“Like I said before, DO NOT show them everything. You have time to do that in the actual arena, they will take whatever they can away from you if you continue to use it in the training arena. They’ll notice that if you’re too good, and look like a possible winner, they will use that against you and take your weapon of choice out of the Games to make everything even.” Haymitch said cautiously as we sat down and ate breakfast that next morning. The way he was looking at us, you could tell he was being quite serious. We both just nodded, trying not to continue a further argument, and found ourselves walking down to the training arena for day 2 of training. When we got in there, the second Career pack including Griffin, the boy from District 7, were already training their hardest at the survival skills. Ashton and Blaine were practicing their sword fighting, with plastic poles that had huge foam padding at the tips of them so they could actually hit each other.
“Watch where you’re swinging, idiot! You almost took my face off!” Ashton yelled to Blaine, who raised his arms up. “Sorry dude, I just got way too into it I guess.” Blaine said, with only what seemed to be half an apology.
The rest of the training arena consisted of Gunner, his district partner the little 12 year old girl, the boys from District 6 and 8, and both tributes from districts 9 and 11. Peyton was also there, learning how to tree climb. I didn’t bother saying a word to him when we walked past his station, not wanting to create any sort of conversation that could lead me into possibly feeling regret for maybe needing to kill him. I don’t care what my sister will think of me, if I have to save Clarice or myself from Peyton, I’ll shoot him dead in a matter of only seconds.
All of the tributes in both Career packs gave Clarice and I glares, including Griffin and Piper. We just ignored them and went over to the plants station, where we learned how to detect poisonous plants, poisonous berries, and many other lethal things that the Gamemakers throw into the arena that look harmless.
“Be careful of these bugs,” the trainer said, showing us a holographic picture of a black bug that was rather fat, and had two large claws. “If you step on them, they’ll set off explosions all around you, and you’ll be dead in seconds. We almost didn’t have any victors a few years ago because of these guys.”
With mostly everything learned from this station, we moved to a station where you have to hop from platform to platform. The Career girl from the 1st group, Kadence, walked over to the station and stood behind us. She began to laugh quietly to herself, so Clarice turned around and looked at her.
“What are you laughing at?” Clarice asked her, causing Kadence to look around like she didn’t do anything wrong and then looked back at Clarice. “Are you talking to me?” Kadence said sarcastically, setting Clarice off, but before she could say anything, Kadence spoke again.
“I don’t care if you’re cousins, brother and sister, boyfriend and girlfriend, or any of that shit. I’m going to kill you whenever I get the chance, so be ready.” Kadence said warningly to Clarice, who I forced to turn around and look the other way.
“Wait till the arena to fight, not here. Haymitch doesn’t want us to get any bad marks against ourselves.” I said, watching as Clarice huffed agreeingly and when it was our turn, we jumped from platform to platform, while some were standing still and some were moving and disappearing into the ground. It reminded me of a little kid obstacle course.
When we were done with training at that station, we began to train each other with our weapons of choice. I was going to learn to throw knives, and Clarice was going to learn to shoot a bow, just in case one of us dies we can use the others weapon and fight our way to survival.
I take a knife in my hand and throw it, hitting the target but not in the middle where Clarice hits it every time.
“You’re forcing it too much, just let it go through you as if it’s nothing. Concentrate.” She says, as I raise my arm again, cross it over my body, and swing it, letting go of the knife. It soared and hit the head of the dummy target, so it wasn’t a bad shot. But I could still improve.
After an hour of throwing knives, I walked Clarice over to the shooting range where we found Peyton. Clarice picked up a bow and grabbed a couple arrows, and walked over to the platform where you’re supposed to stand when you shoot. Naturally, shooting a bow and arrow isn’t hard at all, the aiming and consistency between your shots are. You can’t get ahead of yourself, and you can’t get too far behind your shot or you’re going to mess up. She ended up getting the hang of it after a half hour of practice and we noticed that the Gamemakers were jotting things down while staring at us, so we put the bow back not wanting to risk it being banned from this year’s Games.
A few running exercises and fist fighting training and the day was finally over. There wasn’t much tension today between all the tributes, considering mostly everyone just wanted to concentrate on their training and figure out ways to survive. The only thing that ever interrupted the silence was the sounds of swords clanging against one another, arrows being shot, bodies falling towards the floor if someone slips, and the shouts of the Career packs when they yell things at each other or become really good at something that they took time to master in the training arena. Weirdly, Griffin and Piper didn’t bother shouting things or even cheering when they found something they were good at. They mostly stuck to themselves, and often talked amongst each other. A few times we caught them looking straight at us, muttering things about us most likely.
“I don’t know, they’re a weird pair. But they must be good if the Careers want them on their side.” I said to Clarice, who nodded in agreement.
“Yeah I don’t know, we’ll find out in the arena just how good they are. So far all I know is Griffin is good with a spear and the girl Piper I think her name is is good with a couple of axes. Whether or not she can throw them good I don’t know.” Clarice said, trying to read every tribute one more time before we walked back up into our penthouse and awaited dinner.
