Italia Minicius (Girl #7) ran down the street, heading south of the starting zone, and into zone E-6. Her curled caramel hair was a complete mess, but for the first time in her life, she had other priorities besides her appearance. The large clunky bag pounded against her side as she ran; that would cause bruising later on. If there was a later on. Italia tried to control her breathing, but just ended up yelping. The sound echoed off of the tall buildings that lined the street, lasting for much longer than ideal. Her eyes widened, and she clasped her hands over her mouth, running to the nearest building, and pushing open the pristine glass door. Her hands touched the surface that was reflecting the moonlight perfectly, and moved through, into the building.

One look at the building quickly identified it as a hotel; Italia was currently in the lobby. The reception desk was in front of her, perfectly waxed wood. On top of the desk was an open book. Out of curiosity, Italia walked over to it, and saw several names written into there. Almost instantly after looking at the names Italia's blood turned to ice.


1. Hollie, age 15

2. Cole, age 14

3. George, age 13

4. Annabel, age 15

5. Byron, age 17

6. Mysty, age 17

7. Pennie, age 16

8. Ash, age 12

9. Swift, age 16

10. Lynn, age 16

11. Garry, age 18

12. Ruby, age 18

13. Samuel, age 12

14. Kai, age 16

15. Luke, age 17

16. Jay, age 14

17. Olyver, age 16

18. Sheen, age 18

19. Tara, age 16

20. Kathrynn, age 15

21. Martyn, age 15

22. Liam, age 17

23. Sara, age 18

It was listing all the tributes of the 66th Games, in order of death. Italia felt a mixture of sickness and dread looking at the names. She had watched these kids die on television, and celebrated it. Dear lord, she even found it entertaining. Just the thought on its own was enough to cause Italia to tremble, and begin to sob. But she couldn't cry; crying would draw attention. She tried to do breathing exercises again, but her breaths just ended up being short and raspy. Far too much noise to be made for where Italia was. She looked around the lobby again, and saw a door to her left, with the conspicuous label of 'stairs'. To her right was an elevator. The pair of silver doors were shut, and to the right of them was a panel with a button: the button that controlled the elevator. Italia found herself looking at it long and hard. If there was still electricity, then maybe, just maybe she could use it to get to the top floor as quickly as possible. But she needed some way of testing the electricity to see if it worked. The darkness was really a problem to look, but Italia finally saw it on the other side of the reception desk: a light switch, the golden colour of it giving off the slightest of shimmers. That would do. That would do.

Italia crept over to the desk, and vaulted over it, landing on the other side. The contents of her bag rattled as she did so, but the sound quickly died down. But, just to be sure, Italia looked behind her, and out of the window. The streets outside were still empty, and still dark; if only there were street lights, then it would be much easier to see. But there weren't any of them in the Hunger Games, so why here as well?

Returning her attention to the light switch, which was just to the left of a book shelf, Italia quickly approached it, but then, her hand lingered over the switch as her heart began to pound. Turning on the light would practically make her a beacon for anyone looking out there, and if it attracted the wrong kind of attention, then game over. But at the same time, she needed to know if the elevator worked, and this would be instant in telling her. And besides, it would only be for a few seconds. Just a few seconds; anyone who saw it wouldn't think anything of it. Yeah, that was right. Just a few seconds...

Italia's hand pressed down on the switch. Instantly, bright light flooded the dark room, revealing the floral wallpaper, and the green carpeted floor. And most horrifyingly, a few dried up flakes of blood on the window pane. For a moment, Italia was seized by fear. That could be one of her classmates' blood. Which meant that a killer could be lurking nearby. But who would try and kill anyone? Nobody from Italia's circle of friends; they were all peaceful girls that would never attempt to cause harm. Then who?

As Italia felt herself on the verge of screaming, she remembered: this blood was preserved from the moment in the Games when the boy from District 2 chased down the girl from District 8, and massacred her in front of her district partner and his alliance. This was a stray splatter of blood, preserved for the nostalgia factor. And to think, Italia's parents had arranged for them to go to this arena during the school break for this year's Games as soon as the winner was crowned. They would have adored this section of the arena; Italia's mother in particular was highly fond of the big confrontations that had high body counts. By her standards, they were truly the most exhilarating moments. By Italia's standards, it was a tragic frenzy in which nobody knew who was getting out alive. Sometimes it was all involved, sometimes it was none. Italia leaned toward the former, which was almost unheard of. It was like it was some unwritten law that all Capitol citizens must enjoy every aspect of the Games, like it was the most entertaining thing ever. Italia preferred the game shows that aired on television during the evenings when the Games weren't happening; they provided the same competitive air, minus the horrific carnage of innocent young lives being cut short.

Suddenly, a scream was heard in the distance. Italia began to tremble, realising that that meant there was someone else pretty close by. Her eyes grew wide, and chills spiked throughout her body. If that person was screaming like that, it could only mean that they were being attacked. And the attacker would most likely find Italia right away; the light made her a flashing target. She had to turn the light off. With a shaking hand, Italia reached over to the switch, and flicked it up. The light died, leaving her alone in the shadows of the night. There were no more screams.

Italia slowly crept out from behind her desk, clutching her bag closely as to not make any more noise, and approached the elevator, her shoes creaking on the odd floorboard that she stepped on. Every time it happened, she froze, not daring to hold her breath until she was sure it was safe to continue. Because of this, it took her around ten minutes just to cross the lobby to the elevator. But she managed to make it there in the end, breathing heavily due to the thick fear in the air. Her hand reached towards the button to the side of the elevator, and pressed down on the cold metal. A ping rang out, and the button lit up a bright green. Light that would be easily seen. Panicking, Italia covered the light with her hand, preventing the glow from shining out, until the elevator doors opened, and light from the elevator flooded into the room, illuminating everything in an eerie glow. She rushed into the elevator, and dumped her bag on the floor beside her; it caused the metallic floor to vibrate as it hit the ground. Italia looked over the array of buttons on the inside wall, and not looking at any of them, simply pressed the top button.

