"It's the girl from 9, Kasha, and both from 11," Tawny grimly answers me. For once her answer makes me feel worse. I didn't really know any of those tributes, but they all died today. While Tawny and I have been here safe everyone else has been going around killing each other. Ever since the bloodbath we have been safe, but others are out there dying. I feel…guilty isn't the right word, but I can't think of a better one.
"Is everything alright, Kairen?"
"No, not really," I respond, "I'm just sad you know, about everything."
"So am I." Tawny sits down by a palm tree.
"How much longer do you think we can make it before…" I can't get the words out. Still I think Tawny gets what I'm trying to say.
"I don't know, you found this place, so others might too." Neither of us has to say what would happen when someone, especially if it was the careers found us. Tawny and I aren't killers, and unless there is some fluke, neither of us is going to see District 7 again.
"Tawny?" Something has been bugging me all day. I wonder if Tawny noticed it too.
"Did anything about the arena seem different to you today?" I ask.
"What do you mean?" Tawny says with a puzzled expression.
"I'm not sure….the place it just seems like, I dunno, not as alive as yesterday."
Tawny gets a look on her face that seems so mystical. Then she runs her hand up and down the tree she is sitting next to. "Now that you mention it the trees seem less lively."
I don't know how a tree can be lively, but I take her word for it. "What's going on?" I ask.
Tawny doesn't take her eyes off the tree, even when she answers me. "I think this arena is dying?"
"What?" I say very confused.
"The arena is slowly crumbling, destroying itself. I think that's part of the reason why it started with an earthquake; it was the beginning of the end."
I take a second to think about this. "So what is gonna happen to the arena, will it just fall apart?"
"Maybe," she says laying her head against the tree. "I mean it's just a theory, I could be wrong."
"You usually aren't wrong," I say.
"Yeah, usually," she says. It isn't in an arrogant way or anything, that's just how Tawny talks. She tells the truth, and I'm glad.
"Will you be alright, Kairen?" she asks looking at me like I'm a sad palm tree.
"We'll be okay as long as we have each other." She nods and walks over to me, giving me a big hug.
"Okay, I believe you." She smiles and starts singing a strange song. What a weird pair we are. Our sponsors must know we haven't got a shot, but we still are getting gifts. Maybe they just want to see the two crazy kids from 7 go as far as they can.
A few more weeks of life would be nice.
"It's gettin pretty dark, what do you say we turn if for the night?" I ask.
Chace looks around the arena before turning to me. "Yeah, I doubt we'll be able to find any tributes without light, let's head back to camp." For a few munities we walk in silence, Chace finally breaks the awkwardness with a question.
"So you have any siblings?" It's odd to think that this person that I've been hanging around with so much knows almost nothing about me. This is one of the first interactions we've had that isn't about the games. He is actually showing interest in something other than besting Storm.
"Yeah," I begin awkwardly, "I have a couple older brothers, much older brothers actually."
"Oh yeah," Chace says glancing at me, "How much older?"
"One is twenty-six, the other is twenty eight. What about you, you have any brothers or sisters?"
"Nope, just me and my mom." He doesn't mention what happened to his father so I don't ask. Why am I doing this? Getting close to another tribute, that's exactly what my brother warned me about. I know how brutal Chace can be. The only reason he keeps me around is to help protect him from Storm. But does he see me as a threat? I think I could take Chace. He thinks he is all high and mighty because he is from 2, but I've trained hard too.
"So you wanna take the first or second watch?" he asks politely. This snaps me back to reality a bit.
"Uhh the second one I guess."
"Good, cause I could use the rest. Seeya in a few hours Ace."
"Yeah… sure." Maybe I can trust him, at least until something happens to the other careers. We can be here for each other, watching one another's backs. I sit down, ready to guard my friend? Friend? Well I suppose he is as close to a friend as I can get in these games. I wouldn't rather have any other tribute as an ally.
I think of my old district partner, Fathom. How bloodthirsty he was. Then there is sneaky Storm and Marius. I wouldn't like to ally with any of them. There is of course Evander, who wouldn't betray me, but I still think he lacks what it takes. Most of the non-careers are pretty weak. There are a few exceptions, like Finch and Aaralyn, but they both seem incapable of working with others, for whatever reason.
