Guest, you're waaay over-analyzing. The numbers don't have anything to do with it. If they do, it's coincidence. And I wouldn't consider this a crossover at all...Lost just inspired parts of the arena, that doesn't mean the tributes are going to 'the island.' Some of the arena guesses for this year makes me think you guys really doubt my creativity. XD

300 reviews. :) I'm grateful, but I would like to say something regarding them. To those of you that leave multiple reviews on a chapter, do you think you could narrow it down to one? Since I'm moderating guest reviews I usually wind up forgetting about them and the queue fills up. I know you're just trying to get the count up, which is nice, but I still think we can reach 1000 without cheating. :) Besides, then I can easily go back and see who's not reviewing. And I won't get excited for nothing when I see eight new messages but all of them are from the same person. Thank you!

New poll! I think we all remember this one: Which lovely bachelor you would want to date! Sorry, gentlemen, but I'm pretty positive there are more girls reading this story. Do feel free to vote "screw you, I'm a straight guy!" if you wish. As for the results on which person you think will win the Games…

1st Jade and Zale with 9 votes

2nd Xander with 8 votes

3rd Meredith and Rowan with 6 votes

4th Ian, Piston, and Buck with 5 votes

5th Sagitta with 4 votes

6th Vera with 3 votes

7th Viola and Seyuto with 2 votes

8th Wiley, Spark, Isaac, Barrett, Athena, Flick, Thimble, Aluma, and Rina with 1 vote

9th Claire, Al, and Quinoa with 0 votes

Train Rides are each about two pages but District 1 and 11 are longer than most because we get to hear from our wonderful victors. Yay!

The car ride to the train station was painstakingly awkward for Jade. Ian's magnificent presence was difficult to ignore. It didn't help he refused to take his eyes off her. Every time she spared him a glance, his light blue eyes were boring into hers. Frustration overwhelmed her. She would not be intimidated.

As they exited the car and made their way towards the train, a flood of photographers surrounded them, snapping pictures. Ian smiled in a charming way and lifted an arm to wave, but Jade would not be outdone. She shoved in front of him, beaming at the crowd and waving enthusiastically. The escort had to practically drag them onto the train.

Once the doors shut, the noise faded. The train left the station and the escort wandered off, wondering where the mentors were. That left Jade alone with Ian. Wonderful.

"You must be so excited to have the honor of accompanying me to the Hunger Games—a shame we won't be able to share the ride home." Ian spoke in that delicious, low voice of his that Jade had been infatuated with in the past.

But she refused to let it affect her now. She ignored him. Ian didn't like to be ignored.

"I take it you're not too pleased about being in the Games with me," Ian sighed, circling behind her, "After all, I do know all of your weaknesses…"

Jade rounded on him, looking furious. "You don't know anything." She hissed.

Before she could react, Ian had slammed the full force of his body into hers, knocking her flat on her back. He pinned his body across hers, holding her legs and arms firmly under him. She struggled to free herself, but she couldn't move an inch under his weight.

Ian leaned his face closer to hers, smirking.

"I wasn't ready." Jade growled, tempted to spit on him. She hoped he couldn't feel her heart pounding in her chest beneath him.

"You're pretty strong when you're on your feet," Ian said thoughtfully, tilting his head to one side, "But you never were very good at wrestling, were you? What are you going to do if this happens in the arena, hmm?"

Ian's face was directly in front of hers now. So close she could have kissed him…

Jade narrowed her eyes. "This."

She thrust her head forward, driving her skull into Ian's face. He yelped in pain, drawing back. Jade struggled out from underneath him, but Ian quickly regained himself. He grabbed Jade's waist and pulled her down next to him, before she could get back on her feet. She struggled to fight him off, but her arms were too weak, and he easily overpowered her.

This time, he pinned her down so that she was flat on her face and had one arm twisted behind her back. Her joints screamed with pain and her head was pounding, but she bit her lip, refusing to show any signs of weakness.

"Like I said…" Ian panted.

"What is going on here?!" A stern voice demanded, cutting off whatever he was going to say.

"Channa!" Jade gasped.

Ian's weight disappeared and she was able to clamber to her feet. She faced District 1's most recent victor, brushing herself off. Ian stood next to her, not looking one bit sorry. Instead, he was eyeing Channa as if she were a piece of meat. She looked rather annoyed.

"Great, here I was so excited to be mentoring two competent tributes this year, and now look: you hate each other." She huffed, blowing a stray strand of brown hair out of her face.

