Part 1: Catherine
Catherine West couldn't believe her rotten luck.
She stood in the central square of District 9. As soon as the 'Quarter Quell' had been announced, she'd known the odds were most certainly not in her favor. Ever since last year, when her older sister Jasmine had died in the Games, her parents had grown distant, and she had grown miserable. She'd always wished to get away from her life in the ninth district, but not like this.
"Now for our first draw. Let me remind you, this year is our first Quarter Quell, and the special twist is- girls only! Which means there will be two female tributes from each district and no males."
Like we didn't already know that, Catherine thought. She despised the overly perky capital officials. They used violent death as entertainment. Here's what Cat was pretty sure had gone through the Capital minds when divising the Districts' punishment for the uprising- "Let's kill thier children!" "No, let's kill thier children and make them watch." "No." All heads turn as the master plan is presented."Let's make they're children kill eachother while everyone watches!" Cheers ring out from the stupid gamemakers. Cat looked back up at the fat, purple-skinned woman as she drew the first name.
Cat froze. She looked panickedly over at her two best friends, Rockelle and Rosy. They looked distraught, but gestured for her to go up on stage. "Come now." The Capital woman called from the stage. She gritted her teeth. The mere voice of anyone from the Capital infuriated her. She strode up to the stage with her head held high. She stood as far from any Capital residents as physically possible.
"Next up." The woman pulled a slip of paper from the glass ball.
"Rosalie Rodriguez. "
Cat's heart stopped. Rosy? Catherine's best friend was twelve, two years younger than her. First the Capital had taken her sister, and now this? Pit against her best friend in a fight to the death?
She watched Rosy walk up to the stage, blinking tears out of her usually cheerful choclate-colored eyes. The sun glinted off her curly brown hair. Her skin was tanned, like most of the field workers. Cat's mother was a tailor, so her skin was pale.
"May I present District 9's tributes for the 25th Annual Hunger Games!"
The crowd cheered half-heartedly.
In her room on the train, Cat watched re-runs of the reapings. Rosy and one of the girls from 8 were the only twelve - year- olds. The train was extravagant, but the whole thing felt like a sick joke to Cat. When they arrived, she was put through the tribute parade, which was extremely stupid in Cat's opinion. Then training began. The ninth district had no living victors, so she was on her own.
At training, Cat showed Rosy to the survival skills, and then went over to the weapons area. She tried a sword, and then a bow- she was okay with both, better than some of the other tributes, but she wanted something she was great with. She tried the throwing daggers.
The knife was about the length of her forearm, handle and blade. She looked over at the targets. They were shaped like human sihlohettes, not circles, with a bulls-eye on the forehead, and chest, and other, less important dots on various other parts of the anatomy. She through and hit exactly where she was aiming- the bulls-eye on the chest.
"Well, what have we here?"
Cat spun around at the sound of the voice. She found three girls, one standing closest to Cat and the other three flanking her.
"I guess nine over here thinks she actually has a chance." The head girl pouted mockingly. Cat recognized her from the re-runs of the reapings- one of the girls from 2, Ciara. Catherine's chest knotted in rage. It had been last year's District 2 female tribute who'd taken her sister. "You look familiar. Oh, wasn't last year's nine girl named West too?"
Cat grit her teeth.
"Oh, she was her sister, wasn't she? I remember her. You guys remember how Kari cut her name into her skin?" The other girl from two, Alexis, laughed, and the other three joined in. Ciara looked into Cat's eyes and smiled with sick pleasure. "And how she broke every, single, bone in her body, until she was screaming for death." Ciara spoke slowly quietly, drawing out every sylable.
"Remember how she was begging?" One of the girls from 1, Gleam, snickered.
"Shut up." Cat said through clenched teeth.
"I saw tears!" Exquisite, the other girl from 1, busted out laughing, along with the rest of the Careers. Cat couldn't take it anymore. She grabbed the collar of Ciara's black jacket and held her knife to her throat.
"You will shut your mouth Cassis or I sware to god I will start these games right now."
"Whoa! Break it up, ladies!" One of the Capital supervisors rushed over and seperated Cat and Ciara. Ciara brushed off her jacket and looked at Cat with newfound interest. "See you in the arena , Nine."
When the time came for the private sessions, Cat hit every single dot on the targets, impressing the gamemakers more than any other District 9 Tributes in recent years. She and Ciara both got 10s. The last day was the interviews. The brand new interviewer, Caesar Flickerman, called up each tribute in turn. Cat didn't really pay attention to the other interviews, but she'd been planning hers since the reaping. "So, Miss West, Your sister was in the games last year, correct?"
It took all Cat's willpower not to scream. She spoke in a deathly calm voice, "Yes, but Caesar, I have a few questions for you." "Um, that's not really-"
"I was just wondering. Do you people really enjoy this? Watching innocent children kill eachother for sport? Do you not realize that it is not just a TV show? That there are real people in the arena dying? In the districts, mourning, crying, despairing over the lost lives of friends and family, just so you Capital people could get some cheap entertaiment? Do you not realize how absolutely sick this whole thing is?" Caesar seemed at a loss for words. The crowd was silent.
"Well?" She asked. Then the timer wrung, though Cat was sure it hadn't been anywhere near three minutes yet. She was escorted off stage.