Welcome everyone to my ninth ever Hunger Games! In my last games, The 399th Annual Hunger Games, Anais Morrisa from District 1 and created by Pippycat was crowned victor. These Games have a special twist added to them as well, a very special twist that will make these my biggest, boldest, and bloodiest Games yet!


This year the Hunger Games will be a Quell, a very special Quell at that. This year the Games will contain ninety-two tributes. Yes, ninety-two! Thirty-two of them will be Reaped from District's 0 through 14 and the Capitol, another thirty-two will be voted upon by citizens of the Capitol. These tributes will be tributes from the 327th, 398th, and 399th Hunger Games. The tributes with the most votes will be revived and and sent back into the Games to compete again. And the final twenty-eight will be tributes who competed in the 300th, 301st, 302nd, 325th, & 326th Games. However, unlike the tributes from the newer Games, these tributes will not be voted in. Instead, these tributes will be divided by District, placed into a large location that matches the District's import, and be forced to fight to the death until only two remain. These two tributes will then be inserted into the Games along with the new tributes and the voted in tributes, bringing the total amount of tributes competing to ninety-two.


1: There will be ninety-two Tributes, 32 tributes who competed in my 327th, 398th, and 399th Games, 28 tributes who competed in my 300th, 301st, 302nd, 325th, & 326th Games, and finally, there will be 32 new tributes

2: You may submit up two new Tributes

3: Because of the sheer amount of tributes, sponsoring will not be in these Games, at least not at first. Once the numbers begin to dwindle then sponsoring will be reinstated

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 (that's what the All-Stars' are for)

6: Reservations last exactly 48 hours (this may be extended in certain cases)

7: The Capitol is a Career district in my Games

8: Because of the size of these Games, I anticipate it will take a long time for them to finish. If you're not comfortable joining a Games that will last many months than I'd advise you refrain from joining.

9: Tribute Form: (for new tributes)













Bloodbath Strategy:

Alliance: (can be filled out later)

Training Strategy: (how they will behave in training)

Choosing All-Stars

1: There will be three factors that will decide who will compete again.  First of which is votes.  I'll explain how it works below. 

Each user can vote for one tribute per slot, and de-vote one tribute per slot. (Example: You can only vote for 1 D1 male and de-vote one D1 male) A devote means that you DO NOT want that tribute, and one vote will be taken away from them instead. (Example: Vote: Edmund Everton, De-Vote: Marcio Redge Edmund would be at one, Marcio at -1)

Here is the vote template: (Just copy and paste this in the comments and bold which tribute you are voting for, and italicize the tribute you are de-voting.)

The three Games are...

Start copy and pasting HERE:

District 0 Male: Solar Energy (398) & Fenrir Amarth (399)

District 0 Female: Aelia Freedome (398) & Bailey Snowbelle (399)

District 1 Male: Dragon Lord (327), Trevor Gold (398), & Jake Locketback (399)

District 1 Female: Glique Dumofitz (327), Astrid Bellia (327), & Trinity Mace (398)

District 2 Male: Julius Paris (327), Hatch Scright (327), Luigi Wilkins (398), & Hammer Time (399)

District 2 Female: Jerica Straddler (327), Ella Massey (327), Avia Stafford (398), & Carmine Morrisa (399)

District 3 Male: Wario Wade (327), Courage Blitz (327), Shuppet Jorravaskr (398), Aspen Bolts (399)

District 3 Female: Annabeth March (327), Sombra Celesta (398), & Iris Pixel (399)

District 4 Male: Percy Grace (327), Ryan Marine (327), Nikki Heart (398), & Kaye Ocelote (399)

District 4 Female: Zia Grace (327) Swatty Lakeside (327), Scarlet Avalon (398), & Mizu Fall (399)

District 5 Male: Woody Chopper (327), Kodai Hitogoroshi (327), Johnathan Mikeal (398), & Clark Stevens (399)

District 5 Female: Augusta Winters (327), Trick Treat (327), Lucinda Kidd (398), & Missy Turner (399)

District 6 Male: Blade Spectrus (327), Train McBridge (327), & Julio Fall (399)

District 6 Female: Alissa Metal Beam (327), Mimic Slaughter (327) A Amore Madness (398), & Rosalie Sonnet (399)

District 7 Male: Hybrid Three (327), Shade Spectrus (327), Nick Maclachlan (398), & Henry Polyester (399)

District 7 Female: Marcia Callamezzo (327), Willow Firethorn (327), Fiora Waltz (398), & Arbor Alpine (399)

District 8 Male: Rufus Silks (327), Dome Citadel (327), Banette Tsukomogami (398), & Colin Bisset (399)

District 8 Female: Evelyn Dinstra (327), Cashmere Prada (327), Aisha Hakeem (398), & Kim Carett (399)

District 9 Male: Hunter Davila (327), Jake Price (327), Lyman Milton (398), & Jac Price (399)

District 9 Female: Alicia Haze (327), Varina Tapora (327), Juline Cenia (398), & Azalea Finch (399)

District 10 Male: Twix Cinders (327), Vlad Rockford (327), Stephen Star (398), & Billy McGranger (399)

District 10 Female: Bella Mustang (327), Vivan Incomstanti (327), Cleopatra Royalty (398), & Fawn Talons (399)

District 11 Male: Gloom Ivy (327), Darker Horrfi (327), Crimson Typhoon (398), & Bellamy Blake (399)

District 11 Female: Daisy Lilac (327), Mondi Bakerman (327), Raven Night (398), & Octavia Blake (399)

District 12 Male: Exolian Dynamite (327), Drago Fire (398), & Ganta Alomo (399)

District 12 Female: Rio Flock (327), Amaryllis Silvermoon (327), Celica Rotas (398) & Misty Honeysuckle (399)

District 13 Male: Kingsley Orion (327), Ice Hunts (327), Radiant Tayz (325), & Luxio Sertralium (399)

District 13 Female: Celia Myer (327), Piper Quinn (327), Zoey Proasheck (398) & Alexandrite Bohamia (399)

District 14 Male: Odin Amarth (398) & Luxray Meganium (399)

District 14 Female: Angel Orthodox (398) & Amaya Lovelace (399)

Capitol Male: Dusk Olive (327), Ramon Constancy (327), Furcifer Soror (398), & Iggy Coupe (399)

Capitol Female: Dawn Olive (327), Aemillia Wonder (398), Flame Vapore (399)

Stop copy and pasting HERE:

2: The other factors in deciding who will be selected is  1: My personal preference. Basically, If I like the tribute it has a better chance of getting in. and 2: Detail. If a tribute wasn't very detailed or interesting the first time it competed, it likely won't get in this time.

3. After all the votes and de-votes are counted (I will allow a week for voting), I will pick the tributes using the other categories as well.

3. Please do not pick tributes because you are friends with their creator, etc. Pick the tribute you find most interesting due to backstory, you liked reading about them etc.. It would probably be a good idea to read my past Games if you haven't already. Oh, and of course, you can vote for your own tributes.

4. In case the tributes have creators who are no longer active, I will assign people to mentor those tributes. So don't not vote for a tribute because their creator isn't active.

5: Don't worry. I'll make sure that the amount of tributes people have is even. Example, one person won't have like six All-Stars.

​ All-Stars Part 2

The other twenty-eight All-Stars will not be voted upon. No, they will have to earn their second chance at the Games through an all-out battle to the death. 

These duels will be between every tribute from my 300th through 326th Games. Yes, every tribute except for Victors and the tributes who were voted into the 327th Games. They will be exempt from this death duel and instead be included in the voting process. 

All the other tributes however, will be separated by District and inserted into the Death Duels. The duels themselves will take place in a enclosed environment, either outside or inside, and weapons may be provided. There will be no possibility of escape. The only way the duels end Is when only two tributes remain living. All others must be dead. 

In short, the duels will be like a miniature bloodbath where everyone must fight and kill until there is only two tributes left standing. At this point, the Duel ends and the two winners will join the Reaped tributes and the voted in All-Stars in the Games.

The five Games that these tributes are from will be listed below...

The tributes who will compete in each duel are...

District 1 Duel: Elvis Alexander (300), Cole Harrison (325), Karma Blood (325), Warwickite Jewelly (326), Diamond Coman (301), Raven Armor (302), Skylar Windbreeze (325), Artemis Grace (325), & Kate Willis (326)

District 2 Duel: Johnny Clarke (300), Damian Weatherby (301), Drewsiff Bloodwonky (302), Yuki Kokyu (325), Jeffrey Killheart (326), Bethany Clarke (300), Pansy Costello (301), Onyx Eboni (302), Chloe Black (325), & Teresa Silver (325

District 3 Duel: Noah Everest (300), Elecc Commission (325), Chip Parks (325), Rebel Groots (326), Di Thorn (300), Bethunia Underium (301), Syren Song (302), Elecctronny Watson (325), & Vision Faith (325)

District 4 Duel: Flick Rivers (300th), Cody Freshwater (301st), Trident Bekke (302nd), Giller McFish (325th), Wayne Defleckt (325th), Kaylay Netter (300) Wari Oceani (301), Nymph Mere (325), Fressa Saltie (325), & Seafoam Majesty (326)

District 5 Duel: Trenton Powers (300), Watt Powers (301), Tameo Arghus (302), Sebastian Hive (325), Philo Ventus (326), Allie Costigan (300), Swift Twirpshkin (301), Allana Darkbloom (325), & Bonnie Cougar (326)

District 6 Duel: Cosmo Fyngelli (300), Xavier Woods (301), Illegal Drugs (302), Zak Slaughter (325), Wolbert Toonico (325), Belladonna Saware (300), Luna Fern (301) Bluffy Silvestein (302), Eleith Lightstorm (325), & Blondie Genesis (326)

District 7 Duel: Ransom Overman (301), Wocky Oak (302), & Frade Spectrus (326), May-Ann Hunter (300), Nastya Gushkin (301), Maple Leavestruck (325), Chumps Harvaria (325), & Voolia Kelopi (326)

District 8 Duel: Nick Kobarg (300), Josef Wilder (301), Jax Griffin (325), Tot Tenham (325), Yuri Collins (326), Coco Joansi (300), Freya Prada (302), Galina Von Dover (325), Catalina Tweed (325), & Odessa Garnetstone (326)

District 9 Duel: Eli Dawn (300), Mark Haulk (301), Hunther Hayes (302), Folly Rover (325), Tito Granso (326), Plasma Perimen (300), Perrie Grain (301), Layla Twozone (325), & Vera Luchabra (326)

District 10 Duel: Morolith Dmitry (300), Bronco Bagwell (301), Alec Cohen (325), Kwarts Diodin (325), Alex Lexys (326), Gracie King (300), Seeker Amaryllis (301), Ellis Blackberry (302), Alecia Cohen (325), & Cassie Lexys (326)

District 11 Duel: Wess Cornstob (300), Shimdt Raspberry (302), Trent Korey (325), Seez Croppley (325), Zippy Oakster (326), Flow’r Raspberry (301), Rasp Southern (302), Flora Sapsling (325), Eva Destiny (325) & Flippy Twinmind (326)

District 12 Duel: Gogh Lizta (300), Knight Castle (302), Jack Cayman (325), Julian (325), Regina Victorious (301), Mina Ebony (302), Salem Calla (325), Thalia Combe (325) & Steammie Pic (326)

District 13 Duel: Aeron Ashkyn (302), Harley Swoop (325), Douglas Biles (326), Saidy Dauntless (301), Kiara Mitchell (302), Violetta Nobel (325), & Jenessa Whitten (326)

Capitol Duel: Avian Monte (302), Josool Wiranda (325), Dexter Malon (325), Olympic Oblado (326), Shervert Wonkalandia (301), Flawra Moonshadow (325), Amelia Puregold (325), & Isolde Blair (326)


District Type Gender Name Age Height Weapon User
Capitol New Male Kaneki Urashi 15 5'9 Double Glaive WongPongSoup
Capitol Voted Male Ramon Constancy 18 6'2 Bow & Arrows VDA1999
Capitol Duel Male Josool Wiranda 14 5'1 Bow, Throwing Knives SuperTomato
Capitol New Female Mahogany Vesta 17 5'8 Throwing Knives TheFireJay
Capitol Voted Female Flame Vapore 16 5'11 Axe, Dagger Mistfire333
Capitol Duel Male Olympic Oblado 18 5'7 Machete SuperTomato
0 New Male Todd Evans 18 6'3 Brass Knuckles, Knife Glove YourFavoriteSalmon
0 Voted Male Solar Energy 15 5'6 Spear TheFireJay
0 New Female Rosalina Cosmic 14 5'2 Throwing Knives TheFireJay
0 Voted Female Aelia Freedome 17 5'7 Spear Mistymolla
1 New Male Cullinan Beryll 18 6'3 Iron Shoes Nlby001
1 Voted Male Jake Locketback 18 5'10 Spear, Bow MarinaTheTenkaiKnight
1 Duel Male Elvis Alexander 18 6'2 Sword, Spear SuperTomato
1 New Female Anissa Fallows 17 6'2 Bow, Throwing Knives Mistymolla
1 Voted Female Trinity Mace 17 5'2 Knife, Mace YourFavoriteSalmon
1 Duel Male Cole Harrison 18 6'3 Mace, Spear Kaegan-is-a-tribute
2 New Male Rodeo Baldios 16 6'5 Hand-to-Hand combat SerpentKing999
2 Voted Male Luigi Wilkins 17 6'1 Sword, Throwing Knives MyWorld
2 Duel Female Pansy Costella 18 5'7 Scimitar AxedFox
2 New Female Ena Shea 17 5'9 Ice pick, Bow Aerialchinook
2 Voted Female Carmine Morrisa 16 5'9 Warhammer, Mace Pippycat
2 Duel Female Chloe Black 16 5'7 Sword, Throwing Knives CatoET
3 New Male Caspian Mahoney 18 6'2 Sword, Chakram CToaURN
3 Voted Male Courage Blitz 14 5'7 Sword Jabberjay78
3 Duel Male Noah Everest 13 5'4 Throwing Axes Theman77
3 New Female Ziya Ashton 15 5'6 Throwing Knives, Hammer Aerialchinook
3 Voted Female Annabeth March 16 5'4 Bow, Sickle FrostyFire
3 Duel Male Chip Parks 15 5'5 Mines, Knives MissRandomStuff
4 New Male Dylan Murrow 17 5'10 Trident, Throwing Knives Sambaroses
4 Voted Male Ryan Marine 17 5'10 Trident, Knives TheFireJay
4 Duel Male Trident Bekke 15 5'10 Trident, Net Junior II
4 New Female Sheol Argos 16 6'0 Scissors SerpentKing999
4 Voted Female Mizu Fall 16 5'4 Teeth, Trident Mistymolla
4 Duel Female Fressa Saltie 17 5'11 Trident, Throwing Knives FrostyFire
5 New Male Seth Rollins 18 6'0 Axe, Longsword Misfire333
5 Duel Male Watt Powers 14 5'4 Blowgun, Snares Attackcobra
5 Voted Male Johnathan Mikeal 18 6'5 Sword, Spear YourFavoriteSalmon
5 New Female Ashley Curtis 14 5'4 Bow, Dagger MyWorld
5 Duel Male Sebastian Hive 18 6'1 Butcher Knife Nommehzombies
5 Voted Female Trick Treat 17 5'9 Anything Hybrid Shadow
6 New Male Stario Lucaren 13 5'4 Throwing Knives, Dagger MyWorld
6 Duel Male Wolbert Toonico 18 6'0 Sword Supertomato
6 Voted Male Blade Spectrus 14 5'4 Spear, Sword tehblakdeath
6 New Female Kennedy Marks 18 5'8 Dagger Bacon Canadian
6 Duel Female Luna Fern 14 5'4 Axe Mistymolla
6 Voted Female Amore Madness 16 5'6 Spear, Crossbow Mistfire333
7 New Male Axel Alex 17 6'2 Throwing Axe, Axe Striker12345
7 Duel Male Wocky Oak 16 5'5 Axe, Throwing Knives FrostyFire
7 Voted Male Shade Spectrus 16 6'2 Dagger, Crossbow Mistfire333
7 New Female Amethystia Thall 15 5'3 Mace, Throwing Axe MarinaTheTenkaiKnight
7 Duel Male Frade Spectrus 14 5'4 Dagger, Crossbow Mistfire333
7 Voted Female Arbor Alpine 17 5'5 Axe Hybrid Shadow
8 New Male Jet Flack 15 6'1 Sword, Crossbow Striker12345
8 Duel Male Josef Wilder 18 5'11 Crossbow, Knives Attackcobra
8 Voted Male Banette Tsukomogami 15 5'5 Needles, Knives Mistfire333
8 New Female

Camiren Paisley-Idylwyld

17 5'7 Sword, Dagger Summer Bee 13
8 Duel Female Freya Prada 13 5'6 Crossbow Mistymolla
8 Voted Female Aisha Hakeem 15 5'6 Throwing Knives, Axes Aerialchinook
9 New Male Harvest Cropper 14 5'7 Sickle, Scythe Wolfgirl23
9 Duel Female Plasma Perimen 16 5'11 Machete Dedejacob
9 Voted Male Jac Price 16 5'9 Sword TheFireJay
9 New Female Amira Blodwen 14 5'6 Bow, Scythe Sambaroses
9 Duel Female Vera Luchabra 18 6'2 Axe, Club Andy1854
9 Voted Female Azalea Finch 16 5'5 Scythe, Bow Aerialchinook
10 New Male Marlon Lander 12 5'3 Scythe, Bow Yoonie
10 Duel Female Ellis Blackberry 16 5'7 Throwing Knives, Spear EmpressOreo
10 Voted Male Billy McGranger 14 5'3 Whip Wolfgirl23
10 New Female Madeva McGranger 18 6'4 Whip, Knives Wolfgirl23
10 Duel Female Cassie Lexys 14 5'4 Crossbow, Blowgun MissRandomStuff
10 Voted Female Fawn Talons 16 5'9 Scythe, Throwing Knives Sambaroses
11 New Male Caliban Rweed 17 6'3 Sword, Dagger tehblakdeath
11 Duel Male Wess Cornstob 17 6'1 Sword, Throwing Axe FrostyFire
11 Voted Male Crimson Typhoon 14 5'6 Bow, Sword AwesomeAidan
11 New Female Annabelle Harret 14 5'5 Bow, Throwing Knives YourFavoriteSalmon
11 Duel Male Trent Korey 18 6'0 Spear, Trident MissRandomStuff
11 Voted Female Daisy Lilac 16 5'7 Machete, Dagger Aerialchinook
12 New Male Falk Avian 13 5'7 Bow & Arrows Yoonie
12 Duel Female Thalia Combe 16 5'7 Bow, Throwing Knives Nommehzombies
12 Voted Male Ganta Alomo 15 5'8 Needles WongPongSoup
12 New Female Curricular Lunes 17 5'7 Cleaver, Knife Blissfully Mine
12 Duel Female Salem Calla 15 4'11 Poison, Throwing Knives Foxface D5
12 Voted Female Misty Honeysuckle 14 5'1 Sword, Blowgun Sambaroses
13 New Male Julian Veritas 15 5'11 Machete, Bow Pippycat
13 Duel Male Douglas Biles 15 5'7 Wire, Spear Aerialchinook
13 Voted Male Radiant Tayz 16 5'11 Sword, Crossbow tehblakdeath
13 New Female Adreanna Danish 17 5'11 Hand-to-Hand combat Blissfully Mine
13 Duel Female Jenessa Whitten 15 5'9 Throwing Knives Socks6363
13 Voted Female Zoey Proasheck 15 5'8 Axe, Katana tehblakdeath
14 New Male Dean Ambrose 18 6'4 Knife, Axe Mistfire333
14 Voted Male Luxray Meganium 18 6'5 Morning Star tehblakdeath
14 New Female Amica Belle 17 5'8 Knife, Mace Mistymolla
14 Voted Female Amaya Lovelace 16 5'2 Knife Mistymolla


(Note: These alliances are not final and are subject to change.)

Careers: Todd Evans (0), Cullinan Beryll (1), Jake Locketback (1), Elvis Alexander (1), Cole Harrison (1), Trinity Mace (1), Luigi Wilkins (2), Chloe Black (2), Pansy Costella (2), Dylan Murrow (4), Trident Bekke (4), Sheol Argos (4), Seth Rollins (5), Trent Korey (11), Luxray Meganium (14), Dean Ambrose (14), & Olympic Oblado (C)

Splinter Careers: Carmine Morrisa (2), Ena Shea (2), Zoey Proasheck (13), & Josool Wiranda (C)

Anti-Careers: Blade Spectrus (6), Wolbert Toonico (6), Frade Spectrus (7), Shade Spectrus (7), Crimson Typhoon (11), Daisy Lilac (11), Misty Honeysuckle (12), & Radiant Tayz (13)

Aelia's Alliance: Aelia Freedome (0), Anissa Fallows (1), Amore Madness (6), Luna Fern (6), Aisha Hakeem (8), Freya Prada (8), Ellis Blackberry (10), Annabelle Harret (11), Ganta Alomo (12), Falk Avian (12), Salem Calla (12), Amaya Lovelace (14), Amica Belle (14), & Mahogany Vesta (C)

700th Comment Alliance: Sebastian Hive (5), Watt Powers (5), & Thalia Combe (12)

District 3 & 12 Alliance: Rosalina Cosmic (0), Caspian Mahoney (3) & Curricular Lunes (12)

District 5, 8, 9, & 13 Alliance: Johnathan Mikeal (5), Banette Tsukomogami (8), Harvest Cropper (9), & Julian Veritas (13)

District 5, 9, & 10 Alliance: Amira Blodwen (9), Marlon Lander (10), & Ashley Curtis (5)

District 6, 7, & 8 Alliance: Amethystia Thall (7), Kennedy Marks (6), Camiren Paisley (8), Douglas Biles (13), & Jenessa Whitten (13)

District 7 & 8 Alliance: Frade Spectrus (7) & Josef Wilder (8)

District 9 Alliance: Jac Price (9) & Azalea Finch (9)

District 9 Alliance: Vera Luchabra (9) & Plasma Perimen (9)

District 10 Alliance: Billy McGranger (10), Madeva McGranger (10), & Fawn Talons (10)

Loners: Solar Energy (0), Rodeo Baldios (2), Noah Everest (3), Chip Parks (3), Courage Blitz (3), Ziya Ashton (3), Mizu Fall (4), Axel Alex (7), Wocky Oak (7), Jet Flack (8), Cassie Lexys (10), Wess Cornstob (11), Caliban Rweed (11), Adreanna Danish (13), Kaneki Urashi (C), Ramon Constancy (C), & Flame Vapore (C)


Items 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

Death Duels

District 1 Death Duel

Elvis Alexander (300th Games)

I'm in a very small room, there's absolutely nothing here but the tiled floors and ceiling that surround me. A metallic platform rests under my booted feet, ready to rise up and bring me into the Duel Arena.

Can't believe I'm even in this situation.

I've already been told what happened, how I got back into this place. How I need to kill every damn person who will join me in that small arena. Nine of us will enter but only two will leave. Only two will be in the 400th Hunger Games. They've given me some info cards to read to get myself adjusted to my opponents. The cards told me their names and how they performed in the Games but it's very light on the details. Still, I'm ready. I've prepared my entire life for the Games and I would have won my Games, the 300th, if it weren't for those treacherous traitors Di and Flick, jumping me from behind. My hands are already clenching into fists at my side at the mere thought of them.

The Games are meant to be played with honor. Those two knew nothing of honor. They were filthy cretins who lied, cheated, and stole their way through the Games. I wish they were in this Duel. Then I would wring their pathetic little necks.

"Prepare for Duel commencing!"

A robotic female voice comes through a speaker into my room. I shake my head vigorously, my blonde ponytail bouncing behind me. "Bring it on, baby!" I scream to the sky, ready for some violence. My body is ready.

"Platforms will now rise. Please stay in the center. Thank you."

I hear gears churning under my feet as the metal platform begins to rise. I'm excited, giddy almost. I don't think I've felt this level of anticipation since the first time I was brought into the arena. Apparently that was over a hundred years ago. Man, time flies when you're dead. The platform rises through the ceiling and then I'm in a dark tunnel. Very much like the arena. "I'm ready!" I howl as a light appears above my head. Then I arrive in the arena.

It's dark and after that bright light I can barely see anything, causing me to rub my eyes. It doesn't help but after a few seconds pass everything comes into focus. I'm in a cavern, of sorts. Dark musty rocks surround me, predictably smelling like soil and dirt. But that's not the attention grabbing. That's the giant diamonds.

Massive diamonds surround me, shining in the darkness. I don't see any outside light source for them to be reflecting, rather, it seems that they are the light source. "Coolio man!" I whistle as I stare at the diamonds, impressed. Plain white diamonds are the most common but there's others too, red diamonds, blue, green, yellow, even purple. There's one of just about every color.

I get so absorbed in watching these diamonds sparkle with their innate light that I don't even think to look around for other tributes. Not that there's any around. The cavern is dark and my view is impeded by this coolio diamonds. I'm supposing that the others are on platforms similar to mine. Just waiting out there...

A full minute passes before I realize something is wrong. There's been no announcement. No signal that the Duel has started. Nothing. What gives?

I bring my gaze back across the diamonds and cavern. I see nothing out of place. "Where's my signal, man?" I mutter aloud just before looking up. I don't know how I missed it before. A giant holographic screen shining on the roof of the cavern. Picture headshots of tributes are shown, along with their Games number. Nine District 1 tributes from five different Hunger Games stated down at me, my own face one of them. These are the losers, the dead. The tributes who died in their Games and weren't voted in to compete in the 327th. The ones nobody wanted to see compete again. My District partner from the 300th Games, Astrid Bellia, isn't among us. I'm pissed off I'm not with her and instead stuck here with the dregs. I am far above them!


A quiet chiming noise echoes throughout the cavern, vibrating towards my ears. I'm just beginning to wonder what it means when one of the faces, the one of the girl from the 301st Hunger Games, blinks off. The portrait goes dark and red words scroll across reading "Deceased".

"Oh, hell no!"

I realize two things at once. One: That holographic screen is used to track whose still alive and fighting. And Two: The fact that someone has just died means that this Duel has already started. There is no announcement. The Duel just starts the moment you come into the arena.

I tighten my muscles and spring off of the platform. When my boot lands on the hard-packed dirt of the cavern, I have a brief fear that I'm wrong. That there will be landmines like in the Hunger Games. That I'll have my legs blown off. Luckily for me there's no explosion. My first guess was right, this Duel has already started.

I take off into the maze of diamonds, wondering how many of the others have already figured it out. At least one did. I mean, the girl didn't kill herself. I hope they haven't taken all of the weapons yet.

I've gone about ten feet forward when I skirt around a particularly large green diamond and come face to face with another tribute. The girl shrieks in alarm and jumps back. I make note of her long brunette hair with red highlights. It's one of the girls from the 325th Games. Skylar.

She throws her arms up for protection and I resist barking out laughter. What kind of District 1 tribute is she? She's an embarrassment to us all! I'll have no problem with fighting her. Too late the girl thinks to run. She's turned but my arms wrap around her and heave backwards. I don't have any weapons but I don't need any for this fight.

Skylar shouts for mercy as I grip my hands around her neck and slam her into the side of a diamond. She for silent immediately but I smash her head into the hard crystal several more times, just to make sure. After the fifth time her skull smacks into the diamond, I let go. Her neck hangs at an odd angle as she slips to the cold ground, leaving a long streak of blood across the beautiful diamond.

I spit and then crack my knuckles as another chime echoes through the cavern and Skylar's face dims. This should be fun.

Cole Harrison (325th Games)

Already two tributes have died. One of them being Skylar, a girl from my Games. I'm a bit torn seeing her dead. She was a terrible fighter, useless at almost everything. She was the first death of our Games after all. But she was also easy on the eyes. I'll miss her, if just for that.

I keep my ears open for any more chimes as I weave through the diamonds, in search of the weapons we were promised. No more chimes come as I reach what appears to be the edge diamond field. A large clearing rests in the center of all the diamonds that form a large circle around it. Crates full of weapons sit in an organized pattern, divided by weapon type. There's a crate full of swords, one with laces, axes, and spears. Just about every weapon I'd need. Great.

My eyes focused on a black handled spear, I step out into the clearing. Only then do I see the boy as he rises from the ground, a crimson liquid coating his hands and knees. Karma Blood. A boy from ny Games and a real freak at that. He loved to look at blood, collected it even. If that wasn't reason enough to hate him, there's also the fact that he betrayed me. "Where'd you get the blood, Karma?" I ask, stopping my progress. He lets out a low, sinister laugh and gestures at his feet.

"I found a pretty little donor!" He calls merrily and I see the girl. Blonde hair, green eyes. She was the first death of this Duel, Diamond Coman.

"You're a sick dude. You know that?" Diamond's throat had been torn open, revealing the bones and muscles inside. I can see the skin and blood under Karma's fingernails. No reason to wonder how it happened. He didn't even use a knife.

"Perhaps. But we all have our vices, don't we, Cole?" A smile spreads along his elongated face as he takes a step towards me. I spot the shape running out from the diamond maze and smile back.

"Yeah. Wonder what Warwickite's vices are?"

I take joy in the look of discomfort that crosses Karma's face right before Wariwickite blows into his back. The two boys fall to the ground, snarling as they wrestle for dominance. I don't know much about Warwickite. Just that he's from the 326th Games. But I trust he can handle Karma. I go sprinting for the spear I signalled out earlier but now I see that someone else has found the clearing. Raven Armor (302) slides a long katana out from the sword crate and grins wickedly at me.

"Game time, Cole!" My hands whip the spear out from its crate as I pass by, still sprinting at full speed. Raven sees me coming right for her and winds up swing at my head. Bad placement. I slide like a baseball player just as she unleashes the swing. She misses. I don't. My spear tip slices across her thigh and she drops to one uninjured leg, howling in pain. I spring back to my feet and thrust spear through the nape of her neck. Her howls of pain break off into bloody gurgles as the spear tip clogs her throat. She falls down, choking on her own blood as another chime goes off. "Oh yeah!" I give myself an imaginary high-five and turn to examine the clearing. Karma and Warwickite are still brawling, though it appears Karma is gaining the edge. I should go help--

"Think fast!"

I don't have time to think as a knife slices across the clearing, slashing into the tip of my spear and ripping it from my grasp. A girl with blonde haired tied back in a ponytail has appeared on the edge of clearing, a pair of throwing knives in hand. Where did she get those? Not from a crate, that's certain. But I don't have time to think about it. Kate (326) winds back her arm to throw another knife and I drop to the ground so hard that I swear I bruise my chest.

Not that I needed to. The knife doesn't even come for me. Instead, it cartwheels through the air and slams into the heart of an emerging Artemis, the second girl from my Games. She drops like a stone, dead on impact. Kate turns to me, priming the knife in her hand. "Crap."

I brace for another desperate dive when a figure lunges out from the diamond maze and grabs Kate from behind. I hear her squeal of panic as two thickly muscled arms wrap around her neck. She doesn't have time to use her knife before the arms give a sharp jerk and her neck snaps. She slides to the ground, dead.

Three more chimes go off as Elvis (300) stalks into the clearing. Instinctively, I look to the sky and the holographic scoreboard. The faces of Kate, Artemis, and Warwickite all dim at once, leaving only three more. Elvis, Karma, and myself.

"That was...most amusing," Karma rises from where Warwickite's body lies, stiff and unmoving. "He really knew how to fight. But still, he underestimated the power of one's fingers." He stretches his long fingers as he speaks and I grimace as I see the fresh blood that soaks them. Karma just smiles at me and pulls a sword out from a nearby crate. "Duel to the death? An honourable fight?" He asks, his voice dripping with mock politeness.

"No way. Two people can survive this Duel. Let's make it you and me. Let's just get him. He's unarmed!" I point towards Elvis, whose been watching our interaction with an emotionless face. Karma's crimson eyes flicker towards him and I see them light up when he sees I am right. Elvis has no weapons.

"Ah. I see. You wish to kill the weakling, avoid putting yourself at risk. Smart. Very smart." Karma sounds like a snake as he stops halfway between the two of us, his gaze flickering back and forth.

I shrug and pick up my fallen spear. "Seems like common sense, no? Why risk our own health when we could just team up and win unscathed?"

"Oh, you're clever. So very clever. But you see, I could never possibly bring myself to trust--"

His words turn into a brief scream of pain as my spear digs into his chest. He topples over and I race across the clearing, a wide grin on my face. "Of course you couldn't trust me! You already betrayed me once! No way was I letting it happen again, asshole!" I stomp on his face for emphasis, then a chime sounds. My spear pierced his heart, killed him instantly. Awesome.

"Coolio, man. Nice moves." Elvis comes walking towards me, applauding. His claps echo through the now deathly silent caverb. "Looks like you and me have something in common."


"We both really hate traitors!" He stops a few feet away from me and grins. After a moment I return it. I don't know this guy, but I already like him more than any allies I had in my first Games. I go to speak when trumpets interrupt and a voice I don't recognize speaks.

"Congratulations to the winners of the District 1 Death Duel! Elvis Alxexander and Cole Harrison! The two of you will join the pool of tributes competing in the 400th Annual Hunger Games!"

I grin like a fool as the voice fades and aan opening suddenly forms in the wall of the cavern. White suited people come pouring out and approach both me and Elvis. "We're the best District 1 has to offer," I tell him as the people begin to corrale us towards the opening that just formed. "And we should be the ones to lead the Careers!"

District 2 Death Duel

Teresa Silvers (325th Games)

When someone tells you that you've been asleep for over seventy-five years, you tend not to believe them. Except for when you consider that you've already died once and was somehow brought back to life. Then you'd believe anything they told you.

My room is empty and featureless, leaving absolutely no impression on me as I wait for this so-called "death duel" to begin. My mind is elsewhere anyways, focused on the family I once had. Are they dead now? Or just extremely old? I feel my stomach churn uncomfortably at either possibility. The fact that everyone I've ever known could be dead unpleasant one. Very unpleasant.

I shuffle my feet around on the platform and try not to cry. Everyone I've ever loved is dead. Dead or an old, elderly person. What even awaits me back home? What would I return to? Is there even a point in winning these Games when I have nothing left? The only thing that I even feel slightly good about is the fact that the man who was stalking me when I was Reaped so long ago is dead too. I mean, he has to be dead, doesn't he?

"Prepare for Duel commencement."

A voice seeps into my small room and tears me from my thoughts. Beneath me, the metal platform has begun to stir and move.

"The platform will now rise. Please stay in the center. Thank you."

There's no sound as the platform begins to rise. I hear nothing but the thudding of my heart as I enter a dark tunnel and then emerge into a brand new locale. I recognize the room, though I've never been in one myself. Hammers and anvils, vats of molten metal and steamy pots of water. A musty smell hang in the air, one that reeks of iron and sweat.

I'm in a smithy

I'm just looking around for a few seconds when I notice the platforms that have risen beside me. Four of them. I recognize Chloe from my Games and then there's tiny Onyx (302) and arrogant Bethany (300). And a lone boy. A sneer is etched on his face as he leers at me with a very disturbing face. "I'm gonna kill you first!" He growls at me. His voice is low and menacing, his amber eyes filled with an insatiable bloodlust. I instinctively take a step back and too late do I remember that I'll have my legs blown off.

But I don't.

I don't have time to ponder this discovery before the boy hurtles off of his platform and comes sprinting towards me. Behind him, the other girls begin to fight. I shouldn't have stopped to watch that.

The boy's shoulders ram into my gut and he takes me to the ground. The square of my back smacks into the cold, cobbled bricks below and I feel the breath shoot out of me as the boy howls to the sky. "I am Drewsiff Bloodwonky! I am the blood hound!" He balls his hands into fists and sends them barreling down towards me but I roll out of the way, hearing the crack of his knuckles as they smash into the hard bricks. He screams and cradles his hands close as I bring my feet to my chest and then kick him hard in the gut. He falls back and I'm on him, hands gripped around his head. A stream of curses flow out of his mouth as I smack his skull back into the ground. His eyes roll up into his head and I hear a sickenly loud crack.

I let go and slump backwards, panting heavily. I feel no pity for the boy. He was a cold-blooded murderer who got what he deserved. I'm just worried about myself.

The smithy is alive with the sounds of fighting. Screams of pain, shouts of anger and the occasional chiming of a bell fill the air. I smell the scent of blood lingering in the air. Already I see Onyx (302) lies dead on the floor. Chloe and Bethany still fight nearby though. I don't want anything to do with them.

As I crawl behind the tables and anvils that litter the room, I finally notice that hologram on the ceiling. The faces of Onyx, Damian, and Drewsiff are already blanked out. Only seven left.

Eager to get a look at the other tributes, I cautiously rise up from the ground and look across the table I'm hidden behind. The giant boy, Yuki (325) is squaring off with Pansy (301). The crimson girl keeps dancing away from his grasp and he's getting visibly upset at his inability to catch her.

I hear movement behind me but I don't have time to react. A hand clamps over my mouth and then a voice speaks directly into my ear. "Go to sleep...."

Something sharp and metal cuts into my throat.

Pansy Costella (325th Games)

Yuki swings his massive fists towards me and I duck as his momentum sends his large frame barreling past me. He doesn't have a weapon, he doesn't need one. I've already seen how he killed my original District partner, Damian, with nothing but those fists of his. He's dangerous. "Stop moving!" He screams at me and once again sends a fist flying towards me. I roll sideways and avoid it.

"We both know I won't do that!" A grin forms on my face as he grunts and spins around much faster than I thought possible. He strikes me across the face with a massive backhand and I go sprawling to the floor, agony ripping through my jaw. Probably have a broken molar. Whiplash too. No time to think on it, Yuki stomps towards me and I roll, avoiding the deadly foot. "Just give up, you fat bastard!" I scream at him as I fall back towards the tables. I see a handled vat.

"Never!" He snarls and charges. I don't move.

Confusion crosses his face halfway towards me. He doesn't understand why I am not running, why I am not dodging. He soon learns why.

I smash my hand down onto the handle and the vat flies forward, spewing molten metal into Yuki's face and eyes. There's a delightful sizzling sound as Yuki stumbles backwards, howling and screaming as the metal burns his face and eyes. Pulling a long metal nail off of the table, I savagely kick Yuki in the knee, causing him to drop to my height.

He's still screaming. The metal has begun to merge with his face, a very painful looking thing. A smile crosses my face as I realize he's done for. "Shoulda just gave up!" I hoist the nail up and drive it into his chest, once, twice, thrice. His body gives one massive jerk and then he drops like a stone. Dead.

A chime goes off as I look away from the boy and observe the rest of the fighting. The Clarke siblings have Chloe cornered now. Johnny (300) holds a wicked hammer in his hands as the two of them approach the trapped girl.

"Looks like you have no weapons!" Bethany sneers at her. Chloe spits defiantly in he face. Bethany wipes it away and grins. "Oh, you shouldn't have done that!"

"Your death will be much more painful now!" Johnny agrees. The two of them step forward and then Johnny gives a half shout and falls to his knees. Bethany is screaming in shock as she sees the knife sticking out from his back. She didn't see what I did. Jeffrey (326) has slunk out from the shadows and is racing across the smithy, his knife in Johnny's back.

Bethany screams again as Jeff rips the knife back out from her brothers back. What an idiot. Jeff slashes the knife forward and her screams turn into gurgles as blood flows from a new gash in her throat. Jeff watches as she falls to the ground beside her dead brother. Two more chimes go off. Then a heavy metal hammer smashes in his skull.

He never saw it coming.

Jeff is dead on impact but Chloe continues to wail on his body, smashing it until he's an unrecognizable bloody mess. I position my fingers around the nail, ready to send it hurtling into Chloe's skull.

"Congratulations to the survivors of the District 2 Death Duel! Pansy Costella and Chloe Black!"

I hear the voice announce our victory. I just don't care. Chloe is still going to die. It'll just be one less opponent for me when the Games begin. I'm about to throw when a whistling noise pierces the air and my body is suddenly frozen. I can't move a muscle, everything is stiff as I feel an unknown energy pulsing through my body. Then the doors of the smithy open up and doctors pile in, followed by Peacekeepers.

They surround me and Chloe, who also appears to be frozen. One of the doctors stands in front of me. "You naughty little girl!" He waves a scolding finger at me as he grins. "Trying to get the drop on the competition? I'm afraid that just won't do." I try to tell him to go slag himself but I can't. So this immobility extends to my speech too. Swell. Just swell. The man turns to the others and barks out orders. "Get them out of here. They have a Hunger Games to compete in."

District 3 Death Duel

Noah Everest (300th Games)

I feel like I'm trapped back in that horrid cell as I nervously pace across my small room. Soon I'll be brought into an "arena" and be forced to fight with my fellow prisoners. Only two will survive. The rest must die.

I guess we should be grateful they're at least letting two of us live. I would have thought only one would survive.

"Prepare for Duel commencement."

I position myself in the exact center of the platform and wait as it slowly begins to rise. I wonder what our surroundings will be. They said it'd be something similar to our District export, so electronics, perhaps?

Yes. Yes, it's electronics. The platform rises into a command hub-like area. Giant, complex plasma monitors line the walls behind me and the other tributes. All of our platforms are placed in a circle around a ring of computers on a raised circle. Four stairways from each direction, north, south, east and west, lead up to the circle. In the center of the circle, I see a table. Laden with knives, wires and all sorts of electronic goodies.

Those will be our weapons.

The other tributes seem confused, dazzled by the lights of the plasma screens that show nothing but static. I'm the only one that has noticed there's no countdown. Nothing showing how long we have to stay on our platforms. Now, this can mean one of two things. Either they want someone to explode or there is no countdown.

I'm betting its the latter.

I've learned from my past mistakes. I lost the 300th Games and died because I ran from a fight, ran straight into a forcefield while fleeing. Well, this time I don't intend to run from the fighting. I'm going to run towards it.

The tributes near me don't even react as I hurtle off of the platform. They just watch as I pound up the stairs, heading for the table and weapons. I thought District 3 was supposed to be smart? I guess not. Maybe that's why we're all here instead of living a life of luxury in the Capitol.

I reach the top of the stairs and see that at least one other tribute has the same idea as me. Rebel Groots, the long haired emo kid from the 326th Games has just ascended the north staircase. We both stop to stare at one another and then lunge for the table.

He predictably grabs a knife, I grab the handle of a smooth black tazer. Within seconds he's slashing the knife at me. I dodge and then slide the switch on the taser from "Off" to "On", a small hum of electricity tells me that it's now active. Good.

Rebel swings for my head and I duck it, stepping forward to meet him. There's a flash of surprise in his eyes and then my taser pokes into his ribs.

There's a sharp crackling sound of electricity and then Rebel begins to convulse uncontrollably. Brilliant blue arcs of electricity race across his body, frying his innards. His eyes roll back into his head, his clothes smoke and sizzle and then he's falling to the floor.

The taser killed him within seconds.

There's no sense of grief, no loss. He wasn't a person. None of us are people. We lost our humanity back when we died in our Games. We lost our families, our friends and our dreams. We lost everything we cared about. Now we're just empty husks, husks with nothing to live for except life itself.

"Oh, God..."

A small feminine voice brings notice to the other tributes. It seems all of them are here now, standing on the edge of the four stairwells, watching me. They all seem shocked, terrified even. One of the girls (Elecctronny from the 325th Games I think) is shaking. The rest watch me with fearful gazes. I have the best weapon. I have the taser. I have the means of dealing death here. That makes me the target.

"Are we gonna get him or what?" A small, impish girl sneers from the eastern stairs. Di Thorn. My District partner. Despite only being twelve years old she was a psychopath. Someone obsessed with killing and maiming. I wasn't surprised when she joined the Careers.

"Just try it, Di!" I position my body to face her and tighten my grip on the taser. "Let's finally see who'd win a fight between the two of us!"

A smirk crosses her khaki face. "I don't have to fight you."

The sound of his footsteps slapping on the smooth floor give him away. I turn just as he's grabbing a knife from the table. Elecc (325) has a short scream as my taser jabs him and then he's on the ground, shaking as errant streaks of white heat snake around him. I passively watch as the electricity ebbs away and leaves his prone body, smoking slightly. "Anyone else want to try their hand?" I ask, trying to keep my voice from shaking. I need to appear strong, unimpressed by their numbers. Or else I'll perish.

I spin around, gazing at the remaining six tributes. They don't answer me, their faces are stony and silent. Then one of then comes rushing towards me.

I hold my taser out but the boy slides to his knees and holds his hands together. "Please! Don't kill me! I'm with you, Noah! Two of us can live, just let me help you and we can win this together!" The boy looks up to me with pleading blue eyes hidden behind wired glasses. His beanie hat covers his ruffled brown hair and I recognize him as the boy kept in the cell across from me, the one who always cried for his family. I can't kill him.

"Then get up!" With one hand I pull the boy to his feet. He flashes me a small smile and then grabs a knife off from the table with trembling fingers. The two of us face the others.

"Chip! We were allies in the Games!" A brunette girl shouts to my new ally. Beside her, Electronny cries silent tears. "Are you just going to abandon us now? Kill us even? Just so you can stay alive?"

Chip opens his mouth but doesn't speak. He's conflicted; He wants to help his friends but he also wants to live. And I give him the best chance of living. The girl waits for him to say something but he doesn't. He keeps his gaze fixed on the floor and I shake my head. "Are you saying you wouldn't kill him?" I challenge the girl, Vision (325). "That you'd rather kill Elecctronny then him?" I gesture at the small frightened girl beside her. "No? Then shut up and fight. People have to die. And it doesn't matter who--"

A heavy weight drops onto my shoulders, drives me to the floor. The taser slips from my fingers and slides across the floor as chaos breaks out. Vision and Elecctronny charge forward as another girl grabs Chip from behind. I go to help when I'm spun around and faced with the snarling vestige of Di. "Think you're some kind of visionary?" She growls as her fist strikes me access the face. "With your pretty speeches and making allies out of the downtrodden?" Her blows disorient and then her slender hands slip around my neck and pull me up. "Well, you're not. You're no visionary. You're just another forgettable kid!" She smashes my head into the keyboard for one of the computers. The keys clack as my head screams in agony as she repeats the process. She brings my head down for the fourth knock when I catch the side of the table with my hands. I throw an elbow into her ribs and she let's out an Oomph! of pain, giving me the opportunity to shove her away and dive across the floor.

I slide across to the other side, stopping right next to the taser. I hear Di shouting angrily and then I roll onto my back as she throws herself towards me. Unfortunately for her, she just lands on the business end of a tazer.

Spittle flies from her mouth as the electricity sparks her body. Her arms and legs kick out as she falls backwards, contorting unnaturally as she rolls and throbs. Then she goes still, dead at last.

I give myself only a few seconds to breathe easy and survey my surroundings. The chaos that had started just a moment ago has already created casualties. Elecctronny lies dead on the cold floor, her neck bent at an odd angle. Syren (302) is on top of Vision, squeezing a thin wire around her throat. I think it's barbed, because blood begins to flow from where the wire touches skin. And finally, Bethunia (301) is kicking and beating away at Chip as he lies on the floor, curled in a ball.

It's her who I attack first. I spring to my feet and jab Bethunia square in the back with the tazer. She goes down like the rest, kicking and convulsing. Nothing new here. Just another unnecessary death. "Are you okay?" I pull Chip to his feet and give him a thorough look over. His lip is bloodied and black bruises cover his face but nothing looks too serious or fatal.

"Y-yeah...I think..." He coughs feebly and then, when he looks up, a flash of horror crosses his face. "Noah! Behind you!"

I'm tossed backwards to the floor. A foot stomps on my ribs and I hear a loud crack. Breathing becomes difficult and I see the face of Syren as she looks down on me. She was a Career recruit in her Games. Brutality is just second nature. She smiles and lifts her foot to crush my skull when a new expression forms. Confusion.

Her eyes glance downwards but she never sees what happened. Her knees buckle she collapses to the ground, I see the knife buried in her back and realized what happened.


He doesn't even say anything to me. He just drops to the ground and curls back into a ball, sobbing and crying out for someone named Kinsey. Nothing else moves. All of the other tributes are dead, leaving us as the two survivors. "Congratulations to us," I mutter sarcastically and try to sit up. I can't. My ribs hurt too much so I'm forced to settle with leaning back against the computers.

The air is scented with blood and burnt flesh. Some of the dead tributes still smoke from the effects of the taser. I say no more and think of nothing as I sit in the room of death. Chip is still sobbing, but quietly now. I think he now calls for his parents. Poor boy.

I lean my head back and close my eyes, waiting for the moment when the Capitol will come for us and put me in the Hunger Games, where I will regrettably kill once more.

District 4 Death Duel

Trident Bekke (302nd Games)

I'm not nervous, I'm not concerned, and I'm definitely not frightened. One thing I am is excited. Excited for the possibility of living once more.

Being dead sucks. You don't do anything cool, you don't do anything at all! At least, what I remember of it. Which isn't anything. Which is kinda weird really. I remember being stabbed by that hot girl from District 7 and then I don't remember a thing until some Capitol dude wakes me up and claims to have resurrected me. Something is off about that. I don't know what, but something is. Feels like I'm missing something obvious...something--

"Prepare for Duel commencement."

I look up to the ceiling and flash one of my most charming smiles. "Okay, lady. Whatever you say. "Just make sure I get up there in one piece, ya know?"

The platform rises and next thing I know, I'm in the middle of some sort of ocean or whatever. Pure blue water surrounds me and in the distance a large rocky outcropping shines under a bright yellow sun. "Woah. That's bright!" I squint my eyes from the intense sunlight so it's several more seconds before I notice the beautiful girls that surround me.

There's four of them and they're all standing on platforms like me, meaning they're also tributes. Three of them are positioned to my right and the other is on my left. All of them look to the outcropping in the distance, which I can now see is surrounded by a stretch of sand and littered with tools used back in District 4. Nets, fishing hooks, tridents, bidents, harpoons, etcetera, etcetera. Boring stuff. I look to the girl to my left, a tan orange-haired hotty with green highlights and call out. "Hey, beautiful. You have anything goin' on tonight?"

She looks to me with a twinkling eye and cunning grin. "Oh, I don't know. I might be celebrating a few killings, nothing much."

I go to respond when another girl, a brunette and the hottest girl in this row of platforms, interrupts with a shout. "What the hell are they waiting for?! Get this started already!"

"Wow. You're a frisky one, ain't chu?"

The girl spins to face me, armed with a glare that would make most shiver in fear. I just smile and wink. "If you're so bored, you could entertain me. I really think--"

"She's moving! She's moving!"

The first girl I spoke to, Seafoam I think I remember her name from the brief info we were given, is shouting and pointing behind the brunette. Another girl, a creamy haired blonde, has stepped off her platform with a dazed look on her face. It sounds like she's speaking to herself.

"Gonna have to pass on that offer," The brunette cackles gleefully and jumps off her platform, splashing into the two foot deep water. "Because this game has just begun!" She sprints for the girl who moved, Nymph (325), and pairs her up. Then she strikes forward with a lightning quick bladejab and the girl goes falling to the water, her trachea almost assuredly broken from the force of that blow. "Wow. She really knows how to fight, eh?" I speak to Seafoam (326) before realizing that she has already gone sprinting for the outcropping. Dang, these girls really love to kill don't they? I like it. Makes them much more...interesting.

The fourth girl on the platforms, Kaylay from the 300th, goes charging Miss Kills-A-Lot in what has to be the worst idea in the history of forever. Kaylay throws a punch that's easily dodged and then Fressa, for that is her name, grabs her in a arm bar and jerks back, effectively breaking Kaylay's right arm.

The girl howls in pain and then Fressa just pulls her into a headlock and does what she did to the arm again. Only this time it's Kaylay's neck that breaks. "You're not very smart, are you?" Fressa drops the body and watches it float neck to Nymph's.

"You talking to me?" I smile coyly as she turns around. Her gorgeous brown eyes are filled with a bloodlust as she coldly regards me.

"Who else would I be speaking to, stupid? A fish?" She laughs scornfully and begins to approach me, which I actually find more exciting than terrifying. "You should have ran with Seafoam. Why didn't you?"

I shrug as if we're speaking about something trivial. "I just like watching hot girls kick ass."

"Well, you're gonna die now. I hope it was worth it!" She lunges for me but I hop our of her reach and wag a knowing finger.

"Ah, ah, ah! You should really get to that outcropping. Because if you don't, someone else will claim those weapons. Someone much bigger and stronger than me."

"You got lucky."

She turns and runs. Just like that. I watch as she sprints for the outcropping, marvelling her perfect form. I really hope she lives. I'd much rather her be my co-survivor so than some sweaty muscle-head.

Fressa Saltie (325th Games)

Already the others have reached the outcropping, already they've begun fighting. Wari (301) lies dead on the sand. I curse my own ineptitude. I should have killed Trident within seconds and then came here right away. Now I'm at a disadvantage.

At the outcropping, it's Wayne (325), the giant who had rejected the Careers invitation in his Games, who draws the most attention. He sits in the center of the sandy turf, a trident in each hand as he circles around to keep everyone in his field of view. No one wants to take the risk of being the first to charge him. No one is that stupid--

A boy suddenly darts forward, a harpoon in his hand. Foolishly he raises it to spear Wayne but he's given the boy far too much time to react. Cody doesn't even have time to strike before one of Wayne's tridents hits him in the chest and he goes tumbling into the sand. Moron.

But still, his charge didn't go to waste. Flick, the runner-up of the 300th Games and a boy who looks more like a man, sees that Wayne is distracted and chucks his own bident into the giants leg. As Wayne howls and drops to one knee, Flick charges forward, ducks under the giants swinging trident, and throws his entire body into him. They fall to the sandy floor and begin to brawl just as Giller, one of my allies from the 325th Games and about the only one I didn't betray, comes jogging up to the outcropping. I see my opportunity. "Giller! Finish off the winner of that brawl! I'll end Seafoam!" Always the obedient one, he nods and pulls the harpoon from the dead Cody's hands. I turn to face Seafoam with manic grin.

"Wait. What?" The daft girl doesn't understand what just happened and by the time she has even an inkling of it, I've tackled her to the ground and pried the fish hook she held so proudly from her hand. Her desperate eyes watch mine as I use the hook to slice her throat open.

She dies just like the rest. Her life bleeds out of her, smearing in the sand and being washed into the water, where it turns a pale pink. She was worthless. An easy kill.

"Fressa! Fressa! I need help, Fress--"

A wet gurgle cuts off Giller's screams and I turn to see Flick ripping the harpoon from his neck. Dark crimson blood stains his hands and I see Wayne lying stiffly on the sand. This guy is good.

"I intend to come out of here alive," Flick says as he faces me, twirling a trident with his deft fingers. "Will you let me?""

"Is that it? You're so frightened you won't win that you've resorted to begging?" I sneer at him, showing my utter contempt for everything he is. He shrugs modestly.

"Not really. I was just being a gentleman," He gives a dramatic sigh and then looks at me with a sly smile. "Guess I'll just have to kill you."

I'm expecting him to throw the trident, so I'm taken back by his feint. He crosses the gap between us in a few seconds, his long legs giving him the advantage. I'm forced to duck and dodge to stay alive, no easy task. The tip of his trident catches me twice, once on the thigh and the other against my forearm. Both leave bleeding cuts.

"You're fast," He says when I duck under one of his ridiculously powerful thrusts.

"Or you're slow," He grins at my retort and thrusts again. This time I'm not quick enough to duck and I yelp in pain as the tip of my ear is sliced open. His grin widens.

"I'd say that you're fast. But maybe not fast enough."

He unleashes a flurry of strikes, I dodge them all until I step into the blunt end of the trident as he brings it forward. Flick follows up by smacking me in the crown of the head and then I'm sprawled on the ground, completely at his mercy. His eyes glint as he readies himself to finish me.

"Deus ex machina."

"Huh?" He doesn't pause as he brings the trident down where my head once was. But I've moved it just a few inches, prolonging my life for another moment.

"Deus ex machina," I repeat. "Deus ex machina is a plot device whereby a seemingly unsolvable problem is suddenly and abruptly resolved by the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability or object. And it's gonna happen right now."

The confusion on his face turns to fear as he spins around to face the person coming to my rescue. Only thing is, no one is coming to my rescue. When he sees no one in sight he spins back to face me but he already took the bait.

My foot smashes him between the legs and he cries and screams as he collapses. I don't waste time mounting him and slicing his throat with the same fish hook I used upon Seafoam. Deus ex machina indeed.

I stand and wipe my bloodstained hands on my shirt as I survey the outcropping. I've won. Everyone else is dead. I smile as the announcement confirms this. But the smile fades when it mentions the other survivor.

Trident Bekke.

"Hey toots, glad you took care of them all for me!" I see the boy as he comes jogging through the water, his blonde moppish hair bouncing along. A cold angry burns in my chest as I realize that I've been used. He sent me here to fight and kill his competition while he sat back and did nothing. Clever. Usually I'd appreciate such thinking, but not when it's used against me. "You're a real sweetheart, ya know?" A grin forms on Trident's face and I go to respond when I realize that I can no longer move. Shapes writhe in the distance, Peacekeepers or scientists sent to retrieve us. They must have immobilized me in case I was going to attack Trident. I wasn't. I have an entire Hunger Games ahead of me, full of opportunities for my revenge. I can wait a while longer.

I'm a patient person.

District 5 Death Duel

Sebastian Hive (325th Games)

I'm quite possibly the most prepared tribute in these Duels. I'm most assuredly the most prepared one from District 5. I've looked over the info cards they prepared for us countless times. I know my enemies weaknesses, their strengths, I know how they died, what their Games strategy was and how they failed in it. I know just about everything valuable about them.

And now I will kill them.

My platform rises, brings me into the duelling arena. Other tributes rest on their platforms beside me, their nervous eyes taking in the surroundings. We're on a long platform, the ground a see through mesh grid. Beneath us I can see the crackling electricity arcing across the ground. Behind me is a small concrete flooring in the back of the room. A large machine of sorts rests on it. I haven't the faintest idea what it is for.

But he does.

I see his plump red face, his body and it's rolls of fat, the glasses on his face and his messy red hair. Watt Powers, male tribute from the 301st Annual Hunger Games. Unlike the other tributes who've lined themselves up to face forward, he does the opposite. He stares at the machine with a delighted grin on his fat face, like he just got the most magnificent present for Christmas.

Very curious.

There is no gong, no signal that the competition has begun. One moment we're just standing there idly and the next a girl is rushing off of his platform. I recognize her face from the info cards. Allie Costigan from the 300th Annual Hunger Games. She's the first to realize there's no timer but the others follow suit. Soon they all go rushing for the center of the grid, away from platforms.

Except for Watt.

He watches the others run with a grin etched on his face and then he plops off of his platform and goes waddling for the machine. I simply must find out what is so special about it.

I follow the boy as he drops beside the machine and casually pries a panel off of it, revealing a mess of wires and electrical sockets. He goes to meddle with these when I grab him around the shoulder and he yelps in fear. "Don't kill me!" He screams pathetically without even turning around. "I can fry the others! You can win without even lifting a finger!"

Peculiar. "How so?" I ask the boy and he finally turns around. I grimace as I see his fat jowels flap about as he speaks.

"I--See the grid? The meshy wire like stuff?" He points at the ground that covers every inch of the room except for the small area where we stand.

"Of course I see it! Do you think I am daft, goodman?"

"No!" Terror lights his eyes as he thinks he has offended me. I can't hold back a laugh at how awestruck this little piggy is. "I would never! I wouldn't--"

"Cut to the chase. I have no time for this nonsense." Already I can hear the other tributes fighting. I hear their yells and screams. Curiously, there doesn't seem to be any provided weapons. They fight with their fists alone.

"Okay. Okay. Well, That mesh is used in the power plants back in District 5. Which this whole area is meant to resemble, obviously."

I nod. "Of course. I knew that right away." This is a lie. I've never stepped foot inside a plant, much less know what one looks like. But no point in making myself look inferior. "But what does this machine have to do with this?"

"I'm getting there. The mesh is used to channel electricity from either room to room or plant to plant. Vast amounts can travel through it without frying the wires, however the grid itself is very hazardous. One touch would kill you instantly. And that machine," He jerks a thumb at the metallic contraption behind us. "Is what generates the electricity. When turned on the entire gird will become alive with enough electricity to kill twelve elephants."

"Can you turn it on?" I ask eagerly. The thought of being able to kill every single tribute in this room without having to do it manually is...enthralling, to say the least.

"Uh, hello?" The fatty pulls against my grip and I let go. "That's what I was doing before you stopped me! It'd already have been done and we could be sitting in a comfy room eating poptarts and..."

"Get to work," I quickly interrupt him. "I'll watch your back and make sure you have enough time." He blinks in confusion and then I see that look again. He's still awestruck.

"Does this mean we're allies?" His voice is high with excitement.

"For now, yes. But get to work!" I give him a sharp shove and he nods with ecstasy as he turns to fiddle with the exposed wires. I watch the others as they fight, punching and kicking with all their strength. There's still no weapons and I now know why. This machine is meant to be our weapon. I suppose that the Gamemakers thought we'd all know what it did. They certainly wouldn't have anticipated that only the fatty would know it.

Thinking of the fatty, he would make an intriguing ally once we enter the Games. In my last Games I made one crucial mistake. I only recruited hardened killers and no one else. Mayhap I would have won, if I had been in the same arena as my allies, but nonetheless, I wound up dead on the jungle floor. I will not allow that to happen again.

Allana (325), one of my original allies, is in this Duel. She's punching and biting with the rest right now. She'll die when Fatty activates the machine. I do not care for her at all, she was a useless ally to me. And the only reason I keep allies is for their usefulness. "Nearly done!" Fatty calls over his shoulder as he continues to do something with the open panel. "Just a couple more moments!"

"You better hurry," I tell him grimly as a tribute suddenly comes straight towards us. "Because it looks like we have company."

It's not just a District 5 scrub who challenges me. It's Philo Ventus (326), the giant who stayed hidden for the entirety of his Games until the finale. He would have won if he hadn't been struck down from behind whilst finishing someone off.

"You looking for something?" I ask the giant with a polite nod of the head. Manners are crucial, even when dealing with a horrid beast like Philo. His eyes just flicker to Fatty and the machine, a peculiar look crossing his face. Then it transforms into a glare. "Ah. I see that you understand what is happening!" I laugh lightly and step forward to block his path towards Fatty. "I did not expect a mangy mongrel like yourself to understand the principles of electricity. I would have thought that even simple fire would be too much for you."

His massive hands curl into fists at his side. He doesn't like to be insulted. Good. "They said you were a kind person, a gentle giant of sorts. Someone who innately disliked fighting. But I know the truth. It's not that you dislike fighting, you're just afraid of it. You're a bleeding heart coward!"

His nostrils flare and he steps even closer. "I don't like bullies."

A smile crosses my face. "And I don't like giant freaks who have no place in society."

His fist flies for me but I know it's coming. His initial blow misses and he tries with his left hand and this goes the same way. I was taught how to fight by the finest trainers in District 5, I've spent years learning the fine art of combat, understanding how my enemy works and how to avoid his attack. This ignoramus just throws punches as hard as he can without even the semblance of subtlety or planning. I could dodge him for days.

His attacks keep coming hard and fast but I continue to duck and weave past them. He's getting annoyed and grunts in exasperation with each missed strike. When I see an opening I step forward and deliver three quick jabs to his ribcage before bounding back again as his fists seek my head. He always misses.

The battle continues on like this. He attacks. I dodge. I counter his attack. He desperately tries to drop me. He fails. Repeat. I'm convinced that I don't even need Fatty's help when a massive fist comes for my head and I dodge out of the way. Straight into another fist.

It smacks me in the stomach and drops me to the ground. I groan and cough, feeling like I've just been hit by a truck. Philo stomps his boot down on my ankle and I scream as I feel the crack rip through my body. My first mistake was not seeing his feint. My second was not rolling when I had the chance.

"Seb! I got it!" Fatty jumps to his feet and waves frantically for me, screaming at the top of his lungs. "Hurry up and get on the concrete before the grid turns on!"

Philo's huge head turns to face him and that's when I raise my uninjured leg and kick him in the gut. Fatty screams for me as I begin to hobble towards the slab of concrete and the machine. I wish he would shut up. The other tributes are beginning to notice us and will soon figure out what he means by "the grid will turn on".

I'm almost there when I hear Philo running after me, his giant legs pounding against the mesh grid. Fatty clutches a switch on the machine and I scream for him to pull it when I dive for the concrete.

He pulls it.

I don't see the result but I hear it. The crackling sound of the machine turning on and then the simultaneous screams of the tributes as electricity tears through their bodies, Philo's included. It only lasts for a few seconds and then there's a mechanical whirring and the screaming stops. A pudgy hand pulls me up. "Ha ha! Look at em'! There all skeletons!" Fatty crows viciously as I stand on one good leg, grimacing when I see my twisted right ankle. I pray that the Gamemakers will have it fixed before plopping me in the Games. "They all thought I was an easy kill! Well, guess they were all wrong, weren't they?" Fatty continues to boast about his accomplishments as I stare out at the grid. He wasn't lying when he said they were skeletons. The tributes who weren't as smart as we were lie dead, just a charred skeleton amid the ruins of a battlefield. That electricity was even stronger than I thought.

"Good job, Watt," I clap Fatty on the shoulder and give him a proud smile. "You showed them alright."

"Yeah! Yeah I did!" He's like a puppy. Give him praise and treats and in exchange he'll be loyal to you. He'd make a most excellent ally in the Games. "We make a great team!" He puffs out his pudgy chest and strikes a ridiculous pose. I tell him he looks quite heroic and he grins stupidly.

"Will you ally with me in the Games?" I ask him, knowing that the answer won't be anything other than a resounding yes. His grin somehow widens even further.

"Yeah! Of course! We'll be like, the most unstoppable team ever! Everyone will fear us! I have the brain, you have everything else!"

I chuckle softly and clap him on the shoulder. Such a naive boy. Naive, but admirable. His intelligence is unparalleled but he has much to learn about everything else. Still, he is the best ally I could ever hope for. Someone who is undeniably loyal to me and yet is not a threat to me in the slightest.

The two of us will conquer the 400th Games.

District 6 Death Duel

Cosmo Fyngelli (300th Games)

I stand on the platform of a train station as the platform finishes its ascent. Behind me is a solid brick wall and there's two more platforms ahead of me, across two sets of train tracks. One of the platforms rests in between the two tracks and has a metal table laden with items. The other is on the far side of the station. I see five tributes on their platforms there.

Just like us.

Four tributes are in the same platform as I. Two of them are to my right, two to my left. When we first arrived they all looked around at each other but now they don't give anyone a second look. We're all just focused on what must be done.

I take a shaky breath as a signal lamp that hangs above the near track suddenly lights up. A frown crosses my face but three of the tributes surrounding me take it as a sign that the Duel has begun.

They spring off of their platforms like rabbits, not bothering with me and the small girl who have remained motionless. They don't hear the rumbling that comes from the dark tunnel, they don't listen to the flashing light on the signal lamp as it bleeps and bloops rapidly.

Their ignorance is death.

A train comes speeding out from the tunnel. One of the high-tech ultra trains that we of District 6 build for the Capitol. It can travel up to speeds beyond three hundred miles per hour. Those poor tributes never had a chance.

One second they're racing across the track, the next they're swallowed by the train. I cry out in horror as I hear the terrible sounds of cracking bones and ripping flesh. Squirts of red spew out from under the train, splashing my face and making me gag, sickened by the sight. Then, only mere seconds later, the train disappears back down the opposite tunnel.

There's hardly anything left of the tributes who ran. There's just bits of torn flesh and fragments of bone. A slimy, crimson grist sticks to the tracks and the station reeks of fresh blood and death.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Three separate chimes go off, three faces in the sky blank out. Illegal Drugs (302), Belladonna Saware (300) and Blondie Genesis (326) no longer live. Only seven tributes left.

Despite the horror that now swims in my thoughts I force myself to run forward. Death is coming and I need to be proactive to avoid it. The scraps of bloody flesh left behind by the train squish under by feet as I sprint across the track towards the center platform. I try not to vomit as I scrabble up onto the platform.

Another boy comes from the opposite side. He's tall and lean, a wiry sort of boy that always looks like he's about to flee. Except he doesn't flee; He instead runs for the table. I'm not fast enough to reach it before him. His long legs give him ample time to arrive at the square wooden table and pluck his desired weapon off of it. A steering wheel.


A steering wheel?!

My mouth falls open in shock and then I shake my head furiously to clear my thoughts. The table only holds items that pertain to our District. Only things like tire irons, gears, pipes, and a whole sort of other stuff that I don't recognize. But I'm still confused. Why'd he pick a steering wheel?

The heavy wheel smashes down onto the crown of my head. In my confusion the boy had closed the gap between us and now beats me down with the wheel. It's a better weapon then it looks. I roll into a kneeling position and throw a punch at the boy's thigh. He blocks of but then I throw ny hands around his waist and pull him towards me. He goes flipping over my head and lands in the pit of the train tracks, very much alive but now covered with a bloody red grist.

Not my problem, I think. The table is still there with the weapons and I plunge towards it, my hands wrapping around the first thing I lay eyes on. But I haven't even had time to pull it towards me when a heavy object slams into the back of my skull.

Wolbert Toonico (325th Games)

Cosmo (300) doesn't utter a sound as my tire iron slams into his skull. The wound leaves no blood but there's a dent in his head, such a deep dent that I have no doubt that he will die, if he hasn't already.

It's a terribly sad sight, seeing that poor boy lying lifeless on the table, slowly sliding back to the ground. He didn't deserve this. None of us do. But it's what we've got, what we have to deal with. Kill or be killed. That's just what has to happen.

I hate myself for rationalizing the murder I just committed.

Because that's what it is. Murder. No matter how much you dress it up or how you present it, every single kill committed in this Duel or inside of the Hunger Games is murder. It doesn't matter if it's in self-defence or if you're just a maniacal psychopath, if you killed you've murdered. And we're all going to have to live with its effects for the rest of our lives. I wonder how long that will be for me.

Xavier (301) rises from the tracks where he was thrown. Cosmo had managed to avoid him and his deadly steering wheel but I don't think I'll have the same luck. I'm going to have to kill him. The tire iron is locked firmly in my hand as the boy watches me cautiously. I notice his eyes flicker around the platform, searching for the other tributes. Surprisingly they haven't yet came here.

Xavier's eyes suddenly spin towards me and he dives. I throw my iron up to block it but it was only a feint and no attack comes. I frown as I realize that the boy is trying to figure out my weak point, see how best to get me. I can't allow him to do that.

He sees me as I come for him, he raises the wheel over his head as if that would protect him. It doesn't. The tire iron cracks into his ribs and as he bends over in shock and pain, I smash the iron back into the center of his skull.

He dies as quickly as Cosmo did and that familiar sensation of guilt and despair is back. I don't want to be a Reaper. I don't want to be the killer of kids. But I must if I wish to live.

Ding! Ding!

Two chimes go off. Only five of us are still breathing right now and I gaze around the train station, looking for the others. The platform opposite of the one I started on, the one Cosmo came from, seems deserted. Just empty pillars and benches, no tributes in sight. They all must have been taken out by the train.

With the tire iron in hand I hop back across the tracks to the platform I began on. There I see the three tributes who were positioned next to me and Xavier. And it's a disturbing sight.

Two small girls lie on the ground, one screaming the other moaning. Eleith (325) and Bluffy (302). "You like what I have done?" Zak (325) snickers as he turns to face me, a long rail spike that drips with blood clenched in his hand. "I think these whiny babies look much better now, don't you?" His hand gestures at the two girls. Bluffy has her hands pressed to her eyes, screaming hysterically. With a jolt I see the blood that seeps from behind her protective grasp.

"I can't see! I can't see!" Her screams are repetitive and pitiful, making me feel an anger that I have not felt in a very long time.

"Yes," Zak grins ghoulishly at me. "I put out her eyes. They were nasty little things. You wouldn't have liked them." I can't believe he's so nonchalant about this. That he can joke and laugh after torturing a small, defenceless girl. She was only twelve... "And Eleith, well, I didn't just stab her." He carelessly points out the second girl and I don't even look. I don't want to know what this monster did.

"Why?" My eyebrows pinch together as I feel a overwhelming desire to smash his face to pieces. "Why would you do this? The goal is to kill. Not torture."

His face is quiet and cruel. "I lost Mimic. Nothing matters anymore. I feel nothing but pain and despair. Why shouldn't you all feel the same?"

His cruel red eyes drop to his feet. I'm wondering if he actually feels sorry when lightening fast he swings his spike for my head. I barely manage to pull my tire iron up in thine, the metal screeching as it deflects the deadly weapon. We back off and circle around one another. A chime has gone off and Eleith doesn't move anymore. I believe she is dead. Good. She won't feel anymore pain.

"You're not such a good person, you know," Zak laughs as he takes another swing that I dodge. "I saw you kill Cosmo and Xavier. Think they deserved what you gave them?"

"It's better than what you would have done." I don't need to justify myself to this boy.

He laughs. "So true!" I would have--"

My shoulder takes him in the gut and we both go falling off of the platform into the train tracks below. Zak hisses and tries to pull his spike up but I'm faster. I kick the weapon away and smash my tire iron into his knee before he can move.

His howl of pain sounds like an animal. He tosses and turns, screaming fruitlessly at me. I just nod my head and climb off of the tracks. "Where are you going?!" He screams after me, his voice no longer menacing or fearful. It's just pitiful. "Finish me off! Kill me like a man!"

I turn to face him from where I stand on the platform. His leg is bent at an almost impossible angle, his face full of hatred and sorrow. "I don't have to. The train will do it for me."

"Train?! What train?!"

I shake my head and turn around. I don't need to see this. The ground rumbles as the approaching train arrives at the station. Zak just has one short scream before it crushes him. I don't see it but I can imagine it. Somehow that is even worse.

I stare at the brick wall of the station until the rumbling halts. I still don't turn around. Instead, I slowly walk to where we left Bluffy. The poor, poor girl needs to be released from her pain.

"Congratulations to the winners of the District 6 Death Duel! Wolbert Toonico and Luna Fern! The two of you will join the pool of tributes competing in the 400th Annual Hunger Games!"

It's over? The Duel is over? I'm confused until I see Bluffy's prone body and the girl rising off of it. Luna (301). The small girl shakes her blonde head at me and drops a bloody nail to the ground. "I had to stop her pain," She whispers softly. "I couldn't let her suffer any longer.

"You did right," I tell her and then she throws herself forward to hug me. I don't know what brought this on, possibly just the complete and utter sense of hopelessness we're faced with. Or maybe the death she's seen today. I don't know and I don't care. I just hug her back, fearful of what further atrocities must be completed in the name of these horrible Games.

District 7 Death Duel

Wocky Oak (302nd Games)




More fear.

That's what I feel as I'm raised into the Duelling arena. Dark trees loom over my head, completely blocking out the sun. They're gigantic, trunks as big as small houses and branches so large that they cover the entire sky. The forest is dark and eerie. Not a single bush rustles, no animal stirs.

This is not a normal forest.

And none of us are normal kids. We're all freaks, abnormalities. People brought back to life just so we can kill and then kill some more. I'm sure that there's kids here who'll relish that role, those who have lost their innocence and humanity long ago. They just want to kill and maim without a care in the world. These kids exist.

But I'm not one of them.

In my original Games, the 302nd Annual Hunger Games, I was the runner-up. I made it to the final day without making a single kill. I managed to place second without a killing a single person, making me an abnormality in the eyes of the Capitol. Everyone probably thought I was weird, crazy, stupid or a combination of the three. I don't know if they're wrong about that last one but I know one thing that I am not.

A killer.

I will not, under any circumstances, kill another person. I survived once before by doing this and I'll do it again. Last time it was purely coincidental that I didn't kill. This time it will be purposeful.


A strange chiming sound echoes throughout the woods, seemingly coming from nowhere but everywhere at the same time. It vibrates through the thick trunks of the trees and slips through the vines that hang from them.

What does it mean?

I don't have to wonder long. A holographic screen appears amongst the leafy branches that blot out the sky, showing the faces of all eight tributes that will compete in this Duel. District 7 has the fewest tributes of all the Duels, save District 13 and the Capitol, a by-product of having two Victors from the Hunger Games that participate in this duel. I'm examining all the faces when one, a boy's, blinks out and the words "Deceased" crawl across his face.

Ransom Overman (301) is dead. That means this Duel has started.

Oh boy. Not good, not good at all. I spin around on my platform, nervously peering into the thick shrubbery that surrounds me. The darkness could conceal just about anything and I wouldn't be able to see it. Someone could be watching me right now...

My boot slips on the edge of the platform and I go crashing to the ground. I let out an involuntary shout and it seems to echo through the forest for miles. "Damn!" I slam my fist into the ground and then my newest shout begins to echo as well. Fear takes over me now as I realize that the others could know where I am now because of my stupidity. I imagine several armed tributes descending upon my position and I can no longer hold back my instincts.

I get up and run.

At first the undergrowth is so thick that I have to literally push my way through, scratching my arms and legs in the process. But then it begins to clear and in its place large tentacle like roots arrive, stretching up like they want to sap what little light comes from the sky. Little else can exist here, beyond the roots and their trees.

I fear for myself.

I scramble over the roots and push myself into a crevice, a space where the roots twist around one another to create a opening big enough for me to hide in but small enough to stay hidden. I crawl to the very back of the crevice, pushing myself as deep as possible. I let out a sigh when I feel safe. Then I hear a scream.

It's a girl's and it sounds close by. My hands tremble slightly at the noise, fearing that I will be found. I couldn't survive an encounter. And not just because I vowed not to kill. I don't have a single weapon on me and I know that weapons were provided. Whoever found them is probably the ones doing the killing...

Two chimes sound. One for the screaming girl and someone else. Despite the fear that grips me, I feel an overwhelming sense of morbid curiosity to see exactly who died and I begin to creep towards the hole of the crevice. My brain screams at me to stop but I don't listen. Reaching the edge, I nervously place my hands on the edge and peer out. The forest is empty, no one is around. I guess I can see who--

"Found you!"

Hands grab my collar and haul me out of the crevice, kicking and screaming. A girl's snarling face glares at me as she tosses me to the ground like a sack of potatoes. I see the hatchet in her hands and scream again. "Shut up!" Her foot presses against my windpipe, effectively shutting me up. "Do you want the others to find us? No. You do not. Now, just die nice and quiet like..."

The hatchet rises back over her head and I know I can't just lie here and die. I rip the foot off of me and bite into it with savage fury. My teeth don't penetrate the thick rubber sole but the girl shouts at me just the same. "What are you doing, eh?" She pulls her foot back and I try to get up but she's still faster. Her hands grip my shoulder and throw me into the side of the massive tree trunk. "You think you can escape me? Nastya Gushkin? Well, you need better plan than that to escape from Grind!" Her left hand squeezes around my throat, holding me in place as her right readies the hatchet. She raises it over her head again just keeps going higher and higher until she just tumbles over sideways.

"What the heck...?" I rub my throat ruefully and peer down at the girl as she lies stiff as a board. A large axe is embedded in her back and that's when I see them.

Two girls are creeping out of the woods, their faces ugly masks of loathing and hatred. Both hold large axes in their right hands but that's not the scary part. One of the girl's holds a severed head in her hand. The head of Voolia (326).

I scream and run. Again. I scramble over the twisting roots, frantic in my haste to escape from those two murderous girls. I can hear them behind me, not whooping and shouting like a bunch of Careers but just silently sprinting. Quiet. Deadly.

My foot gets tangled in the roots but I force it free, ignoring any pain that comes from it. I don't hear the girls sprinting anymore and I don't know if that's good or bad. I keep moving for several more minutes before stopping to catch my breath. Two more chimes went off while I was running. How many people even still live? I look to the sky for an answer when something slams into my side.

I hear rasping breath as an axe is raised and I scream out in the only way I can. "Don't kill me! We can team up!" It's a last ditch effort, one I expect to fail. But no axe hits me and I blink my eyes open cautiously.

A frail and rather skinny boy stands before me. His hair is a very unusual crimson and black, his eyes the same color. For some reason he smells like fish. "Why the crap should I team with a weak bastard like you?"

Despite his foul language I realize he's actually considering what I asked. I need to capitalize on this opportunity. "Because there's two girl's in the woods; Dangerous girls who are expert killers. If you kill me, you'll have to go up against them by yourself!"

He waves a careless hand and smirks. "I don't fear them. I don't fear anyone or anything!"

"It doesn't matter if you fear them. They'll kill you all the same."

A scowl forms on his fearsome face. "And how could you help me?"

"I..." How could I help him? I've already made a vow not to kill and besides, I'd be useless in a fight against those two girls anyways. But I can think of one thing. "I could distract them. Let you get the upper hand."

The boy laughs and then pats me on the shoulder. "Okay you little sh--eater, it looks like we have a plan."

I do not like this plan very much. I don't know if I can trust the boy, Frade (326). He is a dangerous person, someone who loves to kill just as much as those two girls. But he's my only hope for survival and I can't afford to waste it.

I survey the open forest now, looking for those girls, Chumps and Maple. I see them exiting the thicker part of the woods and I take a deep breath. Here goes everything. "Hey! You two!"

Their heads snap towards me and they have their weapons out in an instant. But they're not stupid enough to come running for me because that's obviously a trap. No. Instead, one of them hangs back as the other begins to slowly slink towards me, a glancing eye keeping a lookout for any surprises. Frade was right. He somehow knew exactly how they would react. He's better than I thought.

The girl coming for me, Chumps, sticks close to the ground as she goes. I don't quite like the look of that axe in her hand. I saw how she killed Nastya with it from afar. "Come on Frade..." I mutter to myself nervously. Maple has begun to step out of the cover offered by the woods. Soon he should strike...

Chumps comes to a halt. First I think she's just seen through our trap but then I see the axe flipping across the air. She's thrown it right for me!

I hit the ground and then I hear Maple give a shout of alarm. Frade has appeared! He's dropped from one of the trees and is fighting with Maple. Chumps is alarmed as she watches her friend brawl with the violent boy but she can't do a thing. She threw her weapon at me.

She realizes it the same time as I do. We both go sprinting for the weapon that lies behind me but I am closer and reach it first. "That's mine! Give it back!" Chumps crashes into me and I lose grip of the axe as I fall. The girl picks it up triumphantly but the sound of a chime stops her in her tracks. Instinctively she looks to the sky and sees the face of Maple blink out.

Her eyes are filled with cold fury as she turns to face me. I don't have any words or thoughts as she stalks towards me. How many times can I be in mortal danger?!

"Knock, knock!"

Chumps stops in place and spins around to see Frade's axe slamming into her face. It's not pretty but it's quick. Maple is dead and so is Chumps. Frade is howling with laughter, calling them both horrid names. I don't like that boy, I actually hate him. But he saves my life and I have to respect him for that. "You look like someone took a piss in your cereal," The stringy boy glances at me. "Why? You won. Be happy." He snickers cruelly and I just shake my head. I can never feel happy knowing that someone else died. Never. It doesn't matter if that person was an insane monster, they were still a person.

But I guess I'm the only one to think like that.

District 8 Death Duel

Freya Prada (302nd Games)

The arena is deathly silent as I come into it. There's nary a sound as I look around at my surroundings, which isn't much to see. Hanging veils of silk are everywhere, blotting out my view. The silk tapestries descend from a gray concrete ceiling and the flooring is the same dull gray, leaving no color except for the pale purple tapestries that seem to billow in the non-existent wind.

It's a bit disturbing, watching the tapestries move by themselves. It almost looks like an unseen presence is manipulating them, making them move for its own mysterious gain. And just like that I'm suddenly frightened about being surrounded by ghosts. A stupid thing to fear when faced with the prospect of nine other kids gunning for your head, I know. But the supernatural has always frightened me, something my elder sister, Cashmere, always made fun of me for.

A pang of loss stirs in my chest at the thought of her. Despite how she constantly insulted and mocked me, I loved her. I was beyond devastated when she died and then I died just like her...


An eerie chime goes off somewhere and a shiver runs down my back. Where are the other tributes? I can't see a single thing with these dumb tapestries in the way. And I don't want to risk stepping off the platform and blowing off my legs. That would be a stupid way to die.

"Help me!" I freeze in position, glued to my platform as a feminine voice calls out for help, her fearful cry echoing along the floor. "Nick! Nick! Please help me! Nick--"

There's a small shriek and then something thumping onto the cold floor. My head spins around, trying to see where this horror is coming from. "Coco!" Another voice shouts from my left, a male voice. "Coco! Where are--Oh, God, no!" A shriek of pain and then another body slumping to the ground, another horrifying reminder what we're all here for. I'm horribly scared now but I'm no longer frozen in place, quite the opposite, I'm now running for my life.

I push my way through the veils as I run, my heart rate going astronomically high as footsteps echo around me. I can't see anything, I'm completely blinded by these tapestries, pushing through one just to be confronted by another.

Another muffled scream echoes from my right and I change direction without even thinking. Four chimes have gone off now, four tributes are dead. Whose killing them? Is it one person? that wouldn't make sense. Though Nick and Coco were assuredly killed by a single person...

This maze of tapestries is seemingly never-ending. I race through them, my feet slapping hard against the concrete ground and echoing around me. I'm terrified of what I may run into but not as terrified as I am of staying still, where a cold-hearted killer may find me.

I plow into a tapestry and my foot catches on it, sending me sprawling to the ground hard. I cry out and clutch at my right knee, which took the brunt of my fall. All around me more people are screaming. One shouts about the veiled demon that haunts them and then let's out a blood-curdling scream. Another chime goes off.

It's not until I climb to my feet, cradling my hurt knee, do I notice that the tapestries no longer impede my progress. A small circular clearing rests before me, no tapestry hanging within it but many still surround it. In the very center of the clearing I see a small knife lying on the ground.

It's shocking how much safer someone feels when they have a weapon in their hand. I roll the knife between my fingers, trying to regulate my breathing and slow my heart rate. I'll be long as I avoid the combat and fighting I'll be fine...


A small girl with curly dark hair steps out from behind a tapestry. I'm shocked by her sudden appearance and I don't respond as she begins to approach, her footsteps echoing through the now silent room. "Have you seen him?" She demands, stopping about a foot away from me. I shake my head furiously, clueless to what she is asking. "Then you know nothing of what has happened to the rest. And you don't know that our time is limited. He's already killed the others and if we don't act soon he'll kill us."

"Who?" I'm confused by her words. Is she talking about the person taking out the other tributes?

"The demon. The Veiled Demon. He's already gotten the others." The veiled demon? That's not the first time I've heard of this. One of the kids was shouting about this before...he died

"So what are we suppose to do?" I nervously roll the knife back in forth between my hands, the girl, Galina (325), watches this with her amber eyes. "Team up against him?"

She shakes her head, a scowl forming upon her face. "No. He will only kill one of us. Two tributes have to survive this."


"And nothing. You just have to die!"

The girl has worked her way up to me, she made me let my guard down and leave myself vulnerable. I'm such a fool. Her right hand snatches the knife from me as I flip it between my own, her left punches me in the gut and as I'm reeling she smashes her knee into my temple.

"You're such a foolish moron," The girl snickers as she places her foot on my wrist, eliciting pained screams from me. "I don't even think this "Veiled Demon" exists. I just heard about tribute crying like a baby and used it to fool you. I knew you'd believe it, being the sappy whiner that you are." I hate myself. I hate myself for falling for such an obvious trick. Cashmere was right about me, I am a baby that believes in ghosts and spirits. If I wasn't such a fool I'd never be here, lying on cold stone at this girl's mercy. "Just be happy that I'm not psychotic," The girl grunts as she flips the knife over so the point is aimed at me. "Because I'll be sure to make your death quick."

I close my eyes and pray that she is telling the truth. I don't want a prolonged death. I just want it to be quick.

I hear the sound of metal sinking into flesh and I scream as the pain tears into me, as I feel the blood splatter upon my face. I know that I have died, that I have failed.

Then I realize that I'm not dead.

