A/N: Welcome back and thank you for all your feedback on your last few questions. I think wildone got closest to what was actually keeping me from updating, though if anyone else wants to take a guess feel free. As many of you will notice Echo's becoming a runaway success on the poll, which is good because I think I write him quite well. It still doesn't mean anything though. For all you know he could still die in the Bloodbath.

On another note, I've just noticed something horrible. In my last chapter I completely confused myself, putting Cyrix in a prominent position in completely the wrong District! For anyone who noticed, sorry. I'm planning to swap her and Cesse's District, since it's easier to do that than rewrite my latest chapter. Sorry for all the confusion but I'll get it sorted out ASAP.


The Ninety Fifth Hunger Games

Chariot Rides and Evening

Hilson Brak, age 17 (D12 Male)

I love this chariot lark! The crowds! The cheerers! The girls wearing practically nothing!

Ah man, forget that magazine I tried to smuggle off of the train. This place is paradise!

Well I've got to enjoy haven't I? There's no way I'm going back to District Twelve. Not for all the magazines in the whole universe!

Not alive at least.

If only my partners were as enthusiastic as I am. Neither of them seem particularly impressed with whatever the heck it is they're wearing. It looks like a mining outfit made by someone who had no idea what mining was actually like and was both blind and had completely no idea what the word fasionable actually meant. Kind of like the Five girl if someone sucked her brain out. They stand either side of me, gazing in opposite directions, not speaking to me or one another. Which I have to say I'm sort of okay with, seeing as I don't particularly like the Capitol Kid. She's a stupid, whiny little girl with no nose, hot pink hair and these stupid wings sticking out of her back that keep jabbing me in the side. All she's done since she got here is talk and talk about what a great Career she'd make and glare at things. Seriously, she's just standing there, staring daggers at every single member of the crowd she passes. It's kind of disconcerting.

She's just some stupid kid at the end of the day, so I really have no reason to talk to her.

I'm a bit more worried about poor Hanna. Yeah that's what she wants to be called apparently, Hanna. I guess it's so I don't get confused over her and that girl from Six having the same name. Either way I feel for her. She hasn't stopped shaking like a leaf since she mounted the chariot, and she's starting to look paler and paler. I mean, I offered to help her and all, but how am I supposed to deal with this girl? I guess I should act like a big brother but how am I supposed to do that? I don't have a big brother, I just have him and he didn't exactly teach me anything about how to look after a girl three years younger than me who's freaking out because she's gonna die soon!

I shake my head. Man, I'm starting to freak out now too. I can't do that. I gotta stay alive just long enough to make sure she makes it out of the Games and back home, then I can get this over with and never have to go home. But until then I gotta stay strong, since I talked myself in to babysitting the girl. She's counting on me. There's no way I can let that chick down.

Hanna looks round at me as I flash her a massive, crooked smile, wrapping my arm around her and pulling her close. I feel her stiffen up and I relent slightly, stroking my hair back and winking at her.

"Calm down yeah?" I reassure her, "We aren't in the Games yet. Just try and relax till we get there." She nods slowly and pulls away from me. I'm not sure whether my little speech did anything, but she seems to brighten up a bit after that.

I would've made a good older brother. Shame he had to go and ruin a great life for me. Seriously. If he died I would've just been able to go get adopted by a nice family, but the dude had to stick around. Man he sucks.

I shake my head, trying to distract myself from the thoughts of that man. Kreote warned me not to think about stuff that makes me mad. He says it puts you off center, distracts you from your target or something like that. It's all Peacekeeper talk to me, but Kreote seems alright. He's not as nice as Richardt but, then again, he's not as big of a wimp either.

Looking for a distraction, I turn my eyes to the chariots in front of me. It's not the best sight I've ever seen. I'm glad I'm more than a few chariots away from Districts Seven and Eight, their costumes are so ridiculously skimpy that I think even I would find it hard not to be embarassed. District Nine looks alright. I can't really tell what they're supposed to be but they look cool, which is the main thing, and their nice enough. I think, from little I've seen, I prefer the guy. The girl's a bit too haughty for me.

