Hi guys. I'm sorry for the lack of update...and I apologize for this chapter. Honestly, I would love to jump into the Games, but there's all the pre-game shenanigans to go through to build a foundation. This chapter serves a purpose, but it's short. So bear with me, I'll be trying to roll in more chapters in the near feature. - Zanzibar


Chapter Three: Partner
I'll be dead before the day is gone

Night falls, and I'm still awake. Attempts to sleep are futile, and I'm left tossing and turning in my bed for two hours before I'm unnerved. Unlike at home, I can't slip outside and escape into the security of my dark forest. No, I'm on a moving train towards hell. Instead, I'd just have to settle with relocating myself to the lounge cabin.

Slipping into a brown robe provided for me, I stealthily crept out of my room and made my way for the lounge cabin. My bare feet smoothly maneuvered across the cool metal floor in the darkness. For a moment, I felt at home, wrapped in the shadows. I closed my eyes, navigating to the door that let into the lounge cabin.

To my surprise, there was someone awake. The television was on, and the recap of the Reaping was commencing. A silhouette sat cross-legged on one of the couches, and glanced over their shoulder when I entered.

"Anthony?" I breathed.

He nodded.

Walking over, I leaned against the couch arm and gazed at the television set. There were two analyzers discussing the year's selected tributes, weighing in their opinions and lobbing debates.

"District 2 hasn't failed to produce top prospects. We can except the victors to derive from that district again," one of the men boasted. There was a clip flashing to the stage in District 2, where the two tributes stood in front of their peers, bustling with pride. Unlike many of the other districts, District 2 promoted and worshipped their tributes. Most of them were trained for life and volunteered.

The other analyzer nodded. "Once again, District 2 finds themselves with a pair of volunteers. Tributes Cato and Clove show a lot of promise."

"I can't see any other District rising to the challenge."

"There can be surprises, Don," the other man reasoned.

Don shrugged. "True, but those surprise better have a plethora of tricks up their sleeves to out battle this deadly duo."

The two analyzers paused for a moment, before Don picked up. "Let's take a quick recap of this year's selected tributes..."

The screen flashed to clips from the previous day. It included the bold volunteerism from District 2's Cato and Clove. I noticed that District 1 and the girl from District 4 were also forces to be reckoned with. The clip of Anthony and I on stage at District 7 came shortly. I glanced away, too embarassed by my wily gaze and pale face. District 10 produced a decent male tribute. Surprisingly, District 12 had a volunteer, a rare commodity in their district.

Don and the second analyzer returned to the screen, smiling. Their words became a jumble in my brain as I absorbed the information.

District 2 were monsters. Trained for life. They could wield any weapon and were trained to survive a myriad of elements. Survival was second nature to them. Nothing in the arena should surprise them.

"This is going to be rough," Anthony sleep-deprived voice states.

I snort. "Understatement of the day."

Anthony chuckles. "Right? I don't know what we'd do without Johanna here to mentor us...she's gritty and cunning."

"That still doesn't compensate for our skill. We better polish up some things..." I sigh, sliding down onto the couch beside Anthony. I rub my hands together nervously. "I mean, I can't fight worth a damn..."

"You'll pick up something," Anthony optimized. "I can teach you to throw. It's practically in your genes, you just have to discover it."

I smiled at my district partner. "Thanks."

There's a silence, except for the soft drone of the television, that lingers.

Anthony suddenly reaches out and grabs my hand. "I don't want to die..."

I am stunned by his action, and stare, dumbfounded, into his eyes. I shake my head. How can I tell him that one person will emerge victorious? How can I tell him the odds aren't in our favour? We might as well quit now, since District 1 or 2 or some shock sensation from District who-knows will win. Do I dare tell him that, in my heart, I don't expect to return home? And even if I did, wouldn't that mean Anthony would be dead in the end?

I lower my head, nodding softly in agreement. That's all I could bear to do. Even though we were allies right now, one day we might be faced as enemies. Only one could survive. That was the concrete rules of the Capitol's Hunger Games.

"We'll fight, Anthony," I finally say. "We will fight."

Because we have no better strategy. It's fight or die.