A/N: Hooray for reaching the games! Hooray for over 150 reviews! Hooray for my wonderful support group! This is just awesome! I can't believe I've actually made it this far, this has just been such a wonderful journey and has really helped me find myself as a writer. Bless all of you, even the people who just read, all of you are fantastic, this is such a huge dream of mine and it's coming true right before my eyes. So, this chapter wasn't originally supposed to be this long, but I just got carried away. I hope you like the theme of the arena, it changed about ten times, and on another note. I'm sorry if anyone's tribute dies this chapter, but it had to happen, because this is…THE BLOODBATH!
Allure Shine- District One
One second I'm sitting in my home, flipping through a Vartarienne catalogue and the next second I'm standing in an all-white room, about to go into the Hunger Games. All of this, was it meant to happen? Was I supposed to be a part of this? Jemima's death propelled me into these games, if she hadn't rebelled, if she hadn't tried to escape, I wouldn't be here. I wasn't reaped, so why am I here?
I've been sitting in this room alone for quite some time now. The room is so quiet I can hear the ticks on the wall clock sound off every second. There's a cage over the device, probably so I can't smash the glass and carry a shard with me into the games, wouldn't want anyone to have an unfair advantage.
It's been about thirty minutes before Miss Luna comes in, a black outfit draped over her covered arm. She's wearing a leather suit, tight-fitted and showy. Her cleavage nearly tumbles out of her clothes every time she takes a step, but she works the outfit. Miss Luna doesn't say a word as she hands me the apparel, but it's clear I'm meant to change into it.
When I'm done, she looks me up and down, and speaks lowly,
"Better than Jemima would've looked in it."
I think she brings up her former tribute on purpose, maybe to spite me or cause me pain. The look in her eye tells me she really doesn't care, and in that moment I learn what kind of person she is. She's a leech, someone who uses what she's given to make herself look better. She was probably happy when Jemima died. I mean, the girl wasn't gorgeous or anything. Getting a more attractive tribute probably made things nicer for Miss Luna, but now that she won't be stylizing anything about me ever again unless I win these games she couldn't really care. The fifteen minutes of fame I can give her are gone, and now she'll go back to working for whatever fashion department she can.
"She was a sweet girl," Miss Luna says, catching me off guard. Didn't I just peg this woman? Why is she saying something like this all of a sudden?
"Don't you think?" Miss Luna asks me.
"I never met her," I say, but it comes out harsher than I intended.
"Of course not," Miss Luna says, seeming to chide herself. "She was different. Not like most District One girls. I've seen a lot of girls come into these games; only one has ever escaped while I've been here. That was last year," Miss Luna continues, making a reference to Summer. I wonder what she's doing right now, if my mentor is working to get me some sponsors. Of course I'll already be funded thanks to my district, but she could do more.
I shouldn't even be funded, I should be home.
And that's when it sinks in, that I shouldn't be here and Jemima should instead. She was reaped, why did she get to take the easy way out? I was safe, I trained hard and was prepared but I made it to eighteen, I survived all the reapings and I had plans for a life. Sure I had arranged a shopping trip with Silk and still went crazy for boys and clothes but that's the point. I could live such a simple existence because I had made it past the capitol's little system. I had survived.
Looks like I was wrong. The tears flow freely, and Miss Luna lays a hand on my left shoulder. The soft leather of her glove sends chills down my arms and goose bumps rise all over the skin. I can taste the salty substance on the edge of my mouth, running its way down my face. My body shakes in short little bursts, and I'm falling apart before the games even begin. I just shouldn't be here, I shouldn't be here, and it's just not fair.
"Attention tributes, one minute until the games begin," the voice of Claudius Templesmith chimes, making me realize how different things are about to become. I'll have to survive, I'll have to work hard, and I'll have to kill.
"You should get on that platform before it leaves without you," Miss Luna suggests, although it's not really a suggestion. I do as she says, and place a tentative foot on the edge of the large metal ring. Stepping in, I let out a faint gasp as the clear casing surrounds in one swift motion. I'm trapped inside a case, and I whirl around to face Miss Luna.
But I was right about who she was, because she's already gone.
I watch the second hand on the clock, unable to hear its tick that seemed booming just minutes ago. The red line makes its way back to the twelve, and then without warning, my plate begins to rise. I'm ascending, into a world unknown to any of us. I don't what it will be, a forest, a field, a mountain? Wherever we are, I have to find my allies as quickly as possible, especially Avery and Revolc.
The plate is slow to rise, and I can count past a minute in my head before I can see something at the top of my case. There's no ceiling to it, it's just an empty expanse. But it's not light I see, in fact, it's darkness. My plate continues to ascend, and soon I'm beginning to leave the tight chute I was traveling up. It's a relief and a frightening thought at the same time, that soon I'll be in the arena.
