Adara began climbing down from the hedge, hearing cries of pain from tributes who frantically attempted to jump. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see Julius a few feet from her doing the same thing, and she was sure he was watching her. It would have unnerved her even in normal circumstances. As everyone attempted to get down, there was a moment without fighting. The calm before the storm, though she knew it wouldn't last. She had to act now, and fast.
The second her feet hit the ground, she ran, and within seconds she was at the Cornucopia. Though there were other tributes arriving at the same time as her, they left each other alone, focusing on getting themselves the best supplies. Adara scanned the weapons, resisting the hands attempting to push her out the way, before she lay eyes on exactly what she needed. Reaching out, she grabbed a thick leather belt and secured it around her waist, feeling herself elbow other tributes as she did so. The large sheaths attached to it landed against her thighs, and she was sure she could feel the smooth metal of blades through the thick leather. Sending her arm out again, she grabbed a large rucksack, and pulled it on to her shoulders before turning around. Right, she thought. Now it begins.
Her eyes found Nicholas just as he was backing away from another male tribute. Adara didn't recognise the boy, though he only looked around fifteen and lacked any muscles. He was holding a mace shakily above his head. It was clear he thought of Nicholas as an easy kill. Adara's feet set off underneath her as her hand groped around her belt, pulling a knife from one of the sheaths. Raising it high above her head, she threw it, watching the metal glint in the harsh sun. By the time the tribute fell to the ground, a knife lodged in his spine, Adara had already grabbed Nicholas around the waist. Because of his size, she could pick him up fairly easily. She placed a hand over his mouth, and ran towards the nearest exit, ignoring the cannon in the background.
The pathway alternated between sharp corners, forks, and long stretches between the high hedges, and Adara ran for a long time before she felt safe. Nicholas was still under her arm, thrashing wildly, his yells muffled by her hand, which was now covered in scratches from the boy's fingernails. Eventually, they hit a dead-end, and Adara put Nicholas down in a corner. She shrugged the backpack off her shoulders and put it down in the floor, walking past Nicholas to study the hedge. He watched her, speechless for a second. While the two stood, they heard another cannon.
After a few seconds, however, Nicholas seemed to recover. "What the hell was that?!" He yelled, frustrated. Adara turned around in surprise - it was the loudest she'd ever heard Nicholas talk.
Facing the hedge again, she said over her shoulder, "Believe me, it was necessary. Ahah!" Getting a second knife from her belt, she forced the blade into the bottom of the hedge. Nicholas watched, baffled, as she pulled the knife back and forth, sawing away at the branches until she reached about half way up the hedge, when she turned and cut across instead. As she sawed away, two consecutive cannons blasted. After she'd cut along a certain way, she turned the knife once more and headed down to the bottom of the hedge. Once she reached the ground, she pulled the knife out and stepped back. She studied the hedge for a while, before kicking her leg out. As her foot made contact with the hedge, the rectangle she had just cut collapsed inwards, and another cannon could be heard.
She turned to Nicholas, grinning triumphantly. "Hollow," she said, satisfied. "I figured they had to be, in order to get our tubes through them to begin with. But my guess is that they also make a brilliant base." Leaning forward, she picked up the rectangle of hedge that now acted as a door and pulled it back in place. Standing back, she smiled once more, ignoring the next cannon. Unless a tribute really studied the hedge, they'd never notice, and any tribute who felt they had time to stand around and study a hedge wouldn't be around for long. Satisfied, she bent over a picked up the backpack. Another cannon blasted.
"Okay, now that that's out of the way, let's have a look in here." She chucked the backpack to Nicholas, feeling he'd been inactive for far too long. He caught it and unzipped it, pouring the contents out on to the ground to the sound of the cannon. The two sat cross-legged on the ground to study their supplies. A pack of six strips of some sort of meat, one small knife in a leather sheath, and one thermal jacket. Adara nudged the sheath over to Nicholas, gesturing down at her own belt. "I think I've got enough."
Nicholas picked up the sheath, turning it over in his hands, a cannon blasting in the background. He looked up at Adara. "Sorry about your hand." He paused, his voice back to its quiet tone again, "Does this mean we're working together?"
Adara hesitated. She knew what had to be done. It wasn't going to be easy, and he was going to get hurt, but it would be for the best in the end. She hoped he would understand that.
I'm sorry Haymitch, she thought, before smiling at Nicholas.
"Of course we are, pipsqueak."
A/N - Sorry for the long gap between chapters! When I started putting chapters up, I'd only written so much of the story, and now I'm beginning to catch up with myself. So I'm going to have to spread out the time between chapter uploads, to give myself time to finish writing. But here's the first bit of the Games, hope you like it!