So this is how it ends. I'm not holding out any hope I'll survive this one, even Storm knows I'm finished. I can hear footsteps walking over to me, maybe she is back to finish me off after all. It's more likely that she is just returning to insult me one last time.
Just as I'm trying to think of a comeback for one of her scathing remarks I hear a voice, and I know instantly it isn't Storm.
"Hey." Suddenly a boy with the grey eyes and shaggy chestnut hair is crouched down next to me. What is Finch doing here? Why would he of all people casually walk over to me and start a conversation? He is more closed off than any of us. Suddenly I get it. He must have seen the battle. I remember during training there seemed to be one person he cared about, the same person whose face I just crushed. Now he is here to take his revenge.
"Do what you have to do," I tell him.
"I know why you are here, you saw me kill Ashlyn, now you are going to kill me, I'm ready."
Finch remains silent and when I glace over to him I see a look of confusion, not anger like I was expecting. "That's not why I'm here," he says.
"Well," I begin, "Why are you here?"
"First of all, I wanted to ask you a question."
This is very strange, but I go along with it more out of curiosity than anything else. "What do you want to know?"
"Why did you save Jade?"
I sigh. "The battle was over, I knew I was done for, I didn't owe Storm and Marius anything, I just wanted to do one good thing before I died. I know that doesn't excuse me from murdering Ashlyn though." I say rather embarrassed.
"I don't blame you," Finch says simply.
"What the hell are you talking about? I killed her, it was my fault!"
"Maybe, but the Capitol put us here." He pauses for a moment before he is practically whispers, "I killed Kasha."
Now I understand. Finch and I are the same, we are survivors. He didn't want to kill my district partner, but he did. I didn't want to kill his district partner. But I did.
"Look at us," I wheeze coughing up blood. "Look what they turned us into. When did we forget who we are? I'm no Career. I'm just glad I won't die as one."
"What about me?" Finch sadly replies. "I just sat and watched while someone I cared deeply for was attacked. I knew she would die. If I helped, Ashlyn and Lexeon might be alive right now." We both sit for a minute letting our words hang in the air.
"Don't let them win Finch," I say finally.
"I can't beat Storm and Evander, I-"
"No, the Capitol, don't let them win."
"You can't beat the Capitol, it's impossible, only one can survive."
"I know, but don't give in, make a stand don't let them change you."
"They already have," Finch says hanging his head.
"It's not too late, you can still be a hero, don't let it end like it did for me."
"It's not over for you!" Finch grabs his supplies, shuffling through them for something to save me.
"No," I grab his arm. "I know how deep the cut went, I lost too much blood in the fight, there is nothing you have in that bag that could save me."
"Well…" Finch has a look of desperation on his face now. "Maybe a sponsor will send you something?"
I smile back. "Anything that could help me now would cost a fortune. It' over."
Finch finally gives up. "Alright, but you will die a hero too. You saved Jade."
"Thank you Finch." He grabs my hand and I hold tight. "You know, on the train I told my mentor I wanted to ally with you and Ashlyn, I think I should have stuck with my instinct."
"Well," Finch says through his tears. "Hindsight is 20-20."
I manage a laugh. "I'm proud to have known you."
"The feeling's mutual, brother."
"So, when you said welcome to the rebellion…what exactly did you mean?" Allan asks me.
"Oh," I reply with a smile, "Well you see it's actually Proxy's plan, we are going to make a stand, the capitol wants us to kill each other, but we won't."
"Well when we are the last tributes we won't kill each other, the Gamemakers will have to do something else."
"Like kill us themselves?" Allan says cynically.
"Maybe, but that isn't the finale the Capitol wants."
"Doesn't sound like a solid plan."
"It's the best we have, I want us all to make it out alive, even if it's a small chance I'll take it. And now you can survive too, and Chace." Allan looks me over. He knows I'm not entirely happy how our alliance has shifted, even if I do like him and Chace.
"What happened to him?"
"Who?" I ask even though I know exactly who he is talking about.
"It was Acely, she killed him, was about to kill Proxy and me too, but Chace saved us."
"They weren't allies?" He asks confused.
"They were, but he decided to save us, he was devastated after he killed her. They were friends after all I think, but he made a hard choice. I think he is coming to terms with it though, finally. He wanted us to kill him after it all happened. He really is selfless."
This seems to strike a chord with Allan. I think I see tears in his eyes, but it only lasts a second, and I wonder if I just imagined it. "I wonder how my district partner is doing." He somberly says. "There were only two cannons; she could still be out there." He glances over his shoulder, almost as if he is expecting her to be there waiting for him. But, of course she isn't.
"Who knows, maybe we can find her," I say cheerfully.
"Yeah, maybe…." Allan seems far off for a moment, and then abruptly changes the subject. "What's going on with them?" He says gesturing to Proxy and Chace, who have their feet soaking in the river while Proxy laughs.
"What do you mean?"
"Alright…you wanna go see what they're up to?""Sure." We head over to the pair. When Proxy sees Allan she does her best to contain a chuckle.
"What?" he says a bit defensively.
"Nothing," she grins, "Chace was just doing an impression of that scowl you always do Allan." Allan doesn't look pleased when she says this. "Hah!" Proxy blurts out, "That's the one!"
"Well," Allan says doing his best not to scowl, "What were you guys talking about, other than that."
"Well," Chace stands up. "Notice anything new about the river?"
"I can't say I do," I reply
"I didn't notice it at first either until Chace pointed it out," Proxy admits.
"What is it?" I wonder.
"It looks like the water level has dropped a few inches," Chace answers.
