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The First Quarter Quell

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Chapter OneEdit

President Snow, that vile white snake, has announced the Quarter Quell. The people of Panem have suffered so much, and yet the Capitol finds ways to torture us even more. Have we not suffered enough? For 24 years the Capitol forces us to watch our own children being murdered.Yet they want us to suffer more.... I am curled up in a tight little ball on the ratty sofa. I block out the sound around me, yet I still hear my mother gasp.

"Christina.... did you hear that?"

I come out of my little ball. "No."

"The Capitol has announced that we are to pick the tributes for this annual hunger games."

"You do not think..............."

" You know very well what I think. We are the poorest in this district, and the least favored. They might pick you."

"Mom, you shouldn't think about that."

But my mother is not listening.

"The Capitol kills my family, bombs them ,destroys my house and kills my husband !!! And now, they will send my daughter into the arena to be murdered ???!!!???!!! They are the center of all evil, Christina. Promise me, if you are picked, you must try your hardest to win. Swear to me!!!!"

"I swear Mom. I swear to kill them all."

It is like a dam breaks loose, and the tears my mother has been holding back finally comes pouring out. She eventually cries herself to sleep. I slip away into the bedroom. My 10 year old sister, Chelsea sits on the bed, playing with rope. She looks at me.

"Are you going into the arena?"

" I dunno. You shouldn't ponder on things like that, Chelsea."

She stares at me with big sea-green eyes.

"You can tell me, you know. I won't tell Mother."

I sigh.

" I don't want to talk about it." I say.

Chelsea shrugs, and looks at me pointedly.I pretend to go to sleep. Eventually I do drift off, but my dreams are no better than reality.

In every single one, I am dying, or Chelsea is dying. I finally wake up in a cold sweat, and I see my mother mournfully stroking the picture of my father.

"Sometimes I wake up and I think that he is hiding somewhere. But I know he is gone. I know the Capitol killed him. A shipwreck? He would've survived. I know he would."

I stay silent. My mother turns to look at me.

"You know how good a swimmer he is."

And there is so much hopelessness in her eyes. Oh no. Here comes the lies.

"Of course, Mom. He-he's alive."

"I'm going to bed."

"Sure, Mom. "

"Tell me if the- the bombings start again."

"I will."

Mom looks like a little kid,sleeping on that bed, next to Chelsea.

Chapter TwoEdit

I decide to train. If I am picked tommorow, I do not want to die. I grab throwing stars, a knife, and a bow and arrows. There is an annoying patch of weeds in the garden. I will chop them down.

I take a throwing star and I slash it at the weeds. I grab my bow, and I aim it at the spot on the tree behind the weeds I carved with my knife a year ago. Bull's eye.I take the arrow out of the trunk and go further back. I throw my knife, hard, at the target. It hits with a sickening thwack. I try to pull it out. No good. It is stuck firmly into the trunk. I go back into the house and grab another knife.

This time, I practice "hand to hand" combat. I slash the weeds out, using the knife. In a half-hour, a pile of useless weeds surround me. I wipe the sweat from my brow. I hear clapping, and I whip around. It is Chelsea.

"Nice. But you don't practice unless you need to. You really think you'll get thrown into the arena, don't you?"

I hesitate before I tell her.

"Yeah, Chelsea."

"Don't worry, I won't tell mother. She's out of whack already."

I breathe a sigh of relief.

"Let's go inside."

Chelsea nods.

"So, Christina.'

"Hmm?"

"You'll try to win, right?"

Chelsea's voice sounds little, and scared. I lie to her, too.

"Yeah. I will."

It seems like I am lying to everyone now. Even my life- a lie.

Chelsea does not look reassured.

"Christina?"

"Yeah?"

"Can you tuck me in?"

" You're serious, right?"

Chelsea nods.

"Okay."

I follow her into the bedroom. I tuck her in ,and kiss her goodnight. She is lucky to be ten.

Chapter ThreeEdit

I am restless, pacing around the house. I decide to go swimming, in the ocean. It always calms me down. I change into shorts and a t-shirt.I plunge in the water. Nice and cool. I go back in the house at 12:00 AM. The reaping is in 2 hours. My mother is up, heating stale bread with some water. She puts a dry basil leaf in. She does not look at me, but she must have known that I recently went swimming, because she said:

"Dry yourself, and wear what I put out for you on the bed."

"Okay."

I head into the bedroom, and Chelsea is waking up. She rubs her eyes, and falls back down on the bed. My mother has laid out a pretty blue dress. Also a new pair of sandals.

"Mom,are you sure?"

My mother stands in the doorway.

"Yes.Keep them, Christina."

I put them on, and survey myself in the mirror.

My mother clips my hair and puts an emerald necklace around my neck.

Chelsea wakes up.

"You look pretty, Christina."

What is up with Chelsea today?

Usually, she is fierce, and she eats a lot. Now....this.

Mother dresses Chelsea in a white blose and green skirt with worn sandals.

Chelsea pouts.

"How come Christina gets new sandals and I don't?"

That's more like old Chelsea.

Mom glares at her.

"Sorry.It's just, huh."

"Sorry Chelsea, but money is tight, and Christina might be-"

A tear trickled down my mother's cheek.

I glare at Chelsea for making mother cry.

Chelsea parts her hair into pigtails and wears the plastic bracelet she saves for special occasions.

Mother dresses in a collared dress with old sandals. She puts her hair in a bun and slips the small diamond ring on her finger-the engagement ring from father. We were quite rich before.... the accident.

Mother made sure we were all nice-looking and presentable.

Now it was time to go.

