Chapter 1: Prologue
Dia Kurosawa stands on the stage overlooking the crowded square of District One with a smug smile on her face. After all, she had just successfully volunteered to take part in the Hunger Games.
She snuck a glance at the girl next to her who had just mounted the stage. The District escort had pulled her name from the reaping bowl and was introducing her to the District and to the viewers in the Capitol.
Dia mentally shook her head at the notion. She didn’t understand why they bothered with the Reaping in her District when every year they got several people willingly attempting to volunteer. No, the girl next to her wouldn’t be on the stage for long.
The District escort was now asking for volunteers. Before the escort had gotten the last syllable out, a shrill familiar voice pierced the air.
“I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE!”
A shorter girl with bright red hair pushed her way into the isle between the two groups of eligible teenagers. Dia’s smile fell.
The volunteer was her sister.
As Ruby started to climb the stairs to the stage, Dia managed to remind herself that she needed to keep her emotions in check and contorted her facial expression to show what she hoped was indifference. It was hard though.
“And what’s your name?” the escort asked Ruby in an artificially cheery voice. “Ruby Kurosawa!” Ruby answered. She sounded excited for some reason.
“Ah so I bet this is your sister then?” Ruby nodded quickly. “Two sisters vying for fortune and glory. How charming” the escort gushed into the microphone. “Give it up for the tributes of District One!”
The crowd broke into applause as the mayor came forward to read the Treaty of Treason. Dia took the time to think.
She didn’t understand. Why was Ruby, who was scared of basically everything, including physical contact, volunteering for a death game?
Dia couldn’t imagine Ruby was trying to steal the fame from her. She’d always been so supportive of Dia’s training while showing no interest in it herself. She’d even confessed to Dia that she never wanted to take part in the Hunger Games which Dia agreed with.
The Games were dangerous, Dia knew that. The people at the training center would make students go to the funerals of fallen District One tributes. Fortune and glory came at a price but Dia was willing to risk her life for it.
With Ruby in the picture though, Dia knew that it could never happen now.
She couldn’t just let Ruby get killed in the arena. Ruby was Dia’s sunshine.
Dia had trained her entire life for this, but now she knew she had to put all of her training into something else.
As the mayor finished reading the Treaty and motioned for the two sisters to shake hands, Dia made a silent vow to protect Ruby at all costs.
No one would lay a finger on her little sister as long as she was around. And when it came down to the two of them...
... well Dia would just have to give her life for Ruby.
Sarah sat on the couch on the train next to Leah as the television was flipped on so they could watch the reaping for the Hunger Games the two of them were being forced to compete in.
As the reaping played out on the screen, Sarah attempted to keep track of the tributes.
The two volunteers from District One who also happened to sisters, Dia and Ruby Kurosawa.
A sixteen year old girl with long dark blue hair and piercing orange brown eyes, Umi Sonoda and a taller seventeen year old girl with blond hair pulled up into a pony tail Elichika Ayase from District Two.
A fifteen year old girl with blue hair, not as dark as Umi’s but certainly not light, with a small bun sticking out on the side, Yoshiko Tsushima and a shy looking 18 year old with long auburn hair, bangs falling into her purple-pink eyes, Anju Yuki from District Three.
A strong looking seventeen year old girl with dark blue hair pulled into a long ponytail, Kanan Matsuura and and equally strong looking sixteen year girl with shoulder length gray hair, You Watanabe from District Four.
Another seventeen year old with shoulder length blonde hair with a strange loop standing out from the side of her head, Mari O’Hara and a tall, very mature looking eighteen year old with long waist length dark red hair, Erena Todo from District Five.
A proud looking fifteen year old with long red hair, Maki Nishikino and a nervous looking sixteen year old with even longer dark red hair, Riko Sakurauchi from District Six. Sarah noticed the two girls seemed to know each know each other.
A sixteen year old with reddish brown hair with a side ponytail and bright blue eyes, Honoka Kosaka and an eighteen year old with similar colored hair to Honoka’s that came down to just below her ears, Tsubasa Kira from District Seven.
A sixteen year old with long gray hair, a small swoop sticking out to the side, Kotori Minami and a short seventeen year old girl with black hair pulled into pigtails with ribbon and scary looking bright red eyes, Nico Yazawa from District Eight.
Then they got to District Nine, which was where the Kazuno sisters were from.
Sarah watched as her name was called and she made her from the crowd of seventeen year old girls to the stage. It was strange seeing herself on television and that dress really did not look as good on her as her mother thought.
The Sarah on the screen stood on the stage looking unsure and nervous which probably didn’t look good to potential sponsors but she wasn’t too concerned about that at the moment.
The District escort stepped over to to the glass ball with all the names of the eligible girls and plucked up one more name.
“Leah Ka... Leah Kazuno!”
The camera immediately fixed on Leah’s shocked face. After all, what were the odds that two siblings get chosen for the same Hunger Games?
Leah quickly composed herself and made her way to the stage, taking small quick steps and keeping her head down, hands behind her back.
Once Leah reached the stage, the escort quickly introduced her and encouraged the crowd to applaud for them.
The program quickly switched to District Ten where seventeen year old Nozomi Tojo and fifteen year old Hanamaru Kunikida were reaped. Then onto District Eleven with fifteen year olds Hanayo Koizumi and Rin Hoshizora who definitely knew each other. Finally sixteen year old Chika Takami and Ayumu Uehara from District Twelve.
The anthem began to play and the escort stood up from her chair and faced the pair of sisters. “Off to bed you two!” she exclaimed “We have a big big day tomorrow!”
Sarah didn’t understand how she could be so cheerful when her job was to cart two girls off to their deaths. Regardless her and Leah stood up off the couch and made their way to their bedrooms.
When they got away from everyone, Leah was finally able to let go. Sarah was the only person Leah trusted enough to drop her cruel and uncaring demeanor around and actually show her true emotions around.
Leah grabbed onto her older sister’s arm. “Can I stay with you tonight sis?” Leah asked in a quiet voice. Sarah nodded as the two entered her room.
The two climbed into the bed, Leah curling herself into her older sister’s side. “I’m scared” she whispered. Sarah gave her a small smile and set to work on pulling the ribbons keeping Leah’s twin tails up out of her hair.
“I know. I’m scared too” Sarah said “But I’m gonna keep you safe okay?” Leah glanced up at her sister, who was now removing her own hair bow, with wide eyes. “Sis...?”
“I promise Leah. I’ll make sure no one hurts you. Okay? I swear I’ll keep you safe to the very end. I promise.”
Chapter 2: Chapter One
Tw: blood gore and death
The preparation room sank away as the circular platform Dia was standing on pushed her up into the arena.
As she breached the surface the first thing she registered was the cold. The announcer for the Hunger Games, voice booms around the arena. “Ladies and Gentlemen, let the One Hundredth Hunger Games begin!”
Dia has sixty seconds to find her bearings and figure out a battle plan. Of course she’ll be going in to fight for the weapons and food. She won’t want to let the other Tributes get away with too much.
The 24 Tributes are in a circle facing the Cornucopia. Surrounding the Cornucopia is a circle of lush green grass which spreads out to just before the metal plates the Tributes are standing on.
Beyond that is snow. Bright white snow that’s blinding to look at in the sunlight. All around the field is a dense white forest of pine trees which reminds Dia of Christmas. That would explain the thick jacket and boots she was provided to wear.
Dia focuses her attention on the Tributes again, trying to quickly find Ruby. She thinks she sees her sister a few Tributes to her right before realizing it’s the younger girl from District 6.
She keeps searching around the circle for Ruby, but can’t spot her meaning she must be on the other side of the circle hidden behind the Cornucopia.
That’s fine. As long as Ruby follows Dia’s instructions to keep out of the Bloodbath and hide near the edge of the clearing she should be fine.
Dia focused her attention on the Cornucopia again. She was running out of time and needed to make a decision on what she was going to do once the timer went off.
She was directly in front of the open mouth of the Cornucopia. There, a large pile of weapons, food, first aid supplies, and sleeping bags among other things stood. At the foot of the pile lay a single katana, Dia’s weapon of choice.
She knew she could make it there quick enough. She was one of the fastest Tributes apart from Kanan, Umi who she wasn’t too worried about since they were allies and that orange haired girl from District Eleven.
Yet, just 20 yards away from Dia was a spear next to a large backpack. Dia was good with spears. Not as good as she was with a katana but still good. Plus that bag could hold anything one could use to survive.
With how close the bag and spear were to the Tributes around it, if Dia didn’t get it, someone else would.
Dia made her decision and poised herself to run for the katana. The second the gong rang out she bolted from the circular platform she was standing on.
Dia made it to the pile just a split second after Kanan had. However when Kanan had made it, instead of grabbing something from the pile, she had leaped over it, knocking several things onto and in front of Dia’s precious blade.
Dia pawed through the spilled items until she managed to pull out the katana, also spotting the blade’s sheath. She stood up and immediately was knocked back down by someone.
Kanan had just jumped back over the pile, a trident in hand, and run right into Dia.
Kanan held out a hand which Dia took and pulled her to her feet. “Thanks” Dia mumbled. Kanan smiled. “No problem! Let’s go get em!” Then she was gone, running off in the direction of the orange haired girl from District Eleven.
Dia turned around herself and noticed one of the sisters from District Nine a few yard from her bent over a stack of sleeping bags. She had her back turned to Dia so she figured, eh why not.
Dia ran over to the girl, who she remembered was the older of the two sisters and brought her blade down into the girl’s back. The blade went straight through her body, hitting the ground below. She put her foot on the girl’s back and pulled the blade out of her.
The girl was still alive, screaming and begging Dia to spare her. Dia knew that the injury she sustained would be fatal but it would take a few minutes to kill her since she was essentially bleeding out so in an act of mercy she kneeled down and grabbed the girl’s hair and pulled her head back to expose her neck and used her katana to slit her throat.
The girl stopped moving. Dia stood back up and looked up noticing the other sister standing at the edge of clearing, staring horrified at Dia standing over her sister’s corpse.
The girl reminded Dia so much of Ruby. She couldn’t help but think what would happen if she were killed and Ruby was left alone. Dia just took that girl’s sister from her. She couldn’t let that happen to Ruby. Another silent promise on her mind.
Dia turned her back on the younger sister from District Nine and started to run toward the other end of the clearing.
She had to find Ruby.
Ruby is absolutely freaking out right now. She’s pretty sure when Dia told her to stay somewhere safe she didn’t mean 10 feet up a tree but there weren’t any bushes to hide behind so she had no choice.
Other than her fear of heights, she could see her sister over the top of the tip of the Cornucopia. She could see what Dia had just done.
Her sister had just murdered Sarah Kazuno from District Nine. Of course Ruby knew this kind of thing would happen when Dia told their family she was going to volunteer for the Games.
Dia was always so strong which, truth be told, is the reason Ruby volunteered for the Games. Dia had spent her life protecting Ruby. She wanted to return the favor for her older sister where it mattered most.
Ruby noticed Dia was now jogging toward the end of the clearing Ruby was over. Ruby pulled out the cotton blanket she’d managed to grab before running toward the trees. She began waving it around like a flag to get Dia’s attention.
A few seconds later Dia spotted her and ran to the base of Ruby’s tree. Ruby shakily climbed down the branches until her feet were firmly on the ground. Dia gave her sister a quick hug then grabbed her hand and began to guide her back to the Cornucopia.
“Let’s go find you a weapon.”
Rin was the fastest girl on her school’s track team back home so running around the Cornucopia to find and collect a good bag was super easy for her.
She had noted during training that she was the fastest among the Tributes except for the blue haired girl from District Four. What was her name? Karin? Kanon? Something like that. It wasn’t important right now.
Rin looked around for anything else she could grab and noticed a few yards in the direction of the Cornucopia was a small set of throwing knives.
Rin came to the realization that she hadn’t grabbed any weapons. There was no way she’d be able to defend herself if the Careers attacked her.
She took a look around and didn’t see anyone else close enough to catch her if she went for the knives.
However, there could be something in her bag she could use. She hadn’t had a chance to look so there could be anything. It was especially helpful that the bag felt heavy.
Not to mention the Careers were a tricky, sly bunch, trained for killing. One of them could appear out of no where and take her out.
Rin dashes for the knives. As she gets close she swoops down and snatched them off the ground. She stops to put the knives in the inside pocket of her jacket. The four knives just barely. Okay time to head out to the forest. Rin turned around only to be pushed to the ground.
Kanan Matsuura. Rin wouldn’t forget her name now. Not after she stood over Rin, sneering as she raised a trident up over Rin’s chest. Rin couldn’t move. She was paralyzed with fear.
Rin watched as Kanan brought the trident down into her chest. The pain hardly registered before her vision faded to black.
A few hours later two canons blasts were heard throughout the arena, signifying the death of the two Tributes in the Bloodbath.
Chapter 3: Chapter 2
Tw for death, blood, and gore
Chika sat in the middle of a clearing staring at the slightly illuminated sky as the picture of one of the girls from District Eleven faded away.
That was good. At least her and her District partner Ayumu were still alive. Chika needed to find Ayumu soon. She figured it’d be best to work together for the time being. Tributes who work in teams usually lasted longer most of the time.
Besides, Chika didn’t want to be alone if the Careers found her, which more than likely they would eventually. She’d already gotten into a skirmish with one of them, the younger girl You from District Four, over a spear and bag that Chika had grabbed.
She’d lost her spear but managed to grab a hatchet on the way out which was better than nothing. Unfortunately she had absolutely no experience with a hatchet so that was another problem she had to deal with.
Chika wondered briefly if it would just be best to end it all and not deal with any of this. She didn’t want to kill anyone and she didn’t want anyone to kill her.
But then she thought about her family back at home in District Twelve. Her older sisters who in normal cases would jokingly make fun of her constantly, instead holding her close and crying into her hair in the Justice Building. Her mom who wasn’t around too much but despite that Chika loved her anyway. Her dog Shiitake with her soft fur and joyful attitude.
The oranges she’d get from the market every time they were in season.
Chika wanted, no, needed to get back to that.
She stood up and grabbed her hatchet, gripping the handle like she remembered the training instructor showing them and swung the blade into the closest tree.
The sound the blade hitting the tree along with the large clumps of snow that fell from the branches startled Chika. She froze in terror knowing that if someone were nearby, they would have heard it.
After several minutes of nothing, Chika decided she was safe and yanked the hatchet out of the tree causing more snow to fall on her head as a result.
Now she had a mark in the tree to hit again. It was a method she’d overheard the instructor at the hatchet station recommend as a way to improve accuracy.
She swung her hatchet again, it lodging in the tree again with another loud thunk! She yanked the hatchet out of the tree to admire her handy work.
Her second slice in the trunk was a solid six inches away from her first.
Chika sighed and raised the hatchet again and prepared to strike again, aiming for her first mark.
She had a lot of work to do.
Nico and Kotori walked together through the snowy forest as the light faded from the sky and the anthem finished playing.
In the time the daily update on the Tributes played out, the forest had become significantly darker and Nico was forced to pull out the flashlight she’d found in her back pack earlier so the pair could see.