It's dark, like it's night outside. The chute rises and soon my metal plate is parallel with the ground. The cover pulls back and exposes me to the elements, and soon I'm just standing there. I can see the tributes next to me well enough, but everyone else is a dark blur. I can't see but thirty feet ahead of me. At any moment I could leave this plate, but I know there are explosives lacing my stand, armed to blow me to pieces if I so much as take a step forward.
Templesmith's voice rings out once again, "The 49th Annual Hunger Games will begin in sixty seconds." Then, a bright orange countdown clock appears in the sky, looming over us as if it were the grim reaper. The numbers count down, each one more terrifying than the next. My palms begin to sweat, and I can see that the boy to my right, the one from Ten, is panicking.
The timer ticks past the fifty second mark, and I try to scan the black expanse for any sign of the other careers, but to no avail. The girl from seven is to my left, the one who got a twelve. I train my eyes on her, knowing she's one of our targets for the bloodbath. Rip approached us before the interviews, one of his crooked smiles flashing.
"I know some of us have our own personal vendettas to settle, but the bitch from Seven is fair game. The first one that finds her, gut her like the slippery fish she is, "he says, menace glowing in his warped eyes.
Rip had his instructions clear, Maple is a threat, and she did something to score that twelve, something that could spell a huge problem for us. I know I have to follow her when the horn sounds, officially beginning the games. I look back up to the timer, noticing we're entering the thirties. Thirty-three melts into thirty-two, and I can hear the disgusting sound of someone throwing up.
Get it together people; I think I'm the only one around here with entitlement to unhappiness, because I'm not even supposed to be here. After that thought, searing anger burns in my heart, wrath towards Jemima for putting me in this situation. Did she not think that even if she escaped, someone else would take her place? She must've known that by doing something as rash as that that someone else would be hurt.
But she probably wasn't thinking about anyone else as she dashed down the hallway of the Training Complex with a knife in her hands.
Twenty-Seven becomes Twenty-Six, and I can hear someone sobbing in the darkness. I don't know if I should call it night yet, because we might just be in an enclosure, somewhere inside. Or what if it's always night, what if the sun never shows itself?
I settle into a running stance once fifteen flashes by, letting me know I'll have to make a break for the Cornucopia. I can't see it, but I know it's straight ahead, as all pedestals point towards it. I just have to run and find someone from my group, which shouldn't be all that hard.
Ten. My heart begins to pump vigorously inside of my chest, hammering against my skin and accelerating my breathing before I've even begun running.
Nine. I brace my legs, knowing that I'll have to be as quick as possible.
Eight. Miss Luna's comment about Jemima plops into my head. Why did she feel that this girl was different? Was there something about her that was different from most District One girls? I don't even know what she looked like.
Seven. I see Silk in my mind, laughing and chatting about boys.
Six. I think of Avery, and what Tatyana saw? Does he love me, oh why am I even thinking about this right now?
Five. Jemima, what did she look like?
Four. Am I here for a reason? Was I supposed to be a part of this? Was Jemima just a part of something bigger?
Three. Everything happens for a reason, right?
Two. My mother, my father, the people back in District One that I love swarm my head. What if I died, what will happen?
One. Will I die?
Zero. All hell breaks loose.
I dart forward into the black, tearing up the ground behind me. I look to my left, but Maple is gone. I can't believe she escaped so fast, she must've avoided the cornucopia on purpose. She may be small, but she's not stupid. Propelling forward, I run to the cornucopia, hoping to avoid any potential threats. I know someone like Nero or Daedrya wouldn't hesitate to skewer me, and I take caution not to collide with one of them.
Someone is standing in front of me, rooting through the weapons littering the stone ground. We're on stone, pavement of some sort. I run a hand along the ground and feel loose rocks, gravel and what feels like asphalt. The person in front of me quits rummaging; they've apparently found what they're looking for.
They hold something that looks like a trident in the light, and thankfully I've figured out who is standing next to me.
"Ula," I hiss, causing the girl from Four to wheel around, but then lower her offense when she sees me.
"Allure, get going," she barks, "It's time to hunt."
She bounds off, trident in hand and a gleam in her eyes. She's ready to kill, but am I? Can I just end someone's life so quickly? Destroy what they thought they'd be able to cling onto for much longer. I get the answer I'm looking for in a few moments, because a knife whizzes past my head, just inches from me. I don't know who it is in the darkness, but as they approach, I can make out the bulky figure of the boy from Twelve.
Icarus advances, a knife in his hand. Trails of tears stream down his face, gracing the corners of his mouth and pooling into his lips. He stumbles forward slowly, holding his knife high, prepared to bring it down on me. I try to form words, but I'm too terrified to speak. Could this be it for me? Could my life end so soon? I don't have a weapon; I need a weapon, like now.
I scramble away, jetting over to the cornucopia while Icarus runs after me. He's desperate now, I could tell he was slipping away before the games began but he's desperate now. I'm searching frantically, looking for a sword or something. My eyes light on one, and I hoist it into the air and clutch the hilt with both hands. It's a bit big for me, but it'll work.
Then, the place lights up.
