? Should we have left when we had the chance?
"What do we do if the Careers are there?" I ask.
Aelia turns to me with a cold expression, her eyes lit with a dark fury. "We burn them too"
Shuppet Jorravaskr (District 3)
We watch the two silver parachutes as they float down from the blue sky and into the center of the park. I exchange a look with Banette. I don't think either of us had expected much, if any, sponsoring for our alliance. We don't fit the mold of the usual Capitol favourite.
Johnathan (5) crosses over to them and picks them up. "They're for me," he says as he reads the attached tags. Of course. The Capitol only supports us for him, because he's a giant and all. It's a good thing we aligned with him, because no one would be willing to sponsor two misfits.
"What are they?" Banette (8) asks.
"I dunno. But I'm about to find out" He unwraps the larger parcel first and reveals a sharp machete. I congratulate him and clasp him on the back. He shrugs off the praise and opens the second gift. Inside is some item I don't recognize.
"A spile," Johnathan nods thoughtfully. I have no idea what that means.
"What does it do?" Banette asks.
"I'll show you," Johnathan crosses over to the largest tree in the park and hammers the item into the tree. I'm not quite sure what's going on here. Is it some sort of fancy tree decoration? How is that suppose to help us? But then, for some unexplainable reason, begins to pour out of the item like a tap.
"The trees are filled with water," Johnathan says and then explains that the spile was designed to get sap and syrup out from trees. I didn't know there were things in trees. District 3 doesn't have very much of them around and I'm not like the average erudite who has their faces in books all the time. To me, this is all wacked out.
As Johnathan goes to make sure the perimeter of the park is still secure I turn to Banette with a resigned shrug. "Dude. I don't get it"
"Eh. I don't either. But we don't need to. All that matters is that we have a water source"
"Guess so. Good thing we have Johnathan as an ally, eh?"
"I'm not so sure we don't have sponsors of our own"
"It's not like we needed anything beyond what Johnathan got. Your leg is completely healed now"
"True enough," I look down at my stitched up thigh and have a sense of relief that Banette was an expert with needles and stitching. Things could have turned out very badly if he wasn't.
"...We're going to get through this. We're winning this thing. Guaranteed"
I frown at this sudden motivational talking. "You're not planning on dying on me, are you?" I ask joking and he shakes his head.
"No. I'm not dying. I've been on the edge of despair and ruin before. I'm not going to let myself die now, after I've escaped that fate. I just wanted to make sure you knew we had a chance. That those Careers and others have nothing on us."
I smile. That's more like Banette. "Well, good. Because I'm not dying either!"
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." I didn't notice Johnathan return. He stops beside us with a broad smile on his face as he waggles a finger playfully. "Helpful to keep that in mind every now and then."
I smile back at him and give, what I feel to be, an equally as profound response. "Yeah? Well, I'm not planning on having anything die inside of me either!"
Amore Madness (District 6)
Walking around the room testing my ankle, which doesn't hurt me in the slightest, I feel that my pocket is lighter than I remember and poke my hand into. Nothing. I frown. I know I had my switch-knife in there last night.
"Umm. Have either of you seen my knife?" I ask my allies. I check under the nearby tables but don't see anything out of the ordinary. With the hatchet Aisha (8) retrieved yesterday I don't exactly need the switch-knife but I'd like it anyways. You can never have too much weapons.
"No. Why, did you lose it?" Aisha asks me. I nod and then Celica (12) frowns.
"I lost my watch too. The digital one that I got in my backpack." Weird. I look to Aisha with a sly smile, a funny joke springing to mind.
"Hey! Maybe Aisha took them! Muslims steal things don't they?" I begin chuckling at my own stupid joke as Aisha stares at me in shock. I rush to defend myself "Its a joke! You know, people always say that Muslims steal things?"
"You're thinking of Gypsies, Amore," Celica says and I frown. Oh yeah. I think it was Gypsies. Oops.
"Well...that doesn't explain what happened to your items," Aisha waves my joke off good-heartedly. "And I don't like unexplained mysteries."
Celica purses her lips as she thinks this over. "Well, conceivably we could have just misplaced them. But I know that I had my watch on my wrist last night. Then this morning it's gone. And now Amore lost her knife? That's one big coincidence."
"And as we all know...," I begin, quoting something my parents always said. "There's no such thing as a coincidence!"
After that talk we don't say much. I spend a little time searching for the lost objects but it becomes abundantly clear that they're not here and I give up. I want to be doing something, anything, but Aisha has decided that today we will just lie low. It sucks. I haven't done anything throughout the Games and I feel like my letting my parents down. That's ridiculous, I know. The best thing I can do for them is to stay alive and I've done that so far. But...all this sitting around just isn't for me. I'm not that kind of person.
But I'm going to have to suck it up and wait it out. I lie my back against the wall and let out a low sigh. I guess I will wait the rest of the day out in boredom...and relative safety.
Luigi Wilkins (District 2)
Back when these Games first started, I hadn't expected that there would be few of us Careers left by day three. Nor did I expect us to have such a low amount of kills. I expected so much more out of this group.
"We're really going down quickly, aren't we?" Trinity (1) stands at my shoulder as we look out into the expanse of the city. "I never expected things to go so awry, quickly."
I give a huff of agreement. Leadership has been our problem, or the lack thereof. I'm not going to give analysis on what happened in the past, hindsight is twenty-twenty, but I will speak on what needs to happen now. Us sticking together.
Fiora (7) calls for us just as my thoughts finish. We all come quickly but I see a hidden sense of discomfort among us. Our morale is dropping faster than ever expected and things need to change. Fiora must sense this as well, for she starts off by asking us what we all think should happen. I immediately but quietly suggest we stick together for the day. No one objects to this and then Odin (14) says he wishes to guard the cornucopia.
"Let me get this straight," Fiora sees that no other suggestions are forthcoming and looks at us all with contempt. "You all wish to remain here, and NOT hunt down the others?!" Her tone is incredulous, as if she cannot believe we wouldn't wish to go hunting. We all shuffle in place uncomfortably. It's not a natural thing for the Careers to do but it's the wisest thing. "Fine! We'll be cowards! We'll lie low for the day! But I will not, will not! Take responsibility for this. When the Capitol derides us for our actions I will not be the one to blame!"
We're all silent. Then Odin lets out a disdainful snort. "Who cares about the Capitol? They are nothing compared to the almighty Odin!"
"What's that sound?" Trinity suddenly asks before any of us can respond. I hear it now too. The sound of a car's moving across pavement. We all turn around and see a strange sight.
A car is coming down the south street, heading directly for us. It's travelling at least twenty miles per hour and is closing fast. Behind the wheel we can just make out the form of Nikki.
"GET OUT OF THE WAY!"
Fiora runs for it just as Nikki propels himself from the car, which now unmanned, heads right for the cornucopia. Odin and I dive to the left just as Buck and Juline go the other way. Trinity goes running for the shelter of the cornucopia. And then the car goes right over her on its way to smashing into the pile of supplies and I'm thrown forward as an explosion rocks the world.
Aelia Freedome (District 0)
From the safety of a nearby building I watch as the piles of supplies around the cornucopia are destroyed. Phase one of my plan has worked perfectly.
Upon reaching the gas station I first found matches and this empty bottle that I hold in my hand and I quickly transformed it into a Molotov cocktail. But that wasn't the only part of my plan. We also commandeered a nearby vehicle that was still in working order and after filling it up with tanks of gas from the station, I placed Nikki in charge of operating it. Frankly, he's the most intelligent of my remaining allies and the only one who had ever been in a car before. He was to drove it to the cornucopia and once crashing into the cornucopia was imminent, he was to eject from the vehicle and get to safety. Like I said, phase one worked perfectly. Now time for phase two.
"Ready?" I ask Stephen (10) who stands beside me, holding onto my spear I lent him. He nods slowly, obviously nervous. "Then let's go!"
The piles of supplies are a flaming wreckage. The burning remains of our commandeered car lie in the entrance way of the cornucopia. Beneath it, I can just make out the mangled form of a person. I look around for the other Careers and see them all shakily climbing back to their feet. I point towards the closest one to us. "I'm going for her!"
The girl looks up groggy as I approach. She's the redhead from District 9, Lyman's District partner. I don't have time to worry about that though, because she shakes off her confusion and darts for her sword. I light up the rag stuffed in my bottle and as she picks up her weapon I've already chucked the Molotov cocktail right at her.
Just like her supplies, she goes up in flames. She screams as the hungry flames eat at her skin. She drops to the ground and desperately tries to extinguish the fire by rolling to no avail. Beside me, Stephen makes disturbed groans. "She deserved it," I tell him. "She was just President Stryker's puppet. Just like the Capitol. Just like the Capitol!" I scream this last part to the sky. I have no fears now. I knew from the start that my only chance of getting out of these Games alive was if my friends came for me. But I can still prolong my fate. Make myself interesting so the Capitol citizens love watching me. I can last a bit longer and maybe, just maybe, my friends will arrive in time. The cannons for both Careers go off. Boom! Boom!
"Where's Nikki and Lyman?" Stephen suddenly asks. He had been silent throughout my angry outburst. Now he's searching the clearing for his friends. I look over to the area Nikki had jumped out the car at and see only two Careers, the boys from District's 2 and 14, getting to their feet with dazed expressions.
"Where'd they go?" Stephen questions. "Lyman was supposed to go protect Nikki after the crash--"
I point out Lyman. He's heading across the clearing from the south block, his face a mask of confusion. Stephen shouts for him and he spots us. Just as he's spotted.
The boy from District 6 steps into his path, a cold look of determination etched on his face. Lyman backs off fearfully, then pulls up his flail. The boy lets out a bark of laughter and then jabs his spear forward. But he didn't expect Lyman's move. He swings his flail at the spear and the weapon wraps itself around the spear's center. With one sharp tug Lyman yanks the weapon out of the stunned boys hands. The boy quickly goes to pull out his sword when Lyman kicks him right in the groin.
"Yeah man! Go Lyman!" Stephen shouts encouragement as Lyman off running for us, leaving the boy from 6 rolling around in pain. Yes! He showed that Career up! He comes towards us, a grin visible on his face, when a blade comes spinning through the air. I didn't know it was possible to throw a sword like that. To have it move so quickly that I don't even have time to shout before the tip of the steel blade sinks into Lyman's back.
"No!" Stephen screams in horror as his friend falls face first to the cold hard concrete ground. Impossible! That didn't just happen! But it did. "Lyman! Lyman!"
Stephen tries to go running for his friend but I pull him back. I see her now, Lyman's murderer. She walks calmly over to Lyman's body, like she didn't just murder someone, and stops right beside it, staring right at us. Fiora.
She raises her hand and beckons for us. The flames of the burning supplies dance around behind her and I involuntarily shudder as I think of how angry she must be.
"I'll kill you! I will tear you to pieces! I swear it!" I'm forced to physically pull Stephen back as he shouts venom at Fiora, who sits still, stoically taking it all in. Boom!
I drag Stephen away from the scene, into the maze of buildings. He's stopped resisting now and is sobbing as I ferry him along. I don't know why Fiora didn't just charge us. Probably because we had a spear while her weapon was stuck in Lyman. A twinge of regret hits me as I realize I could have taken that opportunity to finish her.
No...No. I never had that opportunity. The other Careers were all coming too. It would have been suicidal to try and fight them head on. I don't know where I'm going. This part of the city looks just like any other and its not until I pull myself and Stephen into the shelter of a building do I stop and try to think things through.
Lyman's dead. But his sacrifice wasn't in vain. He managed to take out several Careers and buy us a little more time. Nikki is also gone. I don't know where he went after the crash and the only person who would know is now dead. And that means my only remaining ally is Stephen.
"It's my fault...," he says as tears slowly come down face. "Lyman was afraid this would happen. He wanted to l-leave but I convinced him to stay another day! My fault!" I'm shocked. This is the first I'm hearing of this. Lyman wanted to leave the alliance?
"It's not your fault," I tell him gently. "It was mine. I came up with the plan after all."
Stephen shakes his head. "N-Nikki wanted to leave too. But we made the plan before he could!"
Nikki?! My mind races. He wanted to leave. Lyman was meant to protect him during the plan. After the crash there was no trace of him. Lyman ran towards us with that confused expression...No. it wasn't Stephen's fault or even mine. It was Nikki's.
I tell Stephen what I know to be true and he doesn't believe it at first but it's pretty obvious. Nikki deserted our alliance and in doing so, got Lyman killed. I can't believe I trusted him. That I thought he was worthy of escaping this arena with me. That's what I get for trusting a District 4 tribute! Maybe I should have been more open though. Told my entire alliance the truth. I can't change the past but I can change the present.
I make the pretense of hugging Stephen for the cameras but while doing so I hurriedly whisper in his ear. "You know I'm part of a Rebel group back home. Well, some of my rebel friends are coming here to break me and any of my allies out of the arena. I don't know when this will happen but I do know that we can escape this arena alive. Both of us. And anyone else who wants to join. Nod your head twice if you understand!"
I break the hug and back off. I can see the gears in his head churning. It's a lot to process at once but he has to understand. This is the only way he can get out of this arena without being the sole survivor.
His eyes move back and forth then finally...he nods twice. I breath a sigh of relief. Good. He understands. I look around the building at our surroundings and then speak. "We should try to find a better shelter. Because things are really heating up"
Drago Fire (District 12)
Our alliance quietly sits under the night sky. The fire in the farmhouse has long died out and silence has once more settled across the plains.
I can't help but feel guilty, when I think of the days events. I nearly burned my own allies to a crisp! What kind of friend does that? I've already tried apologizing to everyone several times but they all tell me the same thing. That I had actually helped us all with the fire. That I exposed the mutts weaknesses.
That may be true, but under the hypnotic control of the fire that wasn't my intent. I merely wanted to burn everything in sight. That's not being helpful. That's called being a murderous pyromaniac!
"Guys I'm sorry--" I try to speak but Crimson waves me off.
"No. You have no need to apologize. You set the house on fire, yes. But you also defeated the mutts."
"That wasn't my--"
"Your intention, I know. But whose fault was it that you were even in the presence of flames? Ours. We all knew what would happen if you saw fire and we used the fireplace anyways. You're not to blame."
I can't help but feel this is all wrong. I burnt down our shelter! Lost most of our supplies! I shouldn't be thanked for any of that!
"You also helped with Radiant," Raven (11) pipes up from where she is attending to a sleeping Radiant's shoulder. "You told us how to cauterize his wound with fire. You helped us there too!"
I frown unhappily. I guess I did. We didn't really have a way to stop the bleeding, before I suggested that. "But even then, the only reason I ever learned how to do that was through my pyromania!" I protest to my allies. "I can only help you through being flame-obsessed!"
Raven shrugs. "Then maybe your pyromania isn't a completely bad thing?" I slump back against the small shed behind me. That's the crux of the issue, isn't it? That I'm afraid that my pyromania, which has claimed the lives of many people, May actually be helping me now?
"At any rate," Crimson stands up, brushing his hands off on his pants. "We ought to search the ruins for anything useful. It should have cooled down enough for it now." He walks on and waves me to come with. I reluctantly follow.
I feel even worse seeing the charred corpses of the mutts. Not because I have any sympathy for them, but because it could very well have been my friends who looked like that, burnt beyond recognition.
"You look over there," Crimson divides half of the house and I get the side that held the kitchen. I search, but don't find very much the stools and chairs are gone, So is the wooden table. The sink is still recognizable but that's not going to be of much use. Eventually, hidden under piles of charred boards, I find Radiant's sword. That was the only thing that he really missed from the lost items and I feel slightly better now that it's been found.
After a few more of minutes of fruitless searching I rejoin Crimson, who has a few items tucked under his arms. "I found Radiant's sword," I say holding up the weapon. "It's a little rusty though"
"That might actually make it more useful," Crimson says. "Give them tetanus if you don't outright kill them" We head back to Raven and Radiant, who has awakened in our absence. I hand him his sword and he beams, giving it a few testing swings with his non-injured.
"Still has good as ever!" He says cheerfully. He places I down beside him and then pulls something out from his belt, a screwdriver I think, and hands it to Raven. "There you go. A weapon for you!"
Crimson drops what he found amid the ruins, a few slightly burnt rugs, my wrench, a not-too-charred plank of wood, and a steel necklace that seems to hold some sort of concealed blade. "The rugs will do for blankets," Crimson says as he hands us each one. "The wrench is Drago's, and the plank is my new weapon. A little inadequate but it will do" I notice that he always pulls the necklace over his head and slips it into his shirt. "We don't have any food, unfortunately. Nor do we have water."
"We really need some," I say the obvious.
"Maybe some sponsor will send us some?" Raven says cheerfully. Maybe. I don't think we should count on it though, just on case. Crimson goes around making sure that the area is safe while the rest of us wrap ourselves up with the rugs. The smell of charcoal annoys the others but I am all too use to the smell and it doesn't bother me as I stare into the stars.
Odin Amarth (District 14)
"You know, I'm beginning to think that we aren't the strongest alliance in these Games," Buck (6) muses as he picks through the pile of burnt supplies. "It's just a hunch I have."
That is certainly correct. At the moment we are not the strongest. We just lost two of our allies, our number has now dwindled down to four. Fiora (7), Luigi (2), Buck, and myself. We may still be larger than the other alliances but we're losing ground fast as the others target us.
"Just keep looking for useful items," Fiora snaps. "We need to save as much as possible!"
I pull a twisted pot out from the pile and then chuck it over my head. We have no use for pots. I walk closer to the entrance of the cornucopia, where the car smashed into Trinity as she was fleeing. The hovercraft has already claimed her body but the destroyed car remains.
"Try to find some food!" Fiora tells us all. "We already have enough weapons. But food is the important thing!"
I snort. Like food will have survived through all of that! All I will be able to find is twisted metal and weapons! It is very dark though, so I retire from searching and head back to the center of the clearing, where it's illuminated by the lampposts on each corner.
"I hope you have a plan Fiora," Buck grumbles as the rest joins me. "Because we're just getting absolutely destroyed!"
"We only lost dead weight," she retorts. "The four strongest are still here. We will survive!" I roll my eyes. She didn't think we were the strongest originally. She thought her precious friend Juline was. And what happened to her? She became a charred skeleton. I, the strong Odin, devout follower of the Almighty Odin, am the only one worthy enough to win these Games!
Not much happens after this conversation though. Fiora sits down and polishes her rapier, Buck patrols the street, when he occasionally passes by me I hear him mumbling about cheap "low blows", and Luigi sits by himself in silence like always. I lie down and rest, I am already aware of who died tonight and have no need of the sky faces. I will rest for the morrow, where I will bring glory to Odin's name.
Solar Energy (District 0)
I've blockaded myself in the library all day, terrified that I would be set upon by frightening beasts. Occasionally I would hear what sounded like footsteps and nervously ready my spear for battle but nothing happened. It was all my imagination.
One thing I didn't imagine though, was that loud explosion I heard. I don't know what it was but three cannons went off shortly after it took place, so whatever it was, it was dangerous. Incredibly so.
I figure that I will safe for the time being. I know that danger will eventually come for me, it always does in the Hunger Games, but for right now I'm in secure.
