Darkest Before the Dawn: The 71st Hunger Games

Departure

Maya Blake

District 4 Female Tribute

The boy standing next to me at the train station and I have known each other for years. I've made a point to keep tabs on him; after all he keeps tabs on everyone. We each have very different reasons for volunteering, I'm doing it to bring my family's name back to what it once was, and he is trying to prove he deserves to be a part of his family. My family was once like his, respected. He is the son of a Victor, but he has been a disappointment since the day he was born. He is a runt, short and puny. He tries to build himself up, but there is no way he can be like the other career boys.

My family always looked for more, to climb up the social ladder, but the higher you are the farther you fall. They arranged a marriage for my twin sister River to a Victor to increase our social standing. River always had a bit of a rebellious streak in her though, she hated the games. She was also already in love with a boy named Ash, the younger brother of a dead tribute. River and Ash gathered family members of dead tributes, people like Leff Twila, and tried to stop a reaping two years ago. It didn't turn out well. Ash and most of the others were killed, but River was captured. Rumor is she is an Avox in the Capitol now.

After that I began to train. Training is where I met Baron Aleric, son of the famous Ajax Aleric, Victor of the 48th Hunger Games. Despite him being a year older and having trained longer I was able to surpass him physically quickly. I learned from him to trust few people and to rarely give my word to anyone. But he wasn't the only Aleric I met in training. His fifteen year old sister, Ceres, is the perfect tribute in their father's eyes. She is already ahead of many of kids her age, and she plans to volunteer when she turns eighteen. No one in the family puts much stock in Baron's chances to win the games, but writing him off has only made him want to prove to them that he is worth something even more. Only one of us can accomplish their goal, and I wouldn't be surprised if the inevitable career break up was a direct result of the two of us. We each have something worth fighting and living for, and neither of us trusts the other.

The train pulls up and we step on, it is a long way to the Capitol. I'm a bit apprehensive about going. I believe that my sister is there somewhere. It may be naïve, but I also believe I will see her sometime during the next week, and maybe a possible reunion with her is another reason I wanted to volunteer in the first place.

Marly Gray

District 12 Female Tribute

When I step on the train I feel like I'm in another world. I've never seen anything like this before, everything in 12, including myself, is so dull and washed out and usually covered in a layer of coal, but here everything shines.

"Oh my dear, we can get you some new clothes on the train and give you a good shower, but you'll have to wait on a full makeover till we get to the Capitol," the idiotic escort Effie Trinket tells me. I don't like her, she is so fake, all dressed up with her wig and makeup and dress. I on the other hand hate all that girly stuff; I didn't even bother getting that dressed up for reaping day. I'm sure I look horrible to her, no makeup, and my dark hair is dirty, I look like so many other kids from the seam with grey eyes and tan skin. Effie is covered in makeup head to toe so who knows what her skin color really is, and the same goes for eye color, I'd guess she wears contacts as some kind of Capitol fashion. As for my district partner Lucian, he's pretty pale, and he seems even paler because of his dark brown eyes and black hair.

The guy has a bit of a reputation around the poorer parts of the district. To put it simply he's a thief and a psycho. I've heard he's obsessed with electricity doing things like killing animals, and judging by the scars on his body it must be true, looks like he's been shocked a few times. I've even heard rumors that he tried to steal from the mayor and tried to kill someone with electricity. I suppose I'd judge him harsher, but I know that in a week I'll be trying to kill him too, along with twenty-two other kids.

I keep thinking I'll wake up back in my house, I'll go to my mom and tell her about my bad dream about how I got reaped. But I know this is no dream. I'll be lucky if I get to see my mom or any of my friends again. You know you never think this kind of thing will happen to you, I mean how many kids are there in 12. This morning I was just a normal fourteen year old tomboy. My friends and I were throwing rocks at the windows of old abandoned houses. I just like having fun. Then Trinket called my name and everything got crazy.

