Suited up, we excitedly head out to the room where all the equipment is. We're one of the first ones here, deciding to go even earlier than the others. The ones in charge of teaching us don't mind that we're here and they allow us to explore.
Clove immediately heads to the collection of knives on display, touching one in particular with a crimson handle with an almost loving expression.
I head to the assortment of swords and javelins. I pick one sword up, a scimitar if I remember right. It whooshes through the air as I cut nothing, my mind imagining it slicing through an opponent.
"You're Cato, aren't you?"
I turn and see the girl from District 1 come up behind me, blonde hair cascading down her shoulders.
I nod before returning my attention to the sword in hand.
"You're good with swords?"
"I'm exceptionally adept with swords," I say.
She laughs and I wonder if it's forced. She seems genuine but I'm pretty good-looking so, who knows why she's actually talking with me. I know that usually, the Districts from 1, 2, and 4 team up together to outdo the ones from other Districts before taking one another down. It's actually a pretty splendid show since it's the best of the best fighting against one another.
I don't really want to pair up with anyone from the other districts. I already have the idea of killing Clove in my head. I don't like it but if that's what it's going to have to come to, I have to keep that in mind and so does she. We both know this. We don't want to get mixed up with other people. They're flesh and blood too, meaning they're vulnerable, and vulnerable people can betray you swiftly if you don't know them very well. Clove and I fight dirty, but not with each other. We have our own code that we follow for one another; however we don't have to give the same respect to other people in the Games.
But this girl looks at me expectedly, tilting her head to one side, staring at me with blue eyes.
She could be useful in the Games.
"Where's the boy from your district?"
"Marvel is looking at the spears on the other side of the room. I can introduce you to him if you want,"
"Not a bad idea," I say, walking with her to where the other tribute is.
Clove turns her head to look at me. I motion for her to follow me. She does so quickly, and she peers up at me. I indicate the direction of where the tributes from 1 were hanging out at. Clove sneers and I have to hold back a laugh.
"Marvel, this is Cato,"
The boy turns around to look at me. He looks me up and down and I do the same, assessing the opponent. It's natural. We are going to be fighting each other, eventually, so better to do this now.
"And you're Clove,"
"That's right," she says, eyeing both him and Glimmer carefully.
Marvel remains stoic while Glimmer looks at us all with this sardonic cheerfulness.
"You wanna have a go with the sword?" he asks me.
"If you're looking to die now, sure,"
He suddenly throws his head back, barking one short laugh. "You're funny. I think we're going to get along well, for the time being,"
"I bet," I reply, quirking a brow and grinning.
Clove shakes her head before turning around. "Hey, the losers are coming,"
I turn and look at the other Tributes come forth, all of them looking around the place with a sense of dread, with the exception of a few.
I look for the girl from 12 and see her enter with the boy. She just stands quietly, waiting for the instructor to begin.
I don't realize I'm walking back until the other three join me, asking my opinion about the other tributes.
"Not much competition."
"That boy from 11 is going to be difficult," Glimmer says.
"He'll probably be, but that just means the Games will be more interesting,"
They all nod.
The instructor is ready to begin and she begins to speak, telling us about the weapons, the several areas where we'll be learning our survival skills. She stresses out the importance of knowing how to live in harsh conditions, dying from natural causes, blah, blah, blah.
I shouldn't shrug it off so quickly but I'm not worried about this.
She dismisses us and I head back to the swords, surveying the selection. I had put the scimitar back and pick up a broadsword, the kind that I'm more familiar with.
I head to where the dummies are poised, ready to be slain and hack down into one, turning on the ball of my foot so the side of it can cut through the neck of another. My heart pounds in loud rhythmic beats, jerking the sword into the chest of another dummy.
I glance to my right, feeling someone stare at me.
It's the girl from 12, Katniss Everdeen. I stare at her a little longer then she does, looking away when our eyes instantly met, walking in the opposite direction where her teammate is learning how to start a fire. It's odd but calling them teammates is simple to me. I have referred to none of the others that way. Perhaps the ones from 11 could be considered teammates but I highly doubt it, not on the same level as the ones from 12.
Still holding the broadsword, I walk to where Clove is practicing her knife throwing, hitting the target in the chest every single time. She beams at me, holding her last one up proudly, then it smacks into the material.
"I'm improving every time," she murmurs, her face flushed from the rush and exertion. She would do this forever if she could.
"You've always been good with knives," I tell her, noting the uncommon blush that comes to her cheeks, "I think I saw some stilettos on my way here,"
"Really?!" she exclaims, about to bound off when she halts and turns to me. She suddenly looks concerned. "Hey… you know the tributes from 1 want to team up. They wanted me to be the one to tell you,"
I purse my lips and blink, "I thought so."
"Do you think it would be wise?"
"It's not exactly ideal. We'll have to kill them eventually,"
"They could be useful though."
"I thought that too. We'll have to think it through a little more however. How soon do they want an answer?"
"Before we leave the center; they really insist on working together,"
"Determined duo, huh?"
"Very. I watched them for a while when you were training. Marvel is actually pretty good with the spear,"
"I mean she doesn't seem to have any other skill aside from being pretty. Snicker all you want Cato, I'm serious. …Okay, yeah, I know it's funny," she continues, "She's definitely smarter than Marvel, in my opinion, or, at least, more alert to things, but she'll be more the kind to slow us down,"
"If she has any kind of use, it'll be an advantage for us, Clove,"
"I know, I know, Cato. I just… don't want to be dependent on anyone. We weren't thinking of teaming up with each other, were we?"
"No," I whisper, "We can't afford that,"
"Exactly!" she hushes back, breath soft, "This could be potentially damaging!"
"It won't be."
"How can you know for sure?"
"We're stronger than this, Clove. That's it,"
She stands straighter, staring up at my face. She turns and continues throwing her knives.
I make my sword skim across the thick plastic skin of one dummy, leaving one long thin trail as I head to where Glimmer is drawing a bow. I wait for her to finish and I glance to my left. The girl from 12 is eyeing Glimmer quietly, this look of pain on her face.
"You want the bow,"
The words escape my mouth before I'm even aware of it. I'm not even aware of the fact she's within earshot until I see her turn hastily away, the boy hurrying behind her, looking over his shoulder to stare intently at me.
"What'd you say?"
I turn to Glimmer.
"You like the bow,"
"I do. It's a useful weapon,"
I scan at the targets she shot at with this useful weapon.
No direct hits.
"Is there something you wanted, Cato?"
I keep looking at the targets, "Clove and I agree to join up with you,"
She smiles slowly, eyes bright. "Marvel and I thought you'd say yes,"
She goes back to shooting arrows, dismissing me.
I take my leave, holding the sword close to my side, clutching it tightly, and my knuckles white. I'm back to the dummies that are placed sporadically in one area of the center.
By the end of the day, they're nothing but dismembered parts of body parts.