Victor of the 101st Hunger Games Dove Blanchette's POV
"You should wear this one." Eleyanna pulled on the fabric of a sheer white dress from among the menagerie of clothes hanging in Dove's closet. She pushed some of the hangers out of the way to see the white dress. It was one that she had been gifted shortly after her Victory Tour, sent as a promotion from a high end brand hoping for the publicity of a new Victor wearing it out and about. The sheer fabric was stunning, but left little to the imagination, a river of thick glitter branching from her breasts down to her navel for the implication of modesty.
It seemed a bit formal - but it was hard to tell what would be appropriate when she wasn't entirely sure what the date would consist of. Date, The word stirred up the butterflies in her stomach, and she shook her head to Eleyanna, who quickly started flipping through the clothes once more. She hadn't ever really been on a date before - flirting wasn't a strong suit of the teenager in school, so she wasn't used to getting a lot of attention until her games had made her the apple of Panem's eye.
"Hmm… Maybe you should do something blue, you look nice in blue." Eleyanna murmured. Her small face was scrunched up as if it was a really serious introspection for her. Perhaps it was; How Dove longed for the days when her most difficult decisions were what outfit to wear in the morning. Those were the days. Before the games and the death of her father and the million other things dragging her down.
No. Dove scolded herself in her mind. She was going out on her very first date. This was going to be a happy occurrence. A happy night. A happy memory. Dove couldn't let her wandering worries ruin this for her. She just wanted to enjoy this moment without any caveats.
"Dove! Lookie at me!" Eleyanna's squeal of delight interrupted Dove's thoughts. The child had pulled on a navy blue jumper, with just her eyes sticking out of the neckhole as she giggled. A wave of familiarity passed over Dove. Eleyanna laughed, unperturbed by Dove's gaze as she wiggled the thick knit sleeves. "I'm a jellyfish!"
Dove pushed a smile to her face; As plastic as it was, she knew that Eleyanna wouldn't notice. Trying to banish the unease from her mind, Dove pulled the jumper down and ruffled Eleyanna's hair. Eleyanna giggled once more.
The door of the room opened, and Tatiana's head became visible from behind it. "Elly, dear? It's time for your piano lesson."
Eleyanna folded her arms in front of her. "I'm helping right now, momma."
"I'm sure you are, dear. Perhaps you can help her some more after your lesson." Tatiana smiled softly. Eleyanna rose, a pout still resting on her lips as she headed towards the door.
"Bye Dove!" Dove waved back and the door closed. For a moment, Dove just stared at the closet. All of the 'helping' that Eleyanna had offered still left Dove unsure of what she wanted to wear. Her hand skimmed over the hangers before stopping at a more simple garment, peachy in color with lettuce trim sleeves. It was one of the things she had brought from back home, purchased from a local seamstress - the same woman that helped Dove fit her school uniform, in fact. She pulled it off of the hanger and slipped it over her head.
If she closed her eyes, the fabric almost smelled of home back in District 6. A cacophony of metal and oil and gasoline, yet comforting in the deepest pits of her mind. When her eyes opened, they landed on the clock, her heart lurching when she realized that she and Beauregard would be leaving in less than ten minutes. If she didn't get down the stairs quick, she'd make them both late.
Taking a last glance at herself in the mirror, Dove remembered a pair of earrings that she had - just some modest studs, but they would surely help add to her simplistic look. She pulled open the drawer to her bedside table, pulling them out and pulling her ear lobe out to find the piercing hole when her entire body froze. The earring fell to the floor.
A pair of eyes stared back at her from in the drawer. A pair of big hazel eyes, specked with little flecks of green. They were spitting image of Eleyanna's eyes.
It was the eyes of the missing woman Dorothy Rickett from her poster staring Dove right in the face.