I lean back in my chair closing my eyes. A bright mind is a rested mind after all. But before I can fall to sleep the sound of the Anthem blares through the walls. Right. I almost forgot about that.
I head to the back of the library and scale the ladder, the one that leads to a hatch on the ceiling, and push through onto the library's rooftop. A chilly breeze blows by and I wrap my arms around myself as I look to the sky.
The face of the girl from District 1 stares back at me. I didn't expect to see her fall today but then again there was that explosion. The Careers must have been caught up in it.
This suspicion is further validated, when the faces of both District 9 tributes show up. One was a Career, the other a Rebel. All three cannons sounded off in close proximity so it's reasonable to suggest that the Careers were going after the Rebels. Or vice versa.
The seal is back in place and bells just like the previous two nights go off, but only five times. Then I re-enter the library, armed with new knowledge. Knowledge, that the other tributes may not have been able to glean from the available breadcrumbs. What everyone does know, however, is that there is now only four Careers remaining. Whether this means they will be targeted further or if they will let up on their attacks is unknown. But I do know that as long as the attention is not on me, I am in a good position.
Day 4/ Knives & Teeth
Luigi Wilkins (District 2)
The morning is upsetting. Odin (14), who was on watch last night, informs us that no sponsors have sent any us anything. Which means two things. They don't feel like sponsoring us anymore, and that we now have to find our own food and water.
"I don't doubt you have some way of getting food?" Fiora (7) asks me in a mildly accusing tone. I shake my head. She snorts. "I thought so. You never have any ideas. Well, anyone else have a suggestion?" She addresses this last part to Buck (6) and Odin. The two of them exchange glances and then Buck speaks.
"We could find some rats and eat those?"
Fiora rolls her eyes in disgust. "Yes, that is exactly what I want to eat. Some plague-ridden rat!"
"I don't see you coming up with anything better!" He growls defensively. She smiles slyly and his tone changes. "Unless, you do have a plan?"
"Yes, I do have a plan. Or an idea rather," she motions for us all to gather before continuing. "The other tributes, they all have food, no? And why, pray tell, shall we not just take it from them? I highly doubt they will be able to stop us..." Yes! I nod my head in approval. This is a rather fine plan. All we need to do is find another alliance, kill them, then take all their supplies. Just like that we would be back on action.
"Got a target?" Buck asks. Fiora begins to answer but I see something before she can.
"Parachutes!" I point at the falling silver objects and I catch them as they slowly drift to the ground. Food and water is inside, enough for all of us, as long as we're wise about the amount we eat. I smile to myself as I realize it was all addressed to me. The others don't have any sponsors but I still do. Fiora notices and goes to say something when she once again interrupted, this time by Odin.
He's waving from the side of the cornucopia, staring down at something. We all come over, our hands hovering warily over our weapons, and find him looking down at the prone body of a zombie creature, one just like the kind that attacked us on day two.
"Who is it?" I ask quietly, not recognizing the person it is meant to resemble.
"The District 10 girl, I imagine," Is Odin's answer. "Found her sneaking around. Clobbered her with the end of my spear. Watch it! Think she's still alive" Buck darts back from where he was closely examining the creature.
"Why haven't you killed it yet?" Fiora asks drily and he shrugs.
"I had the thought that we could use it. Mayhaps be very handy" Fiora nods slowly, I can see the gears in her head turning. She looks around and nods at Buck.
"Get some rope and tie this thing up... I think we have a new pet"
Shuppet Jorravaskr (District 3)
I crack open one of the many nuts lying around the park and throw it in mouth as the sun finally peaks over the tall buildings. So far it has been another peaceful day here in the arena. And that's what's bothering me. "Hey Banette..."
My friend reacts to my call and crouches down beside me. "What's up?"
"Don't you think things have been too...," I crack another nut open as I search for the right word. "Laxadaiscal?"
His face is hidden behind the bandanna he always wears but his eyes show his thoughts. He's just as concerned about it as I am. "Don't get me wrong," I say popping another nut into my mouth. "I like the peace but...the fact that nothing has happened is more worrying to me then anything else"
"Don't worry about things you can't control," Johnathan (5) says as he passes by on yet another of his guard patrols. Our safety could be in part thanks to his constant guarding. The guy literally never lets his mind wander. "And only try to manage what is before you"
I roll my eyes. His philosophical stuff can get really grating after a while. Especially when you're cooped up in a boring park with nothing to do. "Yeah sure. But the only thing in front of me are trees and a bunch of nuts!"
He only shrugs and keeps on walking. Always so methodical in his patrols. I look to Banette (8) and he scratches his head. "We'll just lie low," he says and drifts off to another part of the park. Sure. I'm fine with lying low. It suits me just fine. But I'm not so sure that the fanatics in the Capitol appreciate it so much. But no matter. I'm sure that before long, something will happen. Sooner or later.
Celica Rotas (District 12)
Aisha (8) has another plan. Dawn had barely broken when she woke Amore (6) and me up, telling us that she received some matches from her sponsors. Apparently she plans on going to the plains and finding an alliance to set on fire.
"Sounds fun!" Amore says cheerfully and I throw her a look and she laughs. "It's a joke, silly!" Yeah, that's completely normal. Jokes about setting people on fire are just hilarious.
"So, we're going now?" I ask trying to stifle an incoming yawn.
"Yes. We don't want to waste any time," Aisha answers. "So let's head out immediately" She heads for the door and we follow her. We're almost out the door when we hear a soft chittering noise.
"Umm. You all hear that?" Amore asks. I nod. Yes...but what is it? It doesn't sound like anything I've ever heard before.
"Oh! Look!" Amore points to the ceiling of the restaurant. "Monkeys!"
She's right. Hanging onto the ceiling and walls, poking out from vents are monkeys. Brown fur, wide faces, sharp claws...
"Hey! That's your watch Celica!" Amore points to the closest monkey and I see that my watch is indeed clasped around the animals wrist. "Hey! That's my knife! Give it back you stupid animal!"
"Amore..." I warn as her voice rises. The monkeys are all staring at us with dark beady eyes. A few faces are even transforming into snarls. "I don't think that's a good idea..."
"You dirty thief! Give it back to me!"
The accused monkey, the one that holds the switch-knife, looks at Amore then back to the knife and then to Amore once more. And evidently, it decides to listen to her. It winds it's arm back and hurls the weapon forward.
Amore screams as the knife sinks into her biceps. The monkeys scream in response and then they're upon us.
My daggers are out, slashing at the mutts as they howl and scream, leaping at us with outstretched arms. I sink my first dagger into the closest monkeys throat and use my second to slash another's face. "Get out the door!"
Aisha pulls Amore backwards and I put a third monkeys eye out before another slashes my hand and making my dagger drop. The monkey pays for this though, by having my second dagger go straight into its forehead. And then I'm out the door.
I shout for everyone to run just as the monkeys explode through the door after us. Aisha screams and takes off running to the north. "Aisha!" Amore shouts after her but she's on the opposite side of the monkeys from us.
"No time!" I grab Amore and pull her as I go running down the southern street. I can hear the monkeys howling after us but they sound fainter and fainter the longer we run. Eventually I risk a look behind me and see nothing. We've escaped the monkeys. That's when I run full force into him.
I bounce to the ground and see the four Careers standing over me. I scream but it's too late for Amore. She runs straight into Odin's spear. I scream again. This time the boy from 6 punches me in the face and blood explodes from my nose. I struggle to see as the spear is forcibly removed from Amore and her body drops to the ground.
"No!" My attempt to get back to my feet is ruined by a swift kick to my ribs. I'm pulled to my feet and a knife presses against my throat.
"Don't kill her!" The knife is pulled away and I'm punched in the stomach. I groan and slide to the ground as a cannon goes off. Boom! "Keep her alive. We may have a use for her yet"
Aisha Hakeem (District 8)
I don't know if those monkeys are still after me. I don't know where my allies went. I don't know anything but that I need to keep running.
I turn down a street and tae a look behind myself. Nothing. I duck behind a corner building to take a deep breath. A cannon has gone off. It could be anyone but odds are that one of my allies has just bit the dust.
Which means that there is now only one other tribute out there who doesn't wish to kill me. And I don't even know where they are. What do I do now? I could try to reach the edge of the city, go to the plains like originally planned. But without allies I wouldn't be able to take out an alliance.
I might as well try though, nothing can be achieved by hanging around here. I take off down a street, looking to the sky for a sign of what direction I'm heading. South...I think? Do I want to be heading south?
Suddenly my feet are pulled out from beneath me. I let out a brief scream as I'm raised into the air. The streets, the buildings are all upside down now and when I look up I see a thick wire tied around my ankles, dangling me in the air over the street.
Crap. I walked straight into a trap! I furiously begin wiggling around. No good. I try to pull myself up and use my hands to loosen the wire when a soft laugh grabs my attention. I look around, being upside down really disorientes me but I see nothing abnormal. But I know someone is watching me. "Who's there?" I call trying to hide my fear. I'm trapped. As good as dead. I've failed Colin.
"Oh? Looks like a itty bitty bugsy has climbed into my web..." I throw my head around furiously, trying to catch a glimpse of the speaker. They are female, I know that much.
"Who are--" I don't get to finish. Something hard hits me square in the back of the head and then everything goes black.
Crimson Typhoon (District 11)
With the arrival of the morning sun comes many silver parachutes, all descending from the sky. We gather around eagerly and discover that each one is addressed to Raven (11), though she quickly hands me a full quiver of arrows and Drago (12) a sickle.
Finally! Now I can put my bow skills to good use! I experimentally notch an arrow and nod in satisfaction as Raven evenly deals out the water and food among us.
"What's our plan?" Radiant (13) asks once we're all finished with everything.
"We should head for the city!" Raven pipes up before I get the chance to answer. "We can't stay out here forever and we might find someone who knows more about all those mutts"
It seems like a good idea, on paper, but I don't know how I feel about accepting more people into our alliance. I'm already having enough trouble thinking about how my friends will have to die, I don't want to add more people to that list. But I don't object and we all head off.
The plans are eerily silent and empty. Nothing, not even a rabbit, stirs as we head for the looming city. I haven't been there since the bloodbath and I've forgotten how creepy it looked.
"I hate this place," I mutter to Drago as we enter the city and head down one of the many intersecting streets. "Feels like its inhabited with...everything and anything!"
"I agree. Something is wrong about this. But we have to explore it sometime." I agree. I just...don't like being surrounded by so many buildings. It's all foreign to me.
Our line comes to a halt. Just in front of Radiant, about five feet away, is a pair of tributes. My bow is loaded and aimed right at the heart of the taller one when the girl lowers her spear and steps forward.
"We come in peace!" She says waving her arm like that somehow makes her less of a threat. Now that she's closer, I can tell that she's the girl from District 0, the leader of that Rebel alliance.
"There's no such thing!" Radiant snorts indignantly. "Not here on the Hunger Games! Just shoot her Crimson!"
My muscles in my arm twitch, eager to unleash an arrow. But Raven tugs gently on my sleeve, her wide eyes reminding me why we came to the city. Reluctantly, I lower my bow.
Radiant sighs and then moves his sword from the offensive position he had it. Drago throws a few nervous looks around before doing the same. "Well?" I ask the girl. "What do you want?"
"An alliance," comes her prompt answer and I can't say I'm surprised. There's only two of them and the only weapon they look to have is a spear. Not much in the way of supplies either.
"Why should we align with you?" Radiant asks the obvious question. She shrugs and simply says it's for protection, for both of our alliances. I wrack my brain. Wasn't their another tribute with them? One that wasn't dead yet? I don't see him here. Only the girl and the boy from District 10.
"Where'd the other go?" I ask.
Her face sours the instant the question leaves my lips. "I don't know. He deserted us. He couldn't speak so we had no idea what was bothering him" I frown, unsure of whether I believe that. But my misgivings aside, we did come seeking allies and I don't think we'll find better than this. So I relent and tell them they're in. The girl smiles happily and says her name is Aelia and that her friend is Stephen. He nods at us.
"What was your plan?" I ask them. Aelia thinks this over for a moment before answering.
"We were going to find Nikki. Make him bait for deserting us"
"Yes, Raven?" I turn to her and see her face contorted in shock, staring down the street. And when I turn I'm shocked too. For just down the street, heading right for us, is a herd of zombies. They're not normal ones though, they all resemble the tributes that have died up until this point.
"Lyman!" Stephen shouts as he recognizes a face. Unfortunately, it always draws all of their attention. The zombies all look right at us for a split second, and then they come running.
Aelia shouts for us all to run and as my allies take off down the street I quickly fire off two arrows. One strikes the District 5 girls mutt in the chest but doesn't do much but the stagger her before she's back running. My second arrow produces a much better result, burying into the skull of the District 1 male and dropping him on the spot.
I don't have any more time for shots as they're almost upon me. I take off sprinting after my allies, following them down twisting streets. The mutts are faster than I thought and never too far back. I'm worrying we'll never out run them when my allies come to a halt and I careen into the back of Radiant. "Why'd you stop?" I demand quickly popping back onto my feet. In answer they point ahead.
A brick wall. Right in front of us. We've reached a dead end.
"No! No, no, no, no!" Stephen lets out a loud moan as we stare at the impassable wall. The sound of the approaching mutts echo off of the alley walls and I turn to Radiant.
"Boost Raven over. Now!" He nods quickly, grabbing the small girl and hoisting her up. She grabs onto the top of the wall and climbs to the top and then drops over to the other side.
"Umm. What about us?" Radiant asks. I point at Stephen, whose already boosting Aelia up over the wall.
"You and Drago get him up! I'll slow down the mutts!" Just as I finish speaking the mutts turn to corner, going slower now. I quickly fire off an arrow and it finds a home in the throat of the District 1 girls mutt's throat. I shoot a second arrow, this one into the knee of the Capital male. He was in front of the pack and trips to the ground, causing a pileup of the mutts. "Hurry up!"
Radiant and Drago finish lifting Stephen up and with help from Aelia, who was still sitting on the wall top, he grabs onto the ledge and they both slip over the side. "Help me get Radiant!" I say to Drago. He nods and we both reach under him and lift. Radiant is much heavier then he looks and at first we struggle to get him high enough. But when I think of the pack of ravenous mutts behind us I manage the strength.
Radiant pulls himself to the wall and drops over the side. I throw a fearful look back and see that the mutts have picked their selves up from the ground and are once again approaching. "Get on my back!" Drago suddenly tells me and I shake my head.
"No! I'm not leaving you here!"
He smiles sadly. "You don't have a choice. I can pick you up. You can't lift me. It has to be this way" My mind races. This can't be the way! There has to be a way to save Drago!
"No! We don't need to--"
"Crimson." The way he says my name, stops my panicking instantly. He shakes his head sadly at me. "I didn't volunteer to win. I only wished to end my hurting of others. I only ever wanted to help others. And I can do that now." His words make sense. They reach my brain. But my heart doesn't want to listen right now. I try to protest but he lifts me up towards the wall. I grab on and pull myself up, tears already welling in my eyes.
"Go! Protect the others. Now!" He says it so firmly that I have no choice but to listen. He takes out his sickle and charges the mutts. He slashes at them and his sickle slices through them like butter. But there's too many. He can't defeat them all. I take one last look at my friend, who knows he's fighting a useless battle, and then slide down the wall to the opposite side.
I land on a dumpster and take off running towards my other allies, who stand at the edge of the alley. They don't ask where Drago is. They can tell from my face what just happened. Instead, they all run with me. Through the accursed city. Tears sting my eyes as I know I have just lost my best friend. Boom!
Buck Rockwell (District 6)
I handcuff the District 12 girl to a street lamp and join my other allies at the entry to the fighting arena. Our prisoner weakly turns to look at us and then slides to the ground and begins coughing. "Why'd we spare her, again?" I ask with a frown.
"Bait," Is Fiora's (7) answer but she quickly sees that it isn't enough. "Look, we have her out in the open. Someone is bound to see her eventually, maybe her ally maybe someone else. Hell, it may even draw mutts. But what matters is that we trick someone. She's not going anywhere"
True enough, I suppose. Fiora then sends me off with Luigi (2) to go check our "pet". Entering the fighting arena I look through the cage and spot it, our mutt, standing around lazily, one of her arms handcuffed to the cage side. As soon as she spots us it lets out a growl and attempts to move but the handcuff holds it back.
"Creepy thing, ain't it?" I ask Luigi who simply shrugs in answer. That guy has like, no personality. As I watch it, I can't help but think of the other similar mutts we saw. Does every dead tribute get a zombie of their self? I kinda get creeped out thinking of the possibility of a zombified me but then I smile as I realize I'd probably be the strongest zombie. I turn to Luigi, who is sharpening his sword. "You think this is a good idea? Having both the mutt and the 12 girl?"
Well, that's a step up from shrug but not much of one. It's kinda funny how my alliance killed my District partner and now we have her ally hostage. I suppose some people would care about that but honestly, I don't. Amore was whiny and annoying. I'm glad she's dead. Leaning back I let out a yawn. It doesn't look like we're going to be doing much today so I might as well get a little rest in.
Solar Energy (District 0)
The sound of heaving wind startles me awake from the deep sleep I had drifted off too. I instantly grab my spear and jump out of my chair into a defensive position, expecting an attack.
Of course it doesn't come.
I fall back into my chair with a sigh. I really need to stop being so paranoid. Or do I? Maybe my paranoia is all that's keeping me alive. Either way, falling asleep right at dusk was a dumb thing to do. This is the most likely time for someone to be out hunting and I need to stay prepared.
The wind howls outside once more and then I hear the sound of a hatch hitting against something. I'm on my feet in an instant, running for the ladder the roof. Above me, the hatch has blown open.
Fear tightens in my chest as I realize someone--or something--is inside the library with me. That's the only explanation. They must have snuck in whilst I was sleeping and didn't close the hatch all the way.
I scan the lined bookshelves, realizing for the first time how easy it is for someone to hide in here. I could try and flee, leave the mysterious intruder here, but all of my supplies are strewn across the table from when I last examined them. I would be a sitting duck while I gathered them up. No. Flight isn't much of an option. So fight I must.
I cross the room, my spear at the ready. My eyes are going over the dark expanse of the aisles between shelves when I catch a glimpse of the note.
It's posted on the side of a shelf and written in handwriting I haven't seen before. Cautiously, I dart across the room and snag it before returning to the lit side, where I read it.
Solar. I know you don't know me, but I'm here to be allies. I didn't say this in person because A. I was afraid you'd attack me on sight and B. I'm mute.
I have no intention of hurting you and am only hiding for safety. Once, or if, you agree to be allies then I will show myself. Please trust me.
Nikki Heart, District 4
District 4? I look up and examine the room. Of course I see nothing but according to this note, Nikki is here, lurking in the shadows. I know he must be expecting me to make a decision but right now I don't have much to go off.
Who was he allied with before? The Careers? No. I don't think that was the case. The Rebels then? Perhaps. But then what became of them? I feel my chest pounding as my thoughts drift to this being a trap. That any moment I will be jumped from behind.
But I don't think that's the case. If he wanted me dead, I'd be dead right now. I was asleep when he came in after all. No, he isn't here to kill me. Which means he must be telling the truth.
