PART III: SACRIFICE
So two more are dead. I wonder who they were. That brings the grand total to twelve, counting me. Half of us are dead, half still alive. I'm proud to have made it this far, but it isn't enough. Anything short of victory is failure. Only four more and I'll be in the final eight. Then will be the interviews, I just hope my stupid family doesn't say anything to embarrass me.
"Oh she is so fragile!"
"I told her not to go!"
Hopefully whatever damage they do to my reputation will be reversed when I win. When I do win I'll get my house in the victor's village, and I do just what I told Mattaniah I'd do on reaping day. I'll buy my beach. I won't be bothered by anyone there, I can escape the world. I'm that much closer to serenity. That's all I've ever really wanted, to be respected and left to my own devices. I have to show everyone how great I can be. I guess I'm off to a good start, my sponsor gift proves that. I have to admit I never really saw myself getting one like that. I always thought having a high kill count was the only way to earn respect, but being cunning and escaping seems to have won me at least a few admirers.
These woods are actually sort of like my beach back home, I'm all alone in here. It's actually sort of peaceful. I know that a lot of people might be scared, it's dark and there are plenty of animals with these glowing red eyes. It just makes them easier to hunt. I lost almost all my supplies at the waterfall, so I desperately need to get some sustenance. I've managed to make a pretty crude slingshot, but it should suffice for hunting a lot of the smaller animals here.
I take out a few small rodents and cook them over a small fire. I make sure to keep it from getting too big, since I'm sure the Careers would spot a large one. By now I've managed to make myself pretty undetectable. I doubt anyone will be able to find me now that I've camouflaged myself so well. All of the other Careers focused so much on weapons training in the Capitol, but what good would one more week of that do when we have had out entire lives to train with weapons? My time spent learning how to blend in and survive was well spent.
It's time to alter my strategy a bit. I run the risk of running into the Careers again when I'm out there, but in here I doubt they'll find me. I, on the other hand, should be able to find anyone who wanders in these woods and can take them out. Here I have the advantage.
I just have to sit and wait for my prey to come to me.
Sitting next to Proxy while Azeika sleeps is awkward to say the least. I guess I'm not trustworthy enough yet to stay awake alone. I can't argue with that logic. I look over at her; I don't think I ever really took notice of her before. If someone had asked me before what color eyes she has I couldn't have told them. They are hazel, and go well with her shoulder length brown hair that ends in curls. Even though she is so skinny she has this kind of beauty. I wonder, did she have enough to eat back home? I can't even begin to fathom what it would be like to live like that. I've been so pampered, the son of a victor living in such a wealthy district.
"So what's it like in 3?" I ask as neutrally as I can.
Proxy takes a second before answering, looking me over, trying to tell if I'm being genuine or not. She must decide I am because she says, "I don't think it's all that different than the rest of Panem. I mean I hate work, but my family gets by, the people in the higher numbered districts have it the worst, the Capitol torments them most."
"You work?" I ask stupidly.
"But you're so young."
"Old enough to be forced into a battle to the death against other children," She says scathingly. This just makes me feel worse about myself.
"You really hate the capitol don't you?"
This actually makes proxy crack a smile for the first time. "You're pretty smart if you can pick up on that, I thought I was being subtle."
"So they have sarcasm in District 3, do they?"
"Sarcasm? Never heard of that," she says back with a sly smile. I never really thought that Proxy would have a "Funny" side to her, I always just saw her hatred for the Capitol, but people aren't that one dimensional. I hope she can see that I'm more than just a trained killer.
"So," I begin, "That's a pretty daring plan you've got, defying the Capitol like that, think it will work?"
Proxy's smile disappears. "If I can show people what the Capitol really stands for, and make a stand against their oppression, then it will have worked."
"Yeah well not dying would be a nice bonus too," I say back with a smile.
She laughs, "That it would." We don't speak for another minute and Proxy decides now is apparently a good time to ask what must have been on her mind since seeing me. "So…what happened to the others?"
"The other Careers?"
"You know that big split in the arena by the cornucopia?"
"I've seen it," she answers.
"Well, during the bloodbath we got separated, and knowing Storm the way I do, I figured it would be wise to avoid her."
"Why?" proxy asks puzzled.
"She had one more Career with her than I did, and I'm her biggest threat, I knew she would be after me."
Proxy frowns, clearly disturbed by Storm's ruthlessness which is so normal to me. "How do you know her so well?"
"We grew up together, we are both victors' kids, we were both raised to do this."
"That's really sad…"
"They stole your childhood. It's almost like you were reaped the day you were born."
"Well," I sigh, "I went along with it; I always knew it was wrong, but I never did anything, until it was too late."
"Well," Proxy responds, "Azeika and I are alive because you stood up to them, so it's better late than never."
"Well, I guess so," I reluctantly agree.
