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Welcome, one and all, to Tiki tooki's NEMESIS GAMES!!! These games will be unique from all others, and I'll be using an idea I've been dying to try out for ages! I will explain the rules and such in a while!
(I will be disabling commenting until I have everything set up, I don't want an overload of comments).
These Games are gonna be good, so sit back, relax, grab a plate of bacon and enjoy the show!
Rules For Entering
In these games, you will enter homemade tributes, not characters from the actual series. District's 13, and the Capitol are also in this game, so there will be 28 tributes total. You are allowed, and recomended, to enter tributes from more than one District, but there is a limt of two tributes per User.
Reservations last 24 - 48 hours each.
For these Games, the Tributes will undergo training as usual, and then, based on their scores, they will be paired up with another tribute. The highest score with the lowest, secong highest with secong lowest, etc. They will battle eachother in a on one battle to the death in a small 20x20 room, with varying settings and weapons. The 14 winners will advance to the Arena, and the looser, well, dies. When two or more Tributes are tied, the younger Tribute gets the higher seed.
The top four scores in training will get a bye to the arena, meaning that they will not have to participate in the 1-on-1 Round and risk an early exit. Four of the tribtues who die in the-on-1 Round will be revived (see Twist #3), and they, plus the tributes with byes and the winners of the 1-on-1 Round will advance to the Arena.
In this twist, four of the tribtues who perished in the 1-on-1 Round will be brought back to life to copete once more. Choosing of these four lucky tributes will be done by lottery, which I will do on an RNG. each of the twelve automatically has two entries. If a deceased tribute has been sponsored previously by a reader (someone without tributes in these Games) will receive 1 extra entry per $5 sponsored. Readers can continue to sponsor, but until the four tributes are chosen, each tribute only gets 1 extra entry per $10. Each Reader can also give away two extra entries to the tribute of his/her choice. Readers can not split up the entries. So, for those of you with deceased tributes, you may want to start trying to convince people to give your tribues entries.
11 tributes remain. All are at the two ends of the island, a day's hike away from the opposite end. The gamemakers want a climatic finish, so they have decided to "collapse" the arena and make it smaller, by using new technology that "tweaks" the tectonic plates and shrinks the arena. Just hope your tribute survives the earthquake! DUH DUH DUUUUUUH!!!
|District||Name||Age||User||Training Score||Placement In Training||Sponsor $ Spent ( /100)||
|1F||18||Rainbow Shifter||10||Bye||$15||Tristan, Zola, Kalita, Matt||4th|
|2M||Brass Sater++||18||Angry Birds12||8||11th||$46||Jade<>||Victor|
|3F||15||Cloveismywife||7||13th||$79||Traviss, Luna, Elder||6th|
Jabberjay78 (The Boy With The Pikachu Tattoo)
|8M||17||The Hunger Games Girl||9||3rd||Calina||12th|
" Tribute killed in 1-on-1 Round.
`Tribute killed in 1-on-1 Round, revived.
^ Tribute was killed by Gamemakers, traps/mutts in arena, etc.
= Tribute recieved sponsor money from challenges (One per $5).
+ Tribute received sponsor money from sponsors (One per $5).
() Tributes killed simuntaneously.
<> Kill shared by two or more tributes.
The "Kills" column does not include the 1-on-1 Round.
Users in italics are adopters.
Sponsoring will begin after the 1-1 tournament. Each of the 14 remaning Tributes will get $100 to spend on items at the User's request. From time to time I will do challenges on the commenting section to earn your Tribute(s) extra Sponsor money. (Users can not win twice in a row).
Any users who have not entered tribtues in these Games may give away up to $10 to the tribute of their choice. They may also give $5 to two individual tribtues, but cannot split up the money any more than this. If you have given either sponsor money or extra entries into Twist #3, you may not sponsor again.
Extra Spearhead- 15/each
Single-Bladed Axe- 33
Double-Bladed Axe- 39
Bow & 12 Arrows- 45
Extra Arrows- 28/dozen
Throwing Knife- 18
Shot Put Ball- 14
Heavy Weights- 23
Fresh fruit- 10
Dried Fruit Pack- 6
Dried Beef- 10
Other Meats of your choice- 20
Nutrition Bar- 25
Powdered Nuts- 8
Medical, Sheleter, & Clothing
Basic First Aid Kit- 15
Advanced First Aid Kit- 35
Antidote of your choice- 30
Syringe w. Poison- 35
Small Tent- 30
Large Tent- 45
Thin blanket- 10
Wool Blanket/Sleeping Bag- 20
Extra Socks- 5
Sweat Pants- 12
Delivered/Undelivered Sponsor Gifts
Brass- 1 spear- 46
Halo- 1 headgear- 32
Kalita- 3 throwing knives- 54
Kole- 1 sword- 60
Kalita- 1 bandages- 15
Jade- 1 basic first aid kit- 15
"Hurry UP Eli"!
Elder. Eli. Big E. WHY did my parents give me such a ridiculous name? I had countless nicknames too, and Eli was the latest, devised by my dear District partner, Azalea.
"I'm coming! Sheesh, why are you in such a hurry?" I asked, rather annoyed.
"We're late for training!" she retorted.
"That's not my fault!"
Then who's is it? You were the one that switched Jardin's whipped cream with sour cream this morning! And you know he's allergic!"
I smirked as I remember that little prank. The look on our mentor's face was priceless, even if he did get a little puffy from it. But seriously, who's allergic to sour cream?
Typical Azalea, worrying about such little things. You could have killed him! He's our mentor! You're so immature! Blah blah blah. I was hoping at the very least to get a district partner with some sort of sense of humor.
Anyway, we rushed through the Training Center doors, where the other twenty-six tributes were gathered in a circle on the wrestling mats.
"You're late," said a cool, female voice.
"Sorry! It was Elder, he-"
"Doesn't matter, just come here. Now, as I was saying, you will have six madatory..."
I tuned out the trainer's voice. Atala, I think, and surveyed the copetition. The reruns of Tuesday's Reapings were a blurr to me. I couldn't remember a single one, so I wanted to concentrate on studying them now.
The Careers all stood together, as usual. There were four eighteen year olds and a seventeen year old. That's wasn't good news for the rest of us. Only one Career District tribute wasn't standing with them. I could tell from his cheesy Hello! My Name Is nametag that him and everyone else was wearing that his name was Scorpius, from District 4. He was yonger than the rest, only fourteen or so. He had a determined look on his face, and was soaking in every word that came out of Atala's mouth.
I turned my gaze to the other tributes. The tributes from 13 had the apperance of military brats, with their short cut hair and straight posture. The Capitol tributes looked barely human, with their unnatural cosmetics and stuff. They were clutching eachother, looking terrified at the prospect of being in the Games.
The tributes from 6 and the male from 8 also looked very strong, they could be a threat. The tributes from 3 looked stronger than the usual pair from that district, but not any less intimidated by the older career crowd. Other than that, not many tributes registered with me as anything out of the ordinary.
"...at which time you will head back to your District's floor. Go!"
Atala's voice rang out, and all the tributes headed towards the many stations. I ran up to Azalea.
"So, which station do you want to start at?" I ask her, trying to sound friendly.
She completely ignored me, and met up with the tributes from 11, a friendly looking pair. They headed over to axe throwing, without a second glance towards me.
I headed over to the obstacle course, with the tributes from 12 and 7. I was hoping Jake wouldn't follow us, but no such luck.
He thought he was a tragic little hero, with him running away from 4. He got all the publicity, and then started thinking he was superior to me. He might have been two years older than me, but I could take him down in a heartbeat if I wanted to.
"Come on darling, I'll show you how it's done!"
Did I forget to mention he has a crush on me, atop of all that? He calls me "Darling", and it makes me want to puke.
He skipped to the front of the line, and started by falling ten feet from the monkey bars when he lost hold of the rungs. He fell into the mud pit bellow, and beamed like it was all a big joke. I repressed a smirk, and took my turn on the bars. The rest of us made it through with ease.
"That oughta wipe the smile off his face," I said to myself.
"Gonna go help your boyfriend?" A voice said from behind me.
I wheeled around to face the guy from 7. "He is not my boyfriend!" I argued, but I could feel my face growing red.
He smirked. "Whatever you say".
Me and Zara headed over to sword fighting with the careers, even though we were't planning on aligning with them. It was actually kind of amusing, how they thought they had these Games in the bag, and how they assumed weapons alone would win it all. Jade, the girl from 1, seemed the most lethal of the group.
Eventually that inside joke between me and Zara kind of lost it's novelty, and we decided to move on. We saw the girl and boy from 3 at knife throwing, and we decided to go have a look. "Hey! Hows it going with you guys?"
Mica turned and gave us a suspicious look, like he wasn't sure if we were teasing or not. It's the girl, Kalita, who answers cautiously, "Okay. How about you guys?'
We tell them about the careers, and while we find it slightly amusing, they seem to be terrified. We join them at archery, and it's quickly evident that Kalitha is a master at knives, while Mica seems to be eager to move on.
"Hey, you guys want to try out knot-tying?" he asked.
"I think we'll stay h- "
"Yes, actually," I interupt. Zara gave me a look of protest, and it was obvious she wanted to team up with older tributes, but these two have their strengths, and could be valuable assets in the arena, if any of us make it past the One-on-one competition.
The second Atala stopped talking, Jonothan left me in the dust.
Typical. He always judeges me because of my age. Okay, mabye I'm not the strongest or the fastest or the best fed tribute, but I can think. I can survive.
He rushed over to the careers, where they welcomed him with open arms.
I cursed under my breath, and headed to the Hunting & Tracking station, where the tributes from 10, and Scorpius were there, practising snares.
You guys mind if I join you?" I asked.
The tall blonde from District 10 steps forward. "Not at all. I'm Tristan James, and this is my district partner, Rose Jones, and Scorpius from Four"
"Luna Snare," I reply. He gave my hand a firm shake.
"So where's your District partner?" asked Rose, now coming to join us.
I scowled. "He's teaming up with the careers, he said they needed someone else beacause one of them quit-"
I stopped short as I realise Scorpius was the one who backed out of the careers gang.
"So why did you leave?" I asked him. "You too young or something, did they throw you out?"
"I chose to," he replied. And with that he turned back to his half-finished snare.
My head spun. Why would he back out of the careers? You don't do that! If the careers invite you into their group, you either accept or they gun for you in the arena. And if there's one thing you don't want, it's the careers trying to do you in.
All of a sudden I heard a snap, and a scream coming from behind me. I whipped around to see Rose dangling by her foot from the snare which was connected to the metal beams on the ceiling. Scorpius is starring at her, horrorstruck.
"Sorry!" he yelled, trying to bring her down. "I forgot I'd already primed it!"
But at that moment, the rope snapped, sending Rose plummeting ten feet down, head first, onto a metal table. She hit the surface with a thud, and collapsed onto the tiled floor bellow, unconcious. Not only that, but a gash had opened up on the back of her head, and blood was pouring out of it.
Lots of it.
Me and Ebony ahd been throwing axes for a while when we heard a scream from another tribute. What happened? Was someone hurt? I flinched at the thought of wounds.
"Man up," I told myself. "If you can't even think of blood without passing out, how're you going to survive the arena?"
Atala rushed over to the hunting station, and medics were lifting a girl onto a stretcher. Sure enough, she was bleeding.
"Alright everyone, back to your rooms!" she yelled at us. "This all we're going to do today!" I was confused. Why was she cancelling the rest of training? We still had two or so hours left. I had heard that head injuries usually look way worse than they actually are, but was this different? Was there a posibilty of serious injury or wrose, and that's why Atala was freaking out?
End of Day 1 of training.
I woke up early the next morning, I wanted to make up for the time I had lost yesterday with training being cancelled.
The rest of the tributes seemed to have the same idea as me, and were eating an early breakfast. I swept my eyes around the room, looking for Rose, the girl they carried away on a stretcher. She was nowhere to be seen.
I gupled down some cereal, even though there was a vast display of delacasies available, from omlettes and eggs benedicte, to steaming hot chocolate, creme brulee, and pancakes with about 40 different toppings. My stomach rumbled, eager for more, but training was more important than gorging myself on rich food.
I joined up with Detora and Azalea, but for some reason her district partner was absent from our group again.
"Hey Azalea, why is Elder always by himself? Shouldn't you two be working together?" I asked her as we made our way to the sword fighting station.
"Oh, he likes training by himself," she answered dismisively.
"Well, why don't you see if he wants to join us?" I asked.
"I told you, he doesn't want to train with me," she replied. It was clear she wasn't telling us everything, but I decided not to pressure.
Me and the rest of the careers started with spear throwing. Atala kept on telling us not to ignore the survival stations, but I really wasn't that worried. There'll only be sixteen tributes in the arena, it'll be over way quicker than usuall. I probably won't even have to worry all that much about food.
Secretly, I was hoping most of my fellow careers wouldn't even make it past the 1-on-1 Round. It's be nice to go solo in the arena, or with one reliable partner, like Jade or Halo. I wanted to win differently from the rest of the careers victors in the past. Tributes that win solo are usually received better by the audience. Makes a good impression, shows you can survive by your own wits.
We had a big group yesterday, with tribtues from Five and Seven joining us, and today it was even bigger. The tributes from Six also joined us, a pair of well-built tributes named Max and Zola. We did a range of survival stations. like edible plants, knot tying, and terrain. We got along fairly well, but there seemed to be a bit of a rivaly between the tributes from Seven and Five. They always try to best eachother in every station they can get their hands on, and it reached it's climax when Travis started whacking Jeni over the head with a fake sword, telling her where to go and how to get there. Me and Kole, looked at eachother, sceptical.
"Time to go", I read in his eyes.
"Can you believe them!" I said to Kole once we were out of earshot.
"I know. So much for an alliance," he replied, equally annoyed at our ex-group's behaviour.
Rose finally returned near the end of the day, with a large bandage on the back of her head. She had a dazed look in her eyes, and I couldn't shrug off the suspision that she had a concusion.
The people she was with before had all gone off by themsleves, and she was alone, wandering around the training center. Go figure, I went and joined her.
"Oh well," I though to myself as I was striding towatds her. "If I'm going to have an ally, it might as well be someone I can pick off at any time if I need to."
"Hi, I'm Elder," I said to her, putting on a smile.
"Rose. So... do you think mabye- "
"-we could have an alliance?" I finished for her.
She seemed taken aback by my eagerness. "Are you- are you sure?" she asked.
"Positive." I replied. "Anyone who can get their head cracked open and train again the next day is fine by me."
She winced and reflexively pulled her hand up to the back of her head. I realized I had said the wrong thing.
"Sorry, I shouldn't have-"
"No, it's fine," she said unconvincingly casually. "It doesn't even hurt that much any more."
I noded uneasily, still wondering exactly how badly she was injured, and how she'll make out in the Games.
I'm probably the worst Career tribute ever.
Okay, mabye not the worst. Scorpius completely ditched us, but atleast he can hold a spear the right way up.
