Darkest Before the Dawn: The 71st Hunger Games

Arrival

Darcy Eowyn

District 10 Female Tribute

"Wpphhhw," Aiden whistles as we come out of the tunnel. "I didn't know that people could build something like this." Aiden is right, the Capitol is pretty amazing. I mean I've seen it before on T.V. but up close and personal it's different. The city is almost indescribable, it's defiantly beautiful, the buildings are immense, bigger than I would have thought possible. And it isn't just the height, there are so many of them, the city stretches as far as I can see. It's all so vast, and the colors… they are so bright and vivid, they don't even seem real. None of it does.

I can appreciate why some people might like this, Aiden seems pretty enthralled, but it's not for me. I like nature; I don't know, there's just something about sitting by the pond, smelling the flowers, maybe a family of ducks nearby. The sunlight would be spilling through the trees, the sounds of District 10 all around me, the crickets, the birds. I'd be writing in my diary too. I was allowed to bring it this far but they are going to take it from me in the arena, it's not an eligible token.

"Hey look at that," Aiden says pointing at some Capitol people, "What are they wearing?" Aiden is right, they are dressed in crazy clothes, everyone looks so weird, just like our escort, I always thought she was just strange, but she is just following the fashion trends. "How do you think I'd look with some of those outfits? I think I could pull it off," Aiden jokes. He looks over at me with a smile, but I don't say anything. "Tough crowd," he says turning back to the window.

It's weird, my best friend back in 10 is named Aiden too, it's a common name there, but he couldn't be more different than this guy. This guy is always joking around, he wants people to like him, and he wants everyone to be in a good mood. Aiden from back home is very serious, he doesn't care if anyone likes him, and not many people do. He's a loner, which is why we became friends I guess. I'm a bit of a loner too, and we sort of started to hang out.

I wonder what kind of arena we will be put in; I can remember so many different arenas over the years. I remember one that was a tropical island with a jungle and all kinds of crazy mutts in it that would eat the tributes; they were fast and vicious, and really smart too. That was a pretty tough year to watch, the mutts kept picking everybody off, they were these huge lizard things with sharp teeth and they could smell blood.

Another year the arena was this huge place covered in fire, take a wrong step and you got burned alive. There were lava flows and all kinds of stuff. Some tributes found a cave with some water in it, but the careers found them and killed everybody, then the careers broke and killed each other. The boy from District 1 managed to survive, and win the games, but not without a lot of burns.

Maybe my arena will be up in the sky or on the ocean, maybe it will be a forest, they are forests a lot. I remember a forest from a few years back, with flowing rivers and tall trees, almost as tall as the buildings in the Capitol. The leaves fell like autumn. It would have been beautiful if it weren't for-

"Hey," Aiden snaps me back to reality, "We're pulling in," he says with a smile.

Leighann Ash

District 11 Female

I'm completely naked, even my piercings have been taken out. The prep team stripped me down and ripped out my body hair, stole my seventeen earrings and bellybutton ring and left me here to wait for Odysseus, the stylist. My scars and tattoos are exposed, although you wouldn't be able to see my scars unless you looked close. My mother is a strict woman; she is also a psycho bitch. While my scars aren't that visible my tattoos certainly are. There is of course the one above my heart, the symbol of eternal life, then there is the word "fearless" above my ankle, below my left breast is a snake forever devouring itself, and lastly across my back is my last name, Ash.

A door slides open and what must be Odysseus is standing in front of me. His skin is pale, probably died, and he has a lot of dark eye makeup on. His hair is blonde and spiked, it gives him a crazy look. "Well, aren't you something…" he says looking me over. "Well we can definitely work with this." He's right, some guys consider me attractive, others think I'm ugly; I honestly don't give a rat's ass. He inspects me further, sizing up my long blonde hair, womanly curves, strong jawline, and of course my rather impressive bust.

"Alright, well get dressed, let's get some food."

A few minutes later we're sitting around eating one of the best meals I've ever had, well the best meal I've had, even better than on the train, which I didn't think could be topped. "So what's your plan?"

"Whut do you crare? Yur nut mi mentur" I mumble with a hunk of meat in my mouth.

"No, but I have a vested interest in you," he puts it simply.

"Fine," I swallow, "I'm going to team up with the careers."

"And you think you'll get in?"

"Sure, they're just a bunch of brutes."

"Well you have a shot," he says noncommittally. I act like I don't care what he thinks; I don't want him to believe that I need his approval. I don't want anyone to think I care what they think, or see that I'm really terrified right now. I've been terrified since I was reaped. It's not fair, I'll be turning 19 in a week, but Snow just had to reap me anyway. Fine, I'll play his stupid game, and I'll win. I won't show anyone the fear, it isn't difficult to cover up, I just have to look intimidating and do something memorable, laughing and threatening that punk Jasper at my reaping was a good start, although I do like the kid's rebellious streak.

The careers are a means to an end, and if I'm closer to them it makes them that much easier to take out.

Chel Byrne

District 9 Female Tribute

As we gather to board our chariots, I'm seeing the other tributes for the first time, other than my District partner Cal, who is a freaking sociopath. Seriously the guy is like, just nuts. He calls himself a Victor, he says he is "back for another Hunger Games." I remember when that whole thing happened with the factory; people lost it and started killing each other. I don't know what I would have done in that situation, but it certainly wouldn't have been that. I can't believe just the one girl avoided the fighting.

Some of the other tributes are just as bad as Cal. The rest of the volunteers, with the possible exception of the guy from 7, are all despicable. I mean what kind of person volunteers for this kind of sick event? Who wants to kill people, especially kids? It's seriously messed up. I know one thing; I won't be going after any weak or defenseless tributes. I won't be doing any tricky things that the career pack is so well known for, killing people with their back turned, betraying their allies, killing people in their sleep. I'm not an animal, that's all the careers are.

