A/N: Thanks to RealFiction and District4-divergent-nephilim for reviewing the last chapter :)
Here's the last 'proper' chapter of the story. I really hope that you enjoy reading it, just as hope you have enjoyed the ninety-eight that preceded it :)
By the way, I've now included what year each victor won their Games in all Quell chapters, so that it's easier for you to find the chapter of their original Games if you fancy re-reading it :)
"Gloria, where are you Gloria?
Don't lose your faith to your lost naïveté
Weather the storm and don't look back on last November
When your banners were burning down
Gloria, ¡Viva la Gloria!
Send me your amnesty down to the broken-hearted
Bring us the season that we always will remember
Don't let the bonfires burn out."
- Billie-Joe Armstrong, 2009.
The 75th Annual Hunger Games (The Third Quarter Quell) - Day 3, 11.00 pm
Finnick Odair (24), District 4 Male (victor of the 65th Annual Hunger Games)
Green Day - ¡Viva la Gloria! (2009)
We watch in horror as Beetee's golden wire coils up at our feet, dangerous thoughts lingering in all of our minds. Someone between us and the girls has severed the wire. Now it will never reach the beach, and Beetee's plan can no longer be used as a ruse. The extra length of wire that Beetee tied to the loose branch has always been the only part of the trap that matters, but any interest in that now that the rest of the plan has gone to waste will appear suspicious, not only to the other tributes but to the Gamemakers and the audience, too.
My first thought once I realise our predicament is to lead Peeta away from the lightning tree, but he seems to have managed that himself. By the time I've exchanged a worried glance with Beetee he's already gone into the jungle, screaming Katniss' name, leaving a trail of destruction is his wake as he barrels through the trees.
"I suppose I should follow him," I tell Beetee, who merely shrugs, his mind already on other things, such a how to salvage our situation. Thanks to the hard work of our mentors, we know what is expected of us; to break out of the arena at midnight. Now we just need to figure out how to do it.
I decide to leave Beetee to it and set off after Peeta into the jungle. It's not difficult to follow him - he's left an easy trail behind him. It's clear to me that he's panicked; he's feared the worst and rushed off. Most likely the wire has snagged on something - tree roots, or a bush - and snapped in half. An unfortunate circumstance, no doubt, but nobody is being threatened. Probably. Remembering the presence of the Careers in the night, I increase my pace. Just to be sure.
After this long, we absolutely cannot afford for anything to happen to Katniss. Even though she doesn't know it, she's been leading our plight against the Capitol ever since she escaped the arena last summer. In the districts, she symbolised the struggle against the authority that we have all been secretly hoping for. In the Capitol, she was an answer to the rebels' prayers.
There has always been opposition to Snow's rule in the Capitol, ever since the suspicious circumstances that arose shortly before his ascension to power. For years, Plutarch and those who came before him have been searching for someone to lead the revolution from the districts. That's why they turned to the victors; we are the strongest of us; those who survived everything that the Capitol could throw at us. Once upon a time, Plutarch was hurriedly planning a way for me to become the face of the revolution. Then Johanna after me. Then Johan. The list goes on. But now Katniss has strolled into Plutarch's plans, and particularly with the unrest that the Third Quarter Quell has caused, this is too good an opportunity for the Capitol rebels to miss.
Of course, the districts could have almost managed it on their own. The November revolts last year in Districts 3, 4 and 8 were just the beginning. More active, violent protests sprang up in the spring in Districts 7 and 11. The Capitol rebels need to find a way to orchestrate the chaos and direct it at Snow's government, which really shouldn't be too hard to do. As long as they have someone to fight for.
Remembering why I'm jogging through the woods, my last trident at the ready, my attention turns once again to the matter at hand, which I now know to be locate the others and find a safe place while we let Beetee do whatever he can to salvage the plan. Soon I become aware of other noises in the trees around me. Other tributes running through the jungle nearby, just out of sight. Muffled screams for help, for each other. And above it all, Peeta's cries for Katniss cut through it all.
That's when I find it; the coil of wire, that is. The remainder of the wire is coiled up loosely around the sturdy metal cylinder, which is covered in blood. In blood! Looking down, I can make out the dark pool surrounding the coil of wire. Someone - either Johanna or Katniss, and either one is bad news - is hurt badly.
