Rebirth: A New Era of the Hunger Games- Palmer Willows' Story

In an alternate universe, where the assault on the Capitol failed, and District 12 was blown to smithereens, the Hunger Games restart. Only this time, they'll be more brutal than ever before.

Follow the journey of 16 year old Palmer Willows from District 7 as he fights for his life to return home in this deadly competition, but in an arena like this, who, and what, can be trusted?

(Weekly updates, as it is a write up of an RP tournament I'm part of on deviantArt- Fingers crossed that Palmer makes it through alive!)

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2. Training Day One

Slowly, Palmer's eyes opened, the first thing registering to him being the soft, warm feeling of the blankets that encased him. It felt so soft, so warm, so not right. His eyes shot open, and he sat up, looking around, the blanket falling down, exposing his bare upper body. This room wasn't right; this wasn't home.

Taking in the artificial sterile scent of the place, Palmer quickly realised where he was. The Capitol, on the seventh floor of the training centre. The soft warm glow that surrounded him as he woke was swiftly replaced with a chilling scowl. And to make matters worse, today was the first day of training. But there was one positive thing about this; at least it wasn't the chariot parade. Palmer grimaced at the memory of that first day in the Capitol.

Palmer sat at the table in the train, overlooking the window. Ella was sat next to him, still wearing her reaping outfit from yesterday. Then again, so was he; he didn't quite trust the shiny outfits offered to him by the Capitol. They just weren't his type. But he could imagine that if Larch was with him, she would have forced him into it, and proceeded to laugh hysterically, all whilst Oak looked on awkwardly. God, he missed his friends.

But that was nothing compared to how he felt about being separated from his family. The goodbyes were just so upsetting, that it pained him to think about it. Magnolia... He had pinky promised her that he'd come home, but he knew that the odds of that happening were completely non-existent.

He glanced over at Ella again, and saw her looking out of the window at something. He turned around, and also looked out of the window. There were only countless rolling fields; nothing really interesting. But it did feel odd to him seeing such bare land; he was used to vast sprawling forests, not open, empty plains. It made him feel uneasy, and somewhat unsafe. And just from looking at this, Palmer prayed that the arena would have a large expanse of trees for him to lose himself in. They probably would; Palmer recalled that in past Hunger Games, before the Mockingjay almost took down the Capitol, open plains were considered boring arenas by the public. Hopefully, they continued with that idea in this Games, since there was no way on Earth that Palmer would be able to live an attack out in the open. It just wasn't going to happen.

Sighing, he continued to look out of the window, spotting something that had just emerged from the distance. It looked like a large series of massive rocks, but Palmer soon realised that they were actually the mountains that surrounded the Capitol. They were nearly there.

"So," He said to Ella, startling her, "How're you feeling about being so close to the Capitol?"
"To be honest?" She replied, "Slightly nervous."
"Well, yeah," Palmer replied jokingly, "I mean, after all, we're being shipped to a city where we'll be prepared for our imminent deaths."
"But there is a chance we won't die." Ella interjected, her expression grim. She was obviously not taking this as well as Palmer was. Which was a shame, since if you forgot the whole dying aspect of this, it was essentially a free trip to the Capitol.
"Yeah, we have about a five percent chance of getting out alive each; it's a one in twenty two chance of getting out of here." Palmer said, becoming aware of how cynical he was sounding, "Sorry if this is upsetting you. I guess I'm also a little emotionally fried."
"Yeah," Ella replied with a slight giggle, "But that's just a nasty side effect of the Games. It'd be much better if they prepared us more for the reaping, such as not throwing us on the stage the moment our names are called."
"True," Palmer responded, listening to her continue on.
"But it'd be even better if they made it so that you would only be entered for the reaping if you have to take out tesserae. That way, those who are reaped have a better reason to come home, than regular kids like you and me. I mean, what do we have to really fight for? Seeing our families and friends again. But the kids with tesserae tend to fight because if they aren't there, their families will starve." Despite how cold it sounded, Ella was right. You should only be in that bowl if you took out tesserae, since it was like a contract with the Capitol, 'We give you food in exchange for us putting your name in the reaping bowl'. The more Palmer thought about it, the more he came to like it. But then, one thing came up that stopped him from continuing to fantasise; Larch. She had to take out tesserae, and with fewer kids in the bowl, it would mean certain death for her. 

Palmer sighed. The Hunger Games were definitely a lose-lose situation, no matter which way it was spun. It was impossible to fight back, and defeat them. After all, the failed Mockingjay Rebellion was proof enough. And that resulted in the complete obliteration of 12, as well as the ruins of 13. However, it wasn't like 12 ever did anything for the Capitol; District 2 was always the main district when it came to mining. And of course, out of spite, there was every chance that this new form of the Hunger Games would be several times as brutal, considering the fact the Capitol was probably still infuriated at the Districts for trying to destroy them once more. But to be honest, shouldn't they have learned by now that pretty much the whole country was against them? 

"Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh!" Palmer snapped his head around to the doorway of the cabin. Their escort was standing there, wearing some weird outfit that reminded him of the shape of the planet, but with rainbow hoops surrounding it. He still had no idea whether or not their escort was male or female. It was impossible to tell.
"What's so amazing?" Ella questioned, looking quizzically at the piece of toast in the escort's hand. The bread itself was dyed purple, with jewels encrusted into it, and some glowing, multicoloured sludge was dripping off of it, onto the floor.
"We're nearly here!" The escort sang, twirling around in circles, an odd smile appearing on its face; the excessive make up made the smile look like something you'd most likely see in a nightmare, more than anywhere else.
"I think we gathered that, um," Palmer said, suddenly aware that he had no idea what the hell the escort's name was.
"Oh, you want my name, honey?" It said in response, a diamond from the bread stuck to its chin, the sludge acting as some form of adhesive, "It's Sunshine Rainbow Love Moonbeam Twinkle O'Fabulous. The fifth."
"Dear god," Palmer whispered to Ella, "Couldn't the Capitol stick to the regular naming system of forename and surname? With middle names if they wanted them?"
"I know, it's a rather bland name." Sunshine said with a sigh, "I personally wanted to be like my best friend. She has a sixty word name." It turned to face the two tributes, "Did you know that a long name is a sign of sex appeal?"

Ella began to choke on the glass of water she was slowly sipping at, causing her face to go a bright red. Palmer, on the other hand, didn't mask his hysterical laughter. He had never heard anything so absurd in his entire life.
"Excuse me," He finally managed to say, wiping the tears from his eyes, "But what?"
"Is there something the matter?" Sunshine replied, its voice full of concern, "Don't you have sex appeal in the districts?" Ella had shoved her sleeve into her mouth to stop herself from laughing out loud, and Palmer continued to laugh.
"We do," Palmer said, giggling madly, "But we don't base it off our names. We base it off of other things, like our personalities, and natural looks. For example, you might go for someone because they have a kind, considerate personality, and eyes that you find beautiful. You see?" In response, Sunshine let out an exasperated gasp of horror.
"Animals." It replied in a disgusted tone, beginning to shake from the horror. After a moment, it regained its composure, and faced the two laughing tributes. "Sorry for that outburst, but you poor things really need to learn a thing or two about bagging yourself a bed time partner." It paused for a moment, before its eyes quite literally lit up, "Oh, how's about I show you my favourite position, free of charge?"

