Clove was so angry, she wanted to shriek. First Glimmer, then Cato? She didn't really know Glimmer. She was from District One—they were generally prettier and more polished. They had less immediate ability to be brutal than their District Two counterparts, and tended to win on the years that some freak accident took out the tributes from District Two early on. And then there was Four, but for some reason, this year, Four was utterly useless. The girl was mildly useful, but Clove could tell that even if she didn't have Cato, and herself, and that thrice-damned firegirl to compete with, she still didn't have what it took to win. Which was why she had put a knife into her back herself.
The boy, on the other hand, was just terrible. He had been slaughtered in the bloodbath by some little brat from Eight with a lucky shot with a knife in the back.
Well, good riddance. Six in an alliance was a few too many, anyway.
But then again, they were letting six live. How could they! It destroyed the spirit of the Hunger Games! There wasn't any glory in victory, then! That was a quarter of the contestants!
But she had honestly thought that Cato agreed with her. Whichever of them won—and most assumed that it would be Cato, but Clove wasn't about ready to let that happen without a fight—would be the only Victor. At least, she had thought so. Until Cato drugged her and Marvel. She woke up tied up in a tree!
It had to be Glimmer. And Cato must have left with them! How could he have? Didn't he understand that he was throwing his entire life away? Everything that he had trained for, gone. Lover-boy was gone, too, but Clove had seen that one coming. She wasn't sure what Cato had been thinking, not killing Lover-boy on the spot. He would obviously join up with firegirl and company as soon as they found each other.
Clearly, Cato might've been at peak physical perfection, but his mental faculties left something to be desired.
And now, she was stuck with Marvel! Who was a complete letch, an idiot, and he couldn't even figure out how to get down from the tree without breaking something!
"Hurry up!" Clove snarled. She had cut her own bindings, and managed to reach over and saw at Marvel's well enough. He was free, now just clinging to a tree branch and not letting go.
Clove briefly considered using a well-placed knife to put him out of his misery, but he was the only ally that she had left, and against Glimmer, Cato, firegirl and Lover-boy, she'd need more help. Of course, there was also that twelve year old from Eleven, but Clove figured that she was just a dead weight.
Cato, Katniss and Glimmer were the head of the pack. Thresh probably would have been faster, had he not been carrying Rue, and Peeta brought up the rear. "This is your fault, firegirl!" Cato yelled.
"Why is it my fault?" Katniss shrieked, ducking under some branches. "We need to find water. We can wait it out there."
"Because you're firegirl, stupid!" Cato hollered back as he grabbed a handful of branches and pulled it back to let Glimmer and Katniss pass. He glanced behind him to ensure that Thresh and Peeta were still keeping up, crashing through other undergrowth before releasing the branch. "They probably think that it's poetic!"
Glimmer stopped dead. "Firegirl," she breathed.
"Glimmer!" Katniss shrieked. "Run!"
"Firegirl! Don't you see? You're firegirl!"
"I don't get it," Katniss said.
"Tell it to back off!" Glimmer ordered.
"I'm sorry?" Katniss had stopped running now, too, as had Cato. Thresh and Peeta caught up. All five of them, including Rue on Thresh's back, were staring at Glimmer incredulously. "Do you mean the fire?" She clarified, her tone making it clear that she thought that Glimmer had lost her mind.
Then they realized that they flames had caught them, surrounded them. They were standing in a tiny little clearing, fire circling it. It wasn't making any move to try to get closer to them.
Then the fire swirled, and sent a scorched piece of paper flying towards her head, and Katniss caught it automatically.
Dear Katniss (Everdeen, The Girl on Fire, or, as Cato and Glimmer call you, Firegirl)
We thought, since we're breaking all of the rules this year anyway, we'd do some interesting experimentation. The arena controls can be keyed to brainwaves. We've keyed the ones that control the fire to yours. A thought can start the fire, and direct it.
A warning: The fire will not burn you, but if you fail to keep it away from your allies, it will burn them. So watch yourself.