My eyes shoot open and I see Galina still standing there, her amber eyes vacant and glazed over. I don't understand until I see the sharpened metal sticking out from her chest, see the blood that coats the blade.

The sword is slid out just as I notice it and Galina's body drops to the ground and now a tall boy towers over me. His jaw is large and square, his blue eyes as cold as ice. I know him immediately. He is the one, the Veiled Demon.

His eyes notice me and he takes a step forward so that he is now directly over me. There is no mercy in those eyes of his but I do see a faint glimmer of--What? Pity? Anger? Regret? I don't know. And it really doesn't matter. He saved me only to kill me himself. A thankless rescue.

His sword is held over his head when I hear a very familiar noise, a noise that I myself have caused before. The sound of a crossbow bolt flying through the air.

The tall boy stumbles back as an arrow strikes him in the chest. But, remarkably, he still stands. A thin gasp of pain escapes his lips right before another arrow hits him, quickly followed by yet another.

He goes down, crashing to the concrete ground. All three arrows are only inches apart, a perfect tiny triangle in his chest. I don't understand, a feeling that I've been feeling quite a lot recently. How did he die? Who killed him? My head swivels around the clearing but I see nothing but the gently swaying tapestries. Two more chimes go off and I go to look at the holographic screen when he steps out from behind the tapestries. It's him. The Veiled Demon.

He's not very tall, standing just slightly under six feet. He's not muscular either, his arms and legs are as average as his height. In his hands rests a large crossbow, the crossbow that saved my life. But it's his face that's remarkable, or what I can't see of it, anyway.

A thin purple cloth covers his face, a veil that hides him from view. Only his eyes can be seen, two orbs of gray that seem both vacant and observant. It's these eyes that spin to face me now.

"Who are you?" I demand, though my voice is small and weak. He makes a small noise and I follow his eyes as they go to look at the screen in the sky. All but two of the faces are blanked out; my own and that of Josef Wilder. I turn back to him, now knowing the true identity of the "Veiled Demon". "Why did you save me?" I ask quietly. "You would have won either way."

"I did not do it in a sudden wave of empathy, I assure you." His voice is quiet, threatening. It's a legitimate type of fear that he inspires, not at all like the Careers and their overbearing attempts to be frightening. "But Yuri over there," He waves a hand at the corpse of the tall boy. "Was an actual threat once the Games begin. You are not. Needless to say, I chose to let the weaker predator live."

"Did...did you really kill all of the others?" My voice cracks as I face this killer down. He saved by life, yes. But there's something different about him, something...nonhuman.

"Oh, yes." He nods sagely but then pauses. "Well, not quite all. Yuri killed that girl there, did he not? Or were you the one to end her life?"

"It was Yuri," I speak quickly, not wanting to be confused for a relentless killer. Josef sees my discomfort and laughs, short and quick, like a bark.

"Ah. I see. You're no killer. Someone like you would be incapable of killing another." He speaks politely, kindly even, but his eyes are cold and blank. He is a very different breed.

"I killed Kiara and Varina," I say softly, remembering how I had accidentally taken the life of my own friend. Not to mention how I burnt a poor little twelve year old to death. Those deeds will forever haunt me and I will not ever forget it. Not that I deserve to. I did the horrible things, I must pay for them.

"I have no idea who those girls are," Josef says with a rather patronizing tone. When I don't respond he nods curtly and then turns his back on me. I am confused until I see the throng of Peacekeepers and others coming out from the maze of tapestries. I stand with a swirling feeling in my guy, certain that I am incapable of winning these Games. Especially with people like Josef on the loose.

District 9 Death Duel

Perrie Grain (301st Games)

I don't know how you feel when you get a heart attack but I imagine it's something like how I currently feel. My chest seems to be shrinking, constricting its self and making it difficult for me to breathe. My head is swimming with all the horrible ways I could die, making me extremely light-headed and unsteady on my feet. I fear everything and I'm still in the small holding room. I can't imagine how I'll fare once the actual Duel starts.

I squeeze my eyes shut tight as a voice announces the beginning of the battle. The ground beneath my feet jerks as the platform begins to rise, bringing me up to the death and destruction that awaits. Higher and higher do I go, not knowing when it'll end. I begin working myself into a panic but I try to control it the longer the ride goes.

A sweet smelling wind blows against my face, bringing the slightest scent of wild flowers and the more overwhelming scent of wheat. My eyes flicker open.

Wheat as tall as a person surrounds me, casting shadows against the platform as the sun rises in the east. "I'm home..." I murmur gently, inhaling deeply. I'm not home, not even close. But the scents have fooled me, made me remember the warm mornings spent hanging around my house in District 9, just playing and enjoying life as my father did his mayoral duties.

My father...

I remember where I am, how long has passed since I first died. It's been almost an entire century since that moment I stopped breathing and anything could have happened in that time. Like when I was revived and put into the box for the 327th Games, where I saw a kid whose dad was now Mayor. That was when I realized just how long I'd been dead. The Grain family had been the Mayor of District 9 for decades but now that was over. Some other family had taken over.

It feels like my world has been destroyed.


"Huh?" A bell chimes but I don't know what it is for. A signal to move off of our platforms maybe. I take the bait and do as the Gamemakers tell me, stepping off of the platform and walking nervously into the tall wheat. It's not the wheat that makes me nervous, it's the fact that the other tributes are now out and about, hunting us down.

I just walk forward, waiting for something to just pop out in front of me. It'd be foolish to try and find the others. I don't have any weapons, what could I do? Beat them to death with my fists? Not likely.

So I just continue walking, noting the two extra chimes that go off. Maybe some tributes haven't gotten the message and still remain on their platforms. I feel sorry for those clueless kids. Don't they realize the danger they're in?

Suddenly something appears above of the wheat, causing me to do a double take. It's a head, the head of some giant boy who looms over the wheat that populates the area. Eli Dawn. The male tribute from the 300th Games. I remember watching his Games on the television and feeling sorry for how he'd likely be targeted due to his freakish height. Maybe I should try to befriend him. He looks like he could use a friend. "Hey, Eli!" I hop up and down, trying to signal the giant. "Eli! Over here! I'm trying to get your attention, Eli!"

His massive head whips around and peers through the wheat. While I can see him because of his height, I don't think he sees me for he has a confounded expression upon his face. "Whose there?" He grumbles, swinging his arms from side to side. "Why are you speaking? We're supposed to kill, not talk!"

"I don't want to kill. Why can't we just team up?" I begin to approach Eli now, content that he means me no harm.

"That is not how it works," He sounds surprised.

"Are you sure? I wasn't given a rule book..." A frown crosses his giant face and he suddenly turns away from me.

"Who are you? You look as if--"

Eli screams and then his head drops into the wheat, I hear the sounds of hacking and maniacal laughing and I scream for Eli. He doesn't respond. My heart tells me to go running to his aide but my brain orders me to run the other way and, unfortunately, I listen to my brain.

I can feel the tears glistening in my eyes as I run, clueless to where I am supposed to go. How am I suppose to fight? Where are the weapons? Another chime is heard. What is with the chimes? I'm so deep in thought that I don't see the fence until it's too late.

I run face first into the thick wooden planks and I feel the blood burst from my nose as it breaks. It hurts, it hurts so much that I can't not cry. My tears come pouring out as I just lie there, hurt and frightened beyond measure. Another chime goes off. Two minutes pass and the there's yet another. I still don't know what they're meant to represent. I continue crying.

More minutes pass and my nose stops bleeding but it still hurts, despite this manage to pull myself into a sitting position, leaning back against the fence. "Where are the other tributes?" I wonder aloud. As if in answer, the wheat bristles and two girls step out.

"Ugh! Like, just look at her! She was, like, beaten by a fence!" A snobby looking girl with a blonde and brunette mohawk sneers at me as I sit dejected before them.

"Do I kill?" The other girl, one with neck length ginger hair and huge muscled arms that belong on boys, grunts irritability as she points a wickedly curved sickle at me.

"What do you think, Vera?" Mohawk girl snaps at the large girl, who must be over six feet tall, and crosses her arms. "Just kill her like you killed Mark and Tito."

"Very well, Plasma." The girl turns to face me with a grim expression. Once more I see the deadly sickle and I whimper, holding out a hand to defend myself. The giant girl, Vera, hesitates.

"Like, are you killing her or what?" Plasma looks up from where she was examining her nails and glares at me. I don't offer anything more than a frightened squeal. "You didn't hesitate with the others!"

"Those boys were fighting back, yes? I do not enjoy inflicting harm on the innocent." Vera seems to be kind-hearted and I look to her with the most pathetic expression I can muster. If I can just convince her to spare me...

"Whatever." Plasma throws her hands to the sky and utters a curse. "If you're too much of a baby then just let me do it."

"You..." Vera looks between the two of us and looks utterly torn. I feel my chances of survival increase by the second and I even get myself to stand and walk towards Vera.

"P-please d-don't kill me. I d-didn't do anything to deserve it!" I fake the stutter as I approach, both hands placed on my head to show that I mean no harm.

"Ugh! She is, like, such a little faker!" Plasma throws her jacket open and I have absolutely no time to react. A knife has appeared in her hand and she drives it into deeply into my chest. Vera shouts but it's useless. I fall back, smacking my head against the fence. Blood is seeping from the wound and the world I getting black. The last thing I see is Vera and Plasma arguing...

District 10 Death Duel

Ellis Blackberry (302nd Games)

It's a shame that the Capitol hasn't been overthrown already. I thought this the last time I was in this sort of situation as well but the point still stands because nothing has changed since then. The Capitol is still in charge, they still do whatever they damn well please without any fear of repercussions. What the hell have these Rebels been doing since I died?

"Prepare for Duel Commencement."

I crack my knuckles as the platform under me begins to churn. Well, if no one else is going to stop these Games I might as well play them. They're my only shot of staying alive, after all. The only way I could actually get to a point where I could finally be the one to show the Capitol they're not in control.

But first I have to kill some innocent kids.

The platform takes me up into a small field of grass. The scent of manure wafts around me and I wrinkle my face as I notice the nearby pen filled with pigs that mill about, doing nothing. "That hasn't changed," I mutter as I look around at the other landmarks. Nearby sits a farmhouse of sorts, surrounded by a small wooden fence and a few platforms laden with more tributes. Off in the distance I see a barn and a stable; more tribute platforms surround these. Time to get fighting, eh?

I bound off of my platform and go racing for the farmhouse. It's my first destination not because it's closest but because, well, okay, it's because it's the closest. Some sort of chimes sounds off as I sprint across the open grassland. Ahead of me, right in front of the house, a pair of tributes fight.

A well-defined, muscular blonde boy is throwing punches at a raven haired girl who continually bounces away from his fists. She laughs merrily, like this is all a game, and sometimes throws her own punch, which is usually on target.

"Another?" The boy, who I believe is Morolith (300), stops in his tracks to watch me trot up behind them. The girl spins around to see what he's talking about and my fist takes her in the face. I note her eye-patch as she crumples to the grass, screaming obscenities at me. Seeker (301).

"Yeah," I flash a cocky grin at the stunned boy. "I'm just another fighter." My fist connects with his nose and it squirts out blood as it breaks under the force of my blow. Seeker is back on her feet and the both of them are trying to fight me now but this is a brawl and that's where I shine brightest. Back home I was always getting into street fights just like this one, only, there I had real opponents who knew how to fight with just their bodies.

I throw an elbow into Morolith's gut, spin out of the way and kick Seeker in the kneecap before back-fisting her skull. They try their best to keep up but fail miserably. I'm beginning to wonder how I'll kill them, since they won't win this battle, when Morolith falls down with a bloody scream.

"Bronco!" Seeker's one eye lights up with joy when she spots the muscular black boy creeping towards us. In his left hand he holds a throwing axe, his other is buried in Morolith's back. "Help me finish this birch off!"

Uh-oh. I remember the info cards we were shown and, more importantly, I remember how it said that Seeker and Bronco were allied in their initial Hunger Games. Not good.

The boy nods his brooding head and then he winds up to throw his axe just as I grip Seeker around the shoulders and pull her in front of me. The axe catches her right in the heart and spits blood before I let her go, wherein she then slides to the bloodstained grass below. "Oops!" I smirk at Bronco as he gapes in shock at what he just did. "I think you made an itsy-bitsy mistake."

I'm not slow about it.

In a flash I rip the axe out from Morolith's back and hurl it towards the only other tribute left standing. Bronco goes down, the axe lodged in his cranium. It wasn't my best throw ever but it was good enough to get the job done and that counts for something. I collect the two axes and glance at the sky as I wipe the blood off of the blades, apparently several more cannons had gone off while I was fighting for only four faces are still lit, excluding my own.

I shake my head and look towards the stables, where I had previously seen tribute platforms. I don't see any fighting tributes but I do see a girl limping towards me, a bow clutched in her shaky right hand. Something stops me from just striking her down with one of the axes; I don't know why, but I can't bring myself to kill her. Maybe it's because she's crying and not fighting.

"Th-they killed him!" The girl's sobs become audible as she draws closer. "They killed him!" She's a wreck. Her formerly pretty blonde hair is disheveled and knotted, her face is streaked with tears and a bloody gash is etched across her left leg, obviously the reason for her limp.

"Who killed him?" I ask as she drops to the soft grass beside me. The girl's brown eyes swivel to meet mine but she doesn't answer as another sob takes over. I feel a strange connection with the girl, a desire to protect her. I guess it's because she reminds me of Jamie, my best friend back when I lived in District 10. Jamie was nothing like me, she always followed the rules and played nice, but she was somehow one of the few people I actually cared for. This girl reminds me of how Jamie was when her rules broke down and everything went to hell. A crying mess.

"They did!" The girl whips around to point a trembling finger at the stables in the distance. "The Cohen's! They killed Alex!" Damn. I recognize the girl now. Cassie Lexys, one-half of the two pairs of siblings in this duel. Alec and Alecia Cohen are the other pair and, according to Cassie, they were the ones to kill Alex. Jumped the two of them from behind and started a brawl. Alex stayed behind for Cassie to escape.

The girl can barely form the words through her tears and I don't blame her. She witnessed her brother being killed once before and now, after being reunited with him for only a few brief minutes, she has lost him again. The girl can barely operate with how devastated she is. See, that's the difference between people like me and people like Jamie and Cassie. When something horrible happens they get sad, whereas I just get pissed off.

"What kind of weapons do they have?" I ask the girl and her head shoots up as she hears my hardened tone. She knows what I plan on doing.

"You-you can't fight them. Th-they'll just kill you too--"

"What kind of weapons do they have?" I ignore her. I've gone sixteen years with people telling me I can't do something, I've always paid them no mind. Now's not the time to change that.

Cassie sees how futile it is to protest and just mumbles something, I don't catch it so I have her repeat it, louder this time. "A sword and spear!" She gets out through a shuddering sob. Damn. Those weapons won't be easy to beat, but still, I never give up on anything.

"Find some shelter," I tell the crying girl as I did to my feet and eye the stable in the distance. "If all goes well then you and me will win this Duel. If it doesn't...I plan on killing at least one of them. So you win either way." She just looks at me, awestruck. She isn't use to others taking the sacrifice for her. But none of us are, really. The Capital always ensures that we're the ones being sacrificed and not the ones being spared the burden. I've always been the rebellious rulebreaker.

After Cassie limps off, taking her old bow with her, I begin to approach the stables. Slowly but surely. I don't bother hiding, I want them to see me, to come for me. My advantage is that my axes can be thrown, making open field combat preferable to fighting in that musty stable. Hopefully they don't realize that and try to bum rush me.

When I draw about fifty yards away from the stable, the doors swing open. I'm expecting to see the Cohen twins emerge but instead it's a small red-headed boy, screaming as he runs across the grassy plains. He won't get very far.

Two horses come galloping out of the stable after him, two kids reining them in with expert skill. The boy picks up his pace as he hears the hooves but it's no use. One of the riders runs him down from behind and with one slash of a sword, the boy goes sprawling to the ground.


They have horses! How is that bloody fair?!

The face of Kwartz Diodin (325) blinks off in the sky and then the two riders see me as they're wheeling their stress about. Suddenly my idea about engaging them in an open field doesn't sound so good.

One of the riders points their spear at me and then the chase is on. I'm running as fast as my feet will take me but I can hear the pounding of the hooves as they close in. I can't outrun a horse. No one can.

My feet stumble across the plains, nearly tripping as I step over a rabbits burrow. The horses continue to close in, one look behind shows that Alec and his spear are only two dozen feet behind me. A plan comes to mind, a stupid one, but a plan nonetheless. I stop running and spin around, facing the oncoming riders.

Alec's horse comes throttling towards me but at the last moment it rears up on it's back legs, neighing wildly. Alec wasn't expecting the sudden upheaval of his mount and he goes flying off the back of his horse, crashing into the grass below.

My plan isn't finished. Already my axe has left my hand, spiralling for Alecia whose still on her horse. She doesn't see it coming.

Her horse goes galloping off into the open plains once she falls off, dead with an axe in her chest. I smile as I watch it go. It wasn't a very loyal horse, now was it?

"Alecia!" Unbeknownst to me, Alec has already gotten back to his feet. He goes stumbling towards Alecia but when he sees tthe axe in her chest he changes directions. He comes hurtling towards me. The spear is lofted over his head, ready to be thrown, when an arrow takes him in the neck. I don't know where it came from or how, but it does all the same. Alec chokes and gags as his blood pours out and clogs his airway before eventually dying. I wonder if it was from blood loss or suffocation.

"He killed Alex."

Cassie has appeared at my side, her eyes hard and a bow locked in her hands. Of course. How did I forget she had that with? I'm surprised she helped though, I'd figure she was loony from.sadness. "Yep. He did," I kick his body to make sure everything is final and I also check Alecia's. Both seem very dead. "And you paid him pay for it."

"He deserved it!" Cassie fights back the tears that swell in her eyes. "Him and his devilish sister deserved everything they got!"

"I'm not arguing on that front," I shrug and watch as the Cohen twins faces are blanked out in the sky. Only mine and Cassie's remain. I make a pretense of yawning for the camera's. The Capitol loves callous and cold-hearted people, almost as much as they like revenge stories. Wonder how much they'll like revenge when I'm burning their buildings to the ground.

District 11 Death Duel

Flora Sapsling (325th Games)


Why did I have to be revived? Why couldn't I have just stayed dead? I don't want to fight anymore. I don't want to experience the horror of competing in the Games, knowing full well that I can't win. Why couldn't the Capitol have just left me dead?

"Prepare for Duel commencement. Platforms will now rise. Please stay in the center. Thank you."

A desire to defy my superiors overwhelms me and I drift to the side of the platform, pressing myself against the cool wall. It's a small gesture, the one suited for a small person like me. The platform begins to move and then I feel it as it moves away from the wall. My feet slip and one of them falls into the small crack that has formed between the wall and platform. The platform continues to move upward and within seconds the crack closes as the platform presses against the wall once more.

I scream as my foot gets caught between the massive metal platform. It continues to try and go up but my trapped foot catches it. Tears stream from ny face and I scream hysterically as I hear the cracking of the bones in my foot, the metal platform fighting fiercely against it.Then with one sharp tug, the platform pulls free.

My foot is left behind.

Wess Cornstob (300th Games)

The distressed screams of a girl wail around me as I come up into the sunny orchard. The colourful trees are ripe with plentiful fruit and a wonderfully delightful scent hangs in the air.

This is a place of extremes.

Why is that girl screaming? The Duel hasn't even started yet, let alone the fighting. There's no reason for her to be screaming in so much pain and agony. Nothing could have possibly happened to her. Unless...unless the Capital has done something.

It's a distinct probability that this Duel is in some way different from the actual Games. Rules that apply there may not work here. Even our platforms could be traps.

I glance down at my feet right now, seeing the shiny silver metal. I hurriedly jump off and cross towards a large apple tree, keeping my eyes glued to the platform. What's the catch here? Something is definitely off.

A gentle wind starts up, bringing along the sweet scent of fresh plums. Mmm...I can't remember the last time I had a plum. Sometime before my Reaping, I guess. How long ago was that? A hundred years? Man, I'm positively ancient! It'd be cool if it didn't mean that everyone I've ever known is dead and that I have no idea what the present looks like. Humans could have grown a sixth toe by now. I shudder at the mere thought. That would just be too freaky.


A gentle chime dings in the distance and I stop my thoughts to listen closely for more. The screaming has stopped sometime while I was thinking and now the orchard is just eerily quiet. Strange. You'd think that the pained screaming would be scarier, but no. It's the oppressive silence that really gets to me. Where is everyone?

I get to walking along the orchard, examining the fresh fruits that are everywhere and noting the many Tracker Jacker nests that hang in the trees. Looks just like home.


Again? What does that mean? I halt in my tracks and look to the sky. That's when I first note the overhanging holographic screen that spans the blue sky. I wondered how I didn't notice it earlier.

The faces of unfamiliar kids line the screen, statistical information underneath plain head shots of them. Apparently they're from the other Hunger Games, something I should have realized earlier. I probably would have, if my District partner Mondi was included, but she's not. She was voted in for the 327th Games and thus not apart of this Duel. I wonder if she's lucky...or unlucky.

"Kill! I wanna kill!"

A snarling voice alerts me to the gentle footsteps heading my way. Ducking behind one of the many trees, I see two tributes heading down the path that leads to me. Zippy and Flippy. Both of the 326th Games. "Correct, soldier!" Flippy speaks like she's in the military, some sort of drill sergeant. I stealthily begin to climb the tree I'm hiding behind, a plan already in my mind. "Killing is what must be done right now!" The two of them continue along the path when Zippy suddenly stops directly under my tree and begins to sniff the air like some sort of animal. Flippy stops beside him. "You smell something?" She asks the small boy.

I freeze. Can he smell me? Is that even possible? No. No, there's no way he can. He's a human, not a hunting dog. But he nods his head and growls. "Yes. Someone is nearby!"

Their heads immediately snap around, looking through the tree trunks and paths. Luckily, they don't look up and that gives me time to accomplish my plan. I use my long arms to pull myself up a few more branches, conscious of the noise it makes but not really caring. They can't stop e now. They never could. I worried for no reason.

Flippy is the first to spot me and she jumps up and down, waving her hands frantically. Zippy gnashes his teeth together and grabs onto the trunk of the tree, preparing to climb. Unfortunately for him, he doesn't get to climb.

I kick my leg out, smashing into the hanging Tracker Jacker hive and knocking it loose from it's position. My two attackers watch as it falls to the ground, cracking open like an egg and unleashing a swarm of the deadly insects.

"Run!" Flippy shouts this and takes off, but her leg catches on a thick knot of weeds and she falls, where the swarm proceeds to attack. Zippy fares no better. The crazed boy actually attempts to fight the mutts off with his hands and teeth but this obviously doesn't work. I hear their screams and shouts but I don't watch, I leap off the tree and take off running into the orchard.

Ding! Ding! Ding!

Three chimes go off as I run. Two for the Ippy's and the other for...? I stop beside a large tree, holding one hand against the tree to brace myself as I catch my breath. Up in the sky the third face that has gone off was Rasp Southern's (302). Well now, that leaves only--

A thudding impact hits me in the center of the back and I fall. I don't know what struck me but I instinctively roll before it can strike again. A brown haired, white girl stands over me, a shovel in her hands as she attempts to throttle me with it. I avoid the end of the spade and try to square her up but she swings it back around and just slightly catches the back of my head. "Ouch!" I howl in pain and then the girl winds up to swing again, but this time I'm ready.

I step forward and catch the handle of the shovel, causing her to gasp in shock. Her shock turns to pain when I hit her in the face with a right hook. Usually, I'd detest the thought of hitting a girl but when she's trying to kill you with a shovel, I think it's acceptable. "That's mine!" The girl holds a hand to her busted nose and glares at me. I smile and shrug.

"Not anymore."

She dives for me and my reflexes bring the shovel up much quicker than I wanted. It smashes into her face with a savage crunching sound and she drops like a bag of stones, her body splayed out awkwardly as she lies on the grass. "Shoot.." She's not breathing. I mutter a curse at my own strength, I hadn't meant to kill her, just stun her. But...well, nothing I can do about it now.

I leave the girl where she lies, feeling immensely guilty but knowing that what's done is done. I can't do anything to help her and I don't think I would do it if I could. Ruthless is acceptable as long as it's an accident.

I wander the orchard for several minutes before finding the remaining three tributes. Two of them are slinking through the trees, huddled close together and looking around nervously. Flow'r and Shimdt Raspberry. The two of them competed in separate Hunger Games but now they're together and a huge threat to be the two who advance from this Duel. There's safety in numbers.

Unless you're fighting Trent Korey (325).

The muscled boy steps out from behind a tree, cracking his knuckles and grinning cruelly as he spots the Raspberry siblings. Shirtless and with bloodied knuckles, he looks like an ancient god of warfare, ready to fight and kill.

I wonder if the Raspberries know how easily they'll die today.

"Flow'r, get behind me!" Shimdt pushes himself forward so that he's facing the Adonis. He has heart, that kid. But he'll still die. Trent just laughs and then one of his hands wraps itself around Shimdt's throat. The boy kicks out feebly before before being easily tossed to the ground by Trent. The smaller boy looks to his sister and let's out a shout. "Run, Flow'r, run!"

Trent's boot smashes into his throat, crushing his trachea instantly. I wince at the savagery on display and silently implore Flow'r to heed her brother's words. But she doesn't. How could she? She just watched her beloved brother be murdered before her eyes, of course she'd want revenge.

The girl screams and rushes the large boy, punching him in the stomach with all her might. It's not much but Trent still reels in shock from the blow. Inspired, Flow'r throws another punch but this one isn't as successful.

Trent catches her fist and spins her around, where he wraps his gigantic arms around her neck. The large, muscled bands of his arms flex and then Flow'rs neck is snapped with one sharp jerk. I feel guilty as I watch her lifeless body slide to the ground. I could have helped her, if I wanted. After Shimdt died she was no longer obligated to win with him, I could have won with her instead of Trent. I had a shovel too, so I wasn't unarmed. I was just afraid. Afraid that Trent would kill me too.

So, when the Peacekeepers come to collect me and Trent, I don't feel happy or privileged or even relieved. I just feel cold and hollow.

District 12 Death Duel

Thalia Combe (325th Games)

I've always hated those dark and eerie mines that everyone in District 12 seemed to work at. I disliked the horrible stench that rose from the mines and the charred and ugly faces of those who plunged to it's depths. I hated it with a passion.

So it's no wonder, really, that the District 12 Death Duel would be held in one of these mines.

Four other tributes huddle miserably on their platforms that neighbour mine. They're nothing to look at; pitifully weak specimens that won't pose much of a threat to myself. The tribute I'll have to watch out for is across the mine tunnel we're in. He stands on his platform with a nonchalant look on his face, his rock-like arms held behind his head. Jack Cayman (325).

He'll be my first target. I'll make sure he doesn't survive for long.

"When are we suppose to move?" The boy on the platform closest to mine speaks aloud as he peers through the foggy darkness of the tunnel. He was from my Games along with Jack. I think he was named Julian, though I do not really care if my memory is correct.

"There's weapons at the base of our platforms!" A girl, Mina Ebony (302), shouts giddily as she spots a pickaxe leaning against her platform.

The other tributes begin to murmur to themselves and Julian actually steps off of his platform to pick up his weapon, a drill bit. "Has the Duel begun?" He wonders aloud. As if in answer, Jack leaps off of his platform and begins charging us from across the tunnel. Three tributes trail behind him; all holding weapons.

"I'd say yes!" Steammie Pic (326) takes a hold of her weapon and goes running towards our attackers. She's soon followed by two others, Julian and Mina. I sigh and pick up the weapons that lie against my platform, a pair of knives. I'd have preferred a more...subtle victory but I suppose winning a classic battle will have to do.

I follow behind the others as they crash into Jack's fighters like they're some sort of soldiers. Jack sends Julian flying across the tunnel as he swings his weapon, a hefty wooden club, into his chest. I step forward and meet Jack in battle, despite him being almost an entire foot taller. He swings his club in an arc towards my head but I thrust one of my knives forward into his armpit, grinning as blood streams from the wound. Jack howls and wheels backwards, glaring at me with angry eyes.

All around us the other tributes are fighting a pitched battle. The long tunnel echoed with the clash of metal on metal, grunts, and screams of pain. Steammie wrestles on the ground with a boy, who despite being shorter than her, seems stronger than all the rest. Mina is attempting to hack wildly at a girl who just keeps hopping around her.

I see all of this in just one short glance. Jack has already recovered from his wound and is swinging his club with unbelievable strength. Blocking is not an option and I'm forced to step back from his swings. One swing sails right over my head and smashes into the side of the tunnel wall, sending chips of rocking splashing over the battlefield.

"Dynamite! He has dynamite!" Mina's horrified screech halts the battle between the two of us. The others stop fighting as well, stepping back to see a small boy wearing a black and white hat waving around a long, red stick.

"Don't m-move!" He threatens us with a stutter. "Or I'll b-blow y-you all up!"

The others buy into his threat and freeze; A few even drop their weapons. Are they that stupid? The boy doesn't even have a way to light the dynamite, let alone a way to survive the tunnel collapse he'd trigger!

"I'm disarming!" Regina (301), a girl on Jack's side, throws her weapon to the tunnel floor and slowly the others who have yet to do so follow suit. Eventually only Jack and I still hold our weapons. "Just don't blow us up, Knight!"

"I'll still kill you all unless those two disarm!" Knight (302) points the dynamite at me and I grin maniacally as I realize my imminent victory.

"How about no?"

I throw the knife as I've been taught, end over blade. It zips through the air and slams into Knight's neck. There's no blood at first, but when his hands try to pry the blade out it begins to jettison from the wound with his heartbeat. With my other knife, I swing in an upward arc and stick it into Jack's throat.

The others are in shock as the two biggest threats go down. They don't know how to react, what I did was impossible in their narrow minds.

I take joy in slaughtering them.

With their dropped weapons, knives, machetes and a pickaxe, I dance through them, slicing them across the stomach and the neck. A few try to fight, Mina and Gogh most notably, but majority just sit their in stunned surprise as my weapon digs into them. They die with the shock still on their faces.

Steammie attempts to flee from me once the others have fallen but I throw another knife after her and the blade sinks into her back, killing her and driving her to the hard ground. They all lie bleeding on the tunnel floor, their life having seeped away from them. I laugh and sit down on the ground as my victory announcement goes off.

"Congratulations to the winners of the District 12 Death Duel! Thalia Combe and Salem Calla! The two of you will join the pool of tributes competing in the 400th Annual Hunger Games!"

Hmm? Someone else survived? I am surprised. I didn't see anyone escape. In fact--Ah. I recall how there were four platforms beside my own yet only three tributes charged Jack with me. One of them must have hung back.

My assumption is shown to be correct when the small girl comes slinking around the tunnel corner. Salem Calla, my female District partner from the 325th Games. She looks at the dead bodies and then at me. I flash her a wide smile. "Clever girl..."

District 13 Death Duel

Douglas Biles (326th Games)

I have a twisted, sick feeling in my gut as I await the call to be raised into the Duel arena. My head is swimming with the thoughts that have persisted inside of my mind since the moment I was woken from cyrostastis. I know the truth, and I'm frightened because of it.

A voice calls for me to ready for deployment, and I swallow nervously as I place my feet at the center of the platform. The others have no idea. They don't know what all of this means. But I do. I've guessed this plausibility since the moment I was revived and then, when I saw the sign over the branching pathway, I knew for sure.

Instinctively, my hand touches the nape of my neck just as the platform begins to rise up. The nausea in my stomach grows stronger the higher I go, and I'm suddenly terrified of something else. Of what I'll have to do up there.

District 13 May have the least amount of tributes competing in the Duel, since we weren't apart of the 300th Games and had a Victor in the 325th, but that doesn't make my job any easier. I'll still have to kill five kids before I can move on.

It's even worse knowing that two of those kids were apart of the 325th Games, the Games that I worked on as a Gamemaker. I made their lives hell, I helped develop the mutts and twists that harried their entire tenure in the arena. It was my Games that killed them the first time. And now I will have to personally kill them this time.

The platform reaches its zenith and stops on the far side of a dimly lit room. I'm vaguely reminded of a warehouse as I gaze at the largely empty room; other than the platforms only an assortment of crates centered around a metal device occupy the room.


A girl calls to me from my right. Jenessa Whitten. of mine in the 326th Hunger Games. She has long brown hair, a rather unfortunate nose, and a very nice deposition. She is just about the best ally anyone could have and I do not plan on winning this Duel with anyone but her. Lucky that we started so close together.

"What do we do?" She asks me with shaky voice. Jenessa was never the one to come up with the plans, she always relied on someone else for that. Not that I blame her, she has a completely different skill set than I do. But it's just as effective as mine.

"Dunno." I throw a furtive glance at the only other tribute positioned beside us, Saidy Dauntless (301). The girl pays no attention to our conversation as she stares eagerly out at the crates that circle around that metal device. I think I've seen it before...

My eyes travel along the concrete floor of this empty room, trying to figure just what the affiliation with District 13 is. We were expressly told that the Duel arena would correspond with the District's export...But I don't see any correlation between what we do with what is presented here...

I hear Jenessa give a shout of warning as, across the room, several tributes go charging for the crates. Saidy takes off too and then Jenessa starts moving. That's when everyone clicks into place.

"Jenessa! No!" The girl turns around and then I tackle her to the floor just as the explosion rings out.

The other tributes have short screams before the explosion reaches them. I'm lying face first in the ground beside Jenessa as the very world seems to quake under us. My hears are ringing, I can't hear anything. I can feel Jenessa moving beside me though and I know that I managed to save her. Good.

The two of us just lie there as the ground continues to shake, but it eventually subsides. With my heart in my throat and my heart gradually returning, I sit up. "Wow..." Jenessa takes in the carnage that surrounds us, the dead bodies of the other tributes, the shattered remains of the crates. "Wow. How did you know it was going to explode?"

"The metal device. It was one of the bombs District 13 made." I take a shaky breath and look to the ceiling of the building, where the faces begin to blank out. Jenessa is congratulating me on my intelligence and is going on happily about how we won, but I don't hear her. I'm too focused on his face.

"Doug? Umm, Doug?" Jenessa scrunches her face as she peers at me. "Do you even hear me?"

I point a finger at the holographic screen.

Three faces are still present, Mine, Jenessa's...and his. Harley Swoop (325) still lives. Jenessa flies into a panic, spinning around and searching for the missing tribute. He's not among the corpses that surround the destroyed crates but I see him. He stands beside his platform, obviously having seen through the trap the same way I did. I realize that the two of us would have won if I didn't stop Jenessa, that I wouldn't have had to kill anyone.

But now I do.

"What are we going to do?" Jenessa whispers to me as the boy cautiously begins to approach the wreck of the explosion. "How do we kill him...? There's no weapons!"

The crates were empty. It was all just a ruse to draw tributes in for the explosion to kill them. There's nothing left in this room but cold stone and three bodies. I can't even use a piece of the crates, they've been destroyed to unusable, tiny chunks. "Doug?" Jenessa grips my elbow as she watches the boy begin to poke through the wreckage: He hasn't seen us.

"Go to the platforms," I tell her as I begin to approach the boy. "Wait there. I'll settle this."

"But Doug--"

"Go. Now."

She doesn't protest further and simply nods, accepting my decision. I slowly walk towards Harley and he finally spots me, backing up into a defensive position. "What are you doing?" He demands. I take him in with my eyes before answering. I am bigger, taller too. He won't stand a chance.

"You know what has to happen."

He chuckles and a small smile even crosses his lips. "You gonna kill me?"

"I've done it before."

"Not without a weapon you haven't. It's much different when you have something in between you and your victim." I see the fear in his eyes as he notes the absence of it in mine. I haven't killed anyone with my bare hands before but it doesn't matter. I'm the only one who knows the truth. I need to win. I don't want to, I can't explain how much I don't. But it doesn't matter. I need to get the truth out and I can sacrifice my wants for that. I can sacrifice this boy. I can even sacrifice my soul, if I even still have one.

My fist takes him in the face and he stumbles back. There's a silence in the room, a misty feeling that makes this feel like anything but a fight. I feel cold as I hit him again, feeling his blood upon my knuckles. He laughs like he doesn't know that this is a brawl. That all rules and regulations are gone.

"You're serious?" He laughs at me again. His laughter is cut short with another jab to the face. He wipes the blood off and grins. "Then so am I!"

I panic when he suddenly adopts a fighting stance and comes at me. Despite his professional stance, his strikes are slow, tentative. Still, he catches my nose with a hard strike.

I get angry.

He takes an uppercut to the jaw and then several more hits to the chest. I don't feel right. I can't make him die with just my fists. It's impossible. He takes advantage of my hesitancy and grapples my arm into a awkward position. I scream when it pops and throw my head backwards, butting into his. He howls but doesn't let go so I do it again then twice more. I feel blood splattering into my hair and he finally lets go, stumbling back.

I'm dazed from the headbutts, I see double and everything is red. But I still manage to slam my shoulder into his chest and take him to the cold, hard ground. He tries to push me off and fails. I've lost all control now and just wail away on his face with my fists, right, left, right, left. I lose count of how many times I hit him until a hand grips my shoulder and tears me away.

"Stop! Stop! He's already dead!" Jenessa's fearful voice reaches my ears and my fury ebbs. I see Harley as he is, cold, quiet, dead. A terrible pain strikes my chest as I feel like the monster that I was. Jenessa's brown eyes find mine. "He's already dead."

I pull away from her and bury my face in my blood hands, hear it drip to the stone floor. What have I done? What have I become? What am I? I look at Harley's limp body and even the knowledge of what he is, of what we all are, doesn't erase the guilt I feel.

This...wasn't right. I wasn't supposed to become one of their monsters, their playthings. I was supposed to be better than that. Jenessa sidles up beside me and whispers something comforting. I don't hear it. I feel...empty. Like there's nothing inside of me. I fear it is because I know the truth.

The Capitol Death Duel

Olympic Oblado (326th Games)

The wind whips around my head as I stand atop the platform that rests upon the rooftop of a skyscraper. Below me lies the sprawling mecca of the Capitol, very similar to how it looked last time I saw it. "Oh yeah! Make way for the unstoppable beast!" I let out a wolf howl and stretch my legs as I ready myself to run for the weapons that litter the center of the building.

"The unstoppable beast is going down!" A cerluen haired girl scoffs at me from her platform. "For you are a dirty little heathen!"

I let out a loud boisterous laugh and drag it on for a very long minute. "You always were an insufferable, stuck-up, bitch, Isolde! But I never knew you were stupid as well!" The daughter of a Gamemaker, Isolde Blair is the only tribute competing in any of these Duels that managed to get a training score of twelve, the highest score possible. She always competed in my year and I just know that her father purposely made it so I scored lower than her.

"We'll see whose the stupid one when this Duel begins!" Isolde flashes me a mischievous grin, angering me. I hate her and her sly words. She thinks it makes her smart but it really just--

"Umm. Have you two not noticed?" A pudgy, fat boy standing on a nearby platform clears his throat to get our attention.

"Noticed what?" Isolde rolls her eyes dramatically.

"That the, uh, Duel has already started?"


Our shocked shouts combine into one as we see that the boy is telling the truth. The other tributes have already reached the weapons and are fighting as we speak. Their cries of pain get snatched away by the roaring wind, removing the audio cue I was expecting. "Why didn't you tell us earlier?" I round on the boy, who is named Josool. He shrugs his chunky shoulders.

"You didn't ask! Besides, shouldn't you be following Isolde?" He points a stubby finger after the snobby girl and I shriek in anger. That damn girl got the best of me again! Why do I keep allowing this to happen?!

Josool waves after me as I go sprinting for the weapon cache. Already a pair tributes lie dead on the ground, a few more are bleeding profusely. I run up to one of the bleeding kids, Dexter (325), and hit him with a headbutt as I rip a machete out from his hands. Isolde is doing something similar, tackling Flawra (325) to the ground and bashing her head in before taking her sword.

"Outta my way!" A large girl with slabs of fat on her face shoulder blocks Avian (301) on her way to a spear. I prioritize her as one of my targets and come running for her. She sees me and raises her spear but I baseball side under the tip and then I sink my machete into her overweight gut. She howls and shakes as I stab twice more and then she falls over dead. Oh yeah! That was easy! Way too easy.

Avian attempts to stand back up but I slash my blade across his throat and he goes down, gurgling on his own blood. Isolde finishes Dexter off with an expert sword thrust and then the two of us are the only ones left standing. "Figured it'd be between me and you," She says with a wicked smile as she cleans her blade. I frown.

"I didn't. I was planning on killing you first, had I not been late to the party."

"You still have your chance..."

Our blades clash together. She has a longer weapon but I have a better wingspan, making things about equal. We dance around, metal bouncing off of metal as we unleash all of the training we've ever been taught.

The wind whistles past our ears as we fight, parrying one another's blows. She's faster but I know how blades work, and am able to deflect her sword when it nearly catches my thigh. But I overexerate myself and she sees an opportunity, stepping forward to end me.

But she doesn't see the prone body of Amelia (325) lying before her and she slips, exposing herself and giving me the victory. I drive my blade into her stomach and I hear her gasp as the foreign metal slides into her. Her body shivers and then falls over.

She's dead.

I suppose some sort of announcement takes place, though I can't hear it over the wind and my own joyous shouts. Hah! She thought me inferior! Well, whose inferior now? I laugh and laugh as Josool comes wandering over. He thinks we forgot about him but we didn't. It was just that Isolde and I had a feud to settle and settle it we did. Whether he survived or not was inconsequential as long as I showed my supreme awesomeness to the Capitol and all of Panem.

Step one is completed. Step two has just begun.


District Zero: Rosalina Cosmic

"Rosalina Cosmic!"

My name hangs over the crowd; a deathly silent bunch. The whispering wind is the only sound created as Elsa De'Cour peers through the crowd to spot me. I'm terrified, rooted in place by my fear. I want someone to stop this, to change my fate. But that's impossible.

The snow crunches softly under my feet as I finally move. I head for the stage like a lonely tower, the crowd parting for me and murmuring softly to themselves. When I finally reach the stage, Elsa smiles at me but I am unable to return it. She will watch me die and call it "entertainment". I could never bring myself to smile at a person like that.

"Welcome! Welcome!" Elsa pats my shoulder and addresses the crowd. "Please welcome our new female tribute for the 400th Annual Hunger Games, Rosalina Cosmic!"

When the crowd slowly begins to clap, I can no longer hold it in. I scream.

"Rosalina! Wake up, Rosalina!"

I'm still screaming when I wake, sweating profusely and screaming like a maniac. My mother is there, her soft hands wrapped around my shoulders as she tries to comfort me. I take a deep, shuddering breath as my screaming stops. It wasn't real. It was all just a dream. felt real. Felt like something more than just a nightmare. I tell my mother about what happened in my dream and then she is trying to console me and I just nod, feeling weak. "That won't happen to you," My mother is saying and I try to believe her as I look into her trustworthy blue eyes. She never lies to me. But that doesn't mean she's always right. "It was just a terrible nightmare. Everything will be fine."

"But what if it won't?" I ask in a small voice, unable to shake the awful feeling from my chest. "What if I'm Reaped? What will you do if I die like Dad?"

My mother smiles gently at me as she grips my shoulders and looks squarely into my eyes. "Your father died in a meteor shower. It was a freak accident. You will not die like him." No. I'll just die a worse death, a death in the Hunger Games. My mother still mourns for my father, though she tries to hide it. But I see the pain in her eyes as she addresses me now and I know that she's thinking of him. "Rosalina, get dressed. Then we can eat breakfast and head for the Reaping. Were you will not be Reaped."

With one last smile, she gets up and crosses the wooden floor, leaving me alone with my thoughts. The dream will not fade from my head and unpleasant memories of it continue to linger. Realizing how futile it is to try and force the thoughts away, I just lie back down on the bed and listen to my mother hum as she begins to make breakfast.

If I was Reaped...

This year is special, even for a quarter quell. It's officially the largest Hunger Games to ever take place in Panem and will include the best fighters, the most experienced killers and the worst sort of tributes from the most competitive Games of the last seventy-five years. My odds of surviving in such a Games would be absolute zero.

My mother calls for me and I get myself dressed in the dress I laid out last night. I'm stroking the ruffles of my dress as I step into the breakfast and sit down at the small wooden table that rests in the center of our dinky kitchen. "I'm sure that nightmare has built up your appetite," My mother sets my plate of eggs and sausage before me and I slowly begin to eat. Our meals are always better on Reaping day. "But just remember; Nightmares aren't real. No matter how realistic they appear."

I know that. I know my dream was just that; a dream. But dreams are manifestations of our hopes and aspirations, our dread and fear. And my biggest fear has a very real possibility of happening

We say no more as we eat. I'm too preoccupied with all the bad things that could happen in the Games, if I am to be Reaped. I'm so absorbed in my thoughts that I don't even eat most of my food, I just pick at it with an absent mind until the bell that signals the approchement of the Reaping goes off. "Come on, Rosalina," My mother stands up and moves briskly for the door. "We'll have to clean up when we return."

"If we return..."

I'm aware of the disappointment on her face but she doesn't say anything to me as I get up and grab my cloak off a hook. That horrible feeling just won't go away...

Unlike the past two years, it is not snowing this Reaping day. It's unusually warm for District 0, still cold by the other District's standards but not painfully freezing like usual. The soft snow under our feet is less than usual as we arrive at the square.

The fountain in the middle of the square acts as the divider for the crowd that mills about, a quiet buzzing sound as they talk amongst themselves. People over the age of eighteen are sorted onto the left side whilst everyone eligible to be Reaped goes in the left. Unlike the previous years, a large glass container hangs above the fountain, attached to thick cables.

The All-Stars. The tributes who the Capitol have been obsessing over the past week, voting for their favourite and against the other. I watch the kids inside the zoo-like container, watch as they stand helplessly in their prison, with chains upon their ankles and wrists. There's only four, the four tributes who participated in the last two Hunger Games.

I remember rooting for them all, except for Fenrir. He was a bit too...exotic and bloodthirsty for me to root for. Still, I feel just as bad for him as I feel for the rest. The all died in the Games once before and now two of them will have to die there again.

"Hello, District Zero!" Elsa De'Cour comes onto stage wearing a pale blues dress decorated with snowflakes. My heart thrums wildly as I stare at her icicle earrings. Was she wearing this in my dream? I don't remember... "Welcome to the Reaping of the 400th Annual Hunger Games! The biggest and most exciting Games that will ever take place in Panem!" Elsa smiles proudly and the crowd offers its token applause. Not many mean it but they're afraid of what would happen if they remained silent. "I bet you're all just dying to see who our new tributes will be! I know I am!"

My chest practically explodes as Elsa steps towards one of the bowls. Flashbacks to my dream come to me and I feel lightheaded, dizzy. I fear I'm going to faint when Elsa says something to the crowd and pulls out a name.

"Rosalina Cosmic!"

My name hangs over the crowd and I croak out mournfully as I realise my nightmare has become true. The whispering wind is the only sound as Elsa peers through the crowd to spot me. I'm terrified, rooted in place by my fear. I want someone to stop this, to change my fate. But that's impossible.

The snow crunches softly under my feet as I finally move. I head for the stage like a lonely tower, the crowd parting for me and murmuring softly to themselves. When I finally reach the stage, Elsa smiles at me but I am unable to return it. She will watch me die and call it "entertainment". I could never bring myself to smile at a person like that.

"Welcome! Welcome!" Elsa pats my shoulder and addresses the crowd. "Please welcome our new female tribute for the 400th Annual Hunger Games, Rosalina Cosmic!"

It's just like my dream. Everything is happening just like it. I remember what happened last time, I screamed and woke up from this horrible nightmare. Maybe it will happen again. Maybe this too is just a dream...

The cameras are zoomed in in me but they don't see when I cry, as just when the first tear touches my face, a boy shouts from the crowd.

"I volunteer!"

A broad-shouldered boy shoves his way through the kids that surround him. I watch him jog up to the stage and feel anger in me. He volunteered so quickly because he wanted the spotlight, and while I have no desire for it myself, I hate him for his arrogance all the same.

Elsa smiles at the boy who towers over me. His ice blue eyes are filled with anger and burning desire. Elsa asks for his name. "I'm Todd Evans," He grunts as he surveys the crowd, still with a glare. "And I'm District Zero's next Victor."

Plainly spoken. The crowd doesn't have much of a reaction beyond a few scattered rounds of applause and then Elsa has us shake hands. His massive hand dwarfs mine and he practically crushes me with his iron grip, not letting go until I gasp and squirm away.

I hate him. I don't even know him and yet I hate him. It doesn't help matters knowing that he'll survive longer than I will. I'll just be a quick death, inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. Still, it's not myself who I mourn for. It's my mother. I know how she'll feel as I die, how she'll be forced to live with the fact that both me and father have left her...

"It is now time to see who our voted in All-Stars are!" Elsa claps excitedly and has both me and Todd step to the back of the stage. The boy is still glaring and I think he has that look permanently etched on his face. "So, without further ado..." A envelope has appeared in Elsa's hands and now she has the cage tributes apt attention as she opens the white paper. "Our two All-Stars, voted on by the glorious Capitol, are...Aelia Freedome and Solar Energy!"

The chains come undone and the selected tributes quickly stumble out of the glass jar, carefully crossing the plank that has appeared and clambering onto the stage. Fenrir is clearly unhappy and is screaming his head off about how Odin will strike us down. Then a Peacekeeper leans over the railing and shoots him in the head.

The applause that greeted the arrival of Solar and Aelia breaks off into startled screams as a bullet rips through the boy's skull. Bailey, the other tribute who wasn't voted in, screams just before another Peacekeeper shoots her.

The crowd falls silent as it witnesses what happens to the tributes who aren't voted in. It's brutal, unrelenting, unnecessary. Just like the Hunger Games.

My fellow tributes watch the spectacle with the knowledge that a similar fate awaits us. Death will come for us all. Solar is impassive, but his eyes give away the sorrow he feels. Todd still has that glare on his face and Aelia...Aelia is shaking with fury. Her eyes are locked firmly on the Peacekeepers that fired the guns, her hatred for them and what they stand for clear. She's doing all it takes not to just jump up and fight them, as is her reckless nature. As for myself...

I just feel sad. Sad for the dead kids, sad for the living kids, sad for myself and sad for my mother. My sorrow is my everything.

District One: Anais Morrisa

I stare my own reflected magnificence, see my dress, a brilliant golden satin, as it seemly to burned with its own inner color. I spin around, enjoying the whirlwind of gold that glitters around me. When I finally stop, I enjoy examining my dress and the curious design that covered the front of my legs with a short skirt, yet was floor-length in back. It is absolutely perfect.

Just like everything else has been for the past year.

Winning the Hunger Games has granted me anything that I could possibly need: Wealth, dresses, makeup, power, Leo. Anything and everything. I have it all. I suppose a large part of it is because of Leo, and how he dotes upon me. During my visits to the Capitol, which are becoming more and more often, he goes out of his way to ensure that I have whatever it is that I desire. Soon enough, I'll have all of Panem under my rule. I'll have everything that matters.

Including one very important thing...

I roll a small, golden locket around my fingers. The thin golden chain slips across my palm and I open the clasp to reveal a small picture of my darling sister. Carmine.

"Oh how I miss you," I speak quietly into the locket. "But don't worry. You're being voted in." Carmine will renter the Hunger Games. She'll be voted in by the Capitol and will compete once more, this time without me. And without having to worry about me, she'll win. I know she will.

I snap my locket shut and place it around my neck as I depart the dressing room. Leo has personally assured me that Carmine was the leading vote getter for all of District 2. He has also told me that, even if she didn't get the necessary votes, he'd, ahem, use his "presidential powers" to ensure that she would be revived. Leo never disappoints me!

Grinning to myself, I turn down the hall and nearly jump out of my skin as I come face to face with one of my bodyguards, Shay. "Need you always creep around corners?" I demand, flustered and embarrassed that I was caught off guard. I smooth out the wrinkles in my dress as I await her reply but, as usual, she doesn't answer. She merely nods her head and steps aside for me. I purse my lips and watch her, wondering just where Leo found both this girl and her elder associate, Shiva.

The two of them are the only people who ever manage to sneak up on me or catch me unawares. An incredibly uncomfortable thing, especially when they're continually following me around on Leo's express orders. "Don't surprise me like that again!" I tell her and then continue off on my way. I hear her footsteps as she falls into line behind me. Following. Always following.

I find Shiva in my kitchen, sitting passively in the corner as Avoxes bustle to and fro like worker bees. As usual, I note the vast amounts of weapons hidden around her personage. The woman even has a knife tucked into her hair for goodness sake! it appears that she has more weapons on her then normal, if that was possible. "Do you have enough weapons, you think?" I ask her with a sweet smile. Her dark eyes swivel to meet mine but she shows no expression as she answers.


It seems that my bodyguards only ever say "yes" or "no". And it's always Shiva who speaks, never Shay. The girl hasn't send a single word during the past year. Whenever I address her she just watches me with her intelligent eyes, waiting for Shiva to answer. Or when her elder isn't around, she'll simply just refuse to speak at all. Hmm. I'll have to remember to ask Leo about that when I meet him in the Capitol.

"Excuse me, Madame Morrisa!" A voice gets my attention.

A short, portly man hobbles into the kitchen. As is the norm, he is wearing both his spectacles and a calm demeanor. His hands are nearly hidden by the deep sleeves of his gold and red robe that he always is wearing.

"Yes, Llarimar?" I address my attendant with a charming smile. He, like Shay and Shiva, is just another by-product of becoming a Victor. Leo told me that the man would be my personal servant. One who would lead the others and issue the orders that I was too high and important to dwell on. "What is it that bothers you?"

The chubby man glances at my two guards before answering, for they have always made him uncomfortable for some reason. "You, ah, I mean, we need to be on our way. The Reaping will be beginning in just a short half-hour."

"Of course, Llarimar. We'll be off at once."

This pleases my attendant and he waves the Avoxes back to their duties and hobbles after me as I make for the door. But before I can reach it, Shiva shoves her way past me and jerks it open. "Not this again..." I sigh inwardly as my guard proceeds to step into the bright and sunny day. She then checks the bushes and the nearby trees. She examines the windows of my manor and checks underneath the cars. Because of Leo's insane safety protocols, she must do this every time I exit my own house.

"Was that necessary?" I ask her when she finishes with the ridiculous search.

She regards me with a flat stare. "Yes."

"President Stryker only has your interests at heart," Llarimar says before I can speak. He steps out the door and heads for the long black limousine that will take me to the Reaping. "You cannot begrudge him for wishing to keep you safe."

"No..." I muse as I follow him down the paved pathway through the magnificent garden that grows in my yard. Despite being the youngest and newest Victor, I have the largest mansion in the Victor Village. I sleep in a room draped with silks, dyed with bright pinks and purples. My manor holds dozens of different chambers, all decorated and furnished according to my whims. Dozens of servants and Avoxes see to my needs—whether I want them seen to or not. "I suppose not. But can I begrudge you, Llarimar?"

I've reached the limousine and Shay opens the door for me and I clamber in, seating myself on the finest leather seats. Llarimar comes in too, sitting across from me with a pinkened face.

"Me, Madame Morrisa?" He asks incredulously. "Why would you begrudge me?"

"Hmm." I pause, as if thinking. "Oh, I don't know. Maybe it's because you refuse to tell me what's going on in the Capitol and how the war is progressing!"

Llarimar blanched at my words and he begins to tug at his collar, looking most uncomfortable. "Well, uh, you see...His Excellency has told me not to bother you with, ahem, worthless details." I frown. Llarimar isn't like the other servants, he's actually something of worth to the Capitol. A renowned scholar whose intelligence is much higher than he makes it seem. He's also my only link to the Capitol while I'm living in District 1, for he has communications with Capitol officials daily.

"But Leo isn't here right now, is he?" I fold my hands together and pout, trying to garner his sympathies. It doesn't work.

"I cannot divulge information," Llarimar shakes his head diligently. "Not until I am authorized to do so!"

I sigh dramatically. Llarimar is too professional for his own good. But still... "How much are you being paid?" I ask and he looks up in surprise. "Whatever it is, I'll double it. But only if you tell me how the war goes..."

Llarimar bites his lip nervously and I can practically see the gears in his head churning as he tries to decide if it's worth it. After all, he could be in real trouble if word got out he told me. "No one is going to know," I smile smoothly and flash my most charming smile. Llarimar frowns but finally breaks.

"Fine...But I do expect my pay to be raised!" He wags a finger and mumbles something about deserving more than he earns.

"Of course. You'll get your pay." I catch Shay smirking as she sits in the seat just ahead of ours. Aha! So she does have emotions! There goes my robot theory...

"Well, about the war..." Llarimar seems uncomfortable as he begins to talk. No doubt he's wondering if he could have gotten off with his pay tripled. " doesn't go well. Our forces outnumber theirs to a large degree, yes. But we can never engage them in open combat and they're too smart to be baited into it."

Not what I was particularly wanting to hear. These rebels, what was the ridiculous name they gave themselves? Those Who Don't Exist? Well, these rebels are on all accounts the most horrid people you could imagine. Leo himself has a personal reason for wanting their ultimate destruction..."Have we learned anything about them?" I ask. "Anything at all?"

"Not much. We rarely capture any of them alive, you see. And when we do..." He trails off, coughing slightly. I impatiently wave for him to continue and he does. "Every time we catch one, they manage to, eh, kill themselves."

"Really? And how do they manage that?"

Llarimar shrugs his shoulders. "It varies. Some eat poison capsules, others use hidden blades. Some...explode."

"Explode?" For some reason I find that hard to believe. "How? I dare say it can't just be spontaneous combustion."

"We don't rightly know. Many suspect they have bombs built into their bodies, but that has yet to be confirmed..." Llarimar stares blankly into the distance and I mull over what I've learned. They're a formidable foe, alright. Using their own foot soldiers as bombs? It's despicable...but also ingenious. I feel a envious twinge in me for not coming up with the idea myself.

"Who controls them?" I ask, startling Llarimar out of his stupor. "Is it still the man who...murdered Leo's mother?"

Llarimar looks around nervously, as if he thinks that he'll be jumped at any moment. Then he speaks, his voice low. "Yes. He's apart of the Council that runs the group. There's seven of them. All named after playing cards. That's one of the few things we've learned, along with..." He stops himself and turns to gaze out the window. "No. I have said too much. President Stryker wouldn't want me to say more."

"Continue, Llarimar!" I speak with much more force then necessary. If there's something I don't like, it's not being allowed to know something that I really, really want to know. "Continue now or I'll call off your pay raise!"

"No! Don't do that!" He sighs and then massages his temples. "It's...they have a tower. A massive one. As tall as the biggest building in the Capitol, if not larger."

"That doesn't sound so special," I say, feeling disappointed at this revelation.

"That's not the only thing. This"

"Excuse me?" I can't suppress my giggles at this absurd proclamation. "It sounds like you just said their tower flies!"

"I said it because it's true. It flies, just like our hovercrafts. We have no idea how they managed that, how they keep such a massive building in the air. But somehow they do." Llarimar shakes his head sadly, as if this magic tower stole his cookies. I don't say anything. What could I say to that? A flying tower? The very thought is ridiculous. But...I have seen some far-fetched things in the Hunger Games before. But that was the Capitol making it, the strongest force on the planet. There's no way some rebel force could control a giant, flying tower...

My limousine suddenly comes to a halt and Llarimar can't get out quick enough. He squeezes his portly frame through the door as soon as the vehicle comes to halt and then addresses me. "We should get to the stage, Madame Morrisa. You don't want to be late."

I'm sorted into a golden chair, alongside the other District 1 Victors. Delilah Gaulle, the escort, is awaiting her chance to speak to the crowd. Right now the Mayor is giving the usual speech and I'm focusing on the caged tributes, wondering which ones would get voted in. I suppose I could have asked Leo about who'd win, but I prefer to be surprised. It's more fun that way. Unless Jake gets in...

"Good luck with your mentoring gig," A crimson haired woman sits down next to me. "Last year was...chaotic."

"Oh! Hello, Rubelia!" I greet her cheerfully. Rubelia was one of District 1's mentors from last year and one of the few who survived the "virus" that claimed most of their lives. "And thank you for the kind words!" I'm used to this. Meaningless conversation where you flatter the other person for no reason other than the boost their ego and make them like you. Even if you personally despise the person.

"Your dress is gorgeous by the way," Rubelia says as she looks it over with envious eyes.

"Oh thank you!" I giggle and swat the air. "Your dress is magnificent too!"

She thanks me and doles out another compliment. Then I repeat this until she finally gets to her point. "I've heard a rumor..." She begins slowly and I arch my eyebrows.

"Have you now? And what was it about?"

Rubelia smiles. "Oh. Nothing much. it true? Are you and our esteemed President now an item?"

A coy smile forms on my face. I knew she'd ask, with how nosy she is it was just a matter of time. "I thought that you'd already know the truth, Rubelia," I begin. "With you being a social queen and all."

She smiles again, but only with her mouth. Her eyes watch me coldly. "You should watch yourself, Morrisa. Or your actions will bring you unwanted attention."

"Oh, I think I want all the attention. It makes me feel rather special."

I laugh silently at the anger that flares in her scarlet eyes. Another jealous vixen. Oh, how many I have encountered recently. "You shouldn't want it," Rubelia growls. "Because not all attention is safe."

"I suppose not. I wonder if that's the reason Shiva has her knives pointed at you?" My innocent question has her spinning around in a vain attempt to spot my bodyguard. But before she can, Delilah takes to the microphone and the formalities begin. I'm introduced to a thunderous amount of applause and cheering. I courtesy to the crowd and enjoy the nasty looks I get from Rubelia and the other female Victors. All of them wish they were me. Afterwards, Delilah gets to the Reaping.

"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! 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 responds as per usual.

"Since we had so much luck last time, let's keep it the same! Ladies first!"

It's the same as last year, when I competed. All the girls who've went through the volunteering process shout out their intentions and then Delilah picks one. I suppose you could say that she was the reason I won, but that would be utter stupidity. Delilah wasn't fighting with me in the Games. I'm the only reason I won.

"Oh, you! I pick you!" Delilah points at a large, tan girl who wastes no time ascending to the stage. I wrinkle my nose as I get a closer look. The girl is over six feet tall and muscular, looking nothing like a proper lady. She's dressed in shabby black clothing and her sunset orange hair is messy and unkempt. She does have a streak of red in her hair, showing that she at least tried to make herself beautiful. Unfortunately for her, she looks more like a filthy outlying District tribute then one from District 1.

Delilah asks for a name and the girl gives it. "Anissa Fallows."

That's all. She just stands there and looks tough. I get a very rebellious feeling from her and know right away that we won't get along. Delilah repeats the process and soon a boy has joined Anissa on stage. He's taller than her and has slick, black hair and dazzling green eyes. But the most eye-catching thing about him is his hands.

His fingers are missing. Or most are. The rest are all misshapen, tiny, and undeveloped. They are a disgusting sight and I feel repulsed that I have to mentor him and' Anissa. One is a shabby rebel and the other is a lousy cripple.

"I'm Cullinan Beryll!" The boy introduces himself to the crowd but there's not much cheering. Majority of the people are staring his crumbled hands. He notices and laughs. "Yeah, my fingers are pretty messed up. Been that way my entire life. But don't worry! I have my iron feet to protect me!"

The boy does a flashy, leaping kick and the crowd breaks into applause when he lands. He beams proudly and I notice the muscular bands of his legs for the first time. Impressive, but not something that would help him win the Games. Have you ever heard of someone killing tons of people with their feet? No? That's because it can't happen. This boy is as good as dead.

Delilah spends a few more moments with the two new kids before turning to the caged All-Stars. I'm hoping that we'll get a strong pair out of this group. Like Elvis and Cole, the due that survived the Death Duel. I look forward to mentoring them, something I can't say for the reaped tributes.

"And the two tributes voted into the 400th Annual Hunger Games are...Jake Locketback and Trinity Mace!"

Jake?! Who in their right mind would vote for him? He was a complete disgrace of a tribute! But he's in. Personal feelings aside, he has somehow managed to weasel his way into the Games once more. I grimly watch him as he and Trinity, whom is at least decent, are freed from their cages and led to the stage. The tributes who weren't voted in look on in shock when the Peacekeepers guarding the cage suddenly open fire.

Confined in the box and tied down, they have no where to go as the bullets rip through them. They're torn to shreds and their blood splatters in the glass walls as the crowd cheers triumphantly. Oh, some of them are disappointed that their favourite was just killed, of course. But majority are just happy that they got a little taste of the action before the Games even begin.

"Wasn't that just delightful?" Delilah claps once the shooting stops. The crowd roars in approval and I smile when I see the disgusted looks on a few of the tributes faces. They don't have the stomach for this. And that means they won't have what it takes to emerge as Victor.

District Two: Ena Shea


My arrow smacks into the center of the target, the feathered end twitching from impact. Another perfect shot. Another reason why my odds of surviving the biggest Hunger Games of all time is higher than the average tribute.

"But, still not good enough!" I mutter under my breath and reload my bow, slipping another arrow out from my quiver. The string touches my lips as I pull back and then I release, sending the arrow whizzing through the air.

Another bulls-eye. The wooden target board shudders from the impact and I growl impatiently. It wasn't strong enough! It didn't have enough force! If I want to win these Games, if I want to win Noah's love, I need to be the best. Not among the best. I need to be better than everyone else. I need to be the best at everything.

Starting with archery.

I go through the motions all over again, knocking and aiming an arrow. This time my arrow slices through the air like a bullet, slamming into the target with so much force that it comes loose from its holding and tumbles to the soft grass below.

"Hmmph. Better." I toss my quiver to the side and deposit my bow on the rack in the small shed that borders the metal fence. "But it's still not enough." The best tributes of the past century will be in these Games. The strongest, the smartest, the bravest, the craziest. All of them will be competing, along with a host of new talent. I need to be better than them all or Noah...he won't...

A small cry escapes my lips, but I slap myself in the face. "Get a hold of yourself, Ena!" I pinch my arms as I trudge towards the deserted roadway. "You can't allow your emotions to cloud your thinking! You'll never get Noah's love if you do that!"


I met him years ago, when I first attended the training academy. I was an expert at climbing and utilizing an ice pick. I was so good, that I got his attention right away. I didn't want to befriend him at first, I was never much for speaking and trying to socialize was a nightmare for me. But Noah saw past that and he even managed to have me emerge from my shell, though only around him.

We were such great friends...We did everything together. We trained, watched the Games, everything. I soon fell in love with him, but..

He never loved me. I knew that right away, I could always tell what he was feeling. I was just his best friend, nothing more. That enough was hard to accept, but it became unbearable when I saw him with her. Emma MacDonald. The prettiest girl in all of District 2 who was everything I'm not. Blonde, beautiful, caring, and very charismatic. She's the epitome of perfection. And Noah was in love with her.

I continue along the road, feeling terrible as I walk in the shadows of the buildings. Whenever we were together Noah would just talk about Emma almost non-stop. I hate her. I hate her, yet I have no real reason. She's always so nice to me. In fact...

She's so perfect it makes me sick.

She's kind of girl who rescues puppies and cries rainbows. The kind I could never compete with...unless, unless I won the Hunger Games. But not just any Games, the greatest Games of all time...

I pass by the park we spent all our time at on my way towards the Reaping and the memory of him knocking at my window comes back. I had thought he had come to proclaim his love for me, but...He took me to this park, and that's when I noticed the look in his eyes and knew that he wouldn't be mine. Ever.

I kissed him when we came back to my house, but he only pulled away and looked upset. And I was so torn apart...

The Reaping area comes into view, thankfully pulling my attention away from that sadness. I haven't lost Noah. I'll win him back when I conquer the Games. I know I will, I must.

A Peacekeeper takes my blood when I arrive at the bustling crowd, alive with happy voices and laughter. This is a joyous occasion for most, but I'm too terrified of losing that I can't fully enjoy it. Not until I get my Noah.

My eyes seek him out when I enter the crowd of kids eligible to be Reaped. I don't see him, but I do see her.

Emma MacDonald calls out a greeting as I pass by, but I ignore it and push to the front of the crowd, where I get a good look at the stage. The Mayor is reading off a list of what makes these Games so special, and then names the two tributes who we all watched survive the Death Duel; Chloe Black and Pansy Costella. An uneasy feeling stirs in my gut. Those two girls were both ruthless in their original Games. Can I really best them and countless others? I am one of the Academy's best, but...

"Greetings, District 2!" The mic has been passed off to Waco Dawls, our escort. "As we all know, we have joined here today to discover which two fine young people will represent District 2 in the 400th Hunger Games!"

"I volunteer!" I can't stay silent any longer, not even to follow protocol. If I waited for the proper moment, I could have been passed over for someone else. "I volunteer as tribute!"

"Then come on up!" Waco grins and motions for me to join him on the stage. "What's your name?" He asks as I begin to look over the crowd, searching for Noah. Where is he? Does he see me? Is he surprised? Does he...realize how strong I am? "Excuse me? Umm, miss?" Waco waves a hand across my face, pulling me back into the real world. The crowd is waiting for my answer.

"Oh. I'm...Ena Shea," My words seem to come out slow and unsure and I curse myself for appearing weak. You only have one chance to make a first impression.

"Well Ena, let's see who your male counterpart will be!" Waco asks for volunteers, but none come forth. He's obviously surprised, and sits around for a moment, wondering what was going on I know what it is. No one wants to volunteer for these Games, where death is certain. So, Waco just draws a name, but before he can finish reading it the stage is being rushed by a gigantic banana. Wait...No. It's not a banana, but rather a boy dressed in a bright yellow jumpsuit with a gold bandanna drapped around his neck. He's a ridiculous sight, but he doesn't seem to notice as he strikes a pose in the middle of the stage.

"What..." Waco stares, at a loss for words. It's not until the boy begins a series of flashy punches and kicks that he regains his composure. "Are...are you a volunteer?" He asks after a brief moment of hesitation.

"Oh, yeah! I'm a volunteer alright!" The boy jumps to the sky and punches the air, his platinum ponytail bouncing on his back. "Rodeo Baldios, here to serve you a fresh, steaming hot, plate of cold justice!"

I...don't understand. What exactly is this boy doing? Waco is dumbfounded, as is the crowd. An uncomfortable silence has taken hold of the clearing and it isn't broken until I speak. "How can you have "steaming hot, cold justice"?" I ask, confused.

Rodeo's teal eyes turn to face me and his grin widens. "I'm glad you asked, noble citizen!" As he pulls himself up straighter, I notice that he's actually pretty tall. Probably around six and a half feet, maybe a little under. "It's both steaming hot and cold, because it is justice supreme! The biggest, boldest, strongest form of justice there is! In fact--"

"Yes, yes. We all get the point!" Waco cuts in, his voice tinged with irritation. "Just...stay silent, okay?"

"I shall never fall silent about the noble virtues of just--"

Waco pulls the microphone away from the boy's face and his words are lost to the crowd as our escort attempts to put the Reaping back on track. Even though I found Rodeo's boisterous attitude annoying, I miss it almost as soon as it stops, because without anything for my mind to focus on, it goes back to thinking about Noah and how I could lose him. My eyes scan the crowd for his face, desperately hoping that he'll have realized his love for me already, so that my fear that he won't even if I do win may disappear. There would be nothing worse, then to win the Games only to come home and find out he still doesn't care for me the way I care for him...

"Psst! Ena!"

I nearly jump out of my skin as Rodeo appears at my shoulder, a stupid grin on his face. "What do you want?" I demand, a little too harshly. "Don't you have some justice to talk about?"

"I am talking about justice!" I stifle a laugh as he puts his head in the air, actually offended at what I said.

"How so?" I'm not interested in anything he has to say, but at the same time...I am.

He places a hand upon his chin, deep in thought. "I'm trying to decide whether you're an evildoer or not."

"What?" This time I don't hold the laughter back. Evilerdoer? What does he think he is? Some kind of superhero?

"I can't yet tell if you're like the rest of District 2. Eager to kill just because you think it's fun. You did volunteer. But you had a vaguely sad feeling around you..." My laughter stops and worry takes it's place. How did he know I was sad? Was it that obvious? If the whole District noticed then...then my hopes of being a fan favourite could have just been dashed tiny little pieces... "Are you joining the Careers?"


"Are you joining the Careers? Because if you are, then I'll have my answer. You'll be an evildoer and I will have no choice but to wipe you off the face of this planet!"

"I..don't know."

It was an easy decision, before the Reaping. Why wouldn't I join the Careers? They're obviously going to be the biggest and deadliest alliance, sure to dominate the first half of the Games. But when I put actual thought into it...Maybe I'd be better off with a smaller, lower profile alliance. I'd be less of a target and I definitely wouldn't have this psycho trying to kill me for being an "evildoer".

Rodeo is watching me closely and it appears that he is going to say something when the sound of gunfire erupts, followed by vicious cheering.

The box that held the All-Stars has become a killing field. The tributes lie dead or near dead, their blood seeping out from the wounds that cover them. I'm shocked that they would just kill the tributes without first getting the voted one's out, but then I see that they already have. Two kids stand beside Waco.

"Please give one last welcome to Carmine Morrisa and Luigi Wilkins!" He's speaking to the crowd, showing off the lucky ones. Neither of them look particularly happy, or even sad. This faces are just blank slates. Probably because they're both emotionless fighters.


An enraged, almost inhuman shout interrupts the proceedings as Rodeo shoves me to the ground on his way towards the box. From the ground, I watch as he charges the Peacekeepers who shot the tributes, and punches the nearest one in the gut.

The others raise their guns, but are shouted down by Waco and the Mayor, both who aren't very keen on the idea of losing a tribute this early. Seeing this, the Peacekeepers hesitate. But Rodeo doesn't. He plows his shoulder into one of them and tackles him to the ground, raving about justice and destroying evil. He's hitting the Peacekeeper with savage punches when one of the others pulls his tazer out and jabs it into Rodeo's back, wherein he gives a pained shout and falls to the ground, shaking with spasms as the Peacekeepers crowd around and beat him with their batons. I turn away from the brutal scene, feeling conflicted.

"Well, that was...interesting, wasn't it?" Waco grins stupidly as he addresses the cheering crowd. "Let's hope that he shows that much intensity in the Hunger Games!"

District Three: Watt Chargy

I jerk awake, sweat rolling down my forehead and cheeks. Sunlight pours in through the nearby window, illuminating the room that I sleep in. It takes me a few moments to realize what day it is.

Reaping day.

How many times has it been now? How many years since I won? I lost track a long time ago; stopped paying attention to the passing time when my best friend, Charce Firre, died of natural causes. He was one of the only people I could relate to, someone who understood what I went through and what I suffer from on a nightly basis. Annabeth did, too.


It all comes rushing back to me, the knowledge that this is not a normal year. Tributes will be revived for the Games, allowed to compete once more. It'll only be the second time it's ever happened. The first was in the 327th Hunger Games, the Games that I won.

It's unsettling, remembering that I was once dead for an entire year. Dead and buried. The very thought brings a chill to me, even though I'm lying in a warm bed in the middle of summer. How did the Capitol revive me? It's not possible. Not plausible. There's no science on how to bring someone back to life, on how to make them living again. It's just...unnatural.

The thought swims around in my head as I slowly climb out of bed and get dressed. I've been thinking on this very subject for a long seventy-three years now. And I still don't have any answers.

No one does.

I make my way down to the kitchen without much hassle, I feel stronger today than I do on most, where I sometimes can't even bring myself to get out of bed. In my tiled room where the food is cooked, I find Kathryn.

She's a woman in her late thirties, my housekeeper who makes sure that everything runs fine and that the rooms are cleaned. I'm very thankful for her, not many people in District 3 wish to work for the Capitol's Victors, and I simply detest the very concept of Avoxes.

"Sleep well?" Kathryn asks me as I bypass the table and head straight for the hallway closet.

"As well as one can, given the day," I pull my coat off the hook and have a slight struggle in putting it on. When I turn around, I see Kathryn watching me with pursed lips.

"Not eating breakfast today, Watt?" She asks.

" know I don't have much of an appetite on Reaping day." I don't know how one could eat, knowing that kids are being sent to their deaths.

"But you must keep your strength up, if you're going to mentor!"

"I'll eat on the train," I lie and head for the door. I feel bad for disappointing Kathryn, but I just don't have the desire to eat right now. Especially not with the irritating headaches I've been having...

"And last but not least, I give to you, our oldest Victor and the smartest woman in the entire District, Watt Chargy!"

The crowd breaks into applause for me, and I feel the tears sliding down my cheek. Their love for me always manages to touch my emotional side, make me cry. But that's not the only reason. I'm also crying because I see her, Annabeth.

Locked inside the glass box that sits in the middle of the gathered crowd, looking disgruntled, but as resilient as ever, sits my friend. Her eyes seek me out when my name is called, and I see the surprise in her eyes. I've aged during these past seventy-three years, becoming an old woman. But she's still as young as she was the die she died. She's still sixteen, still vibrant and youthful.

I remember when she died in my arms, how I couldn't stop death from taking her. We don't always get what we want. Her last words to me echo in my head, reminding me that just because she's sitting in front of me doesn't mean that I'll get to reunite with her. She still has to be voted in, and if that's done, she'll need to win the Hunger Games. Something she has failed at before.

My introduction is over, the Mayor waves me to my seat at the very back of the stage, and I sit myself down upon the silver chair studded with electric blue crystals. I'm still focused on the box, in the other girls in there with Annabeth. Because I won and avoided this fate, therefore are only two of them. Sombra Celesta, a wicked girl who aligned with the Careers and wound up burning to death, and Iris Pixel, someone who didn't deserve to be in the Games and a tribute I mentored just last year. A horrible tightness grips my chest as I find myself hoping that the Capitol didn't vote her in over Annabeth.

The feeling gets worse when I pay attention to the boys in the box. Courage Blitz is there, the boy who had himself killed so that Cassandra and myself may live. Unlike with Annabeth, I don't want him to be voted in. He's already lived a life full of horror and tragedy, and doesn't deserve to have anymore.

And the other three...Wario Wade is clinking his handcuffs together, either enjoying the sound it makes or just biding his time. Aspen Bolts is holding hands with Iris and whispering into her ear, and Shuppet Jorravaskr is trying to pick the lock on his handcuffs with something small and slender. I don't know which one of them I want to get in...

"You okay?"

Despite sitting on the middle of a stage, surrounded by hundreds of people, I still jump when the voice speaks from my left. A young man laughs. "Didn't mean to scare you. But I'll be mentoring those kids with you. I'm Axiom Jolt."

He offers me his hand and I shake it as his eyes watch Lysander Bilegin continues to go on about the history of the Hunger Games, and listing the names of all the Victors ever. "I...I'm fine."

Axiom grins, his blue eyes flashing with a mischievous glint. "That's good! Wouldn't want my fellow mentor to be ill!" He wipes back his slick ebony hair and then points straight at Annabeth. "She a friend of yours?"

"I--How did you know?"

I think I spoke a bit too forcefully, for Axiom's grin disappears. "I watched the Games you won, and, well, it was apparent that the two of you got along..." He sounds disappointed, like a kid who failed his teacher. I suddenly feel bad, remembering that the boy was only in his early twenties. But I still don't like having my personal life just brought out from the blue.

"Why would you watch the Games?" I ask in disdain. "They're all horrible, horrible things. I can barely stomach to even watch the Games I'm mentoring!"

Surprise flashes across his naive face as he rushes to answer me. "No! I agree! It's just that I've never mentored before, and, well, I needed to watch old Games to learn what I'm supposed to do..."

Pity for the boy stirs in me. I remember how difficult it was for me, the first time I was a mentor. But, something doesn't add up. "How come you haven't been a mentor before? Everyone always mentors the year after they win."

Axiom's face darkens a bit as he looks down at his feet. Lysander is still droning on about the Victors, and I think that I'm not going to get an answer, but then Axiom looks back up, smiling a bit too forcefully. "I, well, I won the 394th Hunger Games. The one with Pompeii. You remember him?"

I do. Pompeii was a boy from District 1, strong, fast, intelligent, and handsome. He was the perfect picture of what a tribute should be, one who embodied everything the Capitol stands for. He dominated his Games, killing several big threats at the bloodbath. It soon became obvious that he was the one to beat, so the other Careers made a plot to kill him in his sleep. It would have worked, had a pack of mutts not attacked that night. They killed or drove off the Careers, but oddly didn't even touch Pompeii. Everyone in District 3 began to assume that the Gamemakers were rigging it for him.

"He was supposed to win, you see," Axiom continues. "But, well, I kind of ruined that..." I can't tell whether the look on his face is embarrassment or pride as he stops to slick back his hair again.

"You made a magnet, didn't you?" I interject and he beams proudly.

"I did! I knew that the double tipped spear that Pompeii favoured was made completely from metal, so I simply placed the magnet in a specific location and led him there. When he threw the spear, well, you know what happened next."

A vivid flashback of Pompeii being impaled with his own spear flashes in my head. "Yes. I do."

"It was pretty upsetting for the Capitol, you see. Their champion being defeated by a simple tech geek from District 3? The very thought was absurd! I paid a hefty price for that victory. Not being allowed to mentor least among them..."

Sorrow floods his eyes, and I can only fathom as to what sort of punishment he had to endure. Frankly, I'm surprised that he's still alive, given how cruel the Capitol can be. "Why are you allowed to mentor now?" I ask. "What changed?"

Axiom shrugs and leans back in his chair, Lysander is getting to the end of his speech now. "Nothing really. It's just that the other Victors are too afraid to mentor now. Twelve of them did die last year..."

We fall silent. I remember how, what the Capitol called a virus, wiped out most of the mentors that remained in the facility near the end of the Games. I still doubt that, doubt that it was virus. I never saw the bodies, so they may not have even died. But I don't know what else could have happened to them...

"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!" Lysander has finished his speech and waves his arms for the two bowls to be wheeled out. The crowd holds their collected breaths as he reaches a spindly hand into the first bowl. "And the new female tribute for the 400th Annual Hunger Games is..." His long fingers unwrap the paper, and he reads the name out loud. "Ziya Ashton!"

People in the crowd begin to look around for the reaped tribute, try to get a good look. I don't see her until she pushes her way out of the fifteen year-olds line, and when I do, I sigh.

A skinny, frail looking girl with crimson hair, she barely looks like she can stand, yet alone fight. The crowd murmurs in disappointment as she hobbles up to the stage. No one likes to see sacrificial lambs. Though...I remember that many thought the same of me. Then again, I did die in my first Games.

"Is something wrong?" Axiom whispers to me, seeing the crowd's reaction but being too naive to realize why they're reacting like that.

I just sigh in response. Ziya has reached Lysander and he sniffs indignantly, but introduces her to the crowd all the same. She looks even worse up close, like she hasn't had a meal in days. Her face is gaunt and her ribs are clearly visible, though I do see a spark of hope in her eyes. Maybe she can win this...

Lysander spends as little time as possible on parading Ziya and just goes straight to the next bowl. "And the new male tribute for the 400th Annual Hunger Games is..." His long fingers unwrap the paper for the second time, and he reads the name out loud. "Caspian Mahoney!"

The boy is about the exact opposite of Ziya. Muscular, tall, and obviously well-fed. He strolls to the stage, seemingly at ease. His hair is dark brown and spiked, his skin pale and marked. But the most striking thing, for me, is his eyes. Dark brown and slightly droopy, they reveal a dark anger harbouring inside him. An anger that radiates out of him like an aura. I might be the only one who notices, because Lysander is clapping and Axiom is grinning foolishly. "He looks strong!" He tells me for no apparent reason.

"Well met, Mister Mahoney!" Lysander shakes the boy's hand.

"Indeed," The boy has an accent, smooth and buttery. I already know he'll be a hit with the teenage girls in the Capitol.

The niceties continue, though Caspian doesn't say much. I'm still thinking about the strange feeling I get from him when Lysander moves on to the All-Stars. "Now, it is time to learn who else will be joining Caspian, Noah, and Chip in the 400th Annual Hunger Games!" He names the two boys who won the death duels, but somehow excludes Ziya. "In this envelope," His long fingers shake a manila envelope back and forth. "Is the names of two tributes. Two tributes who will be allowed to compete once more!"

My eyes flicker to Annabeth. She's watching the envelope with eager eyes, and I feel a nauseating feeling in my gut. What if her name isn't in that envelope? What happens then?

"The tributes who will compete are...Courage Blitz and Annabeth March!"

Relief floods through me and I actually feel tears welling in my eyes. It's happened! Annabeth will be back! She'll...compete in the Hunger Games. My joy fades away, remembering the bad part of this situation.

Annabeth's chains have slipped away, so have Courage's. The two of them are stepping out of the box when suddenly someone pushes pass them and makes a break for the nearest alleyway. There's shouts from the Peacekeepers and murmurs from the crowd. What's going on? I count the tributes still in the box as the door immediately slams shut. One, two, three, four...

Where's Shuppet?

I remember how he was fiddling with his chains, trying to pick them. Did he somehow exceed at unlocking them? Is that possible? It must be, for he is missing from the box and several Peacekeepers push their way through the crowd, running for the same alley that the person disappeared into.

Everyone is shouting and talking and then gunfire is heard from the ally and that's when all hell breaks loose.

The Peacekeepers who didn't chase after Shuppet turn their guns upon the tributes still locked in the box and fire. It's barbaric and doesn't make any sense. Why are they shooting them? Are they afraid they'll also try to escape? It's a bloodbath; the tributes stand no chance. When they all die, the crowd begins to scream and panic, attempting to run away. It's a difficult job for the Peacekeepers to try and stop them, especially since half of their number went chasing after Shuppet.

Lysander is screaming into his microphone, demanding that order be restored. No one is listening to him. Not the crowd, not the Peacekeepers, not even the tributes. My eyes are locked on Annabeth as she and Courage try to scamper up to the stage and avoid being trampled by the frenetic crowd.

I call for her and she leaps onto the side of the stage, where Axiom helps pull her up. She thanks him and rushes to hug me as he turns to help Courage. "I'm so glad to see you!" She's sobbing as she buries her face in my shoulder. "You helped my family, right?"

"Yes. Your siblings, they're still alive..."

That's all either of us can manage to say through the tears that have begun to leak. Courage and Axiom stand by our side, looking uncomfortable. Caspian is watching the chaos of the crowd with a wicked grin, and Ziya simply looks confused.

"Percy..." Annabeth whispers his name as a truck full of Peacekeepers pull into the clearing and attempt to restore order. "Is he...was he...?"

"District 4 hasn't had their Reaping yet," I say, wishing I had a better answer for her.

She looks grim as she let's go and watches the crowd slowly begin to stop their panicking. Those who resist are tazed or beaten down with batons, but they do it anyway. It's not until two Peacekeepers emerge from the alleyway, dragging along a broken and bloody body, does everyone finally stop.

"Shuppet..." Annabeth sounds upset, as if she wanted him to escape. I did too. But I knew he wouldn't. Where could he even have gone? There's no where the Capitol wouldn't have found him.

"You don't win against the Capitol," I say grimly as the boy's body is paraded around for all to see. "You don't even try. You just keep your head down, and hope that you survive."

District Four: Ryan Marine

The box begins to rise with a lurching shudder, sending me falling, pulling against the chains that hold me in place. I can hear murmurs and cries nearby; other tributes locked in this oversized display case with me. But I can't see them through this darkness that threatens to swallow me. I can't even see the tip of my nose.

"Where am I? What's happening?" The voice of a boy cries out from my left. He must be from one of the newer Games, otherwise he'd know exactly what's happening.

"We're in a box," A feminine voice responds from directly in front of me. Swatty Lakeside, maybe? "And pretty soon we'll be surrounded by the entire District. Just hope they voted you in."

"Huh? Voted in?" A girl's voice. Apparently the Capitol didn't bother informing these tributes about what's going on. Swatty goes to say something more when the box, which has been steadily rising, comes to a sudden halt. I'm jerked off of my feet, slipping and only being held up by the chains that shackle my wrists. A few of the others are groaning in pain; one mutters something about their head. Still too dark to see.