It all started when Jade, that monster from One (no fashion sense at all) started screaming at me for almost hitting her with a knife, and ever since then, I've been a total wreck. I'm not even that bad with weapons, but ever since I screwed up with the knives, my confidence went down the drain.
"Hey, Courtney, who d'you you'll be up against in the one-on-one Round? That guy from Ten looks like he could do you in," said Halo from 4, referring to the youngeest tribute this year.
"Atleast my opponent won't umm... die the minute they sees my hair!"
I realised what a pathetic insult that was, and I started to blush, while the rest of them howled in laughter.
"How much you want to bet she'll faint in front of the Gamemakers?"
"She couldn't win the Games if all the other tributes were blind!"
They continued to jeer at me until Atala told us to head back to our rooms, with me feeling absolutely miserable. My partner, Brass, was no exception. He teased right up until we reached the door.
"That was hilarious courtney! The way you almost shish-kabobed yourself with your own spear, you-"
I slammed the door in his face, strode into my room, and covered myself in the warm, fuzzy blankets, and began to cry.
End of Day 2 of Training
Day 3/Training Scores & Placement
I sat down on the plush couch, as they were getting prepared to show the training scores, and ultimately, the pairing for the 1-on-1 Round. I was mildly pleased with my performance. I basically ensnared and decapitated robotic, moving dummies with my net and trident until I was told to leave. The Gamemakers looked somewhat impressed, so I'm hoping for a decent score.
Halo, on the other hand, was a different story. She came back from her session grumbling about who knows what, her hair soaked. Don't ask me how she got wet, she refused to speak to anyone about what happened. She spent the next day snapping at anyone who came across her, so I tried to stay out of her way as much as possible. It was unavoidable for watching the training scores, but thankfully she had stopped being rude for the moment, and was finally, grudgingly begining to tell us what happened in her session when Caeser came on the screen.
"Shut up guys, it's starting!" said our mentor, Berezay, an energetic young woman who won the Games three years ago at 17. She hopped onto the couch, and Caeser began.
DUH DUH DUH! (I'll wait a while to post the scores, as to build suspense!)
1-on-1 Round Matchups
Maxwell Liang vs. Rose Jones
Matt Coupe vs. Ebony Ivory
Jonothan Burrows vs. Jake Odair
Halo Zee` vs. Calina Rosette
Jason Noels vs. Derek Trike
Tristan James vs. Courtney Thorna
Scorpius Flame vs. Kole Roch`
Jeni Frost vs. Ryak Torg
Eucy Collier vs. Micelangelo DeSantillo
Azalea Firethorn vs. Travis Oak`
Brass Sater vs. Detora Brandy
Luna Snare vs. Kalita Jerona`
For these Games, the arean will consist of the terrain of Vancouver Island. The island will be about sixteen kilometres long and about 4 kilometres wide. In the middle of the island there will be a mountain chain, and near the north end of the chain will be the Cornucopia. The Coastline is divided into six different sections, two on each side of the island, and one on each end of the island. Each of the costline sections will have a different type of beach. The north end will be an Icefield, and the south end will have a harbour that represents downtown Victoria. The Cornucopia will have very few weapons and supples, and the tributes will have to make their way down to the Harbour or to the Icefield, which both have a certain area that contains weapons and supplies. The will either have to go down one of the two costlines, through the Mountains, or choose to not go after the weapons and supplies.
We sat there, the cold, hard benches beneath us, waiting in silence for our names to be called.
All twenty-four tributes were there, alert and ready, for in a few minutes, we would have to fight to the death with one of our fellow tributes. Only the top four had been told their scores, so we did not know who our opponents wouold be. At the last moment before Caeser announced the scores, the peacekeepers had ordered us both out of the room, away from the TV, so we couldn't see the scores. Everyone else knew of course. Our stylists, mentors, eveyone. The Capitol seemed to think it would add to the effect if it were a surprise.
But it doesn't matter. I know I got the worst score, I must have. My concussion kicked in when I had my session, I spent the whole time wobbling around like a drunk!
My suspicions were confirmed when they called my name, and Max's, from 6. He defenitely didn't get last place, so it must have been me...
I was even more confused when they called Matt and Ebony as well, but before anyone could ask, they led us away
There were two corridors leading away from the benches, the guards lead me and Ebony down one and Maxwell and Matt down the other, until I arrived at a doorway labled 1/24. Ebony continued down the corridor. The guards led me through the door into an antechamber, and then through another door into the room where we would fight to the death.
On the floor was sand and two swords laying on the fround in the middle, nothing else. Just the brown powder and the two weapons in the twenty-by-twenty room, other than that, completely empty. I looked to my right, and instead of the solid cement walls on the other three sides, there was a mesh barrier, and on the other side of that was Ebony and Matt, in the exact same type of place as us. I shouted for her, but evidently she could not hear me. Several seconds later she spotted the mesh wall as well, and opened her mouth, but no words came out.
"It must be sound proof!" I thought to myself. Only in the Capitol would they have sound proof string. How they made it, I have no idea.
But just that moment, Maxwell entered the room through a door opposite of me. We were momentarily frozen, and then a gong went off. The signal to start.
I raced forward and reached the swords before Max, but he hit me in the mouth before I could grab them. I kicked sand in his face, and wrenched a sword from his hands. I swung, but he deflected with the flat of his weapon. I stumbled back, and the world began to spin i my eyes. It was that stupid concussion!
"Not now!" I thought desperately. "Why now?!"
Seeing my weakness, Maxwell struck. I dodged wearily, but took off a good chunk of skin from my arm. He knocked my sword away, and I stood before him, defensless.
He stabbed at my chest and I dodged, but too late I realised what he had done. That stab was just a ploy, a trick into me being cornered. I had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. He raised his sword, and swung at my head. I raised my arms, expectng it to end, but all of a sudden I heard a clank, and Max gasping in surprise. I looked up to see Max gapping at me. Then I see my steel bracelt, my token, dented, and I realize what happened. By some infinitely small chance, he had hit my steel bracelet, but he didn't seem to realize that.
"How- how..." he said, still gaping, utterly perplexed.
I jumped on this oppurtunity, grabbed the sword from his hand, and stabbed him in the gut.
I stood there dazed, when I heard a buzzer. A ladder had dropped from the cement ceiling above, and I wlaked towards it. Then I remembered the mesh wall, and the other battle behind it, and I whipped around. My heart skipped a beat. There was Matt, standing there with a grim look on his face, sword in hand, looking down at the decapited body of the Capiyol's own Ebony Ivory.
"Halo Zee, Jonothan Burrows, Jake Odair, Calina Rosette!"
I got up quickly when my name was called. Just like the four tributes before us we were split up and led down two corridors, me and Jonothan down one, and Calina and Jake down another.
"So who d'you think you'll get," I asked Jonothan, as we didn't yet know which of the other two was our partner.
"I don't know... if I had to bet, I'd say Calina."
The guards stopped him at one door, and stopped me at a door about twenty feet further. ZI stepped into the antechamber, and waited for the door to the room to open, and the fight to begin.
Well, Jonothan owes me some money.
It was Calina that was my partner, not Jonothan's. He got Jake, and i have to say, I'm a bit jealous. It'll be a much tougher job to kill Calina than Jake, even if she is younger. She's a fighter, that one.
They froze us in some sort of beam of light, and I waited for it to start. The other two started before us, to my right in the room enclosed by that mesh.
Both rooms were made entirely out of rock. The ground, the ceiling, everything. Stalacites hunge from teh ceiling, and stalagmites rose from the ground. The ground was jagged and uneven, it slopped down towards the middle, and up again back towards Calina. There were also loose rocks on the ground, from pebbles to boulders, and some of the larger ones were blocking my view of everything but Calina, and the other fight across the mesh.
On the ground before Jonothan and Jake were a knife and shield. In front of us, there was a spear and a net. The two of them picked up their weapons, and rushed towards eachother. Jonothan, instead of attacking with his knife, grasped the shield with both hands, and hit an unnexpecting Jake on the head, knocking him to the ground. Stunned, Jake dropped his weapons, and Jonothan jumped on him, and started stabbing him in the arm.
That was when our buzzer sounded. I was so preoccupied with the other fight that the buzzer's sound only registered with me right before Calina came at me with the spear. I dodged, picked up my net and spear, and dove behind a large boulder. Calina's spear came flying at me from the side, but I hit it in midair with my own. Unfortunately, I sent it flying back to her, where it landed safely at her feet.
Then she threw her net at me, and I was so surprised at this, I didn't even have time to dodge. She threw her spear at the ceiling, at the razor-sharp stalacites. They fell, and missed me, but pinned my net to the ground, trapping me. My heart raced.
"She's not going to kill me, she can't. She wouldn't kill another human being, looking her in the eye, she wouldn't... In no apparent hurry, she advanced towards me spear in hand. Her face was void of any emotion as she turned towards the other fight.
Jonothan and Jake were both battered and bloody. Jake had somehow gotten up after his first blunder, but was bleeding everywhere. He sunk to his knees, at Jonothan's mercy.
The knife hit Jake right as Calina raised her spear. I looked her in the eye, desperate.
"Calina... please..." The words barely came out of my mouth.
Her eyes started to tear up, and she said in a ghostly whisper, "I am so sorry."
I close my eyes for the last time, and she swung the spear at my throat.
I entered the door labled 5/23, sure I was going to die.
Jason Noels was my opponent, and he's scary. Roughly the size of a small killer whale, all muscle, and from the look in his eyes when we were announced, merciless.
The tributes in the previous fights had not come back, so I had no idea what had happened to Ebony. Had she survived? Was she sitting in our room right now, cheering me on? Or was she dead, cold and white, no longer in this world...
When I entered the room/death chamber, I was momentarily confused. Why had my vision gone green? When my eyes focused again, I realized I was in a jungle, or something like it. Everywhere there were vines, and even in this small, twenty-foot room, I couldn't see Jason on the other side. What I could see though, stunned me.
Directly across from me was a mesh wall, nad on the other side of it was that careers, Courtney Thorna. She saw me, and her eyes widened, she screemed something, but the wall must have been soundproof. Then she unfroze, and bent down to pick up something. It was a weapon with a machete blade on one side and an axe blade ont the other. I realized there was one by me, too. Then the gong sounded, and we were off as well.
I grabbed the weapon and waited. I figured Jason would come barreling through the vines straight at me. He was a career, and they were generally known to be impuslive and irrational. I held the weapon akwardly. You never really used any type of weapon in the Capitol, not even simple things like a pick or a throwing knife.
Finally I accepted that he was waiting for me to do the same thing, so I thought I might as well make the first move. I advanced slowly, and caught Courtney's eye (who was doing more than less the same as me) once more before entering the thick.
I slashed though the entanglement, hoping to see Jason. Then I froze. Was that brown? I saw it, a tuft of brown hair amongst all the green, and I stopped, still as a mouse, waiting. I threw my weapon, but somehow it caught in the vines. As Jason wheeled around and saw me, I realized; the axe hadn't caught the vines, the vines had caught it. The spiky green tendrils wrapped around it tightly, and cracked the wooden shaft in half. Jason must have seen the same thing, because he did not attack, but stared at the vines.
All of a sudden I felt a searing pain in my wrists and ankles. I heard Jason screem, and I realized that the vines had somehow grabbed us and picked us up! They shot me forward through the thicket concealing Jason, and all of a sudden i was facing him, both of us flailing around, struggling to get free.
Before either one of us could speak, the vines thrust us forward to the mesh wall, giving us a front row seat to the other battle.
The first thing I noticed was that they were not being strangled by bloodthirsty plants. On the contrary, the vines were quite silent, not even moving. Both of them had weapons, and were exchanging blows. As Tristan ducked Courtney's swing, they both caught sight of us. It must have looked funny, because an almost comical look came onto their faces. Then simuntaneously, they remembered this wasn't the circus, and they went back to attempting to slaughter one another.
Courtney landed the first hit, a light stab in Tristan's gut. It was not deep, mabye half an inch, but Tristan stumbled back, and barely managed to pary Courney's swing at his legs. He retalated and gave her a cut on the arm, much deeper. That's when _ made their mistake.
Courtney swung the axe-side at Tristan, and let go of her weapon, obviously overconfident and taking unnecesary risks now that she had managed a hit. He saw their chance, and with one slash at the ribs, finished off Courtney.
We turned back to one another, and eyed eachother. Our weapons were thrusted back into our hands by the moving vines. I lunged and thrashed, but I was too far away. We waited for the vines to carry us closer, but they did not. The pressure grew on my wrists, and I knew they must be trying to cut off our circulation, because I was starting to loose grip on my weapon...
Then I knew what they wanted us to do. Jason realised it at the same time as me, and we both threw our wepons, not able to move to dodge. Jason's wepon sank into my stomach, and mine hit his as well. The pain was indescribable. The vines released us, and we both sank into the fetal position. I yanked out the weapon, and my whole world was pain, blood, and more pain. We were both gave blood-curdlong screams, trying to stay consious, trying to outlast the pain.
I saw Jason closing his eyes, falling unconcious, and I could tell I was too. My last thought was, "which of us will die first..."
When I finally woke up, it was in a sterile, white room. I was surrounded by surgeons in masks, concentrationg on my wound, trying to fix it. Everything bellow my neck was frozen, but I didn't worry about that then. Only one thought entered my head before the anesthesia pulled me back into sleep.
I spent the hours leading up to my battle worrying about people whos last names I didn't even know.
Rose Jones, the girl who fell on her head because of me, and her partner, Tristan something-or-other. Of Halo, who's either relaxing in our room sipping a fruit coctail, watching me, or on her way back to District Four.
When they called me, they also called Kole, Jeni, and Ryak, from districts 12, 5, and 11. They led me and Jeni down one corridor, and Ryak and Cole down another. Sure, they both got a six in training, but mine was only two numbers higher...
They led me through a grey doorway, and into an antechamber. Another door swung open, and I entered the room.
It was pitch black, and sounded like- were my ears playing tricks on me- a swamp. Bullfrogs croaked, and crickets chrirped. The only light I could make out were tiny little specks, fireflys whizzing around the room, making me dizzy. I took a step foward, and placed my foot right into a puddle of mud. At least I thought it mud. A gong rung out, sending adreneline rushing through my body. It had begun, and somewhere in here was my opponent, looking for me in the dark. But how would we kill eachother? As far as I could tell, they hadn't given us any weapons at all. Then, all of a sudden, I could see.
I was confused. I looked up at the ceiling. No lights were on, yet I could see my feet and everything about a foot around me. I looked down, startled. It was my clothes! They must have been glow in the dark or something, becuse they illuminated me with a pale green light.
I saw another light to my left, andI jumped back startled, thinking that it was my opponent. But my adversary is suppost to be ahead of me, and this figure was to my immediate left. Then I saw her face, lit up by that erie green light. It was Jeni, and I could just make out a mesh net dividing us. That meant that my opponent was either Kole or Ryak.