Torches ring the outside of the main area, showering the zone in spots of orange. When all of the torches turn on, I can make out what we're standing on, and it's worse than I thought.
We're on top of a building, a tall one at that. This is the roof, and the torches outline the edges of the structure. I think I know why they turned on. People are going to want to see what's going on, and now that Icarus is chasing me, the bloodbath has officially begun.
He knows I'm struggling to hold my sword, and quickly advances on me. That knife glimmers in the low light given off by the torches, and I know he won't have any problem shoving it into my stomach. I hold my ground, but the manic look in his eyes spells out my doom. He swings forward, missing horribly, and I realize that in his desperation he's disoriented, not fully in control of his motions.
Trying to get a better angle on him, I move to the side a bit while he flounders about. Then, as soon as I'm prepared to bring down the sword, the first cannon booms.
I don't know what I expected to sound like, but nothing prepares me for the rattling noise as it fills the entire arena. Anyone could here that sound from inside the arena, and it's deafening at first. It surprised me as much as it did Icarus, but the shock causes me to drop my sword. It clatters to the floor, doing two things, leaving me defenseless, and giving away my position to Icarus.
The boy from Twelve whirls around, prepared to gut me like a fish. He runs forward, tears still streaming down his face, arcing the knife to the right, hoping to slice my neck.
An arrow, coming from what seems like nowhere, flies through the air and impales Icarus in the chest. The crimson stains immediately form around his heart, and blood pours from his mouth. He looks at me with sad eyes, so sad I can't help but feel sympathy for this boy. I had seen him in practice, he was strong, he had trained, but the games got to him, he went mad with the thought that the life he had worked so hard to build up was crashing to an end.
He topples forward, smashing into the ground, sending the arrow up through his body with another sickening sound. I can hear the crunching sound of bones and nerves penetrated by the metal shaft, and the next horrifying thought pops into my mind.
Who killed Icarus?
I match my twirl with the sound of the cannon, wheeling about to see the striking figure of Daedrya standing about fifty feet away. I can see her perfectly in the torch light, her long red hair draping over her shoulders. She doesn't make a sound, doesn't give me a look or anything, but knocks another arrow into her bow, and I realize her next target is me.
I hit the floor hard, scrambling to find something around to use as protection. I dive behind a crate of food, oranges I think. The arrow lodges into the front of the crate, dead in the center. My breath is feverish and I'm slipping back into the dark fear I felt clawing at my insides when Icarus was after me. Just like that, someone who was alive on second is dead, but I guess that's how these games work.
I peer out from the crate of oranges, but Daedrya is gone. Apparently she's smart enough to move onto the next tribute, someone she can kill easily. Someone like Icarus. I haven't found a single ally of mine yet, save for Ula who I saw for a brief moment. It's time to hunt, she had said, but all I've done so far is act as pray. Daedrya got her hands on a good bow somehow, which is bad for our alliance. Is there another set out here, or did she get the only one.
I find a sword, shorter than the one I used against Icarus and easier for me to carry. It still looks deadly though, and the black of the blade shines under the light of the torches. Tributes are still everywhere, it may have felt like an eternity between the time I spent fending off Icarus and running from Daedrya but it's only been a few minutes. In the distance, my eyes alight on a small addition to the roof of this building, it looks a door. There's a way off this roof, and tributes are already using it to escape. I can make out the girl from Twelve looking behind her as she slips in behind her two allies; does she know her district partner is dead? Probably not, but there's nothing I can do about their escape, but the boys running towards the same exit, now they're something I can handle.
One of them opens the door, trying to usher his fellow allies inside, but they're still a distance off. I can see Rip to my side, approaching some girl on the ground with his knife, blood already stained on the weapon. He's either killed already or injured someone badly. Only two cannons have sounded, so was he responsible for the other death? So many questions are buzzing in my brain as I run for the exit door, trying to stop the triad of boys. One of them sees me coming, and for once I feel powerful in these games, because I can see the same fear swimming in his eyes that took hold over me moments ago, and it feels good to be on the other side.
Auric Zola- District Eleven
I reach the door first, only spotting it because the boy from Six had found it first. He and his allies have already escaped the rooftop, safe from this terrifying bloodbath. I think only two cannons have sounded, but that doesn't mean there won't be more. I'm tempted to slip through the doorway, but Caramen and Omri are still running, trying to get here. Good thing we haven't been seen…crap. Sprinting towards, sword in her hands, is the girl from One.
We've been spotted now, so I abandon the need for stealth and scream their names.
"Caramen! Omri! Look out!"
They don't stop running, but Caramen sneaks a peek over his shoulder, and I think I can see his beady eyes widen at the sight of Allure. Her feet are pounding the ground, her long legs tearing up the rooftop's pavement. I still don't where we are, a city of some sort? Could the arena be some place urban this year? Not like the normal elemental arenas tributes are exposed to. It makes me feel safe for a moment, but then my mind races with everything that could be hiding in these buildings.
