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Thread: The 74th Annual Hunger Games [M]

  1. #11
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: I aim to provide two different dynamics over the next several chapters as I switch between viewpoints of the careers and the outer districts, allowing the readers to see the protagonists and antagonists for who they really are-just children in a sadistic game. As for who is the real protagonist and who is the real antagonist... I suppose that's up to you.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 11: Burning Pride

    Rue was not the only one attacked by fireballs. Perhaps just to prove that they were not taking sides, the Gamemakers greeted the careers were with similar fireballs getting shot from the trees. Clove blamed Cato for them, because he had taken off in a mad rush of fury after Jason the District 6 boy, trying to live up to his 'promise' of killing him, that he had made in the training center (even if the incident he was accusing the boy for was actually Rue's fault). Now, however, they were barreling through the forest trying not to get struck by fireballs as their quarry continued to elude them—and the fireballs. Glimmer was nicked in the arm, and Marvel's hair was nearly singed, but Clove wound up getting struck right in the lower shins near her feet, causing her to buckle, and she swore loudly. She couldn't go out like this! She knew she wouldn't die, but at the same time, she was angry and humiliated that a simple Gamemaker trap had just knocked her off her feet—and burned them, apparently. It hurt for her to stand, as she inadvertently proved as she attempted to rise to her feet again.

    "GRAAAHH!" she roared in anger as she fell to her knees again. The flames were closing in, but Cato, who was still uninjured, turned around. "Keep going!" he shouted at the District 1 pair, who didn't need to be told twice. "don't let him get away!"
    He had grabbed Clove (a bit roughly) by the arm and yanked her up onto his back. "Hold on." He bolted through the forest with no sense of stealth at all (not like it was necessary at this point), but by the time the fireballs had subsided, Jason had disappeared into the grain fields—only for a cannon to fire moments later.

    Clove screamed loudly in anger that their target had just gotten killed by another tribute—probably Thresh. Cato actually flinched and set her down.

    "Next time you yell… please don't scream in my ear," Cato quipped, massaging the side of his head. "you were pretty much right next to it."

    Clove mumbled something incoherent as she ripped off her shoes and socks and yanked up her pant legs to her knees. The skin of her feet and her lower shins was pink and red, and very sensitive to the touch. She growled again, mumbling something about stupid luck and fire.

    "Marvel," Cato ordered, "you still have that salve?"

    "Sure thing, boss," he shrugged, "Glimmer's got it right now, but she looks like she's almost done."

    Cato turned to Glimmer, watching the golden-haired girl apply it to her arm before putting her coat back on. She nodded towards the District 2 pair before tossing the canister to Cato, who deftly caught it and opened it.
    "Are you two alright," he asked. He might have cared for Clove more than his other allies, but that didn't mean he disregarded their well-being completely—at least for now.

    "I'm fine," Marvel ran a hand through his hair, "and Glimmer just got nicked. How about you?"
    "I'm not hurt," Cato indicated, "Clove took a nasty hit to her feet though."

    While the injury itself was easily treatable (and Clove admittedly liked Cato massaging her feet and ankles, even if he was only rubbing it into the tops of her feet, which were where the burns were), it was the idea behind it that infuriated Clove. She was supposed to be strong. Those in her district had assured her of it, and so had the Gamemakers who had given the girl her training score. Yet, here she was, unable to stand because of some trivial burns on her feet that made them sensitive. That was not a sign of strength. That was a sign of weakness—and Clove refused to be weak. She attempted to stand again, before yelping as she fell back onto her backside, swearing loudly again.

    "Clove, I don't know what you're trying to accomplish by getting up now, but just sit down," Cato reminded her, "if '11 dares to show his face we kick his ass, and I'm pretty sure we scare the piss out of the others enough that they wouldn't dare come at us."

    "I'm fucking injured," Clove grumbled, "by a stupid cheap-shot that even a little no-name shitstain from District 6 can avoid."
    "Hey, I avoided them too," Cato reminded her,

    "That makes it worse! You're huge; I'm not." Clove tried to stand up again, only for her left foot to falter. She used her hand to keep from falling flat again, but a second later she had whipped out a knife and stabbed the ground. Even Marvel and Glimmer could tell that Clove was absolutely seething right now.

    "It's over though," Glimmer tried to reason with her, "and that medicine works wonders—you just need to calm down and let it do its thing."
    "She's right, you know," Cato agreed, "we're not leaving you behind, Clove."