"Why did we stop?" A boy's gruff voice almost shouts his question. "And what were you prattling on about?"

"Should have paid attention when they revived us," Another feminine voice answers him. "They explained everything then." Ah. So they did explain it to them. Guess a few just weren't the listening type. Doesn't surprise me.

"Do you smell that?" Swatty, who had gone silent once the box stopped moving, suddenly speaks out. I stop moving and concentrate my nose on the smells beyond the sweaty scent of the kids around me.

"It's the ocean," I say immediately. "I'd recognize that smell anywhere. I've spent my entire life around it." The portion of it that wasn't trapped in the Hunger Games. I remember that fateful day, when my brother Brian was Reaped. Brian was a sickly kid, had been for the past month. I knew that he wouldn't last in the Games, and after realizing that no one else was going to volunteer, I did. I wonder if he's still alive...

I entered the Games that I had never particularly wanted to be apart of. I had watched them on the television, of course. But I never really wanted to try and fight for all that glory or fame, not when the price of failure was your life. But, well, my destiny was to enter anyways.

And then get killed by the Spectri.


They're my mortal enemies, or at least they were. I realized that we weren't so dissimilar in the last few seconds of my life...but that doesn't mean I don't hate their guts. It's just that I don't want to risk my life hunting them down anymore.

"Don't you all think it's weird?" Swatty is asking the others when my awareness comes back to the black box we're all in.

"What's weird?" I think that's Percy speaking, a boy from my second Games.

"Us being revived? If the Capitol has that sort of technology, don't you think they'd use it on things more important then us tributes?"

A silent greets her words. Obviously we're all trying to think of what the Capitol could deem more important than the Games. I can't think of anything, not off the top of my head. "They could have revived Nolan Stryker," A girl says after a long pause. "President Styrker's father, who was assassinated."

"Exactly!" An excitement as tinged Swatty's words, as if she learned her opinion had finally been validated. "Why wouldn't they use their technology for that? For something more--Ahh!"

She breaks off into a scream, and the rest of us have no idea what happened or what she saw. Voices of the others begin to overlap as they all try to question her. I still can't see a thing through this suffocating darkness, but I notice that when I press my ear against the side, I hear the low drones of a crowd. "Everyone be silent!" I shout and the commotion ceases so quickly, that I'm taken quite back. "Press your ears to the wall!" I order.


"Just do it!"

I don't see it, but I hear their feet shifting and the chains clanking as the teenagers reposition themselves. I still can't make out any of the words, but I definitely hear something. "Its the crowd," I tell the others. "The Reaping crowd. Soon we'll be unveiled and the Reaping will begin."

"Didn't any of you hear that?" Swatty speaks for the first time since her alarming shout.

"Hear what?" Percy asks.

" was a buzzing sound. felt like it was drilling into my head, almost as if it was trying to get something...I don't remember..." She continues mumbling to herself, saying things that none of us understand. I catch a few words like "memories" and "compliance" but it's just worthless junk that I eventually tune out as I try to hear what is being said outside of this box.

Then the sun burns into my eyes.

We all scream as the darkness is suddenly and impossibly lifted. Intense rays of sunlight pour into our sockets, momentarily blinding us. The droning of the crowd is clearly audible now, and I even hear the District Four Mayor, or what I assume to be the Mayor, speaking over a microphone.

"Ladies and Gentlemen! There are your All-Stars, voted upon by the Capitol!"

Applause. My eyes have begun to adjust, and I now see the crowd assembled before us. They stand upon a sunny beach, ogling us with wide eyes. The stage is set up behind them, and the shape of buildings loom beyond that. Does that mean we're over the...

I look down and yelp in part shock part excitement. The floor of the box is just like the walls, transparent. Beneath it, waves of blue gently splash towards the shore and the crowd. We're hanging over the ocean!

"But for now, let us see our new tributes!" The Mayor steps back and introduce Karis Aeris, a young woman who is supposedly District 4's escort. She asks for volunteers from the boy's and in no time several boys volunteer. She chooses a boy in the front, a lean-muscled guy with wavy blonde hair. Surprisingly, he looks rather disappointed.

"What's your name?" Karis asks when he joins her.

"Dylan Murrow."

Yep. He definitely sounds disappointed. I wonder why, but deep down I know it doesn't matter why. Not for me, and not for him. "Well, I hope you perform admirably, Dylan!" Karis smiles and moves on to the next bowl. This time there are no volunteers. I guess the sheer amount of tributes have scared everyone off from risking their lives for glory. "Sheol Argos!"

A girl breaks away from the crowd and everyone gasps. The girl has bright blue hair, but that's the least of it. Her mouth has been sewn shut, why, I couldn't say. She walks with a disturbing gait, like she's a puppet moving against her strings. Every movement she makes is disjointed and causes her body to tremble. Why?

"What a freak," Kaye mutters from near me. "I hope she dies first."

The puppet-girl finally reaches Karis and stops. Both her and Dylan watch the puppet-girl with some apprehensive but Karis finally finds her voice. "Umm. Are you Sheol Argos?"

The girl nods slowly.

"Oh. Okay. Well, uh, Sheol, please just sit there and...wait for the rest of the Reaping the finish, okay?" Karis mutters something under her breath and then plasters a pleasant smile back on her face. "District 4! Let's hear it for your new tributes!"

The applause comes, but maybe not as loud as one would expect. "Almost time to see which two of us gets in!" Zia grins as Karis takes out an envelope and begins to talk about it.

"It'll probably be Swatty and Ryan again..." Percy sounds depressed and Zia shoots a nasty look at her brother.

"No way. Those two losers already had their second chance. It's time for someone else to get it!"

"You killed yourself the first time," Kaye mutters just as Karis opens the envelope. We all fall silent immediately, conscious of all the eyes of District 4 watching us. Then the note is read.

"Ryan Marine and Mizu Fall!"

My name. My name is read. I should feel honoured that the Capitol likes me so much that they voted me in for my third Games, which should be some kind of record, but I can't help feel like that something awful is in store for me. And I don't think I can be faulted for that, my last two Games did end with my death, after all.

The chains around my wrists and ankles snap off, dropping to the floor. Mizu, a girl I don't know, scrambles out of the box and I follow, avoiding the reaching grasp of Kaye, who is calling me an assortment of unpleasant names. "Congratulations!" Karis smiles fondly at us as we travel down the open lane through the crowd. "You two deserved it!"

I don't know how you qualify who "deserved it", but I guess I did perform well enough in the Games. When I reach the stage, I shake Karis' hand and am then instructed to shake my fellow tributes hands. I do so without questioning it...audibly. I silently wish I didn't have to touch the creepy puppets hand.

Fortunately though, nothing awful happens. Her hand feels a bit clammy, but I don't spontaneous combust or anything. I shake with Dylan next, but when I go for Mizu I see that she has her eyes clenched shut and she's muttering to herself. I decide to skip the handshake.

"And now...we depose of the... unwanted tributes..." Karis sounds uncomfortable as she points towards the box I was freed from. I see the others watching me with envious eyes and then the floor beneath them gives away, just like last time.

But unlike last time, there's no hole under them.

They splash into the water, confused and angry. I hear the crowd murmuring amongst themselves and then someone screams as they notice the dorsal fins heading straight for the deposited tributes.


Percy is the first one to get attacked, screaming as a shark bites into his leg. And then the others notice. But it's too late. My stomach feels slightly nauseous as the sharks dine on my fellow tributes. I realize that it could have been me, as I listen to their pained pleas for help. I was voted in over them. I am part of the reason they died. It's not a pleasant thought.

The crowd doesn't like it either, and I feel that the Capitol messed up royally on this one. Sharks are feared by most of the seafaring District 4, and having a score of bloodthirsty mutts tear a dozen kids apart right in the largest harbour, is just going to anger and disgust people.

"This is horrible!" Dylan has gone pale.

Mizu raises her head and opens her eyes for the first time since being selected. She stares out at the carnage in the ocean without any sign of fear or anger. Then she speaks, her voice low and monotonous. "No. This is life..."

District Five: Seth Rollins

Today is the beginning of my rise to fame and power. Today, I will show the world that I'm not to be overlooked, that I'm not just someone hidden in the shadows of my friends. I will show that I am the strongest, that I am the smartest, and that I am the future of Panem.

I will win the Hunger Games.

The biggest Games that ever existed, containing the most lethal and deadly tributes that ever walked this planet. Of course, none of them can hold a candle to me, but no one knows that yet. But they will soon. Oh, they will.

I dress myself in my finest clothes, and double check myself in the mirror to make sure that I am presentable. This will be the first time that most of Panem will see me, and I want to make a good impression.

I won't be shown up this time I think as I stare into the mirror. Not like before. There's no Dean or Leati to take all the glory. Dean and Leati. My friends. My brothers, so to speak. I met them shortly after I joined the CDFC, a fighting club that operates throughout the Districts. It isn't banned, because the fights aren't real. They're all scripted and everything is planned. Which is great. When you're the one getting the push.

Despite my best efforts and skill, I was never given the opportunity I needed and deserved. So I transferred to the District 14 club, where I met Dean and Leati. The three of us got along fine, and I had this brilliant idea to form a group between the three of us. I suppose you could say that I was the architect of this group we began to call The Shield. You'd be right.

We got the push and glory we sought, all right. We got everything we wanted and more. was always Dean and Leati who got the credit. Always them. But why? I was the one who put the group together! I was the one who made them! Without me they'd still be tiny, insignificant specks just throwing their talent away. But those stupid fans just couldn't see it. No one could.

Until recently...

One day, after a huge CDFC event in the Capitol, I was approached by a man, one with a lot of power, who offered me the chance of a lifetime. "You have talent, but you can't waste it on this!" The man told me with a shake of his head. "Your talent lies in the real deal, the Hunger Games!." he told me that I'd have to volunteer for the 400th Games, that I'd need to win and outlast the other ninety-one tributes. Naturally, I was caught off guard, I knew what it meant to lose in the Hunger Games and I didn't want to risk it. But then after many proven points, I complied.

You see, it's the best thing for me. The greatest gift I could ever receive. Everyone watching me fight and compete. If I win, I win something much greater than anything else. Authority, getting what I wants, fame, money. I would make the CDFC a HUGE business, bigger than the Hunger Gamea, I would not only be the future of the CDFC, but all of Panem.

Now I just need to win. At whatever cost necessary.

The televisions that line the road are buzzing with ads and commercials for strange Capital inventions as I near the factory clearing where the Reaping will take place. I try not to pay much attention to them, but one for a company named Life Modifier catches my attention. Apparently they're offering a type of surgery that would double your life span, make it like all of the year's you've spent living didn't ever happen. Heh. So if I took the surgery, I'd get the eighteen years I've lived back, but I'd still retain all of my memories and everything. That'd be pretty sweet. A few people standing around me take note of the commercial as well, but they're not nearly as positive.

"Heard just about everyone in the Capitol is getting it," A man says with an air of envy.

"Doesn't surprise me," A woman responds. "They're all stupid."

"You wouldn't get it?" I can't help but insert myself into the conversation. They both look at me in surprise but I disarm them with a smile and say that I'm just too curious for my own good. Hehe. They buy my lie just like everyone else does

"No, of course not!" The woman purses her lips before continuing, as if she's worried we'd be overheard. "I...don't know if I should be saying this, but..."

"But what?" I ask innocently, keeping up my charade.

"I've heard from...some friends that this Life Modifier company may just be some undercover Capitol front!" The woman keeps her voice to a whisper, throwing pensive looks at everyone who is walking with us towards the factory. "And that there may be some sort of ulterior motive!"

Well, there goes my interest in this conversation. This woman is one of those psycho conspiracy theorist who comes up with sinister explanations for just about everything. Why the hell dies she think that the Capitol would have a secret group that was doubling everyone's life span? The very thought is absurd. But unfortunately, I am stuck in this conversation. The woman talks my ear off until we reach the gate, and I managed to disengage myself from her by getting my blood taken and ushered into line.

I push through the other kids, all of them just inferior to me. They grunt and complain but I'm much bigger and stronger than them so that's all they do. The crowd is large though, and by the time I push to the front of the stage, passing by the box filled with All-Stars on my way, Maxwell Ibrahim has already started the shebang. "Hello District 5!" He says as I wipe my shirt clean. "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 400th Annual Hunger Games!"

A hand dips into the bowl and I open my mouth to shout when I realize that he's picking for the girls. Somehow, I manage to transform my shout into an abnormally loud sneeze. A few people turn to stare at me, but most are fixated on the girl who is moving through the crowd. She's a slight blonde girl with a very timid persona, and I think that she's just another weakling when someone next to me whispers that she volunteered.

"She did?" I ask in confusion.

"Yeah! You just missed it with your gargantuan sneeze!"

I rap the kid on the back of the head with my knuckles, and as he complains I turn to the stage. Maxwell is asking the girl for her name, but she seems hesitant to give it. He continues to press, saying it's mandatory. Finally, she relents. "Ashley Curtis..." She mutters into the microphone.

Laughs erupt from the crowd, and a few kids even point and jeer. I don't know what I'm missing, but I join in with the laughter to appear like I'm in the loop. Besides, not laughing would make it appear like I was on that little snot's side, and I am definitely not on her side.

"Oops!" Maxwell looks genuinely upset at all the laughter and jeering that's going on. "I didn't mean to get you publicly humiliated!" That just makes the laughter louder and Ashley's face turns a bright red. At least you're getting attention! I think to myself. I had to fight for everything! Even mockery and ridicule!

"Let's...just move in, shall we?" Maxwell tries to stem the laughter and quickly races for the next bowl. I almost miss my cue, as he's about to read the note when I spring up and shout.

"I volunteer!"

The final bits of laughter end as I stroll onto the stage, looking every bit impressive as I feel. Maxwell shakes my hand, just relieved that he has a tribute that's not being laughed off the stage. "What's your name, you extraordinary gentlemen, you?"

"I am Seth Rollins, the future of Panem!"

I'm smiling at the crowd, my hands held high, when I hear more laughter. People in the crowd begin to snicker, the loudest being the ones that I pushed pass. That really grinds my gears and it takes all of my best effort not to snap and yell at them. But I know that doing so would only make things worse. They'll see how great I am. They'll all see.

Maxwell ushers me back as he moves on to the next part of the Reaping. That's when I catch Ashley quietly smiling. "What's your problem, twirp?" I snap at her, confident that no one else is watching me.

"You're egotistical," She says calmly. "Despite all their other faults, I'm glad they all saw that."

I don't like this. I don't like being spoken to by a small, stupid girl like she's better than I am. "At least everyone didn't laugh at me!" I sneer at her, enjoying the pain that flickers across her face. "I'll be aligned with the Careers. Where will you be? Who'd want to ally with a freak like you?"

I turn away with a smirk. I think I saw tears in her eyes. Tears! Pah! She won't last long! Maxwell has pulled out an envelope. He reads it. "Johnathan Mikeal and Trick Treat!"

That psycho? Why'd the Capitol put her back in? The crowd's not happy, and they let it be known with their boos. Not only are they against Trick returning, but they don't like seeing Johnathan come back either. That lame wad only exists to serve others, and practically got himself killed in his first Games just to help someone out. Not to mention that in his interview he admitted he had no desire to win as long as a kind-hearted person was still alive with him. He's just going to get himself killed. Again.

"Good to have you two back!" Maxwell grins at the two tributes and while Johnathan shakes his hand, Trick hisses at him. "Um. Point taken." Maxwell blanches away from her, and goes back to the microphone. The four of us line up behind him and I catch Johnathan throwing nasty looks my way several times. What's his problem?

I don't get to ask, as several gun shots ring out across the square. The Peacekeepers have begun to fire into the box with the rejected tributes, killing them with a hail of bullets. The crowd begins to protest, but the words die on their lips when some of the Peacekeepers aim their guns toward them.

"Despicable!" Johnathan is shaking his massive head, his eyes both sad and angry. "Absolutely despicable!" Ashley murmurs an agreement, Trick watches the carnage with wide eyes, occasionally making small excited sounds, and I simply remain silent.

That could be me. If I lose this game, I could wind up dead like that. But, no. I won't allow That to happen. I won't let myself lose. I have too much riding on this, I have too much to look forward to. I need to win.

At whatever cost necessary.

District Six: Kennedy Marks

It feels like an an eternity is as I stand here, listening to Calpurnia Joffree drone on and on about the same thing as always. Eventually, a hand dips into the bowl. Some girl about the age of twelve is called to the stage, and even though I feel guilty about it, she I sigh a breath of relief. My eyes bounce over to Jamieson, and he gives me a reassuring look that calms me down. His face tells me everything will be alright, and believing him, I take in a deep breath. Calpurnia has made her way over to the boys bowl. Her fingers whip in, and rip out a name from the bowl. She calls those two words that I would never be able to remove from my mind.

"Jamieson Bay!"

As he makes his way to the stage, holding a strong, unafraid face, the tears began to stream down my face. As Calpurnia raised their hands together, I looked into Jamieson's deep green eyes, and the tears began to flood down both of our faces.

The memory drifts away, fading. The people beside me continue to move in an organized line towards the small table set up in front of the train station. The Justice Building looms overhead, and I remember once more.

As soon as the Peacekeepers allow visitors in, I made sure I was second, only after Jamieson's mother, father, and little sister. I burst through the doors, and Jamieson pulls me into his arms, and for the first few minutes, we just cried in each other's arms, as if nothing else mattered. I finally find the words to break the silence.

"You can win Jamieson." I started as I pulled away. "You are fairly strong. Just pay attention in training. You can come home."

"Kennedy, you know I want that as bad as you do. I'm sure I could pick up a few things, but how will I ever find the courage to kill another tribute." Jamieson speaks with a sad, defeated tone.

"Just try. I love you. I love you so much Jamieson." I have to choke out the last few words, as the Peacekepers come in, taking her away.

"Jamieson! Please! Just come back home to me!" I scream the words through the doors as they shut in my face.


The line shuffles forward as the Peacekeepers call for us. One by one we continue to head forward. Slowly always so slowly. Jamieson is still in my mind, still haunting me as I head for exact place I stood three years ago. That day was terrible, but it didn't get any better.

It's the night of the Chariot rides, I've locked myself in my room, and am watching as Jamieson and the little girl, Baileigh, ride down the track. I could almost swear I see Jamieson making eye contact with the camera, looking right at Kennedy. I paused it, and took in a moment to look into his eyes again, getting lost.

The Games prepared to announce the scores, I turn on the TV, remote in hand, waiting to see Jamieson's score pop onto the screen. The announcer calls out Baileigh's first, a 5, and then stopped for a moment.

"Oh, looky here folks. We have an interesting one here. It looks as if Jamieson has received a..." The announcer took a pause, and Jamieson's picture popped up, getting ready to display the score.

"He has been scored a 9! We may just have a fighter here folks." Kennedy once again paused the screen, crying. But for once, it was out of joy. Jamieson might just be able to come home.

Why? Why do I have to keep thinking back on those moments? Moments that had filled me with so much hope, hope that would ultimately be dashed live waves upon the rocks. "Next!" The line keeps moving forward. Only a few people are still in front of me. Soon it'll be my turn...

It's the day of the interviews. After seemingly endless hours, the TV flickered the Capitol seal, and the host was shown, sitting in his chair, with an empty one next to him. The other interviews seemed to go by so fast, and finally it was Jamieson's turn. Him and the host banter back and forth, and then finally, the host asks a serious question.

"What would it mean to win Jamieson?" The host has a deep, serious tone. Jamieson looks directly at the audience as he speaks. "It would mean love. And before you ask what I mean, let me tell you. You see, everyone wants to survive the Games. Yes survive. Lets be real. No one wins. And to me, surviving would mean I would get to go home. I would get to see Kennedy, my girlfriend again. I would get to spend the rest of my life with her in a mansion. I would get to hold her in my arms forever. I would get to hold her close forever, never letting her slip away. I don't care for the money, nor the fans, or anything else. She is all I want."

The entire audience was in tears, as am I as I listen to him. I watched as he only let a single tear slip, and then the host thanked him, and that was it.


I step up to the table with a shuddering breath. I'm now in the same exact position I was the year Jamieson was Reaped. And now it will me my turn. My turn the go in the Games and die a horrible death. I can just feel it, feel my fate as the Peacekeeper pricks my finger and sends my on my way. I'll die as he did.

I see Jamieson as he was rising from the ground into the arena. The tributes were in a snow covered forest. Time seemed to itch by, slowly. Jamieson was gone as soon as the gong sounded. I don't see him for days, the cameras seem to be allergic to him. Eventually, it reaches the final eight.

I'm interviewed, and spend the day recalling how we met, talking about Jamieson and how kind, loving, charming, funny, and just perfect he was. After the interviewer thanks me, and I had returned to my bedroom, the water works start again.

Three days later, as the Games reach the final 4, Jamieson was finally on the screen. He was shown making a fire, and the scene was bouncing back and fourth between him and the three Careers hunting him. I know what was coming, but refuse to accept it. In less than an hour, they had found Jamieson, and I watch as Jamieson ran. They followed. Jamieson tripped. Tears rolled as I closed my eyes, refusing to watch. I hear the cannon sound and let out a screaming sob. I blink my eyes open for a moment, to see Jamieson laying there. His green eyes met mine one last time before glazing over. Jamieson was gone.

I shut the TV off, before reducing to a crying mess.

When Calpurnia Joffree takes the stage, I note that my eyes are swimming with tears. Jamieson is gone. Gone for good. It happened years ago, but it feels like it just happened now. My eyes bounce around the crowd, searching for his familiar reassuring face. But I don't find it, became he's gone.

My eyes finally settle on the large box set up in the middle of the station. It only just hits me that Jamieson could have been in there, could have had a chance to be revived, if only the Capitol had included his Games. Why didn't they? They chose the last two year's Games. Why couldn't they have picked the 397th too? Were they not exciting enough? Did it not have enough bloodshed? Why?

I find myself hating the kids in the box, and even though I know it isn't their fault, I still hate them. Hate them for taking the spot that Jamieson could have had.

"Are you all ready to find out who are new female is for this year?" Calpurnia is asking the crowd, dressed in a horrendous snake dress. A few half-hearted cheers greet her words, but I only stare at her with sorrow. The District 6 Victors are standing on the stage behind her, two less than last year. Marceline Strauss and Buck Rockwell both succumbed to a virus while they were in the Capitol mentoring. I'm not sad Rockwell is gone. He won the Games the year after Jamieson died, and I could never stop wondering how different things would have been if him and Jamieson had swapped Games.

"Well, let's find out!" Calpurnia's fingers whip into the bowl just like when she drew Jamieson's name. She holds the slip up before reading it, but I already know what it says. I just know. "And our female tribute is...Kennedy Marks!"

I feel empty as I make way through the crowd. A few people recognize me as Jamieson's girlfriend and begin to whisper amongst themselves. I ignore them as I ascend the stairs, tears in my eyes.

"What a wonderful young woman!" Calpurnia says when I reach her. I pray that she doesn't mention Jamieson. I don't think I could hold myself together if she did. "I just know you'll do well!"

She brushes me aside as she goes for the next bowl. Just like that. I'm going into a competition where I'm going to die for entertainment, and all I get is a casual "I just know you'll do well!"? I'd be downright furious if I wasn't choking on my tears.

"Stario Lucaren!"

Calpurnia had wasted no time on drawing the next name. I'm just glad it's not someone I know. Instead, it's a small thirteen year-old boy. He seems to be in shock and keeps tripping over his own sneakers as he climbs the stage. I just close my eyes as I realize the parallels between him and Baileigh, Jamieson's District partner.

The crowd has adopted an uncomfortable silence, but Calpurnia doesn't seem to expect anything from them as she asks for no cheers or applause. She just swiftly moves to the voted on tributes. "Blade Spectrus and Amore Madness!"

Another member of the legendary Spectrus family. His arrival breaks some of the crowd out of their stupor as they applaud him. The girl just seems happy to be alive, touching her body and giggling. "There was a huge gash here!" She's saying as Calpurnia greets her. "And blood was everywhere! It must have looked sooo red!"

Blade stands stoically beside the rest of us as Calpurnia says our names one last time. We're meant to look dashing, but none of us (except, maybe, Blade) remotely resemble that. Stario and I are a crying mess, and Amore is a giggling fool. I know there's two more District 6 tributes, the Duel winners, but I don't know who they are, for I didn't watch their battle.

"Maybe we have a Victor among this bunch!" Calpurnia screeches.

"Oh, Jamieson...I'll win...for you."

District Seven: Axel Alex

I hear the murmurs of people as they pass by, hear the sound of their feet landing on the green grass, and the crunch of branches that are stepped on by the clumsy. It must be that day again.

Reaping day.

I sigh and lean back against the tree I'm hidden behind. The assortment of people continue along the path through the woods, oblivious to the fact that this place is my home. People. I hate people trampling all over my home, making a ruckus and ruining my peace and quiet. Why do they always have to have the Reaping in the woods? Why ruin it with their stupid Games? Can't they just be happy with their stinking city?

No, of course not. The Capitol just loves to ruin everything.

I take one last look at the inner part of the forest, note the lack of animals due to the trampling people, and then pull a hood over my head and step out onto the path.

No one looks at me twice as I join the mass of people heading down the small forest path. I'm just another person in the crowd, another mindless drone. I just play along and follow the people deeper into the forest, getting increasingly uncomfortable.

The voices...they're...strange. I've spent the last six years living in the forest, never having a conversation with another human. Because my job is a lonesome thing, the only time I've ever really heard another person is during Reaping Day, where I come out to rejoin the masses. It's mostly because I don't want to be Reaped and not be present. That would start a District wide man hunt for me, and while that wouldn't be new, it's not something I particularly want happening. But that's not the only reason I show up. It's also makes me feel normal. I almost feel like nothing has changed, that everyone I've ever cared about didn't die and leave me by myself.

That was back in District 5, when I still lived with my parents and my uncle Shawn, who was only eight years older than me. Thinking of my parents always makes me feel...conflicted. They were good people and great parents, the best I could hope for. But they were also involved in the drug trade. They were smugglers who'd take the paraphernalia into the other District's and disperse it. On that account, I guess you could say they weren't very good people. But they loved me, and I loved them. That had to count for something.

I realize I'm approaching the stage when Peacekeepers begin appearing on the side of the path, ushering people into their proper lines. I go out of my way to avoid these them. I have too many bad memories to even look at them for longer than a few seconds.

Like when my parents drug operation was found out, and Peacekeepers came to our house. My dad ordered uncle Shawn to take me out of their and he did. While we ran I looked back and saw the Peacekeepers kill my parents by shooting them in the head. The really terrible thing was, that most people would probably think that they deserved it. Sometimes I don't know if I can really argue against it.

Shawn certainly did though, for he felt what he and my parents were doing was fine. He even helped them in it, was a huge part of the operation, actually. He took me to District 7, where we moved in with a loving couple after he told them some lie about how our parents died in a car accident. Thinking back, that was a terrible lie. Barely anyone in District 7 has a car and you'd think these people would notice if there had been an accident recently. Nevertheless, they bought Shawn's story and we lived with them for a full year. Their names were Kristen and Kyle.

They're dead now.

"Get in line!"

The butt of a Peacekeepers gun rams me in the shoulder and I bite back a very hostile retort, as I do as he says. I wait as a few other kids get their blood taken and then another Peacekeeper forcefully grabs my arm and pricks my finger. "Get moving!" He says as he shoves me into the clearing.

Huge oak trees span the edges, casting the stage in deep shadows. The fresh smell of pine is contaminated by the reek of the crowd, and I once again wish they held the Reaping elsewhere. The crowd continues to file in, and I further reminiscence about Shawn. After a year of living with Kristen and Kyle, they eventually learned who we were and how the Capitol was searching for us. They had even issued a decree that anyone who was assisting or harboring us would pay with their lives. It was no surprise when they told us to get our of there right away. But what was a surprise, is how Shawn reacted.

He went into a rage and slew them both, right there and then. I walked onto the scene without knowing what was going on, and...I saw two kind, good-hearted people dead at the feet of my drug smuggling uncle. I left. I ran from the house, crying and weeping. Apparently, Kristen and Kyle had already called the Peacekeepers, for they arrived just after I left. I watched as they apprehended Shawn...and as they executed him.

"He deserved it!" Many people would say, but he was my only remaining family member. And even if he was a drug dealing psychopath, I still cared for him. That just made everything worse. I didn't learn until years after living in the woods that it's better not to get attached to people. That way you don't have to feel sad when they inevitably die.

"Hello District 7!" Wan Dirx, our resident escort, strolls onto the stage dressed in his usual mummy outfit. He did make a minor modification this year though; the bandages are black and orange. "Are you ready for the Reaping?" People react. I don't know in which way. I'm too preoccupied watching the large glass box that's in the clearing. Funny how I didn't notice it before. I watch the tributes locked inside with mild curiosity. I recognize a few, like the stuck-up girl from two years ago and the pair from last year. Arbor something and Henry Polyester. I took note of him because he reminded me of how young and innocent I as when Shawn and I fled for our lives. I wanted him to win.

Instead he was burnt to a crisp.

"I don't think we should hold this thing up any longer!" Wan drones as he digs a hand into the first bowl. It's the same thing every year. Someone gets Reaped. They walk on stage. People react. Boring. Sometimes you get a runner though, like two years ago when Nick Maclachlan attempted to flee for his life. I see him now, as he desperately pulls against his chains in an effort to escape. He's not going anywhere.

"Amber Texno!"

A very off-District name is the one that Wan draws. The crowd murmurs to itself as it waits for the owner to appear, but they never do. A girl with hair multiple shades of purple steps forward, shouting about how she volunteers. Wan is happy, clapping and cheering the girl on as she goes for the stage.

I look to the large ultra-definition screen to see a better look of this volunteer. She's short, with pale skin, and a nose that I find to be a bit too large. I wouldn't have pegged her for someone that'd volunteer for a friend, as she claims.

"You didn't want Amber to get the glory, did you?" Wan asks the girl, who seems rather taken back. When she doesn't answer, he asks for her name.

"Amethystia Thall," She replies.

"Man, that's a mouthful! You don't mind if I call you Methy, do you?" A brief pause. "No! Of course you don't! Now let's see Methy's District partner!" Ignoring the girl's protests, he shambles over to the next bowl and plucks out a name.

"Axel Alex!"

I'm taken completely by surprise. Never had I expected my name to be drawn from the bowl, never did I stop to think this was a possibility. I realise I'm biting a hole into my cheek as I stand in the crowd, hoping that some guy named Alex Axel steps up and thinks that it was his name that was called.

No such luck.

When Wan repeats the name and Peacekeepers begin to drift through the crowd, I know that I have no choice. I head for the stage, ignoring the murmurs from the crowd. Wan gives me a slap on the shoulder when I reach him. "What took you so long?" He asks good-naturedly.

I want to give a witty reply, but my mind comes up blank. So, I just stand there with my mouth hanging open, looking absolutely stupid. Wan just waves me off with his hand and I step back beside Amethystia, regretting everything. My mind is still numb, even more than my body. I can't process Thu New revelation, which isn't really all that bad compared to some things I've been through. I've already seen death, the only difference is that this time it will be my own.

"Shade Spectrus and Arbor Alpine!"

More names.

The girl from last year and some other guy are released from the box and allowed on stage. I think that the boy is from a legendary family or something. I don't really know, I don't pay attention to things like that. But I do pay attention when one of District 7's Victors, an old man who has to walk with the support of a cane and has a pretty epic moustache, hobbles forward and hugs the boy. "It's so good to see you back, sonny!" The man wheezes happily.

Shade mumbles an agreement and then pulls back to look at the man. "Man! You've gotten so old, Mist!"

"Just you wait! One day you'll wind up like this, you whippersnapper!"

"Why are you talking like that?" Shade sounds horrified.

"Oh. No reason!" The geezer drops his old man shtick and laughs. "I just think it's funny. It'd be boring if I was just an old man who spoke normal, wouldn't it?"

A pause. Then Shade laughs and the two begin talking about "old times", laughing and crying. I try to compare myself to the others. I'm bigger than the girls by far, stronger and probably smarter as well. I don't know about Shade, but I think that I'd be able to take him in a one-on-one fight.

I'm worried about my possibilities of survival, but I do think that I have a chance. I've survived difficult things before. Why not the Hunger Games?

District Eight: Banette Tsukomogami

"This is pretty slagging annoying, don't you think?"

A boy speaks as we sit inside our box, our prison. The crowd around us doesn't look at us, they're too afraid. Or maybe they feel guilty. After all, it's their own inaction that allows these Games to continue. Six more kids from this District will die, and it'll be all their fault.

No one answers the kid, and he scoffs in disgust. "You're all pathetic, you know that?" He sneers his words, his dappled crimson hair a mess on his head. "Pathetic weaklings. None of you deserve life. You all got what was coming to you."

"If I remember correctly, you were killed by a so-called "pathetic weakling". Weren't you, Rufus?" A snobby looking girl with reddish-brown hair snaps at him. Immediately his sapphire eyes darken. He doesn't like to be laughed at.

"No. No, I was not killed by a weakling. I was killed by that moron Austin when I had my back turned. But, I did kill you, dear Cashmere. Remember when my knife dug into the soft flesh of your throat? I do. Ahh...Good times."

That quiets her, much to Rufus' chagrin. It seems that he was hoping to spark a retort, but when none comes, he sighs and looks out the box. The stupid propaganda video is still playing on the screens outside, and the crowds waiting diligently for it to end. I have no desire to watch that garbage and instead focus on the others trapped in here with me.

My district partner, Aisha Hakeem, is sitting across from me. Ever since she got in here, she's been fawning over Colin Bisset, a kid from the Games after mine. Apparently they were boyfriend and girlfriend or something. Right now they're just leaning as far forward as their chains will allow, resting their heads against one another and whispering lovey-dovey crap. It annoys me, but when I look away I just get annoyed further.

Cashmere is gazing at Dome Citadel with wide doe eyes, like she loves him or somethin'. He's just trying his best to ignore her, gazing up at the sky and repeating the name "Willow" over and over.

Is there anyone here who isn't lovesick?

Other than Rufus, of course. But, I hate that bastard anyways. He reminds me of those kids who'd continually insult and harass me back at the orphanage. So I don't like him. The girl across from him, is...well, I don't know her name. She's barely a character, more of a cardboard standee. And then there's Kim. I suppose Kim is okay, I mean, she's not bothering me in anyway. She's just sitting there, humming to herself. Yeah. I think I like her the most out of everyone here.

I sigh and drop my head against the glass wall of the box. I wish Shuppet was here. He...he was the only one I'd ever really gotten long with. Though, I suppose Johnathan was a good guy as well. A bit thick-headed about his justice, but a good guy all the same. They better get voted in. Especially Shuppet.

I recall how I was lying on the cold cement, slowly transforming into a zombie due to the amount of bites I suffered. "Kill me. I...don't want to turn of those things...Please. Let me die as me!" I begged Shuppet to end my life. I saw the tears in his eyes as he knew what he must do.

"Half as bright," He said slowly.

I replied with a smile. "Twice as long."

A tear slides down my cheek, and I brush it away with a finger. That was the end of me. I died. I wasn't supposed to come back, I wasn't supposed to be here. It wasn't their place to bring me back.

"District Eight, are you ready?" Escrow Bestow, the deranged red velvet skinned man of an escort overloads his mic with a scream. "We are about to find out who the tributes of the 400th Annual Hunger Games are!"

"Oh joy. What a wonderful surprise!" Rufus drawls sarcastically as the man hops about giddily to the first bowl. He puts a hand in and the crowd all begin to collectively hope that it isn't their name that's drawn.

"Jet Flack!"

"Get ready to die, Jet!" Rufus shouts from the box, and then begins laugh maniacally. Jet, a tall, skinny, fifteen year-old with black hair, doesn't even look our way as he joins Escrow on the stage. I don't blame him.

"What a wonderful boy!" Escrow smiles and pats the lanky teen on his head. "I'm sure you won't die in the bloodbath. In fact, I think you may even last a few days!" Beside me, Dome grunts in annoyance as Rufus howls with laughter. "But now let's see our female tribute!"

A hand goes into the bowl. Escrow pulls out a slip and stares at it in shock. Why? What is on that piece of paper that surprise him so? I find out when he reads. "Camiren Paisley-Idylwyld!"

The crowd erupts into whispers, a few people gasp in shock. The name "Idlywyld" is repeated by just about everyone. I don't bloody understand. "What the hell is so special about this girl?" I wonder aloud as a girl with red-streaked white hair slowly begins to walk towards the stage. Surprisingly, it's Kim who answers.

"She's an Idlywyld. They're one of the most powerful families in all of Panem, alongside the Valii, Trevelyan's, and the Stryker's...Some say the Idlywyld's are the ones who really call all the shots..."

"Oh? Is that so? Maybe I should have a talk with this Camiren then. And by "talk" I mean "stab her in the face". Wonder how this powerful family would feel if their precious daughter was killed by a street urchin like me..."

"You'd probably be signing your own death warrant if you did that," Aisha speaks up from where she and Colin are trying to hold hands.

I scoff. "What? You think that stupid family would rig the Games for her?"

"If they're as powerful as Kim says...then yes."

Hatred has begun to build up in me, hatred for these people who think they can just do whatever they want. A few others seem to have the same anger as I do, and Colin points something out. "That girl won't survive long. Just about every tribute from the outlying District's will be gunning for her. Possibly the Careers as well. She's as good as dead the moment that gong rings."

We all fall silent as the girl finally reaches the stage. She stares deep into the crowd, at something that I can't see, and then speaks into Escrow's mic. "I'm Camiren Paisley. Idylwyld by blood, but a rebel by heart. And mom and dad, if you're still alive and listening to this, get the homecoming ready."

"She's trying to persuade them to get it rigged for her!" Rufus unleashes a stream of colorful language as he stares at the girl with a murderous glint in her sapphire eyes.

"I don't think that's what she meant..." Kim murmurs quietly, but I'm the only one who hears her over the buzzing of the now very excited crowd. They usually detest the Games, but this year they have a win-win situation. If Camiren wins, they get all the money and food that comes with having a Victor. If she loses, someone they hate dies.

Escrow allows the crowd a moment to control themselves before moving on to the envelope in his hands. Suddenly, we're all paying rapt attention to the stage. "And the two District 8 tributes, voted on by the Capitol to compete in the Games once more, are...Aisha Hakeem and Banette Tsukomogami!"


Aisha let's out an ear-piercing scream as our chains come undone. I quickly make for the exit as she throws herself onto Colin, attempting to free him from his prison. "No! No! We can't be separated! Not after we were just reunited!" She kicks and screams as the Peacekeepers rush in to rip her off of Colin. I see him whisper something into her ear and the she lets go, allowing herself to be dragged to the stage.

The crowd is visibly uncomfortable as the two of us are presented to them. Aisha has quieted down, but still has tears in her eyes and let's out the occasional sob. I pull my bandanna further over my face...just in case something pokes me in the eye.

Then something happens.

Something brutal and in-your-face.

The Head Peacekeeper, a man standing on the stage with us, nods at the others surrounding the glass box. And then they open fire.

Aisha goes hysterical, kicking and screaming like a banshee as she attempts to get to her love. I watch emotionless as Kim goes down in a hail of bullets, as Rufus has his head blown off. Dome goes down quickly, rounds sprayed through his chest. Colin looks defiant right to the very end. But the Peacekeepers get him too, and, when he's just a bullet riddled corpse on the ground, he doesn't look so very defiant.

"You killed your own son! You killed your own son!" Aisha is howling at the Head Peacekeeper, spittle flying off her like a mad woman. "You're a monster! A monster who deserves to die--"

A gag is forced into her mouth and she goes silent but continues to struggle mightily. Pointless. It's all pointless. Their desire to show power, Aisha's attempt to thwart them. It doesn't matter, in the end. But...

I'm forced to think about a friend of mine, a guy trapped in his own box. Did he make it in? Or...or was he shot to death, like Colin and the others?

If it was the latter...someone is going to have hell to pay.

District Nine: Amira Blodwen

"Come on children. Line up, line up!"

A bored woman with blonde, pixie cut hair waves us on with her left hand as she stares at the document she holds with her right. She doesn't bother to even watch as us orphans, about two dozen in all, form a very disorganized line before her. I'm at the end of the line, lost in my own thoughts, and spinning a small silver locket around my neck. It's shaped like a heart, and has nothing inside save for a small lock of my own hair. It's my only token of my parents, my parents who I've never met.

"Are you all lined up?" Riri, the disinterested blonde woman who oversees the orphanage, looks up from her document to gaze at our line. It only lasts a few seconds, and there's no way she saw us all, but she nods approvingly and heads out the door anyways. "Follow me. We have places to be, you know."

We all follow her out the door and into the sunny day. Fields of grain speck the horizon, a stark reminder that there's nothing interesting in all of District 9. Outside the city, there's golden fields of grain and empty plains. Inside, there's bland, gray buildings that all look like boxes and extruded noxious smoke into the air. The orphanage is located outside of the city, in a old farmhouse that sits in the middle of an empty field, so I see the grain and grass more than the gray and gas.

"Keep up!" Riri calls to us without ever looking back to see if we've actually fallen behind. She doesn't really pay any attention to us orphans, not that anyone does. Even in school we are always getting blanked out by others, though not even intentionally. I've been on the receiving end of this more than the others, because, while I'm not the oldest orphan here, I have been here longer than everyone else. I've been here my whole life, with no clue as to who or what my parents were beyond the locket around my neck. I've been isolated for a long time. Not that I mind. I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, it's...peaceful there.

Riri leads us onto the main path now and we begin to pass by other people and their neighbouring houses and barns. Few stop to look at us. We're just orphans, nothing more. Soon, families begin to populate the roads. Their faces are taut with fear and worry. They could lose a family member to the Reaping, they could lose a friend. It makes me remember the times I wished someone would adopt me. I longed for a family, a real family that would take care of me. But I was never adopted. Hardly anyone is. District 9 is dirt poor, the poorest District by far. Who could possibly afford to feed another mouth? I doubt anyone other than Mayor Price could, and, well, he has his own family issues.

I've given up hope of being adopted now. Instead, I dream about finding my parents, discovering who they are or what they did. Why was I given to the orphanage fourteen years ago? What happened to my parents? Sometimes I imagine that I'm really a Princess of a mysterious kingdom and that some King and Queen is out there desperately searching for their long-lost daughter.

It's a stupid thought, one that I'm ashamed of having sometimes. But if you can't dream, then what are you? A person is defined by their dreams, moulded by them. Dreams are what make people special. Without're nothing.

Our procession, led by Riri, reaches the outskirts of the inner-city and I'm reminded of why I'm grateful for the orphanage. The building's are broken down and desecrated, debris from them just lying in the street. People in rags scavenge through the gutters, desperately searching for food. Some don't even do that. They just lie in a ball, not even bothering to go to the Reaping. They'll be killed for it, but what does it matter? They don't have anything left. Not even their dreams.

I'm terrified that, one day, the entire District will look like this.

"Don't make eye contact with any deranged hobo, children!" Riri says as we pass through a particularly rough street. One man, lying pitifully on the street with nothing other than ripped jeans, moans and reaches for us. I feel bad at the sight of his exposed ribs. In the orphanage, we always have enough to eat. The people here don't.

When we exit on the other side, I think we've been through the worse but then I see the giant, wooden effigy that some ambitious citizens have set up. It covers an entire intersection of the street, and it's head almost reaches the roof of a nearby building. "What is that?" A kid in front of me asks.

"Die Hazel! Die!"

A group of citizens throw flaming balls of trash at the effigy, and within an instant, it catches fire. They whoop and cheer as it begins to burn, and that's when I notice the other effigy's hanging from the windows, ropes tied around their necks.

Hazel Dyer. These effigies are meant to be her, our only Victor in the past seventy-three years. The people's faces are contorted with unreasonable hatred and rage as they watch her burn. I've never understood why everyone has blamed Hazel for our lack of Victors. They say it's because she cursed us, but I believe it's just because we're not strong enough. We don't have tributes that can make it far into the Games. That, and severely bad luck. Sometimes we have fighters who just die in unforeseeable ways. Like how Jac and Azalea died last year.

Riri has us skirt around the more chaotic sections of the crowd, and I note that while there's plenty of Peacekeepers around, none of them seem to be trying to stop this riotous behaviour. I guess it's just something that you have to allow. I don't agree with what they're doing, but if it makes them feel better...

The crowd is completely silent as Mayor Price walks out onto the stage, his eyes immediately darting to the large box laid out in the clearing. His son, Jac, is in there. Along with his other relative, Jake Price. I don't know how they're related, mostly because I'm not tuned to those matters, but I know he was the catalyst for our "curse". He was the one Hazel killed and betrayed on her way to become Victor. That's also the reason everyone believed Jac would end the curse. He was celebrated as a hero when he volunteered. But when he lost...

"Hello District Nine. Welcome to this year's annual Reaping. Where we shall select two tributes to die the Hunger Games, along with reviving two more for the same fate. Glory to the Capitol." Mayor Price speaks sadly, never taking his eyes off of his son locked in the box. He pauses for the crowd to repeat "Glory to the Capitol", but they don't.

I'm afraid. No one ever stays quiet, the Peacekeepers don't allow it. But the crowd keeps their stony silence, and not even those who are beyond caring bring themselves to say it. A thick tension has appeared as the Peacekeepers look between each other nervously. What will they do? Will they try to force the crowd?


Their leader gives an impeccable shake of his head and then the moment is gone. Mayor Price, with a somewhat relieved look on his face, introduces Pomona Radsi, our escort. I always thought of her as stupid, but even she can see the cold anger radiating from the crowd. "Uh. H-hello everyone!" Her words are slow and careful, aware that one wrong word could have unintended consequences. "L-let's just see who will be Reaped, s-shall we?"

As she walks for the bowl, I realize something isn't right. There's no way she's this frightened just because of the crowd. But then why is she petrified? What could be so upsetting to her?

"Y-your male tribute is...Roger--"

"I volunteer!"

A lone voice rises above the crowd. Confusion crosses people's faces, but no words are said, no gasps of shock come. It's just a surprised silence. Why would anyone volunteer? Tributes in District 9 are synonymous with dead corpses. Why would anyone volunteer, unless they wanted to die?

The boy who shouted, a thin boy with auburn hair, comes out of the crowd and joins the stage. His hazel eyes are filled with sadness but also defiance. It seems strange, because the way he moves makes me think that he really had no other choice but to volunteer. But that's absurd. Who else would have made the choice? It was his alone. But I do wonder...

"Your name?" Pomona asks. She seems to have recovered slightly.

"Harvest Cropper," The boy tries to look brave, but I can tell he's nervous. It's almost as if he knows what will happen, but believes he could change his fate if he acted tough enough. Maybe he could. But then again, maybe not.

Pomona nods and takes out the next name. I nearly have a heart attack as she reads it. "Amira Blodwen!"


I feel cold as those around me turn to gawk. They're taking notice, something they never did before. I know what's going to happen. I know what my fate will be. No one from District 9 wins the Games, and I will be no exception. I am going to die in the arena. Die along with Harvest, Plasma, and Vera. Die with whatever two tributes got voted in. We're all going to die.

I find myself wishing for my parents as I trudge through the crowd, conscious of all the eyes on me. It isn't fair. I can't die without ever learning who they were and what happened to them. I just can't. So...I'm going to have to win. I need to win. I can't allow myself to die here.

"Um. Nice to meet you," Pomona says lightly as I stop before her. The crowd is silent, and from my new vantage point atop the stage, I can see the fury in their eyes. The cold, menacing fury that threatens everyone and everything that has ever kept them down.

Suddenly I'm scared. Scared of what a crowd filled with so much hatred could do. This must be what makes Pomona so nervous. She can see their anger and desire for vengeance. She knows what could happen with just one wrong word.

"Let's...find our All-Stars," She speaks softly as she slips open a manila envelope. A small sheet of paper slides out and I know what it says before she reads it. "Jac Price and Azalea Finch!"

The crowd doesn't react as the two tributes from last year are unleashed from the cage and veered toward the stage by a pair of Peacekeepers. The two of them at holding hands and Azalea has tears in her eyes as she stares out at the crowd, looking for someone but I don't know who. "Well, welcome back into the Hunger--"

Pomona doesn't get to finish her question. The Peacekeepers who remained beside the box have begun to fire upon those inside, drowning her words with gunfire and the screams of the tributes. "Jake! Jake!" Jac tries to get to his relative, but a Peacekeeper restrains him before he gets anywhere. Despite his struggle, they hold him still until the gunfire ceases and the smoke clears.

Nothing moves in the box.

Silence from the crowd. Then...


A lone scream blares from the crowd, and a bullet suddenly comes flying. It takes a Peacekeeper in the throat, and he falls to his knees, gurgling on his own bubbling blood. Oh's happened. The crowd has snapped!

All throughout the crowd, people begin to take up arms. Some have guns, firing upon the Peacekeepers and screaming hysterically as they do. But most have makeshift weapons, pipes, pitchforks, knives, even broken bottles. They rush the Peacekeepers surrounding the square, and despite the first wave being gunned down by the harried Peacekeepers, they keep coming. Slashing and stabbing with their weapons, they overrun the guards and some citizens pick up their fallen guns.

This was planned. I realize this as I watch from the stage, watch as the repressed citizens enact their own vengeance. They smuggled guns into the crowd, and when the most cruel and despicable moment happened...they acted. But not everyone was in on this. Some are confused, crying out in worry and trying to escape the square without being gunned down by either side. Few do.

"Get then out of here!" A Peacekeeper on the ground screams at the three on stage. He fires wildly into the crowd, taking out dozens of citizens as they rush about, screaming. "Get to the train station! Go!"

"You heard him!" One of the Peacekeepers shoves me into Jac and Azalea, who are already being herded away by the other two. "Get going! Do you want to be--"

A thunderous gunshot roars over the others and the Peacekeeper goes sprawling down, spitting blood.

"Sniper!" A second Peacekeeper viciously grabs the back of my collar and yanks me off the stage, pushing me into the back of an open van. "They have snipers! On the roofs!"

Harvest is sboved in after me and then the doors to the van are slammed shut, leaving us in the dark. There are no windows. The muffled sounds of screams and bullets can still be heard as the van begins to move. I feel it swerve around a corner, throwing me and the others into the side of the van.

The van is speeding off, faster than I'd have thought. It's absolutely frightening, being tossed around in the dark of a van while the sounds of gunfire echoes around you. There's a lurching bump as the van rides over something, metal by the sound of it, but we don't slow down. If anything, we speed up.

"Where. Are. We. Going?" Harvest tries to speak, but he only gets the words out one at a time as he's thrown about the van.

The train station. That's what they said. But I don't say anything, terrified that I'd accidentally bite my own tongue off if I tried to speak. Eventually, the bumps cease. The gunfire fades. Then the van comes to a sudden and abrupt halt.

The four of us are thrown face first into the front of the van, and then the doors open. I squint through the light at two Peacekeepers. They wave guns about as they shout at us to get out.

"We're going!" Jac shouts back as one of them reaches in and drags Harvest out by his feet. I'm the next out, noticing that we're parked right in front of the train station as I clamber out. "Get on the train! Now!"

An elongated, ebony train rests on the tracks. Sleek and elegant. It'll get us into the Capitol in just a few hours, but...

I turn around and look down the empty street behind us. The sound of fighting and gunfire still echoes. If I get on that train, then I'm going in the Hunger Games. There will be no escape. But, if I could just get away now, before we board....

"Don't even think about it!" A Peacekeeper grabs me from behind and begins to drag me towards the open train doors. Harvest is already boarding, and so is Azalea. The other Peacekeeper runs for the engine, shouting for them to get the train moving.

I'm shoved into a sickenly bright compartment, decorated with so many colors that I don't even recognize half of them. "Where's Jac?" I ask when I realize that the boy isn't aboard with us. Azalea looks up in horror as the Peacekeeper points out the window.

"Get the hell in here, boy!" He screams at Jac, whose stopped right in the doorway.

He doesn't answer. His eyes are fixed on the horizon, wide with shock. His body is rigid and frozen in place, his hands clenched together. What...does he see?

"Get in here, Jac!" Azalea screams just as a warning whistle blows and a voice over the intercom instructs us to move away from the doors before they shut. "Jac!"

He still doesn't move. He's fixated on whatever it is he sees, frozen and stone still. He's not going to move. The doors begin to shut.

Just when I think he's about to be left behind, Azalea shoots forward, grips his shirt with her hand and heaves him into compartment just as the doors slam shut and the train begins to move.

District Ten: Madeva McGranger

"Madeva McGranger!"

At the sound of my name, I fall into a daze, where everything is unreal and dream-like. It's only when I hear somebody else calling for me that I snap back into reality.


He sprints through the crowd towards me, and wraps me in his arms, before I even prepare to take to the stage.

"I volunteer!"

Impossible. Unbelievable. Somebody has volunteered in my place. I recognize the girl As Valerie Heaven, somebody who would always help me out from time to time. I thank her when she passes me, and she smiles, giving me a nod. She bravely takes to the stage, states her name, and nothing more. Then comes the boys.

"Billy McGranger!"

I can hear somebody else calling out his first name. Me. I grab him and he sobs in my arms, until somebody else volunteers. This person, is Cesare Panchetta, a bully at school. He has tormented Billy in the past, and I hold a personal vendetta against him. I was hoping that he had felt bad about the past, but on stage, he claimed that he would be the victor, with a proud voice.

"Selfish jerk!" I think to myself. "He just wants the glory!"

Then comes the games. Valerie placed 25th, being the last bloodbath death. Cesare fared much better though, and reached the final, placing 3rd. As much as I hated the idiot, I still cared about his death, because he had saved Billy from the games. I cared for both of the tributes then - they had saved us McGrangers.

If only their sacrifice had meant something.

I stand here in the crowd, remembering those two kids not for their valiant sacrifices and how they saved not only my own life, but that of my brother. No. Instead, I remember them because everything they did was pointless. Their deaths meant nothing.

They died in the Games three years ago. Billy died in his one year ago. I will enter the Games this year.

When Billy was reaped, I hoped desperately for a volunteer to take his place. None came, and time wasn't halting. In a matter of moments, I returned to normal, and listened to Billy making his terrible jokes, to which I facepalmed. He was broken, I could tell, but he was hiding it. Soon, he would be gone. Soon, I would never be able to protect him. I heard the female tribute, but I had forgotten to volunteer.

In the games Billy received a training score of 5, and odds of 35-1 to win. Not very good

Sadly, he didn't win, instead placing sixteenth, after succumbing to wounds inflicted by the boy from District 13. I had no idea how to react, whether I should just stay quiet, or whether I should mourn him. Memories of us flashed in my mind, and reality possessed me.

Billy was gone... and he wouldn't be coming back...

I burst into tears, and went into mourning. I couldn't seem to stop, until my hand brushed against one of Billy's hats. The feeling made me warm - at least I still had part of him. I was at peace. But throughout last year, I felt a constant agonizing pain in my armpits. I thought not much of it, until I could bear it no longer. I waited anxiously as my doctor came with the diagnosis.

It was breast cancer.

Just like with Billy's death, I just sat there in silence, until reality dawned on me. I burst into waterfalls of tears, but they stopped when the doctors revealed that Panem had found a new cure. There was a setback though - the cure was far too expensive, even for my rich family to pay. I felt the ground beneath me swirl, and everything was blurry, until I blacked out.

When I woke, I discovered that I had fainted. For once the pressure on real life got to me. Billy was dead, I had cancer, and the cure was too expensive. I fell under depression, and dyed my hair. My once chestnut hair was now black, with red streaks. I begun self-harming, and my skin turned pale. All because of some stupid peace treaty, and an equally dumb killing game.

Then a light bulb flashed in my mind - I could enter the Hunger Games, and earn enough money to pay for the cure, and avenge Billy! But if I lost, then I will have failed him. But my suffering would end, and I would join him. There was no other choice.

And indeed, I am volunteering. I shall win, for Billy! If I succeed, then my life will be saved, and my sanity found. But if I die, I could join him. and I'm okay with that. At least I could watch over Billy again...

But Billy may not be dead.

The thought comes striking into my skull, reminding me of this year's twist, of the covered box that sits next to me in this crowd gathered before the stage. My heart begins pumping with excitement, I feel sweat upon my brow and chills racing up my spine.

How could I have forgotten? If even for a moment? "Hello, District 10!" Thaddeus Stubbins, dressed in his dark cloak and with his long beard swaying in the wind, steps up to the microphone. "As you know, we already have two tributes entered into the Games. Amaryllis Blackberry and Cassandra Lexys." I'm confused for a moment, until I realize he's using their full names. "But they are not out only tributes. We will also have two new tributes, and two tributes from past Games, voted in by the Capitol."

"What happens to those not voted in?" Someone in the crowd asks.

Thaddeus smiles sadly at the crowd. "They will be, ahem, deposed of."

My hopes drop. That's why I had forgotten. I didn't want to get my hopes up, to be excited for something that might not actually happen. And worse--have to see Billy get "desposed of". I'm not hopeful, I'm hopeless. Who would vote for Billy? He was, God bless him, an eccentric fool. He told the lamest jokes possible. He...he's not the prototypical Capitol favourite. His odds are slim at best, non-existent at worse.

"Let's meet our All-Stars now!" Thaddeus motions for the curtain to drop, and the glass box is revealed. I see Billy! I see Billy grinning like a fool as he gazes around at the crowd. People cheer, people cry. Some even laugh. I'm a mix of all three. I'm happy, but sad, and also terrified. I don't know what to feel. Everything is so hard to accept. Thaddeus continues. "But before revealing which two of those esteemed tributes will join us, let us discover our new tributes! First up, the girls!"

My stomach twists violently as my moment approaches. I'm going to volunteer for a Games with ninety-two tributes. Where almost a hundred kids will die. But I don't have a choice, I can't wait another year, I may be not alive by then. Besides, Billy could be in these Games. And I need to be there, for his sake.

"I volunteer!"

I shout out before Thaddeus picks a name. I could have waited for him to say a name, let a girl know that I saved her. But I remember Valerie, and how she saved me. For a few years, at least. I don't want to save someone only for it to become meaningless. I just want to save myself; and Billy.

Thaddeus nods sagely and calls for me to come up. I try not to look at Billy's face as I walk up, but I find it impossible. I turn and see the confusion on his face, the horror and shock replacing his usual joy and delight. I pray that he is voted in so I can explain. I don't want to lose him without ever getting to explain why I'm volunteering.

"Your name?" Thaddeus gently probes.

"Madeva McGranger," I try not to look nervous as I answer.

"Very well. Now for the boy's!"

I'm glad he doesn't give the crowd much opportunity to gossip and whisper about why a McGranger sibling is volunteering. Many of them remember us and what our story is. I wish they didn't.

"Derek Sol--

"I volunteer!"

There's another gasp of surprise from the crowd. Another volunteer?! They don't understand, they don't know why anyone would volunteer ever. But I do. I know that there are many, many different reasons for why someone would volunteer for the Games.

But even I am surprised, when the boy turns out to be a small twelve year-old with one hand!

His face pulls into a grimace as the crowd begins to whisper at the sight of the stump attached to his right arm. He has dusty, strawberry blonde hair and a freckled face, his skin is almost khaki. "Name's Marlon Lander. And I'm going to be the kindling."

Kindling? Kindling to what? Thaddeus just nods sagely, as if he understood. I stand in a perplexed silence as the boy, with a dangerous fire glinting in his eyes, sits down on one of the chairs at the back of the stage. I see it now. I see his desire to change the way the world works, to avenge the loss of someone dear to him. I see it, because I feel the same way. We both want things to change.

And we're willing to kill to make it happen.

"It is now time to see which two esteemed tributes were voted in by the Capitol!" Thaddeus steps up to the mic. My heart is pounding in my chest, my eyes are fixed on Billy, whose own eyes are fixed in a butterfly floating nearby. Please be Billy. Please be Billy. Thaddeus cracks the envelope open. "The tributes are...Fawn Talons and Billy McGranger!"


I shout aloud, gleeful that my sweet little brother gets another shot at life. I get to fight by his side! And I will not fail him!

Billy rushes up to the stage, a wide grin on his face. Fawn, the curly-haired girl who was Billy's original District partner, comes with him. I throw my arms around him as soon as he steps on the stage. "I'm so relieved!" I whisper fiercely into his ear, squeezing hard. I also become aware of Fawn, who is also in the act of hugging Billy. Right. She's in love with Billy...I don't know how I feel about that. Billy isn't...mature enough to have someone loving him, in a non-familial way. But I know she does care for him, evidenced by how broken up she was when he died. Then again, she was a bit too broken up. She almost went insane, actually. This could get uncomfortable.

Billy pulls away from the both of us and waltzes up to Thaddeus' microphone. I cringe as usual when he's around a public crowd. "Just call me Billy McPhoenix! Because I'm rising from the ashes!"

Beside me, I hear Fawn sigh with relief. He didn't say anything too embarrassing or awkward, and that's always a good thing. Thaddeus takes back over, to give the closing speech, and we all sit down next to Marlon, whose face is turned away from us.

"Um. Hi, I'm Fawn. You're Billy's sister, right?" The girl seems awkward around me, and I understand why. She's in love with my younger brother, whose on all accounts a goof and, it has to be said, not the brightest bulb in the pack. Not to mention I'm almost a full foot taller than her and look like a gothic queen.

"Yeah. I'm Madeva." We shake hands, and I begin to feel slightly better. She seems nice. I can get along with her, even if I don't think Billy is ready for a girlfriend.

"And I'm Billy!" Billy interjects himself into the conversation with a bright grin, I can't resist laughing along with Fawn.

"We both know who you are, Billy!" Fawn giggles and I marvel at how different she is from the last time I saw her on Tv. She was a sad, angry person back then. Now she's happy and full of life. Billy just has that effect on people.

"Are you done with that lovefest?" Marlon sneers at us from his chair. His face is drab, and his lips are thin and hawkish. I quickly forget my initial impression of him and desire to punch him in the face.

"Are we bothering you?" Billy asks innocently.

"No, I love watching three morons pretend like everything is happy and jolly in the world!" Marlon growls.

"Then why--"

"I was being sarcastic, you idiot!" Marlon cuts Billy off mid-question and it takes all my will power not to leap out of my seat and strangle him. Even Fawn stiffens, as if holding herself back. "Of course I mind! And so should you! Two of you have to die, you know. There's only one Victor. Laugh about that!"

The impish boy rises from his seat and steps off the stage. I've just noticed that the ceremony has ended and Peacekeepers are approaching to take us to the Justice Building for our last goodbyes.

My happiness fades away. Marlon, for all his flaws, is right. Only one of us will survive these Games. Only one of us will come back here. I look to my allies, see Fawn staring at Billy with such a protective desire, that I know she's meaning for it to be him. She'll do whatever it takes to have him survive. My eyes slide shut as I realize my own fate.

I need to protect Billy. My life doesn't matter. Cancer is already eating away at my anyways. No. I need to make sure Billy gets home, and I know Fawn feels the same.

Surely we can manage it, right?

District Eleven: Annabelle Harret

Bullets go flying every which way, shooting people regardless of alliance. Blood splatters, people cry out in pain.

The television flickers to a static image.

District 9...

What's happening there? Well, I guess that's not the right question. I know what's happening, I just saw what. People are revolting, people are fighting. They don't like what they're forced to put with, the inequality that pervades every facet of life. So they chose to fight back.

"Why didn't the cameras turn off earlier?" I ask aloud as me and my parents continue to watch the static filled screen. "They'd never purposely show a revolt. Never."

"Must have had technical issues," My father grunts and walks back into the kitchen. He isn't too perturbed by what he just saw, became he has seen worse in his lifetime. "Make sure you're ready for the Reaping."

I nod mindlessly. I'm too caught up in what I just saw. People fighting back against the oppressive government, fighting for a dream. My dream. The dream I've had ever since I learned the true horror of the Capitol. I've always wanted to escape it all, but maybe...maybe we could fight for our future instead of trying to run away from it. They couldn't beat us all. I bring this up to mother and she snorts derisively.

"Oh yes they could. Did you forget what just happened a few years back? During the rebellion? People fought. Then they died." She smiles at the end, to try and comfort me. It doesn't work.

"But what if we united? All the District's? Wouldn't that work?" Gears are churning in my head, trying to find a way.

"They would still win. Trust me, dear. Everyone has tried everything you could come up with, every variation and permutation. Sometimes we have a brief victory, but the Capitol always wins in the end..." She trails off sadly, staring into space. I wonder if she's had thoughts like mine before. Probably. "Try to quell this talk of rebellion," She comes back to reality. "Your father doesn't like it very much."

I fall silent, and then Father comes back into the room. "Let's get going," He says to us. "We don't want to be late."

"Have you heard from Roy?" I ask Mother as we head down to old road towards the Reaping stage, which has been sent up on the edge of the District, next to the big wall that surrounds us. "Is he...okay?"

"Yes," Mother doesn't look at me as she answers. "His Mom told me he'd be fine. But, you two shouldn't have risen the ire of the Peacekeepers in the first place! You should just be thankful that his punishment wasn't worse..."

"We should just accept status quo, huh?" I can't help but challenge her, even though I know it's a pointless argument.

"Yes. Trust me honey, fighting isn't worth giving up your life. Nothing is."

"I beg to differ..." I mutter under my breath, and while she gives me a suspicious look, she says no more. The only thing that Roy did to bring the Peacekeepers "ire" was take food from the orchard in an effort to help his starving family! The orchards should be ours anyway! We're the ones that plant them, the ones who take care of them, and even the ones that harvest them! But no! We're not allowed a single piece of fruit!

"So, do you think there is anything else outside of Panem?" Roy's words from just last morning come back to mind. The two of us were watching the sunrise, just before our daily jobs.

"I'm sure there is. Maybe a better place, where there are no Hunger Games, no starving people, peace and fairness." My own words echo back to my ears.

A better place.

Surely there is such a place out there somewhere? A place where we don't have to starve or get whipped just for trying to feed ourselves? "Such a place would be a dream come true." Roy is right. It would be a dream.

A few other people begin to surround us as we near the stage, and I know that everyone else here would feel the same about another world. We all want to escape the Capitol's iron rule. Unfortunately, that is all but impossible.

Mother hugs me tightly as we approach the crowd that has gathered around the stage. She makes sure to say everything will be fine and then departs as I get my blood taken and processed into line.

My first instinct is to look for Roy, and I find him in the crowd easily enough. He's near the edge of the crowd, along the wall that marks the District line. He smiles when he spots me and I return it quickly, but my eyes linger on the thick bandages on his back. It was a grisly mess of flesh when I last saw it, after the Peacekeepers whipped him raw. They just left him there, lying in the street rotting. I...I couldn't leave him like that, not after he saved my life.

I ran like thunder to get bandages for him, thankfully speed is my biggest strength, and saved his life. I'm glad to see that he is still fine. But I still feel disgusted, knowing what those Peacekeepers did to him just for trying to feed himself. It's not right.

"Hello world!" Lilia, a woman dressed in fancy clothing and wrapped in silks scarves, grabs the mic and begins the opening ceremony. I don't pay very much attention to this, as most of it is drivel and just more Capitol propaganda. Who needs to hear more of that? I've had enough for lifetime.

"Time to find out who are male tribute is!" Lilia finishes up talking about the tributes eligible for be voted in, who sit in a nearby box, and goes for the first diamond shaped bowl. Her gloved hand delves in and plucks out a slip of paper. "Caliban Rweed!"

A short silence follows the announcement, and then it's broken by the sound of a boy stepping forward into the spotlight. Tall, with pale skin and neat orange hair that is somehow messy at the same time, the boy looks like he's out of it and just going with the flow. Honestly, he looks like one of those hobos you see just lying in an alley.

Lilia regards him cautiously as he steps beside her, wobbling a little. An insane smile crosses his face and he says something to Lilia that the mic doesn't catch. She just frowns and turns to the crowd. "Ladies and Gentlemen, your male tribute, Caliban Rweed!"

I'm just breathing easy that it wasn't Roy who was Reaped. I mean, yeah, I feel bad for this Caliban kid but he's...kinda creepy looking. Not sure what his deal is, but it's nothing nice, I guarantee.

"And Caliban's District partner is...Annabelle Harret!"

No.! I'm stunned. Stunned into silence. Did she just say my name? No, I'm supposed to go backhome and have as happy Reaping day meal with my parents. I'm supposed to hang out with Roy and talk about the future and how things could get better. Why did this have to happen to me? A girl I know from school pats my back and points to the stage.

The whole world blurs around me as I warily step out into the aisle and slowly walk up to the stage. The escort says something but I don't hear what she says because blood is rushing in my ears. Lilia holds out her hand and looks at me expectantly. I don't understand what she wants and my brow furrows in confusion. She takes my hand and starts to shake it, but I yank it back towards me.

Lilia frowns and mutters something about manners before I remember that I need to be something likable so that the Capitol will like me. So, I smile and make small talk with Lilia, trying to make myself look optimistic. When I finish, Lilia turns, facing the crowd. "Well, we now have two...fine new tributes. We may as well see who was voted in now!" I stop paying attention to her. My eyes drift over to Roy, whose face is a mask of horror. I'm suddenly glad that the boy's were Reaped first, that Caliban is up on this stage with me. I know Roy would have volunteered, had he been given the opportunity. He would try to protect me. Instead, he'd just die with me.

I'm glad he gets to live.

"Hey...want some crack?"

I nearly jump out of my skin as Caliban slithers up from behind me. His eyes are as black as night, and his face is pocked with marks. He looks like something out of a nightmare. "What did you just say?" I ask, hoping I just misheard him.

"I asked if you wanted some crack, bruh. Free of charge, of course," He pulls his jacket back and I see several bags of illicit substances hidden there. I'm repulsed, and immediately revert my opinion about being glad he was here with me.

"No way! I don't want anything you have to offer, druggie!"

"I ain't a druggie! I'm a drug dealer. Big difference." Caliban looks legitimately offended as he closes his jacket back up and looks around cautiously. "Though, I do test my wares...from time to time..."

I don't believe him. He tests "his wares" more often than he'd admit. I know this because of his appearance and his soulless black eyes. It won't matter if he wins or loses in the Games. He's already dead. The drugs have killed him.

"Daisy Lilac and Crimson Typhoon!"

Two more names are announced. Two more join us on the stage. Both refuse Caliban's offer. Then Lilia has us join hands and face the crowd. I feel dead inside as I see Roy in anguish. As I see my parents. I feel dead, because today will be the last time I see them in person.


Distict Twelve: Celica Rotas

There's silence in the square, an eerie thing when you note that there are over a thousand people gathered here. But none of them speak. They just sit in their rows, quiet and apprehensive. The Peacekeepers patrol the aisles with their guns, a few stand on the nearby rooftops with sniper rifles, and yet others sit on the back of half-tracks, arming the massive turret guns located there.

In short, District 12 is on lockdown.

"Things have changed..." A boy sitting next to me mutters to himself as he takes in the armed guards that are everywhere. A few stand atop the box that we're chained in.

"Wasn't always like this, huh?" A scrawny girl peers down at us from the very back of the box. I believe she's from the 327th Games, but was originally in the 300th. She's a living fossil, a relic from a hundred years ago.

"No. It was...less guarded..." The boy looks sad, and I figure he must have forgotten how tight security was in the 398th Games. This is nothing new. He turns to look at the people in the crowd. They all look disheveled and I can see the bones on a few. That hasn't changed since I was Reaped. I try to find my friends in the crowd: Rosary, Niles, Peter, and Aurora. But despite my best efforts, I can't pick them out from the crowd and worry begins to eat at me. Have they all perished in the past two years? That wouldn't make sense. I just can't see them in the crowd. That's all. I can't allow my fear to control me.

"It's time for the Reaping!" Pippy Kotu, whose apparently still escort, sings cheerfully into her mic. "We'll get two new tributes and find out who our other two All-Stars are! These four will join Thalia and Salem in the Games, obviously!"

"I hope they didn't pick me!" My District partner, Drago Fire clutches his head tightly with his chained hands. His entire body is shaking. With what? Fear? Nerves?

"Why wouldn't you want to be picked?" The girl from the 399th Games asks him with an arched eyebrow. For some reason, I know her name is Misty. Why do I know this? No one told me, I didn't even speak with the girl before. The name just...popped into my head.

"I was ripped apart," Drago answers her slowly; his words dark and low. "By humans. They tore into me with their teeth and nails!" His voice begins to rise, becoming hysterical, almost. "And I remember! I remember the pain I felt! I remember it all! All of it!"

His eyes swivel around wildly in his head and then he shuts them and goes still. An uncomfortable silence hangs over the box.

Misty is the first to break it. "You know, Ganta, I didn't expect you to get so far. I thought you as pretty weak."

"Yeah...I was pretty surprised myself..." The dark-haired boy looks off into the distance. "But, it was mostly Amaya that kept me alive. And then I left her to die." His words are laced with the sadness that is reflected in his eyes. I feel bad for him, remembering how he--


I remember? How could I? I've been dead for two years, I never saw Ganta's Games and I wasn't told about them. That couldn't be the case anyways. Because I have actual memories of the incident. Of Ganta rushing off into the jungle and leaving Amaya behind tho be killed by Anais....How do I remember this stuff?

A unfounded fear begins to grow inside of me, and I turn to Drago.

"How did I die?" I ask him.

"Huh? What?" He stares back at me with blank eyes.

"Just answer me!" I'm impatient now. Excited. I have a theory, a theory that I need to see if is true...

Drago still looks confused, but he answers me. "You were slashed across the chest by Buck. While you were running away from the Careers with Aisha. But why--"

"How did you know?" In my excitement, my words are too loud and too forceful. Drago shrinks away in shock as everyone else in the box turns to stare.

"I don't know what you mean--"

"How did you know I was killed by Buck while running from the Careers?"

"I remembered it, obviously. But why--"

"How could you have remembered, when you died the day before me? And it wasn't because they showed you. They didn't. They just told us all about how the voting process works and then they sent us here, to this box. So how come we all remember things we shouldn't?"

Drago blinks. Once. Twice. Thrice. He turns to the others, all of whom are looking as equally as confused as I had felt earlier, when I doubted my own memory. We all know about how each of us died, about how the Games played out. I only saw the 327th once in my life, but I know every detail about how Amaryllis, Exolian, and Rio died. My's different. It's...

I stop thinking as I feel a strange prickling sensation at the nape my neck. It tingles with heat for a few seconds, and then I hear a distant ringing noise. It's low at first, like the bass of a drum. But it continues to grow louder and get more and more shrill until it feels like a fire alarm is going off inside of my head.


I feel myself contorting as I try to escape the grasp of the siren. I don't hear the others beside me, I don't even see them. I just furiously pull at my shackles, twisting and turning as a rusty drill bores into my head.

Then the voices start.

Distant and low, they begin to speak to me from behind the siren. I don't know what they're saying, but they comfort me. A blissful feeling overtakes me, despite the searing pain in my head. I will be fine, the pain will pass. Everything will be alright. As long as I listen to the voices, as long as I do what they say.

The voices continue, a gentle hum against the head-splitting siren that envelopes me. I try to tune it out, try to focus on the voices. They are peaceful. Comforting. They know where they are going, I do not. I should listen to them. I should...

"Curriculum Lunes!"

The siren has ceased. The gentle voices are gone, replaced by the drone of the crowd that seems so very disgraceful in comparison. God. My head hurts. What's happening?

"I volunteer! I volunteer as District twelve's tribute...for the 400th Annual Hunger Games!"

A girl shouts from the crowd, but I am unable to pay any attention. The chains on me have dug into my skin during my thrashing and my skin is raw and bloody. My head. It aches. I see a bloody splotch on the side of the glass and realize I must have smashed my head against it while I was...while I was...I have to pause for several seconds, unsure of what I was doing. Everything just seems faint, and when I try to focus on any one thing, it just drifts out of my mind. It's infuriating.

"What happened...?" I manage to get a groggy question out and Drago, who's closest to me, shrugs.

"I..don't know. There was a very dull ringing. That's all I remember..."

Dull? There was nothing dull about the noise I heard. But, ooh, I can't remember. I can't remember anything that happened before the Reaping or what I was talking about. The others look as equally confused, staring at one another in a dazed stupor.

"My name is Curricular Lunes," A girl is on stage now, speaking to Pippy.

"Was that your sister you volunteered for?"

"Yes. She's my twin. And I just...I just couldn't allow her to go into the Games. Not when I just met her today," the girl begins to give a story about her twin and her life. Everyone seems to really like her and the crowd gives her a silent salute. Being the cynic I am, I can't help but feel this was all to get sponsors. I'm not doubting her story or her love for her sister, but what other reason would one have to relay it to everyone? Not that she needed the help. With her voluminous and glossy black hair, fair-skin and overall beautiful look, she was already likely to get many sponsors.

Curricular steps back beside a boy, one who I didn't even see get on stage. When was he Reaped? You'd think it would be almost impossible for me to miss that. I ask Ganta how he got there and he just gives me a peculiar look.

"He volunteered when you were thrashing about. His name is Falkner Avian."

He turns back to the stage and doesn't see the confusion that crosses my face. Thrashing about? When was I doing that? I certainly don't remember any thrashing about. Actually, now that I think about it...I don't really remember anything that happened in this box before Curricular took the stage. This bothers me, but I don't know why.

"Let's get some more All-Stars, huh?!" Excited yelps from Pippy as she tears into an envelope. I don't even have time to hope my name is on that note before she is reading it.

"Ganta Alomo and Misty Honeysuckle!"

It's not me. Ganta flashes me a sympathetic look as his chains come undone, but he spends no more time than necessary in the box before he scrambles outside. Misty just ignores us all in general. I can't help but hate her for getting the spot that I rightfully deserved. She died in the bloodbath! Why does she deserve another shot over me?

"What...happens now?" Drago seems a little distracted as he watches the two go to the stage. At the same time, I notice that my wrists are raw and bloody. Odd. They weren't like that a few minutes ago. Where they?

"We'll be dropped in a hole," Amaryllis speaks up from the back. "That's what happened to the tributes who weren't voted in last time..."

"Oh. Why?"

She shrugs. "No clue."

Very informative. I look up at the Peacekeepers patrolling the roof and think it's odd that they're all pointing guns at us. It certainly isn't normal... "Um. Guys?"

I don't have time to warn the others. With a shout from the Peacekeeper Captain, the others all aim their guns and shoot.

The last thing I see is a barrage of bullets headed right for me.

District Thirteen: Adreanna Danish

People pass me by, talking amongst themselves about things like family, fun, and food. There's a lot of nostalgic talk of the past from the people, something that seems to always come around on Reaping day. People like to remember.

I don't.

I don't like remembering.

There's nothing worth remembering.

There's just pain and loss.

Nothing worth remembering.


The crowd rattles along, with me in tow. We're all headed to the same place. The empty lot that was once the District 13 Command Center. It was almost a hundred years ago and there's literally nothing there anymore. So the Capitol set up stage and decided to make it our Reaping area. It's basically a slap in the face, to hold it where our independent government once ran things. The Capitol loves to slap people in the face.

I approach the line of tables that have been set up to collect the blood. Each table has a line that moves quickly and is then sorted in another line that chooses one's position in the crowd. It's an effective system, I'll say that much.

"Name?" A bored Peacekeeper asks me as I step up to one such table.

"Adreanna Danish."

"One second," He waits as the device prices my finger and then he waves me along. "Enter the sixteen year-olds line, please."

I do as he instructs and step into my proper line. Immediately I take notice of all the other girls in their pretty Reaping day dresses. I've never been what one would call "pretty". Especially not with all the scars long my body, and my hair which never grew past my chin, making me cut it short. These things and more have always made me different from the other girls. And it bothers me. I wish it didn't, but it does. I could never compete with them. So I don't try. I just dress myself in short tanktops and jeans that always wind up ripping. If I can't be pretty, then I might as well be comfortable.

After all, no one else can decide whether you're comfortable or not.

"Welcome, welcome to the Reaping for the 400th Annual Hunger Games!" Our Mayor, whose been doubling as an escort for the past few years, welcomes us all with a description of the Quarter Quell and it's twist. I don't pay any particular attention to this. The televisions have been repeating this stuff to death for the past six months. I'm just here for the Reaping itself, not the pretty speeches. I hate crowds and the quicker I can leave, the better.

"We already have two very excellent tributes, Douglas Biles and Jenessa Whitten!" Our Mayor stops for the applause, which is scattered and slow. He frowns a bit but continues nonetheless. "But before we get to watch them compete, we have to Reap our other tributes!"

It's right to the point now. Kids are going to be plucked from their homes and deposited in the Hunger Games. The crowd moves about restless as the Mayor has a triangular shaped bowl wheeled in front of him. His hand goes in. "And our new male tribute for the 400th Annual Hunger Games is...Julian Veritas!"

There's the usual silence as the crowd looks around for the selected kid, as the boy starts in surprise and wonders what went wrong. Then he moves from the crowd and I get a good look at him. Worry is on his face as he moves slowly, his frizzy brown hair flapping in the wind. He looks like the average District 13 kid.

"Well met, Julian!" Our Mayor claps him on the back and he makes a small grimace that I suppose was meant to be a smile.

"Y-yeah...Well met..." There's fear in his voice. I like him. He's not trying to hide himself, he's just showing us his true self. Hopefully, he doesn't die right off the bat.

A few more pleasantries are said by Mayor but he soon just goes for the next bowl. A name is taken out and read. "Adreanna Danish!"

A sharp exhalation of breath escapes my lips. I don't believe it. I don't believe it. After escaping my hellish life for just a few years, I'm forced back into another, equally hellish one? My muscles tense as I think to run, but no. I have nowhere to run, nowhere to escape to. I'm trapped, and have no choice but to walk to that stage.

The people turn to gawk as I do. I ignore them, realizing that my fate has been sealed. I'm not stupid, I know the odds of my victory in the Games are next to zero. I just hope I get a clean death.

"Well met, Adreanna!" I shake hands with the Mayor and then my eyes meet Julian's. I see something there, a hurt, a loss. I see pain, pain that can never be erased no matter how much time passes or how much you try to forget.

He lost someone too.

I don't know who it was, but they were important to him. His ice blue eyes stare back into mine and he too realizes what I know. We're birds of a feather. And now we're going to die together.

Neither of us say a word as we're instructed to step back and watch as two tributes from the box begin to get selected. Herbert appears in my head, forcing so many unwanted memories back to the forefront. No! I want to forget! It's why I had my eyes changed, why I don't talk about the past. There's nothing but pain for me there.

"Zoey Proasheck and Radiant Tayz!"

Both revived tributes were from the 398th Games. When they get on stage, Radiant nods curtly to both me and Julian while Zoey locks eyes with us. The two of them have been through this before, they know how it goes. In the end, they know how it'll stop. With death.

At least I can soon be reunited with Herbert I think as the four of us are presented to the crowd. And who knows? Maybe I'll win. Everyone has a punchers chance.

District Fourteen: Amica Belle

Have you ever had a friend who was so much like you, that you thought that maybe they were just a double? They liked the same things as you, hated the same things, and was just an all around great person? I did. Her name was Anissa Fallows. I met her when she first came to District 14 and was wandering the streets with nothing to her name. The two of us became quick friends, bonded by our similar past and shared hatred of the Hunger Games. Hmm. This seems familiar.

She was a little different, being from District 1 and all. Everyone there loved the Games and they always had volunteers. But she didn't. I don't know if that was part of the reason she left, she never really spoke about her past, but I think it was. All I know was that it was bad, bad enough for her to try and forget it. I never asked though; for she never asked about what happened to my own mom. I thought she deserved to have her secrets.

I still miss her. She left over three years ago but I still miss her. She was the older sister I never had, the sister that could teach me things I'd never learn on my own. She taught me how to fight, and though I detest violence, I know that being able to defend yourself is something everyone should know. She was so big and strong, always better than I was. But she said I was a a natural, even called me a ninja once. I don't think that's true but I like the way Amica the Ninja sounds.

"Ami! Are you ready? We need to go!" My father's voice calls from downstairs and I snap out of my day-dreaming and skedaddle, sliding down the banister when I reach the staircase. Dad greets me with a small smile.

I remember back when my Mom died, back during an escape at the mutt factory were both of my parents worked. Dad was broken for so long after that. He was dead inside. But time heals most wounds, and he recovered. Shortly after, I met Anissa.

"She didn't show last night, did she?" Dad turns to the door and my face falls.

"No...No. Anissa didn't return."

Every night, I sit at the gates of the District, waiting for her long orange hair to bright up the forest. But she never comes. It's been three years, but I won't lose hope that she'll return here, some day. She promised. And Anissa always keeps her promises.

"Well, I wouldn't be too worried," Dad opens the door and steps out into the balmy tropical day. Palm trees sway in the slight wind that blows from the ocean. "District 14 is pretty isolated. She'd be hard pressed to find a boat coming this way, especially since the mutt factories are closing down."


Dad turns to me, puzzled by the shock he sees there. "You didn't know? I thought someone at the ranch you work at would have told you..."

"Why are they closing down? Are all of them closing?" I don't understand. Mutt production is District 14's export. Why would the factories close? They're are livelihood, everything we do depends on them!

"That's the long-term goal, yes," Dad frowns as we walk along the carved path that leads to the Reaping bridge. "Every factory is meant to be shut down within the next two years. Three just closed this month."

"Why? Why would they cut off our livelihood? What'll become of my job?" I hate working on the ranch. It's back-breaking word under a hot sun, surrounded by the type of creatures that killed my mom. But it's also my only source of income. And if the factories all close...

"Apparently, it's an executive order from President Stryker. He says that mutt production has been too insufficient and that the distance needed for them to transport to the Capitol has become too expensive to maintain."

"So it's about money? Don't those Capitalists hogs already have enough?" I'm surprised to find myself so angry, but I understand my rage. People could starve to death because of this, I won't be the only one affected.

"No. They never have enough. But..." Dad trails off, unsure off what he's about to say. I raise an eyebrow in question. "People are saying that he doesn't want anyone in the District's seeing what kind of mutts they're cooking up. Not to mention that he wants it nearby, in case of another rebellion. He's been trying to quell our trade since he took over for his father. I'm not surprised."

Nor is he angry. Dad doesn't care, since he still detests the mutts. He hates every one of them for what happened to Mom, and while I don't disagree, I am clear-sighted enough to know what kind of trouble this could bring the District. Maybe he's right. Maybe this is why Anissa hasn't shown up...

"District 14, welcome to the Reapings for the 400th Annual Hunger Games!" Fox beams down at us from the stage, her puffy red fur reflecting the intense sunlight that comes from the sky. "I hope you're ready to give off a Victor! Because you haven't had one since the 390th Games! And that's just been far too long!"

The crowd doesn't react. They, like me, have heard about what is happening to the factories and they're not pleased. Fox doesn't understand that though, and just introduces the handful of Victors that we have. Chaz Robards, the Victor of the 390th Games, sneers down at us when he's introduced. I've always thought that he believed himself better than everyone else, and I now am more certain of that theory than ever before. "Well, if you're not all that excited, then we may as well get right to it!" Fox whips out a slip of paper with lightning quick reflexes and I don't have any time to prepare before she's reading my name aloud.

"Amica Belle? Where art thou, Amica Belle?"

My heart catches in my throat, gagging me into a stupified silence. My worries about the factories were unfounded. I needn't have thought so much about it. It's pointless now that I am going in the Games. I have much bigger things to worry about now.

Like staying alive.

I try not to cry as I take the stage. I don't want to be weak. Not for myself, and not for the Capitol, but for Anissa. She's surely watching this, wherever she is. I need to let her know that I took her training to heart. I'm prepared. I'm ready. A fighter never gives up. They fight and fight until they can't fight anymore. Until their hearts give out. That's what I am.

A fighter.

"You're a prime specimen!" Fox says as I stare deep into the crowd. "A mighty fine specimen!"

"Can I say something?" I ask her quietly.

"Why of course!" She jabs her mic under my head.

"Anissa. Don't worry about me. I'm going to win these Games. And then I'll find you. We'll be meeting each other soon."

