The Hunger Games Galaxies
District 1 Introduction: Part 2
Kyoya joins me on stage, and he quickly shakes my hand, smiling in his usual, terrifying way. There's still a fair level of pandemonium in the staging area below us; everyone from Ouran is furious for one reason or another. Most are crying foul the rigging for the name calling; what are the odds that both tributes are from the same school? The others are just upset to see two of their beloved Host Club members sent to the arena. Our high priestess introduces us to the world (or… rather… the worlds I guess…) and before we know it, we're standing on stage, smiling for the cameras. My mind, once again, begins to wander.
Having Kyoya as a partner is both a fantastic plan and a horrifying prospect. I know he won't go down without a fight; he doesn't loose to anything. Surely he's already devised several clever ways to use me as bait to kill our enemies… or maybe he's just planning to ditch me the moment he gets into the arena, perhaps group up with others from the better-performing districts. That does seem more his style; surround himself with the best. The more I think about it, the more panicked I become, because, honestly, there's no telling what Kyoya will do. Ever.
I have another one of those moments where I realize something big is happening around me. I snap into reality and realize that the huge screen above us, displaying a static shot of space, is speaking. The Voice of the Gods… he rarely ever talks to us; I've only ever heard him during a couple of Reapings, plus the Countdown and announcement of winners in the arena… what's going on this time…?
"… and therefore, the Gods have decreed that, from each District, we shall Reap a second group of tributes, ensuring this year's Hunger Games provides even more entertainment than the last!"
The uproar is immediate, but short-lived. Warning shots from the Peacekeepers turn shouts of fury into shouts of fear as terrified students and furious parents dive under their seats, attempting to shield themselves. Once order is restored, our high priestess again reads the pre-Reaping prayer and goes to the bowls. The tension returns, this time thicker due to the shock of the Gods' new rules and the angry response from the Peacekeepers. I watch as her hand falls into the bowl, digs deep, and withdraws another small paper, the same one that held my name.
"Ladies and gentlemen," she says. "The second tribute… Benio Amasuka."
I had thought the Ouran tears and shouts were loud, but when they realize their beloved Benibara had been selected for the Reaping, Lobelia drowns out our cries of pain with their own anguished shrieks of grief. There is a rush of people who surround her, trying to reach her or touch her as she, gracefully as always, makes her way towards the stage. She smiles sadly as each girl tried to stop her, pausing every now and again to whisper something reassuring to an adoring, mourning fan. Finally, the Peacekeepers seemed to have had enough; she's delaying the ceremony and there is always a tight schedule with the Games. They begin to manhandle girls to get them out of the way. Benio sees this, and she is not pleased.
"Get your filthy hands off of her!" she roars at one burly Peacekeeper. "These delicate flowers have no need to be touched by the likes of you!"
The Peacekeeper looks like he's going to punch Benio, but realizes he can't because the cameras are trained on him. Instead, he grudgingly lets her pass, blocking off the screaming Lobelia fans after. As Benio ascends the stairs, new cries go out. Volunteers are stepping forward. It seems like all the girls in Lobelia are trying to take her place, even getting into shouting matches over who is more worthy.
"I will not accept volunteers," says Benio, stealing the microphone from the priestess. "I shall prove to you all that even the most beautiful of rose has its thorns. I will return to you a victor… and I will not be the only one."
I'm not even remotely surprised when she throws her arm around me and drags me into the spotlight with her. She keeps haranguing on and on about how I, a fair maiden whose innocence will be lost on the battlefield in many ways, must have the protection of a shining knight, but that no man could possibly treat me the right way and blah blah blah… it's all become quite tiresome… but… honestly… the fact that it's distracting me from the terror I feel at having to go into the arena itself is a gift in and of itself. I'm grateful.
Again, Benio seems to be holding things up too much, so the high priestess wrestles the microphone back from her and begins speaking again. She dodges Benio's furious grabs and goes to the boy's bowl again. Kyoya hasn't hardly moved an inch since the announcement about two victors. Surely he's had to rework most of his plans by now. I wonder where our second guy will be from. Hopefully he's nice and someone who I can use to help fight for me-.