Seneca, and The Gamemakers
P.S. We sound like a band, don't we? I think we should start a band. None of the others agree. . -S
P.P.S. Send Glimmer my love. Rue didn't, because she was too busy knocking your drunken asses out. -S
P.P.P.S. You had better be grateful that I'm letting him do this. But it seems to be quite popular with the Capitol, and none of the Districts know what to think. –President Snow
Katniss stared, open-mouthed at the scrap of paper, sure that she was hallucinating.
"Well?" Glimmer demanded impatiently.
"You're right," Katniss said, handing it off to her.
Glimmer scanned the paper as well, and snickered. "Aw, I love you too, baby," she called to the sky. "I told you, didn't I?"
"This is ridiculous!" Katniss yelled. "The alliance thing was... okay, really weird, but I could believe it, between you sleeping with Seneca Crane, and the fact that we've got two Careers and four people from the two districts with the lowest win rate. It entertains people—I get it. But now they're giving control of the arena to a tribute?"
"I guess they think that it's entertaining, too," Glimmer said, shrugging. "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Kat."
"If you really can control the fire," Thresh said, sounding doubtful—Glimmer had passed the note off to the others once she was done with it. "Then can you make it die? It's getting hot."
Feeling utterly ridiculous, Katniss concentrated. Fire, die. Fire, go out. Sink down. Disappear. Cool off. Since the note had said that it read brainwaves, she tried to project a soothing, calming, sleeping sensation.
She opened her eyes as the last of the fire sunk into the earth.
"No. Way," Cato muttered.
"Okay, so now the Gamemakers grant special powers," Katniss said irritably. "What's next?"
"Did they really—" Cashmere demanded, cutting herself off to gape at the screen.
"It seems that they did," Brutus said, snorting. "Should've known that your girl could start a revolution, Haymitch."
"What do you—"
"Let them mentor next year," Finnick said.
Everyone stared. "They'll be new Victors! The only one that's getting anywhere near the control room is firegirl, because Twelve doesn't have another female mentor," Chaff said. "Rue will be thirteen. She can't be a mentor!"
"No, no," Finnick murmured. "Hear me out. You let them mentor, and the fans will be as attached to their tributes as they currently are to them! A few years of it, and we can transform the Hunger Games entirely. They'll come and compete in tasks, and then they'll get voted out based on their popularity and go home alive, and the winner gets a life of luxury and the District gets rewarded! They can change the entire structure of the Hunger Games.
"What are you even doing in here, pretty-boy?" Haymitch demanded.
"Bored. I'm not mentoring, but even if I was, both of my tributes are dead," Finnick explained. "And you guys appear to be the best source of entertainment."
Cashmere snarled. "Well," she shoved a handful of betting slips and sponsor pledges into Finnick's hands. "Make yourself useful, and go and get us more sponsors."
"Is that allowed?" Finnick asked doubtfully. "I'm not even a mentor this year, and even if I was, I have no claim on any of your tributes."
"You're a Victor," Cashmere said exasperatedly. "That's all that's needed. Besides, I had you listed as backup mentor when you started teaching Glimmer how to be pretty, and Glimmer's allied with the rest."
"I wasn't teaching her how to be pretty!" Finnick shrieked.
Haymitch, Chaff, Seeder, Brutus and Cashmere all stared, astonished. "Wow," Brutus finally said. "Don't think I've ever heard something that high-pitched come out of a man over the age of twelve. Good luck with that, pretty-boy," he added, patting Finnick on the arm.
Finnick stormed out dramatically, and pouted after the door slammed behind him, and none of them had bothered to watch his flawless exit.
"Let's go find some tributes to kill," Clove instructed, after Marvel had taken over half an hour to get down from the tree.
"Good idea," Marvel said eagerly. "I wanna fuck Glimmer before I kill her."
Clove's eye twitched. "You are not going to fuck Glimmer," she snapped.
