The End: Part II
"Chace!" I try to shout over the noise of the crumbling arena. "Chace!" I don't know whether that cannon was his or Storm's. If it was Storm's I'm giving my position away, but if Chace is dead, what chance do I have against Storm anyway?
"Pr…y" I hear a muffled shout, and I know that isn't Storm's voice.
"Chace!" I run to where the arena split, I can hear him below somewhere shouting back to me. I desperately scan the arena; I see stains of blood everywhere, but no sign of him. "Chace!"
"I'm here!" I see him running towards me, he has cuts all over his body; he does not look great. I wonder how must I look, with my own cuts, bloody gut and broken nose, probably like I am about to die, which might not be too far from the truth. I need to find a way to get to Chace. I was all over this terrain when I fought Marius, I know how isolated I am from the rest of the arena. Finding a safe way down is out of the question. Chace getting up to my side is also impossible, I'm too high. That just leaves one option.
"Chace, I'm jumping down!"
"No, it's too dangerous, we can find another way!" He shouts back, but it's no use. This isn't going to be easy, I'll have to jump pretty far to get to the other side, and it's incredibly painful just to walk. I breathe deep and take off. I realize I'm not going fast enough to make a clean jump; I just can't run quickly enough with my injuries. I near the edge and I know it's much too late to turn back. If I stopped now I'd fall over anyway before I could slow down.
I reach the edge and try to push off as hard as when I had Marius on my back, if I could tip that boy, the just maybe I can make this jump. I see the other cliff coming at me and I know I'm not going to make it. I reach for the edge, and come up short. Suddenly I feel a terrible pain in my shoulder; I realize I've suddenly stopped in midair. I look up and see Chace holding me. I swing my other arm up to him and he grabs it too. I can see he is struggling; his arms have deep gashes in them and are still bleeding. Holding me must be causing him excruciating pain. He pulls me up anyway. He sits there breathing heavily for a minute, before he mumbles something.
"What?" I ask.
"I said….don't make me do that again." I smile back at him and he wraps me up in a tight embrace. The two of us hold each other for a moment, and our lips meet again. "I missed that," he says smiling at me. I'd never kissed anybody before Chace, so I can't compare it to anything, but it is a wonderful feeling, even on the brink of death. "We made it," he says finally.
We did make it, my plan worked, even if the person next to me isn't who I thought it would be. We are the last two. I hear a terrible crash behind me, its a reminder that the arena around us is still destroying itself. Debris is crashing down everywhere, and the shaking hasn't stopped. It dawns on me that my plan was flawed from the start. I couldn't beat the Gamemakers. Victory over them is simply impossible. Maybe there is a way to force a stalemate. There is only one way to avoid defeat, I have to stop playing by their rules.
"Chace, I'm sorry that I made you pull me up…"
"Proxy that was a joke," he says in a lighthearted tone. His look turns to a concerned one when he sees my expression. I think he knows what I'm about to do. "Don't do anything crazy," he says nervously.
"I'm making a choice, we always have a choice right?"
"Yeah, but this is clearly the wrong choice!" He shouts.
"Chace, I want us both to live more than anything, but they aren't about to let that happen." This is the only way to show everyone I control my own destiny; I'm not going to try to win this game. I've always said that I'd die to help free Panem, it's time to make good on that. I suppose I learned this trick from Dale, he didn't plan to win the games either; he knew he would have to die for Azeika to live. I couldn't protect Azeika in the end, but I can save Chace.
I have to think of the people back home too; if I won after causing so much trouble they would be in serious danger. I don't want my family, Pierce, or anyone else to be hurt or worse because of me. I just hope my sacrifice will remind the people of this country that we are never powerless, that freedom has a cost, but it is worth it. It is a bummer that I die right as I get a bit of romance.
"You were the best, you deserve this."
"Proxy, you can't kill yourself! There has to be another way. I don't care if it's me; I'm not going to let you die!"
"Sorry, but this is the way it is." I lean in and kiss him one last time, as the tears roll down my face. It's odd, I've always hated this sappy romantic crap, but sometimes it's hard not to get caught up in it yourself. I just had to do it, give myself a little treat before I die.
Chace must think the kiss means I've changed my mind, but he really should know how stubborn I am by now.
"Seeya handsome," I say stepping back.
"Proxy no!" he shouts rushing to me, but he doesn't get there fast enough as I take one last step back.
After Proxy goes over everything happens so fast.
"Ladies and gentlemen," I hear Claudius Templesmith's voice over the loudspeaker, "The victor of the Sixty-eighth Hunger Games, from District Two, Chace Castellan!" A hovercraft appears above me and a ladder drops down. Instinctively I grab it and suddenly I can't move. The ladder pulls me up to the craft, and releases me. I'm rushed by a team of doctors who patch up all of my cuts and bruises. They offer to give me something to dull the pain but I wave them off, I'm completely numb anyway. I don't understand anything.
My doctors leave and for a moment I'm alone with my thoughts. Proxy is dead, just like everyone else who went into that arena. Except for me of course. All of the people I knew in there are gone forever, I killed three of them myself. One of my victims was a defenseless little child. The next was my friend, someone who confided in me and trusted me; then I stabbed her in the back. I killed Storm too; we were so close she could have been my sister. There were the ones I failed to protect; Finch, Azekia, and worst of all Proxy. I could have found a way to stop her, I could have killed myself; it would have been better that way. She didn't volunteer, I did, I wanted to be there, and I deserved to die.
