Katniss walks slowly and soundlessly through the woods. The silver bow that she stole from Glimmer is clutched in her hand, already loaded with a matching arrow from the sheath that is on her back. Her camouflaged backpack is on her back as well, the bright orange covered in mud and greenery.
Her feet hit lightly on the ground in order not to make too much noise. After the Tracker Jacker incident, she knew that the remaining Careers would be hunting her by now, which in this situation, was the only thing she could hope. She was heading towards their camp now to try and blow up their supplies. If they were out hunting her, they wouldn't be there. She needed that now.
Despite her hope that the Careers were looking for her, she obviously didn't want to be found. She was thankful for Rue in this situation, who was hopefully diverting their attention with her fleeing fires. She only hoped she was ok.
Katniss tries not to think about it and keeps moving on, silently, but determined.
The Career pack now consisted of Cato, Clove, Marvel, and the boy from District 3, who had wired their land mines to protect their food and supplies. Cato crosses his arms and shakes his head as he looks at his dwindling pack. They all sit at camp, trying to come up with a strategy for the rest of the Games.
Clove sighs. She leans on one leg, her arms crossed. She's irritated. "One way or another, we have to kill District 12. She's our biggest threat." No one wanted to say it aloud, but they all knew it was true. They hated to accept weakness. And defeat.
Marvel speaks up. "What about that other kid from District 12?"
Cato shrugs him off. "I wouldn't worry about him. I know where I cut him; he isn't going to last long."
"So how do we find Twelve?" she asks maliciously.
The kid from District 3 cowers away from the rest, but now, he points to the sky. "Um… guys…"
They all glance at him and then look in the direction he's pointing. Up in the sky, there's a billow of black smoke, obviously made from a fire that wasn't just made.
Marvel stares enthralled with the fire. "I think we just found her…" he mumbles.
Cato instantly begins giving orders. "We need to split up. We-"
Clove cuts him off. Now she's pointing to the sky. "Wait! What's that…?"
They all look in the direction she's pointing. Another cloud of gray smoke is beginning to appear, this one obviously fresher from a recently made fire.
"Two fires…?" Cato mutters under his breath. He's confused. Either of them could be the girl from District 12. Or neither. He thinks that there's a good chance that she's involved. He gives orders again. "We need to split up," he repeats. He points at Clove. "Clove, go after the first fire. Follow the smoke and figure out where it is." She gives a vicious smile and grabs her arena jacket, which is lined with her impressive assortment of throwing knives, and throws it on.
Cato looks to Marvel. "You go after the second fire, and keep on the lookout in case there's a third." Marvel gives an understanding nod and grabs a spear. He has the malicious look in his eye.
Cato whirls around to the District 3 kid and points a directing finger at him. It shoots fear straight through him. Cato directs him. "You stay here and keep watch. If anyone comes…" He rolls his eyes at the kid. He seems useless with weapons. "then set off a land mine or something."
"But-" The kid starts to protest, probably to explain that that's not how it works, but Cato doesn't care.
"Just do it, ok?" Cato demands. The boy frantically shakes his head and obeys out of fear.
Cato grabs a sword and swings it a few times. "I'll stay around the vicinity and search around. It may be a light-and-flee fire."
Clove nods. "Sounds good." Marvel nods in agreement too. The boy from District 3 just fears away from them.
"Can we go now?" Clove asks, impatient and ready to hunt. "I'm ready."
"Fine," Cato says. He walks over to Clove and holds out his hand. "Give me a couple knives."
Clove takes three knives from her array of about twenty and hands them to Cato. He puts them on his belt. She does the same with Marvel. They all agreed that they should each have knives while hunting around in the arena, just to be safe.
Cato looks to each of the pack members. "Are we all clear on the plan?" he asks them. They all nod, clutching their weapons. "Then let's go."
The Careers spread themselves out in the Arena. Clove and Marvel go as directed, and Cato starts stalking around the vicinity somewhat close to camp, just to be on the lookout. He walks slowly and quietly, his sword ready in one hand and his hand prepared to grab a knife as necessary.
Cato doesn't really know what he's doing, he basically gave Clove and Marvel the hard work. But who knows, maybe an unsuspecting tribute will come by. He was trying to think who was left… Both from twelve, the two eleven tributes, and the girl from five who looked like a fox. He hadn't seen most of them since the first day. Them, plus the Careers and the scrawny kid left nine of them in the Arena. Fifteen dead.
Suddenly, Cato hears a whistle from what seems like far away, but he can't be sure what it is. Not long after, he hears a chorus of Mockingjays ring out the same four-note tune. Cato looks around, but he doesn't see a person or Mockingjay in sight.