"Johanna!" I call into the jungle, but the only reply I get is a cannon. One of us is gone, and odds are it's whoever's blood I'm standing by now. "Katniss!" I call again, but I don't expect an answer. I don't get one. For a moment I'm stunned, unsure where to go, and then I realise that out here in the jungle, I'm vulnerable to attack from the Careers, Chaff, anyone. Even Katniss, if she's turned on our alliance, and it's Johanna who is already out of this. I have two choices; down to the beach, or back to the lightning tree to protect Beetee, who's still injured and on his own in the night. I make the decision quickly.
I'm properly sprinting as I make the return journey, occasionally having to slow to disentangle myself to something or other - my mind is on other things, what's hindering me is not of importance - and I find that the journey seems to be almost over in an instant. Either that or I've just completely blanked out half of it due to the adrenalin rush that's already started to settle in. I realise that chaos must be unfolding around me. I'm sure that with all of us separated and the cannon that fired just a few moments ago, many will be doubting the existence of our alliance, as indeed I am. Tributes will kill first and worry about motives later. Back in the Capitol, Plutarch must be tearing his hair out, to see it all go so well and then fall apart at the last moment. But there is nothing that he - or any of the mentors in the Games Headquarters - can do about it now. They are just a part of the audience.
I'm probably thirty yards from the lightning tree when I spot Enobaria running through the trees ten yards up the slope from me. Now, here's someone I can kill without questioning myself.
She spots me at the same time that I see her and I have to duck to avoid a knife. By the time I look up she's upon me, flailing at me with another knife. I parry her strike with the handle of my trident and turn to sprint away, barely managing to get twenty yards before my ankle gets caught in a vine and I collapse the the floor, my trident slipping from my grasp. For a moment I'm worried that Brutus will be lying in wait somewhere, but then I remember that I have enough to worry about with Enobaria alone.
I've just returned to my feet when she dives at me, tackling me to the floor. She's not that strong, and far smaller than me, but she's well-trained, and that's enough to leave me on the back foot. Or on the ground, to be more precise. As she tries to pin me to the ground I land and a couple of punches on her head and she collapses to the side, giving me a clear view of the night sky above and the lightning tree further up the hill. It can't be long now until I find out if Beetee has managed to salvage anything of the plan. If I can survive Enobaria, that is. As she's stunned by my punches, I kick her off of me, and desperately try to prise her knife from between her fingers, but she reaches down and bites my hand, causing me to reflexively let go of her weapon. She slashes at me once more but I am equal to her once more and dodge her strike, but in doing so my back in on the ground again, and this time she manages to pin me to the ground, knife in hand.
I have nowhere to go but to stare up at my killer, a triumphant grin plastered across her face, the dagger raised in her right hand. If I'm going out of this world, I hope that Beetee's plan succeeds, that the revolution manages to be a success, so that those I know and love can live on in a better world. My family. Ludo. Annie. I try to picture her face as I wait for the strike that will end everything, but then all I can see is fire. White fire, filling the air with a tremendous heat. Enobaria's presence is gone from me, and I can only see the glowing lightning tree in the night before the sky shatters and fire rains down on us. Then there are explosions everywhere and an excruciating burning pain runs through anything that touches the floor. It is as though whatever Beetee has done has connected the entire arena to the lightning tree. But as the pain from the fire builds, I know that his plan has succeeded, at least. That the long road to a revolution has begun.
I just have time to smile faintly as I see the Capitol hovercrafts hover overhead, and I know that I will be safe. Then I let unconsciousness take me, and everything fades to black.
A/N: If you enjoyed this chapter, please review! As ever constructive criticism is welcomed :)
With the final Hunger Games now over, there is only a conclusion to go, which I'll be posting by Saturday, at the latest. I the meantime, I'll be continuing to add summaries to the first twenty-five Games, of which the first five are already complete.
I hope that you've all enjoyed the ninety-nine oneshots that have made up the bulk of this story, and I have to say that I've been overwhelmed by the amount of support that I've received for this story, which really began as just a little side-project but has now become something much, much more than that. So thanks a lot, everyone :)
There's just one chapter to go...