Chapter One: Reaping
AN: HEY GUYS, THIS IS WHAT'S GONNA BE EATING UP MY TIME FROM NOW ON. It's also partially the reason why my Percy Jackson story died.
Now, just for the record, this is a Pokémon and Hunger Games crossover. Most of you are thinking something along the lines of "Ya don't say?" BUT I feel the need to clarify this. There will be aspects of the Hunger Games, and there will be aspects of Pokémon, but this is not going to be a "Hey let's take the Hunger Games and plug in the characters from Pokémon and have the exact same storyline!" No. If you want that, go read another fanfiction. Granted, it will follow HG pretty closely for the first chapters, but things start taking a different turn pretty quickly. -End Rant-
And now, ENJOY THE ROIDLOCKE (if you want to know where the title came from, I'M NOT TELLING YOU. Yet. I'll tell you later. Because I like suspense. But if you can figure it out yourself, kudos).
Disclaimer: I'm only saying this once. I don't own Pokémon or Hunger Games. Have a nice day.
The day of the Reaping dawned bright and sunny, but I was out the door before the first rays had broken the horizon. On a normal day, even at this early hour, the streets were teeming with coal miners and the occasional Machop or Geodude, wearily making their way down to the mines for another long day of work. Today, however, was a day off, as it was for the entirety of District 12 and all of Panem. Might as well sleep in, as the Reaping wasn't until two.
Under a minute of walking brought me to the Meadow, a scruffy little field lying on the edges of the Seam, the part of the district in which most of the poorest coal mining families lived. My mother and I lived just a few houses away from the Meadow, so I almost always entered the woods from there. There was a conveniently placed weak spot in the chain-link fence that nobody had bothered to fix, and it was the perfect entrance into the woods beyond the district. One nice thing about our district is that it was so poor that even the ones in charge let you break the law, so long as it put some fresh meat on the table. We were lucky to get electricity for a few hours in the evening, meaning that the supposedly electric fence was dead most of the time. Even so, I listened carefully for the telltale hum that meant it was live. When greeted by silence, I slipped under the fence and struck a course out into the woods.
I quickly retrieved my bow and quiver of arrows from the hollow log where my father kept his hunting supplies. After his death, I had taken special care with them, because I was awful at making my own. The few times I had tried ended in disaster.
A sudden rustling sound made me freeze in place. Listening carefully, I slowly turned in the direction of the noise, silently drawing an arrow from the quiver and fitting it into the string. Carefully, carefully, I made my way towards the noise, making as little sound as possible as my eyes darted around, searching for the source. A little meat is always nice, and it's also a good idea to get rid of any predators stalking you before they scare away all the game. Even better is a deer, whose meat can feed a family for days.
I edged towards the noise until I could see it through a tangle of branches. I caught my breath in excitement. It was definitely a deer, and a nicely sized one at that. Silently, I pulled back the arrow, taking careful aim through a gap in the trees.
Suddenly, the deer turned its head and stared directly at me with intelligent eyes. I sucked in my breath in shock, almost choking. For the movement of the deer's head gave me an excellent view of the bush of green foliage sprouting off its antlers. No. It can't be. Not breaking eye contact, I slowly edged around, trying to get a closer view at the strange creature.
"And just what do you plan to do with that?"
I jumped, uttering a small yelp of surprise as the owner of the voice materialized next to me with a smug grin on his face. In a second, the strange deer was gone, leaving only a few rustling branches behind. I whirled on the offender. "Seriously, Cheren? What was that all about?" I demanded.
The black-haired boy grinned, leaning against a nearby tree. "Well, what are you going to do with it? You can't go dragging a deer around, not on Reaping day with all the upped security and Capitol people swarming everywhere-"
"I wasn't going to shoot it," I snapped, annoyed.
"Well then what were you going to do? Keep it as a pet? Catch it in a pokéball?" Cheren snorted.
"Maybe I was! Seriously, Cheren, I think that was a Pokémon!"