I turned around, trying to catch a glimpse of my enemy, whoever it was, but they must have been hidden in a bush or something.
Then, on the other side of the mesh, another green light appeared. It launched itself at Jeni, and the two became a blurr. I heard a scream, and whipped around again. My opponent, Kole I could now tell, had found me. He tackled me to the ground, and I landed in the swamp. I scrambled up, and ran away from Kole, right up to the mesh. What if he had a weapon?
Jeni and Ryak were attacking eachother with their bare hands, inches away from the mesh where I was. I saw a light on my side, and he saw me. We stared at one another, unsure if the other had a weapon. Kole, apparently, didn't like to wait, and threw himself at me. I dodged, and he hit the mesh net, hard. It didn't tear though. It must have been made out of steel wool or something, because it took no damage when Kole, (who's no featherweight) barreled into it.
I ran at him full force, but I hit the mesh, and bounced back. It must have been Jeni or Ryak that I had seen, I still coudn't make out who was who in the dark.
A pair of hands grabbed my neck, and I gave a kick to Kole's stomach, like a horse. He let go and backed up, so all I could see of him was the greenish glow coming from his clothes. I seized him by the neck, and dodged the kick that I knew was coming. I forced him to the ground, choking him, and right before he faded away, I met his eyes.
I stumbled back from the body, no feeling in my limbs. What have I done?, I thought in horror.
I sank to my knees, vommiting. It had sounded so easy, killing people, when me and Halo were devising strategies on the train. Afterwards I decided not to join the careers, but I never thought that killing someone would... do this to a person. But how could it not? He was a human, just like me, with family and friends and people who loved and cared for him. Family and friends who would soon learn of his death, and weep over his body, which would never breath, think, or feel, ever again.
My vision went fuzzy as the truth sank in.
I killed him I killed him I killed him...
I looked over, dazed, to the other side of the net. Jeni was standing by the mesh, weeping. Ryak lay beside her, his head bent unnaturally sideways.
I got up, and stumbled towards Jeni, who must have been feeling the same way as me. I reached the net, and did the only thing that occured to me. I grasped her hand, and looked into her eyes, her icy blue eyes, as deep as the ocean...
I sat there, shivering even though it was stuffy and warm, waiting for my name to be called.
"Azalea Firethorn, Travis Oak, Eucy Collier, Mica DeSantillo!"
I stood up, stiff as a tree, and began to walk towards the room.
It was a long ways to my room. Eucy and I walked side by side, but we said nothing. We passed several doorways, all of them labled with two numbers. Finally, they stopped Eucy at a door labeled 9/16. I continued downt eh seemingly endless hallway, and Eucy's voice called out from behind me.
"Good luck Azalea," she said in a neutral tone.
"You to," I said briefly.
They led me to another doorway, this one labeled 10/15. I entered into a small concrete room, and then through another doorway.
I stood there gaping. Surely there was a mistake. This couldn't be it could it? This was- unless my eyes were playing tricks on me- a factory?
Converyor belts lined the room, rolling horizontally across the room. Each belt carried a different item, from backpacks and cardboard boxes to tool boxes and steel pipes. They traveled through a wall on my right side- no, not a wall, a net, a barrier made of mesh. On the other side was a room identical to ours. Eucy and Mica stood on opposite ends of the room, facing one another. On my side of the mesh was my opponent, Travis from Seven.
A gong rang out, and we were free to go. The converyors were only a few feet off the ground, so they were easy to hop over. The first belt in front of me carried pipes, and I grabbed one to use as a weapon. Travis oped up a box that lay on his first belt, and his eyes shone. He reached inside and picked up a huge golden sword. I looked down at my pipe, and then back up at Travis's new acquisition. Not exactly the most evenly matched fight ever, but what could I do?
I hopped over the next belt, and charged at Travis. On the other side of the mesh, Eucy had a bow and arrow, and Mica had a hammer and portable plasma cutter he must have picked up from the tool box. I turned my attention back to Travis, who was leapong over the converyor belts like hurdles. He approached me, and slahed at my midsection. I tried to block it with my pipe, but it cut through the metal like soft cheese. Luckily it slowed the sword down, but he still gave me a decent sized gash. I looked down to see blood oozing from the wound. My vision started to turn fuzzy.
I ran the way I came, and ducked behind the tool box conveyor belt. I opened one, hoping for a plasma cutter like Mica had recieved, or at the very least a hammer or a saw.
I drew out a nail gun that was connected to a pressurized air pack in the tool kit. Back in Nine, they took us on a tour of a granary that was being built, and they showed us how to use power tools such as nail guns.
It was already locked and loaded with nails. I grinned, thinking of Eli back in our room, no doubt watching me now, expecting a show. Well, I was going to give him one.
I turned towards Travis, and opened fire. He ducked quickly once he saw what was in my hand, and I stopped shooting. With most nail guns you had to press the gun against the object you were nailing or it wouldn't shoot, but luckily the Gamemakers must have made some adjustments on this one.
I kept my gun pointing ahead of me. One good shot to the head would do it.
Something in the corner of my eye drew my attention. I turned towards the mesh lining that divided the two battles. I heard no sound, but saw clearly. Eucy was on the fround, writhering in pain. Mica was drawing back the plasma cutter, and I could see the burn on Eucy's arm. How hot the plasma beam was, I don't know, but any pain that makes someone shriek in pain like that, I never want to feel.
Mica pounced on her, plasma cutter on full charge, and thrust the white-hot torch into Eucy's temple. She gave what looked like a yelp of pain, and then was still.
In my peripheral, I saw a silver blurr, and then a horrible pain on the left side of my head. I clutched my ear, and blood poured onto my hand. I saw a second knife coming, and hit the floor. I leaped up, side-stepped a third blade, and with a single nail, shot Travis in the heart.
He looked down at his chest in shock. "If I'm going to die, i'm taking you down with me!"
He leaped across the converyor belt, and shlahed his sword at me right hand, severing it in one swipe, blood spouting from the stump like a fountain. Strangely, I felt no pain, just a numbness that I can't really explain. It was almost peacful, tranquil.
travis collapsed before me, dead. I fell also. As people in white converged alound me, I started to fade into the black, still not feeling the pain that should surely have been there.
Me, Brass, Luna, and kalita were the only ones left. We were called, and like the tributes before us, went down teh seemingly endless hall. I reached my door, and Kalita continued down, fading into blackness. I entered the cold, rigid doorway, and continued through the antechamber. My thoughts strayed to Ryak, and his battle. Was he all right? He was a strong fighter, even if he did finish near the bottom. He either had to battle Jeni or Scorpius. I think if he was against Jeni, he had a good chance, but I don't know about Scorpius...
I entered into the room, and light filled my eyes. I blinked for a few seconds, and my vision cleared. The lights dimed down, and I could see what faced me. It was a plain grey room, the only object in it was the light on the ceiling. The decor was a lot like the room we waited for our battles in, except that the ground was uneven. The grey cement rose up in random places, created stairways to different levels around the room. It was like a giant toddler had dropped a bag of grey blocks all over the room. I had never seen anything like it, except the Gauntlet station in training. The instructor had strongly advised us to try out that station, and now I sorely regretted not following her advice.
On the otehr side was Brass from Two. I gulped. He had finished with an eight in training, and was no featherweight. A gong sounded from somewhere, and in a flash, Brass was in front of me, his fist shurtling towards me. I dove between his legs, and started moving towards the right side of the room, where the blocks rose the highest. Each one was about two feet high, and how Brass got over to me so wuickly, I have no idea.
I jumped and climbed to the highest block, and Brass was right behind me, maneouvering himself up the concrete. Then I realised I had trapped myself. I had nowhere to go but down to one of the lower parts near where Brass started out, and he would surely overrun me. I looked up, hoping for rafetrs, but all there was was the sole light in the room, hanging off a chain four feet in front of me.
I looked back. Brass had tripped, but had risen again and was almost at the top block. I braced myslef and leaped. I jumped surprisingly far, I almost overshot it, but I caught onto the chain with my left hand. My right hand grasped the bulb, and searing pain erupted from my hand. My legs were flailing, and Brass leaped and caught my foot. I shook him off, sending him and my show falling to the ground.
I hung there, not daring to lower myself to where brass was surely waiting. Unless the fall killed him? No, that was to optimistic. I glanced down, and there he was, already picking himself up.
I looked towards the other battle, where the blocks nearest to the mesh were painted with blood. Kalita's blood. Her clothes were torn, most of them ripped off. Luna was standing there with a chunk of concrete in hand, not looking much better herself. I thrust my sight back, and then I heard it.
It was a crunching sound, coming from above me. I looked up, knowing what I would see. Hairline cracks were spreading out from the light. Soon, the cracks widened, and sent me falling towards the ground. I landed on my foot, and I could feel my ankle give way and snap. Glass shattered on me as I looked into the cold, menacing eyes of Brass, who was standing above me, hand reached out.
He grabbed my neck and lifted me up as if I weighed no more than a baby. I was trembling, fear shooting through my veins, adrenaline coursing. I looked him in the eye and my lips started to form words. He thrust his arm out, crushing my skull against the concrete edge of one of the blocks. My limbs fell limp, and my vision started to fade. I could feel nothing but the pain in the back of my skull.
I looked up at him, gasping for breath, and I saw soemthing in his eyes. Was it remorse? Regret? Sorrow? My eyesight gave way, as he closed his eyes tight and turned away, trying to wake up from this nightmare.
Light danced in my eyes as my metal plate raced up the tube, into the arena. I was wearing a white hoodie, sweat pants, and thin but warm t-shirt underneath. I had flexible leather boots on, which felt like they had been custom made for my feet. With all their fancy gadgets in the Capitol, they probably were.
The tube carrying me surfaces, and the glass cylinder retreated down into the earth, leaving me on my metal plate.
We were in a U-shaped valley, mountains surrounding us. It wasn't as cold as it looked, but It wasn't exactly warm either.
The sixteen remaining tributes circled the Cornucopia, each about twenty yards away. Foure large snowbanks were placed around it too, a few yeards closer than the tributes. I squinted at them, and I gasped. What I thought were tall snowbanks were people! Some other tributes must have realized this too, because I heard several poorly concealed gasps from the circle. I looked closer, trying to see who they are. The plate under me lit up, and the number 60 appeared on it, like a flashing billboard. It started counting down the seconds until the gong.
I looked at the four people on the plates in front of us. They must be tributes, but how is that possible? Only sixteen of us advanced to the arena, and everyone else is dead!
I saw the flashing numbers coming from their plates too, but theirs started at seventy instead of sixy, probably to make up for them starting closer to teh Cornucopia.
BONG! The gong rang out, and we sprinted out from our plates. Ten seconds later, the four mystery people sprang from their plates, also running towards the Cornucopia. They were all too short to be adults, so they must have been tributes. Had the Capitol found a way to revive tributes from the dead? And if so, why would they bring back tributes when most of us will die anyway? Why wouldn't they do this to the countless people dying everyday in the Districts?
"Probably to add more drama to please the Capitol people," I thought bitterly in my head. These tribute's family had to deal with their children's death once, and at least three, if not four, would have to face it again.
But one question remained: Which of the twelve deceased had been revived to join the Games once more?
I stood on my plate, the cold wind slapping my face, mountains sorrounding the valley I was in.
I looked around in confusion. "Where am I? Why am I here? I- I can't even remember who I am!"
A flood of memories suddenly came crashing down on me. The reaping, the trip to the Capitol with Eucy and our mentor. Yes, that's it. I was in the Hunger Games.
Hazy memories of the training and and my stylists and the food thre and a thousand other things ran through my mind. Then I remembered the battle between me and Scorpius, and my concious drifting away, my body relaxing and then there was no more...
That's when it hit me. I'm dead.
Or at least, I was. I raised my hand up to my neck, and I felt a pulse. My heart was working. My mind and body were working. I was alive.
I tried to remember more, but I can't. Just feelings, no actual memories. The brush of a sterilized white glove against my face. The jolt of suddenly moving upwards. And most clearly of all, a voice in my ear, telling me everything was going to be alright, that I was safe. I couldn't identify it, but I knew that voice from somewhere other than the Capitol. Or do I? Is it just a trick, a false memory implanted in my brain, designed to drive me mad trying to figure out it's owner?
The sound of her words, whoever she was, made me want to cry with joy and collapse with grief at the same time. It filled me with anger and bitter rage, and endless joy and blissful hapiness all at once. It made me feel like I was going to explode, that the emotions would swell within in me until I figured out who it was, or until my body could no longer take it.
"I am going mad," I thought.
The gong rang out through teh valley, and all the tributes jumped off their plates, ready to begin. I made a beeline towards Elder, who was only three plates to my left. We made eye contact, and I could tell that, even if he wasn't fond of me, he'd opt for an alliance.
We ran towars the Cornucopia, and we were sorely disapointed. Other than a few backpacks, food containers, and several knives, there was nothing. I scooped up a large backpack, and we took off.
The valley was a circular shape, with about a half-mile radius from the Cornucopia. I wanted to leave as soon as possible, but I stopped when I realised Elder wasn't running with me. He was heading back towards the bloodbath, yelling.
"Eli, come on! We need to get out of here!"
"Just give me a second, I need to find someone!"
He ran towards the Cornucopia, and the snow obscured my vision for a moment. When I could see again, he was coming back towards me, with Rose from Ten beside her, who had a dazed, dreamy look in her eyes, not entirely focussed. She must have banged her head hard on that table.
"I told her I'd have an alliance in the arena," he said briefly, and then we took off.
There was no time to argue. I heard a scream from behind me, from the sound of it, someone had just died very painfully, and I didn't want to find out who.
Me, Luna, Scorpius, and the tributes from Five, Seven, and Twelve all joined up together. Originally, It was just Scorpius, Luna, and I, but Jeni adn Scorpius had been the ones that wanted a larger alliance between the two groups. The seven of us were at the Cornucopia, trying to find weapons among the meager supplies. I was looking through a bad with mountain climbing supplies when I heard footsteps behind, running.
"Tristan, behind you!" shouted Luna.
I wheeled around to see Mica from Three leaping at me with a knife. I dove to the left, and whacked him with my backpack. I reached in and grabbed a pair of crampons, climbing boots with spikes on the bottom. I lunged at him, thrusting the spikes in his chest. He stumbled backwards and fell, life seeponf out of him.
I heard an agonized scream from the other side of the Cornucopia. It was her partner, Kalita, whom Luna had originally killed in the first round.
"Get her!" I yelled.
Everyone but Scorpius and I ran after her. She was quick though, and didn't have any gear holding her down. She ran off alone, her weeping lost in the howling wind.
I saw Scorpius run past me, shouting at the other five members of our alliance. I whipped around to see four careers running at us, the three surving tribtues from One, Two, and Four, along with Jonothan from Eight. I scrambled after my alliance, trying to fight the wind.
"Guys! Help me!" I shouted as the careers gained on me.
