My fellow Gamemakers and I enter the small observation room. This is where we will be observing and evaluating the performances of this year’s tributes. As Head Gamemaker, I’m calling most of the shots for this year’s Games. Helping me with assigning training scores are Gamemakers Jasper and Kestra. Outside the glass wall of the observation room is the Training Arena, divided into two sections. One side of the room is a shooting range, with 50M, 75M, and 100M targets set up. The other side of the room has training dummies set up for melee combat. On the far right wall of the arena is the weapons rack, stocked with every melee and ranged weapon known to man. Us three Gamemakers take a seat and wait for the first tribute to arrive.
The girl from 1 is the first to enter the room. She scans the arena quickly before heading over to the weapons rack and selecting a slingshot. Curious choice for a Career. She walks over to the dummies and begins firing small lead balls at them. Overall, it isn’t an extremely violent or impressive showing. The girl must sense this, because she suddenly strides over to our window and fires three balls at it in quick succesion.
The window doesn’t even crack; the glass is super-tempered and unbreakable. It doesn’t keep the three of us from flinching reactively. The girl smiles at us and says, “If you were in the Games, you’d all be lying on the ground with holes in your skulls. Then she turns and gestures to the dummies. I finally notice her precision; every dummy has a small hole in its head. The bell signaling the end of the session rings, and the girl turns to leave out the door.
The three of us convene and discuss the girl’s performance.
“She doesn’t look like a Career,” says Jasper.
“Yes, but she can certainly fight like one,” argues Kestra.
“And she was brave enough to speak to us, let alone attack the window,” I add.
After a while, we come to a conclusion on what the girl’s score should be.
For excelled marksmanship with a slingshot and determination, Grace of D1 receives a training score of 8 (minus one point).
The boy from District 1 storms into the room and grabs a dangerous-looking battleaxe. With a roar, he charges the training dummies and swings, decapitating two in one stroke. The butchering continues until the three minutes are up and the bell rings. Standing amongst a group of headless and limbless dummies, the boy, panting, bows with a grunt and leaves the room.
“Quite a brutish boy, isn’t he?” quips Kestra as attendants replace the destroyed dummies.
“He’s a bit out-of-shape for a Career, but he gets the job done,” adds Jasper.
“I wonder if there’s any brains with the brawn,” I say aloud.
It doesn’t take us long to assign the boy a score.
For excellence with a battle axe and overal brutality, Dan of D1 receives a training score of 10 (minus one point).
The girl from 2 steps silently into the room. In a hushed manner, she walks over to the wall of weapons and selects the slingshot. Instead of heading to the dummies, the girl chooses to shoot at the 50M target on the shooting range. Every effortless shot hits the bull’s-eye. The girl then moves to the 75M target, firing off a few shots. This time, though most shots hit the bull’s-eye, a few stray off and hit other sections of the target. The bell rings, signaling the end of her session.
“Slingshot again,” says Kestra. “I wonder if all the Career girls will be using them.
“I’d say this girl has the same close-range ability as the girl from 1,” I say.
“Yes, and she managed to hit the 75M target as well.”
The three of us come to a quick and decisive conclusion.
For excelled short-range and long-range marksmanship with a slingshot, Amber of D2 receives a training score of 8 (minus four points).
The boy from 2 skips into the room, and I groan aloud. What kind of Career is this? The boy, humming to himself, scoops up a large handful of shurikens from the floor by the weapon rack. Then, still humming, he throws them in quick succesion from where he stands by the wall. The room is suddenly full of ricocheting shurikens. A few bounce off of our glass window, making us jump. When the shuriken storm is over, we see that every single shuriken has lodged itself into a dummy. Not one has missed. The boy laughs and runs out of the room quickly, just as the bell rings.
“That was certainly unexpected,” says Jasper.
Kestra can’t say anything; she just shakes her head back and forth in amazement.
“He’s got talent. Immense talent,” I say.
