Welcome everyone to my eighth ever Hunger Games! My last games, The 398th Annual Hunger Games, are still going on but they're ending soon and that's why I'm making these now. I hope you'll join as I plan on making these Games the best I can! 


Following the 398th Annual Hunger Games the Rebellion that was stirring in the District's seemed to lose its steam and President Stryker's forces brought "peace" back to Panem. However this peace did not last long. Soon, rumours of mysterious figures lurking around the District boundaries soon began to spring up and high-ranking Capitol officials began dying off in puzzling ways. In addition, a few more eager rebels began revolting once more, further frustrating the Capitol. Despite all of these on goings President Stryker has the 399th Annual Hunger Games proceeding as planned...


1: There will be thirty-two Tributes

2: You may have up to two Tributes (number may change)

3: Each Tribute has $150 in sponsor money for their mentor (creator) to use as they see fit.

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 48 hours (In certain cases this may be extended)

7: The Capitol is a Career district in my Games

8: Tribute Form:













Bloodbath Strategy:

Alliance: (can be filled out later)


District Gender Name Age Height Weapon User
Capitol Male Iggy Coupe 15 6'1 Traps, Knives Mistfire333
Capitol Female Flame Vapore 16 5'11 Axe, Dagger Mistfire333
0 Male Fenrir Amarth 14 5'7 Sword, Warhammer Icanhasnofriends
0 Female Bailey Snowbelle 16 5'3 Sickle, Knife PumPumpumpkin
1 Male Jake Locketback 18 5'10 Spear, Bow Wikia Contributor
1 Female Anais Morrisa 16 5'9 Warhammer, Flail Pippycat
2 Male Hammer Time 18 6'9 Sword, Spear Wolfgirl23
2 Female Carmine Morrisa 16 5'9 Warhammer, Mace Pippycat
3 Male Aspen Bolts 16 6'3 Sword, Wire District3forever
3 Female Iris Pixel 15 5'3 Blowgun District3forever
4 Male Kaye Ocelote 18 5'11 Bow & Arrow, Trident PumPumpumpkin
4 Female Mizu Fall 16 5'4 Teeth, Trident mistymolla
5 Male Clark Stevens 14 5'5 Bow & Arrow TheFireJay
5 Female Missy Turner 15 5'3 Bow & Arrow, Dagger MyWorld
6 Male Julio Fall 17 5'10 Sword MyWorld
6 Female Rosalie Sonnet 15 5'4 Chakram, Shurikens FrostyFire
7 Male Henry Polyester 12 5'3 Knife Meoryou
7 Female Arbor Alpine 17 5'5 Axe Hybrid Shadow
8 Male Colin Bisset 16 6'1 Sword, Spear Aerialchinook
8 Female Kim Carett 15 5'7 Knife, Sword Meoryou
9 Male Jac Price 16 5'9 Sword TheFireJay
9 Female Azalea Finch 16 5'5 Scythe, Bow Aerialchinook
10 Male Billy McGranger 14 5'3 Whip Wolfgirl23
10 Female Fawn Talons 16 5'9 Scythe, Throwing Knives Sambaroses
11 Male Bellamy Blake 18 5'10 Spear, Sword MissRandomStuff
11 Female Octavia Blake 15 5'3 Machete, Dagger MissRandomStuff
12 Male Ganta Alomo 15 5'8 Needles WongPongSoup
12 Female Misty Honeysuckle 14 5'1 Sword, Blowgun Sambaroses
13 Male Luxio Sertralium 15 5'7 Glaive, Shurikens Tehblakdeath
13 Female Alexandrite Bohamia  14 5'11 Bow, Sword Marinalcrosse
14 Male Luxray Meganium 18 6'5 Morning Star, Shurikens Tehblakdeath
14 Female Amaya Lovelace 16 5'2 Knife, Hand-to-hand mistymolla


NOTE: These are not final and can be changed any time up to the start of the Games. 

Careers: Fenrir Amarth (0), Jake Locketback (1), Hammer Time (2), Mizu Fall (4), & Kaye Ocelote (4)

Anti-Careers: Kim Carett (8), Jac Price (9), Azalea Finch (9), Billy McGranger (10), Fawn Talons (10), Misty Honeysuckle (12), & Alexandrite Bohamia (13)

Morrisa Sisters: Anais Morrisa (1) & Carmine Morrisa (2)

District 3 Alliance: Iris Pixel (3) & Aspen Bolts (3)

District 5 Alliance: Clark Stevens (5) & Missy Turner (5)

District 7 & 8 Alliance: Henry Polyester (7) & Colin Bisset (8)

Blake Siblings: Bellamy Blake (11) & Octavia Blake (11)

District 6 & Capitol Alliance: Julio Fall (6) & Iggy Coupe (C)

District 0, 12 & 14 Alliance: Bailey Snowbelle (0), Ganta Alomo (12), & Amaya Lovelace (14)

District 13, 14, & Capitol Alliance: Luxray Meganium (14), Luxio Sertralium (13), & Flame Vapore (C)

Loners: Rosalie Sonnet (6) & Arbor Alpine (7)


Bold: Leader of the alliance

Italics: Acceptance pending

User T1 T2

Azalea Finch (9)



Anais Morrisa (1)



Jac Price (9)



Luxio Sertralium (13)



Ganta Alomo (12)



Fawn Talons



Antidote (cures poison): $150

Anti-Infection: $125

Awl: $50

Alcohol: $75

Axe: $150

Baton: $100

Battleaxe $175

Blanket: $50

Blowgun: $125

Bow: $150

Bread: $50

Burn Cream: $125

Canteen: $75

Camouflage Paints: $100

Chakram: $175

Chlorine: $75

Cookies: $25

Crossbow: $175

Crackers: $15

Dagger: $100

Darts (12): $25

Dried Meat: $75

Dried Fruit: $50

Flail: $125

Flares x3: $125

Flashlight: $100

Hammer: $125

Instant Relief: $400

Iodine: $100

Knife: $50

Knife Glove: $100

Mace: $150

Mace (Chained): $175

Machete: $125

Matches: $75

Morning Star: $175

Gasoline $100

Hatchet: $150

Needles (3): $125

Net: $75

Net Trap: $125

Night-Vision Glasses: $150

Piece of Plastic: $15

Painkillers: $75

Poison: $100

Quiver of Arrows (12): $50

Raft: $125

Rocks: $15

Rope: $25

Scythe: $150

Shield: $125

Shield (Spiked): $200

Shurikens (5): $125

Sickle: $125

Sleeping Bag: $50

Sleep Syrup: $125

Slingshot: $75

Soup: $75

Spear: $125

Spike Trap: $250

Spile: $50

Sword: $150

Throwing Axes (3): $200

Throwing Knives (3): $200

Trident: $225

Water: $100

Whip: $75

Wire: $75

Wooden Club: $100

Wooden Club (Spiked): $150


District Zero: Fenrir Amarth

I go up and then down. Up and down. The cold wind blows in my face as I pull myself up on the bar. Today is the day. Today I will take my rightful place in the Hunger Games and bring the glory that has so far eluded me to my name. 

I drop from the bar. My feet crunch in the snow below and I shake the snowflakes from my long hair. To many people this bitterly cold weather would be enough for them to pass on training and remain indoors, where they would be warm and comfortable. Pah! Weaklings! The almighty Odin would never endorse the cowardly action of hiding from the weather! My brother, who was named after the almighty Odin, knew that. He trained every day, no matter what the weather was.

My brother...

He entered the Games last year. He believed he was ready, that he could conquer the competition in the name of Odin. He fared well enough to start, defeating everyone in his path. Until the final day, where he encountered an enormous mutt that ended up defeating him in combat. 

I snort loudly as I head for the wooden fence and pull my leather jerkin off it and putting it on. Odin should have won! He was well on his way to victory before those accursed Gamemakers had the mutt go after him! But it matters naught now. It's a new year, my year. I will enter the Games and annihilate the competition. I will bring honor to my fallen brother, to my own name, to the Amarth name, and most importantly, to the Almighty Odin!

The bell rings. The annual bell that signals the approaching Reaping. My journey to the District square takes me through a dense forest. There's naught a noise beyond my footsteps upon the snow covered ground. My thoughts are fixed firmly on the upcoming Games. Truth be told, the best thing for me is for the arena to be similar to this forest. Cold and remote. None of the other tributes would be use to such a punishing environment. None of them have ever lived in it, yet alone train every day in it. All the advantages would lie with me.

I arrive at the edge of the forest and join the main path where a multitude of people trudge along wearily. Many of them are bundled in heavy clothing and move slowly. I shove myself past these stragglers and set off at a brisk pace towards the center of the District. The further in I go the more the wind dies down. The taller buildings block it off from reaching us. By the time I've reached the square it's all but gone. 

"Get over here!" A Peacekeeper calls me over and when I come he swiftly takes my blood. It does not sting even a little! The square played out before me is divided into two sections. The divider is the large fountain set up in the middle of the circular clearing. On the right side sits the group eligible to be reaped. On the left is all of the adults. I take my rightful place in the line and look up to the stage as the usual video package is played. It doesn't last long before ending and then Elsa De`Cour, District Zero's escort, is twirling onto the stage.

"Hello world!" She beams as she addresses the crowd. "Who here is ready to find out whom our tributes for the 399th Annual Hunger Games will be?" A few rambunctious kids let out whoops but it's mostly silence. I remain silent because I am going for a more serious and deadly approach. "Well, I for one am absolutely ecstatic!" She steps beside the boys bowls and as she takes a name out and begins to read I shout out that I volunteer and push my way through the crowd, jogging for the stage. I take extra care not to slip on the ice as I go. I'd look like a right fool slipping on my way up!

"And what's your name, you handsome young lad?" Elsa asks as I join her on stage, looking down upon the peasants that have gathered before us. 

"I am Fenrir Amarth! Brother of Odin Amarth and loyal warrior of the almighty Odin!" Elsa claps giddily and congratulates me on volunteering after my brother did the year before. I look down on the crowd and expect them to be staring at me in awe but instead they're just shuffling around looking decidedly...bored.

How dare they! Do they not recognise the grandeur that sits before them?! They're staring at the future Victor of the Hunger Games! I grunt loudly and turn to say something into the microphone when I see that Elsa has already moved on to the girls bowl!

"And Fenrir's District partner will be...Bailey Snowbelle!"

There's silence in the crowd. The howling wind that can't reach us echoes throughout the square and then a girl finally moves. She's bundled up in jackets and sweatshirts and I can't make out much detail until she reaches the stage where I see that she has long straight black hair and dark eyes. Though she came from the sixteen year olds line and is older then I am she's much smaller. Not much of a challenge for a warrior of Odin.

"Why hello there!" Elsa waves happily at the girl but she doesn't respond. She's too busy trying to keep a brave face. She's the finest example of someone who was called upon by Odin for a strenuous task and tries to make the best of it. In this there really isn't much room to make the best. With my strength and valor my victory is almost ensured from the start. Though I do have to remember I thought the same thing about Odin. Elsa gives up on speaking to us and turns back to the crowd with a wide smile. "District Zero please help me welcome your tributes in the 399th Annual Hunger Games, Fenrir Amarth and Bailey Snowbelle!"

The usual procedures take place as the Reaping ends. Peacekeepers take Bailey and myself to the Justice Building and after a brief talk with my mother I'm whisked to the train station and am entering into one of the most magnificent dining rooms I have ever laid eyes upon. This is almost like the hall of Odin! I sit myself down at the table and begin to pile the food that litters the table onto one platter. "This shall be our feast to commence my journey to the Capitol!" I begin to tear into a large chicken leg as Bailey sits herself down across the table. Her face is tear streaked and she must have been crying. I begin to laugh at the same time I swallow and I begin to choke and splutter. I struggle for several moments and then spit some chicken out and rub my sore throat. "Servants! Fetch me some of your finest mead!" Automatically a pair of avoxs rush off and I lean back smiling.

"We should work on your manners," Elsa says quietly and I look up to see her and Bailey watching me with disgusted looks. 

"Silence woman!" I grab another hunk of chicken and begin to tear into it as the Avox returns with a jug of mead. "You know not to who you speak! I am Fenrir Amarth! Brother of Odin the Conqueror! Warrior of Odin the Almighty!" I finish with a triumphant slam of my tankard against the table. That's when I notice that both Elsa and Bailey have gone, moving on to another train car. "Foolish women!" I mutter to myself and ravenously devour another piece of chicken as the train speeds off towards the Capitol. 

District One: Jake Locketback

My hands play with the locket around my neck as I lead my younger sister towards the District square and the richer part of District One. Everyone thinks that District One is just full of filthy rich people. That there's no starvation or suffering. That we're all well off without a care in the world. Well...

That's just not true.

My family comes from the slums of District One, on the very outskirts of the District. The area was never very well off. After all, no place can have everyone rich. There's always the poor, just whittling away as they work. But recently things have gotten even worse. During the rebellion that sprung up two years ago District One was attacked. Naturally, being the edge of the District put us right on the front lines. I can still recall the complete terror I felt as my family crowded under our set of small stairs as mortar rained down upon our homes and the very ground shook.  We held on and I actually thought we would survive without a hitch, but when the the rebellion began to die down, the unthinkable happened. My father was killed.

The rebellion then ended. The Capitol forces drove the rebels off. But my life was never the same. My mother couldn't sustain us just by herself and my sister was dangerously ill. I started doing what I could but that was difficult. All of the places that would normally hire people like me no longer were. Having either been destroyed or just filled with everyone else who was desperately searching for a job.

I couldn't just sit back and let my family starve so...I actually came into contact with some of the rebels that were apart of the rebellion and started selling them items I retrieved from the black market.  It nearly tore me apart, helping the rebels that were responsible for my father's death. But what else could I do? I had to help my family somehow and it was the only way.

I'm not proud of what I've done, what until last week I was still doing, but it helped us get by. It helped us survive. Until now. Mothers sick with a depression. She can barely work. Our funds and food are running low. We're not going to last long, not even here, in District One. The crown jewel of the Capitol.  With no other recourse I'm doing the one thing that could save us. I'm volunteering for the Hunger Games. 

"Make sure to tell Mom why I volunteered," I say to my sister as we join the line to enter the Reaping area. We're surrounded by well-fed excited people. People who don't have the risk of dying within the year. "Make sure she knows I was trying to help. Not just running away"

"Okay," She stops and frowns. I know what her question will be. She's asked this numerous times before. "But why don't you tell her?"

I sigh. Truth be told. I'm nervous. Frightened that she would fear for me. That she would try to stop me. I don't want to deal with that and I don't want to tell my sister that. "It would be better coming from you." I say simply and leave it that. We reach the top of the line. My sister is too young to be reaped so she joins a separate line and goes to find our mother, who arrived earlier. I watch as she makes her way through the crowd and then step up to get my blood taken.

"Name?" The Peacekeeper at the station asks.

"Jake Locketback." He zaps my finger and I move on, leaving behind the faint smell of aftershave. The crowd is jam packed with people. All of them talking excitedly as the officials ready the stage. Most of the kids in my line are in groups. Chattering away with gusto, taking bets on which two of the academy's top recruits will step up. I never trained at an academy. But I've see others train. I know the skills and I'm quick learner. I'll be fine. Just fine.   

The crowd falls silent as the opening video plays. It tells of how the wars against the enemies of the Capitol have improved our lives and stamped out poverty. Lies. If that were true I wouldn't be doing this right now. I could safe with my family as we watched two other volunteers take their place.  But that's not true.

The video ends, the mayor introduces our escort and she hobbles into sight wearing ridiculously high heels. "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!" Same intro as usual. She hasn't changed a bit.  She's also dressed the same, trying her best to imitate a flamingo. "I wonder..." She places her hand on her chin as if she was thinking. "Does District 1 have a Victor this year?"

"YES!" The crowd response with a rambunctious roar of approval. I try to play along but worry has begun to creep in. What will happen to my family if I don't succeed? If I die in the Games? Will they perish as well? The very thought of them starving without me makes me hesitant in volunteering...but if I don't we will all starve. 

"Well, ladies first this time!" She goes to the bowl but doesn't bother picking a name. The girls who have gone through the volunteering process all shout out and then Delilah picks one. A pretty purple haired girl who literally skips to the stage. Delilah places the microphone under her and asks for a name. 

"Anais Morrisa!" She has a sweet angelic voice and the crowd erupts into cheers. I feel my mouth go dry. Soon Delilah will ask for a male volunteer and I will have to make my decision. Stay and try to fix things here? Or compete in the Games to save my family with the endless riches?

"Well, Anais, it looks like the District loves you!" Delilah says and Anais beams happily. "Now, let's find out who will join Anais in representing District One in the 399th Annual Hunger Games!" Here it is. Delilah takes her place beside the bowl. She opens her mouth to speak. I shout before she does.

"I volunteer!"

Delilah claps giddily and points to me. I head for the stage, ignoring the whispers and dirty looks from the other boys. I go up the stairs and stand beside Delilah. "What is your name?"

"I'm Jake Locketback!"

"Jake Locketback!" She grabs my hand and presents me to the crowd. They cheer and I can't help but smiling and even waving. This goes on for a few minutes and then Delilah steps back as the mayor takes back over. 

"Hello Jake!" Anais addresses me, smiling sweetly. I'm a little taken back. I'm not use to beautiful girls speaking to me. Heck, I'm not use to any girls speaking to me! I smile back and then realize that the silence between us has gone on for too long. I look for something to say but my mind comes back blank. 


Yo? Yo?! What kind of thing is that to say! I give myself a imaginary facepalm as the Anthem that announces the end of the Reaping starts. Anais turns to face the crowd and I can't help but feel stupid now. I guess it really doesn't matter though. We're going to be competing against one another in a fight for survival soon enough.

District Two: Carmine Morrisa

I run my fingers through my long red hair, my matching red eyes watch myself in the mirror. Today is Reaping day and the moment I woke up the words I spoke to my late twin sister Anais ran through my head. If you won't volunteer when you're sixteen, I will. 

This year we both turned sixteen. And she won't be volunteering. She can't. She's not even alive anymore, in all honesty.

I finish with the mirror and exit the house, taking a seat at the bus stop. District 2 has a transit system that will take everyone to and from the Reaping square. I sit myself down and try to wait but I'm not good at waiting. I should probably have left for the Reaping earlier but my stupid alarm clock went off late. Vague memories come back as I remember that my sister Anais would normally wake me, way back when we lived with our parents in the Capitol. 

Anais and I were always fans of the Hunger Games, ever since we first saw them. We both always wanted to train but our parents refused to allow us. That didn't stop Anais, who one night came to my door and told me her plan about training ourselves in secret. I agreed to it, of course, and by the next Reaping we were ready to volunteer, only at the age of twelve. 

The bus arrives and I get up and enter. It's crowded and I have to go to the way back to find a seat. I sit down and then the rickety bus takes off. We both volunteered, but just as it appeared Anais was about to be selected she was shoved to the ground by an older girl who took to the stage and became the female tribute. Her words stung. "Children don't volunteer. Because children don't win." What stung even more, though, we as that the girl ended up becoming Victor and proving herself right. Neither of us volunteered the following year or the next few years. I don't know why Anais didn't but privately, in my own thoughts, that Victors words stuck with me. That's when Anais said she'd volunteer at sixteen and I'd promised that if she didn't, I would.

The bus travels down the streets. Through the window I can see large groups of people cheerfully making their way down the sidewalks. I'm more at peace here in District 2. Surrounded solely by like-minded people who are eager to volunteer. I'm glad I came here but at the same time that's part of the reason I lost Anais. 

Last year Anais and I had wanted to test our strength. See how strong we really were. So, under my suggestion, we stole weapons from the Training Center and broke into a Victors house. The very same victor who had taunted us. We tortured and taunted the young woman before Anais finished her off. It was a shock to me, to realize what we had done. But I shook it off. I became a daughter of darkness. And there was no going back.

Peacekeepers had been called whilst we worked and we had to run. Anais had the idea to run for District 2 and we took off. But the Peacekeepers weren't about the let us go. They captured Anais and she screamed for me not to stop, to keep going. And I did. I never looked back. That was the last time I saw Anais. I arrived at District 2 and started my life anew. The past year has been enjoyable. I've been training and making fun of people as I went. And now it's Reaping day. And my promise to Anais still holds. 

The bus comes to a rumbling halt and the people ahead of me climb out. I follow suit and step into the street. Just ahead is the Reaping stage. Sit right at the entrance way to a mountain base the stage is set up at least twenty feet above the crowds head. Several large pillars hold it up and a pair of staircases run from the end of the crowd to the front of the stage. My blood is taken and then I'm in line behind a pair of girls speaking about some sort of "inhuman monster" that lurks in the surrounding forest. I can't help but laugh at them and call them out for being babies that still believe in fairy tales. They begin to defend themselves when a hush falls over the crowd as the opening video plays. Upon its finish our escort, a man called Waco Dawls, takes to the microphone applauding the video. "What a fine video! It really makes one feel for their country!" The crowd joins in on the applause as Waco snaps his fingers and two bowls are rolled out. "As we all know, we have conjoined today to discover which two fine young people will represent District 2 in the 399th Hunger Games!" As more of the Annual speaking go on I feel myself getting antsy. Just get to the Reaping already! 

Waco does so eventually, heading for the boys bowl and before picking a name asking for volunteers. As you would expect about half of the boys in the crowd shout out and stick their hands into the air. Waco ends up picking one who towers above the others and the giant slowly shuffles up to long set of stairs.  When he gets up the cameras focus on him and I can see that he has spiked black hair and a pair of red eyes. Numerous scars mar his body and he looks like a fearsome foe. Waco asks for his name and he answers gruffly.

"Hammer Time!"

The crowd bursts into laughter and he scowls darkly as Waco asks for his real name. "That is my real name!" 

"I. Oh. Uh. Well District 2, please welcome Hammer...Time.." Hammer glares at Waco as he mumbles to himself. Hammer is brushed aside as the Reaping moves on to the second bowl. Waco asks for volunteers and I shout out just as pretty much every girl in front of me does. Waco looks us over and I get fed up with this. I'm not being passed over again! I bowl through the crowd, knocking several girls over as I make my way to the front of the crowd. "You!" Waco points at me and I grin as I run up the stairs to the stage. I'm asked for my name as I reach the top and I answer.

"Carmine Morrisa!" 

Finally! My dreams of being in the Hunger Games are being realized! The crowd cheers for me and I see that Hammer is scowling at me. Probably upset that I got cheered whilst he was laughed at. Waco repeats our names and the crowd cheers again as the closing ceremonies begin. I don't have anyone to say goodbye to at the Justice building and I'm just quickly going to the large train station and boarding the long crimson train. 

The sitting area is fancy and I sit down on a long couch that leans against the wall. Hammer sits down beside me and Waco shuts the train door and drifts off to another part of the train. I stare across the room at the large television set up and try not to focus on Hammer glaring at me. That doesn't last long. "What are you staring at you stupid pollock?" I snap and he shakes his head like a troubled moose. I continue before he can answer. "You think you're special because you're that inhuman monster everyone talks about?" That does it. His eyes widen in shock as he splutters in disbelief.

"How did you know?!"

"Well, let's see..." I pretend to think for a moment. "The inhuman monster is said to be freakishly tall. Check. It has bright red eyes. Check again. And it wears a watch made out of human flesh. Just like that one!" He lifts his wrist up and gapes at his watch.

"That doesn't prove anything!" He protests and I shake my head indignantly. For someone who's killed so many people he sure is frickin' stupid! As he falls into silence, probably wondering what I could do with this information, I turn my attention back to the television, where the District 1 Reaping is being replayed. A boy takes to the stage but when a girl volunteer joins him I nearly faint in shock.

"It's Anais!" 

Hammer stares at me in confusion as I stare silently at the screen. The escort asks for a name and then the girl gives it. Anais Morrisa. Unbelievable. Impossible. How could this be happening? Anais was captured by Peacekeepers! How in the world did she wind up in District 1? The screen goes to show something else but I keep staring in shock. Anais. Alive. A grin breaks out onto my face as I realize what this means.

We can be reunited! Daughters of darkness! Sisters insane! We are Both going into the Hunger Games together!

The grin drops. We're both going into the Hunger Games...where there is only one Victor...I look back to the screen, this time in horror. Me and Anais. Anais and I. 

One of us will have to die.

District Three: Iris Pixel

I sigh when I wake up as I know that today is Reaping day. Today two kids will be sent to their deaths in another of the Capitols show of power. As usual there will be nothing anyone can do to stop it. And even I'd you tried, all you would get is death.

Just like my parents.

I reluctantly throw my covers off and take a quick shower. I try not to think of my parents death but on today of all days that's impossible. They only ever desired peace, my parents, but the Capitol never wanted that. Despite what their propaganda may claim. 

Both were Peacekeepers, my father the head one. They didn't cruelly enforce their will on anyone. One day though, the Capitol brought in a new Peacekeeper who would "jointly" rule with my parents. The Peacekeeper brought weapons and set chains on the people of District 3. My parents were kept from me, the Peacekeeper was trying to teach them that treason or rebellion would be brought down by the death penalty. He tried to get them to follow in his suite of beating people who stole food and for just about every other offense. They didn't change and one day he asked for a meeting with the District's officials...

I climb out of the shower and get dressed. I don't bother dressing in finery like some of the other girls do. I don't want to act like the Hunger Games I anything special. Once that's done I head for the kitchen and am surprised to see a plate of eggs already laid out for me. I step into the kitchen when he wraps his arms around me in a bearhug. "You look beautiful," he whispers and I can't help but get goosebumps at his closeness. 

"You're just saying that, Aspen!" I giggle and he lets go as I turn to admire him. He's dressed in plain clothing but with his large muscular physique and handsome dark brown eyes he looks absolutely stunning to me.

"No, I'm serious Iris. I really think that. You look beautiful today."

I smile and sit down at the table where I begin to eat. He says I look beautiful every day. Not that I mind. He sits down across from me and I offer him some food but he declines, saying he had already eaten. Aspen...

He was what kept me going, when my parents where executed. For that was what happened when they went to that meeting. Nooses were tied around their necks and they were killed. That was their repayment for serving their District dutifully. I was crying in our house all alone when I first met Aspen. He just wandered into the house, covered in dry blood and grime. I knew he wasn't a threat so I shut the door and let him stay.

I cared for him in his initial days. I taught him about District 3 as he was not from here. And he helped me cope with my parents death. He helped realize that not all was lost. It didn't take long to for me to fall for him. Thankfully he shared those feelings.

Aspen always speaks but how he loves his new life. Originally, he hailed from District 2, where he lived with his father to taught him how to fight and kill. Aaron knew that was wrong though and spoke against this. I don't know much about what went down between them. Aspen doesn't like to speak much of it, though I do know his father was an angry drunkard who often beat him. When I remember how I first found him, covered in blood and dirt, I shudder to think what transpired.

"Reapings in half an hour," Aspen says casually as he washes his hands. He knows I dislike the Reaping just as much as he does. "We should get going."

I nod, scraping the last of the eggs into my mouth and stow the plate in the sink. Aspen leads the way out of the house and into the sunny street outside. The weather is much better then it was last year, when on Reaping day it was pouring buckets and we were all forced to stand in the freezer rain as our escort Lysander read off the list of all previous Victors. To get a sense of how long that was think of this: There have been 398 previous Hunger Games and several of those had multiple Victors. 

We encounter no obstacles as we approach the Reaping square. We both get our fingers zapped and then we're shuffling into line. "Hopefully no moron antagonizes him this year," A nearby boy mutters as Lysander Bilegin slowly takes to the microphone. Last year he repeated the victor naming process after a girl shouted for him to hurry up. Ironically, this girl was later Reaped and ended up dying in the bloodbath.

"Good tidings, citizens of District 3!" Lysander speaks with his nasally voice. If his personality wasn't enough to make people dislike him, his appearance is. He has blonde straw like hair, is paper thin and wears a pair of glasses perched on a long crooked nose. "Welcome to the Reaping of the 399th Annual Hunger Games! The penultimate Games before the 400th Games next year!" 

He introduces the District 3 Victors on stage, of which there are currently eight alive, including the oldest of them, Watt Chargy, who won the 327th Annual Hunger Games. After they get their round of applause he goes on to list the Victors from all Districts and the crowd let's out the usual moan of displeasure. But no one complains audibly and we all wait for him to finish, which he eventually does. "And now, for the moment you've all been waiting for, we will find out who your tributes in the 399th Annual Hunger Games will be!"

He approaches the girls bowl. I feel the heart pounding in my chest as it usually does when a name is selected. I don't know why. It's never my name. But I always fear that one time, it will be. Lysander unfolds a slip and holds it aloft. "The female tribute from District 3 who will compete in the 399th Annual Hunger Games is...Iris Pixel!"

My knees buckle and I feel myself falling backwards. Someone catches me from behind and push me back up. Lysander repeats the name as he searches the crowd for me. Slowly my legs get working again as I move for the stage. I'm climbing the stairs when I see him, Aspen, trying to push his way through the crowd towards me.

"Iris! Iris!" He shouts my name, the pain and anguish evident in his voice. I move for him but two Peacekeepers grab me by the arms and haul me onto the stage and deposit me before Lysander, who looks down at me through his glasses. 

"What a pitiful specimen. Surely you will not last past the bloodbath!" My only answer is to make a small sobbing sound as my eyes search for Aspen. My eyes finally meet his and I see the tears sliding out and my pain is redoubled. I remember my promise to never leave him. That promise will now be broken. 

Lysander heads for the next bowl and plucks a name out. "The male tribute from District 3 who will compete in the 399th Annual Hunger Games is...Aspen Boltsl!"

That does it. As I see the shock register on Aspen's face I feel myself getting faint. I sway on my feet and then stumble backwards. Lysander throws me a curious look and I speak slowly. "I...think I'm going to faint."

And then I feel myself falling as I black out.

District Four: Mizu Fall

I sit on the edge of the curb, watching as everyone in the District crowds down onto the beach. Today is the start of the Hunger Games season. Reaping day. I'm going to be volunteering, but the reason is far more complex then those of normal kids. Normal kids, who aren't monsters that tear people apart.

I don't know why it happens. Or what triggers it. But every now and then, I'll completely snap. Turning into a monstrous person who will kill anyone in its way. It started years ago, when I came down from upstairs. Then an explosion of pain ripped through me and then my body started moving without input from my brain and...nothing. I blacked out and woke up in the closet, tied up for unknown reasons. I was in their for about an hour when the door opened and my mom peeked in fearfully. Her arm was bandaged heavily and I could see it had been torn open. She asked me if I had "recovered" and, confused, I said yes. She warily untied me and when we entered the main hall I smelt blood and spotted an unrecognisable mess of blood and guts. "That's your father. You killed him" My mom said emotionless. That's when I noticed that I, myself was covered in blood. I had killed my dad and attacked my mom.

I ran away, not knowing what had happened to me but knowing I couldn't risk staying with my mom anymore. It was too dangerous. I eventually found myself on a coast, a beach similar to the one I'm sitting at now. The cascading waves of blue brought me peace and I believed that my life could return to normal.

I was wrong

I met a boy and he took me back to his town, an offshoot of the District. I felt the warning pains coming back but I ignored them. I feel in love with the boy over time but day...I woke up to discover myself killing him. I was mortified, terrified, but yet he lived long enough to say he didn't blame me. Then he died. 

I discovered that the village was full of bodies and I knew that it was all my doing. I had faint recollections of doing the deeds and I nearly died from guilt. After that, I ran away again. I didn't interact with anyone but I soon learned that people thought that the village destruction was caused by mutts. Two years passed, and then, just yesterday, I went back to visit my mother and I asked about my horrible transformation. She told me that back when I was born that the Capitol and President Dolan Stryker had paid them money to experiment on me. Apparently all they achieved was making my personality split.  Making me capable of turning into a monstrosity that would hurt the District and inspire fear in them. I left my mother, for the first time knowing my own origins. That's when I decided to volunteer.

I want to win and get the chance to speak with President Stryker, to have him get my old life back or face the consequences. There is a problem with that though.

President Dolan Stryker died two years ago in the rebellion. Now his son, Leopold Stryker, is president. He's only nineteen. A year older than I am. He was only a baby when I was born and the experiments started. He might not even know about it. So how am I suppose to have him fix me? I don't know. I'll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now I have a Games to win.

I join the crowd heading for the beach and pray that my transformation doesn't kick in. That would be bad. Very bad. I look at the ground, ignoring everyone else as my finger is zapped and I join the line. I don't pay attention and wait for the moment I can volunteer...

"I volunteer!"


I'm selected. The escort, Karis Aeris, has picked me and I very carefully ascend the stage. What would happen if I were to transform right now? In front of all of Panem? Next to all these people? Would I kill them all? Or would I be gunned down by the myriad of Peacekeepers? I don't want to find out. Karis shakes my hand and I realize I'm sweating profusely. Please don't change. Please don't change. "What is your name?" Karis asks cheerfully.

"Mi...Mizu...Mizu Fall," I realize I'm stuttering. What must everyone watching think? The sponsors? I pull myself together and try again. "I'm Mizu Fall."

Karis nods thoughtfully. "Well Mizu, let's see who your District partner is!" Soon enough, I'm joined on stage by a tall handsome dark haired boy. He has a charming smile and I have no doubt he will gain many sponsors. When Karis asks his name he responds with: "Kaye Ocelote!" And then the girls in the crowd go wild cheering for him. 

When Karis lines us up together I can't help but feel inferior. Kaye is strong, good-looking, and undoubtedly talented. While I'm...none of those things. That's not true. A small voice in my head speaks. You've killed many times before. You're a natural. Everyone else is just a poser...

I feel myself shaking. I am a killer. But I don't want to be. I just want to be normal. But being normal won't help me in the Hunger Games. No. The only thing that will me there is being a cold-hearted killer.

And that's what I am. 

District Five: Missy Turner

OMG! Totally forgot today was Reaping day! LOL! Betta get going!

I finish my message and quickly send it off. All of my fans on Capititer will be all over this. I smile and slide my phone back into my pocket. I didn't really forget that today was Reaping day. Well, okay, maybe I did. But only in the morning, when I first woke up. That was awhile ago though. Like, twenty minutes ago! 

"Missy! Are you ready?" I hear my mother calling me from down the staircase and I come prancing down. She and father are waiting beside the door, dressed in their finery. I examine myself in the large mirror set up at the base of the stairs. 

I'm wearing my usual clothing. A nice dress that some might call old-fashioned but I know that everything that was old once must be new again sometime! It's a pleasant teal color, which goes well with my pink socks and matching teal socks. "You look lovely Missy!" My father tells me and I smile as I pull my phone back out and quickly snap a picture of myself in the mirror.  Me looking lovely in my Reaping day clothing! I attatch the photo to the message and send it off to Capititer and my many fans.

"You two both look good too!" I tell my parents with a smile. They thank me and then we all walk out the house down the driveway and climb into our car. District 5 is one of the more urban and wealthy of the Districts and as we pass interesting landmarks I take pictures. I'm sure everyone will agree that these are interesting! 

We park our vehicle in one of the many Peacekeeper enforced parking lots around the main factory where the Reaping will be held. My parents lead the way as we exit the car. I wrinkle my nose at the acidic smell from the nearby factories. Thick dark smoke that billows from the large smokestacks are obviously the cause. Peacekeepers lead the way but when I try to snap a quick picture of them they wave their hands and yell at me to put the camera away. "It's a phone!" I huff as I lower it. Unbeknownst to them I quickly send the blurry photo off with a message before putting it in my bag. OMG! Peacekeepers so rude! Yelled at me for using a "camera"

There's no more mishaps after that. We arrive at the gates to the factory grounds and my parents hug me goodbye as they pass through to the adult section of the audience. I join the line to get my blood taken and as I do I run into two of my friends, Sierra and Ciera. "Hiya!" I wave happily and they greet me.

"I saw your message!" Sierra says.

"What kind of jerks where those Peacekeepers?" Ciera pouts.

"Like, total party poopers! It was just a picture!" We talk about this as the plan progresses and after they get their blood taken from us we move onto the fifteen year-olds line. We move up past some other people until we reach the front, where we have a nice view of the stage. 

"Hello District 5!" Maxwell Ibrahim our escort of just two years now, says as he takes over for the mayor. "As per usual, I will be selecting two slips from these bowls and two names will be written on these slips. The two names I call will be the two chosen tributes for the 399th Annual Hunger Games!" He stops for applause. There's not any so I applaud for him, feeling bad that he looks so awkward up there. He smiles gratefully at me and continues. "Now let's get to seeing who our tributes will be!" Another stop for applause. None comes. He looks around awkwardly then just goes to one of the bowls and goes through the motion of a dramatic name selecting. "And your male tribute is...Clark Stevens!"

A boy comes from the audience. He's a year younger then I am and has mostly blue hair but with black in the front. He sticks his hands in his pockets and just mills around on stage like he doesn't know what to do. Maxwell congratulates him but he only gives a curt nod and I quickly send off a message on my phone about how I feel bad for the boy who just got Reaped when Maxwell reads the name of the girl tribute and I freeze immediately.

"Missy Turner!"

M-me? I slowly look up. Both Sierra and Ciera are staring at me with gaping mouths. Me? Maxwell repeats the name and then Sierra gives me a gentle tap on the shoulder.

"It's you! You were Reaped!"

"I-I know that!" I skirt around the edge of the stage, to the staircase. I can feel my legs shaking and hope no one notices. Maxwell offers a hand and I shake it. People in the crowd give out a few disappointed groans and I give them a brave smile. 

"Missy Turner and Clark Stevens!" Maxwell repeats our names and the crowd offers a few claps before the Reaping ends and a group of Peacekeepers lead us down the stage and march us through the factory to the large office complex at the top. They put me in a almost empty room and I go across to a brown armchair and try not to cry as I sit down.

The Hunger Games...

I never thought they were that bad before. The Capitol seems to love them and they always brought extra commerce and food to the District of the Victor. I never thought it could be a terrible thing. Until now. When I know I'm about to die!

I feebly take a few pictures of the room with my phone, knowing that my fans would want to see what it looks like. I just finish when the door opens and a Peacekeeper ushers my parents in. They head straight for me and wrap their arms around me in a hug. I cry into their shoulders and they tell me that I can still live. "You're bright, resourceful," My father tells me. "You know how to keep yourself alive. You can so this!" We spend the rest of our time just hugging and saying what could possibly be our final words to one another. Then all too soon the Peacekeepers come back and take them away. 

Several different friends come to visit me next. I try to put on a brave face for all of them and act unfazed until one mentions how I will change. "What do you mean?" I ask confused.

"Oh you know! The Games change people! You'll probably end up turning into some brutal killer or something. Maybe you'll go insane. Who knows?" 

They leave soon after that exchange but their words stick with me. What if I do change? Become something I'm not? Or would that just be the real me? Does it take extreme circumstances to draw out ones true self? My mind buzzes over this even as the Peacekeepers come to take me to the train station. Cameras are everywhere, focused on my and Clark's faces. I try to wave and act happy but my hearts not in it. I'm glad when the train doors slide shut and we're out of sight.

"I'm so excited!" Maxwell practices bounces around the room. It doesn't look like anything special. Just two rows of seats against each wall. "I just know we have a Victor this year!" I sit myself down beside Clark. I don't know if I'll change in the Games but I know I want to survive. And the best way to do that is get myself some allies. Clark seems like a nice enough gut. Might as well start with him. "Its going to be Missy!"

"Huh?" I look at Maxwell in confusion.

"You're going to be the Victor!" He waggles a stubby finger at me. "You're just like the late great Missy Randos!"

"How do you figure that?" Clark asks, voicing my own thoughts.

"Well, they both have the same name for starters! But that's not all! They both were fifteen at the time of their Games, they're both from right here in District 5, and they both had purple in their hair!" He points giddily at the bow in my hair and laughs like a madman. "What's your preferred weapon?" He suddenly asks, taking me back.

"I. Uh. A bow?"

"Ah ha! Another similarity!" He dances around like a loon. I'm getting frightened now at this. Does he expect me to win? Just because of some random parallels? Will the rest of the Capitol think that way? 

"What about me?" Clark asks with eager shining eyes. "How will I do?" Maxwell examines him and frowns.

"You'll do decent. Probably die halfway through. But you'll be a good utility player! Oh! Look at the time! I should get your mentors! Toodle-loo!" He happily prances out of the room, leaving Clark crestfallen.

"Ignore him," I say. "He's just overexcited. You'll probably last longer than me."

Clark shrugs. "You could very well win. You look like you'll have plenty of sponsors at any rate." I don't know what to say. Do I? I never really thought about that. I do have a lot of fans. Maybe I will have lots of sponsors...Suddenly I remember my desire for an alliance.

"We should align! We'll last longer together."

"True, true," Clark nods his head thoughtfully. "It's much better than going in alone, at any rate. So, we're allies now?" I smile as I look into his clear honest eyes.

"Yes. Allies."

District Six: Buck Rockwell

It's that time of year again. Reaping day. I remember the events of last year's Reaping, when my name was pulled from the bowl and I was sent into the Hunger Games. I knew it wasn't an accident. My brother Joshua had the Reaping rigged for my name to be the one drawn. My fist clenches around the glass in my hand as I stare off into the gray sky of District 6. 

Joshua expected me to die in the Games. He didn't expect me to come out alive, to be the one who would emerge victorious out of the thirty-two tributes. In an ironic twist, when I came back alive he lost his life when President Stryker shot him in the head.

I throw the glass off of the roof, watching as it sails through the air and then smashes into the sidewalk of the Victors Village. I hated Joshua. With a passion. But I never wanted him to die. I didn't want Stryker to shoot him. But it didn't matter what I thought. It never does.

I turn from the balcony and head back down into my house. Last year I went to the Capitol as a tribute. This year I will be going as a mentor. It's a strange sensation, thinking of how two lives will be in my hands now. It's bolstered by the fact that, conceivably, if one of the tributes is eighteen, they could be older than I am. If they are I hope they have enough sense not to just dismiss me out of hand. That would end badly. And not for me.

"Morning big brother!" My sister Rosalina greets me as I come down the roofs stairs. She's wearing in one of the fancy dresses my mother bought for her once we received the Victors money I earned. Rosalina doesn't usually wear them but I guess the Reaping is a special occasion.

"G'morning Rose," I mutter, my thoughts still preoccupied with memories of last year.

"Thinking about him?"

"Huh?" I look up to see Rosalina studying me with a critical eye. "Who do you mean?"

"Joshua. He was the reason for all this. He was the one who rigged your Reap--"

"Shh!" I silence her with an angry hiss and she's taken back. Oh, right. She doesn't know about my conversation with President Stryker, how he's used the rigging as a threat against me. He wouldn't want me telling anyone but I had already told Rosalina this information in the Justice Building last year. "Sorry," I apologize quickly. "Its just that I'm not over it yet..."

"I know. I feel the same." She looks sad as she thinks about Joshua's death. Not that she knows the truth. To everyone but for myself and President Stryker, Joshua was the victim of a mugging gone horribly wrong. He received a bullet through the head and his killer fled. Peacekeepers are supposedly still searching for the culprit. They'll never find him. 

"Let's get moving," I say quietly. "We don't want to be late for the Reaping." We make our way down the stairs and into the large main hall. I'm still not use to the house yet, even if I have been here for a year. It's too...extravagant for me I guess. 

"There you two are!" Our parents come in from another room. "We should get going. And Buck, isn't the--"

"Isn't the Capitol picking me up? Yeah. They're sending a car." 

"Then you should wait for it. We'll miss you." They both go in to hug me and I take it awkwardly. Since I'll be a mentor, I'll be off in the Capitol for however long the Games last. I won't see them again until I return. When they stop hugging me I tell them goodbye and Rosalina gives me a quick hug before following my parents out the door. I watch from a window as they climb into the car we own and drive off. I kinda wish I could go with them instead of being picked up by the Capitol. 

I back away from the window and decide I'll wait outside for their arrival. I walk out into the gray overcast day and spot the shattered remains of the glass I threw from the roof. It'll probably be cleaned up by the workers who attend to the Victors Village within a few hours. 


Oh no. I try not to groan as the door to the house across from ours opens and a woman with long flowing brown hair comes out and approaches me. Marceline. I despise her, I really do. She's annoyingly perky, is always so drugged out that she doesn't make a lick of sense, and constantly calls me "Bucky". "Good morning Bucky! What a wonderful day for growing tulips, isn't it?" Her words are slurred and her eyes are wide and unfocused. Yep. She's drugged out today.

"Yeah. Sure. Whatever."  I crane my head, looking towards the entrance to the village and, hopefully, my ride away from Marceline. She doesn't sense my discomfort though and attempts to hug me. I shove her back and she trips over the curb and laughs wildly.

"Oh! What fun we will have Bucky!"

"What do you mean?" I ask her warily. Marceline is prone to going off on tangents that have nothing to do with the conversation.

"I'm talking about us being mentors of course!" She giggles as she attempts, but fails, to get back on her feet. "I'm so excited! I haven't been a mentor in years!"

"What?! They're making you a mentor?! Do they want District Six's tributes dying in the bloodbath?"

"It's great, isn't it?" She doesn't notice my slight against her and finally succeeds at pulling herself up. "It'll be so much fun!" I don't respond. I'm really at a loss for words. This is my mentor help? A drugged out loon? I can't help but feel this is some sort of statement, a test. They want to see how well I can go. Well, I plan on giving District 6 another Victor!

"Mister Rockwell, Miss Strauss? Your ride is ready." 

I spin around and stare at the long black limousine in shock. I was too preoccupied to notice its arrival. The man who spoke, an older man dressed in as chauffeur outfit, stands beside the door with a blank expression as he waits for us. "Umm. Right. Thank you..."

He opens a door for me and I slide in. It smells like mint and leather. Marceline joins me, and almost immediately after the door shuts behind her, begins playing with the windows. Opening and closing them with a button as she giggles like a five-year old. Goes to show all the good drugs do for you. She use to be strong, when she won the Games a decade ago, but now she's just a joke. I don't know why everyone tries to forget what happened in the Games anyway. I have no qualms with what I did or who I killed. I know that they were all trying to kill me, so why should I feel bad for getting them first? 

Our ride goes by in silence, well, mostly silence. Marceline is still giggling stupidly. It isn't long before we come to a stop and we exit to find ourselves behind the assembled stage. A nearby man directs us to the left and we climb a set of stairs. We walk onto the stage just as the opening video ends, taking out places beside the other four living District 6 Victors. It's kind of awkward standing next to the two parents of my District partner, Amore Madness. I lived whilst their daughter died and I think that they might harbour resentment towards me for that. They haven't spoken to me since the Games ended.

Not that they ever really spoke to me before the Games. They were usually too preoccupied with giving their daughters the best advice they could, at the cost of ignoring me. I find it hard to care that Amore died when they gave me the cold shoulder. I'm actually kind of pleased that they're so peeved now. "Greetings to District Six!" The mayor takes over now. "Welcome to yet another Reaping! This time for the 399th Hunger Games!" A few scattered rounds of applause before he continues. "But first, let me welcome District Six's most esteemed Victors! First, the victor of the 328th Annual Hunger Games, Robert Iran!" He goes on to introduce each of us. In turn, they all dip their heads to the crowd and they applaud. I don't know if from affection or just happy that we each won them a year's supply of better food. When I'm introduced I get the loudest reaction, probably because I just won and my victorys benefits are the most recent. After our introductions, the Mayor passes it off to Calpurnia Joffree. She's dressed ostensibly in a ridiculous outfit that looks like a cross between a bird and reptile.

"Hello District 6! 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! Just like the honor Buck Rockwell bestowed upon us!" Yeah, yeah. The honour I brought. Big whoop. "But now, let's find out if that thunder shall boom again!" She doesn't waste any time and pulls a name out of the boys bowl. "And the male tribute, who must live up to Buck's standards, is...Julio Fall!"

The name hangs over the crowd and then a boy with a cheerful grin strolls out of the seventeen year-olds line. He looks...I don't know. Not exactly the embodiment of intelligence. His face just seems too goofy. Calpurnia puts the Mic to him and he smiles. "Hello world!" 

Yeah. Not exactly a show of intelligence. But I guess I can work with him, he looks athletic enough. Calpurnia goes for the next bowl and takes out another slip. This time she opts for a long silence to hype the reading. Then she reads. "Celia Sonnet!"

There's only a few seconds of silence and then I make out the shape of a girl moving for the stage. But before she can get here another girl jumps out shouting. "I volunteer as tribute!"

The girl quickly comes back up to the stage and I can get a better look at her. She has long black hair and striking blue eyes. Her skin is remarkably clear. "She's pretty!" Marceline whispers and I roll my eyes. Is that the best analysis she could come up with?

"What's your name?" Calpurnia asks.

"Rosalie Sonnet."

"Oh? And were you related to Celia, Rosalie?"

No answer. Calpurnia shuffles her feet awkwardly and then moves on. I keep my gaze on her. She volunteered for a relative, and that itself makes her interesting. I watch as Rosalie looks out into the crowd with firm eyes and I figure she could have a decent chance of surviving. She certainly looks capable of fighting. Then Calpurnia has the two tributes, the two kids I will be mentoring, step back and they are presented to the crowd again. Will one of them be a Victor? I don't know. But if I have to make a prediction then I'd say, yes. District Six has another Victor on their hands.

District Seven: Henry Polyester

I can hear many voices as I lie on the piece of flat cardboard. I hear many footsteps. Why? Why are so many people coming to the edge if the District? I raise my head and look around the small alley where we spent the last few nights. Dad and Mom are near the dumpster, speaking in low voices. The flats of cardboard they slept on sitting at their feet. I can just see a parade of colors as people pass by the entrance of the alley. On their way to...somewhere.

I throw the raggy towel I used as a blanket off and get to my feet. This action brings me to my parents attention and they turn to me. Dad smiles. "Had a good night, son?"

" was fine," I scratch at a red bump on my elbow. I don't like when we spend the night near the forest. There's too many mosquitoes there. "Will we have breakfast today?" I ask, craning my head forward eagerly. The dumpster is big. Surely there's something to eat in there?

"Not today son," Dad shakes his head and my face falls in disappointment. But his next words bring hope. "But we'll have a big dinner tonight! Everyone will feast knowing they weren't Reaped. There'll be plenty of food tonight!"

Woohoo! Awesome! I love Reaping day! I pump my fists in the air and then Mom speaks. "Now come along honey. We have to get to the Reaping."

I'm still overjoyed by the fact that we'll have a dinner tonight that I forgot all about the crowd of people. We join this crowd as we exit the alley. I'm actually kinda frightened by the amount of people and stick close to Mom and Dad as we make our way through. We eventually join a forest path and I gaze in wonder at the tall piney trees. Dad said what they were called once but I forgot. Now I wish I had remembered...

Ooh! Squirrel!

I watch as the furry little creature scampers up a tree and disappears into the dark green branches at the very top. Mom and Dad told me to keep a close eye out for squirrels, cuz if there's squirrels, there's nuts. Sometimes, you can even get lucky and see where the squirrel buries its nuts!  I like squirrels. Seeing one means that we'll have food that day. "Keep up Henry!" My Dad says cheerfully.

"Oh. Sorry Dad!" I had forgotten all about moving as I watched the squirrel and now I hurry to catch up. We don't have to walk much longer though. We stop behind a line that is gathered before a Peacekeeper stall. Behind this sits a gigantic stage in the middle of a forest clearing. Many people mill about in front and several more Peacekeepers stroll around, armed with guns. 

I don't like Peacekeepers. They always yell at us when we dig through garbage cans. But where else would we get our food? For some reason none of them ever tell us...

"You'll need to get in line sweetheart," Mom tells me.

Dad quickly explains what will happen. Apparently they will zap my finger and take my blood. It doesn't sound too bad for me and when I tell Dad this he smiles and rubs my head. "That's because you're a brave boy Henry!" They tell me where in the crowd they'll be and then I'm off in line. Just like I thought the zapping doesn't hurt bad and the Peacekeeper ushers me into the line with a "12" plastered over it. I try not to run into the other kids and look up as a video plays on a giant screen. It's about the greatness of the Capitol, or at least I think it is. It's kinda confusing and doesn't really make sense. I don't think anyone likes it as they all just stare ahead blankly as it plays.

"Hello everyone! I am Wan Dirx!" A man completely covered in bandages shuffles up to a microphone. He looks pretty cool! Like, some sort of monster. I think I saw something like that in a museum we passed before. What did dad call it? A mummy? Well, Wan looks like a mummy! I kinda miss what he's saying as I examine his features and before I know it Wan is calling the name of the girl that will compete in this year's Hunger Games. I don't know much about them. I only see it on the many televisions set up around the District. Apparently kids from every District must fight to the death. The last one alive wins a bunch of money and a fancy house. Mom says the Games are horrible and I think I agree with her. 

"Arbor Alpine!"

I watch as the girl, an older one with long dark brown hair, responds to the name and joins Wan on stage. She doesn't look too happy as Wan congratulates her. He then goes for the second bowl and pops a bandaged hand in as he removes a name. "And the boy joining Arbor is...Henry Polyester!" 


I look around and see that everyone else is doing the same thing. I was chosen? How and why? I don't know what to do, so I try to mimic Arbor, walking to the stage with my hands held at my sides. Sighs of disappointment echo through the crowd as I finally stand beside Wan. What? Do they not like me? "Congratulations Henry!" Wan claps me on the shoulder cheerfully. I'm still confused and look for my parents. I spot them where Dad said they would be. Mom is crying and Dad has his arms around her in comfort. All of a sudden I get a terrible feeling run through me. Kids fight to the death...only one wins...

Am I going to die?

I'm spinning around in the large office chair when the door opens and my parents are led in by a Peacekeeper. As soon as the Reaping ended two Peacekeepers took me to the Justice Building. I tried resisting at first but then they told me my parents would come visit me and I stopped. Now I'm in this amazing room! It even has a sink in it! Apparently, these people wash their hands every day!

Mom rushes for me and envelopes me in a hug. When she finishes dad reaches into his pocket and pulls out what looks like an old dollar. Memories come rushing back to my head.

It was years ago. We had no food and were wandering around town, asking for food or money from anyone who passed. One man pushed me to the ground as I asked and I fell, crying. Dad crouched beside me and took a dollar out, handing it to me as he spoke. "Let this dollar remind you that it is a cruel world out there, and that when it pushes at you, you must push back harder. Let it remind you: Don't let them see you cry, because one of them may be a predator, and there's nothing a predator wants more than is to see their prey cry. This dollar, my boy, symbolizes strength."

I took the dollar and held onto it, Dad's words forever immortalized in my head. But that wasn't the only dollar I received from him.  A few years later we were once again asking for money. But this time someone, a kind-faced lady gave me money. I was confused and asked my parents why she gave it to me. In response Dad took out another dollar and gave it to me, saying: "This, child, is a dollar. Let it remind you of this kindness you were shown tonight. Let it remind you, that even without all the evil in this world, there is still those few people that will do nice things for even a stranger. This is why I still have hope that this world isn't doomed. This is the dollar of hope."

And now Dad has another dollar. His previous words still linger in my mind as he unfolds the dollar and presses it into my hand. "This, Henry, is the last dollar I have from the day you were born. Let this be a reminder to you that your mother and I are routing for you. We believe you can win. We do. So, my dear son, this dollar is the dollar of belief."

I don't know what to say. Tears build in my eyes as I stare at the dollar and then both of my parents hug me. We just sit there in silence until the Peackeepers come back. They lead my parents away and then I'm taken to the train. Despite having never seen such a magnificent thing before, I don't pay any attention to anything except the dollar that rests in my hand. 

Strength. Hope. Belief. 

I still have all three dollars. And I have, deep within me, all three feelings. As long as I believe, I cannot lose.

District Eight: Colin Bisset

I sit on the stoop of an abandoned building as the rain comes down in a light drizzle. The sky is dark and gloomy. The streets are empty. On a day like this, of all days, it's almost impossible not to think of her.

Aisha Hakeem.

She was, well, not technically, my girlfriend. But my father didn't approve of our relationship and Aisha, in an effort to prove herself to my father, volunteered for the Hunger Games.

I punch the side of the wall in anger. My fists immediately begin to flare up in pain but I ignore them. She didn't need to do that! Who cared if we didn't have my pig of a father's blessing? We didn't need it! I would have ran away with her if I had to! What was worse though, is that I never got to speak to her on Reaping day. I never managed to say I still loved her. And now I'll never be able to say it again.

I want to throw another punch but that would accomplish nothing but harming myself more. And it's not myself who I want to harm. It's everyone who contributed to Aisha's death and those who've harmed her in life. But maybe...maybe I do want to harm myself. After all, Aisha may not have volunteered if I had gotten to speak with her...maybe I am to blame after all...

"Attention District 8," A loudspeaker booms from a nearby building, the voice slow and robotic. "The annual Reaping will occur within fifteen minutes. Those who have not arrived and do not have a verifiable reason for absence will be imprisoned upon its finish. That is all. May the odds be ever in your favor." It clicks off, leaving me in the slight pattering of the rain on the cobblestone. I should get going. Before Peacekeepers come to detain me. 

I get up and hurriedly make my way down the slick streets. The haunting emptiness of the city painfully reminds me of the arena where Aisha drew her last breath. Where she was beaten to a pulp by that troll Solar...I remember it happening. Watching in shock as she was brutally killed. And then, seconds after her cannon boomed, my father said that she deserved it. That she deserved to die. "Just like every Muslim". I couldn't contain myself and attacked him. Savagely beating him just as Aisha was beaten. People always say that harming someone else feels bad. That you regret it. But as I beat my father bloody I didn't feel bad, in fact, I felt...good. Happy almost. Like something being caught in your throat and after many, many attempts, you finally pull it out. It gave me a sense of relief. But I didn't kill him. I eventually relented and stopped. He lost his right eye and the ability to walk yet he still lived. I suppose he could have had me arrested, he was Head Peacekeeper after all, but he didn't. I can only assume that he's frightened of me.

"Aha! A straggler!" Something hard hits the centre of my back and I fall forward. I try to get up when a follow-up strike hits the back of my head. "Why aren't you at the square?" I'm gripped by the collar and pulled to my feet. Two Peacekeepers, two of my father's goons, leer at me. One holds a baton.

"You should be at the square by now!" The one holding me growls as he shakes me from side to side. "Everyone is supposed to be there!"

"Oh yeah? Then why aren't you there?"

I earn a swift punch to the gut for my cheek and the one with the baton waves his weapon at me menacingly. "Tough guy huh? Who do you think you are?"

"I'm Colin Bisset," I grunt and they both turn to look at another. They recognize the name "Bisset" alright. They don't seem to know what to do. I am my father's son after all. But I know what I'm going to do. "And I'm going to kick your ass!" Before they have time to react I sweep out the legs of the baton wielder and rip the weapon from his grasp as he falls. The other goes to pull his own weapon out but before he can I clock him in the side of the head and he goes sprawling to the street. 

The former baton wielder scrambles to his feet and frantically tries to pull his tazer out. I just swing the baton hard into his midsection and though his uniform protects him from majority of the swing, he still bends off in shock and I slam the baton into the back of his head. 

I stand back, the adrenaline still pumping through my body. They aren't getting back up anytime soon. "You should have worn your helmets!" I tell their unconscious bodies. "Like Article 4-15 states! " "While working Peacekeepers are to wear their protective headgear at all times". Guess you didn't get the memo?" I throw the baton to the ground and stalk away, finished. That fight, it felt good. I was able to get all my pent up anger out, able to do something with it. I know I'd usually have hell to pay for that. When they wake up they'll get the rest of their squad and form a search party for me. I won't be able to take down nine of them. But I don't have to. By the time they wake up I won't even be in the District. I'll be on my way to the Capitol.

I'm volunteering.

I keep seeing Aisha's death. In my head and on the television. I need to bring redemption to her and I really don't know any other way. I need to volunteer for the Games. And I need to win. 

I hear the voices from the square before I even see it and when I arrive I quickly get in line. The Peacekeeper who takes my blood informs me that I'm late. The opening video and speech have already happened and Escrow is already selecting a name for the females. I push my way through the crowd and by the time I reach the front a girl named Kim Carett is on stage. She's a pale girl. Her wavy brown hair goes down to her shoulders and her wide eyes are filled with fright as she stands before the crowd. Escrow seems disappointed. District 8 had two strong tributes last year and now they have this weakling? Life must be so hard for him.

"Well, the boy who will be joining Kim in the Hunger Games is...Johnson Br--"

"I volunteer!"

The few boys in my way make room as I lurch for the stage. Escrow is almost beside himself as I climb. A volunteer? That certainly negates the weakness of Kim in his eyes. When I arrive Escrow tells me to shake her hand but she shrinks away from me with wide frightened eyes. I get the sense that she's pretty timid. I expect Escrow to force the handshake but he doesn't. He just finishes his escort duties and then the Mayor takes over. 

Aisha...I will avenge you. I promise.

District Nine: Jac Price

I'm going to do it. Volunteer for the Hunger Games. In District Nine, where we haven't had a Victor in over seventy years, that seems like a death sentence. And maybe it is. But I'm volunteering either way.

The cold water runs through my hair as I stand in the shower, thinking about what today holds. Reaping day is different for my family, the Price family, we were the apart of the curse that sits upon the District. My relative, Jake Price, was betrayed and murdered by our last Victor, Hazel Dyer. I feel the usual sensation of anger when I think of her. That murderous swine betrayed Jake, who trusted her completely, and then went to turn on the rest of Jake's allies. What stung the most, was that her betrayal paid off and she became one of the four Victors of the 325th Games. Some people say that the curse will never be broken until Hazel, who currently resides in the Capitol, dies. I'm with those people. The sooner that old hag dies, the better. 

I turn the shower off and dry myself before stepping out. I get dressed and when I step out of the bathroom and into my bedroom, my eyes linger on the portrait of my late grandfather. I feel a pang of sadness. His death still lingers with me. Grandfather was one of my biggest influences. His death was the catalyst for me deciding to volunteer, to show how unfair the whole thing is. He was also the one who I spoke about Jake with. His death was hard on him, but he eventually recovered. I don't know if he ever forgave Hazel, in my mind at least, he didn't. Hazel doesn't deserve forgiveness.

I don't waste anymore time thinking about her though and instead head down the stairs. My father, Jace Price, who also happens to be the mayor of District Nine, something I don't particularly enjoy. In school I'm constantly referred to as "the Mayor's kid". Anyways, he's already left for the Reaping, having to be there early. Not that it's possible for us to be late, with the stage being set up right in front of our house and all. 

I head there now. Stepping out the front door and into the bright sunny day. It's such a contrast to the mood of the people, who are all gathered in front of the large circle stage. I waste no time in entering the crowd and taking my place in the line. I can feel my heart beating furiously as the moment of my volunteering draws closer. I haven't told my father about this yet, but I think he might have already guessed. He's seen me practicing with Grandfather's sword often enough. 

"Hello District Nine. Welcome to this year's annual Reaping. Where we shall select two tributes to die--I mean compete--in the Hunger Games. Glory to the Capitol."

"Glory to the Capitol." The crowd half-heartedly repeat. This is something that's recently been enforced by the Peacekeepers. Once the introductory stuff is out if the way, Jace presents Pomona Radsi to the crowd. She's a short and stout woman whose far too cheerful for this occasion. I wonder if she's considered the worse of the escorts, being stuck with District Nine. 

"Why hello everyone! Aren't you glad to be here?" Silence, then, a loud raspberry. Pomona frowns before continuing. "Now don't be like that! Last year's tributes did decent enough! Yes, they died, but they put on a good show before passing!" She's just digging herself a deeper pit and she knows it. She drops all happy pretense and continues irritably. "Fine. Let's just reap our tributes shall we? First, the girls." She sticks her hand in the bowl and pulls out a slip. "Azalea Finch!"

The name belongs to a very pretty dark skinned girl. Her black hair is highlighted red in several areas and her bright emerald eyes take everything in as she climbs. In a huge understatement, I'd say she looked upset.

"Hello there!" Pomona says and the girl doesn't take any notice as she reluctantly takes her place on the center of the stage. "Well...let's just see her district partner!" She takes another name out but she doesn't have time to completely read it before I volunteer and join her on stage. My father only shakes his head sadly at me and Pomona looks confused that District Nine would have a volunteer for the second year in a row. "Well, I'll be! What's your name?"

"I'm Jac Price."

I had expected the reaction that followed. Murmurs spread through the crowd. A Price?  Volunteering? Unthinkable! Then someone shouts above the voices.

"The curse is over! Jac will avenge Jake! We'll have another Victor!" 

Huge cheers break out and I can't stop the smile that spreads along my face. Finally! District Nine finally has hope again! I catch Azalea watching me with wide eyes and I wonder if she feels slighted by the crowds reaction to me. I certainly hope not. That wasn't my intention.

Pomona doesn't move on with the Reaping; she seems too absorbed with the amount of cheering. She actually looks slightly dizzy and I'm concerned that she may actually faint. So my father takes back over and finishes things off. The crowd is chanting my name now and I shout that I will do my best to avenge Jake. They love that and cheer even louder. Despite my hatred for the Games I'm loving every moment. Relishing the good will and hope I have created. I'm on an emotional high, one that doesn't go down until I'm tucked in the Justice Building. Through the window the cheering can still be heard. 

The door clicks open and my father steps in, grim faced. I don't know what he's bothered about but I find out pretty quickly. "For your sake you'd better win," He says darkly, sitting down on a chair across from me. "You've gotten them so worked up that you have no choice but to win."

"I had no choice to begin with!" I say derisively. "Thirty-two enter, one comes out alive. That's all the motivation I need!"

"Yes." He's silent for a long time. So long, that I don't expect him to say more. But he does. "You do realize, that if you do not win, that you will be a pariah? Forever hated for not accomplishing what they have set before you. Described as a conman who did not live up to expectations? You will be as hated as Hazel Dyer, if not more."

For the first time since I volunteered, the smile slips off my face. I hadn't thought of that. About any of that. "But I didn't promise them anything!" I protest quickly. My father shakes his head.

"But you volunteered. And you are a Price. Naturally they'll assume you will be the end of the curse...but that's not always how these things go, now is it?"

"I was just trying to show how harmful the Games are! How much they hurt District Nine and the rest of the country!"

"And yet, you have managed to make District Nine as excited for the Games as they've ever been. Funny how these things turn out; never going as planned." And then the door opens as Peacekeepers come in. Jace stands up and nods quietly to me before departing. The Peacekeepers lead me out after. I'm herded to the train station, where large groups of people are waiting. They all cheer when they see me but I no longer wave and smile. My father's words stick in my head as Azalea joins me in boarding the train. 

The door slides shut, silencing the crowd. The sound proofing on this train is amazing. The train starts moving and I debate telling Azalea about what my father said when a new voice interrupts.

"You look so much like him..."

Hazel Dyer sits behind us, her fragile frame resting in a velvet armchair. Her hair is now silver, her bones weak and frail. She doesn't resemble the beautiful girl that murdered Jake anymore. 

"I see the Capitol couldn't prevent you from turning old!" I sneer at her, my hatred that was lost in the post-reaping euphoria boiling back up. 

"Who says I do not wish to be old? Everything ages, eventually." Her old blue eyes focus on mine. I stare back, my heart beating fast at the realization that this is the first time I have ever come face to face with Jake's killer. Azalea must sense something is brewing and nervously steps back into the corner.

"How could you do it?" I ask, my voice low and cold. "How could you kill him? He trusted you..."

"I regret killing him. I sincerely do. But it was necessary. I would never have won if not--"

"Then maybe you shouldn't have won!" The word come out in a scream. "Maybe you should have left him alone! Maybe you could have died a hero instead of murdering him!"

"That's what it always comes to, isn't it?" She speaks softly, as if not aware of my shouting. Her face seems to sink, seemingly ageing before my eyes. "Either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

"No. You became a villain because you murdered Jake!"

She looks up at me, her eyes glistening with what looks to be unshed tears. I tear my gaze away as she speaks. "I'm sorry for what I've done Jac. Hate me if you wish. But that won't solve anything."

"Sorry? You're sorry?! You can't be SORRY!" I lose it. I shout and scream at her. I don't even know if my anger is directed at her. It's just everything I've been feeling to this point bubbling out. Jake's death, everyone counting one me, the cruelty the Capitol inflicts upon us. Everything. Hazel doesn't react beyond watching me with sad eyes. When my rant finally finishes, she states at me in silence and then slowly shuffles out of the room. I watch, panting heavily and feeling foolish. What did that accomplish, exactly? What did I prove? That I can yell loudly? I glance at Azalea, whose watching me with wide eyes. I can't help but feel I've disappointed her. And for some reason that burns the most.

"I...I'm sorry...for that," I murmur quietly. 

"Hatred has never been ceased by hatred," she replies quietly. "And I think Hazel learned that a long time ago." She turns and goes out the same door Hazel went. I'm left alone in the room. Alone with my thoughts. I don't know what to feel anymore. What to say. And no matter how hard I try, the only thought that I can form is that I need to win these Hunger Games. 

District Ten: Fawn Talons

The sky is a brilliant azure blue, only a few wispy clouds prevent the blue from fully enveloping the sky. The soft grass beneath me is a dark green and ever so slightly billows in the gentle breeze. 

Oh! If only I could remain here all day! I could watch as the initial orange streaks to the sky, as the crickets come out to chirp the sun away. I could watch as the first stars took to the sky, watch as the silver light of the moon shines down upon the meadow. It would be so peaceful...

But I have to get going. I need to go to the, ugh, Reaping. Where we'll find out what two kids will be dying this year. Sure, we could pull a Victor, but is that really likely? It was hard enough to get a Victor six years ago. We're probably in the midst of another drought now.

I sigh as I sir up, ripping my gaze away from the beautiful sky. I love doing nothing but staring at it. It makes me feel peaceful. Like all of my worries are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I always suggest this to anyone who may be having anxiety. Just look at the sky and watch as your worries float away...

I wish I could float away from here, Panem. But that's neither practical nor possible so I give in to the fact that I have to get going. I run across the pasture that my family owns. I pass by our cow, Betsy, and pat her on the back avs I go. She moos in greeting. I reach the lone dirt road that leads to town and appreciate the tall deciduous trees that border the path. They're very pretty. 

I don't encounter any other people on my way and that's for the better. I generally don't get along with others very well. I'm not a hermit by any means, I have a few friends, but those are people I can relate too. People who understand me. They're rare, for the most part I'm dealing with people who'd rather I adapt to them. I think it's pretty obvious I won't do that. 

After I get closer to the Reaping area I do start encountering more people. Spread out and sporadic at first but the closer we get to the stage the denser the crowd gets. Soon enough we all have to stop in a large line. Just ahead we can make out the forms of people moving on stage. 