    These words of reassurance played with Clove's emotions in ways that she was not proud of admitting. Her slight mental instability coupled with the naturally volatile emotions of a teenaged girl were putting her through a sort of roller coaster of ups and downs that also kind of embarrassed her, for she did not wish to show these feelings to the public, or even her own friends and allies.
    "Well good," Clove snapped, her expression suddenly changing to one that looked like she had just put two and two together, "because really, we got into this mess after you barreled after that boy."
    "Hey," Cato snapped back, "you were thinking it too."
    "…maybe I was," Clove admitted, "but still. To hell with that fire, man; fire for days…"

    Gradually, the career pack meandered back to the base of operations at the cornucopia, with Cato carrying Clove on his back again (much to the latter's chagrin, especially when Cato playfully quipped about how small Clove was). Her pride was injured more than her body was, and that was probably what frustrated her the most about the whole ordeal that had gone down that day. Once they got there, Clove kicked off her boots and socks again, pushing her pent legs back up to her knees as she generously applied more of that salve to her burns. Glimmer's arm burn was much smaller by comparison, and so she had not needed much more of the medicine. Clove sighed again as evening came and she saw the District 6 boy's face in the sky. This was going to be a long night.

    It was in the cool of the evening, however, when Peeta and Primrose began to make their moves. Seeking water, they followed a stream until it took them to a small waterfall.
    "Hey!" Primrose exclaimed, peeking over the small ledge, "it's Rue!"
    She skillfully hopped down the ledge, which was barely more than 6 or 7 feet high, her feet splashing slightly as they landed on the damp rock beside Rue. She nudged the darker girl, knowing that she was still alive given that there had only been one cannon that day, and it had belonged to a District 6 boy.

    Rue stirred, moaning a bit from the pain in her back.
    "Are you okay?" Prim exclaimed,

    "I'm fine," Rue groaned, "just a little frazzled from the fires this morning." She briefly summarized what she had gone through for most of the morning, which explained her lack of movement and her exhaustion. Luckily, true to Rue's theories, Primrose did know exactly how to treat it. She collected some clean water and a few herbs from her pack, grinding them together to make a salve for Rue's back. She lifted up the other girl's shirt to expose her lower back where the burn was, and began rubbing the salve into it, causing Rue to moan in content.

    "That feels amazing," she whispered, "What is it?"
    "It's a remedy my mother taught me," Primrose happily explained. She much preferred healing people over killing people. "It helps ease the pain of an injury and can also help it heal faster."

    "You're a lifesaver, Prim." Rue whispered, feeling slightly revitalized enough to start swinging her legs, even if they and her feet were still in the water.

    "I'd much rather be that than a life-taker." Primrose agreed, before glancing up at Peeta. "hey, are you coming down here?" she called out.

    "I'd rather stay high and dry," Peeta admitted, "it's got a clearer view of the surrounding area over here too. You want a hand back up?"
    "Sure," Prim reached her hand up, where Peeta caught it and pulled the smaller girl up the ledge.

    "Just give me a second," Rue requested, before jumping back into the water and floating to the shore where her pack was. She snagged it, and swam (well, kind of just flailed) back to her rock, keeping her now dried pack of her head. Peeta helped her up as well, before Rue shook off to throw some water off of her. Primrose giggled at the way she shook like a dog. Perhaps there was hope for them after all. 4 nights and 13 tributes were gone, which meant that already, they were halfway done…
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    KILLS THIS CHAPTER:
    Jason, District 6-Killed by Thresh

    ALIVE:
    Marvel, District 1
    Glimmer, District 1
    Cato, District 2
    Clove, District 2
    Franklin, District 3
    Finch, District 5
    McKenzie, District 8
    Thresh, District 11
    Rue, District 11
    Peeta, District 12
    Primrose, District 12
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  2. #12
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: The death sequence in this chapter departs a bit from the books, but otherwise, there was a certain idea that someone had that they got someone else to do for them in the books. In this fic, that character proceeds to use her own idea herself.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 12: Fallen Fighters


    While Primrose, Rue, and Peeta did not stay up too late getting comfortable and healing Rue's burn, the career pack had settled in a bit earlier that evening, and thus earlier in the morning around dawn, they were back on the prowl. Clove's feet were still too sensitive to properly wear shoes, but her soles were not burned, enabling her to walk again since most of the primary pain had subsided. As long as no one touched her feet or shins, she would be fine.

    Glimmer finally managed to help the career pack score another kill. They stumbled across District 8's McKenzie Lintz who was sitting near a fire. Almost without hesitation, the golden-blonde drew her bow, letting an arrow loose, which lodged itself squarely between the girl's eyes, killing her instantly. A cannon fired, although surprisingly, none of the tributes stirred.

    The camp of that District 8 girl had nothing of any real value, and so the careers continued their hunt.

