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This is a short story revolving around two mentors and four tributes. If you haven't read my Games, then you might not understand some of the things mentioned in this story, but it's not required. Also, if I make any errors about the characters, please please PLEASE tell me!
Kai Shivers (c) Firecatcher
Saydee Peterson (c) Firecatcher
Mork the Stylist (c) Raeoki
Larka Dew (c) Firecatcher
Finch Shade (c) Firecather
Marmacet Jeweler the Escort (c) Raeoki
Elexsis Safier (c) Leshawna
Tobi the Escort (c) Raeoki
Nano Pythagorus (c) Moviepop
Electra Vargas (c) Moviepop
Stave I: "By Example and By Nature
A giant wave of winged mountain lions crashed and tumbled at the twenty-three children. One by one, no matter how hard they ran from the griffins, they were ripped open by their razor-sharp claws and terrible beaks, turned into a mass of blood and strips of flesh. The surviving children could only see their pulpy corpses for one moment, until they were swallowed by the wave.
Soon, there were only four of the twenty-three. Two boys and two girls, the greatest of friends, with a quiver full of arrows and a bow strapped to their backs. The wave lashed out of them, and caught one of the boys. He was dragged into the wave, and his companions stared in horror as the griffins pounced on him, shredding him. “Alex…” one of the girls whispered. “No!”
Suddenly, the boy stopped shrieking. He laid limp, dead. “Alex!” the girl cried out.
“Run!” urged the other girl, and they turned around to run. Griffins started swarming them. One of the griffins threw itself at the girl that told them to run, and ripped her head off of her shoulders. The remaining boy drew it out his bow and an arrow, and shot the griffin in the neck.
The griffins then flew away, stopping only to take away the bodies they had ripped apart, including Alex and the girl. Shaking, the duo turned from the sight. As if by magic, an arrow appeared in the girl’s body, and she fell with a gurgled scream. He ran to her side, but it was too late; the girl was dead.
“Kai Shivers!” came a growl from above. Slowly, Kai looked up and saw on the top of a pillar of stone was a girl with mad eyes and an evil grin, aiming an arrow at him. “You’re next!”
Kai flinched out of his nightmare. He glanced around himself, trying to figure out his surroundings; a large, plush room with his paintings, either leaning against the wall or standing on their easels, on almost every foot. How did he get here? The victor let out a groan as he remembered last night’s chariot rides. That stylist, Mork, had done terrible this year; the idiot. Did he really think that a giant ball of fluff would bring sponsors to this year’s tributes?
He wriggled out of bed and got in a flannel shirt with jeans, and he found a pair of boots that fitted Kai perfectly. Though Kai never complained, he knew that this outfit was chosen by Mork and his trio of cronies, and he didn’t like that they were still fitting him like they had during his own prep week.
Leaving his bedroom, Kai walked over to the dining room for breakfast. As Kai took a seat in his chair, the latest District 5 female tribute, Larka Dew, entered and took a seat across from her mentor. “Did you sleep well, Larka?” Kai piped up after a pause.
Larka let out a sigh. “To be honest, no, Mr. Shivers, not exactly…”
Kai sat forward in his chair. “First things first, Larka, call me Kai, not Mr. Shivers. I’m still eligible to be reaped in the Games, you know,” he said with a soft chuckle. “By age, at least.”
She smiled slightly. “Sorry…Kai.” It was hard not to call him “Mr. Shivers.” On the interview before the Victory Tour, Kai had seemed to have morphed from a boy into a man; a very weary, almost depressed man, but a man.
“Now that we have that settled, why don’t you tell me what’s wrong?” He grimaced. “Besides obvious.”
Fidgeting, Larka replied, “I heard one of the Capitolites say that Finch and I were no Kai Shivers.”
“And what do you think that means?” Kai cocked his head.
“…Well…I took it as they expected us to die on the first day.” Her voice was barely a whisper.
Kai nodded. “You want my advice? Ignore them.”
“Ignore them. Just a bunch of idiots that don’t want to sponsor you…It doesn’t matter. Sponsors help, but they don’t get you through the Games. You get you through the Games. Understood?” he said. Larka hesitated, before nodding. “Good.”
There was a pause, before Larka asked, "Why don't alliances get you through the Games, Kai?"