Just as Sunshine began to demonstrate, the train went into the tunnel, plunging everything into darkness. Thank god it happened when it did, otherwise Palmer might have been subjected to something more horrifying than the depths of the head Gamemaker's imagination.
"I never thought I'd be grateful to be blind," Ella whispered to Palmer, her voice barely heard over a strange grunting noise that Sunshine was making, "Do I even want to know?"
"No." Palmer replied, "Nobody ever wants to know exactly what that thing is doing."

After about a minute, the grunting stopped, and Palmer could hear the sound of something being zipped up. It was probably Sunshine. Just as his eyes began to adjust to the darkness, the train burst out of the tunnel, and sunlight flooded into the cabin once more. Palmer blinked a few times, and looked down at the floor of the train. Sunshine had contorted itself into some position that would surely break every bone in the human body if attempted by anyone.
"Now," Sunshine said, standing up, "Wasn't that the most erotic performance you've ever seen?" Yet again, Ella began to laugh uncontrollably, and Palmer joined her. They remained like this for a couple of seconds, until a sound reached Palmer's ears.

At first, it could have easily been an earthquake or a sudden rush of water, but as the train grew closer to the candy coloured city, it was easily recognisable as a million excited Capitol squeaks. Both Palmer and Ella ran up to the window, and looked out of it as the Capitol sat in sight. Each building had a slightly different shape and colour scheme, giving it an odd sense of individuality; Palmer spotted a field full of lollipops next to a massive sculpture of a cat with a fountain of rainbow water flowing out of every orifice. Next to that was a house that was shaped like a pinecone, and was floating above the ground, a cloud of bubbles keeping it floating. And as they grew closer and closer to the inner section of the city, the houses kept getting weirder and weirder.

There was a block of houses that were actually giant millipedes, all slowly dancing in circles around one another, releasing clouds form their bodies as they looked at the train. Despite the extremely surreal nature of everything, Palmer felt a sense of excitement. It was all new and bizarre, and yet, he couldn't take his eyes off of the place. A large childish grin was soon present on his face as they passed by a gingerbread castle.
"Look at this place!" He called to Ella, his voice full of excitement. Ella's expression was one of wonder, but she was also having a hard time looking away.
"I know," She replied, "I wonder how they do it all?"
"Ooh! Me! Me!" Sunshine piped up, and Palmer turned to face the overly excited escort. "I know how they do all of this wonderful stuff!"
"Fine. Go on." Palmer said. Even though he was pretty sure false propaganda was going to blurt from Sunshine's mouth, he might as well humour it.
"Oh, first they take all of the goods from the districts," Sunshine explained, slowly, as if Palmer wasn't a native speaker of English, "And then, they convert it into the materials that each building is made of. District Two and Seven's stone and wood are highly in right now, just so you know. The energy from District Five is used to power the cute little gimmicks on the houses, such as the slight features like bubble clouds." Slight? That was downright freaky. Then again, Palmer dreaded to think what the most fashionable buildings looked like. Probably living houses that you could have coherent conversations with, or something just as completely insane.

Suddenly, the train slowed down significantly, and Palmer and Ella fell forwards, collapsing into a table. A blue vase that was on the table fell of as a result, and shattered into billions of pieces. Seeing this, Sunshine screamed in terror, as if someone was sawing its limbs off.
"That is fine china, I'll have you know!" Sunshine squealed at the two tributes as they struggled to stand up. Once they finally did, both Palmer and Ella exchanged smiles. This was too funny.
"Calm down," Palmer said, cracking up, "I'm pretty sure they'll get you another one."
"You're right," Sunshine replied, before looking out of the window, a twisted smile growing on its face, "Oh, we're here!"

Both Palmer and Ella simultaneously ran up to the window, and looked out at the rainbow coloured streets of the Capitol. And on the streets, Capitol citizens poured in by the thousands in the slim hope of seeing a glimpse of one of the tributes before they were killed off. In the front row, a massive man with several arms, each dyed a different colour, ran up to the train, and kissed it, getting purple lipstick all over it. Ella backed away from the mark on the window, before beginning to wave at the strange people. As a result, they began to cheer louder.
"What are you doing?" Palmer asked, staring at the people of the Capitol oddly, still not sure what exactly to make of them.
"Pleasing the crowd." Ella said in response, "Come on, try it!"
"Okay then." Palmer replied slowly, confused by this situation. Still, he raised his hand regardless, and began to wave at the crowd. It caused them to go wild, and, feeling more confident, allowed a smile onto his face. And with every cheer that reached his ears, his smile continued to grow. This was too much fun!

Deciding to spice things up, Palmer blew a kiss at the window. Most of the women, and a good majority of the men, swooned, and the remaining half of the population swooned at Ella.
"Hey, this is really fun!" Palmer cried out in joy, looking at Ella.
"Do you know what'll really get 'em going?" Ella asked him. Palmer opened his mouth to respond, but before he could, Ella grabbed his hand, and lifted their linked hands into the air, "This!"

As the citizens of the Capitol saw this gesture of unity, they essentially exploded in a mass of joy. Screams and wails of a positive tone could be heard through the glass window, and both Palmer and Ella beamed with joy as the crowd began to throw flowers, and various items of lingerie, at the windows of the trains. They were the stars of the show, and the Capitol was letting them know it.
"I've never received so much attention!" Ella cried out in glee, smiling and waving at the crowds.
"Me neither," Palmer replied, also greeting the Capitol's citizens. "It's amazing!" Another laugh burst from his lips, causing the crowd to go wild once more, and a warm feeling began to build up inside Palmer, that threatened to explode out of him in a burst of sheer happiness.
"Glad to see you two are enjoying yourselves," Sunshine remarked, taking a sip from a glass of a multicoloured drink. Palmer could only imagine how odd it would taste.

Suddenly, the adoring crowd outside of the window was replaced with a glimmering wall with some sort of pattern that appeared as a blur to the speeding train. As Palmer realised that his brief moment with the crowd was over, he felt slightly deflated, but didn't let it show.
"Hey, I think that's the train station!" Ella exclaimed, looking out of the window. Palmer also looked out of the window, and gazed in awe at the interior of the train station.

It was a large hall, with a roof that was coated in various jewels, and composed of a shiny gold, reached up to the sky. Along the walls of the station were portraits of every last victor of the Hunger Games to date, even those who were classed as taboo subjects to talk about; Johanna Mason being an excellent example. The Capitol fell in love with her surprising victory in the 70th Hunger Games, and she became a well known member of the rebellion. Unfortunately, she perished during an assault on the Capitol, drowning in the sewers underneath the gleaming city. But she wasn't the only controversial victor; Nuts and Volts, Finnick and Annie, Mags, Enobaria, Haymitch Abernathy, Peeta Mellark, and even the Mockingjay herself were all up on the wall, portrayed in their last moments of their Games before they were taken away to be healed up. The only exception was the 74th, which showed the Mockingjay firing an arrow into the swarm of wolf Muttations, instead of her and Peeta holding up the nightlock berries. Then again, it was the single most controversial moment in the history of the Hunger Games.

