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  1. #1
    Reaping and Training

    Reaping and Training

    Gossamer Portmore


    Reaping Day:


    "I volunteer as tribute!"

    Her words cut through the air at lightning speed, and hundreds of pairs of jealous eyes turned their gaze on Gossamer Portmore, as though pulled in a single motion by magnets.

    Gossamer hadn't paid attention to the name that had been called, except to be vaguely aware that it wasn't anyone she knew or cared about. That wasn't why she was volunteering. The tribute she had known and cared about was already dead and buried. Gossamer was, from the moment she volunteered, the second tribute from the Portmore family. Last year, her older brother Slate had gone into the arena, and he had come out in a wooden box without a pulse. Slate had been killed in one of the biggest upsets in recent Games history; he had been a Career, as all District One tributes were, but he had been executed by an alliance of tributes from Districts Five, Six, Seven, and Eight. That alliance had promptly fallen apart, and none of Slate's killers had been serious contenders to win, but the fact they had managed to do away with him had turned heads at the time.

    It was funny, Gossamer thought, how the whole thing had come down to timing. That was how Slate had ended up in the arena. He'd spoken slightly quicker than everyone else, and he'd gone to fight and die. That was how it happened in District One. Here, they were all volunteers. And because Gossamer hadn't bothered processing the name that was called before calling out her own desire, now she herself was going into the arena too.

    The announcer shoved the microphone in Gossamer's face when the Peacekeepers had marched her up on stage, and asked her about her ambitions for this year's Games.

    Gossamer smiled enigmatically - many in the crowd would later say she'd smiled a little disconcertingly, but the audience ate that sort of thing up when you were a Career. They wanted you to be a hero and a villain all wrapped up in one lethal package. Well, Gossamer would give them that. Far more than they bargained for.

    "I'm going to give you a Games you'll never forget," she said confidently, making eye contact with as many people as she could. They all knew about her brother. They all knew she was out for revenge. "Yes, I promise you that.."


    ***


    At the training facility:


    The Capitol was far more impressive than District One, but Gossamer hardly noticed. They had it easiest of all the districts in One, anyway, and she couldn't be distracted from her mission. She exercised in her room, doing push-ups and crunches till she was exhausted, and ate methodically at meals for maximum nutritional advantage. When her mentor - a woman named Allasayne Brighten, who had helped train potential tributes illegally from toddlerhood back in One, and who had taught Gossamer before - told her the time had come to gather for the first training, she went without comment and stood leaning against the wall, scoping out the competitors.

    Her eyes settled on the girl from Eight. The kid who everyone called Mouse was skinny and underfed. She didn't look like she'd be able to lift most of the weapons here, let alone use them to fight. At only twelve years old, she was the minimum age for a tribute and had been picked at her first Reaping. Bad luck for Mouse. She'd be easy pickings for just about anyone.

    "I want her as an ally," Gossamer told Allasayne, gesturing with her chin at the visibly terrified kid from Eight. "Get her for me."

    Allasayne's lip curled. "Stop joking around around, Gossamer. Your fellow tributes aren't going to be kidding around in the arena."

    Gossamer gave a little snort of disbelief. "Are you saying no to me?"

    Allasayne nodded. "Since I want you to have a shot at survival, yes. We've talked about this before. You need to ally with the other tribute from One, the Twos, maybe the Fours if they seem decent in practice..."

    "Then I'm saying no, too," Gossamer replied calmly, and folded her arms.

    Allasayne was clearly thrown off by this refusal out of the blue. "You're saying no to what, exactly?"

    "To training. I'm not doing it."

    "You're... not training?"

    Gossamer smiled, not too kindly. "That's right. If you want me to train, Allasayne... you go get me the girl from Eight as my ally. Talk to her mentor and make it happen, or I'll stand here all day for all I care."

    Allasayne stalked off, muttering under her breath about spoiled tributes, but Gossamer had clearly won. The mentor from Eight glanced over at Gossamer in disbelief as Allasayne whispered to her, and Gossamer smiled in response, showing teeth. Then Mouse herself glanced over, and they resumed their muffled conversation.