Arius Armani, 18, District 1 Male Tribute's POV
As the clock chimed, signifying another tribute death, Arius kept his eyes glued to Raven Ishali. She looked pitiful. Like a scrappy dog in a shelter - trying to keep a snarl while dogs ten times its size growled around it. He would almost feel bad for her if she hadn't volunteered herself for the games. In another world, perhaps the two would have more in common - both being pit against others in a battle to the death for the honor of a sibling.
Arius had no desire to be compared to such a sniveling weakling, however.
There were a few thick thuds as Milo and Kukla finished off the rest of the rat muttations, and Arius busied himself with tying the hands of his little hostage. She didn't fight his advance - which was good. The little rat must have had enough sense to know that she was outnumbered.
"God…" Asher's voice was the first to break the silence between all of the career pack. Arius spared him a glance, but Asher looked pale in the face as he shook his head.
"We need to be more careful." Milo murmured. His tone indicated agreement with Asher's despair, but in a more controlled way. "We shouldn't have lost somebody in that fight."
"Bethany was dangerous anyway." Kukla said softly. "She couldn't be trusted."
Arius snorted. "Don't pretend she was the only one keeping secrets."
Kukla's eyes turned down towards the ground shamefully.
"We shouldn't be arguing right now." Asher turned to face him, a bit of light coming back to his skin. His gaze leapt from Arius to Raven, who came to a stand. The binding wound around his wrists only to come up to her elbows, keeping them firm behind her back. The rope continued to Arius' hands like a leash of sorts. Now she truly was like his little dog from the shelter.
"We should be recouping." Milo said with a nod. He too turned his attention to Raven. "What are you doing with her?"
Arius smiled. "She's going to take me to her partner."
Arius yanked the leash, bringing her crashing back down to her butt with a yelp. "You'll listen, Two, or I'll make sure you wish you would have."
"Arius." Asher moved his hand to hold Arius' wrist loosely. "You should just… Just kill her now. Have mercy."
"I will kill her. After I'm done with her."
"That's cruel." Kukla whispered.
"You can think that. I don't care. I don't care what anyone thinks." Arius shook his head. "Five never paid for what they did to my brother, and fuck any of you that try to get in my way."
Asher's grip tighten. "Please, Arius. Killing them won't bring your brother back."
The way that Asher looked at him tugged at sympathies that Arius didn't want to acknowledge. It made his stomach stir with nausea. He broke his gaze away from twelve's.
"It will bring him honor. The honor that they took from my family." Arius gritted his teeth. "You can either stay with me or make a new enemy today. Your choice."
"It's safer for us to stick together. Breaking up is a bad idea." Milo took a deep breath in through his nose. "I don't like what you're doing, Arius. After you've had your way with Five, you'll kill her quickly and as painlessly as possible."
"Yeah, yeah." Arius waved a hand dismissively. Raven hesitated before trying to swing her body in a way to help her to her feet. Arius could've helped, but instead he watched her struggle. It was a mere price to pay for her mouthiness. "Now, you'll tell me where your partner went. Is he looking for supplies? Where are the two of you hiding?"
"I don't know where he is."
"The two of you split up?"
"We got separated."
Arius narrowed his eyes impatiently. "Well, where did you see him last?"
"I-" Her voice caught in her throat. "I don't know. I haven't seen him since we were trying to get away from the bugs."
"What bugs?" Kukla joins into the small semicircle that the Career pack has created around Arius and Raven.
"Some kind of mutt things. I don't know. They looked like little beetles or something. Some of them could fly and stuff, there were these bugs and they kept exploding."
"Exploding bugs." Milo shook his head. "That must be what all the chaos was from."
"Yes - that's what was shaking the house. We killed the girl from 12 and these nasty beetles came out of her body. She attacked us - well, like, she did before the bugs came out of were trying to get away from the girl from 12. She's a lunatic - she came at us with a freaking staple gun." Raven said, raising her brows at Asher.
"She was … an odd one." Asher tried to laugh, but the sound came out breathy and awkward. Arius gave her rope a tug to bring her attention back to him. Her novel-length answers made Arius' skin boil. He wasn't getting any closer to the pair from District 5 with her shitty little answers. He didn't need her life story. He needed locations.