"They really need to start organizing this better," A boy in front of me mutters and I silently agree. We shouldn't have to wait so long just to get into the crowd. Finally, the crowd slowly begins to disperse as one by one people file into the open clearing where the crowd will be sitting. I enter the sixteen year olds line as activity on stage begins. 

"Hello District Ten!" Thaddeus Stubbins our escort comes out with his long billowing beard and dark cloak. He always made me think of a druid but that's just me and my love for fantastical things. "Welcome to yet another Reaping! I hope we have a decent showing this year!" I remember last year's pair. The girl was killed in the bloodbath and the boy was ripped apart by mutts during the middle of the Games. The cameras actually missed his death and we only saw his mutilated corpse being lifted into the hovercraft. People were upset because they thought they would last longer. I was upset because two kids died. "Let's put this off no longer! Time to find out this year's tributes!" Thaddeus sticks a long-sleeved hand into the males bowl and emerges with a slip. "Billy McGranger!"

Well, I don't recognize the name and when the boy comes onto the stage I don't recognize his appearance either. That's good. I won't have a friend dying on me.

"Good day Mister McGranger! How are you?" Thaddeus politely addresses the boy, who has quite the interesting look. His hair is short and predominantly brown but there's alternating patches of blonde and black there as well. He also has a unibrow.

"Well, I'm not doing so well. But I'm feeling better than that day I dropped hot tea on my lap. I was pretty teed off that day!" He suddenly whirls around and points at the crowd, a cheesy grin on his face. Was he expecting laughter or something? He doesn't seem to mind that none comes though, he just continues grinning. "Gee. Tough crowd. Guess that's why its called District Tough?" I bury my face in my hands. Can he come up with any lamer jokes? Luckily, we don't have to find out. Thaddeus shakes his hand and then has him step back as he takes a slip out from the girls bowl and then reads it.

"Fawn Talons!"

I recognize the name this time. My breath catches in my throat. I hadn't even thought of this possibility. I didn't even stop to consider if I'd get Reaped. It seemed so unlikely. But it just happened. I make an odd gagging sound as my breath finally forces itself out and then my feet are carrying me onto the stage. Thaddeus shakes my hand and then says my name to the crowd. Everything feels dreamlike. Like nothing is real. Maybe if I keep thinking that I will wake up safe and sound in the meadow...

"Hey there!" 

Billy forces his way into my thoughts. Grinning like a goof he sidles up beside me. "Hey, you know how to catch a unique rabbit?" He asks. I'm not in any sort of mood for this but I play along. I might need him as an ally

"No. How?"

"You have to unique up on it!"

I actually smile at that one and when he sees that his grin gets even wider. 

"We could be allies you know. Like, a super team! We could make the other tributes look like cows! And we would look like ranchers! Get it? Cuz we're from District Ten?"

"Yeah. I get it." He's a little...out there. But he certainly seems nice enough and I doubt I'd have to worry about him betraying me. He doesn't have to be my only ally either. I could get an entire group to align with me. And I'm going to need it. Because I'm not going to survive these Games alone.

​District Eleven: Bellamy Blake

I look down the scope of the gun. My reticle lines up perfectly with the deer's heart. It doesn't notice anything wrong. It doesn't know that it will live for only a few more moments. It's too preoccupied calmly nosing the grass at its hooves. My finger goes to pull the trigger when a sharp wind blows from behind me, towards the deer. It's suddenly on alert, looking my way in caution. It senses something is wrong and goes to run.

It's too late.

I've already pulled the trigger. The gunshot echoes throughout the valley as the bullet rips into the deer and drives it to the ground. I instantly sling my gun over my back and jump off of the large rock that was my perch. I rush across the mossy forest floor and when I reach its body I pull my hunting knife out from my belt to finish it off. But there's no need. My bullet hit it directly in the heart, ending it's life immediately, it's glazed vacant eyes stare into nothingness. I silently stow my knife away and get to work. 

The deer is heavy but it's only a doe. I've carried heavier before. I sling the animal over my back and head back through the slightly misty forest, towards the small cabin. I wasn't very far away and while normally that would deter me from shooting, the noise of the gunshot could very well reach the main part of the District, I know that no one heard me today. Everyone is sleeping in, grateful that they don't have to work but fearful that it may be their child's name drawn later today.

The Capitol and their stupid rules. You'd think we would have disposed of them by now but everyone is too frightened. Too weak to break any rule or to fight back. 

A nearby bush suddenly bristles, alerting me. But it's only a squirrel on its way back home. I watch it go, wondering if I should catch it too. A well-placed knife would finish it easily enough. But I decide not to. A deer is enough food for weeks, if properly rationed. And after today it will only be Octavia eating anyway. I have enough. 

The cabin comes into sight. The large oak trees that loom behind it sway in the breeze. I'm brought to mind of the first time we saw it, Octavia and I. We had been on the run from Peacekeepers, with nowhere to go. This place had been a haven for us. And it still is. 

As quietly as possible I open the old wooden door. My eyes go to the corner of the room, where Octavia lies asleep. When I carry the deer in and deposit it upon the woods crafting table she murmurs and rolls over but doesn't wake. Good. She deserves to have some peaceful sleep. I busy myself with cleaning and cutting the deer. I store the meat in a old refrigerator we have, place the skin out on the  porch railing, and put the bones in a pile on the side of the house. I always find some use for them. From crafting small knives to filling holes. Bones are remarkably useful. 

This all takes awhile though, and while it was dawn by the time I left to hunt, when I finish its nearly noon and o hear Octavia waking up behind me. "Morning Octavia," I say calmly as I chop some of the venison. 

She squints at me. "Where you hunting?"

"Yes. I found a doe."

She merely nods and then goes to the spare room we have. She comes out a few minutes later, dressed differently and a frown on her face. "Today is Reaping day, isn't it Bell?"

"It is." I don't look up from my work. I haven't yet told Octavia that I will be volunteering. I don't want her to do anything rash to try and stop me. "We'll need to get going soon." She frowns again. We usually don't go to the Reaping. For very good reasons. Back when we lived in District 11, we lived in a very overpopulated portion of the District. Where families where forbidden from having more then one kid. But my mother, Aurora, had Octavia anyways. Things changed the moment she was born. The usual house inspections that occurred became something to worry about and Octavia had to be hidden under a loose floorboard each time. After a few years of this k began applying to join the Peacekeepers, if I got in I could prevent the inspections, but one day someone figured out what happened. I don't know how but Peacekeepers just broke down the door and shot mother in the head. Octavia was thirteen, too young to be executed so they had Octavia pack things for prison. I wasn't about to let that happen. I knocked the guard out while we were packing and the two of us fled into the forest, where we found this cabin and have lived ever since. We haven't gone back to District Eleven. Until now.

Octavia eyes me suspiciously but she doesn't say anything. I'm glad for that. I don't think I could lie to her face. I do one last round of the cabin, making sure everything is in order, and then I head out with Octavia following. She seems to know something is up but I don't think she realizes quite what it is yet. I don't want her to. She'd try and stop me from risking my life for her. Because that's why I'm volunteering. I need to win and get the necessary money to buy her rightful freedom. We've been lucky so far, with no one stumbling upon our cabin, but if one day we are found...

We would both be imprisoned, if not just executed. And I can't allow that to happen. I won't allow it. 

The large cement wall that forms the barrier that prevents access to the forest outside of District 11 comes into view. Two large watch towers dot the corner portion but I have no worries about being seen. When we fled the District we found out that this part isn't even guarded. The towers sit empty and the wall is desecrated and marred with large holes. We pass through one of these holes now, watching our footing as we walk over the misshapen pieces of concrete. Octavia briefly stumbles but I grab her shoulder and keep her steady until we reach the other side. She nods gratefully at me and then we plunge into the wheat fields.

We run, so it doesn't take long at all before we reach the other side and find an old run down road. We follow this all the way to the main part of the District, where the urban buildings and processing plants are. The buildings are even more broken down then I remember. Not a single building doesn't have graffiti or a broken window. This place has gone to hell. I'm glad we got out when we did.

A pair of Peacekeepers come walking down the opposite way, heading for us. Octavia lets out a sharp intake of breath but I take her shoulder and steer us through. The Peacekeepers don't even take note of us. "We're safe here. You don't need to be afraid."

"I wasn't afraid!" I don't reply. Octavia is stubborn like that. Refusing to admit weakness. Whenever I bring it up she says I'm the same way. But admitting it and having it aren't the same thing. We pass several more Peacekeepers before we arrive at the square. Octavia doesn't react like she first did but she watches them all with suspicion filled eyes. 

"We're going to have to go in separate lines," I say stopping on the edge of the square. 

"I know that."

"Will you be okay by yourself?"

"I'm not defenceless!" She glares at me for a moment and then her look softens. "I'll be fine. Just don't do anything stupid, okay?" I wave her on and watch as she joins the fifteen year olds line. I couldn't promise that. Because I know I'm about to do something she will think is very stupid. But I have to. 

Once she's safely in line I join my own. The other eighteen year olds all talk in hushed voices as the onstage actions take place. I don't pay any attention to it. It's just useless propaganda that exemplifies what's wrong with this country. I'm more concerned with watching the turrets the Peacekeepers have set up. Now if I had one of those I wouldn't worry about anyone discovering our cabin...

"Its time to reap our female tribute!" I pay attention for the first time as the woman with the ridiculous accent, Lillia, I think her name was, reaches a gloved hand into the giant bowl. Who will my district partner be? I'm hoping for someone strong. Someone who could be a valuable ally. "And the tribute is...Octavia Blake!"


The word escapes from my mouth and several nearby boys turn to look at me. Octavia wasn't supposed to be Reaped! This wasn't suppose to happen! 

Octavia is heading for the stage with a tremulous look on her face. I think her name has rung bells. Peacekeepers are already whispering to another and Lillia hurriedly moves onto the boys. I my shock, I almost miss my chance. Just as the called boy is heading for the stage my hand shoots into the air. "I volunteer!" I call as I push my way to the stage. When Octavia sees me she shakes her head rapidly and mouths "No". Lillia swoops down on me with a wide grin.

"Your name, handsome?"

"Bellamy Blake."

"Hold the horses! Are you two siblings?!"

"Are you daft, bitch?" Octavia growls at her. She wheels around in shock and then goes back to the centre of the stage. Octavia turns to me. "How could you Bellamy? I told you not to do anything stupid!"

"I wasn't just going to sit back and watch you get sent to your death!"

"But now one of us has to die! Don't you understand?!" I understand all right. Before Octavia was Reaped I was going to volunteer to help her get a normal life back. Now I volunteered for a different reason. I volunteered so Octavia's life won't end prematurely. Now I'm going to do everything in my power to keep her alive.

District Twelve: Misty Honeysuckle

"Yeah, you could get Reaped. But there's point fretting about it. Nothing we can do to change whatever is going to happen. We just have to hope for the best."

Words that may not comfort most people comfort me as I think of the upcoming Reaping. Could I get Reaped? Most definitely. Will I get Reaped? Uncertain.  

My father, Hilt, smiles at me and then goes to flip the "Open" sign to "Closed". Not that it mattered. No one would be coming to check whether the grocers was open with the Reaping only a half hour away.  Just then, my brother Hawke walks back into the room. He's not actually my brother, just like how Hilt's not really my father. But they've raised me since I was three and to me that means they are actual family. "You're pretty good with that sword," Hawke says as he stops beside me. "Maybe if you were Reaped you'd win."

"Maybe." We both smile even though I know that the odds of me winning would be next to none. Yeah, I've trained with an old battered down sword a couple times a week but what is that compared to kids who train their whole life?

"Come on you two. We don't want to be late." Hilt has us follow him out the door and we head down the street. We live in the Merchants section of District 12. I usually spend most of my time secretly pickpocketing people here but sometimes I go to the Seam, where, supposedly, Hawke's mother, who deserted him when he was only three, now lives with a husband. She hasn't even tried to contact father or Hawke since she left. They don't like talking about her and I only know a few details. I wonder if I ever picked her pockets. 

The Merchants section isn't far from the main square and we arrived there in a few moments. We were later then most but we still manage to squeeze through the group. When we stop before the blood taking line father claps me on the shoulders. "Good luck," he says and I nod.

"I hope to be back for dinner," I say and then join the line. As I get my blood taken I worry about what will happen if my name is drawn. I know it's a distinct possibility. I've taken Tessarae and my name is in there many times. If I'm taken will Hawke and Hilt be okay? We just barely get by right now and that's with my secret pickpocketing. What will happen if I'm gone? I squeeze my eyes tight and then get into the clearing. No point worrying. There's nothing I can do to change whatever is going to happen. Just keep calm...

"District 12. Welcome to the Reaping for the 399th Annual Hunger Games. We will select two tributes to compete in the Hunger Games. Enjoy." The mayor seems to drone on as he reads his cue cards. I try to pay attention but I find it hard to listen to something so boring and monotonous. He finally ends the monotony by passing it off to Pippy Kotu, our escort. Great. Now instead of me bored I can be annoyed. 

"As usual, gentleman first!" Pippy literally skips to the bowl and plucks a name from it. She wastes no time in reading it."Timmothy Hansan!" Silence and then...

"I volunteer!"

A boy steps forward. He doesn't look to be starving, like majority of District 12's tributes, but he's still pretty slim. He has short black hair and is rather pale. He's taller then me but that's not saying much. Most people are taller then I am. When he reaches the stage and says his name, Ganta Alomo, a few people groan in disappointment. I'm confused as to why until a nearby boy mutters. "He's the doctors son."

Of course! Alomo! The last name of one of the few doctors in the District! I examine Ganta with more curiosity now. He has both hands in his pockets and is staring at his feet. No doubt worried that death could be coming all too quickly. Pippy babbles on happily about something before heading for the girls bowl. I don't even have time to worry that it could be me before she's reading the slip.

"Misty Honeysuckle!"

I've always known it could happen. That the possibility was very real. But to actually have it very different. I can barely register what is happening. My feet move almost by their own accord. I'm on stage and Pippy is saying something to me. Ganta hasn't looked up. I feel tears building in my eyes but I desperately force them back. I will not cry. I won't show them any weakness. 

Hawke...and Father...

Losing them will be the worst. Knowing the pain they'll feel if I die. The very thoughtful is ripping me apart. Making me want to cry, but no, I won't cry. I won't cry. Not until I win and come back here. Not until then. I won't cry.

District Thirteen: Luxio Sertralium

The sky is cloudy. The sun is hidden out of sight, behind the thick gray lumps of fluff. Guess that even the sun knows that it's Reaping day. If I could, I'd hide too. That would be preferable to standing here in a line that slowly moves towards the ominous stage set up just ahead. 

"Please don't be me!" A kid just behind me whispers to himself. All around us others are saying similar things. All of them whispering in hushed voices. I'm betting the Capitol just loves watching these scenes. It makes them feel all powerful probably. It merely makes me sick. 


The line shuffles forward. The front kid gets his blood taken. Then they call again and the stiff line continues, taking seemingly forever. I sigh and just stare ahead as the wind begins to pick up, rustling the dead branches of the few nearby trees. It's a wholly unsettling sound. Dry wood rubbing against itself. Eerie. I'm just glad I have my dark blue hoodie to protect my face from the wind. 


The line keeps moving. I eventually reach the top and a Peacekeeper grabs my arm with more force then necessary before zapping my finger. "Get in line!" He pushes me forward and I grudgingly trudge into the sixteen year olds line. The lines are separated with small wooden fences. The twelve year olds line on one side and the eighteen year olds on the other. I'm crammed in with all the other sixteen year olds and I have to crane my head up to see the stage assembled before us. 

The base is a startling ebony color, the flooring a metallic silver. Several people wait on top, eager for everyone to pile in so they can just get this thing over with. I'm with them. Let's just get this over with.

It takes a dozen more minutes before they begin though, and even then there's still some stragglers piling in the back. "District Thirteen, I welcome you to yet another Reaping!" Our Mayor addresses us with open arms. Literally. He spreads his arms open like he's trying to hug us. "Let us hope we have a Victor this year!" And with that, the Reaping begins. I can't say I'm observant of what happens. But I tried to--Okay, I got distracted playing rock-paper-scissors with a couple of other boys, but when it gets to the actual Reaping part I'm all ears. "And the female tribute is...Alexandrite Bohamia!"

That causes a stir within the crowd. Just a few years ago we had a Bohamia compete in the Games. She ended up finishing fourth, being eaten by the male from District 11 who would then perish in a sudden flash flood. Come to think of it, I think that other Bohamia was a volunteer who volunteered for her sister....Alexandrite. Oh. Everything clicks into place. This Alexandrite had her name chosen but then her sister volunteered for her. But now here we are, in the same exact predicament.

"Congratulations!" Our Mayor claps Alexandrite on the back as she climbs up. Her most noticeable feature is her hair which, frankly, looks like unicorn vomit. A whole multitude of bright colors. I think my eyes are hurting as I stare at it. "You will fare much better then your sister, I guarantee it!" Alexandrite bursts into tears at his words and he looks confused. Not the brightest bulb in the box. "Um. Well. Those must be tears of joy!" He claps her heartily on the back again and then goes for the boys. I feel a shiver run down my spine just as he pulls the slip out. "And the male tribute is...Luxio Sertralium!"

He mispronounced my name. That's my first thought. My next one is "Crap. This is not going to be a fun day". I sigh, committing myself to this fate, and push my way through the other kids. They all stare holes in my back as I go. When I reach the stage I have my back clapped and I'm greeted cheerfully. "What a stupendous lad!" My eyes flicker over to Alexandrite and I see that she has dried her tears and is watching me with a curious gaze. Then I'm grabbed around the shoulders and pushed to the front of the stage, Alexandrite joins me a moment later as we're presented to the crowd. 

"District Thirteen! Give it up for your tributes of the 399th Annual Hunger Games! Alexandrite Bohamia and Luxio Sertralium!"

District Fourteen: Amaya Lovelace

I wake up in a cold sweat, screaming like a maniac with my arms batting at imaginary enemies. The nightmares happened last night. Again. 

It takes only a few moments before I calm down. I'm still breathing heavily as I pull my knees to my chest and hug them. The room is still dark, only the faint shining of light emerges from a crack in the wall. I'm not in the wilderness. I'm not being hunted by Peacekeepers. 

I saw Sean. I watched as he slowly starved to death before my very eyes. I felt as helpless as I did the dozen of other times I witnessed. I saw Aelia die, us being too late to help her. I saw Claire fall to the ground and beg for me to continue without her. I saw them all die again. It was so vivid and felt so real.

The clock on my wall suddenly chimes, startling me. A little bird pops out and makes cuckoo noises. I squeeze my eyes shut tight. That's probably why the nightmares have been getting worse. Reaping day is coming and with it, all of my terror filled memories. 

I have such a clear recollection of last years. When I came to see my friend Aelia off at the Justice Building. We, her friends and fellow conspirators in a group of rebels, all promised we'd come and break out of the arena, that we would free her. I remember all of our faces, bright with hope of success and a brighter future. We were such fools to imagine what we sought was possible. But we didn't know that and so we pressed on with our objective.

It was a struggle to even find out the location of the arena, something that should have tipped us off about the enormity of the task, but we managed to coax it out of a high-ranking Capitol official during the training period and then we were off. It was a long journey, fraught with dangers and food shortages. By the time we finally arrived at the arena, only seven of the ten of us remained. 

We had no idea if Aelia was still alive. We had no way of contacting the outside world. But nonetheless, Harrison, a District 3 runaway and a technological genius, managed to hack into the arena systems. But before he could do anything, chaos erupted: A dart struck him in the back and he fell forward, slumping against his monitor. Peacekeepers had found us. 

Some of us fought. The others ran. I managed to escape into the forest with Sean, my boyfriend, and another girl named Claire. My eyes still well with tears when I think about this. We escaped, but it didn't come without a price. We lost all of our remaining supplies and where now lost in the middle of nowhere. We were just out of energy and on the brink of collapse when we found an abandoned house with an old, but still working, television. That's when we learned that Aelia had died in the arena. She was torn apart by mutts, though they had no footage of the act. All we saw was a distant shot of her body being taken into the hovercraft. I refused to believe it was her. Thought that it had to be some sort of trick. But maybe I was just desperate for hope. Maybe I still am. 

The news dropped our morale and it was made even worse by Sean dying of starvation the following morning. I cried my eyes out. I still do, when I think of him, just lying there cold and stiff. But I knew we had to move on, that the Peacekeepers would soon find us. But Claire wasn't in any condition to go anywhere. She told me to go and save my self. I refused and stayed with her to her last breath. I buried them both, leaving behind the last vestige of my friends. And I pressed on.

I eventually found a house inhabited by a pair Capitol citizens. I killed them brutally, without remorse. They deserved to meet the same fate that my friends did. I don't regret it in the slightest. I ransacked the home, taking every desirable object in it, and then, once I was well-fed and rested, set off again. I smuggled myself onto a boat, one that would take me far away from the Capitol, all the way to District 14. 

And here I am.

Despite my physical distance from the Capitol I still see their presence everywhere. Peacekeepers, propaganda, and the Games. No matter how hard I try I won't be able to escape from them. I still imagine our groups dream...but now more then ever, it feels so impossible. What's worse though, is that if we hadn't even tried to accomplish it, they would all still be alive. 

I throw another look at the clock on my wall and then let out a long sigh. I roll out of bed and head for the door. I slept in my clothes and there's no need for me to change. Stepping out into the unimaginably sunny day I blink in surprise. I always forget that I'm no longer in the snowy District 0 but the tropical District 14. A light cool breeze blows past, keeping the temperature to a reasonable level. Sean would have loved this place so much...

Memories of him and my other friends swirl in my head as I make my way to the giant walkway that hangs over the ocean. The boards creak and groan under the massive weight from the crowd. I would worry about it collapsing but it hasn't yet so I doubt it will. I take my place and then watch the onstage theatrics.

I don't know if our escort has a name, if she does I've never heard it, but I just call her Fox because that's what she looks like. She's one of those freaks from the Capitol who made herself look stupid because she can. Right now she's holding the microphone and talking about the greatest of the Games. I'm disappointed to see that some people in the crowd are actually buying it. I would have hoped they were smarter then that but here they are, fawning over her words. "Now let's see who our tributes are!" She finally gets to the point and dramatically removes a name from the boys bowl. "Luxray Meganium!"

At first I think that the boy is being held on the shoulders of the others but than I see that he's just tall. Really tall. He gains the full attention of everyone in the crowd as he climbs on the stage. He has to be at around six and a half feet tall. He's not exactly a mound of muscle, he's pretty lanky, but his sheer size alone gives him the applause of the crowd.

"What an intriguing specimen!" Fox says as he stops beside her. His golden eyes take in the crowd and I feel like he's already scheming some clever plot. "You will certainly be one to watch for!" 

That he will. I know enough about the Hunger Games to know that his size and mysterious appearance will make him a heavy betting favourite. Fox gives him a few more compliments and then goes to select his District partner. "Amaya Lovelace!"

I feel like something hard hits me in the gut. I suck in my breath and then never let it go. How is this possible? Why is my name even in the bowl? I just arrived in the District! And I never registered with the District. I live in an abandoned shack! 

I try not to scream in anger. Is there some law saying my life must be made as horrible as possible? That I'm not allowed to ever see even a shred of happiness? I look around frantically and see that everyone else is doing the same. Briefly I consider making a run for it. No one knows what I look like, I could escape on a boat and head for yet another District, but then I see Peacekeepers blocking the exits. I left it too late. They will run DNA work on everyone attempting to leave. I have no choice but to go to the stage. 

Fox squeals happily when I finally ascend. The crowd doesn't react like they did for Luxray. I'm not anything special. Fox has me shake hands with Luxray and the boy stares over my head. I get a real sense of his size now that I'm up close. He's a literal giant. I wish I was his size, then I could stand half a chance of surviving. But I'm not. And my odds of winning are a snowballs chance in District 14.

The Capitol: Iggy Coupe

Heh heh. Today will be the day. The day I've been waiting for my entire life! I will finally be noticed by my family! I will finally do something of merit that will bring me to their attention! Heh. I can barely sit still as I stand before the stage. My arms swing back and forth and one of them slaps the boy next to me across the face. He angrily shoves me forward into the next boy and in turn he turns and shoves me another way, where another kid repeats the process. This goes on, with me pinballing through the crowd until I come to a halt on the edge of the line. 

I don't care. I'm too excited for what's about to come, where I finally get noticed. I've spent so long attempting to find a way to for it to happen. I tried making machines for my father's business but that didn't get my anything but a job that I had no desire to earn but kept anyways. Then there's my inventions, my wonderfully creative inventions that are capable of doing just about anything I desire them to. I thought for sure that they would bring me some recognition. No one else in my family had such genius! No one else in the Capitol even had such brilliance! 

They ignored them and I used them for some ingenious pranks but it appeared no one cared much for them. They didn't even care enough to yell at me for them. Can't they see my genius? My vastly superior intellect? Why am I constantly ignored? Heh heh! That will end today! I am to do something that will bring the attention of everyone in the Capitol! 

I learned of this superior, complex, utterly amazing plan because of what happened to my friend, a very good friend. His name was Cooper and he actually saw me. Not like my parents or siblings who constantly ignore me. And not ever b on purpose! They just barely know of my existence! What was I saying again? Yeah! Cooper! My friend. We both work at the same place and he saw me and actually took the time to befriend me. That didn't last long. Soon he died. He was Reaped for the Hunger Games and was the first dead. I got my idea from his death. His horrible, pointless death. Everyone, including myself was so sad. I could see the looks in their eyes, see the longing. And that's when I realized that I should volunteer. Even if I died like Cooper at least I'd be seen. My family would cry over my death and everything would be as it should! 

My other friends from work agree. It's such a good plan. Such a very good plan. "Hellooooo citizens of the Capitol!!" Our President Stryker comes waltzing out onto the stage. His sleek black hair has been styled professionally and he grins as he addresses the large crowd that has assembled before his mansion this night. 

"YES!" The crowd responds enthusiastically. He grins. 

"Are you all ready to find out what two brave young man and woman will be representing the glorious Capitol in the 399th Annual Hunger Games?"


I feel my body twitching on anticipation. Any moment now will be the time I become visible to my family. I can't wait! Stryker continues to ask the crowd questions though and I can't constrain my hands from shooting into the air. 

"Watch it!" A boy who hits clobbered in the ear by my elbow growls a curse at me and backs off just as Stryker asks another question.

"Who should go first? The boys or girls?"


"I'll take that as the boys. Now, let's see who--"

"Me! It's me! Pick me!"

I wave my hands frantically in the air and jump around giddily as Stryker's eyes swivel to me. The other boys all shout in protest as I prance around them in uncontrollable glee. I see a few Peacekeepers on the edge glaring at me and then I decide to just get on the stage already. I climb up with a wide grin and as I reach the top two members of the Stryke Force step towards me but President Stryker brushes them off. "And who is this brave little volunteer?"

"Iggy! Iggy Coupe!" I laugh wildly and eagerly my eyes scan the crowd for ny family. Surely now they see me. Now they care about what will happen to me? Finally I see them.

But they don't see me. They don't even notice me.

I begin to chuckle, I feel my head twisting violently as I fall to my knees. My laugh a strange mix of a desperate plea and a demented chuckle. They don't see me? Even know? I squeeze my eyes shut tight and give up. I just give up. Who gives a frick about them! I don't! I don't care anymore! I don't need them! I never needed them! Why did I ever waste my time with them? I'm better off without them! Screw dying and having them miss me! I'm going to win these Games! And if I win, if I win, I can share my victor's home with my suffering friends. No. I'm no longer going to beg for my family's attention, it isn't worth it. It never was.

"What a remarkable man you are, Iggy."

"Huh?" I look up and see President Stryker watching me with a small smile. Me? Remarkable? He...he sees me? He sees me! Heh heh! I'm not ignored here! And the crowd, I finally notice the crowd! They're all watching me, minus my family, they all see me! I begin giggling as I rise to my feet. Stryker offers a hand and I take it, giving a handshake. Heh heh. I'm noticed. I'm noticed!

Stryker says my name to the crowd and they actually cheer. They cheer me!. I can't believe it! I breath heavily as I take in the large cheering crowd that sits under the intense lights from the towers. Screw my family! I have all the attention I need from this crowd! Heh heh! I'm in such an euphoric rush that I don't even mind when Stryker goes to select the girl, someone by the name of Flame Vapore.

Then I see her.

She looks like an angel, with long white hair that goes down to her back and pale grey eyes. She's tall and slender and carries such a regal presence around hair that I can't help but fall quiet and stare. 

"What an intriguing girl!" President Stryker offers a handshake but she only stares at it and he eventually drops his hand. He isn't smiling anymore. "You will certainly fare well..." He turns to the crowd. "Citizens of the Capitol! I give to you, your tributes of the 399th Annual Hunger Games, Iggy Coupe and Flame Vapore!"

And they all cheer again! They all cheer for me! I take it gleefully, trying to snatch the cheers out of the air. These Games are mine! All mine! I can win and give myself a new, better family! 

Heh heh.


Day One

Rosalie Sonnet (District 6)

The sheer glamour of the District 6 apartment is astounding. I walk around the room taking in everything, from the shimmering gold curtains to the shiny porcelain toilet, everything just looks so expensive. It makes me both envious and angry but I try not to dwell on those feelings as I clothe myself in the training garb. I found it lying in a neat pile outside my door this morning. It's not exactly my taste, but it fits me perfectly, like it was designed solely for me, which it probably was. 

When I finish getting changed I depart my room and head down the long hallway that leads to the dining room. My mentors, Buck and Marceline are both present. Buck is lounged back in his chair, buttering his toast while Marceline plays with some rolls. I notice that my District partner isn't here. 

Buck motions for me to sit down and I do, helping myself to a plate of eggs. "Where's Julius?" I ask.

"Hmm?" Buck looks up, his mouth full of toast. "You mean Julio? He's in the bathroom. Apparently the spicy burritos he ate last night didn't sit too well with him."

I grimace and try to focus on eating but my curiosity eventually gets the better of me. "Will he be done in time to attend training?"

Buck shrugs. "Maybe. I wouldn't count on it though. It sounded pretty bad." Silence then overtakes our table for the rest of the meal. I'm not concerned about Julio, other then as a possible enemy that is. He's pretty strong and athletic but he's not all that bright. I don't think he will be anywhere near my largest threat. 

By the time we finish eating and a pair of Avoxs clear the table it's become evident that Julio isn't going to show so Buck and Marceline lead me to the elevator alone. "Try to learn something new," Buck says as I push the button and wait for the doors to open. "And don't let anyone intimidate you." That's not something he has to worry about. I don't get intimidated by anything.

"Try to make plenty of friends!" Marceline giggles as the doors open and I step in. I ignore her and nod curtly at Buck as the doors slide shut. The ride is longer than I thought it would be, or it feels that way at least. Thoughts of my sister Celia float around as I descend. If I hadn't volunteered for her what would she be doing right now? Would she have chosen to align with Julio? Would she be thinking of having allies? Something I have already written off. Allies can only lead to trouble. 

The doors suddenly open and I step out into a large gymnasium. My eyes zoom around, trying to take everything in. The racks of weapons and their corresponding stations are all in the back, directly across from me. The survival stations are spread to the left side and the Gauntlets, Ropes Course and other stamina stations are on the right. Stepping forward and turning, I can see that the cafeteria is just to the left of the elevators. As I examine my new surroundings I notice that I'm one of the first tributes to arrive. Only the Careers and the pair from District 9 are here. I sense them watching me, probably wondering where my district partner is, and I lean back on the wall as I wait for the other districts.

I don't have to wait long. An elevator opens and deposits the tributes from District 11 and one by one the other Districts arrive. By the time the training period should be beginning, every single tribute has come. Except for Julio. He must still be stuck up in the bathroom. 

"Line up by height!" Trainers start lining us all about and as I use this opportunity to examine the other tributes. Hammer (2), who looks just shy of seven feet, is at the left end of the line. He's followed by Luxray from 13. At the far end of the line stands Misty from District 12, the shortest tribute. I'm placed somewhere in the lower middle of the line and as I take in everyone else I start feeling more confident of my ability to win. Yeah, there's a lot of tributes bigger then I am but they don't look any brighter. And the tributes who do look smarter then me, or at least on par with, don't seem to be any stronger. The exception to this is the boy from District 3. He's tall and about as muscular as any Career but seeing as he's from 3, where all the geniuses are, he's certainly not a dummy. If I was willing to bet who my biggest challenge would be, I'd say him.

"Everyone listen closely!" A man steps forward from the group of trainers. He's shorter and stockier then the rest, not necessarily fat but definitely built like a barrel. His hair is cut short, buzzed in the same style as the Peacekeepers back in District 6. "I am Llywelyn, the Head Trainer here," He taps his jacket vest, where the letters "H.T." are embroidered with gold lace. "And it would do you well to listen to my words. Failure to do so could very well result in your death." He definitely has everyone's attention now. "Weapons and the ability to wield weapons, are important. But not the most important skill on display here. Being able to supply yourself with food and drinkable water, not to mention shelter, is what will determine your fate. You may find yourself in a situation where you need a knot tied but you do not know how to do so, having passed up to opportunity to train with both a spear and a mace, neither of which may even be available to you. I tell you this so you divide your time wisely. Now...get training!" He blows a whistle and chaos ensues. The Careers go straight for the weapons, apparently completely disregarding Lylwelyn's words. They've had years to train with weapons. What use could a few more hours wielding them accomplish? 

The other tributes dart to and fro. Some asking for alliances, others seeking an empty station. The boy from District 0 goes straight for the Careers, obviously eager to join up with them. I hang back and then remembering what Lylwelyn said, I go to tie some knots.

Kaye Ocelote (District 4)

"I hate those two," Hammer (2) growls as he watches Anais (1) and Carmine (2) swinging around a pair of maces. I have to agree with him. Not only did they both opt not to join us, they didn't even have the grace to come tell us that, instead just going off on their own and ignoring us completely. That, along with the fact that the Capitol tributes, who aren't that impressive looking anyway, didn't align with us means that there are only five of us Careers. Jake from District 1, Hammer, my weird district partner Mizu, and myself. Oh, and Fenrir from District 0 joined. Apparently he's the brother of last year's tribute Odin Amarth. I can certainly see the resemblance. Now the five of us are just loafing about the sword station, not sure on what our direction is.

"I will be leader," Mizu (4) suddenly states. We all turn to her in surprise. Hammer (2) is the first to respond.

"No. I'm leader!" He draws himself up to his full height and towers well over Mizu. I exchange a look with Jake. He certainly has that intimidation factor going for him. Mizu, however, doesn't back down and instead goes toe to toe with the giant.

"Why can't we both be leader? It's not like we can't cooperate!" Again I exchange a glance with Jake. Two leaders? Of a small five person alliance? That seems a bit sketchy and I expect Hammer to protest but he doesn't. 

"Fine. That seems fair."

They both turn and head off in opposite directions. Hammer towards the axes and Mizu for the tridents. I'm about to head for the Archery Station when a hand touches my shoulder and I turn to see Fenrir (0) behind me. "Come with me," he says loudly. "If our leaders aren't going to recruit anyone, we will!" He marches off but not before grabbing Jake (1) by the back of the collar and bringing him with. As we cross the gym most of the tributes we pass hurriedly scurry away, intimidated by the mere presence of us. I'm wondering who Fenrir has in mind when he stops in front if the Camouflage Station, where the two dark haired males from Districts 13 & 14 are practicing their skills. "You two!" Fenrir's voice booms as he addresses the two boys. "The Careers would like to offer you a position in their ranks. You must be incredibly honored!" They look at each other for a few seconds and then the tall one, Luxray I think, nods at the other who speaks

"Well, we are, um, honored. And we would like to join with you guys but we must decline on this occasion. But maybe we could have a truce?" He looks up hopefully at Fenrir, whose eyes are dark and unreadable. 

"Fine...we'll have a truce." He turns and leaves without saying another word. Jake and I hang around for a few more moments and then hurry after him. A truce? I don't know how long that will hold up. Maybe not even for the bloodbath, if Fenrir's expression is anything to go off. Their declination of joining us doesn't deter him though, as he goes right for his next targets, the two District 3 tributes. The two of them are crouched beside one another, attempting to get a fire started. One, a muscular dark haired male whose practically a man, looks up as we approach. 

"What do you want?" He demands as the girl shrinks behind him.

"The Careers would like to offer you a position in their ranks. You must be incredibly honored!" The boy seems taken back. And then a hard smile crosses his face.

"You want us? Ha! Like we would join up with you cowardly murderers!" I feel myself bristling as I begin to think up a retort but Fenrir speaks before I can.

"You defy our offer and insult us? Mark my words, you will be struck down my the Almighty Odin!"

The man gives a dark laugh. "The Almighty Odin? Give me a break. That guy isn't even real!" I'm genuinely worried that Fenrir is about to throttle him. His eyes bug out, the veins in his arms bulge as his hands clench into fists and spittle flies from his teeth. When he speaks, he shouts so loud that I cover my ears.

"YOU DARE MOCK THE ALMIGHTY ODIN! YOU WILL DIE FOR YOUR IGNORANCE!" His shouting has just about everyone in the gymnasium turn to look. Several staff members come hurrying over as the District 3 male stands up and places his District partner behind him.

"Go on then," He speaks calmly, staring Fenrir right in the eye. "Just try it!"

"You think I'm a joke?" Fenrir isn't shouting anymore but somehow his voice is more threatening, more menacing. "You think I'm just a scrub? Well, I'll show you. I will destroy you and everything around you. I will take away everything you care for." His eyes land on the girl hidden behind the boys large frame. His threat is clear and the boy sees it. He jumps forward, brandishing a fist but the training staff is quick. I hadn't even noticed that they had surrounded us. They grab both Fenrir and the boy and drag them apart as they glare daggers at one another. Jake and I are pulled back too, though we weren't even apart of the argument. I'm worried that they're going to remove us from the gym they don't. They take us to the far side of the gym and give us a firm warning to avoid physical contact with the other tributes and then leave us.  

"That recruitment didn't go well," Jake (1) mutters. No one responds. Fenrir is still glaring and I'm left with the conclusion that he's not someone I would want to cross.

Azalea Finch (District 9)

I watch as Jac (9) runs across the Gauntlets. He's really determined to win these Games and has already started petitioning for others to help him form the Anti-Careers, an alliance his relative Jake Price helped found in the 325th Hunger Games. He actually pitched me the idea last night. He made it sounds so tempting that I just had to join, despite my initial thoughts he's actually a very nice guy. It's just that things get very uncomfortable anytime him and Hazel are in the same room, something that happens often due to her being our mentor. Not that they have spoken to each other since the train ride. Hazel's been nice to me though. Even jokingly telling me not to stab Jac in the heart when I told her I would be aligning with him.

"Nice job..." Kim (8), our sole other ally as of right now, says to Jac as he comes back around. He did a good job, actually having finished the Gauntlets, something that no other tribute has yet accomplished. But then, none of the Careers and about three-quarters of the others haven't yet attempted it. 


Kim ducks her head shyly at the compliment. She's not a very social person. When we initially asked her to join she stared at us for a full minute before muttering a small "Ok". Still, I like her. She seems very trustworthy. "Anyone else want to go?" Jac asks us. Kim shakes her head and he turns his green eyes to me. "Azalea?"

"Sure. I'll try."

I climb up to the top and carefully examine the uneven footing. I will need to be very selective of where I place my feet, especially because of the swinging pendulums. I look to the Trainer in charge and he gives me the nod go. I take a deep breath and then jump. I manage to avoid the first few footfalls and then duck under a swinging medicine ball. 

So far so good.

I hop from place to place avoiding catastrophe until I misplace my foot and slip. I have the unfortunate luck of falling right in the path of a swiping pad and I take a blow to the chest. I stagger backwards and tumble, just barely managing to grab onto a spoke before falling. I pull myself back up and smile. I'm not done yet.

I continue along, avoiding all obstacles until I reach a point where I have to jump across a spinning log. Three foam spokes extend from the log and form a moving barrier. I'm going to have to time my movements just right.

I don't.

I stumble just as I step onto the log and I'm not fast enough to avoid the spoke that smacks right into me, driving me off the Gauntlets and to the mats below. 

I shrug the fall off and turn to my allies. I expected to hear some calls of encouragement but I didn't and I wonder why. I don't wonder for long, as I see Jac and Kim in a conversation with two other girls. Well, Jac is in conversation. Kim is just watching shyly. They must be trying to recruit them.

I walk over and Jac turns to smile at me. "And here's Azalea! She's my district partner and is also in the alliance." I greet the two girls as I examine them more closely. One's the small strawberry blonde from District 12. She, like Kim, doesn't talk much but I don't think it's due to shyness. I see a layer of intelligence in her eyes and sense the careful tone in her voice. She's a sly one, not yet ready to reveal much about herself. The other girl, the one from District 13 with the psychedelic hair, is more talkative, telling us that her name is Alexandrite and she wants to avenge her sisters death, which took place in a Games a few years back. "You'll fit just fine with us," I tell her with a warm smile. 


"Excuse me. What's going on here?"

We all spin to see the girl from District 10 approaching. Her dark curly hair bouncing on her shoulders as she walks. I go to answer but Jac is faster.

"We're the Anti-Careers. Do you want to join?" 

I find that a little too straightforward but the girls eyes light right up. "Ooh! Yes! But let me get Billy, he's bound to want to join!" She hurries off we watch as she collects her district partner from where he was unsuccessfully attempting to draw a bow. The two of them come back and swiftly introduce themselves.

"I'm Fawn!"

"And I'm Billy! Watch out though, cuz I'm kinda Billy-Silly!"

We all say our own names and then Jac asks everyone else a question. "What about your District partners? Think they would join?"

Surprisingly, Kim is the first to answer. "No...I don't think so...he's always so angry looking..."

"And mine has already joined up with the giant from fourteen. Apparently they're separated brothers or something," Alexandrite says with a flip of her hair.

"What about you Misty?" Jac turns to ask the strawberry blonde.

She shrugs. "I don't even know what Ganta is doing. He could already be in an alliance." And with that settled we all decide to head over to the weapons, now that the Careers have moved on. I'm feeling pretty good. Our alliance has grown and we're a formidable team.

Aspen Bolts (District 3)

"You really shouldn't have riled them up..." Iris (3) says softly as we endure yet another glare from that oaf Fenrir. It's been several hours since our encounter yet every time I turn to look at him, he's still glaring.

"It's fine. You can't glare someone to death," I tell her reassuringly. 

"No. But he can target you in the Games!"

"Good. Let him. He'll only die quicker." If that encounter did anything it instilled a deep determination to not die at his hand. Especially since he threatened Iris. The mere thought of that slimy weasel harming her gets my blood boiling. I would have already put him in his place if it wasn't for the training staff...

"Aspen? Aspen are you okay? You're squeezing that paint tube dry!" Surprised, I look down and see that my hand has clenched around the tube of paint I've been holding. Already my hand is drenched in blue paint. The camouflage instructor unhelpfully tells me that I could now blend in with the ocean.

"Let's go climb a tree," I mutter, ignoring the rib and climbing to my feet. Iris follows as we make our way across the gym. I'm not going to tell her but my reason for doing so is to get as far as possible from the Careers. 

When we reach the station we quickly learn that Iris has quite the knack for scaling trees quickly. I, well, I don't have the same ability. I'm too bulky and despite what Iris tries to teach me, I never know the proper places for my hands. "It's all about location," Iris laughs as she tries to teach me yet again. "See? My foot is in this little hollow. Now let's see you try..." It takes twenty more minutes before we realize I just can't get up a tree. I don't mind. Iris laughed and enjoyed herself. She looked more beautiful then ever. My heart aches as I think that soon I will have to part from her. To die So she can live. It's not fair.

"Slow down Henry!" 

The little boy from District 7, with his curly mop of blonde hair, comes running up and quickly tries to scale the tree. He doesn't get all that far before sliding back down but Iris laughs and playfully taunts me about how he got higher then I did. I rightfully point out that he weighs much less then me. "Come on Henry. I want to train with the weap--" The brown haired boy from 8 cuts himself off as he sees us. I saw the pair of them earlier. The little boy, Henry, excitedly darting from station to station with the older boy following like an overzealous babysitter. 

"Hello!" Iris says cheerfully but he only scowls and moves around to the other side of the tree, where he doesn't have to see us. "What's his problem?" Iris asks me as we move on to another station.

"He's a jerk," I answer simply but she frowns.

"No. No, I don't think a jerk would ally and befriend that little boy. No. I don't think that's it."

"Then he's upset he's about to die. We're not exactly on vacation here Iris."

"I didn't think we were!" We don't say anymore but I keep thinking about that small boy. He's so young and yet he still has to die. Who would even have the cruelty within them to kill him? And who would do such a thing? A small voice in my head answers.


Him and his Career buddies would have no problem doing so. They'd probably enjoy it. No. They would enjoy it. They make me sick. Remind me so much of my father...Was that the reason I'm so hostile to them? Is it because they remind me of my father? I guess it doesn't matter. I made enemies out of them and now I'm going to have to live with it....

Arbor Alpine (District 7)

I grit my teeth as the axe I've just thrown sinks into the very edge of the target. The attendant tells me that I've done the best of everyone whose attempted so far but I'm not appeased. That's not my best. 

I take another axe from the rack. This one with a smooth black handle and aerodynamic holes inserted into the blade to make it lighter and easier to throw. I face the target again. It's a round circle with different zones, blue on the very edge, followed by green, yellow, orange and finally, in the very center, a red bullseye. I wind up and throw again. I do better this time, the axe slamming into the yellow zone of the target. "Very good," The attendant tells me but I have to wonder if he's disappointed someone from District 7, where axes are everywhere, hasn't done better. 

I grab a third axe. This time I will hit that bullseye. I take careful aim, remembering the pattern of my last two throws. I wind up and get ready to throw.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

A bell chimes and I lose my grip on the axe. It sails well above the target and cracks into the wall. I spin around, scowling and wondering what that stupid noise was.


One boy takes off sprinting for the cafeteria and then everyone else comes flooding past. The Careers push and jostle their way through the crowd, intent on claiming the biggest table for themselves. I wait until just about everyone is seated before coming over. I grab a tray and quickly fill it with the best looking food before sitting at a small table in the back corner. 

As I eat I examine the other tributes and am marginally surprised by the amount of alliances. Besides for myself there's only two other loners. The sneaky looking girl from 6 and that ultra nerd from the Capitol. I'm not surprised no one chose to align with him. Right now he's shoving his butter knife completely through an apple and snickering loudly. The nearby District 5 pair quickly scoot away, throwing him worried looks. 

I don't understand why so many people are aligning. Yes, allies are helpful. But they won't remain that way. Sooner or later they will realize that only one can win and will plant a knife right in the center of your back. All you're doing by allying is putting yourself at risk and giving far too much about your skills. By the time betrayal happens, they'll know everything about you. 

Looking at the assembled alliances before me, I think I can already tell which ones will betray their allies. Take Misty (12) in the Anti-Careers for example; Her shifty eyes and continued silence suggests a reluctance to get to know her allies. Something that means she'll have no qualms about killing them later in the Games. I'm not going to condone that action, it's killed or be killed after all, but I'd never put myself in that position to begin with. Why risk having someone you thought you knew betray you? 

No. I'm not going to put myself at risk. And as it appears, only one other person thinks the same. That's the girl from District 6. I would say the Capital boy, but I sense that he would already be in an alliance if anyone was willing to take him. My eyes drift over him and to the 6 girl. I'm surprised when she looks up and meets my gaze. Something about her eyes just seems so...dangerous.

We hold the stare for a few more seconds and then she rises and goes to deposit her tray. I'm left with the feeling that of all the trained Careers and giant tributes that my biggest threat may in fact be a conniving girl from District 6. 

Jake Locketback (District 1)

My sword fiercely slashes through dummies right and left, dismembered limbs go flying as I wield a whirlwind of steel. I spin around, slashing one's neck and then throw my sword towards another. The point drives straight into the dummies chest and it falls over just as the attendant blows her whistle, signalling the end of the challenge.

"Impressive!" Hammer (2) says as I step back and wipe the sweat of  of my face with a towel. 

"Yeah. I don't think anyone else could do that!" Mizu (4) agrees. 

"Thanks!" I'm overjoyed at the praise. Coming into training I hadn't thought that I would perform too well. Training wasn't exactly a high priority back home. But I've done better than I thought and hearing my leaders complement me is the icing on the cake. 

"We have a good grip this year," Mizu continues. "Even if Anais and Carmine are too stubborn to join us." I notice the scowl on Hammer's face at the mention on our two deserters. He reminds me of how much Fenrir (0) dislikes Aspen (3) and I wonder if all Careers hold grudges. If so, I should find someone to hate and fit in. No, that was a joke.

"Today's training period is now complete!" Lylewyn gives a blast of his whistle. "Also stations will now close!" Slowly everyone turns from what they were doing and heads for the elevators. I follow behind Hammer and Mizu and am about to join them in an elevator when I'm grabbed by the collar and yanked backwards. I don't need to hear his voice before knowing who it is. 

"Come with me!" Fenrir (0) growls and I see that Kaye (4) is just behind him. "We have some unfinished business." He has us hang back, watching as everyone else enters an elevator and then, just as Aspen (3) steps into one, he leads us forward. 

The guy looks at us in surprise as we enter but before he can do anything Kaye (4) presses the button for the roof. I just catch a glimpse of Iris standing outside, looking around for Aspen, as the doors slide shut. "What do you want?" Aspen demands. He's trying to keep his voice level but I sense discomfort under his words.

Fenrir smiles. "I just wanted a little talk. Your little friend is all alone right now. I wanted to warn you that something may go amiss in your absence..."

I see the fury ignite in Aspen's eyes and then he's throwing a punch. Before it connects Kaye rams his shoulder into his gut and drives him into the wall. Fenrir laughs gleefully and then punches Aspen square in the face. "You should not have insulted Odin! You shall pay for that!" I watch in alarm as him and Kaye go to town on him. He tries to cover his head with his hands but their blows are swift and brutal. Large flashes form on his face and blood begins to leak out as he slides to the ground, moaning. "Why are you not helping?" Fenrir demands, staring at me. "Help deal out Odin's retribution!" I stare at him blankly, unsure of what to do. This isn't allowed! We're not supposed to harm the other tributes until the Games! But...I can't  back out and appear weak in front my fellow Careers. 

I nod curtly and then send a kick into Aspen's ribs. He groans in pain and I feel terrible. But I continue to beat him down with Kaye as Fenrir hurls insults. We plant kicks and punches on him until there's a beeping noise and the elevator doors open. We're on the roof. 

"This is a lesson for you!" Fenrir snarls as he grabs Aspen by the scuff of the neck and hauls him up. "Do not insult the Almighty Odin. Or you will pay. You thought I was a joke. You were wrong!" I feel my stomach churn as I see the bruised and bloodied face of Aspen. One of his eyes is swollen shut and the other watches Fenrir, filled with hatred. Fenrir drags him out of the elevator and drops him unceremoniously on the ground of the roof. I can hear the wind blowing heavily, masking his moans of pain. Fenrir gives him one last kick and then steps back into the elevator with a pleased smile. "I do not expect them to find you until morning. Good night."

And then the doors slide shut. 

Day 2

Iris Pixel (District 3)

My hands are clasped over my head as tears run down my face. Last night Aspen was...Aspen was--was attacked. An Avox found him lying unconscious on the roof of the training facility. He was severely bruised and bleeding baldly. They quickly took him to the infirmary and I haven't seen him since. And now--and now I'm supposed to just go and train like nothing happened? 

I look up at my mentor Quinton, he's just finished a conversation with a Capitol attendant and is approaching me. "Well?" I ask, ashamed of how bad my voice sounds. "Are they going to punish Fenrir?" I knew what happened the moment I learned of what transpired. It had to have been Fenrir who did it. Who else would attack Aspen? 

"No," Quinton shakes his head. "They say they don't have any proof-"

"Bullcrap! They must have cameras all over the place! They had to have seen it!"

"I don't doubt that they have. But I must be frank with you. They probably don't care. In fact, they might be happy. It certainly adds an interesting story. Aspen will have to explain what happened in his interview of course and that draws interest..."

I'm furious. Beyond furious. All they care about is their dumb Games! But of course. Why would I expect any different from the people who brought us here to die? Why would they care if someone was attacked? Aspen is reportedly going to be recovered enough to compete by the start of the Games, so why bother punishing someone for something that doesn't matter? It just makes me hate the Capitol even more...

"What if they attack me next?" I ask, my voice cracking as I try to hold back my anger. "Will they just overlook that too?"

"No. Every tribute has been issued a strict warning to not touch another tribute. Any further physical contact will result in immediate expulsion from the Games. If it happens once it only adds a layer of intrigue but if it happens twice, then it's just defiance..." 

And we all know how they handle defiance. Quinton rises and tells me to get to the gym. I don't want to, I want to be by Aspen's side, but I don't really have a choice. And besides, he would want me to continue training. I enter the elevator alone and try not to sob on my way down. I will not let them see me cry. I will show my strength. The doors slide open and I see that training has already started. I march right past everyone and towards the Gauntlets, where I successfully complete it without a single hitch. When the going gets tough, the tough get going!

Anais Morrisa (District 1)

"That big ogre is glaring at you again Carmine."

"I know. But who cares? He's not a threat to us. No one here is." I giggle. That is true. That's why we were confident enough to not join with the Careers in the first place. I stare at the Hammer (2) as he glares in our direction and innocently wave. He makes a rather rude gesture and I burst out giggling again.

"What's so funny, Anais?" Carmine (2) asks as she tests the weight of a mace she just picked up. 

"Oh, it's nothing. I just waved at the ogre," I giggle again. I've been in just the happiest mood since the Reaping. I'm reunited with Carmine! And we get to compete in the Hunger Games! Our dream come true! What's not to love? Carmine just nods and goes to test out her weapon on some dummies. I watch and give complements as she absolutely demolishes them. Carmine is the best fighter there is, save myself of course. It's not fair to compare her to me though. I'm the absolute best.

Once she finishes I take my turn with a warhammer. The weapon is expertly designed and is the epitome of amazing craftsmanship. I have no problem going through the dummies and when I finish I high-five with Carmine as Fawn (10) steps up with a heavy club. "Don't hurt yourself!" Carmine calls and then bursts out laughing. "Who am I kidding? I'd love to see you hurt yourself!" The girl glares at her and then takes a swipe at a replica skull on the pedestal. She doesn't seem able to control the velocity of the weapon and her swing goes well over her target. 

"Oh don't worry!" I smile sweetly. "You'll surely get it next time!" The girl doesn't appear to know whether I'm joking or not. She gives me a blank look and mutters something under her breath before trying again. The second attempt is even worse than the first, something I didn't think possible. She completely loses control of the club and it sails from her grasp, smashing into a rack of spears not far away. She lets out a terrified yelp and Carmine laughs as I giggle lightly. "Try again!" I encourage, still in a pleasant tone and the girl nods glumly and goes to retrieve her club.

"This is like watching a puppy try to cross a busy street!" Carmine whispers and I giggle once more as the girl returns, throwing us suspicious looks. She mutters once more and then swings fiercely. But far too low. Her club smashes into the pedestal holding the target and Carmine let's out a gleeful cackle. "Strike three!"

"Oh don't stop, you nearly had it!" The girl stops from where she was walking and fixs me with a glare.

"I think you're being sarcastic!"

"What? No! Why would I ever do such a thing?" I sound so sincere, a useful by-product from manipulating others my whole life, that the girl actually stops to consider my words. But then Carmine shouts at her.

"Get out of our sight you troll-faced wench! Our I'll use your head as a target!" That does it. Fawn quickly scurries away, back towards her previous Anti-Careers. When she's gone I smile.

"I just love messing with people!"

Carmine bobs her head in agreement. "So do I! But it will be even better when the Games begin and we get to actually harm some people!" I giggle, my excitement at a whole new high. I just can't wait! Carmine and I will have ever so much fun!

Julio Fall (District 6)

There's a real disadvantage to showing up late to training, not least of all the fact that everyone else has already had a full day of training. But another reason is that everyone has already formed their alliances. 

As soon as I came down I wandered about and quickly bumped into another alliance. They recalled not seeing me yesterday and I said they were correct. They asked why and I promptly told them I was stuck in the bathroom with explosive diarrhea from eating too many spicy burritos. They gave me a weird look and quickly hurried off. I don't know what was with them.

Now I'm just walking around the left side of the gym, examining the other tributes. Jac (9) and Azalea (9) are practicing making a shelter and seem to be succeeding, Arbor (7) has created a roaring fire and is getting many compliments from the attendant. I join in, giving some rambunctious applause and the girl throws me a dirty look. "Good for you!" I say happily but I don't think she hears me. I turn to watch someone else when I bump into another boy.

He drops a large pile of sticks to the floor and quickly drops down to pick them up. I help him gather them and when he stands I hand them back to him. He's the boy from the Capitol, Iggy. His wild green hair juts out in all directions and he is constantly twitching, his eyes rolling about in his head repeatedly. "Hullo!" I say cheerfully stretching a hand out. But then I realize his are full and unable to shake it so I drop it feeling foolish.

"Are-are you talking me?" He asks, peering at me through the tops of his thick glasses. 

"Yes!  I am!"

He lets out a wild laugh and drops his sticks to the ground. I go to pick them up as he continues speaking. "You saw me! You were the first person here to speak to me!" His laugh gets more high-pitched and hysterical as I rise with the pile of sticks in my arms. "Do you like traps?" He asks suddenly, giving me an intense look.

"I don't like falling in them."

"Good! Good! Follow me!" He cackles gleefully and speeds off. I follow him at a pleasant trot. He seems like a pretty cool guy! He's awesome looking too, like some sort of mad scientist! And mad scientists are good allies! Right? "Look at this!" Iggy (C) stops beside the snare setting station and points to the raised platform that contains a small slice of replica forest, the area where the snares are tested. "Go in! Go in!" I smile cheerfully and jog onto the platform. I turn and give him a look but he waves for me to go further. I take another step and then the ground beneath my feet gives away and I go toppling into a small hole. 

What happened? I'm almost certain that I stepped onto plain grass! My head spins around and I see what happened. Beneath me lies a flat of the artificial grass. It looks to have been cut away with a knife. I frown, trying to pierce this together when Iggy bounces over and peers down at me. "You likey?" He asks with a grin.

"Very good! How did you do this?" I hold up the cutaway grass and his grin widens.

"I just cut it away from the grass at the Climbing station and then placed it over the hole that starts here!"

"Were you suppose to do that?"

He pauses to scratch his neck. "Yes. No. Maybe. I don't know!" He doesn't seem troubled by this for long and then grins again. "Doesn't matter! Try to climb out!"

"Okay." Seems easy enough. It's more of a large ditch then a hole. Only six feet deep. I merely jump and grab the ledge, pulling myself up with ease. I grin at Iggy and then take another step forward. This time I feel something tighten around my ankle and before o can do anything I'm yanked into the air and am dangling from the tree. "Wow! Good job!" I'm impressed with the amount of work Iggy went through to sit this all up. "You look funny upside down!" I tell him.

"Really? Letmesee!" He attempts to balance on his head and then rolls over. He begins to laugh hysterically and I join in. Man, this has been fun!"

"Hey! You weren't suppose to trap another tribute!" Upside down, I see the Attendant come running over. From my view he looks to be on the ceiling and I laugh as he stops beside Iggy. "I leave for ten minutes and you cause mayham! I told you not to do this!"

"He volunteered!" Iggy points towards me and when the attendant looks I wave. 

"I did!"

"Uh. Okay then..." He gives us a look like he thinks we're both morons and then gets to work on getting me down. Iggy laughs the entire time and once I'm down I tell him that I'll show what I'm good at. The two of us speed off and I think I may have just found an ally.

Buck Rockwell (Mentor)

I sigh and lean back on the bench, a glass of cold soda clenched tightly in my hand. Several other mentors loaf about, all of us in the official designation for where our mentory business will be taken care of once the Games begin. Called the Mentor's Lobby, it's a large wide open room with several benches and chairs for sitting, a small indoor waterfall has been set up for purely cosmetic reasons. A cafeteria area is just off of the room and that's where most of us will eat while the Games are on. Hanging over the entire room, large and ever present, is a giant board that shows stats from all the tributes, including their odds.

I examine this board now. The two tributes I'm mentoring, Julio and Rosalie, seem to be faring well enough as of right now. Julio has the slight edge with 15-1 odds while Rosalie is holding down 22-1. It's a far cry from the current highest odds, a 3-1 held by Hammer (2), but at least it's not Henry (7) with his 70-1. 

Not that they mean much right now. All there is for the betters to go off is the tributes basic information and as such, the odds are in a constant state of flux right now. Once the training scores roll in though, things will even out. 

I wonder how my tributes are doing in training right now. I check the clock hanging on the wall and see that it's half an hour past one o'clock. They should be having lunch. 

I take a sip of my soda when I spot Joshua, a small weedy looking man from District 8, approaching me. I don't know much about him, other than that he's one of the District 8 mentors and is one of the few people who enjoy being in Marceline's presence. And thus,I have no desire to communicate with him.

I frown and watch warily as he sits down next to me, his stringy black hair covering his eyes and his extremely pale skin suggesting an aversion to the sun. "Uh. Hey there," I say, trying not to sound too rude. "What do you want?"

"Coming soon..."

"Uh. What?" I stare in confusion at the man and his whispered words. He doesn't even look up at me, instead staring at his shoes. "What did you just say?" I see a small smile play on his lips as he slowly lifts his head up. 

"Coming soon...coming soon..."

I'm kinda freaked out and look around for someone else, maybe Joshu bumped his head or something, but the lobby has cleared out and we're alone. With no help in sight I decide to play along. "Whose coming, Joshua?" 

"Coming soon...they'll save us...coming soon..." He gives a low snicker and rocks back and forth. I quickly make up my mind that he's like Marceline, too drugged out to pay attention to reality. But unlike Marceline he seems to even further detached. 

"Look, Joshua, let's, uh, see if we can find you some help. Maybe they can help out with these people who are coming--"

"No!" He suddenly sits up straight. I'm so shocked that I bolt backwards and slip off of the bench. My glass falls from my hand and shatters on floor, spilling soda everywhere. He stands and stares down at me with wide electric blue eyes. "Don't tell anyone! They must'nt know!"

"I-uh-okay! I won't tell anyone!" He's really lost it now. I pull myself backwards on the ground and into a sitting position. My words seem to calm him down and he smiles at me.

"Thank you. They must'nt know," he turns and begins to walk away. I nervously get back on my feet. "Coming soon...coming to save us..." I don't move until he goes down a hallway adjacent to the lobby and disappears from sight. I pick up the largest shard of the glass and roll it over in my hands as the strange words Joshua spoke repeat in my head. Coming soon...coming to save us...

What the hell was that all about?

Alexandrite Bohamia (District 13)

We all sit around one of the many tables set up in the cafeteria, talking and discussing strategies. Majority of the other tributes have already finished their meals and returned to training, only the alliance of the District 13 & 14 males and the Capitol girl is still eating other then us.

"The private training sessions start tomorrow," Azalea (9) says as I devour the last of my fettuccine noodles. "What scores do you all hope to get?"

Jac (9) is the first to answer, quickly downing his drink and answering confidently. "I want a high score. Being from District Nine I may not have that much sponsors but if I get a nine or ten I'll be in good position." 

"My sister got a nine," I tell them. "And I want to get the same!" Billy (10) and Fawn (10) then both say they're not expecting much, maybe a seven or eight, when Azalea decides to ask Kim (8).

"What about you Kim? What score do you want?"

She raises her head shyly and speaks in a low voice. "A pink giraffe." 

An awkward silence. I'm wondering if I heard her correctly and everyone else must be thinking the same thing. Finally, Jac voices our thoughts, his tone nice but his words incredulous. "You want your training score to be a pink giraffe?"

"I--training score...? I thought you asked what--what any one thing I wanted..." Her cheeks turn a bright pink and she buries her head in her tray, obviously embarrassed. I share an awkward glance with Fawn. She wants a pink giraffe? No one speaks. I don't know what to say. But then Billy laughs. 

"Man! That sounds awesome! Like, say you get jumped in a dark alley, a guy comes up to you and says 'I have a gun! So give me your monies!' But then you say 'Nah-ah! I have a pink giraffe!' And then it bursts onto the scene and kicks the man and you shout 'Now you give me your monies!" There's yet another awkward silence. Kim is sinking into her seat, embarrassed even further by Billy's, uh, story, I guess you could call it. 

"That's nice Billy," Fawn says quietly breaking the long silence that had fallen over the table.

"Yeah it is! But what would be even better is if you had a purple lion and then you could--"

"I'm going to train some more. Anyone want to come with?" Jac (9) jumps to his feet before Billy can finish his story. Azalea quickly goes with him and I follow, grateful for an excuse to avoid sitting through another one of his joke fests. As we walk for the Sword Fighting Station I notice that Misty (12) has also came with us. She's so quiet I forgot that she was even in our alliance. 

"You never said the score you wanted," I say hoping to start a conversation. "So what is it?" Azalea throws a look back at us.

"Yeah Misty. What score do you want?"

"I'm getting a twelve," She states it so matter-of-factly that I have to giggle. She doesn't seem to like that and gives me a dirty look. "What? You don't think I'm capable of it?"

"Honestly? No. There's only been a handful of tributes receiving a twelve in the past half century. What makes you so special?" 

"Don't start anything!" Azalea says to us and I nod at her, ignoring the fierce scowl from Misty. Maybe I shouldn't have said she wasn't special. That might not be taken the right way. I would apologize but you don't do that in the Hunger Games. When you're trying to murder other kids it really doesn't matter if you offend someone. You just have to duck your head and keep moving.

Clark Stevens (District 5)

I watch Missy (5) as she pulls back on the bow. She has perfect form, perfect concentration. She let's go of the string and with a Whoosh! The arrow flies through the air and strikes the exact bullseye of the target. "Perfect job!" I congratulate and her blue eyes brighten up considerably.

"Thank you! I've used a bow a few times before. It's one of the things that I think can give me an advantage!" She smiles and hands the bow to me. "You try now! I'm sure you will be just as great!" I smile at her and nod. I've seen enough people use a bow to get on grasp on how to handle it. I try to imitate Missy's form as I notch an arrow and pull back on the string. I take aim at the target, scarcely breathing as I try to make my shot as perfect as possible. When I have everything aligned, I release.

It's not as good as Missy's shot was. My arrow strikes the very edge of the bullseye, just narrowly missing the red center. I'm disappointed. I could have done better. I know I could have done better. Missy cheers and congratulates me anyways and while I really don't think I deserve it, I accept her praise regardless. Her enthusiasm and bright smile are too much for me not to accept. "We're probably the best arrow shooting alliance, like, ever!" She says while practically jumping up and down.

"Yeah. The best." I'm still replaying the shot in my mind, trying to see what it was that I could improve. If I had only aimed the boy slightly to the left...than I would have had a bullseye for sure. I want to try again and get it right but Missy wants to move onto something else and once again I find it impossible to deny her. So instead of fixing my aim I follow her across the way towards the knife throwing station. Two tributes are already there, the brown haired siblings from District 11. 

"They're good!" Missy whispers as we stop to watch. She's right. The boy seems to hit his target every time. One knife striking the dummies throat, another it's heart and a third embeds in its forehead. His sister's good too. She's practicing against moving dummies on a track and despite this her throws all seem to hit. 

"They could be a big threat..." I murmur more to myself than Missy. I don't think she hears me anyways, as she's clapping for boy, Bellamy I think his sister called him, as his final knife slices across one dummies neck and then goes on to stick in another's shoulder.

"Good job!" Missy applauds and the two of them turn to give her disdainful looks.

"Never encourage your enemy!" Bellamy (11) growls, his voice deep and husky. He sounds much more like a man then a boy. "That's just stupidity!" I find myself angry at him insulting Missy, despite my agreement with the encouraging part.

"Leave her alone!" I say stepping forward. "At least she has some manners!"

Bellamy rolls his eyes while his sister gives a little huff. "Sure. Whatever. Nice to see you protecting your girlfriend."

"She's not my girlfriend!" I feel my face redden as I take another step forward, really upset now. "And I don't like your attitude!"

"And maybe I don't like yours!" He steps forward now and I instinctively shrink back. He's half a foot taller than I am and is muscled all over. I gulp, frightened that I provoked the wrong person. But he only gives a sharp nod. "But you got a lot of spark. That's good to see. C'mon Octavia!" He nods his head at his sister and takes off. She looks at us.

"I wouldn't cross him if I were you," She says and then follows after him. Feeling foolish, I turn to Missy sheepishly. 

"That was embarrassing," I mutter.

"No, that was nice of you. They were acting rude." I stare into her blue eyes and figure she's being honest. She really did think what I did, which was nothing actually, was nice. That makes me feel better. A little.

"Well, let's throw some knives," I say turning back to the station. "And this time I'm going to be perfect!"

Ganta Alomo (District 12)

Bailey (0) and Amaya (14) chatter softly behind me as I watch the alliance in front of us attempt the Ropes Course. Amaya's giant District partner is the first to attempt but his height works against him here. Basically as soon as he grabs onto the ropes his grip falters and he drops to the ground with an annoyed grunt. One of his allies, Flame from the Capitol, goes next. I'm surprised that she can actually move across, she looks like she's made of glass. I would think that a strong gust of wind would blow her right away. 

"Apparently they made a truce with the Careers," Amaya whispers into me ear.

"Who?" I ask, momentarily confused. I'm not a very social person and I'm often surprised by how much Amaya likes to talk to me.

"Luxray's alliance. The people in front of us!"

"Oh. Right." I see down at the far end of the course, that Flame (C) is nearing the finish. Good on her. I didn't think she had it in her. When she finishes, Luxio (13), the tan boy with the deep black hair, goes to attempt when Amaya speaks.

"How did you guys do it?"

"Huh?" He throws a look back at us and I resist the urge to shrink away from his gaze.

"How did you guys manage a truce with the Careers?" She repeats. She sounds pretty annoyed and then I remember that she dislikes the Careers. Actually, we all do but I'd take a truce with them if offered.

"Oh. Nothing much. They asked for us to align and we declined. We settled on a truce instead." He shrugs, like it's not very important thing.

"It was a good deal," Luxray adds.

"Sure was. Not sure how dependable they are though." As Luxio readies himself to go I bite my lip. I would like to ask for a truce between our two alliances, but I'm nervous that he would just laugh in my face. I mean, what could he gain by trucing with us? We're no threat to them. So I just sit there, watching as he attempts the course. Luxray follows his progress from the ground and then we're alone. I feel like I missed an opportunity but I'm certain he would have declined anyways so I don't know where that feeling comes from.

