The End: Part I
"There they are!" Storm yells as our foes appear. "You know what to do." I nod. I ready my sword, I'm going to kill this little girl from 3. We rush forward, and so do they. Chace practically howls at us as we approach, he holds the scythe I've seen him carry since the bloodbath. Just as we are about to reach them another tremor shakes the arena. I see, behind Proxy, a crack in the earth furiously making its way towards us and I step out of its path as quickly as I can.
The crack runs right under proxy's feet, confusing her for a second before she realizes what's going on. At the last second she rolls to the side and then the ground opens up. The sound of the earth splitting is almost deafening, this is not like the bloodbath. It's much worse than that. The side Proxy and I are standing on is not only pushed away from the others, but upward. Our chunk of the arena is now separated from them by a few feet horizontally and vertically, and the shaking never stops.
"Proxy!" I hear Chace yell.
"I'm fine, worry about Storm!" he replies. Not that Chace has a choice. No one, not even Chace, could jump both far and high enough to reach us. I on the other hand could probably jump down to kill him, or Storm, I just have to take care of one person first.
"Hello, Proxy," I grin mischievously at her. The girl can barely stand up. She seems distracted, not only by her ally fighting Storm, but by the entire arena. I let myself glance around to see what has her so concerned. It isn't just our little spot that's cracked, the entire arena is crumbling. I see the waterfall, dried up by now, crack, the entire plateau falling to the ground in a colossal plume of dust.
Everywhere the arena is being destroyed; there is no escaping this one. This will be the final battle; the Gamemakers have made sure of that. They have even divided us up appropriately. Now is my chance to shine. I will get to take down this weakling, who only managed to get a one during training. This will be my glorious triumph for all of Panem to see.
Proxy stands up and stares at me with an intensity that I've never seen before. She isn't just the crazy girl from 3 anymore. She is a warrior; maybe fighting her won't be as easy as I thought. I quickly try and recall any injuries I can take advantage of. She was hit by that knife Aaralyn threw at the feast. It hit her in the stomach, I can use that. Everyone has a weak point; you just have to know where it is.
Without a word I sprint towards Proxy. She stands her ground, ready for whatever I am able to throw at her. This is where it ends for her.
"Hello Chace," I say with a smile.
"Storm, we don't have to do this, we can just stop!"
"Come on Chace, look around you. Only one person is going to survive, no matter what." Chace glances around nervously. He always has had a soft spot, maybe this Proxy girl has brought it out, but he won't hesitate to fight me. "This is how it was always going to be. You and I, fighting it out, the winner will be the victor of the games."
"I'll kill you if I have to," Chace responds. There is the Chace I know.
"I'm counting on it," I respond, "That is if I don't kill you. A death at your hands would be an honor."
"Storm, don't you see how brainwashed we've been our entire lives?"
I shrug. "Don't tell me you aren't looking forward to this, to our last glorious battle. Proving once and for all which of us is better?" Chace hesitates; I know he wants this battle as much as I do. He has the same passion that I do. It isn't a bloodlust, not like Fathom, it's the desire to win, to be the best.
"Let's end it," Chace responds. I oblige him.
We rush at each other with such speed that I'm sure our moves must be a blur to anyone watching at home. In a matter of only a few seconds each of us has attacked and parried the other several times. Chace swings high and I parry his scythe downward leaving me an opening high. But Chace is too quick; in one fluid motion he leans back and strikes my sword with his weapon, knocking it out of the way.
I smile at him and he smiles back. "Just like old times eh?" I quip.
"Not quite," he responds rushing forward. He comes at me with his scythe, managing to graze my leg, but having such a long weapon also has its disadvantages. I quickly bring my sword down on the wooden part of his scythe and it's easily snapped. Chace doesn't waste any time bringing out a sword, he must have known his favorite weapon wouldn't last in a battle with me. It looks like we will be doing this the old fashioned way.
Chace charges at me, his hits are; high, low, and in the middle. He is everywhere. I easily parry each, but his goal isn't to hit me. He wants to force me off the edge. I need to stop his advance, the cliff is only a few feet away. It's time to take a risk. I parry his blow and roll to the left, away from the edge.
