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  #1  
Old May 9, 2012, 06:28:08 PM
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Default I am Rya Lockess

I am Rya Lockess
A Hunger Games Fan Fiction

This is a duet FF in which me and SpikyEaredPichu96 will be posting a story of a girl named Rya Lockess who is chosen for The Hunger Games.

When something is in italics, it is a thought.

Quote:
What is the Hunger Games?

The Hunger Games is a morbid competition which takes place annually in the country of Panem. Every year, one boy and one girl between ages 12 and 18 is selected from each of the twelve districts as tributes, who prepare for a week and then go into an outdoor arena to fight to the death. The event is nationally televised as mandatory viewing for all citizens and the last living tribute is declared the victor.
Part 1:
The Reaped

Last edited by teamplasma; May 17, 2012 at 04:00:01 AM.
  #2  
Old May 9, 2012, 07:18:05 PM
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"GO!" And we are off.

Javelin and I are not close to each in this race, not this time, not ever. He's a good distance behind my dust when I pass the finish line. Which is distinctly marked by Ce'Vane, one of my best friends. She waves her arms up an down like a large bird and repeats my name multiple times when I slow-on by. Javelin has given up by the time I got 3 yards ahead. When I look back, he's smirking a little. He has accepted his failure once again.

"You gotta try harder if you want to beat me for once!" I yell at him with a nice little smile. I go up to him and pat him on the back. We laugh with the little air in our bodies that we have let. It comes out accompanied by a cough, mine light his heavier.

"Don't get too happy, I will beat you next time! Well, not unless you are snatched to the Capitol." He says mocking the Reaping Day that lies only one day away. He says things like that all the time, he thinks he will beat me, but he can't. Javelin hasn't since they were kids and I plan to keep it that way. We race at least once every week. It is one of the few things we can do for fun, since we only get one day off from work.

He notices I didn't smile at tease, so he tries again. "You may win at the District Day Fair, but that wasn't judged right." We were extremely close in that race, and he was right that he should have been the winner. I think he will just have to shallow that they named my champion.

The District Day Fair is the one day of the year that every one in District 10 is invited to have a party. People come from the north and south, just to have their day of fun. District 10 is the only district that has this, and not many other Districts know about it. Well, my daddy says that. When you go there you are able to do a whole bunch of things. My favorite part is the dance. It has all kinds of crazy dancing that no one really knows. The rodeo is also very fun. One year I was selected to be part of it, I rode a small bull. In retrospect it was probably drugged to the point where it won't attack if I fall off. Like I mentioned the festivities also include a race. I win the youth portion every time. And Jav has been practicing to beat me in that for a very very long time. The District Day Fair is placed a week before The Reaping Day, to lift the spirits of the eligible people to be reaped and the parents. Ce'Vane always jokes that we are celebrating 2 more annoying kids leaving us. But I fake the smile every time, for her own sake.

We sit in a spot about 9 feet from the dirt road used for horses. It is also at the edge of my fathers cattle-ranch. It is lined with a brown fence, worn by the years of weathering. Ce'Vane takes out 3 apples from a burlap which she uses to carry things. She is simple minded and carefree. That is why I like her, she is nice and selfless. But she is halfway opposite from her brother Javelin. He is nice too. And has the same emerald eyes that every one has around here, including me. His hair is a striking blonde, with a little bit of brown peeking out of the underneath. Ce'Vane's hair is course-less and carefree, like her personality. But unlike anyone else I have seen it is a bright red. Jav's personality is cordial, but he will take a challenge whenever he see's it. Sometimes it is hard to accept that they are brother and sister.

Over small chit-chat she finish our apples. Javelin turns to his sister, "What would you do," She throws the very last bit of the apple in his mouth, "if I was reaped?"

It takes just a second for Ce'Vane to joke with, "Throw a party." She says it right in his face. She has a strange laugh as well. It is loud and comes in pinpricks, but I like it. Jav turns away and makes a snarl in his thought.

"I'm serious, Ce'Vane." He says, almost a whisper.

She thinks more on this. "I can't tell you, because... I just can't think of it." That was probably too much think for her.

It is pretty silent for a while then I look at the sun and say, "It is past 5, my mom probably want help with the milk. Then probably supper. I will see you soon, how about Monday? That two days from The Reaping." They nod and start for their houses. Mine is closer, so it will take 25 minutes or so. So I leave as soon as I stand from the ground.

Last edited by teamplasma; May 11, 2012 at 05:28:36 AM.
  #3  
Old May 10, 2012, 02:39:59 PM
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Default It is funny when people get scared.

Leaving your closest friends isn't as hard when you know you will see them again.

I got home sooner than I expected. Which made me think that the house would be fuller because it wasn't time for chores. They usually start at 6-ish. What made that weird is my family is very on schedule. We have a very organized life, as do a lot of District 10 people. So when my daddy, mommy, and brother were not around I was confused. I walk into the kitchen, which is the first room you encounter when you go through the door. It is clean and almost untouched. Then I walk into the long hallway. Which is the only other place you can go from the kitchen. It is placed on the right of the kitchen from the view of when you walk in. I go to the very last door to see my mom in there, she has her hands folded and head bowed. I walk in and sit on my parents bed, allowing her to finish.

"God!" She exclaimed when she lifted her head to see me. "Ya nearly scared me t-death,Rya!" She came from southern 10, so she has an accent she can't shake.

"I am sorry, mother. I just came home to help, but I couldn't find no one." I smile a little, it is always funny when someone is scared. I break a laugh that I couldn't seem to hold. My mom give me a loo like 'Come on, lets get over it.' I stop out of respect for her. "So where is father, and Eriond?"

"Eriond is out gettin' us some flour. Your father, he's butcherin'." She explains. "Would you go help me get milk."

That is one of my favorite jobs on the ranch. There wasn't much bad things about it, milking is way better than cleaning the pin of Ammy, our milk cow. One of the bag ones is killing the animals. We slice it's throat and let it bleed to one point.

The easier part of the killing is skinning and portionizing. I like portionizing because I am the best at math at my school, so it is easy. We have to give 65% of all meat from on cow to the Capitol and the rest is for ourselves. Sometimes the percent age rises and that really messes me up. But using the scale is kind of fun, so I like that. Well, I guess I kind of sound like I am a nerd, but that is Javelin at my school. He is smart and strong. I am smart and fast. That is why we get along. That is why we are friends... just friends...

Last edited by teamplasma; May 14, 2012 at 07:02:01 PM.
  #4  
Old May 11, 2012, 02:02:26 PM
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When we’re done with the milking, we go back inside to start on supper. Since Eriond isn’t yet back with the flour, my mother instructs me to start the grain. Once every week, Eriond and I will go out into the cattle pens and pick up some of the loose grain that the cattle leave behind, before it gets trodden into the ground. I had gotten the idea several years ago from my Grandfather, who had told stories of how he and his little brother had done that every day, which had helped to keep his family fed when they were going through a particularly rough time. It had been my favorite task to do when I was little, and I still enjoy it.
As I start to get the water ready, I hear the front steps creak (as they have always done), and look behind me to see Eriond come in through the front door. He’s even taller than I am, standing at about 6’ even; his hair, like my mothers, is blonde, and in desperate need of a trim; his eyes, unlike the more common emerald green around here, are the brightest blue I have ever seen. He grins at me when he sees me. “Hey there, hummingbird,” He says. ‘Hummingbird’ has been his pet name for me since I was little, on account of me being fast and, at the time, little.