"Okay!" I call into the shadows. "I trust you. We can be allies. Now show yourself!"
The sound of the hatch opening makes me jump in shock as a boy drops into the room. I haven't seen this dark haired boy before but I know instantly that he's Nikki. "How...I thought you were..."
He smiles innocently as I gesture at the shelves of books that I had believed him to be hiding amongst. It's a frightening thought, knowing that I was so wrong about his location, but at the same time I'm intrigued at the thought of having such an intelligent ally. "You're pretty intuitive," I tell him. He shrugs but I know that what he did was extremely clever.
Who else would sneak into a potential enemies hideout, leave a note implying he was still there only to sneak back out onto the roof and secretly listen in to what I was saying? Leaving himself with an easy escape in the event his alliance offer was denied? I doubt any of the other tributes would have thought of that. I see the trident in his hands and point. "From the cornucopia?"
He shakes his head, mouthing the word "sponsors". I nod. So he has sponsors as well...intriguing to say the least. I offer him a seat at the table and we begin discussing our Games experience, up until this point. I speak while he writes. It's odd, but I feel more of a connection with this mute boy then most of the other people I have met. I have no doubt he will be a good ally. But...only one of us will survive. Not that it matters right now, when realistically, neither of us will survive for more than a few extra days.
Aelia Freedome (District 0)
I can feel the despair and sadness emanating from my newest allies as we all take shelter in the gas station, just as the darkness becomes absolute.
I sit myself down behind the checkout counter and Stephen (10) joins me. The others all spread out. Crimson (11) sitting on the floor, tears still coming down his face. Raven (11) sits next to him, trying to bring him some comfort. Radiant (13) just paces around, occasionally throwing a glare my way.
"What's his problem?" Stephen asks me. I shrug.
"He's upset his friend died. He probably blames us for it too"
He frowns. "How does he figure that?" I don't answer, because Radiant chooses that moment to point an accusing finger in our direction.
"It's their fault! Drago would be alive if it wasn't for them!" Stephen jumps to his feet instantly and goes face-to-face with the boy. I let out a sigh. This isn't what we need right now!
"Quit blaming all of your problems on us!" Stephen growls. I know that he doesn't like being blamed for Drago but further agitating them will do nothing to help!
"I only blame you because it's true! You're the one who drew the mutts attention! We would have gotten away if not for you!"
Stephen goes to protest but he sees the truth in his words and stops himself. Radiant turns to point at me. "Why do we need them, Crimson? All they've done so far is get Drago killed! We sure the hell don't need them!"
Crimson looks wearily up from the floor. "Then what do you suppose we do about this?"
He shrugs. "We can kill them. We need them dead anyways, might as well have it done now! Not like they could stop us. Their only weapon isn't in their hands!"
He's right. My spear is still behind the counter. I throw a fearful look at Crimson, hoping he'll stop this nonsense. But he only looks on tiredly.
Radiant pulls his sword out and takes step forward when Raven springs to her feet, shouting in protest. "No! Radiant, this isn't you! You're letting your anger get the best of you!"
"Stay out of this Raven!" He pushes her away with an angry shove. "Only one person can win. We don't need them!" He takes another step towards me when Stephen blocks his path. Radiant stops to look at him for a moment then hits him across the face with a savage left hook.
I shout in alarm as Stephen falls to the ground, Radiant raising his sword for a fatal strike. I go to jump him from behind when someone else stops it.
"Radiant! STOP!" Crimson pulls him back, his sense of awareness returned. "Drago sacrificed himself for us. All of us. He wouldn't want us to kill them to such a thing!"
"They have to die sometime!"
"Yes. But not now and not by our hand. We're not Careers. Stop this Radiant!" He finishes his empowered speech with a blazing look. Radiant seems to think his words over as I crouch down beside Stephen, who holds a hand pressed to where Radiant punched him. Already a large black bruise has formed.
Radiant looks at us. For a few terrified moments I'm afraid he's going to attack us anyway but instead he lets out a scornful laugh. "Fine! But don't blame me when we all wind up dead!"
He shoves past Crimson and walks out the door. Through the window we can see him sit down on a bench, silently fuming. Crimson turns and apologizes to us. I accept it readily, after all, he wasn't the one who threatened us. But Stephen remains silent, his fingers curling around a broken shard of glass. "Just...let Radiant cool down, okay?" Crimson walks off with Raven following. I look at Stephen and see him focused on the figure of Radiant, a glare burning on his face.
"I'm going to kill him!" He goes to rise but I pull him back down.
"Are you crazy?!" I hiss at him. "We just narrowly avoided being killed and you want to attack him?" He snorts loudly, his eyes still locked on Radiant.
"He was right about one thing. We don't need him!"
"More than one person is getting out of here alive, or have you forgotten?" He looks startled. Apparently he had actually forgotten about my friends. "Don't do anything stupid. Please Stephen. We can all get out, as long as we're careful."
"You really want to bring that jackass with?" He challenges me. I shake my head.
"What I want is irrelevant. Just don't do anything that will endanger us!"
He lets out an exasperated sigh, shaking his head as he replies. "If I don't act first, he will. Trust me. We don't want him around any longer. But I'll do as you say Aelia. Because I trust you." He stows the glass shard in his pocket and goes back behind the counter. I unleash a sad sigh.
"Where are you?" I quietly ask, looking out at the dark horizon. "Why haven't you come for me yet?"
My only answer is the howling of the wind as night settles across the arena.
Aisha Hakeem (District 8)
I'm swaying. Back and forth back and forth. I fight through my drowsiness, forcing my eyelids open. I'm staring into darkness. I blink several times, waiting for my eyes to adjust. I have the distinct feeling of being upside down. That's confirmed when my eyes finally adjust and I see that I am hanging by a rope over a hole in the floor. I let out a cry of fear. Below me, about twenty feet, is a pile of broken glass and sharpened wood.
I struggle to move and discover that my hands are bound behind my back. Fear-stricken, I look around and see that I am in a rafters of a church. The crosses and Angel statues being the giveaway. But why am I here? I fight the blurs in my head, trying to remember what happened. The last thing I can remember is getting hit in the head...
"Ah. So you're awake..."
The voice frightens me. I crane my head in an effort to see the speaker but I can't. They have to be behind me. The thought of that sends shivers down my spine.
"Scared? You should be. You're at my mercy now..." Feminine and menacing the voice laughs. I try to struggle again and I feel a blade cut across my shoulder. I scream, feeling the blood run down my shoulder and fall to the ground far below. "You probably don't know this but...I have expert knowledge of the human body. I know where I can cut you and not have you die.." The cruel voice laughs again and I make an odd choking sound.
"Who are you?!"
"Oh? You don't know?" I feel someone circling around me and then I see her. Stepping into the circle of moonlight shining through a hole in the ceiling. Long blonde hair, pretty blue eyes. It's Angel from District 14. "Then you better call somebody!" She cackles gleefully and then, quick as a viper, slashes a knife across my leg.
I scream at the sudden pain. The blood from the wound slides down my body and drips to death trap beneath me. I can hear Angel laughing, the twisted bitch, and know that she plans on torturing me to death. I want to cry, to beg for a quick death, but I can't. She would never listen to me and I couldn't do that to Colin, to let him see me beg.
The thought of him gives me strength. I don't even scream as Angel rakes her knife across my other leg. I grit my teeth and hold in the scream.
"That not doing anything for you? Then how about this..." She hops into the shadow and then the rope holding me suddenly gives out and I'm hurtling to the glass and wood below me. I'm crashing head first into the sharp debris, screaming all the way.
The rope suddenly goes taut. I'm springed back up and the rope sways, only a foot away from certain death. Slowly the rope is pulled back up. My heart is beating like crazy and I'm sweating and gasping, my eyes wide in fright as I finally get back up. Angel smiles at me. "Didn't like that, huh? Don't worry. I have plenty of worse things in store..." She turns and disappears into the darkness.
No...please. No! I can't take this, I can't take--my knives! Hope flares as I recall the knives I've stored in my back pocket, right beside my tied hands! Desperately I fumble around, my hands reaching for the pocket. Yes!
I feel the hilt of the knives and gently tug it out. I just finish when Angel steps back into light, a long thin knife in hand. "Ready for some fun?"
I don't have time to cut my bonds. She cuts into me, in many different places. I scream, I cry, I beg. Nothing helps. The blood from the cuts run continually down my body, dripping across my face. My voice goes hoarse from all the screaming and I pray for it all to end. All the while my knife remains in hand.
Eventually, it does. Angel stops her slicing. She then does something worse. She cleans my wounds, bandaging them all up. "We wouldn't want you to die from blood loss!" She laughs as she works. I'm in too much pain to try and shake her away. That's when the Anthem starts.
She backs off to go watch the sky through the hole in the ceiling and I fond my opportunity. I wiggle the knife against the ropes that bind my wrist and cut. The ropes fall away easily, my knife going right through it. Angel turns around."Two dead! The girl from 6 and the boy from 12!"
Amore...no. I don't have time to miss her. I need to escape. Angel bends down, her face right next to mine. "Have you ever felt hot metal touch your eye? Well, you're about to!"
"I don't think so!"
My knife is brought put and slashes her face. She howls as she falls backwards into the darkness. I hurriedly use the last reserves of my strength to pull myself up, where I am no longer upside down and holding onto the rope. I take a deep breath and then slice through it.
The rope snaps and I fall. Desperately I grab out and latch onto the ledge as I hit it hard. Below me, my rope drops into the death pit. I scrabble up the ledge, my many cuts burning in pain. It could have been worse though. Much worse.
Shakily I go running for the exit when I'm tackled to the ground. Angel is on top of me, her face, now marred by a long bleeding scar, is seething in fury. "Do you think that you could escape from me?" She lets out a short laugh as she slams her foot down on my wrist. I scream as agonizing pain shoots through my arm and I drop my knife. Angel grabs my hair and pulls me up. I'm too weak from pain to do much more than struggle uselessly. I'm dragged across the room and then she throws a rope over my head. "How about we...hang out?" She laughs cruelly and backs off to grab the ropes over end and wraps it around her wrist as she pulls it down. Each tug raises me off of my feet and the rope begins cutting off my air supply as it squeezes around my neck.
I try using my hands to separate the rope from my neck but it's not helping. Black dots begin to blanket my vision as I lose more and more air. I can feel the tears running down my face as I think of how I failed. I escaped from one death only to die from another. I'm so sorry Colin...I wish we could have been together...
Something unexpected suddenly happens. The ceiling boards that hold up the rope begin to creak and groan. Then, in an instant, they collapse.
I slam to the ground hard and rip the rope off of my neck. But that's not the best part. With the counter balance gone Angel, who had foolishly tied the rope around her wrist, is now being pulled into the air. She screams as she attempts to grab onto something. But the force is too strong. She's plucked into the air, screaming as she rises towards the ceiling. And then her screaming comes to a stop as she's pulled headfirst into a rusted pipe.
I try not to laugh as I struggle away from the blood dripping from the ceiling. She died because she just wouldn't kill me quickly. That's irony for you, getting killed by your own elaborate executions. I snatch up some of her fallen knives as I limp out of the room. I find a safe place down from the rafters and into the main part of the church just as a cannon goes off for Angel. Boom!
I don't look back as I exit the church and head down the streets. I want to put that nightmare as far behind me as possible. My wounds hurt, but thanks to Angel's doctoring they don't bleed anymore. I know there's still the possibility of infection but I can't bring myself to look at them right now. I don't know where I'm going. I just keep walking through this dark city until the ringing of a bell stops me.
One...two...three. Three bells...weren't there five last night? I don't know. My head hurts. I'm so tired...
I'm on some sort of market street. I put myself behind a market stall and lie down, hugging my knees. I shut my eyes, hoping to find some peace in my dreams.
Day 5/ Divide and Fall
Radiant Tayz (District 13)
I watch the sun rise over the arena for the fourth time and wonder how many more times I will see it. I remember thinking a similar thing the last time I competed in the Games. Vaguely, I recall that I wound up dead later that morning.
I throw a cautious look back at the gas station, where my allies and the others are sleeping. If it was up to me I'd kill the both of them, Aelia and Stephen, right now and be done with it. But Crimson (11) has different ideas. He thinks we can still trust them. I laugh lightly at this. You can't trust anyone! Not here and not now! The only reason I'm certain my other allies won't kill me is because Crimson won't ever go back on his word and Raven is too nice to try and murder me in my sleep. I cross over to the gas pumps when the tinkling bell of the door causes me to spin around and see Stephen (10) awkwardly stepping out.
"I just need to take a pee!" He grumbles gruffly and loops around to the back of the gas station. I watch him go, noticing that my hand had tightened around my sword and my heart is pounding.
I shake my head. Was I really worried that he had come to kill me? Well...yes.
I don't trust him. And he's made it clear he doesn't trust me either. It's only a matter of time before one of us offs the other, no matter how much peacekeeping Crimson and Aelia do.
But I'm not about to forget about the other tributes out there. Half of the field is dead but there's still plenty of people trying to kill me. There's still four Careers out there and that's not even everyone. The other non-Careers are just as eager to kill as anyone.
The city is large, I note as stare out into it. It's many nooks and crannies can conceal just about anything and its not limited to tributes. Those Biter mutts we've seen, and probably others, are out there. Just waiting to strike.
I hear footsteps, meaning Stephen must have returned. I go to turn when something grabs me around the neck followed by a sharp jerk and then nothing more.
Crimson Typhoon (District 11)
I moan and roll over, trying to ignore the voice. It persists in calling me and I tell it to just give me a few more minutes. Then something else happens, something that wakes me right up.
My eyes shoot open and I bolt up. Raven is beside me, a horrified look on her face. I ask her what's wrong and the answer she gives terrifies me. "Radiant is dead!"
I'm on my feet immediately, snapping up my bow and quiver before rushing outside where I find Aelia (0) crouched beside the prone body of my friend. His neck lies at an awkward angle and I know that he's gone. "What happened?!" I demand dropping beside him. I touch his neck and realize that it has been broken.
"I-I don't know!" Aelia backs off shaking her head. "Raven just found him like that!" I turn my gaze to Raven and she doesn't hesitate to answer.
"I was awake. I was sitting down, gathering my thoughts, when I saw Stephen leave. I didn't think much of it at first but after a few minutes I went outside and I saw-I saw Radiant's..." She breaks off, turning her head away. I see a few tears glistening in her eyes. So Stephen went outside...but where is he now--
"What's going on?" Speak of the devil. Stephen trots around the corner of the building, watching us warily. "Why are you....Oh god!" He gasps in shock, or what he would like us to believe is shock, as he spots Radiant's body. He looks to Aelia. "Wh-what happened?"
Aelia quickly explains. I keep my eyes focused on his face, gauging his reaction. He doesn't show much emotion, doesn't act saddened. And of course he isn't. Why should he be? He hated Radiant. Enough to kill him...
"His neck was snapped," I say slowly. The others all look at me, recognizing the tone of my voice. "And you, Stephen, are the only one here strong enough to do that!"
"What! No! What are you saying?!" His eyes widen in shock as they swivel towards me. I stare him down coldly. I know what happened. He murdered my friend!
"Stephen wouldn't do that!" Aelia jumps to his defence but her word doesn't mean much to me. Of course she would defend him. She might have even orchestrated the murder with him!
"What do you think Raven?" I ask ignoring their angry outbursts. "You saw him leave. Minutes later Radiant died. It's not too hard to put together!"
Aelia reels in shock as if struck. She turns to Stephen "You...you didn't do it, did you?"
"Of course not! You told me not to! I wouldn't go against your word!"
Raven gasps in shock. I have my bow loaded in an instant and pointed directly at his heart. He seems bewildered and looks back and forth, asking what happened.
"You. Just. Admitted. To. Wanting. To. Kill. Him!" Each word forces itself out from my gritted teeth. Stephen protests that Radiant admitted the same thing about him yesterday and that he didn't actually go through with it but I can hardly hear him in my rage. My muscles twitch, half of me eager to unleash the arrow that would avenge my friend. But another half of me is saying that this doesn't add up. That something is wrong.
"Crimson!" Raven steps in front of my bow and I lower it as I demand to know what she's doing. "We don't kill our allies, remember?" Vaguely. I look at the two people before me, the two that conceivably got two of my friends killed.
"How can we trust them?" I demand. "How can we be sure that they won't kill us next? They're just out for themselves, Raven!"
"We didn't kill anyone!" Aelia protests.
"Why couldn't it have been someone else? Like the Careers or someone?" Stephen challenges. I turn my bow on him and he throws his hands up in the air as fright fills his eyes. "I'm sorry! But I didn't kill Radiant!"
Conflicting feelings battle inside of me. I can't trust them. But I can't kill them. I have no proof they've done anything wrong. I fix them with a long look and then point my head at the city behind us. "Go. Get out of here. I don't trust you. You may have killed Radiant, you may not have. I don't know. But I know I can't trust you. And if I can't trust you, then you have to go!"
They exchange looks. Looks of the guilty spared? I don't know. But Stephen doesn't wait. He backs off slowly to the edge of the gas pumps. Aelia, however, tries to make one last plea.
"Crimson please listen! We don't have to separate. We can stay together and then none of us have to die. But if you make us leave...then you will die. And I can't do anything to help you"
"Is that a threat?"
"No! I'm just saying the truth. You can live or die. It's your choice. Stay with us or make us leave. If we leave..."
I don't let her finish. I shoot an arrow just over her shoulder. It sails only inches from her ear and then she turns and runs. I watch them both run, disappearing into the vast expanse of the city. I watch until they're well out of sight and then I sit down and cry.
Drago is gone. Radiant is gone. Raven is still here for now but she'll be gone soon too....are all of my friends going to die? Wait. Connor...
He's still counting on me. I need to win for his sake. But that means everyone else left in this arena needs to die. I think about how I've just been content to sit on my laurels for most of the Games, waiting to see who dies instead of doing anything myself. Well, it's time to change that.
"Get everything useful!" I order Raven and while she gives me a curious look she doesn't protest and gathers up all of our items, including Radiant's sword. I examine my arrows. Each one will be ending someone's life. I need them to. I can't afford any misses. Raven returns with the items and looks up at me with wide eyes.
"What are we doing?" She asks.
"We're going hunting. For too long have I put this off. Now it's time to start!"
We set off into the city. Despite my demeanour my spirits have never been lower. In all honesty we're probably marching to our deaths. And...for some unexplainable reason I have the feeling of being watched.
I look back as we walk but don't see anything. But I feel something. I feel the presence of eyes, watching me. And for some reason, I don't think they're human eyes.
Banette Tsukomogami (District 8)
Under the supervision of Johnathan (5) we all gather our items and prepare to head out. Apparently he thinks that the Gamemakers will send something after us if we stay up. Why should I care? If staying put angers those bastards, then I want to stay put. Kinda hard to argue with Johnathan though, especially when Shuppet (3) agrees with him.
"Why are we trying to appease the Gamemakers?" I mutter to him as we wait for Johnathan to finish his rounds around the park.
"We're not appeasing them, Banette," he whispers back. "We're just trying to save our own skins. Or would you rather tangle with some mutts?"