Caramen reaches the door before Omri does, and I decide it's time to go. The two of us enter the door and Omri is fast behind us. Allure is gaining though; she'll be here in seconds. Omri slams the door shut as Allure pounds on it with her fists. She struggles to open the door, her screams piercing the night sky. I don't know if it is night, but I'm going to go with that.
Omri's eyes find the lock, and he turns the handle sharply to the left, only feeling safe after the clicking sound is heard. We're safe, but by locking the door, no one else can escape the rooftop. We run down the stairs, our thunderous footsteps resonating off of the corridors close walls. We've given ourselves away, and I can only hope that the boy from Six and his allies aren't waiting at the bottom of the stairs for helpless tributes.
We reach the bottom of the massive stairwell, and look to see if any other tributes are down here. The coast seems clear, and we steal out into the darkness, having narrowly escaped death. We don't know where to go, but as we walk, torches begin to light up at our sides. Every step we take signals a new torch, and as we walk the arena becomes illuminated. From where we are, we can see the arena for miles, extending in several directions for what seems like forever.
That's not what's really shocking though, the real problem is the layout of the arena. It's a city, but not a pretty one like the capitol. Dilapidated buildings pepper the arena, poking out of the massive expanse of water before. On both sides of the walkway is nothing but water, and as we look closer into the distance, we realize where we are. A sunken city, ravaged by the mass volumes of water taking up much of the space. Some buildings poke out higher than others, looking less ruined. I don't think it's nighttime though, I think the lighting is like this on purpose, and the truth of the matter settles in. In this underwater city, you'll never be safe.
Screams and the clang of sharp steel can be heard from all the way down here, and the reality of the ongoing bloodbath above us settles in. We've got to run before the tributes up there bust down the door or find another way down. I'm sure the gamemakers wouldn't make it so that tributes could get trapped up there.
I see a building far off enough to where we'll be safe for a while, and turn to Caramen and Omri. We haven't really spoken at all yet, we've just been taking in the unreal quality of it all. We're here, in the Hunger Games, and no matter how much we help each other, only one of us can go home. I shake my head at the thought, and am the first to speak.
"See that building there," I point to a monolithic structure in the distance, "I think we'll be safe there as long as we keep our distance."
"What are we going to do for food," Caramen stammers, still shaken up.
"We'll figure that out later," I say, taking on the position of leader once again, "But for now we've got to find somewhere to camp, and I think that building looks good."
"We're in some sort of city," Omri says chillingly, "All the buildings are destroyed. But look," he points off far to the east, "There's some sort of dome." Sure enough, far away is some massive structure, a brilliant dome resting on its top. It looks like a sort of coliseum, and I have no intention of going there.
"What's that?" Caramen points to something to the west, something that looks like a bridge. "Where does that go?" He wonders aloud, thinking of all the gruesome possibilities that could lie beyond that bridge.
"I don't want to find out," I say, "Let's just get to that place." I reiterate my idea and the two stop scanning the arena at last. Our destination in the distance, we set out for the building, silently praying we'll be able to escape the madness we're leaving behind.
Ruci Nonabi- District Ten
I cower in the darkness, removing myself from any light cast by the torches. When they went off, several tributes were exposed, and Roger had been one of them. The boy from Four, the horrible boy with the crooked grin, dashed for my district partner. We hadn't really formed a bond, but I was still searching for him in the dark, hoping to forge some sort of temporary bond or something, at least until we got out of the bloodbath.
But then Rip got ahold of him, and threw him to the ground without wasting a moment. The boy from Four made quick work of my district partner, slashing and hacking him to pieces with a set of sharp knives. His screams rang throughout the arena, his terrified and pained screams. I can still hear them, but that's not what makes me tremble now, it's the sound that followed them, the deafening boom of the cannon.
It was the first to go off, and what I'm sure is only the first of many.
Crouching in the darkness, I fumble around for some sort of supplies but I find nothing. There's no way I can get any closer to the cornucopia, unless I wanted to die. Deciding against taking the risk, I know the only way down is through that door. A door now guarded by the girl from One. But that's not the only way down, because a tribute has already jumped off the roof, surprising all of us at first.
Then, I heard what some of the others heard, the splash of water. There was an expanse of water down there, deep enough to jump into and survive. We're not terribly high up, but at the same time we're nowhere close to the ground. Now, from my vantage point, I can see the group of four tributes looking over the edge, prepared to jump into the water and flee the careers. But it won't happen without a fight.
Avery, the boy from One, meets the boy from Two in a shower of sparks from the clash of their metal. Nero is no fool, and is strong with that sword. He parries every single blow Avery deals, and the two boys are using all of their strength to match one another. Avery sidesteps an underhand blow from Nero, and doubles back with his own vertical slice. The boy from Two blocks the hit though and tries to roll his blade down onto Avery, but the other boy sees through his plans and dodges with a deft parry.
It's almost like a dance, and it's beautiful for a second, until Avery slices Nero's leg.