Now I'm going to learn to be a killer. There isn't a lot of fun in that. I've used a slingshot before, but never to inflict pain on anybody. I guess Lucian will have the advantage there if there is any way he can whip up some electrical trap. Still I think there are other things I could be good at, I'm fast, and I'm smart, so that's two advantages right there. Plus I know what it feels like to be hungry. My mom and I always didn't have enough to eat. It's just been the two of us for so long, Grandma and Grandpa died a few years back and Dad left too. He and my Mom tried to make it work for a while for my sake, but some people just aren't supposed to be together. Today was the first time I'd seen him in years, when he came to say goodbye to me.

My thoughts are interrupted as the compartment's door slides open, it's Lucian. "Hey," he says.

"Hey," I respond. For a moment we sit there sizing each other up, until he finally speaks up:

"You know where the bathroom is on this train?"

Seiswen "Nesie" Keiberger

District 3 Female Tribute

"Mind if I join you?" the boy tribute asks when he walks into the compartment. I shake my head, "Good, it looks like they are about to start replaying the reapings," he points to the T.V.

District 1 is first, obviously and both tributes volunteer, they're both really pretty, and the girl looks nice. The tributes from 2 are both volunteers too. Then is my District and I see myself cry. 4 has more volunteers, a short guy and a girl with dark hair and grey eyes. In District 5 there is a sarcastic guy and a girl who looks almost as sad as I was. In 6 the guy throws up. 7 is super wired, the girl seems normal, but then a guy volunteers he looks like he is trying really hard to make people think he is depressed or something. 8 and nine both have tough looking guys. 10 has two more average tributes, at least that's how they look to me. 11 has a tall crazy girl and a boy with dark skin who looks like he has been in some fights. Last is 12, the guy seems weird but the girl looks pretty nice.

"Are you doin' okay?" the boy sitting next to me asks. I nod. He grabs a tissue and wipes away the tears from my eyes. "Good," he smiles, "I was worried about you." He seems nice. "My name is Ekronik," he shakes my hand.

"I'm Seiswen," I blow my nose, "My friends call me Nesie though."

"Would it be alright if I called you that?" Ekronik asks. I nod again. "Good, we can watch out for each other, alright."

I look up at him, he seems like he is telling the truth. "Do you promise?"

"I promise," he answers.

I hug him, and he seems a little surprised. "Thanks, I'm glad I have a friend." I don't like to be sad, I always try to be happy but sometimes it's hard. I was crying a lot when they read my name. It's good that I have friends though, sometimes the tributes from the same district team up, we can't both win, but we can try to make it as far as we can together. I know that we don't really have a chance, but if I'm just sad the whole time then the careers or somebody is gonna get us. I should just try to be as happy as I can be.

"Okay Nesie, are you good at hiding?"

"Yeah, pretty good I guess." I used to play hide and seek a lot with my friends when I was a little kid, and I was always the best."

"Good, so am I so we can hide, then the other tributes can't find us."

"So," someone new is talking now, it's one of the mentors, I didn't even hear him come in. "I guess you two want to be trained together?"

"Yeah, that's what we want, right Nessie?" Ekronik turns to me.

"Yeah!" I shout.

"Alright, I'll have to talk to Wiress, but she should be okay with that," our mentor says.

Elronik smiles and replies, "Thanks Uncle Beetee, that means a lot."

Charlie Watsen

District 5 Male Tribute

I'm in my room watching a recap of some old games, the 37th I think they are. There is some huge mutt, they call it a dragon, fighting the career pack. I turn off the T.V. and head out for a snack. It's then that I run into Violet. She's an absolute mess; she keeps running her long blond hair through her fingers. She doesn't even notice me until I speak up. "Hey," I announce myself.

She practically jumps when she hears me. "Oh… hey."

"So what did you do to piss the Capitol off?" I ask.

"What?" she asks confused.

"Well take me," I begin, "I'm a pretty rebellious guy, and I don't exactly hide it, my dad works with the Capitol, so I've seen their officials around occasionally. I'm sure that word got back to them that I'm a 'bad egg', so here I am. I don't take any tesserae; it's pretty obvious this thing is rigged."

"You think so?"