"Kaoru Hitachin," she reads.
This time, I'm one of the ones screaming. When I realize it, I cover my hands with my mouth, but not before all of Ouran has completely regained their fury and despair. I search for the redheaded twins, unable to bare even the thought of them being separated let alone… no… that can't happen. I won't think like that. Kaoru… where are you… and… and Hikaru… how are you taking it…?
It actually takes longer for me to find them than I mean to, but when I see the group of Ouran girls bawling in a circle, I know they're there. Kaoru's legs seem to have given out, and Hikaru is protectively leaning over him, locking his brother in a firm embrace. He snarls at the Peacekeepers who try to break them apart, and it's only when Honey-senpai and Mori-senpai physically restrain him that he lets Kaoru go. And the tears and screams from him, somehow, are even worse than the ones from Lobelia. Nearly the entire stadium is silent, watching his grief.
Kaoru shows no emotion as he's lead to the stage. I imagine he's like me; he's too shocked to really say or do or feel anything. Kyoya, thankfully, takes him by the shoulder and away from the beastly Peacekeepers. And then… it's over… except it's not, because the Voice of the Gods is speaking again. His deep rumble carries over the stadium, once again silencing the mourners.
"This shall be my final announcement," he says. "To each of our Districts… and to our viewing entities… there is one additional rule change to this year's Hunger Games. If the last 2, 3, or 4 tributes are from the same district, they shall be declared the victor, and the Games will end."
This catches everyone's attention, and suddenly, there's hope. Hope for me… to survive and come back… as a victor. With Kyoya-senpai, there's no way we can lose. Even Benio and Kaoru must be able to see that… and I feel myself smiling again, but, this time, it's for real. Maybe I won't have to fight to win after all. Of course, I will still have to survive… but I feel like I can handle that a lot better than these damn rich people.
Kaoru takes my hand. I can see him holding Kyoya's, as I hold Benio's. I realize that he's trying to get us to show unity, so we all take a few steps towards the front of the stage and raise our hands. At first, only a few people clap, and then more, and before long, the entire stadium is cheering and clapping for us. Sure, there are still tears and anguished wails, but they're drowned out by the hope that, after a long hiatus, District 1 will take the win for the yea's Hunger Games.
Once the ceremony ends, we're rushed backstage to our chambers to await our transportation to the Training Facility. I know we're going by private jet to get to the actual portal, but lord knows where that is or how long it's going to take. So I sit in my room and wait to say my good-byes.
Because of the crazy amount of fans the Host Club has, time has only been limited to about a minute per non-family member, and family only gets five. Dad's the last one to see me, after Mei-chan leaves with some of my more regular fans from the Club. As expected, he cries the entire time, bawling about losing me and how I've gotten so strong and I should say next to the strapping young men and the Zuka Beast… and it would almost be funny if we weren't talking about my possible impending death. But, soon, the Peacekeeper has entered, and he's trying to drag them away. So I tell him one last time that I love him and I will be just fine. And then he's gone.
A few minutes pass with no visitors, so, curious, I decide to get out and walk around, to see what the area is like. I know the entrance and exits are completely blocked off by Peacekeepers, but the interconnected area with the different interview and relaxation quarters are kept unguarded, to afford us some semblance of privacy. I wander the halls for a few minutes. Occasionally, Ouran or Lobelia students pass me, escorted by a Peacekeeper or two, and the wave to me forlornly as they're led away. Sometimes it's family members for who I can only assume is Benio because I don't recognize any of them.
And then I see Kyoya-senpai's father and brothers. I decide to follow them, hoping they'll lead me to Kyoya himself. Sure enough, when they get there, his father holds his hand up to prevent the elder brothers from entering, and he walks in by himself. He's not in there for more than two minutes before he leaves of his own accord, and his brothers go in and out in less than half that. Then his family is walking away. I don't think they see me as they pass, and since there's no line for his room anymore, I wander in myself.