It's not deep, but the wound is enough to knock the boy off guard. Avery kicks him in the chest, a move that winds Nero but rescues him at the same time. They were so close to the edge, that Avery's kick sends Nero toppling over the side of the building, down into the dark waters below. Cursing loudly, Avery lashes out at the three girls who remain, but he knows he can't take them on.
Then things get ugly.
The other careers lock in on the alliance by the edge, coming to Avery's side to help him deal with the others. Cynthia, Daedrya, and Amerilia put their backs to the edge, facing the careers with their weapons drawn. Daedrya and Amerilia hold bows, aiming them at the careers that are coming close. Cynthia holds two knives in her hand, the sharp edges of each one gleaming in the red light of the torches. Ula, Revolc, and…that boy from Four, the one who killed Roger…he's there too.
I want to do something; I want to save the girls by the edge and kill Rip. I want him to pay for what he did to Roger. I know revenge is a sin; it's something that I shouldn't be thinking about, but he killed my district partner without even thinking about. He's like a machine, programmed only to kill.
"Look what we have here," I can hear Rip whistle; I'm not terribly far from them, just on the other side of the cornucopia. "What are pretty girls like you doing fighting people like us?"
"People like you?" Amerilia snorts, "Monsters, you mean?"
"She's got an attitude," Revolc says mockingly.
"I wonder if she'd still be this rude with a knife to her throat?" Rip questions aloud, laughing a little.
"Screw you," Cynthia blurts out, earning a few laughs from the careers.
"This has been nice," Rip says once more, "But it's time to end this."
Something clicks inside of me, I know I won't win these games. I've got no allies, no district partner, no weapons, no idea where I am, no chance. But these girls do, and Nero is probably drowning in the water below. Without thinking, almost in the same manner Rip tore Roger to pieces, I emerge from my hiding place in the darkness and bolt for the cornucopia. They don't hear me yet, but when I scoop up a knife from the cornucopia and get within range of the nearest Career, signals are perked.
Ula turns to me, shock in her eyes, she does nothing to help her allies, but simply gets down before I throw the knife. The weapon leaves my hand, flying from my palm and hurtling towards Rip's sneering face. Revolc says something, some sort of warning, and Rip turns to face the knife.
But it never reaches him, my throw was faulty and the knife falls short, clanging to the ground in a definitive metallic sound. Rip smirks, obviously amused and says,
"Take care of her, Ula."
"You don't order me around Richard," Ula says shooting him a glare, "But, it'd be a pleasure."
Her words send some sort of spark throughout the arena, and the tributes who had been forced to hide in the darkness because of Allure's station by the door rustle in the shadows, attempting to escape once again. However, my mission is accomplished, because in the confusion, Amerilia and Cynthia scuttle down the side of the building and then plummet into the water below, and judging by their cries I can tell they are safe. I am frozen in motion, but Daedrya uses the distraction to lodge an arrow in Revolc's thigh, and then follows her allies off the building into safety.
Revolc's scream pierces the night, but I don't hear the end of it as Ula snares me in a net. I fall to the ground, hapless and injured. There's nothing I can do, and I weep and cry out as the trident pierces my flesh, drawing blood from the three entry holes. The weapon stings my skin, and the punctures burn. Ula brings in the trident again, tearing apart flesh and ripping nerves apart. The gore is visible on the weapon, I can see my own blood glimmer in the torch light, and I cry out for my mother.
The careers snicker, and then Ula jabs at me once again, agonizing the already burning wounds. I can hear Rip shout something, and he dashes off to find some new prey, the others that were hidden are obviously on the move now. Ula continues the torture, and I wail as the previously made punctures are torn apart and bits of skin, flesh, and blood fly everywhere. Ula twists the metal in deep, exacerbating my injuries.
Then, with a swift jab to the neck, my jugular is severed, and as the crimson cascades from my mangled neck, I die.
Maud Perrin- District Three
I saw Leo in the shadows, moving about slowly and deliberately, trying to get close enough to the door to take out Allure. He's in no condition to jump into water, and I can tell by the hulky movements he makes that he's not quick, more of a brute.
Still, as he tackles the girl from One, I can't help but hope he kills her, chiding myself on the inside. I know killing has to be part of the grand design to get home, but for now, it's a last resort. But if someone else were to take out tributes for me, if I could get brawn behind this operation, then things could go much more smoothly.
But, the sound of the cannon awakens new senses in the remaining tributes on this cursed rooftop, and as soon as I know they're done with Ruci, the new target is zoned in on, Leo. The boy from Four sprints over to our location and I double back deeper into the darkness as far from the torches as possible. I can't see my hand in front of my face, but I can see far off, near the torch light that Allure and Leo are sparring in.
He tries to grab her throat, while they tussle on the ground, but Cassia reaches them before Rip does. I hadn't seen her the entire time, even when Nero had fell off the building, but she was apparently inside the cornucopia, checking for supplies or guarding the entrance or something. She meets Leo before Rip does, and raising the sword from her side, she buries the blade in Leo's back.
