Pokémon being caught: Sandile
I stood in the preparation room, pacing about. I was alone, no-one had come to wave me off or to say goodbye. Once I stood on that metal plate the sixty second countdown to the end of my life would start. I looked at the blades that made my hands. How many Pokémon would I have to kill before I made it to the end of the Hunger Games? I'd have to kill at least a few, that was sure. I could never beat the pack of Careers that stalked the Games, picking off other tributes. Usually there were only six or seven left after the first day that weren't from Districts 1,2 or 4. My District, District 3, specialised in technology, and many tributes used that to their advantage, finding unique ways to slaughter their oppositions. But I was only a simple Pawniard, the most I ever did was temporarily fill in for circuits, and sell parts of my body that could grow back to the scrap heap. Otherwise I just ran errands, taking some chemicals from one lab to another, or being a test subject sometimes.
A green light appeared in front of the entry tube and a hole appeared in the clear plastic. It was time to go into the Games. I stepped through the hole, onto the metal plate. If you even dropped something off the plates the Gamemakers would blow you sky high. The plates started to rise like the lifts back home.
I heard the noise just before I reached the top. Unfortunately some poor soul hadn't been able to stay on. As my head rose over the lip of the ground I saw what looked like a clearing in a tropical jungle. All the tributes were on similar plates to my own, all equidistant from the giant golden horn in the middle, the Cornucopia. Boulders were scattered around the field, sometimes on top of items that might be of use. I scanned the other plates, looking for the person who was missing, who had fallen off. I completed the circle, coming to the plate next to me. It was empty. I remember seeing Onix crawling into the room adjacent to mine before the Games began. His platform was no bigger than ours and it would have been impossible for him to keep his balance. I remember watching his reaping in District 12, which was a mining District. Thinking of it brought me back to my own reaping in District 3.
I stand in the Main Square of District 3 with hundreds of other Pokémon. I can hear the mechanical sounds of the more machine-like Pokémon as well as a low buzz of chatter. The cobbled floor benneath my feet is cold and hard. In front of me stood a large wooden stage with two large glass balls resting on it. I look at the one on the left that contains the female names Inside that ball are thirty five slips with the name of Pawniard 342 on them among thousands of others. The reaping is a particularly sad day for District 3, because we have one of the lowest amount of survivors from the Hunger Games, as most of our Pokémon are neither particularly large or agile. A woman in a pea green wig steps up to the scaffolding, dressed in a purple gown. Her name is Harrietta Marlow, the escort for our District. For as long as I can remember she has come to the reapings to read out the names of the two tributes for our District. She begins to speak, using the same speech as she has every year.
"Two Hundred and Ninety Four years ago Pokémon rebelled against humans. They were ungrateful for the services that the humans had given to the Pokémon," she starts. Somehow the words had never quite set in my head. Surely we would never do that, would we? "The rebellion was put down and the humans had to find a way to keep the Pokémon under control. So they split them up into Twelve Districts, each dedicated to a specific task. They also created the Hunger Games, where two tributes, a Male Pokémon and a Female one, from each District would fight to the death. And that is why we are here today, to decide who those tributes will be. Ladies first," she says, plunging her hand into the ball on the left. She finally pulls out a slip.
My mind came back to the present. There were only forty seconds left until we could fight to the death at the pleasure of the humans watching us. My eyes darted around the humid clearing, looking for items that I might use. There was a sleeping bag about twenty paces away from me that might be useful given how quickly my body loses heat. There are several backpacks scattered around the place. They usually contained quite useful items, but never anything life saving. I glanced up at the clock hovering in the sky. Its display informed me of my twenty five seconds remaining. The closest Career was a Dratini from District 1. I doubted that she'll go for me, as Dragon type moves don't work well against Steel types like me. I set my eyes on the backpack. That was what I should aim for. There were only ten seconds left. I took a deep breath, prepared my dark body for the run, crouching on the plate.
A buzz sounded out of nowhere as the countdown ended. I sprinted for the backpack, neither looking left nor right. I reached it relatively quickly, and ducked as a stray bolt of energy from one of the Psychic types just missed me. I dragged the sleeping bag away as a figure blocked my path. I remembered it from training, seeing him crawl expertly up the ropes on all fours. He had spent a while in the camoflage centre, painting his sandy-looking skin. I crouched down, ready to fight, but he didn't move. I noticed a backpack slung over his shoulder.
"Let's get out of here," he said, out of the blue.
"Who said we were allies?" I asked, confused. My claws glowed and solidified as I prepared to gut the Sandile with a Metal Claw.
"Your mentor," he replied. I would have to trust him, I guess. I picked up the sleeping bag and followed him as the other tributes fought, ran or scavenged around the Cornucopia. We finally left the clearing and entered the jungle. Trees surrounded us as the sounds of the fighting decreased in volume. I went out in front and cut a path for us with my sharp metal claws. I slashed through the lianas, always expecting to see another Tribute running towards us, but no-one ever approached us.
The hot jungle air was humid and starting to overcome be when I slashed at one last vine. In front of us was a huge beach made of thin white sand. About thirty metres down the sandy bank the land met water. We were on an island. I could see, not too far away, other such islands. Some of them formed long archipelagos while a few others stood by themselves. Sandile pushed his way in front of me and gazed at the blue expanse before him.
"Well how are we going to get off this island?" he finally asked. We were both dismayed. Neither of could swim and the island behind us was full of death.
"We could make a raft. There's plenty of wood and vines," I replied.
"No, it'll take too long. We're going to have to use that," he said, pointing to the sleeping bag on my back.