I remember some old expression "The sum is more than the whole of its parts." I've always thought that was stupid, after all two plus two is always four. But that saying isn't talking about math equations, its talking about how two things work together and can accomplish something they couldn't on their own. With Chace I can sleep knowing I'm protected. I have a valuable ally in a fight. We are also practically guaranteed to get more sponsors working together than we would separately.
I'm just fine where I am, for now at least. I don't know what will happen tomorrow, but tonight Chace is a friend.
Allan Fur English
It looks like everyone else has drifted off. I've got the first watch tonight; it's my job to protect my allies. I have to keep reminding myself not to get too close to them; after all they all need to die for me to live. If I was so inclined I could kill them right now in their sleep.
But I honestly don't think I could kill any of these people myself. They are all good people. Ashlyn is a hard worker, and Lexeon is very intelligent. Jade is very trusting, and something about saving each other's lives makes me even more hesitant about killing her.
I wonder, would killing them and orchestrating their deaths be morally the same? Of course I'm not really the one orchestrating everyone's deaths. The Capitol is responsible for putting us here. I think if I was to kill someone it would be one of those Capitol goons, or maybe one of their lap dogs from 2, or my old home 1.
I'm glad Fathom is dead; he was as terrible as they come. I knew those like him when I was a child, those morons who revel in murdering others. It's disgusting. Chace, Storm and Aaralyn are almost as bad. They actually volunteered for this; they wanted to be in a situation anyone from the other districts would do anything to avoid. I'd kill any one of them if I had the chance. I think I could add Maruis to that list too.
I can see the reflection of the full moon in the river. It all seems so peaceful, but at any moment a pack of other tributes could show up and it would be a bloody massacre. That's just what those disgusting pigs watching at the Capitol love. I grab a cup from one of our bags and take a drink from the river, which we figured out is safe.
I wonder how much time is left on my shift. The only way of telling time is the moon, so it's a large amount of guess work. I run through all of the remaining tributes in my head. Three died yesterday and five in the bloodbath, so that means there are still sixteen of us, counting me. I think I should wait until a couple more keel over before leaving my frie-, allies.
I should be able to make it out with a lot of supplies, one bag filled with food, a few weapons and a sleeping bag. That would have to last me; frankly my allies were the only ones pulling in any sponsors. I wonder what Zim back home would think of all this. She was always my moral compass, without her I'm a little worried I might go too far. But I can hardly be blamed for that. The Capitol has given me no choice.
A far off noise grabs my attention. I fixate on where I think it originated, I'm not sure exactly what made it. I try to make out what it was for a moment, maybe an animal, some mutt hunting us down? Then I see them.
"Jade, wake up." I say shaking her.
"Is it my watch already?"
I don't have time to answer her I'm waking up Ashlyn and Lexeon.
"Huh?" Lexeon groggily says with one eye still shut.
"We have company."
Within seconds everyone is on our feet, the others are about ten yards away. The moon doesn't give much light, so I can't see their faces, still there is no mistaking who we are looking at. It's Proxy, Dale and Azeika.
No one moves. This wasn't the plan, we wanted to move along the river at night to avoid being spotted, but instead we have run into a huge alliance. We don't even have any weapons. For the moment they haven't seemed to have grabbed theirs, except for the kid from 3 who has some contraption on his arm. Maybe we could jump one of them and grab a weapon.
I glance at my friends, Dale looks determined; I know he will do anything to protect me. Proxy on the other hand looks conflicted. At first I think it is just because she is worried, but then I realize something. The kid with the thing on his arm is from Proxy's district. I can't imagine what it would feel like to fight a friend.
No one has made a move; in fact no one has said anything at all. So I speak up. "So…what are we going to do now?" All six other tributes look at me when I say this; it seems to take everybody by surprise.
"We don't want a fight," Jade answers.
"What?" Allan says in shock.
"I agree," Ashlyn adds, "I don't want to fight these guys."
"You know fighting them is inevitable," Allan angrily responds.