The images of his alliance, Saydee Peterson, Alexander Lettom, and Karina Lettom flashed through his mind. Kai took in a deep breath and squeezed his eyes tight as he relived their deaths. There was a pain in the ear, the one that the Capitol had to manufacture for him because the real one had been shot off by an arrow. “Kai?” Larka asked, and stood up, a look of concern on her face.
“I’m fine,” Kai grunted, coming back to reality. “I suppose that is possible. After all, they help you find food and protect you from other tributes…But, if it comes down to it, the only thing that is produced is a hand to hold onto as you die or a part of you being taken away as your ally dies. That is all I can say on that matter.”
“I see,” Larka muttered. “Thank you.” After three minutes of silence, Larka’s district partner, Finch Shade, came in. “Ah! A meeting!” he said with a wide grin. “Is it a secret meeting? Are you two conspiring against me?”
Larka looked over her shoulder at him. “You’re late,” she said with stuck-up tone.
“Oh, what are you? My mother?” Finch bounded over to the table, and abruptly sat on Larka’s lap.
“Get off of me!”
“No. You’re too comfortable.”
A soft smile crept on Kai’s face. Seeing the two of them laughing at each other’s antics reminded him of a week before the 1st Hunger Games reaping, where Saydee had gone to her house with a pregnant guinea pig tucked under her arm.
“Isn’t she fat or what?” Saydee laughed, holding the rodent up to him.
“How did you get that…?” Kai muttered, poking the to-be mother’s nose. Saydee swatted his hand away. “A friend of Alyssa’s is letting her take care of it so they can breed some cats for a few months. They don’t want her hunted down and eaten.” She tickled the guinea pigs back paw. “Her name’s Lady Nibbles.”
Eyeing Lady Nibbles, Kai asked, “If they’re guinea pig breeders, why they taking in cats?”
“Guinea pigs aren’t very popular at the moment,” Saydee replied. “Cats are the latest thing in pets, so…”
Raising the guinea pig over her head, Saydee growled, “Lady Nibbles attack!!”
“Oh no!” Kai wailed as Lady Nibbles sniffed at him.
Saydee and Lady Nibbles chased Kai around the house, laughing and calling for mercy and growling. Saydee and Nibbles had lost Kai, though, until they came into the kitchen and the boy jumped out of the pantry, his face covered in cake frosting, and wailing like a banshee. Saydee let out a scream then laughed at his colored face.
They turned around, and laughed even more at Saydee’s little sister, Alyssa, who stood in the door, tapping her foot. “I thought you were going to take care of Lady Nibbles, Saydee…not frighten her half to death!”
Saydee looked down at the pregnant guinea pig, who was burying her face into Saydee’s chest. “Oh, we were only having fun…”
Alyssa marched over and snatched Lady Nibbles out of her big sister’s hand. With a huff and a flick of her hair, the young girl marched away.
“She’s very protective,” Saydee said with a laugh.
“I can see that.”
There was a pause. Saydee’s smile turned into a grimace, and she asked, “The reaping is only seven days away, Kai…what if one of us is reaped?”
Kai put his arm across her shoulders. “Don’t worry about that, Saydee. Not now.”
“I can’t help it, Kai…”
A pause. “If one of us is reaped,” Kai answered, “Then one of us will root for the other back home. And besides…” He grinned. “What’s the worst that can happen?”
“Oh,” Saydee sighed. “A lot of things.”
One of those things was getting both of them reaped. “POCKETS!”
“Get your hands out of my pockets, woman!”
“Finch, get off of her!” Kai flinched as the District 5 escort, Marmacet Jeweler, suddenly appeared and forced Finch off of Larka. “How old are you two again?”
“Three in half a years old, apparently,” Larka giggled. The escort sniffed, and took a seat to the side. Still grinning, Finch took the seat across from the dyed yellow escort.
Avoxes served them omelets and orange juice, but not Marmacet, who took her omelet with very black coffee. The tributes suddenly became grim, and the breakfast was a silent one. Kai could tell, though, that they wanted to ask him questions.
Marmacet was the first to finish. She rose, and gave him a tap on the shoulder. “We need to talk about the sponsors. I sense they will be difficult this year…” She gave Larka and Finch a pitying glance.
“I’m not done with my breakfast yet,” Kai complained.
The escort snorted. “Fine. Meet me in the living room when you’re done.” Marmacet gave Larka and Finch a wave, then hurried out of the dining room.