When it was time to feast, we all gathered along the table and waited for Effie to join us. She was in a meeting with all the other mentors including Haymitch, who decided to skip the meeting.
“That was rather rude of you, Haymitch. I’m going to send my sincere apologies to the Capitol when I get a chance! They prepared a nice feast for you!” Effie said, walking into the door waving a Chinese fan in her face.
We sat down for dinner and talked about training day 2, and told them it was duller than the first day since everyone was so used to the training stations. We decided to skip day 3 of training, since most people do anyway considering Clarice and I already feel fully trained and ready to go. Haymitch takes us down to the Capitol Library where we are planning on watching old tapes of previous Hunger Games. At least, the most important ones. When we get to the library, Haymitch decides its better to rent the videos and watch them in our penthouse, so no one else can make strategies with the video tapes we’re going to be watching.
“I think these 25 or so Games should do well. Watch them carefully, and take notes on how everyone acts when they first get into the arena. You’ll notice it’s always the same emotions, no one is ever really eager to run to the Cornucopia and get their weapon. They’re all scared, and I absolutely do not want either of you to run to the Cornucopia. It is a blood bath; I don’t care if you see your knives, or your bow,” Haymitch says, pointing his fingers at Clarice and I, “Because if you go there, and get your weapons, someone could easily come up behind you and kill you much faster. Your odds won’t be in any sort of favor for you by doing that. It’s suicide. Got it?” Haymitch says, really drilling in our heads that it would be the worst idea imaginable to do so. Nearly 12 victors always die in the blood bath of the Cornucopia.
“We got it.” I said, as we walked back to our penthouse and put in the first five Hunger Games until we wanted a break.
Haymitch was right. Everyone who goes into the middle of the arena to get to the Cornucopia to find their weapons gets either killed or injured in some aspect. Usually the Careers are the ones who obtain most of the weapons and kill the most people. Haymitch wants us to stay away from them as much as we can, including Griffin and Piper. We note not to go into the Cornucopia blood bath, and to make way for trees or shelter if anything is around us. Maybe try and grab a little backpack that the Gamemakers provide us usually with small items such as matches, flashlights, thermoses, sleeping bags, rope, any stuff along those lines.
When we were through watching the rest of the Hunger Games movies, we gave them back to Haymitch who returned them the next day. Today was the day before the Games began, which meant we had our interviews. Cinna walked into the room a few hours before to show us what we will be wearing. He promises that nothing special and surprising was going to happen, and we all sort of laughed about it. But he did want to propose something to me that I had no idea was going to be asked of me.
“Haymitch and I were thinking of…making additions to your tattoo.” Cinna said, smiling while opening a book of sketches. He drew out my original tattoo, the shield being split apart by the lightning shaped crack, and then flipped the page to reveal the same tattoo, only with the Capitol Seal in it. Now this was a surprise.
“No! Absolutely not, by doing that it would condemn my family to death and anyone else I love! It would be practically shouting out at President Snow, ‘Hey look at my tattoo! I’m being totally serious about this rebellion!’”
Cinna laughed and said that Snow won’t see it unless I take off my Games jacket that I will be given tomorrow before entering the arena. If the Gamemakers were to see the tattoo, they would probably throw a fireball right at me and singe me to death. Anything to stop something from happening to their precious Capitol.
“I don’t know, I think you’d look stupid if you didn’t have it. I mean, now that everyone has seen our costumes and that woman from the markets flag, you might as well just get it added to your tattoo. Otherwise, all those hopeful families out there who are waiting for something to happen, some sort of act to bring their kids deaths to justice, will fade away if they see you’re not supporting your own rebellion that we started.” Clarice said, trying to sound convincing.
“Unknowingly!” I shouted, but Haymitch came into the room and raised his hands, gesturing to calm down.
“Do you know what importance you two may be to some of the people out there waiting for something to happen? Something good for once? You’re the hope that these people need. By adding that to your tattoo will most definitely upset the Capitol to the point beyond return, if they know you’re all for a rebellion. But they won’t do anything until you’re out of the Games because if they intentionally kill you, in front of the whole nation and it’s noticeable that your death was staged, they’re going to have an uprising on their hands either way.”
Haymitch was always so logical…so damn right. I thought about it for another fifteen minutes before I came to the conclusion that I wanted it to be done. So after my interview in front of the whole Capitol tonight about the Games, I’ll be given my addition to my tattoo.
The boys were to wear tuxes and the girls gowns. We slipped into our dress clothes and made our way down to the Capitol Entertainment Building which was across from the President’s Building. When we got there, we saw both Career groups, Griffin, Piper, Gunner, the 12 year old girl, Peyton, and the other tributes from the rest of the districts. Clarice and I were to go last, considering it was by numerical order. By the time District 12 was ready, I wasn’t. I didn’t know what Caesar was going to ask me, and how I was going to answer it. But when my name was called, I walked onto the stage and looked to my left, seeing camera flashes everywhere, hearing people shouting, and hearing laughter among small groups of sponsors up in the higher levels of the auditorium.
“Welcome, Kade, from District 12!” Caesar shouted to the crowd, who clapped as I sat down next to Caesar.