He's surprised to see me, but for a brief moment I sense relief going through his face. He holds two envelopes, one written in loopy handwriting which suggests his sister, while another is written very small and formal. My guess is his father wrote that one.
"Letters, you see, from my family members who were unable to attend today's events," he says. "I am quite happy that you found me; it saves me the trouble of gathering the others to hunt you down, or vice-versa."
"Hunt me down?" I ask, confused. "Don't tell me we're doing another Host Club activity before we go…?"
"Unfortunately, those plans have to be scrapped," says Kyoya, a bit of irritation in his voice. "Nevermind that the costumes and music were bought and paid for long ago… but I digress. We should find Kaoru's room. I believe they will be there shortly."
Without any further explanation, he stands up and walks away. I walk after him, trailing, as we backtrack through the corridors I've come through already. Finally, we arrive at the door to Kaoru's room. I'm surprised to see that there's a Peacekeeper there. Kyoya nods to the man, who lets us in. I'm actually really surprised for once; apparently the Ootori family has some clout even with the Peacekeepers.
I'm almost bowled over the moment I step in the door. Honey-senpai is wrapped around my waist, bawling, while the others stand by the couch Kaoru sits on, wrapped in Hikaru's embrace. The other Host Club Members are all there, too, including our unofficial manager, Renge. She looks like she hasn't stopped crying in hours; and I have a feeling I know why.
"Kyoya! You mustn't enter the arena," she wails, fresh tears pouring from her eyes. "You're too kind-hearted to be a murderer!"
"She's reverting back to her old self, I think," mutters Kaoru, not taking his eyes off the floor. "We've tried to stop her but…"
I walk over to where Mori is sitting. And in the corner, dismal as he usually is in such places, is Tamaki. But instead of being irritating, today I just find it… incredibly sad. I'm not sure why at first… but then the thought dawns on me. For a while, it looked like he had to pick between Kyoya and me… and how do you pick between two good friends? But now… there's hope… but… we still have to win, and that means defeating at least 44 other tributes…
Actually, when I think of it like that, even I start to have my doubts.
"Haruhi," he says in a small voice.
"Yes, Tamaki-senpai, what is it?" I ask, sitting in a chair next to him.
"You have to win," he says. "You have to survive. No matter what, you have to come back. Daddy's not going to be there to protect you… believe me… I tried…"
"You mean… you tried to volunteer for Kaoru?" I ask, shocked.
"Yes!" cries Tamaki, dissolving into tears himself. "But he won't let me! Hikaru says he should too, but he won't do it!"
"I'm not going to let you fight for me," says Kaoru, finally gaining some feeling in his voice. "I told you, I'm going to win this of my own accord."
"I'm hurt, Tamaki," says Kyoya, idly. "Not trying to volunteer for me?"
And in one little sentence, Kyoya sends Tamaki into a complete and total panic-anxiety-guilt attack. He's practically bowed at Kyoya's feet, begging for forgiveness for his oversight, as Kyoya looks down at him quizzically. Everyone else seems to forget for a moment what we're here for, and the moment is so reminiscent of the Host Club atmosphere that I can't help but chuckle.
My laughter seems to break the tension for a few minutes, but when it dies down a hollow sort of quiet replaces it. There's a knock on the door, and the Peacekeeper enters. He shakes his head at Kyoya; our time is up.
"Haruhi… be careful…" says Mori, touching me on the head as he walks out, shaking hands with Kyoya. Honey follows next, sniveling and crying. Then goes Renge, blowing her nose loudly on a hand rag.
"Hikaru… it's time…" mutters Kaoru. "I will come back to you, don't you worry about that."
"It's not… I just…" Hikaru mutters. "I… I'm scared to lose you, Kaoru… what will I do if you don't come back…?"
"He'll come back," I say, though my throat tightens with emotion as I say it. "I-I'll make sure of it. And with Kyoya-senpai on our team, we can't lose."
"Yeah, see, it'll be fine, Hikaru," says Kaoru, managing to smile for his brother. "Just be sure to wait for me… and don't let anyone else replace me."