    Unfortunately for District 12, the career pack eventually stumbled across them and their hiding place—and Clove was fixated on Rue.

    "If they split," she growled as they charged, "we go for '11."

    However, similar to the previous few nights, Peeta was well-used to surprise awakenings, even if he was not able to swing his mace and bash someone's head in.

    "PRIM! RUE! RUN!" he shouted, knowing that trying to nudge them awake would just lose valuable time. He took off running the moment he saw Prim and Rue stir, and they needed no other warnings. Clove gave swift chase, although her speed was slightly inhibited by her injured feet. Luckily for them, she was the still the fastest of the careers, which enabled Prim and Rue to start putting distance between themselves and the careers.

    "Follow me!" Rue ordered Prim, "How good are you at jumping through trees?"

    "Decent," Prim shrugged, "right now? I'm probably the best there is." Her last statement was said as if to assure herself that she would not falter when the careers were right on their tails.

    Rue found a low-hanging branch of a tree, which she jumped up onto, before letting it spring her higher into the tree. Prim followed suit, with Rue helping her up into a higher branch.

    The good news was that Peeta had apparently escaped, for there was no cannon firing, and all four of the careers stood at the base of the tree. Cato grabbed an axe and began hacking away at the trunk.

    "Get ready to sprint!" Rue warned, before running over one of the branches, using it to spring herself from tree to tree. Prim was close behind, although the careers were able to keep up with this method of travel a little easier. Prim and Rue jumped from tree to tree in a crisscrossing pattern, before they reached their temporary destination—a very large tree with sturdy branches. Prim lunged from the previous tree to the large branch, sliding a couple inches before she clutched said branch to stabilize herself. Rue grabbed it with her hands, using her momentum to flip around the tree branch a couple times before setting herself the right way up by gripping her bare feet against the branch's bark.

    "There's no way you're going to chop this tree down!" she couldn't help but taunt.

    "And I don't think it'll burn!" Primrose also taunted. This time though, Clove was unfazed.

    "There's nowhere for you to run." Cato called out, "you can make this easy, or you can make it hard."
    "Careful," Rue taunted as Clove's throwing knife whizzed past her ear. Had Rue not moved her face just in time, it would have likely gone straight into her throat. "If you want us to make it hard, I'm pretty sure we can comply."

    "Fuck you both." Clove growled, "I'll knock the shit out of you AND the tree."
    Clove was not sure what frustrated her more—the mere fact that Rue had the guts to taunt them, or the fact that this was the first time she was actually speaking to her. She paused, and remembered Cato's words from a couple days ago.

    "You're the only one small enough to be able to use the trees…"

    Clove grabbed her blades and stuck them into the tree trunk as she began her ascent. Prim started to panick slightly, but Rue kept her cool, letting her left foot dangle a bit.

    "I wonder if she likes feet to her face." Rue mused, before testing that theory out as Clove nearly reached them. the District 2 girl flinched, sliding a bit back down before jumping back to the ground, throwing an offensive gesture and a loud swear word at Rue.

    It seemed that the careers were going to remain fairly persistent about sticking around. Rue felt bad that Prim had gotten dragged into this mess, for she knew that the careers wanted her. She was the larger threat of the two, certainly.

    "Prim?" Rue whispered as they watched the careers get comfortable below them, "if they stop watching us for any reason… I want you to run—got it?"
    "Got it." Prim nodded slowly, "don't let them kill you though, Rue. You're too nice of a friend to die so soon, you hear me?"
    Neither one of them wanted to think about the time when at least one of them would have to die, and so they focused on the here and now for the moment—while they were still friends.

    "I won't," Rue promised, "but in the meantime, get comfortable—I'll keep watch."

    Rue pocketed the throwing knife that Clove had launched at her earlier, and Prim nestled in to hunker down for the night. The anthem played, revealing the District 8 girl's face, but otherwise Rue kept watch until the careers fell asleep. In the newfound silence, Rue heard a faint humming noise, and noticing a tracker-jacker nest above her head in a nearby branch, she froze. She did not want to alert Prim of this.
    However, a few minutes later, something else was scampering through the trees, if the noise was anything to go by. Rue drew her knife and prepared to fight off some creature.

    However, instead of some creature or mutt, it was another tribute—that red-haired Finch Crossley girl from District 5. Even Prim was startled awake by this incident.

