Surprises: The 68th Annual Hunger Games

For 68 years the Capitol has held the Hunger Games to keep the rebellious Districts in check. This year will be full of surprises and shocking twists that nobody could have anticipated. So watch as the 24 tributes battle it out until one remains in an arena guaranteed to surprise the entire nation of Panem.


7. Above Expectations

Nikki Hart, 15, District 10 Tribute

I sit on my bed, watching as the sun's first rays creep in. I let out a yawn, my lack of sleep obvious. I should have slept last night, today's the most important pre-games day; the private training sessions. I have to show the Gamemakers everything I know if I want a decent score. I hear our district's escort knocking on my door, telling me to wake up and get dressed, but I already am. I got up and ready several hours ago, unable to sleep any more. I open the door just as she's in the middle of calling my name.
"Well, Nikki. An early riser, are you? Excellent! If only the same could be said for your partner." She points to a door I assume is Hunter's room. "I'm sure you've heard my calling to him over the past few days. I'm sure I've never met someone that takes so long to wake up! Well, to be honest, I woke half an hour late today, but no one's perfect!" She bounds down the hall to the dining room. I don't think I have ever met anyone as strange as this woman in my life.

I walk into the dining room, and sit at the massive wooden table covered in food. Our escort grabs an apple before making her way to the bedrooms again, probably to try wake Hunter and our mentor again. I take some bread, and begin to eat at it. I'm still munching on the familiar food when suddenly, something sweet covers my taste buds. I've only tasted chocolate once in my life, but the taste is all too familiar. I take another bite of the blissful bread, tasting the chocolate centre again. Before I know it, I've finished it, and my hands are flying to a second piece. I clench it, and bring it to my mouth, devouring the delightful food.
"Slow down there kid. It's just bread, nothing special." I whip my head around and see our mentor standing in the hall. She walks over to the table, grabs something, and begins to eat away at it. I hear complaining coming from behind me now, and I see as our escort drags a half awake Hunter to the table. Hunter takes a glass of water, and slowly takes sips from it.
"So, what will you two be doing for the Gamemakers today?" Our escort asks, and Hunter's eyes shoot wide open. He obviously didn't realise that today's the private sessions.
"Well, I was thinking of showing them this elaborate trap I learned over the past few days." I say. I have actually been planning the best way to show anything I learned in training off to the Gamemakers.
"I'm going to try something with a sword. They love that sort of thing." Hunter says, more alert now.
"So, you've decided a strategy. Good." Our mentor says, munching on an apple. I finish off the sweet chocolate filled bread, and have a drink of water. We sit in silence for a while, before our escort looks at the clock.
"My goodness! Would you look at the time!" She begins handing our plates to the Avoxes, and moving me and Hunter out of our seats. "The private sessions begin in fifteen minutes!" She marches us out of the dining room, down the hallway, and into the elevator. She presses the button, then steps out as the elevator begins to close.
"I'll see you two this evening. Let's hope you get good scores!"

The door opens again, and we're in the training centre. But the various stations have been taken down, and various chairs lay about the room. I see the Careers on the larger sofas, joking about something or other, and the other tributes, sitting on single chairs as far away from the Careers as possible. I sit on one of the chairs, and Hunter pulls up next to me. We sit in complete silence. Hunter's staring at his hands, as if he's deep in thought. I see one of the elevators open, and the District 3 tributes come out. I wave to Magnum, and she sits next to me.
"Nikki, I'm terrified about the session. I haven't thought of a plan at all." She says, obviously on edge.
"Well, let's make one now." I say. She looks at me, her face half hidden by her golden hair. "For starters, which weapon are you skilled at?"
"A blow gun," she replies, "It can down somebody instantly, and is small enough to not be detected."
"Well there you are. Shoot the blowgun accurately, and impress the Gamemakers with it. And the fact it's an unusual weapon will also help." I say, and her face lights up slightly.
"Ebony Amaranth." A woman says, and the boy from District 1 gets up, and follows her through the doors on the other end of the room. For a moment, the conversations stop, but they resume once more. About fifteen minutes later, the woman returns.
"Emerald Glitters." It continues this way for quite a while. After about an hour, the woman calls the next name.
"Magnum Flowes." Magnum's face tenses up, and she walks over to the woman like she had been reaped again, that fear evident in her body. She looks back for a moment, and I mouth the words 'good luck' to her. She smiles slightly, and vanishes behind the door. The woman returns fifteen minutes later, calling the next name. It continues like this for about three hours, and the woman calls the next name.
"Hunter Ruiz." He takes a deep breath, and stands up.
"Good luck." I say to him.
"Same to you." He replies, and vanishes behind the door. Suddenly, I feel strangely lonely, without my district partner. The only other districts left are 11 and 12, but they are with their partner. Suddenly, they all look straight at me.
"Nikki Hart, your training session." The woman pulls me out of my seat. I walk towards the doors, and open them. I'm in a very small hallway, double doors at the other end. I open them, and find myself in a much smaller version of the training centre. On a raised platform are the Gamemakers, heavily intoxicated. Except for the head Gamemaker, a dark skinned woman with blazing red hair in a practical ponytail. But the way she glares at me, almost accusingly, sets me on edge.