I snort derisively. "I wouldn't mind slaughtering some Gamemakers pets!" It would be fun. I could just imagine the looks on their faces as their precious creatures get their ass kicked by us! Shuppet chuckles softly but doesn't reply.
"Don't pull me!"
An out of place feminine voice shouts and we both turn to see Johnathan dragging a girl over to us. I know her. She's my district partner. The strange looking one with the equally strange name. Aisha, was it?
"Found her carving something into a tree," Johnathan tells us as he stops in front of us. Aisha isn't struggling anymore. In fact, she's watching us calmly. Odd. What's odder though, is the surplus of cuts along her body. A foul-smelling substance is caked onto them. Anti-Infection probably.
"Why is she still alive?" I ask. "I'm not trying to be evil or whatever but we need people dead, Johnathan"
He shuffles his feet uncomfortably. "She claims to want our help. Says her District partner was kidnapped by the Careers"
I exchange a look with Shuppet. Kidnapped? Well, that's a new one. Guess the Careers are expanding into new areas. What's next? Jaywalking?
"Does she expect us to help her?" Shuppet demands while I nod in approval. Johnathan once again looks uncomfortable.
"I thought we'd help her actually"
Of course he would want to help her. He always wants to help everyone. I examine Aisha, trying to recall everything I know about her. She volunteered to prove herself, right?
"What's in it for us?" I ask her. Her answer is automatic.
"You can diminish the Careers strength. Maybe even kill a few. I know you want that"
Yes. Yes I do. I mull this over in my head. It will be risky, obviously. But what is life without risk? And I have been itching to clobber some Careers...but not right now. There's plenty of time to take out the Careers. I don't need to force myself into a battle with them right now, especially not on someone else's terms "What do you two think?" I ask my allies even though my mind is already made up. Johnathan, as expected, volunteers to help. Shuppet is a little more hesitant but eventually just turns to me.
"I'm with you. Whatever you decide"
I turn to Aisha, who's watching me with hopeful eyes. I don't like having to crush that hope but I don't really have a choice. "Sorry. We can't help you. This is your fight. Not ours. You finish it"
Her face falls but she doesn't give in just yet. "But Celica will die if you don't help!"
I shrug. "Not my problem." I regret the words instantly. Her expression goes cold and she glares at me with an unbridled fury.
"I thought you were better than that. I thought you could understand. But I was wrong. You're just like the Careers!"
"I'm sorry, that was a bad thing to say--"
"No! It was an honest thing to say! If you aren't going to help me then I'm going to save Celica by myself!" She turns to Johnathan and demands her weapons back. He sheepishly gives them to her and then she takes off sprinting into the city. I face my allies in embarrassment.
"I'm sorry. I should have been more tactful. That was a stupid thing to say!"
"No. I think you were right," Shuppet pats me on the shoulder. "We couldn't have helped her. We would have just wound up dead. You did the right thing. Right, Johnathan?"
He grunts and turns away, walking deeper into the park. Dammit. Not only did I completely screw over our relations with Aisha but I upset Johnathan as well! Shuppet gives me a sympathetic look and I kick a nearby tree. I forgot how chivalrous Johnathan was. It's probably unbearable for him, having to stay here and not help someone in need.
Shuppet points to the sky, where several parachutes are descending. Sponsors! Good! This should make us forget about that incident! We wait for them to land and then rip the packages open. Bread and fruit await us. Not bad. Not bad at all.
Shuppet goes to find Johnathan while I place my three needles into slits of my glove, above my knuckles. Effectively, I've just given myself claws. I flex my hand, admiring the sharp tools. Quite an efficient weapon, this should be. Just then, Shuppet returns, breathless and red faced.
"What's wrong?" I demand, a pit forming in my stomach. I fear I know exactly what he's about to say.
"It's Johnathan! He's gone!"
I should have seen that coming! He must have gone to help Aisha! I thrust the packages of food into Shuppet's hands and make for the park exit. Shuppet jogs to catch up, asking where we're going. I don't stop walking as I answer.
"We're going after Johnathan!"
Nikki Heart (District 4)
Solar (0) cautiously follows me out of the library. It took some convincing, to get him to leave his sanctuary, but he eventually relented as he realized that the Gamemakers wouldn't let him just hole up forever.
"Are we safe out here?" He asks as we edge down a street. He's nervous, and rightfully so. Truth be told, I'm just as nervous. But I know that we can't just sit in one place. The Capitol is cruel, I know that better then anyone. I nod, answering his question. The real answer should be "No" because we're not completely safe anywhere but I think if I let him know that he would run right back inside.
His confidence does improve though, as we go down a few streets without any mishaps. I'm feeling better as well. Maybe we can come upon a loner and take them out without much trouble. Of course that thought jinxed everything.
"Nikki! Look!" Solar tugs on my sleeve and points up the road. Two figures are approaching but they haven't seen us yet. I duck behind a building edge and pull Solar with me. I notice that my hands holding my trident are sweating. This will be my first real fight in the Games.
I hold up three fingers, giving Solar the amount of seconds to wait before jumping out and engaging the fast approaching figures. He nods, looking nervous but prepared. It's odd but he holds his spear in the proper way taught by the training staff back at the gymnasium. He must be a quick learner.
"Ready?" He asks me. I nod. Let's do this! "One...two...three!"
We pop out. I slash my trident towards the closest figure and am shocked to see a little girl. Instinctively I hold back my swing as the girl screams.
Solar lunges for the other figure, a boy I recognize as Crimson from District 11. Solar is quick but not quick enough. Crimson sidesteps the spear and swings his bow, catching Solar in the jaw. Stunned, he he stumbles backwards and Crimson loads his bow to fire.
My trident knocks the first arrow away from Solar but the second plunges into my thigh. Pain shoots through my leg and I drop to one knee as Crimson reloads.
"Crimson stop!" The little girl grabs the bow and twirls him around. He barks angrily at her and attempts to pull his weapon back but she holds on. "Don't kill them!"
"We've already trusted other people Raven! And Drago and Radiant wound up dead! We're not doing it again!" He attempts to yank it back but she still doesn't let go. They get in a shouting match. I don't know what they say. I'm too busy attempting to force the arrow from my thigh. Tears from the pain slide from my eyes and then the arrow is out.
"He could have killed me Crimson! But he held up!" The voices become audible again as I pull my jacket off and use it to stem the blood flow. "We can't repay him with death!"
"We have to Raven!" He rips his weapon free and she stumbles back as he speedily notches an arrow, pointing it directly at me. "Everyone has to die. Everyone! I need to save Connor!" I expect the pain of an arrow head ripping into my chest but that doesn't come. Crimson's stopped, noticing something just as I do. A roaring sound.
He turns and screams, stepping back in horror. I see it now that ny vision is no longer obstructed.
A lizard. Or man. Or man-lizard. It's a giant, standing over eight feet tall as it sits at the end of the street, watching us with inflamed red eyes.
"The Annihilator!" Solar screams in terror at the sight of the beast.
"You know of that thing?!" Crimson screams back.
"Yes! It was in a book at the library! It stalks its pray, killing without making the slightest sound. When ever it's quarry sees it, they know they're doomed!"
"Then why do we see?!" Raven screams desperately. Solar's answer is as equally desperate.
"Because we're doomed!"
The Annhilator roars again, adding terrifying emphasis to his words. It takes a step towards us and Crimson fires several arrows that just deflect uselessly off of its shining green scales. I see it's muscles ripple underneath these scales, see the sheer strength it possesses and know that there's not much we can do. In a desperate bid for survival I chuck my trident at the beast but it's lightning fast reflexes have it knocking the weapon away.
"Run!" Solar takes off just as the Annihilator picks up a nearby car with its powerful arms and then hurls the vehicle towards us. I turn and try to run but my leg gives out and I trip. The car sails over me and right between the others, exploding into a fiery ball.
The last thing I see is a metal shard flying straight for me.
Solar Energy (District 0)
My ears are ringing. Smoke drifts past, scorching my eyes and throat. I struggle to my feet and look around. Smoking ruins of the car surround me. But where is everyone else?
I cough as I stumble through the debris. It was total carnage. The Annihilator threw that car with so much force...The Annihiliator!
I spin around in fear, searching for the beast. But it doesn't show. Did...did it leave? I don't know. I continue through the debris and then trip over something. I scrabble back to my feet and then realize it's not debris but a body.
His body lies amidst the ruins and debris. His head has been separated from his body and a piece of metal is lodged in his shoulder. "I'm sorry. You deserved better."
I move on but the sadness of his death comes with me. I don't know why I'm so sad. I barely knew the kid. But he didn't deserve to die like that. That's it, I realize. I'm upset at the Gamemakers for putting us all in this predicament. And for creating the Annihilator...
I head for the nearest building, my ears have stopped ringing and I can now hear the sizzling of the flaming car. I'm just at the edge of the blast radius when something grabs my ankle.
Crimson. He lies in a pile of debris, blood flowing everywhere. A large metal pipe sticks out from his stomach, being the source of the blood. My heart goes out for him, disregarding the fact he wanted to kill me. We're all people here.
I crouch beside him. He has short, laborious breaths, his eyes going back and forth, focusing on nothing. They finally find mine and then he speaks. I don't know where he finds the strength. "Please...you need...to save...C-Connor..."
"Whose Connor?" I ask him quietly.
"H-He's my friend...he was taken...by...men. They told me...they would kill him...if I didn't win. Please! You h-have to save him...Promise!"
I don't see how I can, if he dies when Crimson does. But I promise anyways. This brings some comfort to the dying boy's face and he smiles as his head goes limp. "Th-thank...you..."
His eyes flicker shut and I know he's gone. I feel bad, making a promise I have no chance of keeping. But it gave him peace in death and that's what's important. I bow my head in respect as a cannon goes off. Boom!
I rise and look back at the smoking ruins of a single exploded car. How many kids died here? Nikki, Crimson...I don't see Raven's body but it could be anywhere in that mess. Her and Nikki's cannons having gone off while my ears were ringing...
I leave the wreckage. Along the way I spot my charred spear. It's been blackened by the blast but it's still usable. Plus, my Instant Relief is still safe in my pocket. A silver-lining in a dark cloud. I take one last look at the ruins. The flames are still going, the dark smoke billowing into the air where a hovercraft has just appeared to collect the bodies.
I salute the fallen and then turn and jog off into the all consuming city...
Aisha Hakeem (District 8)
I can see the dark smoke lifting high over the buildings. I heard that explosion too. But I don't know what happened.
Not that it matters to me right now. I have to free Celica from the Careers. The weight of that hits me all at once. One girl. One girl has to best four strong Careers. How is that possible?
Stupid Banette. Screw him and his pig-headed loner lifestyle! I don't need his help!...except I do. I don't have the weapons or strength to do this on my own. But I have to try.
I slip down the streets, getting closer and closer to where the Careers have set up base. Soon, they come into sight. I see her, Celica, handcuffed to a lamppost. There doesn't seem to be anyone standing guard but I know that not everything is as it appears. I slink into the shadows of a nearby building and try to think through when I'm grabbed from behind.
I scream but a strong hand clamps down on my mouth, smothering it. "Shh! Don't make any noise!"
I recognise the voice! Johnathan!...Shoot! Johnathan! Did Banette decide to hunt me down? Are they going to kill me?! No. Johnathan let's me go and I see that he's the only one here. He smiles friendly at me. "What's the plan?"
What's the plan....? I look at him in confusion and he smiles once again. "Where are the others?" I demand.
"Not here. They didn't want to help you so I came on my own. Again, what's the plan?" I stare at him blankly. Can I trust him? Do I have a choice? CEvea is in trouble. I'm take all the help I can get.
"I don't know yet," I answer and point out Celica. "But no one seems to be guarding her. Which is strange" He nods, eyes scanning the area.
I think you're--there!" He points into the shadows of the building closest to Celica and I see the form of Luigi (2) resting against the wall. I bite my lip. Just as I thought, they have set a trap. Johnathan asks me what I want to do but I don't know. What can I do? A full-frontal assault? Luigi would certainly call for help and then we would have three more Careers on our hands. I go to tell him this when the door to the fighting arena opens and Buck (6) steps out. He's speaking to someone and tells them to keep the "pet" locked up before heading down the street.
I'm puzzled by the situation but it doesn't appear to be helpful to us. "I'm going in!" Johnathan suddenly decides.
"I'm sneaking into the fighting arena. I'll make a distraction and then you rescue Celica. Okay?"
"I-Yeah. Okay. But what will the distraction be? And how do I know when to go?"
He smiles. "Trust me. You'll know it when you hear it"
Johnathan Mikeal (District 5)
I leave Aisha (8) with simple instructions on picking locks and then slip around the bend. The nearby ladder I spotted earlier is still there and I quickly ascend to the top. Once up, I swiftly move across the roof to the edge. The fighting arena is just there, the rooftops are only a few feet apart.
I make the jump with relative ease. My long legs give me plenty of reach. Now I'm cooking.
The roof has several large glass windows that I use to look down. The fighting cage in the middle draws my eyes immediately and I see that someone, or more accurately, something, is inside. "So this is your pet..." I murmur to myself. I wonder how they caught it?
I watch the mutt move about for a few moments then look elsewhere. The boy from 14 is sitting on a weight bench, watching the mutt with a furtive gaze. No one else appears to be in the room.
I can take the 14 boy alright. But wasn't their four Careers? The 2 and 6 boys are outside, the 14 boy is there...Fiora! Where is she? I double check the room but don't spot her. Logic dictates she must not be here. Well then, time to make a distraction
There's a hatch leading inside but I wait until the 14 boy gets up and heads for the restroom before opening it up and sliding down the ladder.
I land silently and quickly barricade the restroom door with several large weights. The mutt watches me with, what looks to be, curious eyes as I move about. I wonder why it's not making any sound and then I realize it's probably on orders from the Gamemakers, curious to see what I will do.
"Something extremely foolhardy," I answer the unspoken question. I approach the cage door and note the lock on it. Should be simple enough to pick. Just give it a little--
I sense the movement before anything else. I lunge to the right just as the rapier stabs the air I was inhabiting just moments ago.
"Well, well, well. Look what we have here!" Fiora (7) has arrived. I don't know where she came from but here she is. She is armed with a rapier and a cruel sneer.
"Your reign is over Waltz!" I tell her and she laughs. Behind us, I can hear the restroom door being kicked.
"Oh? Please elaborate. Or better yet. Die!"
Her thrust is too quick to block so I evade. She snarls in fury and and I position myself in front of the door as she lunges again. This time, when I move, her rapier slams right into the lock. I smile as it snaps open.
Fiora screams and goes to strike me again when the mutt flys across the ring and leaps out the door, sinking it's teeth into Fiora's shoulder.
She screams as blood spurts out and flesh is ripped as the mutt's jaws pull back. I stare grimly as the mutt bites into her again. I didn't want this to happen but she made it so. I take a step back and grimace.
That's when a spear comes from nowhere and strikes the mutt in the chest.
"Fiora!" Unbeknownst to me the District 14 boy had hacked his way through the door and is now staring at his bitten leader in horror. His eyes flicker to me and I know I have another fight on my hands.
Odin Amarth (District 14)
By the valor of Odin! I have no sense of what is going on! Fiora is lying on the floor, moaning in pain and agony. Our "pet" had taken several bites out of her shoulder and dealt some serious damage. How did it get unleashed?!
"You!" I point my sword at Johnathan (5). "You let the mutt out didn't you!" He must also have been the one to block the restroom door.
"Actually it was Fiora who let it out, in a manner of speaking,"
"Do not lie to Odin' s Chosen One! You are a vile villain, intent on destroying us all!" He goes to speak but my sword aims for his head before he can. He narrowly manages to avoid it and I realize his bulk slows him down considerably. Time to take my advantage!
I charge him, my spiked shield held up. His eyes widen in shock as I barrel towards him and then he dives to the right. I'm unable to stop my forward momentum slam straight into the wall.
My spikes dig into the wall and I give a few useless pulls in an effort to free it. Johnathan spots his advantage and aims his spear for my head but I am privy to this and duck as his polearm gets lodged the wall along with my shield.
"We're each down a weapon now!" I note. He nods, freeing his machete from his boot. My sword is longer but his wide reach more than makes up for that. "This is a fair fight!"
We engage. My strikes are well-placed and expertly coordinated but he somehow manages to parry each one. The only person who has ever done so. A worthy opponent indeed!
He aims a kick for my knee but I see it coming and avoid it, sending a spinning back-fist towards his face. I feel the bones of his face crunch beneath my knuckles and he falls back against the cage wall. I'm leap forward, intent on delivering the finishing blow but he rolls out of the way and my sword goes through the mesh of the cage, leaving me wide open for a counterattack.
Johnathan rises up for the strike when someone calls for him. "Johnathan!"
"Aisha!" He turns his attention off of me and looks to the window. I feel guilty for the distraction but Odin teaches taking every opportunity you get. I free my sword and slice it into his legs. He howls, falling to the ground. I rise up, victorious over a worthy opponent.
"There is no shame in your defeat!" I tell him as he stares up at me with fearless dignity. "Odin will gladly welcome a fearless warrior such as you into Valhalla! So fear not! Your valiant effort was not in vain!"
I raise my sword and bring it down onto his neck.
Celica Rotas (District 12)
I need to get out of these stupid handcuffs! My guard, Luigi (2), has his back to me, staring down the opposite street. This is my chance! If only I had something to pick this lock...
Lying on the nearby curb I spot a small nail. I can't believe I missed that! But then again I have been watched for majority of my time here. I throw another look at Luigi and then move my foot for the nail.
Almost there...I place my boot over the nail and slowly begin to pull it back. I try not to make any noise as I do. If I'm spotted any chance of escape will be gone for good. They may even decide to just kill me.
The nail slips off of the curb to the street. I wince at the sound of it landing but Luigi doesn't react. I breath a sigh of relief and nudge the nail to the lamppost. I just have to slide it up the post...
Someone screams from within the fighting arena. I drop the nail and it bounces out of my reach. I curse loudly and then remember Luigi. But he's too busy staring at the gym, where we can now hear shouting and thumping.
"Celica!" I nearly jump out from my skin as Aisha appears at my side. Aisha! I stare at her in shock. I had completely written off the prospect of her coming for me! I examine her closer and see that she's covered in a multitude of scars.
She cuts off my question. "Not now. Is there anything to pick the lock?" She's whispering and glances fearfully at Luigi, who is calling anxiously into the building. I point out the nail and she quickly picks it up and after some jiggling the handcuffs come unlocked.
"You did it!"
"Shut up!" Her hiss comes too late. Luigi spins around and let's out a surprised gasp as he spots us. Oops.
Aisha shouts for to run for it and I have barely moved when Luigi's sword smashes into the lamppost. I shriek and fall down. Aisha comes to my aid, leaping at Luigi and tackling him to the ground. She attempts to out wrestle him but it's nowhere near a fair fight and he quickly pins her down.
"Johnathan!" She screams a name I don't recognize and Luigi spins around, expecting someone to appear.
"Aisha!" Another voice responds, before cutting off with a pained howl. Luigi turns back to Aisha, evidently confident that no one is coming. Well, he forgot about me!