    Gossamer's attention wandered from that little group to the other tributes. She needed a few more allies. What she didn't need was training; like everyone in District One, she'd been trained for the Hunger Games for more years than many of the younger fellow tributes had even been alive. Sure, it was against the rules, but no one cared because it made for a better show. Gossamer wasn't going to learn anything here - if she hadn't picked it up in the past sixteen years, it wasn't going to happen in a few days.

    She needed more people for her plan, though. Watching the others train would cast some light on who was worth recruiting.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-10-2013 at 09:27 PM.
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  2. #2
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Shon Dietrich

    Reaping Day:

    He couldn’t remember the last day off from work he’d had – it was probably last year’s Reaping Day. Back when he went to school, he had plenty of days to go swimming, slide-board, and whatever else he could find to do in the mountains that didn’t involve studying history. Once his dad found out he was skipping class, well, that was the end of that. Two and a half years he’d been working the high wires now – and not a dime to show for it. It was nerve-wracking, heavy work riding the transmission carts, replacing insulators miles above the ground. It was often cold, usually windy, and always, always mind-bendingly dull.

    Today, however, Shon was suddenly sorry those days were over.

    ‘Does he even know?’ He wondered as he was half-led, half-pushed to the stage at the head of the crowd of District 5 kids. Sure, everyone was supposed to be off work today and watching the screens, but the Capitol always needed lots of power for the Games. Engineers often worked overtime while it was on to make sure everything ran smoothly. Shon supposed that if he didn’t know now, he would when the Peacekeeprs came to get him for the send-off.

    He looked to his left at the girl chosen from his District. Being out of school and on the work force meant that he didn’t know a lot of the kids in town anymore. This girl was no exception. Shon thought that maybe he’d seen her swimming at a local hole one time, but that was a long time ago. It hardly mattered now, anyway. Every kid he was going to meet from here on out was his enemy. That didn’t sit well with him, but he pushed his conscience aside and hoped it’d stay there. It would be the only way for him to survive.

    ~~~~~~~~~
    the Train

    It was really difficult to avoid his running mate once on board the speeding bullet train set for the Capitol. Especially since she was going out of her way to meet him. She hung around his door. Talked to him at the table. Asked him questions. Cried. Kicked things. Their mentor wanted them to be allies. Despite the fact that he’d been in the games, he didn’t seem to remember that only one would make it out.

    He couldn’t eat, even though he knew he was supposed to get his strength up. Allies? How long would that last? Until they stepped off their disks in the arena? Until the first night when someone decided they wanted his shoes? No. He’d rather take them face on – see it coming. No lies. He couldn’t take any more lies.

    ~~~~~~~~
    First day at the Training Center

    Three days. Only three days to learn how to use all this stuff. Who knew what he’d be stuck with in the Arena – he wanted to be ready. Ignoring his mentor, he threw himself into training. He decided to start with throwing weapons. It didn’t look that hard...but it was proving more difficult than he’d hoped. The strength was there, but his desperate throws first lacked the proper arc, then his hold was wrong, after that, his aim was poor...

    Shon’s brow was furrowed in concentration, but it was clear that his mind wasn’t on learning spear-throwing.
    Winner of the dubious Vaarsuvius Award for Verbousness!

    I support altruism.
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  3. #3
    Gossamer Portmore

    As Gossamer watched the other tributes, she realized she wasn't the only one doing so. The boy from Two was mimicking her posture of leaning on the wall, but whereas Gossamer's expression was neutral, his was predatory as his gaze scanned the other tributes. He reminded Gossamer of a shark.

    It's a shame, she thought. I was prepared to like him...

    The most important person in Gossamer's life was from Two, so she was predisposed favourably - but this boy obviously didn't measure up. Gossamer decided to ignore him. She wasn't afraid of him. When they got to the arena, she'd put him down if she had to. For now, he was no threat.