He studied me with disbelieving eyes. "Don't be ridiculous, White. You know that Pokémon haven't been seen in the wild for decades. Especially not since that little incident ten years ago…"
I sighed, exasperated. "Well, let me know the next time you see a regular old deer with a bush growing out of its head," I snapped. "What if it means something? Like, the Pokémon are coming back, and the Capitol's power is disintegrating and can't hold back their return, stuff like that."
Cheren stared for a moment, then burst out laughing. I cracked a smile myself. I did sound pretty ridiculous, with all the "What does it mean?" crap. I started chuckling as well as I remembered one year with a tribute who chugged cactus juice in the desert, causing him to go crazy with hallucinations and start ranting about a double rainbow that conveniently appeared in the sky.
Cheren shook his head, still chuckling to himself. "Well, nothing really we can do about it. Black's waiting in the glade for us. Said he brought a surprise. You coming?"
"Yeah, I'll be there in a minute. I just want to look around here a second."
"Well, I'll see you later then," with that, Cheren turned and disappeared into the woods. I waited a moment, then made my way into the small clearing where the deer-thing and been. I knelt down and inspected the ground, eyeing the prints it had left in the soft ground. It was definitely deer-like, but there were distinct differences, especially in the size of the prints. Not to mention the bush on its head, I thought to myself.
Pokémon used to roam the wild freely, or so they tell us in school. The Capitol had all but annihilated them after the Dark Days, and scoured the wild again after the rebellion scare ten years ago. There were still Pokémon in districts, the species depending on the industry and the ones that would improve production the most. However, even those were treated as less than slaves, forever being kept in overcrowded pens and forced to work alongside the district's residents. The most popular use of the remaining Pokémon was in the Hunger Games, and even then most tributes treated them as disposable tools. The Capitol kept strict regulations on the use of Pokémon, and if word got out that they were appearing in the wild…
I sighed and shook my head. Even if it was a Pokémon, there really wasn't any point dwelling on it, I told myself. Pokémon returning after their seventy-plus year absence wasn't going to put any food on the table. If anything, it would bring on a Capitol crackdown, and probably the repairing of the electric fence, which none of us could afford.
By the time I reached the glade where Black and Cheren were waiting, I had pushed the strange deer-thing to the back of my mind. When he saw me emerging from the woods, Black gave a shout and stood up. "Well, look who finally decided to show up!" he calls with an easy grin. Black is my cousin, and one of my closest friends at that. It was thanks to his and his family's help that I was able to feed my mother and I after my father was killed in an uprising after-
No. I'm not thinking about that right now.
I force a grin on my face. "Hey, Black. What's this surprise that Cheren told me about?"
Black's face brightened. "You won't believe what I got ahold of!" he said excitedly, digging around in his pack. Triumphantly, he pulled out a loaf of bread and waved them around enthusiastically.
I gasped and snatched it out of his hands. "Oh my gosh, is this for real?" I inhale deeply, revering the fresh, mouth-watering aroma. This was high-quality bakery bread, not the ugly, dense loaves we bake from our measly grain rations.
"I only traded a squirrel for it. I think the baker was feeling particularly nice," Black said proudly. "Figured we might as well have something nice today," he added, a little more serious.
He was right, of course. We might as well have something nice before we all gathered in the square to hear the names of the boy and girl who would be snatched from their families and carted to their deaths this year. I force another grin onto my face, trying to swallow down the nausea that always plagued me on Reaping days. "Well, I saw a nice patch of berries back there. Let's really treat ourselves," I offered.
Black seized onto my idea enthusiastically, carefully wrapping the loaf back into his pack before bounding back into the woods. Cheren sighed and pulled himself to his feet. "I'll be by the stream if you need me. I'm going to try out a new trap I made," he says. I nod, then turn back into the woods.