District Ten really gets to me. They look alright in all that cowprint and the meathooks are cool, but it's the tributes themselves who bug me. The girl's just way to cold and emotionless for a chick that young. And the guy? Well, I like a good looking girl as much as the next fella, but there is such a thing as being descrete and gentlemanly, as opposed to acting like a gigantic misoginist. I mean what the hell? If that kid were able to walk I'd really like to sock him in the jaw. Thing is I kind of feel sorry for him, so I don't think it's that good an idea to take him out. It's a real dick move and, just from a strategy point of view, it'll lose a lot of sponsors, not that I'm really looking for any. I'll let some Career guy take the hit. They at least deserve it for being creepy murderers.

District Eleven has a neat idea. The guy looks kind of gaunt in his corn cob costume, but it suits the girl. And I mean really suits her. It shows of an admirable amount of her leg and really fits her figure. Wowza!

What? I said you had to be descrete. I'm not heckling her or anything creepy like that Echo brat, so cut me some slack!

A few minutes of (descretly) oggling the girl in front and occasionally chatting to Hanna about our plans in the Arena and we finally reach the central square of Panem. This is it. The place where, every year, the tributes line up in neat little rows and prepare for the President to give their speech.

As always it's my least favourite part of the pre-Games. The President's speech drags on and on just like always. It's not even new material. I'm pretty sure it's exactly the same speech as last year. The one about how we're so evil and the Capitol's so great and blah blah blah everything in the Capitol is perfect and everyone is always happy and stuff. And then she talks about how Katniss went and ruined it and no one cares. I mean seriously, it's just sad. We get enough of the ego driven speeches about how much we suck from Sabal, we really don't need to listen to her.

There's a couple of minutes where no one's particularly listening to what stupid miss 'I'm the President of All of Panem' has to say, in which time I lean over Angel, nudging her out the way slightly, and begin a conversation with District Eleven.

"Hey there beautiful," I grin, taking a few seconds to activate my swag first, "How you doing?"

The weird boy with the tattoos and the red hair stares at me wide eyed. "Are..." He gulps, "Are you talking to me? Be... because I already have a girlfriend thank you so I... I mean I'm flattered but I'm taken."

"Really? 'Cos your eyes are saying single and looking for a good time," I wink suggestively and the boy looks like he's about to faint. My grin grows and I burst out laughing, "Nah just kidding ya dink. I'm trying to talk to the pretty young think next to you. You know, Allina Wheats or whatever." The boy nods shakily and moves out of my way, letting me get a good look at the girl. "Hi." The girl stares back at me with a nervous smile.

"Uh, hello?" She says, fidgeting uncomfortably.

"So, your Allina Wheats then? Mind if I call you Ally?"

"Well actually..." She looks uncomfortable, so I decide to quickly move on.

"Sure, sure, silly nickname huh? 'Cos I'm silly like that, yeah? Names Hilson by the way. Hilson Brak, but you can call me Hilly if you want." Ally doesn't know quite what to make of it. She gives a tiny nod and then squirms a bit more. "Hey Allina, you OK? What's the matter? It ain't the Games getting you down is it?"

"Well sort off..."

"'Cos it's like I was telling Hanna here just this morning, you don't have to worry about it until we actually get to the Games. Just enjoy the ride!"

"Well, actually uh, Hilson..."

"Call me Hilly."

"Sorry. It's just, it's not the dying in the Games I'm worried about. I'm in an alliance already, so I should be alright..."

"Oh really." I smile, leaning forwards in feigned interest. Seriously though, it would have been nice to get her in an alliance. She's about my age and kind of good looking. It would have been fun.

"I was just trying to help but..."

"And now! A short message from our wonderful Head Gamesmaker, Zitheneals Denair!" In an instant every tribute jolts to attention and stares at the stage. It's rare for the Head Gamesmaker to speak after the President. I can only remember one other time they did it. In the Eighty Seventh Games the then Head Gamesmaker Miltes Xangorna got a chance to grace the stage to tell the tributes that this year they would be receiving no sponsorship due to the discovery of an undercover betting ring that was rigging the sponsorship. I was nine at the time and even I knew that was bad news. Suffice to say that, whenever a Gamesmaker gets the chance to speak, it's not a good thing.