"He attacked me first!" Jade protested.

"Save it for the arena." Channa rolled her eyes, "And even then, you shouldn't be trying to kill one another. You have plenty of other enemies to deal with."

Jade and Ian avoided eye contact while Channa looked at each of them in turn.

"Am I missing something?" She said, arching an eyebrow suspiciously.

"You're quite perceptive," Ian said in a smooth voice, "Yes, Jade and I used to date."

"That explains a lot." Channa nodded, acknowledging the fact that Ian and Chardonnay were now an item. "Why'd you break up?"

"It's none of your business!" Jade snapped before she could stop herself. Channa shot an angry glare in her direction and she immediately regretted her action. She admired Channa greatly—she didn't want to be on her bad side. So she bowed her head respectfully and muttered, "He just…wasn't my type.

Ian let out a rude laugh. "FYI: I'm everyone's type. And for the record, I broke up with her."

"Okay." Channa sighed, running her hands through her hair, "I know it's going to be awkward, but don't let it get in the way of your training. And certainly don't kill one another while you're in the Games. Killing your own district partner isn't going to earn you any fans back at home. Got it?"

"Got it." Ian and Jade said in unison.

"Shake on it." Channa said sharply, eyes flickering with suspicion.

Ian and Jade faced one another. He smiled at her, almost innocently. "Partners?" He asked, reaching for her hand.

"Partners." She agreed, allowing him to take it. They held on for a moment; then let go.

Channa seemed satisfied enough, a happy smile alighting her features. "Great!" She said, clapping her hands, "Now let's watch the recaps and see your competition for this year!"

"So…will you be joining the Career pack?" Ian wondered as they settled down in front of the TV.

Jade tried to regard him as an ally now, instead of an ex. It was much easier if she looked at him in this new light. "Yes, I am." She said curtly, "Even though District 2 is full of bloodthirsty jocks and District 4 is a joke of a district…"

Ian laughed softly, and she felt a small glow of pride at his approval. "My sentiments exactly. Speaking of which…"

On the TV was the Reaping stage located in District 2. Currently, a tall, dark-skinned girl stood on stage next to a boy with black, spiky hair. He was holding the microphone and grinning like a lunatic. He was telling jokes. The three Careers just sat there, watching in shock.

"How do you get two District 1 Careers to work together? …Shoot one of them!"

Ian chuckled, "Ahaha, that is so true…"

Jade smashed her fist down onto the table next to her. Her face was red with fury. "How dare he!" She spluttered. "How dare that slime from District 2 insult us!"

"Not the wisest of ideas." Channa agreed, crossing her arms and frowning at the TV screen.

"You need to relax." Ian said, lounging in his chair.

Jade shot a glare at him, but said nothing. The next joke cut into their conversation.

"What's the difference between a District 1 Career and the rear end of a horse? …I don't know either!"

Ian frowned slightly, apparently not as keen on that joke, but Jade whipped around to glower at the TV. Everyone in District 2 was laughing at the expense of her own district.

"Oh, no he didn't. I can't wait to meet this dork and really give him a piece of my mind."

District 2

Xander wasn't looking forward to being stuck on a train with Sagitta. He was still wondering why she refused to shake his hand—it had been embarrassing, really. He wasn't about to let her get away with it. When he saw her already on the train, staring out the window, he marched right up to her.

"Hey!" He greeted, trying to sound less annoyed than he was, "So you got something against shaking hands, huh?"

Sagitta didn't respond. A cold glare hardened her features, but she didn't turn away from the window.

"I'm guessing…germaphobe?" Xander joked, plopping down in the seat next to her.

Sagitta stiffened and leaned away from him. Grinning mischievously, he moved a little closer into her personal space. She was practically glued to the wall in her struggle to maintain her distance.

"If you hate germs, I don't think the Hunger Games is right for you. In case you didn't know, there's a good amount of blood-spilling going on." Xander said, trying to keep a straight face.

He waited for a response and got nothing. He swallowed his frustration, trying to keep from yelling at this mute girl.

"Sheesh, I didn't even do anything to you." He muttered, "Someone needs to get the stick out of their—"

"You want to know what you did?!" Sagitta snapped, rounding on him without warning. "You alienated our allies! Our relationship with those pompous District 1 tributes is bad enough to begin with. But then you had to go and turn the Reaping into comedy hour!"

Xander scratched his head, looking guilty. "Shoot, I never knew everyone would get so worked up over nothing. I was just trying to make an impression on the crowd."

