• Published 7th Apr 2014
  • 1,285 Views, 262 Comments

The 34th Equestrian Hunger Games - Sketch-Pad

The Equestrian Hunger games. Probably heard of them, I'm guessing. I'm Terra North, and on this the 34th year, I think the games are going to change.

  • ...

II - The Reaping

My mom left me alone in my room as she went to go and tidy up my brother, or at least make an attempt to. I walked over to the mirror and a bad feeling sank deep into my stomach. It felt like I had swallowed a giant stone, taking all of the moisture out of my throat and just residing at the pit of my belly. The feeling actually made me feel like I was going to melt through the floor, but also made me want to throw up too, and I didn't like it at all. I stared at myself through that thin panel of glass and sighed. Something important was going to happen at this reaping, and I didn't know what. I don't know if by some chance I'll end up going to the games, or that someone I know will. I swear if my brother was reaped I probably would cry.

I slowly grabbed the small makeup bag sitting on my dresser and, pulling out my mascara, gently dabbed it onto my eyelashes. If for some reason I might be on the television, then I deserved to look decent; or at least like I tried to look decent.

I blinked several times at the golden mare staring back at me with purple eyes, before proceeding to walk out of my room and down the stairs. I could hear both my mom and my brother fussing about something farther down the hallway. I figured it was only Flashlight making a fuss and moving around to the point where my mother was unable to make him look nice.

I had reached the bottom of the staircase as brother practically flew from the top of the stairs and almost crashed into me. I had no choice but to grab him with my magic so that I could make sure he was okay. He gave me a shy smile just as I put him down, and then I looked up at my mother as she walked down the staircase.

"You both look beautiful...I just hope that-" She began in a soft and gentle tone. I shook my head at her somewhat quivering lip.

"We won't. Our names are only in the bowl once, versus some ponies that have their names in that dish several times." I looked down at my brother and smiled. "Not to mention district six is probably the biggest district. The odds are at least one in ten thousand."

She smiled. "Well, it' still a mother's job to worry about her children."

She had reached the bottom of the staircase, and I could see that she had little beads of tears in the corner of her eyes. In all honesty, she was acting like I was getting married or something. Even when my eldest brother had his final reaping last year, she never cried, and yet she cried for me. Seriously? I have two more years of this stupid reaping thing - not counting this one - and she chooses this year out of all of them to cry.

"Well, we should get going soon. Being late for the reaping isn't a good thing," I said quickly before my mom could start pouring her eyes out onto the floor. The two ponies agreed, and then we walked out of the house together.

The streets of our district were filled with so many ponies moving through the city, most of which who were rushing to get to the town square in front of the capital hall. The many heads that I saw made the street look like a flowing river of Skittles, a type of candy that I remember my dad used to sneak us when we were foals. I joined the crowd quickly and silently and made sure that my brother was directly at my side. My mother knew to stay hot on my tail the entire time. I would prefer not to lose them.

We had reached the long line of mares and colts standing in front of a very long table where they would take a blood sample. The only reason they did this was to make sure that every pony of age was there.

I pulled my brother aside doing my best to briefly explain things to him, making sure that he would do what the peacekeeper told him to do. He nodded, and I watched him as I walked into my own line for us older mares. I watched my little brother make a face when they pricked the inside of his hoof to get his blood sample. I had grown used to the prick and I barely flinched. Yet, seeing his reaction only made me sad. There were some ponies that couldn't even bear a hoof prick, and they had their lives at risk. If they couldn't handle something so simple, then they would never even get close surviving these blasted games.

I followed the line of female ponies and spotted my mother standing in the section with the other parents. I gave her a little reassuring smile, and the smile she gave me back was a very thankful one. I spotted my older brother next to him, and we exchanged a nod, making me so thankful that he had aged out of the reaping last year.

Because I was not watching where I was going, I naturally walked into the rear end of a bright green stallion, who was stopped in the road and looking over the crowd.

"Really? You have to just stop in the middle of the road?" I said sharply.

He frowned at me and gave a little hair flip to push his slightly-longer-than-usual silver mane out of his face. I wasn't paying to much attention to him otherwise. "I apologize, I had only moved to this district a few months ago and this is my first reaping here in district six. Things are done a little differently here..." He said, sounding sincerely apologetic as his thought trailed off. He was looking at me, but also looking around at the ponies next to him.

I scoffed and scrunched my nose as I did so. "The stallion and colt group is over there," I told him, gesturing with my head to the colt section that was opposing to the mare section. "And just be careful not to get too lost," I added with what I thought was a devious smile.