“How much farther do you think we should go?” Kotori asked in a quiet voice. Nico shrugged even though Kotori probably couldn’t see her in the darkness. “I just wanna get as far away from the Careers as possible.”
Nico could vaguely make out her District partner nodding in agreement before she froze in surprise. The ground she had just stepped down on wasn’t snow. It was harder and more slippery.
In front of the pair was a frozen river, about 30 feet across.
“Kotori, I think we should stop here.” Nico said. She wasn’t sure what was beyond the river but she could just make out some trees. Probably more forest.
“We should keep going” Kotori argued “it’ll be too easy for people to find us here”
Nico bit her lip for a moment, thinking about the pros and cons of crossing the river before nodding her head in agreement. “Yeah, okay, you’re right. Let’s go!”
“Here, hand me the light, I’ll lead us” Kotori offered. Nico handed her the flashlight and the pair started to cross the river.
Nico made sure not to step down too hard on the ice in fear that it would break. There was no telling how deep the river was and Nico wasn’t the best swimmer.
Thankfully they got to the bank on the other side of the river without any incidents. Kotori looked back and flashed Nico a large smile. “See?” She said “Nothing to worry abou-“
Kotori suddenly yelled out in shock and flew back into Nico. The two slid to the middle of the river. At the same time Nico heard the sound of a canon, signifying the death of a Tribute.
No. That couldn’t mean....
“Kotori?” Nico yelled “Kotori wake up!” Nico grabbed the front of Kotori’s jacket and started shaking her.
She didn’t move.
Suddenly Nico heard a loud crack from beneath them and realized the ice was cracking.
Quickly she grabbed Kotori’s arm and started to drag her limp form to the side of the river they initially started on.
Once they were safely in the snow again, Nico collapsed on top of Kotori.
There was no way. She couldn’t just be dead. She must have run into the force field the Game Makers usually put around the Arena to keep the Tributes in and the electricity knocked her out.
That was it. Kotori was just unconscious. The canon was an accident or maybe a coincidence. She wasn’t... she wasn’t dead. Nico just had to wait for her to wake up again.
So she waited...
But Kotori didn’t wake up.
Nico had begun to grow agitated staring at Kotori’s lifeless face.
Why wasn’t she smiling? Kotori always smiles. She even smiled when she got electrocuted. So why wasn’t she smiling now?
The image of Kotori’s smile right before she hit the forcefield stuck in Nico’s mind and the next thing she knew it was snowing. Really hard. She knew if she didn’t move now, she’d be buried in the snow.
Quickly Nico gathered her bag and her bloody knife and left Kotori’s body in lieu of finding some place safer to camp for the night. She could come back for Kotori later.
As soon as Nico was out of the vicinity, the blizzard stopped and a hovercraft appeared in the sky above. A claw dropped down and picked Kotori’s body out of the snow, the cameras catching a perfect view of the slashes in her cheeks forming a bloody smile.
Chapter 4: Chapter Three
Tw: injury, blood, and violence
Anju shuffled through the snow, stumbling a little bit before catching herself on a nearby tree.
She’d been up most of the night trying to find Tsubasa and Erena and it was getting very hard to stay awake.
The three had agreed to team up during the Games back during Training but if Anju didn’t find them soon she’d be in big trouble.
Soon, Anju came to a clearing. The dryness in the back of her throat had been bothering her for about half an hour by then and she needed some water.
Quickly she bent down and scooped some of the snow off the ground and stuck it in her mouth. The snow quickly melted in her mouth and by the time she swallowed it, it was water.
Anju bent down to pick up some more snow when she heard a noise at the other end of the clearing.
She looked up and saw the blonde haired girl from District Five, Mari Ohara standing at the other end of the clearing. She looked terrified but already had a rock loaded into a slingshot, ready to fire into Anju’s skull.
Anju slowly pulled her knife out of her belt. She really didn’t want to kill anyone but if this girl was going to attack her then she had no choice but to defend herself.
Anju lunged forward to attack before quickly stopping herself. Wait a second... District Five! That was where Erena was from! This was Erena’s District partner!
“You’re Erena’s District partner!” Anju exclaimed quickly lowering her knife. The blonde looked confused but she nodded anyway. “I’m so sorry,” Anju explained “I haven’t gotten a lot of sleep so my brain is a little muddled and I forgot who you were”
Mari gave a quick chuckle before finally lowering her slingshot. “It’s okay don’t worry about it” “Oh! Have you seen Tsubasa and Erena? I’ve been looking for them everywhere”
Mari quickly nodded “Yeah” she said “I saw them both a few hours ago.” She pointed in the direction where she came from.
“There’s a frozen river about two hours back that way. When you get there turn left; you should come across their camp eventually” The directions seemed a little vague but Anju would take them.
“Thank you so much!” Anju exclaimed hurrying past Mari so she could go find her friends. “Good luck!”
The Hunger Games sucked major ass. Killing other teenagers for people’s entertainment was not Yohane’s idea of fun but if it meant protecting her vessel then she’d just have to make do. After all, with the power of a fallen angel on her side it shouldn’t be too hard. This would be but a tri-
Yoshiko was met with a face full of snow as she tripped yet again.
She let out a quiet sob as she pulled herself up again. She hated every single aspect of this. The murder, the feeling that she was being hunted or watched constantly. The fact that she was outside in general.
At least the cold wasn’t too bad. She was used to this and the Gamemakers did give the Tributes some good protective gear.
However, that didn’t change the fact that her life was in danger and the odds were against her survival, a harsh truth that she couldn’t shake. Not even Yohane was helping.
Suddenly, Yoshiko heard a noise behind her, like something falling in the snow. She turned quickly hoping for a sponser gift even though the noise sounded heavier than that and to her horror found one of the girl from District Seven holding a rather large battle ax.
It was the younger girl; the older girl was a friend of Anju’s, Yoshiko’s District partner, and this wasn’t her. It took Yoshiko a moment to remember the girl’s name. Honoka, that was it!
Honoka gave Yoshiko a sad, sympathetic smile whilst slowly raising her ax. “I wanna go home” she said “Nothing personal” Then she charged at Yoshiko.
As Honoka grew nearer, Yoshiko dove to the side. She heard a loud thunk and turned to see Honoka’s ax had gotten lodged in the tree that Yoshiko was standing in front of just a moment before.
Yoshiko backed up and drew her weapon. It was a sword she’d managed to snag from the Cornucopia. It cost her a cut to the side of her face at the hands of the blonde girl from District Two but it was worth it.
Yoshiko ran at Honoka in an attempt to run her through with the sword but just then Honoka managed to yank her ax out of the tree and swung it around, catching Yoshiko with it, opening a large gash in her stomach.
The younger girl was brought to her knees but thanks to the adrenaline coursing through her veins, the pain was very minimal and she was easily able to get back to her feet.
Yoshiko quickly swung the sword in Honoka’s direction however since the older girl was too far away, Yoshiko only sliced through her jacket.
In retaliation Honoka raised her ax and struck Yoshiko in the head with the butt of her weapon. Yoshiko fell face down into the snow in a heap.
Yoshiko didn’t move, letting her body appear limp in hopes that her attacker would think she’d passed out. Maybe if Honoka thought she was unconscious, she’d leave Yoshiko alone.
Of course Honoka would know she was still alive since there wasn’t a canon which was a huge problem. But as it seemed, Yoshiko’s plan was working as after a minute of silence Honoka walked away from Yoshiko.
Yoshiko heard rustling in one of the trees close by but didn’t dare move assuming Honoka was still close by. A few seconds later she heard a thud in the snow and footsteps again, steadily getting quieter as Honoka walked away.
When Yoshiko couldn’t hear footsteps anymore, she made her move, immediately going for her sword, rolling up onto a knee and looking around. Thankfully there was no one in sight.
Suddenly Yoshiko felt a sharp pain on her stomach. That’s right. Honoka had caught her in the stomach. Yoshiko placed a hand over the gash which came back bloody. Damn. Damn okay that was a problem.
She slung her bag off her back and opened it up, pulling out the first aid kit she knew was in there.
Yoshiko pulled out the roll of gauze and pulled up her shirt and jacket just far enough to where the gash was exposed. Shivering from the cold, she grabbed one of her two alcoholic wet wipes and began to clean off the wound.
Luckily the wound didn’t seem too deep so the main thing Yoshiko would have to worry about was infection. After she was done, she wrapped the gauze around her body, tight enough to where it was almost hard to breathe but at least the wound was covered.
Yoshiko pulled her shirt and jacket back down and stuffed everything back into her bag before slowly standing up.
The gash made every movement hell but somehow she managed. She slid her sword back into its sheath and swiftly started making her way through the woods in the opposite direction Honoka went.
Anju wanted to cut her feet off. She’d been walking for at least 4 hours by then with no sign of Tsubasa and Erena. She started to wonder if they’d moved on from where they camped or even worse, Mari had given her false information.
Then Anju heard voices just beyond the line of trees in front of her. Familiar voices.
Quickly Anju ran toward the trees, pushing through the branches in path before she came out on the other side, only to find Tsubasa and Erena with their weapons trained on her.
Anju let out a shriek but to her relief they both lowered them when they realized it was her. “Sorry” Tsubasa said with a short chuckle. “Thought you might be the Careers.”
Anju let out an uneasy chuckle of her own still rattled. Erena walked over and put a hand on Anju’s shoulder and lead her farther into the clearing they’d set up camp in. “I’m glad you’re safe and that you found us” she said earnestly.
Anju nodded in agreement. “I probably wouldn’t have if it hadn’t be for Mari. She told me where you guys were.” Erena smiled. “Thank god she’s still alright. She didn’t make it out of the Bloodbath with much”
“Yeah I saw.” Anju said, remembering how Mari’s weapon was just a slingshot with some rocks. “Speaking of which, you seemed to have made out with quite a bit,” Tsubasa exclaimed “Let’s see what you got”
Anju slid her pack off her shoulder and opened it up so she could show off the contents to her friends.
A few hours later it had begun to get dark and the daily recap played in the sky. Only one Tribute had died in the previous 24 hours, Kotori Minami from District Eight.
Anju was glad Yoshiko, her District partner was okay. If Anju didn’t survive, she definitely wanted Yoshiko to. The winnings would be good for District Three.
She snuggled into Tsubasa’s sleeping bag as she started to fall asleep. Tsubasa and Erena has offered to keep watch for the night after finding out how little sleep Anju’d gotten since the Games started.
A brief flash of worry passed through Anju’s mind. Tsubasa and Erena were acting a lot more serious and severe than they were during Training. What if they planned to kill her in her sleep?
But as the heat from the sleeping bag really started to really pull her into sleep she realized how silly that was. They were teammates, allies. They wouldn’t hurt Anju so soon after being reunited with her. She pushed the worry to the back of her mind. She’d be fine.
Chapter 5: Chapter Four
Tw for death and blood
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Ruby’s eyes blinked open as sunlight filled the opening of the Cornucopia. She sat up in the sleeping bag and stretched before shimmying out of the bag.
Dia stirred in her sleep before rolling over in the sleeping bag. Ruby could almost imagine she was still at home on one of those nights where she snuck out of her own bed and slid into Dia’s room. She always felt safer with her sister after all.
But no. This was the Hunger Games. Ruby stood up and stretched again while yawning before making her way outside.
You was sitting just outside the opening of the Cornucopia, spear in hand. She looked up as Ruby came outside and snickered.
“Your hair’s a mess” You said. Ruby groaned and ran her fingers through her hair until coming to a hard knot causing her to yelp in pain.
You chuckled and Ruby sighed in annoyance. “I would kill for a hairbrush right now” she said absentmindedly. They hadn’t been able to find in what was left of the supplies after the Bloodbath which was a problem for most of the alliance.
However, just a minute after Ruby’s statement a small parcel parachuted down from the sky and landed at her feet. Her first sponsor gift! Ruby may have gotten a low Training Score compared to the rest of her alliance and she may not have participated in the Bloodbath but she had to be doing something right.
She bent over and picked up the parcel and unwrapped it finding a simple plastic hairbrush.
You looked appalled. “I... I would kill for some bacon and eggs” she said to the sky. Nothing fell from the sky. Ruby giggled as she worked the knots out of her hair.
“Hey, knock it off with the pandering” Kanan called as she came around from the other side of the Cornucopia. She tossed a bag of dried beef at You. “Share that with Ruby”
The pair ate their dried beef until Dia eventually woke up and came out of the Cornucopia. Kanan handed her half a bag of beef and told her the important details of the night before.
Apparently Hanamaru Kunikida from District Ten was still hanging around the edge of the clearing. No one knew what she was doing or what her intentions were but no one could manage to take her out.
In addition, Umi and Eli had still not returned. The pair from District Two had left the morning before to go track down Tributes and get a better feel for the arena. They had yet to come back.
“Do you think we should go look for them?” You asked. “Probably” Dia answered standing up. She had been helping Ruby pin her hair back up into her signature pigtails.
“I’ll stay here to make sure that District Ten girl doesn’t try anything” Kanan said as Ruby and You also stood up.
Dia nodded. “We’ll head back once the anthem starts” she informed Kanan before leading the trio into the forest.
The trio walked for about an hour without any major incidents, Dia and You in front of Ruby. Then there was sounds in front of them, like footsteps ahead of them and Ruby saw a flash of light brown hair.
“It’s Hanamaru!” Ruby exclaimed. She must have followed them. Dia and You immediately ran off to catch the girl from District Ten.
Ruby made to follow, not that the prospect of murdering someone was super appealing, but she immediately tripped over a conveniently placed tree root.
She managed to untangle her foot and stand back up only to find that Dia and You were gone.
“S... Sis?” Ruby called. “You?” There was no answer. Ruby let out a shaky breath, the air misting in front of her.
She was scared out of her mind. She was all alone, her sister no where in sight, with nothing but a dagger to defend herself.
Oh man this was fucked.
Okay breathe Ruby, breathe. Footprints. There were two sets of footprints in the snow. If Ruby followed them, they should lead right to Dia and You.
Ruby started to follow the footsteps. She didn’t want to call for them anymore because there was no way of knowing if any other Tributes around.
Suddenly something heavy fell on top of her bringing her to the ground again.
Ruby flailed and somehow managed to roll her and her assailant over so she was on top but then they both fell down a small hill.
When they stopped rolling, they’d separated but adrenaline was rushing through Ruby’s veins and she quickly clambered back on top of her attacker. Ruby pulled out her dagger and raised it over the chest of Hanamaru Kunikida.
Before Ruby could change her mind she plunged the blade down into Hanamaru’s chest. Her protests were cut off by a cry of pain.
Ruby pulled the dagger out of Hanamaru’s chest. Blood seeped from the wound but Ruby didn’t stop there. She kept stabbing Hanamaru until the girl stopped moving and a canon went off signaling her death.
The canon made Ruby realize the gravity of the situation.
She... she just murdered Hanamaru Kunikida. Just ended a girl’s life just like that. Ruby scrambled off Hanamaru’s body and scooted away from her. She couldn’t breathe; she couldn’t tear her eyes away. She was shaking like a leaf.