“Thank you for having me,” I said, a little overwhelmed with all of the people staring at me, waiting for me to say something funny or about the Games.
Caesar calms down the crowd and asks me another question.
“Are you ready for the Games tomorrow, Kade? Is it going to be tough with your cousin in there with you, fighting to the death with 22 other tributes?”
I laughed, trying to play smart to make it seem like I wasn’t nervous at all. Which was of course one of the biggest lies I’ve ever said.
“I mean knowing anyone personally in the Games is terrifying, because you don’t want it to get down to you two being the last tributes, or you don’t want to kill them. My cousin and I have already decided that if we had to kill one another to end the Games, we could do so.”
Yet again, another lie. Lie, lie, lie. That’s all that was coming out of my mouth at the moment. Thank god Caesar didn’t ask anything about the rebellion that he most certainly knows is cooking up throughout Panem at this very moment, but to ask such a question about one of the biggest crimes imaginable on live television, especially with me being the person that has to answer, would be a big mistake, because than I would be brutally honest about everything, on purpose. Wait, no I wouldn’t. That would just get everyone killed before we had a chance to even do anything. So therefore I would lie yet again, maybe even be so dumb and blunt and ask, “What rebellion, Caesar?” but it might turn the heat and excitement out of the Games and we wouldn’t get much sponsors if Clarice and I were just ordinary sponsors. So I decide to try and avoid any mention of the rebellion at all costs.
“That’s good to hear! Although it would be very tragic, of course, to see one of you fall at the others hands, it would make for good television! What do you think folks?” Caesar shouted, and people screamed back at him with such excitement that it was sickening.
“Unfortunately I can only ask you one more question because we have to stay on schedule! So my question is…if you could say anything to your family right now if they were watching this, what would it be?”
I looked at the camera and already knew what I wanted to say. What I’ve been wanting to say.
“I would tell them not to worry, and to have hope. They’re just games, nothing else. And that all the Capitol wants is a good show, and that Clarice and I will give them the best Hunger Games that they have ever seen, and show them that even small families from the poorest district in Panem can outlast every other district out there. I would also tell Arabella and Violet, my sister and cousin, not to put their names in the glass bowls for any food, because it isn’t worth being Reaped into these sadistic games.”
There was mere silence in the auditorium and Caesar ended my interview. Clarice came on and was asked questions about the Games and who she thinks would win if she were a citizen watching the Games, and what she thinks her odds are of winning. When her interview was gone, we both met up with Haymitch and Cinna to be taken to the room where I was to be given my new addition to my tattoo. When I got there, Effie was there standing by the door making sure no Peacekeepers were going to walk in and see what was about to take place. Haymitch and Cinna guided us to the doorway and we saw Fulvia with a tattoo gun ready in her hand. I took off my tux and rolled up my sleeve, and felt the prickle of the needle go into my arm. After about a half hour, Fulvia was done with the tattoo. I looked down at it and was very impressed. Now it was official. I was the leader of a rebellion that could potentially take place after the Games if I survive. And if I do, there will be only one motive in my life.
Taking down the Capitol.
Before the night could end and take us to the next morning, Games day, we had one more trial left. Evaluation. They normally do evaluation during the day after the third day of training, but they had to postpone it because the Gamemakers were behind on organizing everything for the Games. My tattoo was still healing on my shooting arm, so I feared that going in and shooting a bow would be tough.
“Just put an ice pack on it right now before we go, we still have about an hour and evaluation only lasts like fifteen minutes anyway, right?” Clarice told me, finishing her statement with a question to Haymitch, who nodded.
“Yes, I think your arm should be fine. Since it rightfully is your evaluation, you do have a choice of what exactly you want to do. But you have to make it good, because if you are ranked anywhere below a 6 out of 12 on the scoreboards, you will be automatically targeted first in the Games because everyone will think your easy prey.”
I thought about what Haymitch said and found a loophole through what he stated. There was no possible way out of anyone targeting us.
“Haymitch…if we score higher than a 9 everyone will want to target us first because once the highest scorers are out of the way, the competition gets so much easier…same with us being given low scores. If we score low, people are going to come after us anyway. Not even including the fact everyone wants the chance to be able to kill Clarice and I as a package deal. Killing the two cousins who were mysteriously picked together to fight in the arena. The two cousins who were made control of a brewing rebellion. Killing us would bring so much honor to whoever tribute does the job, not to mention their district and family. Snow will probably even award them greater than he normally does if they win the Games and kill us. We’re pretty much screwed left and right on this one.” I stated back, hoping he understood where I was coming from. Cinna certainly did, because when I finished speaking, he had a look on his face as if he wanted to counter my counter towards Haymitch, but got lost for words and shook his head, looking to the floor, hopeless for words.