The moment she was out of sight, Finch asked, “Kai? What’s it like to kill somebody?”
“Finch!” Larka hissed.
“No.” Kai stood up. “It’s best if you both know.
“Killing someone, at least for me, is a horrible feeling that never leaves you, and it is very hard to explain to people who have had the luxury not to.” He paused, gazing at their faces. “Perhaps it is best if you come with me.”
Kai led them out of the dining room and over to his bedroom (avoiding the living room). He gestured at his paintings. “Take a look at those.”
Larka started at one where a girl stood with an axe in one hand and a trident in the other, where a boy wielding a bow stood right beside. “Glow and Grant,” she mumbled.
Finch inspected a painting where a boy had his back turned to a girl with a knife in both hands. The girl stood on a large rock, and seemed to be peering at something. “I forgot who that is,” Finch mumbled, tapping the boy. “But she looks very familiar.”
“She’s the girl whose love was very far away,” Kai piped up.
There was a painting of the first District 3 tributes, then one of Marina Adams and Martin Gill. Larka stopped to stare at a piece with a young, grim-faced girl who was holding a sword. Unlike the others, she stood alone. “Shouldn’t you be with her?” Larka asked softly.
Slowly shaking his head, Kai replied, “She does not need me.”
There was a painting of Damien Rafael and Vanessa Lockhart, the District 6 tributes of the 1st Hunger Games. Vanessa stared at Damien with longing, but the career didn’t seem to notice her – instead, Damien, like the knife-wielding girl, seemed to be looking for someone too. “The lovers are looking for each other,” Larka muttered.
Tributes turned to scenes. A boy protecting a girl with an injured leg from a tribute; there was also a girl standing using her own body as a shield from the knife-wielding lass so a boy could escape; and also the portrait of a boy carrying a sickly girl away. A painted scene in which a poor girl laid on the ground with an arrow in her body, her brother and a friend by her side, and the friend seemed to be singing to her. The knife-wielder in a crevice, reaching for Damien who was above her, and also had his hand grasping for her; the boy who had escaped at the cost of a girl’s life clinging onto a tree, severely wounded; and then there was griffins flying above two boys and a girl, screeching at them; and then a girl lying dead on the ground with an arrow in her stomach, and a younger girl being shot to death in the background of the painting.
But that wasn’t the end. There was the paintings of the 2nd Hunger Games tributes, a girl with a stunned face holding a boy who had a spear in his gut, a trio of lasses doing battle, an explosion, a frightened girl wielding a knife running away from a mob of Peacekeepers, giant rats, and scorpions.
“Even Games you haven’t competed in effect you,” Flinch said.
“I saw Dove Sage and Jayfeather Pines as my children. I see you two as my children. Of course it affects me.”
That would explain why so many of the paintings are about them, Larka thought, and glanced over at the painting of Dove and Jayfeather. Dove had a peaceful face, playing music on a flute on wearing a green habit, while Jayfeather wore a suit of armor and carried a spear and a shield.
There was a moment of silence. Kai found himself looking at the painting of Dove talking with the District 3 and 8 tributes, Shining Starr and Gadgeet Brent.
“Take these words and keep them close to you,” Kai grunted. “By example you do not want to be the winner, but by human nature you do not want to be the loser.”
Stave II: "The Will"
Third day of prep week – or, should one say, third night. Ever since they had arrived to the Capitol, Elexsis had dragged herself around while she should’ve been sleeping, like the others. But she couldn’t take it. The young victor had tried to sleep after the Chariot Rides, but it only ended up in waking up screaming, covered in ice cold sweat, Tobi, rudely shaking her awake. The escort had demanded what had happened, but Elexsis could only stare at him with wide, shocked eyes, trembling.
Sure, she had nightmares back in her new home in District 3’s Victor Village, but Elexsis could control herself there. After finally awaking, Elexsis would just lay there, silent as a stone, staring at the ceiling until daylight finally trickled in through the bedroom. But in the Capitol, the dreams were worse. Elexsis wasn’t surprised by this, but for some reason Elexsis wondered why.