"Yes, but the careers are out there we can't afford to weaken our alliance, not yet," Lexeon says with a glance at Proxy. For a moment everyone hesitates. Tension is in the air.
"Will you leave peacefully?" Allan asks.
"Of course, I mean yes," Dale says. We exchange a look. Is this really happening? Are we really going to get off this easy?
"Okay, well …okay" I feel like saying goodbye might be inappropriate.
Then I hear something that terrifies me. "Wait." I swivel around, but Ashlyn, who just yelled, seems more worried than I am.
"Have you guys seen any other tributes, or know about any whereabouts, or anything like that?" Ashlyn tries to seem nonchalant, but it doesn't work.
"Can't say we have, I'm sorry Ashlyn," Proxy answers. Ashlyn just nods biting her lip. "Lex, good luck," she says to her district partner.
"You too Proxy," he says genuinely.
Once we are a few hundred yards away I speak up again. "That was close."
"Too close if you ask me," Dale agrees. "What do you think that thing with Ashlyn was about in the end?"
"I think she might be missing her district partner, the farmboy, especially since he saw me and my old pal Lex, and of course you two," Proxy answers.
After a few steps I grab Dale's hand, which seems to make his day. If Ashlyn feels for Finch what I do for Dale then I really do feel sorry for her. I have Dale here with me till the end, but the one she cares about could be anywhere.
Lolita's camp by the waterfall wasn't too hard to find, in fact it's actually a pretty good location, and I think setting up here might be a good idea. I can see why she chose it; I've got a pretty good view of the arena, and can only be attacked from three sides. Of course the biggest advantage is the proximity to water, which will be an even bigger advantage for me than it was for Lolita.
I find some supplies that Lolita left behind a rock about four feet high. She has some food, a sleeping bag and a slingshot. All could be useful. The moon is still pretty high in the sky, the night is young. Of course the Gamemakers can change that if they want. I lean against the rock where Lolita's supplies were. I've been in this arena for over a day and haven't slept, I think it's time to get some rest.
When I wake up I can tell the sun is starting to rise, but something is wrong. I poke my head out around my rock and an arrow flies inches from my face. As duck my head back to safety I see a girl with the brown hair in a ponytail. Storm.
If she is here the rest of her alliance will be too. I think Fathom is the only one dead so far. That means the others could be lurking anywhere. I hear a lot of scuffling to my left and sure enough it's Evander. He must have been the one that woke me.
I quickly scan my right trying to see if I can spot anyone else. I almost miss him at first, but he is definitely there lurking in the shadows, Marius. There's no sign of Chace or Acely though. Could the careers have broken this early? All the more reason I didn't ally with them in the first place.
Three on one is much better odds than five on one, especially when two that are gone have been trained. I run through my options in my head, I have Lolita's slingshot, and there are plenty of rocks around to use as ammo. I could try and hit Storm, but a bow would definitely have the advantage. I could try to hit Marius or Evander, but to get a good shot off I'd have to reposition myself and I'd be an easy target for Storm.
Think Aaralyn, there has to be some way you can fight them. You don't have to fight. I can almost hear my sister's voice now. No, I can't give in, I'm not the hunted, I'm the hunter. There are three of them, the have you cornered, and Storm might even be stronger than you. No, I'm not a kid, I can handle myself, no one, not even Storm, is stronger than me. If you fight you'll die.
I know I'm not really arguing with my sister, but this imaginary voice just might be right. I can't afford to die, I have to win. I will die if I try to fight, but what options do I have? The rushing of the waterfall is the only answer I need.
The edge is only four or five paces away; the drop is a few hundred feet, maybe. I don't think Storm is an amazing shot with a bow, at least not good enough to kill a running target. Marius and Evander are closing in on me.
It's now or never. I'm on my feet and sprinting for the edge. I need to make sure I get enough distance on my jump. I hope that there aren't rocks below, or that it's too shallow, or that I just am too high to survive the fall.
I hear a woosh followed by a sharp pain in my right arm, and I know I've been hit by an arrow. I can't slow down; I need to make a good jump.
I reach the edge and kick off as hard as I can.