Chapter FourEdit

The air was brisk, and the streets were sort of crowded, so we just followed the crowd.

Eventually we reached the square. It is different now. Those eligeble to be reaped sat in chairs, Griffin Puff was gone,and the two glass balls were gone. Only a stage, a podium, and the mayor.

"Today is our very first Quarter Quell."

Then the mayor started talking about how Panem was forged from the country once called North America, and all that crap. It is the same every year, it is what we learn in class.

It is our history.

It is a piece of boring crap.

"Now ,the moment you've been waiting for!"

The crowd stiffens.

"Our tributes. Christina Coral, and my very own son, Jacob Arten.

All the girls swoon.

Oh great.

I get stuck with District 4 hearttrob. Yay.

Could my luck get any worse?

We walk on stage.

Jacob grins at me.

"Hey."

I roll my eyes.

"Charm isn't going to work on me. I'm not one of your stupid fangirls. I will not let my guard down and let you kill me in the games."

Jacob held his arms up in surrender.

"Hey! I wasn't doing anything. I was just saying hi!"

He put his arm around me.

"Get off me!"

He took his arm off and walked 5 steps away from me.

Finally.

The procedure is also different.

Instead of being rushed into the capitol house, we are ushered into the train.

My face is pressed to the window, trying to get a glimpse of my mother and sister.

I see no one.

Griffin Puff is on the train. He's a measly middle aged man, with fuzzy green hair on his chin and head. He has a green and blue catsuit on, with glimmery tattoos everywhere.

He surveys me and Jacob, like we were chickens ready to be inspected and killed.

"Hmmm,"

"Intresting. Very intresting."

I rolled my eyes and Griffin said "AHA!"

"What?"

"We've got a fighter here!"

I rolled my eyes again.

Either this guy was just being dumb, or he was born with immense stupidity.

Chapter FiveEdit

A minute later, our mentors, Laela and Geoff arrive.

Laela is a pretty woman, with lush black hair and sea-green eyes filled with sympathy.

Geoff is a big guy, with ripped muscles, blonde hair and sea-green eyes. His eyes are rough, but gentle and forgiving at the same time.

I knew Geoff. He was my father's friend when he was young. He was a kind man, always giving me and Chelsea small presents. Uncle Geoff, we called him. Then the accident happened, and mother shook him out of our family. But he was still kind to Chelsea and I.

Laela's brother was also a friend of my father's. So, Laela was a good friend to my mother.But when the accident happened, mother took them out of our family too. Chelsea and I occasionally see Laela, but with mother, so we cannot even talk to her.

Laela's mouth goes into a little o of surprise.

Geoff also looks shocked.

"Uncle Geoff."I whisper.

Geoff chuckles, and hugs me.

"Oh, it's been so long since I've heard that. How's your mother?"

"Good."

"Christina."

"Hi, Laela."

"How's Chelsea?"

"She's fine."

Jacob looks shocked, as if he's so surprised he wasn't the first to be included in this conversation.

Griffin clears his throat.

"Well, now that everyone is caught up, Geoff, Laela, escort the new tributes into their rooms and instuct hem what to do." "Yes."

Chapter SixEdit

Laela rushes me out of the room, into a different room. She closes the door behind us.

"Now, tell me how your family is faring, and don't say 'fine'. You are anything but fine, Christina."

Laela seems trustful enough. Well, she is. She was a family friend for a long time, a trusted family friend.

Well, if I can't trust somebody my father and mother trusted, I can't trust anyone.

"We are not surviving well."

Laela sighs.

"I could help! Give you some money, new clothes, extra food, I have more than enough! Geoff could help too, he was so worried about you when-"

"Laela, it- mother wouldn't accept it. She calls it charity work, and she doesn't want anyone thinking we are too poor. Trust me Laela, we're fine."

"You're too thin!"

"It might help me survive in the games, when there's not enough food."

Laela quiets.

"Two hours until dinner. Until then, wash up, wear something cleaner."

I nod, Laela gets out of the room.

I decide to pack on some weight, in case the area is cold.

I need some protection.

I wash up, and dress in a simple white dress, exept it is not so simple. It is adorned with pearls and lace that curls up and schrunces and the ends, making a long, lacey curtain. However,it is the simplest thing in my wardrobe.

I take the clip off and put clipped it on my sandal.

I put an elegant looking clip with a glistening pearl and diamond on it in my hair.

I look presentable enough to go to the Capitol.

I think.

I glance at the high tech clock on the wall.

30 minutes until dinner.

I sit on the edge of the bed and fiddle with the emerald necklace.

I have no idea why mother would give me this.

It is too precious for someone like me.

I lie on the bed, careful so that my hair doesn't touch it.

I am going into the arena.

No.

Even worse, I'm going to have to eat a meal with Jacob.

Hopefully Laela, Geoff and I will just hang out and stuff and Jacob will be ignored.

Pshhhhhhh.

What am I talking about?

Jacob can never shut up.

His mouth goes about a mile a minute.

Always chit-chatting, always flashing a smile at girls, always being cocky.

And stupid.

I glance at the clock again.

5 minutes.

Being early is better than late!

I sighed, and went to the dining room.

Chapter SevenEdit

The halls of the capitol train are not in the least bit crowded. When I entered the dining room, I found out that Laela and Geoff are there ,so I sit next to them, and everyone starts arriving.

Then, Jacob shows up, and the girl from District One, Satin, bats her eyes at him.

"Why, hello, Jacob!!!!"

"Hello, Satin."

Satin puts her arms around Jacob and whispers something in his ear.

Jacob chuckles, and shakes his head.

Satin looks a little confused, so I could tell she wasn't used to people telling her "no."