Voices were registering to her. Her sister... and You. They were calling Ruby’s name. Suddenly You appeared at the top of the hill Ruby and Hanamaru had rolled down.
“There you are!” You exclaimed. “Dude what the hell, your sister is freaking...” You trailed off as she took in the scene.
“Did you do this?” You asked motioning to Hanamaru’s body. All Ruby could do was give a quick nod.
You seemed to tell Ruby wasn’t handling the situation well and slid her way down the hill until she was in front of Ruby.
“Hey, come on, come here” You said as she grabbed Ruby’s hand and pulled her to her feet. “Listen, what you did was very brave. It takes a lot of guts to do what you did.”
Ruby’s eyes were welling up with tears now. “I... I’m a mur-“ “No, Ruby stop.” You cut Ruby off. “It’s not murder, okay? It’s self defense.”
Ruby cocked her head to the side in confusion. “She attacked you, right?” You asked. Ruby nodded. “You don’t get to live if she does, right?” Ruby nodded again.
“So you were just doing what you had to do to keep yourself alive. You shouldn’t feel guilty.” Ruby nodded and wiped away her tears. It wasn’t murder. She was defending herself so it wasn’t murder. If could convince herself of that, she’d be fine.
“Thank you You” Ruby said. You beamed at her. “No problem. Now let’s get back to your sister before she has an aneurysm.”
You and Ruby followed a line You had drawn in the snow with her spear back to the place her and Dia had agreed to meet before You started calling out to Dia.
Dia made it back to the meeting point within a minute and immediately wrapped Ruby in a bone crushing hug. “Oh my god I was so worried, don’t ever scare me like that ever again.”
It took a few minutes to pry Dia off of her sister and it wasn’t until then that Dia noticed. “You’ve got blood all over you”
“It’s because of Ruby here that we don’t have to worry about that girl from District Ten anymore!” You gushed. Dia’s eyes widened. “You...” Ruby nodded and even managed a smile. Dia just hugged her again. “Good job” she whispered into her younger sister’s hair.
It was about an hour later that they ran into Umi and Eli. “Sorry. It took us all day to get to the river and by then we didn’t want to travel in the dark so we camped out here.” Eli explained.
“Yeah. We can’t go past the river though because that’s where forcefield is” Umi added before noticing the now browning splotches all over Ruby and her clothes.
“Is that blood?” She asked. Ruby nodded. “Ruby killed one of the girls from Ten” Dia explained sounding proud. Eli looked mildly impressed while Umi seemed slightly annoyed but she forced out a “Congrats” anyway.
The Tributes from District Two, especially Umi, tended to tease Ruby about her lower Training Score which really upset Ruby and Dia who wouldn’t admit it even though it was pretty obvious due to how she defended her sister. Hopefully the kill Ruby had wracked up would stop the teasing.
The group of Tributes walked back to the Cornucopia. Kanan was glad they were back early enough for lunch. Just then another parcel, a much bigger one than before, floated down from the sky.
It landed on the ground in the middle of the group and the Tributes sat down around it after Eli opened it to find a whole picnic.
Ruby filled her stomach with as much food as she could, which was much less than the others, as Dia, Eli, Umi, and Kanan talked, informing each other of what had happened in each other’s absences and planning their next move.
You shuffled through the picnic basket before pulling out a small container and opening it up showing it’s contents to Ruby. “Eggs and bacon” Ruby said in disbelief. You grinned.
Let Ruby say fuck defense squad
Chapter 6: Chapter Five
No trigger warnings for once. Twitter did good.
The sound of a cannon made Hanayo freeze in her tracks. Who was it? Who died? Who’s face was she going to see in the sky today?
The thought reminded her of Rin. Honestly she was the only thing Hanayo had thought of in the past two days.
Ever since her face appeared in the sky that first night, Hanayo’s been aimlessly circling the arena in a daze, only taking breaks to sleep.
She’d been lucky enough to not to run into any other Tributes but deep down she knew that luck wouldn’t last long.
She just... didn’t know what to do or where to go anymore. Without Rin, everything seemed pointless.
Maybe it would be best for another Tribute to find her.
She hoped the death would be quick.
Another sound was registering to Hanayo’s ears. It sounded like... crying?
Hanayo decided to investigate the crying. Maybe whoever it was needed help. The least she could do was offer some company.
She followed the sobbing, it growing louder as she got closer. Finally she got close enough to see the source, a light purple pig tail was poking out of some snow covered rocks.
The crying suddenly stopped as if the girl realized Hanayo was close by. Hanayo slowing crept closer to the rocks, quickly pulling out her knife.
Whoever this girl was might attack her and Hanayo didn’t want to take that risk.
Hanayo crept around the corner of the rock, a very obviously man made cave of sorts, until she reached the opening and peered inside to find the surviving girl from District Nine, Leah Kazuno.
Leah was holding up a sai, the pointed tip turned toward Hanayo’s throat. Her eyes were red and her cheeks were flushed. Hanayo could see the tear tracks on her face.
“Go away!” Leah cried. Her weapon was shaking in her trembling hands. “Are you okay?” Hanayo asked, hiding her knife behind her back to seem as least threatening as possible.
“It’s none of your business” Leah exclaimed. “Just go away and leave me alone or I... I’ll kill you”
“I just want to make sure you’re okay” Hanayo explained. “I don’t want to to feel down.” God, Rin was always so much better at this.
“You wouldn’t understand” Leah mumbled. “Just go away. I’m serious.”
Hanayo came to a sudden realization. The other District Nine Tribute, the one who’d died in the Bloodbath, was Leah’s older sister.
Leah had lost someone very important to her, a role model, a best friend, a protector.
Hanayo knelt down so she was eye level with Leah. She pulled a slip of paper out of one of her jacket pockets. “I think I would.”
The paper was a photograph, Hanayo’s District Token. In the photograph was a grainy black and white picture of Rin. It was cleanly ripped in half. Hanayo knew the other half, which featured her own face, was with Rin.
“This was Rin. She was my District Partner. She was my best friend in the whole world. She made things seem okay even though they weren’t.
“We were supposed to meet up but she was killed in the Bloodbath. Ever since she died I’ve felt hopeless. I wanted to give up on life. I mean there’s no point right?
“But I know Rin wouldn’t want that for me. She’d want me to keep fighting. She’d want me to stay alive. For her. I think your sister would want that for you too.”
Leah finally lowered the sai. Hanayo could just make out the tears pooling in her eyes. Leah dropped the sai completely before wrapping her arms around herself and starting sob again.
Hanayo quickly wrapped Leah in a tight hug, partially to comfort her, partially to muffle the sound of her sobs. Didn’t want to attract other Tributes.
Hanayo let Leah cry herself out until her sobs turned to whimpers, then the whimpers turned to silence.
“I’m better now” Leah whispered. She pulled herself out of Hanayo’s arms. Hanayo smiled and started to stand back up. “I’ll be on my way then”
A hand shot out and grabbed Hanayo’s jacket sleeve.
“Can you.. can you stay with me?” Hanayo looked back at Leah with wide eyes before nodding.
Leah gave Hanayo a small smile before scooting herself over so there was enough room for Hanayo in her small boulder structure which Hanayo gladly accepted.
Hanayo knew that it wasn’t safe to stay in the rock structure for much longer. It was obviously man made and they’d be too easily sought out.
But as Leah hesitantly laid her head on Hanayo’s shoulder and asked her what life was like in District Eleven, Hanayo figures they could wait until later to worry about that.
She was just glad she wasn’t lonely anymore.
Ayumu watched as the anthem played and Hanamaru’s face appeared in the sky before cursing under her breath.
Deep down she knew. When she’d heard the cannon earlier in the day she was positive it was her ally.
The two had teamed up with the intention of gathering a larger group to take on the Careers. The first step was to get Ruby Kurosawa from District One on their side as an inside informant.
Hanamaru was supposed to be the one to get this done. The two had thought Ruby would listen to someone her own age but apparently whatever Hanamaru had done hadn’t worked.
Ayumu had spent the time trying to find her District Partner Chika. Ayumu knew Chika would follow along with her plan no question.
Without Ruby the plan was a little strained but if Ayumu could find Chika, she could get it back into place.
Everything would fall into place so easily. Once they had a large enough group they’d attack the Careers. When there were only a few survivors left Ayumu could hold herself up into the trees and pick them off with her weapon.
She pulled the bag of throwing stars she’d kept hidden from Hanamaru out of her inside jacket pocket.
Did she feel guilty? Yeah. But she knew she had to go to the extreme to survive. To win.
Chapter 7: Chapter Six
Tw for mentions of people being on fire and other fire related things but no actual deaths so that’s good.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Riko bit her lip as she watched Maki, her District Partner and ally, open up the hidden pocket they’d just discovered in her backpack.
Maki let out a surprised gasp after reaching her hand inside the pocket. “There’s something” she mumbled.
Maki pulled out that something and both girls groaned when they realized what it was.
“More matches” Maki said as she frustratedly threw the newly discovered pack of matches onto the ground next to the other ten that she’d already found in her backpack.
“Dammit” Riko whispered. She wanted to bury her head in the snow and die. How could they both be so stupid as to not grab any sort of weapon from the Cornucopia.
“We’re idiots” Maki mumbled out for about the 20th time since the first day of the Games.
Riko knew she was right. They were completely defenseless. With no weapons, there’d be nothing either if them could do if the Careers or someone else came to attack them.
But Riko also knew that if they kept thinking negative like that then there was no way they’d be able to figure a way out of this. They were both smart, Maki was at the top of her class for crying out loud. They could figure something out.
Riko started to voice this but Maki cut her off angrily. “Save it Riko! We’re fucked!” She exclaimed a little too loudly for comfort.
“We both fucked up and forgot to grab weapons okay. Our only hope is if we go back to the Cornucopia and try to steal something from there.”
Riko frowned. “Maki you know that’s too dangerous. We’ll get caught and the Careers will kill us before we can even get our hands on anything.”
“Well what else are we supposed to do? Throw lit matches at people and hope they somehow spontaneously combust? Throw your cans of cooking oil at their head’s and try to knock them out? We have no other choi-“
Maki froze, her eyes wide in shock. Riko was immediately struck with fear. Had someone found them. She looked around but didn’t see anyone. “Maki what’s wrong?” She asked.
“Cooking oil” Maki mumbled. Riko was confused. She had two small cans of cooking oil in her backpack but she didn’t understand why that was so important to Maki now.
“Huh?” Maki sighed impatiently. “Oil fuels fire.” Suddenly Riko understood. They did have a weapon.
“Maki Nishikino, you are a genius” Riko exclaimed. Maki gave her a proud smile.
“Now we just have to figure out how to soak people in oil without just dumping a whole can on them.” Riko said.
Just then a small parcel floated down from the sky, landing in the snow between them. Riko picked up the parcel and unwrapped it. “Water balloons?” She said confused.
“I’ve heard of these.” Maki said “You fill them up with water and throw or drop them on people so they get covered with water. It’s like a game.”
The gears were turning in Riko’s mind. What if they’d fill the balloons with the oil and dropped them on people. Then it’d be super easy to just flick a lit match onto them and boom, next thing they know, they’ve got a human torch.
Of course, they’d need more cooking oil to fill all 100 balloons they’d been gifted but that was something they could worry about later if they even needed to. Riko was sure after they’d taken out a few Tributes, they’d be able to get ahold of some actual weapons.
And as for getting up high enough to drop the balloons on their adversaries... Riko looked up at the tall pine trees surrounding them. “Maki how good are you at climbing trees?”
Nozomi stopped as her stomach rumbled again. She had to eat she couldn’t take this anymore.
She sat herself down against the closest tree and opened up her backpack. She didn’t have much in her bag in way of food, just a small bag of crackers and an even smaller bag of trail mix.
Nozomi decided to splurge and have and eat a little bit of trail mix. She quietly munched on nuts and raisins and thought about the events of the past few days.
Her District Partner, Hanamaru, had died the day before, dropping the remaining Tributes down to 20.
Nozomi was sad. Her and Hanamaru weren’t super close as they were two grades apart but she was nice and they’d bonded over their shared religious backgrounds. Nozomi didn’t like that someone so pure and young had died.
Nozomi sighed and shook her head. She didn’t like this situation at all and she felt so out of her element.
Nozomi was startled when she noticed the sound of footsteps and looked up to see a girl approaching her.
It was Nico Yazawa from District Eight, Nozomi realized a few seconds later. She didn’t look well. She seemed to be stumbling a bit and her bright red eyes, Nozomi noticed as she got closer, were unfocused and hazy.
Nozomi was immediately on edge.
She noticed Nico had a knife out, which was spotted with dried blood. Nozomi reached for her weapon, an iron mace.
“Have you seen my District Partner, Kotori?” Nico asked once she was standing just a few short feet in front of Nozomi. “I left her to find us a place to sleep and she vanished!”
Nozomi squinted her eyes at Nico in confusion. Kotori, the other girl from District Eight had died on the first night, just after the daily recap. Nico should be aware of that right?
Nico clearly wasn’t in a good state of mind right now. Judging by the blood on her knife, she might have even been the one who took Kotori out. It was probably best to lie to her.
“I... I think I saw her walking by the the river” Nozomi said, a weak smile on her face. Nico smiled back at her.
“Okay, thank you!” Nico turned around and started to walk away. Nozomi saw an opening. She could totally take Nico out now. Nozomi grabbed her mace and stood up.
No. It wasn’t a good idea. Nozomi couldn’t make herself do that, it was just wrong.
She watched as Nico walked out of sight before quickly packing up her belongings and running in the opposite direction Nico had gone.
Hopefully they wouldn’t cross paths again.
Oh hey guys I wanted to let y’all know there definitely won’t be a chapter for a few days bc I’m running a poll thread on twitter to see who readers think is the most likely to win. So if y’all want to you can vote here: https://twitter.com/lovellvegames/status/1037173776193138691?s=21
Leave comments and kudos let me know what y’all think! Thank you for reading!
Chapter 8: Chapter Six and a Half
This chapter is a direct result of the poll thread I did on twitter. You won so this is focused on her. There are no deaths but slight warning for snake mentions and mentions of people dying.
You yawned and leaned against the side of the Cornucopia and stared out at the forest in front of her.
She was still half expecting to see the girl from District Ten peeking out from behind a tree.
Instead she was greeted with the unnatural quiet and stillness of the arena. Hanamaru Kunikida wasn’t coming because Ruby killed her.
Ruby was something else. Although she hadn’t scored very high in Training compared to the rest of the group, she still definitely had her strengths.
She definitely had a lot of fight in her and a glint in her eye that spelt mischief. You had to wonder what she’d be like if she’d shed the low confidence and didn’t have an overbearing sister making sure she was safe.
You was pulled out of her thoughts as something heavy fell on the ground in front of her.
She bent over to pick it up, realizing quickly that it was a sponsor gift. She slowly dropped down to her knees to open it up.
Inside the small box she found a blow dart set. You blinked several times in surprise. She was extremely talented with blow darts. She could hit a target a couple hundred feet away with these.