He nodded and quickly replied, "Thank you!" and then he trotted off towards his section.

I rolled my eyes at him, and then found my way into the sixteen-year-old mare section. I could look at all the ages in front of me, seeing the young fillies that still had to deal with four, five, even six years of being reaped. Yes, the odds of them getting reaped were next to none, but there was a chance. There always was a chance.

I directed my eyes towards a bright pink mare who walked out from the side of the stage that had been set up, and I laughed. She was wearing a black tutu thing and a white sparkling shirt that had her entire forelegs covered. Her purple hair was in such an absurd design that it made me wonder how much hair gel and hairspray she used to keep it that way. Her lashes were white this time, and her eyelids were covered in a purple shimmery eye shadow. I knew that I would have to practically be strapped down before I even wanted to wear something that fancy...if it was even considered fancy.

She walked daintily up to the microphone and started speaking into it. Her first two words she spoke was far too close to the microphone, so naturally, most of the audience winced. "Welcome everypony! Mares and Gentlecolts, Fillies and stallions of all ages to the district six reaping of the Thirty-Fourth Annual Equestrian Hunger Games!" Her voice was too high for my taste, and if I had to choose one word to describe it, it would surely be prissy. "First, we have a little presentation to watch, sent to us from the capital that is Canterlot! If you would all please turn your heads towards the screen over here," She gestured to the only visible and large screen there was, "You shall see this video."

I, of course, chose not to look. I knew what the video was about because I had seen it for so many years. It talked about how the Crystal Empire, or the thirteenth district, revolted with the four princesses as their leader and that they were no match for the capital, as they say, and Discord naturally claimed that he had defeated them all. The video did not state the fact that the reason the ponies had revolted in the first place: They had grown tired of Discord's chaos. After the battle for freedom, he promised to be 'calm and collected' as long as the Equestrian Hunger Games existed every year, though no pony knew exactly why he called them the 'Hunger Games'. The video explained the basic rules and regulations so that we would know what the games were about even if we weren't reaped.

I looked over to the colts section, and after a few moments, I was able to pinpoint Circuit. He had actually turned around and looked at me. He had mouthed something that I couldn't understand, and then he winked. I rolled my eyes as I silently laughed at him and then I saw him laughing too. However, we were disrupted with the music of the video's ending.

After the video had ended, the mare on the stage had clapped her hooves on the ground beneath her hooves. Her audience partially joined her, but it was not very enthusiastic at all. She then smiled and walked back up to the microphone.

"Such a lovely video, isn't it?" She sighed happily, and then she nodded. "Now it's time for the best part of all - let us select the tributes! Of course, it is simply proper to pick that lucky mare first, so that's what we will do!"

She smiled, almost in a Sombra-like way, and then she walked over to the large bowl of mare names. She shoved her hoof into the jar, and rummaged around a good plenty of times, totally mixing the bowl around. She then used her bright orange magic to levitate a small, folded piece of paper from the bowl. She walked back over to the microphone, and slowly opened the paper. I always held my breath as she did so, and the fact that she paused for dramatic effect didn't help.

She had spoken a name, but her lips were so close to the microphone that no one was able to detect what she had said, other than the fact that there was a 't' in their name. This made me even more anxious, so I closed my eyes, and took in a deep breath as I waited for her to repeat the name. "Terra North!"

My eyes shot open, and I immediately turned to look at Circuit. But he wasn't looking at me, though I could see that his hair was standing on edge. Reluctantly and slowly, I walked forwards into the row. I could feel all of the eyes watching me as I took my steps as I was led by two peacekeepers up to the stage. While my head was high and proud looking, my pupils were probably small with fear. They led me up to the stage, but I kept looking over at Circuit the entire time, waiting for him to volunteer or something.

But he didn't. He was even trying to avoid all eye contact with me. I walked up onto the stage and had only glanced over the crowd when my fear had turned to anger. He had lied to me. He had betrayed me. He broke his promise, and I might never see him again. My eyes were only fixed on Circuit, as the ponies around me clapped their hooves. They had more enthusiasm for me than they did for the video, which made me feel a little better. But I was so fixated on Circuit that I didn't even notice when the male stallion had been selected. Only when that pink mare had called my name again did I snap out of it.