Instead, he walks over to our table, but I barely notice. How could they know each other?

"Hey.Remember what happened?"Jacob asks.

Geoff blushes.

"What?" I pestered Geoff.

"I killed Satin's older sister in the 6th Hunger Games, when I won. Now she'll do anything to kill me or District 4's tributes. Be wary of her. She's more dangerous than she seems like. But she has taken a liking to Jacob, so that's pretty good. Don't wait too long to kill her. She is a strong enemy. What's worse, the other District 1 tribute is her brother. Velvet Golde. He's dangerous too." Geoff explains.

I snickered.

"Golde? That's their last name?"

Laela glares at me.

"They are a force to be reckoned with, even if their names sound strange. Beware of them. They are more dangerous than they seem like."

I nodded, while all the while, I really don't get what they're saying.

I mean, Golde? District 1 always has weird names.

I could see Satin smiling smugly at me, so I smiled back. My most beautiful, charming smile. I could see Satin harrumphing, and Velvet leads her away. I stop smiling, and start talking to Laela.

"See?"

"They are a force to be reckoned with."

"If so, why are they here? Are they the least liked? Are they?"

"They volunteered to."

I snickered, and Laela glared daggers at me.

"Cockiness and insolence is not a good trait in the games. Do you want to die?"

That sobered me up. I ducked my head and muttered :

"No."

"Then shut your trap. I'm sorry, Christina, I know what harpships you faced. But I am only trying to prepare you for the hardship that comes next."

"Yes."

The air is chill between us, like we're being deserted by Laela. She is staring blankly at her napkin. Geoff makes a weak attempt to warm things up between us, but stops quickly because he realises the effort is fruitless.

The Panem national anthem is playing, and they are now showing the reapings. Griffin Puff comes in, and in two big strides, he crosses the room and sits at our table.



Chapter EightEdit

The Panem national anthem plays, and I sit back to watch the reapings, which are not like normal reapings, but we still call it that anyways.

As I watch the reapings, I see what Laela meant. In District One, a girl with mousy brown hair and blue eyes was chosen, but Satin takes her place. She beams, and several of the District One boys go googly-eyed over her.Velvet stands up even before the name is called, and he murmurs something to Satin, and he takes his shirt off. A lot of the District One girls scream at the sight.

He's about to die. Yet you still scream and yell for his shirtless body as if cherishing the fact that he will be gone soon. I roll my eyes. Girls can be so foolish sometimes.

The District Two girl and boy are Leno and Freida.

Leno is about 18, with wavy brown hair, and sparkling dark blue eyes. Freida looks about 15, with dark black hair, and smoldering, dark brown eyes.He also had a thick-rimmed pair of black glasses on.

The District Three girl and boy are Skalea and Broshnick.

Skalea is about 13, with choppy black hair,a broken arm, and mismatched blue- and -black eyes. Broshnick is about 16, with flaming red hair,blue eyes and ripped muscles.

For District Four, obviously, it is Jacob and I.

Jacob has dark black hair, and evergreen eyes. He is a year older than me. I am 16.

The District Five tributes are Malin and Harshford.

Malin is about 15, with big, brown eyes,and stringy black hair. Harshford is about 12, with weatherbeaten black hair and harsh looking brown eyes.

The District Six tributes are Maevie and Laine.

Maevie and Laine are fraternal twins, 16, with brown hair, and brown eyes.

The District Seven tributes are Naiomi and Juddah.

Both of them looked about 17, with evergreen eyes and black hair.

The District Eight trtibutes are siblings, for sure, Lanket and Yealea.

Both looked 12, with dark amber eyes and pale blonde hair.

The District Nine tributes are Lufas and Kristen.

Maevie looked 14, Kristen looked 16. Amber hair and blue eyes.

I was getting bored, watching district after district deliver their tributes.

But when I saw District Twelve...

I almost fell out of my seat.

Trillium and Camellia.

Two helpless 12 year olds. Bone thin. Ragged clothing. Tan skin, black hair, and grey eyes. They shivered, cuddling against themselves.

Griffin Puff grinned cruelly.

"Well. I guess we know who's gonna die first, right?"

I made my desision that I did not much like Griffin, with his evil sneer and extreme superiority.

Then the bell rang for dinner.

Chapter NineEdit

A bunch of Avoxes poured into the room, with platters of food.

Steak, with potatoes, and thick gravy. A basket of District 4 rolls. A glass brimming with a brown liquid. I sniffed it tentatively.

Then I remembered what it was- chocolate.

I had a bit of it two new years back, Geoff gave Chelsea and I a little piece.

Though how that sweet,hard, creamy thing I ate then could turn into this piping hot, frothy liquid.

I gulped it down, though scalding my throat, it was the best thing I ever ate.

So far.

Lunch was silent around this table, just the clanking of utencils against china plates.

An avox quickly filled my empty chocolate thing mug and I looked at it with glee.

I savored it this time, sipping it slowly and eating pieces of my lunch as well.

When everyone was done, we just abrubtly left.

Nothing to it.

I raced to my cabin, and I heard Laela follow me.

"Get some rest. We'll be at the capitol in about 5 hours."

"Oh, thank god."

I took off all the fancy stuff, washed my face off the makeup, and took a shower.

I glanced at the clock.

4 hours left.

I grimaced.

I'd only have 3 hours to sleep before I'd have to get ready again.

If only......

There were so many things to think about, and I was so tired.......

Chapter TenEdit

The hours passed slowly. In the end, I just gave up my futile attempt to sleep. I yawned widely.

2 hours to go.

I sighed,and took a long hot shower.