That's all I have to say. Fox takes the mic back and seems confused as to who Anissa is. I don't worry about it. Anissa will get the message. That's all that matters. I zone out for the rest of the Reaping. Don't pay attention to a thing, until a tall boy with a mischievous smirk and messy brown hair joins me on stage.

It seems that he can't remain still; always pacing back and forth, his hands swinging at his side. Sometimes he even whacks himself on the side of the head and mutters something unintelligible.

His name is Dean Ambrose and I think he's a lunatic.

It's not long before two more join us. Luxray Meganium, who stands taller than everyone else on stage, though Dean is also pretty tall; and Amaya Lovelace, the girl I personally wanted to win last year. The four of us are presented to the crowd and hurried off to the dock, where we board a strange ship and head off for the Capitol. There we watch the other Reapings.

They show them in reverse numerical order, starting from 13. Luxray is filled with a silent fury when his friend Luxio is shot to death, and Amaya claps with excitement when she sees that Ganta will be entering the Games. I thought she'd be angry, but apparently she has forgiven him. Good. Everyone deserves a second chance.

Dean howls with some sort of emotion that I can't place when a boy named Seth volunteers in District 5. He starts pacing behind our couch after this, muttering to himself. I think I hear the word "brother".

Then District 1 comes along.

I wasn't worried that I'd see Anissa Reaped, because that District always has a stupid, arrogant kid volunteering. And a girl does volunteer. But when she takes the stage, I recognize her. I'd recognise the girl with the long orange hair and that red streak anywhere.

It's Anissa.

And she's volunteered.

She's...going to be in the Games with me. I feel nauseous. Why did Anissa volunteer? She hates the Games. Hates them even more than I do. Why would she...

I feel my eyes roll up as I faint.

The Capitol: Mahogany Vesta

As I gaze upon the Capitol's main street, I am once again reminded that it is the ugliest place I have ever seen.

People jostle their way through the streets, draped flagrantly in colors, yelling, and talking, and moving, and stinking, and coughing, and bumping. It's a chaotic mess, a scene that speaks volumes about the stupidity and arrogance of the Capitol and its rulers.

It's like this every year on the evening of Reaping Day, when the citizens of the Capitol converge on President Stryker's personal mansion for our very own Reaping. I see it every year and I'm still not prepared for the sight, sound, scent, and colors of the city on Reaping day. Everything is just far too overwhelming.

I stand at the side of the road, stooped beside a building draped in flapping streamers. In front of me, a herdsman drives a small flock of sheep toward the Reaping square. Each one is dyed a different color, a foolish way of celebrating the grand event before us.

I tap my feet impatiently as I stand beside the building in the shadow of a large stone statue. Where is that boy? I think. Cyan told me to meet him here, and he has yet to come.

There is nothing to do but wait. I look up at the statue beside me; one of Buck Rockwell. All statues on this road depict Victors. They stand in every imaginable pose all across the entire street, armed with weapons and often dressed in colorful clothing. According to my parents, the citizens of the Capitol find dressing the statues to be an amusing pastime. As I said, they're all idiots.

The numbers of statues increase yearly, each Victor getting their own. I don't know what order they place then in, not of the year the won, for Rockwell's is back here, at the start of Main Street. Last year's Victor, Anais Morrisa, has hers all the way up at the mansion. Excess and waste I think, shaking my head. All the money that goes into these could be used for helping the poor in the District's, if only the Capitol had the mind.

Finally, I notice Cyan coming back down the street. I frown as I see that he was wearing some ridiculous frippery on his head—it looka a little like a sock, though much larger. The bright green hat flops down one side of his face, and looks very out of place on his drab clothing. Something both him and I wear to show our disdain for the Capitol and its nonsensical absurdities.

The only "Capitol like" thing we have is our colored hair and the obnoxious pair of wings on our backs. They're real, not fake. Something forced upon us by our parents, Aero and Maroon, a pair of ultra stylists for the Hunger Games. They thought that the two of us needed something to set us apart, and despite our vehement disagreement, they forced it upon us.

I often tie the wings behind my back with a red sash; otherwise I risk having them caught in door frames.

"Cyan?" I ask, trying hard not to get annoyed at him. "What is on your head?"

"A hat," He say rather grumpily.

"I can see that it's a hat. But why is it on your head?"

My twin brother pulls his face into a sneer. "Why do you think? They told me to wear it!"

They. He means our parents. I sigh inwardly. Always forcing their stupid fashion choices onto us. What else is new? "Why did you want to meet here?" I ask, suddenly remembering that he told me to come here.

A slow grin spreads across his face. "I've done it, Mahogany!"

"Done what, Cyan?"

"Come into contact with some rebels. Some real rebels!"

Rebels. Us Vesta twins are a pair of them, deep down. It's what inspires us to rebuff our parents at every turn, to thrum our noses at the Capitol. We want nothing to do with their ways and customs, all of which is ridiculous and egotistical. Often, the two of us will slink out at night and cause mayhem. Nothing very serious, usually just vandalism and random assaults. Though I did kill one or two Peacekeepers before, with a well-thrown knife.

"What kind of rebels?" Curiosity overtakes me as I question my giddy brother, who is usually so very taciturn and quiet.

"Serious ones. Very, very serious." His face grows grave, yet the excited twinkle never leaves his eyes. I'm frowning to myself, wondering how this is possible.

"Where did you meet them, Cyan?" The thought of inside men, people who pretend to be rebels but really work for the Capitol, flit across my mind.

"I cannot say," Cyan shakes his head.

"They could be spies, Cyan. If you're not careful..."

"They're not. I know it for fact. They're...special. And they're willing to recruit us, if we play our part."

I'm not convinced. This is sounding more and more like a trap. These people want us to play our part? Probably something illegal. And while we're doing it, Peacekeepers are likely to show up and arrest us. I tell Cyan this, but he doesn't listen. He is too taken up with the idea.

"Trust me, Mahogany. This is what we've been waiting for. An opportunity to take down the—"

"Get moving, you loiterers!"

A roving band of Peacekeepers come down from the street, waving batons in our direction. Cyan mutters an apology to them and grips me by the arm, dragging me down the street, towards the Presidential Manor. "Come with me, Mahogany," He speaks in whispers now that a crowd surrounds us. "And then we both can get into their group. We both can help accomplish we have long sought!"

"These people are going to get you killed!" I whisper fiercely back. Cyan is too impressionable. Too cocky. He'll believe anything, if you tell him he's the only one who can do it.

"No. No they won't!" His eyes shine with a light I have not seen in a long time. "They'll help me win back the rights of man. Now: Are you with me or not?" He stops me there, in the middle of the street. I shake his arm off and glower.

"You haven't even told me what you're doing!"

"And I can't! I'm not allowed to. You just have to trust me. Do you?" He looks into my eyes and I into his. I see trust there, trust that I'll listen to his pleas. And I trust him. But I also trust him to get us killed.

"I trust you more than anyone else in the world," I say quietly. "But I can't assist you on this...this suicide mission. You're going to do it today? On the day with the most Peacekeepers and guards! It's foolish!"

Cyan doesn't speak. We both stand there, like stones in the river. The crowd of people rushing past is the water, flowing around us on its way to the final destination. A minute passes and Cyan still doesn't speak. I touch his shoulder expectantly and he lets out a low chuckle.

"Fine...fine...its fine," His words have an edge to them, a strange tone. "You stand in like a good little sheep. I'll be the one fighting, I'll fight for everyone. You just do as you're told..."

"Cyan. You know it's not like that...I'd help you if only you explained!" I don't think my words reach him. He just smiles sadly and shakes his head.

"My words may sound harsh, but they're true. We can only win once we stop doing as they say. What would happen if no one showed for the Reaping?"

"They'd kill everyone," I respond flatly.

"No. They can't afford to kill everyone. But we can." He turns to stalk away, but my hands grip his arm. He stops and waits for me to speak. I have over a dozen things to say, but only one question comes to words.

"Cyan, what the hell are you going to do?"

A small smiles plays on his lips. "You'll see. Tomorrow. You'll see."

He pulls free from my grasp and disappears into the rushing crowd. I try to follow him, but it's impossible in the massive throng of humanity that continues to surge towards the Manor. I'm afraid. Afraid of what Cyan is going to do. The two of us have always been rebellious, not liking to be controlled. We always fought back. But this time...I fear Cyan will go too far.

I get swept up by the crowd, going along with the flow. I meet up with my parents at the edge of the Mansion. They come towards me with disapproving looks and dabbed up in ridiculous cosmetics. I can barely stand to look at them. "Where's your brother?" My father, Aero, asks me.

"I..." What do I say? "I don't know. I think he already got sorted into line."

"Was He wearing his hat?" Mother asks me.

"Uh. Yeah, actually."

"Good. Good. Get in line, Mahogany. And for the love of everything beautiful, please try not to draw attention to yourself. You've dressed horrendously!"

I ignore the shot at my, by District standard, normal clothing, and do as they say. Cyan is still on my mind, but there's nothing I can do for him right now. I can't help but feel like I'm letting him down. We've always been so inseparable, and now I just left him.

Minutes drag by as I'm sorted into line before the grand stage set up before me. An ornate golden box resides in the center of the clearing, a makeshift home for the tributes who can be voted in. I wonder how they're feeling right now. Probably very uncomfortable.

There's another twenty minutes of prep before the crowd fills out and the fireworks stop. A drum roll begins and then someone bursts through a tapestry set up on stage. President Stryker. Our very own tyrant.

He's smiling and waving to the crowd. Everyone cheers wildly, eating out of the Palm.of his hand. His smile widens. Forgoing the usual formal dress suit and tie, he's wearing a crimson polo shirt and a black pair of shorts. Very informal.

"Helloooo to the wonderful citizens of the Capitol!" He slaps hands with people near the stage as, behind him, people begin to file onto the stage and take their seats. Anais Morrisa is among them, dressed in a frivolous outfit. She and Stryker have been a thing ever since she won the Hunger Games. Obviously, someone is playing someone but I'm not sure which. Maybe both. "Are you all having a good time?"


The crowd roars its approval, and for the first time, I become aware of all the heightened security. Peacekeepers drift through the crowd covertly; their guns locked and loaded. Snipers crouch on all the rooftops, and the black uniformed soldiers of the Stryke Force, President Stryker's personal guard, festoon the stage. Two soldiers in particular stand out.

They stand taller than everyone else around, mountain of men with sledgehammers for fists and legs like plated steel. Their necks are so thick that not even a grown man could wrap his hands around them. Their heads, adorned with black helmets marked with a red hand print, follow Stryker has he paces the stage. Stipators. Their sole meaning in life is to protect Stryker's own. And I think they must be pretty successful, for who would want to mess with those nine-foot tall behemoths?

"You know what?" Stryker is saying as he comes to a halt in the center of the stage. The crowd shouts out, asking what. He beams them a magnificent smile. I hate myself for thinking it handsome. "Let's just skip all these boring formalities and go straight to the FUN part, shall we?"


The crowd goes along with whatever he says. They're beginning to hurt my ears.

"Then let's hop to it! Magnifico! Fetch the bowl!" He snaps his fingers and immediately a man wearing a black top hat comes out from behind a curtain, reeling a star shaped bowl filled with small slips of paper. Stryker grins at the crowd as the bowl comes to a halt before him. "Just between all of you and me..." He glances around as if someone might be listening in which, of course, they are. All of Panem is watching this right now. "I'd prefer if a Capitol tribute won this year!"

The crowd goes absolutely nuts at their President's desire, and I realize that he purposely said that just to get a cheap pop from the crowd. He's trying to send a message: That the Capitol listens to him and him alone.

He dips a hand into the bowl and I don't whether he's picking for the boys or the girls until he reads the name. "Nathan--"

"I volunteer!"

A voice shouts loudly to slice through the murmurs of the crowd. A broad smile breaks out on Stryker's face, glad to have had a volunteer, no doubt. If he was hoping for a powerhouse like Olympic Oblado, who won his Death Duel, he's going to be disappointed.

The boy isn't very tall, slightly below average from my very uncertain analysis. He's slight and has pale white hair that shines under the bright lights. His lone eye glints a blue sapphire. His other is covered with an eye patch.

"Well, well. Looks like we have a scrappy fighter here folks!" Stryker shows no sign of displeasure as he shakes hands with the boy. I notice the kid keep a hand curled defensively around something on his neck. I wonder why?

"Kaneki Urashi," The boy rasps without looking at the crowd.

"Excuse me?" Stryker's voice is light, but I see his eyes flash with annoyance for a brief moment.

"My name. It's Kaneki Urashi."

"That's a very...non-Capitol like name, Kaneki..." Is that remembrance I hear in his voice? The two massive Stipators tense their muscles instinctively, but when Stryker bites his lower lip they relax immediately. "But we're glad to see you nonetheless!" The moment has passed. Stryker has gone back to his normal, too-cheery self.

Kaneki bows his head respectfully and then drifts away to the corner of the stage. Stryker orders Magnifico to get the second bowl and the moustached man brings it in. The name is drawn. It's mine.

"Mahogany Vesta!"

It's a horrible feeling, when you realize you can't do anything to change your fate. I briefly wish I had gone with Cyan, but that wouldn't have changed anything. My name would still have been drawn. The only difference is that I'd be killed for missing a Reaping instead of going into the Hunger Games.

"It's brilliant to meet you, Mahogany!" Stryker claps me on the shoulder, his emerald eyes twinkling.

"Likewise." No point in angering the man who has the power to kill me.

"Wonderful wings you have there. Really great!" He turns away from me and so misses the flash of anger that comes upon my face. But the cameras don't.

I feel incredibly exposed, standing there on the stage as Stryker goes up introducing the box tributes. Everyone is watching me, the others on stage. The two gigantic Stipators stare at me through their dark helmets and I'm conscious of the fact that they could crush my head with their bare hands as easily as they'd crack a nut. I'm conscious of the dozens of Peacekeepers in the crowd, of the hundreds on the streets, of the thousands in all of Panem. And now I feel small. Small and insignificant. How did I ever think I could put a dent in this infrastructure? How I thought my childish antics and foolish attacks would ever amount to anything? This power...this is so far beyond me that it's not even funny.


What is he doing right now? What group is he working for? Does he even know what he's up against? I don't think that he does.

"Ramon Constancy and Flame Vapore!"

A muscular boy with a cocky grin and a graceful girl who moves like a ship in the in the wind are released from the box. When they reach the stage and are introduced, I expect to the others to be exterminated. We all saw what happened to them in the other Districts.

But it doesn't happen. The box just closes and descends back into the ground. Apparently the Capitol doesn't like watching murder happen before their eyes. It's only fun when it's on TV.

Stryker has us all stand on the front of the stage and face the crowd. Ramon grins. Flame stares sadly into the distance. Kaneki sighs. I watch a tall building on the horizon, an amazing one. I think it's the Council Tower. The office and meeting place of the Capitol Council, the group headed by President Stryker that oversees the day-to-day operations of the Capitol and discusses how best to make the District's lives horrible. It's one of the most recognizable buildings in all of Panem, the most prestigious of all their creations, second only to Stryker's mansion.

It's truly awe-inspiring, despite what I think of the Capitol has a whole. I stare at the circular top of the tower, where the Council meets. I wonder how high up it is.

And then I see it explode.


Day One

Watt Powers (District 5)

"Last night three explosions rocked the Capitol while most of it's populace was at the Reaping. Three key government buildings were effected and the lives of thirty-two people lost, with a further twenty-four injured. Early reports indicate that Councillors, Barca, Velocitor, and Arcos, all of the Capitol Council, are among the dead"

An Ultra-Definition television drones in the corner of the room as I sit on my bed, silently eating a box of powdered donuts. On screen, a reporter lady is standing in front of the burnt wreckage of what once was the Capitol Post Center.

"When we asked Commander Parlin, one of the six God-Generals in charge of national security, he told us that the attacks were carried out by a band of depraved radicals who have no real motivation beyond inflicting as much pain and suffering as possible. He ensured us that the perpetrators would be brought to justice, and hinted that he may already have a lead in the matter. President Stryker himself has declined to comment. No doubt he is busy hunting down the monsters who'd harm people on one of the happiest days of the year. When we have more information, we'll report. But for now this is Karlee Darlene, signing off."

I flick the television off with the remote on my lap. Man, That is some scary stuff. What if those radicals decided to attack us? Here, in the tribute apartments? I shudder at the thought. Scary.

Thud! Thud!

Two knocks at my door. I sigh and wiggle myself into a position so I can roll off of the bed. Shoeless, I waddle across the comfy carpet and open the door.

"You should really focus on self-hygiene," My good friend Sebastian (5) says when it opens. He looks impeccable in the brilliant training outfits, with a really cool watch on his wrist. His blonde hair has been combed into a dignified style.

"You look good, buddy!" I grin and offer a fist-bump.

"You have white powder on your face," He says cryptically. He doesn't bump my fist.

"Yeah. I was eating powdered donuts. Want one?" I hold out my other hand, offering him a slightly crumbled donut. "I mean, yeah, I may have rolled over it when I was getting the door, but it should still taste the same!"

His ice blue eyes flicker from my face to the donut and then back. "I'll pass. Breakfast is in a few minutes."

"Oh, good! I'm starving!"

"Didn't you say you just ate a whole bag of donuts?" I hear a hint of surprise in his voice and puff out my chest proudly.

"Yep! But that was just a snack! I'm ready for a meal!" Sebastian's face purses in a funny way, and I bring my hand back to scratch my chin. He never did fist-bump me. "You, uh, want somethin'?"

"Maxwell sent me to wake you up and give you these," He dumps a pile of clothing into my hands. My training outfit. "And...I wanted to tell you that our alliance is still on. As long as you do not do anything...stupid."

"Don't worry about that! I was the smartest kid in my class. Stupid isn't something I am!"

He regards me for a long moment. "Very well. Just remember that." He turns and trots down the hall, disappearing at the first turn. What a good friend. I dress myself in the clothes, or at least I try to. They don't exactly fit very well and after a few minutes of struggling, the best I can do is get the shirt covering most of me. My stomach still extrudes slightly, but I don't have time to fix it. I'm hungry.

The dining room is a spectacular thing. The cavernous ceiling stretches high into the sky, where a large chandelier hangs overhead. Painted murals dot the screen, and the chairs have been encrusted with diamonds that pulse with electricity. I sit myself at the only open chair, one between Sebastian and a kid named Seth. Honestly, he looks like a tool.

"Glad you could join us, Watt!" Maxwell grins as I start piling my plate up with eggs, bacon, pancakes, waffles, and just about everything on the table. "District 5 truly as some remarkable tributes!"

"Yesh chould sahy thet aghain!" I try saying with my mouth full of food. I notice the small girl, Ashley (5), give me a curious look. What's her problem? Next to me, Seth coughs into a napkin. Or he's laughing, but I don't think so: no one told a joke.

"Before we eat..." Maxwell begins, oblivious to the fact that Trick and I are already eating. "I would like everyone to say why you desire to win these Games. Sebastian, let's start with you."

My friend doesn't hesitate, and after adjusting his shirt, he goes. "I desire to earn the personal glory that comes from winning the Games. I desire the power it will give me, and the political strength that I'll have."

"Hey! That was my reason!" Seth glares down his nose at Seb, who smiles back calmly.

"Can't we both have that reason?"

"No! You stole it from me!" See? Total tool.

Maxwell has a hard time shutting Seth up after that, but he manages. The man falls back into his seat, grumbling in discontent. Sebastian, for his part, doesn't say anything. But he watches Seth with cold eyes that promise future vengeance. You don't mess with my friend!

We continue playing Maxwell's game. Johnathan doesn't want to win, as long as a good-willed person still breathes, and Trick just wants to kill everyone. Weirdo. Finally, its my turn.

"I want to prove everyone who has ever thought me weak wrong. I'm the smartest person in this room, the entire building, and probably most of Panem. But no one ever gives me the respect I deserve. It's high time I changed that."

I lean back with a confident smile, enjoying the surprised silence around me. Sebastian is the first to recover, applauding me. "Well said!"

Yeah! It was well said! Maxwell grunts something and turns to Ashley, who has been quietly eating this whole time. "What do you hope to accomplish?"

"I..." The girl's orange eyes flicker nervously between us. For a moment it looks like she's not going to speak until Johnathan nudges her and she continues. "I want to prove that being homosexual doesn't make you different from others, that you shouldn't be judged for it and that it's okay."

Silence. I exchange a glance with Maxwell and then...

"Bah hahahaha!"

Sebastian bursts out laughing, nearly falling out of his seat he's laughing so hard. Seth joins in, making the laughter even louder and more condescending. After a few indecisive seconds, I join them. Ashley sinks into her chair, her face burning bright red.

"What a freak!" Sebastian howls with laughter and gives me a nod.

"Yeah! Weirdo!" I call Ashley out, feeling bad but trusting my friend.

"You can't prove you're not different, when you are different!" Seth crows gleefully.

"Completely different!" I add.

Sebastian calls her a few more names. Many not very pleasant. I wonder where he's going with this when Johnathan smashes his fists on the table, rattling the plates and stunning us into silence. "Ashley isn't the freak here. It's you three who're the freaks!"

"Oh? Please explain."

"You're the ones who can't change. Can't accept that whole groups of people are people too. Don't you feel bad ever?"

"Yes. I feel bad right now, actually. I feel bad, knowing that when I slowly peel Ashley's skin away with a knife, that you won't be able to watch. You won't get to see your little freak flayed alive. And for that, I feel bad."

Johnathan lunges across the table, reaching for the front of Sebastian's shirt. But my friend is too cunning and dances away before he even reaches him. "Ah, ah, ah! Save your aggression for the Games, Johnny boy. Wouldn't want you to run out of steam by the time they start!" Seb departs, laughing the whole way. Seth, cackling like a hyena, also goes. I'm left alone with the others.

Trick, whose watched this whole encounter with a insatiable bloodlust in her eyes, grins as she also departs, slippery like a snake. I feel extremely uncomfortable now that I'm just left with Johnathan, a shellshocked Maxwell, and a newly crying Ashley. "Umm. I was just backing my friend!" I say, rising from my chair and still clutching my plate. "I don't think you're too much of a freak." I add as an afterthought.

"Sebastian?" Johnathan asks me, voice as cold as ice. "He's your friend?"

"Yeah. We're buds. Real tight, ya know?" I slowly begin to approach the door, plate still in hand.

"Don't trust him!" Johnathan calls as I exit into the hall. "He cares nothing for friends! If you stay with'll get a knife in the back."

I ignore him. Friends don't listen to people bad mouth their friends.

Ramon Constancy (The Capitol)

The five of us lounge in the luxurious living room, waiting for the signal for us to head for training. If it was up to me, we'd already be down there. But Pliny, the man who fills in as escort, says that we must follow proper protocol and arrive just on time.

I yawn and throw my arms over the back of the velvet couch that I share with Mahogany (C) and Flame (C). The room is circular, with a panoramic window encompassing most of the western wall. Through it, we can see the blackened Capitol Tower as people swarm around it. We also have a close-up view of it, through the television that hangs above the fancy fireplace.

"So, is this normal in this time?" I ask as a special report comes onto the screen. "Do buildings usually blow up? Cuz, they didn't back in my time!"

No one answers. Mahogany is pale and stiff, her eyes glued to the television screen. Flame is lounged back, watching me with mild interest. Olympic is doing pull-ups on the door frame.

"No..." Quiet Kaneki (C) answers from where he sits in the corner of the room. "No, things usually don't blow up. Especially not buildings."

"Ah. So these depraved radicals are new?" I haven't been alive since the 327th Games. I have no idea what the current political landscape looks like.

"They're rebels, really," Mahogany says quietly from where she sits. Her red eyes are still fixed solely on the television.

"Oh. So you know about them?"

"No! Of course not! I only know ofthem!" Something flashes in her eyes. Fear? Does she know more than she is letting on? It's possible, but I wouldn't know why she'd hide it. I keep am eye on her, noticing as she sits up straighter when two newscasters discuss the rumor that the Capitol already has a person of interest in their hands.

"They're lying," Flame surprises us all by speaking. "If they really had someone, they'd be flaunting them around for everyone to see right now. Probably just looking for a convenient scapegoat, someone they'll have plucked from the District's, no doubt."

"You don't sound very fond of our leadership," I say casually. It appears to be a trend amongst my District partners. Only Olympic seems overtly approving of the Capitol, and maybe Josool. I haven't seen him since breakfast.

"You don't seem very fond of bathing," She wrinkles her nose and leans away. I laugh, baring my shiny teeth.

"I haven't bathed since the night before my first Games. And that was the 301st. I guess you could say I've gone ninety-nine years without a bath!"

"They only attacked important Capitol buildings," Kaneki interrupts us from his little corner. "And only killed high-ranking officials. They're not as brazen as the media makes them out to be."


"Excuse me?" I glance at Mahogany, who had just muttered something. A color, I think.

"I didn't say anything."

"Yes, you did!"

"No. I didn't."

"Yes! You did!"

"No! I didn't!"

"Yes! You--"

"It's time to get to the gymnasium!" Pliny comes rushing into the room, interrupting our little game. A shame. I'd have liked to see it go on. "You all need to get moving! Now! We cannot be even a second too late!"

"Whatever happened to fashionably late?" Flame mutters as he pulls us all out of our seats.

"Where's Josool?" He wonders when he doesn't spot the boy amongst us.

"Kitchen, I think," Olympic answers. He rushes off to find him, after instructing us to board the elevator. I watch Mahogany as we wait. She's interesting, and I believe she knows more about the attack on the Capitol Tower then she's letting on.

Courage Blitz (District 3)

This is the third time I've stood here, waiting for a elevator to come bring me down into the gymnasium. The third time I'll watch kids all much stronger and faster than I am, play with weapons that I could never possibly wield. The last two times I had hope that I could win with just my intelligence.

I didn't.

"How long must we wait for this dreadful elevator?" Caspian (3) complains with his exotic accent as the six of us stand before the doors. The boy is odd. He alone among us stands over six feet. Towering over me, the second tallest at only 5'7. He looks more like a Career, with his handsome looks and muscular arms, then he does a District 3 erudite.

He sighs in annoyance when no one answers him. Noah (3) and Chip (3), the Duel winners, stand apart from us, whispering in the corner. I had briefly entertained the notion of allying myself with them, but eventually decided against it. I also make it far as a loner. It's my late-game, not early-game, strategy that needs work.

"You are quite the drab lot," Caspian decides to speak to himself in boredom. "All cold and calculating, no emotions whatsoever." He smiles. "Maybe we do have something in common after all."

"Or maybe we just don't have anything to say!" Ziya (3) says drily. Her eyes have been flashing with annoyance for the whole time Caspian was speaking. Now she watches him with coldness in her eyes.

"Aha! You can speak! Quite amazing!" Caspian's honey oak eyes flash briefly as he claps a hand onto Ziya's shoulder and has it linger. I see it for what it is. A show of power. He's waiting to see if Ziya will try to move his hand, defy him. Ziya stares into his eyes, and I get a very bad feeling about this. Ziya is not the sort of person to ignore challenges and Caspian is not someone you defy. I'm aware of the tension in the room, the feeling that just a small spark could incite a fight. Ziya holds her left hand up. To swat Caspian's away?


The elevator doors slide open. Caspian laughs and takes his hand off as he steps inside. I breath an uneasy sigh of relief and follow him in. The rest shuffle in after us, apparently unaware of the fight that almost broke out. Ziya purposely puts herself on the opposite side as Caspian, and he laughs as the door slides shut.

"We're probably going to be the last District to arrive," He says.

No one answers him. I notice Chip shaking in his shoes, absolutely terrified. Get a hold of yourself! I want to scream at him. This is his second time competing, he should be able to contain his fear! I've already died twice, and yet I'm not frozen with fear. In fact, I'm going to be more forthcoming and active then I've ever been before. Going forth with reckless abandon and taking risks. Because what's the worse that could happen? I die for the third time? Big deal!


The elevator stops and the doors open again. A huge crowd of kids hover around I the gymnasium before us, a room that's at least five times bigger than the last time I saw it. We step out into the gym and immediately a whistle is blown. Caspian was right. We were the last District to arrive.


A short, stocky man with buzzed hair walks past, ordering us all to line up, tallest to shortest. There's chaotic shuffling as all ninety-two of us rush to get to our places. By the time we finish, we have a gigantic line spanning from one side of the massive gym to the other. On one side, there's three boys tall boy. A doofus from District 2, dressed entirely in yellow and looking like a banana, is placed at the top. At the way back stands Salem (12), underrated and overlooked.

"My name is Llewellyn, the Head Trainer here!" The stocky man speaks once our line is finished and sorted. "And I am here to tell you that these next few days will determine if you live or die. So, you should listen well to my words."

"Weapons and the ability to wield weapons, are important. But they are not what will keep you alive. That's the other skills. The miscellaneous skills assembled here," He waves a large hand at the stations on the left side of the gym, the plant identification, the tree climbing, trap setting, and others. "Those are the skills that will keep you alive. You All-Stars may be shaking your head now, but trust me. This year more of you will die from the elements than ever before. So, if you are wise, you'll learn all you can. That is all."

Llewellyn blows his whistle and the training period begins.

Misty Honeysuckle (District 12)

Chaos erupts as everyone begins to spread out in different directions. The air screams with the sound of sneakers on linoleum floors. People shove past me. I bounce off of a boy's large shoulders and spin around.

The Careers all go straight for the weapon stations, their numbers large and almost uncountable. Everyone is already watching them with apprehension, fear in their eyes. I don't know how someone will manage to defeat this massive alliance.

A trio of tributes push pass me. The McGranger siblings and Fawn (10). They all head for the Gauntlet. One by one, others begin to head off for a station. There's more stations then ever before, even a giant cube full of holographic fighters. The Capitol really broke the bank this year.

Pretty soon, I'm one of the few tributes left who hasn't moved for a station. Only a handful of others still loiter around, as uncertain as I am. Last time I joined the Anti-Careers, and I think that I should try to do the same thing this year.

I pace around the hundred yard long gym, watching the others. The Careers still crowd around the weapons and appear to be having some sort of disagreement. I note that they're missing a few people from Career Districts. So some didn't join up? Bad mistake on their part. If I was capable, I'd join with them right away. Who cares about ethics when your life is on the line? I've learned not to be so picky with who you align after I died once.

I continue past the weapons into the area where most of the survival skills are being taught. A girl from District Zero, Aelia (0), seems to have already amassed a following amongst the others. Six others circle around her as she says something to them. I'm considering asking to join when, out the corner of my eye, I see them.

The three Spectrus siblings stand at the Snare-Tying Station. Two others, Wolbert Toonico (6) and Shade's once lover, Daisy Lilac (11). There's no hesitation in my mind as I approach them, knowing that they've always been the Anti-Careers in the Games they've competed. And what better alliance is there, then a group of Spectri?

"You looking to join?" Shade's two different colored eyes flicker to me as I stop before them. Daisy (11) hovers over his shoulder as his brothers talk off to the left. Wolbert is busy making a snare.

"Depends. You're the Anti-Careers, right?" Don't look too weak. Don't try to beg your way in.

"Guess so. Always called ourselves that." I notice his eyes dart towards where the Careers jostle amongst themselves. Is he worried that they outnumber him by so many?

"Well, I was apart of the 399th Anti-Careers. Thought I'd join up again."

"What do you have to offer us?" Frade (7) shoves his way past before his brother can respond. His jeering eyes take me in, trying to measure me up against the others. Apparently, I'm lacking. "You don't look too might to me."

"And you look like a squat little troll," My mouth responds before my brain does, and I regret the words instantly. Insulting the leaders brother is no way to get accepted into an alliance. Frade's eyes glint cruelly, his lip curling into a sneer. It's weird. He's such a deadly killer, yet he's so very scrawny and short. He's barely taller than I am!

"Frade, what did I say about frightening off all of our recruits?" Shade interrupts his younger brother just as it appears he was about to give a barbed retort.

"If they're frightened by me, then I don't think they deserve to be in our alliance. I ain't the scariest thing in the Games!" His words are hostile, but he relents. And with that short interaction, I see how it is between the two. Frade doesn't like Shade. But he respects him. And it's that respect that keeps Frade in line. A good thing too, because Frade seems like a very bad person to be around when he steps out of line.

"Are you kidding, bro?" The third brother, Blade, who is as normal looking as the others are abnormal, steps forward with a smile crossing his face. "You're like the ugliest thing here! 'Course they'd be afraid of you!" He punches Frade in the shoulder with a joking smile. Frade rolls his eyes.

"Or maybe it's just your blandness that scares them off," He smirks. "Sometimes it's like you just disappear into the wall. Transparent like."

Blade goes to reply, when Daisy cuts him off. "Can you guys stop goofing around? We have a possible recruit here!" All their eyes swivel back to me. Finally. I was beginning to think that I had been forgotten.

"So, Misty," Shade peers into me with his fascinating eyes. "Are you afraid?"

My answer is immediate. "No. Of course not. I fear nothing." Other than large animals.

Shade nods slowly, not speaking. The others watch me in silence, their eyes quietly making up their own minds on me. Personally, I like them all. Except Frade. He is not someone you can trust. Turn your back on him for one moment and he'll stick a knife in it. He's the ultimate opportunist.

Finally, Shade speaks.

"Then welcome to the alliance. We need people like you."

Jake Locketback (District 1)

I sigh loudly as I sit down on the ground, watching the chaos before me. It's been a full half hour since the training session started, and still no Career has yet to pick up a weapon. We've been too preoccupied with other, far more trivial, matters.

First off, figuring out who exactly was a Career. Dozens of people from all four Career Districts converged on one spot and trying to sort out who's who took a considerable amount of time. This was made harder by the fact that people who'd usually be part of the Careers have opted not to join us. Like the group now calling themselves "Splinter Careers". There's four of them, and their leader is the sister of last year's, and my year, Victor. Carmine Morrisa (2). The three others aren't anyone particularly threatening. Two midcard former Careers, Josool (C) and Zoey (13), and a new tribute, Ena (2).

These weren't the only ones not to join, Capitol tribute Mahogany (C) had chosen to align with us only to leave ten minutes in to go help form a alliance consisting of mostly girls. Everyone promptly forgot she was here. Or at least they pretended to. There were others who left or never sided with us, but I honestly can't keep track of everything.

We still had more to do after this, where we had to go through the Career recruits. We didn't receive as much as I thought we would. There's only five, Todd (0), Seth (5), Trent (11), Luxray (14), and Dean (14). Still, this wasn't what took up most of our time. That was everyone else foolishly arguing over who should be leader.

I sigh again. The others seem to think that shouting louder will get them leadership, a really stupid concept in my idea.

"This is annoying, huh?" Cullinan (1) sits down beside me, shaking his head at the chaos still going on.

"Yeah. Annoying and stupid. We should be spending this time training!"

"You could do that right now," Cullinan says, surprising me. "You don't have to wait out this nonsense."

I grimace. "Not likely. They'd get angry at me not taking this matter seriously, and excommunicate me or something." I'm remembering why I killed Fenrir in my first Games. Having to listen to some idiot who thinks he should be leader because he has bigger muscles is just plain stupid.

Cullinan laughs. "I would take that risk. They can't afford to kick people out. Not with everyone else targeting them."

I like Cullinan. Better than my other allies, at any rate. While he's big and muscular, he's not a meat head. He understands things like nuance and tact, something guys like Cole (1) and Elvis (1) can't comprehend. "Why aren't you training then?" I ask, genuinely curious. "If you're not afraid of being reprimanded?"

"My hands, remember?" He pulls them up now, wiggling the half-finished fingers there. "I could hardly even hold a weapon!"

"Oh. Right."

"Usually people recoil when I shove my broken hands in their face!" Cullinan laughs again but I don't. Bad memories of people being blown to bits, or having their bodies mutilated during the Rebellion a few year ago have come back to my mind. Hard to laugh when you remember that.

"I've seen worse," Is all I say.

"Everyone gather 'round!"

Elvis calls out before Cullinan can reply. The large, pony-tailed boy steps onto a nearby crate to further lift himself above the crowd. On his side's stand Cole and Chloe (2), the three main aggregators for the leader position.

"You figure it out?" Simple Todd grunts from where he lounges on the floor.

"Yes we have!" Cole answers him with a flourishing smile. He's in a good mood, so he must have gotten what he wanted out of the deal.

"We have decided upon a three leader hierarchy," Chloe continues for him. She looks far less pleased. "And that means the three of us will have joint leadership."

No arguments from the others. Apparently they're as fed up with this nonsense as I am. Elvis takes back over. "And we'll have three groups. I'll lead the male All-Stars, Cole will lead the new male tributes, and Chloe will lead the females." So that's why Chloe is so upset. There's only four female Careers, including herself. Cole has five guys to lead, Cullinan one of them, and Elvis has the rest. Which is six others and myself. I think it's a bit needlessly complicated, but I'm not going to argue.

I'm just glad that we finally get to train.

Amethystia Thall (District 7)

My fingers scrabble together as I attempt to tie a knot, a rather difficult proposition when your fingers are as thick as mine. I've already abandoned several different types of knots, all of them far too complex for me to achieve. Beside me, Camiren (8) is on the most elaborate knot they have, making short work of it. Her fingers blur as she works, further tying the rope into elaborate and elegant knots. I soon stop my own work and just watch her go.

"Amazing," Kennedy (6) breathes as she also stops to watch. Camiren doesn't pay us mind until she finishes, wherein she holds the newly knotted rope up with a smile.

"What do you think?" She asks with a slow smile.

"Cool!" I say with a grin. Camiren beams happily. I don't know why so many people seem to dislike her. She's kind, happy, and even quite funny when you get her going. Sure, she comes off as a bit regal and her hair color is a bit weird, but so is mine. That's not enough reason for everyone to avoid her like the plague! I think I remember Kennedy saying something about her being an Idylwyld. Whatever the heck that is.

"I wish I was that skilled in something," Kennedy murmurs quietly.

"I'm sure there's something that you're great at," Camiren replies with a generous smile. "Everyone has something."

"I guess I'm a good healer. But that's not exactly a skill that you want to ever have to use..."

"You're going to die, Idylwyld!"

A harsh voice interrupts our conversation and muscular dark-skinned boy steps up to the station. Wess Cornstob (11). His emerald eyes are furious slits as he glares at Camiren, completely ignoring me and Kennedy. "Your family has harmed too many people! It's about time they felt the pain!" He takes a threatening step forward, his hands fists at his side. My own hand curls around the rope in my hand, ready to leap in and protect my friend if necessary. But Wess has no desire to attack. He just spits angrily and tells Camiren that her time is coming before turning away and slipping into a throng of passing tributes.

"He was from the 300th Games," I say a full minute after he has left. "How does he know about your family?"

Camiren doesn't answer. Her soft eyes are cast downwards as she plays with the rope in her hands. Kennedy's mouth works but no words are said. We don't know what to say. Sorry? For what? We didn't do anything. Neither of us are exactly the paradigm of social interactions, so we just wait and watch.

"My family is very old," Camiren finally breaks the long silence herself. "And they...they've hurt a lot of people. But I'm not like them. I rebelled and...well, yeah. Just that."

"You should tell everyone that then!" I tell her. Kennedy nods enthusiastically with my words. "Then they'll stop targeting you!"

"They won't listen. They'd never believe me."

I want to disagree with her, but...I've seen how Wess and the others have reacted to her. With volatility and anger. They would probably snap her neck before hearing her out. The very thought makes me incredibly anger. Camiren is a nice girl! They shouldn't hate her just because of what her family has done!

"But enough about that," Camiren says with a small smile. "Let's get back to training. I want to try my hand at making a hammock."

The three of us get up and travel across the open gymnasium towards the hammock making station. After our encounter with Wess, I keep my eyes open for anyone else who may be throwing us nasty looks. There's more of them then I'd like, and I suddenly feel fearful for both of my friends. Will they target Kennedy and myself for aligning with Camiren?

"Hey there!"

Two kids greet us at the station, both already at work on their own hammock. District 13. They smile at us and invite us to work with them, or one does. The boy never looks up from where he sits, hands folded and eyes half-closed. It's like he's trying hard to remember something, but it keeps slipping away from him.

"Oh. Umm. Hi..." Kennedy shuffles her feet nervously, not really the talkative type.

"My name is Camiren! And this is Kennedy and Amethystia!" At least one of us knows how to interact with people. Camiren keeps a smile on her face as she introduces us, probably happy that the kids don't want her dead.

"I'm Jenessa," The girl says, and I notice that her nose is as oversized as mine. "And this is Doug." She gestures at the boy, who still doesn't look up.

"Hi Jenessa and Doug!" I say, biting my lip as soon as the words are out. That was a stupid thing to say.

"You two looking for more allies?" Camiren asks casually. Hmm? Is she trying to find more people for our alliance? I look the two up and down, vaguely recalling that they were from both the 326th and 327th Games. They were a pretty smart duo, probably would have won too if Frade (7) wasn't so hell bent on murdering Doug.

"Yeah, actually. We were just--" Jenessa turns to tap Doug on the back of his head. "Hey! Doug! These girls want to align with us!"

"Oh. Oh, what?" The boy blinks up at us, confused.

"They want to join with us. Their names are--"

"Oh. I heard their names," Doug waves his hand dismissively. He did? I hadn't thought he was paying any attention to our conversation. "They're, Kennedy, Camiren, and Amethystia, right?"

Jenessa nods and says something else to him when Kennedy taps on my shoulder. "Can we talk?" She asks. "All of us? Alone."

Seeing the look on her face, Camiren nods quickly. Telling the District 13 tributes to hang on, she leads the two of us to the corner of room. Nearby, Jet (8) slips and falls off the gauntlets. "What's wrong?" I'm the first to speak.

Kennedy entwines her finger through a stray strand of her hair. "I...I don't think we should accept them."

"Why not?" Camiren asks as I look back to them right now. Jenessa seems to be scolding Doug about something.

"It's just..." Kennedy shrugs helplessly. "I don't want more people. It makes me feel uneasy."

"But we need them," I say without thinking. "We'd get slaughtered by anyone with just the three of us. Safety in numbers."

"Amethystia is right," Camiren backs me up. "We need them."

Kennedy sees that our minds are made up. Shrugging again, she relents. "Fine...but I'm no good with small talk." We head back to our new allies. Jenessa is thrilled to know that they're in. Doug is...stoic. He doesn't say a word, rather just nodding silently and going back to working on the hammock. Jenessa tells us he just has a lot on his mind. "Been that why since the Death Duel..." She speaks quietly, watching her friend with worried eyes. "He hasn't told me what's bothering him, but it has to be pretty serious." I have a pretty serious concern too.

It's called staying alive.

Aelia Freedome (District 0)

I watch Amaya (14) as she sits at the foot of the table with Ganta (12). She jabbers away, talking excitedly about something I can't hear. Ganta, for his part, just sits there and nods, barely ever getting a word in. I don't trust him. And neither should Amaya. He left her to die just so he could save himself. He doesn't deserve her admiration or her love.

"You really don't like him, do you?" Annabeth (3) startles me, sliding her tray full of food onto the table and sitting beside me. The blonde girl was one of the first I recruited, someone I purposely asked to join. She's smart, smarter than the rest. The perfect ally.

"No," I answer with a shake of my head. "I don't. And it's not baseless, I have a very valid reason for my dislike." Annabeth just nods. For some reason, I think she's silently judging me. "We can't trust him. He's already shown that."

"Maybe so. But Amaya trusts him. Don't you think that should count for something?"

"Amaya is whimsical," I say pragmatically. "A hopeless romantic who believes in true love and thinks everything is like a storybook."

"You don't give her enough credit. She's smarter than she looks," Annabeth sips her drink, watching my eyes as I grimace at Amaya laughing at something Ganta said.

"It's not that I think she's stupid. It's just that I don't think her mind works right when Ganta is concerned. People tend to trust the people they love more than they should." I've learned much in my life. More than I'd ever let on.

"Can't argue with that," Annabeth let's her eyes drift off to where Aisha (8) and Amore (6), two others in our alliance, come walking into the cafeteria, and quickly get themselves a tray. Most of the other alliances haven't arrived yet. We were early. "Good thinking on recruiting those two," Annabeth inclines her head at them. "They're a strong pair."

"Amica recruited them," I say absently, still trying to read Ganta's expression. What is he thinking? Is he truly sorry for abandoning Amaya or is he just lying to her so our alliance protects him?

"Good job recruiting her, then. She's a little treasure trove of surprises."

I turn to look for the girl, finding her eating at the table beside ours. Her sunset orange hair is tied up in two ponytails, and her her golden eyes gleam as she hungrily digs into her meal. "She was an easy sell," I say to Annabeth. "It was convincing her shadow that we could be trusted that was difficult." Anissa (1), an amazon of a girl who stands over six feet tall, stands beside Amica (14) right now, having already eaten. She looks just like her friend, same sunset hair, same golden eyes, both even have tan skin. It's just that Amica is more like a playful golden retriever while Anissa is a fierce Doberman.

"You're two peas in a pod," Annabeth says without looking up from her bowl of noodles. "Both hellbent on protecting their friends while failing to look after yourself."

I let the comment pass, thinking of something. "Annabeth..."

"Aelia," She mimics my tone.

"Would you have forgiven Percy, if he had left you to die?"

She stops scraping her bowl and looks up slowly. Her blue eyes seem to be in another place, somewhere far off. I squirm in my seat, feeling a little guilty for name dropping her dead love like that. "Annabeth, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have--"

"No. No, it's fine," Annabeth let's out a shaky breath and smiles at me. "I...I'll get over it. I have to." I nod, still feeling bad. I know how I'd feel if someone were to randomly bring up my dead friends... "I would."


"I would have forgiven Percy. If he felt guilty, and was truly sorry, I'd forgive him. Because everyone deserves another chance. Especially someone you love."

Annabeth stands up and departs, her tray empty. I think I saw tears glistening in her eyes. I shouldn't have mentioned Percy. But still...her words have given me something to ponder. Something to consider.


A giggling voice has me spinning in my seat. Amaya. A wide smile is on her face, her blonde hair seemingly aglow with joy. Ganta stands beside her, avoiding my eye.

"Oh. Hi, Amaya." I ignore Ganta. Two can play that game.

"I really like our alliance!" Amaya is seemingly oblivious of the tension between us, or maybe she's just trying to ignore it. "You've done a good job!"

"It wasn't just me. Everyone has played a part." Except Ganta. He just sits there and distracts Amaya from training.

"Oh, I know. But guess what?" Her eyes sparkle playfully.


"Ganta says he could get some of his District partners to join us!" Oh, does he? I glance at the dark-haired boy, not surprised to find that he's still avoiding my gaze. We've been at ends ever since our first encounter, when he asked me to teach him how to wield a spear. I declined. I want to teach my allies as much as possible, but I refuse to teach him anything that could be used against me.

"You think they'll join?" I ask Amaya instead of Ganta.

"Probably. I mean, maybe. A few could..." Ganta stumbles over his words, still fixated on his shoes. I doubt he'd be able to convince a lobotomized hobo to join his alliance with this kind of stumbling. Still, I just nod and tell him to have anyone he can convince to speak with me. I'm not expecting to anyone listen to his pitch.

Amaya waves goodbye to me and the two of them turn to walk away when I grab her elbow and pull her back. She blinks at me in surprise but doesn't say anything before I speak. "He's not Sean, Amaya," I tell her in a low voice. Ganta hasn't noticed she's stopped walking with him. "So don't try to treat him like he is."

"I know that!" She yanks her arm free, staring up at me with annoyed eyes.

"Maybe. But just remember that you're putting more than just your own life at risk by trusting him. You're risking the whole alliance's lives too."

"Ganta's not going to get us killed, Aelia! He's not some monster!" Amaya turns and walks away, her hair whipping over her shoulders. I watch her, afraid of the rift that Ganta is sowing between us.

"I hope you're right, Amaya," I say to myself as I watch her go. "I hope you're right."

Harvest Cropper (District 9)

Everything breaks down into chaos as people rush for the cafeteria, the stronger shoving past the weak on their way towards the buffet of food laid out before them. Trent (11), a Career recruit, shoves Wocky (7) and causes the smaller boy to drop his tray, his food smearing on the linoleum. Wocky snarls angrily while Trent just laughs and flips him off. The other Careers hoot with laughter when he sits down beside them.

"Good thing we ate early," Julian (13), my lone ally mutters as he sees this. I like this sandy haired kid. When I first met him, running the Gauntlet rather unsuccessfully, he invited me to try and do better. I failed on the first step, and we both got a good laugh out of that. We decided that we'd form an alliance right there and then. We both knew that we needed more allies though; just the two of us wouldn't last all that long.

"Yeah. These people are like animals," I reply to Julian, letting my eyes wander over the group's. Both of us ate early, but decided to hang around and see if we could spot an alliance that we'd be comfortable joining. "What about them?" I point at a trio as they sit at a table.

"No...I don't like the look of that District 3 boy. He seems...suspicious," Julian frowns.

"Okay. Them?" I point at a pair of District 9 girls as they sit down at a small table in the very back of the cafeteria.

"The big one looks like she'd eat us alive," Julian muses quietly. "Though I'd be up for it. They're your District partners after all."

Right. I remember when I tried talking with Vera (9) and she stared right through me. Plasma (9) just told me how bad my fashion sense was. I don't know why I pointed them out. The both of us continue to try and decide who to approach. The Careers are out of the question, of course. So are the Anti-Careers; neither of us desire the targets that'd make us. Julian suggests that large alliance compromised mostly of girls, but he doesn't really seem all that interested in the notion, and I'm not too fond of it either. I come up with joining the McGranger's and Fawn, but Julian isn't keen on the idea. "Madeva and Fawn would just watch us like hawks, expecting us to kill Billy at any moment. I don't think it's a good idea..."

Julian never just shoots an idea down, he always just says what he thinks and let's me voice my own opinion. So far I've always agreed with him, but I wonder what would happen if we disagreed. "Let's just get back to training," I say after a few more indecisive thoughts. "Clear our head and think more."

"Yeah, okay."

We exit the cafeteria, passing by the Career table on the way. Elvis (1) sticks his foot out and trips me, and I almost knock myself unconscious on the linoleum. It's embarrassing and infuriating, but I just give him a thumbs-up and continue on my way. Julian just watches me nervously. "Selfish jerks," He mutters and then looks about like he's surprised he said it.

"Yeah. They're not very nice people. But no need to anger them. Not right now." We're walking pass the elevators when we see them, sitting on the bottom step of the staircase used in the case of emergencies. Banette (8) and Johnathan (5). I tap Julian on the shoulder. "Them?" I ask, jerking a thumb in their direction.

He nods slowly. "Worth a shot."

We approach the pair. Johnathan has his hands held behind his head in a relaxed manor, and Banette has his arms crossed, his face covered by his signature black bandanna. His watery pink eyes swivel to face us. "What do you want?" He demands, his voice flat and emotionless. I remember what my escort told me, that he went absolutely nuts on the train when he saw what happened to his best friend, Shuppet Jorravaskr. Banette, apparently, beat two Peacekeepers unconscious and nearly strangled a third to death before his escort smashed a bottle over his head.

Maybe this isn't such a good idea.

"Umm..." I lose my words as I stare at the gloomy figure and his giant friend. Johnathan raises an eyebrow.

"Weird time to lose your mind. Especially considering the two of you stopped to stare at us before approaching."

Oh. They saw that? I didn't think they did. Julian and I share an uneasy look and then he shrugs. "We were...hoping to join your alliance." He's nervous, it shows in his words. Hopefully Banette takes that the right way. Johnathan (5) seems to be thinking hard when his friend speaks.

"Oh? Do you now? And why the hell should I trust you? Hmm?" Anger and hatred radiates in his eyes. Hatred for the world around him. The only people he ever cared for are either dead or sitting beside him. He's kinda like me, in that respect.

"You can trust me," Julian speaks quietly, his icy blue eyes fixed on his shoes. "You can trust me, because I have also lost someone. My mother was a freak who was obsessed with the Games. She tried to make my little sister into a...a Victor. She changed her. I don't know how, but she did. Even after my older sister murdered my mother, Jolee still wasn't the same. She started hurting herself, and one day she hurt herself beyond saving. And I sat there and told her a story as she died in my arms. That is why you can trust me!" Julian looks up, and I see the pain there. So much pain and suffering, loss and heartbreak. There's more hurt in there, then even in Banette's eyes. They're both the same. So much loss in their lives, yet they haven't let it change them. They haven't lost themselves.

"Guess I can." That's all Banette has to say. We just rest in silence, unshed years gleaming in Julian's eyes. I shift from foot to foot, feeling uneasy.

"You can trust me too," I finally say. "My parents were murdered by my Grandparents, and they forced me to volunteer or face death by their hands. And I volunteered. Because I want to die in my own way, not because they willed it."

Johnathan scoffs. "Man. The three of you have had very painful lives!"

"Why didn't you just kill your grandparents?" Banette asks casually, like it's a completely normal question. "Smother them in their sleep or something?"

"I'm no murderer," I say simply.

Banette laughs. It's short and quick, a momentary change from his usual demeanour. "Well, I have some advice for you, my new allies," I exchange a excited look with Julian upon hearing the word. We're in! "You'd better learn to be a murderer real quick," Banette's words drown out my initial excitement. "Because in the Hunger Games, you're one of two things. You know what they are?"

Julian and I speak at the same time. "What?"

Banette stands, cracking his knuckles and staring at us with his unusual pink eyes. "You're either a murderer...or a corpse."

Stario Lucaren (District 6)

The knife feels awkward in my hand, unnatural. Like a fish out of water, a bird without wings, I don't belong with a weapon, I don't belong here. Dozens of kids surround me, practicing with spears and swords, throwing knives and axes. Some wrestle with trainers, other forsake the knowledge of their elders and learn things on their own. All of them are stronger than me.

I slash at the dummy, my knife barely knicking the thick wood of it. Hardly a scratch. I want to cry, but I don't. Everyone would see my weakness, Mark me as an easy target. I don't want that. I don't want anyone to come after me.

I drive the knife, tip forward, into the dummies shoulder. It sinks in with a solid Thwack!. I have more than a little difficulty pulling it back out.

" do look most appetizing!"

A feline purr, a hand touching my shoulder. I leap in fright, my heart hammering a thousand beats a minute. The girl stares at from under her black and orange hair, cat-like red eyes watching me. A lazy smile flickers across her face. Trick Treat. One of the most brutal and savage tributes here.

"Get away from me!" I hold my knife up and point it at her. She just laughs. We both know I couldn't do a thing with it.

"Oh? And if I don't?"

She sidles closer, but I backup, still waving my weapon at her. "I'm warning you!" I remember some of the stories about her. I don't know if they're true, I don't want to know. But they've always terrified me, and now, seeing her so close...

"I'm wondering how I'll kill you," She purrs, ignoring my empty threats. "Snap your neck, maybe? Stomp on your back and break your spine? Rip off your eyelids? Bite off your tongue? Maybe I'll take a knife, like the one you're holding, and slowly filet you. I'd keep your blood, of course. It'd taste so sweet..."

Tears form in my eyes, wild, unadulterated terror builds in my heart. She could do those things to me, any of them, and I wouldn't be able to stop her. I'm too weak. Not strong enough. Not brave enough. Trick is saying something about eating my heart, and I just snap.


I lung without thinking, without realizing what I'm doing. I see the bloodlust in Trick's eyes turn to surprise, and the terror as my knife sinks into her chest. A small gasp escapes her mouth, she looks down to see the blood bubbling free, staining my knife and hand. "You...little ...bastard..."

I rip the knife out and she falls. There's no grace, no regalia as she slumps to the cold linoleum floor. Her blood stains the tiles, mars it's beauty. My entire body is shaking. I can't stop it. I can't believe what I just did.

I killed Trick Treat.

I killed her in training.

Before the Games even begun.

I will pay for it.

Solar Energy (District 0)

I hear shouts from the other tributes as they begin to gather in a circle around one of the weapon stations. A staff member rushes over and immediately calls for help as he pushes his way through the throng of tributes.

What's happened?

I deposit my oaken spear back onto the rack and slowly drift across the gymnasium. All around me, others begin to do the same. "What's happening?" Axel from District 7 wonders aloud as we reach the back of the throng.

"He killed her!" A kid exlaims from the front. "She's dead! He killed Trick Treat!"

What?! Kids gasp in shock beside me, a few smile grimly as they realize one of the biggest threats is now dead. I don't believe it, can't comprehend. Trick is dead? Who killed her? And why?

I slip through the pile of kids, ignoring someone who tries to order me back. I find a surprising sight.

Trick lies flat on the floor, a small wound in her chest gushing with crimson blood. A surprised gasp is frozen upon her face, her red eyes staring blankly into the ceiling. Little, unassuming Stario (6) stands over her, a small, bloodstained knife clutched in his hand. He's saying something to the staff attendant, something about how he panicked.

"Outta the way!"

An armed retinue of Peacekeepers have arrived, no doubt alerted my the rest of the staff. They begin to shoo the other tributes away while one of them approaches Stario. "What the hell didja do, boy?" He asks the frightened kid.

"I didn't mean to! I-I-...panicked! S-she was threatening me, and I just didn't know what to do!" Stario is almost incoherent as he desperately tries to explain his actions. I feel sorry for the boy, have a sad feeling stir inside of my chest. He just wasn't able to cope with the pressure. He snapped, like many wish to do, but don't because of their fear.

"You realize how grave of an offense this is?" The Peacekeeper demands. I believe that even he doesn't know how to properly address the situation. What do you do with someone who murders before the Games? Is there even a precedent for this?

"No! I mean, yes!" Stario babbles his words, crying and thrashing about wildly. I almost choke on my pity.

"Enough. You bring shame to Your family with that kind of crying!" Llewellyn appears at my side, staring at Stario with cold eyes.

"Sir, what are we to do?" The Peacekeeper seems happy to have someone else to make the decisions.

"I just talked with the President," Llewellyn says, stroking his beard.


"He wants an example made out of the boy."

We stand in a single form line, all ninety of us. The stations have closed down, Trick's body has been removed and the blood washed away. The only reminder of what happened is before us, where Stario kneels.

Behind him, Llewellyn and the Peacekeepers stand at the ready. Their eyes show us all we need to know. This is going to be a statement, a message to us tributes that we're not above the rules laid down by the Capital. That no one is.

"Tributes of the 400th Annual Hunger Games," Llewellyn addresses us formally, like today's opening speech. "You've all been told the rules, told that you cannot touch another tribute until the Games begin, and that there'd be dire consequences for anyone who chose to flout this rule." His eyes scan the line, meeting some of our own gazes. Most look away, I stare right back at him, forcing him to be the one that turns. "But, Stario Lucaren," He gestures to the boy at his feet. Tears trickle down his face, his hands and feet are bound. There will be no escape. "Decided that our rules did not apply to him. He felt that he was above the law, so he decided to kill another tribute to try and earn himself an advantage."

"No!" Stario interrupts with a shout, his voice brimming with emotion. "I didn't! I was only scared! I panic--"

He breaks off into a muffled scream as a Peacekeeper forces a gag into his mouth. I hear someone in the line give a whimper, another laughs. What savage animals we have among us.

"Stario Lucaren," Llewellyn continues like nothing happened, ignoring the outburst. "Believed he had special rights. Well, he did not. Today he will face the full consequences of his action." Llewellyn did not come up with this speech on his own. He's being fed his lines, word by word. President Stryker wants us to know just whose in charge.

"Sergeant Porter!" A stocky Peacekeeper steps forward, Llewellyn hands him a black handgun. "Handle Mister Lucaren's punishment."

I bite back my shout as Porter aims the gun at the back Stario's head. Tears slide down the boy's face as he realizes what is about to happen. He keeps his eyes open, and they go down the line, pleading for help. When they meet mine, I look away.

The gun fires.

I am ashamed. I could stare Llewellyn in the eyes, make a silent challenge. But I could not help Stario. I left him to die. His only crime being a frightened boy who killed a sub-human monster. I feel powerless. Just as the Capitol intended.

"This will be the punishment of any tribute who lies a hand on another during the rest of the training period," Llewellyn turns back to us, the living tributes. They do not move Stario's body, they want us to see it. "And for any other serious infraction. The Capitol has rules, and you must follow those rules. Belligerents will not be tolerated. Understood?"

"Yes, sir." The crowd answers him.

"Good. Then consider today's training complete. You are dismissed."

The line breaks apart. Some go straight for the elevators, others stand still with wide eyes, shocked at what they saw. A few laugh. And still others just accept it for what it is; Just another day under the rule of the Capitol.

Day 2

Luna Fern (District 6)

When my alarm rings, I don't move.

I lay in bed, listening to it as it futility attemps to rouse me. My limbs feel like iron, too heavy to move. My head throbs like a bomb has gone off inside it. The fan in the bathroom makes a gentle humming noise that echoes in the background.

How did I wind up back here?

The first time I went into the Games, I was comfortable in knowing that I'd never need to repeat this process, that I was one and done. But now? Now, I am once more trapped in the Capitol's little game. Just a pawn on their board. Stario's execution was the breaking point.

I liked the guy, even though I never really spoke with him. He was funny, but not boisterous. Kind, but not obtrusive with it. He was a good person. And the Capitol murdered him for doing what they taught us.

A screeching voice breaks my quiet reflection, calling for me. I ignore it for now. I remember my mother, and how she was nearly killed by the Capitol. Instead, she was just turned into an Avox. A far worse fate, if you ask me. Death is preferable to being a slave.

"Luna! Don't make me come in there!"

Calpurnia. That woman is insufferable. I wish a train had run her over. Can't lie here any longer, she'll ferret me out and drag me if I don't. Stupid woman.

So I roll out of bed and get myself dressed, feeling absolutely miserable. What's there to look forward to? Dying in the Games? I want to be positive, I really do, but it's hard when you know that death is your only future. Makes everything gloomy.

"There you are!" Calpurnia scolds me when I emerge from my room. She has a gigantic, midnight blue peacock feather attached to her head and looks absolutely ridiculous. "I thought I'd need to wake you myself! You have terrible protocol senses!"

"Oh, just stuff it!" I barge pass her on my way to the dining room.

"My word!"

She follows me into the kitchen, where I deposit myself in a engraved steel chair at an car shaped table. A miniature train set runs along the ceiling. District themed.

"Hey, Luna!" Amore (6) greets me with a cheerful smile. Far too cheerful, considering what happened yesterday. I just mumble a greeting and dig into the plate that was waiting for me.

"Know how they're spinning Trick and Stario's deaths to the rest of the country?" Wolbert (6) asks me from the foot of the table.

"I don't want to know, but tell me anyway." Gonna be something that looks good. Can't have the truth getting out.

"They're saying that as part of a twist, that they had the top two strongest tributes fight the weakest ones," Wolbert says, and I shut my eyes. Of course. Now everyone thinks that some weakling had a surprise upset and beat Trick, while Stario was killed by a favourite. Damn bastards just made more hype for themselves.

"Think they'll stage fake fights to show everyone?" Blade (6) asks without looking up from his plate.

"Wouldn't put it pass them " I grunt. The Capitol would do anything to make themselves appear strong.

"Why not just revive them again?" Amore asks while rubbing an apple on her shirt.

I shrug. "Probably takes time. That'd be my guess, at least." I don't imagine it's a simple process, by any means. I couldn't think of what type of materials they'd need for it. "And that wouldn't be setting a very good precedent. Think about it: You break the rules, they kill you and then revive you? No punishment then."

"Makes sense," Wolbert agrees and we eat our meal in silence.

Chloe Black (District 2)


The elevator opens and the six of us step out into the gymnasium. We're one of the first to arrive, only Districts 1, 4, and 7 are here. "Good! They cleaned that whiners body up!" Pansy (2) tosses her crimson locks over her shoulder as she charges for the rest of the Careers. She's right. The little whimpering sob's body has been moved and the floor scrubbed clean. One less opponent for me!

When I reach the others, Elvis (1) and Cole (1) strike up a conversation and drift away from the group. It could have been coincidence, but I don't trust them enough to believe that. They purposely gave me command of the least amount of Careers, leaving me with only the females. "Sexist pricks," I mutter, watching them with venomous eyes. They'll get theirs, when the time is right.

"Hey, baby!"

I resist punching a wall as Trident (4) appears at my shoulder. Blonde, muscular, and tan, I'd normally find him handsome. But this guy is a complete tool, an idiot, and flirts with every girl within a five mile radius. "What do you want?" I snap at him. "I'm busy, you know!"

"Oh. I know. Being leader has to be pretty stressful, huh?" He leans against the wall and tries to look charming. It doesn't work.

"I'm not your leader, didn't you hear? Elvis is in charge of you."

"Pfah. He's not my leader," Trident waves a hand around as he speaks.

"Hmm?" Interesting. I never gave thought to the possibility that others may not have liked the deal we ended up with. "Then who do you think is leader?"

"You, of course!"

I'm aware that part of this is just pointless flirting, he thinks that he can woo me with trite flattery, but I can use him to my advantage. Bring him into my fold so that my strength continues to grow. "I'm glad someone sees it that way!" I bat my eyelashes and know immediately that I have him. Hook, line and sinker. "Does anyone else think like that?" I ask him, because he seems to always be drifting through our large alliance, speaking with just about everyone.

"A few. Some dislike you. Pansy in particular."

I snort derisively. I knew that crimson bitch couldn't be trusted! But no matter, I have the power. All she has is herself. "Think you could get anyone on my side?" Trident is suave, a master with words. He probably would have managed to swoon any of us girls if he didn't insist on trying to get us all. I'm sure he could swing someone to my side.

Trident stretches his arms, a cocky smile spreading across his face. "You recruiting me to your cause?"

"Obviously." Don't have much of a choice, at this point. Cole (1) and Elvis (1) already have too much influence, and they'd bump me off the first chance they get. Pansy, is also a problem. The girl is use to being leader. She won't listen to a word I say. A problem, when she's one of four girls I'm supposed to be leading.

"I believe I could get a some on your side," Trident grins, happy that I'm forced to rely on him.


"Ryan, maybe Dylan. Definitely Olympic, he's spitting mad he wasn't made one of the male leaders."

"Jake and Cullinan?" I ask. Those two have become fast friends.

"Possibly. It'd take some convincing, though. They don't have much initiative."

It's not the ideal situation, but it's better than nothing. I give Trident the affirmative and lounge back, watching the other tributes as they begin to arrive in the gym. I'm already trying to make some big moves, and that's good. You only win the Games with a long-term strategy, not by being lucky.

Amica Belle (District 14)

"Our alliance is pretty big, huh?" I sit on my knees, watching as Anissa (1) swings a heavy battleax around, loping off dummies heads like it was nothing.

"Yeah." Anissa grunts and slams the heavy polearm into the last standing dummy. There's a massive Thwack! and the dummies wooden chest splits open. We got three new recruits this morning, Luna (6), Freya (8), and Ellis (10). At least two of them were motivated what happened to Stario yesterday. It was horrible. His face was in my dreams, crying for mercy as the Capitol executed him. Anissa was stone silent when it happened, anger pouring off her in waves. It's this anger that she now channels into her training.

"Let's try another weapon," My friend drops the axe and swipes a white towel across her face. "I want to try everything. Never know what weapon you'll have in the Games."


Honestly, I'm not too fond of training. It's not that I'm bad at it, Anissa taught me well enough when she was in District 14, but rather that I don't like imagining how I'll use these skills to kill people. Anissa says that I have sentimental streak. I just think that she's better at doing what you have to do to survive.

"Here, try this," Anissa pulls a baton off a rack and tosses it to me. The smooth, silver object feels cold in my hands. "Not particularly lethal, but easy to conceal. Should be able to pull it out in a pinch."

She walks off to go practice sparring with a trainer and I decide to try my hand at a quaint little test. There's a wooden pole in the center of a few pads, and when the trainer hits a button, small targets will pop out from the pole. It's my job to hit as many of them as possible. You have to keep moving, because the targets follow no set pattern and always pop out on different sides.

I'm quick on my feet, and do well at first. Striking each target only a few seconds after it appears, but soon it begins to pick up the pace and go faster and faster. My swings become uncoordinated and wild, missing the targets completely. Eventually, a whistle signals the end of the exercise.

"Good job," Anissa says to me when I step back. She has already defeated the trainer in sparring and stopped to watch the last few minutes of my attempt.

"Got too quick for me," I pant and bend over to collect my breath. I watch a few Careers lifting weights nearby, and think that I could do better. But then Olympic (C) and Trent (11), two obscenely muscular guys, take their turns. Both pick up the heaviest weight in the room and lift it like it was nothing. I'm astounded. I mean, I'm pretty strong myself, working with mutts all day requires great strength, but I'm nowhere near those guys level. They're beasts!

Anissa follows my gaze, a small frown forming on her face. I know that look. She's considering going over there and trying to pull off the same stunt, maybe even make it look easier. I don't think it'll work, but before I can say so something else catches Anissa's eye.

Ganta (12) is walking across the gym, closely followed by two of his District partners. Tiny, little Salem (12), and nondescript Falk (12). "Looks like he convinced someone after all," Anissa says, bringing up the fact that Ganta had promised to recruit some of his District partners. "Come on. Let's see what Aelia thinks."

We follow the procession across the gym, over to where Aelia is showing Mahogany (C) and Freya (8) how to make a shelter. Our leader looks up from where she was tying sticks together with some lashing and stares at Ganta in surprise. Evidently she didn't think he'd come through with his promise. "You got them," She says simply.

"I got them." Ganta seems a bit unsure of himself, his two friends look even more uncomfortable. Falk hops from foot to foot, while Salem keeps glancing at Aelia and the wings on Mahogany.

"Well, welcome to the alliance!" Aelia senses their discomfort and shakes their hands, telling them both that they're welcome here.

"What made you two want to join?" Anissa interjects herself into the conversation, as brash as usual. She looks rather cold right now, but she'll warm up to them soon enough. She always does.

"I wanted to stick it to the snooty Careers," Salem answers right away. She has that funny accent the people up in the northeast of Panem have. "Woulda joined the Anti's, but I feel that's more of a family affair. Ya know?" I nod. The Spectri and their lose friends make up most of that alliance.

"What about you, uh, kid?" Anissa asks Falk, forgetting his name.

"It's Falk," He supplies it readily, not offended at all. "And to be honest, I just want a large alliance to protect me." It's a rather selfish goal, but I respect his honesty. I feel that several others have joined for the same reasons; they just didn't say so outright. Anissa wrinkles her nose, but doesn't say anything. It's her sense of pride that make her feel that way, I'd bet.

"It is nice to have you two on board," Aelia says cordially, dipping her head in respect. That's why she's leader. Along with the sense of purpose that hangs around her. "If you come with me, I'll introduce you to everyone in the alliance..."

The five of us present are introduced, and then the trip heads off to meet with the rest. I'm watching them go when Anissa taps me on the back. "Come on. Let's go shoot some arrows!"

I watch the trio walk up to Ellis (10) and Luna (6) as they come off the gauntlets, Aelia begins the introduction. Our alliance is huge, only rivaled by the Careers. I wonder if that's good or bad. I shrug it off and turn to Anissa.

"Okay. Let's go."

Curricular Lunes (District 12)

I'm being watched.

The canyon I walk through is deserted, empty of animal and people. There's no wind, no noise at all. No sign that anything is wrong. But I feel their presence. I tighten my grip on the curved sword in my hand, perhaps a poor weapon for this occasion.

The end of the canyon nears. I know they will spring their trap soon, but from where? The high clefts or the low caves? Could be either. Maybe--


A grizzled blue figure appears on the top of the wall, a bow and arrow pointed right at me. I barely dodge out of the way before his first shot sinks into the dirt at my feet. Then I know it has begun.

There's still no noise, but I feel the tension kick in. A pair of holographic figures come charging out from a cave, one with a spear, the other with an axe. I make a quick assessment of the situation and swing at the axe-wielder.

My sword slices through his shoulder and there's a faint buzzing as he dematerializes before my very eyes. A whistling noise breaks me out of stupor. An arrow flies past, nicking my ear. I yelp as my ear thorns with simulated pain and I forget all about the spearman.

A spear stabs me through the chest.


A deep, videogame-like voice shouts out and everything dims. I'm left alone in complete darkness, but then a beam of light shines in my face and then the lights flicker back on, revealing a plain room filled with bland gray boxes that stood in for the canyon walls. The holographic battle is over. I lost.

"Nice try," Rosalina (0) greets me as I step out of the box.

"Their pretty graphics surprised me," I say with a grin. "Its not only holographic, it's virtual reality!"

"Yeah, I saw. The box changes to show the environment you chose the moment you began," Rosalina nods her head. "Why'd you choose a canyon?"

I shrug. "It was a good place for an ambush. I wanted to see how I'd fare."

"Did you expect to win a three-on-one ambush?" Her intelligent blue eyes twinkle with humor.

"Well, no. But I thought I'd get two, at least." I glance back at the row of boxes, three in total. Luxray (14) is in one, battling holographic soldiers upon a castle battlement, Kaneki (C) has entered mine, and is now entering what appears to be a graveyard, and other box has Caspian (3), whose still trying to beat the box on it's highest difficulty, "Immediate Death".

"How's he been doing?" I ask Rosalina as we both watch him get impaled with a javelin. The box dims, but as soon as it goes back to normal, Caspian has them restart it.

"The longest he's lasted was fifteen seconds," Rosalina replies. "And that was after thirty tries." I shake my head, dumbfounded by his stubbornness. Why does he want to beat it anyways? The box has customization options, letting you choose the battleground and number of enemies, but it also has a few preset options. The hardest being the "Immediate Death", which Caspian is addicted to.

"When do you think he's giving up?" I ask Rosalina.

She smirks. "When they throw him out. He's more stubborn then a mule!"

We both get a laugh out of that. I like Caspian, but that doesn't mean i can't laugh at his quirks. Real friends do that all the time, and...I don't think I consider these two real friends. Not when I know I'll have to kill them. But that's something I don't have to worry about right now.

"Hey, can we talk?"

A lean, boy with breathtakingly blue eyes comes up to us. My mouth opens to issue a greeting, when I recognize him as Dylan from District 4. A Career. "What do you want?" Rosalina keeps her voice neutral. More neutral than I could ever be. I'd be too soft, because he's so handsome, or too hard, because he's a Career.

"I...was thinking about making an alliance," Dylan casually creeps forward, eyes glued to the holographic box. Pretending like he's not talking with us?

"You want an alliance? With us?" Rosalina sounds skeptical.

"Yeah. But keep your voice down. They'd kill me if they found out I was doing this," Dylan is right beside US now, gazing into the box where Kaneki avoids the sweeping scythe of a hologram. "They still think I'm with them."

His face is soft, devoid of subterfuge or misdirection. I trust him immediately, knowing that he wouldn't go through this trouble just for a prank. "But why us?" I ask, ignoring the look Rosalina gives me. "What make us special?"

"I...don't know. You three seem like nice people..." Dylan's eyes drop to the floor, I sense embarrassment in his words. He really is very shy.

"Three? So you know Caspian is aligned with us?" Rosalina has a harsh edge to her voice, so I nudge her in the shoulder. It's not every day you get a Career District tribute volunteering to help you.

"Yeah. He's the one who keeps getting himself massacred, right?" He points out the box where Caspian is getting bombarded with a hail of spears and arrows.

"Yeah. That's him."

"What do think? Can I join? I'll pretend to be with the Careers, at first. But then I'll ditch them and you join up with you. Sound good?"

"Yes," I answer immediately and while Rosalina rolls her eyes, she always accepts. I think she sees the strategic value in having an insider in the Career alliance. It gives us a valuable resource, something we can use to our advantage.

"Yes!" Dylan pumps his fists in excitement, before realizing he's meant to keep a low profile. Kaneki, who has just failed inside of the holographic box, stares at him with his one eye. "Oops. Sorry." Dylan straightens himself out as a voice calls for him. "Trident! I gotta go, just remember our alliance!" Dylan rushes off, leaving us alone.

"Interesting character," Rosalina mutters. She doesn't seem completely fond of the alliance.

"You don't trust him," I realize the reason for her hesitancy.

"Of course not. This is the Hunger Games; you can't trust anyone!"

"Not even me?"

Rosalina eyes me up for a moment, before giving a small laugh. "I suppose I trust you, if only because you're too nice to stick a knife into my back." I smile. Rosalina, always keeping things practical. One of the holographic boxes open, drawing both of our attention. Caspian shoulders his way out, looking absolutely annoyed. The look on his alone tells me not to ask whether he beat the highest difficulty or not.

"Just waiting for me?" He asks when he spots us. "Not training yourselves?"

"We actually have something to tell you," Rosalina says and recounts our encounter with Dylan. Caspian doesn't speak as he listens, but the expression upon his face contorts with each word. When Rosalina finishes, he is practically sneering at us.

"Could you have not waited for me?" He's decidedly calm, though a cold anger pollutes each word. I never gave thought to the idea that Caspian may not have agreed with the alliance. "Was I so inconsequential in this decision?"

"Of course not!" I try to stem the ill will that is flooding this conversation.

"We would have asked you," Rosalina adds. "But you kept throwing yourself into a meat grinder. Kinda hard to contact you in there."

For a moment, I think I see a dangerous light in Caspian's eyes. But he blinks, and then it's gone. "I suppose you're correct," He sighs and runs a hand through his hair. "I was unattainable. I just hope this bloke isn't a bloody wanker." I exchange a look with Rosalina, still unused to Caspian's colourful words.

"We should get back to training," Rosalina is the first to turn away. "We only have today and tomorrow's private training sessions left before the Games."

Ziya Ashton (District 3)

The bell calls us to eat lunch and I'm the last one to come. I've already noticed the ridiculously large amount of Careers, which would be especially important against the new threat of that alliance led by Aelia (0). Plus, the Anti-Careers are still a threat, possessing a smaller, but still very capable, amount of tributes. There's also dozens of other alliances, ranging from five tributes to a simple pair. Everyone seems to think that aligning will keep them alive.

Then there's me, and other tributes like me who have no allies and no intent to gain any.

As I walk into the dining hall, I notice the two large tables, vertical from where I stand and both on either side of the room. Both have enough seats for at least twenty tributes, and each one is filled. To the left, the large table is occupied by the Careers and to the right, the Anti-Careers and Aelia's alliance share a table. Surrounding the largest tables are dozens of smaller ones, arranged in a diamond around the main tables. Each little table seems to have at least a small group of tributes sitting at it, ruining my plan of eating alone. At the very end of the room is a large, buffet-style table with abundant amounts of varying food. I make that my first destination.

I grab a tray and get in line behind Josool (C), who appears to be adding every single food item possible to his own tray. Doesn't he know he's already fat? Unfortunately, I just have to wait for him to finish, which takes forever. When he does, I fill up my own tray with all sorts of exotic foods I never got to eat on the streets of District 3. Another reason I despise Josool. He's from the Capitol and should be used to eating like a king. I'd have had more sympathy, if he was from a District.

When my tray is filled, I look around for a place to sit. The table nearest to me holds a group of five, talking quietly amongst themselves. The table on their left holds a pair from District 9. The two girls seem to be arguing over something, but it sounds pointless. My eyes glaze over several more tables until settling on one filled with three loners. Perfect. They'll have no desire to make small talk with me.

But when I sit down at the table, taking a bite out of the juicy fruit from my tray, I discover I am wrong. "Hi there!" Cassie (10) greets me with a small smile, a sandwich in her own hands. Beside her, Mizu (4) stares into her tray and Axel (7) vigorously eats a slice of pizza. I didn't know what it was called, until my mentor Axiom told me. I like the name. Pizza. It sounds funny. "Hello? You there?" Cassie frowns when I don't answer her. I shrug.

"Where else would I be?"

Axel guffaws with laughter while Cassie frowns, unsure of whether I'm making fun of her or not. Mizu keeps looking at her plate, probably a good thing. We all saw what happened when she snapped in the 399th Games. Actually, Cassie didn't. She was too busy being locked up somewhere.

"Em, I don't know? Mars?" Her answer takes me by surprise.

"Why in the world would I be on Mars?"

"I don't know. Sometimes I think about how things would be if we lived in space."

"There'd probably still be Hunger Games," Axel says with a nod of his head. "And all the planets would be Districts, and..."

I tune out of the conversation and focus on my meal. I didn't come here to chat with people or hear their small talk. I was sent here to die, but I'm going to make sure I win instead.

Fawn Talons (District 10)

I hoist the spear over my shoulder, aiming down the tip as I try to square up my target. A few quick breaths, then I release. The weapon sails through the air and then hits the outer rim of the target. There's not enough force behind the throw, so it doesn't stick. Instead it just bounces off, clattering to the floor.

Not too bad, but a spear certainly isn't going to be my weapon of choice. "Bulls-eye!" Billy (10) yelps excitedly, pumping his fists in the air.

"No, Billy. A bulls-eye is in the center of the target," I explain it patiently, but he just shakes his head.

"Oh, I know. I was cheering Madeva on," He gestures at his hulking beast of a sister, whose already taking aim with a second spear. Her first lies in the very center of her target. "Go, go Madeva!"

I watch in impressed silence as Madeva heaves another one of the spears, this one also hitting very close to the center. "Impressive," I dole out the required complement, but the big girl just grunts and picks up another spear. You'd think that our shared desire to protect Billy would put us closer together, but it really just seems to make an awkward silence. We each want to protect him in our own way, sometimes even stepping on the others toes to do so.

"How about you give it a try?" I ask Billy. Letting him how to use new weapons will certainly help in my effort.

"Okay!" Billy springs to his feet with a grin. "I'm pretty sharp when it comes to these things, if you get my point!"

Madeva chuckles loudly from where she's throwing another spear. Sharp. Point. Spears have sharp points. I get it. "Just don't hurt yourself," I warn as he nearly trips over his untied shoes grabbing the weapon.

"I'm not going to make myself a target!" He laughs as he takes aim. "Get it? Target?"

"I get it, Billy."

"Then watch this!" He heaves the spear, and immediately think that I have made a mistake. I just let Billy throw a sharpened weapon. There is so much that could go wrong with that. Fortunately, no one dies. Billy's spear flips over in the air and hits the target backwards, bouncing to the floor. I pat him on the back.

"Don't worry, Billy. There's plenty of other weapons." Less dangerous ones too.

"I was thinking that we could try using a bow," Madeva says from behind us. I frown. A bow? That's the single worse weapon to put in Billy's hands! He could put someone's eye out! In fact, he'd probably put everyone's eyes out!

Madeva leaves before I can protest, leading Billy across the gym and towards the Bow Station. I try not to think of what may happen if Billy accidentally shoots someone. There's zero tolerance for this stuff after what happened with Stario...

Two other kids are already at the station when we arrive, Ramon (C) and Cassie (10). Both are fairly accurate, always hitting the on the edge of the bulls-eye. And thankfully, there's nothing but a wall behind the targets. Billy won't be able to hit anyone...unless he spins around. "Doesn't look too complicated," Madeva mutters as she watches the teacher go through the mechanics. Billy watches in rapt attention, eager to learn as much as possible. I just note how both Ramon and Cassie clear out as soon as he's handed a bow. Billy's clumsiness must be well-known.

"Don't maim anyone, okay Billy?" I ask as I take my own bow from the rack. He frowns slightly, but nods anyway.

"As long as you don't either!"

"I'm serious, Billy."

"So am I! You could melt someone with that look!" I stare at him, until a grin spreads across his face. "That was a joke!" He chuckles and fiddles with his bow. I notice Madeva watching me with a disapproving stare.

"What?" I ask, moving out of Billy's earshot.

"He's not a little kid," She growls. I suddenly feel very small, standing next to her. She's nearly a foot taller, and looks like one of those kids who practice witchcraft or something. "So stop treating him like one!"

"I'm just trying to protect him!" I can't believe I need to defend myself against his sister. Surely she knows what could happen if I don't!

"You did a poor job of that in the Games," She stares down at me.

"Oh? Is that what this is about? Last time?" I didn't know she would be so hung up on that, but I should have expected it! "You think that you could have done better?"

"Oh, I know I would have!"

"Really? Woulda took on an entire alliance by yourself, huh?" I'm not backing down. I won't show weakness, that's what she wants. She's testing me, trying to prove my mettle. "Cuz, I don't think you'd win that battle!"

Madeva's eyes narrow, her fists clench at her side and...Billy laughs. He laughs! "I told you she wouldn't act apologetic!" He snickers, and the fierce look on Madeva's swaps to a slow smile.

"You're right. Guess she's stronger than she looks. Or just really stubborn."

"I knew you were testing me," I tell her, still trying to show I'm on top of my game. "But I didn't know Billy knew."

"He'd be pretty upset if I harassed you without telling him the reason first," Madeva grunts and goes back to her targets. Another girl has joined us now, Thalia (12). She fires a full quiver of arrows, twelve of them, off within seconds. Each one hits the bulls-eye, and soon there's a perfect circle of arrows embedded in the targets center. The girl drops her bow with a smirk and walks away.

"Billy," I step closer to him instinctively. "Remind me to stay away from her during the Games."

Ashley Curtis (District 5)

I keep my eyes glued on Marlon (10) as he explains a basic snare to the both of us. He's the youngest out of all of us, yet he's the most athletic, and also has a whole lot of intelligence. I notice that Amira (9) doesn't know what the hell he's talking about or what he's doing, but she encouragingly nods for him to continue anyways. When Marlon's finished, he smiles and demonstrates his tral by placing a knife on in it and we watch as it is slashed by the snare.

"Now, you two can try." He nods and gives us some of the basic supplies―a rope to trigger it, some spikes to slash whoever activates it, some springs and a complex device that is used to hold the entire thing together.

"Yeah, um, I don't think we all understand." I stare at the device and carefully prox at it, not the least bit sure of how I'm supposed to build this thing. "But it's fine because you're the smart one and we don't all need to know how it's done."

"Is that some sort of complement?" Marlon stares at me with a blank look. He's kinda strange, always talking about how he wants to burn the Capitol and how we need to band together to survive. I get the feeling that he doesn't have very many friends, a task made harder by his small impish appearance. He's like me, in that respect.

"It was meant to be," I say sheepishly and he just nods slowly, his golden eyes watching me curiously.

"Can we go train with the knives now?" Amira asks, glancing at the knife station which has finally been cleared from the Careers who are now crowding around the hologram station. "I really want to get some practice in before the private sessions tomorrow."


Marlon disengages his trap, and walks with us as we cross the room. "About the private sessions," He says while we we walk. "What do you think you're going to do?"

I shrug. "Dunno. Something cool, I guess. You're making a trap, right?" I figure since he's been tinkering with those the past two days, that he'd have something big to show the Gamemakers.

"I could. But I wouldn't get too high of a score, no matter how complex I made it." Marlon frowns as we reach our destination. Amira immediately goes to one of the knife racks.

"I don't think scores matter," She says while picking up a long, curved knife and giving it an experimental slash. "They don't help you live any longer, and you can win with a low one." Marlon mutters something I don't catch, and Amira turns to practice on a dummy.

"They'd get us sponsors," I say quietly, fearing I'll be thought of as egotistical. "And I need sponsors." How else will I survive? Even with Marlon, who's some kind of wolf-kid, I don't think that the three of us would fare very well.

"Well, I don't need anyone's help," Marlon raises his head proudly. "I'm perfectly capable of helping myself!" That's the difference between people like Marlon and me. He has more pride, more self-esteem. But...if he truly believes he doesn't need help, then why is he in an alliance? Maybe be knows he does need help, like all three of us. We need help, if we are to win. Otherwise we'll end up dead.

Crimson Typhoon (District 11)

I stand in line for the gauntlets, watching as a girl from the Capitol jumps from gauntlet to gauntlet, carefully avoiding the pendulums and making her way across without being hit once.

"She's good," Radiant (13), my ally in the 398th Games and my ally here, says as we both watch her go.

"Real good," I agree as the girl finishes with a spectacular jump. Flame Vapore. Expert jumper. Funny ring to it. Caliban (11), the next tribute up, only takes a few steps before a baton whacks him across the face. He's sprawled out on the floor for a long minute, before getting up and mumbling something about crack. I don't understand that kid.

Daisy (11), one of our fellow Anti-Careers, goes next. I feel sorta awkward being in the alliance, when most of them are Spectri or someone who loves one. Misty, is the only other average person in the alliance with me and Radiant. Not that it's a bad thing, not when the Spectri are so powerful, and Daisy that skilful. She leaps through the gauntlets, not as fast as Flame, but still as expertly.