My district partner doesn't make a sound, but becomes deadweight on top of Allure and then the cannon goes off. It's a sickening sound, knowing someone I hoped for, someone I trusted is dead, but I can't worry about him now. Everyone is expendable, except for me that is.
There are only two other tributes left on the rooftop that aren't careers or myself, Aston and Maple. Maple's been in the dark for some time now, probably calculating her escape. The gamemakers have put us in a tough position, and now us three girls will have to concoct a plan to win our ways off this high-rise. I can see them in the darkness, and whisper something, quiet enough to not draw attention but loud enough to gain the girl's attention.
We convene in the black, but Maple doesn't say a word.
"We have to align for now, just until we get off this rooftop," I hiss, and the two girls nod.
"How though?" Aston murmurs, obviously perplexed.
"A diversion," I stammer, and Aston fills in, "I'm a good runner."
"Then while you make a distraction, Maple and I will escape, and then you jump off the roof," I decide and the three girls nod. It's a plan created in seconds, but it's all the time we have to get off the roof. Because right after I speak, a new set of torches light up, directly behind us.
"They're drawing us out," I nearly cry out, furious with the gamemakers. They've tired of this game of shadows and now want some carnage. Four tributes have already died, but I guess that's not enough. Aston bolts for the side of the building, screaming wildly and running amok, tearing off while Maple and I dart for the exit. We're so small that the careers don't notice us, and they all target Aston, believing her to be the last one up here.
Maple and I make it to the door, and I enter the stairwell before Maple does. Then, without warning, the door slams shut before Maple can get in, a trick by the gamemakers. I know why though, because if the careers get Aston, then that'll leave the only tribute that scored a twelve alone with the careers, something that everyone is dying to see.
I get the answer to my prediction when the cannon sounds and I can hear the earsplitting screech of Aston as her life slips away. Someone got to her, and as the sound of the cannon fades away, I can hear the whoops and hollers of the careers, ready to end the bloodbath with just one more kill.
Revolc Undercity- District Seven
The arrow that bitch from eight sent through my leg hurts like hell, but Ula removed it swiftly and sent the arrow over the edge, leaving me with a nice hole in my leg. We found some bandages inside the cornucopia and after rubbing my wound with some ointment, I feel miraculously better. Stepping out of the cornucopia, I witness the end of the girl from Six and the beginning of a new target, my district partner.
Avery and Allure have yet to kill, but Rip didn't waste any time catching that Aston girl in the back with a toss of his knife. She went sprawling, and he slit her throat from ear to ear right after. The maniac took her out faster than he did the boy from Ten, but it still wasn't pretty. But now, there's still another tribute left on this rooftop, and I look to where Cassia is headed, in the direction of Maple.
My district partner and I never liked each other, I deprived her of any help from a mentor, and since I joined the careers she hasn't said a word to me. But there's something about her, maybe it's the fact we're from the same district, or maybe since she scored a twelve, I don't know, but there's something that makes me hesitant to help in the end of her life.
But that's a luxury I'm denied, because Rip is soon at my side.
"Only one left," he snarls, "And I think that considering she's from your district, you should do the honors."
The comment shocks me, but I've got to stick with this crowd, "Sure man, just get me a weapon and I'll gut the little bitch."
He smiles, and hands me the knife he used on Aston. Her blood still stains the weapon, but I do nothing to show it disturbs me. Heading for where Cassia has my district partner pinned down, right outside the door she tried to escape from, I hold the weapon in my hand. I advance on the scene, trying to convince myself what I'm doing is for my own safety, so I can get home.
"She's feisty," Cassia says with a laugh, looking up at us. Maple squirms under her grip, eyes pleading with me to help her. There's nothing I can really do, my hands are tied. I can't throw away the alliance I've formed, not when it's gotten me so far already. I can either save this girl from my district, or run this game alongside the careers.
"Hold her down," I say to Cassia without looking at her, my eyes are trained on Maple, whose gaze lights up at my words. She's terrified; she didn't anticipate this kind of arena. The gamemakers were cruel enough to put us on a rooftop with one exit, and she couldn't find it in time. Now the door is locked and everyone else is either dead or gone, except for her. She squeals in fright as I come closer, brushing the edge of her face with the knife. I know I shouldn't be toying with her, but it's something I have to do to win the admiration of Rip and the others, to be a true member of this alliance.
Then, sliding the knife up against her cheek, I pierce Maple's flesh, drawing the softest of whimpers from her closed mouth. She refuses to given in, defies all motivation to scream and thrash about. She closes her eyes, a cold acceptance passing over her face. I'm about to end my district partner. I lean over Cassia's arm, it's in the way because she's pinning Maple down, and I proceed to make the same mark on Maple's face, just on the other cheek. I give her two matching wounds, one on each side, drawing the liquid blood from her face.
The torture is slow and agonizing, for the both us, but Rip wanted it to be this way.