“He is right, Haymitch. No matter what they do, they’re going to be targeted. The only source of luck is if the Career groups want to eliminate all competition first and then go after them to increase the intensity of the Games. Career groups vs. the faces of a “hoax rebellion”, is what some Capitol citizens are calling it now. They all think it’s an act to win sponsors for being “brave” to make such a lying, thundering statement just to win support. Although, if you two didn’t feel up to being the faces of a rebellion, which Haymitch, a group of others, and I are definitely in to do, than I guess we could call off the buzz and say it was just for popularity reasons. This would save you some neck in the Games, if some of the tributes were to buy it. They might have already caught on to the fact that you guys might say it’s not real to turn off some of the heat on yourselves.” Cinna said as I walked to the freezer to take out my ice patch. Setting the ice patch on my tattoo felt amazing, the burn from the shadowing of my tattoo disappeared almost immediately.
Haymitch was all over the place with our comments. He agreed with every one of us, and just told us to do as well as we could in the evaluations in front of the Gamemakers and depending on our scores, we’ll make a decision. He asked me if I had any idea what I was going to do, and I had to think about it for a good few minutes until I came up with something good. I didn’t want to just shoot arrows at targets and get bulls eyes all the time, because it wouldn’t look as skillful as moving targets. Yes, I’m going to have a tribute trainer go in with me and throw targets in the air and snipe them down with a bow. It would show accuracy, motivation, skill, and maybe even aggression. I’ll even try to land a ‘2 birds with 1 stone’ act, only it would be called ‘2 targets with 1 arrow’. After sharing my idea to Haymitch, he agreed it would definitely be better than just simply shooting arrows at targets. He even suggested shooting an arrow past the head Gamemakers face, but we all knew that was too much.
It was time to go. Clarice had decided she was going to just simply throw knives at the targets, since copying me wouldn’t really have much of an effect on her score. It would also give hints to the Gamemakers that we were working together, or discussing what we were going to do after I already stated we “could kill one another” if we had to in the Games. We can’t show we’re working together until we get into the Games, because as far as Snow and the Gamemakers are concerned, we are pretty much untouchable.
It was nine o’clock and evaluation was ready to begin. The higher districts went first, naturally. All the tributes in the Career groups came out of the training arena with smiles on their faces, or gave thumbs up to the other members of their Career group. Career group 1 never gave any sort of emotion to Career group 2. Keaton made sure of that. He told his group that if they ever spoke to anyone from Career group 2, they would be his number one target in the arena. He focused this statement specifically on Piper, since her district partner was Griffin, who was in Career group 2.
When the boy from District 6 came out, he had what looked like blood all over his hands. Surely it was just red paint, because they did provide that in the training arena for evaluation if someone wanted to show off their camouflaging skills for evaluation. People were known to get pretty high scores based off of that, but by the look on the kids face, something was wrong.
“I don’t think his evaluation went exactly as planned.” Clarice said quietly as he walked by, staring at him without making it obvious.
I laughed, “That, or maybe it went too good that he was so amazed with himself.”
Districts 9, 10, and 11 went and finally it was our turn. Clarice went first, and I sat by myself for fifteen minutes. I went over to the closed door to try and hear something going on, but all I could hear was her saying, “Clarice Chapman. District 12.” Obviously formally introducing herself, making it known who she was. But the Gamemakers knew exactly who she was, Snow made sure of that.
I could then hear her throwing knives at targets, and heard a loud piercing sound of metal against metal. What was she doing?
When I heard a small bell go off, I knew her evaluation was over and I quickly ran over to my spot on the bench where we all sat before being called into the training arena just in case Peacekeepers at the door saw me listening in, which is against the rules. Surely enough, when the doors were open, Clarice was escorted out by two Peacekeepers and then said, “Last tribute, they’re ready for you.”
Clarice walked past me and gave me a smile and thumbs up, hinting that her evaluation must have been good. When I walked in, they weren’t done cleaning the place up from her evaluation. I saw that every target she threw a knife at, was directly in the middle of the target. Bullseye every time. The loud piercing sound of metal against metal was revealed as I saw Clarice ended up throwing a knife into another knife that was already in the center of a target, getting a double bullseye by throwing the knife perfectly into the end of the first knifes handle, so one was sticking out of the other. How could I top that? That was perfect.
I walked over to the trainer inside who was there for tribute support, and told him what my plan was. He nodded and walked into a back room where he came out with ten sacks of flour, with targets printed onto them. Except, the targets weren’t red circles with a giant red dot in the middle. It was the Capitol Seal, since these flour bags were property of the Capitol.
Perfect. I laughed to myself because the Gamemakers were probably thinking the same thing as me, making connections to my tattoo and then what I was about to do, which was shoot arrows right through the Capitol Seal. It was ballsy to do, but how could I have known the flour packs were going to have Capitol Seals as the targets? Maybe they weren’t really intentionally supposed to be the targets, but every time the trainer threw the bags of flour up left and right, up and down, criss crossed, I shot my arrows directly into the middle of the Capitol Seals. Instead of hitting two targets with one arrow, since that was relatively similar to what Clarice did with her knives, I lined up a shot perfectly so when I released my arrow, it struck through the flour bag with the Capitol Seal on it, and flew right into the center of an actual target, landing a bullseye. That will have to do for now.