"Going up to: the top floor apartment." A metallic voice suddenly filled the elevator as the doors shut, causing Italia to scream. She gripped onto the railing inside the elevator, the chrome slightly warm to the touch. She figured that was due to the heating of the place still being on; that thought calmed her. There were a thousand worse possibilities that flooded through Italia's head at that moment, and she was glad for such an explanation.

The elevator suddenly lurched as it began to rise upwards, catching Italia off-guard. She lost her grip on the railing, and was thrown to the floor, slamming her arm on the ground. Italia winced in pain, and shakily stood up. She rolled her shirt sleeve up, revealing her porcelain-like skin, and the massive bruise that was now forming. Well, it could be a lot worse, at least. She could be trapped in a room with someone else out to kill her, instead of being in this large hotel, in relative safety. Another ping sounded out, and the elevator came to a stop, but this time Italia was ready for it. She gripped on, hard, and remained standing.

"You have arrived at: the top floor apartment." The metallic voice fell silent once more, and Italia grabbed her bag, lifting it onto her good arm, and walked out of the slowly opening doors. The light of the elevator allowed her to see the door to the bedroom at the end of the hallway just before the doors shut, sending Italia into relative darkness once more. She crept slowly along the hallway, her footsteps muffled in the thick golden carpet. The walls were lined with a lime green wallpaper, and covered with various paintings of several victors of the Hunger Games. For some reason, these images caused Italia to feel more terrified than she already was. Every one of these people had twenty three ghosts haunting them, and they would have to live with the knowledge that in order for them to still be here, they had to watch nearly two dozen others die. Just like this situation. This realisation caused Italia to freeze with horror. Tears dripped down her face, and she shook softly. In order for anyone to live, all of their classmates would have to die. The people they grew up with. Just to make an example of them. Italia felt herself slipping quickly into despair, before the fear brought her back. She couldn't space out like that. Not now. Not when she had to keep focused to prevent her untimely death. Not that she was at risk or anything; she was the first one here, and would be fine staying in this building throughout the game. Unless it became a Danger Zone, but she wasn't worried about that. She walked up to the large wooden door at the end of the hallway, and placed her hand on the pristine metal handle. It was warm. Just like the elevator. But she didn't pay it another moment's thought, and pushed down, opening the door.

Italia stepped inside the bedroom, and instantly felt the trapped heat wash over her. This room had clearly not been opened since it was built, and had just been gathering heat. But that meant nobody else was in here with her, which was good. She stepped further inside, and shut the door behind her carefully, making sure it looked as if nobody was here, in the event that someone else tried to come in. She set her bag down on the bed, and walked across the room to the window, which was just next to the large wardrobe in the room. It took some pushing, but the window finally opened, a cool night breeze blowing into the room, cooling it down. Italia took a deep breath. She would be okay here, and she could even get some sleep, which was more than what could be said for most of her classmates tonight. A yawn escaped from Italia's lips; she really was that tired. Rubbing her eyes, Italia walked across the room, and to the bed. She stood in front of it for a moment, and reached for her bag.

And that was when the hand shot out from under the bed, clamping around Italia's ankle.

Italia let out a scream of terror as she was thrown to the ground, her head slamming against the floor. A dull thud of pain filled her head, but she didn't stop screaming. Another hand grabbed her other ankle, and she started to be pulled under the bed. Italia gripped onto the carpet in a vain attempt at saving herself, but it was futile, and the girl slipped under the bed, and out of view of everyone.

"Hey, Italia," a voice said. Italia's blood froze as she recognised it immediately: Castus Libo (Boy #8). "It's been a while since we talked." She could faintly see his brown eyes glaring at her in the dark, and his twisted smile.

"Get away from me!" she yelled, and delivered a punch in his general direction. She made contact with something, a leg, if she had to guess. Castus simply laughed.

"Now, now," he said. "We don't want this to get violent, do we?" He reached down, and lifted up something. The faintest light reflected off of it, and Italia instantly recognised it: a large butcher's knife.

"No..." she whispered.

"Yes..." he whispered back. In one swift motion, he pulled his arm back, and swung it towards Italia. The blade sliced across her throat. The excruciating pain was instant. Castus crawled out from under the bed, pulling his bag with him, leaving Italia down there. She was laying on her side as the blood pumped from her body. She tried to breathe, and began to choke on the blood. Her collar was stained a deep red from all the fluid. And then, before she could do anything else, the blood stopped pumping, and Italia fell limp: she was the first kill of the Battle Royale.

Castus reached over onto the bed, and grabbed Italia's bag. He opened it, and pushed through the food and water until he found her weapon. His hands found something heavy and metallic. He lifted it out of the bag, and set it down on the bed. It was a pistol, fully loaded, and perfect to kill with. Castus chuckled darkly, and threw the knife on the ground, holding the infinitely more useful weapon instead. He shoved Italia's food and water into his own bag, and discarded Italia's bag as well. His supplies had now doubled, and he now had one of the better weapons this game had to offer; there wasn't much better than a gun. Giving one last look at the pool of blood that was now seeping out from under the bed, Castus ran out of the room, and towards the elevator, smiling to himself. The game had finally begun for him, and he was going to ensure that he was the one to return home.