A sudden hiss of steam obscured Palmer's view, and he felt the train come to a stop, being pushed forwards slightly. He turned to face Sunshine, who was jumping up and down on the spot, clapping its hands and giggling.
"We're here!" It screamed in joy, before taking a few deep breaths, "Sorry about that, but I do get ever so excited about arriving in the Capitol. You know that feeling when you feel so overjoyed when you return home, don't you?" Palmer and Ella nodded awkwardly as Sunshine grabbed their hands, "Come on! We have to get you two to the Remake Centre before noon!" As they were dragged through the train, and to the slowly opening door, Palmer recalled the Remake Centre. It was that place where the tributes would go when they first arrived in the Capitol, so that they could be beautified as much as possible.
"The remake centre; fun." Ella whispered to Palmer, who nodded in response as the door finished opening, and Sunshine dragged the two of them out of the train.

The slightly warmer air of the Capitol instantly swarmed around Palmer, and he could tell that the glass domed roof was trapping the heat slightly. It all contributed to make an exotic environment, and Palmer continually found himself gaping in awe at the wonders of this place. It was truly as if he was on another planet; everything was so removed from life back in District 7. But he couldn't marvel forever, as Sunshine continued to corral the two tributes towards the far end of the station. As they grew closer, Palmer took note of all the Peacekeepers surrounding the doors, essentially trapping them. But he didn't see why; what could they do? Run around in the Capitol for a while? Since they couldn't return home, as the Capitol was a day's train ride from each district, with 2 being the only exception. Even then, it was a 12 hour journey from there. But, Palmer supposed, it would deter any rebellious tributes, not that any of them really struck him as the rebellious type.

Palmer looked as Sunshine conversed with the two Peacekeepers in front of the doors of the station. Its tone was so high and squeaky that he didn't even bother to try and decipher it; Sunshine's Capitol accent was at its strongest in the Capitol. It was almost as if the Capitol had its own language. Eventually, the Peacekeepers parted, and Sunshine led Palmer and Ella through the doors, and outside.

The hot summer sun beat down on the empty street of the Capitol, and Palmer was glad that he was dressed so lightly. A living barricade of Peacekeepers sealed off both ends of the street, preventing the tributes from being mobbed by the citizens of the Capitol before they were victors. After that though, and the odds wouldn't be in your favour at all. Palmer had heard the stories of the victors that the Capitol found desirable enough to force them into prostitution, and hoped that they were just stories, and nothing more. 
"Hey," Ella spoke up, and Sunshine turned to face her. "Do we really have to go through the whole remake thing? It's a little humiliating, and I don't really fancy you guys seeing me naked."
"Don't be ridiculous!" Sunshine exclaimed, "We're doing you a favour by making you look beautiful!" Palmer had to bite his tongue to stop himself from exclaiming that what the Capitol found attractive and what the districts found attractive were two very different things. Instead, he turned to Ella as they climbed the stairs up to the entrance of the Remake Centre.
"Of course they are," He whispered to her, and she began to snigger, "I mean, vomiting their wardrobe on us is really beautiful, isn't it?"
"What are you two talking about?" Sunshine suddenly said, trying its best to give them a condescending glare.
"Oh, nothing." Ella said innocently in a sing-song voice, before laughing with Palmer once more. Their laughing was cut short, however, by Sunshine opening the front doors of the Remake Centre, a sharp, sterile scent reaching Palmer's nose.

As they stepped inside the Remake Centre, the first thing Palmer noticed was that everything was white. The walls, the floor, even the furniture. Everything was purely white.
"Ah, can't you feel the beauty radiating from this place?" Sunshine said, twirling around as it drunk in the atmosphere. 
"Not really." Palmer replied, looking at the various elevators on the other side of the room. That was probably where they were going to end up going.
"Oh, how I wish I could show you two the full extent of the Capitol!" Sunshine exclaimed, taking Palmer and Ella towards one of the elevators. Palmer grimaced as they moved closer to it. "Maybe after one of you wins!" He could see Ella covering her face with her hand at Sunshine's insensitive stupidity. Odds were neither of them was going to go home. How come Sunshine couldn't see it? Palmer looked back at Sunshine as it pressed a button on the wall, and the elevator opened. "Come on, we don't have all day, you know!"

The elevator door shut, trapping Palmer, Ella, and Sunshine in the small enclosed space. Palmer took this time to move as far back from Sunshine as possible. He also saw Ella do the same thing. Then again, who exactly would want to be near that thing for extended periods of time? Palmer suddenly felt like he was being pressed down slightly, and he was quick to realise that it was the the elevator rising up a floor. After a few seconds of this, the elevator stopped, and it opened to a pristine hallway with a large door at the end. It was also entirely white.
"This is your stop, Palmer." Sunshine said extravagantly, before pushing him out of the elevator. He turned to face them as the door closed, and he exchanged a nervous glance with Ella, before they disappeared.

Turning away from the elevator, Palmer began to walk down the hallway, an uneasy feeling eating at him from the inside. He was about to meet his stylist and prep team, whilst they prepared him for the chariot parade. Nothing big, but Palmer couldn't help but feel anxious about the whole thing. However, before he could dwell upon the thought, the large door swung open, and three oddly coloured people ran towards him. Palmer's eyes widened as they surrounded him, kissing his hands.
"Oh, hello!" The green coloured one said, "We'll be your prep team for the course of the Games. Our job is to prepare you for your stylist; think of it as a light make over." Palmer remained speechless as they giggled, and collectively pushed him towards the door, without giving him any chance to react. He was pushed through the door, and it slammed shut, essentially trapping him in this room.

The room itself was somewhat refreshing to look at; the white walls were covered in floral patterns, and there were various shelves and desks full of tubs and tubes of various creams. And in the middle of the room was a large table, elevated slightly above the ground, surrounded by a small moat of sorts which was full of water. It all looked pristine and perfect, and Palmer felt like his mere presence was tainting the perfection of the room.
"Well, let's begin!" Another member of the prep team exclaimed. This one was coloured entirely blue, and the third one was coloured red. "But first, some introductions are in order! We already know who you are, but you don't know who we are!" Palmer wanted to open his mouth to tell them that he didn't really care about them, but before he could, they spoke up. "I'm Blue, and these are my friends Green and Red."
"Nice to meet you...?" Palmer said slowly, confusion evident on his face and in his tone of voice. He didn't quite see why this was such a big deal; chances were he'd only see them twice before he died, so it wasn't worth the effort.
"Now that that's out of the way, let's begin!" Green squealed with delight, and pointed to the table, "If you could just sit there for a moment, that would be great." Not that he had a choice in the matter. Either way, Palmer made his way over the moat, and sat on the table. It was a cold metal, and it was shining in the artificial light made by the bright light bulbs that adorned the ceiling. They also seemed too sterile to be real; completely unlike the welcoming atmosphere in the café.