    She seemed as equally surprised as Rue that they crossed paths in the same tree, but Rue's reaction was fairly dramatic. She whispered to Prim before kicking at the District 5 girl, causing her to lose her footing. The noise woke up Marvel, who whipped out his spear and, seeing a girl hanging from the branch, lobbed his spear at her, putting it cleanly through her back. Finch's grip on the branch loosened, and she fell to the ground, motionless. A cannon thundered, and by the time the commotion had died down, Primrose had successfully escaped, leaving Rue alone with the careers, Finch's corpse, and the ominous humming of the nearby tracker-jacker nest. Rue managed to use tree branches to shield herself in case Glimmer, Marvel, or Clove tried throwing things at her, but otherwise, she and the careers slowly drifted off to sleep without further incident.

    Primrose kept running until she happened across Peeta, who asked what happened.

    "Where's Rue?" was the next question he had asked after Prim had explained it all.

    "She's in the tree still," Prim answered, "The careers are waiting for her at the bottom. That girl from District 5 died, and they are not going to relent till she comes down. That District 2 girl is still fixated on killing her."

    "Then we just need to hope for the best," Peeta shrugged, "I don't want to try and risk either of us against those careers at full health just to try and save her."

    Prim frowned, but understood Peeta's logic. In a 2-on-4, they would be creamed by the much stronger and more powerful careers. She and Peeta decided to hunker down out of the way, and hope for the best. If any other cannons fired, they just had to hope that it was not Rue's.

    Rue did not seem fazed about being by her lonesome, but knew that she was in fairly dire straits. On one hand, she had no real way of attacking the careers unless she wanted to throw Clove her knife back (one of many that the girl surely had), and if she moved too much, she might leave herself open for one of their projectiles.

    However, she glanced back up at the nearby tracker-jacker nest, and suddenly her mind went into overdrive as ideas began to flow. She crawled up towards the offending branch with the tracker-jackers and began sawing it in very precise ways and in precise areas. Clove's throwing knife was good for at least that. She was careful, however, not to cut too much at a time, as to not draw attention from the killer wasps themselves. After what seemed like hours, however, it was time to put her plan into action. The careers were stirring, but Rue had her slingshot out, with the knife loaded in it—and aimed right for the last part of the branch—which was keeping the tracker-jacker nest aloft.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    KILLS THIS CHAPTER:
    McKenzie, District 8-Killed by Glimmer
    Finch, District 5-Killed by Marvel

    ALIVE:
    Marvel, District 1
    Glimmer, District 1
    Cato, District 2
    Clove, District 2
    Franklin, District 3
    Thresh, District 11
    Rue, District 11
    Peeta, District 12
    Primrose, District 12
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  3. #13
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    AUTHOR'S NOTE: I had fun with this chapter. Here we get to see Rue use an idea that she had had to begin with, and see how it plays out for her. Even without the rock that was Katniss, Peeta, Rue, and co are not pushovers. Everyone gets to be a little more awesome because it adds to the action.
    Also... Without spoiling anything, I'll just say that the rocks and river might not actually have been there.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 13: Wits and Courage

    Clove woke up on morning 6 to find Rue still in the tree, but on her feet with her slingshot pulled back, a knife in the sling. Clove recognized it as the one she had thrown at the smaller girl during the bloodbath. To her surprise, however, she saw Rue aiming at something to her left. A second later, Clove realized what it was, right as the knife whizzed through the air and severed the last connection that branch had with the tree.

    "SHIT!" Clove bellowed, causing the others to jump awake and take off running. They all suffered some serious stings, including Rue, but the damage was done. The tracker-jackers began attacking all five tributes, and Rue definitely got a few nastier stings as she leapt from tree to tree to put distance between her and the wasps. Glimmer, however, was not so fortunate, being the closest to the epicenter of the nest's impact point. The wasps swarmed her, and within minutes, she was dead on the ground, and a cannon fired. Cato, Clove, and Marvel managed to get out alive, but the nasty stings they all got would put them out of commission a few days. Rue's stings were getting to her, and she was suddenly not sure if she was in the trees, or jumping from rock to rock now over a raging river of death. She did appear to be getting closer to the ground, and right as she jumped towards one final rock to land smoothly, she lost her footing and faceplanted against the ground instead, where she stopped moving. Maybe that hadn't been a rock after all...

    She was lucky enough to be found first by Primrose and Peeta, who took her back to their current hiding spot—a secluded cave near the southwestern sector. They had taken refuge there after the career chase, and Primrose especially, was relieved when she discovered that Rue was alive.

    Because of their injuries, the careers did not do anything over the next couple of days except for pull another tribute into their ranks. Cato stumbled across the boy from District 3, who promised to side with them if they spared his life.

    "What can you possibly do for us?" Cato kept the boy within range of his sword in case he tried to run.

    "I can dig up the mines," he smirked, "you want your cornucopia camp safe? Anyone who doesn't know where those traps are will get blown higher than District 13."