The trainer gave me an odd look of acceptance of my performance, and slightly laughed because he knew exactly what I was thinking the whole time when I shot the flour bags, making the connection with me being the face of the “hoax” rebellion, which was in fact very real, because I did want to take down the Capitol any way I could, and shooting arrows into a Capitol Seal many times, ending my performance by shuttling one of the flour bags into a bullseye on an actual target. The Gamemakers said nothing to me, as I didn’t to them, and watched me as I shook hands with the trainer for helping me out in my performance and then saw me being escorted out by the Peacekeepers.
When I got back to the penthouse, everyone asked Clarice and I what had happened. Clarice explained how she just threw her knives as she would in any sort of training day or back at home in District 12 in our own personal training arena. Then she added her twist by nailing another knife with the last knife she had. Everyone applauded her and said it was exceptional. When it was my turn, I noted to everyone how the flour bags had Capitol Seals on them, which made everyone laugh because of the irony. I then told them about how I nailed one of the flour bags into a target with an arrow, which they found extraordinary. We succeeded with our evaluations farther than expected.
When an hour went by and the Gamemakers were done scoring us on a scale of 1 to 12, we turned on the TV and switched the channel to the Capitol station, where the Capitol Seal was spinning around and around on a black screen, keeping everyone anxiously waiting for their results. When the Capitol anthem played, the program began with Caesar’s voice broadcasting live, welcoming everyone to the final event before the 74th Annual Hunger Games began.
“Welcome, everyone! Tributes, Districts, and Citizens of the Capitol, we are gathered this hour to be revealed to us the scores of the 24 tributes from Districts 1-12 on their performance in front of the Gamemakers only hours ago! Let’s start off with District 1, as usual.” Caesar said, his cobalt blue hair and eye shadow glowing in the camera. I always found it weird how the “style” in the Capitol for girls and guys were the same. Guys wear makeup, and obviously so do girls. It’s just unnatural.
“…Keaton from District 1 lands a score of… 10! Congratulations! Next up we have Kadence from District 1 landing a score of… 9! Congratulations to the both of you with very high scores! Next we have District 2 starting with Grayson with a score of… 8! Very nice! Runner up is Harper with a score of… 9!”
Okay, so the first Career group got very high scores. Grayson being the lowest, which was weird, but I guess there wasn’t really much you could do with a long axe besides chop things up, which anyone could do. Maybe he just didn’t feel the need to show off all his skill, maybe it was just part of a bigger plan he had for himself. Who knows.
Caesar continued, “Next we have District 3 starting off with Ashton, with a score of… 10! Following Ashton we have Cecilia with a score of… 8! Congratulations to both of you! Next up from District 4 we have Blaine, with a score of… 11! Wow, very good! Next we have Sierra with a score of… 9!”
Blaine, getting an 11? I guess the odds were in his favor anyway, he was the biggest muscle wise out of all of us. The Gamemakers probably took his strength as his weapon, since he was pretty much good with every weapon probably. Caesar continued through Districts 5 and 6. Gunner landed a 8, not too bad. I thought he would get at least a 9 though. The 12 year old girl who was district partners with Gunner got a 6, naturally, since it was obvious she wasn’t going to get that high of a score. The boy from District 6 got a 3…that, I don’t understand. Haymitch said he would explain after. Something bad obviously went on in that room. The boy was 14 years old, so I figured that maybe he had a good shot at staying alive for some time in the Games, but with this score, he was lucky if he made it through the first hour. Next up was Griffin and Piper, who both landed 10’s. Then it was District 12’s turn after the rest of the District names were announced. Peyton got a 7.
We were all silent and waited for Caesar to flip the page in his scoring packet. He read the scores and stumbled for a moment, and then said out loud. “From District 12, Kade, landing a score of… 11! Congratulations! Next we have Clarice from District 12, finishing up with a score of… 11 as well! Congratulations to both of you, and the rest of the tributes for their participation these last few days! Good luck in the Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor! Goodnight!”
The TV immediately turned off and Clarice and I both looked at each other and congratulated one another. Everyone else in the room, Haymitch, Effie, Cinna, Fulvia, Cressida, and Harley all congratulated us and after we toasted to good scores, Haymitch spoke.
“Let’s just hope those scores weren’t on purpose…scores like that, both tributes getting 11’s, is not very common, actually it has never happened in many years, besides 1 year. I think it was the 35th annual Hunger Games, where both tributes got 12’s. But they were Careers from District 1.”
Clarice and I nodded. We didn’t care whether or not it was on purpose, we both felt good with how trained and ready we were for the Games. Then we asked Haymitch what happened to the boy from District 6, and what he said shocked us to where we were left speechless.
“He apparently took a knife, and cut his forearm and with the blood, painted your tattoo on one of the walls. The rules of the Capitol is that Gamemakers and trainers are not allowed to interrupt with the evaluation acts, but they really did a number on the boy from District 6, who pretty much threw his life to the Gamemakers by doing this. I guess our message of rebellion through my tattoo was spreading fast like wildfire, to the point where some of the tributes were ready to die for us to continue on, and take down the Capitol as much as we could. And importantly, open up a doorway to victory in the Games, which were approaching in less than 12 hours.