"Yo, dude!" Radiant nudges me with his elbow. "Look up there!"

He points up to the rafters, where a thin walkway hangs above the gym. At first, I don't understand what he's trying to show me, but then I spot Josef (8). He's leaning against the railing, his purple bandanna covering his entire face, except for his grey eyes that stare down, watching every tribute. "He's creepy," I mutter quietly.

"Yeah. But I was pointing out Frade!" Radiant points again and I see our ally slinking along the walkway. He stops beside Josef and the pair begin to exchange words. What is he doing?

"Next up!"

I don't get to speculate very long. Daisy has finished with the gauntlets, and now it's my time to go. Radiant gives me a thumbs-up as I step up to the start. Here goes nothing!

I get past the first new sets of gauntlets with ease, nothing hard about it. The third, however, is rather difficult. I jump at a spinning board and clutch on firmly as it takes me around in a circle. I make the mistake of raising my head and receive a rather brutal thwack to the base of the skull. Disoriented and confused, I still manage to let go at the right moment and deposit myself onto the next platform.

There's smaller landings now, and a more difficult way across. I hold my breath and leap across fearlessly, stumbling over the first footfalls. A baton swipes my hand, and as I'm yelping in surprise, a pendulum takes me in the chest.

I'm thrown backwards, my head bounces off of the mat that softens my fall. The wind is knocked out of me, I can barely breath. Everything is sorta blurry. Then someone is helping me up, laughing. "You nearly took yourself out, jackclown!"

Frade grins down at me, his cruel voice high and impetuous. Boy, he moves fast. Wasn't he just in the rafters? "Thanks for helping me up." I try to shake my head clear as Radiant begins to run the gauntlets. He's doing better than I did.

"Training is about to end," Frade says, letting go of my shoulder. "You should get some rest before the privates tomorrow. Don't wanna knock yourself out again."

No. No, I really don't.

Douglas Biles (District 13)

There's a knocking out my door, and without even looking up from where I lay on the bed, I know that it will be Jenessa (13). Probably wondering why I haven't talked very much, or why I'm in such a forlorn mood. Sighing, I realize that I have to confide in her sooner or later. Might as well be now.

I throw myself off of the bed and start across the sickenly posh room. I partially left my job as a Gamemaker because of this sort of unjust social divide. Partially.

Jenessa smiles at me when I open the door, I am unable to return it. "Are you okay, Doug?" She asks, concern swirling in her luminous brown eyes. She's been a good friend. Tons of other people would have already stopped being my friend after how I've been neglecting her. "You've been so withdrawn since training..."

"Come in," I motion to the inside of my room and she cautiously steps in. I shut the door behind her and lock it, ignoring the surprised look I receive.

"Something the matter?" She asks me. I just shake my head and make a shushing motion as I reach a hand into a decorative vase and pull out a small, black object. "What is--" Jenessa stops herself as I shake my head vigorously. Not yet.

I pull the chair away from my desk, and use it to reach the vent in the ceiling. I pull another one of the small objects out, and then I collect the rest. One hidden under in the bathroom cupboard, one in the lampshade, one in the curtains, and one hidden under the mattress. "There!" I say with a weak smile, after tinkering with them and making sure they're off. "We can talk in private now."

"Doug...what are those?" Jenessa stares at the small pile on my bed in confusion.

"Spying devices. A few were cameras, others only listened. Don't worry; they're all deactivated now."

"How did you know where they were?"

"We had them in the same places back when I was still a Gamemaker. Well, except for the lampshade one. That's new." I try to sound jovial, but I can't really manage it. My conscious is weighing on me too heavily.

"Oh." Jenessa pulls her chair up until she's sitting across from me. She sits in silence, her hands slowly rubbing her knees. I believe she's expecting me to say something. I close my eyes as I try to think in how to begin.

"Jenessa, I need you to listen to me." I begin with a shaky breath, watching my friend to see how she reacts. I trust her more than anyone else in the world, yet I am about to divulge a life-changing secret. Can she handle it?

"I'm listening," Jenessa smiles patiently at me. For some reason, that makes me feel worse.

"What I am about to tell you, it's...going to be rather unbelievable. But every thing I say is the truth." Her eyes flicker, but she just nods. She can sense how serious I am, but she doesn't know what I'm going on about. She will soon enough.

"The Capitol told us we were revived, correct?" It's a rhetorical question, we both know the answer, so I continue without stopping. "They told us that they brought us back to life with some sort of pseudoscience, right? Well, the truth is that they didn't. We were never brought back to life. In fact, we are not even Douglas Biles and Jenessa Whitten. We're--"

"What?" Jenessa cuts me off with a laugh. "Doug, have you lost your mind? Of course we're Doug and Jenessa! Who else would we be?"

I pinch the bridge of my nose. I knew she would react like this. But I need to continue, get to the main point "Jenessa, please. Just hear me out."

"Okay, but I hope there's more to your moping then this identity crisis." Her smile is joking, she thinks I'm playing a prank or something. I'm not.

"We're not who we think we are, at least, we're not the original them. People can't be brought back from the dead. It doesn't work like that. Instead, the Capitol used DNA from our originals and created clones of them, or to use the accurate term, Life Models of them." I pause to catch my breath, but Jenessa once again interrupts with a laugh.

"Doug, you're the smartest guy I know, by far. But you're seriously losing it if you think we're clones. I mean, I have memories that no one other than me would know. How could I have those if I was some random clone?" Denial. The very same reaction I had when I realized the truth.

"Becuse they took our memories from the brains of our originals. They took Douglas' memories and transplanted them into my own head so that I may think that they're my own. But they're not. None of our memories, save for the ones we've made since being revived, are our own."

"Uh-huh. So, bringing people back from the dead is pseudoscience, but this isn't?" Her words are just as defiant, but her tone harkens to some hesitancy. She is probably doing the same exact thing I did when I first realized this. Looking back at her memories.

"Think of memories no one else would know," I say to her. "And try to focus on the details. What do you see?"

"I..I...everything is fuzzy," Jenessa's face scrunches up as she tries to focus. "I'm thinking of my first Reaping, and I can't remember what my parents said, or what happened before I arrived at the square. The...the only thing that isn't fuzzy is what's happening on stage..."

"The memory transplant process isn't perfectly flawless," I mindlessly recite what I know. "A few memories may fail to materialize within the new host completely, other's may be fuzzy and difficult to recall. This problem is exemplified, if the original host's brain has been previously damaged. In these cases, we must recreate the memories with our own discretion."

"What are you talking about?!" Jenessa whirls on me, her eyes flashing with anger. "What do you mean recreate our memories? No one has tampered with my mind! I'm not a clone!" She stands up, throwing her chair back as she does. I don't move, knowing that this denial will soon pass. A problem with the early Life Model prototypes, is that if given the proper nudging, they quickly realize what they are.

"The reason why you remember what happened on the stage," I say as Jenessa rests her head against the wall, desperately trying to remember things she cannot. "Is because the Capitol could perfectly recreate that scene, because they have archived footage of each Reaping. Everything else that happened that day they had to guess and put together like patchwork. Thus, it is lower quality." Jenessa doesn't answer. Every time a Life Model realized they weren't who they thought they were, one of two things happened. They either lashed out violently, or eventually accepted the truth for what it was.

"Why...How did you figure all of this out?" Jenessa doesn't face me as she speaks. "How did you learn this?"

"I didn't." She spins around, fixing me with a fierce glare. "I didn't. But Doug did. The original Doug. The real Doug. When he was a Gamemaker, the Life Model was still just a concept. It was called the L.M Project, and he was assigned with working on it. He had memories of the project and knew how it operated. And since he had these memories, I inherited them too."

"When I was first "revived", I immediately suspected what was going on. When the scientists who surrounded me couldn't give concrete answers on how I was brought back to life, I knew that I was only a Life Model. I knew that we were all Life Models."

I stop speaking. There's more that should be said, but I need to see where Jenessa's head is first. This is hard to accept, doubly when you don't have memories in your head showing you the truth.

"Okay." Jenessa is quiet, her body has relaxed and she even picks the chair back up and sits down. "Okay. I'm a Life Model. But...who cares? I may not have been the first Jenessa Whitten, but I am Jenessa Whitten. I have her memories, even if some are fake, I have her body, her feelings, her personality. She's dead now, but I now she'd be honored to see me live on!"

Her eyes glistening with pride. She's accepted who she is, and has decided to cling to her old identity. I am not surprised. I knew she would accept it.

"But why are you so distraught?" She looks at me sideways. "You may not be the original, but you're still the Doug we all know and love. You don't need to be upset just because your a clone."

I smile sadly. If only that was the reason why, if only it were so simple. I stand, turning from Jenessa as I approach the large window in my room. It is night, well past midnight, yet it is not dark. The buildings of the Capitol gleam with fluorescent light that illuminates the busy roads. So many people. So many who will become what I am. "Have you heard of Life Modifier?" I ask Jenessa.

"Of course. They're the company that's prolonging everyone's lives," She steps up beside me, a gentle hand upon my shoulder.

"Do you want to know how they're doing that?" I turn from the window and face her. She sees how grave I am, and she realizes what is happening.

"Life Modifier...Life Model..." She murmurs quietly as she connects the dots. She always was a bright one. "They're...they're turning everyone into clones!?" Part question, part outraged shout. I nod sadly.

"Yes. I do not know what they do with the originals, imprison or kill them, I guess. But it is obvious what is happening. I guess that their ultimate aim is to replace everyone in Panem with Life Models. They get the Capitol citizens first, with their "double life span" tactic, before they'll begin to offer the same program to the District's. By then, everyone will have seen it's benefits and happily sign up, having no idea that they're just really be replaced by Life Models."

"But why? What could they possibly gain from doing that?"

"When Doug was a Gamemaker, they had plans for the L.M Project that included implanting two devices into each models body. One would act like these," I hold up on of the listening cubes I had pulled from the lampshade. "But instead of only listening to your words, it'd also record your thoughts."

"No. No, that's impossible!" Jenessa shakes her head. "That couldn't work. No one can read minds!"

"It is possible and it does work. Doug saw trial runs himself, and that was over seventy-five years ago. Imagine how they've improved that technology." I lean against the wall, watching the small dots of people as they head along to restaurants and nightclubs, to their homes and work. Soon, no one will even have the privacy of their own thoughts.

"Wait. Wait. Do we...have those things in us?" Jenessa begins to panic, no doubt fearing what the Capitol may have heard her think, but I shake my head.

"No. The version Doug saw wasn't yet able to work on a human. Only dogs and cats." I allow myself a smile. "And yes, they do think. Not like you and me, but they think all the same."

"But...if it doesn't work on people, then why are we worrying about it?"

"I said that the version Doug saw wasn't ready. Remember: He was a Gamemaker for the 325th Games, and they all planned it would be impossible to implement the device for at least twenty more years. Yet, we were created for the 327th Games, eighteen years before the minimal deadline. Obviously, we couldn't possibly have had to the device in us." I feel a shudder down my spine saying those words. Created. By them. It sounds horrible, but it's true. I am just a product of the Capitol, a corruption of the real Doug. Yet, it doesn't erase my guilt.

"How do you know they didn't get it to work quicker?" Jenessa is still worried about then being in her head.

"Because they would have learned that I knew about all this and would have acted on it by now." I sigh, realising that I haven't even told her the full extent of the devices power yet. "Jenessa, not only can could they hear our thoughts, but they could control them. The device is capable of disrupting thought patterns, and we had a working theory that it could maybe also erase memories as well. Like, if someone had a rebellious thought, they could then disrupt their thinking and then delete the thought. The person wouldn't even be aware that it happened, once the job was done."

"That's horrible!" Jenessa clutches her head with her hands, as if they're trying to get her thoughts right now. I agree that it is horrible, beyond horrible. I feel dead inside every time I think about, knowing what I do. Jenessa sits down on my bed, and then apparently has a new thought. "What does the second device do?"

I take a deep breath, suddenly feeling very cold. "It's a kill switch."


The wind outside the window whistles as it begins to pick up. Jenessa doesn't have anything to say, too shocked and angry. I don't blame her. This was a huge exposition dump of information. I had weeks to think it all over, she has had minutes. If everyone becomes a Life Model...then the Capitol will be able to see everyone's thoughts, and if you think something they don't like...they kill you. With only a push of a button. And while the two of us, and the other tributes from the Duels, don't have this device in our heads, the tributes who were voted in do.

"Why would anyone want this?" Jenessa doesn't understand.

"The original visionaries believed that mankind was incapable of protecting themselves, and that they needed to have someone make the hard decisions for them. But freedom isn't given up easily, so they had to trick the populace into giving it up."

"Okay, but...what's their long-term goal? I mean, can Life Models even have children?"

"Yes, they can." I don't feel the need to go into the specifics of how this was done.

Jenessa frowns, thinking things over in her head. "But no future generation would have those devices in their heads. They'd just be normal, right?"

"At first, yes. But you're forgetting the fact that they'd be able to plant the device inside of anyone once they're capable of controlling their elders thoughts. Also, the modern device is technology beyond my comprehension. It merges into the subjects body, basically becoming apart of them. They have a theory that within time it'd be able to passed on through genetics." It's unfathomable to me, but that's the plan and idea. I think their would be simpler ways on controlling the populace, but that's not the reality laid before me.

"Life Models..." Jenessa whispers to herself. "Who would come up with such a terrible thing?"

"Doug did."


Tears nearly explode from my eyes as I answer. "Doug came up with the original idea of Life Models, he created the diagrams for the first one. He wanted to make clones for science research, and for replacing people who died prematurely. He never intended for it to go like this! But they found his research! They forced him to begin actual work on the subject! And, then he couldn't take it anymore. He didn't just immigrate to District 13 because of his guilt for being a Gamemaker, I left because I started this entire process! I knew that I'd be the catalyst for ending free will forever!"

The tears flow freely now. All of my anguish and sorrow I've been hiding away finally comes out. I am the reason for this. I have paved the road for the Capitol's ultimate victory. Jenessa comes up to me, tries to comfort me, but I push her away.

"This isn't your fault," She tries to say, but I won't listen.

"Yes it is! I may not be the original Doug, but I am him. You said so yourself!"

"Just because you worked on an idea, an idea that has been around for centuries, doesn't mean that you're responsible for how everyone else uses it!" She grips my shoulder and makes me stare her in the eye. "You are not responsible Doug. The Capitol is. They're the ones doing it, they're the ones who're evil. Not you."

"No. No, the Capitol is going to control everyone," I say sadly. "And it's all my fault."

Training Scores & Odds

Name & District Score Odds
Solar Energy (0) 7 25-1
Todd Evans (0) 9 12-1
Aelia Freedome (0) 2 15-1
Rosalina Cosmic (0) 6 35-1
Elvis Alexander (1) 11 4-1
Jake Locketback (1) 8 18-1
Cullinan Beryll (1) 8 19-1
Cole Harrison (1) 10 7-1
Trinity Mace (1) 7 26-1
Anissa Fallows (1) 9 12-1
Luigi Wilkins (2) 10 6-1
Rodeo Baldios (2) 10 9-1
Pansy Costello (2) 9 13-1
Chloe Black (2) 11 5-1
Carmine Morrisa (2) 12 2-1
Ena Shea (2) 8 17-1
Noah Everest (3) 5 44-1
Chip Parks (3) 2 77-1
Courage Blitz (3) 7 25-1
Caspian Mahoney (3) 9 10-1
Annabeth March (3) 6 30-1
Ziya Ashton (3) 5 41-1
Trident Bekke (4) 8 19-1
Ryan Marine (4) 9 9-1
Dylan Murrow (4) 9 12-1
Fressa Saltie (4) 10 8-1
Mizu Fall (4) 8 30-1
Sheol Argos (4) 8 18-1
Watt Powers (5) 4 48-1
Johnathan Mikeal (5) 11 5-1
Seth Rollins (5) 9 12-1
Sebastian Hive (5) 9 11-1
Ashley Curtis (5) 4 47-1
Wolbert Toonico (6) 8 19-1
Blade Spectrus (6) 7 27-1
Luna Fern (6) 6 33-1
Amore Madness (6) 5 43-1
Kennedy Marks (6) 6 35-1
Wocky Oak (7) 6 32-1
Shade Spectrus (7) 9 12-1
Axel Alex (7) 7 26-1
Frade Spectrus (7) 9 13-1
Arbor Alpine (7) 7 27-1
Amethystia Thall (7) 6 36-1
Josef Wilder (8) 12 2-1
Banette Tsukomogami (8) 8 16-1
Jet Flack (8) 4 45-1
Freya Prada (8) 5 41-1
Aisha Hakeem (8) 7 24-1
Camiren Paisley (8) 12 2-1
Jac Price (9) 9 9-1
Harvest Cropper (9) 6 31-1
Plasma Perimen (9) 3 70-1
Vera Luchabra (9) 8 18-1
Azalea Finch (9) 9 12-1
Amira Blodwen (9) 7 28-1
Billy McGranger (10) 5 48-1
Marlon Lander (10) 5 44-1
Ellis Blackberry (10) 7 25-1
Cassie Lexys (10) 6 33-1
Fawn Talons (10) 8 19-1
Madeva McGranger (10) 10 6-1
Wess Cornstob (11) 9 11-1
Crimson Typoon (11) 7 25-1
Caliban Rweed (11) 4 52-1
Trent Korey (11) 10 10-1
Daisy Lilac (11) 8 15-1
Annabelle Harret (11) 8 20-1
Ganta Alomo (12) 8 19-1
Falk Avian (12) 2 88-1
Thalia Combe (12) 11 3-1
Salem Calla (12) 3 77-1
Misty Honeysuckle (12) 7 32-1
Curricular Lunes (12) 8 19-1
Douglas Biles (13) 8 15-1
Radiant Tayz (13) 8 19-1
Julian Veritas (13) 7 25-1
Jenessa Whitten (13) 7 29-1
Zoey Proasheck (13) 5 41-1
Adreanna Danish (13) 6 38-1
Luxray Meganium (14) 10 6-1
Dean Ambrose (14) 10 6-1
Amaya Lovelace (14) 8 18-1
Amica Belle (14) 6 32-1
Ramon Constancy (C) 8 20-1
Josool Wiranda (C) 5 40-1
Kaneki Urashi (C) 9 10-1
Olympic Oblado (C) 11 4-1
Flame Vapore (C) 6 33-1
Mahogany Vesta (C) 8 16-1


Camiren Paisley-Idylwyld (District 8)

Everyone's eyes turn to face me as I step into the room. I desperately try not to blush, but fail miserably. It's undoubtedly the twelve that was flashing under my name last night that draws their attention. One of only three tributes out of ninety to receive such a score. Unlike the other two, I am no powerhouse threat or silent killer. I'm just a girl with an insanely rich and powerful family.

It was they who I influenced the scores, I'll bet. Someone from House Idylwyld coerced the Gamemakers into giving me a twelve. Did they do it to help? Or to hinder? Does it matter, when everyone is now eyeing me as a threat?

I step into line, ignoring the stares that still go my way. Jet (8) mutters something about my family buying me victory. What he doesn't know is that over half of my family wants me dead, and the rest don't really mind either way. The last time I even saw my parents, I had defied their wishes and ran away from home. I don't know how they've reacted to seeing my in the Games.

"I hope you all perform well!" Escrow says as he presses the button for the elevator. "Do try not to get yourselves killed in the bloodbath. Oh, and try to help Josef and Camiren if you can. I have a feeling one of them will be Victor!"

I wish I could turn I invisible, fade away from all the glares thrown my way. It's only me who gets their hatred, not Josef. He stands stoically at the opposite end of the line, his face hidden behind his bandanna. That guy received a twelve just like me, however, I believe he may have earned it more than I did. I don't think my medley of skills was good enough to merit a twelve.

"You're going down," Jet sneers as he presses past me, heading for the elevator that has just opened up. It's not any better, inside the stuffy elevator. I try to stick to the back, and think positively. Not everyone hates me. I have four allies, four more than Josef does. That counts for something, right? But, oh! I would trade them all away for my husband Ore in a heartbeat. No one compares to him...

The elevator continues downwards. Someone coughs. My thoughts are all on Ore now, and its not pleasant. What if one of my family members decides to try and knock him off while I'm in the Games? I can't protect him all the way out here, I can't do anything for him. It would be beyond words, if I were to win these Games only to discover that Ore isn't waiting for me on the other side...

Kaneki Urashi (The Capitol)

The elevator touches down. Olympic (C) makes sure that he is the first out, pushing his bulky frame pass everyone else as he barrels through. I wait patiently for everyone else to exit, I am in no hurry.

My fingers play with the cross around my neck. My only protection from the spirits and demons that haunt this plane of existence. I could sense them all around me during training, even before I lifted my eyepatch. When I did lift it, I saw them. Walking around the cafeteria, eerie and unresponsive. A few still had wounds they received in life represented on their spirits. None of them chose to answer any of my questions. Though, one did tell me to beware the demon. Not that I needed to be told that. I already beware the demons.

"Get going, cyclops!" Ramon (C) shouts at me from outside the elevator. I step out, not because he said so, but because it was time. He snickers loudly and heads down the long hallway that will lead to the hovercraft that'll take us to the Launch Room underneath the arena. I don't bother telling him that his insult made no sense. Cyclops have one eye in the center of their head, I have two eyes, and only conceal the other. Calling me a pirate would have made more sense.

The dank hallway stretches on for longer than I'd thought, until emptying out into a large airfield of sorts. Three hovercrafts sit in majestic silence, solemn in their duty to bear burden of tributes. A gaggle of Peacekeepers organize the affair.

With particular interest, I note that they take extra care in what hovercraft they put us tributes into. I can't find any rhyme or pattern, but they definitely ensure that each hovercraft gets certain tributes. I am led the one of the far left, one the exact shade of blue as the sky. Olympic and Flame are my only District partners to board with me.

"They're separating us," A District 3 boy mutters as I am placed into the seat beside him.

"Pardon?" I ask for more, but he sits in silence as a Peacekeeper arrives to implant the tracker into our arms.

"They're separating the tributes," The boy answers when the attendant moves down the line. "Thirty in each hovercraft. It could be they just don't want to pile us all in one, but I think we're all being placed in a different part of the arena." My heartbeat picks up, though it shouldn't matter to me. I have no allies, thus, no strong feelings about whether we all start in different locales or not.

"Separate arenas?" A boy from District 6, Blade, asks leaning over me.

"No. Same arena. Just different areas."

"How can you be sure?" I ask quietly, though I believe he is right. This kid seems rather intelligent.

He shrugs, his eyes twinkling playfully. "I can't be. Guess we'll find out though. Won't we?"

Azalea Finch (District 9)

The seven Careers aboard our hovercraft give out a boisterous laugh as one of them tells a stupid joke. Beside me, Jac (9) sits still, his mouth moving but no words being said. "You okay?" I ask.

"Yeah, I'm fine," He shakes his head like a moose being irritated by a gnat. "Do you know what I saw outside the train station back in District 9?"

I frown. "This is a weird time to be bringing it up. But, yes, I am quite curious to what was so amazing that you nearly got yourself killed to see it."

"You may not believe me, but I saw myself."

I blink rapidly. "Umm. Did I hear you properly?"

He shrugs, the chatter from the other tributes is becoming a buzzing in my ears. "I don't know if I believe it myself, but there was no mistaking that I saw myself standing on the rooftop, dressed in some sort of black battle cloak." I really don't know whether I should laugh or cry out in worry. Jac saw himself? On a rooftop? Wearing a cloak?

"Are you nuts?" Is about all I can get out.

He laughs, further embracing my insanity question. "Maybe. I just know that's what I saw, no mistake about it." I bite my lower lip. Usually, I'd question his eyesight on this, but it was such a distinct thing he saw. Something that couldn't just be the sun playing tricks on his eyes.

"I just wanted to get it off my chest," His grin fades as he turns back to stare into my eyes. "Before the Games begin. We could...I...mean...we could both end..."

My eyes shut. He needn't say anymore. The bloodbath is only dozen minutes away, and soon we both could be dead.

Trinity Mace (District 1)

The hovercraft lands without a noise, the Peacekeepers hit a button and our restraints undo themselves. "Enter the room with your name!" They shout as we step off the hovercraft and look around. We're in a large, circular room. There's a concrete roof above our heads, making me wonder how we landed in here. Does it retract?

"Get a move on, Blondie!" A gruff Peacekeeper shouts at me and I hurry off the gangway. Thirty doors surround us, each with a name plastered over its frame. Everyone begins to head for their door, some slower than others. I don't hesitate, because I'm afraid of being shouted down again.

My stylist awaits me inside, holding up a package of clothes. I see the glass tube that will be used to bring me into the arena. "I don't suppose you could tell my anything about how it'll look?" I ask my stylist with a grin. She returns it.

"Unfortunately not. And these clothes aren't very telling either."

A cargo jacket. A plain shirt. Thick pants. Hiking boots. The jacket and shirt are both red, District 1's color. "Standard fare, huh?" I dress quickly, and then await the order to enter the tube. When it comes, I give my stylist a quick wave before stepping in.

As the door shuts, locking me in the tube, I feel my body begin to tremble with anticipation. This is it. My second chance. Last time, I survived the bloodbath but died on the third day. I can't have that happen again. I need to win. The tube begins to rise. I hold still, readying myself for what I'll see when I come up. Ice? Fire? Sky? Anything is possible.

The tube continues rising, and the light is pouring into my eyes. I blink rapidly, trying to adjust to it as quickly as possible. There! I see the cornucopia, forty yards away. It lies upon the top of a steep hill, and my memory serves me well. This is the exact same layout as the 302nd Games. Does that mean we're on an island too?

I scan the tributes surrounding me, and I notice something very obvious. There's only thirty of us here, only the thirty from my hovercraft. The other sixty are missing. Where are they?

"Ladies and gentlemen!” the voice of Lazlo Abbott yells out. “Let the 400th Annual Hunger Games begin!”


The arena for the 400th Annual Hunger Games will be a very special arena. It'll incorporate the arenas of previous Games in the series and make one, giant arena out of them.

The arena is basically one huge line located within a mountain range. To the far west is an ocean, where two islands, one from the 302nd Games and one from the 399th Games, are located. The islands are connected by a bridge, and another bridge leads east across the ocean towards the shipyard from the 327th Games sits. The shipyard is connected to the desecrated city from the 398th Games, and the city is surrounded by a ring of pine forest from the 300th Games. Deep in this forest, is the shrine and graveyard from the 301st Games. To the far east of the forest, lies the desert from the 326th Games. If one braves their way through the desert, they will come to the candy land from the 325th Games. Each zone is boxed in by the mountain peaks that are visible from just about anywhere in the arena.

Due to the sheer size of the arena, it'd take roughly two days to walk from one end to the other. Thus, making the travel from the islands to the candy land two days long.

There will be three different bloodbaths and cornucopias in the arena. One on an island, one at the shrine, and one in the candy land. 

The Games

Bloodbath One

Madeva McGranger (District 10)

Where's Billy?

That's my first and only thought as the countdown begins at sixty. I don't see him anywhere, not close to me or on one of the platforms across from me. The hill does partially block my view, but that doesn't mean that Billy has to be behind it. There's not enough room for all ninety tributes to be here.

So that means Billy and the others are somewhere else.

A burning panic stirs in my chest. Billy, whose so naive and innocent, is off by himself, without me. What if he dies? It'd be all my fault, for not being there for him. I'd never be able to live with myself if he died before I did.




I control myself as the clock continues to chime. Weapons. I need weapons. Then I go find Billy. Kill anyone who gets in my way. But first I need weapons.

My eyes focus on the hill, when I see the familiar curly-hair in my peripheral. Fawn (10). Shoot. This complicates things. I can no longer just rush in and get out, I need to protect her too. Billy would never forgive me if I just left Fawn to fend for herself, while I went gallivanting through the arena to find him. Change of plans.

Get a weapon.

Collect Fawn.

Get out of here.

Find Billy.

Kill anyone in my way.


Wocky Oak (District 7)

This is the same exact arena I was in before. Same hill, same trees surrounding us. I'm even willing to bet that we're on the same island. That's strange enough, but it's the fact that every single item is in the same place too that really makes me unhinged.

I see the very same bag I grabbed the first time around, lying there at the base of the hill. Should I run and grab it? It worked out well the first time but...I'm hesitant to try and replicate my first run. I had an alliance behind me that time, something that I no longer have. It'll just be me, fighting for my life.

I glance to my side, where massive Elvis (1) is cracking his knuckles in preparation for the big moment. Do I really want to risk fighting someone like him? I know how deadly he can be...

In contrast, the woods behind me are a beacon of safety. Shelter and food await, I just have to find it. I don't need the supplies here, not really.'s tempting. So tempting.

The clock continues, and I have no clue what I am going to do.

Camiren Paisley-Idylwyld (District 8)

Right in front of my platform, just three feet away, rests a pair of swords. Silver blades shining in the sunlight, crimson handles illuminated like fresh blood. Behind them lies a bag, a crimson one emblazoned with the House Idylwyld crest.

Someone is cheating on my behalf.

No other platform has a bag and weapon so close by. Nor does any other bag bare the mark of my family on its side. Someone set this up. Someone practically gave me everything I would need, right at the outset of the Games.

Are they trying to help? Or is it some sort of heinous trick? Can I really afford to doubt it, when everyone else is trying to cut my head off? I glance around at the other nearby platforms. None of the others seem to have noticed, save for Amethystia (7), whose platform is right beside mine.

Another favor for me? But if so, where are my other allies? Doug, Jenessa, and Kennedy? Are they on the over side of the hill? Or somewhere else?

"Take it and run?" Amethystia mouths the question to me.

It seems so obvious. So easy. Take the items and leave, have no worries about braving the bloodbath and fighting the others for supplies. But...I would be making a deal with the devil. I'd be accepting help from my family, the family I left because of their terrible acts of evil. Could I really choose to accept their help? Can I afford not to?


The countdown has ended. I wasn't even paying attention. The other tributes go rushing up the hill, a few slink away into the surrounding forest. Amethystia steps off her platform and yells at me to grab it and run.

I think of my husband. I think of Ore and the decision comes quickly.

The pack is heavy as I sling it onto my shoulders. They must have filled it to the limit. The pair of swords feel light, my hands wrap around the hilt like it was personally built for me. It probably was.

"Let's go!" Amethystia darts into the woods, and I'm quick to follow. The peace and silence of the forest has been disturbed by the shouting of the tributes behind us. I run, leaving it all behind. My pack is heavy, and so is my heart.

Have I done the right thing?

Chloe Black (District 2)

My years of cardio and training take me up the hill within seconds. Crates of supplies lie atop its peak, bags full of supplies litter the grass, miscellaneous items strewn about. I pay attention to none of it. I run inside of the cornucopia, where racks full of the deadliest weapons await.

I slide two knives from one rack as Cullinan (1) and Jake (1) arrive. The two begin discussing a strategy to defending the mouth as I jam the knives into my belt and grab a few more. Who cares about defence? We need to kill as much of the other tributes as possible!

Outside, Elvis (1) and Olympic (C) have joined us. Our oh so esteemed leader grabs himself the biggest sword he can fund and gives it an experimental swing as Olympic charges the approaching Rodeo, who despite being from District 2, did not join our alliance. The two big boys begin to grapple as someone else comes out from the cornucopia.

The boy slips pass us, unseen until now. He has a bag drapped over his shoulder as he rushes down the hill, using it's slope to his advantage. My knife whizzes over his head and I curse loudly as he reaches the bottom and disappears into the woods. Kaneki (C) has escaped.

Chip (3) isn't so lucky. The moronic kid was creeping up the hillside when I spot him. He gives a terrified squeal and turns to run when my knife catches him in the back. He falls back down the hill, rolling and tumbling until he reaches the bottom, where he finally goes still.

I smirk, content. First kill of the Games! But I'm not done yet. Drifting away from the group, I find a spear and tap the metal tip. This is going to hurt. A lot. And it could get me killed, but it will more likely cement my place as leader of this group.

Making sure no one sees me, I pick up the spear and drive it into my own leg.

Aelia Freedome (District 0)

Ganta (12) follows behind me, meek as a kitten and loyal as a puppy. His platform was right next to mine, and he and I quickly realized that none of our other allies were anywhere in sight.

The tribute divide has thrown a wrench in my plans, for sure. But I still intend on braving the bloodbath and getting my hands on a weapon. I can worry about my allies later. "Do you know what we're doing?" Ganta's voice is shrill with fear as we ascend the hill and reach the top. Violence, is the sight, but not nearly as much as I'd have thought.

Elvis (1) swings his sword forward, blood splaying as the sharpened blade connects with Flame's (C) stomach. Everyone else rummages through crates or grapples with an enemy. No blood is shed between them. "I'm getting a spear and pack," I answer Ganta. My eyes spot my desired object where it lies against the cornucopia's side. "You can do whatever the hell you want."

I don't wait for his answer. Braving the chaos, I rush towards the steel-tipped spear. Dodging Trident's (4) punch, side stepping the Spectri brothers as they clamber down the hill. I reach the cornucopia, my hands wrap around the spear's side, and then something smashes into my side.

Plasma (9) falls down besode me, her mohawk badly damaged from the collision and her eyes wide with fright. The moron ran right into me when she was trying to escape. The initial fear I felt when being hit fades as I realize who I face. She only scored a 3 in training, higher than my own score, but I was unfairly judged by the Gamemakers.

So, I stand up bravely. Undaunted by her appearance, despite the fact that my spear has rolled down the hill.

My bravado fades when she pulls up her sword, a curved, wicked thing.

I leap forward at her, my hands wrapping around her arm and yanking her back as she attempts to run. I dodge as she begins to swing. Dance around her thrusts and slashes. She's uncoordinated, unskilled at the art of combat. Still, her blade catches my thigh and blood spills as I drop to a knee in a second of momentarily panic. Plasma raises the sword, her face curled into a cruel sneer when someone grabs her sword arm.


No...No, it's not Ganta. It's Anissa (1) who jerks Plasma's arm back savagely, eliciting a loud Pop! as the limb breaks. How fragile a human body is. Anissa, my gargantuan friend, cups Plasma's head like a child and then snaps her neck. The spark of life fades from those eyes as she slumps to the ground.

"Didn't know you were here," I say breathlessly, ignoring the brutality I just witnessed.

"Well, I am. Better get moving before the Careers turn on us. Here!" Anissa thrusts a backpack into my arms. I notice that she wears a sword upon her belt.

"Where's Ganta?" I ask as the two of us dart back down the hill. I pick up my spear, the one I dropped when Plasma blindsided me.

"Waiting," Anissa flicks a finger at the lithe boy as he steps out from behind a tree, waggling a backpack dagger in each hand. "Now, we go."

"Go?" I look back at the cornucopia, where kids still fight to the death on the hilltop. "Go where?"

Anissa's eyes darken as she turns to the forest. "Wherever Amica is."

Cullinan Beryll (District 1)

I stand at the mouth of the cornucopia, unarmed in the standard sense but still very much a threat. My "iron shoes" are never apart from me. Nearby, Olympic (C) continues to grapple with Rodeo (2). Neither boy seems to be gaining advantage and no one else wants to step in. Jake (1), who was guarding with me, has slipped around the cornucopia in pursuit of Ziya (3), who managed to steal a bag out from under the watchful gaze of Elvis.

"Look alive!"

I hear Trident's warning shout just as Wolbert (6) stumbles up to me, machete in hand. I can't hold back the broad smile that envelopes my face. Fighting time! Nothing is better than a fight!

The blonde boy regards me for a long moment, and then slashes with his weapon. I dance out of the way, my feet picking up a familiar pattern. One step, two steps, strike!

My left foot slams into Wolbert's thigh, sending him reeling backward. My right follows up with a kick to the gut, and my left comes back for another kick, this time to the face. He spits blood and something else, possibly a tooth.

Adrenaline courses through my veins, filling me with ecstasy. I haven't had a fight in so long! This is awesome! Wolbert flails his arms around, really not knowing how to fight someone like me. I dodge easily enough, bemused by his antics. Giving a small shrug, I decide to end the fight.

I leap up and perform a bicycle kick, my foot connecting with Wolbert's jaw.

His eyes roll up into his head on impact. His body goes slack and he tumbles to the ground. His unconscious body slowly slides down the hill, reaching the base where Blade (6) and Frade (7) Spectrus grab his arms and drag him into the woods.

Ha! My iron shoes win yet again!

Fawn Talons (District 10)

The back end of the cornucopia is mostly deserted as I arrive at the top of the hill. There's less items scattered around on this side, but I don't care as I drop beside one of the containers and begin to fill an empty satchel with random items.

A loaf of bread, apples, a coil of rope, and many small containers that I don't recognize. Adrenaline is pumping through me, masking the fear that manifests in my heart. Billy isn't here. That means he's somewhere else. But where? Where he could he possibly be? No. Not time to think on that. Get my items and go. That's what I need to do.

My satchel full, I turn to run when I see it. A curved dagger resting against the side of the cornucopia. Immediately I know that I must have it. Without a weapon, I am useless to Billy. I dart for it.

That's when she appears, winding around the bend of the cornucopia. Trinity (1) stops in shock when she first spots me, but it doesn't last long. I roll through the swing of her short sword, the sharp weapon just barely missing my skull. My hand curls around the dagger, and I'm staring up at a girl who, while smaller than me, is much, much more skilled with her weapon.

And her weapon is bigger, too.

I dodge the quick, dexterous swings of the sword. The fear and adrenaline that I had felt before is nothing compared to what fills me now. A cold, primal desire to live. I haven't felt this since the finale of the 399th Games, when I was slowly and painfully killed by a deadly toxin.

Trinity's sword flies over my head, and she stumbles from the unwieldy blow. My shoulder drives into her, catching her right underneath the armpit. I rise up and slam her into ground, her back hitting hard. A sharp hiss of air escapes her as she struggles to regain her breath, and I take my opportunity to scramble atop her. I have no qualms about what I am about to do, I have no moral conflict. It's a dog eat dog world, kill or be killed, survival of the fittest. And between the two of us, I am the fittest.

Trinity's blue eyes flash with terror as my dagger goes up. She knows she is about to die again and face the endless black. I aim for her heart, hoping to make the end as painless as possible.

Something rakes across my right forearm. I drop the dagger and scream as a long, bloody gash opens up across my arm. I can't move my arm! I can't move it!

Trinity sees my weakness. Her body shifts as she hurls me off of her, and grabs my own fallen dagger. Survival of the fittest.

I can move my arm again, but only slightly. The pain is extreme, the wound deep. Trinity knows that I am powerless. She darts in for the kill.

I hear the spear before I see it. I hear as it slices through the air, homing in on its target. Trinity only has time to look up when the tip buries itself into her chest.

The girl topples over, bleeding and gasping as she fights for survival. Pained tears are in my eyes as pull myself up, my right arm hanging painfully at my side. "Run!"

Large and imposing, Madeva (10) appears beside me. The gothic girl grabs the spears end and twists it in further, ending Trinity's pitiful gasping. I see the disgust in her eyes. At what she needs to do and at me. I didn't live up to her expectations. Without her intervention, I'd be dead. How could I ever hope to protect Billy on my own?

Ena Shea (District 2)

"Carmine! What are you doing?"

My hand grasps her shoulder, pulling my friend back from where she was about to charge into the forest where Fawn (10) and Madeva (10) have disappeared.

"I'm going to finish what I started!" She rips free from my grasp and goes sprinting forward. It was her knife that wounded Fawn and prevented the girl from killing Trinity. Her knife that left the blood trail that leads into the woods. Carmine never gives up on her prey. But right now, that's not a good thing.

My long legs let me keep pace with her easily, and when she is about to plunge into the woods, I grab her around the shoulders.

"What the hell are you doing?!" She wheels around and throws a furious punch that narrowly misses my face. Probably didn't realize it was me who grabbed her.

"I was going to ask you the same thing!" I don't let her anger throw me off. Back in District 2, there's dozens of girls like Carmine. I'm use to their bluster and pride. "We can't leave yet! We only have weapons, and very little supplies! Not to mention we haven't made a kill!" That's the crux of it. I'm thinking of the long haul, Carmine is just thinking about avenging her uncharacteristic missed throw.

"They have bags of supplies!" Carmine turns to run but my hand holds fast onto her shirt. "We can take it when we kill them!"

"Carmine, you don't really think that--"

She tears my hand off before I can finish, peeling away into the woods with a savage growl. I can do nothing but sigh and follow. Stubborn girl.

Trident Bekke (District 4)

Olympic (C) squares up Rodeo (2). The two have been battling since the start of the bloodbath and still no one has gained the advantage, though both bare wounds:Olympic has a busted lip, while Rodeo's face is covered with large purple bruises.

"I shall defeat you, you vile menace!" Rodeo darts forward, squirming pass Olympic's grasp. His gloved hand smacks my ally across the face and he steps back with a broad smile, before realizing he now has his back to the cornucopia.

"You're going to die, banana man!" Olympic flies forward, fist first. Rodeo zips out of the way with surprising agility for such a big guy. Olympic's momentum carries him forward and his fist smashes into the side of the metal cornucopia.

He let's out a pained howl as his knuckles pop and crack on impact, the pain dropping him to his knees. Fear for my ally finally spurs me to action and I step forward, holding out my trident in a defensive manner.

No need. Rodeo turns and gallops down the hill, crashing through the bracken as he reaches the forest. Moron didn't even grab himself any weapons, despite all the time he spent fighting. "You okay?" I turn my attention back to Olympic, who sits on the grass clutching his busted up hand. Unshed tears glisten in his eyes. He is too proud to cry.

"I'm....fine." Despite the pain he must be in, he still manages to make himself sound cocky. "Help me out?" He extends his hand to me, his dislocated fingers look like craggy lightning bolts. Reluctantly, I pull them straight for him. Somehow he manages to laugh with the pain. Dude's nuts. "Gonna make him pay," Olympic growls as he stares out at the woods. I don't need to ask who he's referring to. "Gonna regret messing with me."

A shout comes from the other side of the cornucopia, a girl crying for help. Olympic springs forward without hesitation, his busted hand already forgotten. I follow along, not really eager to get into a brawl but doing my part nonetheless.

When we round the horn, we find Jake (1) facing off with Cassie (10). The other Careers have formed a circle around the two, and cheer Jake on as he takes spear jabs at a desperately crying Cassie.

Her only weapon is a backpack, one that she swings at Jake as she hops around madly. Her blonde hair is buffeted by the wind and makes her look like some sort of feral animal as she tries to avoid being skewered. "Finish her off already!" Elvis (1) sounds bored as he watches. Every other tribute seems to have already left, despite the tiny amount of bodies that litter the field.

Jake takes heed of her words. He feigns an overhead slice and when Cassie raises her back to deflect it, he quickly jabs his spear forward. The tip pierces his thigh and she screams in pain when Elvis (1) breaks out of his spot in the circle and swings for her head.

The thick blade sinks into the neck, cutting through muscle and tissue. Cassie falls as blood spouts from the disgusting wound. Half of her neck has been sewn through. Elvis frowns. "Thought I'd decapitate her," He grunts.

"Human necks are stronger than you think," Olympic scoffs as he stops to check through a nearby crate. I position myself closer to the group as Jake stares uncomfortably at Elvis. Maybe he didn't like that he stole his kill?

"This place reeks!" Cullinan (1) wrinkles his nose as looks away from Cassie's corpse, his face pale. Watching on television is nothing compared to the real thing. Even I'm a little queasy around this carnage.

"Jake, Trident," Elvis grabs a sword off a rack to compare it to his own. "Collect the bodies. Make a pile and count."

Jake nods immediately and walks off, I pause to look around for Chloe, my real leader. Back in training, I joined up with her in a formation of a group within a group. Olympic is also with us, though Jake and Cullinan remain behind Elvis.


I hear her before seeing her. She limps out from behind the cornucopia, her leg raw and bloody from where a spear has pierced it. Immediately, I rush forward to help her as the others gawk in shock.

"Who managed to get you?" Olympic grunts from where he has begun to bandage his fingers together.

"He did!" Chloe points a venomous finger at Elvis, who gapes in surprise. The others begin murmuring to themselves, stopping to turn and look at our leader. Somethings not right. Elvis wouldn't have attacked Chloe like that, I don't think he would at least. But when Chloe's soft hands squeeze my wrist, and I see the pained glimpse in her eyes, I forget my misgivings and spring to my feet.

"What the hell did you do that for? Huh?!" I spit the words at Elvis, whose face has begun to redden in either fury or embarrassment. Maybe both.

"I didn't do anything! I don't know what the stupid bitch is talking about!" His face contorts as he stares daggers at Chloe. I can tell right away that he attacked her. She was a threat to his reign, of course he'd try to knock her off!

"You have a lot of explaining to do," Olympic snarls, flexing his one good hand.

"I have nothing to explain! She does!" Elvis is practically bellowing as he points a demented finger at Chloe. "She probably got slagged up by some weakling and is trying to cover it!"

"You're the liar, Elvis. Not me." Chloe sounds pained as she speaks, and not just physically. "I never thought that you'd betray your allies like this!"

Elvis responds beautifully by whipping out his sword and charging for her. I step in front of him in a heartbeat, by trident inches from his face. "Touch her and I kill you!" My voice is ice, cold and threatening. Elvis just laughs.

"You think I fear you? I could kill the both of you easily enough."

"See? He admits to wanting to kill me!" Chloe's eyes turn to face Cullinan and Jake, who both still stand behind Elvis. Neither looks very sure of himself, yet Cullinan steps forward to speak.

"When did he attack you?"

"What does that matter?" I don't understand the question. Who cares when it happened! All That matters is that Elvis is a no-good, ally attacking bastard! He needs to die, and die now.

"I'm asking Chloe. Not her lap dog." My face burns red as Elvis laughs rambunctiously, and Jake quietly snickers. Olympic just stares at Elvis, hatred burning in his eyes. He's still peeved that he wasn't made one of the leaders.

"Near the beginning," Chloe doesn't hesitate to answer.

"Uh-huh. Weird, because I saw him killing Flame right about then."

Chloe's jaw sets as her face flushes angrily. "Are you calling me a liar?"

"No, not necessarily. It's just that I was beside Elvis for about the entirety of the bloodbath. I never saw him leave to attack you." Cullinan isn't hostile with his response, just calm and calculating. Too bad he's a moron.

"What would you know, cripple?" I sneer at him, my right hand twitching slightly. Him and Jake are just Elvis's guard dogs, attackers he keeps on a lease. They probably knew about the attempted murder.

"This conversation bores me!" Olympic interrupts the proceedings with a glare. "Let's just kill the traitor already!"

"But which one is the traitor?" Jake sounds confused as he looks between Elvis and Chloe.

"He is."

"She is!"

Elvis and Chloe glare at each other, both of them have shaking weapons in their hands. Either one would kill the other right now, if they weren't wary of the bloodbath it would set off. Everyone else picks a side. Jake stands behind Elvis, Olympic stops beside me, shielding the wounded Chloe. The tension is thick like syrup. Just a tiny spark could set everything off.


Cullinan steps between the group's, waving his disgusting, half-finished hands around. "Back home, in my gang, we had a way for settling leadership disputes."

"Oh? And that was what?" Chloe's dark and beautiful eyes flash to him.

"We had a fight. One on one, no weapons. Leadership would pass to the victor."

"What happened to the loser?" I ask warily, not liking the direction this is taking.

Cullinan shrugs. "The leader would decide."

The words has my blood run cold. Chloe stiffens beside me, conscious of the fact that she'd have to fight Elvis in hand-to-hand combat. I am confident that she'd cream him on any other day, but in her current state...

"I'll do it!" The words just spring out of my mouth, not even waiting for my brain to sign off in approval. Elvis looks surprised at first, but then his grin widens. The others just stare at me in shock. Chloe's eyes brim with admiration, bolstering my already sky-high confidence.

"Very well. I'll snap your neck, then deal with the lying bitch!" Elvis shakes his pony-tail out and drops his sword to the ground. "No pain, no gain."

"Trident..." Chloe pulls me into a hug, and my heart begins beating faster. Oh yeah! She's finally realized my greatness! I mean, not that she hasn't before. "Kill him." She slips a knife into my palm, and I realize just what she desires. For me to cheat.

"Oh! Enough of this dallying!"

Olympic roars as he charges right for Elvis. Cullinan and Jake scatter to the winds, fearful of being bowled over like pins. The two giant boys crash to the ground, kicking and punching. Olympic has a busted hand, yet he still holds his own. I'm fascinated by the fight, until a hand pulls my shirt. Chloe.

Her beautiful brown eyes stare into mine, brimming with emotion. "Trident, get me out of here."

I can't help but grin as I scoop her into my arms. Jake shouts for me to stop as I head down the hill, but I don't listen. Chloe's breath is soft against my neck as I escape into the woods, ecstatic that I'm finally someone's knight in shining armor.

Bloodbath Two

Crimson Typhoon (District 11)

There's an eerie silence as my platform comes to a halt. The calm before the storm. A unsettling shrine looms before me, shrouded in mid-morning mist. Old pine trees are at my back, creaking and groaning in the wind. The other tributes stare at the golden cornucopia inside of the shrine, they covet the items inside. Their greedy expressions shine with trepidation.

I am terrified.

I have already experienced this before, avoided the quick death that claims so many others. But my fear will not abate. Death awaits me in that cornucopia, death and ruin. Do I dare risk it? Risk trying to grab a meaningless item? It is the uncertainty that scares me. The uncertainty of what is to come.




I seek out Radiant (13), and find him only a half dozen spots to my left. His body is primed to run, his eyes focused firmly on the cornucopia, ignoring the items that litter the surrounding field.

Shall I join him? Or should I run? The question looms in my mind as the countdown continues...

Billy McGranger (District 10)

The pine trees are so close. Only a few yards back from my platform. I know that Madeva (10) would want me to run there, to avoid all the fighting and keep myself safe. But do I want that? Do I want to be the gentleman in distress?




I gnaw my lip nervously. I don't see my sister or Fawn anywhere. Are they on the other side of the shrine? No doubt that they're worried about me, they always act like I can't protect myself, like I'm some idiot who's just lucky to not have already gotten himself killed. But I'm more than that. I'm not the sharpest knife in where they keep the knives, but I'm no weakling. I can do things on my own, I can fend for myself.

I can even kill, if need be.

My eyes focus on the cornucopia, on its luxurious prizes just waiting for someone to claim them. It could be me, if I only tried. Everyone everywhere must think of me as weak, as an easy kill. But I could prove them all wrong right here, right now. I just need to run out there and fight. Fight.

But can I really endanger myself, when there's people who rely on me?

Jac Price (District 9)




It creeps closer and closer to the time. The time where everything goes to hell. I've singled out a sword that lies against the closest column that holds up the shrine. In either a stroke of luck or a Gamemaker plot, Azalea (9) is on the platform beside mine. Her emerald eyes watch me, her innate fear coming off her in waves. It's not fear for herself, it's fear for me.




It's because of her that I'm not just rushing headlong into the fray. The thought of leaving her my herself sends a shiver down my spine. I didn't abandon her back in the 399th, and I'm not going to risk losing her now. "Stay close behind me," I tell her now, echoing the words from our first bloodbath. Everything went well that time, let's pray that it does so again.






Everyone runs. I race out ahead of Azalea, running for the sword that I spotted earlier. My heart is racing, my lungs burning. My hands reach the sword and I look up and see chaos in that brief moment. Cole (1) swings a sword in an arc, slashing Caliban (11) through the chest. Todd (0) tackles Amore (6) to the ground and wails away at her skull with his fists. Solar (0) already has both a spear and backpack and races for the pines, passing by Ellis (10) who has just arrived.

"Jac!" Azalea grips my shoulder, her face flushed pink. "Did you get what you need?" Her words sound so distant, alien compared to the panicked screams and bloodthirsty shouts that surround us.

"Yeah, let's go!"

We turn tail and run. My conscious doesn't even have time to feel bad for Amore or Caliban. Azalea out paces me now that see run for safety, the backpack bouncing on her shoulder. I don't look back. I don't look back at the carnage behind me. I can never look back. I must keep going forward.

Curricular Lines (District 12)

I'm swift on my feet, reaching the cornucopia before many of the Careers. I'm headed right for the mouth of the cornucopia before I stop myself, realizing the folly of my decision. Put yourself in the center, and you'll have to fight through everyone else on your way back out. I could never avoid the Careers and their spears, sword, clubs and fists.

I wheel away from my previous course, and veer off towards one of the pillars that hold up the shrines roof. I lock onto a sky blue backpack.

Something smashes into my side. One minute I'm running, the next I'm being ran over my a semi-truck. I fly several feet through the air, my head smashes against the cobbled floor of the shrine. Everything aches. My skeleton creaks like a young tree in its first winter, my eyes throb with pain. A shadow looms over me.

Hair dark and wild, like a storm cloud around his head. Piercing eyes like two golden suns. Luxray Meganium (14) towers above me.

His hand grabs me around the throat, his grip like iron. I can only choke once before my airway is blocked by his crushing squeeze. He lifts me into the air and slams me back against the pillar. Something cracks. Blood streams from my nose.

This is it. This is how I die.

His golden eyes show no emotion as he effortlessly squeezes the life out from me. There's no malice, no hatred. He is just doing what he must.

That makes everything so much worse.

Blackness creeps on the edge of my vision, my arms go slack and my pitiful attempts to free myself fail. I hear bells ringing. Then there is nothing more.

Banette Tsukomogami (District 8)

My anger knows no bounds. None of these kids here will be spared, none of them will survive my wrath. Maybe their end won't come today, but it will come. I shall end them all. For Shuppet.

I reach the edge of the shrine, see the mangled corpse of Amore and the bloodied body of Caliban. To my left, someone calls out for me. Julian, I think. I pay him no mind, I must have a weapon. I see two daggers lying on the top of a nearby crate and race for them, ignoring Freya (8) and Annabelle (11) who both go running past.

The daggers slip easily into my hands, and I head back to the edge of the shrine, where Julian and Harvest (9) are attempting to drag a crate away. Miraculously, no one has yet to target them.

I hail them as I run, and both their heads snap up to watch me. Harvest grins, but Julian's face turns to horror. "Banette! Behind you!"

I hear the footsteps, sense the knife whipping towards my head. I stop, drop, and roll. The quick flash of the weapon sails over me and I'm back on my feet, facing off against Pansy (2). "You're a quick little bugger!" Her crimson eyes warily watch the daggers in my hands.

"You know, Cleopatra attacked me in the bloodbath too," I tense my muscles, surveying the situation. She has two more knives, both weighted for throwing. "Didn't work out for her. That means she died, in case you're slow on the uptake."

My plan worked. She throws one of the knives at me, her anger getting the best of her. I duck underneath it, but am surprised to see her charging right at me. There's no time to duck or dodge as she hurdles forward. My daggers rise to deflect the slash when someone crashes into me.

A scream of pain, the splash of blood. Head pressed against the floor, I see the electric yellow jacket of Julian as he lies atop me, his thigh marred with a long cut, one dripping with blood. Damn it! This is what happened last time! Shuppet intervened in my fight, got himself injured. Pansy still stands over us.

Then she inexplicably falls to her knees.

"Deja Vu, huh?"

A familiar voice reaches my ears, and that's when I notice the spear tip protruding from Pansy's back. "Johnathan, you big ape!" A smile breaks out across my face. He's saved me. Again. "You always have my back!"

"So did I," Julian grunts as he rolls off of me, hissing in pain when his thigh touches the cobbled floor of the shrine. The wound is a nasty, bloody thing; Pansy's knife cut deep.

"We need to go!" Harvest appears beside us all, his face a mask of worry. "Todd and Luxray are headed this way!"

My smile drops. How quickly I forgot we were surrounded by bloodthirsty killers. "Can you walk?" I ask Julian as Harvest helps him to his feet. The wounded boy nods, but falls back down the moment he tries to put weight on his left leg.

"I'll carry him!" Johnathan shoves his spear into Harvest's stunned hands and heaves Julian over his massive shoulder. The boy gives a small squeak, but accepts the help. My own eyes swivel to watch as Todd (0) and Luxray (14) slowly approach us, cautious only because of Johnathan's presence.

Then we're running. Despite the added weight of Julian, Johnathan still easily outpaces both me and Harvest. The two of us slink behind, weapons at the ready in case we're to be pursued. I doubt it though. There's still many easier targets left behind.

Vera Luchabra (District 9)

I care not for all the tributes that run past me, or for the ones battling it out under the canopy of the shrine. My only goal is to get myself armed and supplied. Everything else matters not.

The innards of the shrine are crawling with tributes hacking away at one another or just plain brawling. I pay no particular attention as I grab at the heaviest looking backpack I can find. Then I turn and run for the outskirts.

Fleeing I am not, I see an axe lying nearby and know that I can pick it up on my way out. My hands wrap around the hilt just as another pair of them do. Axel from the District 7 glares at me as he tries to tug the weapon loose from my grasp.

I do not let go.

"You're making a big mistake!" The boy throws a punch at me, but he lets his guard down to do so. My hefty backpack slaps him across the face. He stumbles, shouting in annoyance and giving me a combo opportunity.

My foot catches him between the legs, and he drops like a fat russian. Crying and squawking in pain, he rolls around on the floor of the shrine. I pick up the axe we both fought over and let out a smile. "You are lucky, for I have not the time to kill you."

I run for the forest, leaving the boy where he lies. Curled in a ball and crying in pain.

Luna Fern (District 6)

Everything is a blur as I examine the cornucopia. People fight, people die. Four bodies already litter the ground, and yet no one stops to care. It's inhuman, immoral. Yet it is all we can do. I don't know who from my alliance is here, but I need to find them. I can't just flee and leave them by myself. I need to join with them first. But, I can't pinpoint anyone in this chaos.

Someone bumps into me. My hands shoot out and shove the person instinctively, and Courage (3) falls to the ground, his ice blue eyes flashing with shock.

I back off, unsure of what is happening. My head hurts from all the sights and sounds. My nostrils are filled with the stench of blood. Familiar blue hair bounces on the other side of the shrine. Ellis.

I don't even think of the repercussions before breaking into a full sprint across the battleground. Most people ignore me. A few try to trip me. One slashes with a knife and cuts me across the bicep. Pain tingles down my arm, but I don't stop. I need to get to my allies. Why did I enter this chaos?

"Ah, ah, ah!"

Someone steps out from behind the cornucopia just as I reach the other end. Her foot connects with my knee, and I fall shouting for Ellis who races for the pine woods. Did she not hear me?

"There is a speed limit, you know," Thalia (12) sidles out before me. Nature was cruel to make her so terribly beautiful. Full lips, skin as smooth as river-stones, and hair as soft and feathery as a princess. All just a mask for the horrid creature she truly is. "And you were well over that limit."

I make a swipe at her legs, attempting to knock her down. But she's too quick for me, dancing out of the way with a merry laugh. "Oh, do try harder next time!" Her foot smashes into my face, cracking a molar and making me spit blood. "That was quite pathetic!"

Dazed and confused, I don't respond. The world seems to be spinning. When did I get in the air? Thalia laughs and slams a knife down, right into my hand. My scream is otherworldly, distorted and echoing. Pinned to the ground and with no way out, Thalia grins as her second knife digs into my neck.

Aisha Hakeem (Distict 8)


Freya (8) drops the box the three of us were carrying, spilling it's contents across the grass. Annabelle (11) sputters in shock as our friend points a disparate finger back to the shrine, where Thalia is standing with a bloodied knife.

"Luna! She killed Luna!" Freya is hysterical. Annabelle looks up from where she was gathering our dropped items. Our friend lies dead on the cobblestone, her blood leaking out from a gash across her throat. Thalia stands over her, gleeful in her victory.

"I'm going to kill her!" A low growling builds in Freya's throat as she suddenly lunges across the clearing. I'm just quick enough to grab her around the waist.

"No!" I strain against Freya's desperate pull. I'm larger and stronger than her, but grief has given her a surge of adrenaline. "We can't risk it! Luna wouldn't want us to die for her!" Cold and distant, yet still the truth. We cannot get ourselves killed in a vain attempt to avenge one of our own. I saw Celica die, I saw Colin die, and I saw Amore die twice. The most recent time..just a few moments ago. Never did I consider throwing myself into the fire to save her. I can't afford to die. I must live for more.

"Annabelle! Help!"

I shout for my blonde friend as Freya begins to slip loose from my grasp. Ellis has already ran off into the pines, and our other allies don't seem to be anywhere near.

"I need to help her!" Spittle flies from Freya's mouth as she watches Luigi (2) run up to engage Thalia in a fight. Both seem evenly matched.

"No! You'll get yourself killed!" My desperate plea falls on deaf ears.

"I have to! I can't just--"

A hard, metal can comes down onto Freya's head. Her eyes stare blankly ahead and then roll up into her head as she falls into my arms, unconscious.

"There, that should do it!" Annabelle dumps the can she smacked Freya with back into the square box. I just stare, dumbfounded that she'd even consider that. "Drag her. I'll push the box." She turns and begins to throw her weight against the heavy box.

"I can't believe you just--"

"No time! We have to get moving!"

I feel empty as I follow Annabelle into the pines, dragging Freya's unconscious body with me. Two of my allies just died and I didn't even shed a tear. Is this what Colin's death made me? A heartless monster?

Seth Rollins (District 5)

Luigi's (2) swords clashes against Thalia's (12) knives as the two dance around the clear doing battle. The rest of the non-Career tributes have up and fled, leaving only our alliance left at the shrine.

"He's a cocky bastard," Dean (14) speaks from my side, popping his neck casually. "She's gonna cut him up if he doesn't focus." Typical Dean. Thinking he knows everything when he really doesn't. He's a brawler, fit for small battles in the mud. What does he know of proper sword play? Luigi seems to be doing fine to me!

Luigi lashes out at Thalia, bellowing wordlessly. She falls back from his kinetic blows, allowing him to gain ground. Todd (0) and Luxray (14) shout encouragement as the battle swings into our leader's favor. This battle is over!

Luigi's sword swings over Thalia's head and that's when I realize I am wrong. She was just sitting back, allowing Luigi to extinguish all of his energy while she gathered her plan. When the tall boy stops to take a breath, she strikes.

Two quick slashes across the forearms, making him drop his sword. Spinning, she reaches behind him and slices a knife through his hamstrings. He falls, screaming in pain before Thalia's second knife slams into his throat and silences him forever.

A savage grin crosses Thalia's face as we all fall silent. Our leader is dead, lying at her feet. She steps forward, waiting for one of us to challenge her.

Then a fist smashes into her jaw.

Dean shouts maniacally as his fists rain down onto the girl, beating her face in. It looks like the fight will be over within seconds, when Thalia manages to clock Dean across the ear with an elbow. She throws him off, but he knocks her back down with a hard right jab. He's going to end it now. Thinking fast, I leap forward and heave him away from her. "What the hell are you doing?!" He bellows at me, his body shaking with anger as he scrambles back onto his feet.

I say nothing as I prime myself up, watching as Thalia sits on her hands and feet, head inches from the cobblestone. Dean lunges for me just as I run forward and hit Thalia with a curb stomp. Her face smashes into the hard stones, her nose bursting with blood. Shivers race down her body until she finally stiffened, lying face first in a pool of slick blood. Smirking, I turn to Dean. "Finishing the job. You weren't killing her quick enough."

My friend's eyes light with fury as he pulls himself to his full height, just shorter than Luxray. "I had it! You just wanted the kill!"

I smirk. "Oh? Envious of me? I always knew you had self-esteem issues!"

Dean howls and shoves me hard with both hands. I'm pushed off my feet, landing hard on the cobblestone and skinning my elbows. "Oh, now you're going to get it!"

Dylan Murrow (District 4)

Seth (5) screams with rage as he throws himself at Dean, tackling him and throwing punches at his head. Todd (0) shouts for them to stop, but they pay no attention to him. Dean hurls Seth off of him and tries locking in a headlock, throwing several strikes at his head now. Seth kicks him off and climbs back onto his feet only to be hit with a clothesline.

"Is that all you got?!" Dean howls with laughter, viciously slapping his own head.

"Stop!" Todd throws himself into the fray, grabbing Dean around the waist and pulling him away from Seth, whose crawled back against a crate. With Luigi's death went any semblance of order. Dean is still howling like a maniac, Seth is holding his bruised head and throwing furious glares at him, while Luxray just stands still, observing everything.

I can't wait to get out of here and join up with my allies, my real allies. Caspian, Curricular, and Rosalina. The three of them aren't psychotic killers. I should have already fled the bloodbath, found Curricular and went off after my other allies. But I was too distracted, too caught up in the chaos to remember that I needed to use it as cover for my own escape. I lost my opportunity and now need to find a new one.

So instead of running, I watch as Luxray gathers the bodies and usually quiet Todd tries to play peacemaker between Seth and Dean. The two refuse to say a word to one another, but Todd manages to make them shake hands. Though, Seth's eyes still shine with future malice. I do not trust him at all.

"Seven dead," Luxray drones when he deposits the last one on the pile. My stomach is already queasy just seeing their shapes, but when I see them up close I almost lose it. So much blood and carnage. Such brutality. I see Caliban, Amore, Pansy, and, oh God, Curricular!

Her blue eyes are shut, her fair skin covered with the blood of the dead around her. Voluminous black hair no longer glossy. A large, purple bruise mars her throat. I didn't see her die. I didn't save her.

"Who killed her?" I ask quietly, nudging her body with my foot. She didn't deserve to die like this. None of them did.

"What? Luxray didn't hear me as he was listening to Seth trying to pitch his own leadership plan.

"Who killed her?" I repeat.

"Oh. I did." He turns and misses the furious glint in my eyes. Murderer. He's no better than Juliet's drunken father. He's sick. Sick and twisted. Beyond repair. I should kill him right now, strike him down while he's not looking. My fingers clamp around the trident.


No, I cannot kill him. Not right now, in front of the others. Besides, I'd never be able to do it. I'm no killer. I couldn't bare with the guilt of killing someone, even someone like him. I need to get out of here. I need to find my remaining allies--if they're still alive--and leave these Careers behind. They're a raging flame, fierce and bloodthirsty in the beginning, but always burning out by the end.

I need to get away.

Bloodbath Three

Amira Blodwen (District 9)

I'm in a land of pure bliss. The sweet scent of candy lingers in the air, the luscious shapes of giant candy canes glimmer in the background, far north of where the cornucopia sits upon hardpacked dirt. Only, its not dirt. It's sugar, pure, delicious brown sugar. The very scent of this arena makes me salivate.

I must snap out of this stupor!

Everything might be made of candy, from the lollipop trees to the buttercup flowers, and the chocolate river that floats pass lazily. But the weapons aren't. They're cold, hard steel, designed for the sole purpose of cutting through flesh and hacking off limbs. I cannot let my guard down for a moment, lest I wind up without a head.

But what should I focus on? Marlon (10) and Ashley (5), my only two allies, are both a few pegs down from me. Just beside me sits Adreanna (13), arms poised in a running position. Salem (12) is on my other side primed to run as well, though she's aimed her body in the opposite direction of the cornucopia.

Their actions mirror the battle going on inside my head. Run or fight? Which one doesn't end with me lying dead on the ground? I don't know. But I need to decide quickly, because the clock is running.

Amica Belle (District 14)

I'm afraid.

I shouldn't be, I shouldn't be afraid of anything. But I am. I'm terrified of what is about to happen. Dozens of tributes surround me, all of them focusing on the cornucopia. My allies, Mahogany (C) and Amaya (14), and Annabeth (3), chief among them. Those three are the biggest rebels among us, eager for the bloodshed of the Careers and the plunder of the cornucopia. They will fight to the death trying to capture the golden horn.

And that's why I'm afraid.

I don't want to lose any allies, I don't want to watch them die. So I need to stay at the cornucopia. I need to help them fight against the Careers in a foolish effort to show our superiority. The odds of one of us astronomical, to say the least. Someone will die. I'll have to watch.

Everyone is going to die in the end. A voice warns me of the future. Everyone but one will die. What will you do to stop this? You'll have to watch them all die eventually... I...don't know. I don't know what I'm going to do. Anissa would though, she always knew what to tell me in hard situations.

I wish she was here with me.

Trent Korey (District 11)


The mines deactivate, the tributes are released. My powerful legs hurl me forward, towards the boxes and crates surrounding the cornucopia. Douglas (13) runs beside me, but with one shove of my immensely powerful hands, he goes careening into a pile of crates. I feel proud of myself, but stay on course.

Cornucopia full steam ahead!

I'm the first to arrive, or at least one of them. Sheol (4) and Fressa (4) both are arming themselves with weapons and Josef (8) is already exiting the cornucopia with a crossbow and dagger in hand. "Someone stop him!" I instruct, yanking a spear off a rack.

Sheol is the first to react, shambling towards the bandanna kid with her strange, janky movements. I hang back, content in the knowledge that she'll deal with the veiled demon.

Josef sees her coming, and steps back warily as her hands defy all logic and move with a deft and fluid motion. A knife slashes the air, followed up by a second strike. Josef is on his heels, continually backing up. Beside me, Ryan (4) and Cole (1) arrive and begin outfitting themselves with weaponry.

Then all goes to hell.

Josef spins out of the way of Sheol's knife swing, ending up behind her and sliding his own dagger into her neck. My shout of fury has only just left my lips when he aims the crossbow at Fressa and fires.

An arrow cuts through the air, slamming into her heart. Fressa the betrayer is dead before she even hits the ground. "Do something!" Enraged, I shout at Cole and Ryan as they back off from the cornucopia, their eyes wide with shock. Too late do I realize that Josef isn't finished. His hands whip out as he throws the same dagger he used to kill Sheol. I see it coming, but I am powerless to stop it.

The blade sinks into my throat.

I sink to my knees, crimson blood bubbling in my throat, clogging my airways. I can't breathe. Can't think. Everything is getting blurry. I see Josef running off after picking up a backpack and set of daggers. He killed three of us. He...killed...three of us...

Mahogany Vesta (The Capitol)

Trent (11) slumps over, as dead as he was all those years ago. Josef (8) has already fled the bloodbath, his form is just a speck on the horizon as it runs for the distant mountain ranges. Cole (1) and Ryan (4) have seen what happened to their allies, and they too are running. Running like their lives depend on it. Running from the cornucopia.

A wide grin breaks out on my face.

"Clear out the others!" I shout to my allies as they arrive at the cornucopia. Amaya (14) and Annabeth (3) are the first to arrive, and both are shocked to see the three dead Careers at my feet.

"Did you...?" Amaya can't even finish her question.

"No. It was Josef." There's no disappointment in her green eyes as I tell her the truth. She probably suspected as much anyway.

"Where did the other two go?" Annabeth asks as she selects a recurve bow from a tray.

"Ran off. Now less talking, more fighting." The Careers are no longer a threat to us. No longer the master here. We are. I am. You can't imagine how good that makes me feel. For so long I was the subjugated, I was the weakling who had to flee from the battles, had to strike from the shadows and run for my life. Well, now I am the beast that savages everything before it.

Annabeth shoots an arrow at a trio of tributes on the outskirts. The group, led by Marlon (10), notice the projectile sail past their head and make a run for it. Crossing the open plains of sugary grass and heading for the same mountain peak Josef ran for.

I gather up my own knives, and spot Caspian (3) as he picks a sword up from a crate. I take aim, making sure that my first throw will be my only.

"Oh ho! Mahogany, right?"

The knife is slapped out of my grasp as a large, muscular boy steps in front of me. A silver sword twirls in his dexterous hands, a cocky grin on his face. Ramon Constancy, my District partner.

"You'll get no mercy from me!" I spit furiously, my inner rage at all Capitolites manifesting itself against him.

He offers me a small bow. "And you none from me. I'm not like those pitiful, Careers. I'm a strong, brilliant warrior who knows no bounds--"

He cuts off as my second knife digs into his rib cage. Gasping, he looks down at my hand as it pushes the metal weapon in further. "This isn't a duel, moron!" I hiss into his ear, smug in my victory over him. "You shouldn't have treated it like one!" I rip my weapon out, conscious of the moist blood that now soaks my hand. Ramon can do nothing but gape in shock as the life bleeds out from him. Fool. In the Hunger Games there is no niceties, no conversation before battle. He competed twice before. He should have known that.


I hear Amica's (14) shout and turn. I witness Caspian strike Falk, a small, frail boy, down with the sword I let him grab. The boy let's out one small cry before falling to the ground, a gaping wound across his chest.

My knife sails over Caspian's head as he sprints off towards a looming forest, Rosalina (0) hot on his heels. Unquenchable rage burns inside me as I watch them. I could have stopped him. I would have stopped him. But Ramon interrupted me. Ramon...

The boy lies on the ground, spitting up blood as he tries to breath. He's not dead, not yet.

I fix that with one stab of my knife.

Daisy Lilac (District 11)

I follow behind Shade (7) as he slinks around the backside of the cornucopia. Nearby, two tributes fight. I don't recognize either of them, but neither uses a weapon. Instead opting for their own fists.

"What are we looking for?" I ask Shade as he begins to rummage through a crate. The screams of pain and the shrill shriek of metal sends a shiver down my spine.

"Anything useful," He doesn't look up from where he searches through the crate. "Particularly weapons. Grab what you can."

Okay. Simple enough. I approach a nearby deposit of items, some metal, some not. My hands dig through the pile, conscious not to cut myself any sharp edges. I find a few items of value; a can of beans, a coil of rope, a box of matches and an jewel encrusted dagger that has the head of an eagle engraved on the hilt.

Shade hails for me after a few moments, and I turn to see him holding a small knapsack. "I found these," I dump my items into the bag. "But I don't think we should stick around for long, I think--"

I don't get to finish saying what I thought. Something slams into Shade's back, driving him into me. We both fall into a pile of assembled crates, which fall upon us. Empty. They're all empty. I throw the empty crates off of me, watching as Shade grapples with the lithe form of Adreanna (13).

Shade has the clear strength advantage, yet Adreanna manages to slip through his reaching grasp and hit him with a few body shots. "Shade! I'm coming!" I have no idea why I announce my arrival like that. It was a stupid, spur of the moment decision. Adreanna's brown eyes dart over to me, then she bends down and scoops up a handful of brown sugar.

She throws the dust into Shade's eyes, blinding him just as I crash into her. She falls, I don't. Shade is vigorously rubbing his eyes as I dart for the knapsack at his feet. My hands delve inside just as Adreanna trips up my feet, taking me down and mounting me. Adrenaline pulsing through my body, I just slash wildly with the item I pulled from the knapsack.

Adreanna screams as bloody cuts open along her arms, and I kick her in the gut, pushing her off of me. "Shade!"

"Run!" He's at my side, a flash of silver in his hands as he stabs at Adreanna. I hear the sucking sound of metal entering flesh and the last gasp of Adreanna. Then I turn and run.

I hear the footsteps of Shade behind me as we race for the cover of the nearby forest. I'm so disoriented by how all the twigs are liquorice and the berries on the bushes are gum drops. The overly sweet scent makes me sick. Lemon drops hang from overhead branches, and giant lollipops protrude from the ground in odd places. I duck behind of the these and pull Shade in with me. "Why are we stopping?" He asks, breathless.

I shush him and point a finger at where three tributes come rushing towards the forest, all of them holding some sort of weapon. They run right past our hiding place, close enough for me to smell their sweat.

"Doug!" Shade's voice is a low growl as his mismatched eyes watches the boy lead his two allies deeper into the forest.

"We can't do anything about him right now," I remember that Doug killed his brother Frade, but I don't let that get in my head. Our only priority is finding a safe hiding place. "Just forget about him and follow me!" I dart out from behind the lollipop and go rushing for the distant shapes of giant candy canes. I didn't see anyone else run this way, so we should be safe.

"It wasn't Doug I was thinking about," Shade catches up with me in time. "It was my brothers."

"Don't worry about them either. They're fine, and we'll meet up with them soon enough."

Zoey Proasheck (District 13)

Already most of the other tributes have already fled the bloodbath, and yet it has only been a few minutes. I've arrived at the innards of the cornucopia, stopping amongst the crates and boxes to look for a weapon. The air is sharp with contrasting smells, the sweet scent of candy and the bitter tang of fresh blood.

"Hey! You!"

I nearly have a heart attack, dropping the machete I was in the middle of picking up as I turn to face Jet (8), an agile boy with a sword. "Stay back! I'll kill you!" I don't know why I'm threatening him, when I have no weapons.

"I'm not gonna kill you. I...need an ally. You can be that ally. Comprehend?" The boy closes the gap between us and picks up the fallen machete, pressing it into my hands. "I'm an expert Hunger Games analyser. I know this arena like the back of my hand!" The kid flashes a cocky smile. I don't like his smug, stuck-up attitude but I can't afford to be picky in this situation. Decline and I die. It's that simple.

"Okay, fine!" I accept the machete and turn away from him, back to the crate I was searching. "But we need to go. The only other group left is Aelia's alliance, sans Aelia. And they won't be occupied with chasing Wess for long." Jet doesn't respond as I stick a knife in my belt and weigh a tiny pouch of powder. What is this stuff? "Jet? You listening?"

My only answer is a wet gurgling.

Ny fight-or-flight response kicks in and I spin around, slashing my machete in an overhead arc. Mizu (4) uses Jet's body to absorb the blow, and I add a gash across the chest in addition the gaping hole in his throat.

Terror fills me as my blade sticks in the boy's body. Mizu cocks her head, regarding me like a hunting animal that knows it has captured her prey. I stumble away from her, horrified by my situation. I know what she's capable. I've seen what she's done.

I run, but it is useless. A weight crashes down onto my back before I even get two paces away. When something sharp digs into my back, I can only pray that I die quickly.

Amaya Lovelace (District 14)

"There's someone left!"

Annabeth's (3) shout has me racing back around the bend of the cornucopia. Mahogany (C) follows me, her job helping me drive Wess (11) off complete. Amica (14) is at our side as we find Annabeth (3) pointing a bow at Mizu (4). The girl is shaking, her hands clenched into claws at her side. A ferocious expression is forming on her face and her normal blue eyes have changed to a frightening red. I know what this means.

"Get away from here!" I grab Annabeth before she can fire an arrow, pulling her away from the transforming Mizu.

"What the hell are you doing?" She demands, yanking herself free from my grasp.

"I--" I stop mid-sentence. Mizu has turned away from us, her hands no longer shaking and her eyes back to a faint blue. Has...has she controlled herself? Stopped the monster from coming out? I don't believe it.

"Don't let her escape!" Mahogany interrupts my thoughts with a scream. "Shoot her! Shoot her now!"

"No! Don't kill her!"

Amica lunges for Annabeth but it's too late. An arrow has already been released, and it sails threw the air, heading straight for Mizu's back. The girl crumbles to the ground, falling in a heap. Annabeth is already stalking towards her, a short sword in hand.

"Amaya, don't let her be killed!" Amica grabs my arm, staring up at me with wide, frightened eyes. "She didn't kill us, when she could have. She could have fought us all, but she didn't!"

I understand where she's coming from, but I can't agree with what she's saying. Yes, Mizu reverted her transformation and tried to run, but we can't spare her just for that. No one wants to kill people, but they all have to. Where would we be if we just started sparing everyone? We'd be dead within days! "I'm sorry Amica," I can't bare to look in her eyes as I tell her my decision. "But we can't let anyone live. The only people we can look after is ourselves and our allies."

Annabeth has reached the incapacitated Mizu now. She grabs the girl's hair and pulls her onto her knees, raising the sword. "We may fight the Careers," Amica whispers quietly to herself. "But we don't have to become them."

Something clicks within me. Something that I always knew, but never expressed. By trying so hard to eliminate the Careers, we've begun to emulate them. We chased people away from the cornucopia, we frightened them with our weapons, and we've even killed them. But is that what we should have been doing? Is that what my friends would have wanted? What Sean would have?'s been a long time since I thought of him. Even when Aelia brought him up in training, I didn't really think of him. But now I do.

Sean was an extremist, wanted to change the world. Would he have sacrificed his soul for that? Will Ganta?

"Amaya! Please!" Amica is practically crying as she tugs on my shirt. I don't know what anyone else would do. But I know what I will do.

"Annabeth! Hold!"

"What?!" My blonde ally glares at me, her hand still holding Mizu by the hair. The captured girl just looks on in disbelief, not even minding the arrow protruding from her back.

"Don't kill her!" I begin to approach now, feeling ever more confident in my decision. "We're not Careers. No matter how much we fight them, we cannot afford to become them!"

Something passes through Annabeth's blue eyes. A ripple of belief? She smiles grimly as I stop a few feet from her. "Sorry, Amaya. But I'm not letting this monster live one more second!"

Annabeth plunges the sword into Mizu's stomach. I rush forward, but it is already done. Annabeth twists the sword like she's wringing a towel, further damaging Mizu's body. For her apart, she wrenches in pain and then gasps; like she knew this was inevitable.

"Why...?" My voice trembles with shock as Annabeth pulls the bloody sword from Mizu's body. Already her eyes fade, headed for some distant place.

"I did what you should have instructed me to. You say that we're not Careers, I say that becoming them is the only way to beat them. Or have you forgotten your roots?" She is referencing my rebel past, where I committed some terrible atrocities in the name of justice.

"Mizu was a monster," Mahogany appears beside the two of us, her eyes cold and distant. "A killing machine designed by the Capitol. What purpose would be served by sparing her?"

"We'd have shown we're better than them..." I feel like I have lost the trust of my allies. I tried to get them to spare someone at the risk of their own lives. Why shouldn't they mistrust me?

"You cannot beat someone by being better than them!" Mahogany turns away in disgust. She thinks this as weakness. She's changed since that gong rung out, changed into something cold and dark. "Come on. Let us give the dead a proper send off."

We arrange them in a line, decorating their bodies with flowers and candies. Amica says a few words for them, even the ones she didn't personally know. She alone does not judge me for what I did, for she was the one who encouraged it. Neither does she reprimand me for failing to save Mizu. She just feels sorrow, sorrow for the girl who was part monster. That's more than I can say. I just did what I did because I thought it would make me a good person, she did it because she truly loves every one she sees.

She's a better human being than the rest of combined.

I don't actually participate in the decoration itself; instead I help Annabeth gather the bodies of the Careers and Ramon. Then we just unceremoniously pile them atop of Mizu, a wordless message to the Capitol. I don't like it. They just did what they were taught, they're just as much of victims as Jet, Zoey, Adreanna, and Falk were. Why couldn't we have done the same with them? Do we seek justice? Or merely vengeance?

"He was a kindly boy. He'd never resort to violence or threats, no matter what happened. Perhaps he was just too kind for this world. May he find peace in the next."

Amica finishes Falk's obituary. I watch from where I lie against the cornucopia, suffering a massive migraine shortly after the first obituary ended. I think the stress is getting to me. "I hope that our other allies are okay," I say tiredly.

"I hope so too," Amica agrees softly, sitting down beside me. Mahogany and Annabeth remain where they stand, over the bodies of the fallen.

"He'll be avenged," Mahogany says, her voice laced with fury that trembles in every word. "Falk will be avenged. Every single ally we have lost will be avenged. I don't care what it takes. I won't let people die in vain." I'm beginning to think that maybe Mahogany is in the right. A war has never been won by being nicer than the opposition. If we want to win, then we'll need to kill every single damn tribute in our way.

"Where's Salem?"

Everything stops as Amica poses a question that should have been asked long ago. Where is our littlest ally? She's not among the dead, and there are no more bodies lying in the field. "I think I saw her run into the woods," Annabeth says after a few moments reflection. "Right at the beginning of the bloodbath. She ran back instead of forward."

In a moment we're all on our feet, arming ourselves with the closest weapons. We may disagree on some things, but this is something that we all know we must do. Mahogany leads us off into the woods, off in search of our missing friend.

Day 1/ Aftermath

Blade Spectrus (District 6)

We run through the jungle, dragging Wolbert's (6) unconscious body behind us. Sweat pours off my head, large, black flies buzz around my ears and monkeys hoot far above us in the jungle canopy. My feet hit a log and I trip, falling forward onto hard-packed dirt. I don't try to stand back up, relishing the opportunity to regain my stamina.

"This bastard needs to wake up!" Frade (7) let's go of Wolbert, allowing the blonde boy's head fall unceremoniously to the ground. "We can't drag him around like this for much longer!"

Panting heavily, I nod and pull myself into a sitting position, resting my head against the cool bark of a nearby tree. "You're right. But there's nothing we can do about it."

Frade snorts and shakes his head, turning to search through the thick foliage behind him. I'm too tired to ask what he's doing, and just sit back and rest as the jungle comes alive with the sounds of insects. I lay my spear across my lap, exhausted from our run through the humid jungle. Crossing the bridge that connects the islands was the worse part. We were left in the open, with no opportunity to hide as just about anyone could see us. I'm surprised that we weren't followed.

"Aha!" Frade backs up from the bushes, grinning crazily.

"What?" I'm wary of anything that makes him this happy. My brother isn't anywhere near what you would call "normal". Not that any Spectri is really normal, it's just that, well, Frade is by far the most abnormal one amongst us.

Frade doesn't answer my question, bending down beside Wolbert and shoving the tiny plant under his nostril.

Wolbert shoots up immediately, arms and legs flailing around wildly. Frade chuckles to himself and tucks the plant in his belt. "Where am I? What happened?" Wolbert is justifiably confused by his surroundings as he gawps around him.

"What was that?" I address Frade.

"Oleo Asper," He pats his belt joyfully. "A very strong foul, very bitter plant. Works just like smelling salts if you snap them open. Now, if you excuse me," He steps over Wolbert whose still lying on the ground attempting to get his bearings. "I'm going to go scout the surrounding area. See if anyone followed us."

He slips into the jungle, silent as a wisp. He may be my brother, but he sure the hell is creepy too. Well, not much to do now. I lie my head back again and answer Wolbert's question. "We're in the jungle. You had to be dragged after Cullinan knocked you out." I leave out how we accidentally dropped him on his head a few times. Okay. A lot of times.

"Yeouch. My head is still buzzing..." Wolbert climbs into a sitting position and rests against the tree across from me. We sit in silence for a few moments, and then he notices the backpack I wear. "What items do we have?"

"You know what? I actually have no idea."

I empty the pack in the space between us. A flashlight rolls out, followed by the rolled swath of a sleeping bag and a few canisters. "Soup. Yum." Wolbert uncorks one of the canisters, peering at the contents inside.

"We need to preserve that. No idea when we'll find more food," I fiddle with the flashlight, turning it off and on, off and on. "What's in the other canisters?" I ask after a moment.

"Water. And crackers," Wolbert places all three back inside of the backpack. "Did Frade get anything else?"

I shrug. "Dunno. I thought he took a net from the cornucopia, not sure though." Another silence. I swat some flies away from where they buzz around my ears and go to say something when a cannon interrupts me.


Then there's another. And another. I lose track after about a dozen, and just wait for the barrage to end. When it finally does, Wolbert stirs. "Twenty, I think."

Despite being in a humid jungle, I shiver. Twenty? Twenty? I've been in the Games before, but twenty dead tributes? That is an obscene number, made all the worse by the knowledge that Shade and the others are out there unaccounted for. What will I do if my brother is one of those cannons?

"I'm sure Shade is fine," Wolbert seems to know where my thoughts are and tries to comfort me. "He's a strong competitor. The toughest guy I know." That means a lot, coming from him. But it doesn't do anything to ease my fear.

"Daisy could be with him. And she messes with his head. He'll try anything to save her." Not that it's her fault, but it needs to be said. Shade doesn't think right when he's with her.

"You two sure are mopey!"

We both jump as Frade returns from the jungle, a twisted smile plastered on his face. "For a moment, I thought I had run into an alcoholics support group in the middle of the jungle!"

"Oh, haha!" Wolbert rolls his eyes as Frade crouches down between us, rolling a small twig through his teeth.

"Find anything?" I ask, knowing that my brother wouldn't have returned so quickly without having something to report.

"Yup. Found a beach. Saw a small town on the other island, looks like the one from the 302nd Games. Could be useful. The lookout tower would give us a full view of both islands."