As Blue and Green scrambled to grab several tubs of cream, Red walked up to Palmer. She was a slightly short woman, and besides her skin, hair, and clothes being dyed a bright red, she seemed pretty plain. She had small, observant eyes, and short hair done up in a simple braid. Combining this with the way she generally moved about, and she couldn't help but remind Palmer of Larch.
"Look, I know you're probably gonna protest," She said in a rather plain voice, with an underlying tone of irritation, "But I'll have to take your clothes off so we can do this right." Instantly, Palmer tensed up, and his eyes widened. He knew it was coming, but still, it filled him with utter dread. Taking a deep breath, Palmer sighed.
"Alright then."

Red walked over the small moat, and approached Palmer. She grabbed his legs, and pulled his shoes off, setting them down on a small trolley to their right. The next item of clothing to go was his shirt. Red pulled it off of Palmer, and set it with his shoes. The air conditioning of the room suddenly sent a chill throughout Palmer's body. However, when Red went to remove the last of his clothing, he stopped her.
"I'm pretty sure I can do this by myself, thank you." He said firmly, pulling off his pants. Red took them, and set them with the rest of his clothing. And then, he closed his eyes, and pulled off his under shorts, grimacing as Red took them off him. He was now completely naked, and in front of three total strangers. It was an extremely surreal experience, and he looked on in horror as Red wheeled the trolley out of the room, leaving him with no way to cover himself.

After a minute, Red returned without a trolley, and she nodded to Blue and Green. They both smiled, and walked towards Palmer. As they grew closer, Palmer noticed the various drains all over the floor. That could only mean one thing. And as Palmer came to the conclusion, Blue took the words right out of his mouth.
"Now first, we'll have to rinse you down, before we can get to work properly." He announced, and pressed a button on a remote Palmer wasn't even aware the blue man had. As soon as the button was pressed, several small holes in the roof appeared, and shower heads filled the holes. Then, they all began to pour warm water over Palmer. Initially, he cringed at the heat of the shower, but he quickly adjusted to it. But what happened next Palmer silently agreed he'd never adjust to.

As a thin layer of steam filled the room, Palmer felt six different hands that weren't his own run all over his body. Whilst they did so, he saw several bright pink bubbles floating up. They were probably from the cream that he noticed his body was being covered in. After a few minutes of the hands running all over his body, and coating it with the odd cream, the prep team rinsed him down, setting him on the table. As the steam cleared, the prep team walked away from him, and Palmer watched quizzically as they walked to the other side of the room, and pulled out what appeared to be several large rolls of tape.
"What is that?" He asked as they approached him.
"Oh, this?" Green piped up, "We're going to wax you!" As she said that, Palmer tensed up. Waxing? As in, removal of body hair? Looking over himself, Palmer realised that this was going to be extremely painful. He had a decent amount of hair on his legs, some on his arms and underarms, a small amount of hair on his chest, and a slight layer of stubble on his face from not shaving for the past two days.
"Okay, let's begin." Red said, rolling her eyes, as she set the first strip of wax on his legs. She ripped it off, and Palmer clenched his teeth, and gripped the table at the agony. He looked at his leg, and saw a pink, sore rectangle from where the wax was. As soon as the strip was off, Blue placed a bright purple cream on the spot, that made it feel warm.
"What are you doing?" He asked the strange man, wincing as Red placed another strip on his leg.
"This cream will prevent the ugly hair from re-growing during your time in the Games. When a tribute wins, we give them an injection that allows for the hair to grow again." Palmer nodded in response, but was still finding it odd that the Capitol found body hair to be repulsive. Personally, Palmer found it as natural a thing as having eyes, but then again, there was a massive difference between what the Capitol called normal, and what he called normal.

The waxing session continued, with the strips ripping hair off of every part of his body, except for his facial hair; they used a strange razor on it, and coated it in the cream, preventing it from growing once again. And all throughout it, tears pricked Palmer's eyes with the pain of it all. However, it eventually ended, and after a quick hosing down, the prep team walked away from him.
"There," Green proudly announced, "One hundred percent beauty base zero! Red, call in Venus!" Red nodded silently, and walked out of the door. Palmer guessed that Venus was his stylist, and could only imagine what outfit it would be. Knowing District 7, and their history of chariot parade outfits, it probably wasn't going to be good.

Suddenly, the door burst open, and a woman wearing make up that would rival Sunshine burst in the room. Her hair was dyed various colours, and she had extremely enlargened breasts that just looked ridiculous. In her hands were two large spray cans. She completely ignored Red, Green, and Blue, and ran up to Palmer, giving him a kiss on the cheek.
"Well, aren't you just the most adorable thing!" She piped, before looking over his body, "Yep, the prep team did an excellent job on you! Now, let's get you into your outfit!" She clapped her hands, and Red handed her a brown pair of extremely short shorts adorned with vine patterns. As Palmer sat at the table, Venus slid them onto his body. They felt rather tight, but at least they kept him from being exposed.
"Is this is?" Palmer asked curiously. Since it wouldn't be much of an outfit that way.
"No, not at all, darling!" Venus squeaked before pulling him off the table. "Could you please lift your arms for me?" She asked him, and Palmer nodded, lifting his arms. She then grabbed one of the two spray cans, before looking at him one last time. "If I were you, I'd close my eyes. This stings really badly if it gets into your eyes; trust me." Obeying the stylist, Palmer closed his eyes, and listened as the sound of the spraying reached his ears. He felt the chill of it all over his body, except where he was covered by the shorts. The spraying stopped, and Palmer could hear Venus setting it down, and grabbing the second can. She then sprayed it at his head, and Palmer held his breath to prevent himself from breathing it in.

After a few moments, the second can stopped spraying, and Palmer remained motionless, until Venus let out a little giggle of delight.
"You can open your eyes now!" She called out, and Palmer opened his eyes. Red pulled a mirror out in front of him, and Palmer gaped in a mixture of awe and horror at what he saw. His skin had been dyed a deep shade of brown, and his hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes were a rich green. From the looks of it, he was supposed to be a tree.
"Isn't it wonderful?" Green and Blue chimed in, and Red remained silent, eyeing him up strangely, as if she was distrustful of something. For some reason, he felt most comfortable around her; she was the most human of all of the Capitol citizens he had seen so far.
"I guess it could be worse..." Palmer replied to the cheering members of his prep team flatly, not showing the full extent of his disgust. Whilst Blue and Green hopped around in circles, singing in joy, and Red looked on at the scene with sullen expression, Venus looked at her overly extravagant watched, and gasped in horror.
"My goodness! Look at the time!" She cried out, before grabbing Palmer by the shoulder, and pushing him out of the door, "Come on! We have to get to the chariot rides!" Palmer just looked at Venus, confused, as she dragged him to the elevator. Furiously, she pressed the button, and the door opened. She shoved him in the elevator, before stepping in herself, and closing the door. It slid shut slowly, and raced downwards, causing Palmer to hold on to the rail on the wall as it descended to the basement at terrifying speeds.

