Chapter Five

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**Celestia**

After the President's speech is over, the chariots take us back to the Training Centre. Bryony gets the biggest cheer as she goes inside, and I can't help feeling envious of her. I know she's my best friend, and I shouldn't put her down, but I wish that could've been me.

I don't speak to Opal as she helps me out of my chariot. I'm too angry; why couldn't she have designed me an outfit like Bryony's? Surely it isn't hard.

I stomp into the elevator. To my dismay, inside are Bryony and her partner (he swishes his hair in a very cute way, and this does not help).

Seeing it's me, Bryony's face lights up, making me feel guilty. She hugs me, and I can't help but return it guiltily. Bryony is the best friend anyone could ask for, and she deserves her spotlight.

The hug softens my anger, and by the time me, Opal and my partner (I really should learn his name) step out of the elevator I am in good spirits again.

When we emerge into our floor my mentor, who introduced himself as Kingsley Abbott from District 9, stands up from where he was sitting on the sofa, watching the parade on the huge TV.

"Well done guys. We probably got a few sponsors there," he says optimistically. He gestures to the TV. "Want to watch?"

I don't, but I look at the screen anyway. I don't look too bad. I'm staring stonily ahead, whilst my partner (I've learnt his name is Joe) smiles and waves, which kind of ruins the effect. But hopefully I should get more sponsors than the girl who threw up all over her partner.

When the parade is over, I head to bed early. I know from watching years of the Games at home that I have training tomorrow. And, if I remember right, then I'm going into the Hunger Games.

I have a feeling I'm going to need all the sleep I can get.

~~~~~

The next morning I am woken up by the sing-song melody of a mockingjay, hovering just outside my window. It gives me hope - maybe if the little birds can survive, I can too.

Still half-asleep, I traipse into the main room, where the dining table is laden with a feast fit for a queen - or at least a president's granddaughter. I load my plate with croissants, help myself to fruit and drown my cereal in creamy milk. By the time I have finished preparing my breakfast, everyone else has woken up.

Kingsley waits for a moment, whilst Joe finishes his blueberry smoothie.

I hate blueberries.

Finally, Joe slurps up his last mouthful (it's hard to believe he was raised in the Capitol. He looks like someone from the districts. It's insulting). Kingsley clears his throat.

"So, your training starts today. First of all, do either of you have any skills you are any good at?" He looks between us.

Surprisingly, Joe sits up straight. "I do. I'm a black belt at karate."

I almost choke on my pain-au-chocolat. Is the kid trying to look stupid? Or is he just stupid?

Kingsley looks shocked, too. "Show me. I happen to be quite good too." He points to a space on the floor.

Joe stands up and walks over, taking his stance. Now I'm curious. Maybe geek boy isn't so weak after all. I just hope his glasses don't fall off.

Kingsley makes the first move - a simple punch to the stomach. Joe's hand whips out like a snake, blocking it. Then he takes the offense, spinning round and executing a perfect roundhouse kick, which hits Kingsley right in the face.

I have to admit: he is actually quite good. Maybe he won't die in the bloodbath, like I was expecting.

Suddenly, it hits me, full in the face. I'm meant to kill these people. Could I really do it? Murder someone? Yes, I'm doing it to save myself, but it's still murder. Even if I did win these Games that fact would haunt me forever.

And these people are meant to kill me. What would happen if I had to fight Joe, and he beat me? All of a sudden, geeky boy seems scary.

And what if Bryony gets hurt? For me to win she would have to die, and for her to win I would have to die...there's no way out.

Kingsley interrupts my thoughts, thankfully. "So, Celestia, what about you?"

"Umm...I'm quite good at throwing knives, although I haven't had much practise. I'm not a total klutz. I'm creative and am quite good at art, so, camouflage? And maybe traps," I recite. I had been preparing for this moment ever since I realised I was going into the Games. I might be heading into the arena in five days, but I still have a reputation to uphold, and I don't want to be seen as weak. And it's true - I used to throw knives at the huge oak tree in my garden, and I'm actually quite good.

Kingsley nods. "Well, before you go to training, I have a couple of things to say. Joe - don't go onto the karate mats. Avoid them at all costs. If you do get pressured into fighting, do your worst. We need this to be a secret." He looks at me. "Celestia - try the throwing knives, but if you manage a bullseye make sure you aim for a ring farther out in future. Again, we want to hide your strengths. Try and go to all of the stations, as you never know what you could need in that arena. Trust me. I know first-hand." I had almost forgotten that Kingsley had been in, and won, a Games. I think his was a few years before I was born, so I don't know much about it. I'm glad in a way; I don't want to know how many innocent lives he has taken.

Kingsley carries on, oblivious to my worries. "And to both of you - try to look for potential allies. Unless you want to ally together?"

I look at Joe; he looks at me. Then he shakes his head. The nerve!

Kingsley doesn't look fazed, though. I wonder how many times he has had to mentor before. He is probably used to his tributes disagreeing with each other. "Ok then, look for separate allies. Choose well. They could be the difference between life and death."

And on that happy note, we walk into the elevator. Just before the doors open for the ground floor, Kingsley looks at both of us.

"Good luck out there," he says. And then the lift stops and the doors separate, revealing the room that could decide my fate, and we can talk no more.

Author's note: Sorry it is taking so long to get into the Games, but I hope you enjoy these pre-Games chapters nonetheless!

Please vote/comment! Your feedback is appreciated and I will always try to listen to it!

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