"You're not helping me. You're wasting time."
"I'm not!" She exclaimed. "I'm trying to explain. I don't know where he is, because he fell through the floor after the bugs blew it up."
"You've got five seconds to say something helpful before I slit the skin between your toes while we go searching." Arius growled. Her eyes widened.
"I have no idea where Quark went! B-but… I saw the girl. The girl from 5."
Finally. Now he was getting somewhere. "Go on."
"Yes! She was with the guy from 10 - the one from that Clip Clop app. I can take you to where they were."
"Lead the way."
Raul Villalobos, 17, District 10 Male Tribute's POV
Raul hissed in pain. It didn't seem to phase Alina, however, who kept the rag pressed onto his staple wound even as he tried to pull away from the burn.
"Serves you right…" She muttered with a hopeless shake of her head.
"What do you mean?" Raul asked, flabbergasted.
"I mean you deserved it." Alina said flatly. "We should've never been a part of that stupid fight to begin with. We're lucky to be alive."
Raul didn't say anything. She might've been right… No. Raul knew she was at least a little bit right. He had gotten swept up into his emotions. He was so set on getting revenge for Gillian that he had put his single remaining ally in danger. But to admit all of that out loud was a totally different thing from thinking it was a possibility in his head.
"I mean, we would've had to kill Gemini eventually." Raul said, trying to argue not only with Alina but with his own inner monologue that told him that he had been an idiot.
"Um, no? We absolutely did not have to do that." Alina put her hand on her hip. "And if I didn't get this freaking sponsor gift at the perfect time, your wound could get infected and you could be withering away in pain right now. So maybe you should be saying thanks or something to the girl that could've got a sick sponsor weapon and instead got something to help out her big macho partner."
Raul opened his mouth to argue some more, but he simply deflated. "I'm sorry. Thank you for helping me."
Alina seemed appeased with his apology and she started to inspect his wound. Raul used his own hands to hold open the fabric of his shirt to give her a better look. He was almost afraid to look himself - the pain had sort of numbed due to adrenaline, but after the two had found a quiet spot, it was starting to ebb back. Whatever medicinal tonic that Alina had received - though helpful, he was sure - didn't help the pain.
"I'm going to have to get that staple out, I think. But if I use this stuff that we got from the sponsor, I bet it'll heal right up." Alina said hesitantly.
"Capitol magic." Raul said with a hoarse laugh. "How are you going to get it out, though?"
"I haven't thought that far." She pulled the rag away to inspect the wound, her face puckering in disgust. "I guess just with my hands."
Raul inhaled deeply. "Okay. I think I'm ready."
Alina made a small gagging sound before her hand reached into his wound. He could feel her fingers moving his flesh out of the way, a sensation odd but firmly painful. He groaned, clenching his jaw to keep from crying out in pain. With a swift jerk, Alina's hand withdrew with the thick staple. She squirted the sponsor medicine on his wound and pressed the cloth back on top of his enraged red skin.
It had an immediate cooling effect. He still felt like there was a gaping hole in his shoulder, but the burning pain wasn't quite as bad. Alina continued the pressure. "I wonder if it'll fully heal…"
Raul tried to shrug, but the motion sent a jolt of pain through his shoulder. He gasped. "I hope so."
"Keep the pressure on it." Alina removed her hand and Raul replaced it with his own. Alina sank back against the couch next time him, wiping her bloody hand on a throw pillow before tossing it across the room angrily. "Now we're at a huge disadvantage."
"Hey, it's not that bad." Raul offered, turning just his head to look at her as she stared at the ceiling in defeat. "We've made it this far, right?"
"Y'know, you don't always have to pretend to be so optimistic." Alina grumbled. She closed her eyes, but her expression found no peace.
Raul raised his eyebrow. "I'm not pretending."
"Yes you are."
"We've got to have hope."
