A/N: This oneshot shows a scene from Chapter 16 of my story 'Second Time Unlucky', so I'd recommend reading that before this, if you haven't already :)
POV: Robin Hurst (16), Male Tribute, District 1
8.40 pm, Tuesday 17th July (Day 3 of the Games), year of the 66th Hunger Games
We disappear into the woods to hunt yet again, leaving Maddie and Ludo behind us. They'll do a good job guarding camp, though I doubt anyone will be stupid enough to attack the Career camp. I certainly hope not. I don't want anyone interfering with my plans.
As we enter the woodland, I evaluate my allies, and try to predict the success of my plans. Leading the group is Quintus Cato of District 2. He's going to be the hardest to get rid of. Tall, strong and athletic. Armed with a sword. The leader of the Career Alliance. As soon as I show any defiance, I have to be prepared. He'll be after me.
Behind him is Remora Thornby, Quintus' district partner. Small though muscular, Remora unnerves me. Maybe it's her unforgiving eyes, or her sadistic streak that she's been keen to put into practice during this, the 66th Annual Hunger Games. Still, she's small, so I should be able to take her. No, forget that. Come on, Robin, pull yourself together! She scored a nine in training. I shouldn't underestimate her.
The next tribute in our group is my district partner. Pearl White. Short though strong, she's similar to Remora. She might be less sadistic, but she makes up for it in arrogance. I've grown to like neither Pearl nor Remora since arriving in the Capitol. She underscored me in training, pulling an eight in comparison to my ten. She favours blades, and is carrying a machete. If she ever tries to attack me, my archery skills will let me shoot her before she gets near enough to bother raising her sword.
Then there is me. I am Robin Hurst. I am sixteen years old. I lived a quiet life at home, in a family of carpenters producing mahogany furniture for export to the Capitol. Mother, father, my younger brother Johan. Then I was reaped. Now I am the male tribute representing District 1 in the 66th Annual Hunger Games. Now I am the favourite. Well, joint favourite. Quintus matched my ten in training. But I am better with ranged weapons, giving me the edge.
Behind me is the newcomer, Sophia Mellark. My fellow conspirator. Considering District 12's reputation for being the weakest district, this girl earned her place in the Alliance fairly. A place that she won at the cornucopia in a fight with Madelaine Harper, the girl from District 4. Maddie might have been the victor, but the fight was so close that we made Maddie spare her, and gave Sophia a chance to join the Career Alliance.
Since then, she's been a strong member of the team. Quintus might never have warmed to her, but I can see her strength and skill. After all, she scored an eight in training, equalling half the Careers. Now she's bringing up the rear of our hunting pack, armed with a one-handed combat axe, awaiting my orders. The others don't know. At least, I think they don't.
I'm not like the other Careers, you see. I'm not some twisted, sadistic monster of a human being. I'm a normal boy from District 1, with an egotistical father who wishes to be known as a Victor's parent. He's nothing but a coward. Too scared to volunteer for the reaping himself in his youth, he forces his eldest son to volunteer so that he can achieve the glory that he craved in his younger years. He's lucky I've got a few talents. He's lucky that I've got a good physique. He's lucky that I'm still alive. Not that I care what he thinks of me. But even with his pressure on me to volunteer, I can't hide from the reaping when I'm reaped myself.
Still, I never went through a Career's training. The only training I did was archery training at school. I was top of the school. I broke all the records. Top scores every time from eighty yards. It was easy to turn this talent to killing. The other Careers have been taught how to kill brutally, inflicting as much pain as possible. It's horrible; the things that they want to do to the others. Some of them are just kids. Twelve or thirteen years old. It's too young. They shouldn't be allowed to compete with seventeen and eighteen-year-olds. It's not sport, just bloody murder. So I pride myself in refusing to allow the Careers to torture the kids to death. They have to die, of course. This is the Hunger Games. But they should leave this world quickly and pain-free.
But the Careers are growing tired of my mercy killings. Quintus was furious last night, when I spoiled his fun by shooting the girl from District 9. If I have to mercy kill another, he'll turn on me. I'm sure of it.
But I can't just sit by and watch the other Careers torture an innocent. If they turn on me, then so be it. I just have to be prepared. I know that District 4 aren't happy with the brutal motives of the others, either. And I know that Sophia is on my side, too. If the others turn on me, we're leaving. All four of us. To start our own alliance, away from sadistic Remora, arrogant Pearl and violent Quintus.
Is been about five minutes after leaving camp when we first spot another tribute.
"Tribute!" shouts Remora, and she sprints off after the boy that I can see about two hundred yards to my right. I can see that the boy is quite tall, though far too skinny to be healthy. He can't have got a good training score, or I'd have taken note who he is. What district is he from? Eight? Ten? They all seem the same to me, the tributes from the outlying districts.