“The odds are nowhere in his favor. He did you a favor, and is definitely going to die for it whether or not by the hands of the Gamemakers through their wicked tricks in the Games, or by a tribute. That boy has no chance of survival.” Haymitch said, getting up off the couch and pouring more whiskey into his glass. He gulped it all down with one swig, cleared his throat, and took a deep breath. Effie and Cinna left the room after this, and noted to us before they left that Haymitch always gets extremely intoxicated the night before the Games every year. It was his way of poorly coping with the events that he went through with his Games. After being noted of that information, Clarice and I left the kitchen and left Haymitch and his bottle of whiskey alone to be with each other for the night. Clarice and I walked into the living room and sat down on the couch by ourselves, discussing plans for tomorrow.
“We’re not running to the Cornucopia. We have to survive this, and by going directly into that blood bath is like throwing a bloody body in the middle of a shark tank. We would have no chance of getting out of there in one piece.” I said, and Clarice agreed for the most part.
“But we need weapons, Kade. I know Haymitch said not to go, but what if we can get them and get out alive and untouched…”
I shook my head, “If you even have to say ‘what if’ there is no chance we can. We can’t base our decisions on ‘what if’s. There are more important things than victory and our lives on the line right now. You heard what that boy from District 6 did; he could have bled to death in there if he didn’t finish his painting with his own blood in time. He was already willing to die before even entering the Games for us, for our cause…for our rebellion that we started. Not him, not our family, not Panem. Us. I know it was unknowingly, but we have to take responsibility of our actions. And if we called a hoax on our rebellion, the Capitol wouldn’t care. They would still find a way to get payback against us for sparking an idea of a rebellion.”
Clarice sat there in silence and thought to herself. “You’re faster than I am…” And I cut her off, giving her the same speech. Running into the center of the arena was for idiots and Careers to do. I also noted to her that if we’re not the center of attention in the blood bath of the Cornucopia, than maybe some of the Careers will kill each other off for us. But if we’re there, everyone is going to focus on killing us; and we certainly can’t let that happen. No matter what happens.
“How confident are you on making snares and traps and what not?” I asked Clarice.
“I can definitely do a good enough one to get something out of it. Fires are easy to us now anyway, so we don’t have to worry about that. But we need to make a rule…fires are only good in the daylight. We can’t risk doing one in the dark when anyone in the arena could see us. While we were practicing with the fire in the training arena, I overheard one of the trainers telling the girl from District 11 that there is a certain sort of bark in the arena that the Gamemakers made so smoke doesn’t appear when the fire is burning. It’s apparently really rare to find, but I know the description.”
She told me how this rare wood had a dark grey tint of color to it, and had large black spots all over it. She also said that she was close to finding out where it could be, but the trainer took her somewhere else to tell her more specifics since he saw Clarice snooping in on their conversation.
“Well at least you got that down…I’m going to want one knife of yours just in case I need to protect myself in close combat. That alright with you?” I asked her, and she nodded and had no problem with that.
“How am I going to get a knife when were not even rushing into the Cornucopia for weapons?” She teased, and I shook my head.
“Stop, we’re not going to do that. We’ll have to trap and kill whoever has your knives. We’ll have to somehow watch which Career or tribute picks up the knife packs. Haymitch says there’s usually two packs of knives, so the odds with that is somewhat in our favor. Especially if both of us could have one.”
After spending another hour discussing tactics and plans for the Games, we said our good bye’s until seeing each other in the arena since we were to be taken down to the Capitol aircrafts at separate times. Clarice was to go at 8 in the morning, and I was to go at 8:30 in the morning.
I walked into my room and shut the door, took a shower, and set my alarm for 8:15. When I shut my eyes, morning came fast and I heard the sound of the alarm, seeing President Snow’s face. He muttered the woods, “May the odds be ever in your favor” through the hologram picture of him and I took the alarm clock and threw it against the wall, breaking it into pieces since I won’t be returning to this room ever again.
I walked outside the room and into the kitchen where I found the only person standing there was Haymitch, who looked at me and said simply two words that made my heart speed increase a rapid amount.
Blood was already rushing through me as I walked to the penthouse door with Haymitch, who placed one of his hands on my shoulder, walking me to the aircraft shuttle. Images and flashbacks from previous Hunger Games began to play out of order in my head as my brain was trying to wrap around the series of events I was about to put it through. If my brain were to go blank right now, I would not be able to survive one day in the Games. I needed to focus, and be prepared. Within the next hour and a half, I would be standing on that pedestal that a glass tube will rise me up to from below the ground, where the bunker for the tribute and mentor meet before going into the Games, for final prep talk and goodbyes. Only, I was trying to convince myself that this wouldn’t be the final goodbyes I say to Haymitch, and I pictured myself wining the Games, Clarice by my side, somehow surviving the Games and meeting up with our friends and family again, living in the Victory Village in District 12, where all the victors that live in District 12 wind up after the Games to live in huge houses with fancy furniture and years supplies of food and water, where the shower water never runs cold…ever. Thinking about all of that made me motivated, but also made me upset because that was only what I deeply wanted inside to happen, a small fantasy to get me through these next terrifying days in my life where I would be forced to compete in an arena with 23 other tributes, including my own cousin, who was no doubt having the same sort of fantasy like images in her head. I’m sure everyone was, but I was craving it. I just wanted these Games to be over and done with, and most importantly, for the Capitol to be over and done with, and in order to do that, I would have to die. That’s when I remembered that in reality, only one person could survive the Games, and if it came down to Clarice and I, and there was no plan for us both to survive, I would be the one to die so she could live on and continue the rebellion. I trust her with that mission, that very important mission that everyone in Panem will have a role to play in, whether or not it’s fighting and surviving, fighting and dying, or just dying; because if this was going to happen after the Games, a lot of people are going to die. But why am I thinking this far ahead? I need to focus.