She shuffled a bit through the set and found a small plastic vial labeled “Sea Snake Venom”
This gave You a huge advantage. She could use the venom to poison the darts. Shoot one of those into someone’s neck and they’d be dead in minutes or at least incapacitated long enough to take them out.
“Hey, You?” You startled as Kanan called out to her. She hastily put everything back into the kit and closed it before shoving the entire thing under her shirt, parachute and all.
You stood up and turned around as Kanan turned the corner of the Cornucopia. “I’m getting tired. I think we should probably switch off with Dia and Ruby.”
You nodded quickly, trying not to look suspicious. The other’s couldn’t know about the blow darts, especially Kanan since she’s seen You use them before. They’d turn against her in a second.
The two made their way into the Cornucopia where the other’s were sleeping. Kanan went to rouse Dia and Ruby while You made her way over to her sleeping bag.
Quickly she pulled out the backpack she’d been using whenever she went out to scout for Tributes from the bottom of her sleeping bag and shoved the kit to the bottom of the bag. She shoved the bag back into the bottom of her sleeping bag.
Hopefully her secret would be safe for now. She laid down and closed her eyes letting herself fall into a restless sleep.
Chapter 9: Chapter Seven
Warnings for death, blood, and emeto
Honoka was seething with rage. The girl she’d fought with the other day, Yoshiko Tsushima, was still alive.
Still alive because Honoka had hesitated and failed to get the job done.
It’s not like Honoka wanted to kill people but she knew she had to do it if she wanted to survive.
Maybe it wasn’t anger she was feeling but regret, worry, fear.
She had the chance to take out one of her competitors and all it got her was someone who now had a vendetta against her.
Honoka couldn’t let that happen anymore. She had to try harder. She couldn’t hesitate anymore. If she continued like she’s been doing, she wouldn’t make it home to her sister, to her family, or to their sweets shop.
She breathed out an agitated sigh as she made the decision and the silent vow. She had to fight, she had to kill.
The next person she encountered, she would have to kill them or die trying no matter what.
Honoka’s eyes widened as she suddenly noticed the leaves and foliage below her rustling along with hushed voices. More than one. She wasn’t alone.
Honoka was perched up in a tree about ten feet up, her battle axe hanging from the branch above her.
Honoka slowly reached for her axe, keeping her eyes on the spot where she heard the noises coming from before suddenly she saw a bright flash.
She barely had enough time to jerk her body to the right before the throwing knife lodged itself into the tree next to her, just barely cutting through her jacket and shirt sleeves and grazing her arm.
Unfortunately that jerk of her body left her falling from her tree branch, crashing through the leaves, and landing on the ground with a painful thud.
Honoka groaned out in pain, trying to catch her breath. It felt like all the air had been knocked out of her lungs.
It took a few seconds before she was able to drag herself up and get herself fully behind the tree. She knew she was still in danger especially after she heard the sound of a knife slamming into the other side of the tree.
She looked up noting her axe was still hanging up in the tree ten feet above her. She could climb up and grab it? Or she could reach around the tree and grab the knife?
Running also seemed like a viable option however she’d be leaving all of her stuff meaning whoever was attacking her could take it.
Honoka slowly stretched her arm around the base of the tree until she could feel the handle of the knife.
By then she had exposed her head and neck to her attackers due to the stretch and she could barely make out an arm and...
... a bow and arrow?
Quickly, Honoka worked the knife out of the tree trunk and ducked back behind the tree, the incoming arrow just barely missing her hand.
She heard more voices and then suddenly footsteps. Oh shit, they were coming for her.
She knew there were at least two of them and if they were Careers which she assumed they were, she was in big trouble.
She could hear the footsteps coming from either side of her meaning they were trying to surround her. She slowly stood up, holding the knife tightly to her chest.
Finally her assailants came into view. Honoka was right, they were Careers, the two girls from District Two in fact, Eli a throwing knife raised in her hand, ready to throw, Umi with her an arrow ready to fly.
Honoka’s immediate reaction was to duck. She felt the two weapons sail over her head and collide against the tree before rolling and coming up on her knees.
She quickly got up and charged at Umi who was in the process of reloading another arrow and slashed her knife up, momentarily catching on the string of the bow before cutting right through it, rendering the weapon useless.
There was still Eli to worry about as the older girl grabbed Honoka in a headlock. Honoka barely had time to think as she jabbed her knife into Eli’s stomach causing her to let go and fall to the ground.
“Eli!” Umi shouted before Honoka landed a sharp slap to her face. Then she ran. She had to get away from them. Far away. She didn’t stop until she reached the river.
She was out of breath at that point and fell to her knees before throwing up onto the ice in front of her.
She didn’t hear footsteps over her panting she noted as she wiped her face off. It wasn’t long before she heard a cannon go off.
Was that for Eli? Or was it possible someone else had died?
Honoka waited longer just to be safe before finally standing back up and slowly following her foot steps in the snow back to her tree.
It took her longer than she thought it would have. She must have run farther than she thought.
Luckily her stuff was still there, hanging from the tree but there were spots of dark red in the snow and it looked like someone had been dragged through the snow.
Had Honoka really killed Eli? She felt nauseous again which wasn’t good considering she had nothing left in her stomach at that point. She pushed the thought to the back of her mind and she started climbing the tree to retrieve her stuff.
Umi watched as the girl from District Seven dashed away from her and Eli before she rushed over to Eli’s side.
The older girl had curled up in the fetal position and was panting into the snow, her breaths rattling in pain.
“Come on, come on” Umi whispered as she pushed Eli onto her back. The knife was still in her stomach, pushed all the way down to the hilt. It was bad, Umi knew it was.
Thinking fast, she quickly pulled off her jacket, then her shirt baring against the freezing cold before slipping her jacket back on and zipping it up to protect herself from the cold and the cameras.
Umi gripped the hilt of the knife and slid it out of Eli’s body. The blonde let out a shriek and blood started pouring out quick.
Umi balled up her shirt and pressed it against the wound, hopefully stemming the blood flow. They didn’t have any medical supplies on them so Eli’s only hope was back at the Cornucopia.
It was several hours walk from there, even longer with Eli injured.
Umi knew she should just give up, leave Eli behind or take the older girl out herself. Carrying around a bleeding out girl while being completely defenseless because some dumb girl from District Seven cut your bow in half, was a huge burden.
Besides, Eli was nothing more than a competitor in these Games. With Eli alive, Umi couldn’t win.
But she had to try.
Eli was her ally, and more than just that. They’d grown up together in the training center at home. Umi knew she wasn’t supposed to let her personal feelings get in the way of this but she couldn’t help it.
Eli was her friend.
Still pressing the shirt to Eli’s wound, Umi hauled the older girl to her feet. Eli groaned and whimpered with every movement she made.
“Umi-“ “It’s going to be okay.” Umi said quickly cutting Eli off. She took a step forward pulling Eli along with her.
Eli winced again. “Umi-“ she tried again but Umi would let her. “Stop talking you’ll over exert yourself. You’ll be okay we just have to get you back to the Cornucopia.” They took another step.
“You’re going to be okay.” Umi repeated as she pushed forward. She felt like if she kept saying it, it would be true.
“Umi stop saying that!” Eli cried before managing to force Umi’s arms off of her. With nothing to support her, she collapsed to the ground.
The shirt fell from Umi’s grip, the gray fabric already dark and saturated with Eli’s blood.
“Eli come on! We have to get back to the Cornucopia.” Umi tried to explain. Eli shook her. “That won’t happen and you know it” she said in a low voice.
“Eli-“ “Umi, I’m dying” Eli raised her head where Umi could see the tears pooling in Eli’s eyes. She kneeled down into the snow to be at Eli’s level.
“No” she whispered. She didn’t want to believe it. She wanted to believe that she could get Eli back to the Cornucopia where all the medical supplies were and fix her up and everything would be better.
But deep down she knew that wasn’t the case. Eli was right she was dying. “No” Umi whispered again as she wrapped Eli in a hug.
She tried to keep the tears at bay. District Two Tributes weren’t supposed to cry when their partners died. It made them look weak.
“Umi” Eli whispered. Umi felt something hard being pressed against her chest. She looked down and saw Eli’s hand weakly pressing one of her knives against Umi’s jacket.
“Umi, it hurts. Please.” Umi’s eyes widened. Eli wanted her to... “I can’t-“ “Umi please!” Eli urged more insistently. Umi took the knife.
Eli’s arm flopped to her side. She laid her head on Umi’s shoulder as Umi lined the blade up with where Eli’s heart was.
Umi jammed the knife into Eli’s chest.
“Thank you” Eli breathed out. Her body went limp. Her cannon went off.
Umi carefully guided Eli’s body to the ground. She left the knife in her chest so it would be taken out of the arena with her.
She stood up and began gathering her and Eli’s stuff. She had to get back to the Cornucopia. She was mostly defenseless out here with her bow broken.
Once she gathered everything she moved far enough way from Eli’s body so it could be picked up. She turned as the hovercraft appeared and the claw dropped down around Eli, picking her up off the ground and raising her into the sky.
Umi watched until Eli disappeared into the hovercraft and the hovercraft vanished. Then she sighed and turned making her way back to camp.
Chapter 10: Chapter Eight
Tw for people being on fire, graphic descriptions of injuries, choking, violence, and death.
Maki sat perched in a tree as she listened to the footsteps grow closer. She glanced at Riko who was sitting next to her. The older girl nodded grimly. Maki knew that neither girl really wanted to do this but if they wanted one of them to survive, they’d have to kill the girl below them.
Finally the girl popped into view. Her blonde hair was blowing fiercely in the harsh wind, her normal braids and loop was undone so it all just fell in a curtain over her face. The girl was shivering.
Mari Ohara from District Five.
Maki took a deep breath and prepared to drop the brightly colored ballon in her hand on Mari’s head.
Maki held the balloon out diagonally away from her so it would fall from her left. Hopefully the wind would push it in the right direction. She let go of the filled balloon and watched as it sailed toward the ground.
The balloon hit the ground and exploded all over the snow leaving a dark yellow spot.
Mari jumped in surprised, gaze fixed at the place the water balloon landed.
“Quick, drop another one while she’s distracted” Riko whispered gripping the box of matches so tightly her knuckles were starting to turn white.
Maki nodded and gripped the second balloon they’d prepared.
She stretched her arm out as far as she could away from herself in hopes that the balloon would hit its mark this time. Slowly she released the balloon from her grip and watched as it fell toward the earth.
The balloon landed spot on the top of Mari’s head, exploding and drenching her in the thick liquid. She let out a sharp shriek in surprise. Riko quickly swung down the branches until she was just above Mari.
Maki could see Riko strike a match, the small flame glowing in the shade of the trees. The small flame turned into a bonfire once Riko flicked the match onto Mari.
The blonde began to scream. A long shrill scream that made Maki cringe in horror. It was a terrifying sight to watch, Mari running around in circles, waving her arms around frantically, screaming her head off, the flames quickly consuming her body.
It made Maki sick to her stomach knowing she’d helped cause it. Yet, all she could do was sit and watch in stunned silence.
Finally, after what seemed like hours, Mari collapsed to her knees. She’d resorted to screaming for help, although her pleas were garbled and impossible understand at that point most likely due to her vocal cords being damaged.
Then suddenly she stopped screaming and fell over. Maki could just make out her body twitching through the flames. Maki heard the leaves below her rustling before she saw Riko run out toward Mari’s body and start throwing snow on it, snuffing the flames.
“Maki help me!” Riko called which shook the younger girl out of her stupor. Maki quickly but carefully crawled down from the tree before landing on the ground and hurrying over to help Riko dump snow onto Mari.
When Mari was completely covered both girls fell to their knees breathing heavily. “There wasn’t a cannon.” Riko mumbled. Right, there wasn’t, meaning Mari was still alive under there.
“There’s no way she’ll live.” Maki said. Mari’s entire body had been on fire for several minutes with no sort of protective gear. Her injuries would be too grievous. “Let’s hope whatever weapon she had is still intact so we can take her out so she won’t be in pain for too long.”
Riko nodded and the pair started to dig Mari out of the snow. It didn’t take long until they got most of her out. “Oh my god” Maki whispered as she got a clear look at the state of Mari’s body.
Most of her skin was either covered with blisters or charred black. In a few places, most notably her around her hands and face, her skin had completely burned away, showing the muscle and bone underneath. Her hair was mostly singed off, leaving just a few short patches. Her clothes were mostly burned off as well leaving her very exposed. She was covered in her own blood.
“Excuse me” Riko said standing up very abruptly. She walked away from Maki and Mari over to a nearby tree. Maki could hear her retching, probably emptying her stomach into the snow. She didn’t blame Riko.
The bright bubbly beautiful girl in the blue and while angel themed dress from Interview Night was truly gone now, her body reduced to a charred barely alive mess.
Maki remember that they had done this for a reason and quickly started frisking Mari in hopes of finding her weapon. Mari seemed to be unconscious as she wasn’t moving or making any noise.
Mari’s skin was still hot and also wet most likely due to the melted snow. The charred parts were hard and crunchy, a sensation that made Maki nauseous but she stuck it through. Finally her hand brushed against something harder than the rest of Mari’s body and much hotter too.
She took some of the remaining fabric and used it to hold the object. It seemed to be a metal stick with a fork in the middle. “A slingshot?” Maki asked incredulously. “Is that it?”
“What?” Riko gasped finally turning around but keeping her distance. “You mean we… we did that for nothing?” A small groan from Mari’s disfigured mouth startled both girls and caused Riko to have to turn around and hurl again.
Mari’s eyes were open but they were hazy and unfocused. Maki’s seen this before in her parent’s hospital. The fire must have blinded Mari.
“I don’t… want her to be… in pain anymore” Riko mumbled. Maki agreed but there was a small problem in that they had nothing to kill her with… unless… Maki looked down at her own hands then to Mari’s throat.
“Riko go get our stuff and don’t look at what I’m doing.” Maki instructed. “But-“ “Just… trust me. You won’t want to watch this.” She waited until she heard Riko climbing back up the tree before she turned back to Mari.
“I’m sorry” Maki whispered to Mari, unsure if the older girl could even hear her at this point, before wrapping her hands around Mari’s throat and pressing down as hard as she could.
Mari didn’t struggle as Maki continued pressing down on her cracking skin but the gurgling noises alone were almost unsettling enough to make Maki lose her lunch. It took longer than Maki liked but eventually a cannon sounded, signaling Mari’s death.
“We should go.” Riko said from behind Maki. “Someone might have heard her and they could be heading this way.” Maki nodded and pulled herself to her feet, taking her bag from Riko. They started walking away from Mari’s corpse.
“We’re gonna run out of oil if things keep going like this” Maki noted as they walked. They’d used up a whole can just filling up those two balloons. What were they going to do if they took out someone else just for there to not be a usable weapon?
“This would be so much easier if the stupid Capitol citizens would drop us some knives but no, we got fucking balloons!” Riko cried frustratedly. Maki sighed, silently agreeing with Riko, but she knew that kind of talk wouldn’t help them.
“We’re gonna have to go back to the Cornucopia” Maki said. Riko sighed. “I know, I just… We’re gonna get ourselves killed” Maki nodded. She knew Riko was right. You can’t steal from the Careers.