Sagitta eyes were blue slits. "Well, you certainly did." She hissed, "And probably the District 1 tributes as well. I hope you're not planning to join the alliance."

"As a matter of fact, I am." Xander said stubbornly. His guilt vanished and he suddenly felt defensive of his actions. "Even if they are a bunch of bloodthirsty killers."

Sagitta wanted to go back to ignoring him, but she was too angry to do so. "Why would you even volunteer for the Games if you feel that way? God, your very existence is dropping my IQ…I can't believe this is my district partner…" She said, more to herself than to him.

Of course, Xander heard her. "I have my reasons." He declared, "And I know the Careers are my best chance of surviving if I want to come home. That's why I'll be joining them."

"Then you'd better have an extravagant apology prepared for when we meet them." Sagitta scowled.

Xander rolled his eyes and got up, unable to take Sagitta any longer. He moved off to find where they kept the grub. It was the cart over from theirs. The room with filled with all sorts of treats, many of them unrecognizable yet tempting. The mere sight of them lifted his spirits. But as he bit into a tart, his stomach suddenly felt sick. He was homesick.

I wish Sev or Theo were here… He thought, emotions sweeping over him. It would have been awesome to share this experience with them. Riding the train, eating delicious treats, touring the Capitol. It would be grand. Except for the part that came after of course.

He realized with a spark of excitement that all would be possible after he won the Games. This optimistic thought put a spring in his step. He scarfed down the delicious tart and went back for seconds.

Back in the other room, Sagitta was feeling beyond irritated. She should have expected this from some idiotic teenage boy. She had thought he would at least have his wits about him. How quickly he had proved her wrong.

She knew a good number of the Careers from past Games, having attended the most esteemed training academy in the area alongside them. She didn't like any of them. But she would have rather had the emotionless Bridon as a partner than Xander. Even if he wasn't the brightest, at least he understood death was a casual thing. People died all the time; what did it matter if you killed a few more?

Oh well. Even if he's useless, at least I'll get some enjoyment out of watching him die. Sagitta sighed, settling back in her chair and closing her eyes.

A few minutes later, Xander crept back in, holding a glass of mango juice in his hand. He noticed Sagitta snuggled in her chair, her eyes shut. He cleared his throat quietly, waiting for some sort of reaction. There was none.

Grinning evilly, he snuck down the aisle and circled around behind her. He held the mango juice over her head, poised to pour it into her long brown hair. Just as he started to tip the cup, a little voice inside him said wait.

He paused, considering his actions. Better not.

Drawing back and sipping from the cup, he slunk to the other side of the train. He sat in a chair, feeling bored. There he waited, wondering when the mentors would show up and tell them all about the Games.

District 3

Wiley stumbled onto the train, finally starting to calm down. He had accepted the fact there was no getting out of this. He was just going to have to take the hand he'd been dealt. Luckily, he had his brilliant mind to formulate some sort of master plan that would no doubt get him home. But before he could put his brilliant mind to use, he would have liked to find an ally first.

He glanced around the compartment, looking for the female tribute. He spotted her near the back. Her knees were drawn up to her chest and her head was bowed, hiding her face from view. He approached her, smiling in a friendly manner.

"Hello!" He greeted in a voice cheerful as day.

Spark lifted his head to look at him. Her eyes were bloodshot, her face stained with tear tracks. Her nose was running as well.

"Oh God, you look terrible." Wiley blurted out before he could stop himself.

She fixed him in an icy green glare, wiping at her face.

"Um—good. Looking good actually." Wiley quickly recovered, "Anyways, are you…okay?"

"Oh yeah, just fine, actually." Spark said in a voice dripping with sarcasm, "Just watched my entire life collapse around me, no big deal. Never going to see my family again. Never going to see what I got on my report card. Never going to get around to all of those books I wanted to read. Just perfect."

"Oh, good. Glad you're feeling better." Wiley said in a cheerful voice, "Now that that's out of the way, I was wondering if you'd, you know, like to form an alliance with me?"

Spark just stared at Wiley, her gaze boring into him. He shuffled around uncomfortably, waiting for her to say something. "Why do you have a Capitol accent?" She asked, screwing up her nose in distaste.

"Oh, that," Wiley waved a hand dismissively, "My dad's always traveling, he does all this fancy research n' stuff. The Capitol funded him for a while, but not anymore…err, for reasons that don't concern you. Anyways, must've picked it up from him, I suppose. Enough about that, d'you wanna join an alliance with me?"