"You want us to head back? Across the bridge?" I don't care how useful that tower is, I'm not putting myself in a snipers alley again!

"Nah. Don't need to use the bridge."

"Why?" Wolbert frowns, unsure of where this is headed.

"Cuz, I found a raft. On the beach. We can use it to cross the islands without going over the bridge." Frade's eyes twinkle mischievously and I almost laugh. Of course he did! He always manages to find just what he needs, when he needs it.

"Well then," I motion my hands towards the jungle, where our raft awaits. "Lead on brother, lead on."

Elvis Alexander (District 1)

I sit on my throne of crates, one hand stroking my chin and the other holding the ruby encrusted sword I won from the bloodbath. The hilltop has been cleared of the dead, hovercrafts having taken away the stinking corpses. Jake (1) stands beside me, a spear in his hands. At my feet kneels Olympic (C), his arms and feet bound with rope.

"Well, well, well. Whatever shall I do with you?" I address him with a mocking smile, my power shown through my victory over him in one-on-one combat. "If you have a suggestion, feel free to give me it."

"Suck my balls!" Olympic spits a bloody glob at me, and I just barely dodge the phlegm.

"Now, now, that wasn't very accommodating, was it?" I smirk at him as, Cullinan (1), who stands guard over Olympics shoulder, moves to kick him but I hold a hand for him to stop. He does so immediately and I smile. What power you get when you show everyone you're the strongest! "You know," I turn back to Olympic. "I could very well have you executed now. And how would that look? The big, bad Olympic Oblado beheaded with his arms and legs bound?" I see the flash of fury in his eyes now that I mock his pride. It is our privilege, our duty to win the Hunger Games. And if we are to die, it should be with honor. Not by a pitiful execution.

"Huzzah!" He attempts to clap his bounds hands. "I don't give a piss."

"For some reason, I think you're lying."

Olympic suddenly rises to his feet, only to be pressed back down by Cullinan. Beside me, Jake lifts his spear. I would like to behead this damn boy and be done with it, move on with my life. Hunt down the traitors Chloe and Trident. Maybe rendezvous with the other Careers. But I can't do that. I need Olympic on my side, or I risk losing the numbers advantage. Jake and Cullian are too good dudes to have on my side, but I need more than them if I am to win. Not to mention the horrible situation I'll be in if Chloe meets up with the other Careers first. She'll tell them her lies, and they'll believe them. I'll have double the enemies I have now.

"I am not going to kill you, Olympic." My declaration shocks him into silence, mid speech. His large mouth hangs open. Even Jake and Cullinan look confused. "Because, I need you. And you need me. You tried to follow Chloe, and where did that leave you? Bound and and gagged at my feet, nothing but a District 3 whelp!"

The large boy flinches from my words, but his eyes no longer glower with a burning hate. At least, not a hate for me. "Chloe Black has wronged you, Olympic Oblado. And I am willing to give you the opportunity to get your vengeance! Untie him!" I snap my fingers and Jake pulls a knife from his belt, crossing over the Olympic.

"Elvis, are you sure?" He pauses beside our prisoner, his eyes glancing warily at Olympic, who has yet to break my gaze.

"I am sure. Unbound him!"

Jake shrugs and cuts the rope that was holding the large boy at bay. Immediately, Olympic jumps up, shoving Jake out of his way as he heads for me. Cullinan moves to stop him, but yet again I have him halt. Olympic will not fight me. He knows what happened last time, when he pulled a dagger from his belt and stabbed me in the chest. While he celebrated his apparent victory, I stumbled around before ripping the weapon out from my chest and using its hilt to punch him in the face. I was completely unharmed.

I smirk to myself. My three subjects thought that I was made of iron, that steel didn't hurt me like it did them. But what they don't know is that I picked up a flak vest during the bloodbath and now wear it beneath my clothes. It would stop bullets, must less daggers.

So Olympic does not fight me. He stops a in front of me, his nose inches from mine. He thinks I am something supernatural, and he is right. I'm the best fighter in the world, I have no doubt. "I do not like you," Olympic sneers the words quietly, so that only I can hear. "But I will follow you. I do not respect you, but I will obey you. I do not fear you, but I will pretend to. Just remember: When we find Chloe, I kill her. You can just sit and watch."

I smile coyly, his idle words mean nothing to me. Once we find Chloe, he can have her. I'll just smite him down afterwards. "Fine. She is yours."

A sinister grin forms on his face and we shake hands. Jake and Cullinan watch, unaware of the words passed between us. "Go arm yourselves with the best weapons from this magnificent stockpile I gave you!" I gesture at the items strewn about, the racks of weapons, and the crates that make my throne. "And then get some rest. Tomorrow we shall hunt and kill that traitor!"

The others shout their consent and Jake and Olympic go rushing for the weapons. Cullinan lingers beside me, and I nod at him. "Watch Olympic. Don't let him out of your sight. And if he tries anything suspicious....kill him."

My lieutenant nods, never taking his eyes off the large boy. "I understand."

"Good!" I pat him on the back and he rushes off to join the others. I smile to myself. Is winning the Games really this easy?

Harvest Cropper (District 9)

The pine trees seem to glare at me as I follow behind Johnathan (5). I don't know if the large boy has any inclination for where he is going, but he seems to at least. Banette (8) jogs beside me, his pink eyes scanning the pine cone littered group for any threats, visible or concealed. "Where are we going?" I ask. "We've been running since the bloodbath. But to where?"

Johnathan suddenly stops. I don't have time to control my momentum before it sends me into his iron back. I bounce off and hit the pine nestled floor. "Sorry. Should have given a warning." Johnathan sets Julian (13), who he has been carrying this entire time, down and helps me up. "And to answer your question; We're not going anywhere. I just wanted to get us away from the cornucopia and the Careers."

"Oh...that's good," I'm a little disappointed he didn't have a plan. I thought he might have recognized the arena or something. "How's your leg, Julian?" I turn to my injured friend, whose struggling into a sitting position.

"Well, it hurts. I don't know what that means though."

"It can't be too bad," I try to think on the positive side. "I mean, I've never heard of someone dying from a cut before."

"Not true. It could easily become infected, and that could lead to death," Johnathan sounds grim. Great. Just great. I hold my head in my hands as I realize how bad things could get. Did we all just survive the bloodbath just to lose Julian to a simple wound?

"Don't look so down, Harvest. I'm sure it's not that bad." Julian nods encouragingly, but when he pulls his pants leg up I see the cut. Long and deep, it spans across the full length of his thigh, I can only bare to look at it for a few seconds. How does he stand it?

"Isn't there anything we can do to help?" I ask meekly, sitting down on the pine nettle covered ground. I don't like this forest. The trees grow close together, their tall trunks spanning far into the sky, where they block out the sun. Looking around, I can't help but feel like something is watching us.

"We don't have any medicine," Banette shoves the items he was going through back into the bag. He's been silent for so long that I had forgotten he was here. "But I know where we can find some."

"No, Banette. Just no." Johnathan is already shaking his head before he even finishes.

I look between the two boys, confused. "What?"

Johnathan continues shaking his head, a small smile forming on his massive face. "Banette is suggesting that we steal medicine from the cornucopia."

"Oh. Oh, that's, uh, complicated. Isn't it?" I'm thinking of the Careers and their sharp, deadly weapons. I have no desire to return to their killing grounds.

"Pfft!" Banette waves a hand, immune to the fear and trepidation that dogs my heart. "We can take them. What do they have that we don't?"

"Lots of weapons," I say quickly.

"And a giant and lunatic." Johnathan references Luxray and Dean, and I nod along. I don't really want to meet up with either of those two monsters.

"You're a giant," Banette gestures towards Johnathan's massively broad shoulders. The guy even cracks a smile at that. "And I'm feeling a little crazy today. Might as well be a lunatic." Ha. Might? If he actually thinks that the four of us, one who is wounded and two others having only knives as weapons, could defeat the Careers then he's a grade A lunatic! I basically tell him this. "You're out of your mind, man."

He merely shrugs. "Better out of it then inside it. You up for it, Johnathan?"

"I'm always up for knocking some Career heads together, but don't you think a full-frontal assault is a little...kamikaze like?" I clap my hands together and point a finger at Johnathan.

"Exactly! We'd be killed within seconds!" I'm not a coward, far from it. But I am a realist. And just charging that cornucopia would get us all killed!

"Do you really have such little faith in me?" Banette wrinkles his nose at me, his pink eyes showing his disdain for my hesitancy. "I was going to sneak in, not do a banzai charge!"

"We should slip in under the cover of night," Julian speaks, surprising us all. He's pulled himself in a higher position and looks much stronger than he did before. Maybe he's recovering? "Or wait until tomorrow, when the Careers go hunting. We don't have to ever actually encounter them." Huh. Yeah, that would work much better. Any plan that doesn't put me in death's crosshairs is fine by me. I throw my weight behind this plan and Johnathan agrees as well. It's all up to Banette.

"We could take the Careers, you know," He sighs, shaking his head. "But fine, if you want to do it the stealthy way then that's what we'll do. Tomorrow we'll try to steal some medicine. Sound good?"

We all mumble our agreement, but I can't dispel the fear from my head that something very bad could happen.

Amethystia Thall (District 7)

"So, does this like make us the biggest threat? Other than the Careers, of course."

I fiddle with the armored helmet Camiren (8) has passed to me. A clear visor that's tinted on the outside covers my face as I slip it onto my head. Awesome. This was part of the body armor set Camiren received in her bag, but she didn't want to keep it all to herself, so she let me have the helmet. "You know," I begin, gazing around at the woods that surround us. It's not exactly like the forest back home, but it's close enough. I mean, there's tree and bushes and stuff. "You should really keep this. You'd be practically invincible!"

Camiren smiles at me. She's almost completely covered in the black and red body armor, a big logo type thing on her chest. I think she said it was her family's crest or something. "Not exactly. These types of armour aren't completely unbreakable. A hefty sword or spear thrust could really damage me. Even a dagger in the right place could get through." Her finger taps under her armpit.

"Oh. Well, whose going to try to fight against two armed and armoured girls though?" I laugh as I swing one of my two throwing axes I received from Camiren's bag into the log of a thick tree. I really like the solid thwack! it makes.

"Someone desperate. And in here, everyone is desperate." Camiren begins to set up a type of shelter we learned in training between two large trees. I catch the tone of her voice and frown.

"Aren't you happy? We have loads of stuff!" I gesture at the large bag at her feet, the bag that seemed to hold everything anyone could possibly need in the Games. "I mean, we have poison, anti-toxins, burn cream, iodine, bread, soup, fruit, beef strips, crackers, cookies, water, and two blankets. What else could we possibly need to survive?"

Camiren stops tying two sticks together with lashing she gathered from a nearby plant and stares at me. "Amethystia, we got all that stuff from my family!"

"So? If someone's cheating on my behalf, I don't really mind. And neither should you." We could question why the Idylwyld's are helping us, or we could just accept it as the good thing it is. "Not everything is some nefarious plot, Camiren."

A gentle smile crosses her face. "Except when the Idylwyld's are involved, everything IS a nefarious plot. I just don't know what it is yet." She goes back to her shelter making and I don't say any more. She's convinced that someone from her family is out to get her, and I can't change that. So I might as well not try to. Wordless, I drop beside my ally and help her with the shelter. The gentle sounds of the forest are the only things to break the peaceful silence. This moment feels so...comforting. I'd never imagine that there's more than half a hundred kids out there looking for people to kill. I wish that weren't true. I wish that everything was as peaceful as it seemed.

When we finish the shelter, we step back to examine it. It's big enough for the both of us and our stuff, but it's well-concealed in the gap of the trees. Unless you were really looking, you'd just think that the moss on the two trees was overgrown and began to mesh with the plants that dot its roots.

"Amethystia," Camiren speaks as we both crawl into our shelter, unsure on how to spend the rest of our day. "Why do you think that our other allies aren't with us?"

"Because they got sorted into another part of the arena," I feel like I'm missing something, but I don't know what.

"Yes. But why? You got put with me specifically. That's why weapons made especially for you were inside my bag. Again. Why?" Her olive eyes regard me, awaiting a response.

I hold my hands up, showing that I don't have an answer. I hadn't even thought of that before. If the Idylwyld's are helping Camiren, then why am I the only one with her? Why not Doug, Jenessa, and Kennedy? "Maybe they thought you only needed one ally? I don't know. Maybe they didn't have enough pull to get us all grouped together."

"Maybe." Camiren doesn't sound like she believes it, but she's willing to accept it as an answer. For now. I lay flat on my back, forgetting about all of my troubles and imagining how great it would be to come home as Victor. The looks on everyone's face would just be golden! No one would ever suspect that little Amethystia would be the last one standing.

And that's why I'm going to win.

Josool Wiranda (The Capitol)

I'm alone under cloudless sky and a sweltering sun, with no idea where I am or how in the world I'm going to find another living person, ally or not. I scan every direction, hoping to see Ena (2) tumble over a dune with a wave, Carmine (2) not far behind. But I don't. All I see is desolate desert.

Why? Why did I choose to enter this stupid desert? I ran from the cornucopia as soon as the gong rung, ran away the way through the pine forest until reaching the edge of this forsaken desert. And then I foolishly chose to enter. And now I'm trapped, with no sign of food or water. Or food. It's been hours since I last ate, shortly before entering the arena.

The heat knocks me to my knees and I remember the saying that there's always water buried in the desert. With renewed hope, I furiously begin to dig in the sand. I don't know if there's water under me, or if there's even any in this desert, but I'm pretty desperate. Desperate enough not to care that the sand is burning my fingers.

I find rocks and that gives me false hope. After several fruitless minutes of digging, all I have is a bunch of tiny, cracked ordinary rocks. I try sucking on them but they just crumble in my mouth. No help there...

I sit back and realize that I can't afford to waste any more energy on this. I need to find water, food, shelter, and food. Without those, I will die. I will die in this pitiless desert and no one will care. I don't want that to happen. I don't want to die.

I get up and walk. I just pick a random direction and go. I sweat like a pig, even catch the phantasmal scent of roast ham. Mmm...ham. At this point, I don't even care if I'm the one that's cooking. I just want to eat something.

Eventually, mountain peaks appear in the horizon. Far enough away for me to realize that I can't possibly reach then in time, but close enough to give me hope. Hope to keep on moving. More desert. More tumbleweed. Endless sun. I'm just about to give up, lie down and die, hoping that the afterlife has delicious food, when something shows in distance. Closer than the mountains. Much, much closer.

Trees! Actual to goodness trees! And water! I see it's pale, blue surface gently rippling in the soft wind. "Yes!" My voice is cracked and dry, but I don't care. I rush for the oasis, not the slightest bit concerned that it may be a mirage. I run, run past the trees and towards the water. My foot hits on a rock and I fall face first into the water, water that splashes across my face and hydrates me immediately.

It's real! The water is real!

I splash around in it, drinking and laughing joyfully. The water is cool and refreshing on my skin, and the palm fronds on the trees give me ample protection from the sun's intense rays of light. I spend at least half an hour just drinking and splashing, before my hunger drives me from the pool and towards the trees. Small bunches of nuts grow at their roots, tiny, crunchy things.

I pop a few into my mouth without actually bothering to check if their poisonous. I don't die right away, so I assume it's all good. I shovel more of the nuts into my mouth. They taste like chestnuts and contain trace amounts of water. "Ah..." I lean back against a tree, finally content. I don't have to leave either. Because who would find this place? I nearly died before I found it! No one else would be crazy enough to search for this place!

With my thirst satisfied, my belly full, and shade at my back, I doze off into a peaceful nap.

Ziya Ashton (District 3)

The knife never leaves my hand as I lurk through the swamp, keeping my head beneath the tall grass that grows everywhere. Flies buzz around my ears, annoying me but causing no harm. I can handle annoyance. I've been annoyed my whole life, in one way or another.


The sound of something splashing into water has me frozen. A low mutter. Another splash. Cautiously, I peek my head over the tall grass, spotting the short, pudgy kid as he climbs out from muddy water, his orange jacket smeared with muck.

Watt Powers.

"Easy kill..." I position my knife so that it's facing downwards, the preferred method for stabbing. Watt doesn't even sense me as I slink through the reeds that grow close to the water. He's too preoccupied with the mud sucking at his boots.

I travel parallel to him, strategically placing myself ahead of him. An old, rotted log braces my body has I await him to pass by. When he does, I'll sink a knife into his skull. Why this moron is walking through the swamp alone is beyond me...



I freeze as Watt passes by my hiding place. I missed my opportunity, but I don't care. Watt isn't a loner. He has allies. Two of them.

Everything clicks into place. Watt is making too much noise. He's alone. And unarmed. An easy target. Too easy of a target.

This is a trap!

The water behind me erupts as Sebastian (5) breaks out from underneath the surface. His face is masked with mud, his jacket soaked with dirty water. My slash is caught in the reeds and I'm bowled over as the much larger boy collides with me.

I trip over the rotting log and Sebastian breaks it entirely with his weight. I scrabble to my feet but a branch breaks over my head. Watt. "Finish her!" The fatso is terrified as he screams for his friend. I try to run but the blade catches me in the back, fluid bubbles in my mouth and drips down the side as Watt continues screaming.

"So long friend!" Sebastian hisses into my ear and pulls the weapon free.

Noah Everest (District 3)


A cannon shot rings out over the arena and I deposit all of my items back into the bag and gaze over the bluff. Pure, blue waves crash against the rocky side of the cliff. Ocean spray catches in the wind and cools me down as it blows past. In the distance, I see a long bridge connecting the islands with the shipyard in the distance.

"Hmm..." I rub the coil of wire between my fingers, trying to think of a plan. Wire may not be a traditional weapon, but in my hands it is far more deadly than any sword or spear. If I could blow the bridge...than maybe I could electrify the water? It'd trap everyone on this island, with no way off. Would that work? Possibly. I'd need a large amount of electricity for it though.


A loud, boisterous voice calls out as a large boy in a yellow jumpsuit leaps out from the forest. His platinum blond hair shines in the afternoon sun and he strikes a ridiculous pose. I wrap the wire around my fingers, gauging the distance between us. About thirty feet. I could run, but I have nowhere to go. A sheer vertical drop to the ocean is at my back and the boy blocks the forest. I cannot run.

"Greetings! I am the Heroic Hero of Heroism, Rodeo Baldios!"

A doofy grin crosses his face as he stares me up. I don't know what to say. Why did he use so much words with the letter "H"? "Um....Hi?"

"Are you an evildoer?" He asks, his teal eyes flashing suspiciously.

" I mean, I prefer being the good guy, usually." Is this guy off his rocker? Is that even a question? He's undoubtedly not mentally sane, but does that make him insane?

"Ah..So you're a decent person then? Farewell. I shall not cave your face in this day!" The guy turns to walk away, when I think of something. It's probably a terrible, terrible idea, but it's something that just seems like a great opportunity.

"Wait! Rodeo!"

The large boy stop, turning to regard me with a lazy smile. "Yes?"

"I, uh, do you want to be allies?" I feel incredibly stupid asking this. The guy is practically nuts and a loose cannon! I could hardly hope to control him, yet I know of the advantages he would give me. He's big. About the tallest tribute in the arena. And he's muscular, much too muscular for his own good. He doesn't have a big enough brain to properly utilize his own innate strength, but with a master strategist like me behind him...

"You mean..." Rodeo frowns as he addresses my question. I wonder if it was too hard for him. "You want to be my sidekick?"

"Uh...Sure, why not?" Not exactly what I was asking, but close enough. Might as well play along with him. "I just want to learn from you and your, uh, massively magnificent butt-kicking of...magnificence..." Somehow, I feel even dumber than before trying to imitate his style of speech. Rodeo doesn't see my discomfort though, because he is grinning widely and rapidly approaching me.

"Salutations!" He shouts, using the word in the completely wrong matter. "I have a sidekick! I shall be the Blazing Ball of Lightning Justice! And you shall be the Spark of Small Fireballs! Together we shall eradicate the evil that pervades this fine planet!"

He yells at a completely unacceptable manner, startling the birds that fly past and having me cover my own ears. "Please! Be quiet! We don't want the, uh, evildoers to hear us."

Rodeo grins at me. "Very right! You have a big brain inside that inflated head of yours, sidekick!" He taps his own head, still grinning stupidly. I try to ignore the fact that he said I had an inflated head.

"So..." I glance him over, trying to see whether he gained any weapons from the cornucopia. I don't spot anything on his person besides for his ridiculous yellow clothing. Apparently he refused to wear the steel blue all District 2 tributes wear. "Do you have an items?"

Rodeo scratches his chin and plops down on the ground beside me. "Nope. I wished I grabbed something though. Cuz I'm hungry!" I don't know what to say as we sit in the bluff overlooking the ocean. Without anything else to say, I gesture at my bag and tell him that I have some food in there, wherein he excitedly rips it open and begins to eat my loaf of bread with far too much enthusiasm.

"Mmmhp!" Rodeo nods excitedly as he swallows about half of the loaf. "This bread is particularly excellent! It must have been baked with justice!" I try not to sigh, reminding myself that I was the one who suggested this partnership.

"I'm sure it was..."

Rodeo is too busy gulping down the rest of the bread to respond. He's a really...strange eater. He begins to pick through the bag afterwards, and I'm afraid that he'll try to eat the soup or fruit, our only other source of food, when he turns to look at me with puppy-dog eyes. "Do you have any water?"

I shake my head. That was actually one thing that I really needed that I currently lack. "No. I don't have any water, but--"


Rodeo leaps to his feet and I'm so shocked that I actually fall backwards. Ignoring my sputtering questions, Rodeo points a vigorous finger at the forest. "Some evildoers have dried up the arena's water source! It was the Careers, no doubt!" He laughs to himself, oblivious to how I stare at him in fear and shock. He went from asking about water to ranting about evil within seconds! "Did they think they could get away with it? Well, we'll show them! Won't we, sidekick?"

I don't even know how to respond to that.

"Yes! We'll show them! We'll prove that their evils will falter when faced with my Super Sentai Striking Style!" He gives one last huzzah of justice and then takes off sprinting into the forest. Just like that.

I watch him go, wondering whether I should just let him loose. Maybe he's too difficult of an ally to leave around. But then I remember that he ate my bread, and I know that I can't abandon him until I get my monies worth. "I'm so going to regret this..."

I zip my backpack up and sling it over my shoulder as I race after Rodeo, wondering what in the world I just got myself into.

Anais Morrisa (Mentor)

On screen, Carmine (2) rushes through the jungle, whipping past thick green foliage and screeching monkeys. Behind her, Ena (2) runs. The slighter girl easily keeps pace with my sister and has a frown etched on her face. Obviously she is uncontent with Carmine's plot of hunting down Fawn (10).

"No worries," I speak to the screen even though I know no one else can here me; save for Shay and Shiva. "Carmine will soon realize that there is better things to be doing." I know my darling sister. Soon she'll move on to bigger and better things...after realizing that Madeva (10) and Fawn have already escaped from her grasp. I can see the two of them on-screen right now, Fawn limping after Madeva as the larger girl cuts a path through the undergrowth. They're on the complete opposite side of the island as Carmine.

Watching the Games make me wish that I were back in that arena, fighting with the rest. It'd be so much better than sitting in this stuffy room all day! Sighing with boredom, I lean back in my chair and thrum my fingers against the arm rest. Sunlight pours in through the windows, reflecting off of the marble floor that isn't covered in rugs. There'd hardly be any interesting fights left to happen during the first day, so the television will do little to alleviate my boredom. "Has Leo returned?" I ask Shay, who had previously gone to check on my behalf. Leo has been rather withdrawn and distant since the Mentors arrival at the Capitol, and just last night he left for a meeting with the six God-Generals.

Shay nods.

I forget myself for a moment, staring at her in silence. "Why did you not tell me earlier?" I recover, thundering to my feet and giving the girl a furious glare. "I was very specific in my orders; I told you to inform me the moment he returned!" The dark-haired girl scowls, a very rare sign of emotion from her. I would be angry with the disrespectful the look signified if I wasn't so surprised.

"President Stryker is in his chambers," Shiva lays a hand on the younger girls shoulder, preventing her from speaking. "And he does not wish to be disturbed." I glare at the cold woman. Her voice is distant and emotionless, like she couldn't care less about anything. Yet that is not true. Everyone cares about something. Like how Carmine only really cares for me.

"We'll see about that!" I storm out of the room, my auburn dress rustling with the movement. Shay and Shiva follow me as I charge down the corridor, heading straight for Leo's wing of the mansion. Unlike the other mentors, I do not stay in a sterile lobby, but inside of the President's Manor itself. The place is far more elegant than any other building I have ever seen, it's opulence is almost beyond description.


Two black uniformed STRYKE Force operatives step in front of me as I near the double-wide doors of Leo's chambers. "You're not permitted to enter. President Stryker has strict orders that he is not to be disturbed."

"Excuse me?" I am not used to being told I can't do something.

"The President is dealing with very important matters. Not even you, Madame Morrisa, should interrupt him." The operative is steadfast in his position. The other one eyes Shay and Shiva warily.

"I am sure he will make an exception for me," I say, pressing past them. They don't try to stop me, and I smile inwardly. I knew that my position of power would hold weight. Ah. Power. It is why I got myself so close to Leo to begin with. When I push the doors open and step inside, Shay and Shiva do not follow. It is the first time in forever that they don't. The door shuts behind me.

I am in a long hallway, the carpet is a soft red velvet, the walls are adorned with gold framed portraits of Leo's family. I stop to stare at the paintings, marvelling at their exquisite designs. I recognize most of the people depicted, but I see two that I have never seen before. A smiling woman with soft, flowing, light brown hair and blue eyes that seem to have a light of their own. A nameplate under the portrait reads "Noelle Stryker". Leo's mother?

The other person I don't recognize is a raven haired young girl with emerald green eyes. Beside her sit a young Leo and another boy. The plate reads "Noctis, Leopold, & Rosalie Stryker. I never thought it odd, that I haven't met Leo's sister. I have a vague memory of him saying that he himself hasn't seen her in quite awhile because of his duties. It's quite sad. Losing Carmine to death was one thing, but not being able to see a perfectly healthy Carmine would be even worse.

"You're stretching us thin, Leopold!"

A loud, shouting voice disturbs the peaceful silence of the hall. Looking down the corridor, I see a dancing light peeking through the crack of a solid oak door. I slowly head for it as the voices continue to argue.

"Your desire for vengeance is putting us at risk. The more our forces try to find their base of operations, the less soldiers we have protecting the Districts!" A pompous, arrogant voice is shouting now.

"You're just worried about your own skin!" That's Leo's voice. I've reached the threshold of the hall, but I don't enter the room, instead opting to wait this argument out.

"I'm worried about all of our skins! They blew up the Capitol Tower for God's sake! Killed three Councillors!" The voice keeps getting higher and shriller as the speaker tries to impress his thoughts upon Leo.

"So that's it? Worried that you're next?"

"Have you even spoken with Rath and Ignatius? They're just as terrified! Rath won't even leave his bunker! How are we suppose to get anything done with half the Council dead and one of them in hiding?"

"You lot never got anything done in the first place." I can imagine Leo flippantly waving him off.

"We've done more than your Generals have! Didn't they lose half of the force you had stationed north of District 13?" I don't like how the speaker sneers at Leo, I don't know why he allows him to speak like that either. He is president after all, his position demands respect!

"Do you even know what kind of technology they possess? It's leaps and bounds more advanced than what we have!"

"Finish the exo-suits then!"

"What do you think my scientists have been doing?"

"Not enough."

"I am doing all I can to beat them. I will not let the man who murdered Mother get away with killing our country too. I have not forgotten what they have taken from us. Not like you"

They fall silent and then there's footsteps. Thinking quickly, I call out for Leo and step into the room. Inches from my face, a man freezes. Similar in build to Leo, but taller and more graceful. His face is soft, his black hair coiled and scented. He's thin, but still muscular in a more facile way. Noctis Stryker, Leo's older brother.

"Ah," He sniffs disapprovingly, turning to face Leo. "It appears your pet has arrived. Perhaps you can entertain it, for we all know that you cannot handle the pressure of running a country." The man pushes past me, heading into the corridor and slamming the door shut behind him.

"Oh. Hello, Anais." Leo is muted as he sits down on a leather armchair placed in front of a elegant hearth. Inside, orange flames crackle quietly. "You strong armed your way past the guards, I take it?" He shows no signs of having not spoken to me in days and I don't like it. He should be fearful of having upset me, not be acting so...subdued.

"They didn't dare stop me," I sit down on the chair across from him. "Your brother is a prick, by the way." If this were the Hunger Games, I'd have already killed him.

Leo laughs loudly. "Oh, yes. He is quite the...annoying one."

"It's been days since you talked to me," I say immediately. I hate beating around the bush. Best to get right to the point in these type of conversations.

Leo gazes at me, not the least bit surprised by my sudden statement. "I have been quite busy, you must realize. The Capitol Tower did blow up." Now that Noctis is gone, I can see the worry in his eyes. That act of terrorism really has him unhinged.

"You could have at least told me this yourself, in person." An explanation for his absence would have been welcome much earlier.

"I was thought to be a target myself, you must understand. Besides, didn't you enjoy the gift I gave you?"

I blink in confusion. "What gift?"

"I persuaded the Gamemakers to give your sister a twelve. Did you not enjoy that?" He seems taken back by the look of frustration on my face.

"Carmine doesn't need anyone to give her anything!" My face flushes pink knowing the truth. I had thought that Carmine had earned that score rightfully! I had no idea Leo had a hand in it!

"Of course not," Leo keeps his composure, smiling slickly as he looks into the fireplace. "But I had not thought to ask. The bombing has taken up a considerable amount of my time..."

"I thought that you had a lead in the matter," I say. "The television said you did, at least."

"Hmm?" He looks up from the fireplace and I repeat my question. "Oh, correct. We do have a lead, it's just that, well, we cannot act on it."

"Why ever not?"

"The bombers came up through the sewers," Leo ignores my question for now as he describes the infiltration of the building. "Entered through the basement of the tower and took old Peacekeeper outfits from the laundry room. They then broke into the security room and disabled the cameras, wherein they planted the bomb on the roof of the building, bypassing all security doors with a stolen passcard."

"Ah." I know what lead he has in the matter. "You know who the passcard belonged to?"

"Clever girl. Yes, I know whose card was used. It belonged to Aero and Maroon Vesta, two highly skilled stylists who were visiting the Tower earlier in the day to help decide the camera angles used for the chariot rides."

"What moron thought it'd be a good idea to give stylists security cards?" A stupid move. Stylists can hardly be trusted to remember where they put their lipstick, yet alone a passcard!

"Aero and Maroon had faithfully served the Capitol for many years. They are among the most senior of all our stylists," Leo doesn't seem to be defending them, just stating a point. "Besides, we have reason to believe that their card was stolen."

"By who?" I am quite curious now. I've even forgotten my anger towards Leo for ignoring me the past few days.

Leo smiles. "You really want me to divulge this sensitive information to you?"

"Of course! I mean, you're our glorious President. No one else could get mad at you for telling me..." Always complement someone when you want something from them. It usually works.

"Well, if you insist." Leo casually checks the datapad on his wrist. "The Vesta's son, Cyan, went missing several hours prior to the explosion. That is also around the time when Aero reported his card missing. You can connect the dots."

"Wait. Vesta? You mean the same as..."

"Yes," Leo nods his head, happy that I have finally reached this conclusion. "Aero and Maroon are the parents of Mahogany Vesta, a tribute currently competing in the Hunger Games."

The gears in my head are already whirring with possibilities. Mahogany was present at the Reaping, right before the Tower blew..."Could she have had a hand in the explosion?" I ask Leo, whose already rising to his feet.

"Perhaps. We're looking into it, as well as searching for her twin brother." Leo claps his hands and two large, imposing figures lurch out of the corner of the room. Both stand over nine-feet tall and are built like mountains. Pax and Dax. Two Stipators whose life's goal is to protect Leo's own. I had no idea they were in the room. "I hope you can excuse me, dearest Anais, but I have a meeting with General Belisarius that I must attend. I rather hate those kind of stuffy affairs, but well, a President's work is never finished!"

He waves me goodbye and departs out a different door than the one I came in. Pax and Dax follow him like massive shadows. They remind me of my own Shay and Shiva. Where does Leo find these people?

When they depart, I am left on my own, rather less bored than I felt prior to this meeting. "Very interesting," I say to myself. "Very, very interesting."

Kennedy Marks (District 6)

The fruity candy balls crunch against my teeth as I crouch beside Doug (13) and Jenessa (13). The two of them peer through the candied foliage at the open plains that stretch across to what looks like a raging desert. "So, what are we doing?" I ask, accidentally startling Jenessa with my crunching.

"Staying close to both of the places I recognize," Doug answers immediately, not bothering to look back at me. "And trying to stay well-protected at the same time."

"Uh-huh. So, why here?" I strip some more of the candy balls off of the bush, popping then into my mouth. "And not that candy cane forest? I didn't see anyone else go there." Earlier, Doug had us stake out the fringe of the sugar forest, watching the cornucopia and the battles that took place. But Aelia's alliance headed towards us, so Doug led us further north.

"You don't want to go there," Doug says with a shake of his head.

"Why not?" I don't expect a straight answer. The two of them are remarkably withdrawn, just furthering my yearning for Camiren and Amethystia. It's not that I don't trust these two, but I'd rather be with the allies I chose then the two my allies chose.

"There's a bear in that biome. A big, jelly bear. Our weapons would just ping right off it." Doug says this without missing a beat and my mouth drops open as Jenessa stutters in shock.

"You-you means there's a jelly bear in the candy canes?" She sounds just as surprised as I feel. Apparently Doug didn't tell her everything, as I had previously thought.

"Yes. And if its programming is the same as the 325th Games, it won't venture out from those canes for another two days or so." Doug doesn't seem to understand our shock and awe at what he's telling us. Maybe he's just too clinical and withdrawn to understand how we'd be surprised by the thought of a big JELLY bear wandering the arena.

"It's...a jelly bear? Like the candy?" Jenessa is still trying to process what he's told us.

Doug sighs, looking rather exasperated. "Yes. But it behaves like a real bear." A short pause. "Actually, no. It behaves like a brutal, violent, bloodthirsty bear. One that really, really likes to maul people." If I wasn't shellshocked before, I certainly am now. Just imagining that's unsettling. Beyond unsettling. Just what else does this arena have in store for us? "So, as you can see, it is in our best interest to avoid that beat at all costs."

"I'd say..." I think that was something he should have told us sooner. A lot sooner.

"What about our other allies? Camiren and Amethystia?" It's Jenessa who brings them up, which surprises me. I was beginning to think that I was the only one who cared for the two of them. Doug blows air out his nose, chewing thoughtfully.

"We don't even know if they're alive. Twenty-one people died. They could easily have been among that number." I know. I know that they could have already died. That's what's eating at me the most. I don't think like most people, I don't just think of them as allies, I think of them as people. People who have hopes and dreams. People who can't be replaced. That's why I didn't want many allies. I don't want to watch them all die. Like Jamieson.

"We don't know that. We need to--"

"We need to stay alive. Getting ourselves killed wouldn't help them in the slightest." Doug is painfully blunt as he cuts me off. I know that he's just looking out for our best interest, but his denial to search for my friends is really beginning to rub me the wrong way!

"Doug is right, Kennedy," Jenessa lies a hand on my shoulder, voice soft with sympathy. "But we have no idea where in the arena they are. Blindly searching for them would cause more problems than it would solve." She's right. It's painful to admit, but she's right. Camiren and Amethystia could be on the complete opposite side of the arena, an arena we don't even know the size of. Searching for them wouldn't help.

"Fine...but I'm still worried. They could be in danger!"

Doug snorts as he keeps watch on the open plains. "Kennedy, we're all in danger. Every second of every minute. If you want to stay alive, then you best start worrying about yourself before that danger finds you."

Cole Harrison (District 1)

I trudge through the desert, head down staring at my feet. My sword drags through the sand behind me, leaving a small trail that is quickly blown way by the gentle wind. Ryan (4) walks behind me, my only remaining ally. The rest of the Careers lie dead back at the cornucopia, the Veiled Demon having claimed their lives.

"Where are we going?" Ryan speaks for the first time since we fled. His voice is as low as my spirits. We have no food, no water. Our only supplies are the weapons in our hands.

"Dunno. Somewhere."

That's good enough for the both of us. Somewhere is better than were we just where. Trent, Sheol, and Fressa may be dead, but we still have other allies. The rest of the Careers are still out there, somewhere in the far west, judging by the closeness of the peaks in the east.

So we walk east. With no protection from sun's blazing rays, with sweat dripping into my eyes and with the pain of hot sand blowing against my side. I feel weaker and more vulnerable than ever before. Even more so then when it was just me and Josool in the 325th Games. At least then I wasn't walking through a desert with no real plan.

Everywhere I look I see nothing but the same sand, and I know our bodies can't endure this heat for long. Soon we'll just collapse and be another pair of dead Careers.

"Nothing. Just the same thing, over and over and over!" Ryan groans loudly as we pass by yet another dune. The only variation to the endless sand is flowering cacti and pieces of petrified wood. The cloudless sky is just mocking me at this point, telling me that no storm will save our butts.

"Keep moving. We'll find something. Your first Games was in this desert, right?" The candy land itself was from the 325th, though I was never in that particular arena.

"Yeah, but..." Ryan breaks off as he squints to examine the horizon. He sees nothing but sand and shakes his head. "But back then you could always find some landmark in the arena. don't see anything."

He falls silent and we keep walking until we reach a small, low-hanging, wooden fence. A wordless message passes between us and we pick up the pace, jumping the fence and running for the old dirt path that lies behind this. "Look familiar?" I ask as we reach the path, stopping to collect our breath.

He gazes at the road, following the path up the small hill it climbs. "Honestly, no. This doesn't look like anything that was in my Games."

Odd. This gives me slight pause, but Ryan just trudges on towards the hill. We climb the hill and on the other side we, shockingly, see the faint outline of several buildings. "Huh. This still not familiar?" I ask, catching Ryan's look of surprise.

He shakes his head. "No. The only buildings were in the ruins, and those were built into a mountain side."

We move on. And the closer we get to the buildings, the more we can see. They're crumbling, wooden structures left in the relentless heat of the desert. Ryan stops walking, observant of everything he sees. I just blunder past, heading for the ghost town. There could be plumbing, or maybe a well. If we could find water, we could wait the day out. Dusk isn't too far off and night should prove to be much cooler.

I stumble around, looking inside and outside the dilapidated structures for some source of water. There has to be something, right? No. I don't find any, at least. A wooden beam creaks from a nearby building and I just plop myself down in the shade, resigned to the fact that I won't find what I'm looking for here.

"Yo, Cole! Found a well, man!"

Ryan's voice is a godsend. I giddily get to my feet and follow it, finding him bent over a small, disenchanted well. A bucket of overflowing water is in his hands and a broad smile envelopes my face. "Good find, man!"

We laugh and joke as we drink the water, our spirits lifted greatly. Things get even better, when we discover that one of the buildings was an old grocery store and that some leftover items still remain inside.

"You know, we could have sliced one of those cacti open," Ryan grins as I take a bite of a candy bar.

"Guess we could have. Never occurred to me." I skipped survival class, so I had no idea that cacti contain water, as Ryan tells me.

"Think the others got the job done?" Ryan asks, staring out at the horizon.

"They better have. But Chloe and Elvis are leading them, so I doubt it." Those two are probably the least suited for the job. A pair of arrogant pricks who think might makes right. I thought like them before, but I've come to learn that it takes more than sheer strength to win these Games. Maybe that will propel me to victory. Couldn't hurt, that's for sure. Nothing could hurt me more than what I've already experienced has. Because I've already died once, and nothing is worse than death.

Marlon Lander (District 10)

We walk in silence, heading up the path that leads through the mountains. Feet padding on the hard dirt, sweat pouring off our heads. We hit a switchback and head up the other way now. Below us, we can see the candy land, it's sweet scents wafting up to us.

"Wish we could take a break," Ashley (5) huffs from where she has fallen behind the group.

"Not until we can see over the woods," I say, pointing at the trees in the distance. We've already made good headway on climbing the mountain path, and can see over the candy land and the desert beyond. A dark forest looms in the horizon, but I am certain we could see even further if we can get higher.

"Oh....kay..." Ashley sounds out of breath but doesn't complain. I like that about her. Complainers are the worse.

We hit another switchback and turn again, heading south now. A few scraggly trees grow here, and tufts of rough grass claw at our boots. My legs begin to tire out and Amira (9) passes me by, leading us through the hiking. "I see something!" She stops on a bluff and points to the distance. I quicken my pace, and catch up to her.

"Looks like the 398th..." Amira murmurs to herself as she stares out at the skyscrapers that jut over the forest trees. It's far off in the distance, just beneath the orange sun that sets behind the buildings.

"It is..." I recognize the bell tower where the finale of those Games took place. Is this arena just old arenas mishmashed together?

Ashley trots up behind the two of us, collapsing to the ground and gasping for air. Amira goes to check on her as I survey our surroundings. A pocket of dead trees dot the position where we have stopped, arrowing up the mountain in a swath. A few grow close enough together to provide us with shelter for the night. "Let's camp out here," I say, unslinging my backpack and letting it drop.

We collect some fallen branches and make a campfire with the matches I received from the bloodbath as the sun sets behind the buildings. The wood of the dead trees shine white in the moonlight, and shadows pool across the ground, giving the entire place a sinister feel. Good. No one should attack us this night.

"I hope we don't have to fight anyone..." Ashley mutters, gazing into our cackling fire.

"Yeah. I don't think I would be able to kill someone, if it came to it." Amira sounds sad for some reason, as if she didn't know that this is what the Games are all about. How can you not kill? It's not like that's an option. You either kill, or you die. Simple.

"Maybe if we linger in the mountains no one will find us," Ashley hugs her knees, inching closer to the fire. "That way we won't have to kill."

I scowl in the dark, but don't say anything. As much as I hate their "no kill policy" I do have to admit that waiting in the mountains and having everyone else kill each other off is a good strategy.

The lone howl of a wolf invades the quiet night, startling Ashley. "Don't worry, wolves won't approach people unless provoked," Amira tries to comfort her. "We see them all the time in District 9."

"Yeah, but this isn't District 9!" Neither girl likes my reminder very much. Amira frowns at me and Ashley just stares at the fire. Wolves in the arena seem like the type of thing that would devour you first and ask questions later. Actually, everything in the arena seems like that. "You girls get some rest," I tell them, sharpening the knife I brought out on a small stone. "I'll take first watch."

Salem Calla (District 12)

I bend over, panting. Night has come, the little remnants of sunlight having sunk behind the horizon long ago. How long has it been since the bloodbath? Five hours? Six? I don't know. I've been running since the gong rang out, occasionally stopping to catch my breath, but never for long.

"Can't let those snooty Careers catch up," I mutter, wiping the sweat from my brow. I stand up straight to get back to running when I notice that the trees have changed. No longer are they made from liquorice and fluff. They're now bark and leaves. When did this change occur?

I look back, but the darkness seems to have swallowed the forest and I can't see further than a few feet. "Just great..." With no other choice, I continue onward. I need water, and I know that I won't find any the way I came. I didn't see a single pond or stream, not even a puddle. Owls hoot in the distance as I walk, the first sign of life I've seen since the bloodbath. The candy land was suspiciously empty of all animal life, even insects. Wonder why.

My first inkling that I'm approaching water is that the dirt beneath my feet begins to soften, ny boots sinking slightly. That perks me up right away and when I spot the pond, shining in the moonlight that seeps through the tree branches, I let out a squeal and rush forward.

I dip my hands into the water and drink, enjoying the cool liquid that slides down my parched throat. I drink until I am satisfied, then I enjoy the way my reflection looks through the rippling water. Back in District 12, I rarely ever saw a mirror, so this is a treat. Haha! I look so funny! Why doesn't everyone just stare at themselves? Especially in water! When you splash around in it, your reflection shimmers and distorts like--

Another girl appears in the pond, standing over my shoulder with a sharpened axe. My mouth falls open as she raises her weapon.

Annabeth March (District 3)

A shrill scream pierces the sky. My allies all freeze, their warm bodies shuffling in the dark as the scream is suddenly cut off and replaced with a cannon.


"Salem!" Amica (14) takes off sprinting, quickly disappearing into the darkened forest. Amaya (14) shouts for her to come back and takes off in pursuit, her spear flailing wildly over her head.

"Morons! Come back here!" Mahogany (C) screams after them, but it's no use. "They don't even have light!"

It's been hours since we left the cornucopia in search of Salem. Hours of long, futile searching. We didn't even get a hint to her location until now. "They're going to get themselves killed!" I sigh to my only sensible friend. Mahogany and I were the only ones with enough foresight to bring along a light source on this search party. I have a flashlight, while Mahogany wears a pair of night-vision glasses.

"Then what are we waiting for?" Mahogany slips off after them and I follow, trotting behind her. My flashlight creates beams across the forest floor as I run. I note that the foliage around me has begun to change from its candied variety to a much more natural type. The bushes rustle as we scare off the small animals that were trying to sleep.

Mahogany suddenly comes to a halt and I slam into her shoulders. "Watch it!" She turns and glowers at me and I become aware of Amica and Amaya staring into the depths of a crimson pond. A body floats face down in the water, blood pouring from a wound in the head.

"Salem..." Amica stifles a sob as she stares at the body. The small body and raven colored hair could only belong to one person.

"We're too late!" Mahogany screams and smashes her fist against a tree trunk as Amaya puts a comforting hand over Amica's shoulder. Another ally lost. I just feel quiet rage as Mahogany fishes the body out from the polluted pond. The crown of Salem's head has been sliced open, revealing the gray brain matter that has been mixed with chips of bone broken off from the skull. I feel disgusted knowing that similar acts like this are taking place all over the arena, that other tributes are dying horrifically at the hands of brutal monsters.

"We'll make them pay," I say quietly to Amica, whose wiping away silent tears.

"Annabeth is right," Amaya supports my statement. "We'll kill every damn murderer in this arena. None of them will be spared." Mahogany glances at the blonde girl, surprised. I'm glad that she's starting to see things our way. I was worried that she was letting herself get soft after she tried to spare Mizu, but now I can see that she is still eager to send a message.

"Death begets death begets death," Amica chants softly, not looking at our faces. I alone know what she means. She trying to tell us that vengeance will only cause more death and that it shouldn't be pursued. Well, she's wrong. Vengeance needs to be pursued. I can't let Percy's two deaths have been pointless, neither should I allow Salem's and Falk's to be ignored. Everyone in this arena needs to die for me to come home and make sure that I return home to carry on Percy's legacy. Everyone. Even my allies.

An owl hoots rapidly as a hovercraft appears in the sky over our heads. Apparently it doesn't want us decorating anymore bodies. Fine by me. Death is a sad, somber affair. No need to dress it up.

Amaya leads us to the edge of the trees, away from the pond. Mahogany doesn't watch as the claw dips down to collect Salem's body, she just turns and disappears into the forest. Amaya is next, pulling Amica with her. They're so broken up by this; what will they do when they have to kill one of their own? Am I the only one mentally prepared for that eventuality? If I am....

Then I might just be the sole survivor.

Solar Energy (District 0)

The wind nips gently at my side as I walk through the calm pine forest. I've seen neither sight nor sound of another living being since the bloodbath, an odd occurrence. With sixty-seven tributes out and about, you'd think I'd run into one of them.

Perhaps I am just lucky. Or maybe the arena is just bigger than I thought.

The trees begin to thin out as I continue walking. Fog rolls in, dramatically shifting my perspective of the forest. It now resembles something more...ethereal.

I stop when I see the first headstone. An ordinary, plain thing, it sits just at the edge of the forest. Pale moonlight shines down upon it, and the others that surround it, giving off a rather eerie vibe. "Cemetery..." I kneel down beside the headstone, my hand dusting off the nameplate. "Who are you...?"

I furrow my brows in surprise. The plate reads "Chip Parks". Chip? Wasn't he a tribute from District 3? I move to the next headstone, not at all surprised to find that it too belongs to a tribute. "Flame Vapore..." I trail off, feeling rather somber for these fallen kids. For that is surely what they are. I make my way down the first row, reading off the names as they appear. "Trinity Mace...Caliban Rweed" I head up to the next row, where more names await me. "...Luna Fern...Luigi Wilkins...Adreanna Danish...Salem Calla..."

It's at the third row that I come to a halt. Salem is the last named headstone, the others are blank. Meant for those yet to die, no doubt. I loosen my pack and sit down next to the first blank stone. Ziya and Salem where the two deaths after the bloodbath, I take it? My eyes slide shut. I don't even remember their faces. I'm glad I don't. If I did, I wouldn't feel so relieved at their deaths. Wouldn't be happy knowing that I'm only sixty-six deaths away from winning. I shiver slightly as I look at the graveyard around me, the fog that conceals the headstones and mausoleums. It's an easy reminder that death comes quickly.

I open my backpack for the first time, hoping to escape these disparate thoughts. One by one I pull items out, trying to resist hoping that they're as good as the items I received in my original Games. A canister of soup is the first thing I pull out, followed by a loaf of bread and a canteen of water. When I take out a role of crackers, I realize that lightning didn't strike twice. I don't have a loaded bag. "Well, be happy with what you have and be content with yourself..."

The last thing I pull from the bag is a smooth tablet, about ten inches tall and six wide. "What are you...?" I find the "On" button and flick it, amused at the Life Modifier advertisement that it shows me before transitioning to some sort of overhead map. "Interesting..." The screen is dotted with different landscapes and a multitude of different colored orbs, some moving. I quickly find the cemetery, noting that it is far south from the shrine where the cornucopia is located. Or should I say one of the cornucopia's. For this map shows two more, one on an island to the west and another in some sort of colourful locale in the west.

"Should have realized that myself," I muse quietly. I never gave particular thought to were the other tributes were before. I gaze over the different zones before becoming intrigued with a small white orb located in the cemetery, a black "0" is inscribed on it. Almost as if...

With a jolt, I realize that this orb is marking my location on the map. And not just my location. There are dozens of orbs on the maps, all in different zones of the arena. Each one has a number, but I note that it doesn't differ from person to person. There are four separate orbs with a zero on them. One for me, Todd, Aelia, and Rosalina. But I can't tell which of the others are which, other than by noting what other tributes surround them.

"Clever..." This tablet shows me where each tribute is and what District they're from, but it doesn't tell me exactly who the tribute is. I have to figure that out on my own.

I was wrong about not receiving the motherlode, because this tablet is undoubtedly going to be the most useful item throughout the course of the Games. I can tell where every single tribute is, know if they're setting a trap or trying to hunt me down. It gives me a terrific advantage.

Smiling to myself, I lie back against the headstone. I check the tablet to see where the closest tribute to me is. I'm relieved to see that it's a lone District 7 tribute, one whose sitting stationary about a mile from the outskirts of graveyard. I should be good for the night.

I tuck the tablet into my bag and then sling it around my shoulder as I get ready for sleep.

Madeva McGranger (District 10)

Fawn (10) moans in pain as I take the heated sword off of her wound and tuck it back into the sheath on my belt. "Stop crying," I say, noticing the tears building in her eyes. "It makes you look weak!"

"You just cauterized my wound with a searing hot blade! I think I have the right to--Ow!"

She breaks off into a small sob, rubbing her fixed wound with a small hand. I have to give it to her, I expected her to be crying hysterically right now. Maybe she's tougher than I thought. "Get some rest," I lean back against a rock, watching the crackling fire that lights up the cave we're camped in. Luminescence moss faintly glows deeper in the cave, where the scent of salt wafts down. "Tomorrow we'll need to find Billy."

"If he's still alive..."

"He is! Now stop moping and get to sleep!" Fawn's eyes widen at the harshness in my voice, but she listens to me all the same. Mumbling as she curls herself into a ball a little ways from the warm fire. I watch her for a moment before turning to look out the cave entrance, where I can see moonlight streaming through holes in the hanging lichen.

Billy is fine. He has to be. He's not strong, but he has smarts. Street smarts. The kind that keep people alive when they're in tough situations. Fawn just doesn't know him like I do, otherwise she'd never question his survival. Billy is probably searching for us right now, well supplied and well rested. We don't have to worry about him...

But I still do.

It's my job as an older sister to protect him. To share the painful burden of life and prevent him from suffering under it's weight. Worrying about him is just part of the job.

I'll find him tomorrow, when I cross the bridge. I had come to this island, the one from the 399th Games, thinking that Billy could have been here because of his history with the place. Well, he wasn't here.

Fawn's light snoring fills the silence of the cave. It echoes through the dark tunnel, reminding me of a sad song that I once knew. Billy...

I have only a few more hours before I can look to the sky and see whether or not Billy is okay. It will be a long wait.

Aelia Freedome (District 0)

"Seriously, we should turn around and go to the military camp! The place has food, water, supplies, and even a flare gun! It'd be much easier to find Amica with that in our possession!"

Ganta (12) continues with his pitch as we stumble through the shipyard. It's been hours now since he first brought the idea up, but despite the constant rejection, he continues to try and change Anissa's mind.

"You know what?"

The large, ginger haired girl stops as Ganta is about to try and pitch the idea again. The boy freezes when he sees the annoyance flashing in my friend's eyes. "Er...what?" He shifts his weight from one leg to the other, suddenly very nervous.

"You can go to the military camp if you want," Anissa says with a sneer. "I'll keep looking for Amica and our allies. Goodbye!"

The girl turns and stomps off down the metal walkway. Ganta makes no move to follow her and I watch him uncomfortably as the wind begins to pick up, whistling through the cracks of the ships that clutter around us. Ganta glances at me and then back at Anissa. The large girl is receding in the distance, not the least bit concerned that neither of us are following. "You leaving or what?" I ask, breaking the silence. "Because I'm going with Anissa. Your idea is good, yes, but I can't afford to separate with my strongest ally." I don't think Amaya would like me very much if I abandoned Ganta, but that's not my main concern right now.

"If you won't come with me, then I can't." Ganta looks crestfallen as he turns to gaze at the distant shapes of the islands. His dark eyes are gloomy in the evening moonlight, revealing how he feels.

"Amaya needs you," I tell him what I know. "She'd go crazy without you." It's a painful truth to admit, but I know that my friend isn't in her best state of mind. During the moments Ganta is gone, she's been restless and prone to committing rash acts. Her personality seems to change drastically, sometimes wanting peace for everyone, other times wanting the death of everyone who has wronged her. Ganta seems to be the only thing that keeps her in check.

"I got her killed," The boy turns away from the islands and begins to walk down the metal path. I follow, noticing that Anissa isn't even in sight anymore. Surely she didn't leave me? "Why would she trust me? Yet alone love me?" Ganta is still talking about Amaya.

I don't respond right away. I honestly think that Amaya is crazy for not wanting him dead. But I don't think I should tell him that. Instead, I bring something else up. "Throughout the course of her life, Amaya has lost everyone she cares about. Her family, her friends, her past love. All of them have been lost to her. When she went into the 399th Games, she didn't have anyone left. Then she met you." I keep my eyes on Ganta's as I tell him this, trying to gauge his reaction. I still don't know if he truly repents for what he did or if he's just lying to get Amaya's sympathies and protection. Unfortunately, his eyes give nothing away. They remain impassive and empty as I talk.

"And then she lost you, when you left her to die. She had nothing left. Then...she was revived. Suddenly she had people she cared about, me and you, back beside her. She had something to live for again."

Ganta snorts derisively. "Nice story. But that doesn't explain why Amaya trusts me..." His eyes gloss over with a strange sadness. I bite my lip, realizing something.

"You think she's trying to get revenge?"

"Huh?" Fear that is quickly replaced by surprise flashes in his eyes. "What do you mean?"

"You think that she's trying to pull a you. You think that she's lying to you, so that later in the Games she can reveal it and let you die like you did with her!" It comes together so quickly. Ganta thinks that she's just stringing him along, so that she can get her revenge later. And he plays along, because he feels like he deserves it, because he is riddled with guilt over what he did! I feel giddy for figuring this out. A broad smile envelopes my face as Ganta stares at me like I'm crazy, too proud to admit I'm right.

"Why have you stopped?"

A large shape lurches out from the darkness. Ganta squeals and falls to the ground, his daggers out in an instant. I just laugh, easily recognizing the figure.

"What are you doing?" Anissa frowns at Ganta as he points a flimsy dagger at her.

"I...don't...Anissa..." He looks sheepish as he finally notices his mistake. He slowly puts his weapons away. "What were you doing?"

"Waiting for you two. I saw that you followed and was waiting for you to catch up." Huh. I didn't see her through the thick shadows that swath the shipyard.

"Well, let's not waste anymore time--"

The wailing of the Anthem cuts me off. Ganta and Anissa's heads both swivel to the stars instantly. Their eyes scan the stars as the first face appears, that of Trinity (1). A myriad of others follow hers, setting a somber mood. So many dead kids. So much loss of life. What a waste.

"Four allies dead..." I say sadly as the last face, that of Flame (C), fades into the night sky.

"Salem, Luna, Amore and Falk..." I didn't know any of them as well as I'd have liked, but they were willing to commit themselves to an alliance fighting against injustice. For that, I respected them.

"Six dead Careers," Anissa focuses on the brutal side of any conflict, feeling happy at your enemies loss. "That should have significantly weakened them. Not to mention that they're all separated." Her callousness borders on indifference as she neglects our fallen comrades to celebrate the death of enemies.

"Do you not care for the others?" Ganta rounds on Anissa with a glare.

She stares at him coldly, hardly intimidated. "Of course. But what does harping on their loss amount to? Nothing. That's what." She turns on her heels, headed for one of the nearby boats. "Come on, let's find a place to rest. It's too dark to continue moving."

I don't say anything as she slips into the hatch of a small, metallic ship. She does not care for our loss as long as Amica still lives. She's right and wrong, both at the same time. "It's not just the allies I care for," Ganta mutters as he heads for the ship as well. "But everyone who died. Careers included. But you're rebels. What does the death of those who don't adher to your wishes mean?"

I have no answer for him as he too enters the ship. A cold wind picks up, ruffling the sides of my jacket as I stand alone. Ganta's words ring true to me. I don't care about the Careers. They're heartless monsters, the lot of them. But I should have cared for the others, the ones with no affiliation. Because why fight a war, if not for the innocent caught in the crossfire?

Kaneki Urashi (The Capitol)

The pale moon hangs alone in the sky, like milky lantern left out overnight in the forest. The eerie shipyard is silent except for the sound of my footsteps echoing off of the metal walkways. On the water, ghostly ships sit still surrounded by the wreckage of other craft. Nowhere do I see another living soul, yet I feel a gaze upon my back.

"Spirit..." I come to a halt in the middle of an intersection. Four separate walkways branch off from the large semi-circular platform where I now stand. The city that looms so close seems to be shrouded in a deep mist. I could reach it--and safety--within minutes, if I ran hard. But I am not so eager to flee from this spirit. Not until I know it's intention.

My thin hands finger the eyepatch over my eye, the one that turned colorless so long ago, the one that allows me to see spirits that inhabit this realm of existence. Cautiously, I turn to the spot where the spirits aura is strongest and slowly lift the patch.

A boy stands there, four feet from myself. A lazy smile flickers on his face as he spots the change in my eyes as I see him for the first time. "Interesting trick you got there," His words are almost a sneer, his face exceptionally handsome yet undeniably cruel. "Wonder why a weakling like you got it."

I take an involuntarily step back. That voice. His unruly crimson hair, the crude voice and preference for using the word "weakling"...

"Rufus Silks!" I blurt the name out loud, I am so surprised.

"Yes, that is what I was called. I presume you saw my Games?" His words are cold and calculating as he gauges me with his sapphire eyes. For the first time, I notice how his form seems ethereal and shimmering. "And I also presume that you are terrified out of your wits right now, correct?"

"I..." Rufus is a killer. A cold-hearted murderer who had his own ally executed for not being as bloodthirsty as he is. Just being this close to him could be extremely dangerous to my well-being. "I have nothing to say to you!" My hands fly back for the eyepatch just as Rufus holds his ghostly hands in the air.

"Now, now, no need to run!" He keeps his lazy smile, but his eyes flicker with worry. He really doesn't want me to ignore him. That alone holds my hand. "You're heading for the city, correct?" It's a rhetorical question. Where else would I be headed? "Well, you'd do well to avoid crossing it during the dark hours. Things could get...unpleasant."

I don't answer right away. My heart is beating like crazy as I try to decide who to trust. This spirit or my own gut feeling. "Why should I trust you?" I challenge, stepping toward the shimmering boy. "How do I know you're not just conspiring to steal my body?"

"Oh please!" Rufus scoffs, sounding legitimately offended. "Do you honestly believe that I'd want to inhabit a body as putrid as yours?" He pauses, waiting for my indignant response. I don't have one so he continues. "Well, the truth of the matter is that I don't. I don't want anything to do with your body."

"Then what do you want?" Spirits usually always want something for themselves, it's wise not to be too trusting. Especially when the spirit in question is Rufus Silks.

"Nothing in particular. It's just I have nothing better to do. Following you and making sure you survive is something worth my time, I'd imagine."

A frown crosses my face. "Why of everyone in this arena, would you waste your time with me?" It's hard to believe that I'd be the one who drew his attention.

Rufus rolls his eyes. "You're the only one who can see us, moron!"

"Us?" I notice the word.

"Yes, us. Did you think that an arena made from salvaged portions of prior killing fields wouldn't bring the essence of spirits along with?" His words are critical, his face displeased.

" I mean, yes. I could see why spirits would be drawn here." I remember what the ghost of an old man told me once before; that spirit's can become attached to items that surround the moment of their death. I try to recall where Rufus died. In was in the shipyard, wasn't it? "Where some of these ships salvaged from the 327th Games?" I ask him, feeling more confident now that minutes have passed without him trying anything sinister. Not that I trust him completely. Just enough to hold a conversation.

"Ah. You're finally gotten to that realization have you? Took long enough." His tone is harsh, but his eyes...why does he look so pleased? "Yes. Ships here were taken from the 327th. Most of the walkways were salvaged as well."

"Are their many spirits here?" I ask, glancing around at the walkways that connect the intersection. Thinking that I could have been watched by so many spirits for the past few hours makes me feel quite...uneasy.

"A few. Not as many as you may think. Not everyone becomes a spirit, you know."

I knew that. Not that I'd put much thought into the why and how; that's a whole different philosophical issue. I only care for the facts before me: That I see spirits. "Do they...all know about me and" I don't know why the thought frightens me so much. Rufus is about the most menacing of the tributes from pass Hunger Games and he doesn't seem to have any desire to cause me harm. Why would anyone else?

Rufus steps forward into the moonlight that shines down on the center of the intersection. The pale light runs through his frame, and I see for the first time that he is transparent. The hull of the ship behind him is visible through his ribs. "Oh yes. We all know about you, Kaneki Urashi."

The words send a chill down my spine, even though they shouldn't. It doesn't matter that they know me, I tell myself. Doesn't matter in the slightest. But then, its not the spirits that truly worry me. "Is there...anything else that knows?"

Rufus goes silent. His sunken eyes sit still in their ghostly sockets, showing, for the first time that I have met him, something other than smug confidence. "Rufus?" I take a cautious step towards him. "Is there something other than a spirit here?" I don't dare say the word.


It's a one word answer. Such a simple word that gives me so much fright. My body is shaking, I realize. My legs feel weak. I'm hyperventilating. I crouch to the crowd, fingers rubbing against the cold, metal floor of the walkway. Take a deep breath, Kaneki. I tell myself. Clear your mind. It's nothing you can't handle. I glance at Rufus, the boy seems uneasy as he watches me. His eyes glint with a rare emotion. Fear? Is that possible? Fear from Rufus Silks? The boy who fears nothing?

"Don't go into the city," He rasps, not meeting my gaze. "Wait for morning. Mutts will rip you apart if you try crossing it now. Keep your head down and avoid any of the other tributes. I doubt they will be targeting a weakling like you anyways."

"I don't understand. Why?" He cocks his head at my question. "Why are you helping me?"

He offers a half-smile. "Like I said, nothing better to do."

There's a splash sound and I spin to catch the tail end of a fish sinking into the clear depths of the shipyard. When I turn back around, Rufus is gone.

I don't know what to feel. Rufus Silks, of all people, has offered me help. But should I trust him? He doesn't exactly have an accommodating past, even if it was a successful one. If he's right about the mutts, then I shouldn't try the city until the morrow. But it's not the mutts that worry me. Nor is it the tributes.

I silently watch my surroundings; The broken ships, the desolate walkways, the tall buildings that loom in the near distance. If Rufus is right...then there's a demon out there.

And it knows about me.

Day 2/ Fracture

Ryan Marine (District 4)

Cole (1) wakes up yawning just as the early morning sun rises in the sky. I turn from where I sit on the windowsill of one of the rundown buildings, quietly eating one of our remaining candy bars. "Anything happen?" Cole asks, scratching his head as he rummages through the dusty shelves that live the building.

I shake my head. "No. All was quiet."

"Good." He takes an energy bar off from one of the highest shelves and frowns. Already the meager supply of food we had is dissipating. We should be good for the rest of the day...but then what? "Think the others are looking for us?"

"Honestly? No. They're all egotistical jerks." Cole laughs as I stare back out the window at the ghost town. The dry, wooden buildings sit out under the rays of the sun that has yet to become scorching hot. Nothing stirs. Not even the wind.

"I just hope they don't get themselves killed," Cole walks over to the entrance way and leans against the door frame. "We'll need them to defeat the rest of the tributes."

"Yeah." A lull in our conversation as we both stare out the sand dunes in the distance. "I'm going to get something to drink."

Cole nods as I step out of the building and into the town. I notice the change of temperature immediately. It may not be as scorching as it was yesterday afternoon, but it sure is bloody hot!

The well sits in the middle of the dilapidated buildings. It's an old, cracked thing that uses a pulley system to send a bucket down in the water that rests at its depths. I turn the lever and retrieve the bucket, brimming with cold, delicious water. I stare out into the horizon as I drink, content with my position in the Games, even if it's not what I expected. I've played twice before, and both of those times the early game moments were chaotic and messy. I'm glad for this relative peace.

That's when a person appears in the distance.

Staggering over a large sand dune and dragging an axe behind him, a lone figure approaches our ghost town. "Cole...?" I call out for my ally, cautious not to make too much noise. The figure hasn't spotted us yet. No need to tip him off.


The tall boy steps out from the wooden shack and spots it immediately. A sword appears in his hands, his face lighting up with a grin. "About time something interesting happened!"

I hold a hand up for him to hesitate, but the figure trips and falls just at that moment. His body rolls down the hill, not yelping or screaming or making any sort of noise. He just falls, eerily silent. Cole and I watch in confusion as the boy reaches the bottom of the dune, where he lies completely still.

"Is he...?" I begin slowly.


A cannon rips through the air.

"Yes. Yes, he is." Cole rushes forward and I follow at a trot. When my ally reaches the body, he nudges it with his boot. "Dead," He declares after a short moment. I nod, crouching beside the body and rolling it over. The tribute's face is blotchy red and covered with blisters that also dot his arms and legs. His sunken green eyes stare blindly into the sky. Wess Cornstob is dead. From either exposure or dehydration, I don't know.

"Cool axe!" Cole pries the weapon from the boy's dead fingers, slashing it through the air with a Swoosh!.

"He didn't have anything else with him," I say, ignoring the disrespect my ally shows for the dead. "Why'd he enter the desert with just an axe?" The only reason Cole and I came, was because we had a horde of angry rebels at our backs. As a loner, Wess surely didn't have that problem.

"Who cares?" Cole turns away from the body, heading for one of the shacks. "He's dead now and we have his sweet axe!"

I guess Cole is right. It doesn't matter why or how. I stand up and walk away from the body just as a hovercraft materializes above the sand dune, coming to claim yet another dead tribute.

Crimson Typhoon (District 11)

"Did we have to come back to this city? I have some pretty stinkin' horrible memories of this place!" Radiant (13) follows behind me, voicing his displeasure for our current locale. The buildings loom tall, surrounding us on every side. We're currently heading down one of the larger streets, a safer proposition then trying to wind our way through the twisting alleyways.

"At least we know what we're getting into here," I answer, keeping my eyes glued forward. Something I learned from my past experience with this city, is that things can jump you from out of anywhere. "If we entered another biome we'd be completely oblivious as to what the dangers are."

"For some reason, I think I'd prefer to not know what was trying to eat my giblets."

"Oh, haha."

I can't be too hard on Radiant. He did' die once before in this very city. But then again, so did I. I try not to remember that though. Just thinking of that horrid Annihilator...

"I miss Drago." I say the words out loud, though I meant only to think them. "And Raven."

Radiant let's out a sigh. "Yeah, those two were good people. I still regret how I didn't trust Raven at first..." The Capitol murdered them. Twice. Once in the Games, and then in that box. They killed them. Shot them full of holes and left them bleeding out on the floor. The thought should fill me with rage, doesn't. It just...

What was I thinking about again?

"Yo. Crimson."

Radiant's is filled with quiet worry, but it seems so distant. I'm concentrating hard, trying to remember what I was thinking about. It had something to do with my friends, right? Which one was it? Connor? Huh, Connor. I haven't thought of him in quite a long--


This time Radiant's shout breaks me out of my stupor. I turn to see my friend staring down the end of the street we just came down. A pack of vicious-looking, snarling animals stare right back at us.


"At least we know what we're getting into, huh?" Radiant merely sounds annoyed as he holds his sword out in front of him. I don't respond, too terrified by the sight of the Biters. Large, four-legged animals that resemble dogs. Only, their fur is blood-red and is matted together so thickly that it is almost impenetrable. "So, uh, what now?" Radiant glances at me as two more Biters join the ranks of the ones assembled before us.


We turn and flee, our feet pounding on the asphalt road. The Biters let loose terrifying howls and give chase. My heart pounds like never before as we run. I've defeated these fearsome creatures before, but that was with the help of fire, their biggest weakness.



Something flies over our heads and smacks in the asphalt. I had forgotten about those bone-like spikes on the Biters backs, the things they can shoot like projectiles. Two more spikes fly pass. Radiant curses and stumbles as one slices across his shoulder. I keep him steady and he stays up, but the Biters must be closing in. I'm too terrified to turn and look.

"Into a building!" Radiant screams and ducks inside the nearest one. I blast inside without even checking to see which building we entered. My momentum sends me hurtling into a bookcase and I topple over into a pile of binding and paper.

Radiant slams the door shut and presses his weight against it, almost being thrown back as a Biter throws itself against the door, nearly blasting it off the hinges. Radiant's face warps with fear. "Help me!"

I pick myself off from the floor, vaguely noting the vast amount of bookshelves that line the building. The Biters are howling like crazy as they smash against the door frame. "Bookcase! Push it in front of the door!"


Something slams into the door, followed by several more thuds. The Biters are launching their spikes at the door!

Frantic with worry, I throw my weight against the nearest bookcase, pushing it towards Radiant as he desperately tries to keep the door sealed. "Hurry up, Crimson!" He screams as a spike pierces the wood of the door, nearly skewering his head.

"I'm coming!" Nearly there. Radiant drops away from the door as I near, combining his weight with mine and shoving it against the door just as Biter head smashes its way through. The howling is muffled as we put all of our strength into holding it in place. Adrenaline coursing through our veins, perspiration dripping from our foreheads.

"Check the windows!" Radiant pants as the shaking slowly subsides. I nod, immediately checking the library--for that must be what this place is--for any windows. There is none. Radiant nods when I tell him this, but he doesn't move from his place at the door.

"Are-are they gone?" I ask weakly, my knees wobbling. We came so close to being ripped apart my a pack of wild animals...

"Dunno. But help me block this up more!"

The two of us push several more shelves in front of the door, not taking any chances. When we're done, I fall back and plop myself into an armchair. "That was..." I trail off, unsure of what word to even use.

"Hectic," Radiant piques as he begins to pick up fallen books and shove them into the cracks of our barrier.

"Yeah, that's one word." Several others have just come to mind.

"I don't think they'll get through this," Radiant puts some finishing touches on the blockade before turning to me. "I could do with a drink, though. I'm freakin' thirsty!"

I close my eyes and nod. Thirst is probably our biggest enemy right now. That and hunger. We didn't have any food or water before we encountered those Biters and we certainly don't have any now. "After a few hours we could check to see if they're still out there. I think that hatch leads to the roof." I jerk a thumb at the ladder led hatch in the back of the library.

Radiant nods. "Sounds like a plan."

Noah Everest (District 3)

"This is their base, yes?" Rodeo (2) peers through the foliage, staring up at the cornucopia with wide eyes. Despite what he thinks, he's not camouflaged in the slightest. Maybe if he was in a banana split he would be, but in a forest? He sticks out like, well, a rotten banana.

"Yeah. That's their base," I frown, wondering where the Careers are at. From what I can see, the hilltop is completely deserted. Are they hunting?

"Good. I shall thwart them in the name of justice!" Rodeo suddenly sits up, his head sticking out of the bush where we were crouched.

"No! Wait!"

My grasping hand misses his shirt and he waltzes out into the open, shouting for the Careers to come take him on. "Moron!" I hiss to myself and then scramble out from my hiding place, running to cover him.

"Well?" Rodeo stares up at the cornucopia, where he has received no answer. Maybe they are off hunting. "Do you not wish to defend your illicitly taken goods?"

No answer.

I breath a sigh of relief, walking up to Rodeo and patting him on the shoulder. "They're not here. We should gather what supplies we can." I don't tell him not to do such a stupid thing again. I don't think he'd listen to me.

Up on the hill, I see that the Careers have piled the crates into a large structure. It looks vaguely like an overly large chair. What did they make? I'm staring at this when Rodeo walks up beside me. "Aha!" He points a gloved finger at the boxes. "The evil emperor's throne!"

Usually I'd laugh his crazy accusations off, but I think he may be right this time. It does look like a throne. I can't help chuckling to myself. Is one of the Careers really so egotistical, that he made himself a throne? Ah. The wonders of human hubris.

"Keep watch while I gather supplies, okay?" I give Rodeo his orders as I begin to rifle through a backpack, quickly realizing that it's empty. In fact, every backpack is empty. I bite my lip, wondering what this means when I see the immense assortment of items piled inside the cornucopia. "Not very organized, are they?" I mumble to myself as I rummage through the pile that resembles those found in a junkyard. I hope Rodeo can keep himself still along enough to give watch.

I find a pair of daggers in the pile, two ornate, carved weapons. I stick them in my belt and keep searching, hating the fact that everything is piled together. How do the Careers find anything in this mess? Have they never heard of organization?

Despite my complaints against their system, if you can even call it that, I do find several useful items. Like a bag of apples, several canteens of water and an variety of different candy bars. "Sidekick!" I hear Rodeo's call just as I'm sticking the candy into a knapsack.

Fear flashes through me as I whip out my weapons and rush out of the cornucopia. The Careers have returned!

"Rodeo! Get behind cover! When the coast is--"

I break off, surprised to just see Rodeo lounging on the ground rolling a twig between his fingers. His face brightens when he sees me. "There you are, sidekick!" He bounces to his feet, shaking his head. "I was getting bored keeping watch on this throne!"

"I...what?" Bewildered, I glance at the woods that surround the hill. No Careers there.

Rodeo gestures a hand at the massive throne. "I was keeping watch, like you said. But it was boring! It can't move and it's certainly not evil!"

I honestly don't know how to react. Did he interpret my instructions as me telling him to keep watch over the throne? Were we unguarded this entire time? I almost facepalm, it's so ridiculous. "Yeah, well, good job. The throne didn't kill us." I'm being sarcastic, yet Rodeo puffs out his chest in pride, regardless.

"Thank you! It was not the best use of my Super Sentai Striking Style, but it feels good to help in the name of justice!" He says more, but I'm not listening to him. It's been about fifteen minutes since we first staked out the cornucopia and we haven't seen hide or hair of the Careers. They could return at any moment.

"Get any weapons you want," I tell Rodeo, interrupting him mid-speech. "Then we need to get our of here."

"I do not need any weapons!" Rodeo cracks his knuckles and flexes. "My body is my weapon! It is the ultimate Weapon of Flaming Furious Justice!"

"Uh...okay. If you're not getting a weapon then I guess we can go..."

I turn and head back down to he hill, closely followed by Rodeo.

Anissa Fallows (District 1)

"I'm going back to the military camp."

Ganta (12) speaks up just as we step off of the ship onto the platform. "Oh, really?" I don't even bother turning around to look at him. This kid is far too indecisive to come to any sort of definitive decision. How many times has he said this now? Twenty?

"Why now?" Aelia (0) stops moving and I sigh as I stare out at the ships gently swaying in the ocean water. "You said that you couldn't go without us."

"And we're not coming with," I remind them. Finding our allies should take top priority.

"I know," Ganta stumbles off of the ship, joining me on the walkway. He looks rather uncomfortable as he addresses us. Probably afraid I'd crush his head or something. Kid's been afraid of me ever since we met. "So that's why I'm going alone."

"Huh?" Aelia gasps in surprise. I just shake my head. Really? How long does he expect to last without our protection?

"You guys go find our allies," He doesn't address her questioning look. "I'll meet up with you two soon. After I get those supplies."

"I can't leave you," Aelia begins slowly. There's a strong discomfort to her words. "Amaya wouldn't be very happy if I did."

"Tell her I'll be fine. I'll meet up with her soon."

I roll my eyes at this little talk. We're wasting time. If he's going to go, then he should just go. Actually, he should have gone yesterday. Odds are someone else has already claimed his precious supplies by now. "She won't like this," Aelia is shaking her head, looking positively upset. I hope she isn't planning on joining him. We can't afford to have her leave the group. "But she'll have to accept it....Good luck, Ganta."

A rare smile crosses his face. "You too." He spins and begins heading down the walkway, stopping after a minute to turn. "Also, if you see a flare in the sky, then odds are I'm either under attack...or I'm dead."

With those words, he heads off on his journey. Aelia watches him go as he heads east, the opposite direction of the city. I wonder how many tributes are left on the island. Most of them would have fanned out of the area by now, I think. "I don't expect to see him again," I say as his lithe form disappears behind a massive cargo ship. Even if no one else has claimed the supplies yet, he still will have an incredibly difficult job tracking us down.

Aelia leans forward with a sigh, still staring out at where Ganta disappeared. "Amaya is going to kill me for leaving him," She mutters, more to herself than me.

"He left you," I point out just before turning back onto my path to the city. It should only be a few more minutes before we reach it.

"Hold on, Anissa."

I'm surprised to hear Aelia's request. "Why?" I ask, stopping. "Amaya is still out there. Along with Amica, Annabeth, Annabelle, and the rest." She better not be suggesting that we stop to go with Ganta. That is not going to happen

"Yeah, I know." Aelia takes the backpack off of my arm, and I can practically hear the gears turning in her head. "But we should try to take out some of the other tributes along the way." I cross my arms and frown as she pulls my net and rope from the bag.

"But that's what they want us to do," I say gesturing at the invisible cameras that certainly surround us. "They want us to become violent and ruthless. That's why they separated us from our friends!"

Aelia doesn't answer right away. She's too busy tying the ropes and net into a complex trap. One that would assuredly entangle an unaware tribute. When she finishes she steps back and admires her work. I repeat my question.

"I've done worse," Is all she says before going on to tell me her plan. She'll act as bait, screaming and shouting for help, trying to draw the attention of any approaching tributes. My job is to hide around the ship, waiting for someone to fall into the trap. If they have allies, I am to neutralize them before they cause any harm.

"Sounds good enough..." I mumble, taking out my sword and assuming my position. I'll have no problem killing anyone who falls for this trap. Because anyone who hears someone screaming for help and comes rushing to kill them isn't a human. They're a monster.

And all monsters deserve to die.

Chloe Black (District 2)

I'm really beginning to regret telling Trident that I love him.

"Are you okay? Is your leg alright? You seem to be walking funny!" Prattle, prattle, prattle! The questions never stop! All day he's been pestering me about my leg and telling me that I should take a break every few minutes. I don't think I can take much more of this! "Why aren't you answering me? Do you feel--"

"Trident!" I explode. He's asked one question too many! "Shut up, okay? Just shut. The. Hell. Up!"

He backs off, looking quite taken back. Good! He should be! Such an annoying little bugger...Too bad I need him around. Trident's blue eyes stare at the metal platform of the walkway, saddened and shocked. I sigh. That was the first time in forever that I let my anger get the best of me. I can't afford to slip up now.

"I'm sorry, Trident," I make my face a mask of regret and sorrow as I set a hand on his shoulder. "It's just that I'm so stressed about Elvis and the others hunting us...I can't control myself very well..."

His expression softens immediately. Ha! He is so easy to manipulate that I almost feel bad about it. Almost. "You don't have to worry with me around!" He sports a cocky grin and flexes his arms, showing off impressive biceps. "I'll take on anything that threatens us!"

"Oh, I know..." I twirl a finger around on his chest, wondering just how far back Elvis is. Did he realize we fled into the shipyard? Has he already set out after us? It's possible, the guy is much smarter than everyone else thinks. If that's the case, then I need to put as much distance between us as possible. I can't take him on. Not yet.

"We should get going," I say abruptly, turning away from Trident who was obviously expecting a kiss. "Elvis could be just a few minutes behind us." I stalk down the walkways, wrinkling my nose at the briny scent of the sea, carried off by the wind. The ship's creak and groan, a few pieces of rotting boards drift in the water between them. This place would be easy to get lost in.

Maybe running isn't the right strategy, maybe we should be hiding amongst the ships. Elvis would never find us there. Then again, he'd probably encounter the other Careers before we did. And that would not do.

"Help me!"

A lone, feminine scream pierces the sky, followed up by a few tortured screams. Trident reacts instantly, throwing himself over me and brandishing his trident like a shotgun as he spins around, taking in the ship's that surround us on all sides.

"Get off me!" I shove him away, irritated. My eyes scan the creaking ships as I hold my sword in a relaxed position. Where is that screaming coming from?

"But your leg! You shouldn't be fighting in that state!" Trident tries to take the chivalrous route. Cute, but not my style. I can defend myself.

"I'm fine. It wasn't that bad of a wound." Because I purposely speared myself in a fairly minor area.

"Yeah, sure." Trident cautiously begins walking forward, towards the screaming. I grab his shoulder.

"Excuse me? But where are you going?"

His sea-green eyes flash with surprise. "Er...I was going to put that screamer out of their misery..." He scratches his wavy hair with a free finger. "Was I not supposed to?"

I shake my head, crossing my head with a sigh. "Did it not occur to you that Elvis could be the cause of that screaming?"

Realization floods his face as he pokes his forehead. "Oh, duh! Of course!" His facial expression turns to anger. "What is he doing to that girl?"

"I don't know, nor do I care." I look to the sky, judging our current position by the location of the nearest building. We're about fifteen minutes away from the city... "Let's just head the opposite way, shall we?"

Johnathan Mikeal (District 5)

We crouch at the edge of the forest, watching the shrine with quiet apprehension. Beside me, Harvest (9) nervously fingers his knife, brown eyes swirling with concern. "You don't think that they're just hiding, do you?" He asks glancing over his shoulder at the dark forest behind us.

Banette (8) shakes his head, pink eyes glued to the shrine. "Nah. Not that smart. I think they've gone hunting, though someone is inside that cornucopia."

We've been here for about twenty minutes now, scoping the place out. We travelled around the clearing in a circle at first, making sure that our approach wouldn't be detected. Once we were sure everything was clear, we had Julian (13) hang back at a small hutch between two large trees and approached. Beyond a few sounds coming from inside the golden horn, nothing has happened.

"We should do this now," I say, rising to my feet. The others scramble after me and once more I'm surprised by just how much taller I am. "Before they come back."

"Shouldn't I, ah, stand guard?" Harvest fidgets in place, uneasy with this whole plot.

"Why? You scared?" Banette doesn't even look at him as he scans the top shrine. Probably trying to see if anyone is hiding up there. I doubt it. I looked it over while we were scouting.

"Well, no. But...we need a lookout, right?" I don't know if I'd call him scared, but he is assuredly nervous. You can practically feel it coming off of him in waves. When I give him an affirmative nod, he sighs in relief. Banette just rolls his eyes.

"Alright, but no one better sneak up on us!" Throwing his hood over his head, Banette gives me the signal. We break off into opposite directions; Banette to the south and myself to the north. Flank the shrine. Make it so no one could try to run away

I can hear crates moving about as I reach the foot of the shrine, stepping into the mouth and seeing the cornucopia. Someone is inside. Banette appears across from me and I motion my head at the horn. "Inside," I mouth.

He nods, slipping two daggers into his hands. He'll draw them out. I'll kill them. We could just take some supplies and run; there's plenty just lying around. But we have an opportunity to take out some Careers. An opportunity we don't intend to squander.

Something clatters to the ground inside of the cornucopia. Then someone comes walking out.

Wavy blonde hair, bright blue eyes. Pale Dylan (4) has a backpack brimming with items drapped over his back, a trident in his hands, and a sword on his belt as he steps into the shrine. And he turns and comes face-to-face with me.

His mouth drops open but no words come out. I hoist my spear up and he turns to run, only to bump into Banette, who looks truly fearsome with his head covered by bandanna and hood, only his pale, pink eyes visible.

Dylan's face turns snow white, and then does something I never thought a Career would: He drops his weapons and falls to his knees, hands in the air.

"Please don't kill me! I'm not with the Careers anymore! I can help you!"

Meaningless words from one about to die...or something more? I don't know. I freeze, truthfully uncertain on what I should do. I only harm those who deserve it. And this kid actually seems quite...harmless. Not to mention that he surrendered. To kill him now would be to execute him. And I don't execute people.

Banette doesn't see it that way. He raises one of his knives and brings it down right for the boy's skull.


My hand clamps down on his wrist, stopping him from moving the knife. Shock reflects in my friends eyes followed by anger. "What the hell are you playing at, Johnathan?" He rips his arm away from me and glares as Dylan let's out a frightened gasp and crawls away on his elbows.

"He surrendered. We don't kill those who ask for mercy."

"I'm pretty sure Shuppet wanted mercy. Did you see the Capitol give him any?" My friend's eyes flash with grief, the loss of his dearest friend still fresh in his mind. That loss doesn't excuse barbarity, though.

"He's not Shuppet. And we're not the Capitol."

Banette snorts indignantly, pointing a finger at Dylan, who has backed himself into the corner of the shrine. "You think we should spare a killer like him?"

"Let's just hear him out." Banette seems nastier than he is. I know that it's just the stress of the situation that's getting to him, of what happened to his friend. I just need to remind him about how we do things. When he doesn't respond, I raise an eyebrow. "Well?"

"Talk to him or whatever. I'll try to find some medicine for Julian." With a flippant wave of his hand, Banette leaves us alone in the corner of the shrine. I crouch down beside the boy, placing a foot on his trident so he can't lift it.

"What did you mean by you're no longer with the Careers?"

"I..." Dylan's eyes shift over to watch Banette rummage through a stack of backpacks. "I was leaving them right now, I mean, I was never really with them. I just joined so that I could get some supplies for my real allies." I keep a close ear on the boy's tone of voice. Often enough, it's the tone, not the words, that tell you whether someone is telling the truth.

"Uh-huh. And who are your real allies?"

"Curricular Lunes, Caspian Mahoney and Rosalina Cosmic," He reads the names off rapid fire. Hmm. He was prepared to answer that question. I also note how one of those names belong to a dead tribute.

"You know what happened to Curricular?"

The flash of pain in his eyes at her mention gives me everything I need to know. "She died," He says bluntly.

"A Career killed her, didn't they?" I gleam this from his tone alone. I'm not surprised, killing is what they do after all. But I am surprised that Dylan is still with the Careers after what they did to his friend. Especially, as he tells me now, that he's not really someone with a Career mind set. In fact, he goes as far as to say that he doesn't think he'd be able to kill anyone.

"So you can take whatever you want," He says venomously, eyes burning with hatred. "I don't care. I was leaving before you guys showed up anyway."

"Where did the others go?" I realize that this probably should have been my first question. If the others were about to return...