The boy seems to be paralysed in fear as Remora closes in on him. We all walk behind her, sure that she will get an easy kill. When she's less than twenty metres from him, the boy snaps back to reality and pulls a knife from his belt, and lashes out frantically at Remora as she reaches him.
I've no idea where he got the knife from, but this boy is armed and clearly capable of causing some serious damage. He's got Remora on the floor, screaming. She's nursing a wound to her left wrist, which is bleeding heavily. She's weaponless, but the boy doesn't finish her. He just stares back and forth between the knife in his hand and the wounded Career at his feet, as though he's shocked that he's managed to take down a Career.
Before he even realises what's going on, Quintus is upon him, grabbing him by the neck and thrusting him into a tree-trunk with such force that I can hear something break inside him, even from thirty yards away. Then the boy is screaming, but I can barely hear him as Quintus is yelling so many obscenities and threats at the boy, clearly enraged by Remora's injuries. I start to back away as Pearl and Remora (who has gotten back to her feet) surround the boy, trying to intimidate him. I can hear the three Careers discussing exactly how they're going to kill him.
I feel sick just watching this. I want nothing but for the suffering of this poor, screaming boy to end. I know that Quintus will turn on me for this, but I have no choice. I can see that Sophia has backed away from the other Careers. She's ready to leave, too. I draw an arrow from my quiver and ready in my bow, waiting for the ideal moment to strike.
I wait until Quintus has turned to Pearl and Remora, then shoot.
The boy's cannon is almost instant. I expected Quintus to come for me, but I underestimated his speed. I barely have time to pull out a second arrow and shoot before he's closed the gap between us. I know as I shoot that I've not had a decent shot. I've panicked, and my accuracy will suffer. I'm relieved when I see my arrow sink into Quintus' left forearm, and he crumples to the floor, crying out in pain.
Good. This gives me time to get away. Sophia's already bolted; she's fifty yards ahead of me, running up the slight slope to the cornucopia. We have to grab our bags from camp, and go.
I begin to tire as I nearly reach camp, as I've been running at a full sprint for at least two minutes. For all of Sophia's strength, her legs are too short for her to be a fast runner, so I've already overtaken her as I scramble through some low bushes and stumble into the clearing that holds the cornucopia.
I'm about thirty yards from the cornucopia, and I can the tributes from Four in front of me, heavily armed. Ludovic Robertson and Madelaine Harper. I can tell from Ludo's aggressive stance that it takes him a moment to recognise me. They must have no idea what's going on. I'm shattered from my sprint uphill, so it takes a lot of effort to gather my thoughts, but I manage to get my message across.
"Run!" I try to shout, but barely any sound comes out. I'm absolutely exhausted. "Grab your kit, we're leaving!"
I arrive at my hammock at camp and grab my backpack. I've got no time to check its contents; I have to trust that it contains everything I need. I have a quick scan around camp. There doesn't look to be anything I need left unpacked. I take a few moments to catch my breath before Ludo starts to talk to me.
"What happened, Robin?" he asks worriedly.
"No time to explain," I reply, still catching my breath. "I'll tell you once we're out of here."
I stand to leave, and find Maddie and Ludo already prepared to go. I have no time to explain where I'm going, I just need to keep moving. We're not safe here. I run past Maddie, heading for the desert on the far side of the cornucopia from the woods that we set up camp near to. They seem to realise what I'm planning, and my three remaining allies start running to keep up with me. As much as it hurts to run, I have to keep going. It's only just over a hundred yards from the camp to the desert, and then I will be safe. For now.
I can hear Sophia shouting a question at me.
"Where are we going?" she calls.
I'm just past the cornucopia as I look back over my shoulder to answer her. Still no sign of the other Careers. No doubt they'll be chasing, though.
"To the desert!" I shout in reply to Sophia. "To the desert!"
The next fifty yards seem like agony. I can barely put one foot in front of the other as I reach the edge of the sand. I wait for my allies to catch up with me.
Just as they arrive at the edge of the desert as Quintus bursts out of the woods near the camp that we have just left. He's still clutching his injured arm. Good. Pearl and Remora follow him out of the woods, and watch as Quintus attempts to hurl a spear at us. Maybe his wounds have left him deluded, as nobody can throw a spear over a hundred yards. It barely reaches the cornucopia. I can tell he's angry, I can see him pacing round our old camp. The camp that we abandoned. But he makes sure that, in the dead of night, every tribute in the arena knows who is responsible for the end of this year's Career Alliance.
"MARK MY WORDS, ROBIN HURST!" bellows Quintus. "YOU'RE NEXT, SO WATCH YOUR BACK!"
He can be angry if he wants to, he can kill anyone by shouting at them. So his threat doesn't bother me. I make sure nothing shows to my allies as I turn from the cornucopia and head into the desert, allowing us to slip away into the night.
A/N: Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this oneshot :) Please review, constructive criticism is welcome :) If you haven't already, please read my story 'Second Time Unlucky' :) It's worth a read and will explain the background to this oneshot :)