We unanimously agree on his score.
For mastery of throwing stars and expertise in feigning weakness, Taylor of D2 receives a training score of 11.
The girl from 3 enters the room, and scans the room as she walks over to the wall of weapons. She stares for a moment, before selecting the meteor hammer. A bold choice. Holding the chain in both hands, she begins spinning the spiked metal ball above her head, advancing on a row of dummies. She suddenly releases the chain from her right hand and sends the spiked ball flying. It smashes right through the chest of one dummy and impales itself in another. With a forceful tug, the girl recalls the deadly ball to her, this time spinning it on her right side. A few artistic spins and twirls, and she releases it again, this time decapitating two dummies. The bell rings, and the girl turns and bows to us before leaving the room.
“Impressive. I’ve never seen someone that proficient with a meteor hammer,” I say.
“She’s better than some of the Careers,” Kestra quips. Jasper nods in agreement.
We quickly come up with a score.
For excelled proficiency with a meteor hammer, Hannah of D3 receives a training score of 10 (plus two sponsorship points, minus two points).
The boy from 3 walks into the room, and I immediately recognize him as the girl from 3’s brother. Interesting. The boy selects a spear as his weapon, and heads over to the dummies. He stabs at a few of the dummies for a while before realizing that we aren’t very entertained. So he turns to face the shooting range and launches his spear at the 50M target. It flies to the right of the target and clatters to the ground. The boy sighs and hangs his head, just as the bell rings.
“He knows how to fight with a spear, but he can’t throw,” says Kestra.
“And he seems like the type to give up easily,” adds Jasper.
I nod. “The sister is obviously more talented than the brother.”
We come up with an appropriate score.
For average competency with a spear, Rene of D3 receives a training score of 6.
The girl from 4 wanders into the room, looking shy and unsure of herself. I mark this down as she walks over to the weapons and selects two throwing knives. She turns to face the dummies. Then, with a shrill scream, she throws both knives, one with each hand. They fly across the room and impale the dummies in their heads. The girl rushes over and yanks the knives out of the dummies, before slashing each one across the throat. Then she spins, slicing across the faces and chests of the dummies around her. When her time finishes, she turns and throws both knives at the 50M target, where they land right in the bull’s-eye. Laughing, the girl exits the room.
“I thought she was going to be terrible!” says Kestra.
“She’s cunning,” says Jasper, “and deadly with a knife.”
“She’s the best female Career, by far,” I add.
We quickly give her a high score.
For excellence in knife combat and cunning, Kate of D4 receives a training score of 11 (minus one point).
The District 4 boy strides confidently into the room without so much as a glance at us three. He goes straight to the weapon wall and grabs a bow. Within seven seconds, he’s loaded an arrow into the bow and fired it at the 100M target, hitting it dead center. The boy fires a total of fifteen arrows, with all of them hitting on or near the bull’s-eye of the target. When he runs out of arrows to fire, he puts down his bow and strides back out of the room, with over a minute of time left before the bell rings.
“That boy is impressive,” I say. “District 4 is the district to beat this year, I think.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a tribute fire arrows that fast,” agrees Kestra.
“I like his no-nonsense attitude,” says Jasper. “He did what he came here to do and didn’t waste a second.”
The three of us quickly assign the boy a training score.
For mastery of the bow and a winner’s attitude, Chris of D4 receives a training score of 11 (plus one sponsorship point).
The girl from 5 walks into the room, head held high. She scoops up a handful of heavy darts and heads over to the dummies. A few well-placed throws leave several dummies with darts where their eyes would normally be. The girl rearms herself, and launches the darts again, this time aiming for the heart. When she’s finished her second onslaught, she strides over to our window and looks me dead in the eye.
“Poison. I want poison for my darts in the arena.”
With that, she leaves the room, the door closing behind her just as the bell rings.
“I’d be interested to see what she can do with some poisoned darts,” Jasper says.