I had to shake hooves with the other tribute, and when we did, I quickly I realize that it was the same stallion that I had bumped into before. Now that I was paying attention, I was able to see that he was surprisingly handsome. His features were angular but not overly so. He was a few inches taller than I was, and was a unicorn with eyes the color of the sky. He had on a simple collar and a bowtie. I suppose that was all he figured he needed for the reaping. I held eye contact with him for a moment before the two of us were pulled into the Government building

They put us in separate rooms, and I was surprised to see that there wasn't a peacekeeper in the room with us. I scanned the room; taking notice that it was square and had a single window that was draped in cream-colored curtains. There was a long couch in the room as well as two living room chairs, and a small white coffee table in the center where a single box of tissues sat atop. The walls were creamed colored just like the curtains, and there was a single picture on one wall that looked like a painting of a meadow. A tall plant stood in one corner-- some kind of dracaena--and the small, simple chandelier that hung from the ceiling poorly lit the room.

It was a sad room really, not just because of how the room was decorated, but because of how many goodbyes this room held. How many ponies had walked into this room, and never returned? How many ponies had this room be the last thing they ever saw from this district?

I sat down on the couch and fixed my eyes on the door. It had been a few long moments until my family had walked through it, and my expectations were easily met. My mother was crying and as soon as she spotted me, she hurled herself in my direction. She wrapped herself around me in such a tight hug that made me feel like my eyes were going to fly out of my head. She was clinging to me and weeping so much, I didn;t have an opportunity to say anything. I glanced over at my younger brother who had a blank expression on his face, and I wondered if it was because he was in shock, or if it was because he didn't entirely understand the situation. I was surprised my eldest brother had joined them and he wasn't speaking either. He just stood there with a sad look on his face, his eyes closed.

"I won't let my baby go off into that hell-hole of an arena!" My mother finally spoke, before blowing her nose in a tissue.

I sighed shakily. "Mom, I'll be-" I began to defend myself, but my older brother had cut me off.

"She will be fine. She has raw, natural abilities, and she knows how to protect herself. She has the potential to become a fine mage under the right training, especially as she has gifts in regards to nature. She adapts quickly and should be able to pick up a weapon fine. The only ones who might be more suited than her to win are the ponies in the career districts who-."

"I know." He was going to mention how a lot of the ponies in the career districts - districts one and 2 - had spent time training to be in the game. They easily had the most wins; Each with 7. District Six had managed to produce 4 winners, surprisingly, and Districts, Three, Four, and Five had each produced 3 winners themselves. District Seven and Nine each had 2, while districts Eight and Twelve each only had one known winner, with Disctrict 11 never having won the games.

I managed to form a small, sad smile, trying to convince myself that he was probably right. I was different than most of the unicorns I knew, and I could do all the things that he said. While we were limited in the arena, there were still things that I knew how to do.

I carefully let go of my shaking mother and then quickly embraced my older brother into a very heartfelt hug. He was so much bigger than I, making the hug a bit awkward, but I did my best to stretch my muzzle up to his ear so I could speak. "Take care of them. Please, they will need you even more if I don't come back." He nodded sadly, and then backed away. I then turned to Flashlight with a sigh and smiled weakly at him. I quickly but carefully thought out what I could say to him, and then I shifted my head down to his face level.

"Flashlight, could you do me a favor?"

He nodded proudly.

"I need you to take care of mom for me, can you do that?"

He looked at me, confused. "But, how can I do that?"

"You must be strong. Do what your mom and brother tell you what to do." I paused and smiled. "Conceal, don't feel. Don't let any bad feelings show."

He nodded, and then jumped and hugged me. "I will, I promise you that, but you have to promise to win, too!"

I let my ears drop, and I sighed. "While I can't promise that I can win, I will promise that I will try to do everything I can to win." I gave my brother a soft smile. "Is that okay?"

He shrugged. "Well, I guess it will have to do."

Just as my mother had opened her mouth to say something else, another guard in white had walked through the door and gestured for my family to leave the room. I gave him a quick mean glance, as I pulled my family into a group hug. "I love all of you so much," I whispered before the stallion had proceeded to take the three ponies out of the room, and then he rather rudely slammed the wooden door behind them.

I let out a soft yelp and collapsed onto the floor, hanging my head. No matter how much I wanted to stay strong, it was just so difficult. I wanted to act like I was going to win but I didn't know for sure. There was no way of knowing for sure. I didn't know if that was the last time I would ever see my family. I didn't want it to be. My throat was closing up and I knew that I was going to start crying. I could feel the tear beginning to form under my eyelids.

And yet, I was disrupted when Circuit walked through the door.