“Okay how about this” Maki started. “If we don’t get our hands on some better weapons within the next two days we’ll go get some stuff from the Cornucopia.” Riko looked skeptical. Maki sighed in annoyance. “Come on! What will we have to lose?”
“Our lives maybe” Riko retorted. She groaned rubbing at her eyes. Maki could understand the frustration. They could both be dead in two days. However Riko relented. “Okay, fine! You win!” Maki smiled.
Ayumu watched the nighttime announcements, stunned by the death of one of the Careers and Mari Ohara from District Five. She’d been close enough to hear what she assumed were Mari’s screams but decided against intervening for her own safety.
She continued her walking as the anthem played and the country seal faded away. She had yet to find Chika yet but she still had hope. It wasn’t long before she heard voices up ahead.
“-weren’t close or anything cause she was the mayor’s daughter and I’m from the poor section of the District but it sucks, you know, she was my District Partner and she was really nice. Plus she led Anju to us.” One of the voices said.
“We know, it’s okay Erena. We’ll just have to keep fighting in her memory” Another said. Ayumu was trying to make sense of who was in front of her. Clearly there was Erena from District Five. Anju from District Three? She struggled to put a name to that second voice she heard.
Suddenly a beam of light hit Ayumu. “Who’s there?” A softer voice called. Shit. “A…Ayumu Uehara… from District Twelve” Ayumu called out walking closer to the group. “I’m not here to attack you guys, I just want to talk.”
“Talk huh?” Ayumu could identify the last girl as she stood up and walked closer as Tsubasa from District Seven. She raised up a hatchet and stalked toward Ayumu threateningly. “What do you want to talk about Uehara?”
“I um…” Ayumu stared warily at the hatchet. She vaguely noticed Erena stand up and walk toward her, a machete in hand. Ayumu gulped. “I have a plan to take out the Careers and… I need your guys’ help”
Tsubasa scoffed. “What’s your plan then? You want us to do the dirty work and when we’re not looking, you’ll take us out right?” They were crowding Ayumu now. She backed up uncomfortably.
“No, no, I just…“ Ayumu trailed off as her back hit a tree. Erena and Tsubasa just kept getting closer. Tsubasa raised her hatchet, prepared to strike. “Goodbye Uehara” Ayumu clenched her eyes shut.
“Hey!” A new, shriller, voice that Ayumu recognized rang out through the air. “Back off of her” Chika Takami yelled from the other side of the clearing.
Anju, brave soul that she was, charged at Chika but Chika just pushed her over into the snow and made her way toward Ayumu’s two attackers. Tsubasa and Erena charged at Chika, clearly seeing her as the bigger threat. Ayumu could hear metal clanging as the three fought.
But Ayumu knew that Chika wouldn’t last long in that two on one situation. She needed to help.
Ayumu ran forward, hopping over Anju who was trying to pull herself off the ground, and barreled right into Erena. As the two fell toward the ground, Ayumu felt the blade of Tsubasa’s hatchet swing right over her head.
The two hit the ground hard and Ayumu was about to land a well aimed punch to the back of Erena’s head when she heard two loud gasps from above along with Tsubasa’s voice. “Anju!”
Ayumu turned around and saw Anju standing above her, Tsubasa’s hatchet deep in her throat. Tsubasa reached out to Anju who backed up, fear evident in her eyes. Anju tripped and fell into the snow once again. She didn’t get up. Instead a cannon went off.
Erena pushed Ayumu off of her and hastily stood up. “Tsubasa?” She said concern laced in her voice.
Ayumu felt a hand on her shoulder and looked up to realize it was Chika. “Come on, lets get out of here” she whispered. Ayumu nodded and took Chika’s hand as Chika pulled her to a stand. The two took off, running through the trees hoping neither Erena or Tsubasa would notice.
Chapter 11: Chapter Nine
warning for light gore
“Tsubasa?” Erena said taking a step toward the brown haired girl. Tsubasa couldn’t draw her eyes away from Anju. Her face had gone slack and if there wasn’t a hatchet sticking out of her throat, she’d look just like she was sleeping.
Tsubasa had done that to her.
She heard frantic crunching in the snow and vaguely noticed Ayumu and Chika running from clearing. “Tsubasa!” Erena said more intensely, placing a hand on Tsubasa’s shoulder and giving her a small shake.
“They’re getting away, come on” Tsubasa still couldn’t move, couldn’t pull her eyes away. She started to tremble.
“I killed her” Tsubasa whispered. Erena shook her again, both hands on her shoulders now. Finally Tsubasa was able to focus her attention away from Anju’s body. Erena looked frustrated, angry even.
Erena had to be upset with Tsubasa, had to blaming her for Anju’s death. Tsubasa was struck with fear. Erena might kill her. She snuck a glance at the hatchet in Anju’s throat again. She wouldn’t be able to get it before Erena took her out.
Her only option was to run.
“I killed her” Tsubasa said again, her eyes welling with tears. She managed to wrench herself from Erena’s grip. “It was an accident, I’m sorry.” Then she turned and ran.
“Tsubasa! Tsubasa wait!” She heard Erena yelling behind her but she ignored it and kept running.
She ran and ran and ran, her legs stinging from the effort, her lungs burning, eyes blinded by tears. She only stopped when she reached the river. Her mind was swimming with the image of Anju’s death but somehow she managed to pull out the one thought.
Tsubasa knew it was there, she’d discovered it with Erena and Mari, watching as the snowballs they’d thrown sizzled and melted in mid air. Just across the frozen river, was Tsubasa’s ticket out of this hellish game, out of the violence and fear, out of the trauma.
She could avenge Anju’s death.
No. No she couldn’t.
In fact even if she could make herself, she didn’t have time as she could hear Erena calling out to her again.
She turned to her left and started running again before eventually turning back into the woods.
She kept going despite the pain shooting through her body, despite the tears blinding her vision.
Until finally Tsubasa tripped and fell face first into a pile of snow. She curled up into a ball unable to make herself move anymore.
She let out a rather loud sob of absolute pain. She killed Anju, her ally, her friend.
She knew she would never be able to forgive herself, after all, there’s no way Anju would. Erena wouldn’t either.
She was a horrible person, a murderer. It was one thing to kill in self defense like she’d been trying to do with Ayumu and Chika, but Anju was innocent, she was on Tsubasa’s side. She didn’t deserve to die.
Anju didn’t deserve to die.
She shouldn’t have died.
But she did and it was all Tsubasa’s fault.
Tsubasa’s body racked with sobs as she shook from the cold. She wanted to apologize to Erena and Anju and even to Anju’s District Partner. But she didn’t deserve to forgiveness.
Instead she would just stay here, alone and defenseless, her weapon was still back in the clearing, and wait for whatever was going to happen to her, to happen.
It began to snow.
Chika held onto Ayumu’s hand as she pulled her District Partner through the woods away from the calamity with Tsubasa, Erena, and Anju.
When they finally got what they felt was far enough away, they stopped, leaning against a tree as they caught their breaths.
When Chika felt like she could breathe again she rushed forward and wrapped Ayumu in a tight hug. “I’m so glad you’re okay” Chika said. Ayumu chuckled sounding a little nervous which was understand with how shy she was.
Chika released Ayumu who smiled at her and said “I’m glad you’re okay too. I’ve been looking for you everywhere.”
“I have too” Chika admitted. She noticed the small backpack on Ayumu’s back and got excited. She didn’t have much food and hadn’t seen anything edible around in the forest so she was excited at the prospect of having more.
“Did you make it out of the Cornucopia with anything good?” She asked. Ayumu frowned and shook her head. “I have some food and a blanket but that’s it.” Chika frowned as well. “No weapons?”
Ayumu bit her lip before opening her mouth to answer and then closing it again. She was quiet for awhile before shaking her head no.
Chika felt a little suspicious but she let it pass. Ayumu was her friend and ally. She wouldn’t try to deceive Chika. Instead she focused on another thing that had caught her attention in the past few minutes.
“What were you talking about back there? Something about a plan?” Ayumu’s face lit up. “Oh! Oh yeah! I’m trying to gather up a group of allies from the smaller Districts to take down the Careers.” She explained.
Chika’s eyes widened. She didn’t know what to say. On one hand, the plan seemed like a good one. It could work if everything worked out okay. On the other hand a lot of things could go wrong.
“Do you want to join me?”
“O…okay!” Chika said. She figured the positives outweighed the negatives. Ayumu grinned. “Really? Oh my gosh Chika, thank you!”
Chika giggled. “Hey, its no problem!” She said. “I mean if something happens and I don’t survive, I’d want it to be you and that’s more likely if we work together.”
Ayumu opened her mouth to answer but was cut off by her stomach rumbling.
Chika laughed again before sliding her backpack off her shoulders and opened it to pull out a bag of dried meat.
She opened up the bag and pulled out a few strips before holding them out to Ayumu. “Let’s eat.”
Chapter 12: Chapter Ten
Warning for death talk but no actual death
Leah was so glad she’d listened when Hanayo suggested that they move out of the rock fort she had made.
The two had ended up making their new base in a little alcove surrounded by a bunch of trees that grew too close together and a bunch of bushes. It was definitely safer and less obviously man made.
They were safely hidden from the Careers here.
The pair were hidden under some bushes behind a tree, watching silently as the group passed by. Leah could hear the girl from District Two grumbling and complaining that they all had to travel in a group.
Suddenly one of the girls in the back, the blue haired girl from Four, stopped. “Umi, can you shut up?” she exclaimed “We told you, we’re doing this for safety. We don’t need another one of us dying out here.” That’s right, the other girl from Two had died a few days before.
“I don’t need you guys keeping me safe Kanan” Umi spat “I know what I’m doing” The other girl from Four cleared her throat uncomfortably. “Umi, we just wanna make sure no one else gets hurt…” she said quietly.
“Maybe-““Okay that’s enough!” One of the girls from One got in between the three. “Look, we’re not getting anything done by sitting here and arguing over travelling arrangements,” she said. “Let’s just keep moving and we’ll talk about this, civilly, at the Cornucopia. Okay?”
The girl from One turned to look at Kanan and the other girl from Four and as her long black hair moved to reveal her face, Leah went rigid.
That girl killed Sarah.
The group continued to argue but Leah couldn’t hear them. She was deafened by rage. The image of her sister’s death was running through her mind. Sarah handing Leah a backpack and the sais and telling her to stay where she was and that she’d be right back. Sarah stopping to grab a sleeping bag for them.
Sarah getting impaled by the blade of that fucking girl from District One.
Sarah’s pained and terrified screams, something Leah knew would haunt her for the rest of her life.
That girl from District One staring at Leah, emotionless, covered in her sister’s blood.
Leah clenched her sais until her knuckles began to burn. Slowly, as the group of Careers began to walk away from them she stood up, still hidden by the tree. Her sister’s killer was now in the back of the group, along with her District Partner.
Her District Partner who was her sister, Leah realized with a start.
Dia and Ruby Kurosawa, the pair of sisters who had volunteered for the Games. If Leah had to bet, she’d say that Dia was aiming to protect Ruby, that Ruby was just as important to Dia as Sarah was to Leah.
Leah knew she had to decide, either one she felt would be justified in avenging her sister. Take out Dia outright or make her suffer like she was by killing Ruby.
Leah was about to push her way out of the bushes when she felt a hand wrap around her wrist. She looked down to find Hanayo gripping her arm tightly, staring up a Leah with wide, frightened eyes.
“What are you doing?” Hanayo hissed. “She killed my sister” Leah replied quietly. Hanayo narrowed her eyes in confusion before she gasped a little and stared up at Leah like she was crazy. “Leah they’ll kill you”
Leah knew that. It would be five on one. There was no way Leah was going to escape this with her life. But honestly, she felt okay with that. As long as she could take out one of the Kurosawa sisters and avenge Sarah, she thinks she’d be okay with dying.
She shook out of Hanayo’s grip and prepared to attack.
Leah was about to step out of the brush, so she could take out the younger Kurosawa sister but before she could move, Hanayo got ahold of her again and this time pulled her down onto the ground.
Leah was quick to try to fight back but Hanayo was somehow quicker, restraining Leah and covering her mouth to prevent her from making any noise. It wasn’t until the sound of the Careers’ footsteps faded away that she let go.
“What the fuck!” Leah cried as soon as Hanayo removed her hand from her mouth. She couldn’t believe Hanayo had betrayed her like this and kept her from avenging her sister.
“Leah!” Hanayo exclaimed. “They would have KILLED you! You would have DIED!” “I don’t care Hanayo!” Leah yelled causing Hanayo to shush at her in fear that she would attract the Careers back to them. Good. Let them come back. “I need to avenge my sister.”
“She wouldn’t want that for you and you know that.” Hanayo pushed. Leah really wished she would stop saying that. “How the hell would you know? You didn’t even know her.” Hanayo sighed, clearly annoyed.
“Fine if you wanna argue about that then listen to me when I say that I don’t want that for you. I don’t want you going off and getting yourself killed so you’ll feel better about something that you didn’t have any control over in the first place.
“Don’t you think I’m angry at whoever killed Rin? Don’t you think that every single day I wish death on whoever took her from me? But am I going out and tracking them down and going on some suicide mission to ‘avenge’ Rin? No! Because I know it’s not going to change anything. Rin’s gone.
“All you’re going to do by getting yourself killed is leaving someone behind. Sarah left you behind when she died. Rin left me behind when she died.” Hanayo’s voice broke at the end and she let out a sob.
Leah felt bad. She knew what Hanayo was trying to say. If she died, Hanayo would be alone again. They both knew they were only finding comfort in each other to cope with losing their other. Hanayo wouldn’t have that anymore if Leah died and vice versa.
“I’m sorry” Leah said quietly, “I… I just miss her…” Hanayo nodded, wiping the tears from her eyes.
“I miss her too.”
Yoshiko was concerned to say the least. She’d ran out of alcohol wipes a few days ago and just used the last of her clean bandages. Her wound didn’t seem to be getting any better.
The skin around the cut on her stomach had started getting really red and was hot, much hotter than the rest of her body. She was no doctor, so she wasn’t sure if this was normal or not, especially for an injury this big.
Ever since she’d run out of alcohol wipes she’d been cleaning the cut with melted snow, because water, but now she wasn’t sure if it was actually helping.
She was second guessing every move she made recently with the fear about this cut, the worry that Honoka was going to come back for her, coupled with the new fear of hearing a cannon right after the daily announcement the night before.
It could be anyone. She was worried mainly for Anju and her friends. Though none of them were close, Yoshiko wanted one of them to win if she didn’t make it.
Yoshiko stopped prodding at her wound and pulled her shirt down as the anthem started playing. At least she’d be able to find out who had died now. She waited for the picture to show up. It felt like it took a lot longer than normal but eventually Anju’s face appeared in the sky.
Yoshiko didn’t know what to think or how to feel. Who killed her District Partner? Why? Why did people have to keep dying? She didn’t want people to die anymore.
Her breath started picking up, she felt panic rise up in her throat. Yoshiko knew she shouldn’t care about this so much. She’s seen numerous children die over the years she’d had to watch the Hunger Games. She knew people were going to die when her name was drawn at the Reaping.