Eventually, the elevator came to a hault, and Venus and Palmer walked out of the elevator. They were in a large garage of sorts, with eleven chariots all parked in a row; one for each district.
"Your chariot is seventh from the front." Venus said, pointing in the vague direction of the chariot. She then kissed him on his now brown forehead, wiping his green hair out of his face. "Now, let's give them a brilliant show!" Palmer nodded slowly, before walking away from the odd stylist, passing several of the chariots. The tributes looked at him oddly, and with an air of caution, as if he could snap and kill them at any time. Then again, as far as they were concerned, he could eventually end up being their potential killer, if the Mutts, and other natural causes didn't get to them first.

Trying his hardest to ignore their gaze, Palmer continued to walk up the row of chariots, stopping when he saw Ella on one of them. Evidently, she had managed to come out with the better outfit; she was wearing a rather beautiful dress with cherry blossom branches sticking out from it. They didn't actually grow in District 7, but it did help make her stand out.
"Hey," Palmer said as he climbed onto the chariot, "How did your beauty session go?"
"To be honest," Ella replied, "I'm still stinging from the wax. You?"
"Pretty much the same," Palmer said sheepishly, "That, and, apparently dressing me in barely anything, and dying my skin and hair accounts for a decent outfit."
"Hey, at least we don't have to see Sunshine until later this evening." Ella mentioned, before the two began to laugh. Sunshine was pretty much a joke, even if it said it was a beautiful person; they couldn't even tell its gender.

Suddenly, a booming fanfare echoed throughout the enclosed space, and the wall on the far side of the room opened up, revealing the streets of the Capitol, lined with rows upon rows of people, all screaming and cheering as the District 1 chariot set off. The fanfare changed the tune, and Palmer recognised it as the form of the anthem that played during the evenings of the Games, to announce the dead tributes. But it wasn't haunting to Palmer just yet; that would come during his time in the arena, whilst fighting off starvation and injury.

Finally, the chariot moved forwards, and Palmer watched as the horses galloped onwards, outside. The evening sun was blinding, and Palmer raised his arm to shield his eyes from it. The Capitol, however, took it as him waving to them, and exploded in joy.
"Seems that they take every movement seriously." Palmer mused to Ella as he began to truly wave. Ella did the same, and they had to duck to avoid being crushed by the various valuables that were being thrown at them. Because of this, Palmer didn't really get a chance to see the other tributes' costumes; he caught a glimpse of the gaudy fabric from one chariot, and that was about it. Even as they drew into the city circle, the tributes continued to get bombarded with items. As such, Palmer didn't focus on the welcoming message, but on not being crushed by flying objects. Ella leapt out of the way as a golden toaster crashed into the chariot, shattering into several pieces. The Capitol must have really taken to the return of the Games, and it was showing. From the few old Games that he was forced to watch in school, Palmer didn't recall the crowd being this extreme; it must have been the hype of the new Games. He dreaded to think what the interviews would be like.

The chariots began to move once more, and they began to move down another street, towards a large, glowing building. It had been redesigned, but it still carried the air of finality that the Training Centre has done ever since the first televised Hunger Games. As they drew closer, the Capitol citizens realised that they would not see their precious tributes again until the interviews, and as such, began throwing everything they had; Palmer saw a baby being thrown at one of the chariots, only to miss, and bounce harmlessly back to its mother. It must have been the victim of an unsuspectingly life-saving alteration to its body, and this was the one time that Palmer could imagine the Capitol's cosmetic surgery ever having a use. The chariots continued forwards, until they were in front of the massive tower. A wall opened up on both sides of the massive staircase to the front doors, and the chariots began to pile in. District 7's chariot drove into the left hand side of the stairs, and parked inside the underneath of the Training Centre.

It looked pretty much identical to the Remake Centre, and Palmer and Ella found Sunshine and Venus standing in front of one of the elevators.
"Where's your stylist?" Palmer asked to Ella, who looked at him with a mildly irritated expression.
"They said they simply didn't have the time to see me here, then stormed out," She replied, "I had to take myself down to the chariots."
"Wow." Palmer said as an avox, a mute slave of the Capitol, opened up the chariot, and they stepped out, "Well, I have a stylist that could be Sunshine's long lost cousin." This caused Ella to laugh out loud, and they walked together to the elevator. But as they drew closer, Venus ran up to Palmer, a grave expression on her face. Ella leapt out of the way of Venus' extremely enlargened rear end, and watched in a mixture of horror and confusion as Venus sobbed in despair.
"Oh, Palmer, I'm a failure!" She brought the back of her hand to her forehead, in an imitation of faking fainting.
"What did you do?" Palmer asked, feeling something was wrong that concerned him.
"It's your hair dye," Venus said with a trembling voice, "I thought I had grabbed the wash out one, but it's actually semi-permanent!"
"Which means, what exactly?" Palmer questioned, unaware of what all this meant.
"It means that you'll be stuck with green hair for the duration of the Games, unless I can get hold of some brown hair dye!" For some reason, this sent a wave of dread down his body. That meant that there was every possibility that he would die with Capitol-altered hair. How brilliant.

After that, he had pretty much slunk into his room, and not moved for the entire night. He missed the recaps of the chariot rides, and instead, took a long, hot shower to wash out the skin dye. It didn't entirely work, and it left him with what appeared to be a light tan. Sighing, Palmer walked past a mirror. The green hair dye was just humiliating; it made him stand out sourly. But there was nothing he could do until Venus found some brown hair dye. It must have been a pretty hard to obtain colour in the Capitol, but it made sense; besides himself and Ella, Palmer hadn't seen anyone else with brown hair.

Trying his hardest to ignore it, Palmer looked at his door. There was an outfit hanging on the silver door; the training outfit. He grabbed it, and set it down on his bed. It consisted of a skin tight spandex suit, which was coloured black, with a red stripe running down the sleeves with the number 7 on it. Alongside that was a pair of black boots. It was very practical, and would not limit movement in any way. Rubbing his eyes one last time, Palmer grabbed the outfit, and slipped it on, the suit fitting snugly, contorting to his form. He then slipped the boots on, tying them up, and opened his door, looking down the hallway. Besides his own room, there were five other doors; two for any future mentors; one for an elevator, and one for Ella. The hallway itself was fairly long, lined with elegant lamps that hung on the walls, which were coloured white, and a deep red carpet that was soft to touch.

Taking it all in one more time, Palmer walked down the hallway, the deep carpet causing his footsteps to be muffled. It felt very stuffy in there, to the point where it could almost be called claustrophobic. However, Palmer tried his best to ignore the feeling, and turned down the hallway, emerging into the main room.

It was a large, open room, with a kitchen, dining room, and living room rolled into one. The living room had two large sofas, and a massive television that put the one on the train to shame. The kitchen had several shelves, ovens, and drinks machines, and the dining room had one massive, long table, which was currently filled to the brim with various foods. Ella and Sunshine were currently sat at the table, eating breakfast; Sunshine was feasting on a miniature buffet, whilst Ella slowly ate an orange. She probably still wasn't accustomed to the large amounts of food. Then again, neither was Palmer.