"They went hunting. Dean and Seth refused to be apart from one another, lest the other be plotting his demise, so they went with Luxray. Todd tagged along because he didn't trust them enough not to kill one another. That's why I'm the only guard."

Makes sense. The Careers are pretty narrow minded. Of course they'd leave who they thought was the weakest tribute behind. "When are they returning?"

Dylan shrugs. His eyes are still fixated on the ground and he doesn't seem the least bit interested in this conversation. "Who knows? They left just over an hour ago..."

"Johnathan, you done talking with that loser yet?" Banette's voice carries down to me, and I catch the strong scent of gasoline. Gasoline? Why do I smell that? I find out when I turn to see Banette emptying an entire jug of gasoline over the pile of items inside the cornucopia.

"What are you doing?" I ask, bewildered. This was supposed to be a quiet raid, not a sabotaging of all their supplies!

"What does it look like?" Banette finishes emptying the container and then tosses it to the side. "Destroying their supplies. Don't worry," he spots the uneasiness that has invaded my thoughts and nudges two backpacks on his shoulder. "I already took enough food and medicine for Julian."

"Wait, no!" Dylan reacts with volatility for the first time since we've met him, jumping to his feet and staring helplessly at Banette. "You can't destroy the supplies! They'll think I did it!"

"Exactly," Banette doesn't turn to look at the boy as he slides a box of matches out of his pockets. "So they'll hunt you down instead of us. You're the perfect scapegoat."

"You little..." Fury rages in Dylan's eyes as he takes another step forward, stopping when the tip of my spear prods his chest.

"Sorry, Dylan. But you can only take care of yourself in the Hunger Games."

He gapes at me in shock, probably feeling betrayed after I was so understanding with him. I feel slightly bad about this, but Banette is correct. Destroying the supplies and letting Dylan go free is the best strategy we could employ. We take out the Careers supplies and give them another target. It's the perfect plot, even if it makes me feel...immoral.

"I'll tell then the truth!" Dylan is shaking his head, trying to find a way out. "They'll come after you!"

"Yeah, I'm sure they'll just be overjoyed knowing that you let two guys destroy all of their supplies without lifting a finger to stop them." Banette isn't the least bit broken up about his decision. Just cold and methodical.

"Besides, they won't believe that we wouldn't have killed you," I add. I'm trying to help here. If Dylan tries to alert his Career buddies, they'll kill him. I don't want that to happen, because despite what we're doing to him now, I actually like Dylan. The kid has a good head on his shoulders.

He doesn't see it that way though. Tears begin to swell in his eyes as he attempts to plead his way out, breaking my heart. "Please! Don't do this! They'll find and kill me! There's no way I could avoid them!"

Banette shrugs callously. "Not. Our. Problem."

Desperate, Dylan turns to me. "C'mon Johnathan! You're a good guy, I saw the tapes of your Games! You'd never let someone like me get killed by the Careers!"

"You were already deserting them before we came," Banette responds before I can. "What difference does it make now?"

I can't look at Dylan. At the pitiful sadness that plagues him. If it was up to me, I'd have him join our alliance. But Banette would never accept that. "The difference is that they now think I destroyed their supplies!" He's almost hysterical now.

"Dylan..." I close my eyes, staring sightlessly at the ground. "You should start running. The Careers will see the smoke as soon as we start the fire."

"You bastards..." The pain in his voice has faded, replaced by a raw anger. Footsteps sound, picking up the pace as he begins to run away from the shrine. I open my eyes and watch him, making sure he runs away from the direction Harvest and Julian lie.

"We spared your life!" Banette shouts after him. "We could have killed you! Remember that, you stupid little bitch!"

I lower the tip of my spear into the hard cobblestone floor of the shrine. A massive pit has formed in my stomach. We may not have earned the ire of the Careers, but we ended up making an enemy anyways. I hope that it doesn't lead to our deaths.

Banette snorts and spits on the ground before striking a match to start the fire. But before he can, he sees something wafting over the trees in the western sky. Smoke. Thick, dark smoke. The type that signifies wood fire. "Gory hell," Banette let's the match extinguish itself in his surprise. "Someone has set the forest on fire!"

"Start the fire!" I almost shout the words. Banette fumbles with the box, dropping it but managing to pull a single match out. He strikes it against a pillar and tosses it into the pile of gasoline soaked items, which immediately begin to burn. "Go, go!"

We run for the woods, Banette weighed down by the packs on his back. Harvest pops out from the trees as we near. "The forest is on fire!" He says, pointing at the smoky black horizon.

"No tar, Sherlock!" Banette thrusts one of the packs into his arms and the bewildered boy takes it without question. "Where's Julian?"

"Here!" The thin boy appears around the bend of a tree, limping slowly.

Banette curses loudly, spotting the obvious. "Johnathan, can you carry Julian? We have to get away from these blasted woods!" I nod, swiftly scooping the fragile Julian and throwing him over my shoulder. He squeaks in protest as we all begin to run through the forest, away from the smoke.

Luxray Meganium (District 14)

The fire has taken us by surprise, spreading faster than I thought possible. We stumble through the woods, holding shirts over our mouths as we try not to breath in the acrid smoke that is everywhere.

One thing we have going for us is that these pine trees are tall, tall enough for all the leafy parts to be high up in the sky. Flames crackle along the trunks as we run, spreading to the tops where they absorb the fronds and begin a raging inferno above our heads, dropping sparks and soot down upon us.

"Where are we going?" One of my allies shouts and then breaks off into a fit of heavy coughing. Seth (5), I think.

I don't know. I don't know which direction is which, the fire has taken me by surprise. I think we run north, though I can't be sure. The flames block out the sun.

Todd (0) takes the lead, motioning for all of us to follow him. None of us argue; the smoke is too thick and we don't have a better plan. The fire follows, slithering along the trees like a snake. I just follow after Todd, trying not to inhale any smoke or allow my massive morning star to slow me down.

A creaking, groaning sound echoes throughout the forest, and Todd stops himself. We all slam into his back just as a massive tree comes falling down, smashing into the ground and showering us in a cascade of ember and sparks. "This way!" Todd skirts around the tree, divulging off of our path. Sweat trickles down my brow as we run, sparks sting my neck. I hate fire. Hate it's destructive wrath that swallows everything it touches.

"The shrine!"

Todd stops to point a stubby finger at the familiar monument as it comes into view. Seth let's out a hyena-like cackle and shoves his way past us, sprinting full speed for the building. The rest of us follow, making a bee-line for the prospect of shelter.

There is none.

Inside of the shrine rages another, smaller fire. Items burn to a crisp, steel weapons are blackened by the hungry flames. Seth screams at the sight, dropping to his knees and pulling at his multi-colored hair. "Our food! Our weapons!"

I stop halfway towards the shrine, bent over and hacking my lungs out. "We should be safe here," Todd grunts as he drops onto the grass of the clearing. I nod. There's about fifty yards of open space between the forest and the shrine, leaving us relatively safe from the fire.

"Do you not care about our supplies?!" Seth turns on us, his face pulled into a hysterical scream. "We just lost everything!"

"Not our lives," I say, not bothering to tell him that I carried food in my pack, just in case of a situation like this.

Seth is about to say something that will surely be nasty, when Dean (14) bends over panting and he finds a new target. "You!" He points a gloved finger at Dean, who spins around like he's pointing at someone else.

"Who? Me?"

"Yes! You!" Seth stalks forward, illuminated by the crackling flames behind him. "You did this, didn't you? You were upset that I was taking command, so you burnt our supplies!"

Dean just laughs him off, waving at the forest. "Oh, I did that. I burnt the forest, huh? With you watching me?"

"You probably left a gasoline trail," Seth doesn't let it go. "Made one right to the forest so that you could destroy everything!"

"So you're saying I knew this fire would happen? Oh, that's rich!" Dean is literally howling with laughter, slapping his head like a maniac. "And people thought I was crazy!"


Todd forces his way in between the two, but they keep jabbering and shouting at one another. I just shake my head, watching all of our supplies slowly burn into useless ash. It wasn't the forest fire that ignited it, that's impossible. The fifty yard long clearing prevents that. But if it wasn't the forest, what was it?

"Seth, shut up with your crazy accusations!" Todd is bellowing now. It's strange how fearful he seems when he raises his voice. "And Dean, don't provoke him!"

"Hey, where's Dylan?" For the first time, I remember that we left a guard at the cornucopia. But where is he now? Did the fire scare him off?

"You think Dylan did it?" Todd turns to me with a frown as Dean laughs and Seth crosses his arms, glaring at him.

"Huh? No..." But now that I think about it, it's certainly possible. I never did fully trust that kid. Seemed a bit too meek.

"Where is he then? If he didn't do this?" Seth immediately grabs the figurative pitchfork and torch, looking around with exaggerated motions. "I don't see him anywhere. Did he take what he wanted and then screw the rest of us over?"

"He could have died," I try calming this situation down before it gets truly out of hand. "We could easily have missed the cannon during the inferno." I really don't see the need to crucify our ally before we know the facts. The kid could be dead for all we know.

"And if he's not? Are we just to assume he ran off like a coward?" Seth cracks his knuckles, staring at our burning items with vindictive rage.

"Not everyone is a cowardly wimp like you, Seth!" Dean sees the opportunity to insult him and the two fall back into their usual squabbling. Todd attempts to bring peace to the situation and I just sigh and watch the fire that surrounds us on every side. If things keep going the way they are, we'll soon wind up like a tree in a forest fire: Strong and mighty at first, but after the inferno, nothing but a pile of ash.

Jake Locketback (District 1)

Our quarry runs through the woods, zigzaging between trees as he attempts to escape our pursuing weapons. Elvis (1) gives out a quick bark of orders and we spread out into the jungle, casting a wider net.

Green foliage whips pass as I run, trying to keep up with our prey. It's hard, because his jacket is dark green, blending easily into the background of the jungle. I try not to get my spear tangled in the creeping vines as I go. Catching up to him without a melee weapon would be far worse than anything else.

"Yo! Jake!" Cullinan (1) merges onto the same path as me, his insanely muscular legs pumping as he runs effortlessly along side me. "He's heading for the beach! Get your bow out!"

I nod, dropping my spear and unslinging my bow just as the fringe of the jungle appears ahead of us. I step onto the soft sand shortly after our prey does. He's already racing across the small dunes, running for the bridge in the distance. "Shoot him!" Cullinan breaks off into a sprint after the boy just as I let an arrow loose.

I aimed for his back, but the arrow falls just short, striking my target in the calf.

Wocky (7) falls to the ground with a scream, his hatchet bouncing out of his hands and onto the sand. Cullinan lets out a joyful whoop just as Olympic (C) bursts out from the jungle, making a beeline straight for the incapacitated boy. Content with my part in the hunt, I collect my spear and then come jogging over just as Olympic reaches Wocky, shoving a boot into his shoulder blades and hoisting a machete in the air.


A lazy voice drifts through the air as Elvis (1) steps out from the jungle, laxadiasical smile playing on his lips. Our "King", as he likes to think of himself, casually strolls across the open beach, stopping a foot away from Olympic and the gasping boy he stands over. "Stand down, Olympic."

There's a moment where I think that Olympic will defy Elvis, but then he gives Wocky one last kick and steps off, snorting indignantly. "Very well, Elvis. The kill is yours." He gives a somewhat mocking bow and gestures at Wocky, who has fearfully pulled himself into a sitting position.

Elvis smiles. "Jake, hand me a sword."

Sometimes I feel like defying Elvis, just to show that I can. I don't actually think much of him, let alone believe he's that great of a leader, but I don't want to risk upsetting him. Elvis is a lot of things, but a push-over is not one of them. I'm conscious of the fact that he'd destroy me in a fair fight. So I draw a sword from his belt and hand it to him, not feeling the least bit humiliated.

Elvis accepts the blade and then turns back to Wocky, a sinister grin on his face. "Did you honestly believe you could outrun my army?"

The trapped boy lunges for his fallen hatchet, but Elvis is too quick. His heavy boot slams down onto the boy's hand and I wince at the crunching sound of bones. "Not very bright, are you?" Elvis grinds his heel into the boy's hand as he screams in pain. "This encounter is only going to end one way. And that's with your death." He steps off and Wocky immediately pulls the disfigured hand close to his cheat, cradling it like a child. Unshed tears glisten in his eyes. He is too proud to cry.

"Just kill him already!" Olympic grunts irritability from the side, but one look from Elvis shuts him up.

"He was a runner-up, believe it or not," Elvis turns to me and Cullinan, speaking of Wocky. "Somehow managed to sneak his way to finale. Not because he had skill, but because no one ever tried to kill him. If they had, he have died right away. Isn't that right, Wocky?" He sneers the last few words at the fallen boy. Unafraid, he stares Elvis in the eyes.

"Go to hell!"

"After you."

Elvis moves his sword so fast that it's frightening. One moment it's at his side, the next it's lodged inside of Wocky's chest. This is why I follow Elvis. His personality leaves much to be desired, but his skill is unmatched.

The boy gasps as blood begins to blossom around the point of entry, a trickle of the fluid sliding down the corner of his lips. When Elvis rips the weapon free, he crumples back to the ground. "We're done here," He says, not even looking at Wocky's body.

"Where are we going next?" Cullinan asks eagerly.

"There," Elvis points his bloodstained sword at the faint outline of the shipyard forming a backdrop for the blue waves of the ocean. "We're going to find Trident and Chloe. And I think you all know what we're going to do to them."

Watt Chargy (Mentor)

The mid-afternoon sun shines through the leaves of the olive trees, dappled sunlight reflecting off of the cobblestone floor of the courtyard. A group of mentors walk past my bench, murmuring to themselves. One of them waves to me and I return the greeting, feeling slightly cheered that there is still normalcy in the world despite what is happening on the televisions inside.

I sigh, leaning against the back of the bench and trying to absorb myself in the gentle splashing of the large, ornate fountain that takes up majority of the courtyards open space. I've chosen not to watch the Games today. I'd rather not agonize over every single decision that my mentees make, rather not watch them fight tooth and nail with everyone else tributes. It's just so...exhausting.

I'd rather just enjoy the peaceful nature of life, even if life is innately violent.

The passing group leaves the courtyard, entering the doors opposite of the side they came from. Since the passing of those twelve mentors that contacted a malevolent disease, the Capitol has created a new complex for the mentors to stay. I like the new one. It has three wonderful courtyards like this, and is far more open and airy then the previous one. It makes me more comfortable. And it's certainly better for my lungs.

Windchimes go off just as another door opens and a new person enters the courtyard. I recognize the ebony-haired young man immediately. Axiom Jolt, my fellow District 3 mentor.

He walks with a slow step, his hands steepled together as he stares at his suave shoes clinking on the cobblestone. Something seems to be upsetting him. Axiom is usually so cheerful and bright with life, despite the awful circumstances that surround him. "Hello, Axiom!" I call out a greeting, wondering if I should ask him what's wrong. Perhaps it is best not to pry.

He looks up in surprise, his blue eyes that use to shine with a mischievous light clouded with worry. "Oh. Hello, Watt."

"Care to join me?" I pat the open spot on the bench beside me. I won't pry, but I'll give him the opportunity to speak about his troubles, if he so wishes.

He pauses, running a hand through his slicked back hair. "Yes. I think I would." He takes a covert, very out-of-place look around before sitting himself down beside me. His thin hands rest on his jiggling knees. After a moment of silence, he speaks. "Watt, may I tell you something?"

I frown. "Of course!"

"The mentors. The ones who died last year. You remember them, correct?"

"Yes." How could I not? I was one of the few remaining mentors who didn't perish to the virus. Something I still cannot fathom.

"Well, I have been thinking about them for awhile now..." Axiom breaks off, throwing yet another suspicious look around the courtyard. It's empty of any living soul, beyond our own. "And I thought that the Capitol was hiding something."

I shut my eyes. Of course the Capitol is hiding something. That is what they do. But I don't spend much time thinking on why or what they hide. "Dangerous thoughts tend to have dangerous consequences," I tell Axiom warningly. "The Capitol will not appreciate you questioning their decisions."

"Your warning is a bit too late," Axiom nervously slicks his hair back again. "I kinda...hacked into the Peacekeepers mainframe."

"Axiom!" I nearly have a heart attack. That is something you simply do not do.

"I'm sorry!" He throws his hands up in the air. "But they left the door to their security room open, and I just couldn't help myself!"

"You're in tremendous danger, Axiom. If they find out..." I could be in danger too, now that he has told me.

"I'm aware. But Watt, I discovered something rather...interesting." His fear is gone, replaced by an insatiable excitement that burns bright in his eyes. "The mentors, the twelve that died. They didn't. They didn't die."

"I..." I don't have the words to respond. Axiom continues, not caring for my silence.

"They have a whole file discussing their "disappearance" and the theft of several high-level documents and prisoners. They had a prison under the Mentors Lobby, Watt. A prison!" He's so excited. So worked up. He doesn't understand the huge threat that the Capitol is.

"You do realize...that they can hear us, right? They have cameras everywhere. Even in this courtyard." I've survived to become this old for a reason. Don't rock the boat. Don't disobey the Capitol and they have no reason to kill you. It's such an easy concept to grasp, yet so many fail to do so. I've seen many die because of their pride. I don't want Axiom to join them.

"Not anymore," There's a bright twinkle in his eyes as he points at the rooftops. "I disabled all the cameras in this courtyard before entering. They won't know a thing!"

I place a hand over my forehead. Such youthful energy and's misplaced. "Axiom. This is foolhardy. Foolhardy and dangerous to boot."

"Maybe." He isn't effected by my warnings, and continues on excitedly. "But they lied to us, Watt. The mentors aren't dead. They didn't leave. They were rescued by an organization called Those Who Don't Exist. It's all in the files!"


"They had people locked up in the basement. They had a secret project. They lied about the mentors. All of that and more is written in their files!"

"Axiom. What are you trying to prove here?" I cut him off before he can get too far with his rambling. I feel weak. Is it because I suspected these things, but was too timid to pursue them? Or is it that I'm afraid he'll get us both killed?

"I'm trying to learn more about this organization. About how I can help them fight against the tyranny of the Capitol! They killed my family. And I am not going to stop until I repay the favor!" He fixes me with a determined look. Fierce desire burns in his cold, blue eyes. "And I think you can help me."

"How?" I keep my voice low, I don't look at him. This is treason at its highest order. If I help him, or even speak about the subject with him, I'll be risking everything. Least of all my own life.

"The mentors not "killed" by the virus. The files listed them as persons of interest in the investigation of the others whereabouts. I thought--"

"I know nothing. Nothing." I shake my weary head, suddenly wishing I had stayed indoors today.

"Oh, I know. I just wanted your help talking with Hazel Dyer."

"Hazel?" I haven't spoken to her in entire year. Not since...not since the virus. My stomach turns uneasily as I try to think of our last conversation, before she and Quinton had gone to her bedroom, where she recovered some of her medicine and found... What did Quinton say it was? A note?

Axiom doesn't appear to notice my hesitancy as he continues. "Yes, Hazel. I think she may know something about the mentors. I already tried asking Rubelia and Chaz, but Rubelia laughed in my face and Chaz shoved me into a trashcan."

"Wait, what? He shoved you into a trashcan?!"

He nods sheepishly. "I'd rather not speak of that."

"I understand, but--"

"As I was saying," He waves me off with a charming grin. "I received no answer from either of then and only four of the six survivors are mentoring this year."

"And the only one you haven't spoken with is Hazel," I finish for him and he nods, smiling.

"Yes! And I think she knows something. I mean, there has to be a reason why she hasn't really spoken to anyone in the past year..."

I don't know. Hazel doesn't seem like the type to defy the Capitol. That woman's always been their favorite Victor, someone who supported them full-heartedly despite the terrible things they do. A lot of people hated her for that, but I know that she just wanted to find a place that didn't judge her like District 9 did. But there's something I still don't understand. "Why do you need my help with this?"

"Because you're one of the few mentors she considers a friend, so I want you to ask her for me."

I sigh. Axiom is a kind-hearted young lad, one who wishes to do good in the world. But he doesn't quite grasp what he is asking. He wants me to question Hazel about lying to the Capitol, and accuse her of withholding information. She wouldn't take well to that accusation. I want to refuse, but I know he would just go ahead by himself then. With a weary nod, I agree to the request. "Very well, I'll speak with her." And make myself far less direct about it then he would.

"Yes!" Axiom pumps a fist into the sky, before spinning around to make sure no one saw. They didn't. "Thank you, Watt! I really appreciate your help!"

I haven't been convinced to help Axiom with his pointless crusade yet, but I do know something is wrong with Hazel. And like the friend that I am, I'll do my best to check on her. I doubt she is in anyway affiliated with the other mentors disappearance, but I will ask about it anyways. Axiom is a good kid. I don't want to disappoint him, even if he is a little overzealous.

"We're really going to make a difference here, Watt," Axiom nods happily at me, a curious glint in his eyes. "We could totally take an evil entity down. Make the world a better place."

I doubt that very much, but who knows? The tiniest of actions may lead to the biggest of ripples. Perhaps Axiom has the right idea...

Annabelle Harret (District 11)

The sun hangs high in the sky, shining down on us with a fierce blaze. Aisha (8) leads us through the sameness of the desert, not ever slowing. Ellis (11) walks at her side, a spear in hand. It's left to Freya (8) and I to push the heavy crate of items we brought along from the cornucopia. And now I'm dead tired.

"I can't do this anymore," I say, dropping to the ground beside the crate. I don't even care that the sand burns me, I'm that tired. My muscles are sore and my arms feel like noodles.

Ellis looks back at us with a disdainful look. "C'mon. You've been pushing it for what? Two hours?"

"Two hours in a flaming desert!" Freya gives me a pitying look and pulls a canteen out from the crate, offering me it. I thank her and drink deeply as Ellis laughs.

"Get some backbone. It's not that hard."

"That's because you're not pushing," Freya puts in. I nod in agreement. Not only does Ellis not help push, but she doesn't do anything but just walk beside us, endlessly complaining about how slow we're going.

"What are you saying?" Ellis narrows her eyes at the smaller girl, obviously offended by her tone.

"She's not saying anything," I put the stopper back on the canteen and hand it to Freya. "But I'm saying that you're acting like a lazy female dog!"

Ellis starts for me, her spear flashing dangerously in the bright sun. I stand my ground, confident that she wouldn't even consider harming an ally. She's not that dumb, is she?

"Ellis, Annabelle, Stop!"

Aisha has noticed our lack of movement and has come back. Her copper skin is gleaming with sweat and her black hair is matted closely to her skull. "We can't afford to fight among ourselves!"

"Easy for you to say!" Ellis spins to face her now. "You're use to living in a desert!"

There's an awkward silence after that statement. I share an uncomfortable look with Freya as Aisha simply stares at Ellis in confusion. " saying that since I'm Muslim, I should be use to deserts?"

It was a pretty stupid thing to say, but at least Aisha doesn't look offended. She's merely amused. "I, uh, not really...?" Ellis seems to sense her own mistake and scratches her head uneasily.

"Then let's keep moving."

We go in silence after that. Freya and I still push the crate, but I seem to have recovered some of my energy since drinking from the canteen. The desert seems as endless as ever though, and I'm beginning to think that entering it was a bad idea. Maybe I should suggest that we head back? It's not too late. Yeah, it would take a few more hours of walking, but--


Aisha is calm as she points out the mirage-like oasis that appears in the distance. Freya claps excitedly, jumping to her feet and rushing for the trees. Ellis grabs her collar, heaving her backwards. "Not so fast. Someone could be in there."

"Exactly," Aisha frowns as she stops to examine the oasis. "I think someone is there. Follow me, but slowly. Slowly."

We creep along towards the oasis, trying not to make much noise but realising that we're kind of out in the open. It's not like we're invisible. I don't tell the others that though, no need to point out the obvious.

"I don't see anyone," Ellis speaks as we reach the water of the oasis. Colourful flowers bloom alongside it's edge, a welcome contrast from the same orange of the desert. Aisha frowns at a nearby tree.

"Nor do I," I say, stooping beside a plant that holds some sort of small nuts.


Freya squeals in horror as a short, pudgy boy leaps out from behind a tree, striking a karate pose. "Stay back! I don't want to harm you, but I will!"

We all pull our weapons up, adrenaline sparking inside us. The boy, who I now recognize as Josool (C), throws his hands into the air the moment he sees our weapons. "I surrender! Please don't kill me! I can help, I know how--"

He cuts off with a sickening gurgle as Aisha swings her hatchet into his overly fat stomach. I gasp and back off, shocked that Aisha would kill someone who was giving themself up. "What did you do?" Freya's blue eyes are wide with fear as Josool sinks to the ground, trying to hold in the blood with his hands.

"She killed a competitor. What did it look like?" Ellis is remarkably calm as she turns to us. There's no guilt in her eyes, no pain. She just witnessed Aisha kill a boy in cold blood and didn't even bat an eye.


We're all stunned into silence by Josool's dying moan. He lies flat on his back, staring into the sky while his life force bleeds out through his stomach. His narrow eyes flicker with each breath. "How...did Colin look...with all those bullets in him...?"

Aisha spins with a sudden ferocity; the coldness in her eyes remind me of a wild mutt before it devours a tribute. "Aisha, no!" Freya is shoved out of the way as our leader stalks towards the dying boy, and with burning anger, smashes her hatchet into his skull.

I turn away as she strikes once, twice, thrice. Freya let's out a little gasp and runs to the other side of the oasis as Ellis lets out a crow of victory. "Eat that Capitol! Watch your tribute die!"


The sickening sound of the hatchet being pulled from flesh alerts me to Aisha's finale. She walks away from the messy body, dropping her weapon and holding her head with her hands. "What have I done...? Oh, Colin." She mutters something in what sounds like a completely different language as she drops to her knees, scrubbing her bloody hands against the sand. "What happened to me?"

"Aisha?" I call out cautiously, but she doesn't respond as she begins to say something on repeat in the unfamiliar language. I can't even comprehend how she must be feeling. Killing the boy was one thing, but doing it in such a violent fashion? And in a fit of rage? I don't even know...

I drift away, realising there is nothing I can do for her. Nothing anyone could do. Moving aimlessly, I sit myself down beside the water in the oasis. Freya is on the other side, crying. Ellis is just eating a can if beans, not the least bit effected by the stench of Josool's bloody body.

There's a rift between our alliance. And I don't know what kind.

Sebastian Hive (District 5)

"Did I ever tell you how completely, utterly, stupid you are?" I follow behind Watt (5) as he trudges towards the cornucopia, walking into the clearing without bothering to check for Careers. Not that they're here.

"Yeah, you did. About every few minutes actually," The pudgy fatso doesn't seem to mind me as he stops beside one of the platforms we all started at, pointing up the hill. "Go check for a shovel or spade or something."

I frown and cross my arms. No one tells me what to do. "And why, pray tell, should I do that?"

Watt turns to me, his red face sporting a knowing smile. "I want the mines, of course."

Well, now. That certainly is interesting. The mines that surround the cornucopia have been used as weapons in the Games before, but it has been quite awhile since this tactic was last implemented. "You can reactivate them?" I ask, quite curious as to just how smart this fatso really is.

"Yup. It's actually pretty easy. You see, you just have to--"

"I didn't ask for an explanation!" I cut him off before he gets into some stupid techno babble.

"Oh. Sorry." He drops to the ground, digging alongside the platform with his hand. "Now go get those shovels. We need to do this fast."

Normally, I'd never let someone speak to me in such a tone. But I can make an exception in this case. No one else in this arena has the technical expertise and vast intelligence that Watt possesses. No one else could get me what I desire. So I get the shovels. I help him dig into the ground, slowly but surely collecting each and every mine buried beneath the dirt. It'll take hours of hard, gruelling work, but it'll be worth it. It'll be so worth it

An island full of land mines is worth whatever it takes.

Amira Blodwen (District 9)

"This cave looks fairly suitable," Marlon (10) stops I front of the entrance of a wide cave, peering into it with a knowing nod.

"Kinda scary," Ashley (5) says, earning an exasperated look from the younger boy.

"You should get used to that feeling. Amira, what do you think?" He turns to me, apparently trusting my opinion more than hers.

I shrug. "Its fine, I mean, it's dark, but it should offer some warmth and shelter." A cold win picks up as I speak, giving emphasis to my words. When we woke this morning, we just kept climbing higher into the mountainside, seeking to get as far from the conflict in the valley as possible. It's almost dusk now, and the temperature has slowly begun to drop as a chill wind picked up.

"Right! See, Amira understands!" He gives Ashley a scathing look and steps into the cave. Feeling slightly bad, I give her a squeeze on the shoulder before following him inside.

It's dark, which is expected. But I luckily have night-vision glasses, which I slip onto my head just as I enter. Everything gets a greenish haze as I stare into back of the narrow, musty cave. It goes far back, further than I'd have thought. I can't see the back, not even with the glasses. "Maybe we shouldn't be in here," I say, feeling rather unsettled.

"Don't start that again!" Marlon drops a bundle of sticks he gathered from the trees outside and begins to arrange then into a neat little pile.

"I feel like we're being watched," Ashley says quietly from where she has positioned herself atop a long, flat rock.

"You always say that." Marlon doesn't look up from where he's begun to try and start the fire.

"Well, we are being watched. I mean, there's camera's everywhere!" My attempt to lighten the mood doesn't work. Marlon just sighs and Ashley jumps in place, spinning around like something is after her. She's a little jumpy, I agree with Marlon. But that doesn't dispel my own uneasiness with this cave. It feels like someone--or maybe something--is watching us from the shadows.

"Think we should check the back?" I ask, still staring into the enveloping darkness.

"If you want," Marlon finally succeeds at creating the fire and crackling flames give warmth to the chilly cave as the light fragments my night-vision.

There's an ominous presence in that cave, I can feel it. Or am I just going crazy? Marlon certainly doesn't feel anything, and I don't think I can trust any feeling Ashley has. I get up to go investigate the back, but then fear takes over and I sit right back down. There's no need for me to go looking for trouble.

No need.

Ganta Alomo (District 12)

The overly familiar chirping of insects begins just as the sun begins to dip behind the jungle trees. I trudge through the thick undergrowth, my boots sinking into the cold mud and my head dripping with sweat. Unlike last year, my outfit isn't specifically designed for this biome. Overheating is the result.

Ahead of me, the trees begin to thin as I come upon the recognizable clearing that holds the military camp. My stomach grumbles as I step into the clearing, spotting the pitched green tents. I really hope there's food and water here, because I didn't think to take any with me.

I stagger towards the nearest pile of crates. The back of my mind is yelling at me to be more careful and check my surroundings before blundering out into the open, but my body is too tired from ny long trek to listen. Especially when I'm so close to my goal.

The crates are still shut, which is a good sign. I find another good sign, when I pry them up open and find an assortment of items. A flashlight, rope, camouflage paint, a spool of wire, and a net. "Not too late!" I can't help but grin as I take all the items and deposit them away. I check a few more of the crates, but don't find much beyond for a couple of canned food items. This is good and all, but it's not what I came here for. That's the flare gun.

I enter the largest tent, spotting the small gray box at the back of the tent. Inside, I find the prize.

"Lucky for me," I whistle softly as I clip the gun onto my belt. This is a very valuable item, a game changer. Good thing I had the wherewithal to come here, to claim it before someone else did. Aelia and Anissa were stupid for being so dead set on finding our allies when we could have claimed this on day one. We wouldn't have gotten this at all if not for my determination. Wait, no.

We didn't get it. I got it.

"Never underestimate me," I think of Anissa and her constant mockery of my ideas. Of how she seemed so sure that I was going to die without her protection. Ha! I made it to the finale of my first Games, and that was without anyone protecting me. In fact, that was with me protecting Amaya.

I look to the sky, where the sun has begun to rapidly disappear from sight. I originally was planning on heading after Anissa and Aelia as soon as I got my hands on the flare gun, but know I now that idea is a no go. Risking myself walking through the dark would be taking foolish to the extreme.

"Hopefully you two can keep yourselves alive without my protection," I smile as I enter one of the military tents. "Because I don't think you can."

Vera Luchabra (District 9)

My axe drags behind me as I prowl the office complex, searching for anything that may assist me in my endeavours.

The room I enter is small and very bland. I search the desks and drawers, throwing everything that doesn't help me onto floor. Nothing helps me, so it all goes on floor. "Stupid pencils!" I snap one between my fingers and toss it at the glass window just as a howl rips the calm evening sky.

Outside, across the street, a pack of mutts throw themselves at the door to the library. Something stirs within that building, methinks. Fascinated, I sit by window and watch the mutts futility try to break in. Howls and growls fill the night sky, where the sun has just disappeared. Whoever is inside must be terrified. Ha! I feel no terror, for I am safe inside office building.

Then more howls join the others, different, scarier howls. Roars, growls, yelps, and screeches all sound off right after one another. I hold hands to my ears, as the noises begin to pick up intensity and ferocity.

Is there an entire zoo in this city?!

I feel like there is a parade of animals marching down main street when another roar splits the sky. It's so loud, that I feel the building shake under my feet. Feel the vibration in my bones. The other mutts stop howling, everything goes silent as this mysterious entity roars into the sky.

The Biters that surround the library let out whimpers and go running down the street with tails between their legs. I watch with bated breath, fearing for myself when the roar fades away and silence once again lives in the city. "I do not like the sound of that," I whisper to myself, staring out the wide window into the urban jungle.

Rosalina Cosmic (District 0)

The candy land is dark and quiet, nothing stirs. Not even a mouse. I sit high in a trees overlooking the sugar forest, feeling rather discontented with my current place in the Games. Going into the Games, I had three allies and a plan to get a hold of plenty of supplies. Now, just the night of the second day, I have one ally and a pitiful amount of supplies.

I roll a knife between my fingers as I sit atop the thickest branches of the tree. It's my only possession, that knife. Caspian (3) has a few more items, namely a sword, rope, a canister of spray paint, and a vial of water we share between the two of us, but none of it is mine.


The accented voice of Caspian calls for me from where he sits at the base of the sugar tree. I suggested that he climb another, adjacent tree, but he refused. Apparently he'd prefer to lounge about on the ground then sit concealed in a tree. Go figure.

"Yes?" I'm aware of how loud our conversation sounds in the absence of any other noise. I only hope no other tributes are close enough to hear.

"Why did we not have a plan today?" His question sounds nonchalant, even bored.

"Because there's too much danger out there for us to just go stampeding." Not worth our lives. Not unless there's something really valuable.

"Uh-huh." He falls silent and I try to peer through the leaves of the tree to find him, but I can't spot him. "I thought we'd be looking for Dylan."

"Why?" I didn't think he had any particular liking of Dylan. The two never seemed to get along, at any rate.

"I assumed you'd want to find him," Is all he says. I purse my lips, actually stopping to think on this one. If Curricular was still alive, I'd definitely wish to find her. She was the only ally that I myself chose. She was someone I could trust, someone I could confide in. Dylan? Not so much.

"He's probably cozying up to his Career allies right now," I say aloud, for Caspian's benefit. "I doubt he went through with the plan when Curricular is dead and we're so far away."


A chilling wind picks up, sending shivers down my back. I lean further against the tree, wishing that I had a blanket of some sort.

"So you don't suppose that Dylan is looking for us? That he doesn't care what happens to one of us?" That's a strange question. I look down the tree again, and spot Caspian for the first time, leaning against the trunk with a lazy smile in the handsome face that Curricular liked so much.

"No, I don't suppose he would." But what do I know? Curricular was the only one he really spent time with. She was the glue that held this alliance together, without her...

"Interesting...interesting..." Caspian's eyes seem to bore into the back of my head, like he can read my thoughts. It's a bit disturbing, really. "Well, I certainly hope that is not the case. We rather need Dylan, you know?"

I shrug. I wouldn't really say we need him, but I'd certainly wouldn't oppose his help. "Maybe."

Caspian's glowing eyes slink back into the darkness that surrounds the tree. "Good night, Rosalina. Perhaps tomorrow shall yield better fortune."

I sit in silence, shivering in the wind. Is Dylan looking for us? Is he even still alive? There has been three cannons...

Annabeth March (District 3)

I crouch beside the cornucopia, my sword lying against my thigh as I stare out into the inky blackness of the encroaching night. Today has been uneventful, to say the least. The four of us have stayed put at this cornucopia, keeping a watch on the supplies.

"Anthem in about an hour," I say to Mahogany (C) as she lines up a shot with her bow. Since the sun went down she's been practicing her aim in the dark, shooting down empty cans with arrows.

"Yeah. I know." She let's loose another arrow, grimacing as it sinks into the side of the can.

"Try not to breathe so much when shooting," I suggest helpfully. "And keep your bracing arm as still as possible."

"I know, I know." Mahogany resumes practicing and I leave her to the work, crossing the brown sugar covered ground to where Amaya (14) sits, staring out at a large backpack on the fringes of the clearing. Earlier today, she took an empty pack and deposited it where it now lies, before making a circle of gasoline around it and leaving a trail leading back to her.

I don't know what exactly she's planning, but she did it with the utmost caution and discreet. Like she didn't want me or Mahogany to know. Idiot. We're all cramped around this small cornucopia, it's impossible to hide something like that from us. Which, is what worries me the most.

Why was she trying to hide it from us? Does she not trust us? Does she intend on betraying us? I always knew that Amaya was close with Aelia, and Aelia always had an inner-circle of friends upon who she would rely. I wouldn't doubt that they have some sort of plan to take out the other, less important, members of our alliance when the time comes. certainly is not the time.

"Oh. Hello, Annabeth." Amaya finally notices me, despite the fact I've been standing beside her for the past two minutes.

"Hey." I nod a greeting as Amaya brushes a strand of blonde hair out from her eyes. I don't see any betrayal there.

"What do you want?" Her tone is cordial, even friendly. But I notice how her eyes flicker to where Amica (14) sits atop the cornucopia, and then to the still practicing Mahogany. Did she think we were going to betray her?

"Can't an ally issue a greeting?" My gaze shifts to the forest, where other tributes surely dwell. I wonder how many of them have spied on us from its cover.

"Of course an ally could. But you didn't greet, I did. You just stood over my shoulder creepily."

I cluck my tongue in annoyance. Perceptive, she is. Which means that she could have a hidden agenda indeed. "Hmm. Weird."

"What's weird?" Her brow furls in confusion as I take exaggerated sniffs of the air.

"I smell gasoline. It's almost as if someone made a trap without telling me." I enjoy the look of sheer surprise that spreads along her face. She was very confident in her ability to cover it up.

"I-I wasn't making it for you!" I don't know whether she's searching for an excuse or telling the truth. "It was for anyone who'd try to steal from us!"

"Of course it was." She'd never set such an obvious trap for Mahogany and I. She'd make that one much more devious. "But I found it odd how you didn't tell me." Or Mahogany.

Her mouth opens and closes as she turns away, shrugging. "I didn't think you'd be interested."

"Oh, I'm definitely interested in someone laying a trail of gasoline around our camp." I can tell that she didn't see the possible repercussions of this decision. "What if the fire got out of hand? Or if the gasoline was spread onto us? You'd cripple your own alliance!"

"Sorry." Another shrug of her shoulders.

"You should have told us, Amaya." I don't want to sound too much like an overbearing parent, but I have to let her know how things work. "Because when you try to hide things, especially things concerning gasoline, your allies could get justifiably miffed." And think that you're either insane or plotting their demise.

"Sorry." Still a one word answer. I just sigh, realizing that I don't have much more to say to her. I stand, and give the despondent girl one last word of advice.

"Think before acting next time, Amaya. I know it's a new concept to you, but it's for the good of the entire alliance."

Solar Energy (District 0)

The thickening fog drifts over the headstones, clouding my long-range vision and making everything difficult to see. I would feel uncomfortable, if I didn't have this tablet. With this beautiful, useful tablet, I've managed to keep track of each and every tribute as they moved throughout the arena. I witnessed one pack of Careers hunt Wocky (7) down as he fled for his life, saw the dots moving through the forest as they fled from the fire--indicated on the tablet by a giant red wave--that never quite reached the cemetery. About a mile and a half away, there's a gap between the trees that prevented the blaze from spreading any further.

I still see the smoke in the air from the remaining blazing stumps that linger. According to my tablet, a District 7 tribute is the only person to still seek shelter in the pine woods. He was about a half-mile off from the cemetery when I last checked thirty minutes ago. I should check again, make sure that nothing has changed.

I pull the tablet out from my bag, keeping a close eye in the woods as I do so. The brief advertisement plays as the tablet comes to life, and then I see the overhead map of the graveyard.

And the tiny dot that quickly approaches it.

Instincts kick in, I dive behind a nearby tombstone and duck my head just as a figure steps out from the surrounding trees and into the cemetery clearing. I recognize the eye-patched boy almost immediately. Kaneki Urashi, from the Capitol.

I have a decision to make, as Kaneki stops beside one of the tombstones, breathing heavily like he just came off a midnight sprint through the woods. I have a spear. I could try to take the boy out stealthily and steal the pack off his back. Or, I could just slip away further into the cemetery, hope that he doesn't follow along. One choice is far less confrontational, but it may not be the best.

"You sure?"

My thoughts freeze immediately when Kaneki speaks. Does he know I'm here? Or is someone else with him? No. One quick look at the tablet shows that he is alone, but then who is he talking to?

"I'm not doubting you. It's just...okay, okay. I get your point." I cautiously lift my head over the tombstone. Kaneki has his back to me, staring off into open air and talking like there's someone there. Has the kid gone crazy? I wouldn't doubt it. The Hunger Games can do that people. Maybe I should just come out and kill the kid, it would out him out of his misery, if he ia in fact insane. But...

"Huh?" Kaneki's head spins around and I duck my head back behind the tombstone just in time. For some reason, Kaneki has a book clutched close to his chest. "Are you sure, Rufus?"

Rufus? There's no tribute in these Games with that name. The kid has to be talking to himself.

"N-no. I don't want to do that." Kaneki edges away from my position, walking closer to the mausoleum. "I'd rather avoid that, when possible."

I don't know what is going on here. I don't know if he's insane or if I am, but sticking around this kid is a bad idea. Keeping crouched, I back off towards the opposite side of the cemetery just as the Anthem plays over head. I don't bother looking to see who shows up, I already saw their names on the tombstones. Wess Cornstob, Wocky Oak, and Josool Wiranda.

As Kaneki pauses to watch the sky, I use the opportunity to disappear into the midnight darkness.

Josef Wilder (District 8)

I make my move at dawn. I know it as the time when a sentry's spirits are at their lowest ebb, when the first hint of gray in the pre-dawn sky gives a weary guard the impression that daylight is almost here, that the danger is over.

That is false.

I slip out from the back of the cave, a knife gripped tightly in my hands. For hours I have been forced to sit in the dark, silent and immobile. Not because this feeble alliance of three posed any sort of threat--for they do not--but because I had desired to keep myself on the low. I was waiting for these morons to move on from the cave, but they have not. So they shall die.

Marlon (10) sits at the cave entrance, his back to me as he stares out at the sky. I could have killed him with my crossbow easily enough, but that would make far too much noise. I do not wish to wake his allies, one of whom I pass by now. I would kill them both outright, I have no doubt. Yet even a fool may get in a lucky strike. Best not to give them the opportunity at all.

Marlon yawns as I near. His sights are set on the outside, for he does not expect there to be any danger from within. Fool. My footsteps are silent as I creep up behind him, stopping within a fingers length. Only now does he stir, though it is too late.

One hand wraps itself around his mouth, muffling his screams. The other slices the knife across his neck, spilling his blood onto the cavern floor. I hold tight onto his body as he gives off the last seizure of the dead. Then, when he goes still at last, I let him drop into his own pooling blood.

I must go quick now, for the cannons could wake the others. I stealthily pace towards the closest, Ashley (5). The girl is asleep upon a flat rock, wonderfully oblivious to what has just transpired. Again, one hand covers her mouth as the other cuts the throat. And again, no sound is heard. Her death is completely silent .

Boom! Boom!

I curse quietly as the cannons finally go off. The last of the intruders, Amira (9), rolls over into her back, murmuring something in her sleep. I freeze, thinking that she may wake. Yet she does not, and I smile underneath my bandanna. "Too easy."

I wipe my bloodstained knife off on my jacket as I cross the narrow cave over to where Amira lies. As she is the final one, I am not as careful. There is nothing she can do about her fate now.

I hover over her head, purposely positioning myself so that, when she wakes, I am the only thing she will see. "Wake up..." With my left hand, I prod her shoulder as I position the knife against her jugular. When the cold steel touches her flesh, her eyes shoot wide open.

My grey eyes are the first and last thing thing she sees. "You lose."

My knife cuts into her neck before she can even scream.

Day 3/Reunited

Aelia Freedome (District 0)

I'm woken by the sensation of small water droplets splashing onto my nose. Groggy, I look around the misty shipyard as a cold breeze rolls in, causing shivers to race down my back. "Temperature turned quickly," I mutter to myself and wrap my arms around myself. Anissa (1) is still asleep underneath the deck of the ship. I was supposed to be standing guard, and it reflects poorly that I had fallen asleep. Not that I blame myself. I was up all night going back and forth with what we should do today.

And I don't think Anissa will like what I decided.

"Anissa?" I call softly down into the ship's hold, catching some of the drizzling rain on my tongue. That's one good thing about this rain. We now have drinkable water.

"Uh. Aelia?" A sleepy head pokes out, staring at me with cloudy eyes. "What's happening? Are we under attack?" Her weapon appears in her hand as she tries to rush out of the hold, slipping on the slick deck and nearly falling off the ship.

"Calm down, Anissa!" I wave her fervor away, telling her that it's just time to plan our day. She eyes me for a moment and then gives a swift nod.

"Right. Off to the city." She turns to approach the looming buildings that are only a few feet away. Last night we heard some strange howling and opted to stay outside it's boundaries until the sun rose. I suppose that it has now risen, though I can't see it behind the puffy gray clouds that fill the sky.

"Actually..." I'm a little nervous telling Anissa this, especially after all of the discussions we've already had over the subject. "I thought that we should follow Ganta."

An awkward silence, broken only by the plopping of the rain drops hitting the water.

"You're kidding?" Anissa doesn't even look at me.

"I, no. I'm not." This is going to be a hard pitch, and I should have spoken up last night, before Ganta left. But I myself hadn't decided until just now. "We need supplies. We don't even have any food or water left!" I show her my backpack, which holds nothing but a few medical supplies. "We won't last long without those crucial elements."

Anissa clenches her jaw and places a hand upon the temple of her head, where a vein seems about to pop. "Aelia," She says the word with as much force as humanly possible. "How many times have we talked about this?"

"I know that the discussion annoys you--"

"Annoy is putting it mildly. Very mildly." Anissa keeps her voice low, but with her, that's worse then shouting. She so like the idea at all, not even when I point out that we'd die before finding our other allies. I might have to make something up.

"Amaya and Amica will come find us," I say, noticing how quickly Anissa turns when those names are mentioned.

"How do you know?" Her eyes study my face, looking for deception. Luckily for me, I'm use to hiding the truth

"We spoke about it before the Games began," I'm lying. We never suspected that we wouldn't be all together in the arena. "And besides, we're looking for them, right? So they're definitely searching for us." That part makes sense. It might actually be true.

Anissa sighs loudly, placing her hands atop her head as she stares out into the dark and dreary city. She's thinking of all the danger that could be in between us and Amica, and how she'd face that danger without food and water. Anissa is stubborn, but she's not stupid. Or, well, maybe she is. She did believe my lie after all. "What type of items were in the military camp?" She turns back to me with a frown. I tell her quickly, making sure to mention the flare gun.

"It'd make it easier to find Amica," I add as an afterthought.

"Amica could nees our help," Anissa is still staring at the city.

"We couldn't help her if we're dead. Better late then never, right?" I don't know what I'll do if Anissa decides to continue on with her journey. I'd be faced with the prospect of choosing between an ally and a ton of supplies. And I could only bring myself to go with the supplies.

"Fine!" Anissa shakes her massive head in annoyance as she turns away from the city. "We'll go find the military camp and Ganta. That kid better not have squandered those supplies!"

I give a silent breath of relief. I can keep my ally and get some supplies. I knew that I could count on Anissa. "We should set the trap up again, before we leave." I scramble under the ship to retrieve the net and rope.

"What trap?" Anissa sounds confused.

"The one we set up yesterday. Only this time we're going to make it fatal."

Amaya Lovelace (District 14)

The drizzling rain that first appeared in the western sky has reached the candy land. It drops down upon the golden cornucopia with a rhythmic Plop! Plop! Plop!. It gives background noise as I quietly fill my pack with leftover supplies, taking care to bring a lot of water. For who knows how long this rain will last?

I'd rather not desert my allies, but they have shown that they don't trust me. And I can't stay around people that don't trust me, not when I have actual friends out in the arena. People like Aelia (0) and Ganta (12).

With my pack over my shoulder, I glance inside of the cornucopia, where three shapes lie. I regret not taking Amica (14) with me, but it has to be done. The journey across the arena will be hard and fraught with danger, danger that I won't let Amica face. I will not be responsible for any more needless death.

I'm sure that if I run into Anissa (1) she'll be angry that I left Amica, but in reality, she's in a better situation here then she is with me. The cornucopia still holds a plentiful bounty of supplies, and Mahogany (C) and Annabeth (3) are actually very powerful allies. Especially when they don't distrust her like they do me.

The sun has appeared in the eastern sky, just barely shining through the cracks in the clouds. I should go, before the others wake.

I dart around the edge of the cornucopia, heading west to the desert that lies in the distance. It will be a hard trek, but with all the supplies that I have--

Something hard smacks me in the side of the head, dropping me hard to the rain-slick grass. A boot steps onto my fallen spear has a hand pulls the pack from my back. "I knew you couldn't be trusted."


Her cold blue eyes regard me with a cautious fury, her blonde hair tied up behind her head glints in the morning sun as she drops the pack behind her. "You don't think much of me, do you?"

"Annabeth! It's not what you think--" I try, but she cuts me off with a glare.

"Oh, I know it's exactly what I think. You're betraying us, Amaya." I notice the sharpened steel sword on her hand, the pommel of which she used to strike me in my still throbbing head. "Why else pack a bag full of supplies and try to leave with us all asleep?"

"You're right, I was leaving. But I didn't betray you, I hadn't--"

"Stop lying, Amaya. I'm not stupid." Annabeth cuts me off again, and I feel a real fear that she's just going to kill me, right here and now. I should be able to come up with a plan, say something to defuse her, but my head is still ringing from that hit and I barely even think. "What else did you do? Poison our food?"

"No! I'd never harm you!" It's the truth. I never, ever even thought of killing Mahogany or Annabeth. I don't trust them, but I'd never want any harm to befall them.

"Sure. Sure." Annabeth is shaking her head as she presses the tip of her sword against my throat. I daren't even breath "Yesterday, when you left that gasoline trap, I didn't think that you were going to kill me, but maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was designed to kill me or Mahogany. Maybe you'd then pass it off as an accident and kill the other later, when they weren't expecting it." Her accusations cut into me like a knife, hurting me in a way I didn't expect.

"Annabeth, please! I'd never betray my friends! I'm not like that! I don't betray people!" I'm crying, tears running down my face. Annabeth doesn't care, she just snorts derisively.

"Stop crying and own up to your actions. You tried to kill us and failed. Then you tried to run but failed. Now you will pay for your actions!"


A shape lunges out from the darkness. Annabeth wheels around, slashing the sword through the air. Blood flies splattering my face as a body drops beside me, Golden eyes wide open as she coughs and hacks, a long, deep gash cut across her chest.


"No...No. Please. No." I pull myself aside my closest friend, save Aelia, as the life slowly drains from her body. I rip cloth from my shirt, pressing it against her wound in a desperate bid to stop the blood flow. "Don't die, Amica! You can't die!"

"Ama...ya..." Her body shudders from the effort to speak, blood trickles from her mouth as her eyes find mine. "Tell...Anissa...I'"

Her small, fragile body stiffens. Her hypnotic golden eyes glaze over, forever staring into my own. Poor, innocent little Amica is dead.

And it's all my fault.

Hysterics overtake me. I fall backwards, screaming and crying as my own bloody hands beat against my chest. Why does everyone I care about die? Why? I'm shaking with tears, tears full of shame and regret. Amica didn't deserve this. She didn't do anything wrong. She never hurt anyone. And yet, she died. All for some freaks entertainment.

"You brought this onto yourself, Amaya." Annabeth still stands over me. Her heartless cold eyes stare into my soul as she holds the sword stained with Amica's blood. "You did this."

I rise. Hands shaking, body trembling. I blame myself, for my own actions. But I did not place that sword into Amica, Annabeth did. My grief turns to anger, to hatred. Annabeth stares into my eyes, unafraid of the fire she sees burning there.

"You killed her." My voice is quiet, building up into the rage that consumes me. "You just killed an innocent girl! How can you live with yourself?!"

Annabeth's eyes show emotion, feelings that have long been dormant. "It's what we must do, Amaya. We must do whatever it takes to survive. Even kill those who don't deserve to die."

"You're a monster." In a world of killers, it takes more to be kind then cruel. Amica was kind. Annabeth is cruel. She's rationalizing her murder and I can't even see straight anymore. I pull a dagger from my belt, not even thinking. Unable to think. A ringing fills my ears. "You killed her!"

I see myself lunge. I see myself dodge Annabeth's sword, see myself tackle her to the dew laden grass and proceed to stab her in the chest, over and over and over. It's not like I'm even in my body anymore as I repeatedly plunge my dagger into her chest. Her gasps have long faded, her screams of pain disappearing into the sky, yet I continue. Her blood covers me, from face to knees as I work, urged on by a strange whispering. It's not until another person steps out from the cornucopia, do I stop.

Mahogany gasps in horror at the sight before her: Amica and Annabeth dead on the grass, the latter almost completely disemboweled. Her red eyes take in the horrendous scene, finally coming to a rest upon me. I know what she thinks. I'm covered head-to-toe in the blood of both Amica and Annabeth, a dagger in hand. What else could she possibly think happened?

"Amaya...What have you done?"

I don't know how to answer that. Only now has the ringing in my head stopped, only now can I truly try and think. "I.." I trail off, looking at the blood that covers my hands, at the pool of blood beneath me. What did I do to Annabeth?

Boom! Boom!

"Amaya..." Mahogany can't even finish her sentence. She doesn't need to. The disgust in her eyes when she looks at me says everything.

"Mahogany." I stand, grabbing the bloody backpack that Annabeth had taken from me. If only I had been more careful, then this all could have been avoided. "I'm leaving. Don't try to follow me. Please."

I turn and run, not even waiting for an answer. Mahogany screams after me, but I'm already twenty yards away and moving fast. Tears still stream down my face, and I feel a burning shame for how I killed Annabeth.

But I don't look back.

Seth Rollins (District 5)

The sound of cannons ringing through the sky wake me from my sleep, shaking me out of the silent stupor and into a state of panic.

Beside me, Todd (0) lies flat on his back, fast asleep. The rest of the shrine is empty. Where are Dean (14) and Luxray (14)?

I bolt up upright, truly worried now. Dean missing is a bad sign, a very bad sign. "Todd!" I call for him instinctively, not even remembering the plan I had cooked up last night.

"Whazzit?" He raises his head slowly, eyes cloudy with sleep taking in his surroundings. They finally come to focus on me. "Seth? What happened?"

"Dean and Luxray! They're gone!"

The tiredness in his eyes vanish immediately. He leaps to his feet, spinning around like a madman. "Gone? What do you mean "gone"?"

"I mean they're gone!" I gesture my hands at the empty shrine, where the charred remains of our supplies still smoke, but no other tributes lie.

"Did they leave us?" I see suspicion in his eyes when he looks back at me. Does he truly think that I somehow managed to kill the both of them without waking him? No. He's not that stupid. But he might think that I had a hand in their leaving.

"I think so, I mean, they were gone when I woke!" I'm not sure what to think of their disappearance. Dean is mad. He's a lunatic. I wouldn't put it past him to come back and try to slice our throats while we were sleeping. Luxray, on the other hand, I have no idea what his deal is.

Todd asks what woke me, and I tell him about the two cannons. He nods slowly, looking around at the burnt remains of the forest, but still keeping a close watch on me. Maybe he knew what I had planned for this day, before this incident.

"They could have died," He mumbles to himself as glances towards the sky. "But I don't know how we wouldn't have been effected."

"Who was on last watch again?" I don't pay attention to that kind of stuff. Not my style.

Todd answers immediately. He must have been thinking on it already. "Dean. Meaning he had to have left first."

"Unless they left together." I don't know why I say it. I just don't trust either of them. I don't trust anyone, actually. Because they're all just waiting to screw you over. Like I am.

"Dean doesn't seem like the kind of guy to trust others," Todd grunts. Of course not. But I never said that he'd have trusted Luxray, just used him. "But I don't think we'll ever realize what happened to them. So, we shouldn't try to worry about it. We need to find Elvis and the others."

Todd turns and heads for the edge of the shrine. Instinctively, my hand goes for the dagger on my belt. I was meant to take out one of my allies and go to Elvis myself,but with Dean and Luxray gone...

I'll do it anyway. It'd make sense to Elvis that the traitors would have killed someone before leaving, and it'd also make sense for me to survive. Sorry Todd, but you're gonna die! Heh Heh!

I travel after Todd, my hand resting on the hilt of the dagger. I'm only a few paces behind him when he suddenly spins around, machete in hand.

I squeal and fall backwards. He knows! He knows!

"You comin', Seth?" Todd arches his eyebrows questionably at me. His dark brown eyes seem to stare into my mind as he hold the machete that slightly wavers in the wind. I don't answer right away. I see the intelligence in his eyes, see that he knows what I was planning. But...

He is not going to kill me. I don't know why, but he's not. At least, not right now. "I, uh, yeah. Lead on." I get back on my feet, not liking how he got the jump on me. Trying to get my confident presence back, I shake my head and place myself in front of him. "I just tripped, that's all."

I don't like the knowing smirk that crosses his face. "I'm sure you did. So, maybe you should walk up front, make sure it doesn't happen again."

He's securing his own safety. By placing me ahead of him, he ensuring that he'll be able to keep an eye in me, ensure that I don't have an opportunity to shiv him from behind. Damn. He's smarter than I gave him credit for. "Fine." I walk ahead of him, keeping my hand atop the dagger. I don't trust him enough not to try and pull my tactic, though, he isn't exactly the stealthy type. Too big and clumsy for that.

"Good. Then let's go find Elvis."

Aisha Hakeem (District 8)

I've been awake all night. Lying on my back, staring into the sky and trying to think of my next move. My allies don't trust me. I saw the disgust in their eyes when I finished off Josool, saw the fear that they possess. They could be planning my death right now.

I roll over on my side, watching the fronds that grow close to the oasis pond, where Freya (8) and Annabelle (11) sleep. Those two wouldn't try to kill me, if only because they don't have any weapons capable of it. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't try to convince Ellis (10) to do it.


The girl lies asleep away from the rest of us, leaning back against a palm tree and snoring softly. She insulted my heritage yesterday, insulted me like how Colin's dad always did. I hate her. I didn't realize it at first, but I do. She's always so mocking, so callous. She doesn't care a lick about anyone save for herself. She's dangerous. Too dangerous

I don't make any noise as I rise from the cool sand, not yet heated by the yet-to-rise sun. Freya is close by, and I carefully pick up a slender stick before kneeling beside her.

She murmurs in her sleep, clutching the thin form of her blowgun close to her heart. Taking care not to breath, I slowly pry the object from her fingers and quickly replace it with the stick. She mutters something about someone named Cashmere and then rolls over.

"Praise Allah."

I stick the weapon into my pocket and collect the handful of darts Freya kept on her belt. Every few seconds I throw a glance at the others to ensure that they're still asleep.

So far so good. But now comes the difficult part.

Ellis' arms are wrapped around her spear, even in sleep. For a moment, I debate whether I should try to pry it from her before doing what I must.

I eventually decide that it's not worth risking waking her or the others. The cannon will do that anyway.

I'm not a monster. I tell myself what I know to be true as I take aim with my hatchet, squaring up Ellis' beanie hatted head. I'm doing what I must. I'm avenging Colin.

I'm just doing what I must.

I swing. Ellis' skull splits like an egg, eschewing blood, brain tissue, and fragments of bone. I try not to scream at the stench, at the horrible, unforgettable sight of my one time ally dying without a sound as she slides to the now filthy sand.

I glance behind me. The others didn't wake. I wonder what they will think happened, with both Ellis and I gone. Maybe they'll think we ran off. Maybe they'll think we died. Who knows? Who cares? They don't matter anymore. No one does.

With Ellis' objects now in my pack, I run off into the desert as a cannon finally goes off. Boom!

Wolbert Toonico (District 6)

When I wake in the morning, Frade (7) is gone. "Don't worry about it," Blade (6) tells me when I question his disappearance. "He always does things like this. He'll be back soon enough."

That doesn't exactly reassure me, but I trust Blade to know his brother well enough for him not to come back and murder us.

"Think Shade and the others are close by?" I ask Blade as we begin our descent from the lookout tower. We have to be careful not to slip, the rain has picked up the pace and is now coming down pretty fast.

"Maybe." Blade's voice comes from where he has finally reached the bottom rung. "But if he's not, we'll still find him."

We don't say anymore as join him at the bottom of the ladder. Wind whips the hurtling rain into our faces, drenching our clothes and causing me to throw the hood of my jacket over my head. "Which way now?"

Blade leads us into the jungle, which offers at least somewhat protection from the downpour that has enveloped us. "If anyone needed water, they now have it," I grumble as my boots sink into a particularly muddy patch of dirt.

Blade laughs. "Yeah. Kinda sucks, actually. Now no one will die from dehydration."

It's a weird thing to be agreeing to, but I find myself doing just that. As cruel as it is, the more people that die, the better it is for us.

Blade continues to lead the way, a tad bit quieter now. Thinking about all the kid's who will die, and, according to the amount of cannons, kids who have just died, makes everything more somber then it'd otherwise be. Especially when we don't know if any of those cannons were for our allies.

The soaking wet forest seems to expand as we go through it. I recognize a few trees as ones close to the cornucopia, so Blade leads us away from them. A run in with the Careers is the last thing we want. I do, however, make note that we must be close to the center of the island. I suggest that we head south, to the bridge that leads to the shipyard and the city. Shade isn't on the islands, otherwise we would have seen him already.

"Righto. So let's get cracking!" Blade is about to set off again, when I think of something.

"What about Frade? How will he find us?"

Blade just grins. "Don't worry. I left him a hidden message. Not that he'll need it. I have a feeling that we'll run into him before long."

Elvis Alexander (District 1)

I lead my army down a series of dark and twisting alleyways. Few words are spoken as we track our quarry: Chloe Black and her plaything, Trident Bekke. We spotted the two of them crossing a road from about three blocks away. It was Olympic (C) who first spotted them, giving out a warning shout. He has become a decent soldier. Perhaps I should reconsider my plans for him.


Cullinan (1) wheels to a halt, heels stirring up a small puddle created by the falling rain. Beside him, Jake (1) pulls a bow up as a shape comes hurtling out from the alley.

"Guys! It's me, Luxray!"

The tall, dark haired youth raises his hands, flashing us a disarming grin. My foolish soldiers all lower their weapons, taking the previous of a previous ally as a signal that the danger is over. It's not.

"Oh? And where are the others?" I look him over with a critical gaze, trying to judge his intentions. It is entirely possible that Chloe has already gotten to him and is simply trying to use him to catch me off guard. Ha! Like I'd ever be caught off my guard!

Luxray (14) wipes his nose off on his sleeve. "Seth deserted our alliance in the morning. Poisoned our food and left. Dean is gone, too. I think Seth murdered Todd." I share a surprised look with Cullinan. Apparently, Luxray actually was with the other Careers. And nothing good has happened with them. I'm not too surprised. Without a capable leader, even the strongest of alliances will crumble.

Luxray goes on to give a full recap of the events that transpired around his alliance. Luigi and Pansy were both killed in the bloodbath, Dylan burnt their supplies and fled, all the while Seth plotted the downfall of the group. Cullinan and Jake nod and murmur their apologies while he recounts the tale, but I can only grin inside. If Luxray is correct, and I believe he is, then Chloe doesn't have anyone left to help her! Seth and Dean are out there, yes. But according to Luxray, they're both deranged sociopaths who would kill Chloe just as soon as they'd ally with her. There's also Cole and Ryan, but no one has any idea where the hell they are.

"So what now?" Jake asks when our tall ally finishes with his tale.

"We find Chloe and Trident," I say automatically. Idiot. What else would we do?

He frowns. "Yeah, I know. But what if we can't find them? I don't think they're dumb enough to--"

"There! Right there!" Cullinan jumps up and down, pointing one of his disgusting half-hands down the street. Right at the closest intersection, sneaking around the corner, are Chloe and Trident.

"Get them!"

I scream the orders and charge. My army follows. Chloe and Trident both wheel backwards, obviously frightened by my superior strength and numbers. We surge forward, adrenaline from the hunt pumping through us. Chloe leads Trident down a sharp left turn, and the moment I follow, two knives come spinning towards me.

The first hits me right in the chest, but pings off of my vest. The second whips pass my left arm, and slices across Jake's ear. He drops to the cement, howling and clutching his bloodied ear as the rest of us carry on chasing after the duo.

The turn down alleys, make sudden changes onto different streets. All in an effort to try and throw us off their trail. None of it works. I've come too far for me to fail now. Chloe will die. And die quickly.

Finally, they turn down one alley and come face-to-face with a brick half-wall. I almost scream with joy seeing the desperate looks that overcome their faces when they spot the wall. "End of the line!" I shout as my army blocks off the alleyway behind them.

Chloe snarls in rage and flings another knife at me. Once again, it hits my chest and once again, it clinks off. Confusion fills her face as Trident pulls her behind him defensively.

"Let me at them!" Olympic tries to step forward, but I pull him back. I want to see them squirm.

"You lose, Chloe!" I laugh loudly, not worried that she still has two knives in her hands. She's already missed three times. What's two more? "You shouldn't have messed with my empire. Because now you're going to die. Slowly."

Not at my hands, though, I've already promised her to Olympic. Not that I remember what he hated her for. Something I lied about, I think. There's hatred reflected in Chloe's eyes, hatred and rage. But in Trident's, there's genuine fear and worry.

"Chloe!" The boy suddenly drops to his knees, facing the wall. "On my shoulders! Climb over!"

She doesn't waste a second. I scream for someone to stop her, but she's already balancing on Trident's shoulders, and within seconds, leaping over the meter high wall. "No!" smash my fist into a trash can, tipping it over. She got away! How the hell did we allow that to happen?!

A long silence fills the alley way. Trident slowly rises to his feet, holding the weapon that is his namesake. I'm furious. Furious at him, at myself, and at that damned Chloe, who has yet again escaped my clutches. "Luxray." I keep my voice remarkably even, despite how my arms shake with rage. "Kill Trident."

The giant nods, stepping into the alley. The massive morning star he carries is almost the size of Trident's skull alone. The spikes are long and menacing, Trident never takes his gaze off from them. He must know that he is not getting out of this battle alive.

Luxray takes a few more steps forward, closing the distance between them. Trident realizes that he cannot allow that gap to close and darts to the side, pressing his back against the side of the alley. "Get him already!" Olympic howls.

Luxray swings the morning star. You would expect the weapon to be slow and ponderous, but no. He swings it with fearsome speed and strength. Trident just barely manages to squirrel his way out from the impact zone and the massive weapon slams into the wall, sending brick chips flying every which way.

Trident sees his opportunity and plunges his weapon towards Luxray just as the monstrous boy teeters unevenly from the blow. But Luxray is faster then you'd think, and he easily dodges the strike. Unfortunately, he also loses his weapon. A grin forms on Trident's face when he sees this, lounging forward with his weapon yet again.

This time, Luxray hits him in the jaw with a massive uppercut.

My army goes wild with cheers, even Jake, who has caught back up with us. Trident lies sprawled on the ground, arms outstretched. Luxray glances back at me.

"Finish him off," I say with a grin. "He's yours."

With a nod, he takes a knife from his belt and lifts its over the fallen boy. But before he can finish, Trident springs his trap.

His right hand grabs the lid of the fallen trash can, the one I tipped over, and smashes it down onto Luxray's lowered head. The giant stumbles, eyes rolling up into the back of his head. Then he goes crashing to the ground.

Cullinan and Jake scatter to avoid being crushed by the fallen boy. I'm gaping in shock at Trident, who has regained his feet, when Olympic charges forward. He slams his shoulder into the boy's gut and drives him against the alley wall. Trident's head smashes off of the wall like a ping-pong ball and then Olympic takes his machete and drives it into his chest.




Trident gasps and shudders at the shock of the blows. Blood streams down his mouth as Olympic rips the blade free, and he slides to the ground. Eyes unfocused and blurry, Trident looks to the sky and utters his last word. "Chloe..."


I grimace as the rain starts to pick up. Olympic steps away from the traitors body, a smug look on his face. Cullinan is checking on Luxray. "What now?" Jake asks.

Good question. We could continue to pursue Chloe, yet I can hardly see the need. She's lost majority of her supplies, lost Trident, and doesn't have any chance of gaining new allies. What harm could she possibly pose to us now? Better to focus our strength upon actual threats then waste time and energy on hunting her down. "We head back to the cornucopia," I finally decide. "Restock and resupply. We need to be at full strength."

"Cool!" Jake seems happy with the decision. Olympic just grunts.

"What about Luxray?" Cullinan asks, gesturing at the boy. He lies unconscious on the ground, rain splattering onto his face. He doesn't look so tough now, though I know we'll still need him.

"I don't know. Roll him into a puddle or something. We need him awake." Jake and Cullinan rush to do my bidding as I watch a hovercraft materialize in the air. A claw reaches down to retrieve Trident and take him to who knows where. It's not my concern.

My only concern is killing as much tributes as possible.

Carmine Morrisa (District 2)

"You really think this is a bright idea?" The cornucopia is deserted as we stare up at it, rain falling down onto our heads as we wait. Ena (2) nods, tying her hair up behind her head.

"I don't see any Careers. Do you?" She finishes with her hair and grabs a bow, carefully loading an arrow into it.

"No. But that doesn't mean they're not there." I love fighting and deception more than anyone, but I know when to be careful. The Careers aren't as stupid as Ena believes they are. "They wouldn't have just left their supplies unguarded."

"Maybe." I can tell that Ena isn't convinced by my argument. It's times like this--and every other time--when I miss Anais. She was so much smarter than me, always knowing what to do and when to do it. She'd know what was wrong with this situation and already have a plan to avoid it. Instead, I'm stuck with Ena. A poor man's version of Anais, at best.

Ena lies the plan out, and while it's very simple, I cannot dispel the nagging feeling that we're missing something. "I'll approach the cornucopia," She tells me as we circle around the cornucopia one last time. The rain hasn't let up, in fact, it keeps growing stronger. "And you will stay back and guard. If you see anyone, yell out."

"Whatever." My mind isn't on the plan. I'm thinking of Anais, and how she must be watching this on television right now. Probably yelling advice, though I can't hear it.

Ena nods and then heads out for the cornucopia. She doesn't make any fuss about it, heading right towards the hill. She's reached the base when something indents beneath her foot. A brief frown crosses her face as she looks down.

And then the earth explodes beneath her feet.

The force of the blast sends me flying backwards. The water-slick grass does little to cushion me as I slam into the ground, smashing down shoulder first. The trunks of the trees tremble from the after-shock of the explosion, but I can't hear anything except the ringing of sterocilia.

I manage to use one hand to shield myself from the matter that comes from the sky. It's wet and moist, not water, but blood. Ena's blood.

Something round and hairy comes sliding down the hill, leaving the a trail of blood along the grass. I can't really see, but I think it's her head. I don't see the rest of her. Either it's been blown to bits or blasted away. I don't know. But my only remaining ally is dead, and the Careers must have been alerted by the blast, if not everyone else in the area.

Getting back to my feet is difficult. The world is spinning and my ears are still shrieking. The rain seems to be coming from every direction at once, hitting me on all sides. I pick my mace back up and struggle through the slick mud towards the forest. Only when I reach its sheltering trees do I realise that I don't even know what blew Ena up.

A land mine? Something else? I didn't have time to check, and I don't have any now. I continue through the woods, my hearing gradually returning. The pitter-patter of the rain hitting the treetops is the first sign that I've recovered, the second is the blast of the cannon that signals Ena's death. Boom!

I slip and fall against a large tree's twisting roots, lying in the cold mud that makes its home there. Damn, damn, and damn! Today has been a complete and utter failure, and its not even midday! It reminds me of my last Games, the day that I died. Everything went to hell the moment we decided to enter that tunnel. In the same way, everything went wrong when we approached the cornucopia.

This line of thinking brings me back to the Careers. Did they set up that mine? And was it an isolated issue or were there more lined around the cornucopia? Have they planted them all around the arena? If so...Lucky bastards. They already have superior arms and numbers, they don't need the technology and lethality of the mines as well! And all I have is this stupid mace.

For a brief moment, I consider heading back and trying to salvage something like Ena and I originally intended. This thought doesn't last long. The Careers or some other eager hunters should have been brought in by the explosion, ready to pick off any stragglers or weaklings left wounded by the blast. If Ena hadn't need killed, I'd put us in the trees and have her take a few out with her arrows, but as luck would have it, she got herself blown to smithereens. "Stupid girl." I mutter to myself and shake my soaking wet head. First Zoey, then Josool, and now Ena. I don't know why I allied with them. They were all worthless.

I'm on my own now, and its going to be for the best. No one can drag me down, no one will prohibit me from showing my true potential. No one can stop me from being a Daughter of Darkness.

Kennedy Marks (District 6)

"It seems as if everyone in the Game's always sneaks around the cornucopia." My remark comes as Doug (13) and Jenessa (13) slowly circle the sugar forest that borders the clearing that leads up to the golden horn.

"That's because the cornucopia holds the key to winning this game," Jenessa responds as she crouches down and picks up a handful of brown sugar, running it through her fingers.

"It's not the cornucopia we're after though," Doug points his machete at the plates that brought us tributes into the arena. "It's the mines."

"Do you have a plan to distract the guard?" I reference Mahogany (C), who sits atop a crate with a bow in hand, staring despondently at the floor. She seems to be depressed or something, but I'm sure that won't stop her from attempting to kill us when we try to steal those mines.

"Not a plan, exactly." Doug waves us on as we continue to circle the cornucopia. We come to a stop at the back side of it, where Mahogany can't see us. "But you'll keep watch while Jenessa and I dig up the mines."

I bite my lip. He looks so expectantly at me, like he knows that he can trust me. I feel bad, because I have never trusted him. It was always Camiren (8) and Amethystia (7) who I was close with. I don't know what I did to gain these kids trust, or if I even deserve it.

"Whistle if you see anyone coming," Jenessa tells me as her and Doug gather their items. "And we'll skedaddle right outta there."

I nod, watching them race across the open ground towards the first platform. Trepidation fills my bones, and I find it hard to breath. I try to think of Jamieson to give me strength, but I can only think of the brutal way he died. The thought of me dying in a similar way frightens me worse then anything else. I don't want to fail him.

Minutes pass. Doug and Jenessa unearth the first mine and place it into Doug's backpack. I keep an uneasy watch on Mahogany, who has barely moved since we first came. I don't know what happened to her allies, but it must have been terrible for her to be acting like this.

Two more mines are recovered. I begin to pace in an effort to comfort myself. It doesn't work. Too many thoughts are running through my head. What happens if Mahogany comes around the cornucopia? If Careers come? If a mutt attacks? If I'm ambushed from behind?

I spin around in fear. There's nothing behind me. Just narrow trees and lollipops. I smack my head. "Stupid Kennedy. Don't rile yourself up!"

More mines are taken back. I think they have about six now. Or was it five? I don't remember. Mahogany rises from her stool, scaring me silly. I slip and fall in the slippery floor, quickly rising and giving off a whistle.

Or not.

I forgot to mention that I don't know how to whistle. Panic flares in my chest as I desperately attempt to whistle, failing each and every time. Doug and Jenessa are in the middle of digging up another mine as Mahogany rounds the cornucopia.

She gives an alarmed shout when she spots them. Jenessa's eyes widen in shock and stumbles backwards. Doug is the first to react with sense. He grabs Jenessa by the arm, pulling her with as he goes running for the forest. Their boots sink in the rain softened grass, slowing them as Mahogany pulls her bow up and fires off an arrow.

I scream and break my cover in the woods as the arrow flies through the air towards my allies. It hits Jenessa from behind before I can reach them. She slips and falls to the ground, screaming in pain as the weapon rips into her shoulder. Doug lifts her up just as I join them. Another arrow sails far overhead.

"Help me carry her to the woods!" Doug strains with the effort of pulling Jenessa along. She's coherent, though, and helps with moving by using her legs and keeping most of her weight off the ground.

"I'm so sorry! I didn't know how to whistle, and--"

"No time!" Doug cuts me off with a shout and slings one of Jenessa's arms over my shoulder as another one of Mahogany's arrows fly past our heads. "Get going!"

Doug drives us along, occasionally slipping on the soggy grass. Mahogany shouts at us and fires a few more arrows, but each one misses its mark. When we reach the tree line, her last one digs into the trunk of a tree not more than a foot from my head.

I yelp in fear and nearly trip, but Doug drags me, along with Jenessa, further into the cover of the forest. I don't know where he finds the strength or resolve to continue on. "Don't stop until we're far away!"

We continue along, leaving the cornucopia far behind. With each passing second my fear gradually begins to subside as I realise that Mahogany wouldn't risk chasing us into the woods. We're safe.

It's then when our feet hit a stump, tripping us up and sending us barreling down a small hill. Jenessa helps in pain as the arrow embedded in her shoulder snaps off and discharges. I land face first in a pile of mud, except, it's not mud. It's chocolate that has been drenched with rain. It tastes awful.

"Is everyone okay?" Doug sits up, his dark yellow jacket smeared with chocolate and other candies.

"I-I think so," I shakily use my hands to get into a sitting position.

"My shoulder is bleeding, but I should be alright." Jenessa flashes a brief smile before gritting her teeth together in pain. I can't properly see her wound through the falling rain, but it doesn't look too serious.

"Let me check that."

Doug goes over the wound as I crawl out from the muddy pit where I lie and find drier ground underneath a jelly bear tree. The large leaves at the tip offer plenty of protection from the rushing rain. I'm exhausted. The worry and fear from our operation has left me emotionally and physically empty. I know it shouldn't have, but it was my first real dangerous encounter in the Games. Doug and Jenessa have experienced this all before, the closest I've come was watching Jamieson on television. That isn't anything like feeling it first hand.

"How many mines did you get?" The question pops into my mind. I'd like to think that trip wasn't worthless.

Doug pauses before answering, probably thinking. "Five," He finally says. "Jenessa dropped the sixth when the arrow struck her."

"I tried not to, but..." Jenessa trails off.

"It's fine," Doug pats her on the head with a reassuring smile. "Five is enough for now. I don't expect the cornucopia to be well-guarded for much longer anyways. We should have plenty of time to get more."

I don't want to get more. I don't want to encounter any more tributes, or fight in any battles. I don't want to kill or be killed, I don't want to run for my life. I don't want to be in this stupid arena.

But what does it matter what I want?

Julian Veritas (District 13)

We're safe inside the pyramid. There's only one entrance, and its easily guarded. All you have to do is place Johnathan (5) at the end of the long, narrow tunnel and use him as a blockade. No one would be able to outnumber him, because you can only come one at a time. It's the perfect strategic position.

And Banette is having us leave it.

"We need to get to the city," He told us when I woke up this morning. "It's the place we should go." He didn't say why, but he explained how we would travel in a formation that could best protect us. Johnathan was all for the idea, but Harvest (9) and I have our doubts.

"Why do we need to move?" He mutters as we sit in the back corner of the musty pyramid, where the hieroglyphs mark the ancient walls. "Don't we have a good place here?"

"Yeah, I know." I pack my own satchel, as we're meant to be doing. Honestly, I don't have all that much stuff to carry. "This place is perfect for defending."

"I agree. Moving is stupid." Harvest shakes his head in annoyance. "Especially with you still on the mend."

My leg, which was cut open by Pansy in the bloodbath, has been healing nicely since we gained those supplies from the cornucopia yesterday. I swallowed some painkillers, got my leg ointment-ed, and even had it sewed shut with the help of Banette's needle skills. He's such a useful ally and good friend, it's why I have a hard time disagreeing with his idea of constant movement. "I'm doing better," I tell Harvest now. "Thanks to Banette."

Harvest scratches his ear. "Yeah, but we don't really wanna risk reopening it. do we?"

"Good point." I'd rather not walk through the arena full of kids bent of murderlizing me. But I'm not the leader. "But we should do as Banette says. He did compete in the Games before."

"I guess," Harvest doesn't seem too sure of the idea. His brown eyes stay focused on Banette and Johnathan, where the two talk about general strategy. "It does beat getting killed by my grandparents, I can say that!" He grins suddenly, looking to the ceiling of the pyramid. "You hear that Grandma and Grandpa? You can't touch me!" He howls with laughter as Banette and Johnathan look at him like he's crazy. I don't really think over his words. I'm too lost in thinking of my own home.

Jane must be worried sick about me. She's already lost so much of her family...If I were to die...she'd have nothing left. At moments like now, it's impossible not to think of Jolene and how she died. How I couldn't protect her when she needed me most. Tears begin to build in my eyes just thinking about her, but I blink them back. I need to be strong now. For her sake and mine.

"Yo. Don't worry man," Harvest nudges my elbow, obviously seeing the distress on my face. "Everything will be fine. Johnathan will protect us. He's unstoppable!"

"Thanks." I don't bother telling him the real reason I'm so upset. As good of a friend he is, sometimes you have to carry your sorrows on your own.

"You two ready yet?" Banette calls for us from the entrance of the pyramid, his hands playing with the straps of his backpack.

I share a glance with Harvest and nod. "Yeah. We're good to go."


Banette turns to leave when a ebony-haired girl suddenly appears in the tunnel entrance. I scream, Harvest yelps and darts for cover, and Banette starts in shock as Johnathan let's out a cheerful shout.


The girl smiles and Johnathan pulls her into a hug. I'm confused. Do they know each other?

"Aisha." Banette doesn't sound nearly as enthusiastic as Johnathan. His pink eyes regard the girl with the same wariness a cat would watch dog. "Why are you here?"

The girl, Aisha I guess, disengages from Johnathan and returns Banette's stare. I get my first real look at her, and she's pretty, in an exotic way. Long ebony hair, big brown eyes, and a copper skin tone makes up the girl that's roughly as tall as Banette is. "I was looking for an alliance," She speaks plainly, but sounds exhausted, like she's been running hard. "And I remembered that I had some old friends in the arena."

Confused, I'm about to ask a question when Harvest leans in to whisper. "398th Games. Aisha and Banette were District partners. Johnathan allied with both, though, it's more complicated then it sounds."

"Oh." I watch the awkward conversation now, wondering how I forgot all of that.

"I still remember the last time you needed help, Aisha." Banette doesn't sound too friendly as he stares at the girl, his gloved hand fingering his belt. "Didn't exactly work out for us. Did it?"

"That was a mistake. Johnathan was never meant to die," Aisha looks rather sheepish as she turns to the big guy now. He gives a friendly smile and nods.

"It worked out for us."

Banette snorts. "Really? Because Shuppet, Aisha, and myself all wound up dead and that asshole Buck won the Games. I wouldn't call that "working out for us"."

"I'm not asking for you to attack anyone this time," Aisha says quickly. "I just want to join up with you."

"Sure, sure. Whatever." Banette still sneers his words, but he lifts his hand off from his belt. "But Johnathan and I aren't the only members of this alliance. Ask Julian and Harvest if they want you." He inclines his head at us and the girl turns her luminous eyes on us for the first time.

I duck my head shyly as Harvest waves and grins. "I'm Harvest! And this is Julian!" He pats my back and I grunt in surprise.

"Y-yeah. I'm Julian..." I'm not good at meeting new people. Never have been.

"Well? What do you two think?" Banette sounds bored. I think he just wants to set off for the city already.

"Hmm." Harvest strokes his chin thoughtfully as he regards Aisha. He's relishing the fact that he finally gets to present his own opinion to the group. "I think that she's a strong fighter, a good person who knows when to fight and when to run away. Trustworthy, but not stupid. In short, I think she'd make a good ally." Wow. More then I could have said. Or even thought of.

Johnathan nods happily at his recommendation. Aisha smiles. Banette just rolls his pink eyes and turns to me. "Julian? Your opinion?"

"Umm..." What do I say? I don't even remember much about her Games, let alone what kind of person she is. I think she might have placed fifth. Or was it fourth?

"Well?" Banette taps his feet impatiently.

I look at Johnathan's encouraging nod and shrug. "What Harvest said...I guess."

Aisha smiles gratefully at me. I just stare at the floor, I feel weird when everyone is staring at me. "Guess you're in then." Banette cracks his knuckles and examines Aisha with a closer look. He pokes the tip of the spear that she holds. "What happened to your other alliance anyway?"

She sighs, running a hand through her hair. "They kinda...split apart, I guess you could say."

Jac Price (District 9)

Our water problems has solved itself with the vast amount of rain that now falls from the sky. Our lack of food has also been solved with the fruit bushes that linger around the waterfall caves. We had to be very careful with those, as back in our first Games poison berries in the same area had killed a tribute. We checked them over well before eating them, waiting until two lizards and a small mammal had eaten them before trying it ourselves.

Not that all of our problems have dissipated. We now have a brand new one: Finding Shelter.

"The Gamemakers are toying with the weather!" Azalea (9) chatters from where she's crouched under a rocky overhang with me. Her hands are wrapped around her body and her head is pressed against my shoulder, seeking warmth.

They are. The islands are supposed to be humid. Hot, sweaty places that slowly drain you of energy. Now, with the freezing rain that falls, it's unreasonably cold. "Trying to pull out some surprises," I say, trying to look past the overhang and into the sky. The rain is falling too fast and hard for me to see anything.

"They must have heard everyone asking for water," Azalea grunts. "And decided to give them more water then they could ever handle." Maybe. I wouldn't put that pass them. Their life's goal is to make us tributes as miserable as possible, after all.

Azalea sighs and shuts her eyes, head still resting on my shoulder. I blink wearily out into the soggy jungle, unable to do anything but wait this blasted weather out. I'm unbearably tired and my mind begins to wander, and I think back to the Reaping, when I saw myself.

Ha. Just thinking it makes me feel crazy, but I know what I saw. I was standing on a building, watching myself, Azalea, and the other District 9 tributes board a train to the Capitol. It just doesn't...doesn't make any sense. Why would that even be a thing? How could that be a thing?

I shake my head. Man, maybe I did just imagine it. Maybe the fear and stress of entering the Games again has gotten into my head. But...

It was real. I know it was.

I watch the jungles, somewhat expecting to see myself emerge from it's depths. This place brings up terrible memories of when Azalea and I were wiped out by a tidal wave and washed into the ocean to drown. Death wasn't thoroughly unpleasant. At least, I don't really remember much of it. Everything about it just seems a bit...cloudy. I don't particularly recall any details, or even what I felt. All my memories seem to be in third person too. Huh. Is that normal? I mean, I don't know. Only a few people have ever been revived. Maybe no one really remembers what it's like...

My eyelids begin to feel so heavy, like stones. I know I shouldn't sleep, not without anyone one watch, but I'm too tired to care. I make a mental note to ask Azalea about the experience just as I drift off to sleep.

Misty Honeysuckle (District 12)

Daisy (11) and Shade (7) don't say anything as we walk through the damp and dreary city. It's a literal rainstorm now, and just seeing ten yards ahead of yourself is a difficult proposition.

"Where are we going?" I almost have to shout to be heard over the sound of the rain smashing into the asphalt.

"Somewhere." Shade's response is almost lost in the whipping wind. Not that there would have been a difference if it was. Somewhere. What a cryptic answer. I don't believe that even Shade knows where we're going. Not a good time for that. The rain has already soaked through my jacket and has begun to seep into my shirt.