"That's ridiculous," Spark scoffed, "People pick up accents from their family, not from work."

"Well, he spends a good deal of his time working." Wiley said, starting to feel exasperated at her lack of response. "Do you understand what I'm saying? Is any of this—is anything I'm saying getting through to you at all…?"

"You'd better keep your mouth shut lest all the other tributes think you're trying to suck up to the Capitol." Spark huffed.

"Okay, lady!" Wiley said, throwing up his arms in defeat, "Look, I'll be honest. We're both gonna die. All right? I didn't wanna say it, but there you go, you dragged it out of me. Dead. But if we form an alliance, on the other hand, one us might actually—"

"Fine." Spark interrupted, rising to her feet, "I'll form an alliance with you."

"Brilliant!" Wiley laughed, wringing his hands together in delight, "Oh, that's great. Really great." He held out his hand, offering to shake on it.

"Hold it right there!" Spark said, jabbing Wiley in the chest with a finger. He shrunk back, looking alarmed, "If we're going to be in an alliance together, we're going to do this my way!"

Silence followed her words as she waited for Wiley to respond. He looked around nervously. "Umm…and what does that entail—?"

"That means keeping a low profile and keeping away from me during training. Don't talk to me at all," Spark interrupted, "District 3 has been doing terrible in the past few years. We're always one of the first districts out. This year, we're going to change that by not making ourselves a target. Got it?"

"Right. Got it." Wiley laughed nervously.

Spark backed off, still looking a bit disgruntled. She returned to her chair while Wiley stood there awkwardly, waiting for her to say something.

When she didn't, he asked, "Can I talk to you right now?"

Spark sighed, massaging her forehead. She could feel a migraine coming on. "I would prefer if you didn't. But if you must, go right ahead."

Wiley must have missed the first part, because he began to prattle on about all sorts of things, mainly his concerns about what they would face in the Games. His Capitol accent was grinding on Spark's ears, annoying her to no end. She squeezed her eyes shut and blocked him out.

Thankfully, it was a short ride to the Capitol.

District 4

"Zale, I'm sorry for the comment I made about your sister yesterday. It was wrong of me."

As soon as Zale had boarded the train, Meredith had stepped in front of him and apologized. To say he was surprised was an understatement. He searched her expression, looking for any trace of deceit, but he found none. Her face was smooth and serious.

Zale blinked away his shock. "It's fine," He muttered, passing her by, "It feels like it was years ago anyways."

Inside was a group of mentors, waiting for them. They appeared to be having some sort of argument. Upon seeing the two tributes approach, they became silent. Zale looked at each one in turn.

"What's going on?"

"We're just having a meeting," Victor Lynn said quickly, "You two stay here and watch the recaps. We'll be back later." With that, their mentors swiftly left the compartment, headed off to a different sector of the train.

Zale cast an inquiring look towards Meredith. "Any idea what that was all about?"

"They're deciding how much leeway to give to my aunt when it comes to mentoring. If she shows too much preference towards me, it could get her in trouble." She answered, leading the way to where a flat screen TV contained images of District 1's Reaping.

"Oh yeah," Zale said dully, "Favoritism is a wonderful thing, isn't it?"

"I won't be needing my aunt's favoritism to win the Hunger Games." Meredith said in a soft, dangerous voice. "As far as I'm concerned, they can take away all of her rights to handle the sponsorships and whatnot. It won't make any difference."

The faintest of smirks creased Zale's face. "That's quite an ego you have there."

Meredith didn't react, allowing a few seconds of silence to pass between them. "Does it matter?" She said, sounding bored.

Zale felt a prick of annoyance due to her lack of a reaction. "No, I suppose not." He said curtly.

With that, the two of them turned to the TV, analyzing their competition. Along with the actual film from the Reaping, Caesar Flickerman was there to give comments on each tribute. Profiles were put up on the screen as well, containing the tribute's name, age, and district.

Throughout the broadcast, Zale couldn't help but start his own stream of commentary.

"District 1 never changes, does it? Just your usual pair of beautiful idiots. I hope they can actually be of some use to us. It's a wonder they make it more than a day in…here comes District 2. The girl looks rather formidable. So far, it seems like everyone's had a fair bit of training…what are you smiling at?"

Meredith's smile instantly dropped off her face and replaced itself with a glare. "I wasn't." She said in a flat voice.

Zale stared at her for a moment, scrutinizing her. Then he turned his attention away and muttered a few disjointed thoughts on how pathetic District 3 was.