But seven people were dead and sixteen more had to die before this would be over and Yoshiko couldn’t deal with it. Tears started pricking at the edge of her vision and she knew she had to stop otherwise she would lose any sponsors she might have. But she couldn’t deal with this. She…
She didn’t. Her breath evened out and she blinked away her tears. She didn’t have to care about the Tributes dying. It wasn’t her problem. They’re mortals, they’re going to die one way or another.
The laugh began as a giggle before it quickly escalated to hysterics. Yohane didn’t care at all.
Chapter 13: Chapter Ten and a Half
“Has Chika shown up yet?” Shima looked up as her younger sister Mito walked back into the living room carrying a small plate of cheese sandwiches. Shima was confused.
“I thought you were going to the bathroom?” she questioned as Mito sat on the couch next to her. “I was hungry too” Mito answered. Shima was appalled. “Are you serious right now?” she cried.
“Chika could die any second and you’re more focused on food?” Mito looked offended. “Sorry for not obsessively staring at the TV all day like you are.” She retorted.
“Girls!” The sisters’ mom’s voice rang through the room, stopping Shima before she could reply. The trio quickly settled into silence as they watched Kanan from District Four and Umi from District Two get into yet another argument.
Mito passed two of the sandwiches to Shima and Shima passed one of those along to their mom. She wasn’t really angry with Mito she acknowledged as she bit into the crust.
She was just scared and stressed. Chika really could be killed at any second. Shima’s been sitting in front of the television pretty much ever since Chika had gotten to the Capitol. She was worried if she looked away for even a second, something bad would happen to her youngest sister.
If she was being honest, Shima would admit that if it weren’t for Mito and their mom she wouldn’t have been eating. She took another bite into the sandwich.
Dia from District One had just broken up the fight between the two other Careers. The commentators were talking about how the alliance didn’t seem as stable as other years before the screen switched to Nico from District Eight stumbling through the forest.
The cameras focused on Nico for a while longer before switching to yet another Tribute that wasn’t Chika. Shima was getting antsy. Just show her her sister. That’s all she wanted, that’s all she needed.
It took so long for Chika to show up on the screen that Shima had begun to wonder if the Capitol had swindled her family. Her mother had come back from the Justice Building earlier that day without the large amount of money that was meant to pay for their food for the month.
Chika and the other District Twelve Tribute Ayumu were sitting in the snow, discussing the remaining Tributes and who they should seek out to add to their alliance next. Suddenly a small parachute fell right into Chika’s lap. Shima grinned.
Chika jumped in shock as the parachute landed in her lap. She’d been so wrapped in the conversation she’d been having with Ayumu that she hadn’t noticed it coming down.
Quickly she unwrapped the package and two round orange fruits rolled out into the snow in front of her. Mikans!
Since there were only two of them, Chika could assume that they didn’t come from the Capitol. She’d mentioned she liked the fruit in her interview days before, but the Capitol citizens were rich as hell. They’d be able to afford more than two fruits.
Which meant these were from home. Shima, Mito, and their mom had sent these. The realization brought tears to Chika’s eyes. This gift was expensive as all hell. More than her family should be able to pay for even with the inn they ran.
“Thank you!” Chika cried into the open air, probably way louder than she should have been. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
Quickly Chika snatched one of the mikans out of the snow and began peeling it open, eager to taste the sweet fruit inside. It was a little harder than normal since she’d either broken or chewed off most of her finger nails while in the arena, but she managed.
She tore off a piece of the inside and stuck it in her mouth. The taste of the juice on her tongue almost made her cry.
She looked over and noticed Ayumu was staring at her with a weird smile on her face. Chika blushed. “You want some?” Chika asked, holding the orange out toward Ayumu. The other girl shook her head.
“They’re for you,” she explained “Enjoy them.” Chika grinned at Ayumu’s generosity and continued peeling off sections of her mikan in glee.
Chapter 14: Chapter Eleven
Warning for death. A lot of death.
Riko and Maki stood over the corpse of Tsubasa Kira looking discouragingly between her charred flesh and the giant wet imprint in the snow where Tsubasa had been laying just moments before.
She, just like Mari, had been weaponless, meaning her death had been for nothing, or at least that’s how Riko felt about it. At least she had died while burning this time, so Maki didn’t have to cho-
Maki didn’t have to do what she did last time. Maki said it was probably because she’d probably developed hypothermia and the sudden heat must have given her a heart attack. Riko was just glad she had died quickly.
“It’s been two days.” Maki said quietly. “We still have another balloon” Riko argued. They’d only dropped one balloon on Tsubasa after discovering the unmoving girl laying in the snow. She didn’t even try to fight back.
“It’s been two days” Maki said more insistently. “It’s only been a day and a half” Riko knew what Maki was trying to get at and she wanted desperately to avoid it for as long as she could.
Something would go wrong if they went back to the Cornucopia. Riko couldn’t cope with the thought that her or Maki would be facing certain death if they went back there.
“Riko we agreed, two days. We’re going to die if we don’t have anything to defend ourselves with.” Maki reminded sounding annoyed. “We have no other choice.” Riko bit her lip and sighed. “Okay” she replied after a minute.
The plan was to wait at the edge of the clearing and wait for the Careers to leave so the pair could sneak in and make their move but they were pleasantly surprised to find that the Cornucopia was empty when the two girls arrived.
“Where are they?” Riko whispered as she and Maki crept toward the Cornucopia. Maki shrugged. “Probably trying to find us.” Riko shuttered.
The Careers hadn’t moved too much stuff around from when the Game started so a lot of supplies and small weapons were still scattered around the clearing. It didn’t take long for Maki to grab a few knives and Riko to shoulder a fairly heavy backpack.
“Hey there’s another oil drum!” Riko exclaimed. Even though Maki had grabbed them some knives, they could still make use of their oil and balloons. Maki came over to examine the drum.
“Hey, we could keep this in that rock structure we found the other day and use it to bait peop-“ Maki stopped suddenly, staring into the open mouth of the Cornucopia.
“Riko there are better weapons in there.” Maki stated. She removed her hands from the oil drum and slowly started padding toward the opening. “Maki, I don’t think that’s a good idea” Riko exclaimed running after her District Partner.
It really wasn’t. The Careers could be back any second. But Maki kept on walking. She was practically in the Cornucopia. “Riko there’s so much shit in here!” she called out holding up a spear for Riko to see.
“They’re gonna know it’s missing Maki, they’ll know someone was here.” Riko argued. “Who cares? They shouldn’t have left it here if it was so important. Besides, if we take some of this we won’t need the oil; we’ll be invincible.”
She had a bit of a point. Plus, it was going to be a real hassle to roll that barrel all the way out to those rocks. For all Riko knew, the Careers could be all the way out at the river right now.
Or they could be mere seconds away.
It was risky, very risky. Riko wasn’t sure what to do.
Fuck it, it would be worth it. Riko stepped into the Cornucopia and clearly saw the vast amount of weaponry and supplies the Careers were hiding there. Clearly what they had left outside wasn’t as valuable to them.
Quickly she began shuffling through the weapons and fished out a large steel mace that she had a little difficulty holding but it wasn’t too bad. She could still swing it around and stuff. She looked over and found Maki seemed very attached to the spear she’d found.
Amid the stock pile, Riko found a pile of throwing knives which she had Maki throw in her bag with the other knives she’d found. The two had just started pawing throw the supplies when they heard a group of voices from outside.
Both girls stiffened in shock. “What do we do?” Riko whispered as the voices continued to get closer. “We’re gonna have to run for it.” Maki answered. Riko nodded. Both girls clutched their new weapons and shouldered their bags before dashing out of the Cornucopia.
“Hey!” a voice yelled out as the two girls ran around the Cornucopia in an attempt to put space between them and the Careers. Riko could hear footsteps behind them meaning they were being chased.
The edge of the clearing seemed so far away, Riko wasn’t sure they’d make it. Suddenly Maki stumbled and fell back a few feet. Riko would have stopped but Maki yelled at her to keep going.
They kept going, the forest becoming closer with every passing step. Riko’s lungs were burning and her heart was pounding. Maki was still behind her, running noticeably slower and limping maybe? Riko wasn’t sure.
The edge of the forest was only a few feet away now. They were gonna make it, they were gonna make it!
Then she heard Maki cry out in pain and a loud thump. Riko turned and found her on the ground, an arrow deep in her back. “Maki!” Riko screeched. The younger girl looked up. Her purple eyes were already fading. Her mouth was moving but no sound was coming out.
“Run” she was trying to say. Riko’s eyes began to pool with tears. Thankfully she noticed the girl from District Two a couple feet away knocking another arrow in her bow. Riko turned and ran. She felt the arrow hit her backpack, but she ignored it and kept running.
Maki’s cannon sounded a few seconds later. Riko ignored it and kept running. And running.
Dia watched as the second girl from District Six ran into the forest and Kanan, Umi, and You stopped their chase. Dia had stayed behind to keep Ruby away from the fight and also because she knew the others would have an advantage with their long-distance weapons.
The bright red-haired girl’s cannon went off and You stepped past Umi and Kanan to collect her supplies before the Capitol took her body away. “Are you okay?” Dia asked Ruby who was staring at the corpse with wide eyes. Slowly the younger girl nodded.
“Umi, you selfish bitch!” The entire group looked up as Kanan ran up behind Umi and pushed the younger girl into the wet grass. “That was my kill and you know it!”
It had seemed so as Kanan was almost caught up to the pair and was preparing to throw her trident at the younger of the girls before Umi had knocked an arrow and shot it through the girl’s chest.
Umi quickly pulled herself to her feet and pushed Kanan back. “What the hell is your problem?” she yelled angrily. “If you wanted it so bad you should have been faster. And now the other girl’s gotten away with our stuff because you want to argue with me about this!”
Dia put an arm out in front of Ruby, sensing this altercation was going to resort to violence. Even though they were a good couple of hundred yards away, she didn’t want to risk her little sister getting hurt.
“You’ve been so moody and selfish since Eli died, always bitching and complaining when you don’t get your way.” Kanan argued.
“Well maybe if you’d listened to me and let me go out on my own, you’d have gotten that kill yourself!” Kanan eyes widened. “Mother fu- that’s exactly what I’m talking about!” she sputtered.
“You’re so selfish you can’t even see we’re trying to help you. There’s safety in numbers Umi! We are trying to keep you safe!” “I told you, I don’t need you guys to protect me! I’m fine on my own!” Umi retorted.
Kanan groaned really loud. “For gods sake, this is why I don’t want you in this alliance anymore.” Dia’s eyes widened at Kanan confessing the secret she’d only entrusted Dia with up until that point.
Umi seemed to straighten up a bit before pulling an arrow from her sheath and fitting it into place on her bow. “If you don’t want me in the alliance” Umi said so quietly Dia almost couldn’t hear, “Then do something about it.”
Dia noticed You standing up from the girl’s body. “Kanan, don’t” she said, worry laced in her words. Kanan didn’t seem to listen as her grip tightened on her trident and she raised it, ready to attack.
Kanan started running forward, quickly closing the distance between her and Umi before Umi very calmly raised her bow and shot the arrow.
Kanan fell to her knees, the arrow spouting from her throat. You and Ruby simultaneously gasped in horror. Dia could hear the disgusting choking noises Kanan was making even from where she was. After about a minute Kanan fell forward and her cannon went off.
Umi was panting and staring at Kanan’s corpse. Suddenly You ran forward, ripping Kanan’s bag off her back and grabbing her trident before running off into the forest, stopping very quickly to grab her spear from the ground next to the body of the girl from District Six.
Umi grabbed another arrow and made to shoot at You too before Dia finally found her voice. “Umi, don’t!” she yelled. The younger girl let her bow down and turned back to Dia. “It’s not worth it, just let her go.”
Umi huffed before putting the arrow back in her sheath. She stormed toward the Kurosawa sisters and pushed past them to get into the Cornucopia. Dia and Ruby watched as the hovercraft came and picked up Kanan and the girl from District Six.
Dia said a silent prayer for them both.
Ruby seemed scared. She looked nervously between the Cornucopia and Dia. “We need to leave.” She said quietly after a minute. “We need to make sure You is okay.” Dia shook her head.
“She left on her own terms, we don’t need to worry about her anymore.” Dia explained although she didn’t really believe it herself. She was worried about You and she knew Ruby and her had gotten close since the Games began. “It’s safer here”
Ruby shook her head. “Its not!’ she whispered more insistently. “Umi already doesn’t like me, it’s only a matter of time before she comes after us too” Dia knew Ruby was right but part of her felt she could take on Umi when that happened.
Dia sighed. “Okay, we’ll go.” She whispered. Ruby’s eyes lit up.” But we have to wait until tonight.”
They made a plan. Umi would take first watch and during that time Dia and Ruby would pack as they could carry. Dia would take second watch and when Umi eventually fell asleep, the sisters would run.
Everything seemed to work out fine when Dia took her position outside the Cornucopia for watch. It took her a minute to realize she was alone, or as alone as she could get in the arena. Surely the cameras were on her now with her and Ruby’s plan.
But away from Ruby and Umi and anyone, Dia could finally let herself properly mourn for Kanan. Over the course of the Game, they’d gotten pretty close, about as close as Ruby and You were.
It wasn’t smart, Dia knew that. Kanan couldn’t have lived if Ruby were to live. Dia just saw a lot of herself in Kanan and they just bonded. Dia couldn’t believe she was gone.
“Dia!” A whisper came from inside the Cornucopia. It was time to go.
Dia ducked into the Cornucopia where Ruby was already holding out a bag for her. They hurriedly gathered their remaining belongings and left the metal cave. They ran into the forest following You’s trail hoping they could find the girl from District Four.
Chapter 15: Chapter Twelve
A day passed in the arena where nothing happened. There were no deaths, no confrontations, nothing of much interest to the audience happened.
You found a spot high up in a tree to hide while she mourned the loss of her fallen District Partner while Dia and Ruby wandered the arena in a failed attempt to find her.
Umi, upon realizing the rest of her alliance left her, decided to relocate to the top of the Cornucopia. From this vantage point she felt she could better protect her supplies and take out anyone who dared tempted to steal from her.
Chika and Ayumu continued combing through the arena searching for more Tributes to add to their alliance to take on the now defunct Careers. Unbeknownst to them, Erena was constantly stalking them.
The older girl blamed the District Twelve Tributes for the death of her two alliance members, so she followed the pair with Tsubasa’s hatchet and her machete, waiting for the perfect moment to strike and get her revenge.
Nico was unsurprisingly still circling the arena, still searching for her long dead District Partner, Kotori. Her mental state was noticeably deteriorating at an alarming rate as she stumbled around, still clutching her blood-stained dagger.
Occasionally she would break down crying and wailing her Partner’s name or sometimes stop in a confused and dazed silence but mostly she would mumble incoherently as she wandered.
Few words and phrases could be understood such as “ice” “river” “find” “smile” and “Kotori”
The rest of the Tributes, however, seemed quite content with where they were, hiding out and not doing much. Yoshiko, Leah and Hanayo, Honoka, and Nozomi sat in the place, only really moving to check to see which Tributes had died each day.