“How are you feeling?” Haymitch asked me, as we approach the Capitol aircraft on top of the Tribute Penthouse building. Boy, if only he could hear everything I just said to myself while we were riding up the elevators to the surface of the building.
“Trying to get a focused state of mind.” I simply said, almost at the Capitol aircraft. When we approached it, Haymitch had to get onto the second helicopter that was so small compared to the Capitol aircraft, that it was hiding behind it. All mentors are supposed to travel to the bunker below the arena without their tributes so two of the Gamemakers on the aircraft could tell us the basic rules one more time and give us our tracking shots so when we die, a canon can fire in the arena and the whole arena, and the people watching will know that I am truly dead if it came down to that conclusion.
“I’ll see you in the bunker.” Haymitch said, walking in front of the aircraft over to the helicopter. There turned out to be several helicopters, one for two mentors. When I walked into the aircraft, I saw that I was “lucky” enough to get Keaton, Grayson, Gunner, Peyton, Kadence, Griffin, and Sierra on my aircraft. Everyone else I didn’t know, simply because they were younger and weren’t as important. When I sat down, I got glares from Keaton and Kadence, and a few from Griffin. Everyone else looked forward or were secretly having a war in their heads with themselves and their minds, trying to contain their sanity as the aircraft door shut closed and one of the Gamemakers were coming down my row of seats, another down the other side of seats, injecting trackers into our arms. It looked painful because the needle was so large and thick, but it was quicker than a normal shot. Minutes later I found out the needle was so thick because the needle was the tracker. Great, how is this going to affect my shooting arm? I guess sooner or later I’ll find out.
“Give me your arm.” The woman said in an angry tone, while instead of me giving her my arm, she just reached down and grabbed it, injected the needle tracker into my arm, and set it down. It didn’t hurt as much as I thought, and eventually the pain went away, I could move my arm any direction and wouldn’t feel a thing. That’s one good thing, I can shoot fine. Some sort of weird relief goes through me since I know now I can kill all of these kids without any complications in my arms. Sadistic thoughts began to fly around in my head as I looked at each tribute, imagining in gruesome ways where my arrow would find contact with their skins. Keaton’s was the worst image, me sinking an arrow into his mouth, so his cocky self couldn’t speak anymore. I stopped myself from thinking this way, because I started to feel like one of them…one of the Careers. And that wasn’t my game. My game was to survive, adapt, and kill if needed. I planned on letting the Careers take all responsibility for killing for me, and allowed myself to wait until the right moment where I could kill all of them myself, or whoever else was standing. And then it would be my turn to die, only Clarice would have to do it…
“Launching in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…” The pilot said as we then gained air space and flew towards the arena. No one spoke in the aircraft, not even Keaton or Kadence. They usually were the ones to mouth off to everyone and brag about how sadistically they’re going to kill whoever they’re talking to, but looks like fear got its clutch around their throats now as well. I could see Keaton staring into one spot, a droplet of sweat running down his forehead. Kadence was shaking, almost uncontrollably. Being so tough and mighty has its limits, I guess.
A TV screen appeared in the middle of the walkaway separating my row of seats from Keaton’s row of seats, and the Hunger Games from last year was played throughout the whole flight. When it ended, we landed and were escorted out to our mentors, who were already waiting in line for us. No one spoke. Everyone had grim looks on their faces, because they knew that this was the end of the trail between tribute and mentor, and that it was all up to the tribute to decide his or her fate in the arena. The only thing our mentors could do for us now were to get us sponsors, and Haymitch knows how to convince people so I’m sure I’ll be covered with that. I hope.
