Prologue I - Fetus Friends Cult

Spring of 3164

Capitol - Estella Eden, 15

Puddles fan out behind me as I tear through the Capitol streets on my blue and white bike. I'd named her Celeste after the victor from District Four in the 60th Hunger Games. What kind of idiot names her bike? Raindrops slide off of my aviators and I wipe them clean with my sleeve, annoyed. A bump in the sidewalk takes me off guard and I narrowly avoid falling off of Celeste as I bounce dangerously over the concrete.

The roads today aren't as busy as they usually are. Every Capitolite from the President's Mansion to the Fence has been awaiting this day all year. Ever since the anticlimactic victory last year from Nia Lloyd, everyone's been expecting a particularly violent 64th Hunger Games. My phone buzzes from the pocket of my dark leather jacket, and I slide it out.

Bryden: where tf are you? the reapings are about to start any second now!

I groan and put my phone back in my pocket, looking up just in time to see the terrified face of a girl about my age with long purple hair and wide hazel eyes. I let out a shrill shriek as I ram right into her and I go flying over the handlebars and fall flat on my back on the sidewalk.

Moaning, I roll over and sit up, my head spinning. My aviators are lying a few feet next to me, thankfully not shattered. They were given to me by Celeste Green herself, the same aviators she wore on the Victor's Parade.

"Ow," someone says. I turn, gasping slightly. Not because of the bruised mess of a girl on the wet ground, but because of the crumpled, tangled figure of what used to be a bicycle. I let a whimper escape my throat and get to my feet. The girl turns around and glares at me. "Maybe you should watch where you're going, bitch!"

Shocked, I step backwards a little bit, but get over my initial surprise in seconds. "I'm not the one who didn't move, idiot," I mutter, taking a threatening step towards her. She scampers to her feet, and I can see the disappointment on her face when she realizes she's at least a foot shorter than me. My eyes flicker to Celeste, my prized bike. "You broke my bike," I growl. I bring my fists together and crack my knuckles. The purple-haired girl gulps.

"Sorry," she squeaks. I laugh, a booming, solid laugh. A laugh not filled with poison like Celeste's, but with threats. Sincere predictions, I like to call them.

"You better be," I say, dusting off my black pants, fresh rips in the knees. Not stylish, I think angrily. "Get lost, loser," I spit. She whimpers and scoops up a small backpack I hadn't seen lying on the ground, then sprints away, tail between her legs. I crack a satisfied smile, thinking about how awesome I must look. Probably like Celeste, I think dreamily.

Celeste. I groan, looking at my damaged bike. There was no fixing it. I'm surprised the girl didn't break a bone or something, it looked like I had hit a wall square on. Sighing, I dump the bike on some poor person's lawn, deciding it's not my problem anymore, and I start stomping towards Bryden's house. My shoulder length white-blonde hair smacks against my face with every step, sticking to my cheeks and my chin and my nose. Aggravated, I pull the mass of drenched hair back and tie it into a very small ponytail at the back of my head.

Eventually I turn the corner into Bryden's cozy little cul de sac. I stomp through his fake lawn, my boots squelching into the mud. I throw open the door, already on his family's face-recognition list. "Estella Eden," a calming woman's voice says my name from the speakers built into the doorway. The volume's on low so nobody notices me standing there. Angrily, I pull my black boots off of my feet, almost yanking my right foot out of its socket. Then I step into the warm triple-storied house and slam the door behind me.

I see Bryden at the counter in his kitchen, sitting idly on a bar stool. He looks insanely bored, listening to Melvina May tell some story of hers while pouring exotic alcohols together. Bryden yawns, turns, and sees me standing drenched in his foyer. "Stella!" he says, his lips curving upwards in a bright smile. I can't help but to drop my shoulders, relax my fists, and crack a similar smile, blue eyes lighting up. Bryden Blanche is contagious like that. "I thought you crashed or something," he said, coming up to me. He looks me up and down and punches the command for a towel into his iButler on the wall. Seconds later, a warm white towel slides out from a slot right under the little white box. I grab it eagerly and throw it over my shoulders.

"I did," I say, laughing.

"Oh, do tell!" Melvina says, still standing in the kitchen. She puts a hand on her hips and tilts the glass of alcohol back. I watch her throat move as she swallows it. I could never handle alcohol. I don't know how Melvina does it. When we were 13 she told me she just pretended like she liked alcohol so people thought she was cool. At the ripe age of 15, it doesn't seem cool anymore, it just seems common.

"This stupid girl didn't move when I was coming here. I wrecked my bike," I say, shrugging. Melvina turns to stare at me. Her golden locks bounce around her full chest and her grey eyes sparkle mischievously. I've always been jealous of her.

"You don't mean to say…" she starts, trailing off and raising an eyebrow.

I let out an embarrassing laugh. "No, Mel! I just terrified her and she ran off," I confirmed.

"Sure, ok," Bryden says, crossing his arms and chuckling. A lock of electric blue hair covers his right eye and he tosses his head so it's sent backwards for a few seconds before ultimately falling back over his crimson eyes, his natural honey brown ones covered by contacts. Bryden always reminded me of a horse when we were growing up. He had brown hair and brown eyes and he'd flick his head and snort when he was annoyed. Now he's just silent when he's annoyed. Confident and cocky, but I know he's self-conscious under his attitude.

"You got the TV up and running?" I ask, glancing at a holographic clock projected above the virtual fireplace in Bryden's parlor.

"Yeah. They've just been playing pre-recorded interviews with mentors and stuff. And sneak peaks for the reapings," Melvina says. One of the reasons Bryden and I decided we would let her into our 'fetus friends cult' was because her name was an alliteration, much like ours. And obviously, three kids with alliterative names were a force to be reckoned with.

I follow Bryden back into the kitchen, which is adjoined with his family room and his dining room. Of course, usually we like to watch movies and things in the theater upstairs, but Melvina insists on constantly making food and drinks for us instead of ordering iButler to make it for us. I have to say, a fresh gooey batch of Mel's chocolate chip cookies is heaven compared to the crispy processed biscuits iButler tries to feed to us.

"Last question, Vernal," Caesar Flickerman says on the large screen. Besides the usually beautiful Careers and ever so rare chisel-faced outer district tribute, all the girls at my school swoon over Caesar. I get it, he's young and handsome and single, but I just don't see him the way everyone else does. "Do you believe your tributes will have a shot of winning?"

Vernal Alexandra from District Two laughs a raspy laugh. A laugh all Careers perfect before even thinking of volunteering. Of course I know this, I'm a Hunger Games fanatic. I've studied the games, written essays on them, fan stories on them, made up my own tributes, pretended I was a Career, you name it. I know everything about the Games. When I was little I used to want to be in the games. As I grew up I settled for just watching the games. And now… And now… I think to myself, a sly smile gracing my features. "Of course they do!" Vernal says confidently, his beady eyes fixing on the camera as if to challenge someone to tell him otherwise. Now I want to make the games.

A/N: hey guys, i'm back! this is probably a bigggg mistake but anyway, as you can see, i'm trying my hand at another SYOT. let's hope this one doesn't go down in flames like the other two... the form will be on my profile as well as the tribute list, and i'm writing this all on my phone so i'm really sorry if there are mistakes or anything. *happy accidents

i'm planning on updating at least once every two weeks but i'll aim for every weekend at least until school stops. thanks babes!

-knifey

shower thought of the day: the hunger games is just a really long episode of Black Mirror.