I wake with thorns in my hair. Just another perk of spending the night in thorn bushes. My back cracks, I can chalk that up to sleeping on the rocky ground. Oh and of course there is the fact that now I have a bit of a limp and a sever scar on my cheek. Awesome.
I have at least a couple days' worth of water left if I pace myself. I don't want a repeat of the last time I went to the river. Between what I got from the cornucopia and Kasha's supplies I have enough food for a while too. What about after that? I can't hunt worth a damn, and I'm an awful trapper. My best hope is a sponsor gift, but how many sponsors can I possibly get hiding here? Of course I haven't been hiding here all along, I already have one kill.
Already have one kill, did I just think that? What the hell is wrong with me, I'm acting like one of them, the disgusting inhabitance of the Capitol. In my rage I punch the ground, hurting my hand in the process. I spew a few choice profanities as I nurse my hand; another injury is the last thing I need now.
I don't know how well I would do in a fight with all these injuries, especially against one of the stronger tributes. Well I don't plan on meeting any other tributes until almost everyone else is dead, and by then whoever's left should be pretty banged up too. I really doubt anybody else would try and come in here. Good, I need to avoid other tributes as much as possible, and then I can go home.
Then what? If I end up as a victor I'll be surrounded by superficial people, not just from the Capitol, but even from my own district. My fame might bring my own deadbeat father out of wherever he disappeared to. I've wanted to meet for a long time, ask him so many questions, but that's over. I want nothing to do with him. I hate him, I hope he is dead.
It's the Capitol's fault all of this. The bastards all need to be taken out of power, so their reign of terror can end. Proxy's right about wanting to start a rebellion. Maybe I should have teamed up with her and the pair from 5. No, then I would be dead for sure, the Capitol doesn't stand for such open rebellion.
Who knows if I could even trust Proxy and the others? Sure they seem nice, but you can't trust anyone, at least not unless you know them for years. I know better than to trust my instincts, and that's why I'm alive right now.
"Do you see anybody?" I ask Proxy, who is currently standing on top of a rock checking the cornucopia for any other tributes.
"The coast is clear," she responds getting down. Seeing the cornucopia like it is now is bizarre. The place is barren, and it looks like that earthquake we felt has ripped a huge chasm in the arena. "Well, that's unexpected," I comment. It looks like a lot of whatever supplies were here fell in.
"You guys see anything?" Azeika asks as we approach the horn.
"Not a lot," Proxy answers, "Wait, check it out." She grabs a pair of slingshots on the ground. "Either of you guys any good with these?" I shake my head.
"I was pretty accurate with them in training." Azeika answers.
"Works for me," Proxy says tossing one to her while slipping the other into her belt.
"Now I just need to find something for myself," I say strolling the area. The whole place has an eerie feeling to it. I find myself walking over to the edge of the cliff, and staring down into the abyss.
All I can see down there is black, I wonder how deep it goes. Has anyone fallen in? Who knows what happened in all the chaos of the bloodbath. The cruelty of the Gamemakers is astounding; I know why Proxy and Azeika hate them so much.
"Be careful over there," I hear Azeika say to me. I look over a her and smile. I don't know what is going to happen to us, and I remember what she said on the train about protecting each other for as long as we could, and I wonder if Proxy's plan can really work. It really would be nice to survive, even if it is some terrible life, I will have her. If the plan works that is. If not then I have to do everything I can to protect Azeika.
If it came down to it could I kill Proxy? No, I don't think I'd be able to do it, not now. Could I kill any of the tributes? I'm sure I could kill some of them, but killing someone like Tawny, even to protect Azeika seems unthinkable. I hope it doesn't come to that. I know one thing; I'd have no qualms if someone tried to attack Azeika. I'd die just to protect her.
"Hey Dale!" Proxy shouts. I turn around to see her waving at me.
"Yeah, what's up?" I ask approaching her.
"I found you a knife, how's that sound?"
I take the blade from her, examining it. It's not a huge blade, in fact it's pretty short. Still it could be useful in a fight, and if someone like Chace comes after Azeika I'll need any help I can get.
"You stupid oaf, don't you know the meaning of discreet?" Storm yells at Evander.
"If you could aim worth a damn we wouldn't be having this discussion!" He shouts back.
Storm laughs. "Oh, so you think you could have hit him? You can't even hold a bow properly, much less hit a moving target in a few seconds, I severely injured her!"
"You hit her in the arm, I don't think you punctured a vital organ!"
The two have been fighting for hours, and I'm glad. The more they hate each other the less danger I am in when the pack inevitably breaks. I honestly think the only thing holding this alliance together at all is that Chace and Acely are still out there. We've been searching for any tributes for the past few days, but I think Storm has been especially hoping to run into her district partner. Hunting down Chace seems to be one of the few things that doesn't bother Evander, he hates the other careers as much as us. I think he might even be a little disappointed Aaralyn got away.
I look over the waterfall, Aaralyn disappeared hours ago, and there hasn't been any sign of other tributes. I cross to the supplies that we gathered from Aaralyn, it looks like she actually managed to get something from some other tribute so she must have taken down either Lolita or Kasha. I grab a roll and take a bit.
"So are we going to keep sitting around here or actually look for any other tributes?"