Elexsis found herself in the living room, standing in front of the fireplace where a flame roared. It reminded her of the explosion that had taken Angel Odair’s life, and nearly took the life of Tecy Pines and her own. It would have been better if it had killed them all, or at least Elexsis. Tecy wasn’t tortured by the Voices and the Ghosts like Elexsis was. The girl of District 7 could live normally, happily, with a clear conscience. Tecy Pines wasn’t a murderer, but yet she died. Elexsis was a murderer, and yet she lived.
Fire. Bomb. Explosion. Blood. Death. Those were the words that the Voices taunted her with, because they knew she feared them – at least, most of them. It was not the fire that Elexsis feared. It had been the heat. It had ravaged her body, made her wish she could just lie down and writhe in agony and then die as she carried Tecy away from the explosion. That was why Elexsis’ home in the Victor Village was so cold, even in winter. Her parents had bundled up extra for New Year’s, while Elexsis shuffled about in shorts and a tank-top. Because of her decision to wear cool clothes in freezing weather, Elexsis had fallen ill countless times. She had spent her Christmas forced to wear blankets and have her bare feet plunged into a large bowl of hot water. It was the only Christmas where the victor was nearly driven into insanity. Or more into it.
A hand touched her shoulder. “Elexsis?” came a small voice of a young boy.
Elexsis turned around, and punched him in the face.
“Nano!” cried a girl.
The victor looked down at the boy who lay on the floor, his right eye black and blue. “Gadgeet!” Elexsis cried, falling on her knees next to him. “I’m so sorry, Gadgeet! I didn’t mean too…”
Gadgeet stared at her, eyes wide. “Do you remember the time when you tied me up? Have you ever thought that, because of you, I would eventually die?” he asked.
Elexsis opened her mouth, but nothing comes out. “I…I didn’t…”
They were talking to her.
“It’s your fault!”
“NO!” Elexsis wailed. Whimpering, Elexsis fell on her side and curled up into a ball. “Leave me alone! Leave me alone!”
“Elexsis!?” the girl asked. “Are you alright?”
Suddenly, Gadgeet morphed into the fourteen-year-old tribute Nano Pythagorus. Electra Vargas, the other tribute, held his hand, eyes wide. Elexsis uncurled herself slowly, scanning them. “…What…What are you two doing up so late? You have to…train…tomorrow…early.” Elexsis knew that it sounded like she wasn’t listening to herself. But she didn’t care, because it was true. She wasn’t listening to herself.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Nano replied tersely, leaning on his elbows.
“We were wondering if you could, um, review our strategy, I guess,” Electra quickly added.
Elexsis didn’t answer at first. She got up and shuffled over to the couch, flopping on it. Curious, the two tributes sat on both side of her, waiting patiently for a reply. “What is it?” their mentor asked.
“We intend on allying with each other and hide out while the others kill themselves,” Nano quickly answered.
“No.” It was a quick reply, so fast that Electra and Nano nearly flinched. Silently, Elexsis got off the couch to stand over the fire.
“…Huh?” Electra sounded dazed.
“Look at Kai Shivers. Look at me. We both had large alliances. And what do you guys want?” Elexsis turned around, eyeing Nano and Electra with a cold, harsh gaze. “A small one. A duo. As if the two of you could take on the career pack. Remember when Kai’s alliance took on the career pack? Yes, they had the element of surprise, but I’m sure those careers could’ve easily regrouped once they realized there were only two of them.”
Nano and Electra exchanged confused glances. “…Kai’s alliance consisted of four, not two of them, Elexsis,” Nano replied slowly.
“Exactly!” Elexsis threw up her arms. “There were four of them, all armed to the teeth, all looking for blood. That is why the careers ran.” She sighed, pausing to let that sink in. “Get a large alliance, you two. Understand?”
The younger kids were silent for a moment. Finally, Electra whispered, “We understand.”
Elexsis nodded. “Anything else?”
“Um, yeah,” Nano said with a nod. “What else will we need in the arena, Elexsis?”
Furrowing her brow, Elexsis thought about Nano’s question, examining it intensely, flipping it around, and rolling it over, until the answer was clear. Elexsis spread the fingers on her right hand, pushing them down with her left index finger.
“One: A weapon.” Down went the right index finger.
“Two: An alliance, but I’m sure that’s clear.” The middle finger was pushed downward.
“Three: Supplies. Food, water, iodine tablets, medical supplies…the works.” Elexsis curled her ring finger.
“Four: The will to live.” Pinkie went down.
And then came down the thumb. “Five: The will to kill.”