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.


13. Restoration

Emerald Glitters, 18, District 1 Tribute

I munch slowly on the apple, savouring the sweet flavour of the moist red fruit. I finish the apple, and throw it to the floor, taking a sip of my water as I stalk the rich and fertile section of the tropical forest. Yesterday was good; we managed to take out ten tributes within the first twenty minutes; three tributes shy of the record. Oh well, even if I don't get out of here in record time, I'll still give the Capitol a show they won't soon forget.

I raise my spear as a rustling noise sounds out from one of the denser parts of the trees. Perfect, another tribute. It may not be the first kill of the day, but I'll make sure that I don't die soon after, unlike a certain overly confident fool from District 11. I mean, he managed to completely slice the girl from 7's head off, but managed to be killed by toxic mushrooms. But it doesn't matter; we only accepted him after Annemarie's unfortunate early end. The sponsors must have had an aneurysm watching the attractive, lovestruck beach babe from 4 get blown up in a matter of seconds. I let out a laugh as I imagine one of the oddly coloured Capitol citizens having a temper tantrum.

"Hi!" I whip around as a figure emerges from the greenery. It's a small boy, with sweeping brown hair and bright green eyes. "You're a Career, right?"
"Yeah," I reply, pointing my spear at him, "And what's it to you?"
"Oh, well, you're like a club, right? And back home, I was in all the clubs! The morphing medicine, bus builders, even the rock painters!"
"Nice story, kid, but what exactly do you want from me besides a trip to the afterlife?" I'm growing impatient now, and my hands are twitching in anticipation of killing this boy.
"Oh, that's right! I want to join the Career club! I've seen them every year on television, and they are so cool! The way they kick butt, and all those presents they get every day; I want to join the fun!" How amusing. This kid thinks that he has any chance of getting in with us. How delusional. After all, he only got a four in training, for crying out loud. 
"Tell you what, kid." I flash him a dark grin, "If you can defeat me in a fight, you can join us." His eyes widen, and he breaks into a massive smile.
"I knew you'd let me in!" He pulls out a small slingshot, and loads it with a stone. "Let's go!"

I rush at him with my spear, and gash his arm. His smile fades, and a scream flies out of his mouth. I stab again, this time getting his other arm, and he turns and runs.
"Don't kill me!"

I dart into the bushes, following my prey like the true predator I have to be to win. The kid leaps over the leaves and insects with surprising agility, but I'm faster. I pull a knife from my belt, and throw it at him. It clips his shoulder, and he screams. Suddenly, he darts left, and throws a branch in my face. I hear a thud, and when I remove the plant, he's gone. Brilliant. Not only did I fail to take him down, but I lost a knife as well. At least the others weren't around to see my failure.

"Hey, Emerald!" The sudden sound of Ebony's voice catches me off guard. I turn to find my dark haired district partner cutting through the forest with his sword, sweat glistening off his face.
"What is it, Ebony?" I ask, glancing around. No sign of the kid, and it appears Ebony didn't see my failure. "Well?" Ebony's face suddenly darkens, and his charming charismatic expression vanishes, his face paling.
"Mutts." His voice is barely a whisper, but less than a second later, the bushes explode with life.

Pigs. That's what now surrounds us. Countless pink fleshy creatures, each eyeing us up. But what sets them apart from other swines is on their faces. They have long tusks, made of solid diamond. Beautiful to look at, but deadly. Highly deadly. I raise my spear, and Ebony draws his sword, and we dart towards the intruders. The pigs instantly rush at us, letting out an unearthly squeal as our weapons drive into their stomachs. I thrust my spear into one of them, impaling the creature, whilst Ebony neatly decapitates one, the pink head rolling to the floor, staining the shining weapon a deep crimson, the fluid dripping onto the grass. I hit the floor as one leaps at me, the Mutt missing me entirely, and slamming into Ebony. He flies into a tree, and collapses to the floor, unconscious.

Well, this is grand. I'm still surrounded by a swarm of pigs, and now I have no partner to help me. I hold my spear in one hand, and my knife in the other, and run at one of the pigs. Within no time, I've managed to tear it to shreds, but even more are flowing in from the trees.
"Ebony, get up!" I yell to my unconscious district partner, who's not responding, unsurprisingly. "Come on, get up! We're about to die!" It's not working. He's out cold. A pig leaps at me, its tusks digging into my arm. I scream in agony as the luxurious body features twist and turn, tearing the muscle in my arm apart. Giving in to the pain, I fall to the floor, the pigs quickly swarming around the pool of blood that's now flowing freely from my arm. One of the pigs bends down, and begins to lick at the red fluid, savouring the taste.

