District 9: Mikey Jonah (15) Pov-

Clarity chews her toast, thoughtfully. Her eyes remain glassy and dazed, as though despite the fact that she's sitting across from me, she's in truth somewhere much further away. As she takes a sip of tea, she brings her gaze on me.

"Aren't you going to eat anything?" she asks.

I shake my head. I'm way too nervous to put anything in my mouth. What if Brynn doesn't like me? What if she's upset because she got the one kid everyone thinks is crazy?

"Well, you should." Clarity says. "We don't eat again until after training today."

I shrug.

"Are you nervous?"

I nod.

She smiles. "Don't be. Being nervous isn't going to help you. Just relax and try to focus on training, and hopefully learning some new skills in the process." After she speaks, the distant look returns in her eyes.


On the elevator ride down, the pair from 8 gets on at the eighth floor. No one says a word. I shrink into the corner of the lift and lean my head against the wall, closing my eyes for a moment.

As the doors to the elevator open, I wait for everyone else to get off before shuffling into the training room. Most tributes are chatting with their partners. I notice Brynn immediately. She's standing with the rest of the careers, plus the partner of the boy from 1.

I take a deep breath and run a hand through my bright blonde hair, before stalking towards the group of careers. As I approach, the conversation stops and just about every single smile falls. The boy from 2 glares at me. Instinctively, I turn around and head back towards the elevator.

"Mikey!" A hand grabs my wrist. I turn around and find myself face to face with Brynn. She shows her teeth off in a friendly smile. "Where you going?"

"Uh…I just…thought…I dunno…some stuff…" I splutter. Great job, Mikey. That made perfect sense.

"Okay." She stares at me for a moment.

"Yeah." I clear my throat. Say something smart so she doesn't think you're an idiot. "Did you know that cockroaches can live up to nine days without their heads?"

"No I didn't."

"Just learned that this year in bio." I mutter.

"Oh."

"Yeah." I rub the back of my neck, staring at my shoes. "Uh…I don't know why I said that." I swallow.

"It's…interesting."

"I'm sorry." I finally manage to keep eye contact with her. "I just really don't want you to think I'm crazy or anything."

"I don't think you're crazy." She says.

I figure she's just trying to be polite, which I appreciate greatly. "It's no secret that ever since the reapings everyone here thinks I'm insane."

She bites her bottom lip, probably unsure of how to respond.

"But, I just want you to know I was high out of my mind and I'm actually completely normal. Or…well…as normal as any other fifteen-year-old boy."

She chuckles at the end of my sentence, a hint of a smirk on her lips.

District 5: Sophie Merita (13) Pov-

I try to keep to the camouflage station. My best bet is hiding during the games. As long as I figure out good strategies to keep myself out of sight I have a much better chance of making it past the first day. However, I can't help but believe Lorelai; my inexperience and innocence are detrimental to my ability to survive a setting where only the most vicious and corrupt produce victors.

I must admit that I actually do take small pleasure from the paints at the camouflage station. They're so gentle on my hands; there are no sharp blades or blunt ends, only flowing liquid. It's obvious to me that the more I mix the different hues, the better I become at understanding the workings of concealment.

The boy from 8 and the girl from 6 share the station with me. Both are particularly awful with the paint. The partnership attempts to paint the boy's arm the same deep brown as his pants, but together they've managed to make his upper limb a dark red. Despite their failure, they still remain cheerful and patient with each other.

I mutter softly in their direction about needing more dark colors and a little more yellow. The two immediately try my suggestion. When the boy's arm turns brown their expressions mirror one of such astonishment and admiration it would seem as though I just let them in on the secret of the afterlife or something.

"You're pretty talented at this, aren't you?" the girl says.

"Yeah. Thank you so much," her partner adds. I shrug, turning back to my stained hands. "I'm Todd. And this is Hadley," he says.

"Sophie."

Both beam in my direction. I wonder for a moment why the two are being so incredibly nice to me. But, I get my answer from the girl.

"You want to be allies?"

"Sure." I say, even though I don't want any allies. I figure having two less people trying to kill me couldn't hurt. I'll just ditch them while in the arena.