“I like this one,” says Kestra. “She’s very regal.”
“And deadly,” I add.
We give her a score to match her cunning.
For excellence in dart-throwing, and requesting poison for the arena, Maureen of D5 receives a training score of 8.
The boy from 5 walks into the room, exuding confidence. He selects a crossbow as his weapon of choice, and heads to the shooting range. He pulls back the bow string, loads an arrow, aims at the 75M target, fires, and completely misses the target. The boy stands there for a moment, in what must be shock. He quickly reloads and fires again. This time, the arrow hits the target, but just barely. After three minutes of sub-par shooting, the bell rings and the boy leaves, head hung.
“Well that was disappointing,” says Kestra.
“I thought he was going to do well, with the way he walked in here,” I say.
“He won’t last long. Not without help,” adds Jasper.
We give him his training score quickly.
For limited skill with a crossbow and overconfidence, Johnny of D5 receives a training score of 4 (plus one sponsorship point).
The District 6 girl walks into the room. “Hello there!” she quips at us before stepping over to the weapon rack and selecting two short-handled axes. Holding one in each hand, she rushes forward to attack a training dummy, hacking away at it from all directions. The attack looks ruthless, but I notice she has trouble removing the axe from the dummy at times. In addition, her attacks seem more random and brutish than calculated.
The girl finishes her attack by burying her axes into either side of the dummy’s neck. She turns and bows to us, giggles, and then skips out of the room, tossing her blue hair.
“She’s certainly has an enthralling personality,” says Kestra. “And she can use an axe.”
“I’m not sure,” Jasper says. “I think she would have attacked the dummy in the same brutish way with any weapon she chose. She has no strategy except to attack without thinking.”
“Is that so bad?” I ask.
We debate over the girl’s training score for a while, and finally come to a consensus.
For brutish yet untrained skill with an axe and a charming personality, Allison of D6 receives a training score of 6 (minus two points).
The boy from 6 walks in and immediately begins speaking to us.
“I’m not going to be presenting anything to you in terms of fighting. I don’t plan on killing in these Games and I don’t plan on using any weapons.”
“If you don’t do anything, you will get a score of 1,” I respond neutrally.
The boy groans and walks over to the wall, selecting a shield. He holds it in a variety of defensive positions, and even throws in a few offensive shoves. Then he throws the shield away and walks out of the room, a good two minutes before the bell will ring.
“He won’t make it to the end. Not with that attitude,” Jasper says.
Kestra nods. “He’s determined, but in all the wrong ways. How boring.”
“He can use a shield. But you can only defend for so long,” I say.
We give the boy a score before the bell rings.
For average skill with a shield and a pacifistic attitude, Peyton of D6 receives a training score of 4.
The District 7 girl walks into the room cautiously, eyes scanning about. She makes eye contact with us and nods slightly before heading over to the weapons rack on the wall. The girl is very petite and doesn’t look like much of a close-range combatant, so it comes as no surprise when she selects a crossbow from the array of weapons.
The girl walks coolly and calmly over to the shooting range, where she expertly loads an arrow into the drawn bowstring. She holds the crossbow a bit away from her body, in order to increase her accuracy. Then she aims down at the 75 M target. After a moment, she fires. The arrow hits the target, but far away from the bull’s-eye; a decently accurate shot. The girl fires a few more arrows. One hits the center of the target, while others hit in around the same level of accuracy as her first shot, and a few miss the target completely. The time bell rings, and the girl stands, bows to us, and exits the room.
“She knew what she was doing as far as loading the bow,” says Jasper.
“Yes, but her accuracy leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t matter if you can load a bow if you can’t kill someone with it,” I reply. “She did do much better than the boy from 5 though.”
“And even when she missed,” Kestra chimes in, “she didn’t show any emotion on her face. She’s confident in herself. Good leadership quality.”
We discuss her a bit more, and come to a clear consensus on her score.