“Hey there, Eriond,” I grin back at him. I set the grain down to start cooking and go up to hug him.

He sets the grain back on the floor before returning the hug. “Did you beat Javelin again?” He asks me.

“Sure did!” I reply, “Did you really think he’d outrun me?”

He laughs; a loud, happy sound, “No, I hadn’t thought that for a minute,” He says, ruffling my curly brown hair like he had done so many times before.

My mother, who had been making sure that the milk was properly stored, came in then, “Ah, g’d evenin’ Eriond,” She said, “Is father on his way?”

“Yes, he’s coming,” Eriond replies, embracing her, “He told me to go ahead and come home. He said he’s going to bring something special for tomorrow, and I think he wants it to be a surprise.”

Tomorrow… I think suddenly, feeling as though a knot had suddenly formed in my stomach. I go back to watching the grain, trying to force those thoughts back out of my head.

Not long later, the loud creaking of the steps announces that Father is home. I notice as he’s walking in through the door that he does seem to be carrying something small in one hand, aside from our portion of the meat, but he quickly hides it behind his back before I – or anyone else – can see it properly. He puts the meat and the other object into our small ice box, then comes over and hugs my shoulders, being careful not to interfere with my stirring the grain. “Good evening, Rya,” He says, giving me a quick kiss on the top of the head. He looks tired today, and he seems slightly worried. I know why; he’s thinking about tomorrow, too.

“Good evening, Father,” I say, pressing against him a little as a way of returning his hug, “What was that you had with you?” I know he won’t tell me, but I like to try anyway.

“Our portion of the meat,” He answers innocently.

I laugh and roll my eyes, “You know what I’m talking about.”

He laughs as well, “Yes, I do,” He gently tapped the tip of my nose, “But it’s a surprise for tomorrow’s supper. You’ll have to wait and see, like everyone else.”

I smile and carefully carry the cooked grain to the table, just as Mother sets the freshly-baked dark brown bread down as well. My Father greets her and kisses her briefly before sitting down next to her. I sit between him and Eriond, and we all bow our heads to say Grace.
I listen idly to the conversations as we eat, but it does little to distract my mind. The subject of the Hunger Games keeps coming back into my head, and I feel the knot that had previously formed in my stomach grow larger with each passing minute. I look down at my plate; barely half of the food is gone, but like I do every year, I’ve lost my appetite.

Eriond sees this, and pushes back his own plate, which is already clean; he’s always been a fast eater, “If we may be excused, Mother,” He says, “I think it’s time Rya and I get some fresh air. I’ll bring her back in time to do the dishes.”

Mother looks at me, and I know she could tell what was worrying me. “A’right,” She says, “but don’ be out too long, ya hear?”

“Of course not, Mother,” Eriond promises. He stands, holding his hand out to me grandly, “Care to take a stroll with me, Miss Rya?” He asks with somewhat exaggerated gentility.

I smile and take his hand, also rising, “I would be honored, Sir Eriond,” I say, mimicking his tone.

He grins at me, and then we both walk out the door.
When Eriond had first been old enough to be entered in the Hunger Games, he had been excessively nervous all the day before the Reaping. After dinner that evening, he had left and went out to sit on a fair-sized hill not far from our house. I had been only five years old, and my parents had never explained the Hunger Games to me, so I hadn’t understood why he was so nervous. I had followed him to the hill, and had asked him why he seemed so scared. He had told me what exactly the Hunger Games were, and what would happen if he was chosen; he’d be taken away, and there would be little chance of him coming back. Terrified at the thought of never seeing him again, I had started crying. He had pulled me onto his lap and held me close, pressing his face into my hair, and even as he started to cry, too, he told me that if he were chosen, he would do everything he could to come back to me and our parents. We had stayed like that for a long time, even after we’d stopped crying, until Mother came and brought us back inside. Every year after that, we went up onto that same hill, sometimes talking about how worried we were, and other times just sitting there, with no need for words.
And now, Eriond brings me to the same hill – though it doesn’t seem as big as it had when I was younger – and we sit together at the top, looking out at the horizon, just as we had done every year. I had long since outgrown his lap, so I just sat next to him, as close as I can manage. For a long time, neither of us say anything. Then Eriond says quietly, “You did a good job on the grain this evening. It tasted wonderful.”

I just nod, knowing he’s only trying to distract my thoughts. It doesn’t work.

After a moment, he wraps his arms around me in a tight hug, “Don’t worry about it, alright?” He says in my ear, “We’ve been able to get by without the tesserae, so you’ve only been entered six times. There are thousands of names in that glass ball.”

I nod again, returning his tight hug. It’s true; we had been fortunate enough these past few years not to need the tesserae. Eriond had only needed to get it for our family once. “I’m still scared,” I say, not afraid to admit it to him.

“I know,” He says, “You just have to make it past these next few Reapings, and it’ll be over. You’ll be safe.”

I nod once again, pressing my face into his shoulder as I feel the tears coming. We sit there for a while longer, not saying anything else, until we hear our Mother calling us inside. Eriond sits up a little straighter, signaling me to do the same. “Let’s go,” He says, helping me stand, “We’ll need to get ready for bed soon. Don’t be up drawing all night, you hear?”

“Would I do that?” I say, widening my eyes with mock innocence.

He laughs, putting his arm around my shoulder affectionately as we head back towards the house.
  #5  
Old May 11, 2012, 04:37:38 PM
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Default It isn't funny when people are scared.

"You look stunnin'" My mom said in a hushed tone.

I just came out of my room with my olive colored shirt, and nice tan pants. It is one of the nicer outfits I have.The shirt has a flow and is careless, and has darker green flowers on it. They are small, nice, and the small green as my eyes. It is tighter at my waist but flows out after a belt-like mid point. When I sway my hips the flowers move like they are in the wind. But when the fabric calms, so does the wind. The pants are actually nice for pants, they are tight against my legs and have a semi-soft texture. They are not very long, but not short, they go to the top my ankles.

"Thank you, mother." I say. She did my hair so it didn't quite flow, but wasn't stiff. It didn't have it's natural curl either. It was, for the most part, straight down. She moved my bangs so they slanted diagonally. Covering half of my left eye.

We walk out of the hallway and into the kitchen, where we just had lunch. It consisted of eggs, potato hash, and a glass of milk; All in small proportions because she knew I couldn't eat too much. I guess the excessive nervousness comes from her side of the family because I recall times that she would breakdown over things that might not even happen. She and I are alike and father and Eriond are alike, but it is the other way for looks.