    When she saw the way he was looking at Mouse, though, Gossamer changed her mind about ignoring the boy from Two. Now he looked hungry. Not just a shark swimming through the ocean, but one who had scented prey. He had scented Mouse's blood in the proverbial water. If Gossamer didn't put a stop to it, her potential ally was going to bleed for real.

    Gossamer abruptly stalked over to him - her stride as graceful as a jungle cat - and punched the wall two inches from his face. The sound of her fist was surprisingly loud even to her own ears in the large empty space of the training gym, she thought with satisfaction. She leaned in so close their noses almost touched. "You don't touch her," Gossamer told the boy in a harsh, angry whisper. "You're going to leave her alone. Whatever you do to her out in the arena, I will hunt you down and do the same to you. Are we clear?"

    The boy was taken aback by Gossamer. He was discomfited by her sudden aggression after near silence from her most of the time, and he seemed to be gauging if he ought to be afraid, and not quite coming up with an answer. Equally confusing to him, though, was why a fellow Career cared what he did to the weakling from Eight, when there wasn't even district loyalty to provide a plausible motive.

    A pair of Peacekeepers moved toward Gossamer, and she put her hands up mockingly and took a step back.

    "Got a problem, Portmore?" one of them asked. She recognized Nicolai's voice, but didn't turn to look at him or acknowledge him.

    Gossamer shook her head. "No, we're good," she replied. "I think we understand each other."

    Technically, she hadn't broken any serious rules. You weren't allowed to attack the other tributes in the training facility - but since Gossamer had hit the wall rather than the boy, it could hardly be called an attack. Intimidation was frowned upon, of course, but the Careers would be doing their best to intimidate everyone anyway, and no one cared all that much. Since the situation seemed to have cooled, there was no need for further intervention, and the Peacekeepers took up their posts again.

    As much to avoid Allasayne's disapproving gaze as for any other reason, Gossamer started looking around the room at the other tributes again. She saw the boy from Five - Shon, if she was remembering right - trying and failing to hit a target with a spear. She wondered why he was so distracted. Did he miss home? Family?

    Gossamer didn't miss her own parents. She'd barely been able to look at them during the mandatory goodbyes. They'd been so... excited. Exuberant and proud. Just like last year. Last year, she had forgiven them. None of them had really understood the stakes. They'd imagined Slate coming home a victor, not in a box. Now, there was no excuse. Her parents knew what it felt like to lose a child to the arena, but they'd still been falling all over themselves with gratitude for the opportunity to send their other one. The chance for the glory of being a victor's parents was worth the price of her life to them, even a second time. For as long as she could remember, Gossamer had felt vague contempt for her parents; now she hated them.

    Maybe Shon felt differently. Maybe something back home gave him a reason to live... and that might be useful. Gossamer needed someone from Five for the plan anyway. She didn't care if it was the boy or the girl. Hell, she'd take both if they would both work as allies, but she doubted she'd be so lucky.

    Gossamer was light on her feet even when she wasn't trying; after years of training, it was second nature. Her footfalls were almost silent. Then she was standing by Shon.

    "You can't throw it like that," Gossamer said, her tone neither friendly nor threatening. She ignored the death glare from Allasayne. "From the moment you pick it up, it becomes an extension of your arm. From there, a smooth line to the target. You're pausing. Just for an instant, but you're doing it, and that's why you're losing your aim. Keep your spear in motion instead. Stop thinking about throwing it, and just throw it."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-12-2013 at 11:04 PM.
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  4. #4
    Reaping and Training:

    Maia and Dorian McCarroll

    Reaping day:

    Maia stood stock still amongst the rows of District 4’s young women. Her stomach rolled and she swallowed hard. She must not show fear. She must be brave. She recited her family’s motto in her head, over and over, desperately trying to distract herself from the situation at hand. “Vincere fortitudine, sine timore.” To conquer with bravery, without fear.

