Blood Debt: The 68th Hunger Games

By TJ_Flynn

Action / Scifi

Guilt

Aaralyn Twilia

As the sun sets the farmiliar anthem is played once more. I've made it another day, I'm that much closer to victory. I glance up at the sky trying to see which of my compeditors lost their lives in the past day. The first face I see is a bit of a shock, the District 1 girl. She wasn't with the careers when they attacked me, but the boy from 2 who was also absent from the ambush by the waterfall seems to have lived because the next face is the boy from 3. Then is the kid from 5 and the big guy from 9 who allied with the Careers. The last one is Ashlyn from 10.

A lot of strong tributes died yesterday, including two careers. I know why the body count is so high. This is the point in the games when everyone starts turning on each other. I'm sure there were some battles too, but at least a couple were definitely killed by their "allies."

Sure, teaming up with others sounds good in the beginning, when there are so many out to kill you, but as the number of competitors drop everybody realizes the inevitable. If they want to win they will have to kill each other at some point, and they had better get it over with. I see it happen every year. No one is worse than the career pack.

Everyone always thinks that for whatever reason their allies will be different, that they won't betray them. But then you realize that the three or four people that have survived so long with you are real contenders. I remember how everyone was so "Buddy buddy" acting like friends during training. I doubt that they are still felling that now. I'm sure that at least one alliance is still holding together, there are always the nobler ones who wait till the end to kill each other, but even that can't last forever.

Tributes who have gotten used to having someone help them, watch their backs, are in for a rude awakening. They will suddenly have to adjust to surviving on their own, but I'm ahead of the curve. They have all been clinging to each other for survival, and while together they may have been strong, alone they are weak. Now they will pay the price for their refusal to be self-reliant. They will pick each other off, and the survivors will be weakened, easy pickings.

Speaking of which, I seem to have stumbled on a trail of blood on the ground. It looks like someone has wandered into my woods, and they're injured. Tracking whoever it is shouldn't be too hard, then I can take them out. I'll show everyone how strong I really am. It won't be like when I found Lolita, this time it will be me, not some Gamemaker trap that gets the kill. Then my family will know how strong I am.

I have to be strong; I can't afford to make any mistakes. My target may be injured, but so am I. I still have a fresh arrow wound in my arm, and I need more than a first aid kit for it to fully heal, I need real doctors with real medical tools. I'm just glad the bone isn't broken. It severs as a reminder of my mistakes. Almost letting Lolita escape, getting caught by the careers, I can't afford any more slip ups.

I will destroy my opponent, or be destroyed myself.

Storm Shields

So Acely is dead. What exactly does that mean for my friend Chace?

"Haha!" Marius laughs. "Chace's ally is dead, we have the advantage again!"

"Maybe…" I say grimly.

"What are you talking about, he is all alone, we can finish him off."

"I wouldn't put it past Chace to find another ally or two, who knows what happened to Allan, maybe they conspired together. Maybe he has found Aaralyn and joined forces."

"I don't think Aaralyn would do that." Marius says dismissively.

"Maybe not, I don't know Aaralyn very well, but I know Chace, and he will find someone to protect him."

"You think he could find allies?" Marius foolishly asks.

"He is one of the strongest tributes out here, and he is a lot more likable than either of us." I say with a frown.

"I never really thought of likeability as an advantage…"

"Clearly."

Its true Marius may be the one person more hated out here than me. Evander was the only one of us that the other tributes could stand. But the games aren't a popularity contest. Sure some sponsors want to send some gifts to the likable ones early on, but as more likable tributes get killed off, people get reluctant to send them gifts. The gifts get more expensive and people send stuff to the tributes they have bet on and those are the ones like me.

I do wonder what Chace has gotten up to though. I don't doubt him grabbing some other tribute and teaming up with them if he lost Acely. He might have even allied with her killer, or have killed her himself. I wouldn't put it past him.

The time of our glorious confrontation is drawing near. The other competitors are dying quickly, fewer and fewer things standing in the way of our final battle. I wonder if I'll kill Marius before or after my fight with Chace. I guess it depends on the circumstances. If there are any other tributes I could have him go fight them while I battle Chace, then take Marius, or the person who killed him, out after. Still, I think it would be nice to give Chace 2nd place, he deserves it more than the waste of space sitting next to me. Oh and now he is opening his stupid mouth again, no doubt to ask something stupid.