The three of us, when working together, make an excellent hunting-and-gathering team. Cheren was brilliant with traps, Black had a knack for finding edible plants and berries, and I had my bow. While we each could manage to feed our families perfectly well on our own, we preferred to work together and learn from each other's skills. Over time, we all became very close friends.
After about fifteen minutes of hunting and no luck, I head back to the clearing. Black is back, with a large helping of berries and a few basil leaves he carefully arranges on each slice of bread. Cheren is back as well, as it only takes a few minutes to set up his traps.
The three of us settle back into a nook in the rocks, enjoying our little feast. The day is glorious, and would truly be perfect if this was really a day off, and we didn't have to be in the square at two waiting to hear the names. Again I have to swallow the nausea which washes over me stronger than before.
Cheren must have noticed that I was a little green around the gills, because he leaned over and says, "Having anxiety again?"
I swallow heavily and nod. I've had problems with the Reaping since I was first entered at twelve. Even though I somewhat resented my mother for leaving me alone in her "dark world of sadness" after my father died, I still cared for her and knew she would never recover if I died, especially if it was televised live for the world to see. I knew that Black and Cheren would keep an eye out for her, make sure she was fed, but I remembered all too well how she had fared when my father had died. She had shriveled up, and it scared me to think of what would happen if I was lost too. I also knew that I probably wouldn't stand much of a chance in the Games. I was way too…nice.
Black put a hand on my knee and looked me straight in the eye. "Remember, White, there are still thousands of slips. Even with your name in twelve times, the odds are ever in your favor," he says, mimicking Effie Trinket, the ridiculously upbeat Capitol woman who comes once a year to read off the names of the year's tributes. I can't help but smile. The Capitol accent is so affected, almost anything sounds funny in it.
Too soon, we have to head back to the district. Cheren had snagged a dozen fish with his new trap, and we had gathered almost a gallon of strawberries. We swung by the Hob on our way back home to trade away our wares.
The three of us were well known and liked here, and we quickly traded six of the fish for some fresh bread and another two for salt. Once we finished our business in the Hob, we stopped by the mayor's house, knowing he and his family had a particular fondness for strawberries.
It was the mayor's daughter, Bianca, who answered the door. Black immediately straightened and started combing his fingers through his hair, trying to make himself look more presentable. I rolled my eyes. It was a poorly-kept secret that Black had a huge crush on her, and if I wasn't mistaken she liked him too. Bianca completed our little circle of friends while we were at school, even if she didn't join us in the woods and would be completely hopeless at hunting and gathering. She had latched onto me at an early age, and she eventually grew on Black and Cheren as well.
Bianca brightened when she saw who it was. "Oh, hello, Hilbert!" She said cheerfully. She was one of the few people that Black let call him by his first name. Black and I almost always went by our last names, since our first names, Hilbert and Hilda, were almost painfully similar. I suppose our mothers, who were sisters, had found it funny at our birth, but as I got older I found it anything but. I started going by my last name, and before long Black had started doing the same. Even so, Bianca insisted to call us by our first names anyway. Black didn't have any problem with it, but I, on the other hand…
"Hello to you too, Hilda," Bianca greeted, beaming cheerfully. I winced.
"Come on, Bianca, you know I don't like that name."
"Awwww," she pouted. "But it's so pretty!"
I just shrugged. I knew, after knowing Bianca for years, that there was no point in arguing with her about this. Cheren cleared his throat. "Nice outfit," he says, gesturing to Bianca's clean white skirt, orange vest, and lime green hat.
Her cheerful demeanor becomes a bit more suspicious. He's right, it is a nice outfit, one that is usually saved for the Reaping. However, Cheren has always been the least friendly towards her, bitter about her higher place in society.
"Well, I want to look nice if I go to the Capitol, don't I?" she says carefully. Now it's Cheren's turn to be confused as to if she meant it or is she was just messing with him. Black and I exchanged a look.
"You won't be going to the Capitol, Bianca, there's no need to worry!" Black said with forced cheerfulness. But the carefree mood is gone now, and we quickly finish our trade and make our way back home.