"Because rape in the Games is one of the fastest ways to lose sponsors," Clove yelled irritably. "Everyone hates rapists! The Gamemakers will drop a tree on you to prevent you from winning, if you get far enough. Rape and cannibalism, the two things that nobody ever does! Also, are you insane? There are only two of us, and there's five of them, if you count the little girl from Eleven. They may have picked up another one, because they're allowed six in their alliance. The massive one from Eleven, maybe. Do you really want to fight him, Cato and Glimmer at the same time? You've watched Glimmer train all your life, she isn't a pushover. Also, Firegirl must've done something pretty damn impressive to get that eleven. Nobody gets elevens. Damnit, Marvel, you must have a brain in your head! Use it!"
She turned around and huffed into the woods. Her stomping served to send several birds flying from the trees.
Thank god that Cato had left most of the supplies, though the ground around the cornucopia was strewn with a huge mess. Almost as if they'd had a party. Clove shook the idea from her mind, though—why would they be partying in here?
Clove's temper didn't last for much longer, thanks to spotting a flash of red hair and hurled a knife at it. The redhead from District Five collapsed in a dead heap, and a cannon went off.
That felt good.
"We're not going to get anywhere, if Clove and Marvel still have access to those supplies," Peeta pointed out, after everyone had gotten over their shock at Katniss' new 'ability'.
"Point," Cato conceded. "The boy from District Three was telling me that he could rig the explosives to protect them, but then Clove put a knife in his back before I could tell her not to."
"We've got plenty, and frankly, the Games probably aren't actually going to last that long—Clove and Marvel just killed someone, that's how many?"
"Eleven, I believe," Glimmer said.
"Out of the eighteen that we need to get rid of? Clove and Marvel, obviously, but who else is left?" Cato asked.
"So, including us as of last night, that's both from One, both from Two, both from Five. Girl from Six, boy from Seven, girl from Eight, boy from Ten—the crippled one, remember? I was shocked that he wasn't dead yet—and then both from Eleven and Twelve," Thresh counted. "And then a cannon went off just now, and it could've been anyone—someone might've been mowed down in that fire, for all that we know."
"What if Katniss burns them?" Rue suggested. "Just sneaks in there to set the whole thing ablaze? We don't need them—we've got plenty, and if we run out, Katniss can hunt, and Thresh and I can gather. We know what's poisonous and what's not—we'd be okay even without all of the supplies. But Clove and Marvel won't be."
"We have to make sure that Clove and Marvel don't come back when she's trying to make them catch," Glimmer pointed out. "That's a huge pile—it won't catch on fire if she doesn't light all of the right places—it'll just go out. It might take awhile, and we're screwed if Clove and Marvel come back in the middle of it."
"I've got an idea," Katniss inserted. "We make a trail of fires away from the supplies. Glimmer and Peeta, you guys go one way, Cato and Rue, you go another. Thresh come with me. Thresh and I will burn the supplies, but not until you've got them running away from them, too far to come back before it's too late."
"That's genius. But why... those groups?" Rue eyed Cato uncomfortably.
"Because you couldn't defend yourself against an attack, but Cato could. Cato, though? You don't have any idea how to light a fire, do you?"
"No," Cato admitted. "And what the hell, half pint! I'm not going to do anything to you!"
"Exactly. Peeta and Glimmer can both light fires, and can both defend themselves, so they'll be safe together. And Thresh will prevent anyone from putting a knife in my back while I'm trying to light up the supplies."
"We have to start trusting each other—we have to trust Cato. He said that he'd work with us, and he has every reason to do so," Katniss added.
"Well..." Cato muttered. "Thanks, Firegirl," he said grudgingly.
That decided, the agreed-upon pairs set off in different directions—Katniss leading Thresh back to the cornucopia and the supply pile, and Glimmer and Peeta and Cato and Rue went in opposite directions into the woods.
Wow, you guys are lucky. It's only been two days! And the whole Katniss controlling fire thing—I wasn't going to. I swear. But then I decided that if I can't be ridiculous in this fic, I can't be ridiculous anywhere. So. Here is the latest bout of ridiculousness. Also, Seneca and the Gamemakers may actually start a band... uhhhh. I think that I've had too much coffee.