For average competence with a crossbow and leadership qualities, Abby of D7 receives a training score of 7 (plus one sponsorship point, minus one point).
The boy from 7 walks into the room, giving us a quick glance before walking over to the weapons and selecting a bow. Fitting an arrow to the bowstring, he fires it at the 100M target and hits it slightly off-center. He shoots a few more arrows and hits around the same area on the target. Good shooting, but not as good as the boy from 4. The boy is able to fire a total of seven arrows before the bell rings and he leaves the room.
“Decent shooting. He could be a threat to someone,” I say.
“He’s very quiet. Not even a grunt from him,” says Kestra.
“So is he stealthy, or is he just bland?” asks Jasper.
We ponder this as we assign him his training score.
For competence with a bow, Micah of D7 receives a training score of 8 (plus one sponsorship point, minus one point).
The girl from 8 shoots us a quick smile as she enters the room, before heading to the weapons rack and grabbing a long curved dagger. She advances on a dummy and carves into it, leaving a large amount of wounds, superficial as they might be. She finishes her attack by slamming her blade into the dummy’s neck. She turns to us, giggles, and then leaves the room quickly as her time runs out.
“She’s talented, but she spent way too much time on one dummy,” I observe.
Kestra nods. “And her attacks were all superficial,except for that last strike to the neck.”
“She’s sweet though, “says Jasper. “I’m sure she’ll lead someone into a trap.”
For average competence with a dagger and a charming personality, Kailyn of D8 receives a training score of 6.
The boy from 8 slowly walks into the room, eyeing the wall of weapons with apprehension. He selects a bow after a moment’s hesitation, and aims at the 100M target on the shooting range. He fires an arrow, and sinks it into the bull’s-eye. The boy jumps and gives a cheer, then loads another arrow and fires again. This time, the arrow barely sticks on the target. The next arrow misses completely. The boy shoots a few more arrows, but only continues to prove that his first arrow was a lucky shot, one that doesn’t happen again before his time runs out.
“Worst bow shooter so far,” says Kestra.
Jasper shrugs. “He hit the bull’s-eye. Even if it was luck, he still managed to get it.”
“We don’t give scores based on luck,” I say grimly.
We argue for a bit before deciding on an appropriate score.
For limited skill with a bow, Justin of D8 receives a training score of 4.
The girl from 9 enters the room and rushes over to the weapons rack, where she grabs a bow. I hear Jasper sigh beside me. The girl proves to be slightly better than the boy from 8, hitting the bull’s-eye twice but missing the target completely for the most part. When her time is up, she stomps out of the room, frustrated.
“Do you think she’s better than how she performed today?” Jasper asks.
“That’s not for us to decide,” I respond. “We just give scores to what we see.”
“And what we saw was mediocre,” Kestra adds.
For below-average skill with a bow, Lindsey of D9 receives a training score of 5.
The District 9 boy wanders into the room, adjusting his glasses and exuding an aura of fear. He stares at the wall of weapons for a long time, occasionally reaching for one before pulling his hand back. He eventually chooses a two-handed longsword from the wall of weapons and walks over to the training dummies, adjusting his fidgety grip on the blade’s grip.
He steps in front of one of the dummies, raises the sword above his right shoulder, and hacks down into the dummy’s side. The sword sticks fast, and the boy stumbles a bit, off-balanced by the sudden stop. He pulls hard on the sword, and it flies out of both the dummy’s side and the boy’s hands, clattering to the floor behind him. The boy turns and bolts out of the room, cheeks red with embarrassment, a good minute before the time bell rings.
“Well, he’s clearly never handled a weapon before,” says Kestra.
“You can tell he’s afraid too. He’s already giving up, I think,” adds Jasper.
I chuckle aloud before saying, “At least he runs fast.”
The three of us laugh before deciding on the training score.
For very limited skill with a broadsword and emanation of fear, Adam of D9 receives a training score of 3 (plus one sponsorship point).