"Ladies and Gentlemen." Zenair began, wheezing heavily as he spoke, "Tributes of the Games..." He pauses and draws in a long, bitter breath, "Esteemed guests. I have very important news. Life changing. Well, life ending if you will." The audience chuckles and Zitheneals joins in, spluttering out his own grim giggle above the audience. It grates against my ears and makes me wince. I want to cover my ears but I know that's not a good idea. Next to me Hanna is shivering. She looks like she might cry again. Angel's still being a stropy little monster. She just rolls her eyes and then snickers along with the rest of the audience. A few of the Capitolites don't laugh, the guy with the red hair just looks gaunt and, in front of us, District Nine's guest goes pale, like he's drunk. His whiskers and tail droop and he stares around, forcing out a terrified laugh along with the audience. I get a glimpse of his eyes as he looks at me. There scared eyes alright, but not in the same way as Hanna's. There's something off about them, like he doesn't know why he's scared and that's what scares him. There's probably some big word for it, but I don't know it, I'm not a poet.

"I have what will be," Zitheneals continues, "For some, horrifying news. But for most I am sure it will be a welcome turn of events, and one that will up the stakes, so to speak, of these, our wonderful, wonderful Games." The crowd cheers and I groan. This ain't gonna be good. "Well, that's enough stalling I suppose. Let's get to buisiness! Our honoured guests..." Zitheneals hisses down at them, peering over the balcony at the twelve teens who now stand awkwardly in the chariots, trying to look inconspicuous despite their silly tattoos, stupid hair and weird be honest they don't do that good a job. It's nice to see them squirm for a chance, as oppose to having to watch my fellow tributes break down.

Infront of me the Pete guy from District Nine jolts uncomfortably and begins to shiver. His camera, which he's been holding the entire time, drops through his hands and hangs from his neck, swinging gently back and forwards. Despite the fact he looks like a freak I feel the dude's pain. Zitheneals creeps me out too. It's nothing big.

"You are now to be considered tributes. From this moment onwards you will train with them, fight with them, die with them. The only exception in this matter is that your families will, of course, be compensated for any injury that you could sustain. Capitol tributes will sleep on their District floor, but will be allowed free reign of all floors. Capitol tributes will be trained by the mentors of their District. Capitol tributes will be expected to perform for the Gamesmakers along with their Districts. And, of course any and all Capitol tributes to escape the Arena will be rewarded in the same manner as a District child. Thank you." There's utter silence as Zitheneals stops speaking and steps away from the microphone. For a single moment no one speaks. No one breaths, not even the District children speak, although a few of them, that brat from District Ten among them, have horrifying smiles spread across their face.

The crowd is for a second silent. No one reacts.

Cesse Pete breaks the silence. He collapses and slumps off of his chariot, hitting the floor with a thud.

The crowd explodes.

Around us each of the chariots start moving as Yelena lifts Cesse onto the back of the chariot and it begins to move, with Yelena having to hold the kid on so he doesn't tumble off. The girl with the golden skin looks like she's gonna be sick, the kid with the stripes looks both terrified and furious at the same time and I'm pretty sure that the girl with the orange skin is actually trying to fling herself from the chariot so she can check if Cesse is okay. Most of the other Capitol 'guests' look just as shocked, and their District partners look relieved that the bad news wasn't something worse. I have to admit that I'm sort of OK with this. At least we're not getting our sponsors cut or something dumb like that.

The girls either side of me react in completely and, in my opinion, really weird ways.

Hanna, for one, gets all jumpy and shuffles closer to me. Really I'd thought she'd be relieved like the rest of us, but if anything she seems even more twitchy.

"You know we're gonna have to fight them too, right?" She whispers, and I nod.

"Yeah, sure I do. No biggie. They're Capitol kids, they'll go down easy."

I don't believe that though, as I inspect the kid next to me. Angel doesn't look sad like the other kids. She's beaming from ear to ear, her dark eyes fixing in turn on every one of her new enemies. Despite her name her smile looks more demonic than anything else as she grips the side of the chariot.

"I get to be a Career," She whispers to no one in particular, "I get to kill them all. Fantastic."

I gulp. I'm not going to enjoy meeting little miss pink hair in the Arena. She creeped me out before I knew she was some psycho who actually liked this sort of thing. At this moment I wouldn't be all that surprised if she burst in to flames, turned into the devil and dragged us all off to hell.

But by far the worst thing about this is the crowd, throwing themselves up against the walls all around us. A few of them have tears in their eyes and their faces fixed in scowls, but those are by far the minority.

They're not protesting or roaring in anger. They're cheering as they wave their flags back and forth. They're baying for blood. As far as they're concerned the families are getting payed off, so it doesn't matter that their kids are going to the Games.

