This is my first work in the Hunger Games fandom, although I have written for other books. I just happened to think: 'what would happen if a certain character had been just a little bit smarter? What would have happened then?' It is a oneshot – I have no intention to expand it. Read and enjoy.
They catch me by the lake. I have been careful, oh so careful, about my timing. But now, I have to admit that I wasn't as smart as I could have been. I should have known they'd leave a guard. It's ironic that in the Hunger Games, thirst was what killed me.
No. No. I can't think like that. I'm not dead yet, but I will be if I don't do something. Now.
I know it's degrading, but as District Four holds a knife at my throat, I do the one thing I can do. I plead. I'm not entirely aware of what I say but obviously it pleases her as I feel the pressure at my throat loosen a bit.
"What did you say?" she demands. She's trying to keep her emotions under control, but even I can see that she's excited.
I think fast, craning my memory for what I said.
"I can reset the mines for you" I tell her, praying that I remembered correctly. "You can use them to booby trap your supplies."
Evidently I did, as she removes the knife and grabs me by the jacket.
"Stay there" she orders, one dark skinned hand pointing to a bag of supplies. "Don't move. You know what will happen." She twirls the knife anyway, just in case I didn't get the point.
Mutely, I nod and sit over on the bag. I'm not suicidal, and there are no weapons I can use. I'm not even sure if I can restart the mines. District Three may make all of the electronic devices, but the only people allowed anywhere near Factory One, where they make the devices needed for the Hunger Games – tracker chips, mines, hovercams – are old enough to not be picked and not able to give information to anyone young enough to be picked.
Because if someone interfered with any of the devices, the Capitol's Game's would be ruined. And of course, the amusement of the Capitol is what counts most.
Not that I'm complaining. We're pretty well off in my District. Maybe not as rich as the Career Districts but we're richer than all of the others. Maybe even more well off than District Four, although it sure doesn't feel like that right now.
Of course, I have to act like I know what I'm doing. Or else I'm dead. It's a cheerful thought, isn't it?
I spend the best part of the next few hours trying to figure out ways of getting out of this situation. When none appear, I focus on how I'm going to be able to reset the mines.
It's tougher than it sounds, especially since I haven't managed to look at any yet – District Four says something about me not doing anything until the others get back. Someone's obviously running the show around here, and it doesn't look like it's her.
Speak of the Devil. The other five Careers have just shown up and they don't look like they're happy with District Four at all. I can't hear what they're saying, but the girl from Two – Clove, I think her name was – is brandishing a knife in my direction.
After a short argument, Clove stomps over to me.
"You're staying. But if you don't do what you say you do-" here she pauses for dramatic effect, and makes sure I notice the very sharp looking knife she's carrying – "You're going to go through what that bag over there is."
I'm stopped from wondering exactly what that is when a knife flies through the air and lands in the bag with an audible thump.
I gulp and nod.
"Good." says the boy from Two. "Now get to work. Glimmer -" The girl from One nods. "Keep an eye on him, would you?"
"Yes Cato" she says.
"Umm…" I really don't want to talk to any of them, lest they decide that I'm not too valuable to kill after all. "Won't I need something to use to dig up the mines?"
"Silence!" Cato barks. "Speak only when spoken too. But you have a point. Lover boy -"
I just notice that instead of the dark-skinned District Four boy, the sixth tribute is the boy from District Twelve. Four must have died yesterday. I missed it while I was still mourning the loss of Switch. That's odd, though. Careers don't usually die in the bloodbath.
Peeta – I think that's his name - digs around in a pack until he finds a small knife and hands it to me. Yeah! I think. Now I have a weapon.
Unfortunately, Glimmer has other thoughts. She possesses a golden bow, which is currently loaded and pointing at me.
Her District partner smirks. "Try anything, and you know what will happen." He mimes the sound of an arrow whizzing.
Clove groans. "Shut up District One. You're getting on my nerves. And you know what happens to people who get on my nerves…"
"Yeah right" shoots back District One arrogantly. "I bet you're just scared to take me."