Riko seemed to be trying to get over watching her District Partner die while Honoka seemed to be trying to get over being the cause of someone else’s death.
Nozomi wasn’t faring well as she was dangerously low on food and potentially risking starving if she couldn’t get ahold of some soon.
Leah and Hanayo were trying to plot out some way to sabotage the other Tributes, since they both knew neither of them stood much of a chance unless they pulled something big off.
The pressure of everything seemed to be affecting Yoshiko the most alarmingly. Ever since finding out about the death of her District Partner, Yoshiko seemed to be alternating between two completely different personas.
Yoshiko, who seemed scared, refused to move from where she was, and increasingly focused on her injury which was growing worse and worse by the day, definitely showing signs of a growing infection that would kill her if not treated very soon.
Then, there was Yohane, who seemed unafraid, and almost ruthless and bloodthirsty, wanting to go seek out the other Tributes without any concern over Yoshiko’s body. It seemed the only thing holding Yohane back was Yoshiko herself.
With nothing much happening over an entire 24-hour period, the Gamemakers decided to spice things up a little to keep the audience interested.
They did that in the form of fire breathing alpacas.
The lab mutated alpacas looked just like any regular alpaca apart from the glowing red eyes and razor-sharp teeth. In addition to their fire breathing abilities, they could also run much faster than the average alpaca and were much more aggressive with a taste for human flesh.
The second the small flock of alpacas was introduced into the arena, the snow around their feet started to steam and melt.
The first of the Tributes that was targeted was Nozomi. She was close enough to other Tributes that she could run into them if she were chased and she hadn’t had much action since her interaction with Nico.
When the small pack of alpacas crossed Nozomi’s line of vision she was shocked. She hadn’t seen a single living creature apart from other Tributes since the Games had started.
Usually the Gamemakers packed the arena with some woodland animals, especially in arenas like this one, for extra food supply, but up until now Nozomi had figured that hadn’t been the case this year.
At the thought of food, Nozomi’s mouth started watering. She’d hardly been eating the past few days in order to keep her dwindling rations for as long as she could. She didn’t really feel good about killing an animal but if it meant she had more food…
Well, she was going to have to kill real actual people if she wanted to survive anyway. Maybe this would help her prepare for it.
Slowly, Nozomi grabbed her mace and stood on shaky feet and quietly approached the herd of white and brown furry mammals so she wouldn’t scare them off.
As she got closer, she found that there were only three in the pack and she felt warmer the closer she got, something she hadn’t properly felt since being dropped into this frozen hell.
Although confused, she passed it off as delusions from her hunger and crept ever closer until she accidentally stumbled and stomped down into a pile of loose snow. The crunching caught the alpacas’ attention and they all turned to her with their glowing red eyes.
Nozomi realized that she had been tricked immediately. “Shit” she whispered fearfully as the alpacas began making growling noises and approaching her unmoving form.
Muttations. Ones that could harm and possibly kill her. And Nozomi had no idea what they were capable of.
Nozomi’s heart started pounding as she stared wide eyed at the mutts as they continued to approach her, their mouths opening to reveal their razor-sharp teeth.
She needed to do something. She needed to… She needed to attack. Quickly, Nozomi pulled her foot out of the snow and charged at the nearest alpaca, raising her mace and quickly striking the mutt in the head as hard as she could.
The alpaca went down and the other two seemed stunned so Nozomi took the opportunity to make a run for it. She bolted in the opposite direction of the alpacas.
After a second, she could hear them chasing after her and when she looked back, they were right on her tail. She sped up, running as fast as she possibly could, and started making twists and turns through the trees to try and throw the mutts off.
After a few minutes, she stumbled, already low on stamina, and lost her footing, collapsing into the snow in front of her. She managed to pull herself to her feet and found only the two had followed her. She hoped that meant the third had perished.
However, the other two were quickly approaching and backing Nozomi up into a tree. Their open mouths were glowing red and Nozomi could see the heat radiating. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think they were about to breathe fire at her.
Wait… Shit, they definitely were going to do that. Nozomi didn’t have much time to think as she quickly leapt to the right. Two columns of flames shot from the alpacas’ mouths and hit the tree she’d just been standing in front of. It burst into flames.
Nozomi stared up at the tree in horror before noticing the alpacas seemed to be charging up again so she pulled herself to her feet again and started to run.
She was barely able to escape before the alpacas shot more fire at her. She ran and ran until she reached the river, which she didn’t even know she was close to.
Nozomi looked back and realized she’d lost another one of the alpacas and was now down to one. The alpaca was backing her up onto the river.
Suddenly Nozomi’s foot slid on the ice and she fell yet again. She heard the ice crack as she hit the ground. She began to panic. She wasn’t sure what to do at this point, but she couldn’t just let herself get killed by an alpaca of all things.
She figured she might as well put one last ditch effort into this as she started to pull herself to her feet again to attack the mutt.
Only she wasn’t able to get up again due slipping and falling again. Except, instead of landing on the ice, she fell right through it.
The river was a lot deeper than Nozomi thought it was going to be. She sank through the frigid water, watching the distorted vision of the alpaca staring down at her and then walking away.
She made to start swimming back to the surface when she felt something grabbing at her leg. She looked down and found a small fish gnawing at her pants.
Before she could react an entire school of the same, but much larger, fish, with bigger, sharper teeth, swarmed her. They pulled her down, tearing at her flesh. The water was quickly stained red.
Nozomi flailed, trying to swat the fish off of her. She opened her mouth in an attempt to scream but instead got a lungful of water.
She didn’t last much longer after that. Her cannon went off. The fish dispersed. A hovercraft appeared in the sky and a metal claw dropped down to pluck Nozomi’s bloody body out of the water.
Nozomi disappeared from the arena along with all of District Ten’s chances of winning.
Chapter 16: Chapter Thirteen
warning for blood, gore, regular death, and animal death
Unfortunately, Nozomi was killed in the arena but luckily, she was able to take out one of the alpacas in her initial attack. This was good for the other Tributes, particularly the one who was targeted next.
Nico was sitting on the bank of the river on the complete opposite side of the arena when the pair of alpacas approached her from behind. The crunch of the snow alerted her to their presence. She turned to them with a large smile on her face.
“Aren’t you the cutest little things?” she exclaimed. The larger of the alpacas, the one that had blown Nozomi through the frozen river, snarled, showing its sharp teeth. Nico grinned impossibly wider. “An amazing smile too!” The alpacas charged at her.
Nico rolled out of the way and watched as the smaller alpaca slid and skittered across the frozen river and collided with the force field on the other side. The thing violently shook as sparks flew through its fur before collapsing to the ground in a heap.
Nico stared at the now deceased alpaca with wide eyes. Except, she didn’t see the alpaca. She saw…
She wasn’t moving and she wasn’t breathing. Why wasn’t she moving? Kotori was okay, she was perfectly fine. So why wasn’t she moving?
Why wasn’t she breathing?
People are supposed to breathe when they’re alive. Did that mean Kotori was…
“No,” Nico whispered, her red eyes almost glowing as bright as the alpacas. “No, no, no, no, NO!” She was screaming now, falling to her knees and clutching her head in her hands. “Stop it!” she wailed. “Fucking stop it! She’s alive! Kotori’s alive! Stop lying to me; she’s fine!”
Nico’s high-pitched cries seemed to stun the remaining alpaca, her screams scrambling its brains and confusing it to where it was completely defenseless against the sword cutting right through its throat. Its head fell to the ground with a loud thud.
Nico’s sobs stopped and she looked up to find Yoshiko from District Three standing over her. Anger surged through Nico. Yoshiko had her. Yoshiko TOOK Kotori.
She was on her feet in a second, knife pulled from her belt and pressed against Yoshiko’s throat as she backed the younger girl into the closest tree. Yoshiko dropped her sword as snow from the branches fell around them.
“Where is she?” Nico growled. “What did you do with Kotori?” Yoshiko smirked at Nico which just made her angrier. “Where is she?” she cried, pressing the knife down harder. Yoshiko chuckled, her voice deeper than Nico remembered.
“Obviously, she’s not in the arena anymore.” Yoshiko explained. Nico’s eyes narrowed in confusion. “What do you mean?” she asked, pressing knife down harder until Yoshiko flinched.
“I mean she’s escaped.” Yoshiko explained, her voice strained a bit. “You won’t find her because she’s not here anymore. In fact, she’s joined my army of fallen angels.” Nico faltered, lowering the knife as she stared at Yoshiko confused.
Kotori escaped the arena? How did she do that without winning? And fallen angels? What did that mean?
Things started clicking in Nico’s head. Kotori wasn’t in the arena anymore; she was an angel…
“So, you’re saying she’s dead?” Nico asked quietly. She had started shaking again as she looked back up at Yoshiko who was still smirking. “Of course! You can’t be a fallen angel if you’re alive.”
Nico brought the knife back up Yoshiko’s throat, pressing down until she broke the skin. “You’re lying!” she yelled. Yoshiko’s smirk fell into a frown.
“I’m not lying you ignorant mortal.” She snarled. “Her picture was in the sky the second night of the Games, just like everyone else who’s died. She’s dead.” Nico noticed Yoshiko’s eyes brimming with tears before the younger girl jerked forward violently, knocking Nico off of her.
Nico was quick to get back on Yoshiko, pressing the dagger back into her neck. Yoshiko was noticeable panicking, her eyes wide and her breathing quick. “Wait-“ she cried, her voiced higher pitched like it normally was, but Nico cut her off.
“Liars don’t get to live.”
Nico pressed the knife down and slashed through her throat. Blood spurted everywhere, splashing across Nico’s upper body and face. Yoshiko made a gurgling noise and brought her hands up to clutch at her throat before she fell to the ground.
Her cannon went off a few seconds later.
Nico stared down at Yoshiko’s unmoving body. Her smile was gone, it had been for a while, which had definitely irritated Nico more. But now that the girl was dead, it just made Nico sad.
Yoshiko’s parents would want her to come back smiling. Kotori would want Yoshiko to smile even if she had lied about Kotori dying. Nico always wanted to make people smile.
She knelt down and rolled Yoshiko from her side to her back. She grabbed her knife and pushed it through Yoshiko left cheek. She pulled the blade inward until the gash connected with the edge of her mouth. Nico quickly did the same with the other side.
Nico cut the straps off Yoshiko’s backpack and pulled it out from under the younger girl before standing up and running back into the trees, the sound of a hovercraft reaching down and claiming Yoshiko’s body ringing in her ears.
You was jolted awake by the second cannon shot of the day. She pulled herself back up onto her branch, the only thing keeping her in the tree was some rope she’d found in Kanan’s bag, and looked out at the horizon.
The sun was getting close to setting meaning she’d find out who had died soon. She hoped one of them was Umi. You knew she had to get revenge for Kanan, it’s what her District Partner would have wanted.
She just wasn’t sure she was capable of it at this point. Umi had super long-range weapons and although You had her blow darts, she wasn’t sure she’d be able to reach Umi from a safe hiding spot around the Cornucopia.
Plus, there was still Dia and Ruby to worry about. There wasn’t much of an easy way around it.
You sighed and looked down at the trident she’d been holding tightly in her grasp ever since Kanan’s death. You knew she shouldn’t be this hung up over Kanan, but she couldn’t help it. The two had grown up together in the training center back home.
You looked up to Kanan since they were kids. She was so strong and fast and smart, and she could swim better than anyone You’s ever known.
When the Quarter Quell got announced and You was told she’d been chosen to Volunteer alongside Kanan, she almost turned them down, not wanting to have to fight her role model to the death for fame and glory. She’d rather have back to back District Four wins.
Yet, Kanan was adamant about You volunteering. “With the two of us, Four is guaranteed a win this year.” She’d said. And who was You to argue?
You jumped as the anthem started playing and the country seal appeared in the sky. After a few moments, the face of the remaining girl from District Three lit up the sky. You bit down a curse. Umi was still alive. Next the last girl from Ten.
They were down to 12 now. Half the field gone.
It was fairly dark now, but You could still recognize the voices rising below her. “I think we should stop for the night.” Ruby said sounding tired and worn out. “It’s gonna be too dark to see anything soon.” “I can’t believe we forgot flashlights.” You heard Dia say.
She could see the sisters’ figures below, setting up a makeshift camp. You couldn’t imagine what they were doing out this late. “I can’t believe two days have gone by and we still haven’t found her.” Dia exclaimed.
Oh. Interesting. They must be looking for You so they could convince her to come back to the alliance, or maybe they were doing Umi’s dirty work and coming to kill her. You wouldn’t go down that easy.
She pulled out two darts, her vial of snake venom and the tube. Quickly she drenched the two darts with venom and got one into the tube. She aimed at Ruby, figuring taking out her out would distract Dia long enough to hit her too.
Except, she hesitated. This didn’t make sense. Umi wasn’t one to let other people get the kill instead of herself. Hell, she stole one from Kanan. Plus, this was Ruby! You couldn’t believe Ruby would hurt someone she’d gotten so close with or let Dia do the same.
And really, You didn’t particularly want to hurt Ruby either. She knew she’d half to eventually if she wanted to win but that still didn’t make it any more appealing.
Maybe You should just leave them be. Hopefully they’d give up on trying to find her eventually. She pulled the dart out of her tube and wiped the poison off of both of them with a left-over napkin from a sponsor gift and put everything away.
Waiting for the sisters to fall asleep was agonizing but after a few hours, she was able to make out two sets of snores. Quickly You untied herself from the tree and used the rope to tie the trident to her back.
She shouldered her backpack, which was now three times as heavy, and climbed down from the tree. Quickly she ran off, going the way the sisters had come from. She’d have to find a new place to hide which was annoying, but she really had no other choice.
Chapter 17: Chapter Fourteen
“Hey!” Riko looked down from her perch at the two District Twelve Tributes and frowned. “Riko? That’s you right?” The girl with the orange hair, Chika?, called. Riko sighed and grabbed her mace, holding it up so the two could see it.
“Go away!” she called. She didn’t want to be around people. People out here were bad. People would try to kill her, and she didn’t want to fight right now. The other girl, Ayumu, stepped forward, closer to Riko’s tree and Riko tensed. “We just want to ta-“ “I said go away!” Riko yelled more fiercely.
She just wanted to be alone, why was that so hard to understand? She was still grieving Maki’s death, she deserved to be left alone. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like these girls weren’t going to back off. She sighed again and scooted off of her branch and landed on the ground.
“What is it that you want to talk about?” Riko asked annoyed. She figured she could make them go away faster if she gave them what they wanted. Ayumu’s eyes lit up. “Well, Chika and I have a plan to take out the Careers, but we need more allies. We wanted to know if you’d want to join us?”
Riko made the most disgusted face she could manage with how stiff it felt from the cold. “What’s in it for me?” She asked. Ayumu grinned sinisterly. “The Careers killed your District Partner, didn’t they?” she asked. Riko’s eyes widened. How did they- Ayumu chucked. “You could get revenge for her.”