Above us, I can imagine Zitheneals Denair stalking out with a big grin on his face. He's done it. He's finally made a Capitol so depraved that they don't give a damn about sending their own people to their deaths.

Poor kids.


Cesse Pete, age nearly 13 (C9 Male)

My head hurts.

What was I doing last night?

What day is it?

I'm going to die.

I sit bolt upright, awakened from the stupor I was lying in by the memory of a few moments ago. At least it feels like a few moments. It could have been days ago. I don't know. I remember standing in the chariots, listening to Zitheneals Denait giving a speech to the Capitol Guests. I had this fuzzy memory in my head. It was something I really didn't want to remember, but knew I couldn't avoid, no matter how hard I tried.

It had something to do with bells. Bells and impending death.

And then it hit me. Just as he said the word tributes. They're sending us to the Arena. They're sending us to fight Careers and muscly tributes and all sorts. And I'm going to die. I know it. There's no way I can fight tributes. I'm not a fighter. I'm just some kid with a camera! I can't take on tributes!

Talking of my camera, I need to see if it's okay. I roll over on to my side, realising as I do so that I'm lying on a bed that, even by Capitol standards, is luxuriously soft. I guess I must be in the Tributes Tower then, so I'm still condemned. At least it's comfortable here.

It doesn't take me long to find my camera lying on its side next to the bed. I stretch my arm out to get it, bt immediately wince as pain shoots through my system. I stare at my arm for a few seconds as I become aware that my arm has been bandaged up and my shirt appears to be missing. I groan, repositioning myself so I can use my other arm and reaching out to the camera, wrapping my hand around it and gently pulling it off of the desk and onto the bed, where it bounces slightly, before coming to rest. Opening it at the back I check out it's chip, before running my uninjured hand along it, searching for cracks. Thankfully it doesn't seem to be damaged, and after a couple of minutes checking through it I realise that everything's still there. I think I might even have more than the last time I checked. Stupid girls sending me those stupid pictures. I guess I can't really stop them now I'm sort of famous.

One mail catches my eye, though. Fortunately it doesn't have an attachment, which means no pictures, but it is sent by Xiomara, which is really what catches my eye.

The message reads: 'Hi Cesse, glad to see your awake! You okay?'

I sit bolt upright, staring around my room, until I spot her, sitting on the chair behind me, rocking backwards and forth and smiling from ear to ear.

"Hi Cesse!" Xio beams, "Glad to see your awake!"

I blush, rapidly pulling the covers that cover my feet up to my chin and stare at the girl sitting next to my bed. She giggles at me and gives me a funny look, like she's making fun of how nervous I am.

"Wh-what are you doing here?" I squeak. Really, it's not so much the fact she's in my room that unnerves me, even if that is really kind of stalkerish. What creeps me out is the fact is her. She's fun to be around but she's kind of creepy, especially considering she's wearing my shirt.

"I came here to see if you were alright!" Xio grins, readjusting the turban on her head and peering down at me, "You went all weird on the Chariot Rides." She springs to her feet and begins to give a demonstration of what I did, starting by beginning to shake and look around and ending by toppling onto my bed, and straight on to my injured arm. I yelp and jolt away from her in pain, almost toppling out of my bed and on to the floor. Fortunately I manage to right myself just before I plunge off the side and onto the ground for a second time today. "Oops, sorry. Anyway, it was just like the time we met, you know, when you fainted. Are you sure you haven't been drinking something silly Cesse? Because that's a really stupid thing to do just before you go to the Games." I nod my head blearily and turn to her.

"Why were you in my room then?"

"Well, you see, I was really worried for you so I thought I'd come and see if you were okay! But then my meathooks got stuck in the lift and I found it really difficult to get through the door and stuff," She fixes me with her big purple eyes, "And I saw your shirt was really big for you and colouful and nice, so I decided I'd try it on. And it's really nice!" She indicates to what looks like a pile of sharpened metal lying in the corner of the room and I immediately feel even more uncomfortable. I'm a pretty liberal guy, and I'm okay with just about anything, but I still don't particularly like the idea of a girl sneaking in to my room and stealing my shirt while I'm asleep. It reminds me too much of a very similar experience I had when I was ten which I never quite got over. I take some time to decide what to say, before eventually twitching my whiskers, flicking my tail and saying the only thing I can think of saying to the girl.