The girl from 10 enters the room and immediately catches my attention. She walks with an air of determination. When she picks up the bow from the weapons rack, Jasper groans aloud next to me. The groans are silenced, however, when the girl shoots three bull’s-eyes in rapid succesion. On each target, the 50M, 75M, and 100M, the girl scores three bull’s-eyes. Her time runs out and she strides out of the room the same way she strode in.
“Best female archer of the day,” I say.
“And she commands so much attention! I couldn’t take my eyes off her,” adds Kestra.
“I agree,” says Jasper. “I just hope there’s no more archers.”
We give the girl her impressive score.
For excellence in archery and a commanding aura, Eliana of D10 receives a training score of 10 (minus four points).
The boy from 10 steps livelily into the room, grabbing two curved knives from the weapons rack. He throws one into the eye of a dummy as he charges forward, and stabs the other one into the dummy’s gut. He takes both knives and rips through the dummy, leaving two killing wounds. Then he proceeds to chop into a few more dummies before his time is up.
“He’s talented,” I say.
“Yes, he’s an artist with those knives,” Jasper agrees.
Kestra shrugs. “The girl from 4 was better.”
We debate for a while before coming up with a fair score.
For excellence in knife combat, Preston of D1o receives a training score of 9 (plus one sponsorship point).
The girl from D11 timidly wanders into the room, eyeing her surroundings. She looks through the weapons rack and chooses a broadsword, before rushing forward to chop at the leg of a dummy. She slashes and takes a few limbs off of the dummies around her, and even decapitates one. The bell rings and she quickly scampers out of the room.
“She did the best she could for a girl her size,” Kestra says.
“It wasn’t as good as some other tributes, but still impressive,” I agree.
Jasper sighs. “I wonder if she’ll even try to attack a tribute though.”
We give her a score quickly.
For above-average competence with a sword, Sarah of D11 receives a training score of 7 (plus six sponsorship points, minus four points).
The boy from 9 stalks into the room, eyeing us shiftily. He grabs a coil of rope from the weapons rack and quickly fashions it into a lasso. He then launches the rope through the air to land around the neck of a dummy. One tug, and the dummy’s head is separated from its shoulders. The boy does this a few more times before his time runs out. He starts to leave the room with the rope still in hand, but drops it just before he reaches the door.
“That was interesting. I’ve never seen someone use a rope like that,” Jasper says.
“He couldn’t actually decapitate someone with a rope, could he?” Kestra asks me.
“No,” I say, “but he could certainly break some necks.”
We come up with an appropriate training score for the boy with the rope.
For excellence with a unique weapon, Clement of D11 receives a training score of 8 (plus two sponsorship points, minus one point).
The girl from 12 slowly steps into the room, fear permeating from her eyes. She carefully selects a bow, and Jasper groans once again. The girl fires her arrow, and it lands a good distance from the bull’s-eye. The girl puts the bow down and leaves the room, having fired only once.
Kestra scoffs aloud. “That was pathetic!”
Jasper shakes his head. “What’s she thinking?”
“She’s thinking that she doesn’t have a chance,” I respond. “She doesn’t want to waste our time.”
We give the girl a score based on her very short performance.
For very limited skill in archery, Jeanie of D12 receives a training score of 3 (minus 1 point).
The last tribute, the boy from 12, steps into the room. He gives us a cocky grin before selecting a two-handed axe as his weapon. He then spends a good amount of time setting up dummies in a circle around him. Then, with one quick spin he disembowels them all. The bell rings, and the boy bows and leaves the room.
“Good show, but realistically that scenario wouldn’t happen,” I say.
Kestra agrees. “I wonder if he has any one-on-one skill with an axe.
“He’s confident though. Who knows?” says Jasper. “Maybe he has something up his sleeve.”
We give the boy a score based on what we’ve seen.
For average skill with an axe and overall confidence, Alex of D12 receives a training score of 6.