So, you won't be receiving an update tomorrow, because I'm going to be at a Marching Competition from really early to really late. So, yeah...
"Distirct3: Technology. District 3 is not a very powerful district in the games. They rarely show victors, almost as few as District 12. District 3's last victor was 12 years ago, and their are only three still living today. Besides being one of the least victor-seeing Districts, it is also known as being the smartest district."
Only a few residents had made it to the train station this time and they didn't make much noise of greeting. It took no time to get into the the streets of the District. Tall, gray buildings lined the streets. Kat saw the perfect opportunity to ditch her frustrating company. She quickly turned a corner while the fire-haired boy eyed a passing girl around their age. She slipped into an alley and ducked behind a large dumpster. Slader walked in front of the opening, looked at a passing girl, and turned to follow after her. Kat sighed in relief and slipped out and down the street before he could see her.
Kat peered curiously around, recent rains had left the sky cloudy and made the whole district look gray and cold. Kat wondered if it didn't always look like this, the people sure made it seem so. As she passed through the town square she noticed a marketer selling fresh fruit. She silently wondered where he had gotten it. She was under the impression there was no fresh fruit in District 3. She didn't get to ponder this question long, however, for she suddenly became aware of a figure creeping up behind the stand owner. It was a scrawny girl with a rustic braid, creeping silently up on the man who was turned talking to a customer. The girl's dull olive eyes were flitting suspiciously around to be sure she wasn't seen. Kat quickly shifted her gaze so she could watch the girl out of the corner of her eyes, but not be suspicious. She saw the girl quickly slip a few apples into a loose satchel.
Kat began to stroll forward slowly and watched as the strange girl whirled around and silently, nimbly avoiding slashing puddles that would surely give her away, slipped off. Kat quickened her pace and followed her. The girl quickly noticed her and began a jog. When Kat quickened her step, the girl took off in a full blown run, no longer bothering to avoid puddles, and splashing mud and water high in her wake. Kat zipped after her. Kat was fast but so was this girl, and Kat quickly discovered that she also had much more stamina built up. After a few blocks Kat's chest began to burn and her muscles ached. She slowed while the girl kept a steady pace. The girl seemed to notice and decided to take advantage of Kat's slowing pace. She suddenly changed directions, taking such a sharp turn that she had to grab hold of the side of the building to keep from slipping in the slick mud and falling on her hind end.
Kat growled in frustration and forced her sore muscles to carry her faster. She turned the corner and found an empty alley way. The district girl who had stolen the fruit was nowhere to be seen. Kat refrained from kicking up the mud in vexation, since her shoes were already soaked. She was about to turn and go, when the hair on the back of her neck began to stand up. She was being watched. The girl must be in the alley, hiding. Kat slowly began a trek down the alley, trying to watch everywhere at once to find the girl. She made it all the way to the end and come out to the that alley circled around the back of the building and up another alley.
Kat was suddenly struck by an idea. She slowly made her way back to the front of the alley and turned the way she had come. She stopped and waited, no sound drifted to her from the alley, but Kat honestly didn't expect any. She stuck her head around the corner to look and she grinned when she just saw the tip of a rustic braid.
With sly grin she zipped across the sidewalk and stopped just short of turning the corner into the next alley. She didn't hear any footsteps, she didn't expect to, but she Just caught sight of the girl as she flew from the alley and made to turn in her direction. Kat stuck her foot out and the girl promptly fell to her face in the mud. Her black fedora flew from atop her head and splashed in a puddle not far off. Her black skinny jeans and leather jacket her spattered with muddy water and her hands became thick with it. She pulled her face out of the mud, spitting out more profanities than mud, then whipped around to face her attacker. Kat just raised her eyebrow.
"You know stealing is illegal and punishable by death," Kat told her. The girl spat at her feet in response. Kat didn't move except to cross her arms.
"What are you gonna do about it, Capitol?" the girl snarled in a low voice. Her dull olive eyes locked with Kat's and she crinkled her pointed nose. Kat took in the girl's angular features thoughtfully.
"What's your name?"