After a few moments of silence, I said, "You know, you don't need to take a dig at Bianca all the time. It's not her fault things are the way they are."
"I know," Cheren says bitterly, "It just frustrates me, that's all."
After another few minutes of walking, we said our goodbyes, split today's earnings, and head home. I push open the door to find my mom all ready to go, dressed in a fine dress from her apothecary days. She's carefully arranging something on my bed. I walk up to find it's another one of her dresses, a pretty black one with electric blue trim. It looks like it's been worn a fair amount, but it's still in good shape.
"It's an old dress of mine that's been passed down my family for generations," she says quietly. "I don't know where it came from originally, but I thought it would look nice for the…occasion."
I'm a little surprised at this. My mother and I haven't had much interaction after my father's death, especially as I got older and more independent. I was five when my father died, and Black's family had essentially taken care of me and fed me and my mom until I was able to hunt and gather myself. Black's father had taught me how to use my father's old bows, at least until he was killed in a tragic mine explosion.
This had brought Black and I closer than ever. We had similar names, similar appearances, and now we both lacked a father as well. I did my best to keep out of the house at all times, only coming home to bring food for my mother to cook and feed us. Even so, I still worried about her. I didn't want to lose the only parent I had left, even if we weren't really close at all.
And now, out of the blue, she was letting me wear one of her old dresses. A family heirloom at that. I felt strangely touched, and bathed and changed quickly. She even took the time to do my hair, leaving most of it down and braiding the rest into a half-French braid.
I hardly recognized the girl I saw in the cracked mirror. I even felt halfway beautiful, an unusual feeling for me.
At one o'clock, we headed out to the square. My mom wrapped me up tightly in a hug before taking a place among the adults surrounding the square.
All right. Now that was weird. I could help but think that maybe she could sense something, like maybe she had some kind of instinct that the unthinkable might happen.
I felt my stomach plunge at the thought. I swallowed, but the sick, roiling feeling refused to go away. Shaking slightly, I made my way to a knot of fifteen-year-olds that were also from the Seam. I hated that the Reaping made me feel like this, but there was nothing I could do to stop it.
By the time Black joined me with the other fifteen year olds, I was shaking like a leaf. "You okay?" he whispered. I shrugged, afraid that if I opened my mouth everything that I had eaten recently would come spewing out. He put his arm around my shoulder comfortingly as the mayor and Effie Trinket took two of the three seats on the stage. To either side of them, large glass balls held thousands of slips of paper bearing the names of all the boys and girls between ages twelve and eighteen. Twelve of them had my name on it in careful handwriting. Even though Black was right earlier, the chances are pretty slim, my stomach was roiling worse than usual and I felt a little lightheaded.
As soon as everyone was in the square, the mayor cleared his throat and began. It was the same story every year. He told about the rise of Panem after the crushing natural disasters, a shining Capitol surrounded by thirteen districts, blah blah blah.
I took the time to take deep breaths to calm myself as he continued to describe the Dark Days, when the thirteen districts rose up against the Capitol, using the power of their caught Pokémon to try to overthrow the government. Twelve were defeated, the thirteenth razed to the ground, and any and all wild Pokémon were obliterated or brought into the Capitol under strict control. The Treaty of Treason brought in new laws and regulations, regarding both Pokémon use and putting in place the Hunger Games as a reminder that those days must never be repeated.
The rules of the Hunger Games were relatively simple. In punishment for the uprising, each district had to send a boy and a girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen, called tributes, to participate. They were trained for a week, then given a starter Pokémon and released into an arena to battle to the death. If they chose, they could catch more Pokémon to help them, and used their Pokémon's power to help them defeat the other tributes.