"Definitely. I'm not the only rebellious tribute; look at that kid from 11. Then there is the guy from 3, he is the nephew of some old victor. So," I turn back to her, "What about you?"

"I had some friends in the Games a few years ago, I think the Capitol might think my friends hold some rebellious feelings because of it."

"Oh…" I say feeling a little bad. "Who were they?"

"Their names were Dale and Azeika."

"I remember them," I tell her. "So, is the Capitol right?"

"About what?" she asks confused.

"Are you holding some 'rebellious tendencies?' "

"Some of my friends do, but…I'm….not so much."

"Well then maybe you're being made an example of." This seems to hit a nerve. "Hey, I'm sorry." I quickly head out of the room, I guess I can seem sort of negative sometimes, but I'm just being truthful. Still I don't want to bring this girl down; she was a friend of Dale and Azeika's. I wasn't lying when I said I remembered them, in fact they were pretty inspirational to me. They both took stands against the tyranny of the Capitol. Dale volunteered, and decided that he would not play by the Capitol's rules. Azeika was an important figure too, she was outspoken against the capitol, I remember the riots that took place after Dale's deaths, for a while the District was united against the Capitol. But it was fleeting; they are back in line now.

No one is more in line with the Capitol than my idiot parents. They've tried in vain for years to make me a good citizen, but I had none of that. I'm not going to be some blind slave like so many others in Panem. I need to show the people that I'm different than them, I'm a free thinker. I'll let people know the truth, whether they want to see it or not. The fact of the matter is that most people aren't worth the time, deserving nothing more than a sarcastic response.

Cal Barnes

District 9 Male Tribute

It's always hard for me to fall asleep, I've been lying on this nice bed on the train for hours with my eyes closed, but I'm not any closer to falling asleep then when I laid down. I used to be able to fall asleep pretty easily, years ago, things were different then; I've changed.

I used to be weak, formless, brittle, like the ore we work with in 9. But like that ore I went through fire, I was hammered into something strong, sturdy, something better, just like ore becomes steel. That's our industry, steel. Well, that's what it is officially, and we do have steel mills, but there's something else we make, chemicals. More specifically chemicals that can be used as weapons of some kind. Everything from knockout gas to deadly tasteless odorless poisons like iocane powder.

I worked in a factory that dealt with these chemicals were manufactured. We worked on a very volatile chemical, and one day there was an explosion, that's how I got all these burns. Still I got the better of it. Twelve of us in there died in the initial explosion, so I guess some chemical burns are nothing to complain about. There were twenty-six of us in the factory then, before the explosion, I always thought that meant something, it was so close to the number of tributes in the actual Games. That first explosion was like the bloodbath. The fourteen of us that survived were sealed in the factory; the Capitol declared it a quarantine zone. We would be sealed off for a hundred days, by then the deadly chemicals would have completely dissipated.

It didn't take us long to figure out that we didn't have nearly enough food for all of us to survive that long. A big kid, Tyrell, tried to kill everybody the first day, and it he managed to kill two of us, but someone got him too. In the next couple weeks five more died from their injuries, either from Tyrell or the chemicals. After a month we all started to realize that Tyrell had the right idea, if we didn't start cutting down our numbers we would all starve.

We all started to murder each other. I killed three myself. Only one of us didn't participate a girl, Marsh; she just hid. Soon enough it was just the two of us, I tried to find her for weeks, and I never did. She found me. She told me that she had run out of food and wouldn't fight me and she killed herself so I could live. She cheated me out of my victory; I would have killed her so easily. For the next fifty-two days I was completely alone.

Then on the hundredth day the quarantine was lifted, and I walked out. I wasn't the same weak little boy as when I went in, I was a Victor. I had won my own Hunger Games, after all that's what that was. Twenty-six went in and one came out. No one else saw it that way though, they didn't think of me as a Victor, just as some crazy kid. I deserved to be seen as a Victor, but I was seen as a monster, I'm no different than any other tribute who had been reaped. So I decided I would go back. I will prove to everyone that I am a real Victor.

I will win the Hunger Games.

Again.

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