I snatch up the handcuffs and throw them around Luigi's throat. He lets go of Aisha and tries to pull the chain off of his neck when I jerk right and slam his head into the side of the gym with force.
His eyes roll into his eyes and he goes limp, sliding to the ground. Aisha appears over my shoulder, panting hard. "Th-thanks. But where's Johnathan...?"
Aisha goes pale and then starts shouting for this Johnathan. I silence her immediately. We don't need a repeat of what I did, putting further attention on us. "We need to go Aisha!"
"He'll catch up. We need to go now!"
I pull her along. I can hear a voice from inside the gym and I know that both Odin (14) and Fiora (7) are inside. Aisha doesn't resist and soon enough she sees the sense in my words. We dash down the street and turn a corner, running full speed...right into Buck.
We scream, he shouts and then there's a swinging sword, a splash of blood and I'm falling to the concrete below.
Shuppet Jorravaskr (District 3)
I watch Buck's (6) sword cut down Celica (12), I watch as he turns his bloody weapon towards Aisha and then adrenaline kicks in. I sprint across the road and before Buck can bring his sword down I tackle him through the large glass window behind him.
Glass shatters everywhere, a few pieces tearing through my clothes and cutting my skin. I see Buck looking around, seemingly as dazed as I feel, and swiftly punch him in the face, knocking him out.
I hear Banette (8) calling me and then I'm being pulled out the window. My friend places me on the ground, asking if I'm okay. I nod. Aisha is watching us, a completely shocked expression on her face. "Surprised?" I ask.
She doesn't answer, instead dropping beside the body of Celica. Oh right. I forgot about that.
"She's gone," Banette tells Aisha but she ignores him, trying to shake her friend awake. I touch her shoulder sympathetically but she slaps my hand away.
"Where's Johnathan?" I ask but don't get an answer from her. She's now trying to beg Celica awake but...the sound of a cannon proves that it is futile. Boom!
"We need to get going" Banette's urgent tone gets my attention.
He points down the street. "That's why!"
Mutts. Many of them. They stand at least thirty yards down the street and don't seem to have noticed us yet. I'd rather keep it that way.
"They look just like all of the dead tributes," Banette notes grimly. So they do. I look down at Aisha, whose now staring blankly at Celica and tell Banette we can't just leave her here. He grunts in annoyance and then pulls her up. "C'mon! Let's get moving!"
She doesn't resist being taken along as we navigate through the city, leaving the mutts behind. The whole time we're running I have the distinct feeling that we've forgotten something and then it hits me.
"We didn't finish off Buck!"
Banette comes to a stop and let's out a curse. I feel like beating myself. How did we forget to do that?! We duck into a nearby building, feeling we're a safe enough distance away now, and as Banette grunts angrily I focus on Aisha.
I'm nearly taken off my strength. Jonathan, dead? He was so strong that the possibility of him dying had never struck me as being likely but now...
"What the hell did you do, Johnathan?!" Banette shouts to the sky Aisha comes to his defence frantically.
"Nothing! He just went to make a distraction and then he...didn't come back and I heard him shout and then a cannon..."
Banette picks up a fallen brick and furiously beams it across the room of the desecrated lobby. I hurry to calm him down but he pushes me off and smashes his fists against the wall. "Stupid, stupid! We should have gone with him! We should have been there!"
I feel just as bad as Banette. I know we should have helped but...Johnathan had no intention of winning these Games. He never said so aloud but it was evident from his face. I know he wouldn't want us to beat ourselves up over his death and when I tell Banette this I can see his eyes calm slightly.
"He shouldn't have died, Shuppet," He says quietly. "He wouldn't have if we had gotten there sooner"
"Maybe. Or maybe the outcome would have been the same. Who knows? I don't."
"Whatever. But now that he's dead, I guarantee you. Those other tributes have hell to pay!" He whirls around and stomps off to the side of the lobby. Aisha, I notice, has been watching this whole spectacle with a sad face.
"You can stay or you can go," I tell her with a shrug. "But if I were you I'd stay for at least tomorrow morning. It's getting dark soon and that's when the nasties come out to play"
Buck Rockwell (District 6)
This day sucked.
I got tackled through a window, Luigi got his head smashed into a wall, and Fiora had chunks of her shoulder ripped off by a ravenous zombie. Yeah, the day really sucked.
"Is she going to make it?" I ask Odin (14) gruffly as he examines the wound on Fiora. We've managed to cauterize the wound and stop the bleeding, for now.
"You can ask me you big pollack!" Fiora (7) snaps angrily at me and then winced from the sudden movement. "I'm not dead yet!"
"You will be soon," she snarls furiously at me for that cutting remark but she knows it's true. Whatever that mutt did, it infected her with something. Her eyes have a yellow tint to them and her body is burning up in a fever. Yeah, she's not gonna last long.
"I only need last the night! My sponsors will have something to heal me with by then!"
I resist the urge to tell her she won't last that long and walk over to Luigi. By the time I had regained consciousness from that punch Luigi had already recovered from his own wound and met up with Odin. Together the two of them were trying to put Humpty Dumpty, aka Fiora, back together again. "You sure you don't know where they went?" I ask him. He shakes his head. Sheesh. How did no one see where those jerkheads ran off to? I look out towards the inner city and clench my fist as I think of the revenge I'll take when I find them.
"No point in searching now," Luigi murmurs quietly. "Too dark out. You'd never find them" I frown. I don't like how that boy seems to always know what I'm thinking.
"Think Fiora will make it?" I ask changing tracks. Luigi shrugs.
"Possibly. No way to tell now. She only needs to survive until the morning at any rate"
I hate how everyone assumes she'll last that long! I glance over at her now and while she's in visible pain, she seems to be holding off any further developments. Huh. Maybe she will last until the morning. But is that beneficial to us? She wasn't such a good leader at any rate. Her pet and prisoner both escaped and caused mayham. And who was it who put the prisoner down? Me!
I look back at her again. She's ordering Odin to fetch her some more water. She has plenty of sponsors huh? Will definitely make it to the morning huh? Well, I have some news for you.
Aelia Freedome (District 0)
We've returned to the forest. I know that the Games won't be going for much longer and this is the first place I've seen my friends. I saw them on the first night, or at least Lyman did. What else could those shadows have been?
Stephen (10) has been glum ever since this morning. I don't exactly blame him for that. I'm upset myself. If only they had believed us when I told them, then they could be escaping with us... for I will be escaping. I refuse to die here.
"Where are we going Aelia?" Stephen moans as we walk. "We've been moving for hours. Do we have a plan?"
"Yes. We do." I don't elaborate though. No need to let everyone in the Capital know what I'm planning. I stop beside the place where the forcefield was and frown. I can't see any of the small telltale rippling...
A bright flash of light blinds me and as I stumble backwards I see several dark figures rappel down from the trees. Stephen spins around in horror when one of them grabs him from behind and sticks a long needled syringe into his neck.
Hands grab me from behind and I'm too to shocked to even scream as the figure lies a now limp Stephen down before turning towards me.
"Hello, Aelia," It says and steps into the moonlight, followed by two other figures. I gasp. They're dressed in long black cloaks, hoods thrown over their heads. Most distinctly, they each wear a black and white leather mask, each with a different symbol on them.
"You're not my friends!" I say fearfully, the hands from behind holding me still. I have never seen these people before!
"No. No we're not," The first figure, the one with a red "J" and what appears to be a Jack from a deck of playing cards, emblazoned on his mask speaks. It's a guy, I can tell that much from his voice. But I know nothing else. "But they won't be coming for you"
"What did you do to them?!" I demand desperately trying to shake free from the hands that hold me. But their grip is far too strong and I achieve nothing.
The Jack scoffs. "We didn't do anything to them. I, however, cannot say the same for the Capitol"
I don't understand. His words don't make any sense. "A-are are you mutts?" I ask weakly, terrified of what is going to happen to me. Have my friends been captured? Have they told the Capital what they were trying to do? Am I being punished for it?
"Gee. Thanks for the insult!" One of the other figures, who has a large painted "10" on their mask laughs scornfully at me. Her voice feminine. "No. We're not mutts. We're as human as you!"
"But--I...how..." What's happening? These people are definitely not my friends. But then what happened to them? They were coming! I know they were! They wouldn't have abandoned me! "Where are my friends!?"
"Probably in some sort of Capital torture facility. I'd be surprised if they could still speak by now. They've been there for hours. I bet they've already told everything they know. Friendship doesn't hold up under torture"
The Jack speaks so calmly about the issue, about the torture of my friends, that I can't take it! I kick towards him but he just steps back out of my reach, wagging a finger at me. "Ah, ah, ah! No kicking please!"
"We gotta hurry this up Jack," The third figure, the one with an Ace on his mask, speaks as he removes some sort of device from the side of his mask. "Queen says we have five minutes before the cameras come back online"
Cameras come online...? I look at each of their masked faces their long cloaks, their proximity to the forcefield and finally realize they're not apart of the Capitol. But then...
"Who are you!?" I demand though I'm so afraid it comes out more like a desperate plea.
"Who are we? Well, that's a simple question!" Jack leans forward, his mask only inches from my face. I can't see his mouth, but I have the feeling that he's smiling. "We are Those Who Don't Exist."
He makes a motion with his hand and then I feel a needle insert into my neck. A cold liquid flows in, entering my veins. Drowsiness begins to overtake me and I no longer can think straight. The last thing I see is Jack lifting Stephen up and hoisting him over his shoulders.
And then I black out.
Raven Night (District 11)
I'm all alone. Everyone has left me. Drago, Radiant, Aelia, Stephen, and now Crimson...I'm all by myself. All....by...myself.
I sing sadly to myself as I creep along the road, careful to avoid standing in the light emitting from the lampposts. I shiver in the cold wind. Where am I going? What's even left for me? Everyone I know is dead and gone. What am I doing?
I stop walking and lean back against the wall, slowly sliding to the ground where I wrap my hands around myself. I heard so many cannons today. So many people died...
I squeeze my eyes shut. I want to go home. But the only way that happens is if I win. And to win I need to kill. But I can't kill. Everyone else is so much stronger than me and has so many weapons. The only weapon I have left from the Annihilator attack is Radiant's sword, which I can't even lift.
In the aftermath of the attack I had forgotten all about it! Where has it gone? Is it stalking me this moment? The shadows that surround me twist and churn menacingly. Anywhere in that darkness could sit The Annihilator or another mutt. Tributes could even sit there and I wouldn't know...
I feel like sobbing as I sit in the lonely street, wondering how on earth I'll survive. A light comes from the sky, I'm surprised at first, until I recognize the Capitol seal. The Anthem is starting.
Aelia (0) starts the process, and now that I've seen the Annihilator I know she had nothing to do with Radiant's death, I can properly mourn her loss. She's followed by Nikki (4) and that's when I realize Solar isn't dead. He must have survived the attack just as I did. I hope he's alright.
The next face is that of the boy from 5, the one who looked more like a man and was giant. I didn't know him very well. Then comes Stephen (10) and I weep as I think of how we accused him of something he didn't do. I never got to apologize.
The next few faces are even worse. Crimson (11), Drago's District partner, Celica, and then Radiant (13). I can't stop myself from sobbing at the sight of their faces and once the pretty girl from District 14 shows the Anthem ends and I'm in the dark again.
Who's even left? Four Careers, the District 3 boy, the pair from 8, Solar and myself? How many is that? Nine?
Nine left. They usually interview the final eight's family and friends but at the rate we're dropping I think they may start now. The thought of my family talking about me brings a smile to my face. I need to fight on, for them. I need to outlive the remaining eight. But how? And how many of them are aligned?
The Careers are together for now but that could change with the numbers shrinking. The 8 and 3 boys are best friends and I wouldn't be surprised if the 8 girl has joined with them. That leaves Solar but I don't think he'll be allying with anyone else.
I can't think of anyway of winning this right now and find a hidden pipe, just large enough for me, on the side of the street. I crawl in and wrap myself with my arms. I hope tomorrow brings me the answers....
A single bell rings out. Much louder than all of the ones from previous nights. Then there's an eerie silence. One bell...Does that mean something? Has our time come? I'm terrified, huddled inside of the pipe, when the horrible noises begins.
Howling, shrieking, yelping, and roaring. I recognise the roar of the Annihilator and squeeze myself even further into the pipe as the sounds continue. I hold my hands over my ears, hoping the sounds will stop. Eventually, they do. The ground gives an ominous rumble and everything goes silent.
I don't know what that was about. I don't know what it means. I don't know why it's happening. All I know is that tomorrow....we're all going to die.
Luigi Wilkins (District 2)
No one in their right mind would be able to sleep after all of those crazy noises but somehow Fiora (7) and Odin (14) fast asleep. Fiora I can understand. She's sick and injured after all. But how can Odin just plop down and drift off? I stare at his prone sleeping body and wonder whether I should be jealous of that ability or thankful that my head doesn't just let me sleep when there's the threat of an attack.
Not that we're unguarded in anyway. We're safely tucked away in a ruined grocery store and Buck (6) stands guard. I'm suppose to be getting some sleep before my turn but I'm just lying here, thinking.
With how many tributes died today- or is it yesterday now?-I know that these Games are moving at a much faster pace now. They could conceivably end tomorrow, or is it today now? Doesn't matter. Fact is, these Games are moving fast. Which makes me question what comes next. That's another part of why I can't sleep. I'm trying to come up with a gameplan for tomorrow.
I roll over to find a more comfortable position when I see Buck glancing around the room, all suspicious like. At first I just think that he's making sure we're all still alive but when he crouches beside Odin and nods in approval at his snoring, I know something is off.
I see him coming for me next so I shut my eyes and regulate my breathing. I sense him crouch beside me and then feel the air ripple as he moves on. When I reopen my eyes I see him crouched beside Fiora. I expect him to note that she's sleeping and move on, maybe to our supplies, but he doesn't.
He pulls a rag out of his pocket and then throws it over her face. She wakes up and tries to struggle but the rag keeps her silent and she's too weak from infection to break free.
I watch in surprise as Buck smothers the life out of our leader. I don't understand. We had gone over this, all three of us. If Fiora showed any sign of turning into a zombie we were to end her immediately. But she hadn't and now Buck is finishing her off regardless. Fiora stiffens and Buck rises, hurriedly going back to his position by the doorway. A few moments later, Fiora's cannon goes off. Boom!
"What in Odin's name!"
The blast wakes Odin and he looks around in bewilderment. Buck comes jogging over and then I "wake up" too. It's not long before Odin notices Fiora is dead. Buck contributes this to the infection but I know better.
"Guess she couldn't hold off until morning," Buck grunts and Odin mutters an agreement. My silence isn't noticed, after all, I'm always silent. I don't know how to feel about this turn of events. On one hand, there's now one less competitor for me. On the other, I don't know how much I can trust Buck, or even Odin for that matter. Only one person can become Victor and with the dwindling numbers we may not keep each other around for long.
Eventually, we clear out for Fiora's body to be collected. When that's done I volunteer for watch and no one argues. As they ready for bed I hold my sword close, wondering what will come with the morning. One thing is for sure; Everyone is out for themselves and alliances are meant to be broken.
Day 6/ Finale
Banette Tsukomogami (District 8)
With the arrival of the morning sun comes a decision. The three of us, Aisha (8), Shuppet (3), and myself, have already collected and distributed a variety of gasoline around the arena before the sun even rose. We were careful enough to drench anything flammable that appeared in an area likely to be traversed by a tribute. But that wasn't the decision we had to make.
Aisha and I have very conflicting ideas on how to handle this day. We both know it will be the last but that's where our agreement ends. She wishes for us to go hunt Raven (11) down and have her join our alliance as we go confront the others. Basically, she wants us to beef up our alliance. Well, I mean to split it.
Not like backstabbing my allies, no. But by literally splitting up as we all go and get the attention of the other tributes and then lead them into our traps where, hopefully, they will face a fiery demise.
"I don't want us to split!" Aisha argues for what has to be the fifteenth time. "Who knows if we would ever meet up again? Face it Banette. With the Careers out hunting, odds are we'd get picked off one by one" I see her logic there. But I don't think I can agree. My plan will only work if we appear to be loners. Who would go chasing after a group of tributes?
"You can either go with my plan or not. I don't care. But I'm doing what I want and that's final!" We glare at each other, having reached a statement. Shuppet awkwardly shuffles between us, obviously unsure of what he wishes to do. I can feel the precious seconds slipping away as we sit here. Any moment the Careers could find us and we'll be toast.
"Okay, how about this?" Shuppet decides to play peacemaker. "We split up. But Aisha can go find Raven while Banette and I rile up the Careers. Sound fair?"
My honest answer is no. I have no desire to let another ally in our group, not when I know that the two I already have need to die. Yes, even Shuppet. I...I don't think I could ever be the one to end him. Nor could I ever watch someone--or something--do so. But I realize that the possibility of us both surviving this is exactly 0%. Maybe that's why I'm suggesting we split up. Maybe subconsciously I'm making it so that I won't be around when he goes...
What am I thinking?! Of course that's not why. I'm just doing what makes the most sense for our prospects of survival. I look up and notice the others watching me. Waiting for my response. I quickly nod, agreeing to the plan that I really disagree with. "Sure thing," I tell him. "That sounds fine."
Aisha bids us goodbye, taking the machete she received from our sponsors today with as she runs off into the grayness of the city. Shuppet stands beside my shoulder. "Looks like our future is twice as bright"
I nod slowly as I watch Aisha disappear into the horizon. "And half as long"
I turn and give my best friend a hug and then the two of us are running off into the city, both headed in opposite directions.
Buck Rockwell (District 6)
I blink my eyes open. Odin (14), who was meant to be on watch, is nowhere in sight and Luigi (2) is lying in the corner of the room, fast asleep. Now is my time to get outta here.
I get up and slither to the doorway, where I peek out the glass window. Odin is hunched over in the middle of the street, unwrapping some silver parachutes. Very carefully, I open the door and step out into the street. I shiver slightly in the cold morning wind and slowly walk the opposite way of Odin.
I'm deserting. I have no further need for these allies of mine and sticking around with them could be bad for my health. I suspect Luigi of already knowing that I had a hand in Fiora's death. I would like to slit his throat before leaving but I couldn't count on it being noiseless and the chance it would alert Odin, who had the perfect opportunity to keep me bottled in the grocery store. Well, I'm out now and everything has gone smoothly...
The door swings open with none of the grace or silence that I used. I spin around, Odin doing the same, and see Luigi stepping out into the street, the bags containing our supplies drapped over his shoulders.
We all stare at each other. The same thought has to be going through all of our heads. All three of us were planning on deserting. An awkward silence and then...
I chuck my spear at Luigi but he ducks in a alarming show of alacrity. The spear heads for Odin but he easily deflects it with his shield and then swings his sword at Luigi. The two of them begin to duel it out as I watch from the outskirts, holding my own sword at the ready. So this is it? Our battle to the death? Only one of us will survive this battle. The other two will go down swinging.
Luigi leaps backwards and nearly blunders into me. I aim a thrust for his skull but he swiftly parries it and dances around as Odin slashes his sword at me. I block most of his blade with my own but a glancing blow is dealt to my forearm. A long thin, red line appears and then quickly blurs as it bleeds. Damn!
