Beware the Children

Alabaster has planned for this moment her entire life...soon, she thinks, she will be a District 1 Tribute, and soon after that she'll be a Victor. It should be simple for someone so strong and ruthless to win...but there are surprises waiting for her in the 57th Hunger Games.


2. Small Victories

We are kept waiting until seven in the evening, sitting or pacing in the Assembly Hall.  All around me heads are starting to droop, conversations are held quietly.  Those who knew they have not done well sulk in corners.  My friend Bettany is holding back tears.  She's always been too hard on herself, but she made it no further than mid-rank, definitely.  I can't imagine anyone here will do badly from this.  At worst, they'll be hired as bodyguards for those in the Capitol.  Most likely they'll be recruited as Peacekeepers if they're too old.  We are rewarded for our obedience to the Capitol.  Either as Victors or as valued armed forces.  I, however, will not be worrying.  I know I've done well.  I refuse to think of myself as a loser.  Last year it killed me to make it to the final three, only to lose to Amber.  And it added insult to injury when Amber died on the first day of her Games.  I can still see the look in her eyes when she realized her platform was on the edge of a cliff, that she'd have to walk down a narrow ledge with a drop on either side to get to the Cornucopia.  Letting something like a fear of heights destroy your chance at glory?  Pathetic.  I hope they've realized their mistake this year.  Make it right, I will them with my mind.  Give me my rightful place.  Let me win for you.

There is a bell, the one that calls us to classes, and the Instructors return to the stage at the end of the Hall.  The Headmistress steps to the podium, places a bright card on the stand in front of her, and begins.

 "Boys and girls, we thank you for your hard work.  Over the last few hours, and more importantly, over the last few years of your lives, we have watched you grow and learn.  You are the best and brightest among us.  Unfortunately, only two of you can be chosen.  Only our strongest and bravest can represent District 1.  As of today, they are no longer Students.  They are gone from us tomorrow, either to be dead, or returned to us as a Victor."  

She takes a moment to scan the room, and then abruptly, as usual, "Alabaster Ness, Luxe Burren.  Report to my office in ten minutes.  The rest of you are dismissed until tomorrow."

No one congratulates me.  It isn't done.  I stand in place until the rest of the room clears, and it's finally just me, and the tall boy standing a few feet away.  Luxe.

My fellow Tribute, two years younger than I am.  I wonder if I'll have to kill him.

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