Prologue Part II.


Nobody warns you before the fall.


Carrigan Rey, 19
District One Victor of the Eighth Hunger Games


There's a tension in the air as Brielle and I stride off to City Square, our stomachs tight with anxiety and a sense of nervousness usually foreign to us.

"They'll be showing us the names in advance," Brielle says, voice strained. "We'll get to know what kids are being picked before they announce them to the rest of the district. I'm not sure I'm too happy about it."

"No? You don't like the advantage?"

She shrugs, hair rippling as our pace quickens. "We're district people. I don't see us as holding a special place in One. I mean, it's not like either of us wanted to be victors for the rest of our lives."

I hum, struggling to match pace with her long legs. "I think it'll be good," I chime in tentatively. "Getting a bit of an edge on if we know who the three selected are or not. I know we both have a few faces in mind that we wouldn't mind seeing at the Reaping."

"And it's horrible that way, isn't it?" She laughs briefly. "That we have to assist the very kids who we voted in. The rejects and misfits of the district – and we have to bust our asses to ensure one of them comes home. It's all fucked, Carrigan. The Capitol, this Quell, everything."

"The Capitol truly just has their favorite ways to say 'fuck you' to the districts." I nod in agreement, hoping I don't come off too gung-ho.

Instead, Brielle lets loose another muffled, sardonic laugh and gestures ahead.

The mayor stands at the border of the City Square, observing quietly as kids of all ages file into the center. Most are upbeat, voices intermingling with an undeniable happiness. They are the kids flown under the radar, the generally liked and appreciated kids. The ones who have no fear of being picked this year – they know that their district hasn't turned against them yet.

But it's the quiet ones that catch my eye. The ones that slink into the Square, trying to retreat into themselves as if it'll make them disappear. The ones who have made enemies, initiated brawls, gotten themselves into too much trouble for comfort. The outliers. The kids who have an underlying paranoia that their name might be one announced to the entire district as a 'hey, you're one of the three least liked kids in the entire district!'

I curse myself internally as I see a tall, shadowy character slide into the City Square, almost undetected. Curtis Bennington; he was my vote. My little sister's old, toxic ex-boyfriend. I know that when we were voting, Brielle told me to put aside personal biases and think about who would have the best chances, the one that would be least missed.

Curtis is popular. He's horrible, but he's popular. If putting his name in the ring knowing that there's no way he can get selected helps me sleep at night, so be it.

Mayor Kinnings, a slender woman on the constant verge of blushing, nods to Brielle and I in greeting, leading us inside the District One capitol building.

"I've got the three names," she says. "I assume you'll be pleased to hear that none of them bear relations to you two."

"As expected." Brielle's jaw is clenched. "Proceed, then."

Surprised at her lack of enthusiasm, Mayor Kinnings unfurls a small piece of parchment from her blazer pocket. "Marcie Astrup. Castellan Isenya. Heidi Adelard."

"Of course it's those bastards," Brielle sighs. Those three names are infamous around the district, but far too dependent on daddy's money for anyone to do anything about it. "Makes sense. We're in for a ride this year, aren't we, Carrigan?"

I clench my jaw, trying to push any personal biases down with a forced smile. I feel as if I'm baring my teeth. "We certainly are."

Except I'd love to never see those three's smarmy, smirking faces again in my life. The fact that I have to treat them as my mentees for an entire week is going to be hellish. For once in my career as a mentor, I truly don't have any motivation to actually bring these bitches home.

That's the magic of this Quell, though, isn't it? To rid the district of some of the most notorious, awful personalities rather than children undeserving of death?

I suppose I'll have to take a note from Brielle's book – completely placid and unbiased on the surface, no matter the shit stirring below. She does it so well. Even now, as I stand next to her, trying to catch a glimpse of how she might truly feel about hearing those three names, her neutral expression is unwavering. Admirable.

"Moreso than we think, probably," I say, more to myself than to anyone else. "We sure are in for a ride this year, Brielle."


A/N: The Greatest by Lana del Rey.


TRIBUTE LIST:
READYFORWARHG . BLOGSPOT . COM


DISTRICT ONE:

FEMALE – Marcie Astrup, 18 (Cashmere67)
MALE – Castellan Isenya, 18 (bobothebear)
RANDOM – Heidi Adelard, 17 (tear that cherry out)

DISTRICT THREE:

FEMALE – Nahla Ono, 17 (Axe Smelling God)
MALE – Silas Garamond, 18 (Chaos in Her Wake)
RANDOM – Venec Alquist, 18 (jakey121)

DISTRICT SIX:

FEMALE – Estrella Villon, 16 (NateDaMartian)
MALE – Felix Agrippa, 17 (kremit1000)
RANDOM – Vanilan Surana, 17 (symphorophilia)

DISTRICT SEVEN:

FEMALE – Ruhi Brennan, 18 (recklessinparadise)
MALE – Madoc Sonders, 17 (District11-Olive)
RANDOM – Kadrium Hawtrey, 17 (D.A. Member Hogwarts 2.0)

DISTRICT ELEVEN:

FEMALE – Luena Glacelle, 18 (Acereader55)
MALE – Alpheus Baker, 17 (BamItsTyler)
RANDOM – Pagan Corneal, 17 (LittleTimmy223)

DISTRICT TWELVE:

FEMALE – Campbell Seavey, 16 (sock-feet-stirring-sand)
MALE – Ilias Laghari, 18 (dyloccupy)
RANDOM – Greta Malvey, 18 (JabberjayHeart)


My apologies to the tribute submissions that were not accepted. I got a wide range of diverse, interesting, well-crafted tributes but at the end of the day, I have only 18 slots to accept people into. Thank you for submitting – I appreciate each and every tribute that I received!

So ends the prologue for Ready for War. As The Salvaged Six begins to wrap up with just two chapters left, I'll have more time to update this story steadily. My summer classes have ended, hallelujah!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on the blog, which is currently up – stated above and in my profile – and first impressions on the tributes. Blog review and initial thoughts chart are my favs. As my dear friend Kevin (also known by his bizarre Fanfiction handle as bobothebear despite not being named "bobo" or physically being a bear) has said in the past, I love you all; I just love the people that review more.

Stay safe, and welcome to Ready for War!