    It was her fifth reaping. She had felt fortunate up to this point, but she was unsure as to how long her luck could last. Her mother had done her hair in a beautiful fishtail braid that draped over her shoulder, and she wore a sea foam green dress adorned with lace. Maia clenched her fists to keep herself from trembling. Her father had entreated her to be brave, never show fear, even if her name was called. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, and chewed her lip until it bled.

    ~~~~~~~

    Dorian glanced over at his sister. He could feel her anxiety all the way across the square. He was not afraid. He always knew that it was a possibility that his name would be drawn, but he was ready. His sister, on the other hand, was fragile and sensitive. Dorian’s heart raced as he thought about what my happen to Maia if she was chosen. He adored his sister and tried to protect her at any cost. But if her name was called, he didn’t know how he could help her.

    Dorian breathed deeply, steadying himself. He looked up to the stage and realized that the female tribute’s name had already been called and he had missed it. He glanced around, trying to see which of the many young women was moving toward the stage. He saw a flash of chestnut hair and a swirl of light green and realized it was Maia. His heart hit the floor. The worst had happened. His mind whirred and before he realized it, he opened his mouth and words spilled out.

    “I volunteer as tribute!”

    All eyes shifted to him. Dorian blushed scarlet as the gaze of District 4 bored into him. His sister, stopped on the stairs, pale and trembling. From amongst the spectators gathered in the square, a scream rang out. Dorian thought absently that it must have been their mother. He felt a pang of guilt, realizing what he had just done to her. His feet set themselves in motion, guiding him slowly to the stage to stand with Maia. The District 1 officials in charge of the reaping whispered to one another, spreading the realizing that these two were twin siblings.

    A smile spread across the impeccably made-up face of the female announcer. “We have twin siblings as tributes for this year’s Hunger Games! What a brilliant surprise!” She turned her smile to Dorian and Maia. “Prepare yourselves, your train leaves in two hours.” She bustled away without another word.

    The Train:

    Maia sat across the table from her brother, sullenly staring at the vast array of food before them. She couldn't bring herself to touch it. Her stomach was sick at the thought of going into the arena with her brother.

    "Why did you do that?" she asked Dorian flatly.

    "Do what?" Dorian responded absently, biting into an apple. He had put his worries about training and the arena aside for the moment to enjoy the food.

    "Volunteer. We can't survive together. But I know I can't kill you. So you have to kill me. Or we both die. Why would you put us in that position?" Hot tears burned her eyes and she collapsed, her head on the table, sobbing.

    Dorian dropped his apple and rushed to his sister's side. He wrapped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her to him, burying his face in her hair. "I'm sorry. I didn't think." He whispered, tears springing to his eyes. "I just wanted to protect you."

    "I know. But how...?"

    "I don't know, Maia. We'll figure it out. Right now we just need to get to District 1 and train hard. We can't start the Games at a disadvantage. Eat." He pushed a plate of pasta toward her.

    Maia toyed with her fork and took a bite. It was delicious. She devoured the entire plate. Dorian smiled. "That's more like it." He squeezed her shoulder and returned to his seat.

    Training:

    The mentor from District 4 was a grizzled old fisherwoman with no sympathy for her tribute charges. She made them practice skills over and over that they'd been honing for years: knot-tying, trident throwing, bating and setting fish hooks, swimming. Everything that a District 4 child had to know just to survive and make his way in the world. Dorian didn't mind the training, but Maia grew tired and resented their mentor for pushing them so hard on skills they had already mastered. As Dorian threw a trident at a target for the millionth time, Maia wandered off to watch some of the other tributes. She saw the girl from District 1, strong and confident. A pang of jealousy shot through her. She would never be that strong, and she certainly wasn't that confident. But, she thought with pride, at least I'm not the weakest one here. Her eyes fell on the girl from District 8. She was small and frail. Maia smiled wickedly. Yep. Not the weakest by far.
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  5. #5
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    Shon Dietrich

    He had been in mid-throw when Gossamer came up next to him. The toss went wide, nearly taking out the knot-tying station. Instantly, the frown of concentration disappeared – in fact, everything that she’d seen from Shon in the short time she’d known him fell away. His hands leaping to clasp themselves, he made a face of surprise and apology.