One of them tackled me to the ground, Jade. She held a butcher's knife in her hand, and had it pointed at my throat. I heard a cry from behind me, and she faltered. I punched her in the face, and stuggled to lift myself up. When I did, I ran back to our group.
We stood there, facing eachother, about a hundred yards from the Cornucopia. Several tributes were still there, strolling around and picking out supplies with leisure. We could deal with the straglers later.
"So what's it going to be?" challenged Travis. "You can't beat us, we have almost twice the people you do!"
Jade, who seemed to call the shots with the careers, quickly glanced back at Brass, and he gave a sharp nod. She turned back to Traviss, glarring at him.
"You leave now, and we won't hurt you," continued Traviss. "But if you don't, well, I guess there won't be any more of you stinking c-"
Jade gave a shriek, and it sent chills up my spine. It was almost unhumam. The careers charged. Some tribtues had actual weapons and shields, others used backpacks and shards of rocks. The two parties clashed, and it was utter chaos. I knocked Halo down on her back, and for good measure, kicked her in the face. I heard Calina scream, and saw her fall to the ground, Jonothan standing above her with a bloody shard of rock in his hand. I had no weapon, so I used my fists, punching any career I could find, until I stood face-to-face with Jade, who had that horrible knife. I heard a yelp from behind me, and I turned around. Brass was there, grinning.
It was a trick! I knew what Jade intended to do, and I dove to the side, but not fast enough to evade her weapon that plunged into my back as I fell to the ground.
Where were all the weapons?!
Other than a few rusty knives and a broken spear, there were no weapons at the Cornucopia. Zara, Derek, Zola, and I were trying to find anything that was more deadly than a shard of metal, but there wasn't much. Zara and I had previously decided on an alliance. We saw no need to pick a fight with either of the other two tributes yet, so we searched around in peace.
From the few short words we had spoken to eachother, Derek and Zola were each going solo. Each of the backpacks had a compass attached to it, and Derek had decided to go south, and Zola east.
Eventually, Zara and I decided to look for food and shelter. The mountain valley wasn't very cold, but if that was all the arena consisted of, we might've needed more than a hoodie. They were rather thin, but hopefully that meant we wouldn't need them all the time. It had two pockets, and out of curiosity, I reached in, and grasped a piece of paper inside. I felt wax on the paper, which must mean the Capitol seal. My heart skipped a beat as I pulled it out. It read:
Greatings to the contestants of The Nemesis Games! As you may or may not have noticed, there are very few weapons at the Cornucopia this year. That is because the majority of weapons are located on other parts of the Island. Yes, an island. On the bottom of this letter you will see a map of the Island, and also where to find the Weapin Stockpiles. One is to the north, in a small wooden shack near the Ice Flows at the top of this Island. The other is to the south in a Harbour in the Town there. To reach either of these places, you must either take the West or East Passages out of the valley. From there, you can travel north or south along the shorelines. Each Shoreline has a variety of different beaches, each which hold a multitude of fun surprises! The other option is to travel through the Mountain Ranges directly south or north, both of which are more dangerous. If, however, you find the right paths in the Mountains Ranges, it is quicker than the Shoreline routes. Or, of course, you can choose not to go after the weapons at all and stay in this beautiful, always-windy, lifeless, depressing valley until you die an excruciatingly painful death! Choose wisely. Good luck, and may the odds be ever in your favour!
P.S.- More than 1 of you will survive.
-Carchador Baela, Head-Gamemaker #92, Order OT Cptl., 1st Cls.
I starred at the paper, hardly believing my eyes. Weapons! If we could get there first, the other tribtues wouldn't even know what hit them! They'd have no way to defend themselves- unless they beat us to the Stockpile that is.
"Zara? Zara, come here, quickly!"
"What is it?" she asked.
"I-I found something!" I yelped, barely able to contain my excitement.
"What did you find?" asked Derek, now walking towards us.
"Look in your pocket, all of you!"
Three hands silently reched into their pockets, pulling out the paper. As they read it, their eyes shone with excitement and fear. After a few minues of silence, Zara spoke.
"Come on Matt, lets go!" she shouted, her eyes as wide as deer caught in a headlight.
"Which way?" I asked, for the letters had given no detail about the passages, only that they could kill us if we were not careful.
"Let's go west. The careers and that other alliance are to the east, and I don't want to have to go through the mountains," she replied.
"West it is then," I said grinning. We grabbed our respective packs, and headed off towards the golden sunset, leading us towards the Western Passage.
We left the Cornucopia in high spirits. We had slew two of their number, and the only one with an injury was Halo, who had her jaw fractured when Tristan had kicked her, right before Jade put a knife in his back. They had underestimated us, and they had paid for it.
It was Jonothan that had discovered the note in his hoodie pocket. We took the East Passage. It was fairly short, just a small canyon that led out of the Mountain Range and into a forest. We coudn't decide whether to go north or south though. Accoring to the letter, the Cornucopia was closest to the Ice Flow, but there was a general consensus that the largest of the Stockpiles would be to the south, the longer and harder journey.
"Still, the journey north will be shorter, and with such a large group, we need weapons fast," said Jonothan once we had made camp on the edge of the forest. After the forest was the Shoreline, which ran north and south down to teh ends of the island.
"Bu dere will be mo weapund do da sowf!" argued Halo, who we could barely understand with her broken jawbone. As she said the words, she winced and clutched her mouth in pain.
"Sorry, what was that Halo?" asked Jonothan.
"I sa, der-"
"She said there'll be more weapons to the south!" I interupted.
Jade, who had sat silently in the corner until now, spoke up. "We're going north!" she shouted with such authority that no one dared argue. "Even if there aren't as many weapons, there are only four of us, and the Stockpile has to be large enough to substitute for what the Cornucopia lacked. That means there'll be more than enough for four people. So, we can camp here tonight, and we'll-"
She stopped suddenly, her gaze focused to the sky, eyes wide. A silver parachute was drifting through the branches towards us. The package was long and thin, just the right shape for a weapon. The others knew it too, for the parachute had our undivided attention. It drifted down, slow as a feather, right onto my lap. A bomb could have detonated and we wouldn't have noticed it.
"Well," said Jade in a terse voice. "Open it."
We all knew what it was, but that didn't take away any of the suspense. Or any of the tension.
I opened it to find a silver spear, polished to the point where I could see my reflection perfectly. It was elegant, and so light that I might be holding a twig. It was thin enough to wrap my hand around it firmly. The spearhead was rounded, and came to razor-sharp point at the end.
I felt Jade's pirecing gaze on me, and I turned to her.
"Well?" she said fiercly. "Now that you have your weapon, are you gonna leave us?" she said. She sounded aggresive, but I could see- was it fear?- in her eyes. She was scared of loosing me! With my new weapon, I could turn on them at any time, and until they reached the Stockpiles, they were at my mercy. Even if I left them in peace, they would only have three careers left, against an unstable, capricous, and strong group of tributes, many of them seeking revenge for past wrongs. If I abandoned them here and now, I thought, their chances of survival were very slim.
I looked back at her again. Jonothan and Halo were on edge, gripping their makeshift weapons, eyes darting around the group. This was the moment when I would seal our fate as a group.
"I'm staying," I told them. "I leave, and I'll probably end up with one of your guys' knives in my back, eh?" There was a collective sigh of relief, and the tension seemed to break all at one. Jade looked me in the eye and gave me a warm smile, but her eyes were ice cold. I could tell that if I did leave, I very well might end up with Jade's knife through my chest.
She was stronger than me, and she knew that. Too late, I realized I was trapped. Unless I broke my word, Jade would kill us all once we got down to the final few tributes. She was cunning. We were playing her games, playing by her rules, at her mercy. But not for long. If I was to get out of the arena, I had to play my own games, not be a puppet to the leader of the pack.
"I'm staying, Jade," I thought to myself. "For now."
With only five tributes left, we decided to take the opposite path as the careers. According to the compasses on the backpacks we found, they went east, so we decided to go west, and after that, south towards the harbour. We reached the end of the Western Pass by sundown, and stopped to rest for the night on a sandstone cliff that overlooked the ocean.
To the north, I saw a campfire, most likely the tributes from Thirteen, who seemed to be treking through the night. They were of no concern.
What worried me though, was Zola, who had chosen the north side of the canyon as her campsite. Because of her proximity to us, we did not light a fire, or even set up tents or anything else which teh sound of might alert her. We had two guards up all through the night, keeping an eye on the surroundings, watching for attackers and other dangers. I was on watch from midnight until three.
"Hey, Traviss, go get some rest," yawned Scorpius, coming from his resting place near the edge of the ridge.
"You know what? I'll take a double shift," I responded.
Scorpius raised an eyebrow. "You sure? We're traveling non-stop tomorrow, everyone needs their energy. If you're tired, you'll just slow us down."
I scowled. Ever since Calina was kiled, and because of the fact that I was on of the Revived, the others have been waiting for me to crack. They treat me like a little kid, and even though I'm one of the youngest tributes, I'm bigger and stronger than most. But you can't expect the others to think like that.
Calina's death had shocked me, that much I'll admit. She had lost me once, and now, I've lost her. It's cruel. A few minutes after we had finally been reuinited, she was torn from me by the careers. Jonothan may have been the one that put the knife in her back, but Jade was the one I blamed. Jonothan had gunned for her, ran straight to her and ignored the rest of us. I had a feeling that it wasn't a random choice. Jade might have ordered him to go for her, to break me with the loss of my District partner.
I looked back at him. "I'm fine. Go get some sleep, I'll wake you a a few hours before sundown."
"Okay. Hey, there's something I should probably tell you," he said. "You know Kole, the guy from Twelve? He's thinking of deserting and going solo, so I'd watch him. He might just try to put a knife in our backs to silence us."
"I'm not surprised," I replied. "You were the one who killed him in the first round, and we practically forced him to join our alliance," I replied
"All the same, watch out for him." And with that, he headed back to his resting place, leaving me alone on the cliff, waves battering the sandstone rocks bellow me.
Jeni's screams echoed throughout the camp, and we all scrambled up from our various sleeping places, trying to spot the danger, but she was nowhere in sight.
"Where is she Jeni? Where did you see her!"
"I just saw her crossing the ravine, but then she- she just disappeared!" shouted Jeni.
"Everybody up, stay on guard! Watch eachother's backs!" I shouted
We closed in and formed a tight circle, weapons in hand. Some people held shards of rock or branches, Jeni and Scorpius both held actual weapons, a knife and a short, rusty spear. They were standing side-by-side eachother, weapons ready.
I saw a rustle in the buches bellow, and rased my branch, ready to attack or defend, whichever one was needed.
"Over there!" came Luna's voice. We heard a stone drop against the sandstone beach bellow, and we turned towards it. Then came a snapping branch, and stomp in the mud. We turned in confusion, trying to catch a glimpse of Zola, and trying to figure out which sounds were actually Zola, and which were the distractions.
"She's trying to confuse us!" hissed Kole.
In the split second I took to look at Kole, she was upon us. I saw a blurr in my peripheral, and a force slammed into me, knocking me to the ground. I heard a scream, and Scorpius's spear was in her hand. She stabbed at him, and he sidestepped it, and grabbed the shaft.
Luna came to his aid, and threw a rock at her head, knocking her away. Scorpius wrenched back his spear, and hurled it at Zola, cathing her in the shoulder. She yanked it out of her own body, and didn't even flinch. With superhiman speed, she grabbed Jeni by the arm, and heurled her at the stone wall. I dived at Jeni, and caught her head before it smacked aginst the floor. I set her down, and ran towards Zola, but Scorpius beat me to her.
Scorpius twisted Zola's arm backwards until she screamed out in pain. He punched her in the small of her back, and dragged her to a section of the cliff where there was no beach bellow, just water. He heaved her over the edge, and she crashed into the sea. Without another word, Scorpius ran over to Jeni.
"That fall wasn't fatal, Scorpius, she's still alive! What if she comes back?" I warned him.
He checked her pulse, and sighed with relief. "She won't try to attack us again, that much I'm sure of," he responed. "But," he said, "We might want to hunt her down, and shut her up for good."
We all looked from Scorpius to Zola, who was clambering back up onto the sandstone shelf, shivering, and hobbling away.
"Lets go," I said.
We were all set to pursue Zola when a glint of silver appeared above us. It was a parachute, glittering in the moonlight. It glided towards Kole, who held it in his hands with revere. He opened it to find a sword. It was rusty, slightly bent, and ratehr dull, but a sword all the same.
He looked at us, fire in his eyes. And he drew the sword from it's wooden sheath and pointed it at Scorpius.
"It's funny the way it works sometimes, isn't it? You killed me in the first round, and now you're at my mercy. You took away my chance to go back home, and now I'm going to take away yours," he said menacingly. Jeni whimpered behind him.
Kole slashed at him, and Scorpius ducked. Kole leaped at him and tackled him to the ground with ease. He roled down his sweater and exposed his neck.
"See these bruises?" he said in a whisper. "This is what you gave me, and this is what I give you."
He raised his weapon, the metal shinning, Scorpius' eyes full of fear and rage. He brought the sword down, but stopped an inch above his neck. He lifted it to Scorpius's face, and gave him to cuts, one on each cheak. Blood trickled down.
Kole rose up to his feet, and fled into the night, like a demon fleaing a holy man.
The Careers are heading north, as well as the tribtues from Thirteen. The other strength of the other large alliance is diminishing by the hour, with Zola, Rose, Azalea, and Elder on their tail. Kalita and Derek are both going solo, but their paths will soon cross.
Tomorrow will be the day where tribtues will either find the supplies necessary to survive, or fail and slowly die off. No alliance can last forever, so which tribtues will have what it takes to last another day, and which ones will pass away? Only the ones with a will to live will make it, but these are no normal Games.
These are the one and only Nemesis Games, and forces are about to collide.
To be continued...
Scorpius's alliance left the beach to take cover in the woods at daybreak, which left the beach wide open for us to traverse. There was very little actual beach, most of the coastline so far was made of sandstone. The water had carved amazing designs into the wall, like it was a sculpture, and the waves were the creative artist, embedding, with the designs, a story on the rock wall.
Other, more dangerous features on the coastline were the holes that peppered the sandstone shelf. The vertical tidepools dove straight down into the rock, some reaching almost a meter deep. They were filled with seawater, mussels, and as Rose found out, purple and gold crabs that gave a nasty pinch, only adding to our bad mood and Rose's failing health.
Another concern were the crevasses that laced in through the shelf, soaking us if we were too near them when the waves hit and filled the crevasses. Most were thin enough to jump, but one in particular stretched two meters wide, and we were debating how to cross it.
"Why don't we just go around it through the woods, and then continue on with the beach?" suggested Elder. "Because," I started, "The crevasse goes through the shelf right until the cliff. We would have to double back to reach the forrest, and unless you want to rappel down the cliff after we clear the crevasse, we have to travel through the forrest for about an hour before the sandstone wall ends. And, if we go into the forrest, we risk having that other alliance spot us."