"Like anyone could…" Hikaru mutters, as tears form in his eyes. He hugs his brother once more and then he, too, leaves, after quickly hugging me and shaking hands with Kyoya, who stands idly by the door.
"Gentlemen…" says Tamaki, as if he's about to suggest one of his crazy schemes. "You must, under all circumstances, stay alive. But… more importantly… keep my daughter alive."
"You realize I'm not your daughter, right?" I say for about the twelve-millionth time.
"Tamaki, do you think I'm really going to let that happen?" asks Kyoya. He's got that horrifying, dangerous look in his eyes. "The only way anyone's getting to Haruhi is if they go through me first."
"K…Kyoya…" mutters Tamaki. "Yes… I… I trust her to you…"
And then he's hugging everyone and whispering reassurances in my ear and then hugging everyone again and then me and then out of nowhere he kisses me on the forehead. And for a moment there's a panicked silence… and then the Peacekeepers are taking him out of the room as he's literally stunned from what he just did… and I can't say I'm much better off. But there's no time for that. They're already coming for the rest of us; it's time to go.
"Remember, Haruhi, just smile and wave at everyone. You too, Kaoru, you need to look like you're not emotionally dead," says Kyoya.
"Oh, right!" I say. "For sponsors and stuff… but with you two and even Benio, I don't think-."
"Haruhi… did you even listen during the introductions today?" asks Kaoru. "They're not letting sponsors take part this year… we're on our own."
I think my body's new defense mechanism to panic is to just zone out, because after he said that I don't recall anything between then and sitting on the private jet, soaring over the city. I think there were flashes of memory with camera crews and reporters and some Ouran students who used their connections to sneak into the waiting area to say good-bye, but beyond that, my mind is blank. I really hope this doesn't happen in the arena itself; I need to stay sharp.
But we're in the jet, which is easily large enough for us, the small number of bodyguard Peacekeepers we've got, and a couple high priestesses. Nobody really talks to each other, except for Kaoru and Kyoya, who are already starting to plan strategies for the tournament. I idly sit by one of the televisions, which is already providing coverage of the Reapings with two of the human announcers. But it's muted. And I don't have much interest in it anyway.
"Haruhi, could you come here for a moment?" asks Kyoya.
"Yeah, what's up?" I ask, wandering over.
"Would you mind terribly asking your friend if she wants to join us to help plan our costumes and such?" asks Kyoya, sweetly. I hate it when he uses that voice; it means he's pissed.
"S-Sure," I reply.
"I can hear you just fine, you know," comes the angry voice of Benio. "I simply do not believe I wish to wear anything designed by either of you boys."
"You realize my mother is a world-renown designer, right?" Kaoru asks, testily.
"Well, my dear," said Kyoya, leaning around in his seat to get Benio's attention. "That is precisely why we need your charm. Though we have stylists and costume designers, we simply wish to give them something to work with, to make their job easier. With your designs, the trip would go much more smoothly."
Somehow, it works, and Benio soon is spearheading the charge on their costumes. The decision is unanimously (and by that I mean the other three decided and I didn't care) that all costumes will be masculine warrior-types because they don't want to show any weakness, and because we're going to be the first ones in the parade. I'm still a little uneasy about this whole ordeal, but wearing fighting clothes might get me in the spirit to fight.
But I wouldn't hold my breath about it, Mom. I still think we might be seeing each other sooner, rather than later… but… if you don't mind… please keep an eye out for me in there, and help me if you can. Send me any form of assistance you want, and I promise to live my life out as fully and strongly as I can, regardless of how much time I have left.
This completes the introduction for District 1. As of the writing of this paragraph, the games are still on with the dice rolls, but the first few days have passed and I have plenty to write about. After all twelve districts get their Part 2's uploaded, the Games will start themselves. I anticipate that story to be out sometime in mid-August, depending on my workload and how many deadlines I miss.
Until then, please check my profile for updates on when you can (probably) expect the next installments to go live. Thank you for reading, and, as always, may the odds be ever in your favorite character's favor.