"Well, I think I'll get some shut eye," She grins as she walks over to lie down next to Azeika. I guess she trusts me now.
"Hey, wake up." It's Evander, it must be my shift.
"Anyone die while I was asleep?" I say groggily.
"Yeah," Evander rubs his temple. "Tawny and Kairen right after we went to sleep, then when I was awake somebody else."
"That makes twelve of us."
"Yeah…" Evander somberly replies.
"Good then we….."
"What?" Evander asks, confused that I trailed off.
"Evander look behind you," I say with obvious frustration.
"What?" he asks turning around.
"Do you see that smoke?"
"I…" Evander scans the skyline until he finally sees it.
"Don't you ever notice anything, you idiot! Wake Marius, grab some weapons!" I have my sword in my hand, and only need to search for a second before finding my bow. I swing my quiver over my back. "Let's go!"
"What about our supplies?" Evander asks rather foolishly.
"Ugh!" I grunt rolling my eyes. "Leave them, we will be back before sunrise, come on." Evander grabs his mace, but has a large frown on his face. I glance over at Maruis, who still hasn't managed to grab his sword. "Can you wake up already, we have tributes to kill!"
"Yeah, alright," he yawns getting his sword.
We're off, Marius and Evander are having a difficult time keeping up with me, so I slow down enough that they can catch up. I can't believe it's finally happening, I was beginning to wonder if I was going to find any other tributes at all. Always searching for tributes but finding no one at all was driving me insane. Now we are about to be handed at least one on a silver platter. It seems too good to be true, and I know it could be a trap. It doesn't matter, we can handle any trap that these pathetic tributes would throw at us.
I feel the adrenalin rush through my veins, soon I'll have more kills. Honestly I'm pretty embarrassed, I've only gotten one kill, and that was the measly girl from 12 during the bloodbath. I'm sure Chace is out there racking up the kills. The idea of him getting more than me is maddening. I just hope whoever we find is at least a bit of a challenge. Maybe it's Finch. I remember fighting him in the bloodbath, and he actually put up a good fight. He was not anywhere near Chace's level, but still I don't want it to be over too quickly.
When we are a few hundred yards away we slow down. We better catch our breath if we want to be ready. From here I can tell that there are three tributes by the fire. "Get ready," I say, taking out my sword.
I get a better look at the tributes once we're closer, they are all asleep. They'll pay for not having a lookout. I see the scrawny kid with messy brown hair, who I know to be that nerd from 3. Not too far from him is that short hick from 10, Ashlyn. Lastly by the fire is the girl with the same brown hair as mine. I know this alliance, but someone is missing. Which one? Oh, it's that boy Allan, I wonder if he was the one who died a few hours ago.
We are almost on them when I hear a branch snap. I freeze, hoping that the sound won't wake any of them. I shoot Evander a menacing look, but he shakes his head, and there aren't any branches near him. It looks like the sound came from somewhere else. I see the 3 male stirring. Come on, go back to sleep! But he doesn't go to sleep, he rolls over and sees us. For a second he stares in disbelief.
"IT'S THE CARRERS!"
When I saw Ashlyn through the thorns yesterday all I wanted to do was run over to her, tell her so many things. I wanted to tell her about my fight with Kasha, and how I've been hiding in the thorns. Mostly though I wanted to tell her how I fell about her. But I didn't, because I know that revealing myself to an alliance of four would likely end with me dead.
I wanted to go out to her when Allan set that fire and ran away. I've always known that he couldn't be trusted, even more than all the rest. I should have gone out there, stopped him, woken Ashlyn, Lex and Jade, and revealed the traitor. But I didn't, I let him slip away into the night. Instead I tried to find a way to wake them while staying in my hiding spot. By the time I found a branch to snap the Careers had shown up.
The battle is about to start. Jade and Ashlyn grab some knives. Lexeon has some kind of metal thing on his arm, which I guess is a weapon.
It has to be now. If I am going to save Ashlyn and the others I have to go now, no more being afraid. I could join them in the fight against the Careers. I could save Ashlyn.
But I stay put.
Storm rushes forward, screeching some horrible battle cry. Evander and Marius aren't far behind. Jade throws one of the knives, it hits Maruis in the shoulder, she tosses another at Strom, but it's easily blocked. Then the groups collide. A blade comes out of Lexeon's arm thing with a "Shink" sound, and he manages to stab Evander in the side. Evander retaliates by bringing his mace down nearly crushing the kid, but Lex is too fast. He rolls to the side, but he is right in front of Storm, she slashes at him, but he manages to block her blows in the nick of time.
Jade takes the opportunity to attack, but Storm is good, she parries Jade's attacks, and Jade gets hit herself. Ashlyn is facing off with Marius, who still has Jade's knife sticking out of his shoulder. Please, Ashlyn, survive. I know you can handle Marius.
