The Conspiracy

Chapter XVI: A Thing for 6

We split up shifts between the seven of us. Two of us, each from different Districts, stay up for two hours. As there are only seven of us one person gets the short end of the stick and has to stay up for two shifts. 6 volunteers. "If that's alright with you guys. I mean, you're the ones going off to track the others. That takes more energy. I'll stay up." 24 and I get paired with him. Cato's with 1, and 7's with 2. My shift is early in the morning, shortly after we've killed 15. We'll sleep until noon. The Capitol won't even be awake to watch us do anything before then and with six hours of sleep powering our brains, we'll be able to hunt all afternoon and into the night.

I don't talk to 6. I don't want to get to know him better. The fact that him calling me by my name had such an effect on me earlier is unsettling. He's a number for a reason and the reason is that it's easier to think of people you may have to kill as objects, numbers, not people, but when they use your name, it severely undermines your effort to push them away. Not to mention the fact that when he told me it was 'cool' that I let 1 live, I felt guilty again about 18. None of these tributes (with the exception of Cato) should be able to make me feel anything. No sympathy, no guilt. I must remain indifferent to them and for that reason, I don't talk to 6 anymore.

Generally, we sit on opposite sides of the camp but sometimes I get up to walk around. I don't want someone sneaking up on us or damaging our supplies. The mines aren't quite ready to be activated yet so it's still possible for us to be raided. This plan of his is clever, but it could also have disastrous consequences if one of the other tributes gets too close. We'll all lose everything. I hold tight to two of my knives, ready to throw with one, ready to slice with the other. When my watch beeps, I approach 6. When I tap him on the shoulder with the blade of the knife in my right hand, he jumps about a mile.

I act as though I haven't noticed. "You wake 1," I tell him. "She'd freak if I did."

"You scared me," he says.

"Wake her. I'll get Cato." I walk cross our camp and rouse Cato. "Your turn," I tell him.

He sits up, obviously making an effort to wake up quickly. "I'm up," he says, reaching for the sword near him. "Are you dead tired or can we talk?" I look around for 1 and 6. They're making a good deal of noise. Apparently even him waking her was startling.

"They won't like it," I tell him.

"I don't care. We showed them earlier it's our way or they go home in boxes a whole lot sooner than they want to. If you're awake enough, let's go." 1's up now, whispering angrily in 6's face. I want to go over there and tell her to calm down and lay off, but I just nod at Cato.

"Ok. Let's go." He stands and we grab two water bottles and walk out of the mouth of the Cornucopia and toward the lake.

"You did well earlier," he tells me. "You showed them and your sponsors." I nod. "So what's wrong?"

I kneel and fill my bottle before answering. "I don't like talking to 6."

"Why not?" He's kneeling beside me.

"6 isn't right for this. He calls me Clove. I don't like it. And he said it was good of me to let them live." I wonder if it's smart to be having this conversation here, right beside the lake which is totally open for any camera. But since when do I not tell Cato everything that's in my head? Even if it's not smart, it's only six in the morning. Who's going to be awake to hear it? And even if someone is awake, maybe this conversation will show them that Cato and I are, like Alaia said, 'people doing whatever it takes to survive.' Maybe it's alright if they see a bit of humanity from me.

"Don't listen to him. Don't let him get to you. This Alliance needs you and me to be strong enough to do this. Don't let him make you feel guilty. If he does, get rid of him once he's done his job now with the mines. We don't need him after that." I look at him, slightly stunned. Cato from home would not have said something like that. Some sick part of me knows he's right though. Once he's fixed the mines to work, 6 will have been as useful as he said he could be. All he is now is our extra shift taker and they guy we tell to watch our stuff while we go catch everybody else. He'll be more threat than ally after he activates the mines because he knows this Alliance can't last forever and he's talked about making makeshift explosives. What if he works on those today when we're not here? Or activates the mines without telling us? It would be smarter to kill him sooner. Cato gives me a cocky grin, "What? You got a thing for him?"

"No," I answer, my voice calm and even. "No one would be stupid enough to have 'a thing' for anyone else in here. Even 24 knows it's useless or he wouldn't be helping us track 23." I wouldn't mind if the Capitol heard that. Break their little hearts for them.

"Good." Cato stands up then and makes his way back to our camp.

I return to the Cornucopia to lay down in the mouth where Cato was. It's the closest thing I have to a proper shield against the sun. 1 complains to Cato about taking off with me, even if it was only for a few minutes, but he just brushes her off and walks once around the camp. We make eye contact as he passes me, but he doesn't stop. Smart.

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