Hey All! So sorry this update is late. School got crazy towards the end of the year, so I'm putting in a little time here and there to get this thing done. Hope you are all still reading, and I'll try to be more diligent about getting this story written.
In the dark, the water is eerily black. The only light comes from the full moon behind us which illuminates an island in the distance. This is our destination. It doesn't appear too far away, a couple miles at most. So we keep eerily marching on, not talking, only murmured comments every couple of minutes.
As we reach about half way between the islands, we encounter a problem. The gentle incline is beginning to go low enough that Tycee, the shortest in the group, is up to her chin. If the water gets any deeper, she won't be able to breathe.
"Okay," I say upon discovering the predicament. "Tycee, you take this flotation device and I'll push you along. Hopefully everyone else can still breathe as we approach the island." The small, orange ring that we've been using to float our packs is powerful, and it might even support two people, but I'm hoping we won't need it to.
The trek continues, and after several hours, we reach a point where the ground begins to slope upward. With this encouraging fact to spur us on, we pick up the pace and are soon pulling ourselves onto the beach of this new island. It seems to be bigger than the one we were just on which is both comforting because it will offer more vegetation for possible food sources, but other tributes could more easily be concealed from us.
We fall upon the beach and gasp for breath. All of us exhausted, we talk about who should keep watch and who should get to sleep. We agree that, since Tycee floated most of the way to the island, she should keep watch until the sun comes up, then she will wake me up.
I pull out the tarp we picked up at the cornucopia and lay it down for us to sleep on. Luckily, the arena's climate has stayed warm through the night, so we strip off our sopping clothes and sleep in our underwear. The sand seems to have found its way everywhere already—in my hair, under my nails, and in my eyes—so I don't even try to get it off before drifting into a quiet sleep with the familiar sound of the ocean lulling me to sleep.
All too soon, Tycee shakes me awake. Disoriented at first, I realize where I am and that I must get up and take watch. Knowing that I'll just end up getting them wet again, I don't put my clothes back on. Instead, I slowly walk into the warm water and take a quick bath, shaking out the sand from my hair.
The other girls have moved the tarp from the beach into the forest to conceal our whereabouts, so I quickly follow suit and hide myself in the trees. As my three companions begin to doze off, I take to looking for edible plants on the perimeter of the camp. I soon discover a few pieces of fruit that I recognize from the table at the training center, and begin to pluck them from the branches.
The morning is dragging on when I begin to hear a noise. It is not so loud a noise, but it is consistent, coming every five to ten seconds, from what appears to be the other side of the island. As the hours go on, I become more and more curious. Not wanting to wake anyone in the group, I quietly walk towards the sound.
After walking about ten minutes, the noise seems to be just on the other side of a clearing. I dare not enter the clearing, especially since I forgot to grab any weapon to defend myself. Instead, I slowly peek my head around the tree. On the far side of the clearing, I see a boy, from District 7. That would make him Aurii's district partner.
He is constructing some sort of trap I think. There is a large hole in the ground, and he seems to be using a large rock to hammer something at the bottom, but it is obscured from my view. Having seen enough, I tiptoe back to camp.
Rousing the girls, we arm ourselves and head back in the direction I remember the boy being. I tell Aurii on the way that it is the boy from her district. She only pauses slightly before telling me that he should be no problem. He is only fifteen, and small for his age. He only received a six in training. Then, most hauntingly, she tells me that his name is Kryo.
Knowing his name makes the killing personal. I feel like—even though I've never met him—that I know him. Like I am killing a person, not an obstacle. But I shove these doubts deep inside myself, steeling myself for the sticky task that stands between me and ever getting out of this arena. For if I plan to leave this place, I will have to kill.
When we approach the clearing, I hush all the girls. They, too, can hear the repetitive noise that I heard. So we creep up and watch him from between the trees. If he were to look this way, he would see us, but he is absorbed in his task. We check his supplies, and we see what looks like the hilt of some sort of machete near a backpack, but it is several paces away from the hole he is building. The large rock in his hand could be used as a weapon if he couldn't reach the machete in time.
Just as we are about to recede into the trees to plan an attack, a cannon is heard over the trees behind us. The boy looks up into the sky, and then his eyes fall down back to the trees and land on us, looking right at us. The shock registers on his face, and we know we have been seen. We burst from the bushes and launch ourselves at him.
He is quick though. Before we have even run half way across the clearing, he has grabbed the machete—a long, sharp blade that could easily cut through human limbs—and throws the large stone at us. The rock flies with surprising speed considering its weight and connects with Tessala's foot. She falls to the ground, but we do not stop to help her, knowing that letting this boy escape is far too dangerous. Not only has he seen our location, but he has seen that we are fighting in a group and that we are well armed.