Daisy, whose closest to the buildings that tower over us, signals for us to stop as she sidles alongside a building, peering carefully through a window.

"Anything?" Shade asks as the both of us join her along the wall.

She slowly nods. "Someone is in there. Maybe two." Now that she mentions it, I can hear laughing voices over the rainstorm that plagues us.

"My brothers?" Shade reveals what we've been searching for. I should have guessed.

"Impossible to tell. I don't think that--"

Before Daisy can finish, the door to the building swings open and a thin boy steps out. He has messy brown hair and a slight grin that widens further as he spots us. "Misty! Shade! And Daisy!" His hands fly into the air, his voice jovial.

"What?" Shade is confused. I'm not.

"Crimson!" I step forward and hug our ally as Daisy and Shade slowly begin to understand.

"Are my brothers with you?" Is Shade's first question.

"Em, no." Crimson glances back down the street, which is almost incoherent with rain. "But Radiant is."

I smile with relief as Shade and Daisy seem a little confused. Apparently they had forgotten about Radiant as well as Crimson. I wonder if they would have forgotten about me if I wasn't already with them. Probably.

"We should get inside," Crimson ushers our trio into the building and shuts the door behind us. Inside is considerably warmer then out, and is definitely drier. I throw my soaking wet jacket in the corner of the room as Crimson heads down a short hall and takes the first door on the right. "Hey, Radiant! They found us!"

I follow behind the others as we step into a small kitchen. A few countertops and cabinets line the walls, but the most striking feature is the large gas-powered fireplace in the corner. Radiant, shaggy dark hair drooping over his eyes, stands up from where he was stoking the fire and grins at us. "There you lot are! I thought Crimson had gotten himself eaten!"

"Eaten?" I arch my eyebrows in question.

A mischievous grin forms on the large boys face. "I take it you're new to the city?"

"We've been here for a few hours," Shade says as he takes his own jacket off, lying it beside the fireplace. Daisy goes to follow suit, but leaps back in sudden fright. "What the hell is that doing here?!"

The others all crowd around, obstructing my view of the fireplace. I'm short, so short that I can't see over their heads even standing on my tip-toes. "What is it?" I ask and the others move for me to see.

Hanging over the fire, on a large spit, is a large dog-like creature. Metal-like plates protrude from its back and several haunches are missing, like someone has been--I spot the fried meat in Radiant's hand and nearly vomit. "You're eating those things?!" I ask in disgust. I couldn't imagine touching one of them, let alone eating it!

Radiant just shrugs. "After a few days without food you'd eat anything. Crimson had a problem at first, but it really doesn't taste that bad. Kinda like--"

"You better not say chicken," Daisy interrupts.

He smirks. "I was going to say frog, actually."

"You've eaten frogs before?" My stomach is even quasier then it was before.

"Yup. In my first Games. Not the 398th, but the ones before that. Back in--"

"What have you guys been up to since the Games started?" Shade interrupts the story as he sits down on one of the wooden chairs that sit in the kitchen. Daisy sits beside him as Crimson fills the final chair. I just linger in the back of the room, trying to stay as far from that cooking beast as possible.

Radiant sits on the fireplace stones and tells us everything. Apparently he and Crimson were placed in the middle cornucopia, the shrine one that we passed on our way here. The two of them made their way to the city and took shelter in the library after some "Biters" attacked. "A huge roar scared them off this morning though," Radiant says. "Huge, huge beast. Shook the entire city."

"The Annihilator?" I ask, remembering the 398th Games.

"Nah. Sounded bigger. A lot bigger." I don't like the sound of that. The Annihilator was the toughest and strongest mutt I had ever seen. What could possibly be bigger then that?

"So you haven't see a single tribute?" Shade sounds disappointed that they haven't ran into his brothers.

"Well, we saw that kid earlier today," Crimson pipes in. "He was lurking around the library, all creepy like. He ran off as soon as we left."

"Oh, right, right." Radiant frowns, remembering the incident. "We didn't shoot him because we wanted to preserve arrows."

"We only have two left," Crimson adds. "We lost one taking this Biter down." He nods at the cooked beast that fills the kitchen with such an awful stench. Shade frowns, obviously disappointed that his brothers have yet to make an appearance.

"I'm sure we'll find them soon," Daisy rubs his elbow, trying her best to soothe him. "In fact, it could be only minutes from now when we--"

"Yo, yo, yo! It's bumper carnage!"

We all jump out of our skins as two boys burst into the room. Radiant is the only one with enough wherewithal to grab a weapon. Within seconds, he has the tip of his blade pointed at one of the boy's, a tall blond, throat. "Whoa, there!" The guy drops his weapon, a machete, and throws his arms in the air. "Don't you recognize me? I'm--"


Shade hurdles past the guy, rushing for the shorter boy behind him. For a moment, I think that he's going to throttle him, but then when they hug, I remember his brothers. "Wow." Daisy shakes her head at this sudden occurrence. "Wow. I was literally just talking about you, and then you come waltzing in!"

"I wasn't doing any waltzing!" Blade (6) says from behind Shade's hug. "Waltzing is for lamos!"

Everyone but me laughs. This is apparently a happy reunion, all whole alliance is back together again. I seem to be the only one that realizes that there is only one Victor. Everyone else dies. I wonder how they can push that out of their minds, when it's all I can think about.

"Where's Frade?" It takes Shade's question to remind me that the other boy is actually Wolbert (6), and not his other brother. Everyone else begins to spin around, like he's hiding in this room or something.

"He went to scout ahead," Blade says after a long. awkward pause. "But he'll be back any time now."

Personally, I find that a bit difficult to believe. I don't know if it's just my own inherent skepticism, but I find myself thinking that Frade died and that they're attempting to cover up his death. But Shade knows his brother better then anyone else, and he just nods in understanding. "Right. Well, the rest of us are all here now. What should we do?"

A flood of suggestions overtake the room. Everyone seems to have one. I find myself agreeing with Crimson's the most; stay here and avoid the downpour outside. But, of course, it's Daisy's suggestion that catches Shade's ear. "We should head to the burnt forest. Try to catch someone unawares." It's a ridiculous proposition, but Shade has us each arming ourselves and readying for another journey through the city.

"Watch yourselves," He tells us as we prep. "For we may be one of the strongest alliances, but there's always bigger fish in the sea...

Chloe Black (District 2)

I am undone.

Trident is gone. The other Careers are all under Elvis' thumb or else traitors who would sell me out in a heart beat. My only possessions are a pair of knives I clutch close to my heart. Oh, why did I have Trident carry all of our supplies!

The fool. The stupidly honourable fool. I didn't love him, but I respected his commitment to me. I don't appreciate how he had to have his game end at the hands of Elvis. He was better then that.

My foot hits a particularly large root and I fall forward into a pile of mud. Exhausted, low on supplies, and out of options, I don't even bother trying to pick myself back up.

I escaped the city about thirty minutes ago, reaching the burnt remains of what once was a forest. I will find no solace here. All of my teachers and all of the Hunger Games experts have always told me that the second a Career wound up on their own, with no allies or supplies, that they were finished. And at this point, I have to say that they're right.

I'm not a outlying District runt. I'm not use to scavenging through the trash for every meal, and I don't know how to avoid being found. I'm a predator, not prey. This is all...

I beat my fists against the muddy ground. It's not fair! I'm by far the strongest tribute in the arena! I'm among the smartest too! I had the perfect strategy! But it was all ruined by that damnable Elvis! If I had just been placed on the opposite side of the arena, then I'd be running these Games right now...

Rise so high, in mud you lie.

I pull myself into a ball and cover my head, not even minding that my hair is filled with mud and filth. I've lost. It's the worst fate imaginable. I've lost the Games before, but I died so quickly and suddenly that I didn't have time to think over what it meant for me On how poorly it reflected. I'm a joke. What kind of Career loses twice in the Games?


A branch breaks. My head shoots up, eyes looking out from under dirt encrusted bangs. Has Elvis and his lackeys already found me? Am I to die here? In the mud with absolutely no dignity?


I will not give in. I may die, but I will take as many of then done with me as possible.

Both hands clench around a knives blade as I rise, watching as a figure steps out from the rainy mist.

"Chloe? You look like hell!"

My jaw drops as Todd (0) stops a foot ahead of me. His short black hair is slick with rain, his chiseled jaw clenched in surprise.

"You're dead!" I don't believe this. I overheard Luxray saying that Seth had killed him!

Todd frowns. "What are you talking about? And where are the others?"

I'm utterly confused. Todd is supposed to be dead, yet here he is. Standing not more than a foot away from me and seemingly armed to the tooth. Did Luxray...

"Why have you stopped?" Another boy follows Todd out of the mist. This one is probably more surprising then anything else. Seth. "And whose this?" He turns his cream and black was to me, sneering slightly as he rubs his stubby beard.

"Chloe," Todd answers simply.

"Oh, ho." He nods, eyes darting around the clearing. "Why is she lying in mud?"

I spring into my story. Tell them about how Elvis took complete control over the Careers by branding anyone who disagreed with him a traitor. I tell them that after he killed Trinity, Trident and I managed to escape. An utter lie. I was the one who was trying to overthrow Elvis, and Trinity was never with us. Not that they know that.

"And Luxray has joined with them," I say after telling them of Trident's death. I'm trying to decide whether I should play the sad girl or the one out for vengeance. I don't think these two would take kindly to tears, so I choose the latter. "He told them that Seth and Dean both betrayed you guys, and that Seth killed you, Todd."

"That damn coward!" Seth explodes with rage, flying into a rant about how he was supposed to be the one who outwitted Luxray. "I'm going to string him up by his ears!"

"Calm down," Todd places a hand on his shoulder, assuming a leadership position I never foresaw him filling. "We can't do anything about that traitor right now. Elvis has too much supplies."

"I'll kill him for what he did to Trident!" I add. The hopelessness that had been invading my mind has already begun to evaporate. Todd and Seth are here, and neither of them are filthy traitors. Elvis must assume that he is the only strong band of Careers left. Well, he's wrong.

"Which way was the city?" Todd asks and after I point out the direction, he turns the opposite way. "We can't afford to fight. Not now.

I clench my teeth in agitation. Right now is the perfect time to fight! Elvis would never expect it! I bet we'd be able to take him and his entire kingdom down if we struck! But, no. I'm stuck with a pair of morons who won't listen! I'm right back where I started!

Todd heads off further into the burnt forest, his large feet crunching against the broken branches. Seth follows, grumbling about how he'll kill Luxray. I slowly get up and go along, wondering if maybe, just maybe, Todd is right. Maybe we should allow Elvis' army to weaken itself against other alliances before engaging. But that would run the risk of someone else defeating Elvis, and that would not do.

"Are you coming or not?" Seth growls, turning around to see me still at the mud pile.

"Coming." I pick up my pace, wondering if this pair is actually any better.

Madeva McGranger (District 10)

"That's not--That's not who I think it it?"

From my vantage point hiding behind a large, broken tree stump, I can see a small figure slowly approaching through the falling rain.

Fawn (10), curly hair matted to her head with rain, takes up a spot beside me. "Why? Who do you think..." She trails off as she peers through the rain. Suddenly, her face lights up with a massive grin as she sees what I do. "Billy!"

Hoping over the stump, she races across the muddy ground for the figure of my little brother. I hesitate to follow, unsure on whether I am witnessing the truth or a terrible Gamemaker trick. Could it be? Have we finally found Billy?

Fawn plunges ahead through the sucking mud that covers the ground that was once a forest bed. The figure--Billy?--stops moving when it spots her and then breaks into a jog. "Heavens to Betsy!" It shouts as Fawn envelopes it in a tight hug. That is when I know my vision was true. No one else in this arena would use such a dated term.

I've found Billy!

I break into a sprint, racing across the muddy ground with ease. The past two days have been filled with so much worry and fear. But not anymore. Now, all I have is hope.

"Madeva!" Billy disengages from Fawn's hug just as I arrive. His usual spiky hair has drooped, his brown eyes seem a little tired, and his cheeks are a bit sunken, but I don't care. I have my brother back. ""Oof!"

Billy gasps in surprise as I run into him, wrapping my arms around him in the biggest hug possible. "I'm so glad you're okay!" I whisper into his ear as I practically hug the life out of him.

"Y-yeah. But I won't be for long if you don't let this hug up!"

I let go immediately as I realize just how tightly I was squeezing him. "Sorry!" I duck my head in embarrassment as Fawn wraps her hands around his shoulders. "I got a little carried away, didn't I?"

Billy grins, rubbing his back ruefully. "A little, yeah. But, did you hear about the guy whose whole left side was cut off?"

I look up at Fawn in shock. What in the world has Billy seen?!

"He's all right now," Billy says quickly and then breaks out into a cackling laugh. For a moment, Fawn and I just stare at one another. Then I realize that this is just another one of his lame jokes. Left side cut off. All right now. A smile forms on my face.

"Billy, never change!"

He frowns. "I wasn't planning to. I mean, I don't even have any new clothes!"

Fawn barks with laughter. Billy's sense of humor is a bit...acquired. But I do find him to be funny, in less serious situations. "Are you okay?" I ask him, looking over his body for any wounds. "Did you have to fight?"

He shakes his head. "Nope. You're the first tributes I've seen since the bloodbath."

Well, that's...odd. I had anticipated that when we finally found Billy, that he'd be in some sort of desperate situation in dire need of assistance. Instead we find him all happy and joking. Not that I'm complaining. I prefer it this way, for sure.

"We haven't seen anyone else either," Fawn says quietly from his side.

Right, right. We haven't. Once again, odd. At the start of these Games there were ninety tributes, and we haven't seen single one. What is up with that?

"Lady luck is on our side!" Billy grins. He then quickly turns to Fawn. "Don't worry. I haven't been seeing any other ladies."

I'm grinning like a doof, not even minding that were standing in a muddy field being rained on. What are we doing? We could catch a cold! That'd be the last thing I need. Especially now that I have Billy to protect. "We should find some shelter," I tell them as they talk quietly to themselves. "But first, we should probably lay down some traps. Try to catch a small animal or something else to eat."

"I don't think we'd catch much," Fawn murmurs. "Everything will be sheltering from the rain right now."

This turns out to be true. We make several small traps, lying them out around the edge of the pine forest that still stands. Billy and Fawn stay side by side as they work, and I realize that I have a small problem now.

These Games only have one Victor, and if I have my way, that will be Billy. But what about Fawn? Billy will surely try his best to keep her alive, and yet I know she must die. I didn't have this problem before our little reunion; I was doing my best to protect Fawn for Billy. But now, now all of my protection has to go to him. What will I do if both of them get in danger? How will Billy react if I save him over Fawn? It's an awkward position to be in.

"Let's play a game!" Billy says when we crouch under a pair of giant pine trees. The traps are set, but nothing is biting.

"Sure. Why not?" I could use some levity right now. My mind has been running too heavily.

"Yay!" Billy pumps his fists in the air, a wide grin on his idiosyncratic face. I can't help but smile. My little brother is such a joyous individual. It's so hard knowing that he has to live in such a cruel world...

Dylan Murrow (District 4)

People are not kind.

It's a harsh truth, a cold reality. Human beings do not treat one another well. It is why Panem is the way it is, why the Games exist, why I am in them. Why I am wandering this mysterious candy forest by myself.

Cold wind buffets my side as I walk through the strange locale. For it to rain in a land made entirely of candy, it is such a strange thing. Such a strange, strange thing. I'm glad for the thick canopy of the trees. It protects me from majority of the rainfall.

An odd smell, out of place in this land of candy, wafts out from a nearby bangle of trees. Smoke. Smoke from a wood-fire.

Someone is nearby.

I hold my trident out defensively in my right hand, my left holds a flashlight. I creep forward nervously, uncertain on whether I am approaching friend or foe. Sweat trickles down my brow as I step into the clearing.

I freeze, jerking to a halt, flashlight swinging in my hand. Its unsteady light shines on a figure sitting before me, head bowed, face shadowed. Her arms are tied to the tree behind her back and her ankles are bound to the large roots.

“Rosalina?” I react with shock, rushing to her side. I quickly set down the trident, then freeze. The grass at my feet is damp with blood.

“Rosalina!” I speak louder, urgently lifting her head. Her blue eyes stare forward, sightless, her face scratched and bloody. I feel no pulse. She is dead.

My hand begins to shake. I stumbled back, horrified at the sight before me. “Oh, God,” I find myself mumbling as I backpedal from the heinous scene. “Oh God no, no, no . . .”

A hand falls on my shoulder. I scream, spinning but unarmed. A figure stands in the darkness behind me, half-hidden beneath the tree's branches.

"Dylan!" Caspian's honey-oak eyes blink at me in shock.

"Caspian! Rosalina...she's dead!" I point a finger at the grisly scene, where my friend is sitting in a pool of blood. "Wh-what happened?" My voice is hoarse with raw fear.

Caspian bows his head. "I do not know. Earlier this morning, I left in search of water. I didn't return until a few moments ago, when I heard screams and a cannon. I found her like this."

I blink away tears, unable to form any words. I can't stand the sight of Rosalina's body, yet I cannot force myself to look away. The cuts across her arms and legs...The gashes on her cheeks, revealing the inside of her mouth...She was tortured to death.

"They'll pay!" I whisper quietly into the night. "Whoever did this. They will pay!"

Caspian nods, his eyes glistening with tears. "It was all my fault! If I hadn't left her alone, if only I had stayed with her..." Her death has hit him hard. Harder then it has even hit me. Which is to be expected. I knew her much better then I did, he spent days with her in this horrendous arena...

"It wasn't your fault," I tell him as it seems he is about to go into hysterics. "You couldn't have expected this...." My words are hollow and empty. I'm shaking with rage that someone in this arena killed her like that. Slowly cut into her while she screamed in agony...

It sickens me.

I always believed I'd never be able to kill another person, but now I know that to be false. When I find out who did this...I'm going to kill them. Kill them for Rosalina. For humanity.

The whining of a hovercraft alerts us to its presence. It hangs over our heads, not doing anything, until Caspian goes and cuts the rope that held Rosalina to the tree. Only then does a claw come down to claim her.

"I...I found something, while I was searching for water," Caspian says long after the hovercraft has disappeared into the night sky.

"What?" I'm too emotionally depleted to be curious.

"Another tribute. Arbor Alpine, District 7. She agreed to aligning with us to search for water. But with this rain..."

"Could she have done it? Killed Rosalina, I mean?" I'm already searching for answers, seeking vengeance. Whoever killed her is even worst then Juliet's father.

"No. I left her at a hollowed tree about half a mile north. She couldn't have possibly gotten ahead of me." Caspian sighs as he looks to the sky. "I don't think we can do anything to avenge her, Dylan. We need to look after ourselves."

"I know, but--"

"That's what Rosalina would have wanted. We need to find Arbor. She might still ally with us, even if we both have water."

I don't want to ally with some strange girl. Not after seeing the brutal deaths of two of my allies. I couldn't take any death. Not...not without losing my sanity. Whatever is left of it.

But Caspian is also my friend. And he's still living. I owe him my allegiance, no matter what I personally want.

"A hollowed tree in the north?" I ask flatly, turning to the woods.

Caspian nods, seeing that I'm with him. "Yes. Half a mile to the north.

"Then lead on, brother man. Lead on."

Frade Spectrus (District 7)

The wind whips against my face as I walk. My feet, heavy and laid down with soaking water, slowly sink into the squishy mud with every step. "Wish that damned bastard wasn't so hard to find," I grumble to myself. Not even the cameras can hear them, the wind snatches them so quickly. Trying to find Josef (8) is like looking for the proverbial needle in an actual haystack. Unless he chooses to seek you out, you'll never find him.

The sky is dark and filled with clouds. There is no cover from the rapidly falling rain, and I'm even more drenched than I was before as I try to make my way through the mudlands that surround the empty shrine.

An owl hoots in the distance, and I reach for my axe, but cannot find it. Damn. I have it, I know I do, but it's covered by the furs that I wear over my clothes. While searching for Josef earlier today, I encountered a burrow full of rabbits hiding from the rain. I promptly killed and skinned them. Their fur now protects me from this rain.

Something tightens around my left foot.

I shout and pull a knife from my swaddled furs. That, at least, I know where it is. A small, tangled rope has curled itself around my ankle. It seems to be apart of a trap, one designed to catch small animals, not people. I should have nothing to worry about.

My knife slices the rope off, freeing my leg. "Tributes nearby?" I wonder as I rip my foot out from the wet mud. I don't believe anyone would have set this snare up if they weren't sticking around to collect what they caught later.

Just as I'm thinking this, I become aware of several different pairs of eyes pinned onto my head. Shapes in the darkness watch me as I slowly become aware of them. How long have they been here? Does it matter? Not a chance.

I hold my knife high, not the least bit intimidated. I'll die, but I'll take as much of them down with me as possible.


One of the shadows steps forward. Same forest green jacket as mine, familiar voice. Can't see the face. Hidden in the hood's shadow. I don't need too, though. I'd recognize this stupid voice anywhere. "What do you plan on doing with that knife? Cutting us all down?"

"You know I could do it too, Shade!" I smirk at my brother as he stops before me. The other figures step up after him, and I spot Blade (6) and Wolbert (6) among them. Seems like I won't have to go looking for them after all.

"Not if I got the first strike in," Shade grins.

"Pfft. I could kill you with my eyes closed!"

"What a pleasant brother you have, Shade." A girl wearing an ashen gray District 11 jacket eyes me with a frosty gaze.

"This Daisy? The girl who got you so worked up in the 327th?" Doesn't look like much to me. Maybe a four out of ten. "I'm not surprised. You never had a thing for the hot girls."

Daisy scowls at me as Radiant (13) chuckles loudly. For the first time, I become aware of the fact that every single tribute from our alliance is here.

"Don't make me take you up on that fighting offer," Shade says flatly. The humor has disappeared from his eyes, so he must actually like that girl. Good to know.

"Just joking around," I let my gaze slide along the assembled line, all of them just standing in the relentless rain like morons. "Hey Blade. Wolbert. Short time no see, eh?"

A loud hacking cough cuts my younger brother off before he can speak. Misty (12), the smallest member of our party, bends over and nearly coughs her lungs out. Daisy us at her side in an instant, trying to help.

"I'm fine!" The younger girl waves her away. "It's just a cough. Nothing to get worked up--" She breaks off into another fit of coughing, nearly toppling over.

"We should find shelter," I say lazily, looking to the shadows of pine trees in the distance. "I don't know what your plan was, but wandering in this weather is pretty stupid."

"You were wandering too," Shade retorts as he assists Daisy with checking on Misty.

I wag a cheerful finger. "Ah-ah! I wasn't wandering. I was searching for those two." I point at Blade and Wolbert. Blade grins back stupidly.

"Told ya he'd find us!" He says to Wolbert.

"Whatever." Shade turns away as Misty gets back to standing upright. "But you're right. We should find shelter. Wait this storm out."

Mahogany Vesta (The Capitol)

Shadows on the horizon slowly make their way toward the cornucopia. Their pace is ponderous, I could have killed them with a dozen arrows by now if I hadn't already identified them with a pair of binoculars I found in the mess of supplies.

"Annabelle and Freya..." I mutter to myself as the two tributes draw closer. I've lost all semblance of energy or hope this morning, when Amaya killed both Amica and Annabeth. Who could have predicted her doing such a thing? She didn't get along with Annabeth, yes, but she always seemed so close to Amica. I don't know why she just suddenly snapped. Crazy bitch.

"Hello?" My two allies, if we're even still allies, have gotten close enough to call out to me.

"It's me," I call back. "Mahogany. No one else is at the cornucopia."

They slowly trudge through the pouring rain, making their way over to me and the shelter of the cornucopia. I rise to meet them, and notice their wary expressions immediately. Has something happened with them as well?

"You took the cornucopia by yourself?" Freya (8) asks in surprise. Her hair is matted to her head, slick with rain.

I shake my head. "A few others were with me."

"What happened to them?" Annabelle asks, sitting down gingerly on a crate.

I waste no time in explaining, telling them all about Amaya's traitorous actions. They listen in silence, their faces showing the shock that they must be feeling. When I finish, Annabelle gives off a long sigh and buries her face in her hands. "We're the only ones left we can trust!" She moans.

"What do you mean?"

Freya answers for her. "Aisha and Ellis both disappeared this morning. They stole my weapons and fled." My eyes close upon hearing this. How many traitors were in this alliance? How many people of such terrible character?

"And Ganta and Aelia won't help us," Annabelle takes over. "Not with Amaya gone psycho. They'll try to help her, not us."

I feel like screaming. Screaming to the sky and beating my fists on the ground. First, Cyan and his stupid antics have made me sick worry, then Amaya, and now this. Everything has gone wrong. Screaming would be a perfectly acceptable response.

But it wouldn't help.

I can cry and shout all I want, but it won't give me allies, it wouldn't keep me alive. What I need right now, is to keep a calm and level head. Panicking will get me killed. Plotting will forestall my death.

"Get yourselves armed," I tell the two smaller girls as they huddle beside a crate. "Amaya may come back, or the Careers could attack. When they do, we need to be ready."

Freya rushes off immediately, but Annabelle fixes me with a long look. "You really think we can beat them?" She asks.

I stare her right in the eye, feeling misplaced confidence that only someone from the family Vesta could feel. "I guarantee it."

Kaneki Urashi (The Capitol)

Rain splatters across the tombstones as I sit upon the steps of the mausoleum, protected from the deluge by the stone archway. Today has been a violent day in the arena. Cannons have gone off, names have appeared on the tombstones. People have died.

"Better for you," Rufus said pragmatically when the sixth cannon of the day had gone off. He might be right, but that doesn't mean I need to revel in all this death. Those were people out there. Real, living people. I didn't know them, but their deaths weigh on my mind as I await the coming night.

"Still moping?" I nearly jump in fright as Rufus materializes on the step beside me. I'm still not use to how he can just pop in and out of vision like that. I had thought I could always see ghosts, but Rufus had explained that they operate on several different plains of existence. "You might only be able to see onto five of them or somethin'," He said when I asked. He refused to elaborate, but I think I understood.

"I'm not moping," I answer him sullenly. "Just waiting."

"Yeah, well, your waiting looks a lot like moping to me!" I've gotten use to his sneers by now. I don't think he means much by them.

"Whatever." I don't feel much like arguing, not tonight. My mind is on other things. "Say Rufus, can I ask you a question?"

"You just did," He smirks at me. I just roll my eyes. "But, yes. You may ask another."

"What is the demon like?"

The mood shifts instantly. Rufus' smirk disappears as he let's out an involuntary hiss of air. His teeth grind together and he suddenly disappears altogether, causing me to jump for real this time.

Panicked, I look around the graveyard. The rain bounces off the tombstones, covering the thick yellowed grass. The ever present mist still covers the grounds, and I think I see shapes twisting and turning inside. The rational part of my mind brushes this away as my fear playing tricks on me, but I'm not so reassured. "Rufus?" I call out tentatively. I don't like how he doesn't respond. Have I scared him off with my questions? I pray not. He's my only link to the spiritual world. I haven't seen another ghost since the start of the Games. "Rufus? Are you there?"


A face appears right in front of me and I fall from my step, screaming in sudden fear.

"You're such a sucker!" Rufus howls with laughter, standing right where I once sat. I only muster to give him a nasty look. My heart is beating like crazy, my mind working in overdrive. I thought that the demon had arrived...

"I hate you," I say, pulling myself off of the ground and back onto the staircase. I was only out of cover for a few seconds, but I'm already drenched from the rain.

"You don't mean that," Rufus snickers as he sits down beside me.

"S'pose not." I don't feel like agitating him any further. I was legitimately terrified when I thought he had left me. I didn't realize how much I have begun to depend on him. "But did you have to scare the pants off me?"

"You're no fun," He chortles with laughter. "The look on your face was just priceless, by the way."

"Are there other spirits in this arena?" I ask suddenly. Rufus stops laughing as he gives me a suspicious look.

"Why do you want to know? Planning on replacing me?"

"What? No! I just wanted another perspective on things. I don't plan on replacing--" I stop myself when I see the smug grin on Rufus' face. He was playing with me. Again.

"There are other spirits," He answers my original question. "But I don't speak with them, normally. They're a pitifully drab lot, weaklings and cowards."

"Could you fetch one for me?"

"What am I? Your errand boy?" Rufus looks so offended that I actually apologize. He just smirks. "I'll try to find one. It won't be easy. Damn weaklings fear me." He blinks out of existence, disappearing to another "plane" as he calls it. I patiently wait in silence, humming to the pitter-patter of the rain.

Rufus may have been a rude, violent and selfish sob in life, but he's been particularly helpful as a spirit. I wonder if I should question that. I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but Rufus being so helpful is...odd, to say the least. I guess his reasoning of being bored could be true. He has been dead for seventy-odd years.

"Kaneki? Kaneki Urashi?"

I leap out of my skin for about the third time this night. A pale, flickering form of a person has materialized four feet from the mausoleum stairs. Dark hair that goes down to the shoulders billow in the wind as the thin apparition turns towards me. A gaunt, terrified looking face watches me with what once could have been sapphire eyes, though, they're now dull and lifeless.

"That was quick," I say airily, having recovered from my initial shock. "Did Rufus send you?"

"Rufus? Rufus Silks?" A high, pitching female voice echoes out from the spirits form.

"Yeah...Him. Did you meet him?"

"Rufus? No...No, I do not speak with Rufus. He was a cruel devil in life, death likely has not bettered him." The spirit floats around me hauntingly. Their dull orbs for eyes never leave my own, and I find myself getting very uncomfortable.

"So if Rufus didn't send you, then why are you here?" I try to keep my voice level, but suspicion has crept into my words. I've spoken with spirits many times before. You can tell when they have an ulterior motive, and their motives are never good. "Were you a tribute?" It's a young girl, I can tell that much. I'd assume they died in the Games. Why else would they be in the arena?

"Warm...Warm flesh. Your life aura is so...warm..." The spirit creeps closer, and I stumble backwards up the stairs, pressing myself against the mausoleum door.

"Stay back!" I point my glaive at their chest. It's my natural instincts. It wouldn't do anything, it's not like the weapon my family kept, it hasn't been blessed with the ability to combat spirits. "I don't want to hurt you!"

"Hurt! It thinks it can hurt me!" It laughs indignantly, but floats away, drifting into the sky and flying among the raindrops. The laugh echoes throughout the graveyard, vibrating across the tombstones and rattling my confidence. Where's Rufus?

"You're just a kid, like I was. Yet your so strong..." The falling rain makes it hard to see the shimmering spirit as it floats in a lazy circle above me. A shuddering breath shakes me as I clutch the cross around me neck with a free hand. "I see now why it wants you so..."

"The demon!" I hiss the words without thinking. "Has it put you up to this?"

"It thinks it knows!" The spirit unleashes a mocking laugh as it gently glides back to the ground, landing on the lowest step of the mausoleum. I stumble back in surprise, knocking my head against the hefty door and dropping my glaive. "The demon has a bounty on your head, boy. Every spirit within three hundred kilometers is gunning for you. It will claim your soul."

Terror traps itself in my heart as I trip over my own feet, landing right on my butt. I had expected the demon to cone for me, but this, this....bounty. I have never heard of such a thing before. I'm horrified. Hyperventilating. No! Think, Think! The spirit must be tricking me! There has to be a loophole! "What happens if I die?" I ask it. "If I am killed by one of the other tributes?"

The girl shrugs her ghostly shoulders, a small smile forming on its eerie face. "Living. Dead. Doesn't matter. Your spirit will remain in this arena. So go get yourself killed, if you wish. Just know that it won't save you. Nothing will." She stops moving, fixes me with a long look.

Then lunges for me.

A scream. A spark of blinding light. I feel blood running down the back of my head, I hit it against the stone of the mausoleum. The girl spirit lies at the bottom of the steps, another one stands between the two of us.


"Get out of here, Regina!" He screams at the felled spirit, lashing out with his arms. "He does not belong to you or your demon friend! Go!"

The girl hisses, baring ghostly fangs. "You cannot protect him forever, Rufus!"

"Oh, just shut up!"

With a bloodcurdling scream and a flash of light, she disappears. Rufus snorts loudly as I slump against the wall of the mausoleum. Blood trickles down my ears, my head rings like it was hit by a sledgehammer. "Th-thank you, Rufus."

He throws a glance at me from over his shoulder. "Make sure it doesn't happen again. I don't want to be known for helping weaklings."

I nod weakly, feeling the backside of my head. What Rufus doesn't know, is that I was never in any danger from that spirit. The cross necklace around my neck is special. Given to me by my mother, it will prevent any spirit from accessing my body as long as I wear it.

"Don't worry about your head," Rufus says without turning back around. "Head wounds always bleed a lot. You should be perfectly fine."

I don't feel perfectly fine, but I don't have the strength to argue. The spirit's words are still churning in my head. The demon. A bounty. Every spirit in three hundred kilometers. "Rufus?" I ask slowly, bending down to pick up my glaive. "Did...did you know about the bounty the demon put on my head?" A chill is running down my spine that has nothing to do with the rain. What if...what if Rufus is gunning for that bounty? What if he's just playing me?

"Told ya about that, did she?" Rufus turns to me with an arrogant smirk. "Too bad. Now you're gonna worry yourself to death over it."

I don't respond. I hold the glaive in one shaking hand. "Are you playing for the bounty, Rufus?"

"Huh?" Rufus looks at me in confusion, if ghosts even can be confused. "What the hell are you talking about, you little fart?"

"That spirit said almost everyone was in on this bounty. That could include you," I somehow keep my voice steady, despite the pain in my head and the rising panic in my chest. I already have a horde of human teenagers after me, and now I have who knows how many spirits in on the chase!

"You're a stupid little puke, you know that?" Rufus glares right at me. "I just saved your skinny ass, and now you're accusing me of betrayal? No wonder you don't have any friends."

"I thought you said friends were a weakness."

He grins. "I did. And they are. But you're still a bloody moron."

I don't know what to believe, but Rufus has never done me any harm, despite what he did in life. Why am I doubting him? Because a spirit told me so?

"I'd never help a demon," Rufus says after I'm silent for a moment. "Only a foolish weakling would. They can't be trusted."

That convinces me. Rufus is many things, but I have never seen him tell a prolonged lie before. "I'm sorry," I tell him. "I was just frightened...and I hit my head..."

"Whatever. If I wanted, I could have taken your body any time I wanted."

Not true. I wordlessly tuck my protective necklace into my shirt. I'm vaguely aware that Rufus can see the movement, but he's busy examining his fingernails. "Is the demon a former tribute?" I ask something that I have been thinking on for awhile. "Is it...Dragon Lord?"

Rufus gives out a scornful laugh, shaking his head like he's speaking with a child. "No. The Demon is not a spirit. It's a demon. Stupid."

"Oh." I think on that for a moment. "But is Dragon in the arena?" I could find a way to manipulate him into helping me.

"Perhaps. But if you desire to have him aid you against the demon, then you are a fool. This demon is stronger then you think, and he makes Dragon look like a blubbering child."

Aelia Freedome (District 0)

Now that I am safely at the military camp, with oodles of supplies and a flare gun armed Ganta (12), I can look back on my initial idea of disregarding Ganta's crazy idea's and laugh. What was I thinking? I was so foolish to totally ignore his wisdom, I let my bias get in the way of strategic thinking. I have vowed not to let that happen again

"I'm glad we have this tent," Ganta says from where he sits atop a crate, munching on an apple. Outside, the rain falls fast and hard. Thunder rumbles overhead, and lightning strikes in the distance. Tonight is not a night to go without shelter.

"Good thing it's pinned down," Anissa (1) says more pragmatically. The large girl had stubbornly clung to the notion that we should have gone searching for the others, despite all the good things that have came from the military camp. She's taken to pointing out all the things that could have gone wrong. "Or our shelter would be blown away in this wind!"

I spot Ganta roll his eyes. He's changed since we I last saw him. He's more confident and less nervous. Doesn't fear Anissa anymore and generally seems to just have more swagger. "We should glad we have cover from the rain," I say, trying not to get too bothered by the constant negativity.

Anissa snorts loudly. "Hard to be glad, when you know that your friends could be caught out in that storm!"

Still thinking about Amica, I see. Not much I can say to calm her, so I lie back on one of the four cots that line the tent. We have beds. Storage space. What else could Anissa want? I already know. She wants her only friend she's ever really had. The person who's practically a sister to her. Amica.

"Trying to make yourself a martyr?" Ganta asks scornfully. I glance up and see him glaring at the back of Anissa's head. "Not appreciating what you have, as long as everyone else has it worse?"

"Shut up, traitor."

Anissa sets her jaw and continues staring out the gap in the tent entrance. Outside, the wind whips rain and empty crates around.

"Whatever," Ganta waves his hand dismissively and slides off his crate, depositing himself onto one of the cots. "At least you're no longer calling me weak."

"Anyone can be strong when they betray their closet ally."

Anissa's remark has Ganta opening his mouth for a retort, but I silently wave him off. Not now I mouth to him. Anissa is worried about her friend. She doesn't mean anything she's saying, and ticking her off more isn't going to fix anything. Shrugging, Ganta makes a twirling motion around his head and points at Anissa. "Cuckoo," He mouths back.

Now that rubs me the wrong way. I still remember how he referred to Amaya as crazy and gave that designation as an excuse for lying to her and leaving her for dead. I have no appetite for him dismissing others for the same reason. But, I need to keep this alliance strong, so I just smile and nod. He laughs quietly.

"Something funny, chuckles?" Anissa doesn't turn from the doorway.

A thunderous crash shakes the forest before he can answer. Brilliant, flashing light illuminates the outside of the tent for a mere few seconds before fading. Then another boom. "It was lightning, Anissa," I say when I see how pale my big friend has gone. "Just lightning."

"Now who's weak," Ganta mutters from behind, but he's mostly drowned out by the sound of another lightning bolt striking.

"Lightning," I say again. She just nods, holding tightly to her sword. It wasn't that she was frightened by the noise or the sudden shock, she just thought it was cannons. Cannons signalling the death of another tribute. I remember how she jumped every time one went off before we reached the camp.

"Lightning. Right." Anissa stifles a yawn as she looks out into the stormy night. I'm about to suggest that she go to bed, when the familiar notes of the Anthem play over the sound of thunder.

Anissa literally burgled out of the camp, rushing to be the first to see the faces. Ganta and I follow more slowly, not relishing the idea of being drenched, but wishing to see who died all the same.

The rain is cold. I begin to shiver uncontrollably almost as soon as it touches my head. The three of us huddle close together as the first face shows. The sky is dark and rainy, filled with clouds. We literally have to squint into the downpour to see the face, and even then, it's distorted and grainy. I do recognize the person, though. Rosalina Cosmic. District Zero.

Nothing is said before the next face goes by. None of us can tell who it is, but Ganta says it looks like it is a girl from District 2. Woe is next.

Annabeth, one of our allies, has fallen today. Anissa doesn't say anything as her face shows, but I know she is wondering if we could have saved her. I'm wondering it too.

"Trident...Ashley...Amira...Marlon..." Ganta recites the name of each tribute as they show, until the eighth face of the night. Ellis.

I feel a weeping sadness inside of me. We've lost two allies today. Two good people. They will be missed, but not by the Capitol.

Just as the last face of the night appears, lightning strikes. The flaming bolt partially obscures the sky, leaving me straining to see the tributes face. Who are they? They must be from a lower District...

I freeze.

I've recognized the face, just before it fades back into the night. It was a brief glimpse, but I'd recognize her cheery face anywhere.

Amica is dead.

There's a mourning sadness inside me, like with the others, but my mind also kicks in. Realizes what is happening. I glance at Anissa. She's still staring into the sky, unaware that the face has faded. I feel relief at the knowledge she didn't see her friends face. Feel terrible for being relieved. "Who was it?" She asks tersely. I hesitate to answer.

If--If I tell her the truth, that Amica is dead, she'll blame me. She'll say that I was the reason that she died, say that we could have reached her if we didn't turn around. There's no way she could know this, but she won't be rational in her grief. She'll look for a scapegoat, look for someone to vent out her anger...

She could kill me.

It's a terrifying thought, that I could be killed by my ally in a act of grief infueled rage. Anissa is awaiting an answer. Panic has begun to set in her face. "Who was it, Aelia?" She asks again, voice rising with hysteria. "Who's face did you see?"

"I..." What can I say? I look into Anissa's eyes, see my own reflected there. "I saw--"

"It was Dean."

Ganta speaks with a clear voice. His hand shields his eyes as he looks to the sky, where the Seal has just disappeared. "It was Dean's face, or so I think. Could have been Luxray. I dunno."

Anissa breathes a sigh of relief. Her body loosens as it lets go of the tension that had built up. I shudder with...what? Joy? Fear? Relief?

I look into Ganta's eyes as Anissa slips back into the tent. Did he really think he saw Dean? Or was he lying for me? One quick nod of his head gives me my answer: He is covering for me.

"Ganta..." I don't know what to say. Is he covering his own skin, thinking that Anissa may attack him too? Or did he do it for me?

"We shouldn't stand in the rain," He says quietly. "C'mon." He slips into the tent after Anissa. I stand in silence for a moment, absorbing the heavy raindrops that fall upon my head. I should tell Anissa the truth, but...

Later. When the moment is right. When I am not in danger from her lashing out with misguided anger. I tell myself this as I enter the tent, but I do not know if I believe it. I may not ever tell Anissa. We could both be dead by tomorrow.

The Hunger Games are unpredictable.

Day 4/ Broken Trust

Watt Chargy (Mentor)

The earlier morning light peeks over the mountains, sending a glowing orange cascade filtering into the streets of the Capitol. Funny, how deserted those streets are. In District 3, they would be filled with people traveling to work or enjoying the mornings light. Here, they're deserted. The citizens of the Capitol are at home, either recovering from the night they spent partying at a club or watching the Games. What strange people they are.

I rise from my chair, my old bones creaking in protest. I'm not as agile as I once was, but I'm not yet going to allow myself to become a potato. I grab a velvet scarf off from a nearby rack, ready to set off for the morning.

The hallway outside of my room is quiet and empty. The other mentors must be sleeping, or else, down in the lobby. I wonder where Axiom is. The young man's partially responsible for my early rising today, for I am seeking out Hazel Dyer, as he asked.

Shuffling to the elevator that will take me to the higher floor where Hazel's room is, I wonder if Axiom's suspicions have any merit. Certainly the disappearance of the mentors was suspicious, yet I can scarcely believe that Hazel would know anything about it. She is not a very curious type. She much rather prefers to avoid drama and schemes.

The elevator dings and opens up just as I arrive at it. An elderly man steps out, walking without the aid of a cane for the first time in a very long time. "Ah! Hello, Watt!" He smiles kindly at me, brushing back his fading gray hair.

"Greetings, Mist." It has been a long time since he won his Games. Like me, he has not long left for this world. "Enjoying a morning walk?"

He gives a throaty chuckle, rapping his knuckles against the wall. "Not exactly. I just got back from medical."

"Oh? Something wrong?" I can't see anything wrong. He walks straighter then before, his eyes shine brighter, and his skin is less pallid. Whatever he did, it helped him.

"Nah. Opposite, actually." He puffs his chest out proudly. "I just got one of those Life Modifier operations done! You can expect to see me for eighty more years!" He chuckles again, but I can't help but feel that he has made a mistake.

"You don't even know what the world will look like in eighty years," I point out. "And you might not know anyone else who is even living." Only a fool would want to live forever.

For the first time, Mist's grin fades as he looks to his feet. "I know that," He admits quietly. So quietly that I almost don't hear him. "But I don't have any family of my own. The Spectri have been my family, and now Shade, Blade, and Frade all have the chance of getting their life back. I want to see them live that life."

I stare sadly at him, not having the proper response. He looks back up and smiles. "Besides, they're the last of the Spectri line. I don't know what happened to Rade, and their sister's family have taken different names. I'll be there to see their family name come back from the dead."

He pushes past me, whistling merrily as he walks down the hall. I watch him go silently, not having the heart to ask him what he'll do if all the Spectri die in the Games. I cannot imagine he'd take it well.

In the elevator, I push my interaction with Mist to the back of my mind as I attempt to think of what I'll say to Hazel. I'll need to approach this tactfully. Hazel can be offended quite easily.

But nothing particular comes to mind as I ride the elevator up. I cannot think of how to start the conversation, or how to ask her about it. When the doors finally open, I realize that I'm just going to have to wing it.

Hazel's door is the first on the right as I turn. Knocking several times, I hear the rustling of someone inside and get the distinct feeling that I am being watched through the peephole. "Hazel?" I call out. "Are you there?" The door suddenly swings open and a hand gestures for me to get inside. I shuffle inward and the door slides shut behind me.

"Hello, Watt." Hazel keeps her voice neutral as she addresses me. I try to smile, but I'm taken back by how unkempt her room is. Clothes are strewn across the floor, her bed is unmade, and the closets are all thrown open with overstuffed trunks sticking out. It's not just her room that's surprising. Her face is wrinkled for the first time that I have ever met the woman, her hair looks like it hasn't been washed in days and she hobbles about on a cane. As great as Mist looked today, Hazel is the complete opposite.

"Erm. Hello." I try not to let her know I'm taken back by her mess, but it's almost impossible. "I..just wanted to stop by and chat. Been awhile since we last talked." Almost a year now.

"Hmm. Yes." Hazel shuffles across the room and sits herself down onto a plush armchair. "Please, sit."

"Of course." I take the chair across from her, wondering why all the windows blinds are drawn on such a beautiful day. "How have you been?" Best to start simply.

She sighs, rubbing the arm of the chair with a wrinkled hand. "Not well. I see them die every night. See their faces. All of them looking to me so hopefully, expecting me to save them. But I don't. Because I can't."

I'm more than a little taken back by such a direct and depressing answer. For a few seconds, I don't even speak. "The District Nine tributes?" I finally ask. She nods slowly.

"Yes. I see some more often than others."

"Their deaths weren't your fault," I begin. "It was--"

"My curse. My fault." Hazel smiles sadly at me. "I appreciate your effort to make me feel better, but it is assuredly my fault."

I shake my head, unable to think of words. People have been telling Hazel that she has cursed District 9 for decades, and she obviously believes them. What could I say that would change her mind? "You have this years group," I say lamely.

She waves a despondent hand in the air. "Yes, but they will die like the rest. Vera is strong, but she can't think her way out of a paper bag. Harvest looks tough, yet he is not. Jac and Azalea..." She trails off. Odd, I think, That she is so torn up about their deaths even though they have a second shot. Shouldn't she be glad for that, at least?

"Don't you think they could win?" I ask. "Don't you think that maybe it was destined for Jac to break the curse like this?" Destiny isn't something I entirely believe, but I want to make Hazel feel better.

"Their destiny is to die," Hazel rasps.

"You don't know that."

"Not everything is as it seems, Watt." Hazel abruptly stands, crossing over to the window and throwing the blinds open. Early morning light pours in, brightening things considerably. "Some things cannot be fathomed unless you seek answers you never foresaw."

She's telling me something. Trying to have me ask the question that I should have begun with. "The mentors," I say quietly. "The ones who disappeared. You know something about that, don't you?"

Her shoulders stiffen, but she says nothing. Her eyes stare out the window, into the city of glass and color. "Yes."

The word hangs over the room. Everything is silent, save for my own quickening breath. "How? Why? Where?" I can't get more than one word of each question out at a time.

"I do not know. But they are not dead..." Hazel runs a finger down the pane of the glass window, tracing something only she can see. "They were taken by an organization you never dreamed existed."


"You wish to know?" Hazel interrupts me with a stare, finally turning around. Her blue eyes stare right into my own. I have no words. I only nod. "Then take this." She reaches a hand into the pocket of her robe, collecting a small, yellow envelope. She passes it to me and I take it wordlessly. "I found it on my bed back in District 9," She says flatly. "Alongside a letter that told me to arrive at the imprinted address and ask for Lemex when I felt that the time was right."

"When the time was right for what?" I ask quietly, turning the envelope over in my hands.

Hazel doesn't directly respond as she sighs heavily. "I never felt the time was right. I still don't. But you, Watt, you must feel that the time is right. Don't you?"

I don't know what that means, or what will come of such a choice, but I can feel it. I can feel it deep inside of me, emanating from my very core. "Yes," I tell Hazel with a nod. "I do."

Is that a smile that plays on Hazel's lips? I cannot tell, for it is gone just as it appears. "Then tomorrow you shall head to the address. Remember, ask for Lemex." Hazel opens the door to the hall, holding it open for me. I have so many questions left unanswered. What is this organization? Who is Lemex? Why did they send Hazel the envelope? But Hazel doesn't hold the answers, I realize. She doesn't know much more than I do. I know where I may get those answers though.

And that's at the imprinted address.

Ganta Alomo (District 12)


Aelia's calling voice wakes me up from my sleep. I sit up groggy, wondering where the others are. The tent is empty, their cots empty. I can hear Aelia calling Anissa's name outside. The sound of the rain pounding against the ground is still present, but I believe it has slowed since last night. Not that I think it could have been gotten any fiercer.

"Ganta?" Aelia sticks her head back into the tent. Her blonde hair is slick and matted to her head, proving that the rain is still going strong.

"Uh, yeah?" I try to rub the sleep from my eyes as I get off from the cot. Aelia seems to only be slightly worried about whatever it is that's bugging her. "What's up?"

"Have you seen Anissa?"

"No. Anissa is missing?" I'm worried now. Amica died last night, and while I thought that we managed to avoid letting her know, maybe she wasn't as fooled as I thought. Maybe she's lurking out in the woods, trying to see when we let our guard down...

"I think she left," Aelia says, stepping back into the tent to escape from the rain. "But I don't think she knows what we do." She's careful not to mention Amica's death outright, in case Anissa is still nearby.

"You seem relieved." I can hear it in her voice, she's not the least bit upset that Anissa has gone. Probably because she's just as worried about what that girl would do to her as I am.

She shrugs, sitting down on the edge of her bed. "I'm just glad that she's decided to take her own path."

"One that doesn't involve killing us?" I ask in a rather smart aleck way.

Aelia's not as angry as I expected her to be. She just shrugs again. "Maybe. But I'm not certain that she'd kill us."

"Oh, she would." I pull a knife put from my pocket, self-consciously rubbing its edge. "And now that she's out in the wild, there's no way for us to regulate what she learns. If she discovers that Amica is dead..."

"You think that she'd come all the way back here?" Aelia fixes me with a stern gaze. I smirk. Does she think Anissa wouldn't? That girl is insane. She'd come for our butts as soon as she learned what happened, even if we had nothing to do with Amica's death.

"Yes." Is my simple answer.

Aelia grunts as she suddenly stands and goes for the crates piled in the corner of the tent. I watch with mild interest as she begins to pull coils of rope from the crates. "What are you doing?" I ask as she heads for the exit of the tent.

"I'm setting up traps around the camp," Aelia says simply. "You going to help?"

I grimace. Working out in the middle of the open being rained on incessantly isn't something that I'd look forward to. But...setting up defence is important. Especially with Anissa gone AWOL. "Sure. I'll come."

Aelia nods as she slips out into the clearing. I follow behind her, feeling rather disappointed that we have to work through this heavy rain.

Daisy Lilac (District 11)

"You sure there's someone in there?" Crimson asks, picking at his bow. His face is wrinkled with worry, eyes shining with the uncertainty that he feels. I can understand how he feels, yet I believe he has to man up.

"Yes. Quite certain." The dawn's early light filters through the clouds, just barely touching our skin in this deluge that whips at our faces and undertows our ankles. It's not all bad though. The sound of the rain hitting the ground will mask our footsteps. He'll never see us coming.

Inside that cemetery is perhaps the biggest threat in this arena. He came this close to winning the 398th Games, and that was because no one targeted him. Well, that won't be the case this time. We will find Solar Energy. And he will die.

"We should fan out. Make sure that he can't escape," Misty (12) says from beside me. Her head barely reaches my elbow. Her nose is steaming with mucous that has come with the cold she contracted last night.

"No!" I'm shaking my head before she even finishes her sentence. "We swarm him before he wakes. No way he could fight all of us."

Frade (7) cackles with manic glee at my plan, but not everyone agrees. Misty mutters something under her breath and Blade (6) openly wonders who put me in charge of the planning.

"I did!" Shade (7) says as he fixes his younger brother with a long gaze. "And I think her plan is perfect." I give him a brief smile, but then my mind goes back to the task at hand. We're wasting too much time! Solar could get away!

I jump to my feet. "Let's go!" I lead the charge into the cemetery, followed by my alliance. Our soft footsteps are covered by the rainfall as we sweep amongst the headstones like a swarm of ancient specters. I purposely slow myself down, allowing Radiant (13) to take the lead. As big of a game I talked, I have no desire to deal the killing blow.

Shade pulls himself alongside me just as the mausoleum comes into view. The blurry shape of a boy sitting upon its steps is just visible to us. My feet begin to slow before fully coming to a halt. Something is not right. "What's wrong?" Shade stops beside me, Blade and Misty follow behind him.

"I don't know."

For some inexplicable reason, the boy jolts awake just in time to see our allies running straight at him, brandishing weapons like maniacs. I can hear his shrill scream of horror even through the misty rain, but it only increases my uneasiness as the boy breaks off into a mad sprint for the trees, his multi-colored jacket flapping in the wind as our allies come in hot pursuit.

"Wait a minute..." Multi-colored? That's not the jacket of District 0. It's the Capitol's! "Stop!" I scream after my allies, my words lost in the whipping wind. Only Frade seems to hear, pulling himself short and glaring daggers at me for interrupting his hunt. "That's not Solar!" I screech at him.

"Huh?" Frade doesn't understand. It doesn't matter. Crimson, Radiant, and Wolbert all disappear into the woods, chasing after the wrong target. Shade spins in all directions, apparently trying to spot our actual quarry. He points a finger behind the mausoleum, where a smoky white figure has just whipped out into the open. Solar. He must have been woken by all the screaming.

"After him!" I yell and rush foward only to be tugged back by Blade.

"We can't!" He screams to be heard over the wind that has picked up the intensity in these past few seconds. "The others won't know where we went!"

"We can come back for them later!" I rip his arm off me and sprint after the fast fading figure of Solar. I don't know how he's so fast. The soft, rain soaked grass offers very little traction and I nearly trip several times. I glance over my shoulder as I reach the outskirts of the cemetery and see that all of my allies have followed me. Even Blade.

"How far will we chase him?" Misty puffs, her cheeks bright red. Vaguely I recall that she has a cough. But it doesn't matter. We need to catch Solar. We need to end him. ""How far will we chase him?" Misty repeats her question. I stare off into the distance, where Solar has begun to enter the next biome. Feeling content that he can't outrun us forever, I turn to respond.

"To the ends of the Earth."

Kaneki Urashi (The Capitol)

The sticky, steaming rain laps at my eyes as I race through the forest, desperately trying to escape the hounds that chase me. I can hear them just behind me. Breaking the undergrowth with their large bodies and deadly weapons.

This is a nightmare.

I dash across slippery rocks, sliding over the muddy ground and throwing myself between two trees. The end of my jacket catches on a poking branch, but even that does not slow me down as I yank myself free, ripping the jacket in the process. I'm back to running.

Where's Rufus? It was he who woke me, yelling about the hunters and screaming at me to wake up. If not for him, I'd have been murdered in my sleep. So where is he now?

The mud beneath my boots shifts under my weight and I'm suddenly thrown to the ground, rolling in the filth. I bounce right back to my feet, racing behind the cover of a ashen tree just as an arrow sails over my head.

Arrows. They have a bow!

This is fear beyond fear. It is my very worse nightmare come to life. I cannot outrun these kids. They will catch me, kill me, and leave my soul trapped in this arena for the demon to get. Motivated by this terror, I kick into overdrive, digging deep to get the last reserves of my stamina. I didn't get this far just to die now. What would my parents think?

Ahead of me, a gap opens up in the trees. I sprint for it, hoping against hope that it will hold something that could change the tides in my favor. I explode through the bracken and trip as my foot lands awkwardly upon a rock.

Pain shoots through me as I fall to the ground. My head snaps off of the ground and I come to a rolling stop as burning pain tingles my left ankle. I try to stand but my ankle gives out almost immediately. Moans escape my trembling lips as I cradle my wounded foot, certain that I have sprained it at the very least.

Then I glance behind me, at the sunlight that had given me so much hope. The morning light radiates from the sun, shining through the clouds and down upon the overlooking cliff where I now lie. Beneath this cliff is a fifty-foot drop to the ocean below. Into a jumble of razor sharp rocks.

"I'm finished..." The words come out of my mouth without me even thinking them. Where do I have to go? A trio of hunters prowl the woods, only mere moments away from finding me. At my back, I have a cliff and jagged rocks. Which way is better? Death by sword or rocks?

"Looks like you got yourself into a mighty fine pickle!"

I almost scream in shock as Rufus materializes beside me. A cocky grin plastered over his face.

"Rufus," I swallow heavily, tears stinging my eyes. They've been building up ever since I twisted my ankle, and now they threaten to come pouring out. "You have to help me! Th-they're coming! I can't run! I can't fight!" I'm sobbing now as I beg for help I know I can't receive. Rufus is a spirit. He's dead. There's nothing that he could do to help me. Not against living enemies.

Rufus frowns, genuinely upset by my not of nature breakdown. The voices of my hunters drift through the woods as they call to one another. In a few moments one of them will find me and...

"Let me into your body."


I blink in confusion. Rufus has kneeled beside me, his hard face hosting an unusually kind expression. "Let me in. You can't fight them, but I can."

"I don't understand!" How could Rufus help? He'd be stuck with my body, my skills. He couldn't possibly defeat the hunters, especially not with my ankle.

"I'll receive a burst of energy," Rufus speaks quickly, keeping an eye glued to the trees in case the hunters were to arrive. "A surge of adrenaline for finally having a shell to host my spirit. I won't feel the pain, not at first. And I'll have enough strength to dispatch those weaklings."

"I don't know..." So many things could go wrong. What happens to my spirit if I die with Rufus controlling me? What happens to Rufus? As horrible of a person as he was in life, he's redeemed himself in the afterlife. "What if you lose?" I ask him quietly. "What if you die?"

"I won't die," He says grimly.

I stare him in his ghostly eyes, looking for a hint of uncertainty or fear. I find none. "Okay...Okay!" My hands reach under my shirt, removing my cross that protects me from the possession of spirits and tucking it safely underneath the gnarled roots of a nearby tree. I'll come back for it when we beat the hunters. If we beat them. I glance at Rufus. "I trust you."

He smirks. "I knew you would."

His hands grab my shoulders and immediately I feel an icy chill run down my spine. The world seems to begin to spin, inky blackness floats along the edge of my vision. I see flashes of things I don't understand. People I've never met and places I've never been. I see a rundown orphanage, a laughing girl with shimmering blond hair. I see a meek child huddling in a corner, an enraged man throwing a bottle across the room, where it shatters into a million glass shards. Are these images of Rufus' life?

Then they're gone. Just as quickly as they came.

I fall. My very essence shivers uncontrollably as the sensation of being dropped into an ice-cold spring envelopes my being. My pain fades. The pain in my ankle, from scratches I received from the branches. It's all gone.

I let out an instinctive cry and then shrink back when it echoes around me. Then another shout comes. Curiously loud and all around me. It nearly deafens me. It also opens my eyes, reveals to me my surroundings. To my great shock, I find myself inside of my body. Not just inside as in control of it, no. But actually inside it.

I can see my bones, my blood and the sinew connecting it all. I can feel the gentle pulsing of my heart, the never-ending flow of my veins. I hear the whispering wheeze of my lungs, see the flittering spasms of electricity that runs through my brain and the thoughts that they represent. I can see it all.

This is all new to me. I've had my body invaded before, but that was not by a spirit. It was by a demon who had never live it's own life or had breathed actual air. That experience had been nothing like this.

Suddenly I'm being forced forward, up to my eye sockets. I fly straight into them, and with a jolt, find myself back in the real world. I see through my own eyes, see the world around me. I look down at my ankle and see that despite the massive swelling there, I feel no pain. This is tremendous. Exhalation flies through my being until my body cracks it's knuckles on its own. Only then do I remember that I am not in control.

"You're stronger than you look."

It's my own voice, coming out from my own body, but it is not me who speaks. It is Rufus. "Not as strong as I was, of course. But rest assured, your strength level should he sufficient enough." The voice alternatives frequency. Like a radio. Sometimes it is dulled and quiet, other times it feels like Rufus is talking through a loudspeaker. I try to speak, calling out to Rufus. Can you hear me?" I can hear myself, yet that doesn't mean very much. Silence stretches on for a few moments, then Rufus responds.

"I can hear you. It's like an annoying little insect buzzing in my head." I'm so relieved that I can ignore his casual insult. I won't be completely cut off from the world!

"Can you beat them?" My voice asks and my spirit drops as I remember the insurmountable odds before me. Rufus cocks my head, pulling my lips into a smirk as he stoops to pick up my fallen glaive.

"One way to find out."

Crimson Typhoon (District 11)


My voice cuts into the windy air, calling for my friend. He had disappeared into the wet undergrowth that surrounds us just over two minutes ago. I'm beginning to get a little worried.

"Where could he have gone?" Wolbert (6) asks. The tall blonde boy is standing beside me, uneasily shifting from foot to foot. "And where did Solar go?"

I shrug. Who knows? I just keep getting a very bad feeling about this. Wind howls savagely as it slices into the forest, blowing the freezing water droplets against our skin. I hold my bow close, keeping an arrow partially knocked at all times.

Bushes off to my left rustle to life, sending me into a state of panic. Fingers grip the arrow, pulling back on the bows string as Wolbert narrows his eyes at the undergrowth. "Radiant? Is that you?" I mumble a warning as Wolbert steps toward the bush. "Did you get him? I didn't hear a--"


"Huh. There it is!" Wolbert's head swivels up to look at the sky as a cannon goes off, mimicking the sound of thunder in this endless rain. "I guess you did--"

Fast as lightning, a silver blade comes whipping out from the shadows of the trees. Wolbert reels over in shock as it rips into his stomach, the sharpened blade coming out his back.

"Wolbert!" I scream in horror, my mind gone blank. Wolbert slumps to his knees, gasping and gurgling as his life force leaks out. A boy steps out from the bushes.

"Nice try, weakling!" With remarkable agility, the boy rips the blade from Wolbert's chest and gives my ally a kick in the chest, sending him to the ground. His cannon rings out just as his head falls to the cold mud below, eyes empty and lifeless.

I'm too stunned to speak. That boy...he's not Solar. I recognize him, but I also don't. Kaneki Urashi. The Capitol. Only...When I saw him in training, I would never have suspected the boy being capable of such ruthlessness. He had played his cards well.

"You going to use that bow?" The thin boy turns his eyes on me. "Or are you just going to point it at me?"

I fire without thinking. The arrow goes for Kaneki but is slapped away when he spins around to deflect it with the opposite end of his dual-bladed glaive. "Pathetic." Kaneki shakes his head as he steps over Wolbert's body. "Just absolutely pathetic. You're quite the weakling, you know that?"

I'm rooted to the spot in fear. That was my last arrow, my last line of defense. Kaneki smirks as he sees the panic in my eyes. He knows he has his perfect opportunity.

I turn to run.

I only go a few footsteps before I feel the burning pain in my back. So, this is the end, My mind thinks as I fall to the mud, my body screaming out in terror. This is where my second chance ends. Face first in the mud, my blood seeping out from a wound in my back. My allies are dead or just flat out gone....

What was the point?

There's another sharp jolt of pain in my back and then it's all over.

Douglas Biles (District 13)

I crouch over Kennedy's (6) sleeping body, machete in hand. She seems so peaceful right now. So at rest. She's curled underneath a blanket, quietly murmuring to herself. I hear the word "Jamieson" and know that she's dreaming of her dead boyfriend. It must be a pleasant dream, for she is not crying out like she does when she's having a nightmare.


Jenessa (13) rises from where she was sleeping amongst the roots of an ashen tree. Her hands rub her luminous brown eyes sleepily. "What are you doing?"

I breath out some air, patting the flat end of my machete on my knees. How should I say this? How does one tell somebody that it is time to kill their ally?

Jenessa crosses over to me, shivering slightly in the cold wind. The rain has ceased up here in the mountains, but dark clouds still linger over the vast expanse of the arena visible to us. "Something wrong?" She asks quietly, sitting beside me.

"Not exactly."

"Then why are you staring at Kennedy while she sleeps? It's pretty creepy."

We're going to kill her, Is what I think but don't say. That would be one way of telling her it. Somehow, I don't think it would work to be so blunt.

"Are you worried about it?" Jenessa asks.

It. She means the knowledge that we have about us just being clones. We're not real people. None of us tributes, save for the newbies like Kennedy, are real people. We're just some cheap knockoff dreamed up by the Capitol. It's not what I'm concerned about right now, though. At least, not my main concern.


"It's okay to be nervous," Jenessa places a hand on my shoulder and I shy away instinctively. Confusion flashes in her eyes, but she doesn't mention it as she continues. "Everyone is. And I'm sure they would be as concerned you are."

I don't like how her eyes brim with such concern for my well-being. How she attempts to touch me and wishes to make me feel better. None of that is real. All of the feelings should has are taken from a real girl who died. They are not meant for me.

"I'm thinking we need to cut Kennedy loose," I mutter, ignoring her efforts to calm me. I watch Jenessa for a reaction, but she's silent so I continue on. "She'll align with the others a soon as she gets the opportunity. We mean nothing to her. We need to end her before this gets out of hand."

"You want to kill her?" Jenessa's eyes widen in surprise.

I nod. "She'll kill us if we don't get her first."

"I...Doug. I..don't even know how to begin..." Jenessa bolts to her feet and I throw a nervous glance at the sleeping Kennedy. If she where to wake now... "How could you even suggest such a thing? Kill an ally? When they've done nothing wrong? That's so immoral!"

"What do morals mean to people like us?" I ask flatly. Clones aren't anything like normal humans.

"Oh? Is that it?" Jenessa's voice has begun to rise hysterically, threatening to wake Kennedy at any moment. I shake my head, rapidly gesturing at our sleeping ally. Jenessa glares at me, but she gets the message and continues much quieter. "You're just envious of her. You're mad you're not "genuine" or "real". You're obsessed with that!"

Her words sting. Full of passion and honesty. She truly believes that's why I want to kill Kennedy. It's not. I don't want to kill her. And even if I did, it wouldn't be for something as petty as envy. But what can I say? I doubt Jenessa would believe me.

"It doesn't matter what we are," Jenessa fixes me with a long look, her intense brown eyes seem to stare right through me. "We're still people. We have emotions. Morals. We know right from wrong." She steps forward, grabbing my hands and holding them tightly. "We don't need to be inhuman monsters just because that's what we were created to be. We choose our destiny."

With how impassioned she is, it would be hard to doubt her. Yet I still do. How can someone change their own destiny when the Capitol controls everything? They even have access to some of the tributes thoughts! "What do you want me to do?" I ask quietly.

"Don't kill Kennedy. We don't need to stay allied with her, if you don't want to, but we shouldn't kill her."

"Fine." It's a hard decision to accept, namely because my initial decision to kill Kennedy was based entirely upon strategy. Just letting her loose into the arena will ensure that she seeks out Camiren and Amethystia, and I'm quite certain that they won't hold any love for the two of us, if we met up again.

Jenessa nods curtly. Obviously she doesn't have much more to say to me. Fine. "Get your stuff," I tell her. My own items have already been gathered, I was expecting a quick exit after killing Kennedy.

She nods and goes to fetch the few items that she has. I briefly wonder if we should leave one our mines here, in case Kennedy is stupid enough to trigger it, but I highly doubt Jenessa would allow me to do such a thing. "Ready!" She comes back with her items and I just nod at her.

"Right. Well, let's head back to the cornucopia. We need the rest of those mines."

Todd Evans (District 0)

Rain thunders against the outside of the pyramid, slamming into the ground and giving off a gentle thumbing. Today will be a rest day. That storm is still going strong, and I don't want to run around in it.

"This is boring!" Seth (5) whines from the back of the antechamber. He paces back and forth between the dusty hieroglyph covered walls with his face pulled into a sneer. "Why are we even hiding in here?"

"If you want to get soaked to the bone, be my guest!" I uncross my arms and gesture down the long tunnel that serves as the only exit and entrance to the pyramid. "I'll stay here. Dry and safe."

Seth scowls at me but says nothing. I keep one eye on him as he goes back to pacing. I haven't forgotten how he attempted to kill me yesterday. I'll return the favour...when I no longer need him.

"Todd is right," Chloe (2), our newest ally, speaks up from where she was lurking in the shadows provided by the door ways arch. "Going hunting would be very bad for our health."

"We could have joined with Elvis if not for you!" Seth spits furiously.

"No, you couldn't. Luxray told them that you betrayed him. They'd kill you the minute they spotted you." I know I shouldn't enjoy my allies fighting, but it's entertaining to see them spar like this.

"They'd know he was lying when they saw Todd!" Seth crows with a triumphant glint in his eyes.

"You think they'd take the two of you over Luxray? He's a giant, and you're...well, a jousting beaver."

"That's it!"

Seth lunges across the pyramid, eyes flashing wildly. But before he can reach Chloe, my hand grips the back of his shirt and heaves him away. "No more fighting!" I shout and the words are further magnified by the massive echo that emanates from deep within the pyramid. Seth shrinks away from me and Chloe smirks. "Stop acting like a baby, Seth!" I hiss at him before turning to the girl. "And Chloe, stop making him angry!"

The two both mutter something unintelligible, their egos harmed by the way I've treated them like the bickering children they are. "We will not leave this pyramid today!" I crack my knuckles, staring both of them in the eye. Seth looks away. "We will rest and gather our strength. Tomorrow we will leave and fight. Understand?"

"Understood," Chloe nods immediately.

"Seth?" The lanky boy is sneering at the ground in silence.

"What?" He doesn't bother looking up. I repeat the question and he mutters something before finally looking up. "Yeah...Yeah, I understand you." His eyes glint with malice. This guy is the last person you can trust. He'd betray his own mother in a heartbeat, if it got him a good enough reward. But I don't need to trust him. I just need his obedience...for now.

"Good." My gaze slides over the both of them, taking in their every movement. Why do I get stuck with the idiots?

Anissa Fallows (District 1)

I trudge through the jungle wordlessly. Rain occasionally seeps past the thick canopy of the jungle, splattering across my path or onto my head. The military camp has been left far behind, Aelia (0) and Ganta (12) with it.

I didn't tell either of them that I was leaving. Aelia surely would have tried to stop me and I didn't want to put up with anymore of Ganta's snide comments. I'd have wrung his neck if I had to listen to him say one more word.

My boots sink into squishy mud and I halt my movement. Damn mud is everywhere! I can hardly take a step without getting stuck in it. That's not my biggest annoyance though. That's the freaking insects that continually bite at my exposed skin. I swat a few away now, grumbling as I continue forward. This portion of the jungle seems vaguely familiar. Why is that...?

I sense movement behind me. It's so subtle, it's almost non-existent. But I have honed my senses through years of training and I whip around just in time to parry the thrust of a silver sword.

My assailant stumbles back, shocked that I managed to deflect his strike. I go to counter-attack when the jungle rustles to life behind me. I roll under this second attack, two daggers slicing through the air where I just was.

Two tributes stand across from me. Both are armed.

"Jac and Azalea..." I mutter just as Jac swings his sword for my head. I duck under the swing and raise my knee, smashing it into his gut. He gives out a gruff shout and staggers to his knees, where I slam the hilt of my blade into his temple. I have no time to finish him off, however, as Azalea slashes her daggers towards me. I meet her attack with my own, breaking past her guard.

Azalea yelps in pain and drops one of the daggers as the tip of my sword cuts into her left hand. Blood droplets slip to the wet grass as she stares at me with wide green eyes.

I raise my sword to finish her off.


An arrow appears from nowhere, knocking into the blade of my sword and ripping it from my grasp. Azalea gives one gasp and then peels off into the jungle. What the hell?

A tribute emerges from the jungle. Tall and imperious, with a grin that shows he's loving every second of these Games, Elvis (1) strolls up to me, closely followed by a pack of Careers. All of them male. All of them extremely strong.

"Jake! Cullinan! Hunt her down!" Elvis sends two his lackeys racing off into the jungle after Azalea. I hope she escapes. I'd rather her not be killed by these animals. Once they disappear from sight, Elvis shifts his gaze to me. "Well, well, well, what have we here?" A mocking grin plays on his face as he twirls his ruby encrusted sword around with one hand.

"Anissa Fallows," A giant boy who seems to shadow Elvis grunts. His golden eyes peer out from behind dark, shaggy, black hair. "She chose not to align with the Careers."

Elvis nods sagely. "A traitor then! Well, we all know what happens with traitors!"

I try to force back my rising fury as the gears in my head turn. My sword lies at my feet, completely useless to me. I'd be run through with a blade before I even reached it. "I'm not a traitor," I say quickly. I have a plan, but it goes against every single thing that I stand for.

"You didn't align with us," Olympic (C) narrows his squat eyes at me. "So why the hell should we trust you?"

"I killed Ellis and Annabeth," The first two major threats from my alliance that I could think of. These wolves would be impressed by that, wouldn't they? "And left the others. I was only using that stupid alliance for my own benefit." Luxray frowns. Olympic sneers at me and calls me a filthy liar. Elvis, whose opinion matters the most, doesn't show any sort of reaction. Maybe they will accept me. All I need is the right opportunity, and then I can kill one of them and leave these murderous rats with one less member.

"I say we kill her!" Olympic stares at me with malicious eyes. "Then cut her head off and show it to her friends!"

"Like you could kill me!" I stare right back at him. Not much intimidates me, and Olympic is about the least frightening thing in this world. "You're just a sour, squat, little troll!"

Olympic growls and steps forward threateningly, but Elvis holds a hand in front of him. "Not yet," He tells the aggressive boy. "We could still get information from her."

I'm not certain if that is a good thing. What kind of information is he talking about? "Check Jac," I say, nodding at the unconscious boy. "He's still alive. You can finish him off you want." One less threat, one more reason for them to trust me.

Olympic stalks towards the fallen boy when Cullinan (1) suddenly crashes through the jungle, panting heavily. "What's happening?" Elvis narrows his eyes at the boy as he bends over to regain his breath.

"We...chased...the girl up a tree," Cullinan puffs the words out before pulling himself up straight. "Jake has her trapped. He sent me to get you."

Uneasiness spreads over me, but I'm not sure why. I know I had previously wanted Azalea to escape, but now I realize that one less threat is better for me. But then why do I feel so upset?

"We'll be coming," Elvis tells Cullinan before quickly turning to Olympic, who is in the middle of lifting Jac up to slit his throat. "Don't kill him!"

"Why?" Olympic frowns.

"We can use him to get the girl." Elvis grins and Olympic snickers gleefully, dropping Jac back to the soggy grass. I'm forced to try and control my anger. How could these kids think using a human being to catch and kill another human is funny? My fingers itch for a weapon, any weapon. I'd run it right through Elvis' throat. Let's see how funny that would be!

"What about her?" Luxray points a finger at me as the others gather their weapons. "What do we do with her?"

Elvis stares at me, his eyes glinting with a mysterious light. "She's with us. Isn't that right, Anissa?"

I don't like this. It's akin to making a deal with the devil. Joining Elvis' soldiers is the very last thing I ever imagined myself doing when I first entered these Games, but it might be the one thing that will help me find Amica. The thought of my small friend is what keeps me going, it's what allows me to make such horrendous decisions.

I nod to myself. This is something I have to do. Turning to Elivs, I give him a fake smile. "Of course. I am with you."

Arbor Alpine (District 7)

Our trio proceeds in a straight line through the thicker parts of the sugar forest. Caspian (3) leads us, slicing a pathway open with his sword. He's certainly a curious specimen. His arms are muscled and he seems to be in quite the shape, yet he squeaks and whines with every single swing of his blade. It's almost as if he is attempting to appear weaker than he truly is.

It is an understandable strategy. I myself rather successfully played it in the 399th Games. Yet, I cannot shake the Ill-feeling that I have when I watch Caspian. And it's not just him. My other ally, Dylan (4), is just as much of a mystery to me.

"Are we going to take a rest soon?" Dylan speaks now, calling from the back of the line. His eyes flutter back and forth between the trees, as if he suspects something is watching us.

"You and your rests!" Caspian snorts derisively as he slices away another patch of foliage.

"It is almost noon," I point out diplomatically. "Perhaps we should rest." Dylan flashes me an appreciative look, but I do not return it. My mother's teachings about trust have dissuaded any type of camaraderie I may make.

"If you both desire it..." Caspian swats away one last branch and then comes to a stop, bending to pick up a fallen twig. He sticks it into his mouth, sucking on the sugary bark. "Take a rest."

Dylan steps to the side of the path we've cleared as Caspian nibbles on the stick. I sit across from him, polishing the side of my axe. "I'm going to collect some food..." Dylan mutters and disappears into the deeper portions of the candy forest.

I watch him go before turning my gaze back to Caspian. He has rolled up his right sleeve and begun to gaze at his arm in admiration. Odd. I lean forward to get a closer look and spot two cuts across his forearm. Both are thin and narrow, deep enough to leave a scar, yet precise enough not to have been left by the weapon of an enemy.

What are they?

Caspian seems to take great pride in it as he stares at them. He is not yet aware that he's being watched. I'm not certain what I'm looking at. Did he already have those scars before the Games? No. They look too fresh for that. But then...


I jump in guilty surprise as Dylan's voice calls for me from the woods. Caspian rolls his sleeve back up and glances towards the thicket. "What?" I call back casually, glancing at Caspian. He doesn't seem to have noticed I was watching him.

"Come help me pick these chocolate balls, will you?"

I roll my eyes. Is my help really needed for that? Still, I get up and follow the sound of his voice to a small pocket of open space about twenty feet off from our copse. "Dylan." I nod at the blond boy as I spot him, picking candy off from bushes.

"Oh, hello!" He smiles cheerfully and tells me how to best help him pick. I think he's either crazy or a farming freak when he suddenly leans in and whispers. "Where's Caspian?"

Bewildered, I whisper back. "Back at the copse. But why does it matter? And why are we whispering?"

Dylan glances over his shoulder, at the woods where Caspian still sits. "Remember Rosalina?"

I nod. He references his old ally, the one he and Caspian told me about last night. Honestly, I had thought that Dylan was the ally Caspian told me about before they mentioned her. "What about her?"

"I..." Dylan trails off, looking decidedly awkward. I narrow my eyes at him. What exactly is he getting at? "I...think that Caspian killed Rosalina."

"Excuse me?" I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't a wild accusation. "What makes you think that Caspian would kill his ally?"

"Shh!" Dylan's eyes flash with fear as he glances around at the forest. "Not so loud!"

"Fine." I lower my voice, wondering if Dylan is crazy, yet also wondering if he is somehow correct. Caspian is rather suspicious..."What makes you think that, though?"

Dylan shuffles his feet together nervously for a moment before springing into his theory. Apparently he believes that Caspian is his allies killer simply because he was present at her death scene and that he thought his reaction to her death was a bit forced, even though he did cry. I don't think he brings up any valid points at all. Everything is based purely upon the fact that he does not trust Caspian.

"We need get out of here!" Dylan whispers fiercely. His eyes are still glued fearfully on the forest. "Before Caspian decides to murder us next!"

"Dylan..." I don't know. Dylan has next to no evidence, and he wants me to leave this alliance to gallivant off into the woods with him? How does he possibly expect me to trust him? For all I know, he could have killed Rosalina and wants me to leave with him so he can do the same to me.

"We should leave at night, when Caspian is asleep. Then we can--"


The boy jumps at my shout, fixing me with a blank stare. "What?"

"I'm not leaving this alliance."

"But..." Dylan looks down at his feet. His eyes glow with such sadness that for a moment I actually feel bad for him. It doesn't last long. "Are--Are you going to tell Caspian what I told you?"

"No. I won't tell him." What would be the point? I'd just pit him and Dylan against one another. And I'd be forced to choose between them.

"Oh...Thanks...I guess," Dylan backs off as Caspian's voice calls for us from in the woods. We gather the candy balls we've collected and head back in silence. I'm concerned that Dylan will either attempt to kill Caspian or desert us. Neither one would be beneficial for my long-term future in these Games. If I had to guess, I'd say he'd desert uz this night, while he's on guard. But I can't be certain. Things like this are exactly why I don't like connecting with people; they're just too damned unpredictable.

Cole Harrison (District 1)

The desert comes to an end.

One second we're stomping through the waterlogged sand, the next we're stepping out onto grass. Just like that. There's no gradual transition, no build-up. The desert just ends.

"We need to find water," Ryan (4) says as he peers up at the forest that lies ahead of us. Few trees still stand, and those are charred black from roaring flames. Twigs and loose rocks carpet the forest floor, making for a difficult walk. Running would get quite hazardous. You'd sprain or twist your ankle within seconds if you weren't careful.

"Are you daft?" I finally address Ryan's question, now that I'm done inspecting the biome. "We have more than enough water!" I throw my hand to the sky, where gallons of rain still pours. The desert, a desert was soaked with the endless downpour! Why the hell would we need water?

"It won't last forever," Ryan mutters as his feet take him towards the forest. I follow behind. "The Gamemakers could turn this arena bone dry by tomorrow."

I snort loudly but say nothing. What kind of strategy is this? We're Careers for God's sake! We should be out there hunting down tributes! Not searching for water in the middle of a rain storm!

My stomach suddenly growls just as we arrive at the fringe if the woods. Ryan throws me a sympathetic glance. "And food. We need to find some food as well." Great. And that to the endless list of things we need. Why don't I ever get a favourable lot in the Games?

We continue along into the woods. Ryan tells me to keep an eye open for food, but there's actually very little that I can see. Fallen trees. Broken twigs. Burnt remains of things I don't even recognize. None of it is edible, at least, I don't think it is.

"You've been in the Games twice before," I tell Ryan as he pokes at an upturned log with his trident. "You should know where to find food!"

"Not in a burnt forest I don't."

I scowl. I hate cheeky answers. I'm about to sit down and rest my legs, when I spot something just ahead of us. It's large and square, with four pillars jutting out from its roof. "What's that?"

"What's what?" Ryan follows my gaze and spots the building. "The shrine!"

He goes sprinting for the building. I just shrug and follow. What else is there to do? The building becomes clearer and clearer as we near, and my enthusiasm returns as I recognize the structure as the shrine from the 301st Games. Maybe there's some food inside!

Ryan is the first to reach the entrance, but I'm right behind him, staring eagerly out at the golden cornucopia that rests inside. Then I curse loudly.

There is no food. Weapons lie scattered about, scorched black from treacherous flames. Crates have been turned to ash or are merely empty shells. Scraps of backpacks lie at our feet.

"Slag this!"

I grab a burnt crate and smash it into one of the pillars, where it smashes into pieces. We found a cornucopia alright...A cornucopia of nothing! I feel like taking my sword and thrashing every single one of these crates, unleashing my anger for the world to see. Maybe the Gamemakers would finally send me some good fortune then!

"The fire took everything..." Ryan shifts through the remains, letting a handful of ash fall through his fingers.

"Yeah! I can see that Sherlock!" I have to cradle my head to stop myself from screaming every foul word I know. There's just no break!

"We'll need to find food eventually," Ryan mutters as he rises. "The rain will supply us with water, and we can gather it in some of the least burnt containers. But for food..."

I'm only half listening. My eyes are fixed on the woods in the far distance, where the flames from this fire must not have reached. There'll be food in there, I bet. And tributes. Heh. We could kill two birds with one stone. "Let's prowl the woods!" I point my sword for Ryan. "I've been itching for a fight since these Games began!

"Not yet."

I almost scream. Not yet? Not freaking yet?! "Why not?" I demand, barely suppressing my rage.

"We've been walking for most of the day. We need our rest. Besides...someone may return here."

It's difficult to admit that Ryan may be right. But I have to rely on his experience. He's been in the most Hunger Games out of everyone in the whole world. If anyone knows what they're doing, it's him. "Fine!" I drop myself on the ground and cross my arms stubbornly. "But if no one comes by morning...Then I'm going hunting."

Jonathan Mikeal (District 5)

I walk at the back our group as we enter the shipyard. Boats groan gently as the wind whips past them, shaking their rusty metal cores. Julian (13) jumps in shock when a fish leaps out from the water only to splash back underneath. Everybody laughs.

It's in moments like this that I can imagine that we're not in the Games, not in Panem. It would be so nice to live a life away from all the horror and chaos that the Capitol breeds. Too bad I have no power to change things.

"Keep your eyes peeled," Banette (8) tells us as we take a pathway leading into the deepest parts of the shipyard. "There could be danger anywhere."

I nod in agreement. Aisha (8) slips up beside our leader and strikes up a conversation. I've noticed that she's been attempting to speak with each of our allies since this morning. She didn't have much luck with Julian, as kind of a boy he is, he's afraid of everything. He merely squeaked out a few pleasantries before ducking his head shyly.

"I like this place more than the city," I say to Harvest (9) as we walk. The even-tempered kid nods peacefully.

"Yeah. That place was creepy with a capital "C"," Harvest gives a quick laugh, then looks around frantically like he thought someone was watching.

I smile inwardly. His little quirks are what makes him interesting. What makes each of them interesting. Dread builds in me when I think of how they'll have to die. Not for my sake, I'd never allow myself to live over someone else who deserved it, but because it happened before. In my last Games, our alliance all died. I did my best to keep them alive, but my best was not good enough. It's a painful realization, learning that everything you did wasn't enough to save the people you care for.

"Red alert!"

I snap put from my thoughts as Banette points a finger out at the horizon. A large girl has just exited an anchored boat, gingerly stepping onto the walkways that crisscross the shipyard.

Aisha breaks out into a sprint towards the girl, Banette and Harvest right behind her. Without a word, their target turns and runs.

"It could be a trap!" Julian frets as he watches the trio chase the tribute around the bend and behind a large oil tanker ship.

"Doubt it. That was Vera. She's extremely antisocial and highly volatile." I nudge the small boy with my shoulder. "C'mon. Let's follow."

We jog after the action, hearing the thumping of feet upon metal and the occasional shout. I don't know if I even desire for our alliance to catch Vera. She's not a bad person, not someone I want to see perish. Yet, I know that it's inevitable. Everyone kills in the Hunger Games. Even my closest friends.

Julian begins to fall behind me as I pick up the pace, trying to ascertain what direction the chase went. The walkways branch off into many different paths, making it difficult to find them. But I merely follow the sound of shouting and when I make a sharp left turn, I see a battle.

Vera stands tall, her eyes wild with a berserker like rage and an axe in her hands. Harvest is on his back, crawling away from the massive girl with his elbows. Aisha intercepts Vera's axe that swings for his head and they start of brawl.

Where is Banette? I don't see the boy anywhere, and while Aisha seems to be holding her own against the much larger girl, his help would be greatly appreciated. I'd join the fight, but I'm afraid that my unannounced arrival would startle Aisha into making a costly mistake.

Vera swings an axe over Aisha's head, and the girl counterattacks with a spear thrust aimed for her heart. Vera steps back and that's when I spot Banette, slinking up from the opposite side of the walkway. He must have been attempting to flank Vera.

Aisha halts her attack when she spots Banette and while Vera frowns suspiciously, it is too late. Banette digs one knife into the center of her back, and then with one fluid motion, slices her throat open with another.

Vera's howl of rage turns into a wet gurgle as she sinks to the ground, choking on her own blood as it bubbles in her throat. Banette watches with cold eyes as she dies, leaving one less person in this unholy arena.


"That was...unpleasant," Harvest says as he stares down at Vera's body. His eyes give away the horror he feels.

"It was necessary!" Aisha snaps at him and then quickly pulls Vera's axe from her cold, dead fingers. She turns and thrusts the weapon into Harvest's hands. "Would you rather she killed us?"

"Just because it was necessary doesn't make it pleasant," I remind her. She glances at me for a moment before shrugging.

"I guess so." Is she worried that we're judging her? I do not know about the others, but I completely understand her slightly more brutal personality.