"Err, you're welcome, I guess." I mutter, and the girl squees and claps her hands together gleefully.

"Great!" She squeals, "I knew you'd be okay with it! Thanks Cessy!" I stare at her dumbfounded as she rolls around on top of my covers, repeatedly squishing my arm, which I have to say I don't mind as much as I did the first time she did it, before sitting heavily on my tail. I close my eyes and give a gasp of pain. She apologises rather too profusely, before shifting her body weight slightly to the left and off of my fifth, and most favorite, limb. She then smiles at me, her dark purple eyes flashing as she pats my fluffy tail. I'm sure it's not her intention but, unfortunately it really hurts. I guess it's the thought that counts though, right?

"Thanks." I gasp, before pulling my tail out from under her and stroke my tail protectively. As I stroke my tail my mouth begins to feel rather dry. I smack my lips and begin to look around for something nice to quench my thirst. "Man, I need a drink."

Xio nods calmly and slips off of the bed, walking over to some sort of drinks' cabinet and flipping it open. A couple of bottles line the inside of the casing and Xio picks some orangey concoction and pours a couple of cups, gulping one down and passing me another.

The drink tastes, rather expectedly, sort of like oranges, and has a certain fizzy kick to it. I guess it's okay and it certainly sates my thirst, but I can't say it's really my thing. It just tastes too tame for me. I'm more a fan of stronger tastes.

"It's non-alcoholic," Xio tells me, "You might not know it, but alcohol's actually a mind controlling agent used by the Capitol to make people act weird so they can raise a zombie army, and you don't want to be a zombie just yet, after all, we're gonna be in the Hunger Games soon!"

I have absolutely no idea how any of that was supposed to make a lick of sense, but I guess it is a good idea for me to stay off the alcohol, at least until I find a way out of these dumb Games.

I slowly drain the glass and the lean back, stretching out and twisting my tail a bit to get the blood circulating around it again. It's a relief to have Xio off of me, but that means I have to look at those silly jeans her stylist wrapped her in. I'm sure they suited her original costume or something but, combined with my skin tight shirt with its weird fiddily bits, it just makes her look like she doesn't know anything about fasion.

The relief is only temporary though as, mere seconds later, she plonks herself back down on my bed, this time carefully avoiding my tail.

"You know," She starts, "You kind of got lucky fainting when you did. I saw this flash of light just after you fell off your silly chariot thing. Merlyn told me it was probably just a camera flash, but Merlyn's really boring. I think it's more likely that it was some sniper taking a shot at you."

Any other day I'd probably point out how stupid that is, but I'm feeling too dazed to do so right now and I'd never get a straight answer anyway, so I just skip that conversation and move on to the next question. "Who's Merlyn?"

"She's my new 'District partner'," Xio giggles, "She's really boring. Hey, did you know she's named after a fictional wizard. Oh, by the way, you should come to the dinning hall. This stripy kid is going beserk at some Peacekeeper about being in the Games. He keeps going, 'Oh you can't do this to me! Don't you know who I am? I want to speak to Mr T! Ooh I have stripes! Fear me!'" She giggles so hard at her own stupid impersonation that she almost falls off of the bed and I roll my eyes, "Oh, and there's this weirdo grey girl trying to recruit us all to her alliance! She called me Turban girl, so I don't really like her, but you could come and talk to her if you want!"

It's really bizzare how much I feel I know about this girl despite only having met her this morning. Already I could tell anyone who would care to listen so much about her. She's nuts, she's bubbly, and she really likes my tail. It probably sounds really sad, but I think this girl might possibly be the best friend I've ever had. She's certainly the only one to ever stick around with me after I'm sober and boring again.

Which is why I'm not going to enjoy bursting her bubble. As fun as it is sitting around and just listening to her bounce off the walls like some crackpot, I have to ask her this, as much for my own sanity as for her.

"Aren't you worried about the Games?" I ask Xio.

"Not really. Why would I be worried about the Games?" My jaw drops. That was not the answer I was expecting her to give, even though I've learnt to expect the unexpected from this girl. I swear this girl isn't human. She's like some beacon of madness which lulls you into a false sense of security and then makes you go as nuts as her. It takes me a couple of minutes to wrap my head around the answer before I feel sane enough to rephrase the question.

"We're going to die, doesn't that bother you?" I emplore. She gives me a sideways glance, rocks backwards slightly on the bed and then grins.