"Maybe we should have asked for a truce," Bailey (0) suddenly says and I'm surprised that we're on such similar wave lengths. 

"No. We wouldn't want that," Amaya says matter-of-factly.

"Why not?"

"Didn't you see their eyes? It looked like they were planning something. Besides, I don't trust them. I wouldn't be surprised if they're the ones to break the truce with the Careers." I can't say I disagree. Something about their golden eyes was...eerie. Maybe it was a good thing I held back from making the offer. 

With that settled we all take turns trying the Ropes Course. None of us complete it but Amaya gets the furthest, dropping roughly three quarters through. By the time we're finished, the whistle ending the days training blows and every tribute begins heading for the elevator. The three of us hang back, waiting for one to open up. "Only a few more days..." Bailey murmurs. I know what she's talking about. The Games start in only a few more days. Not enough time to really mentally prepare. I still haven't wrapped my head around the fact that I'm going to die soon.

"I will avenge my friends!" Amaya proudly holds her head high.

"And I will win. To help free Helios from prison!" Bailey says. I've heard about Helios before but I really have no idea who he is. I might as well ask now. 

"Who is Helios?"

Bailey seems a bit taken back by my question. "He's my, uh, f-former, uh, not my boyfriend but um, crush's....friend I guess you could say..." She looks down at her shoes and I realize she's uncomfortable and opt not to ask another question for her sake. Amaya, however, goes right ahead.

"What was he imprisoned for?"

"Um...." Bailey is reluctant to answer. "They called it....uh....a crime against humanity..." That's a whopper. I share an awkward glance with Amaya. With a crime that bad I don't know if I want this Helios guy getting out of prison. I don't tell Bailey that though and stay silent as we finally find empty elevator. When it gets going we all just sit around until we drop Bailey off at the District 0 floor. It's only me and Amaya left now and it's a long ride to District 12's stop. When the doors do open Amaya nods at me.

"Good luck. With the training session tomorrow." I smile and then step into the apartment.

"Yeah. Good luck to you too."

Training Scores & Odds

Name & District

Score Odds to Win 
Bailey Snowbelle (0) 6 28-1
Fenrir Amarth (0) 10 5-1
Jake Locketback (1) 9 8-1
Anais Morrisa (1) 9 7-1
Hammer Time (2) 10 5-1
Carmine Morrisa (2) 9 7-1
Aspen Bolts (3) 10 6-1
Iris Pixel (3) 7 22-1
Kaye Ocelote (4) 8 16-1
Mizu Fall (4) 8 15-1
Clark Stevens (5) 5 32-1
Missy Turner (5) 6 26-1
Julio Fall (6) 7 20-1
Rosalie Sonnet (6) 9 12-1
Henry Polyester (7) 3 67-1
Arbor Alpine (7) 7 20-1
Colin Bisset (8) 8 13-1
Kim Carett (8) 2 75-1
Jac Price (9) 9 10-1
Azalea Finch (9) 8 19-1
Billy McGranger (10) 5 35-1
Fawn Talons (10) 6 29-1
Bellamy Blake (11) 9 10-1
Octavia Blake (11) 7 25-1
Ganta Alomo (12) 6 29-1
Misty Honeysuckle (12) 7 21-1
Luxio Sertralium (13) 7 19-1
Alexandrite Bohamia (13) 6 30-1
Luxray Meganium (14) 9 9-1
Amaya Lovelace (14) 7 22-1
Iggy Coupe (C) 6 32-1
Flame Vapore (C) 8 17-1

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.

12= +$100

10/11= +$75

8/9= +$50

7= +25

5/6= -$25

4/3= -$50

2/1= -$75


Azalea Finch (District 9)

I'm filled with terror as I lie on my bed, staring at the ceiling that seems to stretch miles above me. In a few hours I will be in the Games, fighting for my life. 

I don't think I'm prepared. I want more time, more time to ready myself for the ugly and horrendous future that awaits me. For the past few days I've heard nothing but hopeful thoughts from the other tributes, heard all their dreams of survival. But the truth is we're all going to die. Or at least thirty-one of us. The lone survivor will be scarred for life, if they're not a Career or psycho.

The door to my room suddenly opens but I don't react. I know it will someone coming to tell me that it's time to go but I don't want to. I just want to stay here.

I don't get that luxury. Pomona comes in clucking loudly and literally rolls me right out of bed. I hit the soft carpet and bounce back to my feet, scowling darkly at the pudgy woman. "Time to get up!" She says in a sing-song voice. "Time to get ready!" I sigh and resign myself to following her out of the room and down the twisting hallway to the dining room. Jac (9) is already there, stretching his arms. He raises an eyebrow when he sees me.

"Doesn't look like you got much sleep," he says.

"I didn't. I'm surprised you did." I sit myself down at the table and quickly begin to eat some of the food that's around. Despite my fluttering stomach I manage to get some down. I know I'll need the energy. 

"Actually, I didn't sleep a wink!" Jac smiles at me as he changes to leg stretches. "I was far too nervous." 

"That's expected. About every tribute feels the same." Hazel comes slowly walking into the room, her body leaning on an old jewell encrusted cane that I hadn't seen before. Jac scowls and turns his head. They still don't get along and I'm disappointed. I would hope they'd put their differences aside for their own sake. 

"Any final advice?" I ask her. If Jac doesn't want to ask for any information I will. She didn't win her Games by accident and actually survived two bloodbaths.

"Don't take an unnecessary risks. If something seems too good to be true, it is. Only get what you absolutely need. Don't take risks." I nod, letting the words sink in. But I look at Jac and see that he's not paying any attention. Or he is and just isn't showing it. All I hope is that he doesn't do anything rash just to show up Hazel. He's not that arrogant.

Is he?

Flame Vapore (The Capitol)

The elevator goes down and down. Iggy (C) is giggling the entire way, not showing any of the nerves that I feel. He just seems...eager for the Games. I have no idea why. 

"I'm going to win!" He tells me. "Winwinwin!"


The elevator touches down. Two Peacekeepers greet us at the bottom and lead us out into a dank hallway. Iggy is off the wall, bouncing around so much that one of the Peacekeepers is forced to grab him and pull him along. That does nothing to curb his enthusiasm and he grins as he's dragged along. Eventually the hallway leads to a large circular room where we see all of the other tributes. I see that the boy from District 3, the one who was beat, is here. He's covered in bruises and seems to hold his ribs as he walks but otherwise he's fine. A hovercraft sits in the middle and we're suppose to enter it. As I walk towards it I hear someone call out.

"Hey glass doll! How'd you get an eight?" 

I turn to see the boy from 4 grinning cruelly at me as he approaches another entrance to the hovercraft. Despite our "truce" with the Careers, I feel a sense of fury rising in me and I can't hold in the retort. "How about you come over here and see?!" 

"Oh, I will. But wait for the Games first, okay sweetheart?" My hands twitch and I pull my shirt up to my stomach, showing off the large ugly scar that rests there.

"See this?" I growl. "This is a scar that I made by digging a knife into my own stomach to show my ignoramus of a father how strong I am! Do you want me to do the same to you!?". He just throws his head back howling in laughter.

"Whoo! Pull that shirt up a little higher!" If looks could kill, my glare would have slaughtered him as the boy climbs onto the hovercraft'". I wait a few minutes and then I relented too, with Iggy following. Peacekeepers have every tribute settled and restrained in a seat when they inject the trackers into our arms. After this they all exit the room and I simmer in my seat as Luxio, whose right beside me, leans over and whispers. 

"Don't worry. They're all just morons. We know how strong you are." I mutter something but then smile slightly at him.

"Thanks...I guess."

Octavia Blake (District 11)

I fidget in my seat uncomfortably as the hovercraft finally lands and our restraints come loose. Peacekeepers usher us out of the hovercraft in an orderly fashion. 

We're back in a similar looking circular room and this time there's a set of doors with a different District number above them. I'm led to the District 11 door where I'm shortly joined by Bellamy. His face is set in determination and I know that he's already planning for the bloodbath. How best to get a weapon, where to run off to. We don't even know what the arena looks like yet I'm sure he's thought of all the possibilities. A Peacekeeper instructs us to follow him down the hall and we do without question. It's when we reach a split hallway and the Peacekeeper tells us that we have to each go down a separate one that Bellamy turns to me.

"As soon as the platform rises, look for me," He says, speaking very rapidly. "Then go wait on the edge. Don't go for anything. Not supplies, not weapons. I'll get it all. Just wait for me, understand?"

I roll my eyes. Does he think I'm incapable of defending myself? "I will be fine Bell--"

"Do you understand?"

"Yes." He nods his head and then turns to go down his own hall. Why does he get to choose what I do? Maybe I should get the items! I hate being sheltered! I glare at his back and then go down by hallway. It twists and turns until it stops at a doorway and I open, stepping into the Launch Room.

My stylist is there and silently hands me a package of clothing. Opening it up I find a gray wetsuit, a belt with holsters for holding weapons or other items, and a pair of shoes that those divers on TV wear. I raise an eyebrow at my stylist and she smiles slightly. "Expect water," she tells me. "Lots of it."

I nod, gritting my teeth. Water? I can swim, but I'm not exactly an expert. I feel much more at home on land, like all normal people. I thank my stylist for the information and then quickly get dressed. By the time I finish a voice from an intercom is telling us to enter the tube. I do so and as the glass door slides shut behind me I feel my heart going crazy. Despite my strong demeanour I'm nervous, scared even. In just a few moments either myself or Bellamy could be dead. Plain and simply dead. 

The plate beneath my feet begins to move upwards. I try to pacen my breath as the plate pushes me above ground. Bright light shines into my eyes and the air turns thick and humid. I try blinking my eyes for them to adjust faster. The sun reflects off of my plate and makes me feel like I'm being boiled. 


I hear someone positioned near me let out a gleeful shout and my eyes finally adjust. I see the golden cornucopia, glittering in the intense sunlight. But it's far away, separated from my plate by twenty yards of cool blue water.

It's all around me, I realize. Our platforms float in the middle of a circular moat of water. The cornucopia is on a sandy island. Items are strewn across it and the large smooth rocks that encircle the island. Behind me, lies what I can only describe as a jungle. Lush green trees, exotic flowers, a mossy scent blows to me as a breeze rustles past. 

I only just remember to search for Bellamy when the countdown begins.

The Arena

The arena is a series of connected islands. The cornucopia is set on the center island; on a even smaller island in the middle. This island is surrounded by a thick jungle and beyond that a beach that borders every side. 

The main island is connected to four more islands by four cement bridges that each stretch across two miles of ocean. Each island is in a different direction from the main island. The main island is the only island to be connected to more than one island. Each has the same rings of beach and jungle but a different feature in the center. 

The north island has an abandoned military camp with tents and crates. The west island has a large cave that extends deep down into the island's depths. The east island has a waterfall fed pool of sparkling clear water. The south island has an ancient abandoned city that now lies in ruins. 

Many mutts inhabit the arena, from the jungle to the ocean. Tributes will have to be wary not to rile them up.

The Games

Day 1/ Bloodbath

Mizu Fall (District 4)


The arena seems to be predominantly based in water. I should be happy and well, I am. This gives me an advantage over others. My arm stings in pain, a tell tale sign of me blacking out l. I don't like when I change. I don't like killing. In fact, I despise it. But right now I really want to transform.

No one will understand that. Why would I be scared of blacking out and becoming a killing machine most of the time, but want it to happen now, right at the bloodbath? The an answer is that I need to kill to come out of these Games alive. No one has ever won without killing someone. It's just not done. I am a little concerned about how many people I will kill when I transform. Not to mention that I can't control myself once I black out. My allies will be at risk just like everyone else.

So that's why when everyone around me is staring at the cornucopia or trying to judge how deep the water is, I'm just standing still, trying to force the change.

Just transform Mizu. I tell myself desperately. Just transform and get this over with.

Henry Polyester (District 7)

I can't go to the cornucopia. It will be impossible. I'd be dead by the time I reached the island. But..

I look back at the twenty yards of water behind me. I still need to swim across that to get to shore and the safety of that forest-jungle-thingy. Or I'm still as good as dead. I don't know what to do!


The countdown continues. My legs are shaking as I look around at the other tributes on their plates. Most of them have their gazes fixed on the cornucopia and all its amazing loot. Colin (8), whose only a few plates away from me, is among them. He has a glare on his face as he stares at the golden horn. I always knew he would go in. He's too strong not to.

But what about me?

What am I supposed to do? We didn't plan anything out before and now I'm scared. If I go for the jungle, will Colin be okay? Or will someone kill him? Does my decision even matter on that? My body is shaking even harder now. I can't hold myself straight. In just a few more seconds, I will make a life changing decision.

Kaye Ocelote (District 4)

I literally cannot contain my excitement. A wide grin rests on my face as I jump up and down on my platform. This arena is perfect! I will be the first to reach the cornucopia, there is no question about that. No one else here can swim as fast as I can. I flash a confident smile at the tribute whose placed closet to me, Arbor (7).

"See ya at the cornucopia!" I laugh. "And keep an eye open for flying arrows!" She doesn't pay me any attention and I scoff as I turn back to the cornucopia and ready myself to dive.



I dive into the water, my powerful legs kicking through the water as I propel myself forward. It's easy-peasy. I slide through the water like butter and by the time I pull myself onto one of the large smooth stones that surround the island I take a short glance around.

I'm the first to arrive, of course, but a few others are approaching land, including Hammer (2) who, if he was only a few inches taller, would be practically wading through the water. Confident that I have plenty of time, I jog to the mouth of the cornucopia and search for my ideal weapon. 

Two individual racks containing three spears apiece are nearby, so is a rack of knives and daggers of all shapes and sizes, blades curved and straight. I ignore all of these though and grab a gold coloured bow off a rack that contains only one other. I pull both quivers over my shoulder, each with twelve arrows, and then jog back to the edge of the island. I'm kinda surprised that only two others have reached shore, at least on this side of the cornucopia, Hammer (2) and Jake (1), both of whom run straight for the mouth and begin arming themselves.

I slide an arrow into my bow and aim towards the water, where three tributes are swimming. "Like shooting fish in a barrel!" I grin to myself as I take aim. My first target is Kim (8). She's floundering in the water like a fish out of water and presents such an easy target that my arrow has no trouble finding a new home in her throat. 

She gags and attempts to pull it out, sinking into the water that now runs red with her blood as she does so. By the time she disappears from sight I've already reloaded and locked onto my next target, Bailey (0). 

She was the closest to Kim and witnessed what happened. She attempts to dive underwater as my next arrow comes for her. Her stunt works but only slightly. My arrow sinks into her shoulder and she screams in pain, thrashing around as I go to reload, certain that my next shot will end her. But before I do I sense something approaching and I spin to see a soaking wet Aspen (3) charging straight towards me, a wicked curved sword in hand. 

Terror fills my chest as he swings the blade with an unbridled fury. I don't even have time to shout before the weapon cleaves through my neck. 

I fall to the ground, choking and gagging on my own hot and sticky blood. Blackness creeps in on the edge of my vision and the last thing I see is Aspen slinging a webbed backpack over his shoulder and leaping into the water.

Fenrir Amarth (District 0)

I'm just pulling myself onto the island when Aspen (3) is diving into the water, leaving Kaye's (4) feebly retching body behind.


I swear loudly but reconcile myself with the knowledge that I can hunt him down later, when I have the luxury of time. I turn my attention to the cornucopia mouth. Hammer is quite busy attempting to arm himself with every weapon available and Jake (1) is incompetently chasing a dripping wet Rosalie (6) around the bend of the cornucopia. Neither of them have made any kills.

I charge up to the mouth and rip a sword out of a holster of them. I do not bother examining it. Any blade will suit me just fine. I turn and spot a shiny silver backpack lying near the shore of the water. Eager to move it, it would be exceedingly simple for someone to swim up, grab it and then pop back into the water, I I run for it. My hand grabs it just as a girl shoots out of the water, her tiny hands grasping onto the pack. 

I grab on with my second hand and heave backwards, surprising myself as the girl comes with it. I vaguely place her as Misty from District 12 before my sword stabs down into her chest. 

She let's out one distressed scream before going silent, her blood seeping out onto the sand beneath her. "Good riddance!" I growl and kick her body into the water before turning back to the cornucopia. Time to show why the Careers should be feared.

Jac Price (District 9)

I splash through the water towards the shore, my eyes already fixed on an elegant sword that rests against the side of the cornucopia. I'm not a very good swimmer but I think I've made good time in reaching the land.

"Jac! Jac wait for--" Azalea's (9) shout cuts off and my head spins around in horror. But she's not in danger. She's swimming just behind me and got a mouthful of water as she attempted to speak. 

"Stay close behind me!" I tell her and then pull myself onto the rocks. I expected to see chaos and that's exactly what It is. In my quick glance over the area I see Arbor (7) and Missy (5) wrestling on the sand, Missy is attempting to grab a dagger but Arbor keeps pulling her back by her hair. Jake (1) is in a standing brawl with Clark (5) as Flame (C) rummages through a nearby crate and Luxray (14) stands guard. Fenrir (0) is doing something inside of the cornucopia. Good! No one is even in the position to pay me any attention. "Remember. Stay close." I give this reminder to Azalea and then go sprinting across the hot sand to the sword.

I see glimpses of Fawn (10) and Billy (10) pulling themselves onto land as I run and then I'm at the sword. I'm picking it up when a dark shadow appears in front of me and then something heavy lands on my shoulders. I hear Azalea shouting as I fall to the ground. Sand kicks up and some gets in my eye as I wildly kick at my assailant. I feel my foot connect and I have a brief respite allowing me to scramble to my feet.

Luxio (13) is doing the same, a glaive is clenched tightly in his right hand and I just see the frown on his face before he takes a swipe at me. I feel a sharp stab on pain and see a flash of red as the blade rips past my shoulder. Then I throw a savage headbutt forward and we both fall.

My head hurts like hell and everything is blurry. My hand brushes against the hilt of a weapon and my fingers loop around it and then I'm being pulled to my feet. Azalea's concerned face appears in front of mine. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah. Let's go."

As we turn and run I spot Luxio (13) crawling between a rack of axes and the side of the cornucopia. The ground beneath my feet is fluctuating but it's slowly coming back into focus and by the time we reach the water everything has stabilized. Azalea (9) jumps right in and I'm about to follow when I hear a familiar scream.


Fawn! My head snaps around and I see her screaming as Billy (10) lies on the ground, the boy from District 6, Julio, sits atop of him and landing repeated punches. "Billy! I'm coming!" Despite Azalea's scream of protest I go sprinting towards them. Julio (6) sees me coming, sword in hand, and turns jumps off of Billy. He raises his fists just as I swing my sword.

My sword slams into his stomach with a wet thunk and he falls over, coughing up a red spittle. I don't think he's long for this world. "C'mon!" I shout, pulling Billy to his feet. "Let's go!"

"What about Alexandrite?" Fawn asks. I scan the clearing, which has divulged into utter chaos in the few moments my two fights took, but don't see her anywhere amongst it.

"We can't risk staying around any longer. Let's go!" We turn I lead them in a run towards Azalea and prospective safety.

Anais Morrisa (District 1)

I gasp and spit out water as I finally, finally!, pull myself onto land. I go a few paces forward when a boy comes hurtling past me and dives into the water with a duffel bag strapped on his back. As he swims away I notice that he's the District 12 boy. He's swimming towards the shore on the other side where the blonde girl from District 14 sits, her hands carefully holding up the girl from District 0, who looks to have an arrow of some sort in her shoulder.

I have half a mind to go chase them, if I caught up they'd be three simple kills. But reaching them requires me swimming across forty yards of water. I have no desire to get back into swimming so quickly. 

I give up on that thought and rush up to a long crate at the back of the cornucopia horns. I rip the lid open and smile at the deadly warhammer I find inside. I lift the weapon out, marvelling at it. Business is about to pick up!

"Anais!" I recognize that voice! My head shoots up and I see Carmine (2) rushing towards me, a hefty mace in hand. "Look behind you!"

I just spin out of the way when a short thrusting saber stabs the air I was inhabiting. The girl with the hair that most resembles mine, Alexandrite, growls in annoyance and then steadies herself. Then she sees Carmine and myself.

Her eyes widen in terror and then I'm taking a swipe with my hammer. Her saber tries to block the blow but the thin weapon wasn't designed to deflect my heavy hammer and its steel blade bends as its ripped from her grasp. She let's out a squeak and darts away to run but Carmine has my back. 

Her mace connects with Alexandrite and I hear the lovely cracking of her ribs as she falls to her knees. I lung forward and smash my hammer into the back of her skull. It cracks open like an egg and she falls face forward into the sand, dead this time. "Nice one!" Carmine (2) smiles.

"Thank you!" I giggle and sniff the air. It's filled with the scents of the jungle, the salt from the water, and the freshly spilt blood. It's lovely! I glance back down at the dead girl. My first kill of what will be many.

Bellamy Blake (District 11)

I heave myself out of the water and run for the cornucopia. I go get a few paces before my feet hit something and I go sprawling to the floor. My hands scramble over the sand and push myself back up, expecting an attack. But it's nothing. I had tripped over a corpse.

It's the District 6 boy. A long gash is across his stomach and dry blood dribbles from his mouth. "May you rest in peace," I mutter quietly.


I spin around. The boy from the Capitol, the ultra nerd, has just climbed out of the water and is staring at the boy that lies before me. He turns to look at me and a burning fury contorts his face. "Murderer! You killed him! You killed my friend!"

"No! It wasn't me l! I didn't--"

He lets out a furious roar and charges me, lowering a shoulder into my midsection as he drives me to the ground. He's stronger than I expected and manages a few blows to my chest before I recover from my shock and heave him off of me. His eyes are wild with fury, I think he's completely snapped. Reasoning will get me nowhere. I have to fight.

He howls again and charges again. This time my fist connects with his jaw. He drops like a bag of stones, his glasses flying off and skittering across the stones. I pull him to his feet and land a series of punches to his gut. "I. Did. Not. Kill. Julio!" I growl with each punch. He's gone stiff, all the fight seemingly gone. I could kill him easily.


I don't know why. But I don't want to. My conscience has taken pity on this poor boy.  I look at him now, as he sits limply in my hands. His eyes wide and dazed, his expression blank. I don't want to kill him. "Alright conscience. You win this time." I turn to the water and throw the boy forward. He hits the surface and disappears with a splash as I turn back to the cornucopia.

I had feared that in the time it took to fight him that the Careers would have taken over the cornucopia but that hasn't happened yet. They're busy chasing another alliance on the other side of the island, giving me the perfect opportunity. 

I rush for the mouth and quickly begin to arm myself. I tuck a machete into my belt and then snatch two daggers. A short silvery one with a rubber handle and a long curved one with an opal encrusted hilt. Finally, I throw a webbed backpack over my shoulder and take a spear. This is about all I could carry across that water. 

I turn and run towards the area where I saw Octavia (11) on her platform. She should be hidden amongst the jungle undergrowth waiting for--

My thoughts stop midsentence. I see her. Not in the jungle but on the edge of the island. She's pulling herself up and sees me and nods. But what she doesn't see is the boy from District 8 charging towards her, a sword in hand. "Octavia! BEHIND YOU!"

I'm already sprinting towards her when she turns. Her mouth opens to scream as the boy brings his sword down...

And then I smash into his side. He staggers backwards and I swing my spear wildly, blinded by fury. The butt of the spear smashes into the side of his face and he hits the rocks hard. I'm already aiming a thrust for him but he's rolling into the water, where he disappears beneath its surface. Convinced he won't try his luck again I turn to Octavia. "Get going. Now."



I'm in no mood for her stubbornness and drag her away from the area where the boy disappeared and push her into the water. "Swim!"  I order as I jump in beside her. She doesn't protest. We swim for the jungle, where we will find a safe place to hide. Then I'll give Octavia a talking out for being so stupid and irresponsible. The thought of what could have happened is still in my mind...and I know it will stay there for the rest of the Games.

Jake Locketback (District 1)

I stand on the shore on the shore of the island, watching as the alliance of three reaches the jungle and disappears into its depths. Fenrir (0) has attempted to swim after them and has reached the platforms we started on, the halfway point of the water.

"They got away," Hammer (2) says. I nod, they were the last tributes left on island.

"I know that."

The giant boy shakes his head in disappointment and then turns to the cornucopia but stops upon seeing Mizu (4) pulling herself onto land. "Where have you been?" He demands as he changes dirrection to her. "We could have used your help back there! We lost Kaye and you just disappeared on us!"

I begin to join them when I see something odd. Mizu is shaking, her hands clenched into claws at her side. A ferocious expression is frozen on her face and her normal blue eyes have changed to a frightening red. Something is wrong. Very wrong.

Hammer doesn't notice. He continues to berate her as he draws closer and then, when he's only a foot away, she strikes. 

My warning is too late. She slams into his side and he crumples to the ground, too shocked to react. Mizu begins ripping at his face with her nails and he screams in pain. I'm too terrified to do anything when she brings her jaw up and bites into his neck. "Hammer!"

He goes still as Mizu chomps into him. My stomach turns over in disgust. What happened to her? I don't know what to do. I'm debating trying to run when her head shoots up and she fixes me with a glare of death, her piercing red eyes staring into mine. "No! Mizu don't! It's me, Jake! I'm your all--"

She hops onto her legs and let's out a horrendous howl as Hammer's blood drips from her jaws. She's not human. She's some sort of monster!

I turn to tun. Bad idea. I hear her pounding after me and then she leaps onto my shoulders, dragging me to the sand. My spear is in an awkward position beneath me, unable to be reached. I desperately try to kick her off as her nails dig into my thigh. But it's no use. I shut my eyes tight. Waiting for the inevitable.

A wet thunk. A howl of pain. The ripping sensation in my leg stopping. My eyes shoot open. Fenrir stands before me, his sword soaked with Mizu's blood. She lies dead at his feet, a glazed over look in her eyes and a large hole in her back. "By Odin! What just happened?" He demands as he helps me to my feet. I wince as I look at my right thigh. A long bloody gash sits there, with a series of smaller cuts surrounding it.

"I...I don't know. Mizu just...snapped. Went crazy." I quickly recount what transpired. He had only caught a few glimpses as he swam back. He thought someone had hidden and jumped us. If only it was that... 

Fenrir starts rummaging through some crates, searching for Anti-infection for my leg. I let my eyes wander the island, filled with blood and bodies. I count the bodies, the ones on land and the ones floating in water. I get seven. Seven dead. But I also discover something worse. Much worse.


"Here. Smear this upon your wound." He tosses me a tube of white paste. I catch it, but I don't put it on.


"Just do it. It smells, but it will lower the risk of infect--"


He stops. My urgency finally reaching him. "Fenrir, Kaye's dead. Hammer's dead. Mizu is dead. We're the only two left." He understands right away, his gaze searching around the deserted sun soaked island. These Games started with five Careers. Now there's two.

Fenrir doesn't speak, the absolute reality sinking in. We're alone, the two of us. Twenty-five tributes remain but only two of them are Careers. I can barely process it myself. The thought that three of us would die in the bloodbath. It seemed impossible. But it has just happened. "How many Anti-Careers," Fenrir says quietly. I don't understand what he means so he repeats it. "How many Anti-Careers are dead?" I crane my head as I look. The colourful haired girl from District 13 is lying on the sand, her head cracked open. The only other non-Career body on land is the boy from District 6 but two bodies float in the water. I think one of them is the girl from District 8. I don't recognise the other.

"Two," I say. "The girls from District Eight and Thirteen." Fenrir is shaking his head before I finish.

"No. I killed the District 12 girl. It must be three." So that's it then. Three Careers dead, Three Anti's and one other. As Fenrir goes back to the cornucopia I can't help but feel that I should no longer be aligned with him. He's too big of a threat, too much of an antagonist to the other tributes. Already he has Aspen (3) hunting him. Who knows who else he could rile up? 

But what could I do about that? Just get up and leave? Or would that just bring him after me? Should I just finish him off now? I watch as he arms himself with all of the deadliest looking weapons. I don't think I could take him in a fair fight, especially with my injured leg. So...maybe, maybe I should make sure that fight isn't fair.

Day 1/ Aftermath

Azalea Finch (District 9)

The jungle whips past in a blur as we run. I can't focus on any one thing for long but I think I catch a glimpse of another tribute running parallel to us, though I can't be sure. 

Beads of sweat run down the back of my neck. The heat and humidity of this arena is already taking effect. I don't think I can keep this pace up much longer and am about to ask for a break when the thick undergrowth of the jungle fades away and we stumble out onto a beach.

Billy (10) collapses and falls to the sand. Fawn quickly goes to check on him, kneeling beside him. I stop on the beach, bending over as I pant. It wasn't even that long of a run but combined with the humidity, the snagging undergrowth of the jungle and that swim, it was too much. "You all right?" Jac (9) is at my side, looking down with concern.

"I'm fine...just a little tired. But we need to keep moving. I saw tributes not that far back."

He nods. "I saw them too. But don't worry; they went the opposite way." He drifts over to check the jungle and I look at the shore, where the rising crescendo of the waves makes a beautiful sound. I'd never seen an ocean before. It's so blue...I just want to stare at it forever. But I quickly snap myself out of that line of thinking. I have a job to do. And if I lose concentration for only one minute, I could be dead.

I go to turn but something catches my eye. A bridge.  A giant, flat cement bridge. It stretches across the ocean, all the way to what looks like another island. I can't believe I hadn't noticed that earlier. "C'mon Billy. We have to keep moving." Jac is checking on Billy (10) now, whose still lying on the ground, the bruises he received from Julio a dark purplish color. 

"Jac...I....I need to tell you something," he corals out hoarsely. Jac is immediately on his knees at his side. I look to Fawn, worried. What's wrong? "I....I want tell you..."

"Tell me what Billy? What is it?"

"I want to....Thank you!"

Shocked silence. Fawn does a facepalm as Billy jumps to his feet, smiling like a loon. Jac seems too surprised to react but it's not over. Billy begins to sing. "Thank you for being a friend, Travelled down the road and back again! Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidante!"

"Billy, please. Now is not the time--"

"I'm not ashamed to say, I hope it always will stay this way.  My hat is off won't you stand up and take a bow!" Billy ignores her, continuing with his ridiculous song as he now's employs a new dancing style. I want to bury my face in my hands. Why in the world did he think this would be a good idea? "Thank for for being a friend! Thank for for being a friend! Thank for for being a friend! I want to thank you....Thank for for being a friend!" 

"Billy!" Fawn steps forward and smacks him. Right across the face. He stops mid-song and stares at her in shock. Then a smile creeps across his face. 

"Right. Sorry. Kinda got carried away there, didn't I?"

"I'd say!" Jac rises to his feet, obviously infuriated that Billy made him think something was wrong. "Now let's get moving! Anyone could have found us while you were singing and dancing!" Billy doesn't even show any shame, smiling and nodding. But he does promise to never do that ever again, at least not without warning us first. Jac has us all follow him across the bridge. It's long, looking to be at least two miles. I stay next to Jac as we cross, Fawn (10) and Billy (10) a little ways behind. We walk in silence but then Jac breaks it. "They're dead. I know it."


"Kim, Misty, Alexandrite. They're dead. I know for sure Kim is, I saw her body. But the other two are probably dead as well." I see the pain in his eyes, the realization that people who trusted and followed him are now dead. I'm ashamed to say that I had forgotten all about those three in our haste to get away. It's terrible, but I can't stop thinking about who killed them and how. I wish I could avenge them and I'm sure Jac feels the same. No, not the same. He was our leader, he must feel even worse.

"It's not your fault," I say quietly.

"I didn't say it was."

No. But I could sense it. I want to say these things to him but I don't. I just walk with him as we cross this bridge to another, hopefully less blood-soaked, island.

Clarke Stevens (District 5)

We stop running just as we reach the shelter of the jungle. The whole time we ran across the bridge I had worried that we'd be seen, that some sort of projectile would strike us down. But that didn't happen. Missy (5) presses her back to a tall thin tree just on the edge and slides to the ground. I drop beside her, my sweaty hands clenched around the bow I retrieved from the bloodbath. "We made it," I say quietly, my voice just barely audible over the chirping of the insects that inhabit the jungle.

Missy murmurs but doesn't decisively respond. She's twirling a lock of her blonde hair around her fingers. A large chunk of it had been torn out during her brawl with Arbor (7). A brawl that I had ended up knocking Arbor over the head with my bow. She managed to get away but the brawl wasn't pointless though, as it provided us with both the small dagger Missy has in her belt and the backpack she carries. My only regret is that we didn't manage to get a quiver or arrows.

While the two of us are silent save for our harried breathing, the jungle is alive with noises. Chirping insects, fluttering birds, small animals that rustle through the thick green foliage. Then there's the ocean and the sound of the waves washing onto the beach. Somehow, I find this place quite peaceful, though I know enough to keep an ear out for any unnatural noises. 

I don't know how long we spend just sitting here, but eventually the sound of a cannon startles the wildlife that surrounds us and the jungle falls silent as a series of cannons boom. One, two, three, four, five, six. Seven in total. When the cannons stop there's a moment of absolute silence and then the jungle behind us comes back to life. "The bloodbath must be over," Missy muses.

"And the Careers have left for them to collect the bodies," I say. Despite the immense heat I shudder. Bodies. Kids dead. Who were they? And why do I care? It wasn't me or Missy. I should be thankful. But It's impossible to feel happy, when you know there's seven dead kids. Seven grieving families. Somehow, I know feel worse then I did before. I pull my legs up to my chest and sit there, staring at the ocean in a moody silence. Missy is still touching her head and frowning when she feels the missing hair.

"That must look so ugly," She murmurs to myself but I answer anyways, without thinking.

"You still look beautiful to me." As soon as the words are out I feel my face redden. That was so awkward and stupid! I squeeze my eyes shut tight, expecting a humiliating response

"What did you say?" Missy says absentmindly and I breath a silent sigh of relief. She didn't hear me after all. 

"I, uh, said we should probably check that backpack soon." I save face and get a meaningful sentence in. Missy nods and grabs the pack but hands it to me.

"You should go through it." I nod and waste no time in unzipping the pack. Inside I find some food, a packet of crackers, some dried beef strips and a large hunk of cheese. I also find a flashlight and a square of plain plastic. I don't know what point there is to that last one but I assume I'll think of something it could be used for. When I show Missy our items she nods at each item but frowns when I go through them all. "We don't have any water," She says when we finish.

"What about that?" I ask pointing to the ocean.

"Clark we can't drink salt-"

"Salt water. I know. But you said we didn't have any 'water' not 'drinkable water'." I smile, thinking I'm clever but she just frowns and then her eyes widen in shock. I'm taken back. "Okay, so it wasn't that funny but--"

"Duck!" She swings the pack over her shoulder and pushes me into a large fern-like bush. There's not enough room in the bush for us both and she practices sits on my chest, leaving me completely bewildered about what this is all about.

"What's going on--"

"Shh!" She hisses at me and when I go silent, I hear it, the pounding of footsteps. All I can see from this angle is Missy's face as she peers out through a crack in the stems but I can tell from the noises that the runners have just stepped off of the bridge and onto the beach. Missy's eyes focus on something I can't see but she speaks softly. "They've stopped." Oh God no! My chest tightens in fear at what this could mean. If they decide to take up camp right here...

"Where are we going?" A voice, young and scared, suddenly asks. My mind goes in a million directions, trying to place the speakers District. But it comes back a blank. I have half a mind to ask Missy but am afraid that I'd make too much noise so I don't. Instead I just wait in terrible blind silence.

"We? There is no we! This alliance is finished!" An older, harsher voice speaks now; he doesn't sound too happy.

"But Colin you said--"

"I know what I said! But I can't align with you any longer! Now leave me alone!" A cry of fear and anguish, the sound of running and then bushes not too far from us rustling as someone runs through. I can hear what sounds like a young boy crying and then lighter footsteps and finally, silence. I hold my breath for what feels like hours before Missy breaths a sigh of relief. 

"They're gone!"

"Oh good." My body feels numb. Either from the nerve wracking suspense or the fact that I'm being laid on, I don't know. But my heart is beating at what feels like a million miles a minute and my palms are sweating like crazy. I don't want to go through that ever again. But right now I can't exactly move. "Umm." I wonder if Missy is going to get off. I would ask her to move but one half of me seems to want her to stay. The situation solves itself though, when Missy suddenly looks down and smacks her forehead straight into mine. 

We both shout in pain and go rolling opposite ways. I feel myself roll out onto the hot sand of the beach and look up feeling groggy. Footprints are clearly visible on the sand, from both us and the passerbys. "I'm sorry Clark! I forgot you were there!" Missy comes rushing out of the jungle and helps me up.

"Tis okay," I rub the sore part of my head as I steady my feet. "But we should probably do something about those." I point to the footprints.

"Right. Let's get on it." We spend the next few minutes brushing the prints away, well, only ours. We leave the other set, convinced that if someone were to come by they'd follow those instead of searching the beach any further. When we finish we retreat into the edge of the jungle and circle around the island, hoping to find a less popular place to spend the rest of the day.

Ganta Alomo (District 12)

"Place her against that rock!" 

Amaya (14) leans Bailey (0) back, taking extra care as she does so. The arrow that is embedded in her shoulder looks painful. The grimace and moans that Bailey makes tells me that my assumption is correct. I throw open the duffel bag I received. I was lucky to get my hands on this, a bag full of all sorts of medical supplies. Needles, rubber gloves, linen pads, Anti-Infection, Burn Cream, Desalination tablets, practically everything I could want save for painkillers, which admittedly is what Bailey is going to wish we had right now. "Let me see!" I demand gently pulling Bailey forward so I can see the arrow. It's gone in deep but hasn't gone completely through the other end. I frown.

"What's wrong?" Amaya (14) asks popping up at my shoulder.

"The arrow isn't completely through her shoulder."

"Isn't that a good thing?"

"No. I need to break the tip off before pulling it out." I see the terror in Bailey's eyes as I say this and am quick to reassure her. "Don't worry. I know what I'm doing. I saw this kind of thing back in District 12. Hunting accident."

"So what are you going to do?" Amaya doesn't sound too confident of my abilities. 

"I'm going to push the arrow through. Get her something hard to bite on to," To Bailey's everlasting credit, she doesn't protest as Amaya rushes off, returning a moment later with a thick stick that she places between her teeth. "Okay. Get ready." I place my hands around the end of the arrow, where the blood has long since dried. "One...two...three!" I shove the arrow forward. Bailey's screams are muffled by the stick but still sound terrible. I know why. It doesn't feel good to have an arrow shoved through your muscles and skin, but it's necessary. 

I stop pushing the moment enough of the tip emerges. Bailey is shaking wildly and I instruct Amaya to hold her still as I quickly snap off the tip of the arrow. "Okay, now I have to pull it out. It won't hurt as much..." Bailey still screams all the same and while I don't blame her, I wish we had those painkillers. But we don't. And I just have to pray that no one is close enough to hear. I throw the arrow shaft to the ground. "Okay. Good. Now I just need to stitch it up."


"That wound needs to be closed Bailey. won't hurt." Too much. I turn to Amaya. "Get those linen pads wet and bring them here!" Once that's done, I have her quickly wipe the blood welling from Bailey's shoulder away and I go to work with the stitching. Bailey shakes and moans, making my work difficult, but Amaya helps keep her still enough for it to work. It's just like sewing. But with skin. 

By the time my work is finished I'm exhausted. I pull my blood covered rubber gloves off and drop them beside me as I rest against the trunk of a moss covered tree. Amaya is currently administering the Anti-Infection on Bailey's wound. I'm glad for her help. I don't think I could have done this on my own. I close my eyes, breathing in the mossy jungle scents mixed with dry blood. It's so weird, so unnatural....

I sense movement and open my eyes to see Amaya (14) sitting next to me. "How's Bailey?" I ask.

"Sleeping," She nods her head towards the soft bed of ferns we had lied her down in. I watch the rise and fall of her chest, noting it's pace. She seems to be fine.

"Good. But her shoulder will be a problem for her. Possibly for the rest of the Games."

Amaya lets out a large breath. "Yeah, I guess. But you did good. I'm proud of you Sean."


"I-what? N-no. I meant Ganta. Of course. Ganta. My mind was just's only the afternoon and I'm so tired..." Her eyes are clouded and back up her words. She looks as exhausted as I feel. I want to rest, to sleep, but we're not in a safe enough position to do that. We didn't run very far from the cornucopia. Only into the surrounding jungle. Initially we just crouched in the recesses of the trees and bushes, hiding as everyone ran past. It was terrifying. "You can sleep," Amaya suddenly says, startling me. "I'll keep watch over you and Bailey."

"Thanks for the offer. But...I don't want risk it," I find that my nervousness is coming back now that the adrenaline from the operation has faded. "I wouldn't feel right sleeping. Not until I know every other tribute is sleeping."

Amaya shrugs. "Okay. Let's just wait and see what happens in the oncoming hours."

Luxray Meganium (District 14)

We trudge through the jungle slowly, realizing quite awhile ago that running wouldn't do anything but make us lose stamina faster. Besides, who would be following us? We have a truce with the Careers and the only other alliance that is large enough to attack us head on is the Anti-Careers. And I doubt they'd be following us.

"We need to find some shelter before the sun set," Luxio (13) says as he cuts down the grasping vines ahead of us with his glaive. "We do not want to be trapped in this jungle by nightfall." I can agree with that. While we don't know exactly what will happen, it's a safe bet that the other tributes won't be the only thing we have to worry about. Mutts and who knows what else could be on the prowl.

"What kind of shelter are we looking for?" Flame (C) asks quietly, her fingers running up and down the silver flute she received from the bloodbath. I had my doubts about whether the item would even be there but apparently Flame showed her skill with it off in her private session and the Gamemakers chose to supply it. It was lucky for us that we got our hands on it. In fact, now that I look at Luxio (13) leading our line, slicing through the thick undergrowth with his glaive, I realize that all three of us have our preferred weapons. Luxio with his glaive, Flame and her flute, and me with the massive morning star that I drag behind me. That sucker was a pain in the ass to swim with but boy am I glad to have it now. "Is anyone going to answer my question?" Flame sounds annoyed and I go to answer but Luxio is quicker.

"The kind of shelter we are looking that!"

With a fierce swing he cuts away the last of the vines and with a triumphant smile, points directly into the mouth of a looming cave. Tumbled and mossy rocks litter the entrance, a thin veil of lichen hangs over the mouth. A cool breeze seems to blow from within. "That's the perfect place!" I smile as I step forward. Flame makes a little grunting noise. 

"If we had any light that is! We wouldn't see past our noses in there once the sun set!"

"Light?" Luxio pushes through the lichen, disappearing into the thick darkness of the cave. "You mean light like this?" A soft flickering yellow light suddenly appears in Luxio's hands, illuminating his grinning face. "I found this awesome lantern! Come check it out!" I waste no time stepping tthrough the lichen veil and into the dank cave. In Luxio's hands rests an old timely looking lantern. The light it casts upon the walls reveals the moss and fungi that grow everywhere.

"Awesome!" A grin crosses my face as Flame pushes into the cave.

"How far does it go?" She asks ignoring us and staring at the edge of the lanterns light.

"Dunno. Let's find out!" Luxio excitedly steps forward and goes further. I follow with a quick rising thrill for adventure. The ceiling seems to expand the further we go and wicked looking stalagmites extend from its cavernous ceiling. Or are they stalactites? I can't ever seem to remember which is which. While Luxio and myself murmur in excitement as we go, Flame just follows quietly, taking everything in with her clever eyes. Our trio keeps moving, the heat of the jungle dissipating as we go deeper, the air getting progressively cooler. Eventually, we come upon a large clearing. The walls are covered in a strange moss that glows a bright blue color.

"Amazing..." Luxio stops and spins, taking everything in. 

"Hey, turn the lantern off. I don't think we need it with this moss!" Luxio does as I say, clicking the lantern off and leaving us in the soft blue light. I marvel at chamber, surprised that the fluorescent moss could provide enough light for us to see. It's truly stunning. 

"We going to spend the night here?" Flame asks.

"Might as well." Luxio shrugs as he places the lantern down and goes to explore. While Flame begins to sort through our lone pack I follow Luxio's suit and explore the cool cavern. I can't help but notice a familiar scent. Salt maybe? 

I run my hands across the wall, feeling the spongy exterior of the moss. It's squishy but I have an odd feeling that it would be hard to rip. I follow the wall to the back of the cavern, where I find that the cave ends. But I also find something else.

A set of stone stairs leading down to a deeper level. The light of the moss doesn't reach into its depths but I hear water. Odd.. "Hey guys, check this out!" Flame and Luxio appear at my shoulder and stare into the dark crevice with me. Then Luxio flickers his lantern on and bounces down the stairs. Flame tries to stop him but she's too slow and he disappears into the darkness, only the edge of his light visible. We hear splashing and then a moment later Luxio reappears, his legs wet.

"What's down there?" I ask quickly before Flame can scold him for his recklessness.

"A corridor. But it's flooded with water. Up to my knees."

"How far does it go?" I ask.

"Dunno. Pretty far. My light didn't illuminate the whole way and i didn't want to stay down there too long."

"Salt water," Flame remarks and we both turn to stare at her in confusion. She sees our faces and explains. "The water is salt water. Don't you smell it?" So that's what that smell was! Of course! "The ocean probably flows into the corridor somewhere. But somehow it doesn't flood it completely."

Interesting. I wonder if that tunnel goes throughout the entire island. It's certainly plausible. Actually, it's possible that that corridor leads throughout all the islands. It's an unfounded guess, but I would be willing to bet some money on it. I want to explore this some more but Flame (C) rightfully points out that we shouldn't be stretching ourselves too far at this point in the Games. There will be plenty of time for exploration later. That is, if we aren't murdered in our sleep.

Rosalie Sonnet (District 6)

The sun reaches its zenith in the sky. Soon enough it will begin its descent and darkness will begin to creep upon the arena. I stop on the very fringe of the jungle, staring up at the sun. I've been circling the island in a clockwise fashion for hours now, observing each bridge that leads to a separate island. I haven't seen a single tribute crossing any of the bridges which means one of two things.

Either most tributes have already gotten to another island, or that they're still here on this one, with me. 

I'm not worried about that. With my constant movement I've made myself almost impossible to track and I'm careful enough not to just blunder into somebody. An encounter with another tribute, is the last thing I would want right now. At the bloodbath I attempted to get my hands on a chakram, there was one there, I saw it, but before I could grab it that boy from District 1 chased after me with a spear and I was forced to flee with what i had already acquired, a backpack. 

They're waterproof, the backpacks, and good thing to. Otherwise I would be dining on soggy bread tonight. The shadows of the trees behind me inch forward, telling me that it's time to move. I stop at each bridge, taking a short break to collect my breath and conserve energy. It also provides me with an opportunity to observe the lone pathways to and from each island. 

I slink back into the shade of the jungle and head back off. I keep as close as possible to the beach but not close enough that I could be easily spotted. I'm about ten yards off, shrouded in the ferns and vines of the jungle floor. I move swiftly but not recklessly. I take immense care with each doorstep, knowing that one snapped branch could alert my enemies to my presence. 

Nothing out of the normal occurs before I reach the next bridge, the west one, judging by the sun. I creep as close to the edge as possible, crouching beneath a plants leafy fronds as I peer out. The pure sandy beach is desolate and the bridge is empty, just like all the others. Thinking nothing will happen, I pull my canteen off of my belt and begin to loosen it's stopper when a bird shoots into the air, shrieking a warning.  I immediately shove the canteen back in place and press myself as far down as possible when plants about fifteen feet down the beachline begin to rustle and someone emerges. 

Arbor (7).

She creeps slowly, her hands holding a deadly looking axe. She's a novice when it comes to open ground movement though. If you're going to reveal yourself like that there's nothing to be gained by doing it slowly. 

I keep my breath in as I watch her eyes scan the jungles edge. They pass over the plant where I am concealed but she doesn't notice me, doesn't even look twice. I wish I had gotten my chakram! I could have her dead before she even noticed! But as I am, I'm unarmed. I must simply wait this out. 

She doesn't loiter. She takes off sprinting for the bridge and within minutes completely disappears from my sight. I exhale and make a mental note that Arbor is on the west island. 

Then I take off for the next bridge.

Octavia Blake (District 11)

The splashing of the water fall pouring down into the sparkling pool is calming. Even Bellamy (11), who has been on edge since the bloodbath, is soothed by it. He sits down on the Rocky edge of the pool, loosening his grip of death that he had on his spear. I sit down on the opposite side of the pool, staring into the water. It's so clear, that you can see the bottom. "What's our plan?" I ask quietly. Bellamy doesn't look at me. He's still peeved that I disobeyed his orders and went to the bloodbath. 

"We wait." He finally answers.

"For what?" The sun that hangs over our heads has turned orange, night time fast approaching. 

"For more people to die." Its such a simple answer. Such a cold answer. I slightly regret agreeing with it. I don't have any suitable response and we fall silent. My eyes wander up the overhang, where the waterfall comes from, and watch a small red bird hop amongst the vines that cover the rocks. 

"At least we have fresh water," I say and when Bellamy doesn't respond I continue. "And we have some supplies from your bag. No food though..."

"We can find plenty of food in the forest," Bellamy says quickly. "Animals and berries and such. We won't be hurting for food." I don't bother telling him that hunting here in the arena won't be as easy as it was back home. The animals here are strange, foreign and unknown to us. Not to mention that back home no one was hunting us down. He'd just brush these off as minor worries. Once his mind is made up its almost impossible to change. 

"This waterfall...," I begin and Bellamy raises his eyebrows questionably. "Won't it bring other tributes here? It's a free source of water after all..."

"Octavia, stop worrying. I know what I'm doing."


He sighs loudly and looks to the sky. "Octavia, I want people to find us. They're easier to kill when they come to play on our terms." That's what I'm afraid of. Bellamy is so eager to fight that I'm worried he hasn't thought this through. We aren't the only ones to make an alliance. The other tributes are all together too. If someone were to come, odds are they'd have us outnumbered. I think he sees the worry on my face as he mutters something to himself and then gets to his feet. "If you're so concerned we can camp out amongst those rocks. No one would see us but we could keep an eye on the pond. Sound good?"

I don't completely like that but it's better than just sleeping on the edge of the pond. I nod and we make the move. I try to wiggle myself into a comfortable spot between two rocks as the sun sinks behind the ocean and night falls upon the arena.

Buck Rockwell (Mentor)

"Full house!" Bradley grins, lying his cards down flat on the table. I lean over, see that his cards match his words, and then groan loudly, dropping my own cards onto the table. 

"You win again!" 

I lean back in my chair as Bradley cheerfully pulls everything on the center of the table towards him. It's night and most of the other mentors have either turned in for the night or are over at the bar drinking the night away. After the initial excitement of the bloodbath died down I spent most of the night playing in the Games Room with Bradley, one of the District 10 mentors, and a couple other guys. But we're just about wrapped up here and everyone except for me and Bradley have left. 

" are you liking the mentor business?" Bradley asks me as he counts his spoils. I shrug.

"It's fine, I guess. Kinda disappointed Julio already died. Thought he would fare better."

"Yeah, that happens sometimes. Ya think you have a good fighter on your hands and then Whoosh! He dies in the bloodbath. You get use to it after awhile." I frown, my eyes drifting to one off the many televisions set up in the Games room. All of them show the Games at all times, making it impossible for a mentor to miss the latest action. Right now the screen is focused on the Career traitor sisters as they hunt through the night while the commentators talk about whether they made a smart choice in not aligning, given the Careers current state.  Earlier today I remember watching Rosalie run around the island in a circle. I had, and still have, absolutely no clue what she was doing. I hope it was some plan of hers and not just her getting lost. 

"Ahh. My favourite card!" Bradley is holding up an ace, spinning it around with his fingers as he marvels at it.

"That's because you always win with it," I stay with a short chuckle. He laughs and slips the card back into the deck.

"That's part of the reason." He deposits the deck back on the tables center and rises. "I'm going to the bar. You comin'?"

"No, I think I'll go to my room for some rest. Besides, I'm not even old enough to drink."

He laughs loudly. "True enough. Not that anyone here checks anyways. Well, see ya tomorrow!" I watch as he passes by the billiards tables and out into the Mentor Lobby, heading for the bar at the very back of the cafeteria. I lounge in my chair for several minutes and then walk out to the lobby. It's empty and my footsteps echo throughout the room as I head for the elevators that will take me to the apartments. Before I get there though, I spot a pair of Peacekeepers strolling down an adjacent hall. Normally I wouldn't think anything of it but I have never seen a Peacekeeper in the Mentors Lobby before. Never.

So why are they here now?

I stay still, unsure of what to do, when they come down the hall passing right by me. Their proximity jolts me to action. "What brings you here?" I ask, trying to sound casual. "Never seen Peacekeepers here before." 

"We've been posted here for the mentors protection, sir!" One of them says as he salutes smartly.

I frown. Protection? "Why would we need protection?" I wonder aloud.

"It's orders straight from President Stryker." The one says less enthusiastically and without the salute. Stryker...what's his angle now? Is he trying to keep tabs on me? No, that wouldn't make any sense. But the presence of the Peacekeepers are puzzling. What protection would we need? What dangers are there? Wet floors? I frown as I watch the two Peacekeepers push past me continue on their way. Something doesn't seem right here. But It's not like I can just ask what's up. I keep my gaze on them as they spilt up and begin patrolling the lobby. Maybe I'm just overreacting. Maybe they always come at night. I've never been here this late before, so who knows? Maybe this normal.

Yes, that's it. They're just the night security. I press the button for the elevator, pleased to have figured this out. But as I step into the elevator I can't shake the strange feeling that I'm missing something. But what? I sigh and lean back against the wall as the elevator starts going up. That's when I see it. Scrawled on the back of the elevator doors in small handwriting. Words. But not just words. Familiar words. 

I stare at them, not quite believing. I saw these words before. On the note given to President Stryker on the planned day for my Victor Interview. But I don't know why they're here now, why they're scrawled here, on the elevator door. Four simple words.

Those Who Don't Exist.

Fawn Talons (District 10)

The jungle has cooled considerably since the sun's disappearance and the arrival of the silver moon that hangs in the sky, illuminating the living jungle in a pale light. That's not to say that it's no longer hot, it is. But it's not as unbelievably humid as it was before. 

My allies trudge forward, looking tired and in the case of Azalea (9) and Jac (9), utterly exhausted. For myself I'm not as tired. I'm used to completing activities under the hot sun and this isn't all that different. Surprisingly though, Billy (10) doesn't look tired at all, bounding forward with a twinkle in his eye and a bright smile. When asked why he has such energy he told me that he's a physical fitness nut. Go figure.

"I...see...tents?" Jac stops his walking. The jungle ahead of us has begun to thin and just through the dark night I think I catch a glimpse of a pile of crates. 

"It's a camp," Azalea says as she cautiously peers forward.

"Well?" Billy is practically bouncing on the balls of his feet. "What are we waiting for? Let's go check it out!" Jac examines him closely for a moment and then gives a curt nod.

"Might as well. Just keep your eyes peeled though!" I giggle as Billy mimics something peeling his eyelids back. Jac just rolls his eyes and steps forward. The three of us closely follow behind him. He's the only one with a weapon and if we were to be attacked we would have to rely on him fighting. I'm hoping we won't be attacked.

We step into a large clearing that's lit by the moonlight. Several large dark green tents are pitched through the clearing and numerous crates and boxes surround them. Billy let's out an excited squeal as he spins around, taking it all in. Jac steps forward cautiously but he's not struck down by lightning or anything. "Okay. We can explore. But be careful!"

Billy goes sprinting for one of the tents and disappears inside. I follow Azalea over to a pile of crates while Jac immediately heads right for the largest tent set up in the middle of the camp. "Whoa. Check this out," Azalea lifts a crates lid and I peek in.  Rope, jars of paint, strips of what looks to be dried beef wrapped in plastic, a flashlight. "Pretty cool," Azalea grins as she takes the flashlight out and clicks it on, shining the beam across the camp. 

"Cool!" I agree and the two of us examine as much of the crates we can. We find tons of items, including some more rope, paint and flashlights. But we also find a pair of nets, empty canteens, spools of wire, eating utensils, cans of beans, and what I judge to be the best item, a long army knife. Surprisingly enough, a few of the crates are completely empty. I guess the Gamemakers didn't want to fill each one. Not that I mind. What we found was already a gold mine. We didn't even need the cornucopia!

Azalea and I take the time to put the most useful items in a crate and carry it over to the center of camp, where we then proceed to sort through it. Azalea sets aside a pile for each of us. We all get a few items, like a flashlight and canteen, but some of the rarer items we have to divvy up. Such as giving Jac and Azalea each a full net while Billy and myself only get a pair of ropes. In exchange, I get to keep my knife and Billy gets the lone can of spray paint. All in all I think we sorted it fairly.

"Hiya girls!" Billy stumbles out of a tent, a large black box clutched against his chest. We show him all of the items we found but he doesn't seem that interested, instead eagerly waiting for his chance to speak. "I found some grenades! Look!" He flips the box open, revealing four small metallic balls with pins. Two are dark green and have the word "Flash" transcribed on them while the other two are black and have the word "Smoke".

"Are those...real?" I ask barely able to believe my own eyes. Did we really just stumble upon a box of grenades? That seems too good to be true, not to mention the fact that these sort of weapons are never supplied.

"Yes! But they're not explosive. Here, I'll show you!" Before we can stop him, Billy picks one of the black grenades up and pulls the pin. Azalea shouts and dives to the ground. I drop and cover my ears as Billy chucks the grenade at the edge of the clearing. It doesn't explode, instead, thick smoke begins to billow out of the small ball, completely obscuring my view of the jungle as it does so. 

"Wow...that's....that's cool," I say, removing my hands from my ears.

"I thought it was going to explode," Azalea says rising to her feet and dusting herself off.

"I thought the same thing the first time," Billy grins cheerfully. I catch his wording and raise a questioning eyebrow.

"The first time? How many of these have you used Billy?"

"Only one. Well, two if you count that one. Both were smoke," he pauses, as if thinking. "I wonder what the flash ones do." He reaches a hand out for the box but Azalea catches his wrist and pulls him back.

"Oh no you don't! We need to conserve these! They could be what keeps us alive!" She shuts the box and deposits it by the rest of our supplies just as Jac comes running.

"What happened? I heard Azalea shout and.." It takes awhile to bring him up to speed on us finding supplies and Billy and his grenades. He doesn't seem too pleased but is happy that no one was hurt. "I have my own thing to show you guys. C'mon!" He leads us into the largest tent. Inside there's a few cots and sleeping bags but Jac ignores these and goes straight to the bank, where he stops in front of a small gray box. I spot the words "Flare Gun" written in gold lettering on the front.

"No way..." Azalea looks as shocked as I feel. Jac smiles at our reactions. 

"Pretty awesome, huh? Now let's see this thing..." He opens the box and then gasps. I'm bewildered by his reaction until he twirls around and I see into the box. 

It's empty.

"I guess the Gamemakers were pulling our legs," Azalea murmurs.

"Or someone else took it," Billy suggests casually. We all stare at him. It was such an innocent suggestion but the thought that there was someone else that they looted the camp, brings back the harsh reality that there's twenty other tributes out there hunting us.

"No," Azalea is the first to recover. "No. If someone else was here before us they would have looted the crates."

"Some were empty," I point out. "They could have taken as much as they could carry and--oh gosh! They could come back! We have to go!" I turn to run but Jac grabs my arm and holds me steady. 

"No. They won't be coming back. If they were, they wouldn't have left with the items they took. But just in case, two of us will stay awake at all times." Of course. I scold myself for panicking. How stupid was that? I stand still, feeling stupid when the Anthem suddenly blares out. The others push past me in their haste to get out of the tent and I follow more slowly. When I get outside the face of Hammer (2) is already in the sky. He's followed by both Mizu (4) and Kaye (4). 

"Three Careers!" Jac breaths, his face flushed with excitement. "I can't believe it!" The rest of us murmur happily. I feel no sadness for the dead Careers. Of all us tributes they were the runs who volunteered for this. Them dying was just brutal justice. The face that follows them is one we know. The District 6 boy, the one who attacked Billy and was killed by Jac. I don't particularly miss him either. The next three faces, however, make me feel like crying. Kim (8), Misty (12), and Alexandrite (13). All three of them friends, all three dead. 

The seal is back in place and then flickers away. The insects that fell silent while the Anthem was going start back up again. Jac mumbles something intelligible and then turns to Billy. "You and me, we will take the first watch. Let the girls get some sleep. We'll swap out in a few hours."

It's when I'm safely tucked under my covers, in the largest tent lying on one of cots, that my tears finally come out and I silently cry for all the things I miss. My friends included. And then, I fall asleep...

Jake Locketback (District 1)

I sit crouched down, my legs up by my chest, watching Fenrir (0) as he sleeps. He snores so loudly, that if I didn't know better I would mistake him for some mutt. Hours have passed since the Anthem played, hours since Fenrir had fallen asleep. I should have struck by now. I should have already killed him.

But I haven't.

It's not that I'm unable, he's a complete and utter jerk who loves to hurt others, I would have no problem ending him. But I'm scared. Scared that he will wake up and kill me instead. 

So that's why I've just been sitting here, listening to the insects that chirp from within the jungle across the water. Too frightened to mobilize into action. Think of your family. A voice in my head speaks. Do this for them. Kill him. Come home and save your family

Fine! I will do it!

I rise to my feet, keeping a close eye on Fenrir as I slowly pick up my spear and begin to cross the island. My heart sounds like a parade drum marching down main street and I'm amazed that it hasn't woken Fenrir up. I reach him, standing only a foot away, my spear tip pointed down, at his heart. He suddenly shifts his shoulders and murmurs. "Odin...I will avenge" 

I squeeze my eyes shut. Despite his arrogance, I now find myself hesitant to continue with this plot. He's only trying to avenge his brother. Wouldn't I try to the same? And besides, he's strong, probably the strongest tribute in these Games. I need him. Deciding that I won't continue with this any longer, I open my eyes.

And see Fenrir's blue eyes staring right back at me. "Gorlog's beard!" 

Panic shoots through my body. My heart feels like it's jumped up into throat. And then I react without thinking.

My spear sinks into Fenrir's chest. He howls in fury and pain, trying to shake free. His attempts quickly begin to slow, his eyes spinning around desperately inside his head. Then, slowly, his body goes stiff. I pull my spear out, watching the red splotch spread along his chest. "Dammit." I stumble back from his body, towards the waters edge, where I plunge my hands and spear in, cleaning the blood off. Boom!

The first individual cannon shot of the Games goes off. The eighth death. I'm betting that most of the other tributes missed this as, in all probability, they're sleeping right now. The ones that are awake probably fear that an alliance is hunting through the night. The hovercraft appears in the sky, coming to retrieve Fenrir's body. My mind is devoid of all but one thought.

The Careers are finished.

Day 2/ Poison & Electricity

Bellamy Blake (District 11)

The soft morning sun wakes me up and I stretch and rub my back ruefully. Using moss covered rocks as a bed isn't something you should do if you wish to avoid back pain. As I stand Octavia (11) rolls over and blinks her eyes open.

"It's already burning hot," She murmurs, rubbing her face.

"That's because you're lying in the sun," I say clambering over the rocks and examining the waterfall and the splashing water. "You should move into the shade."

"Where are you going?" She questions, quickly scrambling over the rocks after me. I hold in a sigh. I should have expected this from her. 

"I'm going to search for food. You should stay here." I check my belt, making sure that both of my daggers are secure, and then move towards the jungle. But before I can Octavia runs up beside me. "You stay here," I say with more force this time. "I'm going hunting."

"Why can't I help? I help back home. I could look for berries while you hunt." I roll my eyes but realize that nothing I could say would change her mind. 

"Fine. But stay close to the waterfall." She nods eagerly and goes across the edge of the rocks, examining the plants that grow close to them. I don't feel right about this. But we need food and I can't hang around here all day. I turn and plunge into the jungle. The trees loom high and the thick vines form a net above my head, concealing the sky. Despite this, the heat isn't letting up. 

A bird suddenly shoots through the undergrowth and takes off into the sky. I watch as it disappears out of sight and then get back to my searching. That bird was a good sign. I now know that there is in fact wildlife around these parts. Other then insects of course. There's too many damn bugs. Large black flies float around my head as I walk and I shoo them away in annoyance. This jungle is nothing like the forest back home, there I actually knew what I was looking for. Here, I have no idea. Are there even deer or rabbits in a jungle?

My foot steps onto a branch and there's a loud crack! as it snaps beneath my weight. Then there's another rustling and a second bird shoots into the air. I'm ready this time though and a dagger is already flying from my hands. It strikes the bird with force and it falls like a brick into some short green plants. 

As I regain my dagger and retrieve the bird I note that I've never seen such an animal before. It has a bright orange beak and several various colors on its wings. "Odd," I mutter to myself but pick it up regardless. We need food and we can't afford to be picky.

I drop the bird into my bag and sling it back over my back, ready to resume my hunting. That's when the bushes behind me and I spin around, my spear ready to strike down my assailant.

"Cool your Tarzan Bellamy! It's just me!" Octavia appears, her hands full of small cerulean blue berries. Octavia! I nearly shout in anger and surprise.

"I thought I told you to stay close to the waterfall!"

"I am by the waterfall. It's only fifteen feet back. Can't you hear it?" I swear under my breath. Now that she mentioned it, I do hear it. The sound of the water splashing into the pool.  I didn't realize that I was so close to it. I thought I had gone further. But I'm too chagrined to admit that to her and point at the berries.

"Where'd you get those?" 

She shrugs nonchalantly. "Found a patch not far back. Should quench our hunger, huh?"

"Yeah. Sure. Just stay close." We spend the next half hour walking around the jungle, me keeping an eye on the skies for birds and Octavia foraging for berries. I don't get any more of the birds but Octavia finds plenty of berries, the island is pretty much covered in them. You can barely walk without encountering one of the bushes. I'm surprised I hadn't noticed them earlier.

"We should take a break," I say as we head back to the waterfall pond. Octavia empties our pack of the berries and begins to sort them by type on the smooth rocks. I go down to the waters edge and cup my hands, bringing the cool refreshing water to my lips. I'm glad for this pond. I'm certain that there are tributes out there whose biggest concern is staying hydrated. "We should head down to the beach soon," I say as I get my fill. "We could find some tributes down there." No answer. I frown as I turn to face Octavia. My heart leaps to my throat.

Octavia lies on the stones, gurgling and choking as her feet kick out wildly. Her hands are clasped around her throat, her skin is a light purplish color, large red hives cover her skin from head to toe. 


My voice cracks as I drop myself beside her. Fear rapidly begins to rise in my chest as I stare into her bloodshot eyes. "Octavia!" I see the blue juice on her lips, the scattered berries that surround her. I know what happened. She ate the berries. And they were poisonous. "Octavia! Please, stay with me! Just stay with me, Octavia!" I shake her, not knowing what else to do. I'm use to fighting enemies, people, things that can be beaten down. But...this...this is something that I can't fight. And I can't win.

I feel the tears building in my eyes just as she goes still, her eyes glazing over. And then her cannon goes off. Boom!

"Octavia..." There's no strength in my words. No emotion. I feel myself giving up. She is dead. I lost her. Black spots swim before my eyes, the ground beneath Octavia's deformed body begins to swirl and move. ", no, NO!" I beat my fists on the rocks and bury my face I her shoulder. She's not dead. She can't be dead. I was supposed to protect her! I let out a haunting moan and then I'm crying, crying like I've never cried before. She's gone. My sister is dead. And It's all my fault. 

I lie there for who knows how long. I lose track of time until a shadow looms over me and I look up to see a hovercraft hanging over my head and I realize that they're waiting for me to move. I don't want to. I don't want them to take her. That was the whole reason I volunteered, so they couldn't have her. But now I've lost and they've won. I look up at the hovercraft and give them the finger in one last act of defiance. Then I stand up and stiffly back off to the pools edge. 

I hate them, hate their game. But I'm still going to win, for Octavia. And when I win, when I get to meet the President, I'm going to bash his frickin' head in and make him pay for what he's done. I'll make them all pay.

Starting with the other tributes.

Colin Bisset (District 8)

I wake up in a cold sweat. The horrific image of Aisha being beaten to death still fresh in my mind from the nightmares. The nightmares that have picked up their intensity since training.

I wipe my forehead with my arm and lean my back against the cool wall of the ruins. I rub my dry lips ruefully, noting my distinct lack of drinkable water. I need to find some later today or risk dehydration kicking in. 

The pale morning sun peeks in through cracks of the desecrated walls and reflects off of the stone tiles beneath me. Hunt. That's what I need to do. I need to go hunting, find another tribute, preferably a loner, and take their supplies. I get to my feet and stretch as my mind tries to place where I should begin my search. I guess the best place would be back on the center island, where everyone started. I'm sure some people opted to stay there. It's as good of a starting place as any. I absentmindly reach for my sword but instead of feeling it's hilt my hand brushes against the bumpy, cracked wall of the ruins. I turn around in confusion, thinking I just misplaced my hand. But I didn't. My sword is nowhere in sight.

I feel panic forming in my chest but I quickly push it away. It has to be around here somewhere. It didn't just get up and leave. I search the small broken down house where I spent the night, finding nothing but broken sticks and loose stones. Now the panic has a real chance of setting in. I blunder out through the doorway and search the surrounding area, the other houses and the large temple that looms over the ruins. 

I don't find my sword.

I give up, dropping down on the lowest step of the temple, my face buried in my hands. How could this have happened? How did I lose my sword? How could I have been such an idiot? I had it right next to me when I fell asleep! I smash my fists down on the step in anger. A tremendous pain flares up but I ignore it, too angry with myself to care for the pain. My only weapon, my only item, gone. Just gone, like it's disappeared, like someone just....stole it.

Realization begins to dawn on me. It didn't just disappear, someone took it. And not just anyone. Most people would have killed me in my sleep, wouldn't have just left me alone. No, this person didn't want to kill me, just take my things. They knew me. Knew what I had. Knew where I went. This person must have been following me yesterday, ever since the bloodbath. And I know exactly who it was.


The little brat must have watched me drift to sleep, saw that I didn't have the sword in my hands. He would know that he wasn't in any risk of being killed if I woke, as I wouldn't have been able to bring myself to kill him, despite ending our alliance.

I spring to my feet and furiously kick a loose rock across the ruins. Damn him! Damn him and his innocent appearance! He took my sword, the only thing that I had. The lone item that could get me food and water. That's it I realize, why I'm so furious. That sword was the only thing that offered me the possibility of getting more supplies, the one thing I had going for me. And he stole it!