"So what's the next move?"

"We wait," I answer. In a way I almost miss Evander, he was much more interesting to argue with. But he was noisy, and Marius is creepily quiet, except of course when he is questioning me.

"Wait? What are you talking about? We should be hunting down tributes."

"I doubt we'll find many at this point, all the weak and stupid ones have been killed."

"What about Aaralyn?" Marius asks. "We found her pretty easily before."

"Right, so I doubt she'll make the same mistake twice, she is a contender."

"So we do nothing?" Marius says clearly frustrated.

"We don't have to, the Gamemakers will bring the other tributes to us, we just have to be patient."

Allan Fur English

So Jade is alive. I know how disastrous that could be for me, but I'm glad. If I can't get out of here, I hope that she can. She is a survivor, and I know she has as much of a shot of making it out as anyone else. Especially if I take out Chace, he is the strongest of any of us, along with Storm. But Chace isn't as I remember him, in fact none of my new allies are.

Proxy and Chace have seem to brought something else out in each other, their less serious sides. Maybe I can use that to my advantage. Azeika on the other hand seems to have gotten more serious. Dale's death has affected her greatly, she is now as openly rebellious as Proxy. Honestly I think these small changes has actually kind of endeared me to them. It's going to be even harder to betray them than I thought. That, however, is the nature of the Hunger Games.

Proxy and Azeika's plan is certainly noble, and I really wish it could work, but I am a realist, and I know that it is just impossible. There is nothing we can do in the face of the Capitol, we are just their little playthings. We give the Capitol their strength and they take everything from us. Any defiance is met with sever punishment. Like my mother.

Why did she have to do it, defy the Capitol? Why couldn't she have just been obedient? Then I would still have a mother. My father and I wouldn't be exiled to District 8, and I never would have been reaped. We'd still be in District 1, all three of us, a happy family. I would still be an ungrateful spoiled brat.

My mother's sacrifice wasn't in vain; it opened my eyes to the evils of the Capitol. I may not be the nicest person now, but when I think back on how entitled I was while living in 1 I make myself sick. What good has any of it done me really though? I've still played these games exactly as the Capitol wanted me to. What must my father think of me, or my friends? There are only nine of us left, which means interviews back home are just around the corner.

What will the ones I care for say about me? How can they defend such horrible actions? I'm just glad I don't have to see what any of them have to say. I need to focus on what is important in the games, staying alive.

Right now that means staying keeping watch. It's the first time that my new allies have trusted me to take watch on my own watch. I could betray them now, but I think I'll wait a bit; these are the last allies I have, so I may as well survive a bit longer with them. Let a few of the other tributes fight it out.

I hear something to my left and my head snaps around. My eyes are focused on the spot it just came from, but there is nothing. Suddenly there is another noise behind me, I turn around and the next thing I know there is an ax in my chest.

Finch Anderson

Bullseye. I got the bastard right in the chest. I see him wobble a bit then topple, falling on his face. Finding him was easy enough, I saw him head to the river after betraying his old allies. Then I just followed it till I found some tributes, and sure enough he was with them; Proxy, Chace and Azeika. I'm a little surprised to see a die hard career with these rebellious tributes. For a moment I consider taking him out too, but I don't know the situation so I hold back.

There is one tribute I know to be guilty, the one I just killed with my ax. Actually, the cannon should have already gone off. Why hasn't it? Damn, I glance over to where he lies on the ground, and it's obvious he is still moving. I run over to him, ready to finish the job before he wakes the others. I think I'd have a hard time convincing them that he isn't the one to be trusted while I'm murdering him.

He hasn't made a sound yet so I have to be fast. Just as I'm about to grab my ax I fall over. It takes a second for me to figure out what is going on. It's another tremor. The timing couldn't be worse. The quake has woken Proxy and the others, and Chace is looking right at me.

I grab my ax; all I have time to do is get on the defensive. Chace grabs his sword too and I hear one of the girls, groggily ask, "What is going on?"

Chace doesn't bother to answer her; he is too busy attacking me with his sword. I block his first couple swings, but I'm almost overtaken by him already. His power and style is just like Storm's. I remember our fight during the bloodbath, if it wasn't the earthquake she would have killed me, no question. I don't think that I can hope for such luck again. In fact they seem to have triggered the tremor to cause a fight rather than prevent one.

"I don't suppose you would believe I was trying to save your life?" I say almost out of breath already.

