Chapter Nine

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**Celestia**

I couldn't think about Bryony's proposal for long; I had to plan my private training session with the Gamemakers. My score could be the difference between winning and losing the Games. I knew I was going to be throwing knives, but I had to do something unique. Something that would make me stand out to the Gamemakers, and make them remember me.

I spent the rest of the night tossing and turning, debating what I should do. Finally, at about dawn, I came up with a plan. The next morning, I tell Kingsley about it. He smiles, and says it's a good idea.

Joe and I head downstairs to the waiting room, where the rest of the tributes are waiting to be called into the Training Room for their session. I spot Grace, who waves at me, and I walk over. As I pass the other tributes, they stare at me with clear hatred in their eyes, and automatically I look for Bryony - she is sat with the Careers, acting her part perfectly.

"What are you doing for your session?" I whisper to Grace, curious, although I'm pretty sure I already know.

"Some archery. Hopefully I'll hit a couple of bullseyes. You?" I guessed as much, and after yesterday, I would be extremely surprised if she was doing something else.

"I'm going to throw some knives." Grace does look surprised. I forgot she doesn't know about my secret talent! "I'm actually quite good. I was acting yesterday, aiming to miss," I quickly add, my voice a mere whisper. Understanding shines in her eyes.

One by one, tributes leave the room. They don't come back - I assume they must go back to their floors afterwards. When Bryony is called she doesn't look back at me, just stares straight ahead at the doors to the Training Room. She's a better actor than I thought.

Grace goes next; she is Team Six. She bounds off with a smile on her face. I wish her luck, then lean back against the wall and perfect my plan for the Gamemakers.

Because I am on part of Team 12, I will be going last. As is custom, Joe goes first, and I am left completely alone, but for my nerves. It seems like an eon before my name is called, but eventually I am herded into the Training Room.

It is the same room where we had been training previously, but somehow it looks different. The stations are still dotted around the sides of the room, but there are no instructors standing by them and they look more dangerous. I can already see where someone has used the camouflage paint, but the other stations have been tidied up, the weapons removed from the targets and put back on the table. I suppose the Gamemakers don't want anyone seeing their competition's skill yet.

I look up, to where the Gamemakers are sat high, high above me, watching and judging. I bow low, my deep breathing the only sound in the room, slicing through the silence. Then I walk over to the knives station, pick up five, and position myself far away from the targets at the other end of the room. I turn around so my back is facing them, take a deep breath in, out, and go through the steps I've been following ever since I was young.

I fling my arm back, pushing through the air, as I let go of my knife. I can barely breathe as I turn around to look - the knife has buried itself deep into the centre of one of the targets. Bullseye. But I'm not finished yet.

I run forwards, flicking two more knives as I do so, both of which hit different targets, both right in the middle. I have two left now - and I know exactly what I'm going to do with them.

About five metres away from the targets, I leap into the air and somersault over them, and, with quite a bit of force, throw the knives backwards as I do so. I land, a little clumsily (I can't be perfect, can I?) and glance around. The knives, like I had planned, had gone in two different directions. One was nestled in the archery targets on one side of the room, and the other was buried in the door that I had come through, exactly opposite.

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