When passed throught the kitchen I walk out my front door thinking, "this may be my last time here, this my be my last time with Eriond." I force the thought away and move on. How could I think that. Why would I dare remind myself of what may happen. It seems cruel to myself. Torture is a cruel thing.

Outside is my dad prepping the families horse Brown Jared. Simply because he's brown, did we name him that. It is big enough for two people to be on his back. He dad takes pride in everything he does so he is brushing Brown Jared's mane. "Father, you should do this, it is a waste of time."

This makes him smile, "Nothing is a waste of time, he will need a good brushin' sometime, and why not now when we are going to Kerningville?" Kerningville is the hub of District 10. That is where the Peacekeepers mainly are. It hosts The Reaping, is the stop of the Victory Tour. And has all the nice stores. There was at one time a huge crime rate there, but when the Capitol sent all of those Peacekeepers it flattened out, instantly. Every now and again there is a murder there, but not recently. "Ready to go soon, kitten?"

"Uh, yeah. Sure." I was so sucked up into my thoughts I forgot what was going on. My dad hopped on and extended his hand to help my on to Brown Jared. I got on too, lifelessly.

"Wait!" I hear, perking my senses. Then I see Eriond running the corner of the house. He must have been in the stables. He nears us saying, "Dad, you think I can take her?" He finishes with a pant.

I look at my dad, "Please let him go, please." I think. Father, "Are you sure? I mean..."

And Eriond interrupted without thinking. "Dad, I am 23 years old, I think I can handle it." I look from father to Eriond. "Please." The thought surges. It isn't that I don't want my dad to go, it's just I want Eriond there if something happens. He a huge support for me. He is that way, mainly selfless, and part is upbearing. He is the best brother possible.

"Sure." My dad says, knowing that it will please me. And shortly, we are off.

~-~-~

We got there quick. It probably was much longer than it seemed, it was just my thought carried me away. Eriond didn't talk to me either, he probably knew that I didn't want to. I just wanted this to be done with so I didn't have to worry. We got there and the very first thing I noticed is that there was more Peacekeepers there than I had ever seen before in one place.

"Rya, you go and check in, I will stand in the visitors section. Find you place in the female tributes section. Okay?" Eriond says. I look away, still a zombie. "Rya, I am here for you, I will never be far." I nod and go over to a very long table where people in black pant suits sit. The wooden table isn't too far from the male's section. Eriond must remember this much too well. But he doesn't show it. They press a gun-like instrument into one of my fingers and stamp my finger into a book. They shoe me off so the next person can go by, they probably don't want to be here either.

I stand among many other girls I don't recognize. Most of them aren't pretty at all, and that is how District 10 is stereotyped. But I notice that others are absolutely stunning. They are like the Capitol children, perfect. "What am I?" I think. But then my attention is riveted by Gibble Havenfort clearing her throat and testing the microphone. Gibble his a typical Capitol person, or at least the few I have seen. Loaded with make-up and having strange cloths. She has perfect white hair, obviously dyed, and a lanky body, like a model. But to a lot of people the unnaturalness of it is unappealing. She is about 30 and has an arrow like face. "Good evening." She begins, her voice echos. She shifts her hips. "Before we begin I would like to say, 'Happy 64th Hunger Games, and let the odds be ever in you favor'." Every single person is silent and just stares. "Well, ladies first." She prances on the Justice Building and over to the glass ball on my left. She sticks her hand in and suddenly my stomach tightens. But across the crowd a child, who is probably just 12, puked all over. That sickens me, but I hold it in. I just try not to think of it. Gibble swirls her hand around the bowl and then grips a piece of paper and takes it out. The silence is deadly. I can't stand it. She unfold the paper. Clearing her throat she says, "Rya. Lockess."

What? No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. I remember when I thought that people being scared is funny. It isn't. "Rya?" Gibble says. One of the ugly girls pushes me to the isle dividing the male and female section. Once I am in the middle I am lifted barely at the armpits by two Peacekeepers. I can hear Eriond gasp. Because that is the only noise. I have made my way next to the bowl. I stand. Lifelessly. My knees are wobbly. Unstable. I don't notice that she is over at the male's bowl. She is more direct with the choosing. It is one from the bottom. "Javelin Eaton" I fall to my knees. And sob.

Last edited by teamplasma; May 11, 2012 at 06:42:31 PM.
  #6  
Old May 14, 2012, 06:25:22 PM
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For a time after that, everything seemed to be a blur. I’m forced to stand for the Treaty of Treason, and for the Anthem of Panem. I just stare straight ahead, focusing on not collapsing again. As soon as the Anthem ends, Javelin and I are escorted into the Justice building. I continue to stare right ahead, not trusting myself to look at Javelin, or back over my shoulder to try and see either Eriond or Ce’Vane.

Oh no… Ce’Vane. I think suddenly; both her brother and her best friend chosen for the Hunger Games, and very little chance of either to come back. I almost fall to my knees and cry right there, but one of the peacekeepers notice my sudden shakiness and take my arm to keep me from falling. He isn’t rough about it; in fact, he’s almost gentle. I look at him with surprise, and even though he doesn’t return my glance, I swear there’s just the slightest hint of compassion in his eyes.

Before I can wonder about it, we reach the room where the Reaped and their families and friends spend their last moments together, and I’m roughly pushed inside, the door slamming behind me. Guess he wanted to make up for that show of kindness. I sit down on the small couch, which is the only piece of furniture in the room, then pull my knees to my chest and rest my forehead against them. I can’t understand how this could be happening. I should be home now, with my Mother and Father and Eriond, almost delirious with relief, like we were every year; I should be thinking about meeting up with Javelin and Ce’Vane on Monday, the way we agreed to; I should not be sitting here, waiting to be snatched away from my family, my friends, and my life. A sob escapes me, as hard as I try to keep it in.
Then there’s a light tapping at the door, and almost before I can look up, Eriond is there, holding me so tightly to him, he’s practically crushing me. “Oh, Rya…” He says, his voice thick with tears.

I cling to him, crying so hard that all I can get out is “Eriond…”

“If there was anything I could do…” He said, crying openly himself now, “If I was still young enough to volunteer for you…”

I shake my head, forcing myself to stop crying enough to speak, “Even if you could, I wouldn’t let you.”

He tries to chuckle, but it doesn’t come out quite right, “I don’t think there’s any way that you could,” He says.

We don’t say anything for a moment; just sit there with him holding me almost like I was five again. Finally, he sits up a bit and reaches into his pocket, “I was going to save this for your birthday,” He says, “But I think you should have it now.” He opens his palm, revealing a fine silver chain, with a small, intricately-designed charm in the shape of a hummingbird.

“Eriond!” I gasp, staring at the necklace, “Where on earth did you get it?”