I feel like I've let Aisha down, let myself down. How could I have let such a thing happen? Why was I so careless? I rack my brain, trying to find an inkling of an idea, anything that could help me now. I can think of only one thing. Finding Henry. 

It won't be easy. He's small and lithe, able to fit in just any crack or crevice. His wetsuit is also dark green, making him blend in with the enormous jungle. It could take me hours, maybe even days to find him. But I have to try. Because without a weapon I'm just a sitting duck waiting to be killed and stuffed. Giving myself in to this idea I take off into the jungle.

I note it's odd silence, the silence is more oppressive than the heat. I search the jungle, my gaze looking high and low. The many thick trunks of the trees are entwined with creepers. The area surrounding the ruins are dark and dreary, the tall trees and the mossy vines that hang above blocking out the sun. But it begins to open up the further I go, the dark trees being replaced with smaller lighter ones that have crowns of feathery palm.  There's still no sign of Henry.

I feel my morale dropping as my search continues to bear no fruit. The hanging vines keep brushing against my face, making my search harder. Eventually I decide that there's a very real possibility that Henry has already left the jungle and make my way towards the beach. The vines still get in my way and then I stumble over a large stone and trip over a sand dune, rolling into the soft sand of the beach. "Clark!"

I hear them before I see them. Two tributes, the ones from District 5, are crouched on the fringe of the jungle, watching me with wide frightened eyes. The boy holds a sleek bow and the blonde girl is using a dagger to sharpen a stick, already a pile of similar sticks rest beside her. "This is just my friggin' luck," I mutter as I rise to my feet. The boy comes right for me, swinging his bow in a overhead arc. I make a quick judge that I'm stronger then he is and don't attempt to dodge, instead holding both of my hands up and catching the bow mid-swing. I see the flash of surprise on his face and then I plant a fist in his stomach. He falls to the ground and then I'm turning to see the girl diving at me, the dagger clenched in her outstretched hand.

I'm amazed by my own reflexes. I catch the girl's wrist and then give it a sharp jerk. She shrieks and drops the weapon, a second before I hit her with a left hook. Once she's down I give her a kick to the ribs but then something strikes the back of my skull. A sharp pain flashes through my body and then I drop to the ground. I can hear shouting and then I struggle to my feet just as a dagger sinks into the sand where I was lying.

Then I'm running into the jungle, leaving the shouting kids behind me. Flashes of green whip by as I run at a frantic pace. I don't even have time to think about how horribly that went, about how easy I would have dispatched those kids had my sword not been stolen. About--

My foot snags on something and I shout as I trip. I go rolling down a hill, coming to a stop beside a large hollow log. I groan as I lie in the soft mud, a large centipede crawls past my nose. It's not even noon and I'm already lying in a ditch, my throat burning a hole in my throat. At least things can't get much worse...

Beyond me dying of course.

Azalea Finch (District 9)

We leave the military camp as soon as we're all awake and have gathered our weapons and items. A silver parachute came down this morning, surprising us all. We were surprised even further when we found out that the parachute belonged to Billy (10) of all people. Billy! Honestly, I didn't think that kid would have had a single sponsor but evidently I was wrong on that count.

"So, where we going?" Billy asks as we cross the bridge back to the main island. He's playing with his whip, the item he got from his sponsors, by continually swinging it around his arms.

"We're taking over the cornucopia," I answer his question. "By setting a trap around the surrounding jungle." I sense some discomfort in my allies. Naturally they would be uncomfortable just inhabiting the arena but the feeling must be even larger now we're proactively searching out other tributes, Careers at that. 

No more words are said as we reach the other side and delve into the jungle. I focus on the sounds, the chirping birds, the chattering monkeys that crawl at the very tops of trees, anything and everything. I memorize the sounds and store them in my head, keeping an ear out for any and unnatural noises.


I nearly jump out of my skin as a large branch snaps. Behind me, Billy grins innocently as he motions at the snapped branch under his foot. I roll my eyes and wave them forward. The trees have begun to thin and I catch glimpses of the shining water through the vines. "Fawn!" I whisper for the curly haired girl to come up beside me in a thicket near the waters edge, where we can see the entire cornucopia island. Jake (1) is lounging on a crate, dipping the tip of his arrows into some sort of substance. "I want you to keep an eye on Jake and the cornucopia. Give us a warning if he does anything unusual. Understand?"

"Yeah. Of course."

I nod and head back to the boys, where Billy is already unrolling a coil of thin wire. "Uh. I don't need to kill him. Do I?" Jac (9) suddenly asks and I turn to him in surprise.

"No. If everything goes as planned we don't even need to make physical contact." I'm a little perplexed that he would be hesitant of killing, he finished Julio off quick enough, but then I remember his relative Jake and understand completely, hurrying to reassure him. "Don't worry. You won't have to kill him."

He emits a small sigh and then I motion for him and Billy to follow me, placing the wire as we go. In the back of my mind I worry about being discovered and attacked and then disregard the thought. We have Fawn (10) as a lookout and Jac (9) standing guard with his sword. We won't be caught unawares by anything. 

We go around the island, I lay out the trail for the wire and Billy lies it down as Jac follows parallel to us, his sword held high. We make good progress and reach the opposite side of the island of which we started. Billy looks up, beads of sweat dripping down his face. "Can we rest? I'm dead tired..." I bite my lip, looking at the stretch of land that we still have to wrap the wire around. If we kept working we could get this done in about ten more minutes. But we can't work ourselves to exhaustion. We don't have water, at least not yet, not until we fry Jake and get the cornucopia supplies. "Okay, five minutes," I tell Billy and step next to Jac. Billy lets out a sigh of relief and sits down, wiping his face.

"Do you think this will wor--"

A shout fills the air, before Jac can finish his attention. An enraged shout. Then the sound of something whipping through the air and a scream. Fawn's scream. 

"Fawn!" Billy jumps to his feet before either of us can react, running for the island. 

"No!" I grab Billy by the back of his wetsuit and haul him back into the shade of the jungle. "Be quiet!" My hands clamp around his yelling mouth and he goes still until I release him.

"What was that for? We need to help Fawn!" He tries to run for the second time but I grab him again.

"No! We need to finish laying this wire! Fawn did her job, now let's do ours." I try not to let the panic show in my voice. I'm worried about Fawn, Jake had a bow on him and I fear that the scream I heard was him striking her with an arrow. But I can't worry about that right now. I have a job to do. Billy throws a fearful look at the island and I sigh, ripping the wire out from his grasp. "Fine! I'll do it!" I hastily begin throwing the wire down as I proceed across the jungle edge. As I go I keep fearing that I will hear a cannon signalling Fawn's death but as I get three thirds of the way through no such sound transpires. I take that as a sign that she's still alive. I throw the wire down with wanton regard now. No longer caring for exact measurements, just eager to get the job done.


Jac is suddenly at my side, his hands grabbing me around the shoulders and twirling me around. My heart catches in my throat at what I see, three tributes emerging from the jungles depths, staring us down with cold gazes, holding wickedly sharp weapons.

We've been ambushed.

Luxio Sertralium (District 13)

The two tributes stare back at us with fearful gazes. Their skin has gone pale, their hands clenched into fists at their side, or in the boys case, on his sword. I glance sideways at Luxray (14), his towering frame gets most of their fearful looks and the massive morning star glints menacingly in the afternoon sun. He looks deadly but I know that he's really just surprised, surprised like we all are. We had no idea these two tributes were here before we stumbled right upon them. This was a complete accident.

"What do we do...?" I ask Flame (C) in a barely audible whisper, taking care to move my lips as little as possible. My answer is a almost unnoticeable shrug. 

Great. We don't even have a plan for this. Might as well go with the most predictable and useful thing. "Kill them all?" I ask quietly. Luxray nods quickly. 

"Kill them all."

Before we can move Jac's hand twitches and darts into his front pocket. A small black ball suddenly appears in his hands and he pulls the pin and throws it. 

The ball bounces between the three of us and a bright flash of light envelopes us. I hear my allies shout as we're blinded by the intense light. "Freaking freak-frat!" I'm on the ground, rubbing my eyes furiously just as the loudest, shrillest noise I have ever heard rips through the jungle. My hands move from my eyes to my ears, trying to ward the deep piercing noise away. I've loss my senses, I can't see, I can't hear, all I can do is lie on the ground holding my head as the noise drives through my skull like a rusty nail. Silently I beg for it to stop, to just stop...

And then it does. I'm left crouched on the ground, face to the grassy ferns. A voice, faint and distant, seems to call for me. I roll over and open my eyes, a brilliant azure sky slowly coming back into focus. A face suddenly blocks my view as it looks down upon me. "Luxio? You all right?" The's soft and familiar...


"Yeah, it's me. Luxray too."  Hands grab my armpits and I'm hoisted to my feet. My vision is slowly coming back into focus and I see my two friends staring at me. The District 9 tributes are nowhere in sight. 

"What happened?" I ask wearily. I think I have a good idea but I want confirmation. 

"They used a flashbang or something. I don't know. But as soon as the light blinded me I used my flute." She holds the tiny silver instrument up and I look at it with a new respect. So that was the item that made such a horrible, insanity inducing noise... "I think they ran through the noise though. Because they're not here now..."

I glance around the immediate area again. I can see the cornucopia gleaming across the island, it's black crates of items haphazardly strewn about. But once again I don't see any other person other than my own allies. I look questioningly at Luxray. "Why weren't you effected by the flute?" A wide grin spreads across his face as he sticks his hands into his ears and pulls out small pebbles.

"Plugged my ears before we left the cave. Figured that flute might go off today." I can't hold back the grin that crosses my face.

"Awesome idea! I should have done the same!" We bump fists and then I notice Flame frowning. "What's up? Aren't you glad we won?"

"We didn't really win. And we never really fought. We just both used sensory blocking items." Sheesh that's a boring way of looking at things. But I guess that's true enough. 

"It would have been better if we had gotten them though," Luxray says wistfully. "Might as well take advantage of our location though. Let's get to that cornucopia." The speed at which Flame moves is incredible. In seconds she's already in front of Luxray, holding up a stopping hand. "What?"

"Did you not see what those two tributes were doing before we came?"

"Uh..." Luxray looks to me and I shrug. I have no idea what they were doing. Flame shakes her head and points down into the thick wildflowers that grow on the jungle edge. 

"See that wire? They were setting that wire up. In all probability it's electric." Luxray let's out a long whistle, staring down at the thin line that runs a long way back, stretching around the island. It's quite an elaborate trap alright. And we don't want to risk getting fried. 

Flame leads us away from the wire, deeper into the jungle. That whole encounter was a detour, something unexpected. We had no idea that those tributes would be there. But now we need to keep a careful eye open and make sure nothing surprises us like that again.

Carmine Morrisa (District 2)

If there is one thing about the Hunger Games that I don't like, it's the searching for other tributes to kill. Anais (1) and I have been awake since the break of dawn, hunting for the tributes that spend most of their time hiding instead of fighting. It's exhausting work.

"I don't think any other tribute is on this island," Anais mutters darkly as we finish our second thorough search through the jungle. "We would have found a sign of them by now."

"Ech. We should move back to the center of the arena and pick a new location to search." I hate this walking, this monotonous trudging through thick undergrowth that grabs and claws at you. This unbearable heat that seems intent on making you collapse from exhaustion. I'm already drenched in sweat and we keep stopping every hour to drink some water and keep ourselves from dehydrating. I just want to find some kid and kill them already!

Anais leads the way as we push through the jungle. Large black flies continually buzz around my head and I swat at them with increasing anger. My mace comes out now, smashing those stupid bugs with it, giggling as they explode into green piles of goo and dismembered appendages. I stop walking altogether and just sit there, swatting and smashing those damn bugs. 

"Carmine? You coming?" Anais spins around and stares at me curiously. I laugh, short and to the point.

"Yes! I'm just smashing these stupid insects!" She giggles and comes back to join me, swinging her hammer at the group of flies whose size has decreased dramatically. We continue swinging until I hear a strange rustling noise in the trees above us. I stop instantly and look up at the overhanging ferns. Anais sees my expression and stops to stare with me. 

"What is it?" She asks me in a low voice. I watch the green ceiling as it gently sways. It's not from the breeze, because there is no breeze. Someone is up there. I point up and then motion for Anais to go around the bend, behind a pair of tall thick trees. She nods and moves silently. Whoever it is up there, we have them trapped now! 

I sling my mace over my back, tying it to the weapon strap on the wetsuit, and begin climbing the nearest tree, one that's covered in large thick vines. The vines are smooth and slender but strong, I'm able to use them to hoist myself up and begin my ascent to the treetops. As I climb I spot Anais concealed amongst a patch of overgrown weeds. If our prey attempts to run she'll be the one to hunt them down. 

I'm nearly at the top now. About thirty feet up. The thick blanket of vines and leaves are entwined between trees, creating a green canopy of which our quarry must be sitting on. Either the tribute is light or those crisscrossing plants are stronger than they look. I'm wondering if it will hold my weight when I pull myself up and come face to face with a snarling leopard.

Saliva flies from its long curved fangs as it let's out a shrieking screech. I hear Anais scream in shock as I lose my grip on the vines. There's a brief sensation of floating and then I'm falling, the world spinning around me. The trees and ground seem to swap places and then I'm flying face first to the ground below.

A sharp jerk pulls me short, inches from the ground and my imminent death. Anais immediately comes running and swings her hammer. Something on my back comes loose and then I hit the ground and roll over. Anais drops a thick vine onto me. "This caught onto your mace. It slowed your fall and nearly brought the entire canopy down." The vines saved me? Talk about lucky. I sit up my back aching slightly, and remember just why I fell.

"Anais! The leopard!"


Confusion crosses her face and then I'm on my feet, shoving her to the ground just as the panther comes diving down from a nearby tree branch. The animal lands on its feet and gives another one of it's screeches. Anais scrambles back onto her feet just as the animal comes diving at us. 

The fact that the leopard went for Anais is what did it in. As it heads claws first toward my sister I swing my mace and smash the weapon right into its ribs. It falls to the ground, screeching in pain, when Anais recollects herself and drives her hammer into the mutts skull. "Nice one," I say, panting slightly. That was an action packed few moments, from my fall to the attack of the leopard, these moments have been absolutely enthralling!

"Too bad it wasn't a tribute," Anais says with a shrug as she rips her hammer from the animal and begins to wipe the blood off of it.

"Was exciting though," I answer with a grin. The danger, the unpredictable situations, the thrill! All of it was something that I've been wishing for! And now I have it! But what's even better is that these Games have just begun! 

Henry Polyester (District 7)

I'm nervous as I trudge along the beach, the hot sun beating down on my back and my neck. My lips are dry and cracked, my energy long gone, sapped away by the unrelenting heat and constant movement. I have absolutely no items on me, save for the sword on my back, the sword I stole from Colin (8) last night. 

I remember sneaking into the ruins where he slept, picking the sword up and watching him toss and turn, occasionally muttering to himself. I felt bad about my theft but I had to do it. He allied with me and then just deserted me, leaving me with no items. He left me to die. It's only fair that I take his sword in return. But still...

My thoughts trail off. I'm too exhausted to think any longer. It takes too much of my fast depleting energy. I round the bend of the island and see the bridge come into view. Between the shore and the water there's a small space under the bridge, a place underneath where I can rest. Where I can get shade!

I start to run though its more of a stagger. My feet are numb, I don't even feel my footsteps. I don't feel anything until I reach the bridge and stumble face first into the cold sand. Comfort...however meager it's still comfort. I lie there in the sand, finding solace in the smooth grainy's so comfortable...

"Um. Clark?" I hear a voice but I can't bring myself to look up, to even try and look for the source, to worry about my own safety. Maybe they will kill me and just let me drift off into a peaceful sleep...


Cold water slips past my lips and trickles down my throat. It's refreshing and I feel my eyelids fluttering open. A face sits only a few inches away. The face of a girl. Brilliant blue eyes stare back at me and then, when she sees that I'm awake, she gasps softly. "He's coming to Clark!" 

"Are you an angel?" I manage to croak out, wondering if I'm on the brink of death. The girl laughs lightly, a beautiful, musical laugh. 

"No. I'm just a person, silly!" 

The background behind her slowly begins to come into focus. I see the back end of a bridge and know for a fact that I'm still under the bridge. Another person then appears behind the girl, a blue haired boy. "Why did we help him again?" He asks with a cross expression. I think I know him. Clark from District...5 I think? Yeah, District 5. The girl too, both of them. 

"We couldn't just let him die!" The girl retorts sounding equally as cross.

"We're here to kill people Missy! Not save them!" 

Their argument continues, rising in intensity as it goes. I prop myself up on my elbows and watch with mild fear. What if they decide to kill me? I don't want to die, not now that I'm not dehydrating. But I get the feeling I won't be in danger as the argument begins to die down and it seems that the girl, Missy, has won. She sits down beside me and smiles with friendliness. "What's your name?" 


"Well, don't you worry Henry. You're not in danger here. Isn't that right Clark?" She looks to the boy and after a moment's hesitation, he nods.

"Yeah. We won't harm you." He doesn't sound too happy about it but he does sound honest. I'm still frightened by his initial reaction to seeing me but I don't think they would kill me after giving me water and asking my name. Or at least I hope they wouldn't. 

"How did you wind up alone, Henry?" The girl, Missy, asks me. It's a normal question, but I find myself hesitant to answer. What if they just want to find out more about me? See if I have any allies that could come searching for me? I'm frightened by the idea but then decide I'm just being paranoid and come clean, telling them about how Colin (8) and I split up and how I stole his sword and basically, recount my entire time in the Games. When I finish, they share an uneasy look.

"Colin?" Clark asks me with a weird expression. "The boy from District 8?" Something's off about this but I can't figure out what.

"Yeah. That's the one."

"He's...he's the one we fought with," Missy turns to Clark and my breath catches. They saw Colin? They fought with him? I'm suddenly scared. Scared that he'll be coming for me and his sword. 

"D-did you kill him?" I ask nervously. I feel terrible about hoping for his death but I think that he's gunning for my head for my theft. My only chance is staying hidden until he dies. 

"Um. No..." Missy sounds slightly embarrassed.

"He got away," Clark states simply and then goes to examine a bunch of wooden sticks. I get his message. This conversation is over. I'm still not sure where I stand with these kids. Am I allied or not? They haven't really said. But they haven't kicked me out either so...

Clark leans back against the bridge and Missy scoots over to the shore and let's the tide run over her feet. Neither of them pay me any more attention. I don't know what to do so I just pull myself into a sitting position and unsheath the sword on my back and frown at it. It's too big for me to use effectively. Maybe I should have just left it with Colin...

But I can't change the past. I have to deal with the present. And presently I'm sitting under a bridge with two people who may or may not be my allies. It's not fun...

I miss my parents.

Amaya Lovelace (District 14)

Ganta (12) leads the way through the jungle, Bailey (0) drapped over his back, her hands clasped around his neck. Even though I know it was Ganta's idea and that it helps us move faster, I can't repress the twinge of discomfort that boils in my stomach. I don't like how much she seems to be enjoying her ride. In fact, she should have decline out of sheer principal. We don't want Ganta using up his energy on trivial things.

"You still there Amaya?" Ganta asks from ahead of me, without ever turning to look back.

"Yes." I really think that I should be the one leading us. After all I have this amazing awesome knife glove that can cut through the vines and thickets that engulf us. But Ganta wants me to guard our rear and I'm willing to do whatever he wants. He's quite intelligent after all. 

"Is that a camp?" Bailey asks, raising her head to get a better look at something I can't see.

"Looks like it," Ganta waves me forward. "C'mon Amaya and get a good look at this!" I trot up and join level with them. Just ahead of us, outside of the jungles, is a clearing full of tents and crates. I recognize the place as some sort of camp. Possibly a military one. 

"Let's go search for items," I say pulling Bailey off of Ganta's back and pointing at the crates. "Is that alright?" I ask Ganta. He gives a quick nod so the two of us approach the crates which, surprisingly, look to have already been rifled through. 

"Someone's been here already," Bailey points out the obvious. I resist the urge to ask her if the shoulder wound is still effecting her and instead just shrug. 

"They left some items. Let's see those." 

It's not much. Some extra wire, a rope, and many packets of some sort of army rations. Food. One of the few things we didn't have. Now if only we could find some water...I snap open one of the rations and hand it to Bailey. "Here, eat. You need to keep your strength up."

"Thanks Amaya..."

We drift apart as we begin to search different portions of the camp. The tents are basically empty but a few of the cots look like they've been slept in. So whoever took the items also spent the night here. I wonder who they are and were they went. Will they come back tonight? If I was them, I definitely would. This camp is one of the few safe havens in the arena. 

Which kinda makes me worried. I want us to stay here but if another alliance come back what will happen? A fight? I don't know if I like our odds in that. I'm the only one with a real weapon. Ganta only has needles and Bailey doesn't even have one! If someone were to come Wed be screw--

"Stop right there!"

Ganta! I rush out of the tent and see him with his hands up in the size backing up slowly. A boy, not that he still resembles that, stood across from him, a small red gun clenched tightly in his fist. If I didn't recognize him as the Capitol boy I'd think he was some sort of mutt. His eyes are wild and bloodshot, constantly moving around within his skull, seemingly unable to focus on any one thing. His hair is wild and frizzy, sticking out at every angle, his skin is pale, almost translucent. What happened to him? Did he just completely snap once he got into the arena? 

"No! You stop!" The boys words come out as a maniacal cackle, his "S's" hissing like a snake. "You're the ones who killed Julio! Aren't you? AREN'T YOU!" Spittle flies from his mouth, so far that it reaches Ganta.

"No! I don't even--"

"Don't lie to me! They told me the truth! They told me everything!" My stomach clenched in fear as the insane boy waves the gun in his hand. Where did he even get that? That's not something the Gamemakers usually supply!

"Who told you who--"

"They did! My friends! They're everywhere! They see everything! They told me!" His voice is laced with madness, his chest heaving as he breathes rapidly. I don't know what to do. This boy has obviously gone mad. The pressure and fear of the Games having crushed his psyche. He should be locked up in some mental asylum. The boy babbles on about something, I keep my eyes on Ganta and see the slight inclination of his head. He wants me to run. But I can't do that. I can't leave Ganta at the mercy of this psycho kid. 

But I'm too afraid of what could happen.

"They're telling me to kill you," The boy says softly, almost a whisper. "Telling me you're bad. That you deserve it!"

"No! Iggy, please listen to me! You're not feeling-"

"SHUT UP! Just shut up! Shut. The. Hell. Up!" Everything seems to slow down. The boy raises the gun, moves a shaky finger to the trigger and then Bailey explodes onto the scene, tackling the boy to the ground. They begin to wrestle on the ground and then the boy kicks her off and takes off speeding into the jungle.

"Bailey!" Ganta rushes to her side and I go running after the psycho but Ganta calls me back. "Don't worry about him. He's just a poor, insane boy. He can't hurt anybody." I agree with the poor insane part but not exactly the "can't hurt anybody" especially since he has a gun for crying out loud! But I listen to Ganta and go to meet with him and Bailey, whose shakily getting to her feet. 

"That was a brave thing to do," I tell her with a tone of respect. I should have been the one to save Ganta. But I was immobilized by fear. If it hadn't been for Bailey, Ganta would be dead...

I can never allow that to happen ever again. I won't allow it.

Flame Vapore (The Capitol)

Footsteps pound through the jungle and we freeze. Luxray (14) whirls around to watch our back and then something explodes from the almost impenetrable jungle and smashes into Luxio's (13) side. 

The assailant and Luxio both hit the ground and their weapons go skittering out of their hands. A small red hand gun slides up to my feet but I ignore it in the chaos that has sprung up."Luxio!"

The two boys begin grappling and wrestling. It's hard to make anything out from the chaotic fight but I see a flash of wild green hair and wild eyes. Iggy! My district partner!

He gets the upper hand in the fight, pinning Luxio down and wrapping his hands around his throat. "Iggy no!" I step forward to stop this nonsense but Luxray is faster. He grabs Iggy by the scruff of the neck and hurls him off of Luxio, who gets up rubbing his now red neck and gasping for air. But Luxray isn't done. He turns to Iggy, who lies defeated on the mossy ground, and winds back his morning star. 

"Luxray no!"

I leap in front of Iggy, not thinking things through. The heavy weapon comes sailing towards my head but then Luxray spins his shoulder and the spiked ball swings past my ear and sinks into the dirt. 

"What the hell are you doing Flame? I could have killed you!" Luxray is furious, and rightfully so, but I have plenty of time to explain later and pull Iggy to his feet and examine him. His eyes are wide and dazed and no trace of the frantic madness he had while choking Luxio remains. 

"What happened to you?" I ask him curiously. His eyes slowly roll around in his head, coming to a stop when they meet mine.

"They killed Julio. They did. I know. They told me." He snickers loudly and throws his head back, laughing like a maniac.

"Dude's nuttier then a candy bar," Luxio mutters.

"Who told you?" I ask, ignoring Luxio's remark and focusing on Iggy.

"My friends! They're all around me! All around US! They're everywhere!" He laughs again and I feel a twinge of misplaced guilt. Maybe if I had chosen to ally with him he wouldn't have gone off the deep end. I can't help but feel slightly responsible for that. I was the only one who knew how fragile his psyche was to begin with. Also...I see a bit of myself in him. How I was after my brother and Rosa died in their respective Hunger Game. People said I was insane too. But I wasn't. I

"Don't worry Iggy. We can help you. We can--"

"Don't touch me!" He slaps away my reaching hand and hisses at me like a wild animal. I pull away in shock and fear. Has he really gone completely insane? Beside me, Luxio and Luxray exchange a glance. 

"Okay buddy. Time for a nap." Luxray raises his morning star and brings the blunt edge of the handle down onto the crown of Iggy's head. His eyes roll back into his head and he drops to the ground, unconscious. I immediately turn to Luxray protesting, but he smiles and cuts me off. "He's a little cuckoo right now. We can talk to him when he wakes up." I frown. I'd have preferred if we didn't have to knock him out, we would have appeared more trustworthy for one, but we do need to get moving and find a place to spend the night before the sun sets. 

"Fine. But he's our ally now, understand?"

"Yep. Four is better than three, amirite?"

Luxray picks Iggy up and slings him over his shoulder, leading the way as he heads off into the jungle. Luxio follows next and then I remember the small red gun at my feet. I pick it up and examine it. It appears to have two chambers and fits snugly in the palm of my hand. I absentmindly place the gun into my pocket and take off after my allies. 

Billy McGranger (District 10)

"Fawn? Fawn!" I sprint through the jungle, my voice loud and searching. I've been running and looking ever since that surprise attack. I'm fearful and nervous, terrified that Fawn, or even Jac and Azalea, are lying mortally wounded somewhere. The only comforting thing is that I know they're not dead yet, I haven't heard a cannon.

All of a sudden I find myself on the beach. Again. For the third time. Have I just been running in circles? The island is circular shape so the odds of that are pretty good. Dangit. I thought the cartoon stuff was over...I sit myself down on the sand and stare at the ocean, shining orange from the setting sun. I guess I lost my allies...

"Billy! Psst! Billy!"

A ghost! I'm on my feet and running back into the jungle, away from this haunted beach. My foot catches on something and I face plant in a pile of wet mud.

"Billy! I was so worried!" Hands pull me up and then I hear a gasp. "What's on your face? And why does it smell so bad?" Fawn! I wipe the mud excitedly from my face and see her disgusted face looking back at me.

"Don't worry!" I say as I wipe the mud off on my wetsuit. "Its just mud!"

"Um. Yeah. Mud."

"Boy am I glad to see you guys again! I thought you were all goners!"

"Billy, I'm the only one here!" I see the startled look on her face and a bad feeling begins to form.

"Jac and Azalea aren't with you?"

"No. I thought they were with you." Silence. Jac and Azalea are still missing. Not here. And the sun is coming down quickly, soon enough the arena will be covered in the shade of night and further search will be impossible. "Well...we can't worry about them right now. We need to worry about ourselves." Right. Worry about ourselves. That's what you do in the Hunger Games. I shuffle my feet awkwardly, knowing that just a few moments ago I was worrying much more about my friends then I was about myself. Fawn (10) doesn't notice though and leads me deeper into the jungle, where we could find some shelter. As we go a thought strikes me.

"Are you okay? I heard you shout in pain at the cornucopia."

"I'm fine. It's just...well, an arrow skimmed my thigh." She turns and I see a straight hole in her wetsuit revealing a shallow cut on her thigh, about four centimetres long, not deep enough to tear muscles or tendons, but the skin that surrounds it is swollen and has a slight blue hue. I shrink back from looking at it but Fawn continues talking. "It...feels cold. And my leg sometimes cramps up. But other than that, I'm fine."

"Oh...good." Something feels off. I don't quite know what though. I think back to the cornucopia, when we saw Jake. What was he doing again? Something with his arrows? My memories are hazy... "Did you clean it?" I ask Fawn, trying to remember all I know about medical stuff. "And, uh, um...put stuff on it?"

"Yes, Billy. Of course I washed it. I'm not stupid." A pause. "And I don't have anything to put on it."

"Does, uh, mud work?" I ask, siphoning some of the stuff off of my wetsuit and into my hands.

"No, it doesn't. And that is not mud Billy."

"It isn't?" I take a closer look at the brown stuff. "Then what--Oh God!" I throw it down, gagging as I rip a vine off and begin scrubbing my face with it. Fawn giggles momentarily and then is back to business.

"Once you get that stuff off of your face we should get moving. Dangerous stuff happens at night."

Jake Locketback (District 1)

What were those tributes doing? 

I pace across the edge of the island, my eyes desperately examining the jungle for any signs of traps, ambushes, or snares. There has to be something there. They didn't come to sight see, that was for sure. 

But I can't figure out what they could possibly be trying to do. Unless they just wanted to sneak in and steal from the cornucopia. While that's certainly possible I don't think it was that. They had two groups, one was a distraction and the other one was setting up...something. 

I want to go swim out and see but I'm afraid I'd get killed before I could find what it was. Well, I'm not likely to find out by staring at the fringes of the jungle forty yards away. I return back to the mouth of the cornucopia and sit down, comforting myself with the fact that at least one of them is going to die. The one I struck with my arrow, an arrow I had laced with poison. 

My secret weapon. Poison. Each and every arrow in my quiver, a total of twenty-three, has been tipped in the stuff making them extra potent and deadly.


A thought strikes me, a very important thought. I've been thinking of a possible trap out there being harmful to me but what if, what if, it was actually beneficial? It sounds crazy, I know. But the more I think about it the more I realize it might actually be the truth. 

If anyone wants to get to the cornucopia, they'll have to try and get past that trap, then swim across forty yards of open water where I'll have a clear shot with my bow. Basically, it's impossible for anyone to get to the cornucopia and my bounty without great risk to themselves. And yeah, it also makes it difficult for me to leave but do I really need to leave when I have the cornucopia and its many multitudes of food, water and weapons? I could stay here for literally days without having to do a single thing. I'm in the best position possible!

Being cheered up considerably, I get to work on building a wall of crates on the right side of the cornucopia mouth, leaving a few small gaps for me to shoot out should the need arise. The sun has completely disappeared as I work but the moon gives enough light to work by and I finish it without much hassle. "Home sweet home," I murmur as I wrap myself in a sleeping bag and settle in for the night. "Home sweet home..."

Iris Pixel (District 3)

"Iris, wake up!"

My eyes snap open, a small shriek of terror building in my throat. But it stops as soon as it began as I see his dark green eyes staring back at me. Aspen.

"The Anthem will start soon," he says quietly. "Thought you'd want to see it." He shuffles over and rests his back against a nearby tree. I yawn and stretch my arms. The jungle is dark, beyond dark, the moon is barely visible through the thick canopy that hangs overhead. Our location deep in the west island jungle, sitting amongst the long curling roots of a gigantic tree, has worked to our advantage so far. Everything has actually, save for our water situation. But the liquid in our soup has kept us going for now, but it's running low and will all but be gone by tomorrow. 

I wiggle myself over to Aspen (3) and tuck in under his arm just as the sky lights up from the giant seal that has appeared and the Anthem pours into our ears. The first face that appears is so shocking that Aspen bolts up and sputters in disbelief.


He's-he's dead! It's unbelievable. Neither me nor Aspen manage to say anything before his face is replaced by Octavia from District 11. I didn't know her. But she had a brother and he must be so devastated right now...

Her face is then replaced by the Capitol seal and then that too disappears leaving us in the black embrace of darkness. Aspen finally finds his voice. "He's dead. And I didn't even kill him...I didn't even see him..."

"Life isn't a movie," I remind him quietly. "Not everything goes as one might expect. Just be glad he's not hunting us anymore." He doesn't answer as he continues looking to the sky, as if he'll find his answer there. I'm busy thinking about another important thing Fenrir's has caused. There's now only one Career left, if you don't count the girls from District's 1 and 2, both who are from Career District's but not strictly in the Career alliance. 

"Looks like we may have a happy ending after all," Aspen finally finds his voice, speaking low and gravelly.

"Don't be so sure. Fenrir may be dead but we're not guaranteed anything. Especially not a happy ending."

"No. We are. I refuse to accept any alternative. You are going to win these Games Iris. And then we get our happy ending." I don't say anything. Because, for me, that is not a happy ending. Any ending that has Aspen dying isn't happy. No ending where we're not together is happy. But I don't tell Aspen any of this. He would freak out if I told him it was impossible for me to survive these Games happy. He so wants to make me happy...but nothing he can do now could result in my happiness. I could only me happy with both of us living in peace, far away from here...

"You should get some rest," He says suddenly. "There's nothing to be gained from exhausting yourself." 

"Yeah. Okay." I kiss him on the cheek and then scale the tree behind us, pulling myself ten feet off of the ground and nestling in a crook between two large thick branches. "Good night Aspen. I love you.."

"Good night Iris. I love you too..."

I eventually feel my eyes flickering shut. The final image I see before drifting off is Aspen standing guard with his crescent sword...

Day 3/ The Perfect Storm

Jac Price (District 9)

"Wake up Jac. C'mon, wake up." 

Azalea (9) shakes me awake and I see that she has a decidedly sharp scythe in her hands.

"Where'd you get that?" I ask as I try to rub the sleep from my eyes. The trees around us are already chattering with life from both insects and birds.

"Sponsors," Azalea says simply and backs off from me. I rather awkwardly climb to my feet and glance around. I see the wrapped up silver parachute where the scythe must have came, from lying not too far away. Azalea glances back at me. "We should get going. We need to find Billy and Fawn."

Billy and Fawn. What happened to the two of them? The last time I saw either of them was at the cornucopia, where I heard Fawn get struck with an arrow and Billy...well, I don't know where Billy went. He ran off right before we were ambushed by that other alliance. "Where should we start our search?" I ask Azalea as I examine the blade of my sword. It's as sharp as it was the day I got it, which was also the day I used it to kill the District 6 boy...His face was in my dreams last night. Haunting me. 

"The center island. That's where we last saw them," Azalea heads off without waiting for a response. I'm still thinking about the boys face but quickly shake it off, for the moment, and run after her.

"It's going to be a long and arduous search before we find them!" I shout after her as we approach the bridge. "Long and arduous!"

"Well, that wasn't long or arduous at all!" Billy (10) grins as he steps out from a large bromeliad plant. I scowl at him but then remember that he had no way of knowing those were the exact words I spoke to Azalea and transform my scowl into a small smile.

"Are you both okay?" Azalea asks before I can.

"Yeah fine. Thanks to my sponsors." Fawn (10) drops an empty container of something that looks like a medicine of some sort. 

"Were you injured?" I ask with a frown, spotting a bandage tied around her left thigh. 

"Yes. Jake shot me with an arrow. The tip was poisoned."

Azaleas gasps and I feel my stomach twinge uneasily. I don't feel good knowing that he has poison with him. You can't fight poison. It's not like a weapon or someone's own physical strength. It's secret and shifty. Something that kills you gradually, instead of outright. 

"Is it on all his weapons?" Azaleas questions.

"How would I know? I just got shot with an arrow. Nothing else." 

"Looks like rain!" Billy suddenly interrupts the conversation with a dopey smile. 

"What do you mean?"

He lazily points to the sky and I notice for the first time that despite the humidity staying about the same, the sun isn't shining as bright as it was the past two days. Or at all. Thick dark clouds dot the sky, blocking out the sun but not it's heat. "Well good. We won't need to find our own water if it rains." The others murmur their agreement and then Azalea steps forward to tell us her plan for the day. Apparently, we have to go find another alliance to join us on this plan first.

"Why?" Is Billy's simple question as we set off for another island for the second time today. Things that looked normal and even a bit cheerful in the bright sunlight look a bit intimidating in the gray overcast. Reaching vines, jagged rocks, the rustling animals. Everything sets me on edge now, for no real reason.

"We need more bodies for this plan." 

She leaves it at that, elaborating no further. Billy looks to me for answers but I just shrug. I know as much as him. The jungle ends soon enough and then a bridge comes into view. Because the sun is behind the clouds I can't tell which direction we're going, so I can't tell which bridge this is. 

Azalea leads us across it anyways and I watch the blue waves splashing beneath us as we cross. Funny how we haven't touched the water since the bloodbath. I could go for a swim in this heat. "Peoples!"

Billy points straight ahead and I see a group of three standing on the edge of the bridge. Two orange wetsuits and a green one. Districts 5 and 7. "Don't look intimidating!" Azalea whispers fiercely. 

"Okay. But it looks like they're attacking!" 

One of the figures pulls a bow up, aiming right at us. Azalea shouts something and then they fire. I see the arrow spiralling towards us, I see it homing in on its target and then I raise my arm in protective and it strikes me in the forearm.

I hiss in pain and recoil. It stings like hell but as I rip it out I see that it's only a crudely sharpened stick and has barely penetrated my skin. A small incision with a thin line of blood seeping out, is my only wound. 

"Stop! Stop!" Azalea drops her scythe and rushes forward, waving arms above her head. "We don't want to harm you!" 

The lone girl in the opposing group halts the boy from firing another arrow. They have a short conversation in hushed voices and then slowly approach us. The boy from District 7 cowers behind the girls back. Azalea throws a look back at us and mouths "Don't do anything!" And then faces the others. "We want an alliance!"

"And why should we align with you?" The girl asks, her voice firm but neutral.

"I think it would be in both of our groups best interests." Azalea replies, keeping her tone the same. I let my eyes wander over to the other two. The bigger boy, Clark, is watching us with wary eyes.  The smaller boy is still hiding behind the girl. "And you can help us take over the cornucopia."

The girl nod slowly and then the boy whispers something into her ear and she nods again. "Let us talk this over. But no funny business. We'll be watching you." They retreat to the edge of the bridge and start a conversation, every now and then throwing us covert glances. "Think they will accept?" I ask Azalea as I aisle up alongside her.

"Yeah. They seem to be the trusting type."

I open my mouth to ask if we could trust them, when their conversation ends and they come walking back. That was quick. Which might be bad news for us. I ready myself for a battle, just in case. "What's your answer?" Azalea asks cautiously.

Clark answers this time. "We accept. But don't even think of betraying us.  That won't end well. For you." 

"Fair enough. We have no desire to betray you." 

I shuffle my feet awkwardly. That's not exactly true, not here in the Hunger Games. But lying is necessary, especially in the Games. The Hunger Games brings out all of the worst in you. 

"So we're all pals now, right?" Billy asks with his trademark grin.

The girl responds with a grin of her own. "Yes. We're pals!"

Ganta Alomo (District 12)

I'm a little sad to be leaving the military camp. The place had shade and shelter, it was the best location we had found yet. Which is also one of the reasons why we have to leave it. Anyone who finds it will try and claim it, not to mention that Iggy (C) could return any moment, possibly with help. 

"Has everyone drank?" Amaya (14) turns and asks just as we step under the jungle canopy. This morning Amaya received a spile and we managed to tap a tree with it, earning ourselves cool, refreshing water. It was about time. My mouth felt as dry as a desert and my tongue was swelling, I don't think we would have lasted much longer without water.

"I'm all good," Bailey (0) says.

"So am I. We all got our fill back there."

Amaya nods. "Okay. Follow me then." She leads the way through the menacing jungle. I'm on edge, nervous that we could get attacked at any moment. I don't know what alliances are still intact but I'm almost certain that majority of them are stronger than ours. 

"Where are we going again?" Bailey calls from the back of our line. She walks with a slight lurch, her wounded shoulder still troubling her.

"Back across the bridge. I have a trap to set up," Amaya doesn't stop walking as she speaks. "And then, hopefully, we can get some supplies from the cornucopia." And that just makes me more nervous. We're heading right into the thick of things, where every other tribute may just be lurking around. I guess it's better than taking our chances with Iggy though...

When we arrive at the bridge we run across, not wanting to expose ourselves any longer than necessary. Bailey slips and falls halfway but pulls herself up and continues like nothing happened. When we reach the shelter of the next jungle I look back to make sure we're not being followed. I see nothing but the lone empty bridge and the gray waves washing up on the pristine shore. "Everything is good so far," Amaya says as she pulls a coil of wire out from our backpack. 

"So what's your plan?" Bailey asks, sitting down on a large rock and rubbing her shoulder ruefully. 

"I'm going to leave this out," Amaya unclips her dagger from her belt and carefully entwines the wire around it. "And hopefully someone tries to take it."

"What happens then?" I ask. I'm not seeing how this will do anything but then again that wire seems to be more than meets the eye. Amaya gives me a mischievous grin.

"Zap. They die."

"So the wire is electrically charged?" Bailey gives the thin wire a skeptical look.

"Correct Aelia. It's electric." She continues with the wrapping and Bailey gives me a confused look behind her back. It's odd, but that wasn't the first time Amaya messed up one of our names. She called me "Sean" back on day one. It seems to be a reoccurring problem when her mind is focused elsewhere. "Ganta, come help me choose a location for this. Bailey, just relax." Amaya hurries off through some umbrella shapes plants. I give Bailey a reassuring nod and follow after her.

I find her carefully placing the dagger on large tree stump. I cough, to let her know I've arrived and she turns, beaming brightly at me. "Ganta!" She rushes forward and gives me a hug. I stand there feeling stupid for a moment and then awkwardly pat her on the back.

"Something wrong?" I ask, wondering what brought this on.

She lets go of me and steps back, her blue eyes staring into mine, shining with emotion. "I...Ganta I need to tell you something. Something important." This is worrying. I wave my hand, urging her to continue. What happened? "I...Ganta, I-I can't hold it in any longer. I need to tell someone. Tell you."

"Tell me...what?"

"Ganta, I-I love you!"

Oh. Oh, that wasn't what I was expecting. I don't know what I thought she was going to say but I didn't think it would be that. I stare at her, an awkward silence now between us. She doesn't seem to notice and continues, tears now sliding down her face. "I wanted to tell you, but I was so nervous. But then I realized, you only live once, and we could die any minute now, and I just needed to let you know because-" I lose her words in my own thoughts. She loves me? She loves me? Conflicting emotions are rising, nervousness, fear, uncertainty. She loves me. And that means she expects me to love her back. 

But I don't.

I watch as she continues to talk, spilling her innermost thoughts and feelings to me. But I can't even listen, I'm too preoccupied thinking about what this means for our alliance. If I tell her the truth, if I tell her that I don't love her, and how could I? I've only known her for a week. I'm not even certain what age she is, let alone her favourite color, animal, and birthday! But if I tell her that, if I break her heart, I doom our alliance. There's no way she stays with Bailey and myself if I do that. 

Which means I can't tell the truth. I have to...lie. I take a deep shuddering breath and tune myself back into her words.

"...and I know you probably think I'm crazy but I can't help the way I feel," She stops and fixes me with a look of such intense emotion and feeling that I can't look her in the face, instead having my gaze drop to my feet. "But...I need to know how you feel. How you feel about me." I'm on the spot. My mouth dries, worse than it did when I was dehydrating. My heart is racing faster then it was when Iggy had me in his crosshairs. What do I say? How do I react? I feel her watching me, expecting an answer and then I just blurt out the first thing that comes to mind.


I give myself an imaginary face palm. What a moronic thing to say! Amaya stares at me in shock and then...

"You feel the same! You love me!"

With an excited squeal she rushes forward and wraps me in a monster bear hug. I practically feel the elation exuding off of her as shes hugs me, murmuring happily into my shoulder. I feel terrible. I just lied to her, played with her feelings. How did I let the Games warp me like this? How could I let myself turn into this? I'm just doing this to come home. I tell myself. I'm just doing what I need to survive. I'm not a bad person. I'm not. She breaks the hug off and looks at me with a wide happy grin. I stare into her happy, emotional, clear eyes and feel another wave of shame wash over me. 

"I love you Ganta!" She breathes with a enormous smile. I force myself to smile as well. Force myself to tell yet another lie.

" you too...Amaya..."

Anais Morrisa (District 1)

"Those clouds will begin dropping rain down on us any minute now," Carmine (2) says as we walk around the fringe of the jungle, trying to decide which of the four islands we should head to next. 

"I hate getting wet!" I mutter darkly. Water ruins my hair, it also makes me extremely uncomfortable. Who can sleep while they're being rained on? 

"Yeah. But that won't stop it from happening!"

I scowl at Carmine. I hate when she makes sense. "I just want to complain, okay?"

She shrugs, a playful smile tugging on her lips. "Then complain. But don't expect me to sympathize with you." She laughs lightly but then cuts off immediately as a foreign sound comes from the jungle to our side. A thump and the rustle of plants. "Don't say anything!" Carmine whispers and then plunges into the jungle. I know my part of this rehearsed plan. I dart across the edge of the jungle, keeping my eyes fixed on the red flashes of Carmine's hair as she moves swiftly but silently after our quarry. Hopefully it isn't an animal this time.

Another thump and rustle, further into the jungle this time. Carmine sticks a hand into the air and summons me forward. I join her with a frown on my face. "This could be a trap."

"Could be. But is there anyone out there who could defeat us? Even with a trap?" 

I suppress a giggle. "No. We're the top of the food chain here!" Another thump interrupts us, the sound fainter as it continues deeper into the jungle. Carmine wastes no time in following and I'm forced to come with, but not without my misgivings. That doesn't sound like footsteps. More Is that possible?

"Carmine, I think--"

I don't get to finish. Carmine comes to a complete stop and I'm following so closely that I can't stop before I bounce off of her shoulders. "It's a tunnel!" She says as I steady myself. 

"A what?"


She steps aside and I see it. Hidden amongst a pile of ferns and vines, is the mouth of a black tunnel. Just barely visible, a set of stairs leading down into its depths. "Cool Carmine. But what does that have to do with us?" I tap my feet impatiently. We don't have time for this!

"Anais, listen. Do you hear those noises anymore?" Something clicks inside me. I listen closely and hear birds, insects, even the wind. But no more thumps or unnatural rustling. "The sound is gone. That means..." Carmine raises a finger and points directly into the tunnel. "They went down there!" 

"Trapped like mice!" I giggle and Carmine smiles wickedly. She steps forward and then turns to me, putting a finger on her lips for silence. I nod. We don't want to give ourselves away. Then she pushes through the ferns and heads down the stairs. I bring up the rear.

The tunnel is dark and dreary and smells strongly of salt. I hear a short splash as Carmine reaches the end of the stairs. "Water!" She whispers back to me. "About knee high!" I roll my eyes. It just had to be water, didn't it? Carmine continues but it's impossible to be completely silent now. Especially when I step into the water and give an involuntary squeal at how cold it is. I wince as I hear it echo along the length of the tunnel. "Be quiet!" Carmine snaps at me in a voice just above a whisper.

"You should have warned me about how cold it was!"

She doesn't answer, but I can feel the annoyance radiate off of her as we continue along. The tunnel gets progressively darker but somehow it stays just light enough to see. "Where is this light coming from?" I whisper quietly. 

Carmine shrugs. "I don't know. Maybe it's artificial. Made by the Gamemakers? Or maybe it's the moss on the walls?" Makes sense I guess. We continue trudging through the water. I get a chill down my spine as we pass adjacent corridors branching off I'm different directions. Just how large is this place? A person could get lost down here...

"Carmine?" I have a terrible feeling that we've been duped. No one could have gone down here. Why would they have? This place is dark and threatening. So many paths were you could get lost, the possibility of mutts, just about anything...


"No. This is serious Carmine! I think we've--"

"Watch out!" 

Carmine slams into my side, pressing me against the slick moss-covered walls. Something whips past, something sharp and silver. I look down the stretch of the tunnel and see him. The boy from District 11. Bellamy. 

When he sees that we're not harmed he turns and runs, the water splashing behind him. Carmine takes off after him, slowed down by the water. I bring up the rear, my desire to kill ignited now that I know someone is down here. The tunnel is filled with the sounds of splashing and panting. The boy takes several turns and twists through the tunnels. I get the feeling that he's trying to lose us. Ha! That won't work! He's screwed now!

Carmine is gaining on him. He checks over his shoulder and let's out a loud curse. Then, to our complete surprise, he stops and turns, right in the middle of a T-intersection. He raises his spear, I shout a warning, and then he throws.

A cry of pain, a splash of water. Ahead of me, Carmine goes down. "No!" I run to my sister's side as Bellamy (11) goes sprinting away. Carmine is falling beneath the water that's rapidly turning red, my hands pull her up. The spear tip is buried between her right shoulder blade and chest. "Carmine! Hang in there!" My head spins. What do I do? Her wound is bleeding heavily, her breathing is shallow. How do I treat this? I don't know how to heal! Only harm! "I'll help you! Just stay with me!" I rip handfuls of the moss off of the wall and as I pull the spear out of her, I press them to Carmine's wound. 

"Anais...." Her eyelids flicker open and find me. "Win...this..."

"Your not dead yet!" I plaster the moss onto the wound and get behind her. "Use your feet. I'm going to push you to the stairs. I can't heal you down here!" 


"Save your strength Carmine." I push, the water helping greatly. I hear Carmine moan in pain as we head down one of the corridors. I can see light ahead. It's not where we entered but it's a way out. "You're going to be okay," I tell Carmine as we approach the light. "You're going to be okay..."

Luxio Sertralium (District 13)

"Do you trust Iggy?" I ask Luxray (14) as we sit around a circle of stones. The boy in question, Iggy, is currently working on some sort of circular contraption as Flame (C) peeks through the ferns at the cornucopia that lies not far off. "Because I don't. He just looks too...I don't know. Suspicious."

"Flame trusts him," Luxray says.

"I know but--"

"And I trust Flame. Thus, I trust him."

I frown. "Well, I trust you. Does that mean I trust him then?"

"That's up to you."

I watch the boy as he finishes with whatever he was working on and hops about excitedly. He goes over to Flame and presents it to her, looking like a kid whose proud of his science project. Trusting him is complicated. It's not that I think he will betray us. It's just that I don't trust him not to do something stupid or crazy. 

"Come on guys!" Flame calls us over to her. When we arrive I see that she has given the flare gun back to Iggy. I don't know how I feel about that. 

"We going to go rush in and save Jake?" Luxray asks.

"In a way. We truced with the Careers and now it's time to honour that truce."

"I'm sure they would have done the same," I mutter sarcastically. I'm doubtful that, if the situation was reversed, the Careers would even remember the truce. In fact, I would bet on them killing us. But It's not reversed and we're not the Careers. 

"Now let's go!" Flame heads off, leading the way. Iggy follows close behind and the me and Luxray bring up the rear. It's then, when we're walking, that the clouds finally overflow and the rain begins to pour. The drops are thick and warm, not at all cool. It does nothing to relieve the immense humidity, even when it transforms into a fierce downpour. "Keep moving!" Flame yells back at us. The canopy is thinner now and more of the rain is reaching our heads. "Don't stop until--"


Iggy throws himself in front of Flame, blocking our path. Flame bumps into him and then Luxray into her and me into him. "What the hell man?" I growl angrily, shaking water droplets from my hair.

"Trap!" He pushes us back and with one hand gestures at the thick grass growing at our feet. 

"I don't see any trap."

"Look again!" He picks up a large fallen branch and uses it to move back the grass, revealing a thin wire, barely visible through the pounding rain. "Electric wire!"

Electric? Uh-Oh. "Why haven't we been shocked yet?" Luxray demands as he steps back from the deadly wire. "Doesn't water conduct electricity?"

Iggy shakes his head. "Not this wire. It only reacts to the touch of a living being. Capitol created." I share a surprised look with Luxray. Dude may be insane but he sure knows a lot about wire. Maybe he has his uses after all. "Well, unless submerged. Then it conducts."

"How do we get pass it?" Flame asks, her eyebrows knit in thought.

"Simple. You step over." The boy chuckles and then just steps right over the wire. I expect him to scream in pain as a million volts of electricity shoot through him but nothing happens. He stares back at us and grins. "Simple!"

"Looks dangerous," I mutter but Flame follows suit and steps over without being fried. Luxray shrugs and does the same, leaving me as the only one left on this side. I take a deep breath and a wide step. I imagine being shocked, my innards being deep fried like chicken, my skin blackened as ash. I hope it would kill me quickly and I wouldn't feel a thing.

"You're not dead," I hear Luxray's gravelly voice and I'm on the other side. It was only a simple step yet it felt like a mile. 

"Let's get to the island," Flame says as she slips into the surrounding water. I grin at the others.

"Let's hope Jake's ready for visitors!"

Jake Locketback (District 1)

"So let me get this straight. You guys want to align with me, because of our truce, and want to take all the supplies we can hold but destroy the rest, is that right?"

The group assembled before me, Luxio (13), Luxray (14) and the Capitol pair, Flame and Iggy, all nod their heads in unison. "That's right!" Flame says. "And you better decide if you want to help us or not quickly. Because other tributes could be headed this way."

"I don't fear that. They wouldn't get past the trap."

"You mean the wire we got past?"

Ooh, right. I totally forgot that these four got pass that already. They also got pass the water while I was taking a nap. If they hadn't been here to ally with me, I'd already be dead. The truth tastes bitter. "I guess I'm in," I mutter. "Don't really have another choice at this point. Do I?"

"No. Not really." 

"Then you four should grab what you want. I already have everything I need." I sit down on one of the crates I've created a wall out of and motion at my pile of goodies inside of the cornucopia. When boredom set in I busied myself by organizing all the items on the island, from food to weapons. It's all here. 

"Thank you!" 

I watch the four of them act like kids on Christmas, rushing into the pile and grabbing the shiny things. The two boys with the similar names both grab some small sharp silver objects that I don't know the name of. They look vaguely like stars. Iggy is just insane, bouncing around laughing crazily as he picks up items. Flame is by far the most logical and methodical, taking two large bags and filling them full of food and water. 

I let them gather and lounge back, watching the thick drops of water hit the sand. Good thing I moved the items under the cornucopia. Otherwise this could have been much more difficult. "Everyone have what they need?" I ask as Flame rises and approaches me, both bags strapped to her back. She's stronger then she looks.

"Yes. Now we need to take care of the extras."

"And we do that how...?"

Her gaze zooms around the clearing before settling on the surrounding water. "Dump it. The food will be ruined and the weapons out of reach." Her allies join us and she barks out orders. I'm paired with Luxio (13) in carrying crates over to the waters edge and dumping it into the water. I watch as a crate full of apples splash in and float around lazily. 

"Why don't we just stay here?" I frown as Luxio dumps a container of soup. 

"Too obvious. Everyone will come here sooner or later." He doesn't even look up as he transitions to dropping a jacket full of knives in. I watch as the weapons come loose from their holdings and slowly sink to the bottom, settling in the sand below. 

"But we're the strongest alliance here, right?" I stare through the hurtling rain at the jungle across from us. Was it me, or did I just see something moving? The speeding rain drops make it difficult to see but I think I see someone standing upright, arching back as they pull on a bow... "Arrow!"

I shout just as the person fires. The projectile sails through the falling rain and then slams into Luxio's thigh. He yelps in pain and hurriedly rips the arrow out. If you can even call it that. It looks far more like a rather sharp stick. "We gotta go! They're here!" Luxio turns and runs, the arrow only inflicting superficial damage to him. I fire off two of my own arrows in the general direction of our attackers and follow after him. 


Luxio stops just as I do. Apparently our attackers have us flanked. Three tributes are charging at our allies assembled at the cornucopia. The District 10 pair and Clark from 5. 

I can just see make out enough through the fierce deluge to see Fawn (10) throw herself at Flame. The two of them fall to the wet sand, punching and grappling as they roll towards the water. Clark, holding a spear I recognize as one of the extras lying around the cornucopia, charges towards Luxray. I load and aim my bow but before I even finish Luxray is deflecting Clark's wild slash and swings his morning star. 

There's an explosion of blood and bone then Clark is falling into a pile of his own blood and brain matter. I feel my stomach churn as I view the vile scene. "I think I'm going to be sick..."

"Well hold it in!" 

Luxio is pulling two of those star thingies out of his pockets and taking aim. Billy (10), who was strangling Iggy (C) with his whip, sees us and let's out a loud shriek as he turns to run. He's fast but Luxio's faster. He whips the two stars forward. One of them hits Billy in the right shoulder and as he's stumbling from the impact, the second one strikes him square in the center of his back, sending him face forward into the sand. Luxio grunts in satisfaction and turns to me. "Help Iggy! I'm going for Flame!"

As Luxio dashes off I run over and pull the dazed Iggy to his feet. He stumbles around rubbing his visibly red throat. "Wuz happened?" He croaks out feebly as a cannon sounds. Boom! 

I don't answer his question, squinting through the increasingly heavy rain as I try to find the rest. I can see Luxray spinning around, looking for any further attackers. But where's--


I see Flame lying on the ground, her hands desperately attempting to push back Fawn, whose wielding a large knife. I fear we're about to lose an ally when Flame tucks her legs beneath her and kicks them straight into Fawn's gut, driving her backwards into the surrounding water. Luxio appears at Flames side and helps her up. 

Everything is happening too fast! I can't get a grasp on anything! Luxray is at my side now, shouting something about getting away. Luxio and Flame are running towards us, pointing wildly at the direction where me and Luxio were dumping the supplies. Of course! The other tributes! 

I look now and see four figures on the edge, near the water. I pull my bow up to fire but before I can Iggy steps in front of me and raises a small red gun. Cackling insanely, he pulls the trigger.

A large red ball shoots out from the muzzle. It's flashing light seems to reflect off of the dropping rain as it rockets towards the four tributes. They shout in alarm and two dive into the water just as the blazing ball slams into one of them and drives them back into the jungle.

It explodes into flames on impact, sparks flying and catching the nearby plants on fire. I'm surprised at how fast the fire spreads, especially considering the massive downpour. I sit there gazing in mystified wonder, when Luxray grabs me by the shoulder and pulls me back. "We have to get away!" He screams over the pounding rain and blazing fire. Iggy, Flame, and Luxio all follow us as we dash across the island, to the opposite side of the flames. One by one we splash into the water and swim towards the shore. Luxray is the first to reach it. He pulls himself up and lurches into the jungle, where he suddenly cries out in pain as a bright flash of light shines.


Luxio screams as his friend shakes and contorts as thousands volts of electricity race through his body. Within seconds he falls to the ground, the scent of burnt flesh lingering in the air. Luxio is still screaming, pushing past me as he runs for his friend. I try to stop him, worried he will get shocked too, but he shoves me off and drops beside Luxray's body. Boom! Boom!

Two cannons. One for the tribute Iggy cooked and one for Luxray. "The wire is fried!" Iggy scrambles past me in his haste to reach the forest. "It only had enough juice for one go." He disappears into the jungle. Flame stops beside Luxio and tries to console him, tell him that we have to get going. I pass by them, not wanting to see Luxray's body, and follow after Iggy. 

I find him leaning against a tree, panting heavily. He looks up when I arrive. "Well, that was shocking!" He grins and I fight the urge to punch him in his hideous face. Who could joke around after witnessing that!? I sit down beside him and just rest. Moments later Flame and Luxio appear. I can't tell if its just the rain or if they're both crying. 

"Come on," Flame tells Iggy and me, her voice cracking. "We need to find shelter. That's what Luxray would want." She leads Luxio ahead and while I hardly knew Luxray, didn't know what he meant to these kids, but I know that they're devastated. He will be missed. I follow after my new allies silently, knowing that things aren't going to get any better.

Only worse. 

Azalea Finch (District 9)

The ground is fluctuating beneath my hands as I push myself up into a sitting position. Behind me the jungle burns with a slowing intensity as the rain works to dwindle the once massive flames. I look around slowly, the water surrounding the cornucopia is laced with ash and I can see several motionless bodies lying on the island.

Oh God. Whose dead? 

I heard three cannons. Three deaths. One must have been Henry (7), who was hit by that launched flare and thrown backwards into the now flaming jungle. The poor kid wanted to go help Clark (5) and the others and that's what he got for it...


A shout catches my attention and Jac's head (9) pops out from under the water. Next to him, Missy (5) splashes out. Both of them look as dissheveled as I feel as they paddle towards the island. "Come on Azalea! The other alliance fled!" 

I take one last look at the dying fire, which has now been all but extinguished, and dive in after them. Swimming through the filmy ash covered water feels awkward, almost like swimming in vaseline. When I reach the island I waste no time in pulling myself out. Anything is better than staying in there. Until I see what awaits me.

Three bodies rest on the ground. Clarke lies in blood-soaked sand, his head and face no longer recognizable due to the massive damage inflicted. Missy lets out a shriek when she sees him and then turns and vomits. I rip my gaze away from the horrid sight and look at the other two bodies. 

Fawn is lying face down in the sand next to a motionless Billy, sobbing loudly as she beats her fists against the ground. At least there's one survivor. 

This is my fault. I sent them here. I did this to them. And for what? Some supplies? Food? Weapons? No. You did it for your family. A small voice speaks to me, brings up the faces of my brothers and sisters. You did this for them. So you can come home to them. Yes, yes, I did it for them. Or at least that's what I want to believe. But I'm conflicted. I don't know if what I did was right. I feel despair, knowing that this is only the beginning of the death. The others will die too. Just like Clark, Henry, and Billy...

"Billy's not dead!"

Jac's shout has me literally jumping in shock. Fawn's head snaps up and we both turn and watch as Billy let's out a loud moan. I hurry over, excited but wary. He may not be dead yet, but he could certainly be on his way. "Fa-nun...." Billy moans something into the sand as Jac examines the two bleeding wounds one on his back, the other on his right shoulder.

"What hit him?" He asks with a frown.

"Th-these did. I-I pulled them out because I thought he w-was dead." Fawn opens her hands and reveals two small blood soaked metallic stars. Shurikens. 

"They hit him pretty deep," Jac tries to keep his voice steady but I can sense the futility. He doesn't know what to do and neither do I. "I...look for some medicine! Maybe we can heal this!" Fawn immediately turns and runs for the nearest crate. I'm surprised at her alacrity but don't have the time to think on it as I go for a pile of bags. I rip the first one I find open but it's empty. So is the next. And the next. They're all empty.

"There's nothing here!" Fawn cries out in despair. "Everything is gone!"

"That blasted alliance!" Jac shouts in frustration. I think back to when Missy shot at the alliance, when they were dumping crates into the water. Did they destroy all of the medicine? Did they get rid of everything? "Missy! Fawn!" Jac turns to the two girls, one furiously rummaging through a box and the other curled in a ball, staring at nothing. "Swim out and get some moss! We need to stop the bleeding!"

"What's the point?" Missy speaks, her voice emotionless and monotonous. "He's going to die anyway. Just like Clark and Henry. Just like all if us. Why does it matter?" I gape in surprisingly. Has she seriously just given up? Just abandoned all hope of winning?

"You stupid little bitch!" Fawn lets out an almost hysterical scream as she points a derisive finger at Missy, spittle flying from her as she speaks. "You think that just because your friends are dead that we should give up?! That we shouldn't even try?! You should be the one lying there dying! Not Billy!" I'm utterly shocked. Fawn has never had an outburst like this before, never snapped at one of us with such fury. It's frightening. But Missy doesn't even look at her, simply shrugging.

"If you cared so much you'd be fetching that moss."

Fawn screams in rage and I'm worried that she's going to attack Missy when she spins around and splashes into the water, heading for the jungle and moss. My eyes dart from Missy to Fawn and then to Jac, whose sitting next to the dying Billy with a serious look etched on his face. I cross over to him and crouch, keeping an eye on Fawn as she combs the tree line. "What do we do if he dies?" I ask in a whisper. Jac turns to me, his eyebrows raising slightly. 

"We survive. It's not like we can just give up."

"She did!" I jerk a thumb in Missy's direction.

Jac shakes his head. "She's just upset, like all of us. She'll come around." His words are calm, spoken in an even tone but I can still sense to the pain behind them. Jac is just as broken up about this as we all are, only he knows how to control and channel his emotions. Something he's learned since the Reaping, when he went off on Hazel. "If he dies," Jac speaks softly, even lower then a whisper. "My biggest worry will be Fawn."

"What? Why?"

"I think she loves him. Even if she hasn't consciously realized it yet. But if he dies...I can't count on her acting in the best interest of the group."

"What are you getting at?" I ask, fearing I know what the answer will be but hoping I'm wrong.

"If Billy dies, I don't think we can keep Fawn as an ally. She'll be too unstable."

"What?! You want us to kill her?!"

"Shh! Not so loud!" He hisses at me and then throws a cautious look around. But no one is close enough to overhear, Fawn is swimming back, moss clenched in her jaws, and Missy is still staring blankly at the horizon. When Jac sees this he lowers his head and continues, even quieter now. "No. We won't have to kill her. But we couldn't keep her around. Let's just hope Billy survives." 

Fawn arrives with the moss, dropping it beside Jac as she stares breathlessly at Billy. He's moaning and groaning, showing he's still alive. For how long he will stay that away, I don't know. Jac begins to work on him and I drift away, my thoughts swimming with what we just discussed. 

Jac is the only person here who I can one hundred percent trust. He's been touched by the Games before and won't let them change him. But the rest...

I throw a glance at Missy as she stares at the sky. She must hate me. It was my plan that got Clark and Henry killed after all. I wouldn't hold it against her if she absolutely hated my guts. I just imagine how I'd feel if Jac dies. I don't like the unpleasant feeling that twists my stomach. But he has to. The small voice is back, this'd time telling me something that I don't want to hear. Everyone has to die for you to go home. For you to reunite with your siblings. They all have to die. "Shut up!" I cover my ears, trying to block out the voice. I don't want to remember that. I don't want anymore people to die. But when has it ever mattered what I wanted?

Rosalie Sonnet (District 6)

A lot of commotion has taken place on this island. From the Morrisa sister's following my thrown rocks to the tunnels all the way to that short lived fire and cannons, dangerous stuff has been happening.

I've avoided it all by hanging around the tops of the trees, camouflaged in the thick branches and hanging vines. Not that I needed the camouflage. You'd be surprised by how little people look up. 

My biggest threat has, in fact, been this unrelenting rain. It's thick droplets continually fall on my head and the moisture makes the vines slippery and hard to grip. One failed grasp and I could be plummeting to the ground below. It's a good thing I have a tight grip.

I transition across vines right now, swinging over a small gap to another tree. My chakram is carefully placed in the holster on my back, ready to be whipped out in a moment's notice if necessary. The tree I'm in has thick, heavy branches that offer many layers of greenery over my head. Few, if any, of the raindrops reach my head. I decide that this would be a good place to stay for a few hours when the soft chatter of people becomes audible.

My chakram is out in an instant, ready to throw. My eyes swiftly but carefully examine the jungle floor beneath me. A small furry animal shoots across a game path and then three tributes come into sight. "Well now what?" One of them, a tan girl with ebony hair, sits herself down on the spongy floor and begins to rub her feet. "The cornucopia has already been overtaken. Anymore good plans?"

"No," A boy, the one from District 12, crouched down beside her. I eye the bulging bag on his back and immediately know that I want it. Problem is, how do I get it? "That was our only plan for the day."

"I'm sure we'll think of something tomorrow!" The third of their alliance, a ditzy looking blonde girl, says as she wraps her arms around the boy's shoulders. An uncomfortable grimace flashes across his face but it's quickly replaced by a small smile. "We're all intelligent people. It won't be hard at all!"

I note the glove on her hand, the knives attached to it. It appears to be his alliances only weapon. If I just kill her, something that would be simply done with a well-thrown chakram, I could take the other two down with ease. All their supplies would be mine, not to mention I would have three less threats. The blonde girl continues talking, blissfully unaware of her impending death. I double check my aim, get ready to throw...


The loud breaking of a branch draws my attention away from the trio. A boy's muffled grunt is heard and then the alliance is on their feet, running away from the noise. "Dammit!" I curse quietly and then change my aim to the direction of the noise, hoping whoever just ruined my chance for three kills shows themselves so I can get them in repayment.

But they don't. Several minutes pass and I resign myself to the fact that I lost my big chance. I probably won't get such an fortune opportunity ever again. Still, I have supplies and with this rain, a new source of water. Things could be worse. A weird sentiment to comfort oneself with but a true on nonetheless. I lean back and wait, wait for the next moment someone lets their guard down. When they do, I'll be ready.

Bellamy Blake (District 11)

By the time I stumble out of that damn cave back into the sweltering heat of the jungle, the sun has gone down. The arena is once again shrouded in darkness, but this time I have no idea where I am. "Shouldn't have gone down that tunnel Bell," I mimic what Octavia would be telling me. Octavia. The very thought of her still hurts me like a thousand swords through the heart. Why did it have to be her? I should have checked those berries first. I should have done something...

The hooting of some unknown animal brings me back to the cold, harsh reality of my situation. I've already worked out that the arena is a series of islands, an archipelago, and that the tunnel I went through runs underneath all of them. But what I don't know is which island I'm on right now. And I probably won't figure that out until morning, when the sun rises. "Time to find shelter Bell," I tell myself and break of a into a jog as I enter the all encompassing jungle.

Back home, everything looks different in the dark. Menacing, foreboding. Here it's doubly so. Trees roots look like grabbing hands, hanging vines like the corpse of depressed men, even the stars don't bring me comfort. Instead, they look like the eyes of people, laughing down on me. I find myself wishing to run into someone, anyone. Even someone attempting to kill me would be more comforting then this evil silent solidarity. I feel as if I'm alone in the world, everyone else having gone on, leaving me to the unpleasantness of earthly feelings.

The thick jungle suddenly ends and I find myself in a large clearing. Brown mounds of dirt, grass, and dried vines litter the grass. I can't imagine what, if any, purpose they serve. I walk around, gazing at this all in wonder, when I hear a sharp crack under my feet and I look down to find myself in one of those mounds. I raise my foot and discover several small white eggs, yolk spilling out from where they were crushed under the weight of my foot. "Whoops," I mutter, not really upset in the slightest. Who cares about some dumb eggs? I wipe my foot off on the grass and then head across the clearing when a light squealing noise stops me.