"I wonder why she got that twelve?" Our leader wonders aloud, "Is it because she was very fast?" After his comment, he slams his foot down on her knee, the sickening crack of breaking bones shattering the silence. Maple screams, her resilience broken. The tears on her face begin to flow freely, and she sucks in large gulps of air as she struggles to retain her composure.
"Did that hurt?" I find myself asking, jeering at Maple with the same attitude as Rip. The boy looks at me with approval, obviously happy that I'm taunting my district partner. Then, taking the knife, I make an incision where Rip stomped on her knee, causing her to convulse wildly and make guttural sounds no human should ever perform.
"Please!" She begins to beg, "No, no! Please!" She is wailing with fear and pain, the two emotions blending together to form a catastrophic combination. The twelve-year old girl writhes like a snake in Cassia's grip, but the older girl says, "You're not going anywhere sweetie."
Avery watches from a distance, his purple irises fixated on Maple's paroxysms. He can't peel his eyes away, and I think I pick up hints of fear in them, is he doubting us?
"Get it together Avery," I spit, chiding the boy. He seems to snap out of a haze, and then mumbles, "Sorry."
I know something's up, he's lacking the same drive the rest of us do. I get up and with a smile on my face I hand the knife off to him.
"Why don't you give it a go? She's my kill but why don't you have some fun with her before I end it?" I prompt, looking at Maple before giving the knife to my ally. I can feel his clammy hand before he accepts the weapon, and the lump is visible in his throat. He's sweating bullets, and the boy can't bring himself to do it.
He kneels next to Maple, and drags the knife along her inner thigh, scratching the surface of her skin delicately and precisely. He's much more meticulous then I would have imagined, and as he slowly penetrates her mulatto skin with the blade, Maple begins to experience a new kind of pain. It's not sudden, like the wounds delivered my Rip and I, but the precise incisions and careful cuts Avery makes are horrifying sensations that I can only describe by the look on Maple's face.
Maple makes sobs and grunts, heaving her body up and down, trying to escape Cassia's Iron grasp. Maple is pinned to the ground, and under the strong grip of Cassia and Avery's maneuvers with the knife, her fate is sealed.
But there's someone we forgot about, someone who we thought had left the rooftop, because of the splash in the water down below. It must have been a diversion, some supplies that went into the water and not the actual body of a tribute, because emerging from the shadows armed with a slingshot is the girl from Eleven.
She rockets a pellet at Cassia, hitting the girl right in the temple. She shrieks with pain, but it'll only bruise and the sensation is fleeting. It's enough to distract my ally though, because she loosens her hold on Maple and my district partner slips out from under her grasp. I call out to Avery, ordering him to stop her, but his swing with the knife comes too late and Maple is already out of reach.
"Amber!" Maple calls, hobbling towards the edge of the building with a hand on her broken knee. She won't get anywhere fast with that sort of injury soon, so I break into a run after her. Rip and Ula turns towards Amber, tearing off to bring her down. There's no way these tribute can escape, and Allure holds her sword out in front, holding her position by the door to prevent their escape. Cassia follows me, after the girl that we were torturing with moments ago.
But Maple shows us why she scored a twelve, and quickly climbs to an ancillary part of the building, up the additional block that must've held a cooling system or something before this city turned to ruin. She's up there in seconds, even with her damaged leg. It sounded for sure like Rip broke it, but the feat she just accomplished would prove otherwise. Perched on top of the adjunct, Maple is out of reach for now, but Cassia can apparently climb to.
My ally begins to scale the adjunct Maple rests on, but the small girl gives her a foot to the face and sends her tumbling back down. Cassia is seething with rage and grapples for the girl's retreating foot, but to no avail. I hear sounds of frustration coming from where Rip and Ula are hunting Amber, and can see from my location that we've got not one but two climbers on our hands, because Amber is perched on top of the cornucopia.
"Come on down girls," Cassia says loudly, "You can't stay up there all night."
"There won't stay up there for another minute," Rip says hotly and pulls a knife from his side, he catches Maple in the shoulder, but it's not fatal. The throw happened in an instant, and realize instantaneously that it was a mistake. Maple whimpers as she wrenches the weapon from her shoulder, and the crimson stain it leaves behind is just another injury on her running tally. Even if she makes it out of this, she won't live long. Maple picks up the knife and changes hands, holding it high over her good shoulder.
Then she shows us why she earned a twelve.
The knife leaves her hand with deft precision, zooming towards me and lodging in my throat. A fountain of red gushes from the entry wound, cascading down my chest and through my clothes. Blood is everywhere, and I soon feel the weird sensation of my energy ebbing and my focus fading. In the confusion, Rip and Ula rush to my side and I can hear them curse loudly as Amber jumps off the rooftop and into the water below, the splashing sound for real this time. I have just enough strength left to look up, to where Maple was before she threw the knife.
She's gone, that damn girl, the one that got away.
I don't even have enough time to think about my family, Amy, my brothers and mother and everyone who was counting on me to pull through. Everything was so foolproof, I was with the careers, I would soar through this game.
