Tough girl in the fast lane, no time for love, no time for hate.

Kaziah Armandy, 17, District Six Citizen/Rebel

Dell surges past me, almost missing me. I give a little gasp, chasing after him as he rounds the corner, his silhouette dark like a black cat at night.

Well. Basically how he already is.

"Dell," I whisper loudly, my feet pattering after him. He whips around, his eyes full of sudden worry. He sure wasn't like this when he was talking to his dad.

"Kaziah, you need to be quiet," he harshly whispers to me, though in a noticeably muted tone. "We need to hurry and get this to Dre and Josine… they know what to do with this information. It's vital."

He starts forward again, ducking underneath a low-hanging tree branch to get out of the yard, and I bite my lip, continuing after him. "B-But Dell, didn't your dad say that-"

"Stop it," Dell hisses, his dark eyebrows casting eerie shadows in the hollows of his eyes. He's taking this deathly seriously. "You can't speak of this like that, so casually… not out here, Kaziah. We can talk when we get back to my home."


"Kaziah!" He whips around, his face a mask of frustration. "Do I need to personally escort you back to my house for being a nuisance? I'll do it if I have to, Kaz, I swear…"

"No," I gasp, muting the sound by bringing my hands up to my mouth. I shake my head. "I want to come along. We'll be alright, I swear."

"Keep your mouth shut for twenty minutes and we should be fine," Dell grumbles, turning away and storming forward.

I trail after him, staggering my way through the darkness. I want to cling to his hood, maybe even hold his hand, but I'm afraid he'll just get madder. I can't risk that, he's the only friend I've got – and I'm pretty sure that it's mutual for him, too. I love him too much for him to have to snap at me.

Silent like statues, we slide through the night in our dark clothes and bated breaths. My whitish hair's been propped up into a ponytail and tucked inside a hat, but there's nothing that we can do for my pale skin, really, nor Dell's. Our faces shine like moons in the inky sky. But I doubt anybody's glancing out their window at this ungodly hour – and I doubt they could pick us out, even if they were. No moon nor stars tonight. The perfect cover.

It takes a while, stalking past the more well-off neighborhoods, to get to Asper, which is basically the pits of Six. My breath hitches a couple of times whenever we slink past a house of a person I know, and I silently pray that nobody will glance out their window.

But what could they do, though, even if they did see us?

They can't shoot the messengers.

They may tattle on us for breaking curfew, sure, but in the bigger picture, the jails are mainly filled to the brim of mingling druggies. If there was a bigger crime like assault or murder, those criminals would have to be placed in a holding cell on a train. From there, a person – usually surrounded by loads of Peacekeepers – will drive the train containing the criminals to the Capitol, where they can be tried and executed, if need be.

How do I know this? Well, the fact that last year I got to deliver the envelope, too, was certainly helpful.

I stumble over a rock, lost in my thoughts, and Dell lets out a brief yelp. He's quick to smack his hand over his naughty mouth, eyes wide and frightened, most unlike I've ever seen them before. He shudders, head whipping around to see if anybody else heard him.

One minute passes, then melts into two. It seems that the coast is clear.

His shoulders relax, eyes gradually growing softer and more gentle when all of a sudden, a yell explodes from behind him.

A shriek erupts from my lips before I know it, and I topple to the ground, curling my knees up into my chest and digging my nails into my own legs, pulling myself closer into my torso. Dell's stare snaps to me, and he quickly does the same, his movements fast and fluid.

"What was that?!" I croak out, my voice cracking and shaky.

Dell has time to shake his head, his hand tightening around the envelope, before we hear the footsteps. Marching, loud, trampling noises, like the boots of Peacekeepers…

Tears sting my eyes, but I swipe them away almost angrily. I might not be the brightest most of the time, but there's one thing I can do, and that's fight for the people that I care about. And I care about Dell, more than most people I know.

"Roll," I whisper loudly to him, my voice piercing the air that's growing in volume.