I dive to the right as Luigi brings a two handed swing down onto Odin's shield. I step back and watch the two battle. Luigi is quicker but Odin has that spiked shield that gives him not only a huge defensive bonus but an offensive thrusting weapon. I'm opting to wait this out. Let one of them kill the other. Then, when he's least expecting it, I will strike the winner down.
The end is coming soon, I think, when Odin stows his sword in his belt and slides his spear off of his back, giving him an even longer reach. Luigi receives a kick to the gut and falls. Odin raises his spear for the fatality and I ready myself to jump him from behind...
The ground gives a tremendous shake. Odin stumbles backwards and I trip to the concrete ground. The entire world seems to be moving as I lie on the ground, too terrified to stand. The buildings shake and quake, the light posts rattle and then I see the top of the tall building we've been fighting under break apart.
Luigi gets up and runs as large blocks of concrete come smashing into the ground between us. Large clouds of dust shoot out, enveloping me as shards of rock blast past, tearing against my jacket. The world is still shaking and I fear that everything will be destroyed when finally, it stops.
I don't look up. I keep my hands over my head, my eyes shut tight. I can still feel the dust billowing past me. Hear the groaning of the rocks as they slide from the pile. Not until I am certain that the shaking won't start up again do I look up.
Half of the street is completely destroyed. Crushed under piles of rock and building. The tall office complex that use to loom over us does so no longer. The top half has completely fallen away, probably crushing the other nearby streets. I see no sign of Odin or Luigi but I doubt that either of them are dead. I didn't hear a cannon after all. What I do see half of my spear, the one I sent hurtling towards Luigi, lying beneath a huge chunk of metal. But it's crushed too tightly underneath for me to pull it out. Eh. I don't need it anyways. I still have plenty of weapons on me. Still...
The street blocked by the debris is completely intravaserable, no way I could find a safe way through that wreckage. Guess that means I should head the other way, deeper into the city. I smile as I think of the seven other tributes awaiting me there. None of them have the strength I possess nor the great desire for victory. I can't lose. Not when I know that my brother Joshua will be smiling all smugly knowing that his stupid plan of rigging the Reaping worked. That he effectively killed me. No. I want to beat that jerks face in! But first, I have to win.
I head off down the non-destroyed street, ready to kick some ass and end the 398th Hunger Games once and for all.
Raven Night (District 11)
I crawl out of the pipe and look down both sides of the city streets. The dark buildings loom over me and I take a shuddering breath as I think of all the other tributes running around out there. I have no hope of killing them. My only chance of survival is out surviving them. I turn to head down the street when I see her.
I squeal in shock as the girl with the long dark hair, the one from District 8, approaches me. I fearfully take a step back but the girl makes no move to attack me. "You don't have to fear me," she says gently, stowing her machete into her boot holster. "I'm not here to hurt you. I just want ally with you."
"You won't hurt me?" I ask.
"I won't hurt you."
"Not even if I refuse to ally with you?" She purses her lips. I expect her to change her mind right away but she doesn't. I hurry to explain. "I don't want to see anymore allies die. I don't want to see anyone die. I've already seen enough for a lifetime."
The girl uncomfortably shifts her weight between her feet. "Are you sure? Our best chance of living is by sticking together..."
"I'm sure," My insides are churning as we speak. At any moment she could decide that she needs me dead and I'd find myself with a machete in the heart. But maybe she not like the others. Maybe she knows that I'm no threat to her. "I'm really sorry. But...you can have this," I throw Radiant's sword at her feet. "I can't use it anyway."
"Thank...you," She picks the sword up and stares at the blade with a look of sadness in her eyes. I wonder why. She looks back up at me and shakes her head. "I guess finding you was pointless?"
"No. It wasn't. You got the sword and...there's a mutt out there. A large one. It looks like a big ugly lizard man and it silently stalks you. Don't bother fighting. You can't win." My words hang in the air. I don't know if they mean anything to the girl but they make a chill go down my spin just thinking that the Annihilator is out there somewhere. Hunting someone. Already that beast has killed Crimson and Nikki and I've become almost certain that it also was what killed Radiant.
"They'll expect me to kill you, you know," She says quietly and I look up in alarm. Has she decided that I'm better off dead? "Everyone will. The Capital, the Gamemakers, Colin's dad...they all expect me to kill you." Images flash across my mind. Her lifting the sword, slashing towards me, my body lying in a pool of blood... "But I won't!" The girl shakes her head fiercely. "I'm not going to kill you." She turns and stalks down the road. I'm shocked, surprised by that sudden outburst.
"Where are you going?" I call after her. She doesn't even turn around to answer.
"I'm finding my allies!"
"I...thank you!" She doesn't look back. I watch her as she disappears from sight and then head the opposite way. I try hiding on the side of the road, by the derelict cars and overturned trash cans. That's when the ground gives another ominous rumble.
I'm thrown to the ground as everything begins to shake violently. Bricks and debris fall from the buildings around me as their roots shake and quiver. I hug myself to a lamppost and hold on for dear life as the shaking continues. A support from one of the nearby buildings give out and I squeak in terror as a large chunk of building slams down crushing a car only twenty feet away. Then, just as quickly as it started, the shaking stops.
I breath hard as I loosen my grip on the post. My knuckles are pale white and my palms are sweating like crazy. That quake was even longer than the last one! I stumble to my feet, wiping the dust from my eyes. I have a feeling that this is only the beginning...
Shuppet Jorravaskr (District 3)
I don't know what that shaking is leading up to but I know that I need to find another tribute and lead them into our trap quickly. That's much easier said than done though.
Another rumble strikes while I'm running. I stumble but manage to stay on my feet. A street light comes crashing down and sparks fly as it smashes into the road. I shield myself and back off as a slab of concrete falls from a building and crushes the roof of a smaller one. Is the entire city coming down? Maybe I should just try and regroup with Aisha (8). She should have found Raven by now... I turn to head back the way I came.
And that's when I see him.
He's watching me with a completely expressionless face. His hands each hold a weapon, one a sword, the other a dagger. Luigi (2) has found me. I take a tentative step backwards when his blank face is replaced with a glare of death. I turn and run.
I hear his feet pounding as he takes off in pursuit. I leap over the fallen streetlight and risk a look over my shoulder. His dagger is flying straight for me and during my effort to duck it, I trip. I hit the ground hard but I waste no time. I quickly scramble back to my feet as Luigi (2) closes the gap between us.
I can hear the pounding of my heart in my ears as I run. I need to get to one of our trapped locations. There! The gas station! I'm only thirty yards away! I just need to get there before Luigi catches up and stuffs me like a Christmas goose.
Another quake strikes the city. The shaking ground imbalances me and I fall forward, sliding across the pavement. Luigi is still standing but swaying unsteadily as the world shakes. Behind him, a buildings supports give out and it begins to collapse, crashing into another nearby building and bringing it to the ground, creating a massive cloud of dust and debris. Then...the shaking stops.I look at Luigi. He looks at me.
I get up and run for the gas station.
I blast through the door, my hands frantically try to pull the makeshift Molotov cocktail from my jacket pocket as I cross to the far side of the room. The stack of gasoline soaked rags lie near the entrance, the highly flammable substance pooling on the floor. I free the bottle just as Luigi smashes through the door, his glaring moustached face staring right at me. I smile. He's standing right in the gas! I wind up to throw the cocktail and fry myself some Luigi when another short, violent, rumble strikes and I lose my grip on the bottle. It clatters on the floor and begins to roll, coming to a stop right between me and Luigi.
"You have to be joking!"
Luigi charges me, brandishing his sword. My trident meets his weapon. His blade catches between the tips of mine and I twist to rip the weapon out from his grasp. Being weaponless doesn't faze him in the slightest and he charges me, picking me up and slammed straight into a display case of canned foods.
I grunt in pain as metal cans dig painfully into my back. Luigi's hands quickly wrap themselves around my throat and he begins to squeeze when I grab a fallen can and use it to clock him in the side of the head. He loosens his grip and I kick him off with my feet.
He falls back into the pile of oily rags. I bound to my feet and dive across the linoleum floor, my hands wrap around the Molotov cocktail just as Luigi gets back onto his feet. He picks up his sword and approaches me, ready for the kill.
Well, it's not happening!
I throw the Molotov right at his chest. Drenched in gas from the rags he goes up in flames immediately. His flaming form thrashes around the room and I crawl away from him. He doesn't even shout or scream as the flames eat away at his flesh, only thrashing around like a captured eel. Finally, he falls backwards into a pyramid of energy drinks, the flames having conquered him at last.
I overlooked one thing though. The gasoline I poured over the rags has spread across the room and already the walls are catching fire. I run for the back door as the fire reaches the ceiling and smoke begins to cloud the room. I cough violently and pick up my trident before stumbling as a portion of the ceiling collapses, nearly crushing me. Dammit! I spin around desperately looking for a way out as the flames encroach towards me. Both doors are now surrounded by flames and there is no visible way out. Boom!
Except for the window.
I pull my jacket over my head and plunge through the glass. I hit the ground hard but my jacket protects me from the shattering glass. Haha! I survived! What a blast! I pull the jacket off of my head, grinning as the gas station burns. I really oughta get away before the flames reach the pumps...
Behind me, in the middle of the street avenue, sits a massive pack of mutts. I recognize them as tributes, or at least undead versions of them. It's all of them, or just about. Amore, Juline, Crimson...All of them. Even Johnathan. Johnathan...His mutt is by far the largest of them all.
He leads the pack as they approach me. I back off, knowing that I have no feasible way of defeating these mutts. But there's no way of escaping from them now either. Johnathan snarls and gets closer. Several more mutts follow suit and I pull up my trident, ready for a final battle.
A bottle comes flying from nowhere, crashing into the center of the mutts. The erupting flames engulf half of the mutts and their harrowing screams echo through the city. One of the mutts, the one of the District 13 boy, charges for me and in the confusion I forget to pull my weapon up to defend myself. But he defends me.
A needle sinks into the mutts neck and it lets out a scream as it dies. "You sure have a lot of fans," Banette (8) remarks as he removes the weapon. I can't see his mouth but I know he's smiling.
"About time you showed up," I tell him and then there's no more time for talk as the remaining mutts are upon us. Banette fights with his needles and me with my trident. We slice and dice the mutts, working as a team. I take out two more mutts, the pair from District 12, and then plunge my trident into the chest of Fiora.
I hear Banette's shout and see him slashing as several mutts surround him. His needled hand sinks into Angel's neck and then another one lunges forward and bites into his arm.
"Banette!" We both scream. Me in horror and him in pain. I frantically struggle to pull my trident out from the girls chest as Banette stumbles backwards. Straight into Johnathan's arms. "NO!" My scream does nothing to prevent the mutt from sinking it's teeth into Banette's shoulder as another bites his leg. I free my weapon and slash it across the leg-biter and then whip it straight into Johnathan's skull.
My friend sinks to the ground, writhing and moaning in pain. I quickly look around to make sure all of the mutts have been vanquished and when I see they are I crouch down beside my friend. Large splotches of flesh have been ripped from multiple parts of his body and already his eyes are turning a feverish bright yellow. "Banette! Please stay with me!"
"Kinda...late for that...don't you think?" His words are slow and slurred. "I...think...I've been infected..."
"No! You're not! You will be fine!" I desperately look around for something, anything, that could help my friend. I don't find anything. I don't think there's anything I can do... "Please Banette! You can pull through this!" A sob breaks into my voice as I realize there's nothing I can do for my friend. Nothing anyone could do.
"Shuppet....win this...for me....and Johnathan...the real Johnathan." Banette uses a trembling hand to lower his bandanna and a faint smile touches his lips. "You can do it. I...know you can..."
"But..." My words trail off. Tears fall from my face and splash onto my hands. "Okay. I will. I...promise."
"Can you...do another thing for me?"
"Of course. What is it?"
"Kill me. I...don't want to turn into...one of those things...Please. Let me die as me." A deep shuddering breath racks his body and a hint of green has started spreading along his skin, emanating from the bite marks. I know that he doesn't have much longer left. I wipe the tears from my face and gently take the needle from Banette's shaking fingers. He nods at me as I hold it with trembling hands. I recall words I spoke to him earlier. "Half as bright"
He smiles at me. "Twice as long"
I bring the needle down into his heart. He gives one shuddering shake and then goes still. All of the emotion inside of me, that I have been trying to hold in, comes pouring out and I break down and sob. He didn't deserve this. But I know what I have to do now. I gently lie his head down on the pavement as his cannon goes off. Boom!
I collect his needles, my trident, and his bandanna, which I tie around my own face. And then, I salute his body. I will win these Games. For him. For Clarissa.
The hovercraft that has just finished picking up Luigi's charred skeleton comes to collect his. I watch with sadness and then I turn and walk into the city where the other tributes await.
I will win this.
I will not be stopped.
And everyone better get the hell out of my way.
Aisha Hakeem (District 8)
Two cannons have already sounded. Two deaths. Only five more to go before someone is crowned Victor. I trot through the city, trying my absolute best to avoid being crushed by any falling buildings or debris. Already several buildings have collapsed, completely blocking some roads. I notice that most of those roads where the ones that lead out from the city.
I'm worried. The plan I had crafted for the day has already been thrown out of whack. Raven (11) wasn't suppose to decline my invitation. Banette (8) and Shuppet (3) weren't suppose to separate from me. I was suppose to have a contingent of allies with me right now.
But I don't.
I don't know where Banette and Shuppet are right now. It's possible that they're both dead. If that is the case then there's three Careers out there, Raven, myself and...I think around for a bit before remembering his name. Solar. That's who could be left, though, it really might have been anyone who died...
Another tremor rocks the earth and I sway in place as a sign board comes crashing down from one of the taller buildings. This city is tearing itself apart and I have no doubt that eventually everything will be destroyed. Everything, except the place the Gamemakers wish to hold the finale.
I don't know where that would be. Probably somewhere in the center of the city. I look at the rusty sword Raven gave me; the only thing I received from that exchange other then a piece of information on a supposedly unstoppable mutt, and think about how she will fare now, without any allies. Not well, I'd imagine. I wouldn't be surprised if she had already died...
The tremor stops. I know I had originally set out away from Raven to find Banette and Shuppet but that's not in my best interest right now. I need to get to the centre of the city. If they're smart--and alive--they'd be heading there right now too. Along with every other tribute. I anticipate that getting to the center won't be easy.
Solar Energy (District 0)
I tie the rope around the door handle, effectively penning me in and preventing any unwanted access. I step back and sit down. Two cannons have sounded. Two tributes are dead. Good. I hope several more of those cannons go off before I have to leave this sanctuary.
The floor heaves violently and I'm thrown forward into the end of a table. I smash my head hard and go rolling to the ground as everything around me shakes. A bookcase comes loose and starts falling right towards me. I roll out of the way just as it crashes into the floorboards, sending books flying every which way. I struggle to my feet and look in horror at all of the collapsing bookshelves. I will be crushed if I stay here!
I'm running for the hatch to the roof when a part of the ceiling caves in, passing only a breadth away from my head. I lunge for the now open ceiling and pull myself out onto the roof. The world is still shaking and I'm fearful of losing my balance and tumbling to my death as I traverse the perilous roof. When I reach the edge of the roof I jump straight off into a pile of garbage bags below. I throw a fearful look around and move into the street.
I have the horrible feeling of being watched. The quaking has subsided for now and I'm running down the street with my spear at the ready. I'm anticipating both a mutt and tribute attack at any moment. I have to stay completely on guard--
Something moves in the alley to my right. I hoist my spear, ready to throw, when a small voice shouts out. "Stop! I mean you no harm!"
It takes all the willpower I have not to just throw the spear and vanquish the unknown speaker. There's a slight pause and then a small girl steps out of the alley. Raven. The girl who was allied with Crimson when the Annihilator attacked. "What do you want?" I demand and she looks taken back.
"I--Nothing! I just was following you! Making sure you were safe..." She trails off and I frown. That makes no sense. Especially here, during what very well could be the final day. I suspect an ulterior motive but I don't know what she could want beyond me being dead.
"It's a bit sketchy to assume you wish me no harm," I tell her calmly. "Not when everyone else is gunning for my head."
"But I don't want to hurt you! I don't want to hurt anyone!" There is some proof to her claim. She did try to protect me and Nikki when we attacked Crimson. But can I really trust her? When the Games are so close to the end? And, if necessary, could I bring myself to end her life? I don't think I could.
"Then go," I reply. "Go hide and hope that you don't die a painful death." My words may sound cruel but it's for her best. I don't think she sees it that way though. Her face drops and I feel slightly bad when a low buzzing sound fills my ears. Confused, I spin around and see three very large insects descending from the skies. I know these mutts. I recognize them from the book I found in the library.
"Get down!" I screech at Raven and one of the large bugs swoops down towards me before the rest. It pays for its efficiently, my spear going clean through it's pulsating lower half. I hear Raven scream and dive to the ground as the other two Buzzers fly around our heads.
A razor sharp claw cleaves past my head as I rip my spear from the body of the dead mutt. The steel tip is covered in a green goop. The Buzzer comes zooming back down towards my head and I duck as it aims another claw at me. "Solar!" Raven tries to get back to her feet but the second Buzzer swoops down and a claw slashes across her shoulder, she screams and falls down, holding her now bleeding shoulder.
"Stay down!" I scream at her and then I slash my spear at the Buzzers but they're flying around so quickly my weapon can't hit them. One of them comes at me again and I hold my weapon up. It impales itself. The steel of my spear piercing right through its maw. But while this was going on the third Buzzer hung back and hovers in the air in front of me. It lifts it's tail into the air and inexplicably fires it off.
The stinger flies across the air towards me. My weapon is stuck in the body of the second Buzzer and there's nothing going to prevent the stinger from hitting me straight in the chest.
Raven Night (District 11)
I see the stinger heading right for Solar (0) and without even thinking, the knife leaves my hand, zooming through the air and slicing right into the stinger, knocking it off of its trajectory.
Solar flinches as he expects the stinger to dig into his chest. But it never does. He blinks in confusion and then he reacts. He pulls his spear from the Buzzer's corpse and then sends it flying straight into the body of its friend. The insect makes the most horrible screeching noise as it drops to the ground, where it shakes uncontrollably until finally going still.
Panting heavily, Solar turns to look at me. "Where'd you get the knife?"
"From you. It slipped from your belt while you were fighting." He nods slowly and goes to pick his weapons up. I follow him, sidestepping the gooping bodies of the mutts. Everything is silent now. A stark contrast to the screeching, buzzing sounds of the previous few minutes. Solar slides the knife into his belt and then looks at me. His eyes show concern but also gratitude.
"Well. Uh. Thanks I guess..." He pulls his spear out of the dead buzzer and I grimace at the amount of green hoop that oozes out. "You can...stay with me now."
I quickly thank him, beaming happily at the news. I don't have to wander the city by myself! I have another friend! He ducks his head shyly and then mutters something I don't hear. "Where we're you heading before I arrived?" I ask him.
"Nowhere special. Just wandering. Why?"