The girl didn't respond or even flinch, she only glared hatred. Kat moved to reach out a helping hand and found it nearly meeting with a steel blade. She yelped in surprised and jerked her hand back just in time. The girl had pulled the dagger from one of her combat boots and only flashed it as a warning. The glint of the steel was there and gone so fast that Kat couldn't even honestly be sure if she had truly seen it. The girl was up in a flash. She skidded to a halt not far off to scoop up her fallen hat, then was gone in another blink. Kat stood in wonderment at first, then huffed and slumped down on the sidewalk, no longer caring if mud got on her bright skinny jeans.
"Don't feel bad, Kid," someone said soothingly. Kat jumped and looked over to see a small boy with scraggly black hair standing a way off grinning at her. "Most people don't even get that much out of her."
Kat frowned at him. "Do you know her?"
The boy shrugged nonchalantly and replied, "Sort of." Kat raised a wondering eyebrow. "We go to school together, she's a year behind me. She's very," he paused to find a word. "Smart, she would be a brilliant addition to the drama club as well, but that's not really how she prefers to use her talents."
Kat shook her head. "She sounds fun, what her name?"
"Arell," he replied absently. He then seemed to realize something and quickly added, "But she likes people to call her Nimbus. Otherwise she can get kind of..." He trailed off, but he didn't really have to finish. Kat could guess how she got judging by her behavior from the events just before.
"So who are you?" she asked the boy.
"Oh, I'm Teddy," he told her.
"I like that name," Kat said thoughtfully. She then stood and held out her hand, "I'm Kat-"
"Snow, yeah, I know," he told her excepting her hand.
Kat sighed sadly. "Everyone does." Absently she realized he was around her height when she stood next to him.
"Well, you are famous, you know," he told her reasonably.
Kat laughed heartily and said, "I guess I am, aren't I?"
Teddy laughed back. "So what are you doing here in 3, anyhow? I didn't think this place would be a popular tour stop for a Capitol." His blue, mistakenly violet eyes shone, with pure curiosity, not bitterness.
"I'm performing interviews," Kat told him with a giggle. "Would you like to help me?"
Teddy shrugged, "Sure."
~District 3 elsewhere~
"I can not believe this," Slader grumbled bitterly, kicking a helpless rock which skidded across the sidewalk. "She just ditched me, how could she do that!" His outrage was beginning to attract the attention of locals. He felt his face burn and knew it was turning crimson. Luckily, a black-laden girl came bolting through the street and successfully distracted their wondering eyes. Slader took this time to slip into an alley where he hoped he would be undisturbed.
There he kicked over a garbage can, which fell to spew its rotting contents over the ground. A yelp filled the air and a skeletal dog skidded off. Slader didn't pay it much mind, though, He was much more concerned with the throbbing in his toe that reminded him why kicking the trashcan had been a bad idea.
"What did I ever do to you, anyway?" Slader growled to the air.
"Well, for one you spilled my food everywhere," a calm voice broke the air making Slader nearly leap from his own skin. He whirled around to see a frail boy standing a distance off, peering curiously at him with sunken eyes. His gaunt face made Slader's stomach turn, reminding him that he was a monster in the eyes of these people because he was allowed three filling meals a day and more. Shaggy, unwashed blond hair hung in his eyes without concern and his cloths hung limply from his form. In his hand, he clutched a piece of bread as though it were a lifeline. A life line that had a fuzzy, greenish-blue substance growing on it.
"Don't eat that!" Slader said, finally finding his voice again when the boy made to raise the ruined bread to his mouth.
The boy paused. "Why not?"
"Because its molded!" Slader exclaimed as though it should be obvious. Well, it should be.
Much to Slader's surprise, the boy chuckled at him. "Capitol," he said. "So what do you suggest I eat? I have no money to pay for fresh bakery bread. Mr. Gawl sets a high price."
Slader blinked, then removed a bag of food from the brown messenger bag slung over his shoulder. It was Kat's, but at the moment he didn't really care. She had ditched him. "Here, eat this." He flung the bag to the boy who caught it and pulled it open. He looked up at Slader in wonder.
"Are-are you serious?" He asked, scrutinizing(1) him suspiciously.
"Well if I wasn't then I can't change my mind now, can I?" Slader answered.
"Well, you could run to the Peacekeepers the moment you leave and tell them I'm a thief. I'm not, by the way, that's for smart people, like Nimbus."
"Who's Nimbus? Wait, never mind. I don't wanna know. Anyways, I'm Slader. Who are you."