"Good morning," He called out as he descended the silver stair case, "So, what's on the agenda today?" Despite the fact it was painfully obvious that today was the first of three training days, he might as well give Sunshine the satisfaction of telling him; it was more like a small puppy, going into pure glee whenever it felt like it was useful, when in reality, it was actually a rather useless thing.
"Oh, I can't wait to tell you what we have for you today!" Sunshine squeaked, dropping a large bird that appeared to be made out of pure sugar to the ground, "You have your first day of training today!"
"Okay then." Palmer replied, feigning a surprised expression, "So, what time do we go down?" This time, he genuinely didn't know the answer.
"That's easy," Sunshine exclaimed boldly, "Ten AM on the dot." It smiled lightly, before looking at the clock on the wall. 9:45. "Oh, we don't have long!"

Fifteen minutes was enough time, though, and Palmer sat down at the table, grabbing a bowl of grapes. He shoved one in his mouth, and smiled as the sweet flavour burst on his tounge, the delicious juices sliding down his throat as he swallowed. It was delicious, and even though he was rather well off back home, he had never tasted such rich food. Sure, he had eaten grapes before, but that was only once in his life. In fact, it was so long ago that he forgot the occasion, and only remembered the delicious taste. Over time, his memory of the delicious food faded away, but he remembered it clearly. These grapes were probably filled with flavour enhancements so that the Capitol could enjoy them even more.
"Grapes, hm?" Ella said as she finished off her orange, "Haven't seen them since the new mayor was brought in ten years ago." So that was where he remembered it from. He was only six at the time, but how could anyone ever forget such a delightful flavour? Greedily, Palmer began to shove them in his mouth, several exploding with flavour all at once. Shudders of delight ran throughout his body as the slightly tangy aspect of the flavour spread across his taste buds.
"Yeah," Palmer replied, looking at the bowl. There was only about a handful of grapes left, "Want one, before I eat them all?"
"I'm good, thanks." Ella said in response, looking at the clock. It was now five to ten. "Not long now until training begins."
"Hey," Palmer suddenly spoke up, a wide grin spreading across his face, "At least I won't be late for this." This caused both him and Ella to simultaneously burst into laughter, remembering how he turned up to the reaping last minute, whilst Sunshine looked at them with a look of pure disgust and horror.
"How could you jest about such things? Punctuality is among the most important things in the Capitol! You can't just disregard it like that, it's... it's... so uncouth!" Of course, this simply caused Palmer and Ella to laugh even harder, all whilst Sunshine looked on, obviously missing out on some sort of inside joke. "Whatever," It huffed, "I have to get you two down to training now. Come on!"

Taking a moment to calm down, Palmer and Ella followed Sunshine down the hallway, and to the elevator. It pressed a button, and the shining door slid open, accompanied by a pinging sound.
"Well, it won't remain open all day!" Sunshine urged, and Palmer and Ella stepped into the elevator, "I'll see you two later this evening; Eight PM sharp." They both nodded, and the door slid shut. For a second, Palmer and Ella stood in silence, before Ella spoke up.
"Hey, I don't know about you," She began, "But looking at the tributes during the reaping recaps, and the chariot rides, I don't exactly feel safe on my own." He could see where this was going, "So, do you want to be allies?"
"Alright then." Palmer replied, and the two shook hands, forming a bond that they would be hard-pressed to break if they had any hope of currying the sponsors' favour. As soon as they finished shaking hands, a tinny Capitol voice sounded out from a small speaker in the elevator.
"Going down to: Training Centre, base floor. Enjoy the ride." It sounded like a low quality recording of a nasally women, which it most likely was, but before Palmer had any time to reflect on it, he suddenly felt as if he were being thrown at the roof. Judging from her expression, Ella was as well.

The elevator continued to speed downwards at alarming speed, and Palmer's eyes widened in terror. Were elevators supposed to go this fast? If not, did it mean that he was going to die, or at the very least, get seriously injured? However, just as these remorseful thoughts swam about in his head, the small silver box came to a stop, and another ping sounded out.
"You have reached your destination. We hope you enjoyed your experience." The voice rang out once more, and the silver door slid open, revealing what was quite clearly a massive gym, full of various survival stations.

In total, there were about fifteen different stations set up around the large room, which was illuminated by several large low hanging ceiling lights. The walls and floor were white, like the Remake Centre, only this place had a slick sheen to it. The stations were each colour coded with a different coloured floor surrounding it, making an extensive rainbow of sorts, that started with the bright red camouflage station, and ended with the deep purple cooking station. The rest of the stations were every other colour in between. In the middle of the room was a clearing, with a raised platform. It was also white. On top of that was an open living room, with the team of Gamemakers sitting on various plush sofas, looking on at the tributes. The majority of them had already drunken half a chalice of wine. Palmer didn't understand why they exactly did this. Perhaps it was some kind of ritual that every Gamemaker has to go through- Get completely and utterly wasted instead of observing the tributes for your first year. And every one of these Gamemakers was brand new; the entire Hunger Games had started over, which also meant new Gamemakers. Just in front of the platform stood the head trainer, who was looking at the various elevators that surrounded the walls, each one opening almost simultaneously. As soon as every elevator was open, and the tributes stood out, she begin.

"Welcome, tributes, to the Training Centre!" Her voice had a distinct Capitol accent, but she was quite clearly trying to mask it for the sake of communication, "For the next three days, you will be down here either learning new skills, or honing previously learnt ones. Today, to the potential dismay of some, and the delight of others, will be focused on survival training." There were several disappointed moans from the slowly gathering crowd of tributes. "Don't be like that. You should realise that only about forty percent of you will actually perish at the hands of one another in a regular arena. The next biggest killers are Muttations, but we can't prepare you for that, unfortunately. After that, dehydration. Then infection, then finally, starvation." More murmurs at the statistics. Personally, Palmer found the fact that infection killed more than starvation. After all, they were called the Hunger Games. "Now, that will probably come as a shock to some of you," She seemed to glance in the general direction of the outliers, "But these Games can last anywhere from three days, to two months. And in that time period, all of you would starve to death if you had nothing but the shirts on your backs." She didn't seem to miss a beat as she continued to explain with her cold, but supportive tone. She reminded Palmer of a teacher, since they tended to be like this. "With that said, begin your training. I'd advise going through any survival skills you were already aware of, just to bring them up to standards, then anything you don't know of, and would find important." Every tribute nodded, Palmer and Ella included, and they dispersed off to their respective stations.