An unneasy silence fell over us, and Rose's cheaks went red. Elder and I alone could probably find a way to cross the crevasse safely, but Rose was in no condition to try to jump it, and if we were to put together a makeshift bridge, she would only be a liability to us. It wasn't a happy thought, but she'd put us all in danger.
My mind flashed back to a coversation Elder and I had had last night.
He had been on watch during the night, and I had gotten up to go talk to him, leaving Rose asleep in our tent.
I had gotten straight to the point. "We need to ditch Rose," I had said.
He had looked startled. "Ditch her?! Why?"
"She's slowing us down. I think something might be wrong with her ankle, and her concussion isn't helping. Really, It'd be best to finish her off now. She hasn't a hope at winning."
Then I paused, startled by how cruel I had sounded, I expected Elder to start screaming at me, but to his credit, he had kept quiet.
"No," he had replied. "I'm not leaving her."
"But- but why?! We need to get to the Stockpiles first. If we don't, the first thing the people who do get there first will do is hunt down the ones who don't have any weapons, no way to defend themselves. That's us! If we keep her, we'll be sitting ducks! She's no good in a fight, but you and I, we could make it! Please Eli, at least consider it!"
"No," he had repeated. "It's not right. It's- it's cruel. We can't leave her behind, not now."
"Cruel?" I had thought to myself. "That's more or less the whole point of the Hunger Games!" Not that I liked it, but there was no changing it.
I realized that he was not to be swayed. "Fine," I had snapped. "We'll keep her. I- I won't leave you Eli, but I couldn't stand it if you were killed. I couldn't go on living if I knew your death was my fault."
"It wouldn't be any easier for me," he replied. "Let's just focus on getting to the Harbour, okay?"
"Okay," I had responded. Elder headed back to his tent, and I stayed out, taking my watch.
I thought back to our coversation, and I was beginning to regret not trying to convince Elder otherwise about Rose.
"Okay, here's what we're going to do," I said. "We can't go into the forrest, and we can't jump it. So, we're going to make a bridge." I turned to Rose. "Rose, do you think you'll be able to make it?"
Her face was pale, but other than that, it revealed no emotion. "Yes, I can do it," she said.
"Okay. we'll need wood, logs if we can find them. Don't stray too far intot he forest, if you need help, just shout."
Ten minutes later, Elder returned with a log, long enough to reach across the chasm, and flat enough so it wouldn't roll away. There was only one problem.
"Elder, that wood looks rotten, it's unstable," said Rose.
"I know," agreed Elder. "But it's the perfect size and shape, and if we go one by one, we whould be fine.
Together, we rolled the log across the crevasse, and I started across the log, not daring to look down.
"How does it feel?" asked Elder, raising his voice against the now-rising wind.
"It- it feels fine," I replied uncertainly. The wooden plank groaned beneath my feet.
I shuffled slowly across until I reached the end. I hopped to the ground, and beckoned for them to follow. Rose went first, and half waled, half limped across the log. The wind was really picking up now, and Rose was wavering, struggling to keep her balance.
"Guys, I think we should probably-"
A gust of wind shook us all, and Rose lost her balance. Out of instinct, I dove for her, and managed to grasp her arm. Elder raced across the creaking log, straight for Rose. He grabbed her other arm, and together, we tried to heave her up again.
Another gust shook Elder off, and we clung to the log for all it was worth. I lost hold of Rose, and she grasped the wall furiously, searching for a handhold. She found one, and I stretched my arm down, reaching for her.
I heard a snap, and I turned around alarmed. The log had split in two the second after Elder had leaped off onto the ground. He joined me, and together, we caught hold of Rose's hand, and pulled her up.
As she was clambering up on to the shelf, a wave came rolling in from out of nowhere. Thousands of gallons of water was forced into the crevasse rushing at us with incredible speed.
It knocked us off our feet, soaking us and all our gear, tearing our grip from Rose's. She tumbled into the abyss as the second wave hit, and before she was swept away, she caught my eye.
I stood silently behind the jagged rocks , near the edge of the woods, eyeing my opponent.
Derek, the brat from the Capitol, had nothing on him other than a pocket knife and a plastic bag filled with something- probably food.
When I had first heard footsteps, and cursing as he stumbled his way through the rocky shorline, I had crouched down behind a large rock, waiting for my prey to approach. Okay, so I was hoping for Luna to show up, but he'll do too.
I drew a large hammer from my pouch. Not the greatest weapon, but I was handy with it, and as the fox who was friendly enough to approach me found out, it was great for bashing skulls.
I held it in my right hand, ready to pounce. He was less than three yards way.
I heard a snapping noise behind me, and I whipped around, startled. It was just a rabbit, hopping around and chewing on leaves. Then I realized I no longer had the hammer. I had dropped it! Frantically, I scanned around for it. I saw it sitting on a rock overlooking a tidal pool. I reached for it, but my hand slipped, and sent the hammer plunging into the pool. Derek turned towards the noise, and saw me.
I dived behind the rocks again, my heart pounding. I had more weapons in a spot in the woods, but there was no way to get to them in time.
"Wh-who's there?" he squeaked. So he didn't know who I was yet. That was a good thing, but it wasn't much.
I could hear the rocks shifting as he approached. I risked a glance, and I peaked out behind the boulder. He had his knife in his hand. I couldn't wait any longer. I dived for the hammer.
My hand splashed into the pool, and Derek's knife sailed past my ear. I got a grip on my hammer, but cut my hand in the process, blood spilling into the pool. I drew it out, and attached to my hand was a crab! That was no rock that cut me, it was the pitchers of a the gold and purple crustacean. I shook it off, and turned to Derek.
Suddenly my hand exploded in pain. I looked down, and my skin was dissolving. I mean literally dissolving, vaporizing, revealing the veins and muscled bellow. My vision started to go red.
"No. I will not show weakness. Not now," I thought. Dazedly, I charged Derek, and promptly tipped on a rock, landing at his feet. Instinctively, I rolled to the side as he stabbed at me with a shard of rock. I got up, bt once again I clumsily dropped my hammer, and this time, Derek pressed me and didn't allow me a chance to pick it up. I backed up against a rock wall, nowhere to go.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another one of those corrosive-crabs, it's shiny gold shell glimmering in the sunlight. Suddenly, I had an idea.
I scooped it up frantically, and chucked it at Derek. It startled him, and he stumbled back. The corrosive-crab clawed at him, cutting him up everywhere. He shook it off, and continued towards me. Then the acid started taking effect. He screamed in pain, and clutched his wounds. Derek looked at me in revulsion, and took off down towards the ocean, shrieking and cussing the whole time. I decided not to follow. He now knew about the crabs, and I had no more surprises. Who knows, maybe the wounds would even kill him. I started to walk away when the silver parachute came floating down, containing bandages for my hands, and three silver throwing knives. Bad timing, but whatever.
I grined, and took off into the forest.
The first thing I noticed when Zara and I came out of the forrest onto the limestone beach was that we had a tail. The runt from Twelve was following at a distance, ducking behind rocks everytime we looked at him, like he still thought his presence had gone unchecked.
"I thought he was with that other alliance, the one that Scorpius was in," said Zara. "How did he get away from them without being killed, he's tiny!"
"I don't know. Mabye he tried to hide his talent in training?" Whatever the case, he was making me nervous. "Let's take him out now. For all we know, he's still with his group, and they sent him to scout us out."
"No," she replied. "We're close to the Stockpile, we need to keep going. Once we get our hands on some weapons, we'll take out him and anyone else following us." Towards the north, thunder crackled.
We trudged on, and within an hour I could see the tip of the island, and, somehow, even in above-zero weather, the shorline was coated with-
"Ice!" exclaimed Zara. "But- but how is that possible? It's way to warm for an icefield!"
"Mabye it's some sort of special ice, that the Gamemakers made." Wow. If "special ice" was the best I could come up with, I was getting desperate.
Then, in my periferal, a glint of light caught my eye. I turned towards, hardly daring to believe my eyes. It was a wooden shack with hardly enough room for two people. But the ligth didn't come from the shack. It came from what was in it, what the doorway was stuffed with...
"Swords! Zara, this is it! We found it! It's- It's right there! Let's go!"
In jubilation, we raced downhill towards the shack. Luckily, it wasn't on the ice, it was in a grassy clearing near the shoreline. Kole was nowhere to be seen, which could be good or bad. Either way, we would easily be able to dispatch them and anyone else who was on their tail.
Inside the shack was a peace-activist's nightmare. Swords, axes, spears, knives, and sickles gallor! There were no guns or anything of the sort, but randomly placed in the piles of weapons were small, silver metal spheres. I had no idea what they were for, but it couldn't be for anything good. I was handling one of these as the cold voice of Jade Seeku, ruthless killing machine from One, sent a chill down my spine.
"Well, well, well... This should be fun." Realization came over me. We weren't the first to arrive here, the careers had been waiting for us the whole time! It was almost midnight, and even in this strange climate where the sun only started to go down at around ten, it was dark enough for them to hide. Why hadn't we expected this?
Panic coursed through me. We had four vicious tributes, (animals is really the best word for them) in front of us, and a little weasel behind us who probably had the rest of his pack on their way right now. I looked at Zara. I had a greek-styled bronze sword (I could tell because we had both taken weapons-history classes back in Thirteen) and one of those metal balls in my hand. She had a spear and a net, classic gladiator style. Our eye met, and we did the natural thing. Outnumbered and outarmed two to one, we charged the careers.
With only four of us left we were getting desperate.
Zola was stalking us through the forrest. That much we knew. Zola and Traviss had trained together, but obviously any bond that was formed then is gone. Scorpius broke his spear in the morning trying to skewer a rabbit, and now all we had was my letter opener (what a weapon to put in the cornucpoia) and even though we had sharpened it against the rocks, it would be useless against Zola's machete. It was only a matter of time before she struck.
On top of that, Azalea and Elder had pulled ahead. They were out of sight, and if they got to the Stockpile before us, we'd be surrounded. Luckily, the Harbour was near, about an hour away.
The sandstone beach was no more. Today, we were on a beautiful white sand beach, huge cliffs looming over us, with crickety wooden staircasses leading up into the forrest, where Zola lay waiting, watching us from above.
We ran on, and the pristine beach soon disolved into a cobblestone path. Through the trees, which seemed to be thinning now, I could see buildings. We started sprinting, as we turned a corner, and the buildings were all around us. There were houses and stores everywhere, and boats in the harbour, but the one thing the village was missing was the people.
"Where is everyone?" asked Scorpius. The island is too big for the Gamemakers to have made just for these Games, it has to have been inhabited."
And yet, despite the logic, there was no one. It was abandoned, a ghost town.
The sight of the harbour in front of us jolted us out of our trance.
"Guys! It's right there, let's go!" shouted Traviss, but there was no need, we were already running.
We turned on the wheels, going as fast as our legs would take us. The buildings were a blurr, but on a street adjacent to us, I could make out Azalea and Elder, running side by side, just ahead of us. I glanced behind us, and sure enough, there she was. Our pursuer, Zola.
Everyone was here, at the exact same time, heading for the Stockpiles. Crows gathered in the air, sensing the fight and carnage that loomed ahead.
I started running ahead of the group. I was fast, and I might as well use it. Ever since Kole deserted, the atmosphere in our group had been tense, and if someone in our group tried to stab us in the back, I wanted to be the first there. A staircase led down from a boardwalk to the harbour. It was prety big, almost like a city where the boats replaced the buildings, and the water replaced the sidewalk. I was impressed, but Scorpius, who was running to catch up with me, looked unimpressed, almost dissapointed. I guess coming from Four, this must be nothing to the docks they have there.
He ran up beside me, looking around. Him I could trust, one hundred percent. The others, I still wasn't sure.
"Where- where are the weapons?" he asked, dismay creeping into his voice. He was thinking the same thing I was thinking: that another team had beeten us to the stockpile.
Luna and Traviss caught up with us, looking just as confused. Azalea and Elder came down another staircase on the other side of the port, looking around wildly. Zola was still on the boardwalk, and in the distance I could just make out Derek and Kalita, coming up fast.
"Oh crap," muttered Luna. I followed her gaze, and she was starring at Kalita. Luna had defeated her in the One-On-One Round, and Kalita would be out for revenge.
A glint of metal caught my eye, and in the millisecond it took for my brain to figure out what it was, I was off running. Steel. The metal on the boats was old and rusty, the only thing it could be was the glitter of weapons.
Scorpius, Luna, and Traviss saw it too, and they sprinted after me, but they weren't the only ones. It was like I had set off a spark. Everyone else at the dock had seen where we were going, and was pursuing the stockpile as well, which I could see know was placed in one of the boats, a fourty-foot yacht that would have been impressive if it didn't look a hundred years old.
I looked back to the opposition. Elder and Azalea were just seconds away, and Derek and Kalita were making their way down the staircase. As for Zola, she ignored the stairs completely and and leaped off the railing forty feet down into the water bellow. Then, completely unpeterbed by that little oddesey of terror and possible death, clambered up onto the dock, soaking wet, and started towards the boat.
The stcokpile was gathering tributes like ants to sugar. I was racing towards the boat where the weapons lay, that brat Derek just behind me.
I saw Luna at the boat, and blood rushed to my ears. Originally, my plan was to kill her, but now, why not finish off her entire group?
The four of them and the tributes from Nine were already there with weapons, now squaring off with eachother. I snuck around as quietly as possible on the creeky boards, and ducked behind the yacht with the weapons. A plank led up to the main deck, and slowly, I began to climb. the six of them had gone back to the dock with their weapons, and I was the only one on the boat.
I grabbed a spear, and as I turned to leave, I caught a look at the front of the boat. I realized the key was already in the ignition, and the boats didn't have any ropes on her. She was ready to go. I grinned. "This is going to be fun," I thought.
"Why is the boat moving?"
I snickered as the rest of the tribtues screamed. I gunned the motor, and took off. After a mile or so, I turned around, and headed back to the dock.
My plan was a good one, as long as the tribtues were still on the edge of the harbour. Driving the boat wasn't as hard as hard as I thought, but it still took me a while to get the hang of it. I took it to full speed, and when I was two hundred yards away, they saw me, and started to scream. I continued forward, braced myself, and the boat collided with the dock with a bang! Shards of wood flew up by me, and one hit my throat, I fell to the ground, and the boat halted with a screech. My neck wasn't bleeding, but my esophagus felt like it had been punctured. I resped for breath, and the air came through, but barely.
I looked behind me, and saw the wreckage. The boat had droven about thirty feet into the harbour before stalling. The hull was all bent and broken, and water was starting to pour into the yacht. I clambered out with my spear, a falchion, and grabbed some sort of metal ball I found in the pile. I saw a bloody corpse floating in the water, and I recognized it as Traviss from Seven. Despite myself, I felt a pang of guilt. I had talked to him a few times, and he seemed really funny, and for a rival tribtue, nice. Now he was dead, and it was my fault.
