Hoity Toity's voice rung in my ears. Had he really just called my name? No, this can't be happening, it wasn't fair... No, no, my parents had already lost one of their daughters, there was no way they were going to lose both of them! How could it be, me, of all ponies, when Roseluck was in there fifty-six times...
I looked back at my friend, who stared back at me with sad eyes. She bent her head down, and pushed me forward. I stumbled ahead, and ponies in the crowd slowly moved out of the way, no pony talking, no pony moving. Just silent and static.
"NO!" The cry shattered the silence like a rock thrown into a cracked window. I felt force push down on me as my mother threw herself onto my back. "NO! NO, YOU TOOK CHIME, YOU AREN'T TAKING OCTAVIA!"
A Royal Guard trotted over. "Ma'am, released the tribute, she's in government custody now-" My mom spit into the Royal Guard's face. Now she had done it.
The guard glared in anger, and raised a hoof, punching her right in the snout. She fell off me, and the guard unceremoniously dragged me to my feet. My mom was sobbing on the ground as I slowly trotted to my death sentence up on the podium. I nearly stepped on Hayseed, who was still out cold.
"Alright, now that that... unpleasantness in over, let's pick our male tribute." Hoity Toity once again reached into a bowl, this one containing male contestants. "Hayseed Turnip Truck jr. Huh. Well, what a coincidence."
This wasn't the first time I thought the Reaping's were rigged, but this was when I was most sure of it. Me, whose sister was already dead from the Games, and Hayseed, whose father was a victor. This had to be rigged.
I scanned the crowd and saw Hayseed, who was very confused. He wasn't a very handsome pony. It may sound mean, but when I thought of him, the first thing that came to mind was his silly buck teeth. At least he wasn't wearing that hat with the turnip on it. That would have just made this situation unbearable.
Hayseed jr. had been in my class all the years I had been in school, but we had never been friends. Truth be told, he was kind off the laughing stock of the school, what with his looks, and his father.
Hayseed jr. walked up to the podium, and stood beside me. Unable to look at him, I stared off into the crowd. Hayseed's mother and brother's hadn't broken down. Maybe they thought he would be lucky like their father. Well, lucky is a relative term in his case...
"Ladies and Gentlecolts, here are the tributes for District 12!" The guards led us down to the carriage while the mayor finished up with the closing speech. Hoity Toity got in after us.
"Thank goodness, we're finally leaving this rank District! No offense." I was still in too much shock to be offended. How could this happen? My poor mother... and my father, whom I'm sure was just as upset about this whole ordeal.
The carriage stopped at the Government Building. "Oh, right, we still have to go here, for the visits and whatnot." Hoity Toity sighed. "Oh, the things I do for this country." I bit back the response I was itching to give him.
We walked into the building, and went up the elevator to the visitor's rooms on the third floor. My sister had walked these very steps fifteen years ago...
I entered the one designated for mares, and sat down. My father was the first one to show up. He looked down at me sadly.
"Oh, 'Tavia..." He gave me a hug. I was surprised to find myself still not crying. Either the shock had gone away, or the apathy had kicked in. We broke our embrace, and my father looked deep into my eyes.
"Octavia. Your mother... she's not going to be able to say goodbye. She... couldn't handle getting over here. And even then, I don't think she could face you." My father and I stared at each other in grim silence for several moments. He broke the silence by giving me another hug and saying "I love you, 'Tavie."
"I love you too dad."
We broke apart again, and he stared me right in the eyes. "Try to win. If we lost you... I might lose her." I nodded, and he left.
Roseluck walked in, holding something in her mouth. I looked, confused. It was a pin of a pegasus. Why would she bring me this?
Roseluck pinned the pegasus trinket to my hair. "Here... I know it's not much, but take it. I can't very well send you off with flowers, can I?" she laughed feebly. I waited for a few seconds, then Roseluck began to cry.
