Lux was more nervous than she’d expected to be when the day actually came to stand in front of the panel. It amused her that the majority probably would have said the opposite. Why was she so nervous if her preference was a career in gymnastics — a long, illustrious career? If going into the arena was of less value to her, then why was she so anxious to see the panel and prove her worth to them, and why was she nervous that they might not see her potential? She tried not to reason it through too much because it would likely only make her all the more nervous.
She would not cower in front of the challenge that presented itself, however. That had never been Lux’s way. She would go bravely forth and face it. This panel was not going to be any different from any other test she’d had before — and she always prepared well for tests. She had prepared well for this one. That’s what she tried to tell herself while she drank some orange juice and choked down a piece of toast with marmalade because her mother insisted she couldn’t face the panel on an empty stomach. Her mother did her hair in a fishtail braid down the back of her head and intertwined it with a sky blue ribbon. She wore tight, black jeans — compliments of Fiona’s challenge to start training in restrictive and non-restrictive clothing; she wanted to show her she’d listened. She wore a loose blouse to fulfill the other part of Fiona’s challenge. It had a v-neck and long, loose sleeves and the sleeves fell just at the edge of her shoulder to reveal graceful collar bones and was a silvery blue color.
She insisted on biking to the selection rather than being dropped off. She needed time to clear her head. Whatever the results might turn out, she was going to accept them calmly and rationally. Since there was no particularly bad outcome either way for her, she wondered why it was she was so nervous! Focus, Lux. she instructed herself firmly as she walked inside the building. Each candidate had been provided a little dressing room area for warming up. Lux used her time backstage to stretch properly so she could go through a routine onstage. Today, she’d be showing the panel some of the things she’d worked with Bishop on. And, if things went as planned, she’d probably use a similar routine at the Judges’ panel.
The panel was made up of two parts — the talent the tribute chose to show case came first and then the panel had a chance to question them. All talents went first, then interviews came second. It was actually the interview part she was looking forward to less. As she was waiting for her name to be called, she realized this was almost like reaping day for real for District One. How strange…
When her name was called, she walked onstage. She could feel her heart in her ears but ignored it. Her eyes locked on two smiling faces — Fiona and Bishop. And also Amber’s father, the mayor. She hoped her friend’s father thought her a capable candidate. She knew Amber, a year younger, thought she was a shoe-in, but best friends were supposed to say that kind of thing weren’t they? And of course, not every face was friendly. Reverie hadn’t said anything and his expression gave away nothing. She refused to be frightened of him. What was more, she still didn’t particularly trust him, but she supposed that could be dealt with if she were to be chosen. For now, she was just focusing on making Fi and Bishop proud. They’d invested a lot of time into her in the last months.
She was the last of the girls to go and watching the others both impressed her and made her nervous, but now it was her turn. A couple of deep breaths and she wrapped her fingers around the hilt of the small but deadly sword Bishop had been teaching her to tumble with. She was familiar with it now and knew she wouldn’t make foolish mistakes the way she’d done when she first began training. Additionally, she wore brass knuckles which could be used for defense as well as offense if she were able to punch and slice at the same time. It was a deadly combination.
Two dummies had been set up at her request, along with a two tumbling mats criss-crossed in an x-shape — one dummy at each bottom corner. For the first exercise she would show, she laid her sword at the end of the X, where she could grab it easily and then stepped back to her starting position. She gave the judges a serious nod, but knew she wasn’t allowed to speak yet. That would only come during the time for questions. She ran hard for a short length and leapt, going into a cartwheel and then down into a ridiculously fast set of tumbles at ground level until she reached the dummy and very suddenly spun around into a crouch, smacking her leg into the ankle of the dummy, which sent it backward. She was on it before it could fall, brass knuckles extended as she raked down the dummy’s chest hard and fast — what would have dealt quite serious damage to a person.
She was back up a second later, this time sword in hand as she ran to the other side of the X and started down that side toward the opposite corner of the judging table’s view. This time she did three forward tucks, small sword in hand. It amused her to remember the day a sword not so unlike this one had made her bust her chest on the ground. Not after nine months of hard work with Bishop. She landed the tucks perfectly, nearly toe to toe with the dummy and sliced precisely into where a human’s jugular would be with the sword.
She was breathing a little fast, but more from excitement than anything else as she laid the sword down and stood center stage for a moment and gave the judges a small bow before exiting. She was out of the hot seat. For now. She couldn’t imagine what they might have to ask her when she came back.
Calligraphy was first up for the boys and was waiting in the wings while someone cleaned up from Lux’s display. She shot him a quick grin. “Good luck.” She said softly. She’d come to really like Calligraphy after their survival simulation, even if it had gotten off to a bit of a rocky start — literally and metaphorically. She hoped if she was chosen that he would be too. She knew him better than some of the others. She respected him and she knew they could work together and that they brought an unusual set of talents to the table. “Do great.” She told him, giving him a gentle play-bossy shove and a happy smile.
She took a bottle of water and cracked the seal taking a couple of drinks as she watched Calligraphy knowing his talent was going to be great whatever he shared.