Wow. I never though anyone could be so ridiculously stupid. Unluckily for me – I'd actually like to watch them kill each other – District Four steps in.
"Calm down, Mars."
Mars? Seriously? His parents named him after a freaking god! No wonder the guy's arrogant.
"Relax Varia" he drawls. "I'm always calm."
And the guy thinks he's god's gift to women, too. How annoying can one guy get?
"Come on, District Three." Glimmer drags me away before I can see the rest of the conversation. "I'm getting impatient. And you don't want that to happen, do you?"
What is it with the the threats? I think we've established that I'm not going to run away by now. They should be able to figure that if I can rewire mines I'm not stupid.
Oh well. I don't mind if they underestimate me. More chance of me getting away, that way.
We've reached the Cornucopia. Glimmer leans against it nonchalantly, out of the range of my knife but keeping me in range with her arrows. I kneel down next to one of the metal plates and begin to dig.
By the time I've finished digging up all of the mines the sun's already set. There was only one death today, the girl from District Eight. I try to remember how many of us are still alive. There are the five Careers. With me, that makes six. Then Peeta and Katniss – that's eight. There's the cripple from Ten, the two from Eleven and someone else – twelve of us.
It's only the second day of the Games, and already half the tributes are dead. Very encouraging.
I can't do anything in the dark, so I tell Varia – who's taken over watching me – that there's not much more I can do today. She doesn't seem very pleased, but she lets me have some food and water and go to sleep. This whole helping the Careers thing isn't too bad. I get food, water and a warm place to sleep.
Of course, there is the element of ever knowing when Cato will lose his temper and decide to kill you, but I know that they won't be able to kill me. I'm too useful.
And if all goes my way, I won't be sticking around here for much longer.
"District Three! What are you doing?"
It's the morning of the third day of the Games. I'm currently crouched down marking signs on the grass floor of the Arena. Mars is in charge of me, and he doesn't seem very happy.
"I'm marking out where to put the mines" I tell him. I'm not scared of Mars, not like I'm scared of Cato and Clove and Glimmer and maybe even Varia. He's a coward. He may want to kill me, but I know he's too scared to do so without Cato's permission.
He looks confused. A good fighter, Mars may be. Smart? Not so much.
So I explain some more. Partly for my own ego, and partly for the entertainment of the audience.
"The mines are pressure-sensitive" I say. "That means that from the second I reactivate them, the slightest change in pressure could set them off and blow us all out of the Games. This means that I need to have the mines in position and mostly already covered before I reactivate them. So I need to dig the holes to put them in before I reactivate them."
This is not an easy job. I have to calculate the area each mine covers and then put them in such away that no one can get past if they don't know where each mine is. Then I need to put them far enough away from each other that one exploding won't set the others off.
Trust me: this is easier said than done. With the possible exception of District Five I'm probably the only tribute in the Games who could do this.
Why District Five? Well, there's several reasons. Firstly, she looks smart. Even if she isn't as sly as she acts, she's smart enough to have come up with that idea. Also, she's from District Five. Traditionally, Districts One, Two and Four win by force. The rest of us win by a combination of sheer luck and outsmarting the others. Traditionally, Districts Three and Five win the most games by brain. Probably because those two Districts do the jobs that require the most intellect.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, of course. Prime examples include Thresh from these games as a non-career strong man, Johanna Masen from Seven who managed to trick everyone into thinking she was a weakling, and Kai Haddock from Four who, sixty five or so odd years ago, was the first tribute to train for the Games in advance.
But if I can pull off what I think I can pull off… I'm going to trump them all, District Three or no District Three.
"Why are you smirking?" snaps Mars. "Get back to work."
I do, but slowly and deliberately, daring him to do something. It's stupid, I know. But I need to do something to keep myself – and the audience – entertained.
By the time the Careers and Peeta return, my holes are all dug and the supplies are heaped up in a pyramid in the center of my arrangement. I'm planning to scatter some lesser supplies around that, both to hide the mine holes and to use as bait in a tribute-trap.