"I'm afraid not," Chace says before taking another big swing. This one finally knocks me over. Chace is about to kill me. I know it's over, I'm just glad I'm keeping my word to Evander.

"STOP!" Allan yells.

"What?" Chace freezes, not sure what is going on. Neither am I.

"Why…" Allan begins barely able to speak, "Why did you say you were saving them?"

"From you," I gasp, "I saw what you did to your allies, how you gave them up to the careers. I couldn't let that happen again."

For a moment the arena is completely quiet. Then Allan speaks up, "He's…telling the truth."

"What?" Chase says in shock, "I don't understand…"

"Why come clean now?" I ask.

"Well, I'm dying anyway…" His words seem to echo Evanders. "I'm done playing games; Finch was trying to save you. The Capitol wants you to kill him Chace." Chace peers at the sword in his hand with such a look of disgust. "I wanted to stand up to the Capitol, but I never could. All of you are stronger than I could be."

No one really knows what to say, and then he addresses me personally. "Finch, I'm sorry about Ashlyn. I was selfish. And Proxy, I'm sorry about Lex." Proxy has tears in her eyes. "You have to survive, show the Capitol that they aren't all powerful. I am not innocent; I deserve this, but never forget who the real opponent is. I lost sight of things."

"It's alright Allan." Azeika says trying to comfort him. "We forgive you." She looks to us for reassurance, but all I feel is pity. I may have hated the Capitol, but they never could have driven me to the lengths that Allan went to.

"No," Allan responds. "I don't deserve it; I am what the Capitol made me. A monster." He chokes a bit and the last thing he manages to get out is "If you see Jade tell her I…I'm…" But he never finishes.

Chace Castellian

I barely register the cannon when it goes off. I can barely think, so much has gone on. I played right into the Capitol's hand again. Allan's dying wish to see the Capitol fall is the only thing that stopped me from killing Finch, who was trying to save my life.

Nothing in this place makes sense. Tawny, Acely, Allan, Kairen. Did any of them deserve to die? Many of them were friends, but I played a part in every one of their deaths. Allan betrayed me, but I betrayed Acely. Allan meant to give us up to Strom so she could kill us, but is that worse than murdering Kairen? And what about Finch? He saved us by killing Allan, just as I did with Acely. What's next for him? Will he join us, or just run away, back where he came?

As if she is reading my mind, Proxy turns to Finch and asks, "What will you do now Finch?"

Finch rubs his head, unintentionally smearing some of Allan's blood on his forehead. "I don't know, I never thought it would come to this. Can I…." He trails off.

"You are welcome to join us; after all you just saved our lives. Right?" She turns to Azeika and I now.

"Of course," Azikia quickly replies.

"Um….well, yeah," I add.

"Thank you," He says, "I think I need to get some sleep, I've had two conversations in the past couple hours with people while they lay dying, so…"

"Here is a blanket," Azeika gives up her blanket to the boy.

"Thank you," He says curling up into a ball on the ground. "It's been a very long day." He is asleep in under a minute. Azeika heads a few feet away and turns in as well. It's just me and Proxy.

She walks over to the place where I sit by the water. "Hey, how you holding up?"

"Not well."

"I'm sorry," she takes a seat next to me.

"Everything is a lot more complicated when you have a conscience. I don't know who is guilty in all of this."

"Well…" she says as her arm grazes mine, "I think we are all somewhat guilty. I know I feel responsible for Dale's death."

"But-"

"Just listen," she says putting her hand to my chest gently, "If I had never thought up this plan, taken Azeika and Dale with me, he might still be alive, maybe they would have done better alone."

"You can't know that."

"I know, but still, I wonder…and Azeika feels far more guilty than I do. He did come in here for her after all." I never thought about it like that, but still I don't blame either of them. "But neither of us is really responsible for his death, and really it wasn't even Acely's fault. As guilty as any of us are, all of the evils that take place here can be blamed on people far away."

I see the fire in her eyes. While I sat here wallowing in sadness and self pity, she hardened her resolve. Proxy never forgets who she is really fighting.

"Thank you." She reaches out and hugs me. Something about it just feels right. We hold each other for what seems both a very short, but somehow also an incredibly long time. When we finally do break apart neither of us says anything. We lay down and she covers me with her blanket. When we hold each other again I'm not sure if it's for warmth or just because we didn't want that hug to end.

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