Ignoring it, Cato keeps walking. Eventually, he stops and leans against a tree, pausing to take a sip a water. Everything seems quiet. He listens closely to the seemingly noiseless environment, but then he hears a quiet sound that is distinctly leaves crunching, with steadiness that means it could only be… footsteps.
Footsteps? A minute ago, there seemed to be no one around, but now Cato could definitely tell it was a person, a tribute. He looked around. He couldn't see anyone.
He stays silent and doesn't move. He slowly turns his head and looks again. This time, a glare catches his eyes. He turns his head towards the source of the glare and tries to figure out what it is. From what he can see it's… silver.
Silver. He tilts his head to see the shape of the object. It's the shape of… a bow. Glimmer's bow. And it's clutched in an olive skinned hand that's attached to an arm covered with a black sleeve. Cato scans the body up and down. Slight figure, pretty tall, olive skin with dirt and cuts and dark brown hair in a long braid. Cato's certain. This is District 12. He tries to remember her name… Katniss, wasn't it?
Cato almost goes to make his move, but then he stops, realizing something. She's not moving, she's just standing there. Now seeing this, Cato doesn't dare move. From his understanding, Katniss is a hunter. She can probably sense his presence. He even holds his breath.
After standing there for another minute, Katniss finally starts walking again, but very cautiously. After she goes a few paces and realizes it's safe, she walks normally again, yet still cautious.
Cato sees his chance. As quickly and quietly as possible, he pursues District Twelve, knowing nothing is standing in his way.
He's going to be the one to kill the Girl on Fire, and no one interferes.
Katniss keeps walking through the wooded Arena. She knows she's getting closer to the Careers' camp. She stops and takes a drink of water from Rue's water skin, which she brought with her, thankfully. When she does, she turns around to look back at where she came from.
Thick, black smoke billows from two different spots in the Arena. Katniss smiles. She whistles out the four-note whistle her and Rue agreed to use to communicate in the Arena as they carried out their plan. Not soon after she belted out her own whistle, a Mockingjay chorus delivers it to Rue, who in turn, delivers it back and just another minute. Katniss smiles again. Rue is safe.
Katniss keeps walking slowly, cautious to have her bow ready if necessary. Suddenly, she hears a noise, like the brushing or a tree or leaves. She stops dead in her tracks. Her other hand finds the quiver of her bow, bracing to launch an arrow. Katniss can sense another soul's presence, it was her hunting instincts. She stayed completely still, half from listening and the other half frozen from fear. She half expects a one of Clove's knives to kill her or have another tree burst in to flames, but nothing comes.
After standing there for several minutes, Katniss hears and sees nothing out of the ordinary. She cautiously begins to move forward again, taking slow, careful steps. When she finally decides within herself that there's nothing, she keeps moving, going back to her normal pace.
Then she is attacked.
Cato seizes his opportunity. He jumps away from the tree and begins pursuing Katniss. It doesn't take her long to realize it. Her head whirls around, her eyes wide at the sight of him, and begins sprinting. Cato runs just as fast pursuing her. He braces his sword in his hand and throws it like a spear at Katniss.
It catches the side of her jacket, tearing a large rip through the side, also slicing her shirt underneath and some of her skin, which now has a gash that pours blood.
The impact of the sword slows her down, but she doesn't recover in time. Cato tackles her, pushing her to the ground by slamming his forearms in to her back. She lets out a noise that sounds like a groan mixed with a cry of pain as her body makes contact with the ground.
When she's down, Cato gets on his knees and presses a hand on to the small of her back as she struggles, trying to keep her down as she fights him to stand up. He takes his other hand and grasps her shoulder, then flipping her over on to her back.
Cato swings his leg over top over Katniss and gets on his knees, one on either side of her hips so that he's on top of her. He leans over her body and places his forearm across her chest and shoulders to keep her down. She struggles underneath of him, lashing her arms around. He takes his free hand and presses her arms on either side of her, then pinning them down with his knees. Finally, she realizes struggling is useless under his strength and stops, now just breathing heavily.
Cato lets out a deep yet sinister laugh as he keeps his place on top of Katniss. He leans close to her face. "Caught you, District Twelve." He lets out a demonic laugh again. Katniss hacks in her throat and spits in his face.
Katniss lay there, Cato towering on top of her. She realizes that this is the end. He's going to kill her and she can't do anything about it. Katniss wonders if this is being broadcast all over Panem right now, her imminent death. She hopes that Prim isn't watching this, knowing Cato, he won't make it quick. She just has to take death in the face with dignity.