The thin boy eyed him suspiciously as though not sure if he should share this information, then replied, "Jaxton. My name is Jaxton."
"Well Jaxton I-" Slader paused with surprise as he watched Jaxton yank open the bag, shove a small piece of fresh bread in his mouth then yank it shut again and tie it to his belt loop. "Aren't you going to eat that?"
Jaxton gave a dry laugh. "My brother doesn't know the meaning of the word 'full', my little sister doesn't even know that's a state your stomach can be in, and my baby sister is young enough that she should still have baby fat, and yet you can still count her ribs. What kind of big brother would I be if I denied them something so precious as food? No, Capitol, I'm not going to eat it, I'm going to take it home to my starving family. To, my parents, who have done nothing but work their hides off to provide you people with electricity and all they want in return is to put food in front of their children, yet all they get is slowly starving babies and a thirteen-year-old son sent off to your precious Capitol to die!" The boy stopped abruptly seeming to realize he'd said to much. He whipped around to try and escape, but Slader had already put two-and-two together.
Jaxton screeched to a halt and slowly turned, "What did you just say?"
"Braxton," Slader responded, snapping his fingers. "You're related to Braxton Jutts, District 3's male tribute from last year's games. I should have known! You look just like him!"
The boy gave a dry laugh. "You know for a Capitol, you sure remember odd tributes. My brother didn't even make past the first day. He died in the bloodbath, I thought those tributes were forgotten in the Capitol."
Slader laughed, too. "Not by me, I could name all of last year's tributes. I keep up with that stuff."
"I would be an awfully cold-blooded person if I forgot the lives we took, wouldn't I?"
"The rest of the Capitols doesn't seem to have a problem with it," Jaxton grumbled.
"Well, I'm not the rest of the Capitols, am I?" Slader crossed his arms and gave the boy a glare.
"Yeah, but you are the son of the Headgamemaker. I would think you would be the worst," Jaxton replied.
"That's just-" Slader cut himself off. "Look think of me how you want. It really doesn't matter." He then pulled out another bag of food that was his own. "I'm gonna be in town for two weeks. Meet me hear everyday around noon and I'll have food for you and your family."
"Why would you do that?" Jaxton asked in amazement as the Capitol boy tossed him the bag of food.
"Call it payment for your brother's life," Slader replied, then slipped off.
He was still thinking of the boy from the alley as he strode absently down the street. This, however, resulted in him walking strait into someone. He stumbled back a few steps to prevent himself from hitting the ground, then looked to see who he had hit. His eyes widened as he spotted cat ears. Blue eyes locked on him and he winced at the intensity of them. "What are you doing?" Kat snapped at him.
Slader frowned at the girl, "What do you mean, what am I doing? I was looking for you! You know, since you ditched me and all."
"I didn't ditch you! You just fell behind!"
"'Fell behind' my butt!" Slader snapped back at her, throwing his arms into the air.
"Don't get smart with me!" she snarled baring her teeth. One of her fuzzy cat ears gave and irritable twitch and Slader gave an involuntary smirk. "What are you smirking about!"
"Nothing!" Slader replied raising his hands innocently.
Kat grumbled and turned on her heel. "Come on," she called back to him, "and try not to fall behind again."
Slader might have grumbled that he had not fallen behind, but he was to busy holding back a snigger as he watched Kat's tail give a flick, then swung slowly in her wake. Slader silently wondered if she knew when her tail and ears moved, or if it was subconscious. Then, because he's Slader, "Hey, Kat! I have a question!"
District 3: Next Day
Kat stomped along, trying to block out the voice of the obnoxious boy trailing behind her. He was trying to be cute! Cute, of all things. He thought he could just make fun of her cat features, which she already hated, and just make up for it by being cute! No. He couldn't. They weren't even on speaking terms anymore. She was going to completely block him out the rest of the trip. Cute! He's trying to be cute!
She stopped in front of a dark green door and rapped it with her knuckles. It swung open and in it stood the District three victor, Beetee. Beetee was a small old man with round wire-rimmed glasses that he peered over to look down at her. He had lost most of his hair and what was left was wispy and covered very little of his head. He smiled warmly at the sight of Kat. Kat smiled back, Beetee was one of her favorite victors. He was very kind and showed her lots of tricks when he came to the Capitol.