"Oh Octavia, this isn't fair! How could they do this? The odds..." Roseluck inhaled deeply. "Ok... ok, it's all ok..." Roseluck grinned at me, although I could still see the sorrow beneath it. "You better kick flank in there."
Roseluck left as the Royal Guard came to remind us visiting time was up. I saw Hayseed's mother leaving as I left my visiting room. She wasn't crying she just looked... numb with shock. I guess that's how I looked, because that's most certainly how I felt. Hayseed jr. joined me, and we walked outside together in silence. Hayseed had been crying.
We were met with a stream of reporters, cameras flashing, notebooks scribbling. Hayseed jr. answered a few and tried to smile, while I just pushed them aside. Oh course, Hoity Toity was eating this attention up, except he was mostly relaying how awful our District was rather then giving any useful information about us as tributes.
The carriage started up again, and in around five minutes we were at the train station. Hoity Toity nearly ran to the train car. Stepping out, my mental image of the train was similar to the one we used for coal. I was in for a surprise.
My mouth fell open as I looked at the prestine condition of the bullet train before me. The head was bulky and square, but rather rounded down to cut through the air at high speeds. The paint wasn't chipped and peeling or covered in coal dust, instead it was a sleek silver with a blue trimming.
It was beautiful.
Of course, immediately after that, I was reminded of how Canterlot just let us live in such poverty with they could afford things like this, but I focused on the beauty.
Inside, there were rooms for me, Hayseed (both jr and sr.), and Hoity Toity. There was a dining cart, which beside an awe-inspiring array of food, also contained a large TV so we could watch the Reapings of the other Districts.
"Shall we watch?" Hayseed jr. asked me, and I shrugged. We sat down on one of the couches that were about the cart, and watched as all the Reapings occur.
District 1 was first. District 1 is Luxury items, and the tributes were Fleur de Lis and Fancy Pants. I almost giggled at their names. Honestly, District 1. Both of them were as old as the Reapings allowed.
District 2 looked more menacing. Both of these tributes volunteered to go up. In the career districts, Districts 1, 2, and 4, mostly we get volunteers. And most years, they win. District 2 more often out of them, which is weird, because they're masonry. Anyway, District 2's volunteers were Trixie Cantrip and Snowflake Horsepower. Trixie was a mean looking unicorn who looked about a year younger then me. She looked deadly. I actually laughed at Snowflake though. Me and Hayseed both snickered at the Pegasus, who looked like someone had hit him up on steroids so much he was going to explode into a giant pile of muscles. His wings were small and shrunken, so we wouldn't have to worry about him flying around.
District 3, technology, had some decent looking tributes. A purple mare by the name of Twilight Sparkle who looked like she knew a spell or two was the female tribute, and the male tribute was a brown earth pony. Nothing special about him. Time Turner was his name, I think.
District 4, the last career district and fishing, actually looked on the weak side. No pony volunteered when a small colt by the name of Pipsqueak was picked, but when another foal was picked, a grey pegasus with a cockeye volunteered. I could almost hear the crowd groaning when she took the place of the sacred filly. Ditzy Doo and Pipsqueak. I immediately renamed Ditzy "Derpy" because of her eye.
District 5, which was power, gave us two pegasi as tributes. A rainbow maned one by the fitting name of Rainbow Dash was the female tribute, and the stallion tribute was a dark grey white maned one called Thunderlane. Pegasi were tricky, because they could control weather to an extent, and that was always a feature implemented into the games. Last year, District 5 won because the pegasus from that District had killed off the last three careers with well placed lightning strikes.
District 6, transportation, who had probably built this train, garnered a small orange filly named Scootaloo. She was only a little bit older then Pipsqueak. I made a mental note to stay away from those two. I was not going to kill a foal. The other was a little bit younger then me, named Caramel. He was an Earth pony, unassuming as we tend to be. We never make an impression in the games, and rarely win. Some years, though, as Hayseed sr. was able to prove...