I shrug. "Just wanted to know where we will be going now." He nods and then just walks off without another word. I follow behind, getting the distinct feeling he doesn't have good social skills. Not that I'm an expert in that field. As we walk a few more quakes happen. I'm not that frightened by them anymore and nothing much happens near us, though we can see several skyscrapers coming down in the distance. A bell rings out shortly but then fades away with the sounds of destruction as the quakes stop.
"The bell tower..." Solar mutters to himself.
"What?" I stop beside him, unable to comprehend what he meant.
"The bell tower! They're trying to make us go to the bell tower!" He's visibly excited now and is practically bouncing. "The quakes! The falling buildings! They're all signs for us to head for the bell tower!" He's right. It just dawns on me at that moment. Solar bounds ahead, eager to be on his way. He turns a corner and that's when several large claws rip through his stomach.
I scream in terror as he gasps, falling to the ground, gushing blood. Behind him stands the Annihilator.
It's just as terrifying as I remember, it's huge claws and fangs, it's blood red eyes, it's ferocious roar...which it omits right now as it stares at me. My throat goes dry as I think of how it killed Radiant, Crimson, Nikki, and Solar...
And now it's coming for me.
I take off as fast as my legs will carry me. I hear the Annhilator give a roar and then it lurches after me. I fear my heart will give out and I will die before it even reaches me as my pounding feet shoot down the street. I don't risk looking back. I don't want to see that thing ever again.
I'm going to die. I know I am. I cannot escape this beast. I'm doomed to die here. That's when I see my only hope. A pipe jutting out of a pile of rubble, like the one I hid in earlier. I can hide in there! Crawl to the other side!
I hear the ground shaking as the Annhilator gives pursuit, feel the wind move as it reaches out for me, and then I dive into the pipe.
I hit my head on the roof of the tunnel but I don't care. I don't look back as the Annihilator gives a fierce roar as I enter the pipe. I just crawl. Crawl through the dank smelly pipe as I fear the beast that still may kill me. I don't know how long I crawl before I exit the pipe and reach the other side. I stare at the giant rubble of a building and wonder whether the Annhilator will go through or around it. I don't care! I turn and run but before I get anywhere I run right into him.
I bounce off his legs and hit the ground but I scramble right back to my feet. I'm not frightened. The Annhilator is much scarier. Odin (14) peers down at me then let's out a booming laugh. "And what have I here?"
"The Annhilator is coming! It's a large lizard-man thing and it will kill us both if we don't go!" He stares at me in a curious way and then laughs again.
"Of course! I believe you!"
"Yes! I believe you wholeheartedly. There is a giant creature out there, I have no doubt. But that doesn't solve this next issue."
"What issue?" What issue could possibly be more demanding then fleeing for our lives from an unstoppable beast? Odin stares at me with that curious look again and then smiles.
"The issue of you having to die. Only one person survives. And that will be I!"
I don't even have time to scream before his sword slices into my head.
Odin Amarth (District 14)
My sword slices through the girls head like butter. She drops to the ground and lay there unmoving, her death having come swiftly. Pitiful girl, believing that I would help her flee from some beast. Odin's chosen one does not flee from anything! Boom!
A thunderous roar of magnificent magnitude echoes through the city and then the pile of rubble seems to blow up before me as a gigantic green scaled creature bursts into the street. It roars again and then it's red eyes focus on me. I wave nonchalantly at it. That is a beast of legend! "I challenge thee! You have met your match! Odin Amarth will slay you!"
The beast roars and then I throw my spear and charge. The Annhilator simply dodges the spear but that was what I intended to happen. I slash my sword for the creatures chest but it slashes back with its own claws. There's tremendous force behind those claws and my sword is sent spinning out of my grasp. My plan did not fully fail though, as the spikes of my shield pierce into the beast's hard scales.
It howls in fury and dashes backwards. It rips the shield from my hold and its scales and then flings it across the street. Green liquid oozes down from where my spikes impaled. That is good. If it bleeds, I can kill it.
I'm down several weapons though and the Annhilator is now enraged. It staggers backwards and I am amazed. Has it decided to flee? Has it bowed to the might of Odin? No. It's claws dig into a large concrete block and hoists the immensely heavy object over its head. "Gorlog's beard!"
It heaves the block at me. It travels with astounding speed and I dive to the right as the block smashes into the ground where I previously stood.
Stuff, lots of stuff, flies past me as I look around bewildered. Then, through the thin cloud of dust, the Annhilator charges me. There's no time to avoid it. The beasts claws wrap around my throat and I'm lifted into the air. My spear drops from my hands, which travel to try and pry the fist from wrapping around my throat. But to no avail.
The Annihilator lifts me up to eye level and its blood red eyes stare into mine. Hot air blows from its nostril holes as it seems to glare me. I feel I have reached the end of my rope when I recall the items I received from my sponsors. I smile and force words out from ny choking throat. "You're big....but ugly!" I pull my gloved hands up and with the shining knife, I stab into the Annhilator's eye.
It bellows in pain and anger, dropping me to the ground as it stumbles backwards howling in rage. I'm gasping for air as I climb back to my feet and pick up my spear. I am not that easy to kill!
The beast turns back towards me. A bloody mess sits where it's right eye use to be but the left one burns with a tremendous fury. I smile as it slowly begins walking towards me, it's claws clenched at its side. "Well beast? Are you ready for round two?"
In answer, it lets out a thunderous roar and descends upon me.
Buck Rockwell (District 6)
The rumbling ground stops once more as I step into the cornucopia clearing and look up at the bell tower that looms over the city. That's where we suppose to go, huh? Figures. The Capital loves dramatic finishes. Wouldn't surprise me one one bit if they desire the final battle to be up on the top. That would be just like them.
The sudden sound of a cannon startled me. Seems as if another tribute has died. How many is that now? Four? Guess that would mean only four tributes are left now, including myself. I wonder who they are? Turns out, I don't have to wonder for long. At least not for one of them.
He comes marching down main street. The hood of his jacket thrown over his head and a bandanna covering his face. Banette has arrived. I stretch my arms and then jog out into the center if the street clearing, where he can easily see me. I have a bone to pick with him. "Where's your little friend?" I demand as he comes to a stop about ten feet away. He keeps his head down and his hands clench a metallic trident. "Did he die? Who killed him? I'd like to send them some flowers!"
His head raises and in shock I note that it's not Banette but Shuppet! I twirl around, expecting some sort of sneak attack but none comes. Frowning, I turn back to Shuppet and see the seething fury in his eyes. A small smile crosses my face as I realize that the bigger threat of the two is gone. "So Banette bought the farm, did he? That's a shame. I was hoping to end him myself!"
Shuppet's (3) golden eyes shine from behind his bandanna, harbouring a dark fury. Good. An angry opponent will make for a fun fight. "So what happened to him? Was he ripped apart by starving mutts? Speared in his stupid face?" I pause. "Killed by Odin or Luigi?"
"You should ask Luigi yourself!" The boy snarls fiercely and I can tell from the look in his eyes what he means.
"Killed him, huh? How? What did you do?"
"Nothing much. We just had a little barbeque." I'm not a genius but I don't have to be to figure that one out. Luigi has gone up in flames has he? No skin off my back. He was one of my biggest threats. Killing him was just doing me a favour!
"Let's just end this, shall we?" I pretend to off a handshake and then swing my sword. The boy is expecting this however and his trident slaps my blade away. He starts a furious assault filled with swings and stabs. I can barely stave the blows off as I blunder backwards, thoroughly taken back by his ferocity. I backpedal into the cornucopia wall when I slip a machete out and go at him with two blades. I gain ground as he falls back, my new approach too much for him.
One of my weapons grazes his shoulder and he lets out a yelp of pain, dropping to one knee. I ready for a deathblow when he suddenly throws a needle from nowhere. The small projectile sinks into my left forearm and I shout in pain, dropping my machete as I rip the needle from my skin. It bleeds I know It's not fatal. Shuppet's barrage of attacks, however, can be very fatal.
I desperately try to fend off his attacks but a stray blow gets past my defences and I take a hit to the head with a blunt edge of the trident. The world seems to shake as I fall. Everything appears to be moving. I didn't think the blow was that serious...Wait.
Shuppet stumbles and waves his arms around, trying to keep balance. I'm confused. What is he doing? That's when I realize its not the blow to the head. The ground is really shaking. The quakes have returned. The ground gives one last violent shake and then stops. But not before Shuppet misplaces his feet and tumbles to the ground. That's when I take my new advantage.
I spring to my feet and deliver a savage kick to Shuppet's ribs as he attempts to stand. I stomp on his wrist, forcing him to let go of his trident and as he screams in pain but it stops when I press my boot against his throat. "You think you know how this will end, right?" I snarl as I press down against his neck. His golden eyes swivel to mine and I can see the hatred there, his passion to end me. But he can't do anything under my boot. "You think you'll win? Be saved by some miraculous stroke of luck while I give one last monologue? Just like in a story?" I let out a short laugh as he stares daggers at me. "Well guess what? This isn't a story!"
I stomp my boot down onto his throat. I hear a violent popping noise and then the boy goes limp, his hands slide off of my feet, and his eyes stop moving. He's gone.
I give his body a few kicks to be sure and then nod in approval. Good. He's dead. No one is going to miss him. At least not in this arena. I wipe my bleeding arm and then gather my weapons. As I pick up my machete, my hand brushes a small square of concrete. I frown and then absentmindly tuck it into my left breast pocket of my jacket and look up. The bell tower. That's where the Gamemakers want me. That's where I'll go. Only two other tributes still breathe and I'm going to be waiting for them at the top of that tower.
Aisha Hakeem (District 8)
It's reached the point where I have to write off the prospect of meeting up with Banette (8) and Shuppet (3). Three more cannons have sounded. Three more deaths. There's not many people left in the arena and odds are that the three I was on good terms with-Banette, Shuppet, and Raven- are dead. I only have myself to rely on now and really, hasn't that always been the case? Sure I had allies, but none of them were people I could rely upon. I have to finish this alone. For better or worse.
The streets are empty as I make my way through them. I can see the center of the city approaching and it will only be moments before I arrive. And then what? Fight the other two survivors? I have no idea whose left or what supplies they have. For all I know I could be headed for a trap. But, it really doesn't matter at this point. I have to press on. There's nowhere else to go. I see the clearing getting closer and I'm about to reach the edge when the wall beside me explodes.
I'm thrown to the ground, landing awkwardly on my side. I've avoided hitting my head on the concrete though and am able to stand and see what happened. I wish I didn't.
A beast stands before me. Undoubtedly the creature Raven had described. Standing well over eight feet tall and covered in hard scales. It's claws are sharp, they glint in the early afternoon light, and it has one red eye. The other is disfigured and oozing a green substance but most haunting of all is what the creature is holding. A head. A human head.
I recognize Odin's face and recoil from the ghastly sight. The creature doesn't move as it takes me in, measuring me up. What was it that Raven said? That it was unstoppable? If that's true...then I'm done for.
The Annihilator let's out a roar. I run.
I don't get very far before heading something whooshing through the air and then something slams into the center of my back, driving me to the ground. My hands scrap against the cement and my palms are cut open. That's the least of my worries right now though. I turn myself over and see that I was knocked over by Odin's head. The Annihilator had thrown his head at me.
It roars again and I crawl backwards as it slowly approaches. The quakes begin again and the nearby buildings shake and rumble. One to my left loses a support pillar and it lurches perilously to the side. I keep crawling away, terrified that if I got up and ran the beast would run after me. The quakes continue. The lurching building shudders and its shadow flickers ominously over the street.
That's when I get an idea.
My hand closes around a nearby decent sized rock. The Annhilator is still slowly approaching and is now in the middle of the street. I will only have one shot at this. One shot at saving my skin...
The Annhilator takes another step forward. I beam the rock towards the lurching building. It hits the edge and then ricochets across the building before bouncing off and skidding across the street.
My chest tightens. That was my last and only chance. My death is ensured now. The Annhilator knows this too, as it turns to me and appears to have a ghoulish grin. "I'm sorry Colin...please forgive me..." I shut my eyes tight and begin praying as I know my time has come. At least I gave my best. I have proven my worth. I have--
Another violent rumble shakes the ground and my eyes shoot open just in time to see the lurching building fall forward. The Annihilator gives a horrendous howl just as the tons of concrete pour onto it. I have no words as the terrifying beast is buried beneath a mountain of steel and concrete. It tries to fight but this isn't something you can fight. Finally the landslide of debris ends. The Annhilator is buried out of sight. "I...how..." I don't have words for how thankful I am. I sit there for a moment, breathing heavily as I contemplate how I just survived then I turn and go jogging for the bell tower. That's where this will all end. That's where the others are waiting for me.
I'm frightened but also relieved. I've made it to the finale. Even if I don't survive at least Colin's dad will know that I was worthy. That I was good enough. And Colin...he will know I did my best. He has seen what I have gone through for him. Even if I fail I know I succeeded.
But I have no intention of failing. I will go into that tower, I will kill the others if necessary and I will win.
Solar Energy (District 0)
I know who I'm up against. I saw both Buck (6) and Aisha (8) enter the tower. I saw the state that both of them were in. I know that beating them will be difficult. But I also know that I should be dead right now.
If I had grabbed a different backpack during the bloodbath, any other backpack, I would be being shipped back to District 0 right now. Instant Relief. Such a small item but so very powerful. I was lying on the cold cement, feeling my life drain away after having a gigantic pair of claws rip through me, when I injected myself with the liquid and just like that my wounds began to heal. I was basically brought back from the brink of death.
Healed, I followed Raven and watched her get murdered by Odin. In turn, I watched as the Annhilator murdered him. He put up a valiant effort, managing to take one of the creatures eyes out, but in the end the beast was too much for him and he succumbed as it torn his head off.
Now here I am, standing before the bell tower in the whipping wind as the city collapses behind me, knowing full well what awaits me. Two tributes are in there. Two tributes who are bent on killing me for their own survival. The question is "Am I ready?"
No. I don't think I would ever ready for what has to come next. But I have no choice. I either enter that tower or sit here and wait for the Gamemakers to end me somehow. I would rather face almost certain death over completely certain death. So I enter the tower, cautious of the noise made by the opening door. There's a large main room with nothing inside except for a winding staircase that leads up. Are you up there? I silently ask as I stare up the sinister staircase. Waiting for me to come blundering into your trap?
I begin my journey up. The wooden stairs creak and groan underneath my weight and I know that I won't have much chance of a surprise attack. No matter. They know I'm coming anyways.
I arrive at the first landing. Many boxes and crates litter the floor but I see no sign of another person. Where are they? Hiding? Or further up? There are many floors in this tower...
I continue up the stairs, my worry further increasing as I pass floors two through five without even a hint of another living organism. Have I somehow wound up in the wrong tower? Or are they both at the very top, fighting? I know they're not dead, I would have heard a cannon if that was the case..
I turn to head up the next flight of stairs when a large dark figure comes leaping down at me. It crashes into me and we both go tumbling to the ground. Long dark hair whips past my face and as I clamber to my feet I see Aisha (8) staring at me with a cold expression. I found another tribute. Or rather, she found me.
She comes swinging with a machete and I dive over a nearby crate. My mind is buzzing. I had let my guard down for a second and now look what happened...
Aisha comes over the crate and I climb back over to the other side. It's a childish tactic but one that gives me room to work with. I try to wiggle my spear into a thrusting position but Aisha comes diving at me, using the crate as a launching pad. Her machete slashes into the thick center of the spear and as she readies to strike again it I shove her back. She trips over the crate falls to the ground I I drive the spear towards her but she rolls out of the way and my spear tip sinks into the wooden floor.
Aisha is back on her feet and takes a swing at me with the machete, forcing me to let go of the spear and dance out of the way. My hand then brushes against something soft and without thinking I pick up the bag and throw it at her.
White flour explodes into the air and Aisha stumbles back, coughing. I don't attack. Instead I turn and bound up the staircase to the next floor. When I reach the top I turn and look down the twisting stairs. My weapon...my spear. It's still down there, embedded in the floor. I can feel my heart racing as I twirl and look around the large room filled with an assortment of crates and bags and other miscellaneous items. This was my first fight, my first real fight and I performed horribly. I lost the only weapon I had any skill in and now Aisha will be bounding up those steps in seconds, ready to kill me...
A clattering noise alerts me to a pipe that I brush with my feet. I pick it up and as I press myself against the wall to the side of staircase I see that my body is shaking uncontrollably. I don't want to die...I don't want to die...
I can hear Aisha's feet pounding on the stairs and know that within seconds she will appear on the landing beside me, unaware that I am hiding to the side...I adjust my sweaty grip on the pipe and then she's here. I don't waste a moment, popping out and swinging the pipe.
It connects with the center of her skull and she falls to the ground with a shout. I swing again and again. Beating away at her head as adrenaline completely takes over. I bash away and after the first few swings she stops moving but I don't stop. The fear and desperation that s built up inside me is unleashed in this moment and I keep swinging until blood splatters into my eye and I back off.
Aisha's head is gone. In its place is a bloody egg, cracked wide open with the gray yolk spilling out...
I turn and vomit. I empty my stomach as I realize that I did this. That I was the one who just brutally murdered that girl. I'm a monster. Blood soaks my hands and I try to fiercely wipe them away on my jacket. But no matter how much I scrub, the blood remains.
I lean back against the wall and stare at my hands. My fault...that girl. She probably had people back home hoping and praying for her return...And I killed her. No. Not just killed. I brutally smashed her skull open. What kind of person does that? A voice in my head tries to reason with me, tells me that it was in self-defence. And maybe it was, originally. But I just kept going. Beating away at her like she was a monstrosity... Boom!
A cannon confirms that she's dead. That it's now just down to two. I blankly turn to look at the staircase. Buck is at the top of the tower, undoubtedly. Waiting for me. Despite my guilt I must keep going. I didn't come this far to die now. Might as well have blown myself up at the bloodbath then...No. I must keep fighting.
I get up and take the machete from Aisha's hands. I whisper a quite apology and then begin my journey up the remaining stairs. Heading for the final showdown at the top.
Buck Rockwell (District 6)
I'm leaning against the railing on the roof, the giant bell hanging over my head and the cold wind blowing past, when he arrives. Solar. He looks ragged. His face and arms covered in dry blood. Huh. Must just finished killing third place. I uncross my arms and take a step forward. "I knew it would be you," I lie. Honestly, I was expecting Odin to come up those stairs. Heck, I would have even expected Aisha over this kid. Not that I need to admit that. "You did good to get this far. But this is where your journey ends."
"I will fight to the end," he says softly, so softly that I can barely hear him over the wind.
"I kinda expected that," I say and pull my sword from my belt as I take in my surroundings. Rule one of fighting. Know your environment. The rooftop is large, at least ten feet horizontally and vertically. The bell sits overhead, hanging on a thick chain attached to a veranda. Four large wooden pillars rest in each corner, holding up the veranda. "But really, it doesn't matter how hard you fight because you're gonna lose."
I watch his eyes as they begin to notice the same things mine did. This kid is pretty smart. But smarts only take you so far. Eventually there will come a time when you're just gonna have to beat the snot out of someone. And that time is now. "We gonna fight or what?"