I dressed in navy blue pants and a dark purple shirt. I styled my hair into a messy bun and slipped into my comfortable sandals. and fastened the emerald necklace on my neck.

There.

I glanced at the clock.

30 minutes.

I pace around, restless. The time is slowly winding down

25 minutes.

I change again, because I feel the outfit is not appropriate.

I instead change into a flowing light blue dress, with the same messy bun and emerald necklace. I clutch it tightly, sniffing it tentaivley, searching for a trace of my mother.

There was none.

It smelled like a stone- hard, cold, and scentless.

I gave up, and glanced at the time.

5 minutes.

Oh sn-

I hurried to the entrance of the train.

Pearl smirked at me.

She was wearing a provacative pink dress which hugged her curve, and about a ton of pale pink lipstick, dark mascara, and a series of pink pearls up her face.

The do-up was useless, because it was coming off anyways.

"For the cameras" she said dismissively.

I rolled my eyes.

Of course there were going to be cameras,but seriously...

What nerve she had.

Pearl smirked again, staring at her perfect manicure. It was a sickly sweet light pink color, much like her personality.

The door opened.

Here we go.

Chapter ElevenEdit

I'll admit, I expected a bigger entrance. As in, smoke and stuff.

Not really.

The train door swung open, and we all looked in awe at the capitol.

It was immaculate, perfectly perfect,immensely beautiful, graceful, curving stuctures that seemed to touch the sky.

Our awe was cut short, because we soon were ushered to our stylists.

But first, our prep team.

"OW!" I grimaced, as Grimelda ripped my hair off.

"Tsk,tsk,tsk" she said.

"What?"

"Your legs...... very smooth,but very hairy."

"Wha- OW!"

Another member of my prep team, Ludvica ripped my hair off.

It seemed as if they were going to rip all the hair off me.

So far, they have rid my body of the hair on my legs,arms, and a little off my eyebrows.

They have washed my hair until it was a silky,glossy, curtain that wrapped around my face.

They filed my nails, and painted them a clear color.

The other and last member of my prep team, Lucredia,put a pale pink lotion on me.

First, it stung, but then a soothing relief came.

"The stylist is ready to see you." Grimelda said.

With a flounce, they left the room, and my stylist entered.

She was a woman- thank god- so I didn't feel that uncomfortable.

"Hello, what is your name, dear?"

'Christina."

"Sit,sit."

I sat.

"So tell me, how are you liking the capitol so far?"

I mumbled something.

"I'm sorry, what?"

I didn't say anything.

My stylist glanced at her nails.

"Well, I've seen the looks of the district 12 tributes, they look horrible! Not really going to be a gruesome death, they're too weak to take it. Shame. To shirk our entertainment- well, I'm sure you understand."

Who the hell does she think she is? Entertainment? Since when is the murder of children entertainment?

I stared at her, disgusted.

She stared at me blankly.

"Um, yea. Whatever."

"Great. So I was thinking,we should do like a pale greenish, blueish, soft dress of swirling chiffon and silk. Nope, no, wait:maybe something simpler."

She snapped her fingers.

"Ooo. I know.That is my plan for your interveiw dress. I forgot.It is going to be a one-shoulder seaweed lace dress.Thin, but it should look attractive enough."

I stared blankly at her.

I could tell she thought I was a poor, weak victim of the reaping. WRONG. She had no idea of what I was capable of.

"OK!" she exclaimed brightly. "Let me measure you."

Chapter TwelveEdit

ANIMAL CRUELTY was the first thing I thought when I saw our chariot.

The poor animals were dyed blue and green(pale) and had saphires shaped like fish all over their bodies, so it looked like they were swimming.

MY dress was EXTREMELY dressy, if I survived, I would kill the stylist for making snarky comments about district 12 and for the cut of my dress.

I looked like a mermaid

Jacob's look was extremely innapropriate.

He was shirtless, and seaweed covered his .......... parts.

He grinned at me, and GOD I was feeling self consious.

Not because of Jacob. HELL, that will NEVER happen.

No, because I could hear the gigantic roar of the crowd, and my dress felt awkwardly short. And see-through.

I clambored on the carridge about as gracefully as a full grown african elephant. It was embarassing, and I blushed, but then I got angry at myself.

I don't blush. I don't care about what people think of me.

Before now.

I start hyperventilating quietly, about to go under the surge of a full-scale panic attack.

Jacob whispered in my ear:"Scared, huh?", and I just about died.

"Jacob. Don't EVER do that again."

"Ok,ok, but.... you seem nervous."

I rolled my eyes.

"Thank you... Captain Obvious."

He saluted. "No problem, ma'am."

I don't know if it was stress or anxiety, but I started laughing like crazy.

District 1's chariot went by.

Then 2 and 3.

After a minute, we came out.

The stadium was IMMENSE.

People were everywhere. Cheering, hollering.

Most women (at first glance, aged 15-35) screamed like fangirls when they saw Jacob.

It was exhilarating.

In the midst of it all, I started waving and smiling (don't know where THAT came from, but it just did.)

Finally, the rounds were over, and Jacob wiped the face smile from his lips.

"Finally."

I just stared at him.

Chapter ThirteenEdit

After that, us "tributes" are transported directly to the capitol.

I have to admit, going up that glass elevator was a giddy experience.

It was electrifying and dizzing and qiute an amazing feeling.

And then I remember that I was riding in the capitol's elevator with Jacob almost naked beside me and I looked at him with loathing.

The elevator dinged at our floor and I ran away, bumping into Laela.

"Oh, sorry Laela."

Laela looked at me cautiously.

"Do you even know where your room is?"

I shook my head.

"No, no I don't."