As the others slowly filled the stations, Palmer and Ella looked at each other with confused expressions; they were kind of lost here, after all.
"So," Ella finally spoke up, her brown eyes surveying the room, "Which stations are you going to go for?"
"Hm," Palmer replied, looking around the room. Each station had a flashing sign, which, despite being rather gaudy, told him exactly which stations there were: Camouflage; Edible Insects; Edible Plants; Fire Making; Fishing; Hammock Making; Knots; Shelters; Snare Setting; Climbing; The Gauntlet; Stealth; First Aid; Hunting, and Cooking. Exactly fifteen stations to choose from. As he surveyed them, Palmer went over what his natural strengths were. He was quick thinking and intuitive, and his reflexes weren't half bad, but he was not a fighter, nor would he ever be. So that ruled out Stealth and the Gauntlet. Climbing wouldn't be a half bad choice, and neither would Edible Plants. Shelters would also come in handy, since there was a very slim chance of there being any buildings, and if there were, they would be quickly taken over by the Careers, or a similar group of tributes. Or some crazy murderous psychopath. Either way, it meant that buildings were pretty much a no-go zone, unless the arena was a city or something. But that was highly unlikely. In addition to that, First Aid and Cooking would be essential to survival; he would be more likely to be able to save himself from potentially fatal wounds, and ward off starvation for slightly longer, "I'm probably going to go for Edible Plants, Shelters, Climbing, First Aid, and Cooking." He paused for a moment, before looking at Ella. She was nodding in confirmation at his choices. Good. But he also needed to know exactly what she was doing, so that they'd be be able to have a wider set of skills. "What about you?"

"Me?" She asked, before trailing off, probably going through the list of stations that she was planning on doing in her head. Finally, she returned her focus to Palmer, her eyes bright, "I'm good with an axe, but I know my edible plants quite well; I spend most of my time in the forest." She said to Palmer. So that meant that they had a weapon wielder, and someone with knowledge of plants. Still, it didn't hurt to go over it himself, "But I guess I'll try Hunting, the Gauntlet, First Aid, Fire Making and Edible Insects." Palmer nodded in response, a confident smile appearing on his face.
"Pretty good choices. We should be covered for most things if we stick to that, and if we find any new allies along the way, well, that's a bonus." 
"You're right," Ella replied, seeming to catch the positivity that radiated from Palmer, "So, what are we waiting for? Let's go!" She cried out loud, and ran towards her first station, Hunting. The colour of the floor was a light purple, since it was the second to last station in the Training Rainbow, as Palmer decided to call it. The way she ran to the station bursting with enthusiasm reminded Palmer so much of Larch. He had been seeing his friends in everything during his time in the Capitol so far, and found himself continually wishing they were here with him.

Sighing sombrely, Palmer crossed the shining floor, his shoes squeaking on the shiny, polished surface, and headed for the first station on his hypothetical list; Edible plants. The floor colour was a flashy orange, and the trainer at the station was a thin man, with curled white hair, that reminded Palmer of the ice cream he had eaten on the train.
"Hey," He called out to the trainer as he stepped on the orange floor. Looking at him, the trainer offered a weak smile, "I want to learn about edible plants. Is this the right place?"
"Y-Yes," The man stuttered, his words sounding jittery and robotic, "Th-This is the right p-place. We h-have books and, um, c-computers for you to, uh, research th-the d-different plants." Nodding respectfully, Palmer walked towards the section at the back of the station. There were two monitors which he guessed were computers, and a large shelf full of books. For some reason, the books seemed to be more enticing than the strange monitors, and Palmer walked over to the shelf, grabbing one of the several identical books.

"Consumable and Toxic Plants in the Hunger Games- A Reference Guide." Palmer read out loud as he sat at a desk, opening the book. A cloud of dust erupted from it as he read over the pages. It was an extremely in depth encyclopedia of the plant life in the arena, ranging from harmless daisies, to the notoriously deceptive and deadly nightlock. Because of the fact that the nightlock could adapt its appearance to match the colours of other wild berries, even the smartest of tributes have been fooled by it. One year, the highly intelligent boy from District 9 ended up in the final three, only to be starving to death, and, thinking they were raspberries, consumed a whole bunch of nightlock. He was dead less than seven seconds later. However, Palmer found out, the berries could be easily identified by their pitch black juices, that were always the colour of a clear midnight sky- hence the name. After nightlock came several more plants, such as a type of fungus that expelled paralysing acidic spores when touched, and trees that secreted an extremely flammable sap. It then went into further details about a type of plant that looked like a strawberry, but actually was a powerful hallucinogenic. It wasn't particularly deadly, but the effects could last up to forty eight hours if not correctly treated. Which brought Palmer to the next section. This contained information about various plants that could be used to both sustain nutritional balance, and heal minor poisons.

After about an hour, Palmer had skimmed the entire book, all two thousand pages of it, from cover to cover, and confident of his knowledge walked from the station, but not before returning to the stuttering ice cream man.
"Thanks." He said, smiling warmly, noticing as the man looked at his hair. Oh, right. It was still green. 
"Y-You're w-welcome." The man stuttered in response, and Palmer gave a friendly wave, before walking away from the station.

One down, four to go. Next up on the list; shelter building. Looking over the room, Palmer made his way to the station with the pale green floor, barely avoiding a tribute as they rushed past him, obviously eager to get to the next station on their own personal list. The trainer at this station was a short, beefy woman, with a permanent scowl, and one eye larger than the other. She sent chills down Palmer's spine. Her skin had also been dyed a deep pink, and her hair had the shape of a love heart sheared into it.
"You there!" She suddenly snapped, pointing a stick at Palmer. His eyes widened, and he took two tentative steps forwards.
"Yes?" He asked warily, even though he knew he was safe here. They had to keep him alive, and in a reasonably good condition, so that he would give them the best performance he was capable of in the Games.
"What the hell do you want, coming into my station?!" She took a step forward this time, glaring at him with her large eye. Her smaller eye was looking elsewhere, as if they were both moving on their own. The thought of that sufficiently disturbed Palmer to no end. "Go play on the Gauntlet, or something, and don't disturb me!"
"Excuse me, but what?" Palmer questioned, raising an eyebrow as he remained firmly planted on the ground, "I came here to learn how to build a shelter. Not to wreck the station." In that instant, the scowl faded, and a smile replaced it. The woman then blushed, the deep red standing out significantly against the pink.
"Well, why didn't you say something?" She walked up to Palmer, and drove her knuckle into his green hair, messing it up, "Let's begin right away!" She led Palmer to the middle of the station, and gave him a large blanket, a few rocks, and a pile of sticks.

It took a while, but after roughly forty five minutes, Palmer had successfully built a stable shelter. He sat under it, before climbing out, heading towards the woman.
"Hey, I'm done!" He called out triumphantly. Looking surprised, the woman followed him over to the shelter. She then walked over to it, and lifting her leg, delivered a powerful kick to it. Palmer's eyes widened in horror as one corner collapsed.
"Not bad for a beginner." She stated flatly, "It should do, but I'd advise paying equal attention to every corner. And I don't mean neglect them all, either!"
"Okay then." Palmer said, smiling warmly, "Thanks."
"Don't mention it kid." She replied, and the two shook hands. Her hand was firm, but her grip was soft. It reminded him of both Oak and Larch simultaneously. As they shook hands, he imagined his two friends having a child, and in its old age, looking like this woman but with a normal colour scheme. He couldn't help but grin widely, suppressing a laugh.

Breaking away from the hand shake, Palmer walked out of the station, and towards the next one; climbing. He could tell already this was going to be so much fun, not. But if it was Larch, for example, she would probably spend the whole three days at this exact spot; the cyan floored station.