"Nikki Hart. District 10 tribute, 14." I let out, my voice shaky.
"Well then, Nikki. You have exactly fifteen minutes." The head Gamemaker replies, taking a sip from her glass of water. Okay, Nikki. You can do this. 
Shakily, I make my way over to the traps station, and grab a box of equipment. I walk over to the tree at the camouflage station, and begin to set the trap. I tighten the rope once more, and make my way to the swords station, and grab a dummy. I walk back to the tree, and sit the dummy on a branch. Looking around, I spot my next ingredient. A blowgun, with darts. It's in a cardboard box, and looks as if it was brought in partway through the day. Probably Magnum. Still, I grab a handful of darts, and a dagger. I nestle the darts in the bush, and hold the dagger. I launch the bladed weapon at the dummy; it falls, right into the trap. The darts fly out of the bush, striking everywhere. I walk over to the destroyed dummy, and retrieve my dagger. I place it back on the side, and give a court bow.
"Thank you, miss Hart. You may go now." The head Gamemaker says, her expression unreadable. I walk out of the double door on the other side of the room. I let out a breath I was unaware I was holding, and look back into the room. They boy from 11's just come in, and is giving his introductions. I turn away, and walk down the hall, finding an elevator at the end. I walk in, and press the number 10 button. The door closes, and a beep sounds out. The elevator moves up, then stops. An artificial voice sounds out.
"You have now reached floor ten." the doors open, and I step out. I'm in the hallway, outside the doorway right next to my room. So that's what was behind it...

I walk into the dining room, and find Hunter, our escort, and our mentor, all sat on the sofa, watching the television. Right now, the Capitol's seals on there, the anthem playing. Suddenly, the screen switches to the two announcers for the games, Caesar Flickerman and Claudius Templesmith.
"Hello, Panem! And welcome to the sixty eighth annual Hunger Games! Tonight, we'll be seeing the training scores our Gamemakers have given the tributes after three days of careful evaluation. Now, for those who are unfamiliar, this is how the training scores work. Each tribute is given a score between one and twelve; one being the lowest possible score, and twelve being the highest. Now, without further ado, the training scores!" The screen switches to a picture of the boy from 1.
"Ebony Amaranth, with a score of ten!" Ten. He's a Career, so it's not surprising.
"Emerald Glitters, with a score of nine!" It is surprising that she got a nine. District 1 usually always has tens.
"Nicholas Darwick, with a score of ten!" Another high scoring Career. Lets hope it's just them with high scores.
"Ariella Grayson, with a score of eight!" Now that is surprising. Careers from 1 and 2 never get scores that low.
"Veris Sphene, with a score of six!" Typical outlier score. Nothing interesting.
"Magnum Flowes, also with a score of six!" At least Magnum got a decent score.
"Ryder Bristen, with a score of eight!" Quite good for District 4. They usually get six to eights.
"Annemarie LaMarcus, with a score of seven!" Still, average for a Career from 4.
"Scott Brindle, with a score of three!" Three. That's low, even for outlier standards. With a score that low, nobody will sponsor him.
"Maia Kentner, with a score of seven!" Seven. Slightly above average.
"Tyler Hawes, with a score of four!" Quite low, but considering his age, it's not that bad.
"Alanna Pyre, with a score of seven!" A twelve year old with a score of seven. That's new.
"Kitro Token, with a score of five!" Another average score.
"Maple Barkley, with a score of six!" Nothing special.
"Flax Baize, with a score of four!" Quite low, but still in the expected range.
"Quinna Relling, with a score of five!" Average yet again.
"Aaron Marksly, with a score of five!" The standard district 9 score.
"Ella Vac, with a score of six!" Another high scoring twelve year old.
"Hunter Ruiz," Everyone goes silent, "With a score of eight!" Everybody claps and I give Hunter a high five.
"Nikki Hart," I hold my breath, "With a score of eight as well!" I run into Hunter, and hug him.
"Good job." He says.
"Same to you." I reply, focusing on the screen again.
"Kyle Duran, with a score of six!" A good score for a poorer district, but at least it isn't too bad.
"Afya Zahirah, with a score of nine!" I choke on my breath at that. I barely recall seeing the girl in training, yet she managed to pull of with a Career worth score. That has to be one of the better scores from District 11.
"Tobias McHaden, with a score of seven!" Quite good for District 12, but I'm still in awe of that girl from 11 with that nine.
"And lastly, April Holme. With a score of seven too!" Quite a good year for 12 this year. The show ends with Caesar reminding everyone that tomorrow, he'll be interviewing the tributes, and the anthem plays, the seal showing yet again.

Eight. I begin to laugh ecstatically. Me, with an eight! Judging by Hunter's expression, he's also pleased.
"Now the two of you should get some sleep. It's a big, big day tomorrow. You have your interview with Caesar Flickerman." Our escort says. She's right, this is the last chance to earn sponsors. I get off the sofa, and go to my room, the smile still plastered on my face. I can't believe I did so well, I was expecting a five or a six.

Maybe the odds are finally going in my favour.

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