I allowed myself an apologetic smile.

"Sorry?"

Laela laughed.

"Ok. Come with me, and I'll show you."

She led me away and I asked :"Laela, how did you survive?'

She stopped still. Laela closed her eyes and counted to ten.

When she stopped and openened her eyes again, I could see the glimmer of many tears on the iris.

"When I was in the hunger games," she began with a shaky voice.

"I was 18. I was the oldest contestant, and even after 18 years of the games we were still confused. My partner, Daniel Noeless, died in the bloodbath after the cornucopia. I was scared, and shocked, so I grabbed a mace and some knives and I ran."

I listened with rapt attention, and I could hear an edge of bitterness in her tone.

"There was a rustling behind me, so I swung the mace.It cracked open a young girl's skull, and made her possible ally pass out. Guiltily, I left the bodies there and ran, screaming. Wrong thing to do, wrong time, wrong place."

Laela lifted her shirt, and a thin tan line ran all the way across her torso.

"Back then, the Capitol didn't have this technology they have now. They also didn't care. That's how I ended up with this."

She pointed to the scar, pulled her shirt back down, and closed her eyes.

"It was hell in there, Christina. The gamemakers are cruel, and they will trick you. You have to see through their lies and fight. Because it is your life you are fighting for. I see a little of myself in you. A word of advice? Take the nearest and deadliest availible weapons and run. Run faster than all the rest and maybe, maybe that will give you an advantage. Never let your guard down and always keep focus. If you can climb trees, thats great. Also, seek water, food and sleep 3 hours a day. Don't wear yourself out and then sleep forever, because that is the best way for a person to sneak up on you undetected, slit your throat, and send you on a one way trip to the lord."

I nodded.

"And the most important thing. Know your friends and your enemies, and your limits. Don't let friends distract you, and don't trust enemies. In fact, don't trust anyone. Keep to yourself. Never take unnessesary risks.Your room's down the hall. Good luck, Christina. I hope you don't die."

And with that, Laela walked away.

Chapter FourteenEdit

I entertain myself with the faucets in my bathroom. One contains ocean water, and I fill the tub with it because it smells like home.

I guess a winner from district four requested this water and she got it.

I slipped in and I inhaled the smell.

Polluted but home.

After about an hour or so, I drained the tub and filled it up with lukewarm water and about 50 different kinds of bubbles, bath fizzes and sea salts.

It smelled nice.

I gingerly stepped in again.

I am going to die.

After the long bath, I decide to treat myself and order something.

It was really quite an ingenius system.

You said some sort of food, and seconds later it comes whizzing up, pipng hot (or whatever temperature it is.)

I ordered our district bread, salt and lemon pepper tilapia, and the hot chocolate thing.

When it came up, I put the food on my table( that was supposed to be used for makeup) and ate ravenously.

Even though I was still hungry, I didn't order anymore, because dinner was in an hour.

I combed my hair,lotioned my skin, and put on a simple white cocktail dress,light green chiffon heels,and fastned my mother's emerald necklace on my neck , and put a pair of wispy green diamond earings.

I brushed my hair into an elegant curl, like Laela taught me how to.

I was a social girl before the accident.

My father's brother's friend's father was the mayor, and we were invited to many formal events, so I learned how to look presentable.

I took a glance at myself in the mirror.

Perfect.

Chapter FifteenEdit

I took the glass elevator down to the first floor and I walked to the dining hall.

Ok, keep calm, Christina.

Hang in there.

Most of the tributes are sitting alone, but the career pack has probably formed up.

Satin ,Velvet, Leno and that kid from district three, Broshnick.

He was tall, sullen and towering.

I wonder why he was chosen.

Maybe district 3 wanted to bring glory to their district.

Whatever the reason, he was a welcome part of the pack.

I wanted to sit with someone, because I feel like a bigger outcast than I already am.

But I refrain myself.

I refrain myself because if I befriend a tribute, I will feel guilty with shoving a knife down their backs.

Literally.

I sit in a secluled corner, next to Laela, Geoff, and.... my stylist.

I learn that her name is Aglaeca, which means "demon warrior" or "monster hero".

Aglaeca beckons me to sit nex to her, where I uncomfortably plop myself down.

She "tsks" at me.

"You should have better manners if you even aspire to have sponsors." she chuckles.

"Laela, darling, teach her some manners before the interview, please! Her behavior is atrocious."

I looked down.

Aglaeca is an annoying, deluded "know-it-all.'

Jacob sits at our table.

I looked at the clock on the wall across from us.

Late, again.

"I'm sorry, did I miss anything?" he asked.

Aglaeca giggled. "Not at all, if you count Christina's unusually sullen behavior."

Jacob waved a hand dismissively."She's always like that."

I glare at him.

I was NOT always this way.

I actually used to be his friend, for god's sake.

Then, the accident happened.....

The food came, distracting Jacob enough to end his conversation with my stylist.

"Yum, delicious," were Jacob's next words.

Aglaeca shooked her head in mock-reproach.

"Boys. The only way to get to your heart is through food."

"Nufuh." Jacob replied, but it was sort of useless, since his mouth was stuffed with a spoonful of corn.

"Well, if you're so accoustomed to fine cusine,it's going to be hard for you in the games. Unless 'fine' cusine to you also includes tree bark and pollen."

Jacob looked hurt.

"I knoff thatf. Ilm thust ying fu get fhuod befoh tha ames." (A/N:Jacob is trying to say: "I know that. I'm just tring to get some food before the games. Just in case you didn't know. :) )k, he said, with his hand stuck to his mouth which was finished with the corn and now working on mashed potatoes.