"Okay…why would that happen?" Allan asks.
Proxy answers this time, and she certainly isn't laughing now. "It's the Gamemakers, they are slowly killing the arena, Chace says he saw something like it before when…" She gives a sideways glace to Chace, "When he found another pool of water."
"So they are leeching the arena of resources huh?" Allan asks.
"Looks that way, and who knows if there will be another earthquake," Chace frowns.
"Those bastards never give us a break do they?" Proxy adds because she wouldn't really be Proxy unless she said something like that.
I stop to catch my breath, if I haven't lost the careers by now I never will. I lean against a tree, my berthing is pretty heavy, I just hope another tribute doesn't notice me. After a minute I'm sure that the careers are long gone. I haven't had a chance to think about what happened back there, but now here in the middle of the woods, my mind is racing. I desperately try to process the information.
Lex woke me up and the Careers were there, but Allan was gone. Who's watch was it? Lexeon's, Allan's? Where the hell was Allan, did Lexeon know? I'll never be able to ask him now. I remember a fire. Why was there a fire? Could Allan have set it? Is that what drew the Careers`1 to us?
Did Allan betray me?
I've always known he is a bit deceptive, but this seems too much, even for him. Lex and Ashlyn are dead. And what about me? Isn't District 8 supposed to stick together? Allan must have known that even if I had it in me to abandon our allies, sacrificing them was another matter. He was there at the reaping, when I volunteered for my sister. He understands the kind of person I am. I, on the other hand, have no idea what kind of person he is.
I wonder what would happen if we met again. How would I react? I don't know if I could fight him. I know he is a traitor, but he could have killed us all in our sleep. Why didn't he? I can think of two possible answers. He might have wanted us to take out someone else as well in the battle, which is a risk. Or he wanted to at least give us a fighting chance. Form what I think I know about Allan, I'd say both are true.
I can worry about our reunion when, and if it happens. At the rate tributes are going, one, if not both of us will be dead soon. Since sundown last night six have died, and by the looks of Evander it will be seven soon.
If I don't find food soon I'm certain to join them. I can't risk going back to our campsite so I'll have to find something to eat in here. There is plenty of plant life, but it's all dead. If I want to eat I'll have to hunt, but even the animals seem scarcer.
There is something about this place that reminds me of death. I'm not sure what it us exactly, maybe it's a bunch of things. I'm sure that at least one tribute has met their end in here, and I can't shake the feeling that I'm not alone.
As I'm setting up a trap I feel something strange. It starts small but becomes violent quickly. It's over almost as fast as it started. A tremor. So, it looks like the quake during the bloodbath wasn't a unique event. And I don't think I'll have to wait long for the next big one.
A slap to the face jolts me back into consciousness.
"What happened?" I say rubbing my check, now red from Storms unique alarm clock.
"We got Ash and Lex. Jade got away. Evander is as good as dead." Storm doesn't look at me as she says the last part. We both know that with Evander dead we need to rely on each other. I glance at my shoulder where Jade threw the knife. It's been freshly bandaged. I don't thank Storm, because I know neither of us wants to hear it.
She saved me because I'm her only ally, and she is mine. From here we can't afford to betray each other, it's the final two for us. Then she will rely on her strength and I'll rely on my stealth. Whoever wins will be the victor.
"Will you be alright with those injuries?" she asks concerned more for herself than my health.
"I'll be fine."
"Good, because I can't afford any more screw ups from you." I can't believe I was knocked out, by some country bumpkin no less. All the remaining tributes made it this far for a reason. I may have been able to take out Malcolm and Amata but they were no different than the kids I used to intimidate back home. Most of the other tributes left are on another level. I need Storm now more than ever.
I rub my forehead; my thoughts are still clouded after being knocked out. I try to remember who is left. Last night four tributes died, and one more, Evander, will die soon. I know that Lexeon and Proxy are dead, but the other two are a mystery.
"So who's left?"
"Well besides us and Evander there are seven of us."
"Right, so we know that Jade is alive for sure, right?"
"Yeah, so that means that between; Chacely, Allan, Aaralyn, and Proxy's group two are dead. I feel like I'm forgetting somebody…" she trails off.
I think for a second, and the thought of Ashlyn knocking me out jogs my memory. "It's Finch,"
"Right, I forgot about him, he's tough, for a kid from 10, I wonder where he is hiding...Well one thing is for sure, with Evander gone we have to be more careful. Luckily the other large alliance is destroyed so the only real threat out there is Chace."
I know that the moment Storm has been waiting for is drawing close. Her final confrontation with Chace. The ultimate battle, everyone else, even me, is just a minor obstacle to Storm. The only real challenge for her in the games is her district partner.
I feel Evander's grip loosen followed quickly by the boom of a cannon. I cross his hands over his chest and close his eyes. "Goodbye," I bid him farewell. As I wipe the tears from my eyes.
I hear the hovercraft pick him up as I walk away. I know what I need to do. I saw which way Allan ran off after he lit that fire. I don't know what he is planning, but I know it won't be pleasant. I'm going to stop it, whatever it is. There won't be any more hesitation from me. I don't care what happens to me; I won't let anyone else share in Lexeon and Ashlyn's fate.
I'm not going to play by the Capitol's rules anymore, I'm done sitting, hiding only watching out for myself. I'm no longer going to sit by while the Capitol commits their atrocities. If I don't fight for what I believe in, then what's the point of living? I'm going to do it for the ones who have died, the ones I knew, the ones I never got a chance to know before the Capitol killed them, but especially for Ashlyn.
I'd rather die a hero than live life the rest of my life knowing I was a coward.