Turning around, I see a lithe, graceful bird-like animal emerging from the jungle. It has two skinny legs and It's feathers are a vivid pink color. The word "Flamingo" pops into my head, possibly remembering something I had read or seen on TV. "Those your eggs?" I ask, jerking a thumb at the broken pile in the mound. "Sorry. But I thought you'd like them better if they were scrambled."

The animal emits some weird noise from the back of It's throat, raising its head to the sky. I wonder if it's angry I crushed its eggs. Not that it could do anything about it. It's just one dumb bird. "Save your crying for someone who cares!" I suddenly feel angry, thoughts of Octavia back in my head. I pull my remaining knife from my belt and shake it furiously at the animal. "Shut up! Shut up you filthy beast!" Without thinking, without realizing, I throw the knife. It spirals through the air and then cuts across the animals throat. It's call cuts off into a gurgle as it chokes on its own blood. It shakes violently and then falls over, the noise ceasing. A sense of remorse briefly eases over me but I shake it away. It's only a stupid animal.

The moment I turn the noise starts up again. But louder this time. I wheel around and see why. Another flamingo has stepped into the clearing, followed by several more. Soon dozens of them have appeared, basically surrounding me. I look at them and see their cold black eyes focussed on me.

And then they begin to close in.

Buck Rockwell (Mentor)

A loud beeping noise interrupts my thoughts. The screens positioned everywhere begin to flash red, the signal that another tribute has died. A portrait of the tributes face, Bellamy Blake from District 11, is briefly flashed on screen as the commentators begin to talk over the replies of his grisly death. Being torn apart by flamingos.

"Terrible way to go," Coal, a square jawed man with thick black hair who happens to be a Victor from District 12 and a fellow mentors says as he stares up at the screen.

"And pathetic too," I say. "I'd want some dignity in death."

"At least he didn't blow himself up like a kid from my Games did." He pauses, leaning back in his cushy velvet chair. "Or trip onto his own blade like that moron did three years back."

"Bradley still talking to sponsors?" I ask as my thoughts drift back to the Games now. Ever since Billy got injured he's been trying to weasel some sort of item out from wealthy sponsors. That's one side of mentoring I would absolutely hate. Having to try and get people to like you. 

Coal nods."Yup. Not sure who would waste money on that kid though. He's a frickin' weirdo!" We both laugh and then my eyes go back to the screen. The replays are still being shown in a box in the corner of the screen but now the main focus is flipping through brief shots of tributes. The Capitol alliance crouched inside of the military camp tents, the boy from District 8 lurking around the outskirts of the cornucopia, Rosalie (6) hiding in the trees and Anais (1) desperately attempting to mend her mortally wounded sister. 

The two of them used to have the highest odds but they've dropped since Carmine's injury. Jake (1) now has the highest odds, closely followed by Aspen from 3. Rosalie has a respectable 10-1, the fifth highest odds at the moment.

She should be glad she has me as a mentor; it doesn't look like Marceline really cares at all. Right now she's splashing around in the fountain along with Joshua and a few of the other moronic mentors.

The screen changes to show a conversation between the two lovers, Amaya and Ganta, and I roll my eyes, leaning back in my chair and trying to avoid looking at any of the dozen screens. Give me a break! What kind of idiot falls in love with someone in a fight to the death, where, and here's the kicker, only one person lives. Those two annoy me beyond measure and I hope someone just cuts their achilles heel, even if one of them is being mentored by Coal.

"Yo! Bradley's coming back!" Coal interrupts my thoughts. He's right. Bradley is making a beeline for us, passing by a pair of Peacekeepers as he does. I frown at the sight of them, the memory of that strange writing coming back. "Didja ink the deal?" Coal peppers Bradley with questions as he sits down and immediately grabs a handful of chips out of the large bowl on the table.

"You'll see tomorrow," he stuffs the chips in his mouth. Coal gives a guffaw of laughter and then I think of something.

"Have either of you heard of Those Who Don't Exist?" I don't know what I expected from them, maybe a surprised gasp or something, but they only laugh widely.

"'Course not. They don't exist!" Coal laughs insanely at Bradley's joke and the two of them bump knuckles. I'm not in the mood for their goofing and cut right to the chase.

"I saw it written on the wall of the elevator."

"Did you?" Bradley doesn't seem very interested as he waves down an Avox and requests more food for our table. Once the Avox goes to retrieve his order he turns back to me, his words dripping with sarcasm. "What a spectacular find."

I can't hold my words back, not even if it could put my life in jeopardy. "I also saw a note from them. Addressed to President Stryker."

Now that shuts them up. They both stop talking, staring at me with blank looks. Coal is the first to recover. " Stryker's notes?" He sounds incredulous, probably thinking I broke into his office or something. I hurry to explain myself, tell them about what happened the night of my interview. I feel like I'm doing something secret, forbidden, but in reality Stryker never told me not to tell anyone. He never even discussed it with me. Heck, he may not even know that I read the note.

"So what do you think?" I ask them as I finish my tale. They exchange looks and then Bradley speaks, shaking his head.

"Probably a hoax or something dude. Someone playing with Stryker."

"Then explain the blackout!"

"Coincidence? What, you expect me to believe there's some sort of...I don't trying to take over the country?"

"That's a tough pill to swallow," Coal adds

"I don't expect you to believe anything. But I know what I read and I know what I saw on the elevator." A thought comes to my mind. "Hey, it could still be there, the writing. I could show you it!" I feel my excitement rising, the opportunity to show someone else the writing is a enthralling one. Truth be told, I've been having my own doubts about the whole situation, but if someone else could back it up...

"No can do Bucky boy," Coal rises from his chair and dusts his green knit shirt off. "I told Cordelia I would meet her on the roof at ten. Gotta get going. See ya boys!" He turns and walks off, whistling to himself. I can't suppress the feeling of annoyance in me. He's going to the roof for crying out loud! He's using the elevator anyways! The doof just didn't want to bother. Well who cares, I can still show Bradley.

But the Avox arrives with his order, a giant roast chicken with a side of pork chops, and he digs in right away. I've seen him eat enough to know that he'll be here for awhile. Guess I'm now showing anyone after all.

I get up and exit the cafeteria, passing by Marceline and her friends as they make a huge mess with the fountain water, and turn right to the elevator hall. I stop before the set of silver doors, wondering which one of the six had the writing. I'm about to press a button for one of them when I hear voices coming down the hall. Without thinking about why I'm doing this, I dart into a nearby broom closet. It smells strongly of freshly mopped linoleum and chemicals. I wrinkle my nose as I shut the door, keeping it open a crack as two Peacekeepers come walking down the hall.

"...not worried about it happening again?" One of them, a youngish one I'd guess by the voice, is saying as the other presses the elevator button.

"He is, actually," The other replies as he steps back from the doors. "That's why the arena's an island. Miles of open ocean all around. Hovercrafts would spot them coming before they got anywhere near." My mind is racing. While I don't know what this means, it certainly means something.

"But what about next year? The 400th Hunger Games? It can't always be an island..."

"Stryker isn't worried. He expects to have them on the ropes in a few months. We're winning this war." War? War?! I was right. This is something. Something big. There's no war, at least no war that the media knows about. And who would they be warring with? Not the Districts. Their rebellion petered out long ago. For some reason, Those Who Don't Exist spring to the forefront of my mind. Are they somehow involved?

"Doesn't seem that way. Their guerrilla tactics keep us on edge. And Councillor Renora didn't slit his own throat..."

"Stop with your worrying. They're just a bunch of amateurs. Look at their name. It's ridiculous." The elevators doors slide open and the two Peacekeepers step in. I twitch, eager to hear more of that conversation but  knowing that it's not possible right now. 

War...guerrilla tactics...

The Capitol sure is hiding a lot from its citizens. And I want to learn more. I push the closet door open and walk out into the hall, I turn the corner and come face-to-face with a soaking wet Marceline. "Hello Bucky!" She grins at me in her own stupid way. "Spying on those Peacekeepers?"

"Shut up!" I nervously look around the deserted hallway, making sure no one was listening. Once I'm certain that there's not, I straight my shirt, trying to regain my composure. "No. Of course not."

" looked like it..." Her gaze sweeps across me, making me feel self-conscious. "Just be careful, okay? Those Peacekeepers aren't messing around." I frown. Marceline must not have had her drugs today, she's making far too much sense. 

"I will. Besides, what's the worse that could happen?" I say it with a grin, trying to be cavalier and not expecting the frank answer I receive.

"They beat you and then imprison you for overhearing secrets about national security, like they did with Francis."

"What?" This is news to me. I know Francis, he's a seventy something year-old Victor from the Capitol. He's well-liked by the other Victors and is best known for being the last tribute mentored to victory by Cassandra Oracion before she succumbed to a mysterious illness. "He's been imprisoned? But what about the tributes he's mentoring?" Marceline has turned her attention away from me and to the now open elevator. She presses every button inside and giggles loudly. I guess her period of being logical couldn't last forever. The elevator closes on her and I'm once again by myself. 

Francis has been imprisoned. For overhearing secrets of national security. A overwhelming desire to speak with him takes over, but I know how difficult that will be, if he's really locked up like Marceline said. But I don't care. I don't care how much of a danger it poses for me, if I'm caught I could face the same situation. But I need to find Francis and speak with him. I need to know what he heard.

Even if it means breaking him out.

Aspen Bolts (District 3)

The Anthem starts up, I hear Iris (3) moving herself around on the tree above me, trying to get into a good position to watch. I think back to last night, when we watched the Fallen from a similar state, and realize that not much has happened since then. Sure, a rain storm started, but within the last few hours it dwindled down to a gentle patter and now it has ceased completely. The best thing about that is the free source of water it offered us.

The Seal zooms into place and then it's replaced by the first face of the Fallen, Clark (5). I don't know the first thing about that kid so his death has no impact on me. I'm just glad that another tribute is out of my way. The next face, Henry's (7), pulls a slight reaction. He was only twelve, not anywhere near old enough to experience these horrors. I know that Iris had a soft spot for the kid. I hope his death was quick and painless.

The next two faces are less depressing and more encouraging. Bellamy (11) and Luxray (14). Both of them were huge threats, both of them had high training scores. I remember that Bellamy's sister had died yesterday too. At least their together again.

The Anthem ends, the seal disappears. I lean back against the moss-covered trunk of the large tree behind my back, above me I hear Iris shifting back into her sleeping position. Another day is done, another night awaits. I can only hope that our luck continues, that tributes keep picking each other off without bothering us. Somehow, I doubt it will. Sooner or later they will come for us. When they do, I hope they're ready for death, for that's what I'll give them. I lie my head back and try to get some rest for the day that waits for us...


A cannon shot startles me awake. My hands fumble around blindly until they find the hilt of my sword. I go to rise, terrified that someone has found us and murdered Iris, when I hear the soft sounds of her above me. She's not dead.

I relax, sitting myself back down and trying to control my rapidly beating heart. I was so afraid someone had gotten her...I hate these Games, hate the paranoia and terror they inspire. I just wish they could end already, so I wouldn't have to worry anymore.


A piercing scream floats eerily through the jungle and then it fades away. It was a feminine voice screaming. I think Carmine was the District 2 female. Did she die? Was the cannon for her? Or are they just being attacked?

"Aspen?" Iris calls down to me. I can see the glint of her eyes in the canopy above. "What happened?"

"I don't know..." I speak quietly, you never know when someone could be listening. "But I think the District 2 girl just died."

"Oh." A pause. "That makes it eighteen."

I don't comprehend what she means for a minute and then I realize she's talking about how many of us are still alive. Eighteen. That seems like so much, but in reality it's not all that much at all...I look to the sky and see that it's turning gray, the first sign of the approaching dawn. Day 4 is upon us. "Get back to sleep Iris," I say softly, getting to my feet and glancing around the still dark jungle. "You need as much rest you can get. I'll keep watch."


I hear her moving about over my head as I sit down on a thick log and stare in the greenery that surrounds us. The other tributes...they're out there, waiting to pounce waiting to kill. I'm prepared for them. Prepared to kill them.

Day 4/ Murphy's Law

Bailey Snowbelle (District 0)

"The plans risky Ganta," Amaya (14) says as we all crouch under the large fronds of a twisting palm tree. "They could just outright kill you without even letting you get a word in edgewise. You shouldn't risk your life like that."

The plan. Our plan to distract the alliance at the cornucopia and steal items from the water, then run out into the jungle and set it ablaze. That last part is completely and utterly stupid though. We don't have anything to start a fire with! Not to mention that the jungle is still wet from the rain last night. I've noticed a trend in all of Amaya's plans. They're all stupid. Like how we lost her dagger yesterday by wrapping the wire around it and just leaving it in the jungle, hoping someone would shock themselves by picking it up. That was stupid. If we hadn't received two knives from sponsors the only weapon left would have been Amaya's knife glove.

"Someone needs to do the distracting," Ganta (12) mumbles, not looking Amaya in the eye. "And why not me? Who else would?" 

"I...don't know..." Amaya trails off and gives me a peculiar look. Like she wants me to volunteer in Ganta's place. No way. It's their plan, they should do the risky stuff. I'm not willing to put myself in harm's way for a plan I doubt the validity of! 

"It has to be me," Ganta says firmly and turns around, effectively ending the discussion. "Let's get going. We need to do this before the afternoon starts." 

He leads the way through the jungle. It's quiet, like it's been for most of the Games. Other than our run in with Iggy (C) and for that vocal encounter yesterday, we haven't seen hide or hair of the other tributes. I hope it stays that way.

I lag behind the others, my shoulder still occasionally hurts me she I turn or move suddenly. It's uncomfortable but I know I got off lucky. If Ganta wasn't so medically skilled who knows how bad of a shape I would be in right now.

"The cornucopia is just right up there," Ganta comes to a halt, just in ahead of us I catch the faint scent of salt. "So be quiet. They could hear us." I move silently up beside him and peek through the undergrowth.  The glittering cornucopia is in sight, of course. But I also see the tributes, the Anti-Careers. One of them is lying on the ground, two others crouched beside him. Another is sitting in the shade offered by the golden horn and the last is playing with the string of a bow. 

"How do you plan on distracting them?" Amaya (14) asks, sidling up beside us and getting a look at the tributes. 

"You'll see. Just be ready for when it happens. And get those supplies as fast as you can." Ganta sounds uncharacteristically confident. I expect that whatever plan he has, he's certain in his ability to pull it off. Or he's just trying to appear calm so we don't worry. Either one is possible really. "But first take this." He steps backwards and places something in Amaya's hand. When she holds it up to her face I see that it's his Instant Relief.

"Why aren't you taking it?" Amaya sounds confused as she ogles the hypodermic needle.

"It'll be safer with you. Just don't lose it."

"Okay. But be careful. For me." 

Amaya steps forward and kisses him. When they part he smiles warmly but when he turns he grimaces and quickly wipes his sleeve over his mouth before speaking "I'm off. Do the plan." He disappears into the jungle and Amaya sighs unhappily as she turns to me.

"Well Aelia, let's get going."

"Uh. Hold on one minute. I want to have Ganta check out my shoulder before we start." Leaving Amaya looking confused, I hurry after Ganta, feeling surprisingly upset. I don't know what's he's playing at, but playing with a girl's feelings doesn't end well anywhere. Especially not in the Hunger Games. 

Despite my shoulder flaring up again as I push through the thick undergrowth, I catch up to Ganta easily. He sits on the edge of the jungle, gazing at the cornucopia from the east side. When I step forward he whirled around, two needles appearing in his hands, but when he sees that it's only me he inserts them back into his bag and stares in confusion. "Bailey? What are you doing?"

I debate on how I should approach this situation and then just decide that being straightforward is probably the best idea. "Amaya loves you. But you don't love her." It's a statement, not a question. I see that he's surprised but then he just sighs and buries his face into his hands. He stays this way for a long moment and then he finally looks up, his dark eyes glistening with discomfort.

"Right. I don't. How did you know?"

"It was just a lot of small things. It reminded me of something from my life." I cross over and crouch beside him. "I understand what you're trying to do but hiding your real feelings from Amaya wasn't the right thing. Trust me, the last thing you should do is play with a girl's feelings."

"I-I know! But what else could I do?! She just said it so suddenly and I-I-I...I just didn't think! I just did!" My pity for him grows as I see the look of genuine frustration and disappointment. This wasn't what he wanted to happen. But it did happen and now we have to deal with it. "I'll tell her the truth," Ganta says. "Once this plan is over. I'll admit everything!"


He recoils in shock, staring at me with a gaping mouth. "But you said--"

"Admitting you don't love her is the worst possible thing you could do. Girl's already handle break-ups horribly. Imagine what would happen if it came in an arena full of weapons, where only one person lives! If you tell her the truth, she will kill you!"

"I-no. What do you suppose I do then?" His face is a mask of desperation as he faces me. "And do you really think she would do that?"

"Yes. I do," I glance around uneasily and then continue in a lower voice. "Amaya's a few apples short of a bunch. Think about all the times she's called you "Sean". And just now, she called me Aelia. Something's not right with her." I've known it for awhile now, but this is the first time I get to voice my thoughts. "And there's only two things you can do. Either cut her loose, leave right now and don't look back, or keep up the facade of loving her. And never let the truth out." 

Ganta sits silently for a moment, taking in everything I said, then he laughs softly. "Duly noted! But I think you're overreacting just a bit. I fear how she'll react, but I don't believe she'll kill me. Besides, I just gave her my Instant Relief, remember? How could I leave after that?" He smiles at me and then looks back out at the cornucopia. "Get back to Amaya. We need to get this plan going." I can't believe it. After everything I've just told him, his mood has actually brightened! I scowl at his back, noting that he doesn't believe me. Well, it's his funeral! When Amaya snaps and murders him, he can't say I didn't warn him! 

I storm off back through the jungle, towards Amaya. I manage to cool myself down before stepping back into her line of sight. I don't want her to know what we were discussing. "So?" She looks expectantly at me when I return. "How was the shoulder?"

"He...he said it was fine. I'm good to go." I offer a weak smile and she nods, content with the answer. 

"Then let's get going. We'll wait for Ganta to start his plan and then sneak out to the water and salvage what we can." She heads off and I follow behind her. Serious doubts have begun to form in my head about this, about all of this. I'm no longer certain that putting my lot in with these two is in my best interest. They're just a ticking time bomb, about to go off at any moment. I should just try to save myself. But I can't. I see no way out of this situation, I'm stuck with them.

For better or worse.

Jac Price (District 9)

The parachutes come lofting down from the sky. We all eagerly jostle beneath them, trying to get a good look. What are they? What have we been sent? The two silver containers touch down on the sand and immediately Fawn (10) pounces onto one, wasting no time and ripping it open without even checking whose it for. I reach out and grab the other, reading the note attached. Jac Price. District 9.

It's for me then. I unfurl the parachute and tuck the small container in my belt. "What did you get Fawn?" Azalea (9) asks as the curly-haired girl holds up a small white tube.


She doesn't sound too happy and I know why. She was hoping for something that could be used to heal Billy, something curative, not preventive. "It's still good," I say half-heartedly. Deep down, I know that Billy is doomed. The boy just lies face first on the sand, moaning and groaning. Occasionally he'll twitch or try and roll over but for the most part he remains motionless. "It's still good." 

Fawn doesn't seem to hear me. She drops beside Billy (10) and stares into his face, her eyes dark and vacant. She's not in a good place and yesterday's conversation with Azalea springs to mind. If Billy dies, we lose two allies. 

I back away from the scene, giving Fawn space. As I trudge towards the mouth of the empty cornucopia I see Azalea approaching Fawn. Words are said but I don't hear what, then Azalea turns and heads for me, an irritable frown on her face. "What's wrong?" I ask as she sits herself down on an empty crate. She looks up at me and gives an exasperated sigh.

"I told her that we should go hunting, find some tributes. But she refuses to come with, says she can't leave Billy behind." 

"Well, that's understandable. She doesn't want to leave him defenceless. Anyone could just come up and kill him while we're gone." 

"He's already dying. What good would staying with him do?"

I frown. Azalea makes a point there, about him dying. I don't think Billy will pull through this without some sort of healing medicine. But I know why Fawn is acting like this. "She doesn't want to admit that." 

"It doesn't matter if she admits it. It's going to happen. Whether she likes it or not." She suddenly stands up and leaves, heading directly for Missy (5), who has been playing with the string of her bow since dawn. I sigh and lay back on the sand. By midnight tonight Billy will be dead and Fawn...who knows how she'll react? We might just have to put her down too...

My hands brush the container in my belt and I suddenly remember the sponsor item I received. I pull it off and carefully open the box. Inside lies a small hypodermic needle, the words "Instant Relief" engraved on its side.

My heart nearly stops. Instant Relief! Instant Relief! The most sought after prize of the Hunger Games is mine! I feel a giddy rush of endorphins as I pull it out and bring it closer to my face. The serum inside this needle can heal just about any wound, no matter the severity. It gives you another shot at life, brings you back from your deathbed.

I pull up short, the thought of Billy suddenly being pushed into my head. He needs this. Without it he will die. I should give it to him, heal his wounds. Both him and Fawn will be forever grateful to me...But...

This substance could instead be used to heal myself. Or Azalea. It could be the X-factor that springboards me to victory, what let's me return to District 9 as a hero to its people. Allow me to finally avenge the Price family name.

And just like that, I know I can't waste this on Billy. No matter how much I may like the kid, some things are just too important to give up. Like this.


Azalea let's out a loud scream and we all spin around to see a soaking wet boy pulling himself out of the water. He trudges towards us and then drops to his knees, placing his hands over his head as he let's out a desperate shout. "Peace! I come for an alliance! My allies deserted me!"

Azalea and Missy both approach him warily, their weapons drawn and at the ready. I unclip my sword and join them, examining the boys face. His dark hair is matted to his head, his eyes swim around in his skull, watching each of us, his wetsuit is black, suggesting he is Ganta from District 12. "Why sshouldn't we just kill you?" Azalea asks rather bluntly. "Why should we trust you?"

The boy gulps, his eyes reflecting the fear he must feel. "I'm the son of a doctor. I have medical knowledge! I even have medicine with me!" His hands go to his back and we all backpedal, Missy knocks her bow and aims it at his heart. "Don't worry!" He tells us as he pulls a backpack off and drops it on the sand before him. "I--"

"Medicine!" I'm suddenly pushed aside as Fawn arrives, her eyes eagerly fixed on the boy's bag. "You can heal?" She looks to the boy who nods meekly. "Then help him!" She points at Billy, whose breathing seems to have slowed since I last looked at him. Ganta nods, and quickly rises to his feet, but before he can cross the island Azalea holds out a hand to stop him. He comes up short and looks her in the face.

"We're trusting you on this. For your sake you better be able to heal him. Because if he dies, we're going to kill you."

Ganta Alomo (District 12)

There's a chilling silence as the girls threat hangs in the air. I take in her cold gaze and stony look and know she's not joking. If Billy dies, I die. Or at least that's what she thinks. She has no idea what my real motive here is. I have no desire to heal Billy, I'm just going to do some small things, buy time for Amaya and Bailey. But for now I need to appear trustworthy. "Of course," I nod at the girl respectfully. "I understand you're putting a lot of trust in me. I won't--"

"Enough talk!" The curly-haired girl steps between the two of us, grabbing a hold of my wrist. "Billy needs help and he needs it now!" She turns and practically drags me after her, not even waiting for the consent of her allies. They just follow along, sharing anxious look.. I notice they still hold their weapons at the ready. Fawn stops beside the injured boy, Billy, and I slowly sit myself down next to him.

"Can you heal him?" Their leader, I think his name was Jac (9), asks me.

"Don't know yet. Gotta see the severity." 

My eyes drift over his body, finding his wounds. Some sun-dried moss lies on his back and when I pull them off, I reveal two large gashes, several inches deep and encrusted with dried blood. I frown. The wounds are bad and have been festering for awhile. I might not have the capability to heal this--

I catch myself. I don't want to heal this, just buy time. Whether I can actually heal him or not is immaterial, as long as I pretend I can do it. "Can you heal him?" The boy asks me again. I hesitate, trying to think of an answer and wondering why they would be asking. They've already threatened to kill me if I fail, would I really say I couldn't?

"Y-yes. I c-can fix him. But it will take time." I hope my nervous stuttering doesn't give me away. Hopefully they only think I'm nervous because of the pressure, not because I'm lying. I open my bag of medicine and then look up at them, four different faces staring down at me. "Can you give me room? Y-you're blocking my light..."

"Of course." 

Jac backs off and the girl's from District 5 and 9 follow his suite. The 10 girl, however, stays, watching me with luminous eyes, full of worry and trepidation. At first it makes me nervous that she'll discover my ruse but then I realize that these kids have no medical knowledge, if they did, they wouldn't need me. Confident that I can get away with anything, I first decide to start with something simple. "Go get these wet," I pull a pair of linen pads out from the bag and hand them to the girl. She takes off to do it without question. I turn and pretend to rummage through my bag, in reality, I'm watching the others. 

The three of them are clustered in a group just within the cornucopia's mouth, talking in hushed voices. Their attention is diverted. Good. I let my eyes wander to the jungle across water, searching for movement. There! I see Amaya slowly creeping out from the jungle, on another side I spot Bailey. Our plan's working!

"Here." The District 10 girl reappears and hands me the now wet linen pads. I thank her and use the pads to slowly wipe away the dry blood, taking as much time as I possibly can. When I finish I wonder what else I could possibly do and then just pull something out from the bag at random. 

"Try to coax him to swallow these," I hand a box of pills to the girl, whose name I now recall is Fawn. "They will help regulate his heart rate and calm him down." Words just form in my head, I don't really make sense of them. But the girl nods, looking as serious as ever, and begins to try and get Billy to swallow the pills. Their real purpose is for desalination, not heart rate adjusting or whatever I said. I have no idea what effect they will have on the boy and the doctor in me is weeping at my carelessness. But I can't actually heal him and this just has to happen. 

As Fawn struggles to get the dying boy to swallow, I casually peer around the cornucopia, catching a glimpse of Amaya diving into the water. I can't hear the splashing from the distance, a good sign. "He's swallowed one. But I don't think he can do anymore." Fawn pulls my attention back to the boy and I nod quickly. 

"Of course. One should be good enough." I rifle through my bag, looking for one last ruse before I try and sew the wounds shut. I debate many things but finally just pull a jar of cream out from the bag. "This will help ease his pain," I tell Fawn as I begin to lathe it onto his wounds. Once again, I work slowly. My eyes watch the horizon as I work, desperately searching for Amaya. I'm almost at my ropes end now. She needs to collect what she can and go. But I don't see her anywhere in the water. Where did she go? I double check the water but I see nothing. Maybe she's already gotten what she can, or she's still underwater...

"Ganta, what did you say that cream was for?" There's an odd edge to Fawn's voice but I don't take my eyes off of the horizon, my fingers still working. 

"Umm. Easing his pain."

"Then why does the jar say "Burn Cream"?"

I stop with the slathering, my heart racing at what feels like a million beats a minute. In Fawn's hands rest the jar, the jar that reads; in big, bold, incriminating words, "Burn Cream". I feel my mouth go dry as I try to think of something, anything, that would get me out of this predicament. Nothing comes to mind.

Fawn gasps in fear as she realizes the truth. "Oh God! What did you have me feed Billy?!" She quickly goes to rise but my body, without any input from my mind, moves. My fist flies out and strikes Fawn in the jaw, sending her sprawling to the ground. The others spin around in shock at the noise and see me rising, swinging my bag on my shoulder. "He tricked us!" Fawn screams from where she lies on the sand, holding her jaw. "He wasn't healing Billy! He was making him worse!"

The others bolt into action, grabbing their weapons and rushing towards me. It's like a scene from my nightmares and I'm frozen in fear. That's when my body moves on its own accord for the second time. I lean down and pull Billy upwards, the boy gasps in pain but doesn't otherwise react as I hold him in front of me, like a shield. "Don't move! Or Billy dies!" I whip out my needle and hold it directly over Billy's heart. "I don't want to kill him but I will if you don't stop!"

It's almost instantaneous: their stopping. Fawn let's out a loud sob that wracks my heart but I push the feeling aside. I have to get myself out of here safely. No matter what. "What was your goal?" Jac (9) demands, I can see the fury etched on his face. He didn't like being deceived like this. "You haven't accomplished anything you know. So why do this?"

"Just stay put and Billy won't die!" I ignore his questions as I begin to slowly back up towards the water that surrounds us. Hopefully Amaya and Bailey have gotten some supplies or this was all a colossal waste...Out of the corner of my eye I see Missy (5), lifting her bow and notching an arrow, taking aim...

"No! Stop!"

Fawn jumps to her feet and takes off running. Not towards me though but towards Missy. The blonde girl spins around and moves her aim towards the running Fawn.

"Stop this!"

Jac steps in front of Missy and slaps her bow down just as Fawn collides with them. They fall down in a messy heap and I see my chance. I throw Billy to the ground and then turn and dive into the water.

I sink under the water with a splash, frothy foam swirling around my eyes as I furiously swim towards the jungle and prospective safety. I can only hear the sound of water within my ears as I go, I have no idea what the Anti's are doing. If they're chasing after me...

My hands touch ground. I pull myself out of the water and run for the jungle, shaking droplets of water from my head as I go. I see her! I see Amaya! Her head peeks out from the jungle and she motions rapidly for me, in her hands is a glittering sword. I change directions and go sprinting for her with a wide grin. We did it! I escaped and she got items! I've just about reached her when I hear an odd whistling sound and then a tremendous pain rips through my back.

Iris Pixel (District 3)

The time seems to just drag on as we sit motionless on the rocks that border the ocean. There's nothing to pass the time except for watching the tide slowly rise and ebb. Occasionally a seagull will land nearby and half-heartedly hop around before taking off again. I've been keeping count of the times its happened. Right now I'm at seven. 

Like I said, there's nothing to do.

I glance over my shoulder at Aspen (3). He's seemingly immune to the boredom and lethargy that has taken ahold of me; he never stops pacing the jungle line, his crescent sword clenched tightly in his palm, his eyebrows furled into a tight line. His worrying never ceases. "You should rest, Aspen," I call to him. He frowns as he turns back on his patrol. "All that work will exhaust you. You need your strength. I need your strength."

He stops his pacing and let's out a loud sigh. I hold back my smile, I knew perfectly well that referencing myself would get him to see reason. He's more concerned for my safety then for anything else, even his own health. "And what if we're attacked?" Aspen's dark eyes glint with worry as he stares at me. "And I'm too busy resting? What happens then?"

"What would happen if we're attacked and you've run yourself ragged with endless patrolling?" 

Aspen stares at me silently for a moment and then gives a humorless laugh. "You don't have to worry about me Iris. I'm perfectly capable of defending us. As long as I never let my guard down--" 


Aspen breaks off as a foreign and unnatural noise occurs from the jungle behind him. The shape of a person appears and I scream a warning as it dives forward. 

Aspen howls in pain as a bladed weapon digs into his right shoulder. He falls to the sand, clutching his profusely bleeding shoulder and I get a look at our attacker. It's Colin. The District 8 boy. The one who Aspen and I had ran into during training. 

He holds a machete, a machete covered in blood, Aspen's blood, and he stalks forward, his eyes fixed firmly on Aspen, whose struggling to pull himself up. "Don't kill him!" I scream desperately. I want to run forward, throw myself in front of Aspen, but I'm frozen in place. Fear has rooted me down. "Please don't kill him!"

The boy ignores me as he approaches the downed Aspen. He lifts his machete and brings it down but Aspen, who miraculously managed to pick up his sword with his left hand, deflects the blow and follows up with a strike that has Colin stagger backwards. "Iris! Run!" Aspen takes another swing but Colin is out of range now, circling around him like a vulture. 

"No! I'm not leaving you!"

"Go! Don't put yourself in danger!" Aspen lunges towards Colin but the boy easily sidesteps his attack. He swings the machete and Aspen barely has enough time to block the blow. "Get out of here Iris! NOW!" I hear the desperation in his voice and my mind finally starts back up. I take one last look at my love duelling with Colin and then I take off sprinting into the jungle. Stay-with-me vines rip at my clothes as I push through, running as fast as my feet can take me. I don't allow my mind to dwell on what's happening back there. I don't let it realize how much danger Aspen is in. I can't. My body would completely shut down if I thought about it. I need to keep moving.

My path is suddenly blocked by thick brambles and I turn aside and leap onto a nearby tree, climbing and clawing my way up the tree. Ten feet. Fifteen feet. Twenty feet. When I reach as high as I can go without being in danger from the branches breaking, I stop and collect my breath. I'm safe here. Climbing is my specialty. No one can catch me once I get in a tree, I'm like a squirrel. Trees are my safe haven. 

But Aspen...

I can't ignore him now that I'm safe. He's in danger. He needs my help. I grab a vine and use it to pull myself across the tree to the other side. Once there, I brace my feet on a stable branch and then push off, throwing myself forward to the next tree. There, I grab another two vines. I use one to pull myself back and then let go. The momentum has me swinging forward and as I come within a foot of another tree, I let go of the vine. 

I begin to fall but before I really begin to fall I reach out for a branch and catch it, my hands wrapping around the thick center. I use all my strength to pull myself up and I take a deep breath, bracing a hand against the tree's trunk. I'm going to head back to the beach, to Aspen. But I'll keep myself up high, keep myself safe. 

I grab more vines, repeating the process that got me to this tree, and continue on. The trees start getting further apart the closer I get to the beach, making my swings longer. I've just landed on the fifth tree and am searching for another viable vine when a cannon interrupts the serene calm of the jungle. Boom! I freeze. My heart beating like war drums. Someone is dead. Either Aspen or Colin. Aspen...

No! It wasn't him! He's still alive! I know he is! Furiously, without checking its strength, I grab the nearest vine and swing. Immediately I know something is wrong as the vine gives a sharp jerk and I'm much lower than I should be. I glance up and then see a terrifying sight. The vine has been ripped free and is falling!

I scream as I drop like a stone. The jungle whips by as I hurtle to the ground. I smash down hard. I hear the sickening loud crack before I feel it and then, when I do feel it, the almost unbearable pain in my left ankle, I let out an agonized scream. It's a pain like I've never felt before. Worse than anything I can imagine. I don't know how long I lay there, screaming and moaning in unimaginable pain. But eventually something drives me into action. The sound of footsteps.

Despite the searing pain, I'm able to think clearly. I can't be out in the open like this. I need to move. I begin to crawl towards a nearby thicket, my ankle dragging against the ground, eliciting the most horrendous pain. I bite my lips, holding in the screams. I taste my own blood as my lips bleed but I ignore it and keep moving. I've just pulled myself into the thicket when someone explodes into sight. 

My eyes bug out and I am barely able to keep in my scream of horror. This sight is worse than any pain could ever be. Much worse. 

It's Colin. A blood-soaked machete is tucked into his belt and he has a long gash across his stony face. But it's what he's holding that's most disturbing. It's Aspen's crescent sword. And the fact that it's in Colin's hands can mean only one thing.

He's dead.

Tears well in my eyes and soon overflow, flooding down my face as I realize that the boy I love is dead. Dead and gone. The feeling in my chest is worse than the pain in my ankle. I feel like I'm about to explode with grief, spontaneously combust with anguish. He's dead. He's dead. Dead, dead, dead, dead. 

Colin, Aspen's murderer, glances around for a few moments and then takes off running. I watch him go, left in the most terrible mental and physical pain. Being still any longer is unbearable for me. I need to move and despite the screaming pain in my ankle, I manage to pull myself up, hobbling on one leg I go. I move through the jungle, hoping I can find Aspen's body before the hovercraft comes to claim it. I feel numb. Numb to the world. I don't hear, see, smell, or taste anymore. I just...exist.

I reach some thick, tall grass and begin to push through when the ground beneath me seems to give away and I'm suddenly falling again. My body hits something hard, my ankle smacks against the ground and I'm screaming like crazy. Then I'm in the water.

It's not deep but my head dunks underneath and then I come up sputtering. I'm in a tunnel of some sort. The walls are slimy and covered with a luminous moss. Above me I can see a hole filled with shining light. That's where I fell from. I pull myself back up, not at all interested enough to try and solve this mystery. The water is up to my knees and hobbling around on one leg is difficult but I manage by pressing my hand against the wall and using it as leverage. I follow the dank and damp tunnel until the wall turns into a small, dry alcove. I hobble into this alcove and then collapse. I pull myself into a tiny ball and can no longer hold back the sobs that rack my body.

Aspen's dead...he's dead. 

Flame Vapore (The Capitol)

The day has been quiet so far, quite the contrast to what yesterday was. That's good. All we need to do right now is hang back and relax. "Relax" being a relative term here. It's impossible for us to truly relax, not with the thought of Luxray hanging over our heads. 

I suppose I feel some sort of guilt for his death, that would explain the tremendous sense of loss I'm experiencing. But I can't see how I was at all responsible, beyond coming up with the plan. I sigh as I realize it doesn't matter anymore. Luxray is dead. There's nothing any of us can do that could change that. We just have to live with it. 

"So, are we like, going to do something?" Jake (1) exits one of the large military tents and sits down beside me. I've yet to decide if he really trusts us or not. Last night I noticed that he stayed awake for hours, keeping a close eye on us. He was probably worried we'd kill him in his sleep or something. I need to work on building some trust between us.

"No. We've just going to lie low for the day. Besides, I think Luxio needs some time to...accept Luxray's passing." 

In truth, of all the things I could and should be worried about, Luxio's state of mind is ny biggest. He's been in rough shape ever since we lost Luxray. Glancing at the boy now, I watch as he mindlessly draws pictures in the dirt with his glaive, occasionally stopping to say something to Iggy (C), whose sitting cross-legged beside him. That boy is an enigma. I still don't have any clue to what goes on inside his head. I wonder if I even want to know.

"Oh. Okay. Cool." Jake nods politely and then drifts off, leaving me alone with my thoughts. Something that I feel has been ignored for most of these Games springs to mind. Only one of us can live. The rest will have to go the way of Luxray. I don't want my friends to die but I realize that it's exactly what will happen to them. Unless it happens to me first. 

The sound of racing footsteps intrude on my peace. Iggy must be running laps around the camp again. But when I look up, I see that it's not Iggy. He's still seated beside Luxio. Alarms bells start ringing in my head and then I'm on my feet, shouting for the others to get their weapons just as someone explodes into the camp.

Sweaty and breathing heavily, Arbor from District 7 stops and bends over as she pants. Luxio and Iggy spring to their feet, weapons appearing in their hands. Arbor wipes her sleeves over her forehead and then looks up and sees us for the first time. 

Then she turns and runs.

Luxio sends one of his shurikens whizzing through the air. Normally he never misses but the jungle is thick with obstacles and Arbor is running zigzag. The small silver star has no chance as it deflects off of a large flower stem and then ricocheted into a tree stump. 

Luxio let's out a loud curse and then takes off sprinting after the girl. Iggy follows him, cackling madly. Too late I realize that this could be a trap and I shout a warning. But the both of them are gone, off in pursuit. "Why didn't they use their brains?" I mumble angrily to myself. Well, no choice now. I have to follow. "Come on Jake!" I call for the one boy who didn't just take off and then start running after my allies. 

They leave an easy trail to follow. Broken plants, rustling bushes, and snapped twigs give a clear indication of where they went. I'm confident that I will catch up in no time when I spot a human shape in my peripheral vision. And then I'm being shoulder blocked and thrown to the ground. 

Light purple hair, traditionally beautiful face, it's Anais, Jake's District partner. Her purple eyes are cold and emotionless as they regard me. My own eyes are more concerned for the wicked looking hammer in her hands. The girl steps forward and I know immediately that my only chance of defeating her is by keeping my distance from both her and that hammer.

I leap back and pull one of my throwing knives I recovered from the cornucopia out. I whip it for Anais' face but she merely sticks her head to the right and the knife passes inches from her neck. Bold move. I've stopped, stupidly being too preoccupied with watching my own move, and now Anais has time to close the distance and swing that hammer. Perhaps a bit too fast. I duck the swing and it flies loose from her fingers, the momentum proving too much to keep a hold of. I have my next knife out and lunge forward to slash her but I underestimated her speed. She snatches my wrist and bends it back, eliciting a cry of pain from me as I drop the weapon. She bends my arm back behind me in a hammerlock and then shoves me into a tree. I cut my forehead and blood seeps down into my face as I fall down. Anais picks her hammer back up and stands over me. I'm done. 

"Hold it right there!"

Through the blood on my face I see Jake bursting onto the scene, his bow notched and aimed at Anais. The triumphant look that use to reside on her face changes and her mouth forms a perfect "O" of surprise as she speaks. "Jake! Are you with this wench?"

"Uh, yeah. She's my ally." He's still pointing the bow at her but his tone and facial expression has changed from someone about to fight to the death to something more in line of having a lively chat. "Her District partner is also with us. And Luxray. Or is it Luxio?" I can't believe it! He's talking to her! Like she's not just about to kill me!

"Shoot her Jake!" I scream, unable to keep my anger in any longer. "Now!"

A look of realization snaps to his face and he nods hastily, pulling the string back on his bow. Despite being in apparent mortal danger, Anais just laughs melodically. "Oh Jake! Are you really trusting them? The known backstabbers?" Her voice, it's both soft and sweet. Alluring. I know a master manipulator at work when I see one. And right now it's working on Jake.

"Don't believe a word she says!"

Both of their heads snap to face me. Anais with a small smile and Jake with a confused look. "See? She's already so eager to defend herself. And I haven't even told you about how she betrayed her old allies yet!"

"I haven't done any such thing!"

"Oh really?" She giggles, a really high-pitched, really annoying giggle. "You should tell the Blake's that. Oh wait. You killed them."

"What is she talking about Flame?" A note of hesitancy and doubt has crept into Jake's voice. Anais is getting to him, she's working her manipulative magic. 

"She's lying Jake! She's lying to you! Everything she says is a lie!" My mind is buzzing now, I know that I need to find something that proves our trust, something that Jake can hold onto. "We made a truce with the Careers Jake! We allied with you! All the while her and her witch of a sister deserted you!"

"Shut up!" A savage venom appears in Anais' tone as she growls at me. "Don't you dare refer to Carmine like that!" I ignore her, focusing all of my attention on Jake.

"You can trust me Jake. I've helped you. What has she done for you? Besides leave you and your allies to get massacred at the bloodbath?" I can see my words are getting to Jake. A dawn of realization is creeping in. He readjusts his grip on the bow and faces Anais. 

"You betrayed us Careers!" A hint of anger is heard in his voice now. "You left us to die!"

"No! No, no, no. You got it all wrong Jake! Carmine and I only left because we knew what would happen. The Careers, the others. They were weak. Too weak. But're strong. You're a survivor. I wanted you to come with us but I was afraid Fenrir and the rest would retaliate!"

"Really?" Jake stops in surprise and I silently curse his stupid ego. Anais is too good at this, I won't be able to out talk her. But...I think of the flute in my backpack. If I can only reaching it, I could incapacitate the both of them, slash Anais' stupid throat and then slap some sense into Jake. My hands reach over my head but the movement draws the attention of the others. And then Jake actually aims his bow at me. "Don't move Flame!" He's trying to sound intimidating but he only comes off as unsure of himself. "Keep still. You too!" He whirls back around to aim at Anais, who had taken a tentative step forward.

"I'm on your side Jake!" She says with a small smile. "Unlike her and her murderous allies!"

"We saves you from the Anti's Jake!" I try to put out my trump card but Anais wickedly cuts me off.

"Only so they could get the supplies! You were only an extra! They're going to kill you as soon as you place your guard down! Just like the Blake's!"

"We never even saw the Blake's!"

"Oh how she lies!" 

"SHUT UP! Just shut up!" Jake swivels the bow from between me and Anais. His confusion is clearly etched on his face and I'd bet he doesn't even know what to believe anymore. We both fall silent and watch him as he pulls back on the string, still alternating between aiming at Anais and me. "I can't do it! I just can't do it!" He wails to the sky and then fires.

The arrow sails between the two of us, striking a large tree. The end of the arrow shakes and quivers from the impact and I realize that this is Jake's choice. He won't decide, instead, he'll have us fight it out. The moment my brain realizes this my hands fly for the pack on my back. I rip open the side pocket and grab the flute but Anais is already leaping at me. She grabs my leg and drags me back. My fingers lose their grip on the flute and it slides out from my grasp, rolling under some long twisting tree roots.

Anais flips me over onto my back and tries to throttle me but I use my free leg to plant a kick to her gut. As she stumbles backwards I grab one of my fallen knives. Jake just stands there, watching with a blank look on his face. I'm going to have a serious word with him once I finish off Anais. 

With the knife now in hand I watch as Anais fiddles with a nearby tree. She's an open target. I lunge forward, knife outstretched, aiming for the center of her back. It's a guaranteed strike and Anais is about to die. Then she turns around. 

I now see what she was doing with that tree. I see the arrow in her hands, the arrow that Jake shot into the trunk. I see what's about to happen but I can't do anything to stop it, I can't stop my momentum. 

She holds it out in front of her and I impale myself. I feel the tip ripping through my muscles and nerves, hear my own scream of pain and then Anais' face is only inches from mine, a wicked smile plays on her lips. "Nice try Flame!" She giggles softly, her light purple eyes shining with hatred. "But you failed. Have fun being dead!" The arrow is pulled back out, ripping away at me for the second time. Anais taps my shoulder and then I fall backwards. I never seem to land, just fall forever, falling backwards through eternity. Faces appear before me and I gasp in delight. It's my brother and Rosa! Sweet, little Rosa. I thought I lost both of them to the Games...

"I'm sorry..." I whisper to them but they don't seem upset. They just stare down at me, smiling. And I stare back, a blissful smile on my face. I just lie there and stare. Stare at their faces and the rapidly darkening sky...

Jake Locketback (District 1)

Anais (1) giggles hysterically as she collects the fallen knives, even prying the one Flame held from her cold, dead fingers. She doesn't even appear at all effected by this barbarity. She only seems...happy. 

She picks up her warhammer and then turns to look at me. I stare back at her in horror. Part of it being from what I just saw and the other part being from the fact that I permitted it. "Thank you Jake!" She beams happily at me. Her features that I once found breathtakingly beautiful now seem sinister after what I witnessed. "I meant everything I said by the way. You can still align with me." 

I can't even manage a word. Only a small shake of my head. She frowns and then just shrugs, like I told her I couldn't have coffee with her on Tuesday. "Oh well. The offer will still stand if we meet again!" She flashes me one last broad smile and then takes off running, disappearing into the looming jungle. I make a noise now, a small choking sound in the back of my throat. I stumble forward and then drop beside Flame's body. Already a pool of blood has formed beneath her angelic form. "I'm sorry Flame!" I burst out. "I'm sorry! You risked so much to help me and I-I just stood by and watched you get killed!" I know what I did was wrong but I couldn't have possibly brought myself to kill Anais. It was too hard of a thing to imagine doing. But this alternative...Boom!

Flame is now officially dead. No further help can be administered to her. I should have suggested some sort of compromise. Should have stopped that fight. Or I should have killed both. I need everyone dead after all, to come home and help my mother and sister. I might as well have ended them both right there.

Someone explodes onto the scene behind me. Luxio (13), covered in grim and sweat is now here, looking utterly exhausted. But when he sees Flame's blood-soaked body his exhaustion turns to horror. "Flame!"

He rushes forward and I rise, getting myself ready to explain but he just shoves me aside as he drops beside and tries to administer CPR. I numbly watch as he tries anything in his power to resuscitate her, knowing that she's gone and there's nothing he can do. He eventually realizes this himself as and he turns away from her body to face me. His eyes are cold and distant, filled with an unquenchable hatred. "What happened?"

His voice is so menacing that the hairs on the back of my neck rise upon hearing it. Luxray's death brought him sadness, Flame's death brought him anger. He's waiting for my answer, for my explanation. The truth would not suffice. Not with my own inaction being apart of it. "I...I only saw the end of it," I say quickly once the silence has stretched on for to long. I'm already scrambling for an excuse. "I chased after Arbor with you but I feel behind and decided to head back to the camp when-when I saw Flame fighting with Anais. Anais stabbed her and ran. I-I panicked and missed with my arrow. She got away." The best lie is always mixed with the truth. I'm not even really lying right now, just leaving out the fact I had a chance to kill Anais. Luxio's face tightens in anger and he glances around our surroundings.

"Which way did she go?"

I point in the direction and then he's off. Sprinting through the jungle with his glaive hacking away at the plants that dare block his way. He disappears from sight immediately, only the sound of his footsteps left. Soon, these too fade and I'm alone again.

I look back at Flame's outstretched body, the red pool of blood beneath her has reached its maximum now. I slump back against a tree as a hovercraft materializes in the sky and sends a claw down to collect Flame. I watch it pick her up and begin to ascend back into the sky. Too late do I remember that the pack on her back held half of our supplies. The other half is with Luxio. 

Great. Now I'm down two allies and I have no supplies beyond the weapons on my back. I should have just shot Anais...or maybe left with her. Either one would have me in a better position right now. I sigh and rest my head against the tree. Flame is dead. Luxio is chasing after Anais, he's probably not going to meet up with us again, and Iggy's--


The green-haired maniac suddenly pops back to mind. I forgot about him! Where is he right now? He wasn't with Luxio...

I need to find him. He could be my only remaining ally now. I spring to my feet and try to think where the guy could have gone and how I can find him. I can't think of any good way to comb the jungle for him. Might as well head back to the military camp, hope he returns some time. Yes, that's what I'll do. 

I follow the path Flame and I took to get here. It's easy. The broken foliage and stomped grass paints a clear trail to follow and within minutes the large green tents come into focus. The clearing is as empty as it was before. Iggy has yet to return. I decide to wait for him in one of the tents and head over to the nearest one. I push through the opening and see a large face grinning back at me. "Peek-a-boo!"

I scream in shock, leaping backwards as the face begins to laugh maniacally. Recovering from my shock, I recognize that stupid grin and wild green hair. Iggy! "Where have you been?" I demand, not too happy with that trick. "And what happened to Arbor?"

Iggy springs out of the tent and laughs as he runs around me in circles. "Gone! Like a ghost. Went away."

"You killed her?"

"Nope! Disappeared into the jungle. Like a ghost. Vanished." He lets out another wild laugh and my heart sinks at the realization that this is my only ally left. He's not even sane! "Where the others?" Iggy suddenly asks me as he dances around. "Why are they not here with you?" Now we're getting to it. I sigh and give the same explanation I gave Luxio, ending with how Luxio ran off after Anais.

"I wouldn't expect him to find us again. If Anais doesn't kill him too, that is." I finish my story and watch Iggy's reaction. I didn't think that the kid would even care but he looks surprisingly sad.

"Flame was a good person," He says softly with no trace of the madness that has haunted his words. "She will be missed." I find myself agreeing with him, for once.

"Yes. Yes she will."

Amaya Lovelace (District 14)

Ganta's dark eyes flicker open and stare into mine. There's a long, unbroken moment of us staring into another's soul when his eyes suddenly dart away and take in his surroundings. "Where...where are we?" His voice is small and weak. Not surprising given what he went through. 

"We're in the middle of the ruins. South island."

"The my back. What was it?"

"An arrow. Missy shot it at you. It almost killed you. Would have if it wasn't for..." I trail off, unsure of whether Ganta should know this yet or if I should wait for when has has recovered more of his strength. But he gives me such a look that I have to continue. "I used your Instant Relief on you. I-I dragged you all this way but you were dying and I didn't know what to do! So I used it. I hope you don't mind." 

His eyes slide shut and he appears deep in thought. Finally they reopen and he addresses. "How could I be upset that you saved my life? I should be thanking you." He pauses. "Thank you Amaya. For everything."

Spurred by the moment I lean forward and kiss him. It's magical. I feel like I'm floating through space. When Ganta was lying there, dying, I was so worried he would die, that he would leave me. But now he's safe and well. Everything is all right. I don't want the kiss to end. I want to stay here forever. But Ganta quickly pulls away, his eyes once more swiveling around in his skull. "Where's Bailey?" 

I shut my eyes. I thought we would get to this moment. I just wish it would have waited a while longer. When my eyes reopen I see that Ganta has pulled himself into a sitting position and is leaning against the wall of the underpass. "Where's Bailey?" He repeats.

"I...I....really don't know."

Silence. Ganta's expression shows absolute confusion. I sigh and explain. "When you got shot...Bailey wasn't there. I don't know where she was, but she wasn't by us. I didn't have time to look for her. Not with you...dying. So I just dragged you away and....and I left her." I fight back the tears that threaten to come. I still can't believe that I just deserted a friend! Even if it was to save Ganta. Ganta...I look back to him, worried how he'll think of me. Surprisingly, he doesn't look upset.

"Amaya," He begins with a firm tone and I prepare myself for the worse. But what he says shocks me. "Have you considered the possibility that Bailey just deserted us?"


"Earlier today, Bailey...said something that made me think she could leave the alliance. I was preoccupied with our plan and didn't think much of it then but considering what happened maybe..."

"You think she deserted us?" I am beyond shocked now. As far as I've felt, Bailey never once gave the impression that she would leave us. She was too good of a friend for that. Unlike me...

"Unfortunately, I think that's exactly what happened. But I have no proof. Who knows? Maybe she did just get lost..." Ganta trails off and I can't help but wonder if I did something to drive Bailey away. Was it something I did or said? Maybe she just thought that Ganta and I were becoming too close. I feel terrible knowing that there's a chance I drove her off. Even worse then I did when I just thought I left her. I curl my knees to my chest and sit back against the wall of the ruins and observe our surroundings for the umpteenth time.

We're encamped underneath a bridge-like structure that connects two of the larger buildings in the ruins. There's a small alcove type opening on the side and that's where I brought Ganta when he was injured. I thought it would offer the most protection, especially since its in the deepest part of the ruins. The one thing I don't like about this place is all the wet mud. The rainstorm from yesterday really hit a number on the place and everything is still slick and slippery, if it's not covered in dark, thick mud. 

"Hey Amaya," Ganta speaks again, the color has returned to his face and he doesn't appear to be experiencing any more I'll effects. "What did you do with the Instant Relief container?"

"Umm. I still have it, I think."

"Can I see it?"

It's a strange request but I pick the empty container out from the duffel bag and hand it to him anyways. He examines it with curiosity and then clips it onto his belt, an intelligent glint twinkling in his eyes. I wonder what he wants it for, but I'm not going to ask right now. Instead, I begin to polish my sword, wiping the dirt and grime off of its blade. While I work, Ganta watches me closely. At first I think it's just that he likes watching me, like how I love watching him, but then he asks a question. "What did you get from the cornucopia?"

Oh right. He hasn't seen what I received yet. "Well, I have this sword, obviously." I wave the blade back and forth and smile at Ganta's appreciative look. "And I also have a pair of daggers." I gesture at them as they lie against the wall beside us. They're quite the regal pairing, their blades an almost luminescent white, the hilts engraved with opals. I hope they're are deadly as they are beautiful. 

"Can I have one?" Ganta asks and when I nod he picks it up and begins to examine the blade. 

"I also got you this," I slip my hand into the duffel bag and pull out a sharp hatchet. I hold it out for him and he takes it gratefully. "But that's all I could get in such a short time."

"No food?" Ganta doesn't sound surprised, just slightly disappointed. I understand why. We have no food or drink as things currently stand. 

"No. It was all ruined. Weapons were about the only salvageable things. Though I suppose Bailey could have gotten something else..." 

We fall silent at the mention on our friend and ally. Where did she go? Did she leave us or did we leave her? Either way she's gone. It would be almost impossible to find her now, when we have no idea where to even look. I sigh and try to make myself comfortable. It's looking like we'll be spending the night here, the sun is beginning to set now. 

"Thank you Amaya," Ganta speaks quietly. "Thank you for saving me."

"You don't need to thank me Ganta. I would do anything to save you. Because I love you." 

I see the sadness in Ganta's eyes and know that he must be worrying about which one of will die. It's something that worries me too. But I know that it's in the future. Right now we're together. And for that we should be grateful.

Anais Morrisa (District 1)

The sounds of the jungle surround me as I run. It's been hours since I killed that wench from the Capitol but I haven't stopped moving since. She had allies, and not just Jake. Real allies who would actually care about her death. I've kept moving to get away from them and I think I've done that so far. But now it's almost nightfall and I need to stop.

The terrain around me begins to look familiar and I note that it's because I'm back on the east island, where Carmine and I spent the majority of the first few days. 


I feel an overwhelming sadness when I think of her slowly dying. When the time finally did come and she--she died, I cried. For a long time. It felt so wrong, I felt so weak. But I couldn't fight the emotion. I know Carmine wants me to fight on, to kill the other tributes. From the outset I knew that either me or Carmine would win. Well, now I'm the only one who can win.

The bubbling of a nearby stream causes me to halt my running. Water. Water is a priority. I stop and search for the source, finding it hidden behind some shrubbery to my left. I wash my hands first, cleansing the Capitol girl's filthy blood from my hands, before moving on further upstream, where I pause to get a drink. 

Once I have my fill I back aways from the stream and use some fallen branches to build a small, concealed shelter among the trees. Once finished, I crawl inside and take out all of my items to see what I have. 

My warhammer is there, of course, then three knives from the Capitol girl, and finally the Anti-Infection I, or rather Carmine, received from her sponsors. When I first got the item, just after Carmine perished, I was so angry that I nearly chucked the stupid thing into the ocean. But then I realized that I could still use the item. No use in wasting something that could help you throttle others. That's what Carmine always told me.

I spend the next hour reminiscing about time spent with Carmine. Oh how we planned for the Games! We always talked about how many kills we would make. I said I'd at least get five. I have three more to go before I reach that number. I need to step up my killing before it's too late.


Speak of the devil! I stop moving and wait to see if another cannon will fire.  No more come. I nestle myself in the back of my shelter, wondering who just died. It's dark out now and night has truly fallen. I wonder if the darkness will bring even more death.

Azalea Finch (District 9)

Fawn (10) let's out a horrified scream and buries her head in Billy's chest. Several minutes ago the boy stopped moving and went absolutely silent. A single minute ago he stopped breathing. Just now his pulse stopped and a cannon fired.

He's dead. 

Jac (9) throws me an uncomfortable look as he backs off from the hysterically crying Fawn and the now deceased Billy. I follow him over to the mouth of the cornucopia. I had feared this would happen but now that it has actually happened it's somehow worse. Our alliance is down to four.

"What did he die from?" Missy (5) sidles up beside us, keeping her voice to a whisper. Jac answers her before I can.

"The wounds. We just didn't know how to heal him."

I sense some guilt in Jac's words, as if he blames himself for all of this. That's wrong. There's nothing Jac could have done to change this. Nothing any of us could have done. "At least he's in a better place now," Missy murmurs quietly. "With Clark and Henry."

Looking upon Billy 's now seemingly peaceful face I can sort of agree with that. At least he's no longer suffering. Something that can't be said for Fawn...

She's still sobbing over his body, her face hidden from sight. I feel a strange twinge in my stomach, one that seems to encourage ending her misery. "Do we..." My question trails off, I'm unable to form the words. Killing Fawn now, right after Billy's death, just seems so...wrong. Jac wiggles around uncomfortably, like he's having the same thoughts.

"Not yet. Let's see how she reacts."

"Just hurry up and off her!" Missy grunts irritability and I start in surprise at the harsh words. But then I remember I spent majority of the day whispering to her that Billy and Fawn were plotting her death. "She would do the same to us!"

"No." Jac is firmer then I've ever heard him. "No. We won't kill our ally. That's what Hazel did to Jake. I won't allow that to happen on my watch."

"But that's different," I point out, feeling only a slight bit uneasy about this whole thing. "Jake wasn't hysterical over the death of his love." 

"It doesn't matter!" Jac's voice rises but then he catches himself and throws Fawn a anxious look. She hasn't moved from where she weeps over Billy. Satisfied that he was unheard, he continues, albeit much quieter. "We are not killing Fawn. End of discussion."

"No! It's not the end of the discussion!" Missy steps nose-to-nose with Jac now. Her bright blue eyes are flaming with cold fury. "We need to kill her. Before she kills one of us!"

"I'm the leader here and I say we're not killing her!"

"Who made you leader? Not me! I'm not even apart of your stupid alliance! I just joined to get the cornucopia!" Missy is getting almost unreasonably angry and I'm suddenly terrified that my lying whispers have done much more harm than good.

"Are you saying your not with us anymore?" Jac's tone is challenging as he stares Missy down. I stand beside them uneasily. If this turns into a fight I'm going to have to side with Jac. No matter what. 

"Not if you refuse to kill her!" Missy's hand flies for her bow but Jac catches her by the wrist. She yelps indignantly and then throws him a fierce glare. "Get your hands off me!" She struggles to pull free but he holds fast. I'm about to step in and break it up when a new voice joins the discussion.

"I know what you're talking about over there."

We all freeze and slowly turn around, feeling like kids caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Fawn is standing up now, watching us with a cold expression. Tears still run down the sides of her face but she is no longer crying. Jac immediately lets Missy go and steps forward. "Fawn! I can explain. We only want to--"

"SHUT UP!" Jac flinches backwards from the thunderous shout as if he was struck. "Just shut your stupid mouths!" I've never seen Fawn this angry, never seen anyone this angry. "You think you can just of my death and I won't realize? Do you think I'm stupid?!"

"No! It's not like that at all!" I try to take charge of the situation, change the direction it's heading but Missy muscles pass me. I hold out a hand to stop her but she shakes me off and basically screams at Fawn.

"You're one to talk about whispers! You and Billy were plotting my death from the moment I joined this damn alliance!"

"What?!" Fawn still sounds angry but now she sounds angry and confused. "What the hell are you talking about?"

"Don't play dumb with me! I know about your little plot! I know everything!" Spittle flies from Missy's mouth now as she works herself up into a terrifying rage. "She told me everything!"

"Who told you?"

"Her!" Missy points a finger straight at my chest and I feel myself burning red as each pair of eyes turn towards me. Fawn's mouth falls open, an incredulous look on her face. But the worse is Jac. I can see the hurt in his eyes. Hurt at the fact I didn't tell him what I was doing. I feel like everything is falling apart now, being torn at the seams.

"I knew Missy was a little conniving bitch but I didn't know you were one too, Azalea!" The look on Fawn's face is completely insane. I never knew a face could contort with so much rage. 

"No one cares about you and your whining ways!" Missy jumps back into the argument, her hatred for Fawn too much to hold in. "No one cared about Billy either! That's why be didn't get any medicine!"

That did it. Fawn let's out an almost inhuman screech and charges forward. Missy raises her bow but she's not fast enough to fire it. Fawn drives a shoulder into her gut and tackles her to the ground, where she begins to pound her face with savage punches. 

I scream in horror but find myself rooted to the spot. Large bloody gashes appear on Missy's face as Fawn lands blow after blow after blow. I'm almost certain that she's going to kill Missy when Jac is there, ripping her off. Fawn is kicking and screaming, Jac is trying to shout some sense into her when she lashes out and strikes him across the face. He stumbles backwards and he drops something to the ground. I recognize the item instantly. And so does Fawn.

It's Instant Relief.

" had Instant Relief?" Fawn's voice is barely a whisper. Her face has gone deathly pale as she stares at Jac, who still lies on the ground. " could have saved Billy! You could have saved his life!" She let's out a horrendous howl and then dives onto Jac, her hands wrapping around his throat. He feebly tries to stave her off as his face begins to turn blue and then I can no longer control myself. 

I dive right at Fawn and tear her off of him. I smack her across the face and toss her to the ground, where I jump on her. "Don't you ever touch him!" I howl at her as I brutally rip at her face with my nails. "Ever!" Fawn is screaming in pain, many small cuts forming on her face and bleeding. I see what I'm doing, what I'm becoming, and stop. I climb off, breathing heavily as I try to control myself. 

Then I'm being yanked to the ground by my hair. Missy is back and as enraged as ever. "She's mine!" She hisses at me and I see a glint of steel in the moonlight, a dagger has made an appearance. Missy marches past me, towards Fawn whose struggling to her feet. I know I can't let Missy murder her. Not even after what just happened. No. Especially after what just happened. Fawn's just not thinking clearly.

I get to my feet and lunge at Missy. She yelps in surprise and then swears loudly as she shoves me away. I stagger backwards and crash into a person. Fawn. 

I hurriedly turn around and then I feel a sharp pain in my chest. I look down and see a dagger, buried to the hilt, in my chest. Fawn is staring back at me in shock, her hand still attached to the dagger. Then I cough blood and fall over.

Everything begins to dim. I hear many shouting voices, the sound of running, the splashing of water. I wonder what's going mind has begun to get fuzzy. Thoughts are hard to form. I can barely see anything but the darkness...but I can hear his voice. Jac. And he's saying my name.

I black out.

"Y-- do---- Az----ea!"

A faint voice reaches me. So faint. Everything is black. The warmth I felt is fading fast. The blissful feeling is gone. Now I just feel thirsty. 

"C'mon Azalea!"

The voice is back. Clearer this time. I wonder what it wants. But I don't want to leave this wonderful feeling. I can still feel the faint edges of its embrace...I can still feel...

"Wake up Azalea! Please just wake up!"

My eyes snap open. It's dark but a pale, silvery light seems to envelope the island. Yes, it's the cornucopia island. My mind is still blurry, my thoughts slow. What happened?


The loud shout makes me gasp in shock. Jac (9) leans over me, a wide grin on his face. I feel the ghost of a smile touch my face. Jac... "You're alive!" His words are soaked with relief. "I thought I lost you." All of a sudden my memories come rushing back. Fawn. Missy. The dagger. Why am I not dead? 

I sit up, too fast, I feel a bit sick as I gaze around the clearing. Jac is crouched beside me, his blue eyes shining with relief, but no one else is visible. The sand bathed in moonlight is devoid of anything, except for a small splotch of blood. My blood. The thought of it makes me woozy and I fall back down. Jac's gentle fingers caress my face.

"Be careful. You shouldn't strain yourself."

"What happened?" I can't rest. Not until I know just what happened. "Where's Fawn and Missy?"


I wait for him to say more but he doesn't. He just sits there, looking upon me with emotional eyes. I lie still and try to collect my bearings. Fawn stabbed me in the chest, yet when my fingers run over it I feel no wound. Why? I ask Jac this and he tells me that he used his Instant Relief on me. His one and only Instant Relief. 

To say I feel gratitude is an understatement. There's not a word for what for feel for Jac. What I've felt for the past few days. I pull myself back up and smile at Jac. He smiles back at me and then I can't help myself. I pull him into an embrace and kiss him.

It's the perfect moment. One that seems to last forever. When we break apart he smiles gently. "What was that for?"

"For everything. Everything you've ever done for me, for Jake, for everyone."

"A lot of good I've done my allies. They're all dead." He sounds both bitter and guilty. I give his hand a small squeeze.

"None of that was your fault. You did everything you could."

"But it wasn't enough. Everyone I try to protect dies!" He throws his hands in the air, a sullen look on his face. I always knew he cared too much. He always blamed himself for everything that wasn't. But he shouldn't.

"I'm still alive," I tell him gently.

"For now."

"Then let's stop worrying about it and just enjoy it. Isn't that what life is about?"

He stops and states at me. Once again a small smiles plays on the edge of his lips. "I guess."

"That's good enough."

I wrap my hands around him and we kiss once again as the moon shines down upon us.

Colin Bisset (District 8)

I sit on the very edge of the jungle, practically upon the beach, and look to the sky. The Anthem will be starting in mere moments and that's when I'll learn what tributes I still have left to face. 

As I wait I look out on the ocean. It's really a beautiful sight, with its gentle waves and the moonlight illuminating off of it. Too bad it's surrounded by so much ugliness. I let my gaze travel along the coast and it stops on the bridge. I'm about halfway to the left of the west island, far enough away that I wouldn't be seen by anyone crossing the bridge but close enough that I can still keep tabs on them. It's a smart, strategic position, which is exactly why I chose it.

And here's the Anthem!

It starts up slowly and then the seal is in the sky, illuminating far more of the arena then the moon ever did. But soon the seal is replaced by the first face. The District 2 girl.

I forgot her name but I know that she was one of the few Career District tributes left. Now there's only the District 1 pair left and if memory serves me right, they're not even aligned. 

The boy I killed, Aspen (3), is the next to show. I'm glad he's gone, not because I enjoy killing but because he was a huge threat. As big of a threat as the District 2 girl. With the both of them gone my odds of winning have increased drastically.

I'm hoping for a trifecta of threats as Aspen's face is replaced but it's just Billy (10). Honestly, I'm surprised that guy even survived this long. I thought for sure he would have been a bloodbath death. Guess that shows that alliances have some benefits, like letting someone live longer than they had any chance of doing had they gone in a loner.

I'm trying to think who he last face will be, knowing it's someone from District 12 or higher, when the Capitol girl's face appears. If I'm right, that means Luxio (13) has just lost all of his allies. And this also means, with those four now dead, that there's only fifteen tributes left in the arena. Less then half of what started these Games. "I'm doing good," I mutter to myself as the seal reappears and then disappears as the Anthem ends. "You'll be avenged soon, Aisha. I guarantee it."

I roll onto my side, getting ready for sleep, when the ground suddenly gives a ridiculously large tremble and then there's the unmistakable sound of an explosion. 

I roll backwards, my ears ringing as I see a large thick, dark cloud of smoke billowing into the sky. Then I see it. I see the bridge. 

It has been blown apart. The majority of the bridge is gone, only the very ends remain. The rest float in the ocean, the largest pieces broken into chunks, the rest even smaller. Dark ash pollutes the top of the ocean water that surrounds the broken bridge. I'm on my feet, gaping in awe at the sight before me.

The bridge is gone. Impassable now. There's no way of getting back to the center island, or any of the other islands for that matter. The other bridges, the ones connecting the center island to the others, I'm certain that they're gone too. This explosion wasn't just random. It was Gamemaker designed.

They've certainly shaken up these Games at any rate. With the bridges gone there's no longer any way of traveling from islands. Not unless you want to swim across two miles of open ocean. No. From now on you're stuck on whatever island you found yourself when those bridges imploded. 

I give a humorless laugh and sit back down on the beach. How does this effect me? Who knows? The only other tribute that I know was on this island with me is Iris. Or at least she was on this island. She could have left any moment after I killed Aspen. And any other tribute could have come any time, up until an hour ago, when I began staking out the bridge.