Evander sighs. "Yeah, I guess we better get going."
"Try not to let the entire arena know we are coming this time," snaps Storm. Evander just glares back. The trek down the mountain should be faster than the way up, but will still take a few hours. After another hour of yelling at each other they get tired of it and the three of us walk in silence. By the time we reach the bottom the day has almost ended.
"Any sign of which way Aaralyn went?" Storm asks.
"Nothing," I respond. She throws up her hands in agitation. Aaralyn narrowly escaped, she should have been dead. What a fool she is. She had an open invitation to the career pack and turned it down. I have two of the strongest tributes on my side. I'm glad because even though I'm deadly, I don't have a lot of brute strength, at least not compared to the other careers. With the three of us I like our chances to make it to the end.
"We need to find somewhere to camp for the night," Evander says.
"No, we still have at least an hour of light, we can find someone else." Storm replies.
"He's right." I don't like taking Evander's side, but we aren't likely to find anyone now in the fading light.
"Fine." She growls back.
"I'll take the first shift," I say. Storm shoots me a suspicious glance, but she should know that I don't have any plans to kill her tonight, she is too valuable. For now.
"It looks like there won't be any faces in the sky today." Kairen says happily. I smile back at him, yet I know the day isn't entirely over and it isn't wise to make such proclamations. I have a bad feeling that perhaps some blood will be shed before the end of the day, and my grandmother would call that a premonition. I hope it is only nervous thinking.
I wonder how my grandmother is doing, watching me out here sipping coconut juice, answering Kairen's interesting questions all day. His presence makes missing my friends back home a bit less painful. I hope Sky is alright.
I have been thinking a lot about what Kairen said the other day, about the arena dying, and it makes sense. Our pool of water looks like it has receded a bit since yesterday and the poor trees are even less healthy. I wonder what will happen to the rest of the arena. I don't think it will be pleasant.
I look over at Kairen; he is giving me a nice little smile. I see him start to open his mouth, but he stops. That's odd I've never seen him shy away from a question in the past. He seems to be staring at something behind me.
When I turn to see what's behind me I know my time in this world is about to end. Standing at the entrance to our little oasis are two of the careers, the girl from 1 and the boy from 2. The expressions on their faces aren't what I was expecting. The girl looks upset and the boy just looks sad.
"RUN!" I hear Kairen yell. I take off but I know there is nowhere to go. It doesn't matter, within a few seconds I feel the girl on top of me, pinning me down. She doesn't say anything. I'm struggling to escape, but I know it won't do me any good. I see Kairen tripped by the boy's scythe. I see him struggle with the boy for a bit but the fight is one sided. It's a trained career with a scythe against a young boy from 7. When he slits Kairen's throat he is showered with blood.
"NO!" I yell. Never again will he be able to ask anyone else a question. I'm crying and so is Kairen's murderer. The cannon confirms what I already know. I'm sure mine will follow shortly. I stop struggling now, I know it's over.
I feel so sad, so hollow. I feel sorry for myself, for Kairen and even for his killer. I feel bad for my killer. I suppose this was inevitable, in a game where the only options are to kill or die, if you aren't willing to kill you can't be surprised by something like this. I guess I just tried to push that to the back of my mind.
I feel the knife slide into my heart.
I am numb.
I hear the second cannon sound.
"Chace!" Someone is yelling my name, it must be Acely. I slowly turn to her, and I can see that she, like me, is covered in blood. "Chace are you alright?"
"We had to do it you know."
"I know, it's just…" I can't find the words.
"Someone else would have found them, at least we made it quick and easy, painless for them. Marius probably would've gotten a kick out of torturing them. And then there is Storm, you know she hated them."
"I know." Sure we did what we had to, what else do you do when you are in the Hunger Games? I'm sure back home my mother is bragging to everyone about me. I'm sure Brutus is lining up sponsors for us now. And Acely is right, what we did was humane, it was a quick and painless as possible.
None of that matters. We just killed two children in cold blood. I can't stop thinking about how I signed up for this. This is my first kill; I'm expected to have many more. There is only one person I want to kill now. She is the person who reminds me most of myself and how despicable I am, the only other living career volunteer. I have to kill Storm.
It won't be easy, she will have Evander and Maruis with her, but maybe with any luck one of them will be taken out by another tribute. She is sure to get into any fight she can. I hope she takes out as many others as possible, because I don't want to fight anyone else.
I walk over to the pool of water, washing Kairen's blood off me. I hear the anthem playing and look to the sky. Sure enough the faces of both District 7 tributes are displayed for everyone to see. They both seem so happy in their pictures frozen in time. But that's not how I'll remember them. I'll always see their faces covered in blood, their bodies mutilated. Nothing will ever be able to remove that from my mind.
"Come on Chace, let's go."
"Yeah…okay," I walk away from the bloody pond. "Acely…"
"What is it Chace?" she asks stepping over the rocks that once concealed the hidden spot.
"I don't think I can do that again." I mean it. Kairen didn't even try to fight back, he just tried to escape. It wasn't a battle, it was slaughter. We went in and murdered two defenseless children.
"We don't have a choice," she says.
"There is always a choice."
"Maybe for you, but I didn't want to be here. I'm just making the best of my situation; I'm going to do everything I can to survive."