To give an example, I quickly tuck my arms to my sides, rotating my body, swiveling and swiveling under a hedge, opportunely placed at the side of the street. Dell watches me, his mouth parted and eyes widened, and I motion for him to hurry up, to get under his own hedge. Maybe the Peacekeepers won't search very thoroughly…

It's almost too late. The Peacekeepers have swarmed right by us, obscuring my vision of Dell, and they mix about themselves. I see the silver glint of a taser, a gun, and some other weapon that I don't even know what it is.

I hope Dell's hidden himself away.

For a couple long moments, the Peacekeepers whip their heads around, looking like tall, slim, white bugs with their shielded helmets, but then, salvation – they tread past us.

I almost sigh in relief. Dell must have tucked himself under the hedge. He's safe. I'm safe. We're both safe.

I can see the soles of the Peacekeepers' feet as they walk away from our hedges, and I'm all too happy to be this close to getting out, unwedging myself from the uncomfortable position. Our mission will be accomplished. We'll get to Asper, deliver the information to the rebels, and they'll cook us up some stew to eat and fix up a nice mattress to sleep on for the night.

It's all going to be okay…

Darkness consumes the backs of the Peacekeepers as they walk away, and I slide out of my hiding spot. "Dell?"

My voice is soft, but he hears it. He wriggles out of his own space, offering me a tentative smile. "Quick thinking back there, Kaziah. Nice job. You saved us…"

"That's the point of a partner," I giggle gently, standing up and dusting the dirt off of my knees. "Come on, let's just get to Asper. It's been so hectic tonigh-"

A gunshot.

I whip my head in the direction of the Peacekeepers, my stomach sinking with dread. I see them all, weapons pointed, glimmering in any light that they can catch.

We're trapped.

But…. But they can't shoot the messenger…

A moan comes from my side, and my gaze snaps there. If I had any sort of blood still pumping, it's completely frozen in my veins.

Dell's been shot.

He clutches his arm, and from what I can make out, it's bleeding everywhere – dribbling onto the ground, seeping into the paper of the envelope, staining his sleeve. A gasp escapes me and I rush toward him, his figure still hunched on the ground.

"Freeze!" A voice shouts.

I can't freeze. I've always been trained to run.

My hand finds Dell's, on the arm where he hasn't been injured, and I pull him to my feet. A bullet whizzes past harmlessly, cloaking the street in a loud gunshot. The pandemonium rolls off of me like water off a duck's feathers. I tug Dell along, forcing him behind the hedge as another bullet chases after us.

"We're done for," Dell chokes out, shaking his head.

"No, we're not!" I shriek out, a tear streaking its way down my cheek. My body convulses with a shudder and I try to contain myself from bursting into hysterical tears, breathing deeply, like the situation isn't serious, like we're not about to be gunned down at two in the morning.


"Surrender any weapons you have!"

"Get on the ground!"

"Stay still!"

The Peacekeepers' voices ring in my ears. They're running closer, closer, ever closer. If I'm to save myself, I have to leave Dell behind – he's closing his eyes, accepting his own fate already.

I drop his hand and bolt.

A streak of bullets flash behind me, and almost immediately, white hot pain ripples through my thigh. I choke out in pain, stumbling over the combined forces of a storm gutter and the sudden wound in my leg.

I collapse to the ground.

Clutching onto my thigh, staring back at the people behind me, I watch the blackened figure of Dell stand up, his face contorted in agony and worry for me, and I can only stare as a hail of bullets erupts from behind him.

They've shot the messenger.

A/N: Big Girls Cry by Sia.

... ;)

I tricked you, didn't I? You thought that this showed off the tribute list, huh? ;)

Well, after replying to all 87 PMs containing tribute forms, I have come up with a sensible list, I have. I just am not ready with the blog quite yet - so keep an eye out for that, alright? But yeah, more soccer this week, but guys, I am trying! And TI is a story I haven't abandoned, either - minor writer's block on that side of my profile.

Anyways, submitting now is rather pointless, but... yeah.

Keep an eye out for that third and final prologue, containing both the blog and tribute list! :)

And once again, dropping a snazzy little review makes you a snazzy little bae, xo.