“The silversmith here in town,” He replies, “You remember him, right? He’s an old friend of Father’s.” He undoes the tiny clasp and hangs it around my neck, “He made it ‘specially the way I asked him to. I’ve had to work extra hard to afford it, but it was well worth it.”

I gently cup the tiny charm in my hand, staring at it. I’ve never even held such a fine thing in my life, much less owned one. “Eriond..” I whisper, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” I hug him again, and he doesn’t hesitate to hug me back. I want to stay like that forever, but I can feel that our time is growing short. “Tell Mother and Father goodbye for me, will you? Tell them I love ‘em?” I regret not giving them a proper farewell.

“I will,” He promises me, then forces up a playful grin, “And I’ll talk Father into saving whatever he brought for tonight until you come home again.”

I force myself to grin back. I know he’s only trying to be lighthearted for my sake; I didn’t feel like I had much of a chance at the Games right now. And even if I did win, that would mean that Javelin would be dead. I don’t want to even think about that right now.

Just then, the peacekeeper knocks on the door, saying that our time is up. I notice absently that it’s the one that caught me in the hallway earlier. Eriond looks like he wants to ask for more time, but he knows it’s not going to do any good. He gives me one final, brief hug. “I love you, little hummingbird. Go get ‘em.”

I hug him back, “I love you, too.” I say, forcing back the tears that have started to threaten again. Eriond stands and slowly heads out the door, which the peacekeeper closes quietly behind him. I sit quietly on the couch, holding the hummingbird charm in my hand, wishing he could’ve stayed longer. Well, more accurately, wishing he could’ve stayed forever.
A moment later, there’s another knock at the door, and this time Ce’Vane enters. I remember seeing her as we’d been lined up at the Reaping; her outfit was similar to mine, but the shirt was an off-white instead of green, and her hair had been put into a low ponytail, then pulled neatly over her shoulder to add that splash of color to her shirt. Now, however, her hair has been pushed back, and her eyes were puffy and almost as red as her hair; evidence that she had been crying.
The moment we see each other, we run into each other’s arms and start crying again. The only words I can get out are “I’m so sorry, Ce’Vane,” every so often, and the only response she can give is a nod. The crying doesn’t last long, though; I had gotten most of it out of my system when Eriond was here, and I guess Ce’Vane had done the same with her brother. We both sit on the couch, just looking each other over, trying to preserve the image in our memories forever.
After a moment, Ce’Vane’s eyes wander to my necklace, “Where did you get that?” She asked, “I don’t remember seeing you wearing it before.”

“Eriond gave it to me,” I say, “Just now. It was supposed to be a birthday present.”

She nods and looks at it for a second, “You don’t think they’d take it from you at the Games, do you?” She asks finally, “You might be able to use it to choke someone, or vice versa.”

I hadn’t thought of that. I studied the chain before shaking my head, “No, I don’t think so,” I reply, “It’d probably break if it were subjected to that kind of strain.”

She nods, then says “I’ll be cheering for the both of you,” Then she hesitates, “But… if it comes down to being you and Javelin, you won’t be offended if I wish for him to win, will you?”

I smile faintly, “No, of course not. If it were my brother, I’d do the same thing.”

She nods, just as the peacekeeper knocks and tells us our time is up. Ce’Vane gives me one last hug, “Good luck!” She says, then turns and heads out the door.

I don’t expect any other visitors, and I’m not surprised. The next time someone comes to see me, it’s Gibble Havenfort telling me that it’s time to board the train. I stand slowly, walking behind her. Halfway out the door, I see Javelin being escorted by who I assume to be our mentor. I didn’t get a look at her face, but I assume it to be Jeanine Martinez, one of the two surviving winners of the Hunger Games (and only one of about five winners ever from District 10). She had only won it 3 years ago, but she seems much older by her conduction. I force myself not to focus at Javelin, still not quite trusting myself to keep from breaking down yet. I don’t look around as we emerge from the Justice Building, but I can feel Eriond’s eyes on me, as well as Ce’Vanes, though her gaze isn’t quite as constant.

Only when we’re aboard the train do I dare turn to look, and I catch just the briefest glimpse of my brother and my best friends before the doors close, and the train speeds off towards the Capitol.

Last edited by SpikyEaredPichu96; May 14, 2012 at 07:58:32 PM.
  #7  
Old May 15, 2012, 05:42:12 PM
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It is pretty silent there in the Luxury car of the train. The only sound is the faint buzz of the metal fixtures lining the wall. I don't know why it's so hard to look at Javelin right now, but I just have to resist. He sits at a wooden table near another door. I sit farther away towards the middle of the car, on a plush purple couch. Jeanine is on the other side of me. This is my chance to analyze her. I gaze up at her face and realize that I do remember the face. She has a conspicuous scar running the left side of her bottom lip to the jawbone directly below. She must have been cut quick. That may not even be from the Games. I'm thinking too much. She has tan skin, black hair, and black marble eyes.

"What?" She says to me. I hadn't noticed she was watching me watch her.

"Uh... I... I just didn't really recognize you." I manage. My voice is weak and unstable. Jeanine Martinez just looks the other way, not dealing with me. Then it is silent again. This time it feels cold. Last time it felt calming. Gibble is messing with her nails when she says, "This train has amazing food you know; all the Capitol trains do. They have chefs especially trained for this." She looks up from her nails and smiles. I don't know how to respond, but Jeanine does. She rises from her perch and walks to the door adjacent to Jav. Now it is three of us.

"So, do you guys know each other?" Gibble said, her accent being more prominent than ever.

This question stabbed me, like a knife jabbed right into my side. Javelin replies, "Yes, we were best friends. Always have been." He turns his head toward us. This wasn't expected. I was shocked to be honest. I don't know why; maybe it was because he was so frank with it, or maybe it was how simple he put it. It is like it isn't even hard for him. And it is so hard for me. I had prepared myself for this for the last few years and it still is killing me.

"I'd better go and leave you two to access each other." She stands up, almost falling from her strange shoes. She went to the food car as well. Then it is just two of us.

I wanted it to be silent. Calmed and hushed. But it didn't go that way, not really at all. It started when he spoke. "Why do you pretend like I am not here?" Speechless.

I muster my words, "I...I can't face you."

He is more quite. "We have played and learned together as long as we can remember, and you can't face me? Rya, we will need to work together. I was glad when I was called; I was actually happier than you thought. We are a great team and you know that. I know we are good and I am confident we will do good." He turns to the door everyone else had departed from. "Now, get yourself together."

But good will not be good enough, not if either of us wants to win.

And then there was one.

Last edited by teamplasma; May 31, 2012 at 03:07:17 PM.
  #8  
Old May 17, 2012, 08:48:01 PM
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So I did. I got myself together. I feel scattered and broken, but I put myself together quick. Because I know I can't spend the games a crybaby. I have to be strong. I have to be smart. I have to be unbroken. I must leave my problems behind myself and do what it takes to live, be safe, and be a survivor. I reassure myself by telling myself that I will be the Victor and I will get home. I grasp my necklace and close my eyes.