That is, until ten years ago. A boy, just twelve years old, had been entered into the Games. He turned out to be absolutely brilliant at training Pokémon, and raised one of the toughest teams the arena had ever seen. He had won the Games, but he had not wanted to give up his Pokémon team to be frozen into a museum like all the other victor's Pokémon had. Instead, he had ordered his Pokémon to destroy the hovercraft that was sent to retrieve him and disappeared in the chaos that followed. His actions almost sparked a second rebellion, with uprisings in almost all the districts that the Capitol quickly crushed.
I shuddered at the memory. I was only five at the time, but I still remembered running out on the streets amid the smoke, fire, and shouting. I remembered screaming for my father, and watching as a fireball launched by the Capitol's soldiers consumed him, leaving nothing for us even to bury.
The mayor did not go into detail with the whole boy-almost-causing-rebellion thing. The Capitol had made sure that nobody mentioned it, and had never shown any video of that particular Hunger Games and refused to even allow his name to be mentioned in the official records. However, I still remembered the name that was screamed on the streets of the district in the night, as the people of my district tried to rebel. I swallowed and tried to focus on the speech, as not to be consumed by the awful memories.
The mayor went on, outlining the further measures the Capitol took to prevent future uprisings. Now the rules of the Games were changed. Instead of catching Pokémon in a wide-open arena, it had become something of a journey, in which there were different areas and environments that the tribute had to go through until they reached the end, meaning the tributes had to learn to survive in many environments. Pokémon were still involved, but they had been engineered so that if they fainted in battle, they immediately died, instead of in the past when it was possible to revive them. They also made it so that a tribute could only catch one new Pokémon in each new area. These new rules were designed so that no one tribute or Pokémon team could become strong enough to challenge the Capitol again.
After that long, boring speech, he lists the past District 12 victors. In the seventy-four years the Games had been running, there have been exactly two. Only one was still alive. His name is Alder, who at this moment staggers onto the stage, shouts something unintelligible, and falls into a chair. He's obviously drunk - very much so. The crowd answers with scattered applause, as is expected. Even so, he's still confused and tries to hug Effie, who is barely able to fend him off as he practically smothers her.
The mayor, distressed, tries to pull the attention back to the Reaping. He knows that District 12 is probably the laughingstock of Panem right now. He says a few more words and hands the microphone off to Effie, who looks glad to have a chance to escape from Adler's drunken touchiness.
Bubbly as ever and looking ridiculous with her four-inch heels and bright pink hair, Effie trots to the podium and gives her signature "May the odds be ever in your favor" spiel. I desperately pray that she is right, that the odds are in my favor, because my stomach can hardly take another minute of this nauseous feeling before I lose my lunch in front of everybody.
Her pink hair bounces as she talks about how it's such an honor to be here, but I can tell that she is aching to get bumped up to a better district that has tributes that actually win. Through the crowd, I spot Cheren standing by the seventeen year olds. He gives me a small grin before turning back to the stage. I'm feeling lightheaded with nerves now, every heartbeat pounding in my ears. Black gently squeezes my arm, but it does nothing to calm me.
Effie makes her way to the girl's ball, piping "Ladies first!" I've grabbed onto Black's hand now, holding on tight enough restrict his circulation. I'm hoping, desperately hoping that it's not me, it's not me, it's not me.
Effie fishes a name out of the ball and makes her way back to the podium. She clears her throat and reads the name out in a clear voice. My stomach plummets and I nearly faint.
I should have known.
AN: Holy crap, guys. This is just the first chapter and it's got almost as many words in it as my four-chapter Percy Jackson/LoTR story. I think this has a much better chance of surviving, though. Especially with friends that would rip out my throat if I didn't continue XD
If you have any questions on how this is all set up, feel free to ask. For a while, this will be structured similarly to the chapters of the Hunger Games, which means that next chapter will have a massive flashback involving White's childhood and stuff. So if your question involves that, I would appreciate it if you would wait till next chapter. If it involves something else, I will answer…so long as it doesn't involve spoilers ;)
Have an awesomesaucetastic day, and REVIEW REVIEW REVIEW. You'll get a socially awkward N in the next chapter if you do.