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever. We gotta have hope or faith or whatever." Alina pressed the palms of her hands to the sockets of her eyes in frustration. "It's just tiring. You want to put on this, like, brave face for everybody but you're just as scared as me. I thought the excitement of the Capitol would be kind of like a magic fairy tale world, too. Maybe it would've been better to live some boring factory life."
"I just want to make some lives better. We might both die in here, but I have to at least try to help."
Alina laughed, pushing forward so quickly that Raul almost lept back, startled. "That did so much good for us so far - you wanting to help almost got us both killed."
"I know, I know. You don't have to keep telling me."
"That's the thing, though! I do. I feel like I do have to keep telling you, because you didn't listen to me. I told you it was a bad idea, but you wanted to be the knight in shining armor so bad that you didn't listen."
"Stop calling me that.' Raul readjusted on the couch, shooting her a glare. "I was trying to help. You didn't get hurt, and I'm going to heal up and we're going to be fine."
"I'll stop calling you that when you stop trying so hard to be the freaking hero. I might be okay, but you risked us both."
"You didn't have to follow me."
"What?! Are you kidding me?" Alina shot to her feet. Her face was tinted an outraged red, wisps of her dark baby hairs sticking to her face. "You might've died without me!"
"We are just all here to die anyway! At least I could've helped get justice for Gillian."
"See?! You're so worried about dying some sort of hero that you aren't stopping to think if you could live instead. You didn't save Gillian. You didn't save Avril. If you make these stupid decisions just because you want to be the good guy, then their deaths will all be in vain! Don't you get that?"
Her words struck him worse than the staple gun had. His eyes burned. "Y-You don't know me! Shut up!"
"No! You need to listen to me - for once you need to listen to me!"
"Just because you can't save anyone doesn't mean that I can't! You- you're just a coward. You only think about yourself. You're just going to be another stupid tribute with the most memorable thing about her being a pretty face." Raul shouted back, finally losing his cool. Alina's eyes grew wide and she finally got quiet for a moment. Raul felt the stab of regret in his chest almost immediately. Alina took a step back, shaking her head. "Alina, I didn't mean that. I-"
"You know what? You can go be a hero by yourself." Alina narrowed her eyes, but they were glittering with the start of tears. "I hope that it works out for you. I'm going to go find a weapon and hide - like a sensible tribute. You can be freaking Career fodder, but I'm not going to."
"No." Alina grabbed her bag. "If I see you again, I'll kill you myself."
Raul watched as she swung away from him, starting the trek away from the rooms they had just ran from together. His heart thudded in his chest, slowly and deliberately crawling up his throat. "Alina, wait."
She didn't acknowledge his call. Raul's last ally continued down the hall before turning a corner and escaping his vision.
Raul was alone.
Head Gamemaker Magdelenne Kurozuki's POV
It was early in the morning when Magdelenne rose from her bed the third morning of the Hunger Games. Not that she had slept a wink - she had been flipping from the viewer counts, the arena cams, as well as some of the popular blogs following the games throughout the wee hours of the morning. But Magelenne, despite her devotion to her games, did have something she needed to do. Someone she needed to visit, in fact. She knew that the security in the Capitol was on high alert - after all, it truly hadn't been that long since a figurehead was murdered in her own home - but Maggie also knew the weakest parts of the system and how to play around it.
She moved swiftly but silently, out of her apartment and down the streets that were lit by the many signs of local bars and clubs that were sprinkled along the street. Late night viewings and recaps of her games could be heard all the way on the streets, a sign of the success of her work so far. It wasn't a far walk to get to the building that she was headed to - and it was about as empty as she expected it to be. On her walk down the stairs, she didn't see a single soul, with only the beeps of her identification cards to break the still silence of the night.
Magdelenne pressed her lips together into a bubblegum colored purse as she reached the final door between her and her destination. She barely flicked her eyes over the scanner as it authorized her entrance and she stepped into the brightly lit room. It was all in muted greys, which is one of the reasons that the Capitol prison cells were her least favorite place to be. Maybe she should convince somebody to paint in pastel ~ then it'd be much more bearable to be in.