I stumbled forward, and the others were fighting. Elder was going two-on-one with Scorpius and Jeni, and he seemed to be holding his own. Zola was fighting Derek, and with a swipe of his sword, Derek sliced off her left hand. She screamed in pain, grabbed a shuriken from a pouch on her side, and it thudded into Derek's heart.
I felt an arm around my neck, and I screamed. It was Luna. She grabbed my hands, and tied them up with some type of rope. She shoved me to the ground. The fights had stopped, and started to move towards us.
"I already killed you once, didn't I? Well, I suppose I'll just have to do it again!" taunted Luna. She kicked me in the side, and I could feel one of my ribs break. Every breath was painful, and my head started to feel hazy. Luna grabbed the spear from my hands, and held it against my throat. This was the end.
"H-help..." I croaked.
The metal ball, which laid by my feet, started to beep, almost like a pulse. My eyes widdened. If it didn't work, if my guess about the ball was wrong...
I kicked at it desperately, and it lobbed up and hit Luna in the face, and she fell backwards. The beeping got more constant, and I crawled away, but not fast enough. Elder realized it before anyone else, and seemingly in slow motion, jumped in front of his beloved District partner, Azalea, while everyone else ran for cover. The ball detonated, and my world turned into an inferno, streaks of red and blue dancing in my eyes.
Day 3 Part 1- The Ground Beneath Your Feet
The four of us drew our weapons as the tributes from Thirteen charged. Zara had a spear and a net, and Matt had a sword. They sprinted full out at us and we spread apart, hoping to separate them.
They were twenty yards away when the cannons sounded, four of them, the noise piercing the night sky. We looked around wildly trying to see if there was anyone else here, but there was not.
"The others must have reached the Southern Stockpile by now," I though fearfully. The survivers of that fight would now be making their way north, right towards us.
I felt a pain in my arm, and stumbled backwards. Matt ahd stuck, and just caught me with his knife. I drew my sword, and made a cut at his neck, which he dodged. He ran ten, twenty yards back; obviously trying to separate me from the group. He was a good strategist, and a good fighter at that, but I was confident in my skills.
I followed after him, and when he was just inches away from the edge of the ice flow, dropped his pocket knife and drew out two longer ones, razor sharp, but elegant, and looked me in the eye, daring me to make the next move.
I glanced back. Jade and Halo were squaring up against Zara, halo with her ridiculous looking headgear she had just received, and Jade, with a sword in hand and a variety of medical supplies, food, and deadly wepons stuffed in her backpack. It was for a millisecond that I looked back, but it was enough. He struck, and even though it was only a knife that he had, the impact of it hitting my sword knocked me to the ground. I rolled to the side as he stabbed, and his first knife got stuck in the ice. He left it, and faced me, holding his second knife.
I backed up onto the ice sheet. I could tell my wrist was spained, if not broken from the impact. I switched to my left hand, and as I shifeted my weight just a tiny bit, the ice started to crackle. Matt took a nervous step forward, and fine cracks started to spread out from where his knife had pierced the ice. The cracks started to grow as Matt continued slowly forward, and I did a three-sixty looking for escape routes.
I started to panic. The ice was breaking all around me, and I was almost at the water's edge. I saw the glint in his eye, and I knew he was thinking what I was. If he continued forward, my patch of ice would break away from the rest, and strand me until I froze to death. That, or I could jump off, risk falling through the ice, and if that didn't happen I'd be up against a deadly opponent with my good wrist broken.
I had to admit, the options were not good.
I stood in place as matt started jumping up and down, trying to split the ice. Crack! My chunk of ice separated from the rest, and slowly, ever slowly, started to drift away.
I waited until his back was turned before I jumped. I leaped across the water, and onto the edge of the main body. I winced as my hands clutched at the freezing cold ice. I clambered up.
"Hey looser! Guess who you didn't kill!"
I charged at him, heart pounding. His yelp of alarm was music to my ears. I had two hands on my sword, and swung my sword at his neck like a baseball bat. Then, with the sword flying towards his neck, the ground gave way beneath me, and my foot fell through the ice. I could feel the water's cold bite against my foot, and I yelled in pain. Desperately, I tried to yank my foot out, but to no avail. I started hyperventalating.
"Calm down," I thought. "Stay calm."
Matt looked at me pitifully. "I think I'll leave you here. If the cold hasn't taken you by then, I'll do the honours." And he started running back towards the Stockpile.
Jade had Zara trapped, a knife against her throat. Jonothan, the big klutz, had gotten himself stuck in the ice. Matt was rushing back to the fight, and his District partner cired for help.
"Matt! Over here! He-"
Jade covered her mouth and kicked her hard in teh shin, and her face contorted into a grimace. Matt had seen us, and he started at us at full speed.
"Stop! Stop, or she dies!" Shouted Jade.
That stopped him in his tracks. His face paled, and the boy who had gotten a nine in training looked like a frightened rabbit.
"Drop your knife," commanded Jade. It was not a question.
He didn't move. "Let her go." That wasn't a question either. "You touch her, and it'll be the last thing you ever do."
I was standing in between them, Halo across from me, so I could watch them both. I met Zara's eyes, and I immediatly felt guilty.
"Stop that. You're a career. Do what you have to do." I though, scolding myself.
"But what if what I'm suppost to do is to be the better person?"
I caught her eye again, and she said something, muffled though Jade's hand, but I knew what it was. Help me.
I saw the coldness in Jade, and I knew what she was going to do before she did it. She was going to kill her. She was confident enough in her skills to take on Matt. Plus, she had two allies by her side.
Or so she thought.
Come to think of t, I don't actually remember charging at her. I just remembered that I was not going to stand by again while Jade killed. My shoulder made contact with her's, and sent Jde and her knife sprawling in the snow.
"You-you traitor!" Jade wailed.
Halo leaped at me, but I knocked her aside and slashed at her belly with a sword that lay on the ground. She screamed in pain, but she was not down. The cut wasn't deep enough.
I looked back to see Jade and Zara locked in hand-to-hand combat, no weapons, each trying to strangle the other. Matt was in the shack, and apparently he had decided I was on his side, because he didn't run. Which confused me. He barely glanced at me. "Quick, grab one of these," he said, and handed me a grey sphere about the size of a soccer ball.
"What's is this?" I asked.
He grinned slyly. "It's a bomb. We have something like this in Thirteen." He pressed some sort of button on it, and it started to beep. Uh-oh.
I didn't believe him. "A bomb? They never put that kind of stuff in the arena!"
"Well, they did this time." He ran towards the fight, and scremed, "Zara, NOW!"
Zara landed a slod punch, and ran. Matt threw the ball. It landed at Jade's feet, and she bolted. A millisecond later, it blew, tossing me and Matt onto the ice flow like rag dolls, hiding the others from our view. I watched in horro as the wreckage, as if in slow motion, fell onto the flimsy shack, crushing it. I heard the beaping of ever single one of the bombs in the Stockpile, like a thousand little crickets. I dove under water and swam down as far as I could as my world was shaken to pieces. Jade's voice echoed in my mind.
I rose to the surface, gasping for breath, and when I finally got the strength, I swam to shore. My teeth were clattering and I was shivering, and I immediatly threw off my jacket and shirt. I had to get away from here, to a warmer part of the island, before I got hypothermia.
I looked around at the shore. Everything was gone, the snow, the ice, the Stockpile, everything.
I cannon fire made me jump. I listened for more, but it was the only one.
"How is that posible?" I thought. "It should have taken out more than that!"
I looked around me and almost puked when I saw it. It was Jonothan's corpse, torn up into pieces by the explosion.
That could mean only one thing. Jade survived, as did Halo and the pair from Thirteen.
And they would be hunting me.
The rough, itchy fabric brushed against my skin, and I shifted my weight, trying to get comfy on the old, riskety couch.
"The least the Gamemakers could do was make comfy furniture," I though to myself, trying to concentrate on the trivial.
Yes, concentrate on anything but the problem at hand, I scolded myself, but I couldn't help it. The memories- even though it had happened only minutes ago- were too painful to bear at the moment.
Luna and Traviss- minutes ago they had been alive. Now, they would be back at the Capitol, cold, never again to tread the earth.
Kalita had killed them both- that much we knew. Whether or not to go after her was the question.
"We need to go north," said Scorpius. "That's where everyone else is going!"
I still didn't agree with him. "Exactly! So we wait until they kill a few more of eachotehr off, and then we go in, clean up, and one of us goes home!" I fumed.
We sat in uncomfortable silence. Sure, there have been Games before where multiple tributes have won, but usually that's decided before the Games start. Right now, it looks like there'll only be one victor, unless an announcement is made soon. And if there's only one Victor, at least one of us has to die.
Scorpius looked me in the eye. "Jeni, I don't want to leave you, but I won't let the Gamemaekrs force me into a position where- where I would have to kill you. I-I-I couldn't do that. So if we're gonna break up, let's do it now or never."
I mulled things over. For so much of my life, I've had no one. And the one time I meet someone I can trust, it just has to be in the Hunger Games. Fate is cruel, but I woudn't let it control me.
"If you're fine with staying together, so am I," I said firmly, and he embraces me. Running, hiding, and fighting fellow bloodthirsty tribtues- well, in terms of mushy-gushy, emotional moments, it had been kind of a turn off. Okay, a big turn off. Ever since the moment in the 1-on-1 Round, we'd been concentrated on just surviving the day that we forgot- well not forgot, just sort of downplayed the romance thing.
We both had feelings for the other, but we couldn't both survive, unless this year was a Multi-Victor Year, which, if it was, hasn't been announced yet. But for the time being, the tension ahd eased, and I was grateful.
"Alright. It's decided then. We stick together, go north-"
"Whoa whoa whoa. Hold up," I said. "That's not decided yet." back at square one, of course.
"Hey, it's better than just-" Something cut him off, and I knew what. It was faint, but you could just hear it, a rumbling coming from the ground under us...
I stumbled through the forrest, trying to keep a clear head. My heart was punding and my fists shaking. I could barely control my muscles. This was not how my body was suppost to be.
After the explosion I had waited, just behind the tree line, for a sponsor. Nothing. I was all alone, with nothing to heal my injuries.
"It can't end like this," I had thought. "It can't! Someone will help me, they have to."
After a while, it was clear that no one would send me medical supplies, even simple bandages would do! I knew I was dying, I could feel it, so I went off into the woods, looking for the one person who might, mabye help me; Jade.
She was cold and vicious, but we were still careers, and she could help me right? Hopefully. That is, if I ever found her.
My knees buckled, and I crawled into the brush, hiden by the ferns that were so common on the island. I would not last long, and even though it was practically suicide, I broke the unspoken tabboo in the Games: I called for help, not to my mentor, but to any tributes that might be out there.
"Help! Help me! Jade, Help!"
I called out a fourth time, but this time, the sound was overtaken by a bang that seemed to come from underneath me, and resonated far and wide.
"No, that's imposible. It's just some sort of dellusion."
But more rumbling and cracking followed, trees started to fall, and I knew what it was. We had one from time to time in Four, but never of this size.
It was an earthquake, and I was at the epicenter. I took shelter under a tree, hoping that if it fell, it wouldn't fall on me.
I was panicking. Breath in. Breath out, I told myself. I couldn't lose it now.
I heard a loud snap, and the tree I was taking refuge fell, just as I had feared. Eighten years of being trained as a Career kept me alive, as I rolled to the side in an instant, despite my injuries.
It's funny. Despite being so close to death, I felt more alive now than ever. I started to sprint, trying to go in a straight line, putting the pain asside, dodging trees, rocks, and debris being tossed around by the earthquake. When the earth stopped shaking, I stopped, and my knees buckled. I was on the edge of a cliff that dropped down a hundred feet, and near the bottom was- could it be? The harbour.
"That's not possible. I'm nowhere near the other side of the island! Unless the gamemakers somehow shifted the arena- but how could they do that?" I thought.
I turned around and saw Jade emerging from the forrest, with a long, curved knife in her hand. Her face was expressionless, and her eyes were cold.
You abandoned me," she said simply. "And you know what the punishment for treason is in the Capitol?"
I got the feeling it wasn't community service.
"I am going to kill you know, Halo. Stand still so I don't make a mess, would you?" The fact that I was about to die didn't scare me. The knife didn't scare me. What scared me was the way she said it so calmy, so controlled. Like this was routine, a part of her everday life.
"She's going to do it she's going to do it."
My resolve hardened. Whatecver happened. I was not going to die at her hands like so many others had.
"No you won't," I whispered, just loud enough for her to hear. I got up onto my feet on teh edge of the cliff, pain shooting through my legs. And slowly, gracefully, I leaned back, letting the wind take me, falling, falling...
Day 3 Part 2- No Safe Haven
They had shifted the arena. That much was obvious. But how? I had no idea.
"Think, Kalita. It could give you an advantage. How could they have moved it, and why?"
Before you judge me, let me tell you that not everyone from Three is super intelligent. Where that stereotype started, I have no idea. Unfortunately, I'm not as smart as some from my District.
In the distance, mabye, say, a mile or two from the harbour, a large cliff has arose, with a vertical face in the center of the isalnd, but more gradual slopes on the sides. The trees on the top... they looked like the ones from the northern half of the island.
Earthquake. Island moving. Cliff.
Like a puzzle, the pieces started to arrange themselves in my mind. The Gamemakers had somehow moved the tectonic plates to condense and shrink the arena, or, more likely, made their own, miniature plates. Don't ask me how they did it. Do you understand the Capitol's technology?
I knew all I needed to, so I took off. On the western side of the cliff, hobbling down one f the more gradual slopes, I could make out two figures, either Careers, the tribtues from Thirteen, or... who was that other tribtue? Oh, yeah. The guy from Twelve. But unless he had alligned himself with someone, that wasn't him.
On the other side of the port village, I heard a male voice and then a female's, followed by quick footsteps. It was probably Scorpius and his girlfriend.
"Are they our for me?" I wondered. "Are they gonna try to avenge Luna and Traviss?"
I didn't want to stay and find out, so I continued to go towards east.
I was at the outskirts of the town when I relized I was being followed. I could hear the footsteps at a distance, not Scorpius's and Jeni's, as there were only one pair. Casually, my fingers reached inside my pocket to where a small, toxin coated dart was. I grinned. Never underestimate me. I lifted my head up again, just in time to see the fist hurling towards my face.
If they made a list of "Most stupid tribtues ever", I'm pretty sure I'd be on top.
I should have killed Kalita when I had the chance. That was the plan. She had killed Eli, and I was suppost to avenge him.
Eli... he hated it when I called him that.
Even casual thoughts like that brought the pain back.
Only after his death did I realize I loved him. Not that sort of love, more like how you love your little brother, no matter how many times they crack a joke that makes you want to puke. He was older than me, but I was taller, so yeah, I kind of treated him like a younger sibling., and he embraced it. And now, he was dead, I was alone in this abandoned house, and at my feet was a tribtue that seemed to have no trouble screaming, even through a gag.