Which is pointless now. No one will be crossing it in this state. I lie back on the sand, ripping some moss off of a nearby tree and wrapping it around me as a blanket. I'm too tired to really comprehend what the destruction of the bridges mean right now. I'm exhausted from my fight with Aspen. It was a hard won brawl. The long scar on my right cheek proves that. But tomorrow, after a night's rest, I will be able to think more about the bridges. To think what it means.

But for now, I'll sleep.

Day 5/ Isolation

Colin Bisset (District 8)

The crisp morning wind lightly blows against the plants of the jungle as I tread through. Dawn came just a few moments ago, the bright sun shining down woke me up, and after spending a couple minutes thinking over my plan for the day, checking the items sponsors sent me, and deciding how the destroyed bridges factor in, I was off.

I already have a plan on how to traverse across islands but I have something else to deal with first; another person on this island.

I found proof of another resident just now. A footprint embedded in the dirt. It wasn't old either. I'm no expert tracker but I know that it had to have been created only hours ago. Probably at night before the bridges blew. Meaning that the creator of this print is still on this island.

I keep the curved sword I won from Aspen close as I continue following the few small signs left by my quarry. A broken tree branch, rustled bushes, a few more footprints. I'm getting close, I can tell. Briefly I wonder if the tribute I'm tracking is Iris. She was on this island yesterday. Granted, she could have left anytime during the day, but I doubt she did. Wouldn't she want revenge on the person who killed Aspen? I know I would do anything to avenge Aisha...

No. I am doing whatever possible to avenge Aisha. That's what the whole point of me being in these Games is. To avenge her death. That's why I feel zero remorse over killing Aspen. He was just an obstacle. Just another person stopping me from accomplishing my goal of avenging Aisha.

Just like my current quarry.

I'm getting closer now, I can feel it. The tension in the air has thickened, even if the only person present is myself. I continue following the trail before me. Rarely does it ever veer from a straight line. Apparently my quarry wasn't worried about being tracked. Which either means their either extremely overconfident or completely stupid.

I'm going to go with the latter.


Overhead, a bird shoots across the treetops. I freeze on instinct and stop to get a bearing on my surroundings and to get a better listen. The jungle looks the same as ever but I hear a faint, unnatural noise. It sounds vaguely like...snoring.

I have to contain my laughter. Not only did they completely forget to cover their tracks but now they're asleep! This will be the simplest kill ever!

I listen closely and locate the snoring as coming from my left. I sneak gently across the mossy ground, weave past a few trees, and then I finally spot the person I've been tracking all morning.

Leaning back against a tree with her eyes shut tight and fast asleep sits Missy from District 5. A bow is clenched tightly in her fingers and I spot a dagger clipped onto her belt.

Huh. So she's decently armed. Too bad she's asleep or she might have put up a tough fight. As it stands right now, this will just be me killing her in her sleep. Which actually makes me feel slightly bad about having to do such a thing. But it doesn't matter. If she must die, then die she will.

I take a few silent steps forward, my fingers twitching on the hilt of my sword. Just a little closer...a little closer...

Suddenly, without warning, a monkey screeches somewhere off in the jungle and Missy's blue eyes shoot open. They spot me and she let's out a shrill scream before my sword slices through the air and smashes into her neck.

Her scream breaks off into a horrible gurgling sound as she falls to the ground, twitching and giving massive convulsions. I stand over her, ready to finish her off if the need arises. But there's no need. She goes still and stops moving. Somewhere a cannon goes off. Boom!

Huh. My first assumption was correct. That was easy. Well now, time for the second phase of my plan. But might as well help myself to her items first. It's not like she has any more need for them. I take the dagger from her belt and pick up her bow and quiver, grunting in annoyance when I see that her "arrows" are really nothing but a bunch of sharpened sticks. Guess I'm going to have to do something about that if I want to actually use that weapon effectively. Once I have all of the dead girl's items, I slip back into the dense jungle, leaving her lying in a pool of her own blood.

The next thing on my to-do-list is find a tree that's small enough to be cut down but wide enough to have branches that would support my weight. My plan to get off this island is relatively simple. It's really the most logical thing really.

I'm going to make a raft.

Ganta Alomo (District 12)

"I think we should just lie low for the day, Amaya," I say, setting a layer of sticks across the ground horizontally and deftly covering it with some of the thick moss that commonly grows around the ruins. "There's no point in searching for trouble."

"Searching for trouble?!" Amaya (14) gives a huff of annoyance and I suppress a sigh as I turn to face her. She holds her hands on her hips, her long blond hair flowing behind her head, staring at me with wild determination. I don't like that look. Every time she gives that look I know she has some wild plan. "You call being proactive "searching for trouble"?"

"Yes. Yes I do." I rise to my feet and dust my hands off, ignoring the gasp that comes from Amaya. "Because we'd be trying to cause chaos, which breeds trouble. And I really believe we've had too much trouble recently."

Amaya grinds her teeth, thinking over what I said for a long moment. I know too much about her to even think she would consider what I said, So I'm not surprised when begins to justify her plan. "It's something Aelia would do," She tells me. "Something that would really help us."

And how did that work out for her? I retort silently but daren't say aloud. Amaya wouldn't take kindly to the reminder that nothing her friend did prevented her death. Besides, it's not something someone who is supposed to be in love with her would say...

I shudder involuntarily. I'm supposed to be in love with her. I could never truly love her. She's too stubborn, too eager for action. While she's like fire, wild and unpredictable, I'm like water, calm and reflective. We could never be together because of these differences but for some reason, she thinks we should be together. I want to tell her the truth but it's kind of hard to do. Especially considering she just saved my life yesterday, partially because of her love for me. 

I tune myself back to her words and find that she's still trying to justify her plan. I decide to just give in and go with it. She's too hot-headed to change her mind and I don't really want to try. "Okay, Amaya," I groan reluctantly. "We'll go with your plan."

"Oh thank you Ganta!"

She beams happily and darts forward to kiss me. I pretend to smile but once she turns I grimace and wipe it away. I then watch as Amaya gathers all of our supplies and leads the way out into the jungle. I follow behind slowly, not really feeling this plan of burning down the jungle. I don't even know where we're getting the fire. Amaya has yet to tell me about that part of the plan. Normally, I would feel upset over that, but I have my own secrets. Like me not loving her and the poison sponsors sent me this morning while I was on guard. Amaya was asleep and didn't see it but I filled the empty Instant Relief with poison. Somehow I'll get someone to take this item and think that it's true Instant Relief. But instead of relief they'll get death. It's a cruel trick, but one of the few ways to kill someone without doing it physically. And I don't know if I could bring myself to physically kill anyone...

"Here we are!" 

Amaya stops ahead of me and gestures down into a dark tunnel. I wait, expecting her to show the real way we're going but she just sits there, looking at the tunnel that descends into the earth. "Umm...," I try to think of something to say but cannot come up with anything worthwhile. "Is this it?"

"Yes. We should be able to find a lantern or something down there." 

I don't even try to question her logic on that and just shrug and follow behind her as she heads down into the tunnel. Water fills the cavernous tunnels that stretch for as far as I can see. Phosphorescent light shines off from the slimy walls, illuminating the path way ahead. "Uh, Amaya?" 

"Yes Ganta?" She doesn't even look back at me as she steps into the dark water and begins to head down the tunnel.

"Umm. You sure this is a good idea? This place is kinda...spooky." I step forward into the water and shiver as my feet disappear beneath the cold water.

"It's fine Ganta. No ghosts will get you."

I try to shake the worry I have away and pick up my speed to catch up with Amaya. I don't know if she knows where she's going but she sure looks like she does. Taking turns without a single moment of hesitation, heading down corridors calmly. I lose track of the amount of turns we take or which way we came from. A small burst of panic begins to form before I brush it away, realising that Amaya knows our way back. I hope.

After another right turn we enter a very long, straight tunnel. Just at the end I can spot a two-way intersection. I have to hold back the sigh I feel at this choice. They've seemingly been endless so far. I'm so sick and tired of trudging through this water. At least the wetsuit was designed to get wet...

Amaya suddenly screams and falls backwards into me. We both go splashing into the water and I quickly pull myself up, spitting out the bitter salt water that had found its way into my mouth. I sputter as I try to regain my bearings. Amaya has already pulled herself up and is staring at an alcove that I hadn't noticed before. She doesn't look terrified anymore. Just curious. "There's someone there," She whispers to me, a bizarre note of joy in her voice. "And they're alone, unarmed."

"Are we...going to kill them?" I'm not surprised at the hesitancy in my voice. Killing goes against the code all doctors follow, the code to heal and protect. But in the Games, the only way to guarantee your survival is by killing as much as possible.

"No. We're going to align with them!"

"Wait no!"

I try to pull her back but she's too quick. Amaya cautiously pokes her head into the alcove and I hear a small squeak of alarm, probably from the loner. I sigh and trot over to join Amaya at the alcove.

It's Iris, the loner, it's Iris. The girl from District 3. Her sunset coloured hair is dirty and stuck in knots. Her eyes are wide and terrified. I note that her hands are clutched around her left foot. "Don't worry!" Amaya smiles warmly, trying to dissuade any distrust. "We're not here to harm you."

"No. You're here to kill me!" Her voice is high and shrill as she scrambles as far back into the alcove as she can get. "Go away! Go away!"

I gently tug on Amaya's sleeve. This girl isn't in the best shape. Not someone you could trust. Not that we can trust anyone in this arena. But we definitely cannot trust this girl, who I can tell from just looking, has either a broken or sprained ankle. But of course, Amaya attempts to talk through this, to try and form an alliance.

She tells her we can be trusted, even goes to say what we've been doing for the entirety of the Games. I stay silent as she speaks. I will have no part of this plan. Taking on another ally is not something we should be doing right now, especially considering what happened with Bailey. But it looks like we're going to get saddled with one anyways, as the girl's panic begins to fade and she pulls herself closer to us. 

"You look like good people," She says softly. "Not like some of the others."

"What's wrong with your foot?" I ask. I had noticed the gasp of pain she emitted while pulling herself forward. 

"I fell from a tree."

I wait, expecting an elaboration. She doesn't give one. Doesn't matter. I can help her without an elaborate answer. I bend down and give a quick examination of her foot, poking and prodding, asking if it hurts. She gives a loud shriek at one point and leaps backward, cradling her foot protectively. I frown. "I can't tell if it's broken or just severely sprained. Either way, I can't completely heal it. Only try and give some relief." 

Amaya sits back and watches as I bandage the foot up. I instruct Iris to keep pressure off of it and then, well, that's all I'm able to do. Once again I wish I had painkillers but I have to work with what we have. "We need to get back to the surface," Iris says as I put all of my medical supplies back and sling the bag over my shoulder. "There's a plant whose juice is a natural painkiller up there."

"Huh? How do you know?"

"I saw it myself. When...Aspen and I were moving about. I remember what it does from training. It could help." 

"It could work." I'm doubtful. Why didn't I know about this plant? It certainly would have been useful. Maybe I should have spent more time learning about plants during training. After all, we're surrounded by them now. I'm certain that one or two others offer a medical help of some kind. "We'll have to see when we get back."

I climb out of the alcove and back into the knee deep water. I shudder at its sudden coldness. Odd. The arena is usually so warm. Amaya smiles at Iris and despite how I helped her, I still don't think having her as an ally is a good idea. The numbers of tributes are already dwindling fast. How long will it be before this girl turns on us? Not very.

"Come on. Let's head back!" Amaya helps Iris out of the alcove and places her between the tunnel wall and herself. "Lean on me and the wall. That way you don't have to place any weight on your leg." The two of them slowly begin to push their way through the water. I follow behind, unnerved by the eerie sound of the splashing water echoing down the tunnels. 

Amaya doesn't hesitate when we come to our first intersection, leading us straight down the left tunnel without even stopping to think. I'm glad she remembered, because I sure didn't. But my relief doesn't last long. 

Soon we come to a three-way intersection. A path branches in each direction. One to the left, the right, and straight ahead. Amaya stops right in the middle of the intersection, closing her eyes and seemingly deep in thought. "Why have we stopped?" Iris asks in a small quivering voice.

"Ganta?" Amaya's eyes open as she turns to me. "Do you remember which way we came from?"

"No," I try not to let the panic show in my voice. "No. I don't remember. In fact, I don't remember this intersection at all. I think we took a wrong turn." I hear Amaya sigh and I now know for a fact that we're lost. Lost down in this deep endless tunnels. With no exit in sight. A sudden fear grips my chest. "We're going to die down here..." I whisper but the girls don't hear me. They're still trying to remember. 

"I didn't make a wrong turn. I didn't." Amaya speaks to herself now, sounding increasingly desperate. "I know it's one of these paths. But which one?"

Which one, indeed.

Arbor Alpine (District 7)

The two of them are talking now, saying something I can't hear. They're in the center of the military camp, armed to the teeth with every sort of weapon.  I have a brief sense of reluctance to carry through with what I'm planning but it doesn't last long. I'm starving and need food. My stomach feels like it's eating itself. Besides, I know I can defeat those two. One of them, Iggy, is a complete lunatic. I learned that yesterday when he chased me. He won't pose even the mildest of a threat. 

But Jake (1) is a different matter. He's a Career, which means he's someone to be wary of. All Careers have years of training in all sorts of fields. I wouldn't be surprised if he was an expert with each and every one of those weapons he holds. I don't think I could defeat him in a fair fight.

Good thing I don't plan on having a fair fight.

I watch carefully as Iggy (C) leaves Jake and heads for the edge of the camp. Moving through the thickets that surround the camp, I head in the opposite direction. Having the two of them apart when is attack is key to victory. I can't beat them together. But when they're separated...

I freeze when Jake suddenly heads for the jungle. Has he somehow spotted me? No. He doesn't head any where close to where I'm hiding, instead passing at least twenty feet away before disappearing into the jungle. I throw one cautious look at the faraway Iggy and then slip backwards into the jungle.

I stick close to the larger bushes and plants, my dark green wetsuit blending in well. For the first few moments I can't find Jake but I eventually hear his footsteps and then he comes back into sight, if only for a moment. Even though he disappears back into the foliage I feel relief that I can find him. Now to just keep it up.

Jake keeps moving and I keep following from a distance. I never get closer then necessary, never allowing myself to catch more than a slight glimpse of him. I can't afford to mess this opportunity up. It's the only one I'll get.

Eventually, Jake stops his moving and I creep close to a large tree, practically hugging the moss covered trunk. Jake has his back to me, his bow knocked and drawn as he stares up into the trees. What the heck is he doing? I shake my head and grip one of my throwing axes. Maybe he's gone as nuts as Iggy. But who cares? It's time for me to act.

But before I can, a loud screech echoes from the treetops and Jake shoots an arrow. A thud of impact and then something drops from the trees as a large flock of colourful birds take to the sky. Of course! Jake was hunting! That would explain his seemingly erratic movements. Not that I needed an explanation. All I need to do is prepare for what happens next.

Jake drops his bow and bends down to collect the bird. He begins to store it in his bag when I make my move. I leap away from the tree and throw my arm forward, my wrist sending the heavy axe spiralling through the air. Jake doesn't ever notice my presence.

The axe smashes into his back and he tumbles forward. Rushing forward, I rip the axe free from his back and ready myself to give him another whack in the event he survived. But he's completely still, the axe did its job well. 

I try to ignore the enormous gash in his back, one that exposes his bone, as I quickly begin to loot him of all his possessions. The bag, his bow, the slightly damaged quiver. Boom!

The cannon blast sends a few more birds taking to the skies and I get away from the body. I'm eager to open his bag and see if I just earned myself any food but I resist the urge. It's too dangerous. I could get attacked at any moment--

"No! No, no, no, no!"

I recognize the voice from my hours observing the two of them. Iggy. 

He's staring at me with his wild green eyes, his tall and gangly form bent over so he looks hunchbacked. He looks even more insane than before. "Why?! Why does this keep happening? Why this happening?!" He throws himself on the ground and begins to throw himself about wildly. I'm confused, amused, and terrified all at the same time. This boy truly is completely insane. 

I might as well end his suffering right now.

I grip the axe I used to end Jake's life and approach Iggy, ready to end him as well. But Iggy isn't as unaware as I thought he was and in a shocking show of speed he leaps to his feet and whips a small red gun out from his pockets. "You stay still! Or you'll go up in flames!"

I freeze instantly, the mere sight of a gun has shocked all of my sense. Where the bark did he get that?! 

"Ohohoho!" Iggy cackles gleefully now as he hops from foot to foot. His mood has swung faster than a baseball bat. "Whose gunna die now? Huh?! I know who! YOU!"

I see his finger move for the trigger and I throw myself to the side as a ball of flame erupts from the gun and smashes into the jungle behind me. 

Then, within moments, we're standing in the middle of a raging inferno.

Iggy Coupe (The Capitol)

"Burn baby, burn!"

I giggle wildly as I dance around the flames that have sprung up around us. The wonderful, magical flames that beckon for us all to join them! I see the fear and wonder in Arbor's (7) eyes, see that she has a great dislike for this rompous party. 

"You're insane!" She howls at me and I burst out laughing at the accusation.

"I am not insane! Or maybe I am! Who knows? Wait. I think Ludwig wants to say something..." I pause, listening to Ludwig's input and nod wisely. "Ah, yes. Ludwig says he's too busy ignoring me to give a definitive answer. So maybe I am insane!"

Arbor suddenly jerks forward and sends one of her axes flying at me. I dance out of the way and waggle a stern finger. "Nah-ah! You won't get me as you got Jake, murderer!" I feel the heat as the flames burn wilder and begin to close in on the previous spots of free space that Arbor and I inhabit. "This party is really kicking up the heat!" I screech and howl joyfully. 

Arbor isn't enjoying this as much as I am though. She leaps forward and tries to smash me down with one of her killer axes but I easily backpedal put of the way. "You're going to burn to death!" She screams at me as she throws more wild swings. "Just like me! Why don't you care?!"

"Are you saying you don't like my party?"


One of her axes pass inches from my head and I realize that she's trying to hit me! Well I will stand for this no more! I wait for her to swing horizontally and then, when she's unbalanced, I ram my shoulder into her. 

She screams as she falls backwards into the flaming brush inferno and I tip my top hat to her before taking off running. These flames have gotten quite too big. I could actually be in some slight danger if they got any bigger! I weave under a low hanging branches and leap over a fallen log that has quite the flame infestation. 

I spot a few monkeys leaping about overhead, howling and shrieking as the fire consumes them, and wave happily to the big pink elephant that soars through the sky. "Have fun Pinko!" I cheer but break off into a groan of pain as a flaming vine whips across my shoulder. The tendril burnt through the thin wetsuit and a large, smoky black gash now has a home on my shoulder, burning and stinging. 

The flames are moving rapidly, the fire fighting clowns cannot quench their massive appetite. I leap over another log but this time my foot catches. I smack down into the ground hard and then I'm rolling. Rolling and rolling. I feel a few more burning sensations across my body and then, I feel sand beneath my hands.

I stand up and look around with a very groggy head. The blue ocean is to my north. The red jungle is to my south. I squeeze my eyes shut tight. Which way did I want to go again? Qwest?

"Over here Iggy!" 

Over on the beach shore, I see them. My friends from home, Luxray, Flame, and a newcomer, Jake. I smile broadly and jog over to them, forgetting about the raging inferno. "Whazzup my fellows?" I highfive each of them and hug Jake. "Been awhile man! Like a few minutes!" 

"Too long!" He laughs and then the others join in.  We all sit here, laughing, when suddenly Flame shields her eyes and points to the jungle. 

"What's that?" She asks and then they're gone. All of them vanish and I'm alone on the beach. I feel a little loss. Like there was something important I was suppose to be doing. But I can't think. There's this stupid buzzing noise in my head! 

"Shuddup!" I growl and look around for a rock to bash myself with when I see it. A large black cloud emerging from the fiery jungle. It moves slowly, but is clearly heading for me. The constant buzzing is being emitted by that cloud. I stare at it in puzzlement. "That's new."

I take off running down the beach. I don't see it but I think the cloud is in pursuit. I go full speed, confident that no cloud could catch me. I'm way across the beach when I feel something whizzing towards me and then it slices my ear.

I drop to the ground, howling in pain. Blood is spurting from my head and when my hands grab for my ear, I realize that half of it is missing. Half of my ear is gone. Blood is soaking from the new wound as she slowly approaches.


Her skin is red and blotchy, her whole body covered in black soot. And I swear, her hair is shorter. But how the bloody flames did she get out alive?! I kicked her into an inferno!

"I killed you!" I scream and struggle to my feet, ignoring the blood trickling from my ear. "I kicked you into an inferno!"

"You're insane. You really are."

She keeps her slow pace as she heads for me, her axe in hand. I don't understand. I don't understand! "Why aren't you dead!"

"You just kicked me. Not into an inferno. You just kicked me. I fell, you ran. We obviously both escaped the flames." 

"Oh." I brunch up my forehead. Did I just imagine that? Really, that would seem far too ridiculous. But if she's right, then maybe I'm imagining some other things too. "Tell me," I say to Arbor as she stops a few feet from me. "Did I imagine that cloud of gnats too?" I point towards the menacing cloud looming in the distance. Arbor gasps in shock and then I make my move.

I dart forward like a snake, my dagger coming free from my belt. She tries to slash me with the axe but I'm already behind her legs. Then I ram the dagger into the back of her kneecap.

Boy, the scream she makes is tremendous! She twitches and convulses as she screams. I stagger back from her and fall to my knees, watching with interest as she feebly attempts to grab her fallen axe. "Don't forget our most esteemed guests are arriving!" I say as I gesture towards the fast approaching black cloud. "The main course is already laid out. I bet they're dying to taste it...even if it's a little undercooked."

"You evil....little...bastard..." Arbor fights through the immense pain she must feel to croak pitifully. I laugh but admire her attempts to crawl towards me.

"I am not evil. I plead guilty on account of insanity! That's what you called me, right? Insane? But really, aren't we all a little...insane?" I stand back up and step further away from her. That cloud is almost here now. I am most intrigued to see what it does. And I'm sure Arbor is too. "You must crawl harder!" I tell her as I keep backing away. "You'll never out pace them at that rate!"

"I'm going to kill you!" She screams at me, the sheer desperation evident in her voice. "I'm going to kill you!" The buzzing cloud is here now. I wave happily to Arbor just as it descends. 

She screams as it tears into her. The thousands of tiny insects swarm around her, completely blocking her from view. I watch in mesmerized silence. The swarm's buzzing gets slightly higher as it feasts, I notice. Like they're happy. 

The sand around the swarm turns red with blood, Arbor's screams become muffled and finally desist. But the swarm continues feasting. It feels like an eternity but it was really only a single minute, when the swarm finally abated and takes back to the sky, slinking into the burnt remains of the sizzling jungle. 

There's not much left of Arbor. Just an old skeleton and locks of her hair lying on the sun-baked sand.  "Not much to send back home," I say, standing up and dusting off the sand particles on me. "Just some bones." It's amazing really, how quickly they devoured her. I see that my dagger is still there, lodged in her kneecap, and I take it back gratefully. I'm disappointed to see that Jake's bag isn't with her. She must have lost it in the fire. Oh well. Boom!

I salute her bones and then turn to walk down the beach. But a thought strikes me and I turn back one last time. "You look a little pale. I suggest you should stay here and tan. It will help your complexion."

Azalea Finch (District 9)

"Who do you think that was?"

Jac (9) looks back from the tree he was working on and shrugs. "I don't know. Could have been anyone." He turns back to the tree, using his sword to hack fiercely at one of the thicker branches. I find myself still thinking about those last two cannons. Not long ago we spotted dark smoke wafting into the sky from the north. Jac said that it was a fire and I didn't disagree. The smoke looked just like the smoke that came from the fire that started here a few days ago.

So whoever died and how however it happened, that fire had something to do with it. "I hope it was Fawn..." I'm surprised that I say this out loud and Jac raises an eyebrow at me.

"Now you want her dead? Last night you prevented Missy killing her." His sword slices through the branch and it cones toppling off of the tree. He picks it up and tosses it into the pile of similar branches that we have already acquired.

"That was because I felt bad for her. But then she attempted to kill me!"

"I don't think she was trying to stab you. Missy just shoved you into her." Jac wipes the sweat from his brow and I scowl at him.

"So now you're taking her side? After what she did? She attacked you too. Don't tell me you don't want her dead for that!" Jac smiles slightly and then shrugs again.

"I don't want or not want her dead. It's immaterial to me at this point. She's gone and there's nothing we can do about it now. I'm just focused on returning to District 9."


Jac smiles innocently and then motions to the pile of branches. "We should get some vines to tie that altogether. Do you mind doing that? I need a rest." I nod affirmatively and he sits down, taking a swig from his canteen as I take out my scythe and begin cutting down some of the nearby vines. When I cut the first one down I take it in my hand, squeezing and stretching it experimentally.

They feel rough and course, almost impossible to rip. Seems like it would be the perfect binding for our raft. I toss the vine to Jac and work on cutting down some more.

The bridges. That's the reason we need this raft. Why we can't just hunt Fawn down. The destruction of those bridges has certainly changed my view on the Games. From now on we need to focus on building up our camp, make some traps, finish that raft. This separation from the other tributes has given us the time necessary for all of it.

Of course, that all depends on us actually be separated from the other tributes. For all we know, there could already be someone hiding out in the jungle. Either they never left or they built a raft like we're doing. Heck, they could have even swam across islands. It's just that it's entirely possible that we're not as isolated from the others as we originally thought. 

I finish collecting the vines, about twenty of them, and then return to Jac. He's already gotten to work on the raft, lying the logs out on the beach and placing them close together. "You'll need these," I say as I drop the vines at his feet.

"I know. I'm just imagining how the raft will look when it's finished," He picks up the vines and gestures at it. "What do you think?" 

The raft is about five feet vertically and four horizontally. It doesn't look very steady or strong but looks can be deceiving, I guess. "Will it float with our weight?"

Jac laughs lightly and shakes his head. "We need to tie it together first before attempting it. Now help me with that. It could take awhile."

I nod and drop beside him.  The two of us begin to weave the vines together with the wood and I realize that we'll probably spend all afternoon working on this raft. Well, at least it's something to do and it's certainly better then fighting someone to the death.

Bailey Snowbelle (District 0)

The small silvery fish darts out of the way and the tip of my spear clips uselessly into the tiny pebbles that cover the bottom of the pool. "Stupid fish!" I mutter angrily and pull the spear out and try again. And again. And again. I keep missing the fish, they keep darting around and taunting me. Finally I just can't take it anymore and with a enraged shout I stomp away from the coastal pool and sit myself down on the edge of the beach, steaming silently.

I wish that I had managed to get some sort of food from the waters that surrounded the cornucopia. But everything was waterlogged! I couldn't possibly have eaten any of it. But I wish I took something anyway. Because right now I'm starving...

Thoughts of Ganta (12) and Amaya (14) flood into my head but I try to push them aside. They're gone. I left them. I gave Ganta the chance to leave, I offered him to cut Amaya loose, but he refused. If he wasn't going to trust me enough on that then why should I stay? I have no regrets on leaving them. It was only be a matter of time before Amaya snapped.


I actually do have one regret. I regret that they might have some food while I don't. We didn't have any when I left but I know their sponsors.I know that they get everything they want while I get completely ignored. Maybe that's another reason why I left. Maybe I won't be so overlooked now.

I decide to try my hand at spearing the fish again. I won't get anywhere by just sitting here feeling sorry for myself. Helios needs me. I spend the next hour desperately trying but failing. I don't see how someone is supposed to do this. The fish are just too quick! I give up again and ram the spear down into the pool as I turn. But I hear a different kind of impact this time and when I spin back around, I see that I have caught a fish!

It's impaled on the tip of the spear, flopping for a second or two before going still. A wide smile breaks out onto my face as I pull the spear out. Fire! That's what I need now! I need a fire to cook with! I begin to rush for the woods but come to a screeching halt. A girl is standing there, holding a pair of knives in her hands. Her hair is light purple and I recognize her instantly as one of the two remaining Careers.


I don't waste any time as I grab my spear and let it fly. The girl does the same with her knives and while my spear misses by a few inches, one of her knives clips my shoulder and blood is pouring out.

My hand goes to stop the flow as I realize that she just reopened the wound that I received from the bloodbath. The wound that Ganta sewed shut. Anais steps forward, unslinging a massive warhammer from her back. I'm panicking now as I back towards the ocean. Without my spear my only weapon is a tiny knife. Hardly a match for that hammer. 

Anais (1) knows this too. A cheshire grin is on her face as she approaches. My feet splash into water. I have nowhere else to go. Except for Anais. 

I don't stop to think, I just do. Lunging forward I whip my knife out and Anais pulls her hammer up in a defensive position. But I don't go for her. I leap past her and then break out into a full-speed sprint for the jungle. I'm just inside its plant line when another pain rips through my opposite shoulder and I'm falling, I'm weakly pulling myself back up when she comes. "I had more then two knives!" Anais sing-songs as she skips over to me. I offer a wild, uncoordinated swing of the knife that has no chance of hitting doesn't, then she's swinging the hammer. The massive blow strikes me in the gut and I crumple over, defeated and done for.

Anais Morrisa (District 1)

"Such a pity. I was hoping you'd have much more fight in you. Much, much more." I gently nudge the girl with my toe but she doesn't move from her position lying face down in the long grass. A pool of crimson fluid is leaking out from beneath her. My assumption is that she's done for. 

Well, that wasn't much of a fight. But I guess a kill is a kill and one really shouldn't complain. I give the surrounding jungle a quick search over and pry the knife from her fingers before returning to the beach. 

The sun is a magnificent orange color as it sets over the ocean. The rays of light reflect off of the waves and shine upon the beach, giving off such a beautiful picturesque look. I can understand why the District 0 girl, what was her name? I can't remember. Oh well. Doesn't matter. I know why the girl chose this spot now. It's so beautiful and peaceful. You'd never think someone would come along and murder you.

I pick up the spear that lies on the sand and recollect the two knives I had thrown at the girl. Each day just gives me more weapons! Soon I will be completely unstoppable. "I'm winning this for you, Carmine!" I watch the sun as it sets, thinking on how many tributes are left. There were three cannons today, right? That would mean there's now--


I stop my thinking as something comes to mind: There was no cannon for the District 0 girl. Which can only mean one thing. She's not dead.

I'm already running back into the jungle, back to the spot where I seemingly killed her. When I arrive I let out a loud scream. She's gone!

The grass where she previously lay is bent down and matted with dry blood but there's no sign of the girl. I howl in rage and kick a nearby tree stump. She played me like a fool! I had her dead! She should be dead! I feel myself becoming enraged and try to pull back on the flooding anger. Calm down Anais, I tell myself, just calm down. She couldn't possibly have gotten far. She was wounded, severely wounded. She has to be nearby.

I start my search circling around the tall grass and see a trail of blood and bent grass leading further into the jungle. It's so plainly obvious that I feel stupid for not noticing it earlier. "You can run," I say grimly as I arm myself with the warhammer. "But you can't hide."

The trail is easy to follow. It never deviates from a simple, straight line and I can tell from the hand marks and lines in the dirt that she's dragging herself along. My anger and panic has almost completely faded at this point. There's no escape for her. Not when she's forced to crawl. 

The blood isn't dry anymore, it's fresh and new. I stop to examine my surroundings and after seeing what looks to be a clearing up ahead, I pick up my pace and smash into the clearing. I spot her right away. Crawling across the wide open clearing, leaving a large trail of blood in her wake. I'm surprised that she even managed to get this far, now that I see her.

The color has drained from her skin and she's a deathly pale. Her movements are slow and weak. It takes her a full minute to just move a foot. She's on her stomach so I can't see the wound but judging by the amount of blood I doubt that it's anything nice. Well, time to finish what I started.

"You should have crawled faster!" I giggle as I begin to approach. Her head whips around to see me and then let's out a horrified gasp and attempts to pull herself along faster. It doesn't help her much though, as I catch up to her in no time. I stomp my foot down onto her back and she spits out blood as she squirms under my boot. "I'm tempted to punish you for trying to escape," I say conversationally, enjoying the moans of horror she elicits. "But I have better things to do. So you're going to get off easy!" I lift up the hammer and smash it down into the back of her skull. Just like with Alexandrite, the hammer drives through the skull and shatters her head like an egg being cracked before being dropped into a bowl. I bring the hammer down a few more times, to make certain that she is dead. Once the cannon sounds I step back, content. Boom!

I'm slightly annoying by the amount of blood and ick that splattered onto me. I hate being dirty! I think I'll return to the ocean, where I can wash off. I'm already on my way, when I hear it. The sound of running footsteps. "Now that's certainly interesting," I muse as someone explodes into the clearing. 

It's Luxio (13). His golden eyes are bloodshot and fixed firmly on me. His dirty fingers are clutched around that glaive he always carries and that stupid bushy hair of his is all misshapen and covered with debris. I frown. "You look terrible. Remember, people need their beauty sleep!"

"Shut up!"

I'm bemused at the venom in his voice. I don't quite recall what, if anything, I ever did to him. "Something amiss, darling?" I ask with a giggle. 

His golden eyes swivel to me and he spits. "You killed Flame! I've been chasing you ever since. And now I'm going to kill you!"

Oh right. That. I roll my eyes at his melodrama and then notice that he's already running towards me. The glaive flies for my head and goes over it by a foot. Luxio is unbalanced and I kick him in the gut and then he topples over sideways. Giggling, I stand over him with my hammer, ready to inflict the same punishment the District 0 girl received.

But that glaive has a longer reach then I had anticipated. The bladed part of the weapon cuts across my arm and I feel warm blood pouring from a large red gash. "Not so confident now, huh!?" Luxio, still on his back, swings the weapon again and this time the blade slices across my forehead. 

As the blood slides into my eyes, blinding me, I stumble backwards. This was not how this should be going! I should never be on the ropes! I find myself hoping that Carmine will step in and finish him off but then I remember. Carmine isn't here. I'm on my own.

And I don't think I can win this battle. Not here, not now. 

I do the only thing left for me to survive. I turn and run. I can hear Luxio screaming profanities after me as I crash into the jungle and slip and slide through the grasping plants. While I'm running I keep the fact that Luxio won't stop chasing me in mind. I can use that to my advantage. I can--

The ground beneath me disappears and then I'm falling. I notice the echo of my surprised shout and then I'm hitting water. My head splashes back to the surface and I spit out water. A cold breeze ruffles my now wet hair and I recognize my surroundings instantly. I in the tunnels where....where Carmine was...Where Carmine got injured.

I don't want to be here. This is the absolute last place I would want to be, the terrible memories are already resurfacing. I splash through the water, running down a tunnel in search for an exit. But then I stop as something comes to mind.

When Carmine and I first came into this tunnel, we came from the center island. But when we emerged from the tunnels, we found that we were now on the east island. We had moved between islands without even going over the now destroyed bridges. It was immaterial at the time. Not something I cared about, not when I had a dying Carmine with me. But now I understand its importance. The bridges may be destroyed but we can still travel between islands.

Because these tunnels connect them all.

Buck Rockwell (Mentor)

I sit at one of the tables that litter the dining area, my eyes fixed firmly on the large clock that hangs overhead. There's only fifteen minutes til nine o'clock. Only fifteen minutes before I can put my plan in action. 

I'm nervous. Far more nervous then I ever was in the Games. At least there I knew what I was doing, knew how things worked. Here it's completely different. One wrong move could kill both me and my entire family. Possibly my friends too. 

Maybe I should give up on this wild, rash behaviour. One would think it's worthless. What could you learn from an old, locked up man? But the very thought of what knowledge he could give me has preoccupied ny thoughts since the moment Marceline told me about him. I need to know what he learned. I need to know about Those Who Don't Exist.

I drum my fingers on the table and shake my leg to get rid of the jittery nerves. On the television they're showing Rosalie (6) lurk through the dark jungle. From what little I've seen of today's happenings, I believe there's only one other tribute left on the same island as her. And that's Fawn (10), one of Bradley's tributes. He's still here right now, Bradley. He's watching me from the corner of the room, obviously worried that I have barely talked to him all day. I've hardly talked to anyone. Not since I learned the location of the prison cells from a District 14 mentor. I've been too busy plotting to talk. 

The arena is suddenly pulled into a small box in the corner of the screen as a commercial break ensues. It's for some ridiculous company called Life Modifier. Apparently they're offering some sort of surgery that will extend one's life span. But as the advertisement tells me, it's not for the elderly because while surgery increases your life span by how many years you've already spent living, you still retain the same body you have right now. So, for example, if a twenty year old went to get the surgery, the twenty years they had previously lived would be reducted and their body would react like those years had never happened. Thus, increasing their life span by an additional twenty years. 

It sounds like a load of hogwash to me but the Capitol citizens are pretty moronic so I'm betting just about everyone is lining up for this magical surgery.

Unfortunately for me, no more stupidly hilarious commercials are shown and I have to spend the rest of my time waiting watching uninteresting scenes of tributes walking around the arena. It's extremely boring but I find myself immune to the boredom. I'm too worked up about what I'm about to do to get bored. I take my gaze off of the screens and look around the dining area. It's completely empty now, even Bradley has left. Good. It will make things much easier if no one else is around. I get up from the table and begin to stretch just as the clock chimes.

It's now nine o'clock. Time to put my plan in action.

I casually exit the dining area into the main lobby. My shoes squeak against the linoleum floor as I make my way towards the elevators. I spent the entirety of yesterday spying on the Peacekeepers, learning their patrol routes. I know that in just mere moments the shift will change, that the current Peacekeeper will check in with his replacement and head back to the main quarters on the third floor, using a special, Peacekeeper-only passcard that makes the third floor button eligible to be pressed.

And this is we're the first phase of my plan starts. I need to get to the third floor, I need to get to the Head Peacekeepers quarters. But to do that, I need a passcard. 

When I reach the elevator hallway, I duck into the same closet that I used to hide in two days ago. Like before, I keep the door opened a crack and peek out. It's only a matter of seconds before a Peacekeeper comes around the corner and one of the elevator doors open, depositing a second Peacekeeper. "Anything interesting happen?" The newcomer asks as the elevator shuts behind him.

The first one shakes his head. "No. Nothing interesting or out of the ordinary." 

After this exchange they begin to talk about their work and how much they get annoyed by babysitting us mentors. They say nothing about the mysterious war or Those Who Don't Exist. I'm beginning to wish they'd hurry up when something they say catches my interest.

"Where are they all?" The elevator one asks. "The mentors?"

"Most of them have returned to their quarters," The other responds. "All but three of them. Hazel Dyer, Reiner Berholdt, and Buck Rockwell."

"Where are they now?" The first grunts.

"Crazy old lady is in the projector room, watching repeats of her Games. Reiner is on the roof and Rockwell is in the dining area." I feel my heart pick up rapidly. They've been keeping tabs on us? Watching us? I'm suddenly worried. Not just that I've been watched for the past few days, but worried that my plan could now be in serious jeopardy. What will they do if they discover I'm missing? Will they call in to the Head Peacekeeper? That could ruin my whole plan...I can't allow that to happen. 

The Peacekeepers are moving now. One is heading for the elevator and the other for the lobby. I'm seriously panicked now because I can't let either of them go. I need that passcard, but I also need to prevent them from noticing I'm not where I'm supposed to be. The first Peacekeeper is reaching for the button now and that motion jolts me into action.

I swing the closet door open and charge out into the hallway. The first Peacekeeper sees me and shouts in surprise but before he can do more than that my fist connects with his jaw and he goes crashing to the ground. 

The other has noticed now and is shouting for me to freeze as he pulls his radio out of his belt. The only thought in my head is that I cannot allow him to radio in. I sprint halfway across the hall before grabbing a vase off a nearby pedestal and chucking it straight towards the Peacekeeper. 

His finger hasn't even pressed a button when the vase smashes into his head and shatters into a thousand pieces. He drops like a stone. 

I take a deep breath and straighten my shirt. That was...enjoyable. I haven't been in a real fight since the Hunger Games and I've forgotten how good it feels to have that adrenaline rushing through you. Nothing can compare with the feeling of being in a fight. It's amazing. 

I turn back to the elevator and notice that the first Peacekeeper, the one that I punched, is trying to take his tazer off from his belt. I roll my eyes. "You really should have stayed down." My foot connects with his head and this time he's out cold. I bend down and rifle through his pockets until I find the object I'm looking for. The passcard. "Alright! Now I'm getting somewhere!"

I'm stepping up to use the elevator when I realize that I can't just leave them lying there. Anyone could wander by and find them. So I drag them both into the closet and while I'm in there I get a great idea. I quickly take the uniform off of one of them and dress myself into it. It's not the most comfortable fit but it's good enough. I also take the name tag of one of the guards, one that reads, Malay. Good. Now the second phase of my plan will be a lot easier. 

When I step back into the hall I check the time. 9:13. That means I have two hours and forty seven minutes before the shift changes again and I run the risk of those two Peacekeepers being discovered. In the back of my mind I note that they will be discovered some time. That they won't be unconscious forever, that I will be caught. But I can't bring myself to worry about that yet. I need to free Francis.

With the passcard clutched firmly in hand, I step into the elevator. The small, square, silver panel that I had previously overlooked on all of my elevator rides is right next to the buttons. I look it over and, unsure on how to use the card, I just slide it along the base of the panel. There's a gentle beeping sound and then the panel slides open, revealing a single button and another locked panel. "Their security is over the top," I mutter pushing the button. Within moments the elevator is moving up. I don't know what I'll find up on the third floor. All I know is that it's where the Peacekeepers go while off-shift and where the Head Peacekeeper has his office. For all I know the place could be crawling with Peacekeepers, so much that it makes it almost impossible for me to find the office. This is a worrying thought and I'm so preoccupied with it that I jump in surprise when the elevator doors slide open.

No Peacekeepers come charging in though, so I cautiously exit the elevator. The hallway I find myself in is unsurprisingly posh. Solid oaken wood walls, soft velvet carpet. Expensive looking paintings line the walls and the whole place smells like mint. "Surround yourself with the finest," I mutter as I start down the hall. "Just like everyone else in the Capitol."

Everything is creepily silent as I trod down the hall. There's not a single sound, not even my own footsteps. The velvet carpet mutes the noise. Doors line the walls, one on each side for every six feet. When I get close, I can just barely hear voices on the other side. This actually gives me some relief, as strange as it may sound. At least I now know that the elevator didn't take me to some crazy nightmare land. 

The end of the hallway now comes into sight. Two large double wide doors, the knobs a crystal silver, sit at the very end. A large plaque over the doors read "Head Peacekeeper Kanell's Office". 

So, I'm in the right place.

I approach and stop right beside the doors. Now that I'm actually here, I don't know what to do next. I had barely thought this far through. All I planned was that I'd get the key from the Head Peacekeeper, not how I'd get the key. I didn't make any elaborate plan and I'm certainly not going to be able to think of one right now. "Screw this. I'm just going in!"

I push against the doors and they swing open easily. Straight across from me, seated at a large orange desk in front of a large oval window, is Head Peacekeeper Kanell. I can tell who he is from the blue sash around his shoulder and the gold badge on his chest. He leaps to his feet immediately and points a finger at me. "What is the meaning of this intrusion, Malay?" 

A million thoughts race through my head. Hardly any of them about how to get out of this situation without being arrested. Kanell is eyeing me with even more suspicion now and I see his finger hovering towards a button on his desk, one that surely calls for assistance. 

"There's an emergency!" I suddenly blurt out without thinking. "John and Rodgers are in trouble!" If there's one thing I know, it's that in a Peacekeeping force this large, there's bound to be at least several Johns. 

"What's the matter?" Kanell pulls himself out of his chair and comes walking across the room. 

" time to explain! It's "them!"

All suspicion suddenly vanishes from his face. Apparently, any issue involving "them" is a serious one. Kanell is pushing past me and that's when I remember that I can't allow him to go. There's no real emergency, at least not one that doesn't involve me. As Kanell is about to step into the hall, I reach out and grab the back of his collar and haul him into the office. He sputters in shock and I quickly throw an elbow into his gut. His Peacekeeper outfit protects him from any pain but he still reels backwards from the impact, giving me the opportunity to smash his face with a backhanded fist. When he crumples to the ground I finish him off with one last punch. He's done.

I throw a quick look down the hallway and then, when I'm certain no one heard or saw what just happened, I shut the doublewide doors. "Now where is your key?" I ask as I bend down beside Kanell's unconscious form. I rifle through his pockets but find nothing but some orders from President Stryker to keep the place on lockdown and, when necessary, give control over to the Stryke Force representative. "Not quite what I was looking for." I stuff the document back into his pocket and move onto the desk, ripping open the drawers. More documents filled with all sorts of jargon await me but I have neither the time nor interest to read them. I just want that key. 

But it soon become apparent that it's not in any of these drawers. I sigh in exasperation and slouch back into the plush chair. Maybe Chaz, the District 14 mentor who told me about his experience in the prison and the key needed to access it, was just pulling my string. Maybe there is no key. I don't want to believe it, especially not when I just assaulted three Peacekeepers, one of them being the Head Peacekeeper no less, but I really don't have much of a choice. Even if Chaz wasn't lying, it's obvious that the key isn't here.

Suddenly filled with anger, I leap out of the chair and flip it over. Damn and double damn! I just risked my life--No. I just risked my entire families life--for a key that may not even exist. I feel like such a fool! 

I stomp towards the door, intent on finding Chaz and throttling him for this, when I catch a glimpse of something reflecting light on Kanell's body. An unmistakable gold glimmer. I'm beside him in an instant and nearly laugh in hysterical joy when I see it. An old, shiny, ornate key. Attached to a necklace around Kanell's neck. 

I waste no time in claiming this key for myself. I'm so giddy that I feel like I'm floating. This wasn't a waste! I got what I needed! I grab Kanell around the armpits and drag him behind his desk, where I stuff him underneath it. It's not the most glamorous of hiding spots but it's the only viable one. Hopefully no one comes looking for him. 

Once that's done its an uneventful trip down the hall and back into the elevator. I use the passcard on the panel and this time, when the second panel is revealed, I insert the key into a small keyhole and turn. The panel slides open and another pair of buttons become available. One reads "Stryke Compound" and the other "Basement". If Chaz is correct, and so far he has been, then the prison cells are located in the basement. I push the button. 

The elevator begins its descent, longer and further then I thought. The trip seems to stretch on and I wonder just where this prison is located. Hell, maybe?

Just as I'm thinking this, the doors slide open. I don't know what I expected, but this is kinda creepy. A long hallway stretches before me. The walls and floor are cobblestone and other than the faint glow of a few strategically placed lamps, the hall is completely dark. "The medieval prison look must be all the rage nowadays," I mutter as I step into the hall, jumping slightly when the elevator doors slide shut behind me. "I really hope they don't keep monsters down here."

The sound of my footsteps echo along the dank hall as I move ahead. I feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Just why did they have to make their prisons so dark? There's really no practical reasons for any of this...

The hall stretches on for minutes. I keep following it along for seemingly forever. Despite my previous thought, I now know there's a very practical reason for this extremely long corridor. The elevators are the only way out of here and by making this hallway so long and narrow, they've ensured that escaping from prison will be almost impossible if the alarm is raised. It's not a very comforting thought. The hall comes to a double intersection. I stop and examine the plaque that sits on the wall, arrows pointing in two separate directions. The right path leads to the "Science Labs" and the left to "Prison Cells". I throw a glance down the right path and see that, only about fifteen feet down, the path branches into two more directions. Another plaque says that they lead to the "L.M. Project" and the "Cryostasis Labs". I have no idea what either of those mean and I have no interest in finding out. 

I take a left and head for the prison. It's a very short walk before I come to another door one that, thankfully, isn't locked. Inside the room is a hallway that goes between rows of cells on either side. Each cell looks exactly the same. A small five by nine room that hold  nothing but a one-piece toilet, a tiny sink, and a scruffy old cot. "Not exactly five star accommodations," I mutter as I move along the cells, surprised that they're all empty. I guess they don't have that much prisoners kept here. And why should they? They have perfectly good prisons to house all of them. This is more like a temporary lockup station then anything else. 

Every single cell is completely devoid of any living thing and my eyes begin to glaze over. Where is Francis? I was told this is where he would be held...

When I reach the very last cell on the row, I see him. Curled into a ball in the corner, a craggy old man rests. His clothes are torn and filthy, he's covered in dirt and bruises mar his body. As soon as I step close to the bars his head shoots me an  gleaming eye fixate on me. "Francis?" I ask tentatively and then he springs forward with surprising agility. I leap back in shock as he pulls himself close to the bars, a wide maniacal grin on his face.

"You're back! I knew you'd come back!" He lets out a loud, hoarse laugh and I see that he's missing several teeth. "I did what you asked. Now keep your word. Bring me to her!" 

I eye the crazy old man with more than a little nervousness. His eyes seem sunken into his skull and his breath smiles worse than just about anything I can think of. But what I'm concerned the most about is what he said. I'm back? When was I ever here before? And what exactly was he promised?

"I think you're confused Francis," I say and step a little closely, so he can better see my face. "I'm not who you--"

"Who are you?!" The old man rips himself away from the bars and propels himself back onto his cot. "You're not him! You're just--" He breaks off, coughing and hacking violently. I'm worried that he worked himself up into some sort of cardiac unrest when he recovers and eyes me with a more observant look. "You're that Rockwell kid. Ain't chu? The one that won the 398th Games?"

"Yes. That's me. I'm here to get you out. Where's the key?" I pull on the cell door and examine the lock. It looks just like any other lock, the kind that requires a key. A key that I don't have. Chaz didn't say anything about where the prison keys where kept. But maybe Francis knows. I repeat my question but he just sits cross-legged on his cot, staring at me with his small blue eyes.

"I ain't leaving!" He folds his arms across his chest defiantly. "Not until he comes back! He promised he'd bring me to her!"

"Who promised you? And whose "her"?"

"It ain't your concern. Just skadaddle before those Peacekeepers return!"

I came here for answers but all I'm getting is more questions! I try pleading with Francis that we have to move, that the Peacekeepers could arrive at any moment, but he continues to ignore me and eventually I give up and slam my fists against the bars in anger. Damn! I came all this way, I endangered myself and my family for nothing! Nothing but a stupid, stubborn, old man! Furious, I try to rip the cell door open but that obviously doesn't work. Neither does the elevator key, or even a small nail that I try to use as a lockpick. Francis just sits there, watching me with an oddly amused look. I finally give up and try a new tactic. "Who are you waiting for, Francis?" I try to keep my voice level and calm as I ask the next part. "Is it Those Who Don't Exist?"

I watch Francis' face for his reaction and I'm not disappointed. Shock crosses his face but it's quickly replaced by intrigue. "Whatcha know 'bout them, boy?"

"Nothing much. Just that they're able to infiltrate this place and are at war with the Capitol." I don't let the overwhelming excitement that threatens to overtake me show in my words. Finally! I'm getting somewhere!

"Then you don't know nuthin'. But if you stick around, maybe you'll see him when he comes. Then he can take us both to her. To Cassandra."

That name. Cassandra. It feels familiar, though I don't know why. Wasn't there a Cassandra affiliated with Francis? A tribute of his or maybe his mentor...

His mentor! Of course! Cassandra Oracion! The false seer who used her lie to gain immense popularity with the Capitol. Though, once they found out she was lying, she quickly lost all of it along with any respect she had from the other Victors. She didn't live long past her victory, dying from a sudden illness only ten years later. The year she died was also the year Francis won his Games. But what does that have to do with today? "Is this Cassandra...the Cassandra Oracion?" 

Francis freezes, his eyes narrowing as he watches me. I wonder if I said something wrong when he let's out a chortle. "You're an intelligent one, boy! That's fer sure! Yes, he will take us to Cassandra."

"But she's dead! She died over sixty years ago!"

"That's what everyone thinks. They all think she's dead. But she ain't, I tell ya. She's still breathing. She's as alive as you and me!" I don't know what to say. Francis just...he's nuts. Crazy. No way is Cassandra still alive. And even if she was, why'd the Capitol say she was dead? And how would this mysterious man be able to bring Francis to her? Nothing here is making any sense! I came for answers, not mysteries! 

"She was an actual seer," Francis continues on wistfully, his solemn face looking to the ceiling. "She weren't no liar. She could actually see the future. Twas just that they didn't want anyone to know."

"Francis I--"

"She saw my Games she did. Saw how they'd end. Knew I'd be Victor," Francis continues through my interruption, his eyes swelling with unshed tears. "She told me how it'd happen, said I'd survive if I did everything she told me. And I did. I followed her words to the letter. And by God, I won. I came out Victor. But before I left for the Games, she told me something. Told me that she was going away, that she had someplace to be. She told me that they'd say she was dead but I wasn't to believe them. She said she would live until we met again. And to this day, I haven't seen her once."

Francis falls silent and moves his emotion filled eyes to me. I don't say anything, I'm still trying to process what he said. Is it possible? Was Cassandra Oracion a true seer? she still alive? It sounds too fantastical to be true but I know more than anyone that the Capitol has secrets that they like to hide. I know what they're capable of, I know how they work. But one thing is still confusing me. How does Those Who Don't Exist fit into any of this? "Who was that man?" I ask Francis. "The one who promised to take you to Cassandra. Who was he and how did he find you?"

Francis rubs his chin thoughtfully. "I don't rightfully know who he is. Just that he wears a cloak and has a mask. Think there's some sort of symbol on it..."

"Where did you first see him?" I ask, my mind laser focused on learning as much as possible.

"Here. He came the first day I was imprisoned. Spoke to me and told me about Cassandra. Said he could--" Francis breaks off mid-sentence, his eyes bulging out of their sockets as he points a finger behind me. I spin around rapidly and see several men dressed in black versions of a Peacekeepers uniform and wearing sleek military helmets. I recognize them instantly. 

The Stryke Force. President Stryker's personal guards and the most elite soldiers in Panem. Rumor is that they've never failed a mission before, never lost. And now they're coming for me.

I don't even have time to throw a punch before one of them swings a baton into my gut. I double over in pain and then something strikes the back of my head. White lines crack my vision and I'm on the floor. Something rolls me over and then I'm staring at the ceiling. Francis is shouting something but I don't hear what. Then one of the men raises his foot and stomps on my head.

I black out instantaneously.

Fawn Talons (District 10)

I feel more alone than I have ever felt in my life as I stare out at the ocean, the thin, watery visage of the moon reflecting off of the gentle blue waves. Billy's face seems to be perpetually stuck in my head and I'm unable to concentrate on anything that doesn't involve him and how he died. Jac...that villainous toad is the reason Billy is gone. He had the means of helping him, he just didn't want to.

My hands clench into fists and I repress an enraged scream as I lie back on the cool sand. At least Jac, and Azalea, are from District 9. That District hasn't had a Victor in years, several decades, not since the 327th Games. The District and its tributes are all cursed and won't ever win again. That means both Jac and his equally traitorous friend are both destined to die in these Games. That thought gives me a little bit of solace. But not much.

Billy's face pushes itself back into the forefront of my mind and I can feel the tears swelling in my eyes. He didn't deserve to die. He was such a charming, honest, funny boy. He had so much more to give life. But now he's gone. Gone forever. 

I wonder how his family is coping...Honestly, I don't know much about them. Billy didn't really speak about the all that often. I think he might have mentioned a sister once and I know he had parents. I make a note that I'll win for them, I'll win for the McGranger family and the Talons family. I'll win it for District 10. Maybe then I'll stop feeling so...torn apart.

A soft splashing noise has me sitting up. First I think it has something to do with the waves but then I see a large shape on the horizon. It looks like...a boat or raft or something. I stand up to get a better look but then I realize that doing so would just make me much more visible to whoever is on that raft. I slink backwards into the jungle, far enough in to be concealed but not too far to watch the raft as it approaches the shore. I rub the hilt of my knife in preparation. Whoever is on that raft has made a big mistake coming here. I'll kill anyone right about now.

Several more minutes pass before the raft reaches shore and when it does I quickly see that I'm no match for its occupant. Colin (8) drags the raft ashore, the wickedly curved sword he carries shining in the moonlight as he works. He's already one of the physically strongest tributes left and with that sword it'd be almost impossible for me to take him on. I slip my knife back into my belt, knowing it won't be of much use here.

Colin drags the raft all the way to the edge of the jungle, where he proceeds to cut down ferns and other large plants, which he then uses to conceal the raft. Once this is finished he slips off into the jungle and disappears. I bite my lip as I think on what to do. Obviously there's no easy way to cross the islands anymore. Not since the bridges blew. But that raft presents a very viable option. I wonder how Colin got it.

I wait another few minutes, trying to see if Colin will return. He doesn't so I quickly dart across the soft sand and pull the ferns off, revealing the raft. It's made of several rather large logs tied together with a thick twine rope. It must have took hours to get this all done. I wonder how he'll react if someone destroyed it...

I'm about to drive my knife between the logs and slice the ropes that hold them together when I get an even better idea. What if instead of destroying the raft, I instead stole it? It would take it from Colin's possession--and more importantly--put it in mine. I would have a way of travelling through islands while he'd be stuck having to craft himself a new one. A smug smirk crosses my face as I put my knife back on my belt and begin to drag the raft. 

It's heavy though and I don't get very far. I scoot around the back and begin to push and shove. While it's easier and I go quicker then I did while dragging, I still go slow. My biggest concern while I'm heaving this lug across the beach and sweating profusely is that Colin will return and see what I'm doing. I don't think that I'd be able to out run him and I definitely wouldn't be able to out fight him. This thought gives me an extra push and soon I have it at the edge of the beach, just touching the ocean water. 

Yes! I pull myself onto the raft as a wave comes in and out, taking the raft out into the ocean. I paddle with my hands, getting myself away from the shore and towards whatever island is closer. I do not want to be out on this raft when the sun rises. That sucker will be blazing hot and I'd have absolutely no cover from its damaging rays. No, I need to reach an island before morning. Still, I feel a sense of victory, of triumph. I now have a raft! How many other tributes could say the same? I would be willing to bet not many, if any at all. "I'm going to win this for you Billy!" I say as I fiercely paddle forward. "I promise you! I am going to win these Games!"

Amaya Lovelace (District 14)

"I don't think we're going the right way..." I lag behind Ganta (12) and Iris (3) as the two lead the way through the dank tunnels, the latter has been following the right wall for a few hours now, believing that it will somehow lead us out of here. Obviously that isn't working. We're still here aren't we?

"We'll get out soon," Iris (3) answers, the pain from her ankle still audible in her voice. "We're practically guaranteed to get out by following this wall."

"Really? We haven't had much luck so far!"

"We've only been at it for a few hours. Give it time. We could have already been out if you had allowed us to try this earlier..." I scowl at the back of her head, not quite liking the tone of her voice.

"What's that suppose to mean?" I challenge.

"Just give it a rest, Amaya," Ganta sounds absolutely exhausted. And he should be! We've been pushing through this knee-deep water forever with no end in sight. I think my toes are wrinkled beyond belief. "Iris' plan will get us out."

"Well, I don't think it will!" I stop moving just as we come to another intersection. The two of them continue moving forward a few paces before noticing. When they turn their heads around I have my arms folded across my chest and a defiant glare on my face.

"It's guaranteed to work. The laws of physics and geometry will ensure that we find the exit as long as we follow this wall." Iris sounds like an impatient schoolteacher explaining something to a slow child and I don't like it!

"Oh yeah? What if the Gamemakers are moving the tunnels as we go through them? What then? Your wall wouldn't help then!"

Iris slowly and painfully turns herself around so she can fully face me. "If that's the case then it doesn't matter which way we go. Each path would present the same statistical odds of escape. We might well follow this wall. That way we at least know our current path would arrive at the exit eventually, if the Gamemakers aren't messing with us."

Stalemate. We both stand there, gazing at one another, when Ganta pushes his way between us, a worried look on his face. "C'mon, don't let the panic change you two! We'll get out of here eventually! I know we will! But we won't if we keep clawing at another's throats!"

I scratch my head in embarrassment as realize Ganta is right. We can't afford to argue amongst ourselves right now. But that doesn't mean I need to follow that stinking wall! "Fine! I won't argue! But I'm going this way!" I head down the left passage, both Ganta and Iris shout complaints but I don't listen. Aelia wouldn't follow others lead! She'd find her own way out!

The corridor I'm headed down is long. Much longer than the others have been. I throw a nervous look back and just barely see the shapes of my allies following. Good! I knew they'd come my--

My thought comes to a halt as I see a faint silver light shining ahead. Moonlight! Excitement bubbles in my chest, like a swelling pocket of air. Escape! Freedom! Oh, glorious freedom! "I see an exit!" I shout back to my allies. "I found a way out!"

I hear their muffled, echoed response but I can't quite make out what they're saying. I rush forward eagerly and when I reach the set of steps that lead up to the silver light I bound up them two at a time. Bursting out from a small corrosion in the ground, I emerge in the middle of a jungle. Despite my previous hatred of the environment, I absolutely adore it now. I drop to my knees and give the ground a hug as I take in all the wonderful, none musty jungle smells.

I'm lying on the ground, staring up through a hole in the canopy at the large silver orb that hangs in the sky when Ganta and Iris emerge from the tunnel. Iris is leaning on Ganta's shoulder for support but once they're out in the open she pulls away and slowly slumps to the ground. "I never thought I'd miss the jungle so much!" She says softly as she pats the plants.

"Neither did I!" A grin forms on Ganta's face as he sits down on a nearby rock. His eyes take in our surroundings and a thoughtful look appears in his eyes. "I wonder which island we're on."

"Huh? What do you mean, which island? Did we change islands?" I don't understand. We never left our current island, so why'd we be on a different one?

"Those tunnels obviously ran throughout the arena," Ganta explains for me. "That's why they were so large. But which island are we on now?"

"No way of telling," Iris joins the conversation from where she's now searching the nearby plants for something, presumably the one with the healing poultice. "Not without heading down to the beach."

And we don't even know which way the beach is! Though, now that I think on it, the beach is every way. We're on an island after all. I relax again and lie my head back when a strange musical sound seems to vibrate through the arena. At first I'm confused but then I recognize the Anthem. Aha! Now we know what time it is! Wow..we were down in that tunnel for a long time...

We all gather underneath the gap in the canopy and stare at the sky as the first face appears. I'm floored by what I see. Bailey! Ganta has a sharp intake of breath as he sees the fate of our missing ally. I still don't know whether she left us or if we left her but it doesn't matter. She was my friend. She deserved better than this. We all do. I can't help but wonder if it's my fault she's dead. Was there anything I could have done to help her? My mind keeps coming back to the moment when we raided the cornucopia and lost her. I should have looked harder for her. 

I'm so preoccupied with thoughts of Bailey that I almost miss the next face, I just barely catch a glimpse of Jake (1) before he's replaced by Missy (5). 

"Wonder how she died," Ganta mutters and I echo his sentiment. She was with the Anti-Career, the strongest alliance left in the Games. What could have happened to them? 

"I'm glad Jake's gone," Iris whispers so softly that I can barely hear her. "He was apart of Fenrir's gang. They thought they were invincible. Now they're all dead." 

The final face of the day then appears, the District 7 girl's. Honestly, I had forgotten she was even in these Games. I don't remember her name or her score or even what she looked like. She was good at staying under the radar. After her face disappears the Anthem ends and the moon is back to being the only light in the sky. Iris goes back to searching for that plant and Ganta goes to help her. I stay where I am, lying on the ground. For some reason seeing all of those faces made me sad. I miss my freedom. I miss my friends. I miss Aelia. I find my eyes drooping shut and I'm about to drift off to sleep when a painfully loud trumpeting noise blasts into my ears.

I shoot straight up and try to rub the drowsiness out of my eyes as Ganta and Iris come hobbling over. "What's going on?" I ask them. I feel slightly terrified though I don't know why. Ganta shrugs his shoulders but Iris has an answer. 

"It's an announcement. Something big is happening."

We don't have to wait to find out. The voice of Lazlo Abbott is echoing through the arena, saying something to us tributes. "Hello tributes of the 399th Annual Hunger Games! Are you feeling downtrodden? Exhausted? Hungry? Well, it's come to our attention that most of you are in need of some food! Because of the Capitol's generosity, there will be a Feast tomorrow at sundown! Yes, tomorrow at sundown there will be a Feast! Now where will this Feast be occurring you ask? Simple! The Feast will be held on a floating platform just off of shore of the center island! I repeat; Tomorrow at sundown there will be a Feast on a platform off the shore of the center island! It will be a grand party with music, fireworks, and (of course) food! Now, think long and hard before deciding whether or not you'll attend. Rumor is that there will be one very special bag at the Feast, containing something that could very well be the deciding factor in who will win these Games! That's all for now. Good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor!"

There's some more trumpets signalling the end of the announcement and then we're back in silence. Even the jungle has gone silent, not a bug or anything else makes a sound. A Feast...a very special bag...I don't know what to think, what to do. All I know is that a feeling deep inside my chest is telling me that this could be what decides who'll live and who'll die. I look at my allies and see that they appear as rattled and uneasy as I feel. Anything could happen tomorrow. There's no real way of predicting anything that could go down. It's a bag of mystery with only one thing for certain.

There will be death.

Day 6/ Feast or Fire

Colin Bisset (District 8)

I watch the early morning sun rise over the arena, knowing it could very well be the last sunrise I ever see. Tonight is the Feast. There will be fighting, there will be bloodshed, and there will be death. Lots of it.

My death at the Feast is completely possible. Maybe even likely. I'm one of the biggest threats left alive in this arena and I'm sure that the other tributes will be gunning for me. I know I would be. But right now I don't have to worry about that. Right now I have a different task to complete.

I rise to my feet and brush all the loose sand off of me. The ocean I  sparkling from the glow from the sun and illuminates the trees that are at my back. The ferns that had previously concealed my raft lie nearby, a stark reminder that I was careless in hiding my useful tool. "I wish I knew who took it," I grumble to myself as I step back into the jungle. The exotic birds are singing their song and I can feel the jungle coming alive. Soon the other tributes will be out on the prowl, possibly making their way towards the center island and the Feast location. That's nice and all, but I have to make sure that I finish off whoever remains on this island first before they leave for the Feast, if they're attending at all.

I experimentally strum the string of my bow as I crouch-walk through the underbelly of the jungle, keeping my eyes fixed firmly on the canopy above. I'm not an expert archer by any means, I'm not even a skilled one, but I'm good enough to hit a stationary target and, if everything goes as I plan, that's all I'll have to do. 

After a few minutes of fruitlessly combing the woods, keeping your eyes trained on the trees but seeing nothing but the occasional monkey, you begin to lose your focus. Doubly so when the insects wake up and begin incessantly buzzing around your ears. I start swinging my bow around in an overhead arc every few minutes to bat them away but it doesn't really work. They just keep coming back. "You'd think I'd get use to it..."

A monkey, howling and screeching in the treetops as it leaps from branch to branch, causes me to look directly overhead and sees her. I would have missed her completely if not for the monkey.


She's perched on the very edge of a large branch, staring down at the jungle floor. I briefly wonder if she's applying the same strategy I am when I realize that not only have I seen her but she's seen me too.

Her hand winds back and then a spinning metal item is hurtling towards my skull. I dive forward and fire off a wildly uncoordinated arrow as the weapon buries itself into the soft dirt behind me. I don't know what I hit with the arrow but chaos has erupted from it. Monkies are suddenly everywhere, on the trees and the ground, howling and screaming as they hop about. Rosalie (6) has disappeared amongst the disorganization and I spin around, searching desperately for any sign of her amongst the treetops.

The monkeys aren't attacking, in fact they seen rather afraid of me, but their presence is still an annoyance and they cloud my senses. They're speeding brown blurs as they leap past, clawing up trees and jumping about everywhere. I can't pick out any movement Rosalie may be making through the chaos and I can't hear any sound she is making. I start to fire on the monkeys, taking two down with shots to the throat before realizing I'm just wasting my ammo. The monkey's will pass. Everything will be normal in a few minutes.

But in a few moments Rosalie could be gone and I could lose my chance to finish her off. I don't know if I can afford to let her live. 

I turn my attention back to the trees. The monkeys are still leaping about wildly but I'm not looking for movement anymore. I'm looking for color.

My eyes scan the area rapidly, picking up the flashes of colour that surround me. Brown. Green. Brown. Brown. Red. Brown. Purple. Purple! The color of District 6 and Rosalie's wetsuit!

I fire an arrow at the shape, which is much closer to the ground then I'd like, and then rush forward as I hear a cry of pain. I'm hoping to spot a body falling to the ground, an arrow lodged in a crucial area, but I'm disappointed. There's nothing. I point my bow back to the sky and just catch a glimpse of a purple shape hanging tightly onto a vine before it drops onto me.

Heavy force drives into my shoulders and smacks me into the ground. I throw it off of me and roll sideways into a crouching position, quickly loading an arrow into my bow. The monkeys are dissipating now but it doesn't matter, Rosalie is in my clear sight. She's picking up her thrown chakram, staring me down with icy blue eyes. We're both armed now.

It's once again a fair fight.

Rosalie Sonnet (District 6)

This boy is quite the intelligent one. Not just anybody could have spotted me up in that tree. And no average person would have been able to hit me with an arrow, no matter how superficially, through all of that monkey business. This boy is a real threat.

I watch his dark brown eyes, focused squarely on me. The eyes of your enemy is the gateway to victory, they tell you what their plan is before they even finalize it. But right now I don't need his eyes to know what his plan is, I can see it myself.

I react at the exact same time as he does. He unleashes his arrow and as it speeds through the air towards me I lift my chakram by the edges and hold it out in front of me as a shield. The arrow deflects off and then I'm on the offensive, flinging the chakram forward. 

I growl in exasperation as it travels over Colin's shoulder and slams into the trunk of the tree behind him. I'm unarmed now but I don't let that hold me back. I sprint towards Colin and I see his eyes widen in surprise before he catches himself. His bow is swung forward and connects with my gut. I reel backwards, the breath having been knocked right out of me. Colin swings the bow again and this time the solid oak of the bow smashes into my forehead and drives me to the ground, where I lie sprawled out and confounded.

My head hurts like hell but I'm aware enough to know that a single wasted second could spell death for me. I roll over sideways and just in time too. The crescent blade of Colin's sword slams into the ground, exactly where I just was. I kick out and my foot connects with the side of his head. Colin is the one on the ground now and I use this opportunity to sprint for my chakram. It's lodged in the thick trunk of the tree and I grip the edge of the weapon and tug fiercely to free it. A shadow looms behind me and I leap sideways as a sword smashes into the tree, sending wood chips flying everywhere. Colin growls angrily and spins to face me, his eyebrows knit into a fierce glare. 

"You're good," I say cocking my neck as I ready for the next round.

"And you're going to die!"

"We'll see!"