In the food car it is much the same as the lounge car, but with more tables. Same kind of seats though. I had thought that the kitchen would also be here, but I was wrong. There is only a buffet. One of snacks, one of meals, and one of drinks. The bar is lined with large bottles of tinted liquid that came in all colors. The food is so different from anything I had ever had, and it smells so good. There's breaded foods and some kind of bird that seems to be falling apart on its own. But I didn't come in here for that. I pull myself away from the delicious food and drag my way to past.

Gibble and Javelin and talking over at a farther table. Jav doesn't look too interested in whatever she is saying. He just swirls his water with his finger and stares at whatever the table is presenting. Jeanine is at the center table by herself, drinking an amber tinted drink. It has foam on the top and fizzed from the bottom. I sit by her. She looks at me. "So you came too?"

"Jeanine, how old are you?" She looks a little confused but answered me.

"I am 20. How about you?" I ignore the question.

"So how did you win." I blabber. She swallows. She kind of shakes her head in disbelief. She pushes her hair out of her face and frowns.

"You didn't watch? You don't know what I did?" She yells, Pauses for a moment, then resumes. "You just are asking me these questions, showing a Victor and your mentor NO respect. Who do you think you are?"

I am unbroken, I am collected. "I am Rya Lockess. And I am the next Victor." I say sternly. My voice wants to give out but I don't let it. I didn't yell it, just stated. Jeanine's reaction is different than I had expected; She sits back down in her chair and slouches back. I hadn't really noticed that we were both standing before. She tells me how she won. I don't know why I don't remember this, because it was just two years ago;

"The arena was desert. There were sandstorms during the day and the nights were frigged. It didn't rain for 3 days; When it did rain, it rained for 5 days straight. That was a torture in its own. There wasn't any protection but the Cornucopia, but that was occupied by the Careers, so I had slept through rain and storm. The rain not stopping gave fear of you drowning while you were sleeping. I hadn't gotten any sponsors so I was on my own really. I hadn't seen anyone either. Until there was a huge case of quicksand, I was feeling confident. It wasn't the sand that did it; It is what it drove me to. They must of had something underground that made it this way, but I could see it sinking in a line. the line followed my path on either went on forever. past the line all the sand was quicksand and if you stepped in it you were gone. Finally it had stopped. When it did I just kept on walking like it didn't happen. I remember how heavy all of my steps felt after that. They were like rocks. They ached. Everything ached. After probably an hour I had run into a person. We ran into each other and fell to our feet. Then I noticed it was the last person. That that was the 23rd person. We were the two left. So we fought. No one had weapons at this point so we fought with our fists. To the death. My scar was from when she clawed me in the mouth. I had sworn she was dead, but the canons never went off for her. So I sat there, punching her until they did. But I could promise she was dead before. I knew they wouldn't call it quits until there was a finale. So I gave it to them."

When she finishes the story, I see that she shed a single tear. I hug her. I hug her like I hugged Eriond. Because after that I felt like I knew Jeanine. But she rejected me. "Get off me." She orders. Trying to keep her cool, she wipes her face and looked back at me. "There you go. Happy?"

"Yes, thank you." I say. "I am here to win. How can I do that?"

She looks at me like I'm a piece of trash. "Honey, that is for tomorrow." She stands up and mixes another drink for herself. Then I notice again how old she seems. When she handles the bottles, she's so shaky. She lifts it with difficulty. She may be 20. but she's much older on the inside.

After all of that, I feel like I have another person to take care of.

Last edited by teamplasma; May 31, 2012 at 03:07:32 PM.
  #9  
Old May 31, 2012, 03:03:48 PM
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Even though I’m not very hungry, I decide that I ought to eat at least a little something. From what I’ve seen of the games, getting a few extra calories into your body beforehand was not a bad idea. I pick up a plate and take a little of the strange bird, as well as a couple of warm, light rolls.
When I sit in front of Jeanine again, she looks up briefly from her drink and looks at my rather tiny dinner. “Is that all you’re eating?” She asks.

“Yeah, I’m still a little too jittery from the Reaping.” I reply.

“Hm.” Is all she says. I can tell that she probably tuned out after the first couple of words.

I pick up a fork and lift some of the odd bird to my mouth. I’m not sure what I had been expecting to taste, but it’s much better than I thought it would be; the meat almost seems to dissolve in my mouth, and the seasonings that were used on it are amazing. It isn’t anything like the chickens that Father would get for special occasions, that’s for sure.

My expression must be pretty funny--I can feel that my eyes had gone wide, and the fork is still in my mouth--because when Jeanine looks up from her glass again and catches sight of my face, she throws back her head and bursts out laughing. I notice that her laugh, while loud, seems to sound almost rusty, as if she hasn’t had reason to laugh for a long time now. The sound makes Gibble and Javelin look over at us from their table, and they catch sight of my face before I can compose it again. Javelin’s laugh is just as loud as Jeanine’s; it is a sound I had heard many times in my life, and never failed to make me smile as well, even when I was embarrassed. Gibble doesn’t join in with the laughter, but her smile is definitely amused. I remove the fork from my mouth and start to laugh as well, though I’m sure my face is bright red.

Once the laughing dies down, Gibble proceeds to herd us into the next room, saying that it’s about time for the showing of the Reaping. Since only the Capitol can see the Districts’ Reapings live, they show a rerun of all the Reapings, so others can see as well. The room Gibble leads us to is quite a bit different than the first two; the floor appears to be wooden, with a large rug in the center, covering up most of the floor. The only furniture in the room is a coffee table, and a large sofa, probably big enough for about five people, which faces a large television set into the wall. It appears that the people had designed the room had made an effort to make it look homey.

I sit down on the far end of the large couch, pulling my knees up to my chest and nibbling at the roll I had snatched off my plate before coming in here. Javelin sits next to me, straight-backed and calm, as usual; Gibble, after snatching the remote off the coffee table, sits down next to him, and Jeanine takes the other far end. Gibble presses a button on the remote, and the television comes to life. No one speaks as the program runs through, showing the tributes from the other Districts. I try to focus on the boys and girls that come up onto each platform; these will be my opponents, after all.

The girl tribute from District 1 was beautiful, as they usually were; her hair was perfect, her outfit, a sleeveless t-shirt and dark blue pants, were rather fine-looking, and her skin free of dirt and grime. As I sometimes did when watching the Reapings of the other Districts, I felt a slight pang of envy, looking at the girl. I wasn’t exactly obsessed with appearances, but there were times when I wished things like a regular bath and nice clothing weren’t so hard to come by.

The Boy Tribute from District 1 was somewhat handsome, though not quite as much as some of the ones I had seen before; his hair was highlighted a dark red in some places; a color that reminded me of blood. His clothes weren’t quite as fine as his companions, but that seemed to be the point; the muscle shirt and shorts quite plainly displayed his muscular build, which was impressive to say the least. One of the narrators said something about an attempt to intimidate the competition before the Games even started. I agreed with him.