His eyes dart back to me. "If you wish!" He pulls back his arm and flings his machete at me with all his force. I'm shocked at seeing such a rash move and I'm slow to react. Slow enough that the weapons blade rakes across my shoulder. I don't have time to register to searing pain before the boy plows into me, tackling me to the ground.
His fists begin to beat at my face and I frantically shove him off. He lands on his feet with cat-like agility and unclips a knife from his belt. I keep a close eye on him as I get back onto my own feet. My face feels terrible and my lip is bleeding. "Nice try kid!" I growl as I snatch my sword back up. "But all you've managed to do is piss me off!"
Solar Energy (District 0)
Buck is furious. I cannot see the anger in his eyes he lurches towards me with his deadly sword. I circle around the veranda, trying to keep ample distance between us. That's the crux of my problem. His long reach. My desperate machete throw was really my best shot at surviving but since I missed...
Buck lunges for me and I dart out of the way. His sword smacks into one of the pillars. The wood cracks and splinters and he howls in fury as he rips his weapon free and slashes wildly towards me again. I dance out of the way and back to the far side of the veranda. "Stop fleeing and fight you coward!" He roars at me as I deftly avoid another one of his swings. "You can't win by running!"
He's right. I can't dodge him forever. Sooner or later I will mistime it and then...
Buck charges me with his sword pointed forward. I sidestep and it plunges into another pillar, splitting the wood apart as the blade is wedged in tight. I see my chance and bring my knife towards his neck. But he was expecting this. I realize that this was his plan all along when he spins around and catches my wrist. With his right hand he twists my wrist backwards as he lands a vicious punch to my gut with his left. I fall and he stands over me with a triumphant smile. "You have good instincts," he tells me as he pulls two machetes from his belt. "But your fighting inexperience did you in. Don't feel too bad though. You lost to a worthy opponent."
I spot my machete, the one I thrown at the start of the battle, right beside my left hand. I see the bell, l hanging over both of our heads and a plan forms. Buck doesn't notice though. He's still speaking about whatever he was going with. This is my opportunity. My hand grabs the machete and with all the strength I can muster from the floor, I throw it.
Not at Buck though. I throw it over his head, at the bell. It hits the metallic casing and then the bell goes off, ringing wildly. Buck shouts in alarm and his hands go to his ears as he stumbles backwards. I'm on my feet, brandishing my knife as I leap towards him and sink the blade into his heart.
Or so I thought.
The knife deflects off for no explainable reason. The tip chips as it bounces off. I stare at the weapon in utter confusion. I don't understand what just happened. Then, through my peripheral vision, I see Buck slash his machete. I feel cold steel slice across my throat and then I'm falling to the ground. My hands try to stem the blood as it rushes out, cutting off my air and choking me. I try to think but I can't. I can only feel the rushing blood and see the encroaching darkness. I see Buck, standing over my body pumping his hands in the air in celebration. Then the darkness envelopes me.
Buck Rockwell (District 6)
A cannon goes off. Solar (0) stiffens and I can't hold in my ecstasy. I cheer wildly and pump my fists in the air.
I did it! I won!
I laugh like a maniac as I stumble around the rooftop. The bell has stopped ringing. There is only silence. I drop my machetes and feel my left breast pocket. Something hard and square is there and I pull it out. The tiny block of concrete. The one I picked up after killing Shuppet.
Well, well, well. This tiny block saved my life. Warding off Solar's knife and giving me the opportune moment to strike back. I throw a glance at the boy's body. He's as silent now as he was when alive. I see a large clear platform rising from the ground, it stops right beside the veranda and I'm certain that it's meant for me. I hop the railing and step on. The moment I do, trumpets sound.
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I give to you, the Victor of the 398th Annual Hunger Games, Buck Rockwell from District 6!" I shout in joy and...I don't know. Go crazy I guess. Screaming joyously like a maniac, shouting to everyone that is listening, and that's all of Panem, that I proved I'm stronger than anyone. And telling Joshua that I survived. Ha! I can't wait to see his pathetic face when I come home! And I will be coming home. Because I won.
I'm the Victor.
Buck Rockwell (Victor)
I splash cold water on my face and then wipe it down with a extra soft white towel and turn off the faucet. It's good to be Victor.
The ultra fancy-pants bathroom seems to shine as I walk through it. It takes awhile to reach one end because of the sheer size. It's much larger than any bathroom I had used when I was a mere tribute. I exit into my lofty waiting room and walk across the plush snow white carpet to the wide window that looks out on the Capitol.
Night has fallen and already the neon lights are flickering on and the roads are filled with traffic as the citizens attempt to get into the amphitheatre where the Victors Interview will be held. My interview.
The sound of footsteps alert me to an approaching person and I turn to face the double-wide doors. I'm expecting an Avox to come and tell me that my stylist wishes to see me but that's not the case. The doors are thrown open and several large men in black body armor enter the room and then tum to face each other in an organized line as a new person walks between them. He doesn't look like you'd expect, dressed in a plain red polo shirt and black slacks. His brown hair is rather messy and his eyes shine with a amused light. President Stryker is here. "It is an honor to see you, Mister President," I say dipping my head respectfully but he waves his hand.
"Stop with the formalities. I hate those. Just call me Stryker." I nod and agree as he snaps his fingers and the six soldiers depart, shutting the door behind them. While they may be trying to appear gone, I'm betting they're just inches from that door, waiting for Stryker's call. "Do you know why I'm here?" He asks as he drops himself into a black leather armchair. He looks so strange as President. He's only a few years older than me!
"Uh. No. Not really. I thought you were going to congratulate me."
"Bingo!" He snaps his fingers as a delighted grin spreads across his face. "That is exactly why I'm here! Congratulations on being the first Victor of my reign as President!" I thank him and he nods quite happily. "You'll also be the first Victor I get to have a personal relationship with. So, I thought we'd get to know each other better. How do you like being Victor?"
My earlier misgivings vanish as we talk. This guy is pretty cool. He's just like any other young guy. Likes similar things, like sports and video games. I don't know why people fear him. Eventually, he asks about my family and I'm reluctant to speak. So he does.
"My parents are dead of course," he says with shake of his head. "Killed by those murderous rebels. But I have siblings. Two, in fact. An older brother, Noctis, he's on the Capital Council. Didn't want to be President so that task passed to me. And a sister, Rosalie." Rosalie? That name is similar to my sister's name, Rosalina. I think Stryker sees something on my face as his eyes glint strangely. "What about your siblings Buck? Rosalina and Joshua?" I'm a little taken back that he would know that but then brush it off. He's the President. Of course he knows about the Victors family. It's his job.
"They're...nice. I like them." I don't mention Joshua and how he rigged the Reaping. Stryker smiles.
"I think I have a pleasant surprise for you. Stryke Force!" He snaps his fingers and two of the soldiers come back into the room. But this time they're not alone. Dragging along with them, a large red self across his face, is Joshua!
I turn to Stryker in shock and he laughs. "Nice surprise, am I right?" He makes a hand motion for the soldier and he nods curtly before grabbing one of Joshua's fingers and jerking it back.
My brother screams as his finger is broken and I don't know what to say my brother who tormented for so long lies at my feet, sobbing and beaten. "What do you say Buck?" Stryker asks me with a grin. "I count nine more fingers. Shall we break them?" I open and close my mouth several times but no words come out. "Oh please. Don't tell me you feel bad for brute!" He throws his head back in disdain. "You're Buck Rockwell. The violent all-conquering Victor of the Hunger Games. Surely you don't want to disappoint your fans in the Capitol? So I'll ask again...shall we break a few more?"
Everyone looks to me for an answer. Stryker, the guards, and Joshua. I stare into his dark pleading eyes and am reminded of how he rigged the Reaping, tried to kill me. He doesn't deserve my compassion. I nod at the guards. "Do it."
The guard pulls another finger back and as Joshua howls in pain I can't help but gloat. "How does it feel now Joshua?" I sneer at him. "Now that I'm the strong one? Now you cry at my feet!" I shoot my foot out and kick him in the face. He doesn't cry or shout and just falls. I wave my hand dismissively. "Get him out here. I don't want to see him!"
The guards don't move. Instead, one reaches into his belt and removes a pistol. He looks at Stryker and after getting an affirmative points it at Joshua's head.
"No! What are you doing?!" I rip the gun from his grasp. He doesn't resist and let's me take it easily. I throw challenging look at Stryker. "I don't want you to kill him!"
"And why ever not?" He spreads his arms out in question. "How long has he tormented you? Far too long! He doesn't deserve your mercy!"
"No. He doesn't. But that's why I'm giving it to him. I'm not going to kill him!" I throw a look at Joshua and he weakly raises his head. His eyes find mine.
"Th-thank you...Buck...I regretted rigging the Reaping....after seeing how much it hurt our parents and Rosalina...." My mouth goes dry. He's...sorry? I never expected him to say that. Even if he didn't mean it. I never thought Joshua would apologize to me...
"This is making me sick!" Stryker rips the gun from my loose fingers and before I can even shout he points it at Joshua's head and pulls the trigger.
Blood flies. Joshua falls. The pure white carpet stains and I fall back into my chair in shock. I make croaking noises but no words. I can't believe what I just witnessed. Stryker dismisses the guards and they drag Joshua's body out of the with them. After the doors shut there's silence and then Stryker speaks. "What's the matter? Worried about the carpet? Don't be. We have very good cleaners. The stain will be gone before you know it."
"You...." I feel myself shaking. "I told you that I DIDN'T WANT HIM KILLED!" I feel like jumping him. Like beating the living hell out of him. Like I would do in the arena. But I can't. This isn't the arena and he's President.
"Oh?" Stryker fixes me with a look as he stows the gun in his belt. "And you presume that I have to listen to you, do you?"
"You...you asked me--"
"I asked you so that you would make the right decision. The decision fearless Buck Rockwell should have made. The one the Capitol's citizens expected you to make. And next time, you will make that decision. Understand?"
I don't answer. I fix him with a glare and try to control the urge to bash his head into the side of that coffee table. I stare at the table now and try not to think of what just happened...
"And besides...that boy. Joshua, right? Well, Joshua rigged the Reaping. And that is a federal offense. The penalty for such offense is death. He had to die either way." I don't answer him. Conflicting feelings arise in me when I think of Joshua. I hated him but...he was my brother. I didn't want to see him die. "You shouldn't tell anyone about that though," Stryker continued. "Because if the knowledge of the rigging fully came out...Well, people could claim that you weren't rightfully apart of these Games and that you should never have won. We don't want that happening though, do we?" It's a veiled threat. I don't know if it's even a valid one but a threat it is. I opt to remain silent and keep focusing in the edge of the table. Finally Stryker follows my gaze.
"What's that?" Stryker crosses over to the table and picks a thick envelope off of it. He asks me what it is again and I shrug. How the hell would I know?! This is his stupid dominion! He opens the envelope with a small pocket-knife and slides out a letter, which he reads. At first he's chuckling but then his face begins to darken and then the lights go out.
"Roman!" He begins to scream frantically. Even in the dark I can see his face turn red with rage. The door bursts open and one of the soldiers comes in, holding two flashlights and setting one down on the table.
"The power appears to be out, sir. Technicians are working on it. They think a transformer blew--"
"It wasn't a transformer!" Stryker screams. "Get me Banner! I want the security footage of this room! Identify everyone who came in! Got it?!" Roman hurries out as Stryker begins to breathe heavily. He sets the letter down. I stare at him, wondering what in the world could have worked him up so much. What was in that letter? Stryker sees me watching him and appears about to say something when Roman comes back, his face set in serious frown.
"All security cameras have been wiped. Even the ones on the personal server. There's no footage of the past week."
"Get me Banner!"
"He's dead, sir. He had his throat slit--"
Stryker roars in anger and pushes past him, storming out of the room. Roman follows him and then I'm alone. I peer out the window. There's no light except from the moon. The neon lights I had seen earlier have all gone out. The people are running around the streets in a pandemonium. I throw another look at the letter, sitting so innocently on the table and pick it up along with the flashlight. In the darkness of the room I begin to read.
You don't know us.
But we know you.
We know all about not only you but all of Panem. For too long we have watched the Capitol wreck it's tyranny on the innocent citizens of Panem. For too long we have sat on the sidelines.
That changes tonight.
Tonight the power will turn off throughout the Capitol the moment you finish reading this letter. You won't be able to get it back on until the morrow. By then the Victor's interview will have to be postponed.
This is just a fraction of what we're capable of. Our strength grows daily. Soon you will face the brunt of it.
You don't have to fear us, President Stryker. But you do have to respect us.
Because we are Those Who Don't Exist.
And we're coming for you.
My eyelids force themselves open and there's nothing but white. I can sense a soft light emanating nearby and briefly wonder if I'm dead. However, when I attempt to move and pain sears through my muscles I know I'm very much alive.
But where am I?
White. Everything is white. I try to move my arm but only my fingers twitch, brushing against something soft and downy. A blanket? Am I in a bed? I run my fingers over the smooth linen and am vaguely reminded of a hospital...
Movement is gradually restored to my body and with great effort I sit up. I know see why everything looked white. I'm in a small room and the ceiling, the walls, the floor. Everything is white. Even the bed I'm lying on. I squeeze my eyes shut as I try to remember what happened to me, where I am now. But none of my memories make any sense as to how I would have wound up here...
A soft clicking noise alerts me to the opening door. I hadn't noticed it because it's white and blends in perfectly with the wall. Through the door steps a person. A woman who looks to be in her late twenties and wearing a nurse's outfit approaches. I shrink back into my bed instinctively and she smiles. "Don't worry. I'm not here to hurt you."
"Where am I?" I demand. Fear is rising in my chest as my mind finally begins to work properly. The hospital like atmosphere, the confusion, my own memories. This can only be one place. I'm in the Capitol. "What do you want from me?! You're going to torture aren't you! Well I'm not telling you a thing!" The woman smiles and then speaks like she's addressing a confused child.
"You're not in the Capitol. Trust me you're quite safe here." Not...not in the Capitol? I blink rapidly and look around the small colourless room again, as if that would somehow help. Not in the Capitol?
"Then where am I?" I ask in a very small voice. "And- and where's--"
"Your friend is safe," The woman sits down on the edge of the bed. "He's just waking up, like you. You've been out for days. I told them the amount they gave you was too potent. But they didn't listen. They never do." Her words, they begin to make things clear up. Ideas form in my head and I'm thinking that maybe, just maybe, I'm not as clueless as I first thought.
"Where are we?" I ask and when she raises her eyebrows in question I elaborate. "Where in Panem are we?"
She laughs lightly and pats me on the head. "We're not in Panem silly! President Stryker has that on lockdown. No. We're not in Panem and we're lucky for that."
"But-but there's nothing outside of Panem!" I protest immediately. "It's just a barren waste!"
The woman smiles syly. "And who told you that?"
"The Capitol..." I trail off. Of course. Of course they would lie to us. Why did I ever believe them to begin with? Of course there's more than just Panem left in the world...
"Yes, there's more places left in this world. But you'll learn more about that in good time," She lifts my arm up and for the first time I see the IV tube connected to the crook of my elbow. She gently detatches it and then it retracts into the bed. There's some amazing technology here. Technology that rivals even the Capitol.
"Palutena!" The door that the nurse came through opens again and another person, a man this time, pokes his head into the room. He has shaggy dark brown hair and rather pale skin. I'd figure he was at least in his thirties. "Palutena," He addresses the nurse. "King has informed me that the Seer would like to speak with our guests. You're to get this one ready." Just as quickly as he came, he leaves. Shutting the door behind him. I stare in bewilderment at the door then turn to Palutena.
"What's going on? What are we doing?"
She smiles, her blue eyes sparkling as she stands up. "You, my dear, will be getting dressed." She places her hand flat on the wall and then I can see a faint cerulean light spread along it before it opens up, revealing a wooden trunk. Palutena pulls some clothes out of the trunk and then throws it to me. I catch the clothes and then stare at them. These...these are just like the clothes I have back home. But that's not feasible. Palutena sees me staring. "We paid your home a little visit. Before they did." I don't need to wonder who "they" are.
As I quickly get changed into these new clothes-- or should I say old?--Palutena walks to the door, opens it, and waits for me. "Come on. We have to get going. You have a big day ahead of you...Aelia."
|Place||Tribute||Day Killed||Killed By||Killed From|
|32nd||Lucinda Kidd (5)||1||Trevor Gold (1)||Slashed throat|
|31st||Nick Maclachlan (7)||1||Luigi Wilkins (2)||Sword in chest|
|30th||Scarlet Avalon (4)||1||Angel Orthodox (14)||Knife in skull|
|29th||Cleopatra Royalty (10)||1||Johnathan Mikeal (5)||Neck snapped|
|28th||Avia Stafford (2)||1||Fiora Waltz (7)||Sword in chest|
|27th||Zoey Proasheck (13)||1||Aisha Hakeem (8)||Knife in stomach|
|26th||Sombra Celesta (3)||1||Drago Fire (12)||Burnt alive|
|25th||Aemillia Wonder (C)||2||Nick-Mutt||Teeth in neck|
|24th||Furcifer Soror (C)||2||Buck Rockwell (6)||Spear in back|
|23rd||Trevor Gold (1)||2||Celica Rotas (12)||Arrow in heart|
|22nd||Trinity Mace (1)||3||Nikki Heart (4)||Crushed|
|21st||Juline Cenia (9)||3||Aelia Freedome (0)||Burnt alive|
|20th||Lyman Milton (9)||3||Fiora Waltz (7)||Sword in back|
|19th||Amore Madness (6)||4||Odin Amarth (14)||Spear in stomach|
|18th||Drago Fire (12)||4||Zombie Mutts||Torn apart|
|17th||Angel Orthodox (14)||5||Aisha Hakeem (8)||Pipe in head|
|16th||Radiant Tayz (13)||5||The Annihilator||Snapped neck|
|15th||Nikki Heart (4)||5||The Annihilator||Decapitated|
|14th||Crimson Typhoon (11)||5||The Annihilator||Pole in stomach|
|13th||Johnathan Mikeal (5)||5||Odin Amarth (14)||Sword in neck|
|12th||Celica Rotas (12)||5||Buck Rockwell (6)||Slashed chest|
|11th||Stephen Star (10)||5||Those Who Don't Exist||Needle in neck|
|10th||Aelia Freedome (0)||5||Those Who Don't Exist||Needle in neck|
|9th||Fiora Waltz (7)||5||Buck Rockwell (6)||Suffocated|
|8th||Luigi Wilkins (2)||6||Shuppet Jorravaskr (3)||Burnt alive|
|7th||Banette Tsukomogami (8)||6||Shuppet Jorravaskr (3)||Needle in heart|
|6th||Raven Night (11)||6||Odin Amarth (14)||Sword in head|
|5th||Odin Amarth (14)||6||The Annihilator||Decapitated|
|4th||Shuppet Jorravaskr (3)||6||Buck Rockwell (6)||Broken neck|
|3rd||Aisha Hakeem (8)||6||Solar Energy (0)||Pipe to head|
|2nd||Solar Energy (0)||6||Buck Rockwell (6)||Slashed throat|
|Victor||Buck Rockwell (6)||---||---||Victor!!!|