Colin comes charging towards me once again but this time I don't try to sidestep it, I step forward and meet him head on. He pulls his sword up and slashes with a downward strike. I hold the chakram up and the sword smashes into it, the impact vibrating through the chakram. Colin begins to press down on the chakram and my grip starts to slacken. In a desperate act of self-preservation I shoot my leg out and kick him in the knee. 

Colin stumbles backwards and I realize what I have to do to win this battle. If I throw the chakram at the right angle, put enough backspin into it, then it'll hook backwards after I throw it, heading back to its intial launching point. I can take out Colin from behind. I can end this fight right now.

I wind up and beam the chakram with all my momentum. Colin twitches to dodge but it doesn't come near him, missing by a few feet. Then he's leaping forward.

I feel the sword slicing through my stomach and then I'm falling backwards. I gasp at the sudden and immense pain, my head smacks against something, a tree probably, and then Colin is there, leering down at me with a victorious look. Behind him, I catch a glimpse of fast moving silver object. "Don't ever...let your guard down..." I croak out and a brief look of confusion crosses his face. Then the chakram returns.

The weapon drives into him with force, propelling him forward. His body lands right next to me, lying face first in the dirt. The chakram is lodged deep in the base of his neck and already blood is pooling out. Despite my fatal condition I manage a weak smile. My plan worked. I killed him.

And he killed me too. I haven't looked at the wound but I can feel the pain and my hands pressed against it are already completely soaked with blood. I'm dying but that's alright. I did what I could. I look for the where I believe the camera would be and take a deep breath. I can barely breath right now, let alone speak, but I try anyways. Because I have something that needs to be said. "This was for you, Celia," I say, my head slumping back against the tree from the effort of speaking. "I volunteered for you. My sister. I volunteered so you wouldn't have to experience this. I-I know you didn't know me. But...I knew you. I watched you, learned what a good person you were. I knew that if you went into the Games and died that people would be upset, that you would be missed. The same can't be said for me. But that's okay. I gave my life for you, so you could live yours to the fullest. I want you to live a happy and productive life, I want you to live for both of us. But most of all, I want you to never take anything for granted. Because you never know'll all end..."

Black spots had began clouding my vision halfway through my speech and now I can't even keep my eyelids open. Death is coming. And that's fine. Maybe I'll finally be at peace...

Fawn Talons (District 10)

If anyone were to ask me why I'm not attending the Feast---not that anyone would ever ask me that---I would point to the two recent cannons as an example of how dangerous attending would be. Already there's two tributes dead and the Feast is still hours away. I can just imagine the carnage that will unfold when it actually happens. 

And that's why I'm staying put, right here on the west island. I arrived here last night when my raft washed ashore, I dragged it into the shelter of the jungle and spent the night, fully expecting to move on once morning came. But that's not happening.

To switch islands would require travelling over the ocean and with the announcement of the Feast taking place in the center island, just about everyone should be heading there, making the ocean a dangerous place to be. 

Besides, where would I go? The center island? No way. That place will be crawling with tributes. The south island? I just came from there. I have no desire to return. The north island? Maybe. But from the beach I can see the smoking remains of a desolate jungle and I wouldn't appreciate having to deal with that. That leaves the east island but to even reach that I would need to travel around the center island, once again putting myself at risk of running into travelling tributes. 

No. None of those islands are viable locations. And that's why I'm staying on this island. I'm safe here, I can see any new tributes arriving, and I can just sit back and try not to go insane with worry as more and more tributes die off. I'm certain that tthe interviews are already happening. The interviews where they ask your family and friends stuff in an effort to learn more about you. It usually takes place at the final eight but with only nine tributes left and a Feast fast approaching the number of tributes will decrease dramatically. Maybe everyone will kill each other and I can just win. That might be too much to ask for but a girl can hope.

Now that I have officially decided that I won't be leaving the island, I turn away from where I was standing on the very edge of the beach and head back up the sand dunes. I appreciate these sand dunes, because while they make the beach bumpy and non-flat---making walking harder---the very top of the dunes, which happens to be in the fringe of the jungle, gives me a perfect view of the beach and the ocean. I can even see the outline of the center island. I wonder if I'll be able to see the Feast happening from here...

I brush the thought aside. I don't need to be thinking of that right now. I still have some things to accomplish and now would be the perfect time, when nothing is happening and everyone is preparing for the Feast. 

I've finally reached the jungle and after giving an analytical look around, I follow the fringe along top of the dunes. I hold the scythe, the one that sponsors sent me this morning, tightly in hand as I try to see where the first place tributes would look once reaching the island. It takes a while but I eventually choose a spot between two rows of palm trees. It's a distinctive landmark, something that would grab someone's attention. "Perfect," I say with a small small. "Now time to make a trail..."

I slash through the bushes with my scythe and tread forward, making it very obvious that someone had been this way. My plan is relatively simple. Make a trail leading away from where I'll actually camp out for the night, ensuring that any tribute that comes to this island will follow the trail and thus head to the opposite direction of myself. I don't know if it'll work but it's worth the effort.

I continue working, slicing through anything that deters my progress. I try to make it far less obvious now though. I don't want anyone getting suspicious of the trail. The scythe is pretty heavy and swinging it requires some serious strength and I soon begin to tire. But I don't stop until I get fifty maybe sixty feet into the jungle. Then, I turn and follow the trail back to the beach.

Absolutely nothing has changed in my short ten minute absence. Not that I expected it to have warped into something magical or anything. Content with my work on the distraction, I head back along the fringe of the jungle, about halfway across the island from where I laid my trail. Here I plunge into the jungle once again, this time not cutting anything. I want to be as stealthily as possible as I trek deep into the heart of the jungle.

I hear the waterfall before I see it but once I do I quickly decide that this will be my camp. I find a nearby tree and fish around in pack for my rope. My hand brushes against a smooth round ball while searching and I pull it out to get a closer examination.

It's the grenade. One from the box Billy (10) found back on day one. The familiar pang of loss stirs in my chest at the thought of Billy but I try to push it aside. The best thing I can do for him is survive these Games. All of my attention needs to go towards that and nothing else. "I forgot I had you," I say softly as I rotate the small green ball in my hand. The small words inscribed on it read "Flash" and I get a vague memory of one of these having been used on Luxray's alliance, back when Billy and I got separated from the others...

My hand clenches around the ball instinctively as I think back to that moment. We should never have tried to look for them, Jac and Azalea. We should have stayed on our own. Then Billy would still be alive. Then I wouldn't be so--

Control yourself Fawn! I find myself shouting silently. Stop thinking about them! It doesn't matter anymore! Everyone must die. Everyone. I nod quickly, agreeing with my own unspoken words. Right. Everyone has to die. It doesn't matter who they are or what they did. Everyone has to die. I can't allow myself to think of the other tributes as people, as former allies or enemies, innocent or villainous. They're just obstacles now. Plain and simple. They're just obstacles.

And unfortunately they all have to die.

Azalea Finch (District 9)

"District 9 must be so excited. They rarely have anyone to cheer for at this point. Only once since Hazel won has someone made it further than we currently are. They must be ecstatic." I sit on our own homemade raft, paddling along with Jac (9) towards the looming form of the north island. There's still a small amount of smoke hanging in the air and I can make out the mangled and ash-colored trees that still remain. It's an uninviting and threatening place. I wonder if we're making a mistake in heading there.

"Let's hope we do better than he did," Jac answers me with a small, insincere smile. "I don't want to have my head bashed in with a stone." He tries to sound jovial but I can see the fear and uncertainty in his eyes. The same fear that I currently have gnawing at my insides. It's bad enough knowing that if you lose that your family and friends will be sick with grief and despair. It's totally different knowing that if you die, a whole District will grieve.

"I think we will," My voice is almost a whisper as I speak. "I think the curse will end. Two District 9 tributes won't die in the arena this time. One of us is coming home."

I expect Jac to answer, to say something. But he doesn't. He just stares ahead as he continues paddling, his eyes suggesting he's in another place entirely. I wonder if he's thinking about Jake. About his familial connection to the curse that has plagued District 9. I can't imagine how he must feel. It must be awful.

"We will."

Jac surprises me with his sudden answer. I hadn't thought he'd heard. But now another thought has come to my head. One that's far less pleasant. "Jac?" I call out to him, trying to keep my voice level for this difficult request.

"What is it?" His head spins around and he regards me with an intense look. I suddenly feel nervous.

"I...Can you promise me something?"

He shrugs his shoulders. "Depends on what it is." A moment of silence passes. "What is it?"

"I...want you to promise that if I die, or am about to die, that you won't do anything rash. I don't want you to put yourself at risk needlessly. Not if I'm dead. I don't want you avenging me, I don't want you risking your own life to save mine. I want you protect yourself at all costs. Even if it means my death."

There's a long period of silence. Jac stares at me with an incredulous look, as if he can't believe what I just said. Then he gives a low chuckle. "You're kidding, right? You're not seriously telling me to not help you. What, you want me to watch you die without lifting a finger?"

"No! I don't want that!" I squeeze my eyes shut. I thought he'd take this the wrong way. "I just want you to keep yourself safe. I don't want you to die trying to avenge me. I don't even want you to sacrificing yourself to save me. One of us needs to win. One of us needs to return to District 9. And it might be better if it were you."


Jac stops paddling and smashes his hands onto the raft. We stop moving forward and just sit in the midst of ocean, going up and down with the waves. "I'm not going to let you die because of some misplaced feelings of inferiority! What makes me anymore valuable then you?" I can see the emotion in his eyes and I'm not surprised he's taking this stance. But this isn't about me feeling inferior. It's about what's best for everyone.

"I'm not giving up. You don't have to worry about that. I'm still planning to win these Games."

"Then what was that about me being a better Victor about?"

"I was just saying how you were needed more. District 9 needs you. You're their prodigal son, the fuel to their hope. You represent their dreams of a better future. District 9 needs you."

"People need you too!"

"Not as much. Only my family. But you could take care of them if you won. And yeah, District 9 would be more than happy to see me win. But it would feel like a conciliation prize. They would like nothing more than to see you win."

Jac looks pained as he shakes his head fiercely, his blue eyes ignited with passion. "You're impossible. You fight so hard to get to this point and now you're just giving up?"

"No! You're misunderstanding me! I'm not giving up. I will fight tooth and nail to win these Games. I just don't want you taking unneeded risks to save my life. Not when you have other things to worry about." I don't know if he'll ever fully get what I'm trying to convey. I want to win. I want to come home. But I'm also more than happy to see Jac win. If I'm not able to survive this treacherous game then I hope he does. I don't want him dying to save me when I'm already doomed.

"Okay, fine. I promise. But only on one condition." Jac stares into my eyes. I inexplicably feel nervous. "You must make me the same promise. No risking your own life to avenge me. Or save me. Just worry about yourself."

I immediately open my mouth to protest but the words die on my lips. How could I not accept this compromise? It would be hypocritical of me to try and make Jac concern himself with winning and nothing more. I should be bound by the same condition. "Fine. I promise I won't do anything stupid to try and avenge you."

"Then I promise too."

We both fall silent and Jac begins paddling again. I'm thinking over how conflicted I'll feel if Jac and dies and I try nothing to avenge him. It'd be so callous and cruel. I understand why Jac was so reluctant to make the promise. Even now I doubt he truly means it though. If I die, I'm expecting him to do anything to avenge me. That thought scares me worse than anything else could. I have enough information on the Games to know that people often die in their vain attempt for vengeance. I don't want that happening to Jac. I don't want anything happening to him. But I know that one of us has to die eventually.

"Look. The island is coming up!"

Jac gets my attention as he points towards the island, which is much closer than I thought it'd be. While we were stopped the waves must have carried us forward. "So what now?" I ask, trying to start a conversation that isn't so gloomy and depressing. "Do we search the island for it's inhabitants and then kill them?" Okay, maybe I failed at starting a positive conversation.

"That's what you said we'd do," Jac sounds gruff as fiercely paddles us toward the shore. The waves help take us in and before the tide heads back out Jac and I leap off the raft and begin to pull it towards the shore. We drag the homemade raft to about the middle of the beach and then come to a halt. I stop to look at the burnt jungle. Despite what one would think many trees still stand, they're just all blackened and dead. There's no more green leafy fronds, no bristling bushes full of vibrant color. It's just a wasteland.

"What do you think happened--"


Jac interrupts me with a shout, pointing a finger straight into the dead forest. At first I don't see what he's trying to show me but than I spot him. A figure moving towards us, his wild green hair flying behind him.

Iggy from the Capitol.

"Too early! Too early!" He screeches at us and his hands claw at his own face, which is twisted in a look of pure lunacy. "I'm not finished! You came too early!" 

Jac and I exchange looks. Too early? What does he mean? I don't have time to think on it though. I need to act. "We can help you!" I say, stepping towards him. Jac tries to pull me back but I mutter that I have a plan and he steps back, watching me go. "We can help you, uh, find your friends."

"Friends?" Iggy's head snaps up and his eyes focus on mine. "You mean Flame, Luxray, Jake, and Julio?" 

With a jolt I realize that two of those names were tributes who Jac and I killed. Julio was slashed to death at the bloodbath and Luxray was electrocuted by my wire after him and his alliance, of which Iggy was included, murdered Clark (5) and Henry (7). Not to mention they also were the ones to fatally wound Billy. I feel a suddenly hatred of Iggy but I try to push it aside. I have to make it seem like I wish to only help him... "Yes. We can take you to them."

"You goin' to the Feast? That's where they'll be. Everyone will be at the Feast!" Iggy laughs for no apparent reason. It's a chilling sound, full of madness and despair. "They will all be there...Everyone."

"We can help you meet up with them before that. Then we can all plan together." I see Jac raise a questioning eyebrow and I quickly shake my head. I'm not interested in teaming with Iggy. Just ending him.

"Interesting! Interesting!" Iggy chuckles and then looks to his side and begins to speak as if someone is standing there. "What do you think guys? Think I should go with them to find you?" 

"He's nuts!" Jac sidles alongside me and whispers in my ear. "Utterly bonkers! Completely crazy!" 

I shrug. "Maybe. But let's wait this out."

Iggy's one-way conversation suddenly comes to a halt. His face has gone pale and his green eyes ignite with a startling fury as he points an accusing finger at Jac. "You!" His sneer is so pronounced, so comical that it's just downright terrifying. "You murdered Julio! It was you!"

"What? No! How could you possibly know that?!" Jac looks at me but I have no answer. I know that Iggy wasn't around when Julio died. I have no idea how he would know. 

"He told me himself!" Iggy gestures wildly toward the open air beside him. "He's right here! And he just told me the truth!" Despite the sudden turn of events, I don't even feel slightly nervous. Iggy is insane, yes. But he's not really much of a threat. Both Jac and I are well armed and should be more than capable of defeating him in a fight. I would have preferred for it to have gone more stealthily but if it has to go down like this, then so be it. 

"There's no one there Iggy!" Jac is trying to talk some sense into the boy but I know it's useless. "You're just imagining! The Games have gotten to your head. Julio is dead. How could he be talking to you?"

Iggy regards Jac for a moment, his hands clenching and unclenching at his side. I fear that he's going to attack and I warily raise my scythe, readying for combat. But then he speaks, softly and calmly. "You're're right. Julio is dead...Because you killed him! Now me and my allies are going to kill you!"

I've been watching his eye's for the whole encounter, watching as they focused on things that weren't really there. But now I see them watching something behind us. And I don't think it's a hallucination this time. "Jac! Duck!"

My warning comes just in time. A bladed weapon comes swinging right over Jac's ducked form and Luxio (13) let's out a loud curse as he misses. Jac takes advantage of the situation, throwing his body backwards and slamming into Luxio. The two boys go falling in a heap and then he's shouting at me. "Get Iggy! I'll take Luxio!"

A small part of me wants to protest, to stay beside Jac and help him fight the much more dangerous boy, but I remember my promise I made on the raft and turn back to Iggy. 

The boy hasn't moved. He's watching Luxio and Jac fight with a look of absolute glee, a look that disappears when he spots me. His mouth drops open and he stares in shock as I begin running for him. Then he turns and takes off sprinting.

He's faster than I'd have thought, outpacing me and putting a considerable amount of space between us. I'm beginning to think that he'll just get away, escape, when my body kicks into overdrive. I begin to sprint faster, harder. I gain ground on Iggy, closing the gap to only five feet. We've reached the end of the beach, arriving at the first line of dead trees. Just as he crosses the invisible threshold, Iggy spins his head around to look at me. Then his feet hit a log and he goes tumbling forward.

He shouts as his body lands hard in a pile of broken sticks and dark ash. I force myself to stop, as not to overshoot him, and then begin to approach as he wiggles onto his back and holds his hands up for mercy. Pity for the boy stirs deep inside my chest but it quickly vanishes when I think of Clark, Henry, and Biily. They didn't receive any mercy from Iggy's "friends". He won't be receiving any from me. I raise my scythe to strike.

I don't know how it happened. One moment I'm raising my weapon into the air, the next I'm being thrown to the ground as a net shoots out and entangles me. I lose my grip on my scythe as the net locks my arms close to my body. Iggy is getting to his feet now, laughing maniacally. "Shoulda stayed on the beach! Shoulda ran away!"  He skips around me, laughing. I try fiercely to wiggle free but the net holds tight, keeping me defenceless. Fear begins to spread through me as I realize that I'm at the mercy of a madman. I think of my family back home and hope for their sake that Iggy isn't the sadistic kind of madman. "Shoulda known better than to fight wwith Iggy!" A glint of steel flashes in the midmorning light. A dagger has appeared in Iggy's hand. "Now it's death time!" 

I resist the urge to scream, to call for Jac. My promise still stands. I don't want him risking his life for mine. Hopefully he won't come after Iggy seeking vengeance...

I'm pulled to my knees, still entangled in the gripping net. Iggy is behind me, still laughing cruelly. Then the dagger is pressing against my throat. I shut my eyes, feeling the first drop of blood as it slowly begins to press in...


I expect the dagger to rip through my throat now, finish me off. But for some inexplicable reason, it doesn't. The dagger doesn't move any further. I blink open my eyes.

Jac stands before us, his body bruised and battered. A particularly nasty cut is visible just under his right eye. But it's not just Jac whose here. It's Luxio too. He lies at Jac's feet, silent and motionless but very much alive. I can see the anxiety in his eyes as the tip of Jac's sword presses against his throat. Iggy sees it too, for he let's out a strangled cry. "Luxio!"

"Let Azalea go!" Jac's voice is hard, colder and more cruel than I've ever heard it, even more so then when he was hurling insults at Hazel. "Or Luxio dies. You have two minutes."

Iggy makes an odd chattering sound and the left side of his body begins to twitch, like he has a nervous twitch. The dagger comes away from my throat but only slightly. Just far enough for me to breath again. "No fair! No fair!" Iggy sounds like a little kid whose just had his game ruined. "This isn't fair!"

"One minute."

I see the look on Jac's face, the anger and desperation. If Iggy doesn't let me go, he will kill Luxio. But where would that put me? Iggy would surely cut my throat and then it would be only the two of them left. I have no doubt that Jac would then kill Iggy, sending the total amount of tributes left to only six. For some deranged reason, part of me is wishing for this to happen. Jac would only have five more competitors and there's still the Feast tonight where, surely, several more tributes will die. If Jac kills Luxio, he gives himself a free ticket to the final four...

"Thirty seconds."

Iggy's entire body is shaking now, bringing the dagger dangerously close to my throat. "If I let her go you'll kill Luxio anyway!" He protest falls on death ears. Jac begins to count down from ten. "Let him go first! Please!"


Just as I think that Iggy won't do it, that I'll wind up with a cut throat, he hurls me to the side. My hands are locked in the net and unable to break my fall, allowing my face to smack into the ground. I see a few stars and than feel someone beside me, feel the net being cut away from my body. Jac. He upheld his side of the bargain. He let Luxio go.

I watch the two of them, Iggy and Luxio, as they sprint further into the burnt remains of the jungle. I feel a faint sense of disappointment at letting them escape when I see something in Iggy's fading hands that turns my disappointment into rage. A scythe. My scythe. 

Before I even know it I'm on my feet, howling angrily and giving chase. But I don't get very far. Jac grabs me from behind, his arms wrapping around my shoulders. "Let them go," he whispers into my ear. "They'll be expecting us to follow. They probably have another trap set up deeper in the jungle."

I hear his words, understand the sense they're making, but I keep pulling against him, trying to break free. "They have my scythe! My weapon!"

"I know! But what are we going to do? They're gone now."

I stop pulling and lean back against Jac. My mind hasn't even had a chance to go over what just happened. I thought I was going to die...No. I was going to die. Until Jac saved me.

I turn and throw my hands around his head, pulling him in for a long kiss. When we break apart minutes later he smiles. "What was that for?" He asks.

"Saving my life."

"Guess I should do that more often than!" I smile weakly at the wide grin that spreads on his face. I'm happy that we're both alive but...we really lost that encounter. We had Iggy where we wanted him and then we let him escape. With my scythe. Jac is standing now, saying something about finding a camp, but I don't really listen. Jac showing his heroics has just given me a another reason to love him, another reason to never want to let him go. But I have to. One of us is going to die, very, very soon. I'll have to make a impossible decision.

Do I want to go on living without him? Or do I want to die and let him live?

Buck Rockwell (Mentor)

The lone lamp in the room swings ominously as he strides away from me. The effects of the whip is still being felt on my right cheek, where a cut has formed and is now dripping blood. Senegal, the head of the Stryke Force operatives who've taken me into this dark room, slams his fists onto the lone table in the room, a firm, wooden table that barely even rattles from the impact of his fists. "Tell me what you know Rockwell!" He screams as he turns back to me, the whip that he used to strike me still coiled around his wrist. "What did you learn?"

I breath heavily as I wrack my brains. I've learned that silence has gotten me nowhere. When I first came to, I found myself in this room, hands tied behind my back and surrounded by three Stryker Force operatives. Senegal introduced himself and then they began to beat me, hitting me savagely until I fell and then kicking me mercilessly until they decided to pull me back up again and restart the beat down. All the while they screamed endless questions at me, all of which I ignored. Eventually I blacked out once again and she I woke this time, I found myself strapped to a chair, my arms shackled to the armrests and my legs to the chairs legs, I was completely stuck. Senegal restarted his interrogation while the other two operatives stood behind the table. He soon began whipping me after refusing to answer any of his questions. 

"Why aren't you speaking, Rockwell?" He roars at me once the silence has dragged on for too long. "I know you have a tongue, so use it! Or maybe I need to whip it into action!" The whip lashes towards me again. A white line cracks my vision as a burning pain races across my forehead and then hot blood is dripping into my eyes, clogging ny vision. I shake my head to clear it but this takes  so much energy. My entire body hurts, there's bruises everywhere and I can barely think straight. Senegal is asking another question. "Why did you come for Francis? What did you learn?"

This time, I'm not silent and answer with a pitifully weak vpice "I...wasn't coming for Francis. I just learned about the prison...wanted to know what was in it..."

Senegal screans with mirthless laughter. "Nice try Rockwell! But we know you came for Francis! You told Chaz Robards that you wanted to break him out! He told us everything!"

An uncontrollable rage builds inside me. Chaz! That pug-nosed little rat! So that's how they caught me! I pull violently against my restraints as Senegal laughs. I scream hysterically. "I'm going to kill that traitor! I'm going to gut him alive!"

"Traitor? Oh no, you got it wrong!" I stop my pulling and shaking as Senegal shakes his head dramatically. "He could only be a traitor if he was on your side, which he never was. Robards is one of ours. He gives out information so we can catch rats like you in the act. You don't think you managed to get to the prison because of your own skill, do you?" He laughs and throws the whip out, it passes only inches from my face. "Because you didn't! We let you get there. We wanted you to speak with Francis, we were supposed to record the conversation but the cameras cut out. But that's neither here nor there. Tell us what you learned!"

I fix Senegal with the most defiant look I can manage. Despite my pain I will not let this slimy toad learn anything. I pull my face back in a sneer. "You're the smart guy. You figure it out!"

Senegal rolls his eyes and then he's throwing a punch. There's an explosion of pain and blood and I feel the crimson fluid leaking from my nose, I think it's broken but that's the least of my concerns right now. Senegal has retreated to the back of the room, to the other two operatives. One of them hands him a smooth black baton and he strolls towards me with a coy smile on his face as I futility attempt to shake the blood from my face. Senegal stops right before me and holds out the baton. "I think that things are about to...take a shocking turn." His finger hits a small button and the baton is suddenly alive with crackling blue electricity. He grins and then abruptly jabs it into my gut. 

A pain-filled scream echoes through the room and it takes me several moments to recognize it as my own. The electricity races through my body and my limbs try desperately to kick out but they're shackled down and I begin shaking violently in the chair until Senegal pulls the baton away. 

Spasms are still wracking my body. My muscles are twitching and vibrating unnaturally and I can't even form a single thought. A terrible smoking smell fills my nostrils and Senegal laughs. "Come on Rockwell! Tell me what you know! The pain will stop then, I promise!"

Despite a raging headache and an incessant ringing of my ears, I manage to speak. "You...can't...kill me. The Capitol citizens...wouldn't take it...well..."

Senegal laughs again. "You think we haven't had a case like this before? That we haven't offed a Victor before? Well, you're wrong. We have. And to the Capitol citizens, they've all died of natural causes or violent crimes. No one gets upset, life moves on. Wanna rethink that "no killing me" thing?"

"Just like with Joshua!" I cough out blood as I speak, spewing onto my lap. "Just like how you made his murder look like a random mugging gone wrong!"

"I don't know what you're talking about!" Senegal sounds flippant but one of the other Stryke Force operatives chips in.

"Joshua was his brother. President Stryker had him killed for rigging the Reaping."

A cruel smile forms on Senegal's face and I feel a terrible chill run down my spine. "Oh really? Does Rockwell here have any other family?"

"Immediate family includes parents and a younger sister."

"Hmm. I wonder if Rockwell would be more compliant if his sister was here?" Senegal looks sideways at me and then I'm unable to control my anger and I'm ripping against my restraints.

"Don't you dare harm Rosalina! I'll kill each one of you if you much as touch her! I swear to God that I'll--"

I break off into frantic screaming as Senegal slams the baton back into me. When the electricity stops pumping the spasms return and my head gets fuzzy as Senegal turns to the others, his voice distant and fuzzy. "Dillinger! Call the District 6 force and have them arrest Rosalina Rockwell. Say she's wanted in the Capitol for a connection to a terrorist operation. Once she arrives we'll take her here and see if--"

"Cassandra Oracion!"

They all spin around to stare at me in shock. I shut my eyes, trying to ward off the cloudiness that is polluting my thoughts. I tried to hide what I learned but it's not worth it. It's not worth putting Rosalina at risk. Sorry Francis but this has to happen. "He told me about Cassandra Oracion," I say, opening my eyes and watching for their reaction. "Francis told me that she's still alive and that a mysterious man promised he'd take him to her. That's all I know. I swear. Please don't harm Rosalina..."

I can see the confusion in Senegal's eyes but behind that I see something else. Joy. He's happy and he should be. He got what he wanted. Now he can end my pain like he promised. And I'm not stupid. I know exactly what he meant by that. I knew what kind of risk I was taking when I tried to free Francis. But it was worth it. I don't have to be Stryker's puppet anymore and Rosalina is safe...

"Bravo! Bravo!" Senegal applauds me and after brief hesitation the other two join in. "See? I knew I'd get an answer out of you! And now I can end your pain. And, of course, by that I mean I will--"

"You're gonna kill me," I interrupt his monologue. "I'm not a moron like you Senegal. I knew exactly what would happen to me the moment I got caught. Only thing is, I don't care. Do what you want. Kill me quickly or torture me to death. I don't care. It's all over."

Senegal's eyes flash darkly and I smirk internally. I beat his game by not caring. What fun is it to kill someone who doesn't care anymore? He didn't even learn anything! He just got the mad ramblings of a deranged old man who foolishly believes that his mentor is still alive. In my opinion, I won. Even with all this pain. "You know what Rockwell? You're right!" All of my pleasant thoughts disappear the moment I see the broad smile on his face. I feel like I'm falling down some dark hole as he continues. "You truly don't care.. about what happens to you. But your sister is a different matter...I doubt you want to see her tortured. But don't worry, you will! You'll get to see every single agonizing second as I take a knife and cut through her flesh. You'll see as I--

The unmistakable sound of gunfire interrupts, followed by fierce banging and loud thud. One of the two Styke Force operatives goes running for the door when it's suddenly thrown open and three cloaked figures stroll in. Dressed in dark ornate cloaks that travel all the way to their boots, laced with golden string and covered with an assortment of symbols that I can't make heads or tails of. But what catches most of my attention is what two of them are holding. Double-barreled shotguns.

The Stryke Force operative comes to a halt. "What the hell is going--"

He doesn't finish. One of the cloaked figures fires the shotgun point blank at his chest. The operative is thrown across the room and then the second cloaked figure turns and fires upon the other operative. He also has his blood splattered across the room as the third figure turns its attention to Senegal, who has pulled out his radio and is shouting urgently into it. "Code Red! Code Red! I repeat, Code Red! We have been compromised--"

The figure slashes its hand forward and Senegal breaks off coughing. He falls to his knees, hacking violently. I can now see the large red gash across his throat, the fluid bubbling out, and see the blood stained knife in the figures hand. Senegal tips over sideways and twitches feebly before going still. He's dead.

I would have expected to feel unimaginable joy seeing Senegal dead at my feet but the circumstances are just too...creepy. I try to keep my head from spinning as I focus on the closest figure, the one holding the knife. Underneath its dark hood I can see a mask, one half black, the other white. But there's also a symbol on it. Something that vaguely stirs in my memory. But right now it's too difficult to think.

The knife holding figure walks across the room, over to the large table. One of the other figures leans down beside me and this time I recognize what's on the mask. It's an exact replica of what a "9" playing card looks like. I focus enough energy to speak. " you people want? What are you doing?"

"We're here to help you, Bucky."

If I was shocked before now I'm, well, I don't even have a word for what I feel. There's a very long silence, broken only by the sound of distant gunfire, as I stare at the masked figure. I know that voice. I know this person!


My voice is a strangled gasp. I can't comprehend what I just heard. That voice was Marceline's, there's no doubt about it. But what is going on...

"Yes, it's me!" The figures hand slides the hood off and then carefully removes their mask. The smiling face of Marceline stares back at me. Her luminous brown eyes shine brightly as I gape at her, unable to come up with any words. "Don't worry. We're here to help."

"Fifteen minutes before the Capitol goes on lockdown!" The second shotgun holding figure speaks now, his hands touching the earlobe of his mask. Somehow, Marceline's revelation has broken my mind out of its stupor and I easily notice that his mask also has a "9" on it. "And then another fifteen before they blockade the mountain passes!"

"That's plenty of time!" Marceline quips far too cheerfully. The usual vacancy that lurks in her voice is nowhere to be found. She looks and sounds nothing like the drugged out girl I've known for the past year.

"Get him loose!" The third figure has reappeared, tossing Marceline a set of keys. She nods, pulls her mask back down and begins to unlock my right hand. My eyes wander back to the third figure and his mask that I previously couldn't place. I now see that it's a replica of an Ace playing card. What is with the playing cards? Marceline gets through both my arms and begins to work on my feet when I suddenly can't hold in my questions.

"What's going on? Where are we going? Who are you people? Why is Marceline with you? Why--"

"Shut up!" The Ace-masked man stops me mid-question, his voice gruff and full of annoyance. "We don't have time for this. We need to get moving."

"I'm sorry Bucky!" Marceline unlocks my feet and gets back onto hers. "But you're just going to have to trust us. And it's not just me. Bradley and Coal are also in on it, among others. We're all helping them."


I once again stop mid-question as a needle sinks into my right arm, pumping a cold liquid into my veins. Marceline whispers an apology as she takes the needle back out. It barely registers as already my mind has begun to get cloudy, the room is beginning to get out of focus. My eyelids feel like stone cylinders and then I can't keep them open any longer. Before I completely black out I hear Marceline's voice, soft and reassuring. "Don't worry. You're going to be fine. We're taking you to The Tower. And then we'll explain everything."

Amaya Lovelace (District 14)

"The sun is about to go down. The Feast should be starting soon." Iris (3) shuffles her feet uneasily as the two of us gaze out at the large, orange sun setting behind the ocean. Ganta (12) has left to scout the perimeter and right now its just the two of us, watch in and waiting.

"Are you ready?" I ask Iris as my eyes scan the horizon for the umpteenth time. I don't know where this platform will arrive, I don't even know if it'll be on the west side. We just set up here because it was the easiest way to keep track of the time.

"Honestly? No. I'm not ready at all," Iris twirls the hatchet Ganta gave her nervously, her eyes showcasing all of her unease and worry. "I don't want to kill anyone. I-I don't think I could. Not even Colin. I mean, I know he murdered Aspen but...I can't bring myself to end another's life..." 

"Then stay close to me. Or Ganta. We'll do the fighting." Truth be told, I don't want Iris to kill anyone. The very act of ending someone else's life erases any innocence you may have, it changes you. I saw what my rebel friends went through when they first killed, saw the pain they experienced. And, of course, I felt it myself. When I slaughtered those Capitol citizens shortly after Sean died...I don't want Iris to feel like I did. I don't want her to become like me.

"Have you killed someone?" Iris interrupts my thoughts with an innocuous question. "You don't look like--I mean, I don't know what you did before I came but I don't think you look like a, uh, a..." She trails off awkwardly and I can't help but feel terrible. I don't look like a killer. But I am one.

"I haven't killed anyone in the Games," I murmur, turning my head away from her. I don't want her seeing my eyes. She might sense that I'm not telling the full truth. "Not at all."


She doesn't say anymore and we lapse into silence. The chattering of insects in the jungle is the only sound. The sun has gotten even lower now, almost completely submerged in the ocean. Looks like the Feast will be starting soon.

"Anything happening?" 

Ganta's sudden arrival makes Iris jump but I'm not surprised. I heard his approaching footsteps before he even spoke. I answer his question. "No. Not yet. But it won't be long."

He nods thoughtfully and then crouches down beside us. His dark eyes shine in the fading sunlight and I find myself worrying about his safety. The Feast will be exceedingly dangerous. People will die. I hope it won't--No. No, I won't let it be him. I'm too strong to let him die on me. Besides, I have this handy molotov, one I made with items sent to me by my sponsors. Iris looked a little upset when she saw all of my items and I didn't know why until she mentioned that neither her or Aspen ever received sponsor items. I can't imagine why. Aspen was one of the early favourites to win. 

"Something's happening!" Ganta's whisper is both excited and worried as a groaning, strangely metallic sound begins to echo through the arena. I lean forward and look out into the ocean, where I can see a fissure opening up. The surrounding water begins to pour down into the fissure like a waterfall as it continues to grow. It reaches a maximum width of at least thirty feet before stopping. And then something begins to rise from within.

"It's the platform!" Iris says and she's right. A large, metallic platform is rising out from the fissure, filling up the gaping maw. But it doesn't end there. As soon as the platform is in place, four more fissures open up. Longer but thinner and in lines. These new fissures extruded from each end of the platform and quickly begin to grow longer. The fissure extending from the side nearest to us goes all the way to the beaches end, where it suddenly stops. Then there's a blaring alarm like sound and more platforms begin to rise from each fissure. I'm not sure what's happening until Ganta speaks. "They're walkways! We don't have to swim after all!"

And then it all makes sense. I see that the other fissures have connected with the other islands, the north, south, and west ones. Then they suddenly stop rising. The fissures are gone and straight metal walkways are in there place. "Look!" Iris speaks in a whisper and points at the very first platform. A long table has appeared sometime while we were distracted, along with a frenzy of balloons. It's such a strange sight. Such a unnerving situation.

Trumpets sound off and then there's Lazlo Abbott speaking. "Tributes of 399th Annual Hunger Games! The Feast has begun! Come enjoy the bounty! But beware, other tributes may not want to share..."

The announcement clicks off and then, inexplicably, music begins to play. Fast paced hip-hop music that was popular back in District 14 and the Capitol. It doesn't fit with the harsh reality of what is to come. My allies are equally as confounded as I am, murmuring quietly to themselves. I'm about to say something when an explosive sound booms in the sky.

I dive to the ground instinctively as explosions of color appear in the sky, taking the forms of flowers and smiley faces and other frilly things. A knot of fear tightens in my chest as I stare up at the illuminated sky. What is happening?

"Fireworks!" Iris beams happily as she stares up at the exploding lights.

"What?" I still feel uneasy but I get back to my feet anyways. Whatever those things are, they're not hurting me.

"Fireworks! They're quite popular back in District 3! Fun to make too. I remember the time Aspen and I--"

"We don't have time for this!" Ganta interrupts her happy flashback with an impatient wave of his hand. "Someone is already at the Feast!"

I'm beside him in an instant, staring out at the floating platform. Two figures are moving about but I can't make out any solid details or tell who they are. All I know is that they're taking my stuff. Stealing the special bag that we need. Obviously these two thought that everyone would be too distracted with the fireworks and music to notice them heading for the Feast. With a sinking feeling I realize that they were right. If it wasn't for Ganta we'd never have noticed them. They would have gotten off scot free. But Ganta did notice them. And now we're going to make them pay.

"Come on!" I start sprinting for the walkway, ignoring the shout Ganta sends after me. I know he wants to wait and see what way those two are going to leave but we can't take that risk. They obviously didn't come from the center island and they certainly won't be leaving that way. If we want to stop them, we need to meet them head on.  I reach the walkway and then hear the pounding footsteps of my allies as they follow behind me. I halt my running just as I arrive at the main platform and the large table, completely overflowing with food. I recognize many dishes from my time spent in the Capitol and my stomach growls hungrily. I also spot the special bag that Lazlo mentioned, it rests on a large silver platter on the very center of the table. It seems very ordinary, appearing no different than an average black backpack other than having a small gold sewn on patch. Not that the bag itself is special, it's what's inside the bag that's needed. But I don't have much time to focus on the food or the bag, because the two tributes who have arrived before us turn and grab their weapons.

Luxio (13) and Iggy (C).

I light up my molotov in seconds, spinning around to find my target. Iggy is on the opposite side of the table, stuffing fried chicken into his mouth but Luxio is just standing at the nearest edge, watching us with wide eyes. I lock onto him. 

He sees me wind up and his hands shoot into the air as he tries to speak. "Wait! I know who killed Bailey--"

The molotov had already left my hand before he even opened his mouth. The bottle flies through the air and then smashes into his chest, spontaneously combusting into flames. 

It's a stunningly short time before the flames race up his body, crackling and lashing at his skin. Luxio's screams are ear-piercing as he slips and falls to the ground, thrashing about wildly, desperately trying to extinguish the flames. It's not just him screaming anymore. Both Iris and Iggy have joined in as we all witness the disturbing spectacle. 

It feels like minutes but it's really only a few seconds before Luxio manages to roll his flaming body over the side of the platform and splash into the ocean. The flames go out immediately as he disappears beneath the surface, which begins to bubble and emit smoke. I take out my sword as I wait for him to resurface.

But he doesn't.

It feels wrong, feeling joy at the fact he's dead. But is it really? Is it really wrong when everyone is telling you it's right? When there's fireworks illuminating every grisly detail? When there's upbeat music and balloons? How could it be? Everyone back in the Capitol is probably cheering for me now. Shouldn't I be feeling joy instead of sorrow? 


It's Iggy's anguished cry that snaps me back to reality. The green haired boy is still across the table, his eyes wide with fright and anger. His entire left side is twitching violently as he forces his words through gritted teeth. "Why. Does. This. Keep. Happening. To. Me!" Every word is laced with anger, with hatred. His gaze is fixed firmly on me, on the murderer of his friend. I know what he's feeling. I've felt it before. Many times. "Why do my friends keep dying?! Why?!" He smashes his fist onto a stack of plates, shattering them. I see a large splash of blood as a gaping wound opens across his fist but somehow he ignores it. "No more! I have no more friends! My time is up! Now it's someone else's time! Time for someone else to lose all their friends!"

I'm caught off guard by his next action; we all are. One moment he's crying hysterically, the next he's holding a plate and throwing it like a frisbee. 

I duck but it doesn't come for me. The plate smacks into Ganta's throat, sending him to the metal floor. A jolt of horror shoots through my system and I pull myself toward him, fearing the worse. He coughs and hacks as he clutches his throat but I see no cut, no actual wound beyond a particularly nasty bruise. Ganta is fine.

"Amaya! Behind you!"

Iggy has climbed onto the food-laden table, knocking plates and dishes off with his feet as he sprints across it. Then he's leaping forward and landing atop of me. I can hear Iris screaming in worry as his fists pound against my skull. There's a primal lunacy in his voice as he punches and beats me, his strength far beyond mine. I've often heard that insanity gives people strength, and that must be true. Because I can do little more than shield myself as his fists beat me tirelessly.

Just as I think my numbers up, he leaps off, howling in shock and pain. I see blood dripping from a fresh cut across his forearm. Iris stands across from him, her hatchet shaking nervously in her hands. "Finish him off!" I shout to her as I scramble back to my feet, groaning from the effort. My head feels like it just had nails driven into it.

"I-I can't!" A flash of terror crosses her face and Iris suddenly just drops her hatchet, stumbling backwards, away from Iggy and the table. My mind can't process what's happening before I'm grabbed by the shoulders and slammed viciously onto the table. Iggy's face appears inches from mine, warped into complete and utter lunacy.

"You will die!" His voice doesn't even sound remotely human anymore. His insanity has taken away his humanity, leaving nothing but anger and animalistic urges. "You will pay for what you have done!"

His hands wrap around my throat, squeezing my breath out. I can't find the strength to fight him. The vicious blows he delivered to my head has made me unable to concentrate, unable to tell my muscles what to do. I just feebly attempt to shake free as his hands slowly but surely squeeze every ounce of life out from within me...

My hand brushes against something just before I black out. I don't know what it is, am unable to tell, but my hand wraps around it anyways, feeling the metallic handle. Desperate and out of options, I drive the object into Iggy's hand with all the strength I can muster.

He let's out a beastly howl and let's go of me immediately. The blackness that was eating my vision begins to fade and as I pull the item free from Iggy's hand I finally see what it is. A fork.

I take one glance at the silver kitchen appliance and then one at Iggy, whose howling to the sky and clutching his injured hand. I see my opportunity. I strike.

I leap forward and stab my makeshift weapon at Iggy. The fork connects with his eye, driving deep into the socket. The scream he emits is disturbing and sickening but I ignore it and twist the fork, pushing it in deeper, as far as it will go. Then I jump back on the table and plant both my feet into his chest, kicking him with all my force.

Iggy flails backwards and steps off of the platform, splashing into the water. I pull myself to the edge and watch as he begins to sink beneath the waves, reappearing a moment later; floating lifeless. And then, just barely audible over the fireworks, I hear a cannon go off. Boom!

It's over. The madman is dead.

I lean back and lie on the cold, metal platform, watching the fireworks explode in the sky. I have a horribly sick feeling festering in my gut, one that I'm unable to shake. It wasn't that I killed Iggy. No. It was because of how brutally I killed him. I still see the fork slamming into his eye, ripping at the--

I roll over and vomit. The action drives all thoughts out from my head and I can concentrate on nothing but the sick bile that comes from me. Not until a warn hand touches my shoulder do I remember the others.

"You okay?" Ganta is beside me, one hand still touching his bruised throat. I think his voice is a little croaky too.

"Fine...I'm...fine." It's a lie, but I can't let my own emotions drag us down right now. "Where's Iris?"

"Right here..."

The amber-haired girl appears on the other side of the table, holding her hatchet and looking sheepish. I feel a faint sense of betrayal just looking at her. She couldn't bring herself to kill Iggy but she had no problem watching him throttle me. But I do notice she looks decidedly guilty, which softens my opinion.

"We don't have time for this," Ganta steps away from me and unslings his backpack, dropping it on the messed up table. I shakily climb to my feet, noticing that most of the food was ruined during the fight. Ganta unzips the special backpack and pulls out a small brown package. I frown, wondering what could be so special about this package, when he takes an item that I don't recognize out from his own backpack and then places it in the special bag. "Take this," he tosses me the special bag that no longer contains the special item. "And drop it while we leave. Make it look like an accident."

"Huh? Why?"

"I want someone else to get it. But we can't just leave it here. Tributes would see this mess and know that someone has already been here and they would realize that this bag doesn't have the real item," He pauses as he surveys the chaotic scene. "I kinda expected there to be multiple bags. But apparently there's only one. Oh well. Let's go."

He turns and takes off running down the path we originally came from. I don't wait before following him. I want to get as far away from this place as possible. Those two dead boys keep pulling at me...

"I'm sorry," Iris appears beside me as we run, embarrassment obvious on her face. "I...I didn't mean to put you in such a terrible situation."

"Don't worry about it. Everything turned out fine." I still have some anger towards her but I'm letting it slide. She's much smarter than I am and a very valuable ally. We can't afford to lose her. We're reaching the end of the platform now, about to hit the beach. Ganta steers off to the side, heading for the spot in the jungle where we first observed the platform rising. I'm following when I hear the whistling sound, followed by the sound of impact and a cry of pain.

Iris has fallen to her knees, a knife buried to the hilt in her shoulder. I'm shouting in alarm when the second knife comes whizzing past and slams into her chest. "Iris!"

My ally falls onto her side, eyes frozen in shock. I scream and go rushing for her side. She won't die! I can't allow it! "Amaya! No!" A hand grips my wrist and tanks me backwards. Ganta. "We have to go! She's dead!" 


"Now!" He pulls me along as he sprints for the shelter of the jungle. I take one last look at Iris' glazed over expression and then start sprinting myself, the pain of loss hitting me hard. Boom!

Then a completely different pain hits me. A searing, burning pain in my calf causes me to lose my footing and I fall to the sand. Ganta is still clutching my hand and he's pulled short by my sudden stop. "I've been hit!" I tell him, my face contorted in pain. I can feel blood seeping from my leg onto the sand beneath me and throw my head around, trying to see what hit me. 

A knife is lodged in the back of my calf, one just like the two that too out Iris. And I now see her too. Anais. She's emerged from the jungle and is trotting over to Iris' body, seemingly not caring about Ganta and I at all. I don't understand until I remember the Feast. Anais is probably checking Iris to see if she has the special bag, knowing that she has wounded me, made it impossible for me to run. Fear grips my heart, my very essence. I can't run. I can't flee, can't escape. I have to fight. 

I steady myself on Ganta's shoulder, pulling myself up. My calf screams in protest but I ignore it as I hold my sword in a shaking, unsteady hand. "I can't run," I tell Ganta in a low voice, hoping my fear doesn't show. "We have to fight. We have to--"

Ganta pulls away and without his shoulder to support me I topple over, back to the sandy ground. Ganta is backing towards the jungles, his eyes wide with terror, his entire body shaking. "I'm so sorry! I'm so, so sorry!" He chokes on his words as he keeps backing up, backing away from me. "I can't help you! She'll kill me! Kill us both!"

I have no words. The fear in his eyes is real, the terror on his face is absolutely true. He doesn't believe he can defeat Anais...even with the both of us fighting. He...he doesn't want us both to die. "I understand. I understand what you mean." I try to regulate my breathing as I speak. My fear that has been rising rapidly is now going down. I'm giving in to what is about to happen. This is the last of us. "I understand Ganta. You have to save yourself. I understand completely....I love you..."

"" Ganta shakes his head and I stare at him in surprise. "You don't understand! You don't understand anything! I don't love you! I never did and I never will! It was all an act! I lied so you wouldn't leave the alliance! It was all a lie!"

My world comes crashing down upon me. I can't believe this. It's not true. It's impossible. I'm just delusional, that's all. I just misheard. "You're lying...You have to be lying or joking. You're not serious..."

"No, Amaya. I'm not lying." His voice is calm now, calm and collected. It's this tone that pushes me over the edge. Tears begin sliding down my face as he continues speaking, still backing towards the jungle. "I'm sorry. I really am. But..." His words break off into a croaking cry and tears begin to run down his face. Like he's somehow the victim! Like he's the one whose been lied to! Been told they were loved when they weren't! Been mislead about everything they thought they knew! I look back at him, trying to muster a glare but only getting a loud sob. He shakes his head slowly. "I'm really sorr--"


I scream at him and then bury my face in the sand. A lie. I just told yet another lie. I do care. I care that he--that he completely lied to me. I loved him! No, I still love him. Even with all of his lies. I can't believe this...this can't be happening...

"I didn't want to tell you this way but...I don't want you to die believing a lie." He suddenly shouts and my head shoots up to see him turning to run for the jungle, leaving me. Deserting me. I still can't believe it. It happened so mind still hasn't even wrapped around what just transpired...

"Ohh...How sad!"

A new voice speaks. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up, my body clenching in fear. I had forgotten about her, with Ganta's admission and everything. I had forgotten we were running for our lives. Watching me, her eyes full of mock concern and holding a wicked looking spear, is Anais. "It's always such a shame to witness a break-up. It's always such a sad thing. So very sad..."

Anything that I might have said to her gets stuck in my throat. I'm too terrified to speak, to even swallow. My mouth has gone dry in fear. "I remember my first breakup!" Anais continues speaking, her words seemingly kind but with a sharp edge to them. "I was so destroyed...If it wasn't for Carmine and the wonderful things she had always told me, I may not have recovered!" She giggles loudly and circles around me. Despite my fear I manage to wonder why she didn't go after Ganta, why she let him get away. He was the one who had the special--

My thoughts stop as I remember that Ganta had given me the special bag. Told me to drop it while we ran. That's why she didn't chase him. He didn't have one she wanted. I have it.

"Killing is such a great method of getting rid of negative feelings!" Anais smiles; the expression would look more at home on a snake. "By the time you finish, well, you don't even remember what you were upset about!" I can't take it! Her words, said in a friendly tone but laced with unspoken threats, are eating at me, making me queasy. And then there's Ganta...Suddenly I don't care anymore. I just don't care.

My hand grabs the hilt of my sword and I spin it around in an arc, the blade slicing against Anais' thigh. She screams in shock and pain, allowing me to spring to my feet. But not for long. My injured leg gives out and I fall to my knees as Anais whirls towards me, her lavender eyes flashing violently. "Enough chitchat. Time to die!"

She plants her good leg into the ground and thrusts the spear forward, putting her entire body into it. My sword hand tries to block it to no avail. The tip rips into my chest, into my heart.

Then she tears the weapon out and I fall, back onto the cool sand. I expect pain but I don't feel a thing. I don't feel anything. I see the fireworks exploding in the sky but I don't hear the noise they create. Everything is blurry, fading like an old picture.

Hands suddenly roll me over and I feel the weight of the backpack disappear from my shoulders. I'm on my side now, staring into the jungle where Ganta disappeared. Ganta...

My heart has been destroyed. Not by Anais' spear, but by the words of the boy I loved...

Luxio Sertralium (District 13)

The cool water of the ocean, brought in by the tide, washes against my skin, soothing the splotchy red burns that pain me. It hurts. Everything hurts.

I'm lying flat on my back, staring up into the sky, at the colourful flowers that continually explode with an enormous bang. The wet sand beneath me keeps me cool, prevents me from fully experiencing the pain of being completely covered in second degree burns. That girl...I hope she's dead. I hope she died for what she did to me! I hope Iggy killed--


I think back to the crazy guy. He was a riot, always making me feel better with one of his wild jokes or erratic antics. Unfortunately I now realize that he is probably dead. No way did he take out all three of them. No way.

I try to sit up but my limbs scream in pain and I drop myself back into the wet, sticky sand. That fire...I can still feel it eating away at me, devouring my entire body. A few more seconds and I'd be dead. It's already did a huge number on me as is: My wetsuit has been burned away in a multitude of places, fleshy red burns inhabit every open area of my skin while some other places are charred black. The one time I managed to pull a hand to my head I felt that I was missing hair. A lot of hair. I'm probably half-bald now, the open skin of my head raw and melty looking. And it hurts. Like hell.

Once again I find myself cursing that girl--Amaya, I think was her name--for throwing that damn bottle when I was about to tell her who murdered her ally. Maybe it's my fault for thinking that someone in the Hunger Games would care who killed their friend, most people aren't like me, wanting vengeance for their fallen friends, but I at least expected her to hear me out. Not just ignore my words and try to burn me to a crisp!

I hope she's dead. And if she's not, I'll make her real dead, real quick. Just as soon as I recover enough to move.

I lie there on the very edge of the beach for at least ten more minutes. While I wait, writhing in agony, I debate about using my Instant Relief. It would erase my pain, make me brand new, like I just came out the box. But it would also waste my best shot at winning these Games. Instant Relief is a real game changer, it makes Victors. I'm not going to use it on some agonizing burns. I won't use it until I'm inches from death. Not until I have to.

The pain gradually subsidies while I think over this, enough for me to sit up and look out at the ocean. The Feast platform is still there, about fifty feet out. But the walkways that had connected them have just vanished back into the ocean from whence they came. Doesn't matter. Not to me. I don't care for the Feast anymore. I tried and failed. No point trying again.

So instead of trying to plan a way to swim out to the platform, I focus my energy on trying to figure out which island I'm on. I didn't exactly get a very good look while I was swimming for my life while in immense pain.

The platform is directionally away from me and another island is just straight ahead, giving me belief that I'm on the south island. Huh. I don't remember if I've been here before. Wonder if anyone else is around...

I lost my glaive after the attack-- because I can't care enough to keep a hold of a weapon while I'm on fire--and my shurikens slipped out from my pockets at some point, meaning that I'm now weaponless. I'm not expecting to receive anything great from sponsors either, given that they just sent me an absurdly expensive Instant Relief. Guess my next priority is getting something to defend myself with.

I head for the jungle, limping as I go. I may be in terrible pain but I'm still alive. And as long as your heart is still beating, you can still win these Games.

Ganta Alomo (District 12)

I'm sobbing into my knees, sitting on the very same platform that brought me into this arena. The cornucopia is twenty yards away, gleaming dully in the moonlight. Iris is dead. Amaya is dead. I left her to get killed after telling her that I didn't love her.

What kind of terrible person am I?

I use to think that I didn't belong in these Games. That I was a good person who always tried his best to help people and that I didn't deserve to be thrust into these horrible, twisted, demented Games. But obviously I was wrong.

I do belong here. Not only do I belong here but I deserve to be here. I'm a terrible person. Not only did I leave my friend to die, thinking of nothing but myself, but I also fiercely told her that I never loved her and that I never would. Then I ran away as a murderous girl closed in. 

Like the coward I am.

I let out a loud sob and beat my fists against the metal platform, shouting for it to lower and let me back into the Launch Room. I want to leave this place and never come back! I want to go home to my family! I want to--


No. I can't go home. How could I ever face my parents? How could I ever look them in the eye, knowing that they saw me for what I really am? How could I ever look anyone in the eye? Everyone in Panem saw what I did. The Feast is mandatory viewing. Every single person in the country saw me break a girl's heart and then leave her to die. They all saw the monster inside me. 

I stifle my sobs but am unable to stop the tears running down my face. What does everyone think of me? Do they all want me to die here? Die a gruesome death in the arena? Isn't that what I deserve? Yes. Yes, that is what I deserve. I deserve to die here. All of the other tributes deserve life over me, even that cold-blooded murderer Anais. At least she didn't hide her real self. She let everyone know exactly what she is, unlike me.

I slip a trembling hand into my pocket and pull out one of my needles. I experimentally press my finger against the tip until it produces a small drop of crimson blood. It's sharp. Sharp enough for what I need it for.

"You're all going to get what you want!" I scream out to the sky, barely recognizing the insane voice that echoes across the sky. "You're all going to watch me die!" 

I take the needle and press it against my wrist, shutting my eyes tight. It's over. No one in the world needs me anymore. They all want me dead. Why wait? Why don't I just give it to them? 

I slice the needle across my wrist, cutting into the veins and arteries. I scream in pain and then...


Wind whips across my face and the loud booming of the fireworks stop. There's no pain. No feeling of blood dripping down my arm. My eyes blink open and I see that I still hold the needle against my wrist with a shaky hand. There's no cut. I never did it.

With a loud cry I slam my fist into the platform. I'm too much of a coward to even do this! I lie back and cry, cursing myself for not being able to do it. I want to die! Why won't I let myself die!?

The sound of distant thunder booms in the sky. Minutes later it begins to rain. Hard. Fast. The droplets are warm and thick, drenching me within seconds. My body moves without my mind commanding it. I swim across the twenty yards and crawl onto the cornucopia island, pulling myself into the golden horn. 

The steady thrumming of the rain against the top of the cornucopia provides an endless bass for me as I lie face first in the sand, wishing everything would just end. How did I ever wind up here? I should never have volunteered...

A memory pops into my head. The memory of the weak and severely injured boy who I volunteered for. I remember how frail he was, just lying there unconscious as the world moved around him. I remember how I thought it wasn't fair that he was reaped and then I remember volunteering so he wouldn't have to die.

Timmothy Hansan. The name appears in my head and then I repeat it in a whisper. "Timmothy Hansan!" I saved his life. I killed Amaya but I saved him. Doesn't that balance things out? I didn't need to save him but I did. He surely doesn't hate me. No matter what I did to Amaya, he should still want me to win.

And just like that, I've found my motivation to win.

I laugh loudly and insanely, reminding myself of Iggy. I don't need to die...the whole world doesn't hate me...I've been stupid. Why would anyone hate me? Amaya was insane. She thought I was her dead friend Sean! Bailey was in the right when she left; I should have joined her. Amaya was too reckless, too eager to prove herself as good of a tribute as Aelia. If I didn't leave her then she would have just gotten me killed. I didn't do anything wrong. I did the right thing.

And for District 12...They'll learn to love me, if I survive. They've welcomed back people far worse than me before. Besides, my victory would give them food and that's all they care about. Food and survival. Those are the only two things that matter in the world. That's what the Feast was all about, teaching us what was needed to survive--

The Feast!

I roll over, suddenly remembering the item I received from the Feast. The very special item! The item that can help propel me to victory!

I rip the package out from my pack and tear it open carefully. Inside I find a plain white envelope. Not what I was expecting. "What's so special about this?" I mutter as I pry the envelope open and read the words printed on the letter.

Greetings to the tribute who braved the Feast and earned the right to read this letter! No doubt you're dying to know what the special item is, correct? Well....

There is no special item.

We lied, okay? Sue us! But you don't have anything to be upset about! After all, you didn't die and you managed to get some of that awesome food! What more could you ask for?...

Oh right. A special item.

Don't give us that look! Ugh! Fine! We don't have any item to give you but we do have some advice that you should remember: Stick to the center and your odds of survival will increase. Ignore these words and you may find yourself all washed out. 

Well, wasn't that helpful? Now you have nothing to complain about! So get back into those Games and may the odds be ever in your favor!


I drop the letter. This was what three kids died for. A letter. A stupid, useless letter! My breathing rapidly intensifies and I force myself to stay silent and not scream abuse at the sky and Gamemakers. All of that was for nothing. Nothing but the entertainment of our captors.

I don't know how to react, to express the anger I feel.  I just sit there, staring at the ceiling of the cornucopia and finding myself lucky that I am in the "center".

Jac Price (District 9)

There's no cover from the rain as we sit on the edge of the forest, under the charred trees. Their branches have been burnt away and offer no protection. Still, it's only a slight nuisance. The temperature is humid and the rain itself is oddly warm. Not much of a problem for us right now. Though I don't like the idea of trying to sleep through it.

"I wonder whose left," Azalea (9) comments from beside me. Her eyes are fixed firmly on the sky, where the Anthem should soon be starting. 

"Only six left. Counting us." I try not to think back on what happened earlier today but fail miserably. Iggy and Luxio could both be dead right now. Azalea too. It's possible that I would only have two others to outlast at this point if I hadn't opted to save Azalea. There'd be only two more deaths before being able to return to District 9 as a hero and saviour...

The thought is extremely tempting right now but I never once even considered it during the actual encounter. I could never let Azalea get die. Not even if her death would save me. I know what I promised her but I'm not expecting I'll be able to hold that up, not when push comes to shove. 

Azalea shifts her weight around and rests her head against my shoulder, unintentionally making me even more nervous. I denied it when she brought it up, but in reality she's right. District 9 would prefer me winning over her. They would still accept her of course but the question is "would the Capitol?" 

Maybe I'm being too paranoid but a small part of me--No, a large part of me--feels that the Capitol wouldn't allow Azalea to win. Just think about it. What would make a better story? Me winning; a relative of Jake Price and a hero to the people of District 9, or Azalea winning; a relative nobody who just happens to be from District 9? The answer is pretty obvious.

I don't think that the Capitol is going to rig it for me or anything. But I do think that if it comes to a situation where it's obvious that one of us two is going to win, then they'll make sure that I'm the one to survive.

I look into Azalea's breathtakingly beautiful green eyes and feel a terrible feeling in my chest. She's going to die. Unless I die first. One of us is going to have to die. Maybe the both of us, if we're unlucky. But if one of us absolutely survives and becomes Victor then the other has to die

Musical notes suddenly interrupt the terrible thoughts gnawing at my brain and then Azalea is pointing to the sky as the first face shows up. Iris. District 3. 

I hadn't ever seen her in the arena, never came across her, but after Aspen died I knew I'd be seeing her face in the sky soon. Azalea mumbles something I don't catch and then the next face comes. The District 6 girl. I feel like I should know her name but it escapes me. I know even less about her then I knee about Iris. The only thing that I can remotely recall is that she got a high training score, but even then the exact score eludes me.

"Colin! I thought he would make it to the end!" Azalea is shocked by the appearance of the District 8 boy and I am too. He was a strong contender to win the entire thing. Now he's dead. That's good for us.

Amaya (14) and Iggy (C) close out the fallen and then the seal is back in the rainy sky. Azalea lies back and I chew on a small leaf with an absent-mind as the rain continues to fall on our heads. "Who are the other four?" Azalea asks from where she lies. "Fawn is one, I know. But the others?"

"Luxio," The name is the first to pop into my head. "And Ganta. The District 12 boy, the one who pretended that he'd heal Billy."

Azalea gives a small huff. "Maybe if he actually did heal him Fawn wouldn't have gone psycho."

"Maybe. But I don't doubt that the two of them would have turned on us at some point. Then we'd have been in serious trouble."

"We would have beaten them. Remember, Missy would still be on our side..." She trails off and then there's a long silence before she speaks again. "Whose the last tribute?"

"It's..." Surprisingly, I can't recall. Shaking my head, I bite my lip and try to think who we could be missing. Luxio has lost his entire alliance, so has Ganta. Both of the original loners are dead and the Careers have been eradicated. I know it's not a Anti-Career. "Is it a District 11 tribute?" I throw out a wild guess.

"No. Both Blake's are dead." Azalea sits up now as we try to put our minds together. I'm pretty sure we have thought of everyone. Maybe we miscounted and there are five tributes left.


I embarrassingly jump in fright at Azalea's sudden shout and she lets out a crystalline laugh. "You looked like a rabbit, Jac!" I feel my face redden as I brush my shoulder awkwardly. Azalea smiles. "It was Anais. The District 1 girl. She didn't align with the Careers, that's how we missed her."

Of course. She and her sister had chosen to go their own route, forsaking the Careers to their eventual fate. I feel a brief joy at the discovery but it disappears when I remember how big of a threat Anais is. She's probably the only tribute left who Azalea and I couldn't take in a head-on fight. Azalea must see the look on my face. "We can take her," She tells me. "We're the only alliance left. Anais should be afraid of us. They all should."

"Don't tell them that. We don't need anyone targeting us." I smile while I talk but I'm still speaking the truth. We don't need things to be any harder.

Azalea just shrugs. "Fawn is already gunning for our heads. Luxio probably is too. And Anais is no idiot. She knows we're her biggest threat."

"You're doing a poor job of making me feel better!" I grunt indignantly but she just laughs and waves it off.

"I'm not trying to. I'm just telling it like it is. Now let's get some sleep. I have a feeling tomorrow could be the end of everything we know..."

Day 7/ Finale

Hazel Dyer (Mentor)

The moment I wake up in the morning I tap a button on my bedside and turn on the television screen. "Camera forty-seven!" I say calmly and the screen zooms to the requested feed, the one currently focused on Jac Price and Azalea Finch.

The usual wave of emotions wash over me as I see his face, see all of the familiar features. He looks so much like Jake. No wonder District 9 loves him so much.

I stay in bed, watching the two of the as they converse in low voices. My nerves are frayed as I watch them, knowing that the end of the Games is near. Being forced to mentor and watch the Hunger Games for over seventy years makes one attuned to the Games, makes one begin to understand how they work. I know that the Games will end today. Five kids will die. At least one of them has to be one of my kids.

I take my time getting dressed with the assistance of a robotic service and after grabbing my thick wooden cane, I hobble towards the door and exit my apartment. It's a slow trip to the elevator and then I'm riding down to the Mentors Lobby. I'm just stepping out when a well-dressed man rushes towards me. "Hazel! Do you have any idea what is going on?" He peppers me with questions, questions that I don't understand.

"What has happened, Quinton?" I ask when his tirade finally recedes. Quinton, one of District 3's mentors, gestures towards the desolate lobby.

"The other mentors! They're all gone! You're just the fifth one I've seen today!" His voice has risen to an almost hysterical pitch and I let my eyes take in the lobby for the first time. He's not wrong. It's completely empty. The large fountain stands in the center of the room, bubbling along. The restaurant is empty, the lounge is empty, the bar is empty. The only place that isn't empty is the Games room, where a small group of people stand in a close-knit circle. I recognize one of them as Watt Chargy, Quinton's fellow District 3 mentor and one of the few Victors that I can really call my friend. "See?! They're not here!" Quinton still sounds worried but has calmed his erratic motions, adjusting his glasses with nervous hands.

"Have you checked their rooms?" I ask in a level voice. I know that majority of the mentors have already left, headed back to their home Districts now that they've already lost all of their responsibility. But at my last count there was still eighteen mentors left in this facility.

"Of course we've checked their rooms! We knocked on each one but received no answer. You didn't answer when we came to yours." Quinton peers out me from beneath his glasses, as if I owe him an explanation.

"You know I take medication," I answer, trying hard not to sound offended. "I wouldn't have heard a thing."

"Aw. Correct. I forgot about your condition." Quinton lapses into silence but only for a moment. "Yet that doesn't account for the others. Twelve mentors are missing. Something is obviously amiss!"

"Maybe they went home like the rest," I'm tiring of this conversation and my eyes have begun to drift towards the televisions that cover the lobby. Right now it appears that Luxio is on the move.

"Perhaps. But Bradley and Coal still have a tribute in the Games. Sera too."

"What do you want from me? Answers? I obviously don't have any!" I find myself snapping at him, angry for the first time in a long while. Quinton drops his head in shame and I feel apologetic when a new voice speaks.

"She have any answers for you?"

The group I spotted in the Games room as approached us, unnoticed. Watt notices me and gives a frail smile when Quinton responds. "Umm. No. She is as unaware as us."

"Well, slag that!" The man who initially spoke, a large muscular guy with blonde hair in a crew cut. I know him. Chaz Robards. There's no love lost between the two of us. I vividly remember his Games, the only Games where a District 9 tribute had managed to make the final five under my mentorship. I remember the tribute, Rye, a small frail boy who didn't look like much but turned out to be a survivor. I also remember how Chaz smashed his skull in, splattering his brains across the rock. I've never been able to look him in the face and not wish to shove my cane down his smug throat. "If the old lady doesn't have the answers, then who does?"

I fix him with a fierce glare. His arrogant attitude and better-then-you demeanour hasn't done him any favor in garnering my respect either. "Have you spoken with the Peacekeepers?" I turn my back on Chaz and face Quinton. "They're the proper authority. You should always contact them first."

"We haven't seen a single Peacekeeper. None." A woman speaks, probably a District 1 mentor. "Not anywhere in the facility."

And that finally gets my attention. No Peacekeepers? Anywhere? I throw my gaze around the room until it finds what I'm searching for, a small black camera in the corner of the lobby. "They're still watching us, aren't they?" I point my cane at the camera and the others heads swivel around to face it.

"No clue," Another mentor speaks, shaking his head. "But it's not like we've searched far. Only here, the apartments and the observation deck. They could all--"

The blaring of an alarm cuts through the air, forcing me to cover my ears. The other mentors spin around in confusion, all talking at once. It feels like I have a splitting headache and I fear I'm about to pass out when the alarm cuts off and then there's a loud rumbling as the elevators behind us slide open.

Several figures dressed in green hazmat suits pour out, followed by gun wielding Peacekeepers. Quinton steps forward to speak but before he gets far one of the Peacekeepers aims his gun towards him and screams a warning. "Don't move! We need to make sure you're not infected!"

Infected? What in the world are they speaking about? Quinton tries to ask but one of the hazmat suits has approached him with a radar like tablet. The District 3 mentor watches nervously as the suit waves the thing around his body, the tablet occasionally letting out beeps as it passes body parts. Nothing is said until the radar has been thoroughly jabbed around his body. Then one of the Peacekeepers waves him forward. "You're clean. Check the rest!"

Despite having multiple radars, the Hazmats check us one at a time. When they get to be I can see my own scared expression staring back from the reflective helmet. The only thing I can think of as the radar is moved around is how awful it would be to have gotten some infection, some devilishly vile disease that eats away at you...

"You're clean!"

They wave me forward and I join the rest as they check Chaz. He too comes back clean. "What was that for?" He grumbles angrily as he's shoved towards the rest of us.

"Protective measures!" One of the Peacekeepers flashes his badge, it reads "Corporal Tyfring". "A deadly virus has been identified in this facility. Already it has killed a third of the mentors present."

Silence falls over us as the awful truth finally hits. The twelve mentors that are missing... "You mean...they're all dead?" Quinton speaks quietly, his voice full of the fear and sorrow that I feel.

"Affirmative. You six are the only mentors left in the Capitol. For your protection you will be transferred to a safe house, somewhere we can keep you safe from the virus and take further tests." Corporal Tyfring makes a hand signal and then the other Peacekeepers move to surround us. I stop them.

"Wait! We can't leave! The Games! I need to see who wins the Games! I need to see if Jac breaks the curse!" There's a madness to my words. I can't leave, not now. Jac has survived for so long...if he just lasts a bit longer he can end the horrible streak, he can break the curse. He could finally redeem me.

"There is no need to worry about that. You will be able to witness the Games conclusion from the safe house."

"Oh...Oh good." A peace washes over me. I don't even think it's out of place, me worrying about the Games while twelve people have just died. People die all of the time. It makes no difference whether it's here or in the arena. But what Jac can can change people's lives. Especially mine. It could finally bring me the peace I have sought for so long...