Chace almost gets me as I get back up, but I'm safe for now. There is no break in the action as we continue to slice at one another. He tries for a strike from above, quickly bringing his sword down on me, and instead of blocking I try a doge. The attack has left Chace off balance; I quickly take a step to his right and attack, ready to hit him in the ribs. Chace attempts to block me, but he is only half successful, instead of hitting his ribs I draw blood from his arm.
Both of us are drenched in sweat, lesser tributes would have completely exhausted themselves by now, but Chace and I are the best there is. We could do this for hours. I run forward, straight at Chace, close enough for him to strike me, waiting till the last second to sidestep, and launch in the air at him from his weak side. If Chace has tried to hit me when I was right in from of him my aerial attack would have killed him, but Chace is too smart to have taken the bait. Instead he holds a defensive stance and easily blocks my strike. Now it's his turn to attack.
He lunges forward at me; his attack leaves us each with our weapons out of place. Chace doesn't need a weapon, Chace is a weapon. He kicks me in my chest so hard I fall over. I fall on my back, he comes at me ready to bring my sword down, but he is not the only one who can use his feet. I swing my left leg at Chace knocking him over.
Both of us scramble to our feet when we hear a cry from above us. It's Proxy. We hesitate for a moment, but there is no cannon, not yet. By the time this is all over three more cannons will sound.
Marius knew right where to hit me, right in the spot where just yesterday Aaralyn's knife struck me. I stumble backwards, still clutching the sword that once belonged to Allan. Allan, who despite his flaws, and they were some serious flaws, would be rooting for me right now. He hated the Capitol almost as much as I do, and didn't want to be here any more than the rest of us.
My opponent is just as devious as Allan was, but shows no remorse. He is ready to take me apart. He actually has already started to, literally. I can feel that a couple of my stitches have given way; I'm bleeding all over the place. I am having a bit of trouble walking as I clutch my side.
He comes at me again, and I'm barely able to block his attacks in time. He is enraged, coming at me with such fury, but his attacks are all offense, he leaves himself open. I block him once more and manage to stab him, but no more than the tip of my sword touched him, the wound is minor.
"Hah! You'll have to do better than that, little girl." I don't like the condescension in this prick's tone. He attacks again, and I find it more and more difficult to block his attacks. I begin to notice something about his attacks. His strikes are a bit over the top, they are bigger than they need to be. He lacks the precision that I've seen in the careers. It's like he is trying to fight like the careers so badly he is overcompensating, making his attacks far more dramatic than they need to be. Like a child playing swords with his friends, he has no subtlety.
I back up as he swings at me, and he misses badly. He swipes horizontally to the left then the right, and back left again. His antics have left him completely out of position and I quickly hobble forward and push his sword back with my own until I can cut deep into his arm. Marius winces and drops his sword. It clangs to the ground, teeters on the edge of the cliff for a second than falls over.
Marius backs up; I can see the look of total fear in his grey eyes. He has no weapon and a badly hurt arm. On the other hand I'm hurt pretty bad myself, and I never was the best with a sword. Marius rushes at me and I take a swing at him, but he quickly ducks out of the way. He uppercuts me right in my wound.
I cry out in pain as his fist makes contact, and then I do something terrible, I drop the sword. It seems to fall in slow motion, hitting the ground with a clang. For a moment Marius and I stand frozen, then both of us dash for the weapon. He dives for it; his fingers are just inches away when I jump towards it. Each of us is grasping for the sword, madly reaching for it, and instead of either of us grabbing it all we manage to do is knock it away. Then that sword too is lost over the cliff. It looks like this is a fist fight.
Marius doesn't waste any time, he lands a wicked punch on my saw, and I stagger backward. Unlike his sword fighting he knows how to use his hands. He probably used to beat people up all the time back in 6. He hits me again, this time it's in the face. I hear a cracking sound and I know my nose is broken.
My nose is bleeding like crazy, and Marius just keeps coming at me. The next thing I know he is behind me with his arms around my neck. I need oxygen, my lungs beg for it; his hands are practically crushing my windpipe. I can't think anymore. So I don't think, I just act.