Kat peered past him at the two women in the house. The older woman was Wiress, with thinning gray hair and pale eyes. Wiress wasn't exactly all there but she was nice to have around. The other woman was far younger than Wiress and Beetee. She had thick, coal-black hair and nearly black eyes that shined kindly. She was a tall woman, a good head taller than her fellow victors from three. This was Wrenetta Harp, the winner of the 88th Hunger Games.
Wrenetta was a victor that Kat didn't have to watch to know all about. She was famous. She had won her games by combining strategies of past Hunger Games participants. Like during the pre-games events, she pretended to be a crying weakling who had no idea what she was doing, like Johanna Mason, a District 7 Victor. Then once in the arena, she used her knowledge of electricity and traps, which she learned with the help of her mentor, Beetee. She used the strategy of the District 5 girl from the 74th Hunger Games, Ginger Carnes(2) and stayed close to the cornucopia, and moving in to steal supplies whenever she saw a chance. She used the strategy of Katniss Everdeen, also from the 74th Hunger Games who blew up the Careers' supplies, and the strategy of the District 3 girl from the 75th games, where she used a tree as a lightning rod to take down the Careers, and turned the whole Cornicopia into a lightning rod. With the help of carefully placed flammables, the sparks of the electricity hitting steel lit the whole pile of supplies aflame. When it was over the only thing left of the supplies was ashes.
More traps followed this and they took out most of the remaining Careers and a few more of her other, lesser, opponents. In the end it came down her and the girl from District Eleven. She managed to give her a severe wound, but then the girl managed to make it up a tree. Wrenetta couldn't climb, but the sky quickly grew cloudy and the bottom fell out, leaving the bleeding girl in the tree soaking to the skin, while Wrenetta took shelter under a clump of bushes and her coat, which kept her considerably dry, and glad that she had not gone up the tree. Lightning would certainly take down her opponent. After hours of waiting in the down pour, Wrenetta began to give up hope and the girl in the tree began to realize how bad of an idea being up there really was. Luckily the Capitol had grown bored with the stadstill and the girl had lost far to much blood anyhow, so the Gamemakers made the final death excitable by striking the tree with white hot electricity that fried the girl to a crisp and all that was sent home to her family was her ashes.
Kat shivered. Wrenetta was smart and funny and sweet all around, but, deep inside of her, Kat knew she had to be hiding an insane woman. "Well, if it isn't Kat Snow! How is the Capitol's Sweetheart?"
Kat smiled at the man brightly, "Oh, much better than the twelve-year-olds from the Districts, I suppose."
"Yes, I can agree with that," Wrenetta nodded. "It's an awful year to be turning twelve. Bet your glad your not a District kid."
Kat nodded as a smile crept across her face, remembering her own brilliant plan. "Definitely never been so glad to live in the Capitol."
"Why don't you two come in? We've got warm cookies and milk to go with it," Beetee offered, stepping aside to let them in. As they entered, Kat was nearly knocked to her feet. Beetee chuckled and Slader caught Kat before she could fall flat on her backside, and Kat jerked away from him and straitened her jacket, glaring daggers at the boy.
"Allena!" Wiress scolded. "You should..." she woman trailed off and then seemed confused, as though wondering what she had meant to say.
"Apologize to our guests and stop running in the house," Beetee finished for the woman.
The girl who had nearly knocked Kat to her feet paused to cock a curious head a Kat. She recognized her, of course. Allena had been to the Capitol a couple times with Wiress and Beetee. The Capitol adored the small girl nearly as much as Kat herself, and who wouldn't. Allena had a very remarkable story. Her mother and father had met after a blow out at a light shop, that lit the building to flame and killed nine people, including both of their parents. At sixteen her mother became pregnant and a week before her birth, her father was reaped for the Hunger Games. He lost, of course, then two years later, her mother was reaped as well, at he age of eighteen. After losing both of her parents to the Hunger Games, and with no other family to take care of her, Allena was sentenced to be sent to a group home. Beetee, who admitted to feeling guilty about getting neither of the poor girl's parents out alive, immediately stepped forward to adopt. Wiress agreed to help him raise her and they had done a fine job, in Kat's eyes.