Lexeon has taken the opportunity to get back on his feet and is once again facing off with Evander. The look in Evander's eye is so sad. Is that how I looked when I fought Kasha? The individual fights begin to break down and everyone is fighting everyone. Jade takes a swing at Storm, who tries to hit Ashlyn, who lands a hit on Evander.
Then out of nowhere I hear the most terrible scream I've ever heard in my life. There is so much chaos in the fight that I'm not even sure what happened for a few seconds. Then I see Storm's sword in Lexeon's chest. Right through the heart. He goes limp as she pulls it out, and the cannon sounds.
"NOOOOO!" Ashlyn yells, she has a look of pure hate, I never knew she could have on her face. She stabs Marius and knocks him to the ground, but there is no cannon to go with his fall. He's just knocked out. Jade and Ashlyn are facing off against Storm, and Storm seems to be caught a bit by surprise. They manage to get a few more hits on her until Evander finally separates Ashlyn from her.
I completely loose focus of the fight between Storm and Jade. All I know is that Ashlyn is fighting Evander. Both are hurt, Ashlyn has all kinds of cuts, and Evander has the large wound on his side from Lexeon's blade. Evander is losing a lot of blood and seems sluggish. Ashlyn is slashing away, but she can't seem to get past that mace of his, Evander is on the defensive. Block, block, block. Ashlyn isn't letting up. Then Evander swings his mace.
It makes an awful crunch sound as it hits her skull. The cannon sounds. For a second I tear my eyes away, I can't bear any more. But I have to watch, I should have fought with her, but I just sat here. I deserve to watch, and worse.
I see some movement to the left of where Ashlyn fell. Jade is making a break for it; she knows the battle is over. Her allies are dead. I hear a loud thud, which seems to distract Storm as well. It's Evander; he's finally succumb to his wounds. I think of how I should be glad as he lies in a pool of his own blood, but he was just doing what any of us would do, he didn't want to fight Ashlyn any more than I wanted to fight his district partner.
I see Storm swing the bow from her back, loading an arrow. She takes aim, ready to finish it, and I know it's over for Jade. I see the arrow fly, but it misses. In fact it misses wide by several feet in. What happened, how could Storm miss so badly?
I get my answer when I glance back at Storm. Evander holds of the bottom of her bow. He must have grabbed it as she shot! Storm in furious, she reloads her bow, pointing it at Evander ready to end him, but then it she seems to decide that it would be better for him to bleed to death.
She goes over to Maruis, picking him up. Jade is long gone by now, disappearing into the dead forest as soon as Storm missed her shot. Storm and Marius too vanish into the distance, leaving me to watch Evander die.
Allan Fur English
Two cannons. That means that at least one of my old allies is still alive. This might hinder my plans a bit; I just pray I don't run into whoever it was once I find my new allies. I'll have to give them up to the careers faster than I planned to avoid any unplanned meetings with old alliances.
I can worry about that later; I have more pressing matters to attend to, namely finding Proxy and co. I've been walking alongside the river for a few hours now. I figure my chances of finding them here are pretty good here, this is the only source of water I've seen, and it's where we ran into them when we last met.
I brush some of my dark wavy hair out of my eyes to get a better look at the river. The sun is just starting to come up, and with it, much better visibility. I decide to sit for a while and wait for it, I needed a breather anyway; my feet are killing me. I ditched my shoes right after the bloodbath, so I've been walking everywhere barefoot, just like back home. I hate shoes.
I must admit I was a little worried no one would see my fire, but my plan worked to perfection, just like back home. But there is a difference. Back home my cruel tricks never cost anyone their lives. I've just oversaw the deaths of two people; one probably was my district partner, someone who trusted me. A friend. I think I've crossed a line from which i can never turn back or forgive myself. Now I am about to do the same thing to three more people. People who share my same beliefs about the evils of the Capitol. We are on the same side and yet I'm about to kill them in the name of our mutual enemy. It's tragic how terrible yet poetic it all is.
The sun has risen and I can just barely make out some tributes down the river. It looks like my hunch was right again. It's definitely Proxy's group, I see the two girls and a boy. But as I get closer I notice something bizarre. The boy is pretty big, he is built with muscles, not some average boy, which is how I remember Dale. And the hair is wrong; Dale had ashy blonde hair, not black hair. Then it hits me. That's not Dale. That's Chace.
What the hell?
"Hey!" I call out to them. "Hey!" I see I've got their attention, and there is some discussion in the group, but sure enough they walk over to me.
"Allan, what happened to your allies?" Azeika questions as she walks over.
"The Gamemakers they drew the Careers to us, I got away, but I don't know who else made it." They all stand in silence for a moment, seemingly not sure what to do. I know they won't fight me, if they'll take Chace, they'll take me.
After a few more seconds of silence Proxy nods to Azeika, who extends her hand to me. "Welcome to the rebellion."
I smile, but I'm not at all happy about what I'm got planned for them.