After a few minutes I have a visitor, and It's someone I don't really expect. It's Storm's Aunt Lyme, but I don't know why she would be here. She wasn't either of our mentors, and she was always a bit of a recluse in the victor's village. She is accompanied by a single peacekeeper.
"Hello Chace," she greets me. I don't have anything to say back. "What are you thinking?"
"It should have been me," I answer simply.
"Don't be naïve; Proxy knew what she was doing. If that girl would have won the results would have been disastrous."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"What do you think the Capitol would do if such an openly rebellious tribute won? They would go to great lengths to keep her out of the spotlight. I can guarantee that her friends and family would be killed almost instantly. You however, are the son of a victor, and what's more you're from District 2."
"So…" Lyme begins, "Your friends and family are safe; they couldn't kill the famous Tara Castellan could they?"
"What about Leeyla, she isn't famous, they know she is my best friend," I ask in despair.
"If you had been openly rebellious she might be in danger, but all you did ally with rebellious tributes, you never said anything anti-Capitol the entire games."
She's right, I just went along with Proxy's rebelliousness; I never spoke out against the Capitol. I glance at the other person in the room, "Aren't you a little short for a peacekeeper?"
He takes off his helmet, and I can't help thinking that he looks vaguely familiar. "He's undercover," Lyme answers, "His name is Aly River, he joined the resistance a few days ago."
The last part of the sentence catches my attention. "The resistance?"
"Yes, there has been an underground resistance in the Capitol for a few years. However this past week revolts sprung up across Panem, in fact Aly here was a leader of a revolt in 5. If we hadn't grabbed him he probably would have been executed.
"So what does this all mean, is there going to be some kind of rebellion?" I ask hopefully.
"No," Lyme answers, "At least not yet, while we have gotten a lot of support recently we need to have a lot more if we are going to risk an open rebellion. The districts are still too tightly controlled by the Capitol. Still, we are making a lot of progress."
"What kind of progress?"
Lyme tells me about how Snow is going to kill many of the Gamemakers involved in this year's games, and how Lyme thinks that at least two people secretly sympathetic to the rebellion will take their spots. They tell me about District 13, how it was never destroyed and has an army ready to fight the Capitol as soon as the districts begin to turn. Unfortunately it seems that a large amount of 13's population had been whipped out recently because of a pox outbreak. She tells me that Lolita's father, the mayor of 11, has also joined the cause. Finally she asks if I am willing to join the resistance, she says other than herself all of two's victors are loyal to the Capitol.
"I'll do whatever it takes," I answer.
Eventually Lyme leaves, and it's just me and this boy Aly sitting alone. "It's a lot to take in isn't it?" he asks.
"You could say that," I answer.
"It took me awhile to believe it myself, I mean 13 still being around; it sounds crazy."
"Yeah, its nuts," I look over at him, "I'm sorry, but I feel like I know you from somewhere."
"You have a good memory. I was on T.V. for a second on reaping day, my brother was the one who was reaped, Dale saved him."
"Oh…" An image of Acely killing Dale flashes in my head. "So Dale inspired you to rebel?"
"Yes, and not just me all kinds of people were inspired by him, he is a hero in 5. Just like Finch in 10, Q and A in 7, and I'm sure Proxy will be in 3." I do my best not to cry in front of Aly at the mention of Proxy. "You loved her didn't you?"
"I really did, you wouldn't think that I could fall for someone so quickly, but in there you really realize what's important."
"I'm sure, I don't envy you," Aly responds frowning.
"Yes, well I admire your bravery; you're giving everything up to go undercover as a peacekeeper. You're very courageous."
"Well, all of your friends inspired me, and so did you."
"Still it can't be easy to pretend to be someone else all the time."
"It isn't…" he starts, "But from what I understand, and forgive me if I'm crossing a line saying this, but weren't you pretending to be someone else for years? Acting like a ruthless career, I mean that doesn't really seem to be you."
"You don't have to worry about crossing any lines, that's completely true."
"Hey," Lyme has reappeared, "Were approaching the Capitol, get ready to disembark."
I nod and a realization dawns on me. I'm going to have to put my mask back on, for good. I'm going to have to sell that I really am a career. I'm going to have to be the same old Chace if I don't want to blow my cover. I suppose it's fitting, in the end I won because I overpowered Storm. I wonder how things would be different if where were the one sitting here now.
I'm never going to escape my façade of the typical career. I'll do my interview with Caesar and pretend I'm proud of the things I did in there. Then will be the victory tour. That's just the beginning, I'm going to have to do all kinds of stupid functions for the Capitol, until I'm dead or the rebellion actually happens. Panem doesn't need another rebel, especially not from District 2. These games have given us plenty of martyrs, I can do a lot more good as Lyme's secret lackey then as a vocal dissenter. And this way I can keep the ones I love safe.
It won't be hard for the people to believe, they all saw how ruthless I was during the games. People already know my mother so well that no one will doubt how similar we could be. Some may even remember her killing my father and assume my entire romance with Proxy was just part of the game.
Lyme speaks up once more, "We're landing, Chace are you ready?"
I close my eyes and take a deep breath. As soon as I step off this hovercraft it all starts again, the fakeness, the lies. But it's all for the good of Panem, it will move us closer to freedom. I have to do it, for myself, for everyone who is oppressed, and for Proxy.