"Really?" The boy's youthful smile grows even larger and after I nod he scoots further towards me and actually flings his little arms around me in a hug. "We're so happy because we could really use someone who knows something about disguise and stuff."

"Sophie." A voice comes from behind me. I turn around so I can look up at my partner.

Sparkle glances over at my new allies with some type of repulsion before locking eyes with me. She still has a knife in her hand from her latest activity of showing off with the rest of the careers. I can't help but flinch when the weapon comes close to me.

"Relax. I'm not going to hurt you." She laughs. "We're partners, remember?"

"Yes."

"So, you want to come work with the rest of us?" She motions towards her group of careers. I swallow.

"You don't have to stay with me if you don't want to," I whisper.

"Excuse me?"

"I can do fine on my own." I speak louder this time. It comes out a lot more confident than I believed possible. And after Sparkle's eyes narrow, I realize perhaps I even managed to sound a little arrogant.

"It's not like I want a weak thing like you as a partner." Sparkle hisses. I'm only talking to you because I want to make sure you don't go get yourself killed and cost me my life."

"I'm not trying to make you angry." I reply. "I just don't want you to think I'm holding you back." And I don't want anything to do with the bloodthirsty career group.

"Never mind." She spits, turning her back to me sharply. Her blonde hair flutters around her face as she hurries back to her the careers.

District 9: Clarity May (17) Pov-

When I first arrive at training, the relationship between Joey and me is a little awkward. We start out at the plants section, chatting about little things that don't really matter. Like, our favorite subjects and colors. After a while of the mundane exchange, I finally succumb to the elephant in the room.

"So, what should our plan be?"

Joey puts down the plastic plant he had been fiddling with. "Keep away from the careers. Maybe stick with some allies. Do you have any people you think we should ally with?"

"The girl from 10. Halley." I look around the room, searching for the girl. She's with her partner at the rope tying station. A trainer is explaining something to the girls, both watch with concentration.

"Seems cool." Joey nods. "I was thinking we could team up with Skip and his partner. I think her name's Riley."

"Okay."

Joey stares at me for a moment, and I tuck my brown hair behind my ear, slightly uncomfortable by his gaze.

"Well, this station is boring as hell. I'm going to check out some other stations." He gets to his feet, shoving his hands in his pockets. "You can come if you want."

"Yeah. Sure." I answer, following him. After a beat of silence, I add, "I never got to tell you that I appreciated your stunt during the chariot rides yesterday. It was about time someone showed President Road we can change things up a bit."

"Thanks." Joey grins, showing off a rather brilliant smile. "My mentor hated it. Though, he gets really entertaining when he's angry."

I can't help laughing. I would never find it the least bit amusing if my mentor was angry with me.

Joey stops walking in front of the sword fighting station. A couple of beaten dummies stand ready to get attacked.

"What say you to a little duel?" Joey pulls two wooden swords out from the bin. "My lady," he says in a capitol accent, handing me one I chuckle.

"Thank you, kind gentleman." I mimic his pronunciation. The weapon feels light compared to the swords I'm used to.

Joey rolls his shoulders back, and holds his sword out in front of him, squinting slightly as he prepares himself.

"Ready when you are," he mutters.

I lunge towards him, whacking my sword against his. His blue eyes widen and he actually takes a step away from me in an attempt to collect himself. He whispers a soft, "holy shit you're good" as I take a swing at his head. I easily dodge the swipe he takes at my chest. And in response, I jab him hard in the stomach.

He doubles over for a moment, holding his middle, dropping the sword in his hand to the floor.

"Oh. I'm sorry." I take a few steps towards him, dropping my sword as well. "Are you okay?"

Joey keeps his head down, giving me no response.

I rest a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Are you hurt?"

I don't have time to back away as Joey's arm shoots past me, grabbing his sword. He rests the tip of the wooden weapon on my neck.

"And…you're dead." His blue eyes meet mine, and for a moment I'm lost in the deep blue. The usual playful glint that lights them up is gone.

"That wasn't fair." I choke out.

He raises a brow. "Who says I have to be fair?" He pulls the weapon from my neck, the wood brushing against my skin. There's a soft thump as he tosses it back into the bin. "Nobody else around here cares about being fair."

