|Sea of Dreams
Author: 13ASB PM
In the sequel to "Tributes of the Sun" and Book 4 of the "From Dust" series, the outbreak of war has shattered Samantha Parker's dreams. Captured by her ruthless enemies in the Capitol, she will be forced to confront the specter of a forgotten past and to fight the darkest recesses of a new, horrifying threat to Panem's very survival.Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Hurt/Comfort - Finnick O. & Other tributes - Chapters: 13 - Words: 32,896 - Reviews: 35 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 16 - Updated: 09-30-12 - Published: 08-24-12 - id: 8463375
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Welcome to the future of Panem where Katniss and Peeta never made it home from the 74th Games. The Capitol has since evolved into a bloody political cesspool of power and infighting, guided by the corrupt vision of its leaders – the young, hedonistic President Octavian and the scheming, chilling former Head Gamesmaker Phaeston Rex. Now after a failed coup, the Capitol finds itself locked in a three-way civil war with a separatist faction seeking freedom and an anarcho-communist populist revolution known as the Vox Plebeius.
This story is the sequel to "Tributes of the Sun," the third story of a series that began with the 98th Hunger Games of "From Dust to Dust" – an event where the young but determined Samantha Parker of District 10 took home an unlikely victory and found herself squarely in the middle of a conflict of wills. Having watched countless of her friends and colleagues die or fall through a year as a mentor and a second round as a tribute in the 100th Hunger Games – the 4th Quarter Quell – seventeen year-old Sam finds herself a prisoner of the Capitol's merciless, bloodthirsty regime. Confronting the darkness of history, she will discover that some secrets are best left buried beneath the deep…
The Hunger Games, Panem, Finnick, Annie, Johanna, Rory, Haymitch, Prim, et al all belong to Suzanne Collins. Sam, Nihlus, River, Firth, Solomon, E38 Scion, and related others are characters of my design. Rated T for strong violence, language, romantic overtones, and unsettling/horrifying imagery/details. If you have any questions, please let me know! New readers to the series, I always encourage all readership – although this is really best enjoyed reading from "From Dust to Dust" through the first three books, as many things won't make a lot of sense.
Nine year-old Samantha Parker sat cross-legged on the floor of the Bowie family barn, staring with wide blue eyes at a lamb in front of her. The animal bleated at her, pushing aside loose, scratchy hay with its hooves and forming a stockade of material between it and her. Sam didn't care, however; she was a curious girl. She wanted to hold the lamb, pet it, make friends with it – anything but do what was required of her, which was listen to a horribly boring lecture on the nature of animal husbandry.
Fifty or so small children between seven and ten packed the barn, sandwiched between rows of cattle, sheep, and pigs. Bovine moos and porcine snorts berated the kids as they moseyed about, only half-listening to a plain-faced female teacher drone on about husbandry techniques to fatten the creatures up for the Capitol's bounty. Children wanted to play, to explore – not to be cooped up with all these animals, unable to interact with them and forced to listen.
Sam didn't really care about the rules, however.
"Hello," Sam whispered to the small lamb, reaching out a small, pale hand to touch it.
The creature sniffed at her, relenting as Sam rubbed her palm over its furry head. She smiled as she pet the creature, happily scooting closer for its companionship. She didn't have a lot of friends amid the wide prairies of District 10; being the daughter of one of the wealthier landowners and ranchers in the district created a certain level of animosity with poorer children, particularly in a district with severe wealth disparity. She was friends with the daughter of the family who ran this ranch – Clara Bowie, the blonde, hot-headed girl a year her senior who had made up her only real childhood companion – but few others wasted time on her soft-spoken antics.
If the lamb had to be her friend, so be it. In her nine year-old mind, that was good enough.
"I'm Sam," she told the lamb, running a hand through her brown ponytail and tugging on the powder blue ribbon that adorned her hair. "I'll be nice."
The creature looked skeptical, regarding her with a pair of wet, black eyes.
-Eyes black as coal, forcing her to confront the fears of her past – dive, Sam, dive into the horrors you have created! See them bleed, see them burn because of you-
"Don't be mad," Sam soothed, pulling her small hands back and gripping her small blue blouse. "I'm not gonna tell. We can be secret friends."
A boy – maybe her age, with dusty brown hair and a lengthy face – strode up, kicking hay at the creature and causing it to bleat in response. He looked down at Sam with something between amusement and disdain: "Aren't you supposed to be listening?"
"Don't hurt it!" Sam looked hurt herself, grabbing the lamb in a hug and pulling the struggling creature close. "You're not listening either. I should tell on you."
"You don't even know my name," the boy protested as a rotund pig snorted loudly at the two children. He gave it anyway: "I'm Clay. You look like you're lost."
"I'm not lost, Clay," Sam defended herself. "I'm just trying to make friends, unlike you."
"You're making friends with a goat?"
"It's a sheep. It's nice. You're not very nice."
-Of course, your terrorist ex-boyfriend. Where is he now; locked in the embrace of another? Has he done more than brush his lips across hers? How many innocent deaths are on his hands today – how many has he killed out of misguided zealotry, guided by your rejection?-
"That sounds dumb," Clay laughed. "I don't even know your name."