    “I’m sorry!...Bad throw...obviously...”

    Mumbling, Shon lowered his arms to his sides and attempted to rein in his display of humanity. He had been hoping that he could create the facade of a cold-blood killer, but he now saw that he probably wasn’t succeeding. The only one he was certain was afraid of him was the girl from his own district. Great. Now, not only was he a jerk, he was a fool as well.

    The girl from District 1 was still standing there, which was unsettling. What did she want? Had she been shopping around for allies and pegged him as a career? There was only one way to find out. He had to impress her somehow, prove he was a threat. Then, when she him to be her ally, he could dally until they got to the Arena. Maybe then she’d leave him alone – thinking he was on her side, but not expecting him to run with her.

    He reached for another spear, changing his choice when the boy from four reached for the same one. Inwardly, he berated himself, another cowardly motion – and in front of a career! Shon hefted the spear and glanced at Gossamer once before returning his focus to the target. At the edges of his vision, movement at the knot-tying booth signified they were moving in case of another incident.

    Whetting his lips, Shon reset his stance and pulled back his arm. The target wavered before his eyes, and he forcibly returned his eyes to focus. ‘Don’t think. Just throw. Just me and the spear.’ He repeated the words in his head like a mantra, took a deep breath and let the spear fly. The shaft felt different when it left his hand and he begged it to go where it was supposed to.

    It hit the outer ring. A ring. It actually hit the target. A surprised, and perhaps a bit too gleeful, chuckle left his lips. He couldn’t believe it. Again, he became aware of District 1 hovering at his shoulder. Glancing her way, he gave her a curt nod.

    “Thanks.”

    His arm felt like rubber, but he reached for another spear just the same.
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  6. #6
    Gossamer Portmore

    Gossamer gave Shon a smile when he hit the target - the first genuine smile that had appeared on her face since her arrival in the Capitol. The first smile, in fact, since she'd said her only important goodbye, before she left for Reaping Day. The goodbye to her parents had been a mere formality, but there had been another farewell in District One that had actually tugged Gossamer's heart strings. Strangely, that person was in the room right now, but they had to pretend to ignore each other now that there were prying eyes all around.

    "That was really good," she said. "Much better."

    She glanced over at the female twin from Four - and the smile became a frown, when she saw how Maia was looking at Mouse. What was Gossamer supposed to do now, she wondered. The Fours had been the only allies she'd been considering that her mentor would actually approve of. She'd counted on their emotions as siblings to convince them to go along with her plan. Now she wasn't sure. Should she still ask? Or did she need to go threaten Maia too, like she'd threatened the boy from Two? Was Maia acting out of fear, or was she really the sort of person the wicked smile said she was?

    It would be better if it was Nicolai going into the arena. He understood people better than Gossamer did. Nicolai was too old, though, having just turned twenty - and he was a Peacekeeper to boot. At eighteen, this was the last year Gossamer herself would be eligible. She just had to figure out what Nicolai would do. Had he noticed what had just happened between the tributes? If so, maybe he could find a way to advise her.

    Her eyes darted over to him. The Peacekeeper didn't seem to be paying any attention to her; he was talking to his comrade, not even glancing her way. Gossamer allowed her eyes to linger on him a moment. One of Nicolai's fingers tapped absently against his leg. After a pause, two more fingers followed it.

    Gossamer got the message. She had already made one enemy. If she made two more, she was making the arena much more dangerous for herself and her allies. For now, she would keep an open mind about the Fours. If she had to, she'd take them out in the arena.

    Returning her attention to Shon, she added, "You're strong. I'm going to need an ally from Five. Interested?"

    She looked over at the girl from Five, whose name she was completely blanking on. Gossamer wondered if Shon cared about her. The District One boy was nothing to Gossamer, but the girl from Five looked just as out of her element as most of the non-Careers did. Gossamer reminded herself that she couldn't take all of them, but even as those thoughts ran through her brain, she found herself saying, "The girl from your district, too, if you want."