But it doesn't happen like that, because in this infernal city, on top of this roof in the black of the night, the last of my strength fades into a misty blur and the darkness consumes me.
Nero Lepidus- District Two
Falling off the roof into the water had to be the scariest thing that's ever happened to me. One second, I was defending my alliance from Avery's sword and the next I was toppling over a roof headed straight for the ground. I had assumed pavement much like the roof of the building the bloodbath occurred waited for me at the bottom, and I didn't even have time to think before I made contact with the icy depths. Relief and fear flooded into me at once, because while I was thankful that I had survived the fall, the blood rising to the surface from the wound in my leg triggered the horrors of the games to resurface in my mind once again.
Breaking the surface of the water, I wasn't alone for very long. Not wanting to find out if any weird muttations lived in the water, I paddled to the stone walkway and hoisted myself up. In a few moments, Amerilia and Ember crashed into the water, leaving me to wonder where our fourth alliance member was. Soon enough though, Daedrya joined my other companions in the frigid blue and emerged to fall back beside me onto the pavement.
"That was crazy," I breathe loudly, exhausted from the bloodbath.
"We survived," she says, a smile curving her lips, "We survived."
Amerilia and Ember reach our side, both of them with the same labored breath Daedrya and I have. Amerilia looks annoyed,
"I didn't think I'd get wet so soon," she glumly says, wringing the water out of her hair.
"Did you get your hair wet?" I tease, cracking a smile.
"Shut up," she says with a flare, cutting her eyes at me. I know she's not mad, so I laugh it off.
"God Nero, that leg of yours looks bad," Ember comments, staring at the wound on my thigh.
I give my golden hair a shake and train eyes of the same color on her,
"I'll be fine," I say toughly, not wanting the injury Avery dealt me to get in the way of our progress. The careers got to work fast in the bloodbath, but a member of our alliance did as well.
"Was it easy," I ask Daedrya, who is currently supine on the walkway.
She knows what I'm talking about, but asks anyway, "Was what easy?"
"You shot the boy from Twelve with your arrows, you killed someone. Was it easy?" I reiterate.
She rises, leveling her eyes at all of us. Her gaze moves from us person by person and the she finally answers with a chilling voice not unlike the waters we just left.
"It was either them or me. We're going to have to take down all of the other tributes if we want to get out of there, and I was just making the job easier."
No one says anything after that, but finally Amerilia suggests we look for somewhere to camp out.
"We can probably find an abandoned building or hotel to stay in," I say, scanning the dark horizon to see tons of dilapidated buildings and waterlogged hotels. Waters flows freely, cascades of thunderous waterfalls pouring from high windows of ruined buildings. There are no lights, save for the torches by the walkway, but everything else is eerily silent. The city extends for miles, seemingly endless amidst the mirror-like black water that surrounds us.
"Let's get a move on," Daedrya says, a new edge to her voice. The reality of killing Icarus has set in for her, she didn't think about it until I asked her. She didn't have time to, right after that we were cornered by the careers and then we jumped several stories into water we didn't know the depth of. She's been through more than most of us so far, so I just leave her to herself.
"We're going to need something for that wound on your thigh," Ember voices her concern for my leg again. Out of all the members in our alliance, I feel the closest to her, because she was my original ally. I can tell she wants me to be fine, and I am for now. But in a few days how will my thigh be if I don't get treatment?
We walk forever, the buildings much farther than they originally appeared. We steal off into the night, walking together as a team, the alliance we set out to be. Six cannons sounded today, a fourth of the tributes are gone, and none of them were us. Our alliance holds strong, and it will until every last career is dead.
Even my sister.
I rewrote this chapter so many times it's not even funny. I didn't know how to end it, and I knew it was going to be with Nero's perspective but I just didn't know where to take it. I'm going to apologize now for anyone's tribute that died, so let's run through the kill list. One fourth of the tributes are gone, and I'm glad it's that way, because it's called a bloodbath for a reason. I knew I had to have a shocking death as well, but I think some of you could tell some tributes were marked for the bloodbath from the capitol chapters.
Leo Ventras (District Three)- Killed by Cassia Lepidus
Aston Jeffries (District Six)- Killed by ?- Will be revealed next chapter
Revolc Undercity (District Seven)- Killed by Maple Starr
Roger Shimhill (District Ten)- Killed by Rip Crevan
Ruci Nonabi (District Ten)- Killed by Ula Ermin
Icarus Cotton (District Twelve)- Killed by Daedrya Redwyne
On another note, the Sponsor Shop is open! I only had one person PM the tribute they wanted to sponsor, and I'll be sending their balance out soon. Reviews have been slow, but I'm hoping that since this is the bloodbath I'll get more than usual. I really love seeing the support guys, and you just don't know how it makes writers feel to see a review pop up. It makes my day every time. Once again, apologies if someone's tribute died, but it had to happen. Thanks for all the support, and the games have begun!