I didn't want to get up to look at him, but I could feel him staring at him. I knew I had to get up sooner or later, so with a sigh, I shakily got to my feet. He stopped and stared at me, and for a moment he made eye contact with me. His eyes were so sad, and so scared. I knew he felt bad, I could feel it. My heart was aching. But my anger overrode any sympathy that was trying to form. I was still furious.

"Terra, I'm sorry, I was going to volunteer, I was, really, I just-" he started before trailing off. I shook my head at him.

"But why didn't you!?" I shouted, making Circuit take a few steps back and then look at the door behind him. We both knew that the Peace keeps would remove him if I got too loud.

"I-I got scared." He stammered. I know he was. I was just as scared. But unfortunately, you can't say 'no thank you' when you're reaped just because you're scared. My anger was starting to swell.

"Really! You promised Circuit! Promised!" I turned away from him, tears welling in my eyes once more. I didn't really want him to see me cry. "You promised..."

"Terra I...I never said the word 'promise'. I only said yes." He said quietly, huffing out a sigh.

The anger was too much; I overflowed. I had turned and slapped him with the back of my hoof so fast that he had absolutely no time to react. Before I had any time to react, really. As soon as I had done it, I stared at him with horrified, crying eyes, my hoof covering my mouth as my whole body tensed up. I slapped him. How could I have done that? I had never done anything like that before. I was never violent towards him. Never. But I just hit him.

"Circuit I..." I shakily muttered his name. I felt the need to apologize, but my anger was clouding my mind. I wanted to be angry and hate him. But it was so hard. It was so painful. I still loved him. And that was why this hurt so badly. I watched as he looked up to me, his expression a mixture of sadness, confusion, and a little bit of anger.

He had opened his mouth to respond, but the stallion in white had walked in the room and grabbed him. He tried to fight him, reaching back to me, "Please Terra, y-you know that I love you..." He was beginning to sob. It only made me feel worse. I could bring myself to look at him any more. I was crying way too much.

"Goodbye, Circuit... " I sighed sadly as I turned away from him and collapsed on the floor again. I could hear him calling my name, trying desperately to get me to look at him on last time. He was distressed. He felt bad. I felt bad. I hated this.

I sat in that room alone for several more minutes, crying harshly. I had no doubt created a small puddle on the floor with my tears. However, I was forced to try to collect myself when a unicorn mare I didn't recognize walked through the door. She looked gentle, and there were marks on her cheeks that showed that she had been crying. If she didn't have a silver mane, I probably wouldn't have even guessed that she was the mother of the other tribute. She looked at me with shaky eyes and noticed I was crying. She used her ocean blue magic to grab a tissue from the table and gently wipe my cheeks. No doubt I looked gross, with red eyes, a runny nose and mascara streaked down my cheeks. Yet, she didn't seem to mind. She cooed me for a moment, gently shushing until my cries were gentle sobs. She was a natural mother, and even though she was a stranger, I was grateful she had come in.

"I don't have much time. I need to ask you something very important, Terra, and you should not tell my son."

I looked at her with serene eyes and swallowed hard.

"If you can, can you protect my boy?" She asked. It was so humble, and I didn't know what to say at first.

She wanted me to help some pony else win? This was a stallion I didn't know and had only met once, just moments before the reaping. and yet, she wanted me to protect him; a stallion I knew nothing about.

"I can try, but I cannot assure you that your son will win."

"I understand that," She smiled sadly. "But we used to live in another district, and therefore it feels as if he is representing two districts as he competes this year."

"Yes, but-" I was going to object to her request until I realized that I didn't really know what my objection was, so I gave an awkward gasp thing. I don't know what kind of noise I made.

She gave a little silent laugh at me and then responded to my noise. "You have a good chance of you winning, and I don't believe my son doe-"

I quickly cut her off. "Everyone has a chance of winning, even if its small. It's still a chance. There is always a chance."

She smiled yet again, but only for a moment. "Please, Terra. Don't just do it for me, do it for yourself, too."

I stared into her deep eyes and searched somewhere for a strong meaning to what she had just said. But alas, I had found only nothing as the mother was gently removed from the room. I stared after her, holding my breath. I didn't want to go back to crying. Wiping my cheeks with another tissue, I watched as the peace keepers beckoned for me to follow after the,

Author's Note:

YAY longer chapter ~
Terra is developing a 'stronger' personality than I had originally intended,
BUT I LIKE IT, and I hope you all do too! :D

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