"What are you doing here?" Elken didn't move from his gargoyle-still stance. Only his eyes moved to peer at her, the anger radiating like the smell of freshly baked cookies.
Magdelenne let out a breathy laugh. "Don't I even get a hello? Manners must not be taught very well back in 10."
He stared wordlessly at her. She didn't really expect a response, though, considering she had done absolutely nothing to assist him during his arrest. But Maggie knew better - she knew that anything she did would get back to the one person that could jeopardize her job. The job that she had worked so hard for and given up so much for.
She let the silence linger, soaking it in. The electricity in the air was like tingles down her spine. Is this how it feels to have the touch of a lover? The goosebumps that rise like cake in an oven, the heat licking at every nerve? She could only imagine. Magdelenne's only lover was her dream, with her ambition and drive being the embrace that she ran to in times of need.
"If you're here to cause grief, you can leave. I've had enough today." Elken muttered, turning to bring his legs opposite to her.
Magdelenne let out another giggle, this time one that dripped in a sly shade of green, and flipped her cotton candy hair over her shoulder before she continued, "I've done a bit of thinking, and I'm afraid that I wasn't entirely honest with you the other day… I didn't take your letters. But I know who did."
This aroused a response in the victor. His head jerked to look at her more clearly. Magdelenne smiled. There - now she had his attention. Elken turned to her once more, narrowing his eyebrows. "Why are you here?"
"Well, we have a common enemy, you and I." Magdelenne batted her eyelashes at him. To many it might have seemed innocent, like a child pleading for extra dessert after dinner, but Magdelenne could see the unease that crawled under the District 10 boy's skin. She could lap up his discomfort, but Maggie didn't allow herself to spend too much time enjoying it - she was here for a reason. "Like I said, I didn't take your letters, sugar plum… But I did take something that wasn't mine."
From the pocket of her frilled skirt, she pulled out a key card on a hook, swinging it around her finger nonchalantly. He stared at the key card as it swirled and Maggie bit the tip of her tongue in a smile. "I'm sure you want out, right?"
Elken rose at last, bringing himself right in front of Magdelenne to look her in the eye. He was significantly taller than she was, and even through the hesitance and the anger in his furrowed brow, she could see the kindness in his eyes. "What's the catch?"
She widened her eyes, her mouth forming a small 'o'. "No catch! I was just thinking, perhaps, if I scratch your back then maybe you could scratch mine."
His stare didn't do anything to melt her hardened caramel exterior and finally his shoulders drooped in exhaustion. "I don't know what you're trying to pull here, Magdelenne."
"Can I tell you a secret?" Maggie leaned in, pressing her palms against the cool glass as a wicked grin tainted her features. She didn't wait for him to answer. "I know you didn't kill Grandioselle. I know you were framed. And I know who did it."
Elken took a step back. "How do you know that?"
"You think you're the only one in the Capitol with a secret? " Maggie replied, rolling her eyes. "You victors always think you're so sly, but you don't realize you're being played just as easily as the Capitolites. Anyway, there's something I want taken care of. I can get you out of this cell, somewhere safe. But there's something that you would need to do for me."
Elken bit the inside of his cheek. "And what if I can't?"
"Then you won't be able to save your sister again."
"What do you mean?"
"Grandioselle's murderer? He's coming after Ashby next."
"How do you know that?"
"The Capitol is just one big board game. You just need to play your pieces right. Now, do you want my help or not?"
Elken seemed to weigh the options in his mind for a moment. His voice was hesitant. "What do you want me to do?"
Maggie took a deep breath in through her nose before her face split into a manic smile. "I need you to kill somebody for me."
AN: We're going to pretend I didn't disappear for awhile. Long story short, ya girl is tired. But I have a story to tell, for those of you that are still here to read along. Love you all.
Career Pack: Arius, Milo, Kukla, Asher
Hackers4Lyfe: Raven, Quark
Tough Girls: Viola, Emmeline