Aglaeca shook her head disdainfully.

"Jacob, your table manners are dreadful. Are your families really such barbarians?"

And with that, she took her fork and knife, cut off a tiny sliver of her chicken cutlet,and ate it gracefully. After she chewed, swallowed, and wiped her mouth with a napkin, she said " Table manners are more important than you think, my dears."

All of us looked uncomfortable, and enjoyed our dinner in silence (Jacob was actually making an effort to keep his mouth shut, as to avoid Aglaeca's critisisim, that is the one thing I like about her.).

As Agleaca's mouth opened again, I abrubtly left the table.

As I did so, I could hear Aglaeca saying "Dear god, she has horrible table manners, leaving so abruptly,coming so rudely, behaving like.. like, well, like a barbarian!"

I rolled my eyes.

The capitol's citizens will never realize how rude, annoying, and arrogant they are.

It's maddening.

Chapter SixteenEdit

After an hour waiting in my room (still in dinner clothing, but the hair got a bit messier.),Laela paid me a visit.

"Christina. I haven't talked to you since..." her voice trailed off and I knew she was talking about this afternoon.

"I was harsh on you, Christina, but you have to know how it was in the arena.It looks safe, but it's not."

"I know, Laela. It's ok."

She sighed, and slumped to the floor, cradling her hands in her head.

"The games ruined my life. I killed 13 people, Christina. That's more than half. 13."

I sat on the carpeted floor next to her.

My voice was shaky as I asked the next question.

"How?"

She looked up at me.

"I killed the first with a mace to the head.Then, I finished 3 with a head on battle. They didn't have a chance against me. I took the boys' weapons and other things. A blanket. Dried fruit and meat. Night vision glasses. A bow with 12 arrows, a small dagger and a knife.A weapon belt and a backpack. I put the provisions in my backpack.The knives in the belt, and I held the mace."

I listened, sinfully intrested.

"And then?"

"The fourth one, I fought a boy from district two. District two's tributes are brutal. He gave me that scar."

Laela motioned with a nod of her head.

"I was stupid. I wore myself out. I climbed onto the top branches of a tree, concealed by leaves. I tied myself onto the branch,and passed out. The gamemakers made a fire appear in that area. I tied myself to the tree too tightly, and it took me a while. The fire was spreading onto my tree, so I jumped from tree to tree, and this brute from district one tried to clambor onto my tree. I shot him with my bow and arrow. He was the fourth person I killed. He burned. In front of him were the girls from one and two, and both tributes from four. I jumped, shooting them in the sensitive neck, one by one. Dead count is now 8."

She smiled bitterly.

"I was lucky. My mother and father prepared me for this day since I was 5. After I escaped the inferno,I ran into a girl from district 6 and her dying companion. She was sobbing. I shot her, and knifed her partner. Dead count is 10. Another member of their pack barreled me head on. He almost killed me, and he stole my arrows, mace and provisions.I held on to the night vision glasses and knives. He ran into the woods and a fiery bird bit his head off. I had to bite my tongue to keep from screaming. The eleventh one I killed was a twelve year old girl with half her face ripped off.She was crying on her face that was still there. 'Kill me', she said. I couldn't bring myself to come close to her.She started screaming for me to kill her, kill her because the pain was too much, and that nobody would care if she died. She said for me to kill her and let her escape. She said she wanted to dance in the meadows of heaven with her mother and father. So I did. What I didn't notice was that somebody was following me. If I didn't have that sudden instinct to look back, I would be dead. I flung a knife, and bingo, right on target. He died. I ran into a glade, and my instincts were sreaming at me to go away, but I didn't listen. I gripped my last knife, and I took a step, and set off a mine explosion.I turned deaf in my right ear and I lost my left leg. Luck was there for me. I stabbed the last remaining tribute in the head with my last knife. I thought, even if I won, I was going to die, but I didn't. The doctors were obligated to fix up my leg."

"Oh, I was going to ask- so there's no scar?"

Laela laughed, but humor wasn't in her tone.

"Oh, there is a scar. "

She pulled up her dress,and on her thigh, there was a dark line. The blueish membrane stuck out. She pulled it down again.

"They didn't care that much, back then. They just fixed you up until your body parts were funtioning good enough. But don't worry, it's different now."

Laela glanced at the clock.

"It's getting late,Christina."

"I know."

"You should get some sleep. Interviews are tommorrow. Be nice. Be friendly. Sponsors do help."

And with that, Laela left the room.

I didn't even bother to change, and I fell asleep quickly.

Chapter SeventeenEdit

The next morning Laela and Aglaeca woke me up early with eggs, slightly burnt glazed ham and potatoes.

I eyed them groggily.

"What's the occasion?" I asked.

Aglaeca laughed.

"It's interview day today!"

"Oh."

Laela fidgeted uncomfortably.

"Aglaeca-" Laela started, but she cut her off. "Oh, Laela dear, call me Aggie."

"Ok. Aggie asked me to um, teach you some manners."

I sat up in my bed.

"Um..ok."

Aggie left the room and left Laela and I alone.

"So.Christina. I need to ask you; what's your angle?"

"My what?"

"No, I mean ,what do you want people to see you as?"

"Huh?"

Laela shook her head.

"Sly, shy, sexy?"

"Oh."

"Yeah, Christina."

"Um...."

"I see we have a lot of work to do."

Three hours later, we got my angle.

I was supposed to be pretty put deadly, the kind you'd never expect me to be, I was supposed to make people love me.

Great.

I was going to have an extremely hard time trying to project this.

After this, I was ushered to my prep team.

My nails were painted a light blue and sparkled like the ocean when it was near light.