“We’re in bunker 6, Clarice is in bunker 12, so you’ll be 6 pedestals away from each other.” Haymitch said, leading me into our bunker door. We took the elevator down and then it made a swift left turn and we were going sideways now, my guess is into the actual bunker room. When we walked into the bunker room, I was given my tribute jacket, bandana, dark green army like pants, minus the camouflage to it, and black men’s combat boots. I went into the bathroom and changed. I put an elastic like long sleeve shirt on underneath my jacket, which was made from a umbrella like material. It was black with two red stripes going down the sleeves, had a zipper, and many pockets. I slipped on my dark green pants and put on my black boots, which I tucked my pants into like you’re supposed to. I tightened my boots and then looked up into the mirror. I placed the bandana on my head, tied it in the back, and noticed the number 12 was sewed into the bandana in the middle of my forehead, with a red circle going around it. I tied the bandana tight enough so not even a strong gust of wind could blow it off. These clothes were the only source of warmth that the Capitol is going to give the tributes. Clarice was probably getting her tribute uniform on now, tying her hair in a ponytail with the tribute ribbon, having the number 12 sewed on the two tails of the ribbon, in a silver color just like my bandana had, with two small red circles going around it. I went to the bathroom for the last time, tried forcing everything out so I could go for a long time without having to go again, and walked into the bunker room again to see Haymitch sitting at the steel table that was cemented to the steel floor. As a matter of fact, the whole room was made of steel. After noticing that observation is when the countdown began. If the tributes were not loaded into the glass tube that sends us up into the arena, our entire bunker would burst into flames. Haymitch and I had 60 seconds left together until it was Games time.
He walked over to me with the most serious look on his face, to the point where he actually looked mad. He placed both hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eyes.
“You’re ready. You’re prepared. You’re trained. You have a trusted ally. You’re going to be fine. You need to focus and forget everything that you’ve seen and done throughout your whole life right now. You need to sickly dedicate your life and soul to the Games right now, and to protecting your cousin.”
The woman announcer shouted that there was 40 seconds remaining.
“Okay.” I said to Haymitch, not being able to say anything else back to him. He didn’t care, he understood. He continued.
“Do not, and I repeat, do not go in for the bow and the knives. Find shelter, wherever that may be, find water, and find a source of food. Do not trust eating the plants, they are all most likely poisonous. And do not step off that pedestal early, or they’ll blow you sky high. Whatever you see when you are loaded into the arena, do not let it startle you. Focus.” Haymitch said, almost shaking me, causing me to shake even more than I already was. I felt numb and sick, like I was going to throw up. Then, the water works came out of my mouth and I threw up nothing. There was 20 seconds left. Haymitch patted my back and lead me to the glass tube, give me a firm grip on my shoulder with his hand, smiled, which if it wasn’t Haymitch would be extremely creepy, and pretty much forced me to stand in the glass tube. It shut around me when it sensed my presence. I wonder how Clarice was doing…
She was saying good bye to Cinna and walked into the tube until something happened when the tune immediately shut. Three Peacekeepers walked into the room and Cinna didn’t even acknowledge them, but continued to stare at Clarice and give her a small smile. He next muttered the words, “Have faith.” and the next thing that happened caused Clarice to scream. They were holding down Cinna and beating him to death, causing blood to splatter all over the steel floor and walls. Clarice screamed her loudest, but the glass tube held in every ounce of sound she made. While Cinna was leaning against the steel table while bleeding out of his mouth, a Peacekeeper shot Cinna in the temple and blood splattered all over Clarice’s glass tube. She went into a state of shock and then cried. That’s when the glass tube started moving upward into the arena. When she had almost a little to no view of the bunker, she felt heat and saw flashes of orange and red light. They lit the entire bunker on fire, while Cinna’s lifeless body was laying down on the floor, bleeding nonstop.
The glass tube began to emit a light from above and the arena of the 74th Hunger Games was just above her. She clenched onto her jacket where her heart was, and almost lost feeling in her legs.
“I have to be strong…” She said to herself, taking in a deep breath trying to block out the images of Cinna’s gruesome death. She began to get an uncontrollable amount of rage flowing within her, taking over her mind and soul. That’s when the glass tube was fully above ground, and she looked around at the arena, which was surrounded by forest. The only open field that there was which was visible to everyone right now was the field that they were standing in on the pedestal, and around the Cornucopia. She stood there, trying to find me. When she made eye contact with me, she looked away and looked straight forward at the holographic clock counting down. I looked at her and tried to get her attention, but only saw glances from frightened tributes all around the Cornucopia. And that’s when I saw it, my bow and arrows and Clarice’s knives.
No…we have to run away from the Cornucopia and find shelter. I noticed the arsenal of all the weapons, some that were never even in the training arena, and the rest all looked familiar. None of the Career tributes looked happy anymore, but either concentrated or scared. Blaine looked furious, ready to charge like a rhino to the Cornucopia, ready to kill anyone in his wake. I made eye contact with Clarice again and mouthed, “Forest.” Meaning to run to the forest when the timer runs out and the canon starting the Games went off. She shook her head. Shit. She was going to run for the weapons. Not only that, but something was wrong with her. Terribly wrong. She looked away and when she did, is when it happened. The boy from District 6, standing on the pedestal a few down from Keaton, which was diagonally across from me, exploded into pieces after his pedestal exploded. This wasn’t the Gamemakers doing. This was the Capitol’s doing. Snow’s doing. For painting my tattoo in the training arena at evaluation. Immediately after his death, the countdown began. 30…29…28…27…26…25…24…23…22…21…20…19…18…17… Everyone saw the holographic clock counting down and began to move restlessly on their pedestals. 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…0. Cannon fire.
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