There do seem to be some good tributes out there, I can see the tributes from 3, the older kid seems pretty protective of the younger one. Various other tributes catch my eyes, the girls from 10, 8 and 7 seem nice, and so does the pair from 5. Other than the tributes themselves I can't help but feel that the outfits are pretty cool. I'm not big into fashion, but these costumes are something in person.

The tributes from 2 look like marble statues, wearing togas with their skin pained the color of the stone. The ones from 4 look like some kind of sea creatures, with gills and other fishy prosthetics all over them. 7 is boring, but 8 the ones from 8 are wearing the finest fabrics, a nice dress and fancy tuxedo. The ones from 10 are supposed to look like ranchers I guess, and the pair from 12 is done to look like dynamite. Me and Cal's outfits are maybe my favorite though, our outfits really look like they are made of steel, the fabric has this weird quality that makes it look solid.

The large doors to the stable open and the line of chariots is off. When we get outside I'm shocked by how loud the music is. We'll be in the city center in twenty munities, for now I have to stand next to Cal while we ride to the city. It's awkward.

Rook Delacroix

District 1 Male Tribute

The cheers of the crowd as we enter the city center is almost deafening, they are cheering for me and Safyra, and why wouldn't they? We look amazing. We are adorned in the most elegant costumes I've ever seen, they are embroidered with gems, beautiful things, and woven with the finest material. Safyra's dress is gold and my suit is silver.

More impressive than the outfits are the people beneath them. Both Safyra and I are incredible looking, the perfect tributes, it's really a shame she will have to die in order for me to win, she is really strikingly beautiful, but at least there will be someone as good looking as I am in there to look at.

The stylist have done a great job to highlight our natural beauty, the gems in the suit highlight the amazing dark blue color of my eyes, and my dark brown hair has been styled perfectly. Safyra's blue eyes are done with makeup that makes them stand out even more, her long blonde hair done in an amazing way.

The people in the crowd are so taken by our beauty, the women scream out my name, while the men scream out hers. I can't wait to come back here as a Victor and have them scream out my name again, in a slightly different circumstance. For now though I'm happy to have the praise, and it's well deserved. We are by far the most popular tributes, and getting sponsors will be no problem.Our tour of the city circle ends in front of the president's mansion, we are soon joined by the other eleven chariots, and I take the chance to check out my soon to be allies from District 2 and 4. They of course aren't as memorable as we are, but the pair from 2 seems tough enough. The girl from 4 seems pretty tough too, but the guy looks like a little wimp. I've heard he is the son of the famous Ajax Aleric, and I'm almost embarrassed for him, this kid is so puny. The rest of the tributes probably aren't strong enough to join up with us, so I don't even bother looking their way.

President Snow emerges from his mansion and gives a speech about how he looks forward to seeing our will and determination in the games. I'll definitely show him some will and determination, none of these puny tributes will stand a chance against me. Once I get into the games, I'll show everyone how great I am, they'll see how great I am.

The president's speech ends and the anthem begins, the camera cuts to me and the other tributes, and we're off again. We get back to the training center where we're met by our prep teams. "Well, I certainly enjoyed our little ride," I say lightly touching Safyra's arm.

"Yeah…" she says backing away, "Well I'm heading to sleep….I'll see you at training." If she wants to play hard to get that's fine, I'll be swimming in women once I wrap these games up anyway.

Kayde Roberts

District 2 Male Tribute

Floor 2. My place of residence for the next week. Tomorrow we will begin training, my first day of official training, although I've been training unofficially in 2 for a long time. I remember my mentor Chace from training, he was a couple years ahead of me, but we all rember him well. I knew him a little from outside the games too, he and my sister were good friends, still are actually.

My partner Mina's mentor, Gloriana, was before my time, but I knew her sister, Storm. She was in Chace's games, she did pretty well to, she probably would have won if it hadn't been for Chace. Their battle was a classic. After those games Chace was different, he hates the games, but not how my sister or my dad hates them, he actually knows them. I think they bring back bad memories or something. He never tried to talk me out of it, like my family did so many times, he just seems disappointed.

My father is as anti-Capitol as they come, he refused to be a peacekeeper based on principal, and my sister inherited his views. I was always more like my mother; she left to be a peacekeeper around the time I was born. Rumor has it she is stationed in the Capitol, but I'm not one to believe rumors, she could be anywhere in Panem. Except District 2 that is.

I press a button and some food appears in front of me. I'm not sure what it is, but I like it. I never had good food or nice things back home, we never had a lot of money. My dad worked in the quarries; he said it was an honest job. He said we made enough to not need tesserae, and that was enough.

But it isn't enough. I was the poorest kid in school, I got teased growing up. I had to earn respect, and I did it through training, I proved that I was the best. I had to learn to shut out any weakness; I had to completely devote myself to training, get in the mindset of a killer. Training to fight is one thing, but it's different when you have to take a life. A lot of people think they are ready to kill, but when it comes down to it they hesitate, and in the games hesitation means death.

That doesn't mean I will enjoy killing though, that can be just as bad. The crazed bloodlust that some tributes get always leads to their downfall. I remember a few years back a tribute called Fathom was so obsessed with trying to kill another tribute that he didn't even notice that arena floor cracking wide open beneath him till it was too late; another Titus started eating his kills, and was killed in an avalanche, which I'm sure was no freak accident.

When I kill someone I have to be totally emotionless, I can't allow my feelings to get in the way. I have to be completely serious when I am in the games, and my serious side is all anyone aside from my father has seen for years.

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