Ludvica painted my lips with a pale pink lipstick, and Grimelda made my eyes smokey and blue-ish.

Lucredia managed to get my frazzled hair into a glossy curtain (again, which was not an easy task) and wove in blue high-lights.

Aggie then told me to close my eyes, so I did.

When I opened them, I was wearing the ocean.

Well, not literally, but the dress was made of chiffon and lace, and it moved around me gracefully, powerfully.

Dangling from my ears were emerald earings, and she fastened my mother's emerald necklace.

Aggie then tossed me my shoes and I slipped them on my feet.

It felt like a dream- only that after the dream I was going to die.

Aggie may be annoying, rude and bossy, but she was a good stylist.

"Hph. You... actually don't look like a barbarian."

I rolled my eyes.

Aggie then closed her eyes, and sighed.

A tear rolled down her eyes.

"What's wrong?" I asked, genuinely concerned. Aggie was tough, and she never showed any sigh of defeat or weakness.

"Oh, it's nothing." she gave me a sad smile.

"You just remind me so much of my sister, Christina."

"Your sister?"

"My sister. Yes."

"What happened?'

Aggies eyes grew into fury, then.She wiped her tears, and looked me in the eye.

"My sister was tortured to death in front of me. She was a traitor, they had said. They spared me because I was new. A budding stylist, and they needed me. They spared me because I didn't know of her treachery." Aggie spat the word out, like it was a swear word, one you should never utter.

"They said they'd kill me if I didn't act like one of them. If I didn't talk like them, move like them, eat like them, I would be killed."

As she talked, I noticed her accent changed. It was not the annoying one the capitol used, but rather, the one of a district 4 native.

"So I had to. I'm not proud, I did it because I was scared."

Aggie looked at me.

"The capitol is evil. Espessially Snow.The thing is, we are also much at fault, because we never tried to stop them."

"We couldn't, Aggie."

"Oh, Christina. That's because we never tried."

"Aggie-"

"No. Christina, I will make you late. Get out there and knock them dead. You hear? Promise me."

"Ok. I will."

Aggie then took me by the shoulders and shook me.

"You will win. I will be rooting for you. And I swear, Julie is looking out for you."

She then walked to a corner of the room and started crying.

I left then, to give her some privacy.

Chapter EighteenEdit

All of us tributes were send to a balcony seating, where we could see the other tributes perfectly.

A tv screen was in front of us, so we could see all of the other tributes.

The interviews were going by smoothly, and the last seconds ticked by off Broshnicks interview. He is good. Everytime he speaks, the audience give a ripple of laughter.

I'm next.

I can hear Caesar saying,"Ok, Now it's Christina's turn to be interviewed! I hear her dress is stunning."

Oh god.

I hear the capitol, sreaming and shouting.

I thought about my stylist.

"You will win. I will be rooting for you. And I swear, Julie is looking out for you."

I stepped into the bright light as the audience's sream grows to a cresendo.

I can see Caesar with his makeup a shade of salmon pink this year.

He beams at me with his shiny pearly whites.

"Come, sit, Christina." he gestures with a hand to a plushy looking couch.

I remembered my manners this time,and I sat graciously.

"Beautiful dress. Wonder how I'll look like wearing it...." Caesar ponders.

The audience laughs.

I ease up a little.

"Well, we'll have to see, later on. I'll ask my stylist to make you one."

Caesar looked flattered.

"Well, that's later. What about now? What's your favorite thing about the capitol?"

I racked my mind.

"Um....to be honest, everything."

My hands are covered with sweat. I am boring myself.

"Everything exept for Jacob. He eats like a pig!" after that, I mimed his eating.

The capitol gave a roar of laughter, then the buzzer goes off.

"I'm sorry, Christina, your time is up! Let's see what Jacob has to say about your critisisim, eh?"

I gave him a small smile..

Outside, Jacob walked past me, grinning.

After he was out of sight, I started hyperventilating.

Trying to please all of the capitol's citizens at a time was hard work.

Chapter NineteenEdit

I collapsed onto my bed.

I had one week to train, to please the judges, and to get my score.

Those scores were then released to the public, and would then fully determine who would/would not sponsor you.

Then the games would truly start.

I sighed on my bed. I slipped off the garments, careful not to break my nails, and wore a nightshift.

Sleep soon overtook me.

The next day I put on a jumpsuit that was sitting on my dressing chair, and fixed my hair in a high ponytail, and I raced to the elevator and punched the first floor button and ran to the practice arena.

I did each one methodically, practicing each one thrice until I got it perfect. The ropes,archery,plants, I studied them all. Knowledge of many things counted when you were fighting for you life.

I lifted weights,started eating Capitol food less, in order to get used to little or none edible food.

I substituted each overly rich Capitol food with dried fruit,dried meat, saltines,water and various breads.

I tried raw fish and tree bark, and after 3 days,I was feeling full after one meat stick and a saltine.

Every day I ran around the Capitol, swum in their lakes and rivers, and climbed trees. I jumped on trees, from tree to tree, over and over again. For a practice night,I spent a day in the forest, practicing all I did.

On the day of the scoring presentation, I was as ready as I would ever be.

"Good luck." Jacob murmured.

I didn't see him, or any other carrers take training seriously.

Was I the only one who did?

I even went to the extremities- taking a bath in freezing water or boiling hot water.

I stood way close to fire, to get my skin used to the burn.

My knuckles and hands, the palms were all callused, and I could outrun about 3 miles before I break a sweat.

I bet they all thought I just skipped training sessions.

Well, I'll prove them wrong.

I'll do it for Chelsea, and maybe mother."