The next Tribute that got my attention was the Male from District 4, who volunteered to take the place of the Career Tribute who had been selected. This surprised me; I could tell that he wasn’t a Career Tribute. He had large eyebrows, which were the same light brown as his curly hair, small lips, a hooked nose, a bulging forehead vein, and a large Adam’s apple. Looking closer at his face, however, I notice that he seemed somewhat… arrogant, I suppose is the way to put it. He was confident about his abilities, whatever they were. Something told me he would be using his mind more than he would be using weapons or fists.

The Reapings went on, though none of the other Tributes stuck out quite like the first few had. All too soon, they reached District 10. I watch dully as they called my name, and as the peacekeepers had to practically carry me to the platform. “Well, this one seems a bit weak, don’t she?” One narrator says, “I doubt she’ll make it past the first bloodbath once the Games start.”

“I agree,” The other replies, “It’s a bit of a shame, though; she’s actually kind of pretty. Maybe she could still get a few sponsors.”

“Not unless they think she can cry them to death,” The first guy says, then he laughs as if that’s the funniest thing he’s said all day. That really hurt.

I feel Javelin suddenly go rigid next to me, and I look over quickly. His eyes are burning with anger, his teeth are clenched together, and his hands are balled up into fists. I shrunk back a little bit, more than a little startled. For as long as I’d known Javelin, I had never, ever seen him this angry. Gibble also senses the sudden tenseness and looks at Javelin. “What on Earth’s the matter?” She asks, surprised.

“It’s nothing.” He says, relaxing again, though I can sense that it’s an effort. Gibble leans back a bit and looks past him at me, but I’m just as confused as she appears to be.
The program continues to show the last two Districts’ Reapings, but again, nothing about the Tributes catches my eye. Then the anthem plays, and Gibble switches off the television. “Well, I think this will prove to be a very interesting Hunger Games,” She says, more to be saying something, it seems, than out of any actual opinions about it, “Wouldn’t you agree, Jeanine?”

Jeanine just grunts noncommittally, then stands, “I’m going to bed,” She announces, “I suggest you two do the same;” She addresses me and Javelin, “You’ll need to be well-rested for the preparations tomorrow.” She studies Javelin for a moment, “And a level head wouldn’t hurt, either,” She comments, seeing right through his calm façade.

Javelin doesn’t say anything, just returns her look. They both stare at each other silently, then Jeanine turns abruptly and leaves the compartment. Before I can ask Javelin what the problem is, he stands up and follows Jeanine’s example.

Gibble, still looking just as stunned as I did, looked at me, “What was that about?” She asked.

I just shook my head; I didn’t know, either. After a moment of silence, I stand up and make my way to where I was to sleep for the night. The room is fancy, like the others on the train; the red carpet is thick and soft, and the lacy curtains covering the window are the same color red; there’s a dresser made of dark wood against one wall, with one door open to reveal vey fine-looking pajamas and clothes. I ignore it and climb into the bed in my clothes, a little too cold to take them off. The blankets are the same red as the carpet and curtains, and they’re very thick and warm.
As I close my eyes, I think back to the day before. Had I really just been racing with Javelin and Ce’Vane only yesterday afternoon? Had I only been on the hill with Eriond after supper yesterday? It seems like a million years ago. I carefully close my hand around the hummingbird charm, remembering the sounds of my friends’ and brother’s laughter; the way Javelin had trouble catching his breath when he laughed after the race; the way Eriond had put his arm around my shoulders as he’d led us back inside. I focus on those memories, letting them calm me, and eventually I drift off to sleep, the charm still enclosed in my hand.

Last edited by SpikyEaredPichu96; May 31, 2012 at 06:22:29 PM.
  #10  
Old June 3, 2012, 05:13:45 PM
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I have a nightmare that night. I'm in a black room, about 20 feet away from me stand the people I love; Eriond; Jav; Ce'Vane; Mother; Father. They have a blank look on their faces and won't look at me. I try to get their attention by yelling, but I can't talk. I wave my arms to try to get their attention but they're lifeless. They won't respond to anything I do. Then a woman's voice comes out of no where, and seems to fill the room. She says, "You must kill them or you will be killed." I can't talk, so I don't know what to do. Then a gun appears on the floor in front of me. It isn't a gun I've seen before, because the ones I have seen where long and had wood on the front. This was all silvery and glossy. I don't know what else to do, so I grip it. My hand trembles with it while it is weighing down my hand. click. BANG! click. BANG! I fired two of them into nothing. Then I get rid of the rest of them by shooting into all directions. When they were gone, I did not die. The lady had lied. I had stood up to her and she had lied. I felt victorious and triumphant. But that fades much too quickly. My loved ones start to melt like wax. It was grotesque. That's when they look at me, the time when I didn't want to look at them they stare at me with worried eyes. I knew that they weren't going to actually die, but the sight is too much for me. It is too much to handle and so I closed my eyes until it seems gone.

~


I wake to see that I had slept much later than usual; there is only 2 hours left until the train arrives in The Capitol. 9:00 wasn't the normal time I woke up. We have to wake up early on the farm to do chores before school and such. So this wasn't my normal thing, but it feels nice. I went to the closet that was filled with clothes that I could never imagine wearing. They were all pretty, but there wasn't time for that on the farm either. But I must enjoy my time remaining, I figure, so I pull out a wonderfully striking light green blouse. It is super flowing and really comfy. And then a knee skirt that was brown like my hair that popped up. I love it. I swiftly put it on and admire myself in a new-age reflection wall. It looks wonderful on me, even better than in the Reaping. I went to my small personal bathroom that had been set up for me before I had got on the train. There are so many drawers filled with things I had never used before. There was this scissor-like thing with cushions on the end. I find a comb that has spikes coming from all the sides and it spins when you press a button. That really must hurt your hair. There are many silly things that came from the drawers, but there is one that I was semi-familiar with; It is a machine that steamed your hair flat. I have seen people before with it done and it always looks stunning. I'm not sure how to work it. I probably held it upside-down while I was using it, but eventually I had elegant hair. That is the best I had ever seen it. I am ready to go outside.

I went into the dining room and twirl for the audience of Gibble and Jeanine. "Today is the day I promised those tips." Jeanine says to me in mid-twirl. She obviously doesn't care that I dressed up today. Gibble applauds though, and that makes me feel a little better.

"Where is Javelin?" I say, which is clearly more important than the tips.

"He has already asked the questions he wanted to ask and left to go bathe." I thought for sure he would wait for me. He should be over what ever was upsetting him yesterday; he is never mad long. I knew it wasn't because I slept in that he talked to her first, he always takes his baths first thing in the morning, so he must have wanted to get here early. I sit across from my mentor ready to leech info from her.

"When I first get into the Arena, what do I do?" That seems to be the right question to start with.