Meredith silently chastised herself for allowing her face to break out in a stupid grin. Zale had just reminded her so much of Adrianne; how they would sit and watch the Games together, giving commentary. Adrianne would constantly prattle on while Meredith remained quieter, more attentive to what was occurring than her friend. She couldn't stop herself from feeling entertained.

During District 4's spotlight, she trained her eyes onto Zale. She had observed him enough in training to know what he was capable of. It was hard to tell what he was thinking…but she would be sure to keep an eye on him.

District 5 wasn't very impressive. District 6 was an odd combination with a large, brute of a boy and a tiny, fragile-looking girl. There were a few other boys that seemed rather strong, especially for being from the outer districts. She supposed it was thanks to the rough lives they led. She certainly didn't envy them.

Once the official recap had ended, they had one last summary with dramatic music playing as a quick shot of each tribute was shown approaching the stage. Meredith could feel her heart rising with excitement as the flaming title appeared: The 44th Hunger Games. She snuck a glance at Zale. His jaw was clenched and his eyes were glazed over, as if he were lost in his thoughts. He was considering his competition, analyzing them, ripping them apart in his mind…

Suddenly, she had a bad feeling about him.

If there was an ally she needed to fear, it was Zale.

District 5

When Isaac was aboard the train, he took one last look at District 5. A crowd of photographers and reporters crowded around the window while a group of citizens stood further back, gathered to see them off. Isaac searched their ranks for Gregory, but he couldn't see him.

Regret clenched his insides, making him feel sick. He never should have dumped that on Gregory. He should have known better—after all, he was in a relationship with Ivanka. But some sort of acknowledgement would have been better than walking out on him.

'I don't feel that way about you,' would have been less heartbreaking than the look he gave him. Isaac would have liked to talk to him about it if they had time to, but it was too late. The train was starting to move. If he ever wanted to see Gregory again, he would have to win the Hunger Games. And even then, it seemed unlikely his former best friend would want to see him.

"How are you feeling?"

Isaac turned to see his fellow tribute sitting a fair distance away. She appeared to be rather delicate, with her legs crossed daintily in front of her. Her navy-blue eyes were trained on him, unwavering. He felt uncomfortable under that stare, but he tried to remain polite.

"Probably not much better off than you." Isaac sighed, sinking into the nearest chair.

Vera blinked thoughtfully. "Isaac Ross, correct?"

"Yeah…what was your name again?" He said, feeling guilty for having forgotten already.

"Vera. Vera Neuros." She said, patting her messy bun into place. "So the goodbyes were tough on you, I see."

Isaac stiffened at the memory. He swallowed a few times, trying to calm himself down. "Yeah. They were." He said, his voice cracking.

Vera's eyebrows lifted with curiosity. "What happened?"

Isaac shook his head, cheeks burning. "Does it matter?"

"Sorry," Vera said curtly, "I just assumed you'd want to talk about it. It might make you feel better."

"No, no, I'm sorry." Isaac muttered, always quick to apologize. He bowed his head, wondering if he should tell her. But what would stop her from judging him just as Gregory did? So he said carefully, "I guess I scared off one of my friends…got a bit emotional and he looked at me like there was something wrong with me. Then he walked out."

He expected Vera's expression transform into one of sympathy or maybe even disgust. But her calculating gaze remained. "Don't worry about it," She said in a flat voice, "There's something wrong with everyone."

For some reason, this statement sent a slight chill up Isaac's spine.

"Anyways," Vera said, clearing her throat, "I'm rather curious about your thoughts on the Games. Any tactics you have in mind?"

I feel like I'm being interviewed. Isaac thought dryly, wishing she'd leave him alone already. Keeping a firm hold on his patience, Isaac told her he was just going to focus on surviving. Then again, weren't they all?

"No alliances?" Vera asked, sounding almost disappointed.

"Err…no, I don't think so. Why?"

Vera shrugged half-heartedly. "I find alliances to be fairly essential to survival. Loners don't usually become victors."

"I'll figure it out later." Isaac muttered.

"Better sooner than later." Vera cautioned.

"Yeah, well, better late than never." Isaac retaliated instantly, "Now if you don't mind, I'm gonna try and get some sleep. It's been a long, awful day." He turned in his seat and faced the window so that he would no longer have to look at her. Guilt immediately gripped him for being so rude. He cast a quick glance over his shoulder and said, "Sorry for snapping."

"You're forgiven." Vera said lightly, though he couldn't read her expression to see if that were true.