It took seven years to make me stop hating my mother.

But still, I could never forgive her.

Mother was always a little loopier when we recieved word that father died.

She wouldn't speak to us, she would just mumble a bit to herself.

"Snowy has puppets.....he makes the puppets die, sink, not swim. Sink like an anchor, drown in blood, dum dee dum dum."

Chelsea went ballistic. It got so bad, she was spending so much time locked in our bedroom, or outside, in the ocean.

I admit, It creeped me out too. It was always the same rhyme, with Snowy and his 'puppets.'

She snapped out of it when I threatened her that I would leave with Chelsea.

Mom started screaming. She said that if we left, Snowy would come and burn us to the ground.

We were the puppets. Snowy would make a show of our deaths....

I slapped her.

How could I forgive her?

But still, I had to survive.

Otherwise, Mother would go into one of her fits.

She would kill Chelsea, like she did to every stray animal that crossed our path in those first 5 months.

To save them from Snowy, she said.

They were free.

I shuddered, and Jacob tapped me.

"Hello? Christina? I said good luck."

I shoved his hand off my shoulder.

"Good luck to you too," I mumbled, and raced to the waiting room.

We weren't allowed to see those scoring sessions.

I waited impatiently, until -"Christina Coral, 4."

Oh god.

Chapter TwentyEdit

The judges looked bored, but they were paying attention.

I grabbed a rope, made a knot, ties it to a light hanging on the ceiling,

I swung onto it, and climbed from light to light,then, perching on a light, I somersaulted downwards, grabbed a knife, and swung it to the wall behind the gamemakers.

I saw them scribbling down notes.

"Thank you, you may-" I sprinted off before the gamemaker (an unusually chubby one, with rhinestones covering every inch of his body) finished his sentence.

I only have to wait until tommorow.

Surprisingly, I slept like a baby.

I guess its' because the last week, my senses became musch keener, and I could hear pretty much everything in a 30 yd radius.

I woke and fell asleep on command.

Anyways, I dressed in the assigned uniform, and went to the scoring.

Satin and Velvet both got 9s.

Broshnick got a 9.5.

Jacob got an 8.

My stomach was sinking, until I saw....

Christina Coral, 4 - 10.5

10.5.

10. freaking FIVE!

I got the highest score.

Pearl, Velvet and Jacob looked at me, astonished.

"Alrighty, chop-chop, prepare for the games, which will start in, oh, look at that. 1 HOUR!!!!!!!" Griffin Puff yelled. He motioned to Jacob and I.

"Come here.Both of you."

"Yes, Mr. Puff?" Jacob asked.

"Go to your stylists. IMMEADIATELY!"

I ran off to see Aggie.

"Sit. Hurry. We haven't got much time."

I sat in a swivelchair, with wheels, and she pushed me into a helicopter.

Inside were several beauty supplies and things.

She removed the nail polish, and filed my nails, so that they were sharp, and they cut easily through paper as though it were butter.

She combed my hair, and cut off several inches of it, then proceeded to tie it in a ponytail.

She gave me a suit. It was lined with fleece on the inside, and it looked like it was waterproof.

She also gave me thick, woolen socks and long boots, that also looked waterproof, but was sturdy and light.

The helicopter landed in a building, where I was put in an elevator thingy.

I could hear the booming, resounding voice of Seneca Crane- "And now, let the first Quarter Quell... begin!"

The elevator rose higher.

The area was scenic.

One section was summer, warm and beautiful, with lush, thick trees.

Another was winter, which looked like a sort of heaven, snow covered trees, and bright snowmen.

In the middle was a bright, spring. Flowers dotted it, trees were just starting to bloom.

This is the place where 23 people will die.

I shuddered at the thought.

I stared straight at the golden horn, or the Cornucopia.

3,2,1...' Go!

I shot off like a rocket.

The others were all trailing behind me.

I grabbed a random backpack,a belt full of kives, and a bow with a sheath of 24 arrows.

I ran into the summer forest, until I was around 10 yards in, then I stopped.

I shout up a tree, and looked through my backpack.

A canteen of water,a baggie full of dried fruit, a baggie full of dried meat, and a baggie full of saltine crackers.

A very long piece of rope, and a slightly shorter one.

Goggles, and a thin jacket, lined with fleece.

A sleeping bag, with an extra blanket.

I tied the knife belt around my waist. There were 12 knives in all.

I knew the capitol and other citizens of Panem were watching, so , quick as lightning, I put everything back in the bag, slung the bow and arrow next to it, and flung it to the next tree bark.

"May the odds be ever in my favor," I muttered.

I swung into the other tree, and grabbed the knife, which I promptly put in my belt.

I could hear rustling underneath.

It is Skaela.

Chapter Twenty-OneEdit

Skaela looks terrified.

She is running-but from what?

Then I see.

Pearl and Velvet.

Without the spotlight trained on them, makeup,and fancy clothes, they were a vicious duo.

More rustling.

Broshnik appears, huge, and towering.

"WEAKLING!" Pearl spits out.

"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" Velvet taunts.

"I don't like this. She escaped. Just let her go. She'll die anyways." Broshnik murmurs.

Pearl whirled around, holding Broshnik at knife point. "Listen, Broshy. It's her-" she points to the general direction of Skaela- "Or us. Your pick."

"Her." Broshnik says defensively                                                                                                                   

This is where it get intersesting

first Pearl throws a knife at Broshnik

He dodges "Close one" He chucked his trident right through Pearls heart 

"You will regret this."

Velvet charges at Broshnik

Broshnik pin Velvet but velvet stabs him in the leg.

But Broshnik takes the knife and slits Velvets throat

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