The place where we would be training was a large circular room. For the next seven days, this would be where we would be trained in the arts of combat and survival, as well as getting know our enemy. Hayseed and I showed up a little later than most, but District 4 and 11 hadn't shown up yet, so at least we didn't look foolish.
Hayseed immediately went off to the edible plants station. I guess he would have some experience with them, working on a farm and all. I didn't really have any need to go visit these stations, so I just went off to the knife station where the orange filly from 5, Scootaloo, and Rarity were practicing. Rarity was using her magic to jab at a dummy with a small survival knife while Scootaloo tried to pick a knife up with her teeth.
"Ah, hello Octavia!" Rarity put down her knife and smiled at me. I smiled back, faking hospitality. Scootaloo grunted, not bothering to acknowledge me, still trying to get the knife. Rarity giggled and levitated the handle into Scootaloo's mouth. Scootaloo looked surprised, but then chomped down on the knife and went off to practise.
"Why's you help her?" I asked, looked at the filly as she stabbed the dummy.
"Oh, I don't know. She sort of reminds me of my sister..." Rarity sighed. "She was heartbroken when I was called. But, that was that, and well... nothing I can do to change it." The white unicorn looked down to examine some butterfly knives. "I saw your mother try and stop you from going. She's brave. Stupid, but brave. She must love you a lot."
I couldn't bear to look at Rarity. She had a way of taking me apart with her words... how could she do that?
"Anyway, I think we should team up for the Games. Going on your own is a sure way to get killed. The careers team up, why can't we?" Rarity looked at me expectantly.
"She's right, you know. I regret not making more friends myself." Twilight, from District 3, trotted up and levitated a knife over to examine it. "If you don't mind, I think I would like to join you as well. This could be my only chance except for the careers... but I'd rather not go to them. They're savages." I looked over at the careers. They had painted one of the sword dummies to look like yellow mare from District 7, and were tearing it to shreds. I felt disgusted just by looking at them.
"So, then. We'll team up. You in, Octavia?" I blinked a few times, then looked over at Scootaloo, who was still stabbing the training dummy viciously.
"Sure... but I think we should also let Scootaloo in. I mean, she looks like she might need the help. She couldn't even pick up the knife until you helped her, Rarity!" I decided to act as engrossed with the group as I could to throw off any trail that I was going to kill myself as soon as the games began. Also, I couldn't bear to think about what the game might do to her if she were alone. I guess I have a soft spot for fillies. I've seen far too many of them starve in the street not to take pity on them.
Rarity eyed the orange filly. "Sure, let her join! I think she may be good for some scouting, you know, to check to see if anypony is there. You'll have to go and do it yourself, though, I'm afraid."
I shrugged, and walked over to Scootaloo. "Hey, Scootaloo, right?" The filly didn't respond, just continued to stab the mock pony. "Ok, well, we'd, that is, me and Twilight and Rarity, would love to have you with us a part of-"
Scootaloo turned around to look at me. "Your little group? No thanks. I don't know about you, but I do things alone here..." she took a longing look at the rainbow-maned pegasus from District 5, who was trying her hoof out at archery, using one of her wings to pull the bowstring back.
I knew what was going on here. I smiled slightly, then walked away. The little filly had developed a crush on the mare from District 5. I shook my head sadly as I thought of a very likely scenario in which an arrow fired from the bow of that pegasus ended Scootaloo's life. I was actually sort of horrified by that. I wasn't looking where I was going, and bumped into the stallion from 11.
"Oh, sorry! Didn't see you there. You ok?"
I looked over the red stallion. He was large, and had a strong build. A green apple half was his cutie mark. I did not want to get on the wrong side of him. He might be valuable to the team, to the others...
I was about to offer him a place with the rest of us when the mare form 7 diverted his attention over to firemaking. I opted to head back over to Rarity and Twilight. When I returned, I saw they had the colt from 4 with them.
"Octavia, this is Pip. He was being picked on by the other careers for being a foal, so I think he'd fit better with us. No luck with Scootaloo?" Twilight asked. I shook my head.
"Ah well. I think we should probably go and do some training now that we've got a substantial group down! Let's go do trapmaking first, that could protect our campsite in the games..."
I followed the purple mare as she led us to the trapmaking station, when I bumped into Hayseed. "Oh, hey Octavia."
"Hey, Hayseed." I smiled at this little pun. Hayseed rolled his eyes.
"So, looks like you got yourself a group."
"Yeah. You wanna join?"
The stallion shook his head. "Nah, I'm with the careers."
I stared at him, appalled. "What?"
He shrugged. "Well, they're my best chance, aren't they?"
"How could you team up with those savage brutes? Besides, why would they let you join, anyway?"
Hayseed looked indignant. "Are you implying that I'm not good enough for the careers?"
"That's not an answer to my question."
"Neither is that." Damn, he's good.
I heaved a sigh. "Look, what did you do to impress them?"
"I showed them my skill with the sword. I'm actually fairly decent with it. My mom always wanted me to join the peacekeepers, so I got some training with it. They deemed me worthy to travel with them. And I'm sure I'll last twice as long as you!"
"You don't know the half of it," I mumbled. Hayseed cocked an eyebrow.
"What's that supposed to mean? Octavia, you aren't still considering killing yourself, are you?"
"What's it to you? You'd just kill me with the careers at the first chance you'd get!" Hayseed opened his mouth to respond, but then closed it again, biting his lip.
"That's what I thought, Hayseed. You know, I thought I could get along with you. But, I can honestly say that I'm the better pony here to choose taking her own life over the ones of others." I stomped away from him in a huff.
Rarity gave me a knowing look. "Stallion problems, sweetie?"
I didn't look at her, just choosing to go straight to attempting a noose knot. "Not like that."
"I don't know, darling, you two looked like you might have something for each other..."
I rolled my eyes at this. "Pfft, yeah. The star crossed lovers from District 12. Who'd buy that? I didn't even so much as look twice at Hayseed before he got chosen for the Reaping."
Rarity looked at me incredulously, surveying me. "Well, you have that 'look' to you... you love somepony, and I can tell..."
I thought back to the mare who had announced us back at the runway, Vinyl Scratch. I wondered how she looked. I tried to envision her, but all I could focus on was that voice...
I chased the thought from my mind, and finished my noose. These were going to be a long seven days...