So he turned away, staring out the window as the scenery rushed by. He slowly allowed his eyelids to droop. Sleep would wash away all of his worries. It would give him relief, if only for a few hours.

But as he tried to drift off to better places, he could feel Vera's gaze boring into his back, making sleep impossible to achieve.

District 6

As soon as the train took off, Viola went over and sat in the plush chair directly across from Piston. He straightened up, looking mildly surprised to see her. For a few seconds, they just sat in silence, goggling at one another. Then Viola blurted out, "Why were you being whipped?"

A crooked smile spread across Piston's face. "Ah, so you are that little girl that nailed Griffin in the eye. Nice shot, by the way."

Viola giggled nervously. "Thanks. So why were you being whipped?"

"Because I joined a rebellious union and didn't freaking do anything." Piston growled, hunching his shoulders. His brown eyes blazed with anger.

Viola didn't quite know what a union was, but she knew what a rebel was. She asked him if that's what he was.

He relaxed a bit and shot another grin at Viola. "Yeah, I guess you could say that. I don't care much for those stinking Capitolites, walking all over us like they do. Even if they have to hold the Hunger Games every year, I don't see why they couldn't give the rest of us a better life."

"I'm a rebel too!" Viola announced proudly, pounding her chest with a fist, "I'm the leader of the Rebellious Kitais! That's the group that saved you."

Piston's eyes widened almost comically. He just stared at Viola for a moment, completely silent. Then he burst out into a loud bout of laughter. He leaned forward, holding his sides. "Oh, that's rich!" He crowed, "The Rebellious Kitties. You are adorable, y'know that?"

"Kitais." Viola corrected, shooting him a glare, "How old do you think I am, five?"

"Well excuse me for not being well-educated enough to know what the hell a kite-fly is." Piston snorted, wiping at his eyes. "Ha, I needed that. Thanks, Viola."

"You shouldn't curse." Viola said quietly, feeling insulted. She took her group very seriously and she didn't like it when Piston laughed at it. But she decided to forgive him. After all, he was her district partner.

"You may be young," Piston was saying, "But you're pretty handy with that slingshot. Think you can hit a Career in the eye for me when we get to the arena?"

A tremor of fear ran through her at the thought of a deadly Career lumbering towards her with a spear. She had to remind herself that they would not hesitate to kill. Therefore, they shouldn't be shown any mercy. "Of course!" She said in a confident voice, giving Piston a thumbs-up.

Piston laughed again. It was a deep, jarring laugh that made Viola feel slightly uncomfortable. But she tried to keep a smile on her face.

When the older boy didn't say anything after that, she allowed her gaze to drift outside the window. They were leaving the barren, road-scarred landscape of District 6 behind and entering the mountains that contained the Capitol. Their ride would be a short one.

Suddenly, something green flashed by the window. Viola gave a start. Was that…? Giving a gasp of excitement, she pressed her palms and face to the window. They sped by another clump of green. Then another. Then the green blended together to form a sort of blurred wall. They had entered a forest.

"STOP THE TRAIN!" Viola screeched at the top of her lungs, leaping from her chair.

Piston gave a start, looking panicked. "Why? What's wrong?!" He demanded.

"Tell the conductor to stop the train!" Viola shrieked, running up and down the aisle, "Where's the escort?!"

At that moment, the escort appeared in a tizzy, his wig askew. "What's wrong?! Are you hurt?" He shouted, looking horrified.

Viola ran up to him and tugged at his sleeves. "I want to see the forest!" She declared, "Can you please tell the conductor to stop the train?"

The escort just looked at her, his mouth slightly agape. His eyes were practically bulging out of their sockets. Piston found this highly entertaining. Viola had probably just taken ten years off the man's life.

"Wh-what are you…? …You can't be serious." The poor escort said, looking dazed. "What, do you think this is a field trip or something?"

"But-!"

The escort shook her off, holding up a finger to silence her. "Enough."

Looking dejected, Viola slunk back to her seat across from Piston. He watched her, trying to keep from snickering. He still couldn't get over the look on the escort's face. "Hey…" He told his partner, a bit of sarcasm seeping into his tone, "I don't blame you. Trees are so cool, aren't they?"

"I know!" Viola sighed wistfully, pressing her face to the window once more, "I wish I could go out there and touch them. I bet there are loads of spirits in the forest."

Piston just nodded, trying to pretend he actually understood what she was talking about. "Yeah, well, let's hope we don't have to join them anytime soon…"