Luckily, nobody was at the station, but judging from the tired state of the trainer; a short, giggling man with crazy hair that resembled vines being electrocuted, it had recently been made vacant. As Palmer looked at the man's hair, he realised that it was the same colour of his own. It seemed that the man saw this too, and galloped over to him, grinning widely.
"Hello, and welcome to the Climbing station!" He eagerly shook Palmer's hand, still smiling madly. He reminded Palmer of a character he had read about in a book once; a Cheshire Cat, or something similar. "You will be taught the basics of climbing using this ropes course!" Palmer glanced over the man's shoulder, and saw two raised platforms, not as high as the Gamemakers', with several ropes hanging between the two. "Essentially, all you have to do is successfully make your way across to the other platform, only using the ropes! It can be tricky for first timers, but don't worry, knowing the basic principle will allow you to call upon it when you need it the most." He let out a hearty chuckle, and patted Palmer on the back, "Good luck! And may the odds be ever in your favour!"

Grimacing inwardly at the man, Palmer climbed the platform with little effort. He was now about twelve feet above the ground, and he felt slight vertigo looking down. Brilliant. He just had to have a slight problem with heights during the freaking climbing course, of all things. But he couldn't let  it get in his way. Swallowing his fear and apprehension, Palmer took a deep breath, before leaping forwards. He grabbed the first rope easily enough, and managed to swing across the first few ropes as well. But as he reached the halfway point, his arms were burning, and sweat was pouring down his face. Unfortunately, Palmer's palms were also sweating, so as he reached for the next rope, he lost his grip, falling off the ropes, and hitting the floor. A sharp pain ran throughout his back, but it felt like a bad bruise. Nothing that would seriously hinder him. But still, damn that hurt.
"Oh goodness!" The happy man cried out, "Are you okay?" He rushed over to Palmer, and helped him up, profusely apologising the entire time.
"I'm fine," Palmer assured the man, "But I think I'll leave the climbing as it is today."
"Okay then," The man said, "But even this brief experience may be enough to save you!"

Walking away from the Climbing station, Palmer began to walk to the next station. This time, it was First Aid. But as he drew closer, he found someone there already. Damn. He couldn't let whoever it was get in the way of his training though, and he walked over to the dark blue floor.
"Hello!" A plump, bouncy woman cried out with a soft voice, "Are you here for first aid training?"
"Yeah," Palmer replied. Why else would be be here? Unless he secretly wanted to tear the place down, but that would earn him sedation from the Peacekeepers. And he didn't want that.
"Excellent!" The woman giggled, "Since Jenn here wants to try some things out that would best be done with two!" Oh great. Partners. Judging by the blonde girl's expression, she seemed equally as displeased. However, she then saw Palmer's hair, and a sly grin spread onto her face. Just to make it all the more traumatic, she found his physical condition to be hilarious. However, they allowed the woman to usher them side by side, and they listened as she told them about the various first aid methods.

"Okay, I don't need to go over basic wound wrapping and CPR, since most places in the districts know about that already." As she said this, Palmer saw Jenn nodding, and trying to not look at him. It wasn't that funny, was it? "So, here's the first demonstration!" She pulled out a long leaf, with bright colours, and held it in front of the two tributes, "This is from a plant known as Jewelweed. It's fairly uncommon, but if crushed up, can be used to treat a range of injuries, such as poison ivy rashes, cuts, sprains, mild burns, and even some parasitic diseases." She then quickly explained how to properly wrap it around a wound, before passing a leaf to Jenn and Palmer. "Now, you try!" She smiled at the two, before walking off, probably to grab more things. As soon as she was gone, Jenn burst into laughter.
"Oh my god, what the hell happened to you?" She giggled, whilst wrapping the leaf around Palmer's arm like she was instructed. She was surprisingly good at this.
"My stylist screwed up." Palmer replied in short, "She's essentially given me this style for good until she can find some brown dye." At this point, tears were flowing down Jenn's face as she continued to laugh.
"Oh god, and I thought my chariot experience was bad!" Jenn exclaimed, grinning widely as more laughter came out, "I was being paraded around as a half naked flower. But this definitely tops that."
"I can gather that." Palmer responded, wrapping his own leaf around Jenn's arm, "But I'm now probably some sex symbol or something. Also, did you hear about names in the Capitol?" After controlling her laughter, Jenn shook her head.
"No, I haven't."
"Well, apparently, according to my escort, a long name is a sign of sex appeal." Jenn's reaction to that was essentially Ella's multiplied by fifty. She soon calmed down, though, and wiped the tears from her eyes.
"I haven't laughed like that in a long time," She said, letting Palmer finish wrapping the leaf. Evidently, he didn't have as tight a grip as she did, "I like you. Name's Jenn." She stuck her hand out.
"Palmer." He replied, sticking his own hand out. The two shook hands, before Jenn looked at Palmer, an unsure look in her eyes.
"Hey, wanna look out for each other in the arena? It won't be like a close alliance, but we'll watch each other's backs. Sound okay?" Despite the sudden springing up of this, something seemed to click with the two, and Palmer nodded.
"Yeah, that's fine." He said in confirmation.
"Great," Jenn said, "We'll talk about it more tomorrow."

The trainer returned, with a large box of things, and Palmer listened as she described each one in pain staking detail, including where they would most likely to be found, when to use them, and how to use them. An hour later, and the woman finally finished explaining.
"And that should cover most situations." She beamed at the two tributes, "Of course, this won't protect you against any nasty surprises you may encounter, but it won't be useless."
"Thank you." Palmer and Jenn both said, before walking away, but not before they returned the leaves to the woman.

They both stepped off the dark blue floor, and Jenn moved on to the lighter colours, whilst Palmer moved on to the final station of the day; Cooking. It wasn't particularly taxing, and he already had some base knowledge, but he just wanted to make sure.

The Cooking station was the final one in the rainbow, as denoted by its deep purple flooring. The trainer there was a fat man that smelled like bacon.
"Hi!" He piped up, his Capitol accent so strong that Palmer could barely understand him, "I take it you want to know about cooking?"
"Yep." Palmer replied respectfully, and he listened as the trainer instructed him how to properly skin and cook wild animals, and for how long. But as the trainer went on, Palmer saw the time. Seven fifty. He had best be finishing soon.
"Now it's your turn!" The fat man exclaimed, and Palmer got to work successfully roasting a wild bird to an edible level. Once he had done, and the man congratulated him, Palmer left the station, and headed to the elevator.

As he pressed the button, and stepped inside, Ella joined him, smiling wearily. She looked exhausted.
"Going up to: Training Centre, District Seven Floor. Enjoy the ride." The tinny voice rang out, and the elevator ascended, slower than before. It was probably due to more tributes using it all at once, but it gave time for the two to strike up conversation.
"So, how did today go?" Ella asked, "I managed to become allies with the girl from Ten and the girl from Eleven. How about you?"
"Well, I completed all my stations," Palmer replied, "And I also became allies with Jenn from Eleven. She found my hair hilarious." He exaggerated his tone, and Ella snickered, "Not you, too!"
"No, it's not that," She explained, it's just I find the fact that your hair attracted a new ally too funny!"
"Well, we'd better believe it," Palmer said more seriously than he would have liked, "Since these people might just save us from certain death."

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