"Not really. I don't know actually. I haven't really figured it out yet. Ah well, I guess we get there when we get there."

"Your a bit nuts."

"Nah, I'm just a bit mystical. I mean, if this was the only life we got we'd have been given a pretty bad deal right?" She doesn't give me time to answer before just plowing on with her speech, "So if we die we just go on to a better place... that or we're reborn as a root vegetable, I'm not really sure which! Anyway, if we win we get lots of prizes, so it doesn't really matter."

I don't feel particularly convinced and I tell her as much, "Are all your family as weird as you or did someone just hit you really, really hard with something?"

"Nope, just me." She beams, "Or maybe my dad, dunno." She sighs as she sees I'm not cheering up, and quickly whips out her arm. I try to pull away but, before I can even move, her hand is wrapped around my wrist and she is gazing down at my palm, "Look, if you need some reassurance, your life line's long. That means you're going to live a long time, so there's no way you can die in some silly Games, no matter what you might think!"

I have to say that, despite my scepticism about her views on how good it is to be in the Games, I have to say I'm a sucker for fortune telling. Call it what you will, but I've always been a bit superstitious, and it's reassuring to know that a real gypsy fortune says I have the skill to get out of these Games alive.

"Wait," I say, "You are a proper gypsy fortune teller aren't you?"

"Well, no," She sighs, "I'm not a gypsy, but I am a proper fortune teller. And I've got a turban, so what more could you ask for?" I guess she's right. At least, even if she isn't some sort of fortune teller, she must know more about fortunes than me, she dresses like that anyway. That weird tattoo on her stomach must be some sort of ward or something to protect her from demons. "Right that's it!" Xio declares, ruffling my hair as she stands and flouncing over to my ensuite bathroom, "I'm going to go take a shower! Your shirt's all sweaty! Get well soon Cessy! I expect to see you up and rarring to go fight by the time I'm all clean and dried off!"

I find myself rolling my eyes again as she slams the door behind her and the water begins to run, but this time there's a smile on my face. I slip out of the bed and am surprised by the fact that my legs don't hurt, which I sort of assumed they would. My tail flicks out, knocking my bedside table slightly as I stand. I run my fingers along my whiskers, enjoying th tingling sensation, and then step over to the spiked mass that is Xio's shirt. It's really going to clash with the tight leather trousers I'm wearing, but it's cold, and I'm afraid that sometimes you just have to be pragmatic and ignore how horrible it'll look.

Only sometimes though, I leave the shirt and opt instead to rap the bedsheet around me as steam begins to trickle out from behind the closed door of my bathroom.

Sitting back down on the bed, I decide to wait for her. I like Xio. She's a nice girl.

Maybe she is a fortune teller. I can't deny she looks the part, and she acts like she knows what she's saying.

But then again, she always acts like she knows what she's saying. How do I know she's not just nuts and I'm turning in to a loon along with her.

I'm not sure that that's such a bad thing.


Dallas Orchid, age 17 (C8)

I needed this.

It took a long time to put the mirrors in such a position that I could see out over all of Panem but, at the end of the day, I'm pretty sure it was worth it.

You see, back at home we have a lot of bathrooms, but by far my favourite is the one on the top floor, with the glass wall so you can look out over Panem. Some may argue that you can't get any privacy bathing in front of a window but really, who's going to see me? Maybe a helicopter flying really low could sneak a peak, but only if they were good enough a flyer to navigate in between all the buildings. If so, they'd deserve whatever they saw, and I wouldn't hold it against them by drawing a curtain. All they can see is hunky old Dallas, of course, half submerged in bubbles.

That's all just academic really, considering they've almost certainly bugged the room anyway, so they're able to see just as much without the mirrors. I'm pretty sure I might have actually covered the camera with a mirror anyway, since Peacekeepers keep knocking on the door to ask if I'm alright, which is starting to really bug me.

All I need now is a good soak, so I can think about what's just happened to me. I've pretty much doomed myself now. My little sister's never going to see me again and, even with all my parents money and power, there's nothing I can do about it. I feel pathetic. Like a District kid. I'm stuck here in this pathetic tower and I can't even buy my way out of it! What the hells the point of all that money then?

It doesn't matter to me anyway any more. I hope Ophelia spends the money well. Buys whatever it is she needs to get over her brother and moves on. I don't want her grieving.