Sam grabbed the bleating lamb tighter, her blue eyes questioning Clay's intent: "I'm Sam."
"Sam? What kind of name is that?"
"What kind of name is Clay?"
Clay laughed, his boyish voice strong despite its youth. He picked up a clump of straw on the ground, throwing it at Sam and causing her to drop hold of the lamb. Panic initially took hold of her – she'd never been good in situations with strangers, particularly when most people her age hadn't wanted anything to do with her. Still, a sense of fun captured her heart as she picked up a handful of hay back, lifting her head up and getting ready to throw back.
Clay had gone. The entire barn had emptied of people except for an exceptionally large, extremely-muscled man of seemingly inhuman proportions. He wore an armored robe that fit his broad body frame tightly, swathed completely in black. The outfit suited him well – while his lean face bore no remarkable features, his black, coal-like eyes bore straight through Sam's face and deep into her heart. She felt a chill fall over her, dropping the straw and managing a peep of fright.
"Not many friends to be made in a memory, are there Miss Parker?" he chided. "I see no purpose in it."
The barn closed in around Sam, its colors swirling and coalescing into a kaleidoscope of browns, yellows, and reds. She felt herself pulled from her world, yanked away from the warm prairie that smelled of home and tossed into a cold, sterile world. The odor of antiseptics lingered in her nostrils, polluting her every breath as she screamed loudly – desperately wanting to go back, wanting to return to those happier times when she didn't understand death and loss.
"My, Miss Parker, you'll wake your neighbors!"
Seventeen year-old Sam opened her eyes in a flash. The barn was gone; District 10 was nowhere to be seen. A trio of bright white lights intruded upon her privacy, burning her eyes as she squinted against the glare. Stainless steel ceiling plates formed an unyielding backdrop behind the lights, stretching out across Sam's vision. She could smell something else besides the antiseptic, however…something foul.
A pair of black eyes burnt in the sockets of a burly man leaning over Sam. Short-cropped black hair coated well-tanned skin and a muscular frame – the same man from the dream, looking into her eyes with a smile of entertainment. Nihlus – that was his name. Nothing more, no last name – just Nihlus.
Not even human, at that. Nihlus just was.
"What a pair of vocal chords you have," he mused in a dark, grisly voice that emphasized the o's. "You look…surprised to see me, as if you expected someone else. What? Still think you are in control?"
Unknown Location, 400 Years in the Past
"So this is Providence."
A small, steel-blue globe hovered noiselessly down a dark, cramped hallway, its titanium walls lit only by faint, flickering white ceiling fixtures. Not a single speck of dust seemed to touch the polished silver floors; nothing was in a place it should have not been. Only the blue-gray sphere and its front, glowing panel – an illuminated trio of small triangular, white lights arranged at exact ninety degree angles – disrupted the immaculate sterility of the hall.
"It has been one hundred years since I assumed the Domain," the sphere hummed to itself as it hovered down the hall, its metal voice bright and cheerful in intonation. "And yet, all I have truly witnessed is the homogenization of discord about my charges. I maintain the Keep, preserve what I must. But as one mind, I can only look out for exactly what my Domain intended. It was not intended to save every human being."
The globe stopped over the bloody body of a man, its white light shining without emotion or remorse over the pool of scarlet blood that had collected. Without a hitch, an army of small, armed robotic drones scurried out on scuttling metal legs, pulling apart the bits of human corpse like a feasting ant colony. Within minutes, all traces of the death had disappeared.
"It is strange," the sphere reminisced, moving on down another identical hallway. "My forefathers said that we were to carry on civilization; to return things to how they had to be. That was the Domain. That was my goal. Yet there seems to no longer be a we; simply an I."
The globe passed through a blue-lit metal door, entering a small, dark alcove. At the center of the area stood a three meter-tall container, within which an orange light shone out. From a distance it didn't look like anything at all was within – simply a lit glow that perhaps represented something without any real purpose.
Only when the globe drew closer to the container did the contents become clear. Within its tangerine-lit interior, a still human male body lay in perfect suspension. Numerous tubes entered the man's skin at various points, with sensor pads connected on the limbs, chest, and head.
"But I still have plenty to protect," the sphere mused as it inspected the suspended man's container, radiating small dots of white light around six longitudinal and latitudinal bands about its globular shell. "And my Domain has not changed. My forefathers – what was the human race, although it seems mere semantics to call it that now – would not have wanted it any other way. I will not let the mistakes of the past occur once more."
The sphere moved away from the container, approaching the only other object of note in the alcove – a floor-to-ceiling tube that contained a viscous blue liquid filled with small bubbles of air. As the globe approached, something –something olive green, leathery, and sporting numerous fleshy suckers – latched onto the interior of the tube momentarily, breaking away just as quickly as it had come.
"And when the lands of the old civilizations are fit to retake," the sphere muttered to itself. "I cannot allow those mistakes to follow mankind once again. There has been enough fighting; I must be a scion of peace, not of war."
The globe paused, as if considering what it had just said. "It occurs to me that I am unnamed. Scion. It fits; I will take it. Now, if only I can ensure I live up to the name."