Allena was a very quick-witted ten-year-old with hair as black as the coal mined in District 12 and eyes that were such a grey that it seemed someone had burned coal in her head and they showed what was left of it. She had shown Kat how to set a trap that could, not only string a victim by their foot, but also cause them to hit their head on a carefully placed rock, which could dent their skill and cause death. Everyone knew Allena could set elaborate traps, but it was to be expected, since she was raised by Beetee, who won his games with his traps. Besides her knowledge in traps, Allena was also very good at puzzles, which she picked up from Wiress. Kat had seen her work out some puzzles faster than Wiress herself.
Allena blinked away her surprise and spoke. "I am deeply sorrowed that my unintentional physical contact has caused a sense of rudeness from me to enter your psychological consciousness."
She looked dead serious at Kat then both of the girls' faces split into wide grins and they were laughing hysterically. "What was that," Kat managed through her laughter.
"I don't know," Allena replied through her own. "I was just saying things that sounded kind of smart."
It took at least five minutes for the two to regain themselves and wipe away the tears that were rolling down their faces. Kat rubbed her side, which was sour from laughing, and said, "Listen I'm interviewing locals and I was curious if any of you would be willing to answer some questions."
"Sounds fun," Allena told her only half paying any attention. "Well I'm off, bye!" Before anyone could protest she disappeared through a door. Kat raised a quizzical eyebrow at Beetee, who shrugged.
An hour later, after interviewing each of the three victors, Kat's curiosity overwhelmed her and she excused herself. She quickly found the door Allena had disappeared through and slipped through it herself. Silently, she made her way down the stairs and when she reached the bottom, she couldn't hold back the gasp that escaped her lips. It was a large empty basement room, with concrete walls and creaking lamps swinging from the ceiling. On the wall to the left was a large red and white target and on the wall across from her was a clock, ticking away seconds. Pushed up against the wall underneath it, was a wooden work bench which Allena was standing in front of, with a small curved knife clutched in her hand. She was staring at the clock with a cocked head, as though waiting for something, and mumbling under her breath.
"What are you doing?" Kat asked, making the District 3 girl jump and turn to stare at her. Once realizing it was the pink-haired girl she relaxed and put the blade between her fingers.
"They were my mother's weapon of choice, where they not? Knives," she released it in quick motion and it just missed the bull's eye. She seemed disappointed by the lack of success and turned to face Kat.
"Wiress didn't even use weapons in her games," Kat told her eyeing the knife uncertainly.
Allena gave a dry bark of laughter. "Not Wiress, my birth mother. Ameralla."
"Yes, she did," Kat nodded," and her confidence with them got her killed."
"She over-estimated her ability!" Allena snapped. "We all do it, even you."
Kat opened her mouth to argue, then closed it. "What were you saying?" She questioned when she finally found her voice again.
"When?" Allena asked.
"Earlier, when I came in."
Another sharp bark of amusement. "Tick tock, this is a clock." Allena looked to her for a reaction, then went on, "Its what Wiress says whenever something comes up about the 75th arena-"
"The clock," Kat breathed remembering it.
Allena grinned and that was when Kat noticed that she was circling her. "Exactly, but I think it's a pretty good fit to describe out country as well. We're a clock, every second that passes by, is another second closer to when the clock will stop," Kat listened intently as the younger girl crossed the room again to her work bench, "And when the Capitol will run out of time and..." she paused for a moment leaving Kat to hang tightly to her last word. Then a smile split her face in half, and she placed a finger delicately on a glass figurine of the Capitol building, where Kat and her family live. "Falls," she gave the figurine a push and it fell to the floor, and shattered into countless little pieces that flew across the room in every direction. Allena then burst into a maniacal cackle that rang in Kat's ears and bounced around her head.
"Allena, I love you, but sometimes I think you're halfway to insanity," Kat told her friend.
Allena cut her laughter short and gave her such a serious look that Kat flinched under it. "Maybe I am, but insanity would be much better if it were complete, only being half insane just stinks."
With another cackle she was up the stairs leaving Kat to stand their looking confused. "What?"
~One Week Later: District 3~
"Does it look like its close to noon to you?" Slader wondered, squinting up at the dull sun.
"I don't know," Kat replied ringing the door bell of the house they had approached a few minutes before. "Why do you care?"
Slader shrugged. "Just curious."
