"There are several different stations around the room. Some are weapon-based, others survival. Though it seems obvious to go for the weapon ones, I suggest you balance both equally. A poisonous berry or a sword - they are the same - they will both kill you.' The blunt way he says it is scary. "You have this morning, and then we will take a twenty minute break for lunch. Afterwards you will carry on until dinner. The same goes for tomorrow. After that, you will have your private training observations. The Gamemakers will be watching you; make sure you do your best. Now, I don't want to waste any more time. Go train!" He shoos us off like we are flies, merely a slight annoyance.

Almost everyone races to the weapons - archery, sword-fighting, daggers. I spot Celestia standing awkwardly, not moving.

"So, we are going to be training together, right?" I ask. She nods.

"What do you want to do first?"

She thinks about it for a moment. "I think we should do survival today, and weapons tomorrow."

"Okay. Let's start with..." I glance at all the survival stations. "Knots?"

We walk over. The instructor looks surprised. I guess knots aren't that close to the top of anyone's survival training list. But you never know what you might need in the arena.

We spend the next thirty minutes learning how to tie different knots - which ones are better for traps, how you can secure them. It is actually quite fun.

When we are finished, we head to the camouflage station. The instructor teaches us how to disguise ourselves, make us look as one with our surroundings. Celestia is amazing at it. I'm...not so much.

Halfway through, I glance at the clock. It's eleven already - we've been training for two hours. How did that go so fast? I nudge Celestia. She seems surprised too. We quickly say goodbye to the trainer and go to the berry station. There is already a tribute there - a very pretty blonde. She looks like the kind of person that would normally be a Career. Maybe there aren't going to be Careers this year? No. I look at Violet, hanging around with Marco and some others - definitely Careers.

"Hi," I say. The girl looks up from the paragraph she was reading about pokeweed.

"Hi!" She looks relieved. "I'm Grace."

"I'm Bryony. This is Celestia."

"Awesome. It's nice to meet you," she says, then returns to the book. She sounds out of breath. I glance at Celestia - she seems more confused than me. That was odd. Although now we know why she isn't a Career.

The instructor shows us the most common deadly berries. I shudder when he shows me nightlock. These berries started the rebellion. They brought me here. For some reason, they scare me more than the tiny things should.

Finally, we are called for lunch. Celestia and I are sitting on our own when Grace comes bouncing over.

"It was really nice talking to you back there," she says.

I smile politely. "So what stations did you do?" I ask. Celestia stays silent.

"Other than berries, you mean." She laughs loudly at this, despite it not being a very funny joke. Her laugh is bright and contagious, and I can't help but smile.

"I did healing. I'm rather good at it, if I say so myself!" Again, she laughs. "The instructor told me I have a knack for it. Maybe I will be a nurse when -" she pauses. "When this is all over," she says quietly.

It breaks my heart inside. What did such an innocent girl to do deserve this death sentence?


Celestia and I spend the rest of the afternoon going round the rest of the survival stations. Ten minutes at each one to learn what we need to know, quickly practice, and then move on to the next station. We settle into a routine, not really talking, only breaking the silence to point out how we could use it in the Games. Grace started following us around not long after we finished lunch. She was right - when we stopped at the healing station she was flying, looking like a natural as she fixed the instructor's fake burns.

When training finally stops for the day I'm exhausted. After saying a quick goodbye to Grace and arranging to meet with Celestia later, I head back up to Floor Four to have a shower.

Upstairs, Marco is sat down at the dinner table having a heated argument with Marina. It looks like he is winning.

When I come out of the bathroom they are sitting silently, eating. I can see Marina fuming, the smiley nature I saw last night gone.

"Bryony!" She looks relieved I am there. "I was just talking to Marco about you." She glances at the boy, who is playing with his food sheepishly. "He wants you to join the Career pack."

I'm taken aback. Why would the Careers want me? Me? I would be so useless, I would just get in the way. They probably want to lure me into a false sense of security, only to stab me in the back when I'm asleep - another tribute down. I've got to keep on my guard.

"You could be a great help to us, and in return we could protect you until almost all the tributes are wiped out. It's a win-win. You'd be crazy not to," Marco pleads. Gosh, he's cute. "Please Bryony. I need you."

His gorgeous brown eyes bore into mine, searching through me, begging me to come with him. I can't look away.

I'm totally convinced. Marco can't want to hurt me.

I feel like it isn't my head that is nodding. It isn't my mouth that softly speaks, almost whispers, the words, "It's a deal."

Author's note: What do you think? Is Bryony making a huge mistake? What do you think about Grace?

Please vote/comment! Thankyou for reading :)

The Capitol GamesWhere stories live. Discover now