Cato lets go of an evil laugh and then leans down close to her. She gives him a glare that she's been practicing ever since she arrived at the Capitol. She was going to die with pride. "Caught you, District Twelve," Cato says tauntingly. He laughs again. She gathers all the saliva she can in her mouth and hacks it up in to Cato's face. At least she could die with attitude.
She was going to die.
Cato feels triumphant. He has the opportunity to kill Katniss Everdeen, the Girl on Fire, the first fighter from District 12 in who knows how long, the Careers' biggest threat. Her life is in his hands.
Cato pulls up the hem of his jacket and selects a knife from his belt. He takes it in his hand and pulls it back, ready to kill Katniss. He pulls it up, putting behind it the force needed to…
He stops himself as he looks at the sixteen year old girl's face underneath him.
He's not sure what stops him. Maybe it's the fear in her eyes, the fear that shows respect for Cato's skills and her grip on the situation.
Maybe it's the acceptance on her face, the acceptance that says she knows she's going to die, the acceptance that is to dignified to fight back when she knows it's futile at this point. She'd rather die with pride than make a fool of herself trying to fight back.
Maybe it's the respect he has for her. She got a training score of eleven. Eleven! That's a seriously good score. Cato knows his skills are great, and he only scored a nine. He wishes he knew what she ended up doing. Nothing she did in the Training Center that he saw was truly exceptional.
She was also their biggest threat through the whole entire Games. The Capitol crowd they were entertaining seemed to love her, knowing her as the Girl on Fire. She had highly developed skills and instincts, which led her to be able to kill off two of the Careers. She was a huge threat.
But now in this moment, with him looking down at this dangerous teenage girl, all of that seemed to matter. Here and now, it did.
Katniss now looks at him with cruel expectancy, as it has now been a few minutes since he had raised the knife and stopped himself from using it. "Well?" she says, her voice dripping with cruel attitude that was unforgiving. "What are you waiting for? Kill me." The last part comes out croaked.
Cato sighs. He takes his hand that was holding Katniss down and runs it gently along the side of her body where his sword gashed her. He feels her shudder as he wipes away the blood. He shakes his head and stands himself up. He backs away from Katniss a little bit. He waves her off as she sits up. "Get out of here, Katniss…" he says quietly.
Katniss is stunned beyond words. The vicious Cato, ruthless Cato, murderous Cato, just spared her life. She has no idea why. She just stays on the ground and begins crawling backwards on her hands and feet. She can't even stand.
Cato turns around and walks away in the other direction. He doesn't even turn back.
Did Cato have a heart?
And more importantly, did he realize what sparing her life then meant to the future of Panem? Even Katniss didn't.
Finally Katniss takes it upon herself to stand up. She tries to figure out what just happened, but everything in her mind is fuzzy from shock. Instead, she tries to regain herself and come back to reality after being spared by Cato. She looks up at the sun. According to the sky, the Careers' camp is west, the exact opposite direction Cato set off to.
Katniss heads that way. She feels guilty about going to blow up their supplies when Cato just spared her life. But now, she had her own life to think about, as well as Rue's and maybe even Peeta's. And she had a feeling Cato's merciful attitude was only a onetime thing. She had to do what she had to do.
After all, this was the Hunger Games.
Years later, Katniss and Peeta sit on a fancy couch in a building in the new-and-improved Capitol of Panem after the revolution. Peeta puts his arm around Katniss. They sit in traumatic silence as they watch the rerun video of the Seventy-Fourth Hunger Games.
They just showed the part where Katniss and Rue make the plan to destroy the Career's food supply.
Rue. Katniss tears up every time she hears the name or sees the beautiful yellow flower. Thinking of her made her think of Prim. She feels a tear roll down her face. Peeta squeezes her tighter.
Next, they see a conversation that occurred at the Careers' camp. Katniss hears Clove mention the fact that they needed to kill her. Katniss gulps. She wonders why on earth she's watching this.
Next, she sees Careers traveling through the thinks woods of the Arena, arriving at the fires. She sees Marvel capture Rue in a net. She has to look away and bury her face in Peeta's shoulder in order to keep her loud sobs from being heard by anyone else. She feels Peeta's light hand stroke her brown hair.
When Katniss looks back at the screen, she sees herself shooting arrows at the apples at the Careers' camp. She leans forward as she realizes something.
"They didn't show it…" she mutters.
Peeta's confused. "Didn't show what?" he asks curiously.
At that moment, Katniss realizes what it really means.
"The scene that changed the Hunger Games."