Corporal Tyfring begins to lead our formation towards the elevators when another thought strikes me and I bring the procession to a halt. "My medicine! I need my medication!"

"Really, again?"

"Stupid old lady needs everything..."

The Peacekeepers complain but Corporal Tyfring ignores them, allowing me to head back to my apartment and gather my needed medication. Quinton volunteers to come with and--surprisingly--so does Chaz.

It's not long before the three of us arrive at the door to my room, having gone up one of the elevators. I tell them to wait as I enter and hobble towards my bathroom. I open the mirrored cabinet and take out all of my medication, depositing it inside of my diamond studded purse. I shut the cabinet and that's when I finally see it. A note stuck to my mirror. "Horse in a haystack..."

I unclip the note and open it with trembling fingers. I don't even know why my fingers are trembling, they just are. My heart rate starts to rise as I read and by the time I've finished, it feels like my heart is about to burst from my chest.

"What's that?"

A hand yanks the note from my grasp and through the mirror I see Chaz reading the letter rapidly. Behind him, Quinton shuffles cautiously into the room. "We wanted to make certain you were alright," He explains after an awkward pause.

I ignore him, focusing on Chaz and my stolen letter. "May I have that back?"

"What is it?" Chaz keeps his blue eyes focused on the letter.

"It's a letter. I thought even you would know that."

"I meant, what's it for? Who is it from?" He glances down at me and I try to snatch the letter but he pulls back, hoisting it over his head and far from my reach.

I let out an extremely exasperated sigh. "I don't know! Probably someone trying to play a prank..." My mind is still trying to understand its contents, still trying to decipher it's meaning. I want to examine it further but Chaz keeps a hold of it.

"Doesn't sound like that to me. Seems more like--"

"Do I have to remind the two of you that we have a contingent of Peacekeepers waiting on us?" Quinton pushes himself between us and I flash him a grateful look as Chaz mutters something intelligible. "Yeah. Whatever. Have your letter." He drops it to the counter as he turns and exits the room. Quinton pats me on the back and then follows.

I watch them go and pick up the letter, breathing shakily and holding it close to my face as I read it once more.


Part of me wishes that they extracted you with the rest. But I know that would have been unwise. You still have a part to play and you need to stay where you are to accomplish it.

I'm going to keep this short and concise. First, I have a few points of advice for you...

1: Be careful who you trust. I am sure you learned this long ago, but not everyone is there to help you. If someone doesn't seem trustworthy; they're not. Don't endanger yourself trusting people who don't deserve it.

2: Don't close yourself in. This may seem counterintuitive to 1 but it's not. Just like how not everyone is there to help, not everyone is there to harm. Learn who your friends are and use them. You'll appreciate it in the long run.

3: Don't despair. No matter what you see or hear; Don't despair. All is not what it seems.

4: You may believe that you never succeeded as a mentor but you'd be wrong. You have succeeded. You were my mentor when I won. You kept me alive while others died. We were never close but I have always known that you saved my life. And for that, you may have saved millions more.

Keep this advice close and we may meet again.

~The Seer

Fawn Talons (District 10)

The rain has stopped. First it slowed to a small trickle and then it subsided completely. I wander the beach with my scythe at the ready, wondering where the other tributes are. The sand beneath my feet is wet, even beyond the tide line. It squishes softly under my feet as I walk carefully along the forest's edge. 

I must have the most useable items left by now; Who could have more? I have a scythe, a knife, a flashlight, rope, a stolen raft and even a grenade! The there's the items I've received from my sponsors just now; Darts, poison, and a net. I have so many items. Surely victory is within my grasp. Surely I can defeat the others and go home.

I can see the center island, even through the fog that has sprung up over night. If I am correct in my guess than that's where majority of the remaining tributes have gone. It's where the Feast was held and where the Games began. I know many will think that is where it'll end.

Maybe it is where it'll end. Where it'll all end.

I'm debating whether I should raft my way across to the island but my mind is mostly set on staying here. Why should I leave? I have the advantage here, the others would have to come to me if I stay. Yes. That is the best course of action.

I've made up my mind when I hear a faint rumbling noise. The ground beneath me gives a slight quake and I stumble forward before controlling my balance. What is that?

My eyes go to the coast, to the ocean. They quickly note that the tide has stopped. Completely. There's no waves. None at all.

This can't be right. A voice in my head points out the obvious. The tide doesn't just stop. The ocean never just sits there, like it's waiting for a signal. Something is wrong. Something is about to happen. Something dangerous.

The ground quakes again. I'm thrown back onto the sand but I quickly scrabble to my feet, staring out at the horizon in horror. A gigantic wave is forming out in the ocean. Like a large blue blanket being spread out, it rises far off of the coast. Not moving, just sitting there. Gathering more water and increasing in size.

"Death by wave..." The words escape my trembling lips and then I turn, running for the jungle. My first instinct was to head for the beach and my raft but that obviously wouldn't work. The wave would swallow my raft like a whale swallows krill. I'd be dead in seconds.

But the jungle offers sanctuary. It's trees give protection against the massive wave that threatens to wipe me off the planet. Or at least I hope it does.

My legs pump with a horrified urgency, pushing me through the grasping vines and gnawing thorns. Through the gaps in the trees I see the wave has begun to descend towards the island. The roaring sound it creates is beyond my imagination, beyond anything I could have imagined.

And then it hits the island.

Blasts of cold water rip through the jungle and smash into my side. I'm completely disoriented, unable to tell what is happening as water sloshes me about. I see the jungle upside down and I realize that the wave has flipped be around. I feel my back graze against something hard and prickly then I'm smashing into a trunk of a thick tree and the water dissipates.

So quick. So frightening. So lethal.

I'm spitting up water as I try and get back to my feet. The word has the appearance of shaking and my eyes sting from the salt water. I feel a painful sensation in my side and spot a large red gash. Probably from a bit of debris that was also caught in the tidal wave. My back also stings terribly but I can't get a good look at it. I wonder if I want to.

I note that I feel lighter, that my net is missing. I spin around in search for it but I see it nowhere in the waterlogged jungle. I smash my fist into the side of a tree. I just got that net! I curse aloud and then shake my head as I realize my folly. I can't just sit around. I need to move before another wave comes by. Rushing back towards the center of the jungle, I note that I'm on the completely opposite side of where I once was. The wave had taken me across the entire island. "Sod that..." I stop to catch my breathing, leaning against the side of a palm tree. I can see the other islands from here, other then the west. And I note that they all have trees ripped from the ground, debris covered shores, and waterlogged jungles.

Except for the center island.

That island is surprisingly dry. Not a single tree out of place. It's just as it was before the wave, when I was observing it earlier. It's a message from the Gamemakers. Come to the center island and you may live. Stay where you are and drown.

I don't plan on drowning.

Behind me the wave has begun to gather again, like storm clouds on the horizon it threatens to swallow us. I fear that it may.

My raft is gone, taken by the wave and smashed upon rocks. Trying to swim across would be plain stupidity. But then where do I go? Surely there must be another way? I spin around, frantically trying to find an out, find a way to continue my existence. Icy fear is building in my chest as my prospects for survival begin to dim. Then I spot a gap between the rocks.

I start running for it, noticing the stairs leading down. It could be nothing. It could lead to nowhere but an empty cave but I have to try. What other option do I have?

I'm scrambling inside of the cave just as I hear the rising crescendo of the wave as it begins its journey to the island. The tunnel I'm in is dark, dank, and long. Water up past my knees fill the entire length of it but I slosh forward regardless. I do not wish to die here. 

My will keeps me moving through the tunnel. I feel the tremor of the wave smashing down and the very walls and roof of the tunnel begins to shake violently. The cold dread returns. I may have made a poor decision coming down here. The shaking continues until I'm thrown from my feet, splashing beneath the water. I emerge quickly, spitting out the foul tasting salt water and continuing forward.

Ahead of me a fork appears. Two separate paths await me and I stop dead in my tracks. It's not from the sudden choice of path though, it's because of the boy.

Luxio (13) has emerged from one of the tunnels, soaking wet and shivering. I remember him as having long dark hair that glimmered in the light. That's gone now. In it's place is a few patches of black tuft on a head covered with fleshy scabs and raw skin. What the hell happened to him?

He doesn't seem to notice me as he sits there, panting and regaining his breath. I debate whether I should run up and cut him down--right here and now-- with the scythe on my back when the rumbling that had silently abated returns. He looks my way and points a horrified finger. Not at me. Behind me.

Making the mistake of turning around, I see a rushing funnel of water seeping down the passage, heading straight for me. "Run!" I shout uselessly and follow my own advice. Luxio has already gone sprinting forward, going as fast as possible in this slogging water. I don't dare look back as I run. I know the waters still there, I can hear it. It threatens to overtake me with each step. I fear dying down here, in this black tunnel that never ends. But I won't. Not if I can help it.

Despite his head start, I've already gained on Luxio, pulling alongside him. He throws me a quick glance and then I'm suddenly being slammed into the tunnel wall as he stumbles and his shoulders smash into me. "I slipped!" He shouts as I recoil from the blow and drop behind him. "Didn't mean it! Wasn't trying to! It's like with Billy! It was all an accident!" I don't believe him. I didn't want to fight with him, didn't want this to happen. But he's forced my hand. And...he was the one who killed Billy. Doesn't matter what he was trying to do. Fury rises in me and I slip my dagger out as I run, trying to ignore the increasing sound of the roaring water that dogs us. He wants to play like that? Fine. I'll play his game.

It's only a few more paces before I once again draw even with him. This time, before he can shove me, I slash my dagger across his shoulder. He howls in pain and rage, dropping behind me. Worry that he may have a weapon of his own eats at me but it disappears when, up ahead, two more forking paths appear. I angle my body to head down the right one when Luxio's hand grasps around my wrist. "It was an accident, witch!"

He throws his weight backwards and despite my momentum, I'm pulled back with him. We both go crashing into the water and then we're back on our feet, throwing punches and slashing with knives. "I have to win!" I scream at him as I slash madly at his face. He dodges with ease and hits me with a backfist.

"We all feel the same, Fawn!" His voice is full of anger and nastiness as he hits me with another punch. I see stars. "But what does it matter? The winner will be whoever the Capitol wants it to be. It always is."

He has a grip on both of my wrists now, holding them tight and preventing me from fighting. He didn't want this battle to happen. Wants it to end. Guess he'll get what he wants. Because I see the frothing funnel of water as it comes hurtling towards us. "Let's see who survives this, eh?" I headbutt Luxio in the direct center of the forehead and he stumbles back, in front of the left passage.

Then the water hits us.

Jac Price (District 9)

I lead the way as the two of us--myself and Azalea (9)--trudge forward, pulling our raft behind us. I try to think of something to say, something worthy of saying as a last word of sorts, but I can't think of anything. My mind is too preoccupied with the horrible task we have ahead of us. The task of killing four more tributes.

"Good luck," Azalea says as we reach the very edge of the beach. "And...whatever happens. Just try to win, okay?"

I stare at my feet. Thinking about Azalea possibly dying isn't something that I want to have on my mind right now. But I know it's what should be there. Because it is going to happen. "Yeah," Words finally form on my tongue. "Yeah. You too."  The ground beneath our feet suddenly begins to shake and tremor. We jostle with each other to stay up and then a gigantic funnel of water shoots out from the earth, flying into the sky and dowsing us in a frothy spray. Azalea ducks behind me and I shield my eyes. Did I see a person in that mess? 

I look harder as the funnel dissipates, the water ends. I can now see the hole in the ground from whence it came. A tunnel? Azalea frowns. "Thought we'd be safe from the water on the center island?"

"Looks like that water came from within," I say with a shrug. Our raft landed here on the center island just as the first wave struck the others. Now, the waves come hard and frantic, completely smashing the islands. Many trees have been ripped from their roots and tossed around like mere twigs by the mighty waves of terror. I'm glad that we made it when we did. Those waves could have killed us so easily...

"So, what now?" Azalea wrings her hands together nervously as she peers back at the islands that are being decimated by the waves. The stretch of water that separates the islands is churning with fallen trees and many other debris. It looks like a graveyard of everything.

"Dunno. Continue to the cornucopia? Or try to find the others?" It's the only things I can think of. Azalea doesn't disagree so we make that our course of action. We begin to head off of the beach and toward the jungle when I notice a shape lurching out from the trees, gasping and hacking out mouthfuls of water. I'd recognize that curly brown hair anywhere, even with it being wet and matted to her head.


I feel Azalea stiffen beside me as she also recognizes the girl. I fear she's about to charge ahead stupidly, try to cut her down. She doesn't. She just looks to me with wide eyes, asking an unspoken question. Now what?

"I..." I trail off, unsure. Fawn is on her knees now as she coughs up water. I now realize she was the shape I noticed in the water funnel. She was pulled through a funnel and shot out like a bullet. She should be an easy kill. But...I have bad feelings about engaging her. Very bad feelings. Fawn suddenly sits up and she notices us right away.

"You two!" Her cry is a strangled one. Her face a mask of horror and anger. "Murderers...!"

I feel an angry pain in my chest. I am a murderer. But not of Billy. I killed Julio (6) in the bloodbath, yes. But I didn't kill Billy. I was his ally but I was not in any way obligated to give my lifesaving item to him. But I know Fawn won't see it that way. She's too blind. Blinded by her love for him.

"You're one to speak!" Azalea shouts back before I can respond. "You attempted to kill me! You're no better than anyone else here!"

Fawn sighs a small, sad sigh. "Yes. I know. We're all the same here. All terrible, terrible, people. But I don't care. All I care about is winning. About coming home. You two are just obstacles. Obstacles in my path to victory and salvation. And like all obstacles, you must be removed."

She springs forward with more than alarming alacrity. I quickly step forward to intercept her but before she even reaches me a small black ball slips out from her hand. I stare at the ball and then it explodes with intense light.

I hear Azalea scream in alarm as the light blinds me, robs me of my vision. Everything is bright, far too bright. I'm disoriented, spinning around trying to see Fawn and failing at it. I hear Azalea scream again, this time in pain. My blood runs cold and I'm screaming in blind fury as my vision slowly comes back into focus. What I see chills me to my core.

Azalea slumps to the ground, a large bloody spot spreading along her side. Fawn is wheeling backwards, staring out at the ocean in fright. Then she turns and runs towards the jungle. I scream and drop beside Azalea and press my hands to the wound as I try to stop the bleeding. "Jac..." Azalea's eyes flicker to me and she points to the ocean. "The waves..."

I see it now. I see the large blue wall of water that is forming just forty yards away from the shore. That's why Fawn ran. She ran in fear. Fear of the waves that have wrecked the other islands. And the waves that are now threatening this one.

"Run, Jac. Run." Azalea sounds weak as she speaks. "Save yourself and keep District 9's hopes alive."

"No!" I can't. I won't. What kind of person would I be if I just left her here to die? The kind that Fawn believes me to be. But that's not me. I am something more. "I'm not going to leave you!" I use my sword to cut away a strip of my wetsuit and press it against Azalea's wound. I tell her to hold it still as I slip my arms around here and pull her up. "It looks worse than it is," I tell her. "You'll be fine."

I don't know if I'm trying to convince her or myself. She doesn't respond, just tries desperately to stay up as I ferry her towards the treeline and the shelter of the jungle. We only get ten feet before she collapses. "Get back up, Azalea!" I say, a hint of madness in my voice. "Get up! You can't stay here, we'll die!"

"I-I can't! I can't!" I see fear and pain in her eyes. Terror begins to rise in my own chest as I see the jungle, still thirty yards away. We won't reach it. I know we won't. "Jac." There's a serene calmness in her voice now. Like she's accepted what will happen, what must happen. "Let me go. Save yourself. You need to win for District 9. That is what you volunteered for."

"No!" I barely fight back the tears that have formed in my eyes, blurring my vision of Azalea's face. "No! That's not why I volunteered! I volunteered to show the Capitol and District 9 strength, true strength. I'm not going to leave you and save myself. That's what the Capitol wants, what they demand. Inside the Games or outside, it doesn't matter. They want everyone to care only for themselves, to sacrifice all to stay alive for just few more minutes. But why would I? What is the value of a life lived alone? One where you abandon everyone and everything you care about just to save your own skin? It's nothing. It's worse than death. If I die trying to save someone else then at least I died doing what I believed is right."

Azalea's eyes gleam with unshed tears. Her hand grips mine and she squeezes softly. Tears are brimming down my own face as I hoist her back up and move as swiftly as we muster. It's not enough. I hear the wave before it comes.

Then it hits us.

Thousands of gallons of water smashes into us, drives us forward. I don't know how I'm not instantly dead. But I will be soon.

Everywhere I look is water. Azalea is gone, lost somewhere in the deep. The tide rolls back, carrying me with. I don't know which way is up, which way is down. I don't know anything. I float in the water, seeing rocks and dirt and debris float by. This is the end.

Oddly, I feel a serene sense of peace. I did what I could. I showed District 9 what I am made of, what the Price family is made of. So I didn't break the curse, is it that bad? At least I made it this far. I proved that District 9 has something to fight for...Maybe they'll make me a martyr. I wouldn't like that. Azalea would be a much better martyr. She was what drove me, after all.

That's why, as I float to the bottom of the ocean, I don't feel bad. I don't despair. If I had won, I'd be a hero. People would have looked up to be and wished to become me. But now that I am dead, I will become a legend. They will hear my story and wish to bring my dream to reality. It's better this way.

The water has stopped churning. The froth has disappeared. A body floats beside me, one with long black hair splayed wide and looking like an angel. Azalea. My fingers interlock with hers and I feel the coldness in her. She's already gone. No matter. I will soon join her.

Darkness approaches, eats at my vision. Everything eventually goes dark. I see a light open above me. I swim towards it.

Anais Morrisa (District 1)

"La-la-la, tra-la-la, Such a pretty day! Such a pretty sight! The world just seems alright!" Everyone always told me I had such a pretty voice, told me that I should become a singer. While they were right-- I am a brilliant singer-- I always felt that killing resonated with me more.

From outside the jungle I can hear the sounds of the crashing waves and then, music to my ears. Cannon fire. Boom! Boom!

I let out a high-pitched giggle as the sounds of the cannon fade away. Two more deaths! Two more tributes dead! I have only three more opportunities to kill before I am crowned Victor of these Games. "This is because of you Carmine!" I say happily as I rest my back against a large tree trunk. The cornucopia island is not far away from me, just about fifty yards behind this tree. Someone is lying dead or wounded up there, Ganta (12), I think. I'm not going to finish him off just yet. He's not going anywhere after all. Instead, I'm waiting for someone else to appear in this jungle.

"Only one place to go!" I say to the air. "This island! Come, come, come! Come if you wish to live!" I break out giggling as I realize that the remainders have to go through me to get the cornucopia, where the Gamemakers are clearly trying to drive us. The others will come eventually. I just have to wait.

Only several minutes pass before I hear the faint sound of footsteps during a lull between waves. Then a figure emerges from the jungle. I smile in joy.

Luxio (13).

He's much more wretched looking than the last time our paths crossed. His horribly mangy hair is gone, replaced by raw skin. His arms and legs are covered with fresh burns and scars. He walks with a limp, his left hand helps move his leg, his right hand he holds a simple knife. I laugh as I see him. This will be an easy task. "I like this new look!" I smile and step out of the jungle. I appreciate how he jumps in shock and the scathing look that forms on his face. He looks back, as if planning to run. But he doesn't. He must know that he could never out run me with that bum leg of his. Heh. I have him now. "It really suits you! You look so dashing!"

"Shut up you little c-"

"How rude!" I cut him off before he gets started on one of his tirades. "Have you no manners? I thought Flame would have taught you better..."

"Don't you even utter her name, you foul creature!" His shoulders shake with unbridled rage. My smile widens.

"Flame. Flame. Flame, Flame, Flame. Did that get you going?" I giggle and give him a little curtsy as he screams swears and curses at me. I can see him even better now. And I know that the knife he wields is his only weapon. His wetsuit has been burnt away, leaving no belt or pocket for him to hide anything away. Maybe in his backpack, but he couldn't reach anything in there. "Didn't you have other allies?" I continue sweetly, ignoring his outbursts. "Jake and...what was his name? The stupid little guy from the Capitol? Iffy? No that's not right. Uggy? Luggy? Oh! I just can't remember!" I flail my arms around dramatically.

"His name was Iggy! And he was worth a thousand of you!"

I giggle softly. "You're the only one to feel that way, darling."

He cries out and then leaps forward. I'm actually caught off guard. His knife slices across my ear and I feel blood squirt from the wound as Luxio slams his shoulder into my midriff. He's on top of me and attempting to drive his knife into my heart. My hands catch his wrist and as I'm attempting to twist it around he brings his mouth forward and sinks his teeth into my hand.

"You nasty little cretin!" I scream in pain as my left hand slaps into his face and forces my hand free. He falls back and I roll over, attempting to pull my hammer or spear from my back. He kicks me in the gut before I can, driving the breath out of me. Then he's atop of me again, his hand pressing the knives blade against my throat. "Get off me!" My hand claws at his face and he howls as fresh scratches slice open on his cheek. I lift my knees between us and then I'm kicking him off. He's on the ground for only a second before he's jumping back at me, slashing his knife wildly.

"You. Will. Die!" His eyes are blazing orbs of fury as back up from his endless swings. I see the weakness in him now. I see how I will win. It's so easy.

I use both my hands to catch his right handed swing. The knife rattles precariously as he struggles mightily against my force. I smile and he barks madly at me. I can't help saying a badass line. "You have something I don't," I tell him as he begins to win the battle for the knife. "And it really hurts!"

My leg goes forward and my right foot catches him between the legs, right in the groin. He gawps stupidly for a moment and then he's falling to the ground. He rolls around in very obvious pain, shouting and screaming. Cursing me out with all his might. I laugh and take two of my knives out. He's lucky. I have half a mind to make him pay for each and every insult with a tiny cut. I'd give the death of a thousand cuts. But I really don't have time for that.

"You tangled with the wrong girl!" I giggle and then plant myself atop his chest. His wrists are under my feet, his shoulders pinned by my knees. "Once you've dead, tell Flame that I sent you!" My knife slices through his throat. Blood bubbles out like a fountain and he chokes and squirms, suffering from wild convulsions. I laugh and give his body a kick as the blood pours from his wound. What a foolish little boy. He was only ever a threat when he had the drop on me. He was never a threat to me when I was prepared.

I take his knife from his fingers and pull the backpack off before skipping back into the shade of the jungle. Only two more to go!

Fawn Talons (District 10)

Only two more to go.

Another cannon has just sounded, the third of the day. Jac is gone. Azalea is gone. And now someone else is gone as well. 

I stumble as the ground beneath me gives a tremor. The waves have begun hitting this island and I have already seen their effects. I saw what happened to Jac and Azalea from the cover of the jungle. I saw as the waves wiped over them and swiped them away into the deep ocean. I don't miss them.

I continue making my way through the thick jungle overgrowth. My hand still holds the blood-stained dagger I plunged into Azalea's side. While the statistics won't show it, I practically killed the both of them. I was the one who prevented Azalea from being able to run from that monster wave. And I killed Jac too. I knew he would never leave Azalea's side, would never abandon her. I killed them both.

District 9 must absolutely despise me.

My feet get tangled in a twisting root and I trip, falling to the muddy jungle floor. The wind has picked up severely in the past few minutes, it's even able to penetrate the thick jungle canopy and bluster me with fierce gales. "Only two more..."

My mind comes back to the fact that I only have two more opponents. I no longer feel a sense of vengeance stirring inside me and I assume this is because all of the people who contributed to Billy's death are gone. Jac, Azalea, and--I somehow can just feel this--Luxio. All of them have moved on from this world. Have lost the Games.

Leaving only three more.

I have two more enemies, two more kids who must die: Anais (1), the cold-hearted girl from District 1 who, along with her sister, threatened to bash my head in during training. She now has that opportunity. And then there's Ganta (12), the boy from District 12. Anger forms in me as I recall that he had pretended that he was going to heal Billy but instead just used his condition as a distraction for himself. I despise the boy. Suddenly my sense of vengeance is back but I try to force it away.

Vengeance solves nothing. But victory will be a salve to my unseen wounds, will give me at least a faint sense of relief from what has plagued my mind. Unless I'm killed first. A thunderous boom throws me away from the tree where I was resting and I bounce across the terrain as a frothy ocean spray splashes through the gaps in the canopy, stinging my eyes with the salt. "The waves!" I scramble back to my feet and take off running.

I keep a firm hold on my dagger as I run, it's the only weapon I have left after losing my scythe and darts in the tunnels. I pray it will be enough to earn victory.

Another massive tremor shakes the earth beneath my feet. I stumble but stay up, running through the jungle towards a very familiar location. The cornucopia.

I burst through the trees and spot the golden horn as it gleams dully in the cloudy sky. I think I see a shape lying motionless at the mouth but I don't have enough time to examine it as another tremor sends me stumbling forward into the surrounding water. 

My head shoots back up to the surface and then I'm swimming the forty yards. Out of the corner of my eye I spot the lavender hair of Anais (1) as she plunges into the water and begins to do the same. I focus on swimming.

I'm nearing the island now, close to the flat stones that surround it. Then it begins to shake rapidly and, bizarrely, the island begins to rise. Another Gamemaker plot! I can't afford to not reach it. I will surely die if I do not get on that island. In a last ditch effort I throw myself forward, leaping like a fish out from the water. 

My side smacks into the stone and my hands desperately search for a grip as my body begins to slide back. My fingernails scratch at the rock, trying to hold on with all their might. I'm going to die. I'm going to fall back into the water and die.

Suddenly my fingers catch on a small crevice between the stones. My body stops sliding but my legs still kick out over the open air as the island continues to rise.

Ten feet.

Twenty feet.

Thirty feet.



It continues rising, not stopping until it appears that we are in the clouds themselves. My fingers have turned bone white as I hopelessly cling to my only chance of survival. Fear has overtaken me and I am no longer a human. Just an animal desperate to survive. I try to pull myself back up but I don't have the strength. "No! Please!" I scream to the sky as my grip slackens. I fought for so long just to die now? At the hands of the Gamemakers? How is that fair?

My hands begin to slide. Faces flash across my vision. My parents, family, people from District 10, Billy. "No!" I scream again and with a sudden burning desire, I start pulling myself up. The pain rips through my muscles, tears at my body. But I don't let up. I manage to get at least my hips up to the point and then swing a leg up onto the stone. It latches on and I use my momentum to roll the rest of my body forward, onto the island. And then it's done! I'm back on solid ground! I've done it!

I shout in joy as I lie flat on my back, staring into the sky that looms all too close. It feels like I'm lying in a sticky, oily substance but I don't care. My arms are like thin rubber sticks. I can barely feel them, let alone move them. My right shoulder feels like it has been wrenched out of place and I've got no energy left. I'm exhausted and the Games are still going on...

Despite the alarm bells ring in my head at the thought of the Games and the remaining tributes, I can't bring myself to sit up. The climb has just took too much out of me, left me weak and defenceless. The best I can do is to roll myself over and examine the rest of the island.

The cornucopia is still there, as golden as ever. The items and crates that had once populated the island are now gone. Only the motionless form of a boy lying in the mouth remains. He's covered in fresh blood and a multitude of wounds etch his body. A single bowl sits beside him and his hand still clutches a spoon, even in death. I recognize the boy by his face.


I was wrong. I had assumed that Luxio had died, that he had been the third cannon. But obviously that's not the case. Unless...unless Ganta's cannon just hasn't gone off yet. Then that means...there's only two more tributes left.

Anais and myself.

I see her now, lying on the opposite side of the island. She's flat on her back and breathing rapidly, trying to regain her strength from her obviously harried flight to the cornucopia. She's down but not for long. I try to raise, my dagger already back in hand, but my knees buckle and I fall back to the sand. I'm not strong enough to move just yet.

Anais has me out armed. I notice that while I'm lying down. A spear lies beside her and a shield is attached to her left arm. I also spot a pair of knives sticking out from her belt and my heart drops. How does she have so many weapons? How am I supposed to fight against her?! My single dagger against her spear, shield and knives...

Somehow, I manage to pull myself up. I won't let it end here. Anais will die. I will become Victor. I won't let it end any other way. Anais spots me as I'm crossing the clearing. She rolls her body into a crouching position and she pulls her shield in front of her as she picks up the spear and assumes a phalanx position.

This is it.

The final battle.

Ganta Alomo (District 12)

I crack my eyes open as Fawn (10) comes walking across the clearing. I roll a needle between my thumb and forefinger in preparation but she doesn't come towards me. She goes for Anais (1).

I feel my heart leap into my throat as I see the lavender haired girl. She's armed like a soldier, outfitted with just about every weapon possible. A hammer, spear, shield, knives...It's over. The Games are over. Anais Morrisa has won.

Fawn will attack. She will be quickly defeated and killed. Then Anais will wait for the trumpets to signal her victory. There will be none and she'll wonder why. Then she'll spot my prone body and...

She won't be fooled by the fake wounds I've painted on myself or by the blood I've used to make it more convincing. Maybe she would if there were more tributes left and we weren't on top of a floating island. But there's not more tributes and we are on a floating island. As things stand, she'll finish me off, sure enough. Suddenly I'm wishing that Amaya was here. She may have been a tad crazy but she was a friend. A true friend. She'd have some sort of crazy plan to get us out of the situation. She always did.

I wish I hadn't killed her.

Fawn stops a foot away from Anais. The girl says something but I don't catch it through the whipping wind. Then she lunges forward, her spear aimed for Fawn's heart. Somehow the girl dodges and backs off again, her eyebrows furled as she attempts to find a weakness in Anais' armor.

There is none.

Fawn continues to dance around Anais' spear jabs as the wind begins to pick up. I catch a faint scent of gasoline and remember the trap I've laid around the entire island. This isn't over. Not yet. I still have one last plan.

Fawn has her back to the edge of the island now and Anais turns to face her. I see a small opening and without even thinking it over; I act.

Leaping to my feet, I sprint across the small stretch of sand that separates us and lunge forward. Fawn screams as I crash onto Anais' back, driving her to the ground. I plunge my needle into her right shoulder and then she's howling in pain. She throws me off and crawls away. "You were dead!" Fawn is screaming crazily as I pick up Anais' dropped spear. "I saw you! You were dead!"

I ignore her. My left hand rifles through my pocket and produces the box of matches kept there. In a manner of seconds I have one match lit and then I drop it on the side of the island.


I stumble back as the flames flare up. Bright orange flames flicker menacingly, surrounding the entire island in seconds. Fawn is screaming and then she's suddenly lunging right for me. Self-defence instincts kick in and I throw a right elbow. It smashes into her throat and she falls down, coughing and hacking but very much alive. I don't pay her anymore attention. She's not the threat. Anais is.

"Wow. You're just soo smart. Aren't you?" The lavender girl sneers at me as one of her hands plays with her belt. "Surrounding the battlefield in fire? Wow. I mean, how could that go wrong?"

I gulp nervously. The spear I wield is shaking in my hands. My entire body seems to be shaking. I don't believe I could win this fight. Even with the spear and fire trap. I don't believe I can defeat Anais. And she knows it.

"You're no killer!" She laughs and takes a step closer. "I can see it in your eyes. You could hardly kill an insect! Here! I'll give you the opportunity to finish me off!" She holds her arms wide, leaving her chest and vital areas exposed. My mouth goes dry and beads of sweat form on my forehead. My hands are shaking rapidly. This is a trap. I know it is.

"I can kill." I don't know where I find the courage to speak. "You know I can. You saw me leave Amaya to die. You saw me as I broke her heart right before. You may have finished her off but...But I was the one who killed her.

Anais laughs and then speaks. Her voice as sweet as syrup. "Oh! How true! You broke that little wench's heart alright. You really softened her up for me."

"So, in a way, I'm a better killer than you are."

"Oh? Do explain."

"I killed someone who cared for me. Someone I cared about. You only ever killed random people. You couldn't have brought yourself to kill Carmine, could you?" My words get to her. I see a flash of something in her eyes. Sorrow? Uncertainty? Understanding? I don't know. Something.

"Don't speak to me about Carmine!" There's clear anger in her eyes now.

"Why not? You spoke about Amaya. I think I can say whatever I bloodydamn want!"

Anais snaps. With a murderous glint in her eyes she charges towards me. I step back and plant the butt of the spear into the ground like a pike. Then I wait for the impact.

It doesn't come.

Something silver flies over my shoulder. I get a brief glimpse of a dagger cartwheeling through the air before it slams into Anais' stomach. The girl gags and spits out a bloody phlegm, dropping onto her knees. I'm shocked. Beyond shocked. What happened?

Something hard smacks into my face. I go crashing to the ground. Fawn stands over me, her chocolate brown eyes lit with a dark fury, a dark purplish bruise on her throat. I forgot about her. Forgot that she was still in these Games. What a fool I was.

I fear that Fawn is about to end me when her gaze whips back towards Anais. The lavender haired girl is reaching into her belt and removing an item. A very special item. Instant Relief. And not just any Instant Relief. My Instant Relief. The one I poisoned and placed in the special cornucopia bag. I can see the dark yellow liquid sloshing around inside the holder. And then Anais is moving to inject herself.

But she never does.

Fawn slams into Anais, knocking her down and stomping hard on her wrist. Anais screams painfully and drops the hypodermic needle and I can't hold it back. I shout. "No! You should of let her use it! It was poison!" Fawn steps off of Anais and gives me a quizzical look, like she doesn't understand what I just said.

But Anais did.

Quick like a snake she lunges for the needle, seemingly immune to the dagger in her side. Her uninjured hand wraps around the Instant Relief and then she's plunging the needle into Fawn's thigh.

The liquid drains. Fawn cries out in shock and backpedals away. She pulls her leg up to get a good look on her thigh, see where the poison was injected into her system. Her hands are shaking as she looks at the seemingly normal splotch of skin. Then she turns to me. "I thought you said it was--" She breaks off screaming and begins to bat at her legs. I don't understand what she's doing until her body spins around and I see her thigh. A gigantic red blister has formed. About the size of a tennis ball. It must be painful because Fawn screams and shouts, batting her hands against it. Then more of the blisters begin to form.

They spread across her body, reaching everywhere. Her legs, arms, torso, even her face. They form rapidly and grow quickly. Within seconds they're all the same size as the first. Then Fawn slips and falls to the ground, moaning about how it burns.

And then the blisters pop.

They all explode, eschewing blood and a foul dark yellow pus. My stomach churns as I watch the grotesque scene but I'm unable to pull my eyes away. More blisters keep forming only to explode again. Fawn is wretching and shaking in a fast-forming pool of blood and pus. It smells worse than anything I could imagine. Fawn's screams are replaced by gurgles as she begins to choke on the disgusting substance. And then, a full minute after the first blister exploded, she goes still.

I'm disturbed. My mind can't form any thoughts or anything as I stare hopelessly at what once was a girl but is now a grotesque, deformed monstrosity. None of her features, at least the ones not submerged in the pooling substance, are recognizable. Fawn looks like one of the Capitol's most messed up and disgusting mutts. An abomination.


A cannon goes off. Only then do I remember that a Game is still being played. That I am not yet done here. I tear my gaze away from the scene that I know will haunt me for the rest of my life. No matter how much longer that will be.

My gaze searches the clearing for Anais. I don't see her anywhere. The ring of fire I created continues to burn behind me as I look around the sandy floating island. She was wounded, wasn't she? She couldn't possibly have gone far...

"Oh! Hey there Ganta!"

A pit forms in my stomach as she steps out from the mouth of the cornucopia. She looks as perfect as the moment she was Reaped. Pristine lavender hair, a perfect complexion, the scratches that had grown to mar it gone. Her ear is no longer scarred and the wound that Fawn gave her, the large bloody knife wound in the stomach, is completely gone. I don't understand. "How...why...?" My voice is small and weak. She gives a crystalline laugh.

"Always carry an extra with you!" She giggles, batting her eyelashes as she throws an item at my feet. "That's what I've always been taught."

Shaking, I bend down and pick up the item.'s impossible. How could she have had two?! My blood runs cold. My heart is beating itself our of my chest. My hopes of an easy battle and victory have drained away as I stare at the item in my hand.

Because it's Instant Relief.

Anais Morrisa (District 1)

I laugh again as Ganta (12) stares at the empty Instant Relief with a look of absolute horror. Oh how I am thankful for that dreadful Luxio! The spiteful brat may have been a complete pain in my backside but at least he had such a wonderful item for me to take from his corpse!

And now my victory is all but ensured. 

I continue laughing as Ganta just sits there and gapes at me, like some sort of stupid monkey. He's not a threat. The Instant Relief has restored my body, and after a couple minutes of dizziness, it brought me back to full strength. I haven't felt this good in ages! 

I clench and unclench my hand, testing my muscles. Wonderful adrenaline is pumping through my system, making me feel like incredible. This should be easy. "I don't believe I'll need this!" I take my hammer and hold it away from my body. Ganta looks confused. His confusion turns to shock as I chuck the weapon off of the island, down to the water a thousand feet below. "Or these!" I pull my knives out. My three throwing knives and the one I took from Luxio's cold, dead fingers. I toss them aside. Toss them all off of the island. Ganta can't believe his eyes.

"What the hell are you doing?!" He screams at me. One would expect him to be happy. I did just get rid of all my weapons after all.

"Whatever do you mean?" I ask, arching my head sideways.

"You--You just tossed your weapons away! What...what the hell are you playing at? What do you have?" I laugh. So that's it? He thinks I have some sort of ultra weapon? What a pitiful boy.

"I don't need weapons to kill you," I tell him simply. "All I need are my hands."

He stares back at me with fear. He thinks I am crazy. I am not. He may have a spear and a knife or two but what are those against my fists and years of training? I've spent a lifetime learning how to defeat armed boys twice my size with only my body. He's barely an insect compared to me. "Are you ready?"

"For what?" His eyes dart to the side. Looking at something to my left. A splotch of sand darker than the rest. Interesting.

"For you to die. Our battle won't be long. First, I'll take your spear. Then your knives. Finally, I'll take your life."

"Just try it!" His words are tough but his eyes show his inner fear. He knows what will happen, how this'll end. Might as well get it over with.

I walk towards him and he takes a few nervous steps back. I don't slow down and he lunges forward, slashing his spear in a downward arc. Predictable. I catch the middle of the spear after sidestepping the attack. I hear him gasp as I wrench the weapon back and smash the middle part of the spear into his forehead. He tumbles backwards into the sand and I keep a hold of the spear. "First part down!" I say in a sing songy tone. "Your spear is mine!" I turn and throw it with perfect form off the side of the island, over the flames that still burn. It sails a good thirty feet before heading downwards.

I sense him moving before I see it. Lunging from the ground with a dagger gripped firmly in hand. His stroke is once again sidestepped. I grab his wrist and begin to bend it backward, grinning the whole time. But then he catches me off guard. His knees rises and slams into my stomach, sending me jerking backwards from the shock of the blow.

"You deserve to die!" Ganta fiercely slashes his dagger for my face. I throw a hand up to protect it and the blade rakes across my palm, causing me to scream in pain as a deep cut jettisons blood. "You deserve to die." He repeats himself and unleashes a flurry of strikes, forcing me to back up to avoid being cut in pieces. "You're just President Stryker's puppet! Just like the Capitol!" His blade catches my left hand, nearly taking a finger. "Just like the Capitol!"

I see what he's doing now. He's shepherding me towards the stain in the sand. The one that smells like gasoline. He has a good plan. Problem is; So do I.

I continue backing up until I'm only two feet from the gasoline. I see the box in his belt. I step forward and use both of my hands to catch his wrist as he's bringing the dagger down. "You're wrong!" I seethe into his face as we both struggle for the weapon. I see anger and hatred reflected in his eyes. Pitiful, useless hatred. "You're so very wrong."

He snarls angrily as he attempts to jerk the dagger free. He's pushing against me with all his force. His face is purplish as beads of sweat pour down his face.. "Shut up puppet!" He growls at me. I giggle.

"There are no strings on me."

I act.

Let go of the dagger, sidestep as his momentum sends him barreling forward. My hands are swift and dexterous enough to swipe the box from his belt before he crashes into pool of gasoline. He sputters and gags as some of the stuff gets in his mouth. I light a match and stand over him, giggling. "This is for you, Carmine!"

I drop the match.

Ganta ignites, becoming a human fireball. I dance away, behind the cornucopia, in case he were to attempt to kamikaze me. He doesn't.

He gets up, howling and screaming about how he failed everyone. I laugh as he trips and rolls in the sand, trying to extinguish the flames that devour his body. Nothing works and he stands back up and goes running for the side of the island. I watch as he leaps from the side and plummets through the air towards the ocean more than a thousand feet below.

Silence. And then...


My victory is glorious. I giggle and laugh, waving to the sky where surely Panem watches. I have done it! I have done what I set out to do so long ago! My heart wrenched for Carmine, I know she would have won the Games herself had she been in a different year. But I do not let it dampen my spirit. Carmine would have wanted me to enjoy this moment.

Trumpets are sounding in the sky. Confetti rains down on me and I laugh and laugh, oblivious to the pain in my palm. It's a trivial thing. I drop to the ground and begin making confetti angels as Lazlo Abbott announces my victory to the masses.

I set up once it ends, still giggling uncontrollably. I have won! I have won! I think back on my kills, eight in all. There was certainly room for improvement but I am happy enough. I've won. A hovercraft appears in the sky. I wave to it and then lie back down, content.

I've won.

And I'm still a Sister of the Light.


Anais Morrisa (Victor)

My room is beautifully lit, with bright colors and neon lights. Giggling to myself, I cross the extravagantly plush carpet and stare out the enormous panorama window that gives me a splendid view of the Capitol. Down below me, I watch as people move about like a colourful river in a picture book. Oh how I love the Capitol!

I leave the window and approach the large mirror that takes up the full length of the eastern walls. The Victor's Interview is tonight, only a few short hours away. Already I am dressed for it, though I am not yet needed to be. But how could I not wear it? It is absolutely stupendous! A gorgeous dress of pink satin that turns to lace and ruffles at my knees. A garland of the best-smelling flowers that I have ever rests atop my head. And around my neck rests a string of blood-red diamonds. Diamonds meant to invoke the image of Carmine. "You wouldn't have loved this part as much as I do," I speak quietly to the mirror, my hand resting on the diamonds. "But you would have loved it all the same."

I twirl myself around to get a better look and I can't help but appreciate my porcelain skin, my smooth hair and my killer looks. I am the pinnacle of beauty. I am beauty itself.

The very faint sound of footsteps reach my ears. I doubt the dregs of society would have been able to hear it, but I do. My hearing is splendid. So when the doors to the apartment swing hope, I'm already sitting on a regal armchair like a proper lady. A small table of croissants, bagels, cookies and tea sits beside me and across that is another, albeit empty, chair.

"You have been expecting me?"

President Stryker walks in, followed by a retinue of armed guards. Stryker is as handsome in person as he is on camera. Smooth, brushed black hair. Eyes like shining emeralds that twinkle in the light. Chin like marble. He is very handsome.

I giggle as he waves his retinue off and they depart, shutting the door behind them. I don't hear any more footsteps though. They remain behind the door. "No. I wasn't expecting you. I just heard you approach!"

"Ah. Very clever girl. Certainly, that is why you became Victor." He smiles and sits himself down beside me. His flawless black suit wrinkles as he does so. He makes a face. "I hate this," he says motioning at his suit. "Dressing up and all. I much prefer causal wear." He pours himself a cup of tea and takes a sip before continuing. "Still, formal wear is required for such a special occasion. Even the President must make sacrifices."

"I rather like dressing up," I say as I get myself tea. "Even without a special occasion."

"I suppose you would. And why wouldn't you? You are always quite beautiful but when you dress up you become...something otherworldly."

I giggle and feel my face getting red. In my years of lying and manipulation I've learned how to blush on command. This wasn't on command. "Thank you, President Stryker."

He grimaces at the formal address. "Come now! Did I not say I dislike formalities? Please, call me Stryker. Or if you'd prefer, Leopold or Leo."

"If you insist...Leo"

He chuckles softly and sets his cup down before picking up one of the many cookies. He begins to examine it, giving me opportunity to ask a question that has been on my mind since his arrival. "Did you have any particular reason in coming here, Leo?"

He glances at me with a small smile. "Trying to rid yourself of me already?"

I laugh l. I like his attitude. Almost as much as his pretty face. "Not exactly. Perhaps I am trying to have you stay longer?" We both laugh at that. Leo goes on to say he was merely here to learn more about the Victor personally, something he does every year. He asks questions about my life and I answer rather truthfully, though I omit the part of where I killed a Victor and was chased away by Peacekeepers. Still, I think he knows by the way he smiles when I tell a lie about how Carmine and I arrived at different Districts.

"You have had an interesting life," He comments when I have finished. I giggle and say it was nothing much. He smiles and takes a bite of another cookie. "Perhaps. But mine certainly was something." He tells of how he grew up with a brother and sister under the parentage of Dolan and Noelle Stryker. How he and his siblings played in their own personal garden and how he always wished to compete in the Hunger Games. "My parents weren't fond of the idea," He recalls with a sigh. "Neither was my brother, Noctis. He was always more of a politician than a fighter. Saying he'd rather send others to their deaths than march to his own."

"What about your sister?" I ask quietly. I'm interested in his story. About the many parallels between his and my own.

"Oh she was supportive. Even wanted to compete in the Games herself. Still could I guess." He stops and stares out the window with a peculiar look. I'm tempted to ask what's on his mind when he turns back with a smile. "She's about fourteen now. Haven't seen her in awhile. Presidential duties are taxing and time consuming."

"Why did you never compete?" I ask.

"Surely you must know?" He gazes at me in wonder and when I shake my head he laughs. "I was going to volunteer when I was seventeen. But then...the Rebellion broke out." His eyes harden as he thinks back to the time. I remember it too, though District 1 wasn't involved in the fighting, only our slums and ghettos were effected. I think my District partner, Jake, was from the slums. I never liked him. "And before I could volunteer," Leo is speaking again, his voice dark and low. "The Rebels murdered my parents. They sabotaged my father's convoy and blew him up. I told him he shouldn't have gone. He needn't have gone. But he didn't listen. And they killed him." Leo goes silent, stirring his tea with much more vigour than needed. I don't speak. He looks up and puts on a false smile. "They got my mother too. During the Travesty of The Capitol. Snuck into the mansion and found her and other woman hiding. They had children with them. Including me and my sister."

I still don't speak. I don't have anything to say. I've killed people, even kids like myself. But that was all in a game. This...this was a massacre. "Said we deserved it," Leo continues harshly. "Said we brought it on themselves. That we get what we sow. Then they hacked us to death. Hacked! They didn't even use guns. I did what my mother told me. I got Rosalie out through a vent. But I didn't save myself. I was seventeen and almost a man. Men don't flee. They fight."

Leo's hand has gone white as it clenches around the spoon. His eyes show that he's in a dark place right now. "I was too late. They were all dead. Hacked to pieces. I tackled the nearest one and went to snap his neck when I was torn off. I saw their leader. He wore a mask, the filthy bastard. He laughed at me and said that this was just the beginning, and that my people would receive the pain we deserved, no matter their age or strength. He then cut me down with his blade and left me for dead. I still have the scar." I gasp as Leo stands up and unbuttons his dress shirt. I see the long, ugly scar that stretches from the base of his neck to his stomach. I see for myself the pain that the rebels had inflicted.

"They didn't finish the job. And that's what ruined them. Barkley found me and brought me to medical. With my parents dead I took over as President, though the job rightfully belonged to Noctis. He didn't want it. Was too afraid. I cursed him at the time but now I know it was the right decision. He doesn't have what it takes to lead a country, what it takes to win a war. But I did. Those rebels taught me how. Threaten the weak and elderly. Put their children at risk. Avoid engaging their soldiers and target the defenceless. A soldier fights to protect and defend, it's what drives them. But when you kill everyone he cares about, he doesn't have anything left to fight for. Except vengeance. Now, vengeful men with nothing to lose are very, very dangerous. But it also causes them to make rash decisions. Bad decisions. I won the war within months of taking command. And after I won, I damn well made sure that their families got what mine did."

Leo buttons his shirt back up and sits back down. He eats another cookie. I don't know what to say. That shows me just what kind of person President Leopold Stryker is. And I like it.

"This war is still on-going," Leo says after swallowing the cookie. "Its a secret war but still a war. The man who killed my mother. Who tried to kill me. He's still out there. He wasn't from the District's. Never was. He's from somewhere else. His forces are called Those Who Don't Exist." Leo leans back and then eyes me for a moment. "You're in danger, Anais. Those Who Don't Exist are targeting Victors. They've already killed twelve of them. I don't want you to be the thirteenth." He claps his hands together and then the doors swing open. Two girls walk in, dressed in all black. I can tell from their body language that they're fighters. Leo stands and stops beside them. "These two," He motions at the girls. I notice that they seem only a little older than I am. One seems to be about Leo's age, twenty, and the other is a little older than that. "Will be your guards. Yes!" He stops me before I protest. "I know you don't need guards. But humor me. Please?" His emerald-like eyes twinkle in such a way that I can't refuse.

"Oh fine. I'll have your guards, Leo!" I try to giggle but I find that I'm a bit concerned about these people who are targeting Victors. What did he call them? Don't Existers?

"Good! Good. Anais, meet Shiva," He lies a hand on the elders shoulder. "And Shay." He does the same with the younger. "These two will guard you at all times. They will be your shadows. They go were you go. Understand?"


I examine the girls closer. They both have ebony black hair, tied behind their heads. A thin belt loops around their waists and I see a multitude of knives and other weapons kept there. I also notice that they have knives in their boots. Shiva even has one in the coil of her hair.

"Perfect!" Leo claps his hands together excitedly and then winks at me. "Don't get into any trouble. You have an interview in an hour." He heads for the doorway but stops right before crossing the threshold. "Oh. And Anais?"

"Yes?" I ask sweetly.

"You may have ruled the Hunger Games but you're not on the top of the mountain just yet. But ruling Panem would certainly put you there, don't you think?"

And with that, he walks out the door.


The dull thud of the basketball hitting the linoleum floor echoes through the empty gymnasium as I dribble in place, lining up my next shot. I hold my breath as I aim and then I shoot.


Nothing but net. A sad smile forms on my face. I still have my skill. If only I still had somewhere to play...

I mindlessly recollect the ball as it bounces across the court. If only I had never been Reaped. I'd still be playing right now. I wouldn't be here, stuck in the cogs of a society I care nothing about. If only...


My next shot bounces off of the rim, the ball bounces away from me, towards the south side of the court. I'm not surprised I missed. I had taken my mind off the prize.  I trot towards the ball, my mind already focused on my next shot. But before I reach the round orange object, a pair of gloved hands scoop it up. "This where you hang out?" One of the many cloaked figures faces me as he rolls the ball between his hands. I'm as disoriented as usual. Even after being here for more than a year I still can never tell these people apart, with their masks and cloaks and all.

"Yeah," I hold up my hands and the man tosses me the ball. "I come here to just...think about stuff."

"Cool," The man sits down on one of the nearby bleachers and I finally spot his mask and recognize him. Jack. "I like to get away from it all too. Things can get pretty hectic, you know?"

I don't respond. I just watch him, wondering if he has some order to give me. Rarely does a Council member come to communicate with you and when they do, they have a reason. "Need something?" I ask and am surprised when he shakes his masked head.

"No. I just noticed you weren't at the meeting. Wondered why."

I grimace and turn my back, dribbling as I head towards one of the hoops. "I'm not allowed at the meetings anymore," I say as I step up to the three-point line. I bend my knees and shoot, watching the ball fly through the air and sink into the net.

"Why not?" He sounds surprised, an emotion I rarely see anymore. At least from anyone besides myself. "I thought you were a Nine?"

I collect the basketball ball before responding, shrugging as I do so. "Not anymore. They demoted me after I no showed my fifth Overview."

I ready for another shot but I hear movement behind me. I turn to see Jack picking up my mask from where I left it on the bleachers. "Why aren't you wearing this? Rules say operatives should have it on during all active hours." His voice is calm and reassuring. Not angry or upset at all. Makes me feel...better, somehow. I focus on the black and white mask he's holding, the one emblazoned with the number Five.

The mask...I hate the mask. Not that it's uncomfortable, far from it. It's created from some sort of ultra material. Put it on and you barely notice, everything is like you're not even wearing it. Nothing is constricted, not hearing, sight, sound or smell. It's just like you're maskless. But I still hate it. "I don't like it," I finally respond with yet another shrug. "Makes me feel like I'm hiding."

There's a moment of silence where I'm just bouncing the ball up and down before Jack speaks. "I understand how you feel. Must feel like you're trying to conceal your identity. But the truth is, you are hiding. Hiding from the Capitol. We all are."

"I wouldn't be if you hadn't taken me out of the arena," I mutter it under my breath but Jack still somehow hears it. 

"If we hadn't saved you, you'd be dead right now, Stephen. You and Aelia both would have died in that arena." His words are covered in a gentle tone, reminding me of what my fate would have been. The same as Lyman's. And Nick's. And Aemillia's and Nikki's. Though he deserved it, that little traitor. He made Lyman die, he abandoned him to save himself. He's my only ally that I don't miss. "We're here to help you, Stephen," Jack continues softly. "And to help all of Panem. The poor people of that country have suffered long enough."

His words have my thoughts drifting back to District 10, where my family lives, wrongly believing that I am dead. It pains me. I just want to go back to them, to return to my old life. But I know that's impossible. The Capitol would capture me, would torture me for information on these people who call themselves "Those Who Don't Exist". And then the Capitol would get my family as well. Then we'd all be dead. "Why did you rescue us?" The words come out of my mouth without thinking. I have asked this question many times before. Asked everyone I could. The Council, the Nine's, even my fellow Five's . But I never got an answer. 

I watch Jack for his reaction and once again hate those masks that conceal his face. The mask gives me the impression that he's just staring ahead blankly, without a care in the world. But I know that's not true. Jack has shown me many times that he actually cares. Unlike the other members of the Council, Jack has feelings. "Has no one ever told you?" His voice is level, sounding just a tad surprised. "You've been here for over a year and no one's told you?"

I shake my head. "No. When I asked Ace he just stared at me. The others gave vague answers." 

A hand goes to his mask, rubbing the part where his jaw would be. "They probably thought you wouldn't like the truth. And to be honest, you most likely won't. It's nothing special."

"Tell me!" I don't care for why I haven't been told before. I just want to know why. Right now. "Why didn't you come earlier? Why didn't you save my friends? Why?"

"Have you ever hacked a hexagonal multi-dimension forcefield before?" The question is calm and without the slightest hint of sarcasm. I shake my head. "Well, it's pretty complicated and takes time. Not to mention we had to deal with Capitol patrols who were picking off Aelia's rebel friends." I know them, or at least of them. Aelia told me all about it when we first got here. In fact, she originally believed that Those Who Don't Exist were her friends and here to save her. She was wrong in one way but right in the other.

"So, with all of that going on, it took us several days to just crack the forcefield. And by then most of your friends had already...perished." He says this part with softness but my heart still jolts at the mention of my friends and how they died. 

"Why did you rescue Aelia and myself?" I ask, interrupting. "What made us so special?"

Jack places his hand on his chin, watching me in a way I can only describe as carefully. His face is still hidden from sight. A long silence passes before he speaks. "Nothing."


"Nothing made you special. You were just closest to the forcefield. We almost saved the District 11 boy's alliance earlier in the Games but the field didn't offer nearly as much cover as the forest did."

He says more words. I don't hear them. I'm too busy reeling over the fact that the only reason I was saved, the only reason that I am in this mysterious place that I know nothing about, is because I was the closest to the forcefield. This whole time I had thought there was some special reason but...there was none. 

"--not like you were the first tributes we'd extracted," Jack's words come back into focus and I start in surprise. He turns to look at me in a questioning way. "What? Did you not know that?"

I shake my head and I get the vague feeling that he's frowning. "I'm fairly certain that Aelia knew this. Did she not inform you?" I bite my lip, realizing that I'm going to have to admit something.

"She, uh, hasn't spoken to me since Amaya was Reaped. Too busy plotting upstairs, I guess." Jack turns his head, probably thinking about how inseparable Aelia and I were the first few months we were here. Mostly because I was terrified beyond measure and she was just...curious. She always wanted to learn everything and absorbed information like a sponge. She was always the one telling me about how this place worked, about the proper way to run the exams and how to hold a gun...She taught me everything. But ever since the Reapings she has closed off. Locked herself up in the highest floors of the Tower, plotting with the Council and Nine's. I haven't even seen her in weeks. Last time was probably when I spotted her in cafeteria A-2. I don't think she saw me though.

Jack is still watching me. His hands are crossed at his chest and it appears he is about to say something when a sound, one that I can only imagine is an alarm, goes off. Screaming and blaring noises fill my ears. Jack doesn't even look effected as he stands there, looking up at the gymnasium ceiling. "What's going on?" I try to ask over the ringing sounds. I don't think Jack heard me but it doesn't matter. A loud voice suddenly booms over the alarm. 

"Mariner-Subs Forty-Four and Forty-Six have returned. All ranks higher than Seven requested at Docking Station B. Repeat: Mariner-Subs Forty-Four and Forty-Six have returned. All ranks higher than Seven requested at Docking Station B."

I have no idea what that means but Jack apparently does. He motions for me to follow and then he's racing across the gymnasium, throwing open the double wide doors and entering out into the large corridor. No one is within sight but we can hear the sounds of people and commotion coming from below us. The alarm has turned off. "What's going on?" I ask, disliking the ringing sensation the alarm has left in my ears.

"Mariner-Subs have returned from a Level-Omega mission. Problem is; We had three. Only two have returned." That sounds bad but Jack somehow keeps his voice calm as he approaches a nearby tiled wall and begins to rub his hands along it. It's a bizarre sight, one that doesn't make a lick of sense considering what just happened. I try asking him what he's doing but he ignores me. A moment later a tile in the wall indents and there's a quiet chiming sound. Jack steps back from the wall.

"What did you do?" I ask.

"Signalled for an elevator. Don't tell anyone though. Only the Council and a few Nine's know it exists."

My mouth falls open at the fact that he'd even consider telling me this, yet alone actually show me how to operate it. But Jack doesn't even bat an eye. "Put this on. Rules are rules." He hands me my mask and I slip it over my face, once again marvelling at how little difference there is between wearing it and not. "And here's our ride…" The wall opens up and reveals a opening doorway. Jack steps right in and after brief hesitation, I follow. I don't ask where we're going though. I already know. Docking Station B.

Our ride is extremely short. Within moments the doors slide back open and Jack steps out with me following. We're in the bottom floor of The Tower, known as the Lobby. The place looks like any other lobby except for the gigantic cement walls that surround it. An equally large pair of doors are a part of these walls. Usually these are always kept shut. I've never seen them open. Except for today.  I stare in shock at what I see.

A portion of the wall has opened, like the back of an airplane, and revealed a massive dock-like structure, complete with boats and ships. The sun shines yellow rays of light into my eyes but I can just see the blue waves of an ocean that adjoins the dock. I knew that the Tower was massive but...I had no idea this was apart of it.

Jack quickly moves on, heading for a large group of people clustered around a metallic gray boat-like object that just sits in the water. For some reason the word "Submarine" pops into my head. I follow Jack as he pushes his way through the crowd and they let him pass. His authority exceeds theirs. I meekly follow behind. Everyone here is wearing the usual colour-coordinated cloaks I've seen around the Tower. The lace color differentiating according to rank. I see a lot of silver and copper, a reminder that everyone here is a Seven or higher. "Mikayla! Richardson! What's the status?" Jack approaches two Seven's who stand in front of the nearby Mariner's hatch. Each of them hold a Terrablaster in their hands.

"Mariner-Subs just returned, sir!" One of the Seven's, Richardson I think, responds. "But Sub Forty-Five was lost during the mission. Capitol took it down with water penetrating missiles."

"Any survivors?" Jack demands.

"Negative." I feel my skin go cold at the thought of more dead allies. How many people have to die in this war?

"And the cargo?" Jack is seemingly unaffected by the news of the loss. He's grown accustomed to hearing of these sort of things. And worse.

"Safely secured in Mariner-Sub Forty-Four, Jack." The other speaks this time. A woman. Mikayla. Jack nods at them and then orders them to open the hatch. They quickly begin to do so and I notice that the crowd behind us has begin to dissipate. I think Ten is back there, giving out orders. 

The hatch opens slowly with a metallic clanking sound. Jack wastes no time in climbing in, grabbing onto a shiny silver ladder. I go to follow when Richardson steps in front of me. "You're not authorized to enter. Only ranks Seven and higher are allowed--"

"Let him in!" Jack's head pokes back up through the hatch. "He's with me."

"But sir! He's only a Five--" Mikayla begins to protest but Jack overrules her. He's a member of the Council and only King and Queen reign higher than he does. So Mikayla and Richardson let me pass. As I climb down the ladder I feel their glares even through the masks. They don't like me. Few people do.

The inside of the Sub is dark, the light shines a dark navy color, furthering emphasizing that I'm now underwater. I stick close to Jack, worried that the ceiling could collapse at any moment. A foolish fear, I know. "How big is this Sub?" I whisper as Jack leads the way into a anteroom of sorts. Three separate corridors branch off from here in different directions. It didn't look that big on the outside.

"Not that big," Jack doesn't slow down as he continues straight down the center passage. "The Goliath-Subs are much larger." When we step into the next passage, voices suddenly become audible. I can't exactly make out what's being said but it's something about needing a Council member to confirm the moving. What?

Jack stops when a door impedes our path. "What now?" I ask meekly. The door looks strong, made of tough steel. "Do we have to break through?"

Jack turns to look at me and chuckles. "This is our Sub, remember? We just have to open it." He grabs the wheel and turns. The metal door creaks open and then I spot two more operatives, Nine's, judging by their masks. They stand in front of a pair of beds, a small desk is to their right and what looks to be some sort of metal drone fills the rest of the room. A MedBot.

"Jack!" One of the Nine's spins to face us. "Finally! We were worried! They shot down Ganglion's Sub! There was nothing we could do, it happened too quickly I just--"

"I understand." Jack waves his hand towards the beds. "But you received the cargo, yes?"

"We received them alright. Lost three good men to do so. Not worth it if you ask me!" The second Nine speaks now. His voice is deep and gruff, giving me the thought that he's older than the other.

"Where they injured?" Jack ignores the man's complaint and turns towards the first Nine.

"Uh...yeah. Both had to be resuscitated. The girl had a pretty nasty wound in her side but the MedBot fixed it up." Girl? I turn towards Jack questionably but he has his attention on the Nine, asking more things I don't hear. What kind of cargo was this? I glance towards the beds and notice for the first time that two people lie in them. Teenagers to be exact. About my age...

My mind freezes as I realize what has happened. What all of this means.

"They'll be asleep for several more hours," The Nine is telling Jack. "I was going to move them to Medical so Palutena could check them out but Warren said we needed a Council members authorization--"

"They're tributes!" I can hold myself silent for no longer. "You took two more tributes!" All three heads spin towards me, their faces hidden behind the masks. I don't know if it's my place to speak, but I'm tired of following rules. "You got them out of the arena!"

"Yes. Yes we did." Jack speaks first, unsurprisingly. "And I don't think you oppose the notion, do you Stephen?"

"I...No of course not! But who are they?" My curiosity controls me now. Jack just shrugs and motions for the beds.

"See for yourself."

I start for the beds. My heart is pounding but I have no idea why. I didn't know any of the people in the 399th Games. Who they are shouldn't matter to me. But somehow it does. Because whoever they are, I'm connected to them now. We all escaped the arena. I look over the bed and see their faces, I recognize them because only a few days back I saw them die. I thought it a pity. District 9 had gotten so close to ending their curse. Only to have their tributes die. But they didn't die.

Because I'm looking right at their faces. The faces of Azalea Finch and Jac Price.

Epilogue B

The boy's eyes shot open. A bland white ceiling lay before him and his mind began to work in overdrive as a tingling sensation ran down his spine. "Where am I?" He mumbled as his hands felt along beside him. Smooth. A table of some sort? He can't think right. His mind is fuzzy and he's so cold...

Minutes pass before the boy gains enough strength to sit up and examine his surroundings. He is in a lab, or at least something resembling it. Tables covered with vials of unknown chemicals and other substances. Complex blinking computer monitors line the walls and large glass tubes filled with a mystery liquid dominate the left side of the room. "This is familiar..." The boy spoke to himself as he took in everything around him. Vague memories of being here before began to fill his head but they disappeared before he could grasp onto anything solid. What is going on?

He pulled himself off of the table, shivering slightly as his bare feet touched the tiled flooring. He was aware that he was dressed in nothing but white undergarments and another bell rung in his head. He was quite certain that he had experienced this before...But where? And why?

Then he saw his answer. Right behind him.

A large glass tube, like the others he noticed earlier, sat just behind him. The smooth table he had been lying on extended from the tube and upon further inspection the boy noticed that a cold liquid was drying on it. The same type of liquid that inhabited the tubes. "Cryostasis containers..."

His memory came back. He recalled the first time he exited a similar tube, when the Capitol had revived him for a shot at entering the 327th Hunger Games. He had been just as confused back then, doubly so actually. He began to wander the room in confusion, just like he was doing right now. Then a Capitol scientist appeared and explained what had happened. 

But last time he hadn't just been in cryostasis. He had been dead.

Being brought back to life seems like it would have been a wonderful thing. But it wasn't. Not when you were being revived to compete in the Hunger Games once more. 

Not that the boy had competed. No, he hadn't been voted in. The Capitol had chosen a timid blue eyed kid over him. The boy remembered wondering what would happen to him and the rest of the former tributes who hadn't been voted in. He feared they'd be killed. But they were only dropped through a floor and then...

His memory of the prison came back. Of when he and the others had spent time eating meticulously sized meals while being kept in cells. It was a strange experience...

The boy sat back down on his table as he remembered how the guards took him away and brought him to a cyrostasis facility. He remembered being placed into the tube and then nothing.

Until now.

The sound of an opening door has the boy spun around as a man in a white lab coat stepped into the room. He had fading gray hair that bunched into balls at the sides of his head and deathly pale skin that seemed to give off a faint glow. A Capitol surgery, perhaps?

"Ahh. I see you have awoken!" The man pulled up a clipboard and began to furiously scribble away. The boy tried to speak but was unable of forming the words. "Only the second one to do so. Must feel special, eh?" The man smiled. A ghastly smile that showed off his yellow teeth that flaunted in the light of the room.

"What year is this?" The boy finally found his words. "How long have I been asleep?"

The man let out a low chuckle and lied his clipboard down on one of the many desks. "It would be most prudent to count how many Hunger Games have passed since your last waking moment, don't you think?"

"Which Games is happening?" The boy demanded. He had no patience for this. He simply wanted answers.

"The next will be the 400th. Been quite awhile since your first, ain't it?"

The boy let out a low moan as he slouched forward, burying his face in his hands. A hundred years. It had been a full hundred years since the first time he ever entered the arena. Since he left his home. His parents were now long dead. His siblings too. His grand-nieces and nephews would be the same age as him! Time had slipped away, leaving him with nothing. Nothing but the urge to live. 

"I'll be put into another vote?" The boy removed his hands and stared into the grungy man's brown eyes. "For the Games?"

The man laughed. He actually laughed! The boy felt a strong urge to jump forward and throttle him. What's the worse that could happen? They kill him again? Put him back to sleep? But his strong sense of curiosity held him back as the man brayed with laughter until he finally controlled himself and answered. "No. No you will not be voted upon. This time, this time you'll have to earn your way back in!"

"What does that mean?" The boy asked slowly. The way the man said it, with so much dark couldn't be anything good.

The grin on the man's face widen even further. "You know those kids? The ones from your District who didn't get voted in?"

The boy nodded slowly. "The ones imprisoned with me."

"Yep! Those are the ones!"

"What about them?"

The man's grin faded, being replaced by a small smile that is somehow even more chilling. "You're gonna have to fight them. To the death."

Death Chart

Place Tribute Day Killed Killed By  Killed From
32nd Kim Carett (8) 1 Kaye Ocelote (4) Arrow in throat
31st Kaye Ocelote (4) 1 Aspen Bolts (3) Slashed throat
30th Misty Honeysuckle (12) 1 Fenrir Amarth (0) Sword in chest
29th Julio Fall (6) 1 Jac Price (9) Slashed abdomen
28th Alexandrite Bohamia (13) 1 Anais Morrisa (1) Cracked Skull
27th Hammer Time (2) 1 Mizu Fall (4) Teeth in neck
26th Mizu Fall (4) 1 Fenrir Amarth (0) Sword in stomach
25th Fenrir Amarth (0) 2 Jake Locketback (1) Spear in heart
24th Octavia Blake (11) 2 Poison Berries Poisoned
23rd Clark Stevens (5) 3 Luxray Meganium (14) Crushed Skull
22nd Henry Polyester (7) 3 Iggy Coupe (C) Burnt Alive
21st Luxray Meganium (14) 3 Azalea Finch (9) Electrocuted
20th Bellamy Blake (11) 3 Flamingo Mutts Torn Apart
19th Carmine Morrisa (2) 4 Bellamy Blake (11) Spear in chest
18th Aspen Bolts (3) 4 Colin Bisset (8) Machete in chest
17th Flame Vapore (C) 4 Anais Morrisa (1) Arrow in chest
16th Billy McGranger (10) 4 Luxio Sertralium (13) Shuriken in back
15th Missy Turner (5) 5 Colin Bisset (8) Sword in neck
14th Jake Locketback (1) 5 Arbor Alpine (7) Axe in back
13th Arbor Alpine (7) 5 Gnat Mutts Eaten Alive
12th Bailey Snowbelle (0) 5 Anais Morrisa (1) Cracked Skull
11th Colin Bisset (8) 6 Rosalie Sonnet (6) Chakram in neck
10th Rosalie Sonnet (6) 6 Colin Bisset (8) Slashed abdomen
9th Iggy Coupe (C) 6 Amaya Lovelace (14) Fork in eye
8th Iris Pixel (3) 6 Anais Morrisa (1) Knife in chest
7th Amaya Lovelace (14) 6 Anais Morrisa (1) Spear in heart
6th Azalea Finch (9) 7 Tidal Wave Drowned
5th Jac Price (9) 7 Tidal Wave Drowned
4th Luxio Sertralium (13) 7 Anais Morrisa (1) Throat Slit
3rd Fawn Talons (10) 7 Anais Morrisa (1) Poisoned
2nd Ganta Alomo (12) 7 Anais Morrisa (1) Burnt Alive
Victor Anais Morrisa (1) --- --- Victor!!!

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