    Next step would be to question the Fours a little, to see where they stood.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-18-2013 at 07:30 PM.
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  7. #7
    Dorian and Maia McCarroll

    Dorian continued working on throwing projectile weapons, but he tried to catch as much as he could of the conversation between Gossamer and Shon. Harmless enough. He thought to himself. Although he wondered if Gossamer would do when it came to selecting an ally from District 4. He would not be joining any alliances unless Maia was also included. So, he would be ready to inform Gossamer of this condition, should she request that he join her.

    He glanced over at Maia, pressed up against a wall. He watched the expression pass over her face as she stared at Mouse. He walked swiftly over to her. "Hey," he said quietly. "What' up?"

    Maia startled and looked up at him, as if she had woken from a dream. "What do you mean?"

    "You were looking at that little girl from 8 like she was your dinner." Dorian gave her a quizzical look.

    "Oh," Maia's features softened. "It's not that. I was just thinking that at least I'm stronger than one or two of the other tributes. I can rest assured that I probably won't die first."

    "Ah. Well, be careful. The female tribute from District 1 is watching you. You should show her your best side."

    Maia looked dismayed. "What about you?" she asked, panic apparent in her voice.

    "Don't worry about me. Just show her your best, okay?" Dorian clasped her shoulders, his eyes meeting hers. "Okay?"

    "Okay." Maia nodded. She knew she needed to be brave. Her father expected it. Her brother had sacrificed his safety to be with her. She mustn't squander that. She trotted briskly to the archery station, something she'd never tried before. She picked up the bow and arrows and placed an arrow the way she'd seen it done before. Pulling the string back. her heart raced. I will not miss. I will not miss. She released the bowstring. The arrow flew straight and hit the outer ring on the target. Maia released her breath and smiled. "Yes," she said under her breath.

    Dorian smiled too and returned to the spear throwing station, confident that he had a great ally in his sister.
    Last edited by Kayte; 03-20-2013 at 08:18 AM.
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  8. #8
    Bianca Ashby

    Reaping:

    Bianca's mind wandered. It was her sixth reaping. Every year it was the same. District One officials milled about on the stage in the square, extolling the virtues of District Ten. They were all blowing smoke, of course. No one in District One really thought highly of any other district, but especially the poorer districts. But it wasn't just the boring pomp and circumstance that disgusted her about Reaping Day. It was more that she knew her name would never be called. As the mayor's daughter, she had not taken out any tesserae that year or any other year before. Her family never went without. Her name was only in the pile once, while the other shivering, nervous girls around there had put their names many times over, merely so their families could eat. It wasn't that she blamed the other girls; she knew they had done what they had to do. But she never forgot her privilege as the mayor's daughter. The poverty all around her that stood in stark contrast to her comfortable life reminded her daily.

    Bianca often wondered what it would be like if she was chosen for the games. She was fit and healthy, unlike the young women who surrounded her. She had a chance at winning. She could bring home her triumph and change District Ten for the better. She smiled to herself. That would be truly wonderful. But it would never happen.

    "Bianca Ashby!"

    Bianca startled back to reality. Certainly she hadn't heard properly. She had still been caught up in her daydream. When she looked around, she saw that all eyes were turned on her. Her heart jumped into her throat and the contents of her stomach threatened to come up. Slowly, she put one foot in front of the other and made her way to the stage. Her eyes fell on her mother's face. The expression there was unmistakeable. Her mother was proud. Bianca took a deep breath and held her head high. She would find a way to come back alive.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~


    Train:

    Bianca ate carefully. Not all the food provided on the train was nutritious, and Bianca knew that in order to have her best chance in the games, she had to eat well. Even though she was not hungry, she forced herself to eat. She kept remembering the expression on her mother's face as she stood on the stage. It unsettled her, but it also inspired her.

    As she ate, Bianca glanced over at the male tribute from her district. She'd never met him before and she really had no desire to get to know him now. She would only kill him or be killed by him. She finished an apple and got up from the table, going quietly to her room.