"Well, I say, get your resources. But of course I didn't have many when I was in there." She flips her flawless hair. "Second, know where everyone is, and what they are doing. You wanna be the one who can attack anyone at anytime. That is why you can't stay in one spot. You can't be in a place where if someone sees you sleeping they can come back in an hour and kill you. You have to make sure that you are the one no one can find. If you can find them though," She slides a finger across her throat, "You can kill them."

I take a mental note. This is nothing I would have expect to do. She is telling me things that I would have done the opposite of; I would have found a weapon and hide out. There goes my ideas.

"Okay, what did you tell Javelin?" I ask, so I would know more than him. But then I realize that I shouldn't be better. He will have to be my ally.

"He only asked me how to do simple things. Like the best way to purify water, or how to cook food."

Then I notice that he was asking all the right questions too. He is finding out how to survive, rather than how to be like Jeanine. I am twisted between what to ask now. I take a turn from my questions and ask, "Where should I sleep?"

"That is a tough one." She pauses and tkes a spoonful of a milky substance. "I think that the best place to sleep is where no one looks. So you have a couple of options. Remember them, okay?" I nod to let her go on. "Sleep nowhere near a pool of water. Don't sleep near the natural resources, like berries or something. You could go high up, I think in a tree is the most likely place. Or in a cave, which oddly appear in a lot of Games."

Another mental note is taken.

"So if I don't have any weapons, how do I kill someone?" This is a hard question for me to ask, because I never really could kill someone, I don't think.

"Make it, obviously." She says snidely. I have a hard time seeing her being in District 10 with me. 10 honors most of the qualities she doesn't have. "Also use your fists. Kill someone, then take their weapons. Easy enough."

Gibble looks out the window. Her face brightens, and she says there is about 10 minutes until we get to get off of the train. She sounds like she doesn't like it here, but it is the fanciest place I have ever been. I love it here.

"Any, last tips?" I ask, getting the last bit of information out as soon as I can. Then Jav came in the room looking amazing, but Jeanine doesn't care about his looks, either. She says her answer without hesitation.

"Knowing what I know about you, you will need Sponsors. Sponsorship will be the thing that could take you to the end. So look pretty and have a nice attitude toward people." Jav seems to be listening. Maybe he should take the advice, considering his recent behavior. That also means I can't be all pouty, just because the recent happenings. Everyone should be crying, but they won't. So I can't either. I will have to be collected and calm, while still making people feel like they are my friend. I will have to be me. I will have to be the real Rya Lockess. And it has to begin now. Because the train has stopped, and the door has been opened.

Last edited by teamplasma; June 3, 2012 at 05:14:30 PM.
  #11  
Old July 12, 2012, 05:39:06 PM
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I sit quietly at the small table the prep team had been working on me at, listening as the members of my prep team begin conversing with my stylist. If I’ve been counting correctly, I’ve been in the recreation center for about two hours; which isn’t bad, from what I’ve heard in the past. I try to listen to what they’re saying:

“… All ready to go!” I hear the bubbly, high-pitched voice of Viddiah, the one with the dark curls. I can just see her back from around the corner.

“Has she been any trouble?” An unfamiliar voice asks. I assume that’s my stylist.

“Not really,” Viddiah replies, “Aside from the one outburst when we started to take her clothes off, she’s been very cooperative.”

I grit my teeth at that recent memory; I had just been let into the Remake Center, and the prep team had instantly dragged me in and had started to pull off my clothes. I had promised myself on the train that I wouldn’t fight with the prep team, but I hadn’t expected them to start to strip me down. I wish Jeanine had warned me about that. Once the shock (and the touch of anger) had subsided enough for me to listen, Viddiah had offered a compromise; Once they washed me down and gave me a quick look over, they would let me put my underclothes back on. I had agreed, and they’d gotten started. They did what they had to very quickly, which I was glad for.

“Thank you, Viddiah,” The stylist said, and though she didn’t sound upset, she didn’t exactly sound happy, either. I heard the prep team leave the room, and after a moment, the stylist came in. The first thing that catches my attention is her outfit; while it doesn’t appear to be much more than a simple business suit, each piece of clothing is the same bright shade of orange; The jacket, the shirt, the pants, even the shoes are all the same orange. Looking up at her face, I see that her dark brown hair, which is pulled back into a bun, is streaked through with orange highlights, and even her eyes seem to be that same bright tangerine (I assume that they’re some sort of contact lenses). She slowly looks me up and down carefully. “So,” She says, her voice warm like honey, “You are Rya Lockess?”

I nod, “I am.”

She continues to study me, “I apologize about the prep procedures,” She says, “I have had that problem before, especially with girls from your District. I was hoping having all women here would help to ease things a bit.”

I hadn’t really thought about that. “I do appreciate it,” I say, smiling a little, “I guess I just have a bigger sense of propriety.”

She continues to look at me for a moment, then without warning, she throws back her head and laughs. “Y’know what? I like you already.” She says, still laughing, “Please, pull your robe on and come with me.” She turns then, and starts towards the door she came through earlier. I quickly pull on the soft robe and follow behind her.
The room she lead me to is fair-sized; not really large, but not small, either. One wall is entirely made of glass, and looks out over one of the Capitol’s less busy streets. The only furniture in the room is a small table – I think my mother would call it a coffee table – and a couple of large plush chairs.

“Oh, my name is Liss, by the way,” My stylist introduces herself, “Liss Kennin. Please, sit.” She gestures to one of the chairs as she sits down in the other. As I sit, Liss presses a small button on the table, and a small portion of the table folds open, revealing a small platform underneath that rises to fill the open space. On this platform were two bowls of what looked like a meat and vegetable stew. “Please, eat,” Liss says, taking her own bowl, “I’m sure you’re hungry.”

I hadn’t even thought about it until she had brought it up, but she was right; I was starving. I pick up the bowl still on the table, and taste the stew. Like the food from the train last night, it’s amazing; It’s seasoned perfectly, the vegetables are very well cooked, and the meat, though it isn’t a kind I recognize, is tender and warm. A movement from Liss catches my attention, and I look up to see that she is looking down at her bowl, and seems to be trying not to laugh. Realizing that my expression must have given me away again, I return my gaze to my own bowl, feeling myself blushing again.
We finish the rest of our food in silence, and feeling like I should say something, I comment, “I like the view.”

“Yes, so do I,” Liss says, smiling brightly as she looks out the huge window, “A lot of the stylists have a room like this. The view of the city has often helped to give us inspiration.” She looks back at me, and her expression becomes serious again. “And speaking of inspiration, let us talk about your costume.”
I nod silently, feeling my heart begin to race. This is the part I had been dreading. I knew that one of the most popular costumes for District 10 was the cow, and each one seemed to get more complicated and ridiculous each year. Is this year going to be even worse?
Not seeming to notice my sudden nervousness, Liss leans forward in her chair and looks at me intently. “Tell me, Rya,” She says, “What is District 10 known for?”

I blink in surprise. I hasn’t been expecting this approach. I think for a minute before answering, “We are known for our livestock, mostly cows. We are responsible for the beef and the milk that are sent to the Capitol.”

