"Would you look at that," Cato's cold voice penetrates the quiet night, "just our luck. The Girl on Fire," he addresses me with mock formality. "Where would lover boy be? I hope not dead. It would pleasure me much for him to be witness to your death." "Go fuck yourself," I retort, staring down into his hard glare with on as equally loathsome. "What a foul tongue you have," Cato says with an amused grin. "I always knew people from District Twelve were all revolting." "Oh, I don't know about that, but I can tell you some of us have a nasty temper and you just stumbled upon one of them," a voice I recognize says. The careers snap their heads in all directions, looking for the source of the new voice. I, too, look around for Eight, but cannot spot him in the dark. A pull in my stomach makes me want to vomit when I turn on my legacy of night vision, but after many moments of searching, Eight is still not visible.
The pull becomes stronger until I realize its no longer just in my stomach. My whole body is being pulled to the ground by an unseen force. Pulled towards the careers. I grab on to a passing tree branch in my attempt to stop my slow descent to the ground. The force becomes stronger, as if gravity itself were intensifying. As I look down I see that Cato is starting to look paler, sickly even, his knees wobbling slightly. I turn my attention back to my current position. The forearm thick branch held tightly in my grasp begins to crack at the point where it connects with the actual tree. It snaps and I fall, still holding it. I hit the ground hard and fast
My vision becomes fuzzy and there's blazing pain in my chest. I raise my head, which turns out to be a terrible idea. It feels as if it was filled with lead. There's warm liquid streaming down the side of my face, undoubtedly blood. I had lost the feeling in my left legs as well, but it was slowly coming back, filling my body with more pain. The drop had been high and too quick, the force of Cato's Telekinesis so strong, it was a miracle I was still alive. It had apparently been too much for Cato too. He was convulsing on the ground not far from where I lay. But it had not entirely been using his legacies that left him in that condition.
Eight was nearby, battling another one of the careers with a sword. Where did he get a sword? I force myself into a sitting position, leaning against the tree, watching the ongoing brawl with intense fear. I try to syphon the energy need to heal myself but I'm all drained out. All I can do was sit helplessly and watch as Eight's arm is sliced almost completely off. He falls on his knees, clutching his gaping wound and several other small injuries that, while being small, still take a negative effect on him. He's looking down, not meeting the eyes of his soon-to-be-killer. "Vermin," the career, the boy from District One, spits as he levels his own sword to Eight's neck. Eight gulps in an almost believably fearful way, his Adam's apple pressing against the sharp blade. A thin line of blood trickles down his throat. The look in the career's eyes is scary as he brings his sword back slowly, or maybe time just seemed to slow down. "No…" I mutter, watching the blow descend. The sword slices across Eight's chest. I hear a shriek and realize its my own. Eight falls face first to the ground, blood seeping out around him. "NO!" I scream, trying to crawl toward him, energy suddenly flooding my veins, my pain ebbing away.
The boy from One goes and helps Cato up, who has regained his composure enough to stand. I'm still attempting to reach Eight when a bloodstained blade cuts me off. My reflection stares back at me, crazed eyes full of determination. And fear. "Trying to save a lost cause, Twelve," Says Cato. I stare past the weapon blocking my path and into Eight green eyes. He's still alive, but barely. He eyelids slowing closing, losing focus. But then he gives me the smallest of gestures: a smirk. I'm caught off guard, staring at Eight, his eyes now closed.
Hands on my shoulders brutally push me up on my feet and slam my already-weak body against the tree. I slump back, losing all energy again, losing the will to fight anymore. Cato's hand greedily wraps around my throbbing throat. My breath is cut off, and with it my insult I was going to spit at the boy from Two. "That bastard nearly knocked me out," he hisses, "Oh, I had really hoped to get him back by having him watch you in pain, but I guess that out." He gives a short laugh, amusement creeping into his murderous tone. "Well, now I have to make someone else suffer in his place, don't I?" The pressure on my throat tights and I lose the last bit of air left in my lungs. My vision darkens and my head lolls to the side. "Oh no no no no no," Cato chides, "Can't have you passing out and missing all the fun."
He pulls out a small blade and holds it up for me to see. "This," he says, creepily caressing my cheek with the blade, "is where the fun starts." His expression changes to murderous pleasure and the knife slices the side of my face, letting blood trickle from the new wound. Instead of warmth I feel the liquid turn ice cold against my cheek. Surprise flickers on Cato's face for a moment before returning to his glare. I can tell he is not happy that the flow of blood has been clotted somehow. "Oh well," he says in an air tone, turning away and letting go of me. I refuse to give in, and remain standing defiantly as best I can. "I guess we have to do this the hard way. Much less fun, much less painless, and far too quick."