"She's tied up, and I doubt she can get much louder," I thought. I took the rope from her mouth.
She panted, apparently gasping for air. "What do you want with me?! Just kill me, you coward."
Her words stung, but I shrugged it off. I had a plan, and I realized now her death wouldn't be what Eli wanted. But, me winning this thing would.
"You're coming with me," I said. "They've shrunk the arena, and this is going to be the final day. I'll make it be the final day."
"I'm not going anywhere with you. Let me go or kill me, you choose," she retorted, starring me down.
"No. You're going to be my shield. You're going to be the one in the firring line when the time comes. A fight is approaching, Kalita. Can't you feel it?"
She paled. "So you're setting me up to die. How wonderful," she said. I'm a quick read of people, and I could tell she was scared out of her wits, masking her fear behind sarcasm, and puns. It's the type of thing Elder would do.
"Not quite. I'll try to keep you alive. There's probably gonna be more than one Victor, and if possible, I'll try to make sure it's you and me."
"Even though I killed your District partner?" she responded. "Why not just kill me now, avenge him?"
"If you help me win, the debt will be paid. I'm not going to kill you. It's- It's not what Eli would have wanted," I said, breaking down. "I don't expect you to- to understand it. Debts being paid, I mean."
She leaned foward. "No I get it. You want to win for him, but he wouldn't have wanted you to become a cold blooded muderer."
"Sure. I guess so. But these are the Games," I sighed, sitting down on a couch. "I'll peobably have to take out someone, sooner or later."
"As long as it's not me," she said, grinning. I smiled.
I cocked my ear. Outside, in the village, I could hear voices, shouting.
"Let's go," I said, without much enthusiasm.
She got up as best she could, and I slashed her restraints. She didn't attack me. Didn't try to run away. None of the things I expected.
"She's a little too cooporative," I thought suspiciously. Probably, she was mulling things over, planning to stab me in the back. She doesn't seem like the heartless maniacs that usually come out of peopel near the final stages of the Games, but still...
"Or mabye," said a little voice in the back of my head, "She really gets you. What you said about the unpaid debt. mabye she really is sorry about Elder,"
"Mabye she can help."
Zara and I took cover in a cave (not the smartest move looking back at it) but we escaped the earthquake uninjured. As far as we could tell, the arena had changed. Some of the lanmarks we had seen before were missing, and beaches that before had a gentle slope down to the water were now towering cliffs. It was almsot like they had collapsed the arena, or the ground under it.
We continued south though, towards the Southern Stockpile, or whatever was left of it. Did it survive the earthquake? We were about to find out.
In minutes, we were at the edge of the city. The main road leading in had a wooden sign saying "Welcome to-"
The last word had been painted over, and underneath in graffitti it read death.
"Charming," said Zara with a yawn.
I smiled. Staying alligned with Zara was seeming like a better decision than ever right now. The note the Head Gamemaker had left all of us had hinted there would be more than one Victor, so we had stuck together, worked as a team. That little scuffle with the Careers had hardened our will, and we were going to win no matter what the cost. We had to. We were from Thirteen. No one deserved life more than us.
As a District, we've struggled to survive for over a century, only to be brought back into the Games like a common District. Well, this was our chance to shine, to defy the Capitol. And, of course, all that pressure had been places squarely on our shoulders to bare.
I could hear voices coming from the far side of the town, so we started to run.
"What's on the other side of the town, do you think?" I asked.
"More beaches probably," she replied.
Up ahead, I saw a shape in a window, one of the hundreds of abandoned houses. It moved, and I stopped Zara, and cocked my head towards the building. She understood immediatly.
We tiptoed up to the door, weapons ready. Who- or what- would be waiting for us on the other side?
Zara placed her hand on the rusty doorhandle, and held up her fingers, silently counting down.
Three, she mouthed to me. Two. One.
She kicked the door so hard it came off it's hinges, and we burst in, swords at the ready. A small figure darted by me, brushing against my side. I didn't think. I sprinted after it, and Zara was quick in pursuit.
The tribtue, I could now tell, was small and quick. He turned on a dime and rounded a corner, and I nearly fell over trying to stay on his tail. Bigger wasn't always better.
Then I got a break, probably my first one of the Games. He tripped over a bent, broken bicycle of all things, so rusty I couldn't even tell what colour it was supposed to be. He tried to scramble up, but I caught him, and lifted him up by his neck. I starred intop the face of Kole from Twelve. He looked terrified. He knew there would be no mercy.
I raised my sword so it was parralel to his face. Quickly, I glanced over my shoulder. Zara was there, watching our backs.
I felt a twinge of guilt. He was looking me in the eye, tears starting to form. Was I really going to kill him in cold blood? Take his life, while starring at him in the eye?
"Come on Matt, get it over with! We need to keep moving." yelled Zara.
I took a breath and sated myself. I had to do it. There was no other way. I thrust my sword forward.
I dropped the lifeless body, and turned around.
"Man up, Matt. You knew you were gonna have to kill," I told myself.
But it didn't feel like I had expected. There was no pleasure in killing someone, even if I was one step closer to home. Zara must have seen the look in my face, because she softened.
"You ready to keep on going?" she asked, gently.
"Yeah. Sure," I replied. "Let's get this over with."
After that little tiny shake the Gamemakers gave us, (really, earthquake? Not even). I headed down the newly formed cliff, down to the other Weapons Stockpile. It was a bit of a wager. Really, I didn't even know if anyone was down there, but It was the only large landmark left in the arena, so that's where I went. I took a bit of a detour along the way, scouting out the shore.
I was standing on the sandy beach when the cannon sounded. I paid it little attention, and examined the shoreline.
It was huge. The sand stretched out nearly a mile to the ocean, and when it met the water, you could wade out for a hundred yards at knee-depth. As I beachcombed, I kept an eye out for quicksand and other possible dangers. You never know what the Gamemakers'll throw at you.
I looked all around me, at the seemingly endless drifts of sand, the waves splashing down and drawing water in, and an idea began to form in my head. I was best in wide-open spaces, where it was brute strength against brute strength, nowhere for ambushes or trickery. if I could draw the rest of the tribtues here, and trap them against the now rising tide... Imagine the possibilites!
I started to jog, rushing back to the village. First, I would have to get their attention. I was the strongest tribtue of all of them. Surely the word had spread. They would be afraid of me, run from me, and I would corral them here, to their death bead.
It was beautiful.
They gathered like sheep in the town square, some coming emerging from alleyways, other from the harbour or main roads. Jeni and I were among them, hiding behind a pile of rubble, a few yards away from a fountain in the center of the square.
Nobody was quite sure what to do. No one wanted to be the first to come out into the open, but no one dared to leave. As far as I could tell, every single remaining tribute was there, except for one. I couyldn't remember who it was, and it didn't bode well with me.
Finally, the silence was broken. A scream came from the other sdie of the square, a girl. Whoever it was, they sparked a chain reaction. Suddenly, the forum was full of people, swords clashing.
"Just like the Cornucopia," I thought.
Unsure of what to do, me and Jeni rushed out, back to back so we had no blind spots. I saw a figure lying on the ground, bleeding. it was Zola. She must have been the one who screamed...
I stalked up to her. Tears stroked her face. She was clutching her stomach in agony. I felt a pang of guilt. Did I really have the right to kill someone, so deffenseless?
"It's the Hunger Games, moron," I told myself. "Of course you do."
I steeled myself to deliver the blow, but I heard a noise to my left, and my reflexes immediatly went into defensive mode. I shielded my face with my hands, and luckliy so, because a knife whizzing towards me sliced open my hand, warm blood spilling out. I batted the knife aside, and looked for my attacker.
There she was, at the end of the square, right in the middle of one of the main roads that led out of the harbour. Walking leisurly, like none of us worried her. It was Jade, with a smile that would have been friendly if you didn't know her. She waved at us all cheerfully, and took off the way she came.
I didn't stop to think. I ran after her, and I wasn't alone. My fellow tributes weren't dumb. Jade was the one to beat. She was the top fighter by a mile, and none of us wanted to end up facing her alone.
I felt a flicker of unease. Was this a trap? Probably, but it didn't matter. I couldn't turn back now.
Day 3 Part 3- Tempest Strand
While the others ran after Jade, not even bothering to fight among themselves, I hung back. It was a trap. I'd worked with her too long for her to fool me. She may ahve been strong, but she may as well have worn a t-shirt with neon-green letters reading: Follow me! Trap up ahead! Still, that didn't stop the others from pursuing her.
I had other problems to worry about. Zola was up, her jacket soaked in blood. She was pale in the face, but she gritted her teeth and rose towards me. I had a spear while all she had was a knife, but that didn't make me feel any better. She had gotten a ten in training.
She lunged at me with such speen I barely had time to deflect the knife. glanced nervously at the sky, and so did Zola. Storm clouds were gathering, too fast to be natural. But I shrugged it off, and turned back to face Zola.
I took another step back. I had the longer weapon, and therefore, an advantage. As long as I stayed out of her reach, she couldn't get to me.
She raised her knife again, but started to grimace. It took me a second, then I realized something was holdng her back. It was the wind! I charged at her, but the wind literally picked me up and I shot right by her.
How could it get so strong, right away without any warning? Sure, there were storm clouds up above, but three seconds ago there hadn't even been a breeze, let alone a full-force gale.
Both of us fought the wind, me trying to reach Zola, her trying to out-walk me.
"This must be what it's like when senior citizens chase each other," I thought.
We continues to struggle, until we started loosing ground. The wind was pulling- no, sucking, us towards the city square's exit, the one the others has taken in pursuit of Jade.
"This has to be the Gamemakers," I realised. "They want us to go with the others, wherever they are."
Considering the Gamemakers could kill us the second we didn't do what they wanted, I figured it wouldn't be the smartest move to try to fight them on this one.
I braced myself to let the wind take me, but then I hesitated. "If I let go, I'll have to face Jade. The Gamemakers will make sure of that." Then, "I'm probably going to die anyways. What the hell?"
I let the wind take me, with Zola following my lead.
As we flocked out of the city square, Matt and I got separated.? Jade led us through a forrest, all of us getting whipped by branches, trying to keep up with her.
I'm not sure how long we ran after her for, but eventually, she led us to the shore. I broke through the tree line, gasping. A few hundred feet to my left, Scorpius and Jeni emereged from the forrest. So that's why I didn't see anyone else while running. Nobody wanted to get stabbed in teh back while running, so everyone, mabye unconciously, spread apart, giving their opponents a wide berth.
I quickly took in my surroundings. The beach was only about half a kilometer long, but it went out to the ocean for about a mile, narrowing so the tip of the beach was just a few yards wide. When I saw teh vast expanse of the shore, I knew it was a trap.
"Of course it's a trap, you idiot. What did you expect?"
I could see Jade's reasoning in it instantly. It was simple, but clever. In a small space like the city square, with so many variables, there was a good chance Jade would be killed in the fray. But out here, in the open, where she was the best fighter, the rest of us didn't stand a chance.
As more people came out into the open, I did a head count. There were seven total, including me and Jade. That meant at least two did not show up.
"Great. Can't go back, not with two tributes back there, probably setting their own trap right now. And facing Jade alone is suicide."
I tried to think. The others were slowly approaching Jade, some darting foward and then retreating back, trying to catch her by surprise.
A strong wind suddenly cught my back and pushed me forward, as it did the other tributes. Jade was knocked to the ground, taken surprised by the sudden gust. It was the spark that was needed, and everyone rushed forward. I vaguely noticed Brass and Zola appear out of the trees, their hair looking like someone took a rake through it.
"This can't be a natural storm," I thought.
Jade leaped up with blinding speed, and swung her sword in an arc, keeping everyone back. Zola, Jeni, and Scorpius surged forward as one, but Jade saw the move coming. She stabbed Zola in the chest, and whipped her sword at Jeni, slicing her thigh, blood spraying out. She crumpled to the ground. With a scream of rage, Scorpius lunged at Jade with a spear. She deflected it, but the spear knicked her in the side, in no way a serious injury, but now it gave me hope.
"So she isn't completely untouchable," I thought.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Matt running towards me. Scorpius and Jade stood facing eachother, fuming. Azalea and Kalita were standing side by side with their weapons ready.
Brass was striding towards towards Jade. he had his gaze focussed intently on Jade, now only twenty paces away. I could see what was about to happen. Jade suddenly turned her back on Scorpius, and went towards Brass. Scorpius was taken by surprise. He looked almost offended that Jade hadn't even thought him worthy to fight, but he didn't go after her. He knelt down beside Jeni just as Zola's cannon went off.
I whispered to Matt, "When I say go."
He gave a curt nod. I focussed on the brewing fight. As soon as Jade turned her back towards us...
The lightning struck just yards away from me, and the impact sent me sprawling. I scrambled up and Matt and I ran farther out into the beach. Kalita's knife whizzed by me ear, and I ducked my head down.
"Keep running! We need to get to the center of the beach, not too close to the water," yelled Matt.
I looked towards the shoreline. The waves were crashing in on us, and I felt a flicker of unease. With the tide coming in this fast, and the Gamemaker's lightning keeping us cut off from the mainland, we wouldn't have much time.
With Azalea, Kalita, and the kids from Thirteen on the other side of the beach and Scorpius tending to Jeni, it left just me and Jade. I had a my spear, and a rusty, dented shield the wind must have blown in that probably wouldn't last three seconds against Jade.
Jade spread her arms out, totally relaxed. "Make your move!" she taunted.
I figured she probably thought I would wait for her to attack, so I did exactly what she told me to. I guessed right, she didn't think I would come out so aggressive. She leaped back and avoided my thrust.
"Not bad, not bad at all. This should be fun!" she said, smiling wickedly.
The ground shook as lightning struck again. They were small, isolated strikes that formed a wall blocking any escape from the beach. This was where they wanted us, this is where the final showdown would take place.
I heard a scream from near the shore. Matt had slashed Azalea's foot, and given her a nice sized cut on her forehead. All the time, my ettention was foccussed on Jade. I expected her to attack in the microsecond it took for me to glance over my shoulder, but she didn't. She stood there, her mouth gaping at the scene that was unfolding.
Kalita was dazed and wounded, and up until now, I thought she was only following Azalea because she knew she wouldn't be able to win without an ally. Generally, tribtues from Three aren't as physically gifted, with their brains making up for what their muscles lacked. Kalita had both, and I figured she'd stab Azalea in the back the moment she could. But she didn't. As Matt went in for the kill, Kalita dove at Matt, knocking him aside. Azalea leaped up. She didn't look like much, but I knew she was very skilled, an all-around tribute. The look on her face said it all. She was as stunned as the rest of us, but anything she might have said, she saved it for later. The two pairs continued to go at it.
I felt the sword coming at my head, and i turned, but not quick enough. Jade's weapon sliced my ear, blood spraying in my face. i stumbled to the ground, and deflected Jade's attempted death blow. Suddenly, I was furious. I had let my guard down like a fool. I had figured we were on a time-out, a respite while the others fought.