I let his words sit with me for a moment. He fiddles with collar of his shirt, before turning back to me. "You're really good at that, by the way."

"Oh…thanks."

"I'm really…glad that you're my partner." He doesn't look at me when he speaks. He's staring at the boy from 2 devour a dummy with an axe. But, somehow I get the feeling that he really means his words.

"Well, you're pretty all right yourself," I say. Joey runs a hand through his brown hair and juts his chest out.

"Oh. Come on. I'm more than just pretty all right," he smirks. I'm about come up with a clever response, when a siren goes off. The boy at the camouflage station lets rip a scream. And, unconsciously, I grab Joey's hand.

"It's just the lunch bell." He mutters in my ear.

"Oh." I let go quickly.

District 2: Brynn Carson (16) Pov-

"Aren't you going to invite your partner to sit with us?" I ask Jared.

Jared picks up his fork, glances momentarily at Talen, and brings his eyebrows together in a scowl. "No way. That kid is weird as hell."

"That's what I told you during the feast." Colton says, as he places his tray down at our table. Arianne plops down beside him, immediately taking a long sip from her glass of water.

"I'm just going to ignore him. Hopefully he'll manage to keep himself alive."

"At least he's better than my partner." Sparkle says, shooting a glare at the small girl sitting at the table next to ours. "She actually told me she doesn't want to stick with me. I mean what an unthankful child. She earns a place with the careers and turns it down. And it's not like she's in any kind of form to turn us down."

Sparkle stops talking as Mikey walks past our table. He bites his lip, and hesitates for a moment when he catches my eye. I'm about to invite him to sit next to me. But, Sparkle whispers in my ear, "Don't even think about it."

I think he figures Sparkle was talking about him because he hurries to the table right by the exit and sits down by himself.

"He's not a bad kid." I mumble to Sparkle. "He told me the reason he was so crazy during the reapings was because he was high. He doesn't even remember anything that happened that day. Just picked the wrong day to try drugs. He's actually really nice and quite smart."

"Fine. If you love him so much I guess you can invite him over." Sparkle shrugs. "If it turns out he actually is mentally challenged, I'm ditching the both of you."

"Fine." I mutter, turning around so I can see Mikey sitting alone. He's just staring down at his tray, using his fork to slide the slab of meat across his plate, not putting anything in his mouth.

"Mikey!" I shout. He doesn't look up.

"Oh great. The kid's deaf, too." Jared mutters. This causes Colton and Sparkle to burst out laughing.

"Mikey!" I try again, louder. This time he looks up. He smiles at me, before turning his attention back to his food.

"This is ridiculous." Jared rolls his eyes. "He obviously doesn't want to sit with us."

"You think so?" I frown. "Why?"

"Probably because he knows none of us like him." He mumbles, ripping his piece of bread in half and stuffing it in his mouth.

"You don't like him?" I ask.

"To be perfectly honest I don't like any of you guys all that much."

"Jared." Sparkle rolls her eyes. "Always the gentleman."

I can't help laughing at this. Jared shrugs.

"So, do you guys have a kill list yet?" Arianne asks, making sure to speak in a whisper.

"A what?" I ask.

"A kill list. Tributes you want to kill."

"I don't like the boy from 11." Colton replies. Sparkle grins.

"Because he beat you up in front of everyone."

"He didn't beat me up. I could have taken him if I wanted." Colton insists. "I just think he's a psycho maniac and we should get rid of him as soon as possible."

"Fine by me." Arianne shrugs.

"I don't like that annoying girl from 6." Sparkle says. "She's weirdly nice. No one is that nice. I think she's got something up her sleeve and I don't trust her."

"And let's not forget the show off from 7. Who the hell asked him to make the chariot rides all about himself?"

"I don't know. It was kind of cool." I whisper.

"I liked it when he got the dart in his neck." Arianne adds, a devilish smile on her lips. "That part was awesome."

In the course of the three chapters of training I will touch base with each partnership. So, don't worry if only a couple tributes are in this chapter! Also, I'm sorry it's been so long since the last chapter. But, I've been very busy recently. I really will try to update sooner for the next chapter.

Answer to last question: Lavinia's hair was red.

New Question: What weapon did Cato prefer more than the bow?