"It'll get drenched! If it's freezing at night we won't want a cold sleeping bag!" I protested.
"We have to. It's better to have a cold sleeping bag than a cold body." He was right, it was our only choice. I took the sleeping bag out of its case and laid it out flat on the sand. I returned into the forest, getting several vines. Luckily I had spent a long time at the knot-tying station and knew my ropes well. We hung the bag from a tree as I tied the knot, trying to get as much air into the bag as possible.
"What do you have in that rucksack?" I asked Sandile. He emptied the contents, showing me some food and a two litre bottle along with some iodine. We tightened the lid on the empty bottle and tied it to the centre of our raft, allowing for more buoyancy. We then had to go for it. Together we carried our makeshift raft to the water, gently lowering it in. The plastic device floated, not a single bubble escaped. Our plan had worked. I was first to jump on, gently kicking my feet until Sandile boarded on the other side. Slowly we headed to one of the further away islands that wasn't part of the archipelago, trusting in our strength and the power of our raft.
An hour and a lot of paddling later and we had made it to our island. We slumped down on the smooth sandy beach, exhausted by our effort. We looked back to the shore and saw the odd dot of a tribute swimming to an island. There weren't many, but it was evident that we still had many opponents. I remembered from training that we had priorities once we escaped the Bloodbath. The first was water. Of course, we were surrounded by it, but it was all undrinkable. Luckily we had a bottle to store water in but it was useless if we couldn't find a freshwater source. I started to drag the sleeping bag further up the beach, removing the vines and allowing what little water that had entered escape. Sandile got to his feet and followed me.
"We have to find some water," I explained. He nodded his head.
"You're right, of course. Most islands like this have a freshwater spring on higher ground." I looked up, past the jungle, and noticed that there was a steep inclination on the ground. Towards the top the island was marked by steep cliffs where I could see Wingull nesting. I looked across at Sandile. His brown skin matched perfectly with the sand around him. He flashed me a grin, showing me his sharp white teeth. "You're going to have to climb those cliffs," he said, pointing towards them with his nose.
"I know, but we have vines. I can make a harness," I replied. I had spent a bit of time figuring how to make harnesses out of rope back in the training centre. Now that time had paid off and it had given me water. I picked up our water container and made my way into the jungle. I thought back to the Cornucopia, where I had had to cut through swathes of greenery. The destroyed forest in our wake would be an easy way to track us and from there a pursuer may well have seen us paddling over to this island. I jumped as a branch snapped behind me. I glanced back and saw nothing.
As I approached the cliffs I sliced more vines off trees and began to knit the lianas together. Often when there was a broken lift back in District 3 I had often had to scale the lift shaft to repair the damage in simple harnesses. This was a pretty similar affair, made from a belt with a strip of three vines that would go in between my legs. I had also fasioned some green braces from the lianas that would spread my weight across my whole body and decrease the chance of my back breaking should I fall and still be in the harness.
The only problem was how to get the trailing line, from which the harness hung, up to the top of the cliff. The line was a string of lianas tied together that was designed hang down from the top of a cliff or wherever the climber wished to go. My problem, however, was that my line was only about ten metres long and the cliff was at least thirty metres high, and the nearest ledge that I could stand on was fifteen metres up the rock face. I would have to free climb up to that ledge before even having a line to fall back on, let alone hang from. I scanned the cliff, making out small chinks where my claws and feet would be more secure. Luckily the rock face was made of soft Sandstone, and as I climbed I found it easy to sink my claws into the rock. The heat combined with my exertions from the day, lack of water and the rock-laden trailing line slowed me down, and it was an excrutiating effort dragging myself onto the ledge. The rock jutted out far further than I had previously thought and there was even a tuft of grass sticking out of the rock. I hauled up the trailing line from where it was hanging and tied the trailing line around a bush. The rocks that I had tied to it would act as counterweights if I fell and would give me precious seconds to grab onto the cliff before the grass was pulled loose by my weight.
As I was about to start climbing I heard the sound of a cannon and stopped, stepping back onto the ledge. Another thirteen booms rumbled across the water. The violence of the Cornucopia was over and the Gamemakers were making us aware of how many tributes had perished. Each shot of the cannon indicated a dead tribute. So fourteen had died before the first day was over. That was rare in itself, but for many tributes leaving the island would have been impossible. Chances were that most of the tributes had been killed by the Career pack stalking the island. District 4, the home of Water types, would have a special advantage in these games due to the nature of the arena. Only ten tributes were left, and all six of the Careers were probably still alive. That left only two tributes who were not a Career besides Sandile and I.
The rest of the climb was easy without the harness bearing down on me and I quickly made it to the top. From here I had a view of the whole arena. I could see the archipelago that we had noticed from the Cornucopia island, and a further five islands that I had not yet noticed. It would be difficult hunting us unless you had seen us earlier. From here the cliffs sloped down less dangerously to the other side of our small island. To my delight I saw a small stream trickling down the rocks. Immediately I ran to it, taking deep gulps from the water. I took the water container from my back where I had tied it and opened the lid, letting more water flow into it. Sandile would be pleased with this. It was a big effort just for water, but in the Hunger Games a steady supply of water was the difference between life and death. Once the container was full I made my way down the less steep side of the cliffs, taking tentative steps slowly. Although I didn't have to climb, the work was tiring, especially with the bottle.
I was walking back to camp when I heard a rustling behind me. I turned around to see a small capsule land with a clunk on the forest floor, attached to a silver parachute. Already my mentors had been contacted by a sponsor. After so many had died in the bloodbath it was not surprising that many wanted to place bets. I opened the metal pod and found inside a small light green disc