Riko blinked a few times. Revenge. Revenge sounded nice. Maki would want her to get revenge. Riko sighed and relented. “Alright.” She said, “I’m in.”
Ayumu’s smile changed to one that was friendlier, “Great! Welcome to the team!” Chika walked over and set a gentle hand on Riko’s shoulder. “Glad to have you!” Riko blushed.
“Alright,” Ayumu piped up, “We’ve still got the rest of the day; let’s keep going!” Riko and Chika nodded. “Let me grab my stuff real fast.”
The two deaths in the previous day seemed to rouse Honoka out of her stupor. She couldn’t dwell on the prospect of killing someone. Doing that would get her own self killed. That’s why she started planning.
A quick scout at the outskirts of the Cornucopia revealed that Umi still seemed to be the only Career left there. Honoka didn’t know what had happened but she suspected a split in the Career group. She wondered momentarily if the death of the girl from District Four a few days before had anything to do with it.
The day seemed to drag on as Honoka watched Umi from the edge of the clearing, making sure to stay at the Career’s back. Her plan was simple, wait for the daily announcement, climb up the Cornucopia while Umi was distracted, then take her out while her back was turned.
Umi turned again and Honoka bolted to the side as fast as she could. She was lucky the trees around the Cornucopia were as thick as they were otherwise, she’d be having a much harder time trying to stay hidden.
The sun continued to lower over the horizon and when it was barely light enough to see, Honoka heard the first strains of the Anthem start. In the sky in front of her, the bright image of the symbol of the country appeared. Honoka made her move.
She ran the several hundred feet to the edge of the metal structure, making sure to stay at Umi’s back. Climbing up the Cornucopia was a struggle. Climbing trees was a lot different and the metal was so cold it burned her hands. It definitely didn’t help that there were no handholds.
Luckily for Honoka, the Anthem was loud enough to cover up any sounds she was making. Unluckily, the daily announcement did not last as long as she was hoping. As it started to fade out, Honoka realized that no one had died that day. The announcement was going to be short.
She was just barely holding herself up by the top of the Cornucopia. Umi’s back was still turned but it could be mere seconds before she came to face Honoka. She had to hurry up and climb up or she’d get killed. Or…
A few feet away from Honoka’s dangling feet was the entrance of the Cornucopia. Umi would have to come down for food or something eventually. Honoka could drop down and hide in there and when Umi came down for supplies, Honoka could take her out then!
Honoka let go of the ledge and dropped down to the ground below. The landing sent a flair of pain up her ankles, but she ignored it as she ran into the cave of the Cornucopia.
As she passed through the opening, her feet got tangled in what appeared to be a sleeping bag. Realizing this was probably what Umi slept in she pulled it further into the Cornucopia with her as she backed into the darkest corner.
It only took about an hour for Umi to jump down from the top of the Cornucopia to retrieve her supplies for the night. She immediately reached down for her sleeping bag and found it wasn’t where she had left it.
Honoka watched her fishing around in her pockets as she pulled her ax from her back where she had safely secured it with a makeshift harness. A small beam of light flooded Honoka’s vision as Umi turned on the flashlight she had pulled out.
With the flashlight, Umi quickly searched inside of the Cornucopia and found her sleeping bag which was laying over Honoka’s feet. Inadvertently, this also revealed Honoka as well.
“Oh shit” Umi said. Honoka could see that she was weaponless. She smiled. This would be easy. Quickly, Honoka kicked the sleeping bag off of her feet and ran toward Umi, raising her ax is preparation to attack.
Except, Umi was fast, way faster than Honoka was expecting. The blue haired girl managed to roll out of the way as Honoka ran right by, swinging her ax wildly. She managed to stop herself but right as she turned around to face Umi again a pair of hands grabbed the handle of her ax.
Umi had her hands on Honoka’s weapon and was trying to rip it from her grip. Honoka wasn’t going to give in that easy. She clung to the ax for dear life as Umi continued to try to yank it from her.
The struggle was sending the pair farther from the Cornucopia and closer to the forest. This gave Honoka an idea. She looked right into Umi’s determined eyes and pulled as hard as she could, yanking the two girls even closer to the forest.
When Honoka was sure they were close enough, she swung herself around, using the momentum to drag the ax and Umi along with her. Unfortunately, Umi seemed to know what Honoka was up to and forced the two to keep spinning until it was Honoka’s back slamming against the tree.
Honoka, in shock, let go of the ax. Umi almost seemed to breathe out a sigh of relief as she readjusted her hold on the weapon. Then she swung it right at Honoka’s head.
Luckily Honoka predicted this and dropped to the ground. She watched as Umi let go of the ax and the blade stayed lodged in the tree. Umi quickly tugged on the handle but it didn’t budge. She looked back at the Cornucopia then lifted her foot and slammed it down on Honoka’s chest.
A flair of pain shot through Honoka’s rib cage and her breath came out in shaky gasps. It took a good minute for her to be able to breathe normally again and as she stood, she realized Umi wasn’t standing over her anymore but was standing at the foot of the Cornucopia.
The bow and arrows! Umi had left them at the top of the Cornucopia! If Umi got ahold of them again, Honoka was done for! She had to stop her!
Honoka grabbed the handle of her ax and pulled as hard as she could but nothing happened. The damn thing was really stuck in there.
She had to keep trying though. She’d be weaponless otherwise and she didn’t think the odds would be in her favor in hand to hand combat with Umi.
Honoka doubled her grip on the handle and braced a foot against the tree. She pulled.
She pulled again, this time harder.
She pulled one more, putting of her weight into it and finally the blade slipped out of the tree. Honoka fell to the ground, holding her ax in her arms. She quickly pulled herself to her feet and prepared to attack but was stopped when an arrow pierced the ground at her feet.
Umi was standing at the top of the Cornucopia, another arrow already loaded in her bow aimed straight at Honoka. Honoka looked down at the arrow at her feet. She’d seen Umi during Training; that girl never missed. This arrow was a warning shot.
Honoka knew if she took even a step forward, Umi would end her. There was no way around it. She turned and ran back into the forest.
She was disappointed her plan hadn’t worked, of course, but it filled her with more determination. Honoka may have lost this battle, but she wouldn’t let herself lose the war with Umi Sonoda.
This wasn’t over.
Chapter 18: Chapter Fifteen
Hi I'm back time for some death. (This was a warning, there is death and gore in this chapter)
Leah stared over the top of the bushes as the trio of Tributes passed by, her sais in her tight grip. “Are you sure this is a good idea?” Hanayo whispered from beside her, her voice barely audible.
The brunette’s face was pale, either from hunger, cold, or fear, Leah didn’t know. She nodded. “If one of us is gonna survive the Games, we have to start fighting back.” She explained for what felt like the thousandth time.
Leah would be lying if she said she wasn’t scared. Her stomach was churning. She and Hanayo could be dead in a few short seconds, or she herself could have blood on her hands.
She looked back over at the trio. She’d seen two of them walk by before but the girl with the red hair was new. She could see the orange-haired girl and the red-haired girl were armed with short range weapons.
“On three” she whispered and Hanayo hesitantly nodded. “One” Leah tightened her grip on her sais. “Two” the two stood up from the brush, careful not to disrupt any leaves. “Three!” They charged at the trio.
They were overpowered in seconds.
The orange-haired girl somehow managed to disarm Leah and push her up against at tree, the blade of her hatchet to Leah’s throat. The other two had Hanayo pinned to the ground. Leah could hear her begging for her life. She felt guilty.
The girl with the pink hair looked back at Leah and her face lit up. “Leah Kazuno!” she exclaimed standing and walking toward her and the orange haired girl. “Just the girl we were looking for!”
Leah was confused and also very angry. She pushed the orange haired girl off of her and glared at the pink haired girl. “What are you talking about?” she asked before pointing at Hanayo. “And let her up.”
The red-haired girl held a hand out and pulled Hanayo off the ground. Leah felt like she could breathe again. “What do you mean you’ve been looking for me?” she asked again.
“We’ve been gathering people for an alliance,” the pink haired girl explained. Leah was wracking her brain for a name. “And we want you in it.” Leah blinked in surprise.
“Wh-why me?” she asked, very confused. These girls were about to kill her and Hanayo a second ago, now they were asking her to join them?
“We think you’d benefit from it.” The pink haired girl, Ayumu, that was her name, explained. “We’re going after the Careers.” “The Careers?” Ayumu nodded.
“I saw her kill your sister, Leah” she said. Leah was sure she saw a glint in Ayumu’s eyes. “I know you want revenge. We can help you get that.”
Leah’s eyes darted frantically between the three girls for any indication of deceit. They all seemed genuine. Then she caught the gaze of her ally.
“What about Hanayo?” she asked. “Oh!” Ayumu exclaimed. “She can join us too. I’m sure you’ll want revenge for your District Partner too. You two were best friends, right?”
Hanayo’s face paled impossibly further when the attention was turned toward her. “I-I… we don’t know that they k-killed Rin.” She stuttered. Ayumu frowned. “You don’t know that they didn’t”
“I…” “We’re in” Leah cut Hanayo off. She needed to do this. She needed to get revenge for her sister. This way, it wouldn’t be a suicide mission. She’d have a much higher chance of survival. Hanayo had no reason to say no.
“Huh?” Hanayo sounded surprised but Ayumu seemed to ignore her. “Great!” she exclaimed “Grab your stuff! There’s still one person I want to find. Oh! And Riko give Hanayo her knife back.”
The red-haired girl nodded and Hanayo’s blade out to the shell-shocked girl who took it hesitantly. Leah made to grab her belongings from the bushes and Hanayo hurried to follow her.
“Leah, I don’t think this is a good idea.” Hanayo said in a quiet voice once they were a few feet away. Leah turned to her, confused. “Why not?” she asked. “I don’t trust them. They’re obviously using your sister to manipulate you.”
“I have a feeling that as soon as the Careers are taken out, that is if you even manage to do it, they’ll turn on you.” She finished as she zipped up her backpack and pulled it onto her shoulders.
Leah wanted to argue but something had caught her attention. Hanayo kept saying “you.”
“You’re not coming with me?” she asked. Hanayo shook her head. “I don’t want to take that risk.” She explained. “And I really wish you’d reconsider and see it the way I do but…”
Hanayo pursed her lips before letting out a sigh. “It’s obvious that you think this is the best course of action so I’m not going to try to change your mind. I don’t want to leave you, but it had to happen eventually right?”
“You don’t have to do this.” Leah claimed. She didn’t want Hanayo to leave either. But the brunette was shaking her head. “You don’t either,” she said “But you don’t see that. So, I have no choice.”
Leah watched shell shocked as Hanayo began to walk away from her. Just before she disappeared into the brush she turned back. Leah could see the tears in her eyes.
Leah made her way back to the group, where the other girls were talking amongst each other. They looked up as Leah walked up to them. “Where’s Hanayo?” Ayumu asked. “She didn’t want to stay with us.” Leah explained. “She left.”
The orange haired girl gave Ayumu a nervous glance. “Do I…?” Ayumu nodded. “Go Chika.” The orange haired girl, Chika, grabbed her hatchet off the ground and ran off in the direction Hanayo went in.
“Wait, what’s happening? Where’s she going?” Leah asked confused. Ayumu blew out a long breath. “She’s uh… going to make sure we won’t have to find her again.” “What does that m-“
Chika was going to kill her.
Leah flinched when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked over and saw Riko giving her an apologetic smile. She shook the older girl off. She had to do something. She couldn’t let her friend get killed.
She bolted, ignoring the calls from Ayumu and Riko, following the path Chika took through the woods. It didn’t take long to find them but by the time she did her lungs were burning.
Chika was just a few feet behind Hanayo, creeping silently as to not alert her. Hanayo was of course oblivious. Well not if Leah had any say in it.
She ran forward and jumped onto Chika’s back, wrapping her arms around Chika’s neck and yanking backwards. The older girl let out a cry causing Hanayo to turn and cry out as well.
The struggle continued for a few seconds, with Hanayo watching on in horror before Chika managed to throw Leah off. She landed hard in the snow in between Hanayo and Chika and quickly stood, pulling her sais out from her belt loops.
“I won’t let you hurt her.” Leah exclaimed. “You’ll have to go through me first.” “Leah?” Hanayo whispered from behind her. Leah was visibly shaking. She knew she was really going to die this time. But at least she’d be giving Hanayo a window of escape. It’d be worth it.
If it was any consolation to her, Chika looked quite reluctant as well, but Leah knew this was a means of survival to her. There would be a fight. Leah was just glad she’d be with her sister soon.
Yet, just as Chika was about to come at her, a shrill yell pierced the air. “Chika!” It was Ayumu, distress evident in her voice. “Chika, help!”
A cannon went off.
Chika’s face paled. “Oh god” she whispered before turning and running back toward her group. Leah was surprised to say the least, but she only let it affect her for a moment before she grabbed Hanayo’s hand and pulled her in the opposite direction.
Chika raced back to the clearing where Riko and Ayumu were and was met with a horrific sight upon her arrival.
Riko was laying on the ground, the snow around her stained red with her own blood, a large gash in her throat. Ayumu was laying on the ground in front of Chika, seemingly barely conscious, red snow all around her, a machete sticking out of her back.
Erena was standing over the pink haired girl. She slowly pulled the machete out of Ayumu’s back, grinning manically at Chika. Ayumu whimpered.
Erena’s hair was a mess and her eyes were wild. She was holding the hatchet that had previously belonged to Tsubasa. It was covered in blood. Erena raised her machete, eyes still locked with Chika’s, and brought the blade down on Ayumu’s head.
There was a loud crunching noise and her cannon went off almost immediately. Erena put a foot on Ayumu’s back and yanked the machete out of her head. All Chika could do was stand there in shock.
“There,” Erena said. “Now you get to suffer like I’ve been.” And before Chika could even react, she ran off.
Chika didn’t chase after. There was really no use. Not when Erena had left all their stuff behind so Chika would have to go through it before the hovercraft came and took everything away. She lowered her eyes to Ayumu.
She knelt down and rolled Ayumu onto her back. It was then that Chika noticed a large indent on Ayumu’s head. An indent that almost looked like it was caused by…
Chika looked over at Riko and saw her mace sitting in the snow just a few inches from her unmoving fingers. Chika wondered if this was an act of cruel irony or if Erena had staged it to mimic what happened with Anju and Tsubasa.
Chika folded Ayumu’s arms over her chest and closed her eyes and quietly said a prayer for her fallen friend before moving over to Riko. She was still wearing her bag so getting it off of her was quite a struggle.
By the time she got it off, Riko’s blood was on her hands and she almost felt like she wanted to vomit. She definitely had tears streaming down her cheeks. Why wasn’t she here? Why wasn’t she fast enough? She should have been here. They wouldn’t be dead if she had been here.
Chika slid the mace up into Riko’s shirt so it would be taken out of the arena with her. She had no use for a mace. She folded the girl’s arms over her chest, closed her eyes, and prayed for her just as she had with Ayumu before picking up the two backpacks and running off.
She’d sort through them later. Right now, she just needed to get away. Away from the carnage and death. Away from the guilt.
Away from feeling anything at all.