Clearly, I would never have made it in Three.
I struck at Jade, harder than she expected. All of a sudden me and Jade were even again. We were a flury of blades, fighting for I don't know how long.
After what seemed to be an eternity, I found an opening, her shoulder which she wasn't in a position to defend. I took a risk, stabbed at her, and sidestepped her sword. She was momentarily thrown off by the hit, and I knocked her sword away, and pressed my spear against her head.
I thought I had won it. I thought victory was a guarantee. But nope, there was still more that could go wrong.
I had dragged Jeni aside when the fighting began, hoping, praying that we'd go unnoticed, or at least that our enemies would find other targets for now, which it seemed they had.
I laid her on the ground, and inspected the wound. The cut travelled up from her thigh to around the appendix. I hoped that it hadn't ruptured her appendix, because if it had, her odds of surviving, even if she won, where very slim, not that either of us were hot betting property to begin with.
Jeni gritted her teeth. "How bad is it. Don't try to sugar-coat it, lay it on me."
I hesitated. "It's bad, but not unfixable. Can you stand?"
She gave me a look of exasperation. "She only sliced open my thigh and probably my intestine too. Of course I can't stand!"
I bit my lip. I couldn't just leave her here. She'd never make it. Best case scenario, she doesn't attract any attention, but gets zapped by the lightning or gutted by another one of the Capitol's toys.
I was mulling this over when I felt a light tap on my head. I spun around, slicing the air. What I had thought was an attacker was a white parachute, and in it, a little bottle of morphine.
"Perfect," I thought. Those are the times when you're actually a bit grateful for the Capitol's rich old slobs.
I gave her the morphine, and together, we tried to stand her up. She cried in pain, and I quickly lowered her back down.
"Idiot! Of course it's not gonna kick in instantly. I need to give it some time." Time, however, was the one thing we didn't have. Brass had disarmed Jade, but they weren't through with yet. Matt was laying in the water, blood soaked, but no cannon had gone off yet. Suddenlt, the momentum had shifted to Azalea and Kalita, the only tribtues left unscathed.
Jeni made an attempt to stand up again, and I grabbed her arm and helped her on her feet.
"You sure?" I asked.
"Through clenched teeth, she said "Yeah. We can't wait any longer."
"Stay behind me," I replied.
Azalea and Kalita were striding towards us. Just beyond them, mabye half a mile out to sea, I saw a giant swell forming, growing higher and higher, silently. I leaned towards Jeni. "Brace yourself," I whispered.
"What?" her eyebrows creased, then she saw it. "Oh..."
The two girls were just two dozen yards away. Only Kalita's limp kept them from charging at us full speed...
BOOM!!! The wave hit, sending Kalita and Azalea flying over top of us. I dug my feet into the sand, and hung on to Jeni with an iron grip, and it picked me up and threw me like I weighed no more than a rag doll, wrenching me and Jeni away from eachother. I landed in a pool of water, sputtering, and trying to make sense of where I was, and where the rest of them were. Brass and Jade were nowhere to be seen, if he had in fact finished Jade off, her cannon could have easily been lost in the wave crashing down on us.
I saw a sword lying next to me, and as I reached to grab it, pain shot through my arm. I examined my right hand, and I could see my wrist starting to swell. I picked up the sword with my left hand, even though I stink fighting with my weak arm.
Jeni's voice rang loud, and I prayed that the rest of them were to dazed to hear where she was. I raced towards where her voice came from, and found her waist deep in quicksand.
"Jeni, DON'T STRUGGLE! Stay still!"
Coming from Four, I knew a thing or two about quicksand. Usually, you couldn't actually sink more than to your shoulders in it, but this pit had clearly been placed by the Gamemakers, so you could pretty much count on it being deeper than that.
She continued thrashing around, desperately trying to get free, and sinking deeper by the second.
"Jeni, listen to me! You have to relax, or you'll just sink deeper."
Finally she took a deep breath, and started to relax. "Okay. What do you want me to do?"
"Just- just try to float up onto your back, and then wriggle out onto the beach.
Apparently they don't have swimming pools in Five, because she wasn't getting closer to the top, she was descending even quicker. Her eyes were wide, and she looked at me in alarm. "Scorpius, watch out!"
Another wave hit, washing me away. I crawled back to the quicksand, careful not to step in it myself. She was in up to her chin now.
"Okay. Time for drastic measures."
All the books at home covering quicksand said that trying to pull the person out was a bad idea. A very bad idea. But I had no options left.
"Grab my hand," I said, my voice cracking.
With effort, she pulled her arm out of the sand, and I grasped it with my left, wishing more than ever that my right hand wasn't twisted. The pulling wasn't helping, and I was loosing ground instead of gaining it. Her face was barely visible by now.
"Scorpius, you have to let me go! You can win this, go!"
I gritted my teeth. "I will not leave you!"
"Stop trying to be noble! You can't save me, but you CAN win this for us both!"
For a moment, I was tempted. I had only known Jeni for a few weeks. She was a total stranger, really. Why should I give up my life when hers was already lost?
"Because some things are worth fighting for. The ones you love, they're worth fighting for, even if it means you put your life in the firing line."
I steeled my will. "If we die, we die together."
Just that moment, I lost my footing, and slid into the quicksand. I saw another wave forming on the horizon, not as big as the first wave, but bigger than the second.
Deep in the mud, her hand grasped mine, and our gazes met as the water came crashing upon us.
My screams rang across the beach, alerting everybody to my presence, but I wasn't worried about that. The remaining tribtues were sloshing around like drunk fools in the mucky water that was up to our ankles by now. I could have sworn I just heard two cannons, but I didn't see any hovercrafts descending.
Still, that didn't make me any less worried about Kalita, who (if asked I'll deny this and punch the questioner) I had grown to care about. Well, mildly concerned about. I'd already lost Eli, I couldn't stand it if I went home without the only other person I'd actually talked to during these few days of horror.
"Azalea. Azalea, I'm right here."
I swung around, and just about took off her head with my sword.
"You okay?" I asked her.
"Umm, Azalea, you're looking the wrong way," she replied, her voice sounding distant. My vision blurred, and I started to stumble backwards. I was becoming like the others. That wave must have knocked my head around too much...
She slapped me in the cheek. "Snap out of it!"
It was like having cold water dumped on you when you're sleepy. I broke out of my trance, and too late, I was aware of the figure darting behind Kalita. I moved forward to push her out of the way, but I was too late. I heard a crunch, Kalita gasped, and I looked down to Jade's blade sticking through her chest. Kalita collapsed, still breathing, and I swung my sword in a wide arc, forcing Jade back.
"Get BACK!" I screamed. She ran away towards Zara, who was searching for Matt, who had disappeared in the murky waters
I knelt down beside her. Instantly, I knew it was too late. She had lost too much blood.
She looked me in the eye. "Azalea, listen to me," she said intently. Her voice was sharp and clear. "Go win this thing." She strained her neck so she was facing Jade, who was squaring off with Zara. "Kill her," she told me, the light in her eyes fading.
I fought back a tear, and gave a weird sort of smile. "I won't let her last the night," I replied.
'Good," she said. "Azalea, I'm- I'm sorry about Elder. Can-can you forgive me?"
Kalita sniffled. She was crying.
I took a deep breath, "It's- It'll be okay. I forgive you." But did I really mean it?
She closed her eyes, and the cannon echoed in the night sky.
I stood up, my knees shaking, and drew my sword once more. If the Gamemakers wanted a showdown, a showdown they would get.
Okay, I'm pretty sure that the wave knocked me around so hard I got a concusion, so don't say it was my fault that Jade found him before I did.
"Looking for someone"? she said sweetly.
I stumbled towards her. With my hair and my clothes soaking, and only a knife to defend myself, I probably didn't look all that intimidating.
"Honestly, you two are pathetic. You think you're bif stuff because your from Thirteen? Well, let's put a knife in both your hearts, and see how big and tough you look then."
I was helpless. Jade was propping an unconcious Matt up on his feet, slowly digging her blade into his chest. it was suicide, but I attacked.
Her foot connected with my chest and sent me sprawling, but the impact was enough to throw her off balance. I got up, and prepared to charge her again, but she laughed, and tossed Matt into the sea. At first I though she had killed him, but then as the water started carrying him out to open water, picking up speed, I saw her intention.
She had thrown him into a riptide, a current that sometimes carries unsuspecting swimmers away from the shore. Usually the current fades after several hundred feet, but I suspected this wasn't the case this time.
But he couldn't hear me, he was still knocked out. All I could do was watch helplessly as he was carried from behyond my reach.
I whipped around to face Jade, but she was one step ahead of me. She slashed at me with her sword, and sliced open my belly. At least, that's what she thought. I ahd sucked in my stomach at the last second, and played this shallow cut (which she seemed to think was fatal) for all it was worth. I collapsed and started groaning, slowly falling silent, praying she wouldn't stick her sword into me again just to be sure.
"Bye-bye, District Thirteen," she whispered, and then stalked off to face Azalea and Brass.
I grinned. It had worked.
It was just me.
Zara was on the ground, bleeding, and Jade seemed content to leave her there. Brass was on the ground knocked out somewhere. jade had won. Only one thing stood in ehr way, one thing from prevevnting her from going home. I had a feeling that she wouldn't take well to sharing the victory, that even if I walked over to Brass or Zara right now and finished them off, she would still try to kill me.
"No. No, I won't let her kill any of them. She's killed too many."
"So hows it gonna be, District Nine?" she taunted. "Who goes home?"
The maniacal smile she had worn before she fought was not present now. She was dead serious, and in pain by the looks of it. With hair covering half her face and clothes soaking wet, she looked a lot less dangerous now, but I wasn't fooled.
I tensed, my hand gripping the sickle I had picked up from the ground. After Jade had cut Kalita, I dropped my sword to kneel down to her, what could have been a deadly mistake.
But I was glad to have the weapon that I did. I'm well used to teh feel of it in my hand, the balance. After long hours in the field during Harvest, it becomes natural to you. Just like the pick-axe to District Twelve, or a trident to Four. It's a symbol of our District.
I lifted it above my head, and whispered, "For Disctrict Nine.'
I was panicking. My leg wasn't suppost to feel this way.
When the stupid wave hit me I landed on my leg wrong, and voila, a broken ankle. Or mabye it was my knee. I really couldn't tell, or care. All i knew was that I couldn't show weakness.
The other two remaining tribtues were dying on the ground beside me. Pathetic. They should stand and fight, not die in the most undignified way possible. I could ease their passing, but they didn't deserve that. Better to let them die slowly. That is the way of the Games.
Anyway, the brat from Nine had a sickle in her hands, the tool they use to cut wheat. I felt a flicker of unease at this, something about the weapon and Azalea...
"Never ming that. Focus."
She raised it above her head, and mumbled something, some sort of prayer mabye. I could see that she was about to charge long before she did. She stepped in towards me and feinted, then struck towards my right side. I paried, and forced her back.
"That was pathetic," I said, putting as much venom in my words as possible. i turned around and started walking towards Brass. "Let's shake things up a bit."
I heard her feet again moving towards me, and without looking back, I thrust my sword behind me where I knew she would be, except she wasn't.
In the time that it took for her to see her jumping over and landing in front of me, I fumbled with my sword, and she drove the sword right at my heart, going for the kill. I dodged, narrowly, but she had regained my attention.
"Fine!" I screamed. "You want to play?! LET'S PLAY!"
I threw my old sword away into teh water, and drew my secret weapon from behind my back. It was the sword I had intended to make my final kill with. This might not be the final kill, but It was definitely going to be the most significant.
It was the sword I had found in a hidden compartment in the Cornucopia. I had told no one. It was a pitch black, curved blade, sharp as a razor, and about 4 inches thick, far too heavy for most people to wield. Part of one of the edges was serated, making great for cutting whatever I needed to.
I showed it off for a second, waiting for the fear to appear in Azalea's eyes like it did with every other victim of mine. But she didn't seem afraid, and that confused me. Was she just great at hiding her emotions, or was she genuinely not afraid of me with this sword?
That made me angry. Either way, I was going to make her fear me. She was going to feel my wrath before she died!
We met in a dancing fury of metal, both of us looking for any opening we could find. We both kenw that only one of us would survive. Whether it would be me and the other two incapitated tributes, would depend on what I did next.
I sidestepped her sword only for her to quickly jab at my arm. It made contact, and the tiny cut it produced immediately started squirting blood. It was too shallow, too minor to bleed so much. She must have hit an a major vein or artery, whether an accident or somehow intended, I didn't know, but that weird blade of her's was freaking me out so much I was determined not to let it touch me again.
I backed up, and observed how she stood. She was a few inches taller than me, and who knows how much heavier. She was aggresive in her swordplay, but her guard was even better. Most of the Careers had a philosophy of all offense and no defense, but that's what separated her from the rest of us. She was smart, cunning. All her life she had been trained, not just to kill, but to do it smartly.
Overconfidence would not be her undoing either. If she disarmed me, it was game over. She wasn't one to gloat before she killed me and give me a chance to escape, she'd gut me and move on over to Zara and Brass. No, there was only one thing that I had on her.
She was big, and I was fast. Not much to go on, but it was all I had. I ran in close, and darted around her. Her strike missed me by a mile, and I managed a hit in teh back of her knee.
Behind Jade, I could see Brass trying to get to his feet. He had a knife in his hands, and pointed it towards Jade. At first i thought he was going to throw it, but then I saw his intention. I pressed her hard, forcing her back. It was risky, and several times she almost caught me.
"Only a few more feet"
Desperately, I shoved her towards Brass, hpoing he'd be able to get her. But he was week, barely able to hold the knife. She pressed back, striking at my neck with blinding speed. I lifted my sword up in time, but the sheer force of her sword knocked my weapon out of my hand. She grinned. She had me.
Then I saw it. The one way, just mabye... No, it wouldn't work. But it was all I had. I ran in the opposite direction, hoping and praying Brass would follow close behind. If he didn't, if I couldn't take Jade...
After a few yards I pivoted around, and in the split second before Jade's blade made contact with my skin, my foot landed in her stomach. Her own momentum was her undoing, and she went flying back, right into Brass's knife.
"So long, Jade," he growled, and let Jade's limp body slip to the ground.
Boom. The cannon echoed across the beach. I turned to Brass.
"So, I- I guess-"
"You're cut!" he yelled, cutting me off.
I looked down. She had stabbed me low in the chest. I must have been in shock, and the pain didn't register.
My knees buckled, but before I hit the ground something halted my fall. It was Zara.
"It's okay," she said, wipping back a tear. "We're okay."
Wind blew hair in my face as the hovercraft slowly descented from the blue, three separate claws reaching down.
I grabbed her hand, and Brass's with my other. It's not like I knew them well or anything, but right now, we might as well have been a family.
"We're okay," I whispered.
End of the Nemesis Games.