Disclaimer: I don't own X-Men or The Hunger Games.

Note: Welcome back, all! It's my pleasure to announce that submissions are open for the Second X-Games. Additional information, as well as the submission form, can be found on my profile.

Yes, this is technically a crossover, but I'm operating under the assumption that people don't regularly check the X-Men/Hunger Games crossover page for stories to submit to. (Considering that particular page has a grand total of four stories - one of them my first in this series - I think that's a fair assumption.) Once submissions are closed, I'll scoot this on over to the crossover section where it belongs.


What You Fight Against
The Second X-Games


Prologue
Cycle


Iris Calvin, 18
Santa Rosa, CA

February 25th, 09:16 PST

She was sure that at least a few of them suspected.

Iris smiled as she quickly scurried about the tent, rearranging this and that, making sure that everything was just so. A calendar here, a few flowers there, a few candles to set the mood. The mood was everything. Her customers came expecting messages from their lost loved ones, and that was what she delivered. Just not in the way most of them thought.

Maybe there were mutants who could contact the dead. She'd never really given the matter much thought, and she certainly wasn't going to go around asking people. That was a good way to attract the attention of the government. Since the election, there had been a crackdown on unauthorized mutant activity, and a wrong question here or a suspicious internet search there could draw their attention.

But a medium? Normal people claimed to be able to contact the dead all the time. Most of them couldn't, of course, and neither could she. But she could do the next best thing. One touch from any object allowed her to read its entire history, which was why she required that her customers bring along a personal possession of the deceased. That gave her enough information to form a convincing message.

Up until recently, that had always been enough. Enough to keep food on the table, at least. Maybe it wasn't the most profitable business, but ever since her father had kicked her to the curb for accidentally revealing his affair to his latest girlfriend, she'd had to make do with what work she could get.

Iris shook her head as she lit another candle. The irony of the situation didn't escape her. She was in this position because she'd revealed her father's lie, and now she made her living lying to grieving families. Parents. Siblings. Children. Family members and friends who were desperate for a last word of kindness from those they'd lost.

And that was how she slept at night: by telling herself that it was kind. Unlike her father, her lies weren't harming anyone. She gave people comfort. Occasionally, it was false comfort, but who would know the difference? It wasn't as if the dead were going to jump in and correct her.

Lately, though, business had been a bit slower than usual. People were more cautious about anything purporting to be supernatural. Anything that didn't quite seem human. And what she was doing certainly qualified. It wasn't enough to drive away customers entirely; there would always be someone who was desperate enough to try anything, to trust anyone. But it did mean that business was slower than usual.

Iris was just about to sit down when the tent flap opened, revealing a girl about her age. She was pale, with wispy blonde hair that hung to her shoulders. She looked vaguely familiar from somewhere, but Iris couldn't quite place it. The sunglasses, however, definitely caught her eye. It was dim in the tent, and not particularly bright outside, either.

Still, in her line of business, she was quite accustomed to people's eccentricities. "Welcome," she beamed, pulling up a chair. "Please, have a seat."

"We don't have time, Iris." The girl's voice was low. "You have to come with me."

"What?"

"They're watching you. They know who you are, what you can do. And you're exactly the sort of person who would be perfect for their plan."

"Who?"

Instead of answering, the girl removed her glasses. Iris barely held back a gasp. The girl's eyes were completely black. Iris took a step back as she realized where she'd seen the girl before. "You're…"

"Piper."

"You're dead."

The girl couldn't hide a smile. "Thought you were a medium. You should be used to that."

Iris shook her head. "I think we both know better than that."

"You're right. I'm only officially dead. And I'd love to sit here and chat and tell you everything, but we really don't have time. They'll be here in— Kurt! We have to move!"

Immediately, another figure rushed into the tent. "Look," Piper insisted, turning back to Iris. "You're on their list. I don't have time to explain what that means, but if you don't want to end up like me – or worse – then you have to come with us. Now." The stranger held out his hands, and Piper took one. "Hurry."

Iris took Piper's hand, her fingers brushing up against the glasses as she did. Iris gasped and almost took a step back, but Piper's hand clenched tightly around hers. "I know," she whispered. "Believe me, I know you're scared. And I can't promise that you'll be safe with us. But I can promise that we're your best chance. Now take Kurt's hand."

Iris quickly did as she was told, and almost immediately, they disappeared in a flash of blue smoke. As they disappeared, Piper let the glasses fall to the floor of the tent, a silent message for their pursuers. Iris was beyond their reach – for the moment, at least.

One more mutant they wouldn't get their hands on.


"Take care not to become what you fight against. Vengeance begets nothing but a vicious cycle of further vengeance."