District 7, lumber, brought us a yellow pegasus who was my age. She looked very shy, and hid her face behind her pink mane. I remeber District 7 for it's particularly brutal victor from four years ago, Johanna Mareson. Johanna had pretended to be weak, then viciously shredded her way though the final five. It was a bit scary, to be honest. The male tribute was a colt around the same age as Scootaloo named Snails. He had a long neck, and looked a little clumsy. I was certain he would end up falling off the plate at the beginning and explode.
District 8, which does textiles, yielded a white coated mare who looked more sophisticated than her other textile workers. She was a unicorn, and actually had to be separated from her sister, who wasn't letting go of her. Her name was Rarity, if I remember correctly. Another foal, this one a unicorn by thee name of Snips was chosen. We had a lot of foals running for us this games...
District 9, which was grain, actually brought a smile to my face. When the female tribute, Pinkie Pie, was called up, she smiled, and bounced right on up to the stage, giving a speech about the party she was going to throw once she won the games. A bit cocky, but she was fun. The male tribute was less so. He was the same age as me, but he looked older. His name was Pony Joe. Like us, this District almost never won, and normally gave both Earth ponies, like it did this year.
District 10 was livestock. No pony I knew ate meat, so I guess livestock was more for milk and eggs and animal byproducts and things like that. The mare was a few years younger than me, but she was no filly. She walked with a limp. Ouch, that would get her killed right away. I didn't catch her name, but the stallion from her district stood out for some reason. He wore a vest, yellow coat... his name was Braeburn.
District 11 was kind of sad. As stated before, this is the agricultural district. At first, a little red maned filly by the name of Applebloom was chosen to go up, but her sister, Applejack, volunteered to go. Then, what do you know, their brother, Big Macintosh, was chosen. The odds of that must have been astronomical. Either that, or my rigged games theory wasn't too far off the mark. Anyway, the cameras made a huge fuss over this. I could tell they were to be favorites in this year's game, right after the careers.
And then came us. I got to witness my mother's breakdown on live television. That was fantastic. Now everyone would think I had a weak family. Or sympathise with me. It didn't really matter, I stopped caring once my name had been called. I already had a plan. I was just going to jump off the plate in the beginning and kill myself. No pony was to die by my hoof. My mother would get over it...
Hayseed jr. was called, and that was the end of it. The TV shut off manually, and I got up to go to the dining table when Hayseed stopped me. "Hey, Octavia?"
I looked down at him. "Yeah?" The words felt odd in my throat. I hadn't spoken since I told my father I loved him. He would get over it too...
"Let's team up. I mean, we can't stay together forever, but it gives us an advantage, right?"
I thought about my plan. What did I have to loose that I already had not lost, or given up on?
"Sure, Hayseed. Sure."
Hayseed smiled. We trotted to the dining cart, and sat ourselves around the table. Hoity Toity was eyeing the food like he wanted to eat it, and yet didn't at the same time. Hayseed was passed out in a mess of booze and crushed pastries. Hayseed avoided looking at his father, and instead tried some of the green mush on a plate in front of him.
"Hey! This is good! What is it?"
"Mashed up Xander root died with seaweed extract," Hoity Toity responded, eyeing the disheveled Hayseed sr. disgustedly.
"Tastes kinda like a turnip! But with somethin' else..." Hayseed ate some more of the mush, while I sampled a muffin. It was good, better than anything I had ever eaten before. I was just getting into the mood of eating when Hayseed sr. lifted his head out of the mess.
"Wha? Whas goin' on? Junior, go back to bed, you have shcool tommorah..."
Hayseed jr. winced when his father said addressed as "Junior."
"Dad, I was picked for the games. We're heading for Canterlot, remember?" Hayseed sr. looked at his son through bloodshot, unfocused eyes.
"YOU? Th' gamsh? Jeesh, you'll be dead before sundown..." Our mentor laughed, then vomited, splattering Hoity Toity in the rank liquid.
Hoity Toity huffed, and walked away. "I hate this job."