I've dismantled the first of the mines and I think I'm beginning to see how it works. It's hard to explain how I see technology. It just… makes sense. You can see how each of the wires connect up to each other, and what they will do. It's a puzzle. When you get it right, there's an amazing feeling. I never get it wrong. With enough time, I can put nearly anything together.
It's this skill that made me so sought after in the factories back home. I was the star of Factory Five. Unfortunately, this ability does not extend to my people skills. I'm terrible with them. Not that I mind. Machines make so much more sense.
I'm just immersed in this world of wires and circuits when I feel someone kick me.
"District Three!" snaps Cato. "When will the mines be ready?"
"I don't know" I tell him honestly, quietly.
"That isn't good enough!" he barks. "I want those mines set out by midday tomorrow."
I nod. "Yes sir."
Cato isn't finished yet, though. "And you're not going to sleep until you have that mine finished to the point that you have one wire to tie and it's done."
I nod mutely, and continue on with my work.
For a few hours, I'm oblivious to those around me. The others eat and prepare for bed. Peeta takes pity on me and shoves some bread into my lap, which I eat absentmindedly while going on with my work.
And then the solution hits me. A few twists here, link up the green wire to the blue, cut the red out of the circuit completely. I'm finished. All I have to do is connect two wires together and the mine is ready to go. I pick up another one and set it up the same way the first is set.
I'm ready. All I have to do now is wait. But I'm tired, so tired. Just a little nap won't hurt…
I am woken up at about midnight by the sound of the guard changing. Clove goes to sleep and Mars wakes up and starts walking around our camp.
Despite the fact that I must have only slept a few hours, I feel refreshed. My resolve is fixed. Now I know what I must do.
The moment I am waiting for comes maybe an hour later. Mars throws down his spear and disappears off into some bushes to do his business. I wait until I hear a tell-tale trickling sound then slip silently out of my sleeping bag, grabbing my two almost-set mines. The rest of the mines are safely in the pile of supplies.
I walk to the lake. Put one mine down. Hold the other, twist the wires. Hold it in my hand.
No time to hesitate. No time to think of all the lives I am taking. Is this worth it?
No. I can't have any doubts now. If I don't act, I'm just the walking dead. I throw the mine.
It lands dead centre in the group of sleeping Careers. I cross my fingers. This is the moment of truth. Will my contraption work?
A second passes. Yet another. It's not working…
And then it does.
With a satisfying boom, the mine explodes. The cannon fires. One, two, three, four, five shots for five dead tributes.
The explosion was small enough that I and the supplies were not affected. Neither was District One, but that can be remedied. If I was him, I'd run. But I'm not him. Mars might be a coward, but he's also an idiot. And he's too cowardly to run into the woods unarmed.
I walk towards the debris of the explosion, priming my other mine as I walk.
Sure enough, Mars steps out of the bushes to see what the explosion was about. He sees me and the expression on his face changes.
I make sure he sees the smile on my face. Then I throw the mine. The throw is easier this time, now that I've already killed. I know that I'm going to worry about my conscience later, worry about how I am changing in the Games. But not now. I have too much adrenalin flooding my system to worry.
The throw misses. It lands on the ground directly behind him. No matter. It will do the job anyway. This time, there is no delay like there was with the first. The mine lands. Explodes. The cannon sounds.
It is over.
Sure, the games aren't over. But I've gotten rid of the main obstacles. Now there are six of us left. Five people between me and freedom.
But I don't mind. I have twenty two mines left. I am holding all the cards.
Let them come, or let them stay away. I'm in no hurry. I have everything I need right here. And when they do come, like they'll need to eventually – I have the greatest weapons the Hunger Games have ever seen.
I am in control.
I will be the victor.
Yes, I killed Peeta. Sorry. No, I didn't particularly enjoy doing it. I hope you liked the fic, and I'd love to hear what you thought of it.
Until next time