Just as I had imagined, the boy flees in the face of three adversaries. He runs straight through the trees, recklessly, even tripping once on a tree root. We know that we are on an island and that he will only reach water, not salvation.
Sure enough, the heavy, dark soil starts to transition into the soft, white sand of the beaches, and then there is nowhere for the boy to run except into the water. He launches himself against the ebbing waves, taking long strides into the sea. He is waist deep when we reach the beach. He turns to us, seeing that we have slowed at the water.
"Aurii," he shouts. "How could you? I thought we were going to team up after the cornucopia!" He is angry, but there is no trace of fear in his voice. He thinks he has escaped.
Aurii, standing beside me, is lost for words. I can see the conflict on her face, the guilt and the sadness. "I…" she stammers. "I had to do what was best for me. I'm sorry Ky." And now the tears are rolling down her face, the first real sign of emotion I've seen her let out since entering the arena.
"Whatever, Aurii. I guess I'll see you around." The sarcasm in his voice sounded a bit like arrogance, and I decided it was time to shut him up. Grabbing my knife, I dove into the waves. I heard the sharp intake of breath from Aurii as I left, but I didn't have time to let her sort out her feelings about this Kyro. Maybe he was her long time friend or boyfriend. But whatever he was to her, he was my enemy.
He saw me coming, so he turned and ran the other way. But as soon as I was in the water up to my knees, I dove beneath the waves and began to swim under water towards the splashing boy. Opening my eyes, I felt the salt in the water burn, but I had been accustomed to this sensation since I was a child. I could see clearly that I was gaining on him.
As I approached him, I had to take a breath. He heard me break the surface of the water, and he slashed at my head with the machete. Luckily, it was difficult for him to do this while running the other way, so he missed by a wide margin. Not wanting to take any more chances, I dove down several feet. The water was now at his mid chest, so he was unable to move at a very fast pace.
Underwater, I used my knife and slashed cruelly at the back of his knees. Even from the depths of the water, I could hear his agonized screams. I cut the arteries in his knees, followed by those in his thighs. Then, I yanked at his shirt and pulled him down under the waves with me.
Doing my best not to look at his agonized face as I did so, I slit his throat. Unable to shriek this time, he simply clutched at his throat and gasped for air. Because I was still holding him under water, his lungs instantly filled with water, and I knew he would drown. At this point, I shoved the pathetic, bloody, lifeless figure away from me, and swam back towards the beach.
As I surfaced, I saw the fear in the faces of Aurii and Tycee. Looking behind me, I saw a giant cloud of murky, red water where I had killed the boy. Aurii was still crying, but, in her defense, she did look extremely relieved to see me.
I pulled myself up on the beach just as Kyro's cannon fired. Tycee and Aurii both nodded at me, and without looking back at the water where a hovercraft was now collecting the body, we walked back into the woods to find Tessala.
She had remained in the clearing, unable to walk. Tycee, who worked a lot with first aid in the training center, takes a look at her foot and thinks it might be broken. While she examines it, I take a look at the hole the boy was building. It is about five feet deep, and at the bottom, he had nailed large, sharpened sticks that jut out at odd angles. I would not want to be the one to fall in it.
I rejoin the girls. Tycee, with the assistance of Aurii, has placed a splint on Tessala's foot and is helping her walk. As we trek back to our supplies, I find it hard to ignore the fact that Tessala has become a liability, slowing us down. But for the time being, she will not be a burden, so I say nothing. I know that she will be unable to run from enemies, so she will distract them while I run.
We reach camp and spend the evening eating some fruit we gather as well as a loaf of bread from our supplies. I'm surprised by how much food we have left from the cornucopia, even after two full days in the arena. The islands have provided well, and I am relieved that it is unlikely that we will starve here.
As dusk swallows the arena, the giant screen appears with the capitol's seal. The anthem blasts in our ears, and we see Kyro's face, followed soon after by the face of the girl from District 12. I realize with apprehension that only two rouge tributes remain besides the pack and our own alliance. And I know that in the days ahead, things are going to quite interesting, and I can only hope that I will be there to see the story unfold.
I can only apologize so many times for the amount of time between updates, but I do genuinely feel bad for making you guys wait. You were so great about reviews, so I just had to get this written. I'm hoping that there will not be so extensive a wait for the next chapter, and I'm sure you are all hoping that too! Keep reviewing, it makes me write faster. Until next time!