Or I could fight, I ponder, drifting further under the bubbles. But do I want to fight?

Do I stand a chance against all of those rugged District twerps?

Thinking about it, I'm not that bad off. I could probably bludgeon a few of those underfed Capitol rejects pretty easily, but where would I go from then on? I'd need somewhere to slip away to. As they always say, I'd need someone to watch my back and make sure those 'Careers' as they call themselves don't sneak up on me. But that ain't gonna happen. What District kid in their right mind would help me, some Capitol cretin who's so spoilt that he actually bought his own death? Maybe if I was a sweet innocent little girl someone would help me. If I was someone different.

Someone like my sister.

God I miss her. It hasn't even been two days but already I dread what has become of her without me to look after her and tuck her in every night. I can imagine her now, sitting up, waiting for the stupid older bro who's never gonna show 'cos he signed his life away to some crazies from the Capitol. I can't take it.

Is this how District kids feel when they leave their families? I'm so damn sorry for all those dumb things I said about District kids over the years. I had no idea. It's miserable being me at the moment. I wish they that Denair jackass hadn't sent us to our death. You know what, I wish he'd shot us! It would have been better than this, this pathetic worrying. Knowing that I'm gonna die and that there's absolutely nothing I can do about it but remember what a dick I've been over the years.

I'm wallowing in pity here, and I'm pretty sure if I didn't have all that guilt about Ophelia hanging over me I'd take the opportunity of being away from the cameras to drown myself.

It's at this point, when I'm at the height of my misery, staring down in to the bubbles and wishing I had the guts to just slip in to them and end it all, that some prat decides to rap on my door.

Stupid Peacekeeper dolts, I think, slipping out of the water and hastily tying a towel around myself, this time I'll really give them a piece of my mind!

I throw the door open, peering out in to the gloom of Floor Eight and am surprised to see, not a burly thug in some silly uniform, but rather a small girl, her eyes bright and piercing, her puce hair fluttering slightly as a pair of artificial wings flap slowly on her back. I stare at her for a while.

It's odd to see a kid this happy. Most of the other Capitol guys are at least a little disturbed by the fact that they've just found out they're all going to die. I thought I was taking it pretty well by just taking a bath and feeling miserable, but this girl's grinning from ear to ear. Not even the crazy girl in the turban is this happy go lucky.

I'm not particularly fond of her smile. It's much, much to creepy for me. She's probably just trying to look pleasant, but it looks more like she's about to kill something.

There's a long, awkward, pause, in which time the girl looks me up and down, and her smile grows slightly.

"Well," She mumbles, "I see I've finally found the right room. Your certainly a damn side better than that wimpy loser in the last room, even if you look like a freak." I don't really think she's one to talk, what with her wings and all.

"Err, hi?" I respond, and the girl snickers, pushing past me and marching in to the room. She casts an appraising eye over my bath and the huge four poster bed that lies in the corner. She sneers as her eyes pass over the mirrors I've painstakingly set up and then returns her gaze to me, just as I finish pulling a dressing gown on.

"Pathetic," The girl grumbles, "The bodies are gonna start dropping in a few days and you're spending your time rearranging your room? God damn it, makes me wish I'd never come to this floor!" I peer down at her as she paces militaristically back and forth. She might be quite cute, I think, if she'd just stop being so serious.

"Why did you come here?" I ask, and she giggles again.

"Your voice is stupid," She tells me, matter a factly, "Scratch that, you're an idiot. Like I said, we've only got a couple of days and you aren't even bothering to get to know anyone?"

"I didn't think I needed to..." I mutter, suddenly horribly aware of my accent. I've been told people can't hear their own accent, but apparently I have a funny way of pronouncing things. She cuts me off with a shout.

"Ok, stop saying 'I' like that! It's really grating! Look, I just came up here to offer you a place in my alliance, I didn't ask for you to speak, just to listen!" I'm somewhat taken aback by this, and take a step backwards.

"You have an alliance?"

"Of course." She replies, "My alliance. Well, technically District Three's. Apparently no one would listen to a kid like me, so stupid Grey Girl decided to take my rightful position. They think that the four of us should be enough, but you're the biggest guy ouut of the Capitol tributes, so I thought I'd better ask you. Guess I was mistaken." I must admit I don't really appreciate being called a tribute, but I guess we are now, so I'd better get used to it.

"Four?" I ask, "How could you get five of us to join your alliance?"