    ~~~~~~

    Training:

    Bianca worked diligently at each training station in turn. She tried her hand at everything, figuring out what where her talents lay. She was hopeless at archery, and throwing weapons weren't her strong suit either. She was fairly coordinated with a short sword, but it became clear to her early right away that she would do well to adopt a defensive strategy. She seated herself at the knot-tying station, taking the rope in her hands and fashioning it into sturdy knots.

    A spear landed nearby with a clatter, startling Bianca. She turned, seeing the boy from District 5 with an apologetic look on his face. She gave him a weak smile and returned to her work on the knots. She concentrated deeply on the rope, feeling its rough fibers under her fingers as she manipulated it.
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  9. #9
    Mouse Minkimen

    Mouse had been in a daze ever since she heard her name called at the Reaping. Of course, no one had volunteered for her. She had no siblings, and although she had some friends at the children's home, she wouldn't have expected them to face certain death for her. No one had even come to say goodbye to her; she understood that too. Mouse was as good as dead already, and no one wanted to share awkward hugs with a walking corpse.

    Arriving in the Capitol was astonishing, and as the train approached the station, Mouse was momentarily awed by the elaborate architecture and the fantasy look of the people - but the distraction didn't last, because she couldn't forget for long that she would be leaving the Capitol straight for the arena, and for someone like her, that was the end of the road.

    As she rode in the Tributes' Parade, in a chariot beside a boy she barely knew from her district, thousands of tiny beads and sequins glimmered on a dress that would have been stunning on a woman with the hips and chest to fill it out, but on Mouse looked like a gaudily decorated bag. Some people clapped and cheered gamely for her. Others smiled sympathetically. A few even laughed. Everyone knew Mouse was going to be among the first to fall prey to a stronger tribute.

    Mouse was silent, pale, shut down inside... trying not to tremble, fighting the urge to flee only because there was nowhere to escape to.

    Then the strange thing happened just before the training started. The girl from One asked - no, insisted - that Mouse be her ally. Mouse couldn't see any reason for that. Gossamer was a Career, and had a very good chance of winning. Why would she want a weak ally who would probably die on the first day? Mouse wondered if Gossamer was tricking her somehow, assumed it must be so, but couldn't see where it was leading. What benefit was there for a Career in faking an alliance with someone she could kill outright in a matter of seconds if she wanted to? Still, Mouse said yes to the alliance, because irritating Gossamer by denying her request was unlikely to be good for Mouse's longevity.

    Training also proved to be a conundrum. Should she try with the weapons, and possibly learn something? Or would showing her lack of capability only put her in more danger?

    Mouse decided she would try the knot station. The girl from Ten was there, but she didn't seem too threatening - not like Mouse's own ally, who Mouse herself was terrified of. As it turned out, Mouse was a natural at the knots. She worked after school changing spools at the thread factory, so her little fingers were nimble. She briefly gave Bianca a shy, self-conscious smile before turning her eyes back to her work.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 03-20-2013 at 07:19 PM.
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  10. #10
    Paladin Quaxo9 is offline Quaxo9's Avatar
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    4,845
    Shon Dietrich

    Despite the fact he had been thinking Gossamer might ask him to be an ally, he was still completely floored. He hit the target once – and the guy from District 4 was pounding the targets – and yet, she asked him into an alliance? Stranger still – invited the girl from his District along too? Shon went a little slack-jawed before he managed to pull himself together and remind himself of how dangerous alliances could be.

    “Yeah, um, that is...I’d better discuss it with my mentor first, right? That’s what he keeps telling me, anyway. I’ll ask and let you know.”

    He pursed his lips and bobbed his head as though that would finish what he was trying to say. Better yet would have been if he had thought of something clever that he could use to defend himself without pissing off one of the strongest competitors here. Not for the first time, Shon realized just how out of his depth he was here at the games. He didn’t know how to fight. He didn’t know how to talk to other people his age. He couldn’t even make sense of his own thoughts.

    His dad was right. He was going to die a forgettable death.
    ...to the topTop



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