Taking advantage of this slight opening, I grab my knife, and drive it through the creature's temple. It squirms and twitches sporadically for a moment, before it falls to the floor, crushing a smaller Mutt with it. With much effort, I climb to my feet, thrusting my spear blindly as I stagger towards Ebony. I manage to make it to him, and shield him with my own body as the pigs advance. I fend off another couple of the Muttations before my energy, and resolve, begins to deteriorate. There are too many of them, and too little of us. We're overpowered. We're probably going to die. Funny how I assumed that me and Ebony would last until the final two, before we engaged in an epic fight with one of us winning, giving District 1 another victor. I didn't expect us to die on the second day, overpowered by pigs. Giving up, I close my eyes, and resentfully accept death.

Suddenly, a loud guttural cry emits from several of the Mutts, and I open my eyes to see arrows raining down from the tree tops onto the hideous creatures. Once they're all nothing but lifeless piles of flesh and bones, Ariella leaps expertly from the trees, landing with agility.
"Seems I've had to save you." She says coldly, retrieving the arrows, quickly filling her two quivers.
"Yeah, I guess so." I reply, standing onto my feet, before motioning to Ebony, "You thing you could help me with Sleeping Beauty over there?"
"Fine." She hooks her bow behind her back, and we both grab Ebony, lifting him. He's heavier than I anticipated, and we both struggle as we carry him through the greenery.

"So," I begin, panting under the strain of my district partner, "How're the others doing?"
"Nick's been setting traps, and Ryder's finally realised that his girlfriend's kicked the bucket."
"So, not very well then." 
"Well, more of a lack of productivity than anything." In other words, Nick's doing nothing, and Ryder's going into lock down mode. Wonderful.

We push through the last of the foliage, and make our way onto the warm sandy beach, the waves from the ocean lapping at the far side of the Cornucopia. We walk over to the tents, and place Ebony inside.
"Man, he's heavy." Ariella complains, removing her hands from him.
"At least we don't have to carry him any more." I reply, pulling a canteen of water from my bag, my dried mouth welcoming the cool, refreshing liquid. Ariella has the same idea, and she too drinks from one of the canteens, before we both step out of the warm tent, into the cooler air of the beach. The temperature has certainly risen since yesterday, and I hope that it doesn't get hot enough for things to catch fire without warning.

I walk along the beach, and sit down on the sand, near the shoreline, watching the water push forward, then retreat back, in an almost hypnotic pattern. I imagine that this is the sight that greets the citizens of District 4 every single day. It's much prettier than District 1, with its limited greenery and constant air of superiority. But I'm currently very far away from District 1, glad to be free of it, albeit for a short amount of time.

"You know, Annemarie always loved to sit by the sea, and watch the waves." I turn to see Ryder sit next to me, his bronze hair blowing in the slight breeze, his tan face tear stained. He really has been taking his district partner's death badly. I want to tell him that all the crying in the world won't bring her back, but I don't want to upset him.
"Really? Did she like swimming as well?" I say instead, and a faint ghost of a smile appears on his face.
"Yeah," He replies, "On the weekends, we loved to go down to the beach and go swimming until the sun went down." He stops for a moment, absorbed in some memory, "It was our favourite thing to do."
"Really?" I smile at him, and his expression warms further, "I bet you're really good at it."
"Yeah," Ryder's voice sounds more confident now, "Wanna see?"
"Why not? We have nothing better to do today."

As Ryder undresses to only his under shorts, I see the old him resurfacing from his despair. He hands me his clothing, and jumps into the water. He dives and weaves through the waves as if he is a fish; it's mesmerising to see him flip and spin, the salty spray making his tanned body shimmer in the afternoon light, his hair flying everywhere as he goes under. He then swims towards the sand, riding the wave, and crashing on the beach, barely missing me. He stands up, and smiles in my direction.
"Emerald, that was so fun!" He begins to laugh a little; Ryder's back.

Suddenly, our attention is diverted to a soft beeping sound, and I look up to see a silver parachute floating down, the now setting sun shining its golden rays on it. It lands neatly on the beach, and I pick it up, and see the district emblem on it; District Four.
"For you." I say, handing the parachute over to Ryder. He eagerly accepts it, and opens it up, revealing the gift inside; a large canteen in the shape of a fish.
"Guess the sponsors liked my swimming." He says lightly.
"Either that, or your body." I say, smirking slightly.
"Really? Well Capitol, what do you think of this?" He flexes his bare arms, pretending to show off bulging muscles that don't exist. I begin to laugh at the sight, and Ryder chuckles as well. He grabs his clothes, and throws them on, the fabric sticking to his soaked skin.
"Still attractive?" He muses, and I howl with laughter. With the way his clothing is sticking and dripping, he looks like a drowned rat.

The sun's nearly vanished behind the horizon now, and we return to our respective tents as I look to the sky as the first few notes of the anthem begin to play. As the face of the girl from 7 appears above our heads, I look over to my allies. The Careers are now all mentally stable enough for some killing. I clutch the knife at my belt as Kyle's face vanishes, and we all climb out of our tents as Nick speaks.

"So," A dark smile crosses his face, "Anyone up for a little late night hunting?"

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