"You know, its really suspicious when you disappear at the same time every day," Kat told her companion.
Slader looked at her and grinned. "Okay, then I'll disappear at two."
Kat rolled her eyes, "Dork."
"Hey! Name calling is rude!" Slader scolded.
"Whatever." Kat reached out and rang the doorbell again.
"Maybe no ones home," Slader suggested, taking up following the footsteps he left in the soft mud around in an endless circle.
"That's ridiculous, I see lights on," Kat told him.
"We leave those on to keep thieves out of the house," a voice spoke from behind. The two Capitols whipped around to see two girls, twins by the looks of them, standing at the end of the walkway. Both had short, choppy blond hair that lay in loose curls around their faces and both had plain, dull blue eyes that were searching their visitors. "Besides, the doorbell doesn't work anymore."
"Oh," Kat said scratching her head in embarrassment.
"So what are you doing here?" the girl to the right asked. She was taking in their unusual Capitol appearances. "Are you Capitols?"
"Yes," Slader replied. "Can't you tell," he asked gesturing at Kat's ears. Kat glared at him, still mad about him making fun of her cat features the week before.
"It's hard to tell, you don't dress as extreme as the other Capitols, but you have...quirks." Kat saw the girl glance in her direction.
"I think your outfit is so cool!" the other girl cried happily rushing forward. She stood about a head shorter than Kat, and immediately placed a hand on the cool leather of her hot pink jacket. "So cool! What are these?" Then the girl was staring fascinated at the elastic, neon green suspenders that hung from the waistband of Kat's checker print skirt.
Kat was about to open her mouth the answer, when she was cut off by a calm yet menacing snarl, "Well look who just doesn't know when to quit."
Kat looked up to see a scrawny girl approaching. A scrawny girl with curly hair in a generic rustic braid, who's olive eyes were glaring her down angrily. "You!" Kat gasped recognizing the girl.
She plopped her black fedora back on her head and tugged off her tight, black leather jacket revealing her night colored tank top. "You're just dying to get your ass kicked aren't you?"
"You act like I'm stalking you or something!" Kat shouted, throwing her arms up, ready to defend.
"Lynn, get away from them, now!" Arell snapped at the blond girl, who yelped and jumped away from them as though they were diseased.
"That's Katalina Snow," Arell told them as though he answer should be obvious.
"Really?" The other girl questioned disbelievingly.
"What did I ever do to you?"
"To many things to count," the girl responded.
"Name one thing!"
"Well, let's start with you chasing me down and throwing me into the mud!"
"Okay besides that!" Kat snapped.
"You said one thing!"
"You did say one thing," Slader pointed out. Kat shot him a death glare that clearly told him to shut it.
"Well now I'm asking for another!"
"Fine, how about every time you get out in the Capitol and pretend to be the perfect Capitol girl, when in reality you're everything but! You don't believe in half of the things President Snow has done to this country and you have the power to stop it and yet all you do is sit back and watch innocent people die!"
"Ouch," came another comment from Slader.
"Is this about the Hunger Games? Because I couldn't stop that if I bugged Grandpa Snow everyday for the rest of his life!" Kat shouted defensively.
Arell looked ready to take her head off, "No! This has nothing to do with the Hunger Games! Why don't you leave!"
"No! Not until you tell me what you want me to change!" Kat shouted, planting her feet to the spot.
"I said go!" Arell's voice was low now and she shoved Kat, who stumbled back.
"Don't push me or I'll-"
"Oh, cat fight!"(3)Slader said excitedly.
"Shut the hell up, Slader!" Kat snarled at him.
"Hey! Don't talk to me like that! She's the one who pushed you."
"I can take you on easy, so long as you keep those knives out of it!" Kat told her lowly.
A gasp escaped the twins, standing off to the side watching with nearly as much interest a Slader. The boy looked worried as his eyes searched for a sign of the weapons.
"Nimbus! You have knives!" Lynn asked in a panic.
"Oh, you'll be killed if the Peacekeepers find out!" the second twin exclaimed.
"They won't, Rosie!" Arell shouted. "Will they?" She added turning to glare pointedly at Kat.
"Not even if they threatened to throw me in this year's arena," Kat replied. "Come on, Slader! I'm sick of dealing with this girl. We're leaving!"