"Easy, Me, Grey Girl, Snakey and Plant Boy. You can be part of it too if you want, and we're hoping to get some more if we can. Let's face it, featherhead,"Can't this girl learn my name. Ah well, I guess I don't know her's either. I'll call her Wing Chick for now. "Us Capitol kids don't stand a chance unless we stick together. So what do you think? Want to be part of the Capitol Careers?"

Capitol Careers?

Seriously? Well, obviously we Capitolites don't exactly have imagination to fall back on. I'd better hope these idiots are better fighters than they are namers.

"Can I think about it?" I ask.

"You want to die 'Ah' boy?" Wing Chick smiles, her face becoming even more unnatural.

"No!" I stammer, taken aback by her question, "I have a sister I need to get back to! I can't die!"

"Then you're joining our alliance, featherhead, whether you like it or not. Can't promise you you'll live, but you'll have a shot at least." I nod slowly. "Come on. You want to get back to that snotty brat of yours, don't you? You obviously care for your damned family, so help them out and join up with us."

"I don't care for my family." I mutter, "Just Ophelia." The girl looks unimpressed.

"I didn't ask for your life story, featherhead. Well anyway, you want to get back to your sister then. Can't say I agree with you on that but, hey, there's no accounting for taste." I give enough slow nod and walk over to my bath, leaning against it and heaving a massive sigh.

"Look," Wing Chick growls, "I'm just looking for a yes or a no. All you've got to do is tell me whether you're interested and I'll report back to Grey Girl and let her know. So, featherhead, you in or out?" I finally shrug, wiping my eyes and turning back to Wing Chick.

"I'm in." I reply, and the girl's mood lifts.

"Great!" Wing Chick says, gripping me by the hand and shaking firmly and warmly. I look down at her, surprised that now, despite the fact that she's barely said a nice thing for the few minutes I've known her, she looks warmer, more genuine. She's sort of cute actually, when she's not grinning like some sort of maniac or grimacing at everyone around her.

Kind of like my sister, if my sister were some maniac with puce hair. "We'll see you at breakfast tomorrow. I'd recommend the pancakes. Lots of calories and fat in them. Eat as many as you can, you're not going to want to be dieting once we get into the Arena, Featherhead."

She gives a snicker and releases my hand, turning to leave with a flick of her hair. As she reaches the door however I stop her, resting a strong arm on her shoulder and turning her round to look at me.

"What's your name?" I ask.

"Why would you want to know Featherhead?" My face reddens in a mixture of embarassment and barely supressed anger and my grip tightens around her shoulder, causing her to shudder. Does she have to argue about everything?

"Since we're allies."

"So? We're still going to have to kill each other to get out. It's best if neither us know the other's name."

"But I want to know your name."

"Then do me a favour," Wing Chick sneers, "Let go of my shoulder and tell me your name. I know you're an Orchid jock, everyone knows that, but what's your first name, or are tour family too good to give you one?"

"Dallas," I mutter, releasing her shoulder, which she rubs as she pouts up at me. "My names Dallas."

"Good. My name's Angel. District Twelve." She snarls tentatively letting go of her shoulder and kicking the door open. She turns, gives a professional salute and steps out in to the hallway, the door sliding shut behind her. "And don't you dare forget it!" Her voice yells at me as she retreats to her own floor.

I sigh. That girl is a brat. She really is nothing at all like Ophelia.

I drop my towel, pull off my gown and slip back under the water of my ornate, almost pool sized bath.

So, I'm in an alliance now huh? I suppose that means I might be able to survive these Games, if I try hard enough. So, let's see who I've got.

Grey Girl, Snakey and Plant Boy. It's pretty obvious who those guys are, and none of them seem like obvious choices for an alliance. Plant Boy must be District Eleven. He's a pretty weak looking guy, some sort of crazy looking hippy who can't string a sentence together. Grey Girl is obviously District Three.

District Twelve eh?

I must remember to avoid that District.


Shameless Plug: Once again, don't forget to check out the 24tributes24authors Tears Of Blood! I write the District Ten male, Boston Williams. I'm afraid the fic is about fifty six chapters in at the moment, so it's quite a read, but it's worth it. All the authors are unbelievably talented, so give it a read! I'll wait...

A/N: Question of the day: If you were able to be in an alliance with up to five tributes (District and Capitol), who would they be and why?