Liss nods, “Yes, but what else? What other livestock does District 10 keep?”

I frown, thinking. “Pigs?” I guess, thinking of the small pig sty that the Eaton’s had kept once upon a time.

“Chickens.” Liss answers, “District 10 is also responsible for the chickens. You give us the eggs and chicken meat.” She continues on without waiting for me to reply, probably seeing the surprise and confusion on my face, “Many people don’t really think about the chickens. They are forgotten, pushed into the background, just as District 10 often is. But my co-stylist, Harrol Markenson, and I believe that may be the key. The costumes we made for you and your fellow tribute will bring you to the audiences’ full attention. It WILL make you noticed. That, I can guarantee.”

I just sit there, more than a little surprised by how much passion she had put into her speech. I think about the idea for a minute; it would certainly be different, and that at least would get the audience to notice us for a bit, but would it be enough to keep their attention on us?
Before I can think about it too much, Liss stands and starts for the door. “Let’s get started, Rya,” She calls over her shoulder, and I can hear the excitement in her voice now, “There’s only a few hours until the parade starts!”

A few hours later, we’re making our way to where the chariots are waiting, and I’m trying very hard not to trip on my costume. I’m dressed in a nearly-floor-length gown, which is only a thin-seeming fabric covered completely by feathers, with a bright red collar and… something on the back. I hadn’t seen what it was when they put it on me; all I knew was that it felt very uncomfortable. Liss has told me that it would be clear what it was when the parade started. I’m also wearing a bright red headband, which I assume is to represent the Chicken’s “crown”, and the only makeup they had applied to me was some sort of lip gloss, that, according to Liss, will make my lips seem faintly yellow in the light from the parade.
I had stayed silent throughout the preparation. The nervousness had slowly built up over the hours, and now I could keenly feel the stew stirring around in my stomach. I kept it under control, though; I was not going to put all the work the stylist and prep team had gone through to waste. I kept staring straight ahead at Liss’s back, trying not to think about anything.
Before long, we reached bottom level of the Remake Center, where the tributes were being led up onto their respective chariots. Javelin and his stylist are already there, waiting for us. Javelin’s outfit is nearly identical to mine; the only key differences is that his main outfit is more a robe than a gown, much like you would see a picture of an angel wearing; his hair, instead of being adorned with something red as mine was, is dyed red along the middle, and he was wearing a bright red necktie. I wasn’t sure if they put the same thing on his lips as they had on mine; if they did, the light wasn’t right to see it. Javelin’s face showed no emotion, but I know him well enough to see that he is not happy with the way his outfit looks.

“Excellent work, Liss,” The other stylist, Harrol, compliments as we come closer. His voice is a deep timber, and his Capitol accent is a little stronger than Liss’s.

“And you, too, Harrol,” Liss returns the compliment, looking Javelin up and down.

Javelin, however, doesn’t seem to notice. He looks over at me, and while his expression didn’t change, he suddenly didn’t seem to be as irritated anymore; there was something else there now that I don’t quite recognize. Before I can figure it out, I hear Harrol saying “Liss, will you step away with me for a moment?”

“Of course,” Liss says, “Excuse us, children.” Then the two of them walk a little ways away, leaving me and Jav standing there.

We’re both silent for a moment, then Javelin clears his throat, “You look lovely.” He says.

“Thank you,” I reply, feeling myself blush a little bit, “You look nice, too.”

He snorts, “Please, I look ridiculous. I’m wearing a feathery dress, and my hair looks like a red-striped skunk.”

I can’t help it, I grin. Javelin never fails in making me smile. “Nah, it isn’t so bad.”

“If you say so,” He says, chuckling a bit, “At least Harrol said that this’ll wash out just fine in the morning.” He gestures to his hair, “I just wish I knew what this thing on my back is.” He shifts a little uncomfortably, and I notice there’s something on his back, too. If you were looking straight at his back, it would be hard to see; it’s as white and feathery as the rest of the outfit.

“Yeah, I wish I knew what mine is, too,” I agree, feeling the thing dig into my back all over again.

Then Liss and Harrol come back, and they direct us into the chariot, carefully adjusting our positions until they’re satisfied. Just as they finish, the opening music begins to play, and the chariot from District 1 rolls out onto the runway, followed by District 2, and so on.

As I watch District 8 make their way out, I sense someone coming up behind us, and I feel something click on the strange thing on my back. This is followed by a steady measure of smaller clicks, almost like a countdown. “These will activate when you’re about halfway down the runway,” I hear Harrol say in mine and Javelin’s ears, “Try not to look too startled, alright? Smile.” And then he was gone.
Jav and I exchange a brief look, and then we’re suddenly moving forward; District 9 has already moved out, and it’s our turn now. I’m so startled by the sudden movement that I start to lose my balance, but Javelin catches hold of my arm and helps me upright again. “Hold on,” He says, taking hold of my hand. Still feeling a bit unsteady, I close my hand tightly around his. And then we’re out on the runway. The crowd cheers as we enter, not as enthusiastically as they had for most of the other Districts, but it isn’t too bad.
Districts 11 and 12 came behind us, and the procession continued in pretty much the same way as I’d seen it from home every year. As we reached the middle of the runway, however, there was a loud click, and the thing on my back began to shift and change shape, seeming to fold outwards. The crowd began to notice, and I heard many of them gasp. I catch sight of our chariot on a large screen, and I can see what was happening; the things on mine and Jav’s backs are slowly unfolding, revealing themselves to be large, magnificent wings. The crown cheered louder now, and I knew they were cheering for us. I still felt like the Career Tributes had outdone us, but we seemed to be the center of attention now.

Finally, the chariots ride into the City Circle, filling the loop completely, and President Snow comes out onto a balcony high above us. He’s young for a President; in his mid-early 40’s I think, but his hair is a paper-white, as it always has been from what I can remember. I wonder if his hair was always naturally that color, or if he has to dye it. He gives the official greeting for the Games, wishing all the tributes luck in the games. Then after the national anthem plays, the chariots make one final loop, and then enter the Training Center.

Almost before the doors are closed, our prep teams run up and start bouncing around us, telling us how wonderful we were. I suddenly realize that I’m still holding tight to Javelin’s hand. I try to let go, but it’s an effort; my fingers are stiff, and it almost feels like I lost circulation in my hand. Jav seems to notice suddenly, too, and after a minute, we manage to pry our hands apart. “Sorry about that,” I say, massaging my hand in an attempt to loosen it up.

“It’s fine.” Jav says with a smile, “I didn’t mind.”

I smile as well, and then Liss and Harrol come in, making their way to us through our excited prep teams. “Wonderful, you two, wonderful!” Liss says, coming over and hitting a switch on our wings. They slowly fold back up the way they had before the parade had started. “Come now, let’s get you two inside,” Liss says, helping us both down from the chariot, “Gibble and Jeanine are waiting.” Then she and Harrol turn and lead us to the elevator that takes us up into the Training Center.
 
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