I push off the ground as hard as I can, like I'm trying to jump high into the air. Marius and I tumble backward. I land softly on top of him, but I hear his head hit the ground with a loud thump. I quickly get up, and I can tell Marius is bleeding from the back of his head. He gets up, but he is woozily stumbling around.
I muster up every last bit of strength I have and kick him in the chest. Marius flies backwards over the edge of the cliff, disappearing into the abyss. A few seconds later I hear his cannon.
The realization that I have now killed someone takes a few seconds to sink in. I've played right into the Capitol's hands; given them exactly what they wanted. I thought maybe I could find a way to avoid it, but I'm just another piece to them.
I have no doubt that the people of the Capitol are cheering me on, inspired that I've finally spilled blood. I hate myself. People say that I had no choice, that if I didn't I would die, but as Chace is fond of saying, there is always a choice.
I don't know if the cannnon was for Proxy or Marius, but I have to kill Storm, because if Proxy is alive, she will kill her, and I can't let that happen. If I find out Marius killed Proxy, his death will not be quick or painless.
Storm takes a swipe at me and I duck out of the way, trying to jab her with my sword as I do. She quickly parries the blow, launching a counter attack of her own. She swipes down my chest, and manages to cut my shirt, mere inches away from killing me.
"So…" Storm begins as our swords clash once more, "I've been wondering what that girl, Leeyla, said to you after you volunteered. Storm and I exchange a few more blows, I've been thinking about that ever since I got on the stage. In fact I've even passed what he said along to other tributes when I feel like I am at my lowest.
"She said," I respond as I parry a low strike, "That we always have a choice."
"That's a nice way of thinking, but it isn't true." She sidesteps another of my attacks. "This battle right here is our destiny."
Neither of us have any words after this. I make a move to strike her leg but she carefully steps out of the way again. She lunges at me, and I block her just in time. For a moment we stand next to one another, eyes locked. All around us the arena crumbles, debris flies everywhere. The entire place is being leveled, but neither of us flinches. Storm is right about one thing our whole lives building up to this.
Storm spins, trying to hit me on my weaker side, but I'm too quick. I evade the blow and land another hit on her leg. The attack leaves me open, and she strikes the shoulder of my weak hand. She is matching me blow for blow. If I'm going to have a chance I need to be patient, wait for the opportune moment. I can't settle for these glancing hit. My next blow must be a fatal one.
She attacks, aiming this time for my stomach, and I block it easily. I realize too late that my belly wasn't her real target. Once our blades are locked she turns and elbows me right in the face. I'm stunned for a moment, but I catch myself before I fall.
In my momentarily hesitation she hits me four or five times, she does it so fast I don't have a chance to count the strikes. I'm bleeding all over the place. I'm going to die soon. Storm attacks my left, and in my injured state I don't block her in time. Her blade pierces my arm. She goes for my leg, and lands another hit. She raises her sword in a huge arc ready to bring her sword down on my skull and I manage to block her just in time.
She doesn't waste any time, she is swinging again, this time from the side. Our swords meet, each of us trying to overpower the other and end it. When the sword finally makes contact I know it's over. I feel it slide into the ribs, hitting all kinds of important things. I don't know if it was skill or luck, or maybe fate, but it's over. There is no coming back from a wound like this.
"At least I die with honor…" Storm says as a pool of her own blood forms beneath her.
"What about your glorious victory?"
"Well," she says taking a breath, "You can't always get exactly what you want. This is acceptable, I guess, I've made our district proud, and you are the best there is. Our battle was a glorious honor. I was worried Finch or Aaralyn would kill me before I got the chance to fight you. Or maybe Marius would stab me in the back." For a second I begin to wonder if Marius is lurking somewhere, but I would have seen him jump down, if he could even make the jump that is.
"What about it being our destiny to fight, I thought you were sure we would meet up?"
Storm shrugs, "I've been wrong before."
"That's true," I say back with a smile.
"Hah," she laughs. "Alright, you know what to do."
I do. I place my sword to her heart and she grabs my other hand in hers. I suppose even Storm is afraid of death. I end it quickly. Her grip loosens as the cannon sounds.
"Goodbye, old friend."