    "Any funny business," Cato warned, "and it's done though—you hear?"

    "Got it," the boy, Franklin, agreed. He did not really have a choice in the matter, but he would rather preserve his own life and die later rather than sooner.

    True to Franklin's word, the District 3 boy was soon digging up the mines and reactivating them, before burying them in a tactical pattern around the cornucopia and the careers' supplies, which they naturally shared with him in return for his 'service'. All of them, however, including Cato, were still recovering from their injuries.

    Primrose kept watch over Rue as the darker girl convulsed from painful nightmares, most likely induced from the tracker-jacker venom. She did have enough herbalism knowledge to know the remedy for the stings, which minimized the pain, but did not fully eliminate it.

    Rue did not even wake up proper until around midnight or 1 on day 9, where Prim squealed excitedly, hugging her.

    "I was worried that you wouldn't ever wake up!" she exclaimed. Rue was still a bit groggy, and as her body adjusted to being conscious, she realized that her arms most of her upper body was a little chilly.

    "Where are we?" she whispered, squinting before realizing that they were simply in the dark, "has anyone else died? Is Peeta still alive?"
    "He's out hunting for food, I think," Prim explained, "I don't think anyone has died since that Glimmer girl. You were completely gone during days 7 and 8… I was so worried."
    "oof…" Rue groaned, shivering briefly. She bent her legs towards her body, digging her toes into the dusty floor of the cave that she realized they were in, "is it cold in here or is it just me."
    "Oh!" Prim exclaimed, "I had to remove your shirt to check on that burn too. I don't think it reacted very well to the tracker-jacker venom."
    "What's it look like now?" Rue's mind wandered to the potentially grizzly state of her back now. She could not feel any pain, and so it made her wonder if it was so grizzled and damaged that she could just no longer feel anything back there.

    "It actually looks fine," Prim smiled, handing Rue her shirt as well as the dark jacket with the number 11 on the shoulders. "You appear to have made a full recovery back there. How does it feel?
    "Normal, I guess." Rue put her hand on her back before putting her shirt on again, "Thanks."
    Peeta seemed similarly pleased that Rue was awake by the time he came back with some food.

    "We were worried about you," he admitted, running a hand through his hair like he seemed to do a lot lately, "the swelling seems to have gone down. Primrose really is the best in the business."
    "Wow, how bad was it?" Rue tilted her head, leaning onto one of her hands,

    "We found you passed out in the mud, covered in stings," Prim explained, "Peeta carried you back to our cave after I told him where you were, and we nursed you back to health."
    "How are the careers?" Rue couldn't help but think about that District 2 girl, and how this Clove Kazera seemed almost frantically obsessed with murdering Rue.

    "I think you got them good," Peeta chuckled, "we haven't seen or heard from them for days.

    "Well, I don't think we can stall in this cave forever," Rue pointed out, "either the careers will find us, or the Gamemakers will try to flush us out. That was how I got burned in the first place."

    "Someone's definitely the pragmatist," Peeta quipped, "what did you have in mind?"
    "We need to attack," she declared, causing Prim to look down at the ground. "we need to find out what they are up to and make a move. We need a distraction force, and a saboteur. But I shouldn't get ahead of myself here. First let's find out what's going on at the cornucopia."

    "Are you feeling alright?" Prim asked her, "you haven't eaten in a while…"
    "Rue gave pause, sitting back down. Okay, so maybe she did feel a little lightheaded. She grabbed for her water skin and drained it.

    "We've been keeping that full for you," Primrose added, "you've kept hydrated, but you haven't eaten since at least when you fell unconscious."
    Rue thought about how long ago that was, and realized that they were bordering on three days now. Luckily for her survival at the moment, the dark-skinned girl was rather used to hunger back home. Prim tried not to think of whatever animals they had trapped, and so the trio agreed to cook and eat some of the meat, figuring that the cave would conceal the fire well enough, and that it was spacious enough to keep from smoking the squatting tributes out.

    As they ate a few minutes later, Rue had to ask why they were up so late. Peeta explained that they did most of their movement in the quiet of the evening and that they remained elusive during the day. Rue was fine with this nocturnal style, and it actually prompted her to ask something.

    "Do either of you still have my bag from the lake the other day?"
    "Yeah, it's right here," Prim crawled to a corner, tossing Rue her sack. There was not much else in it except a couple of knives, a small, folded cloth, a wooden bowl, and an odd pair of glasses, but the latter of these was exactly what Rue wanted.

    "After a bit of proper rest—hopefully not punctuated by more tracker-jacker hallucinations, I'm going to have a look around." She had no intention of sharing what her nightmares had been about, and so hoped that neither of the District 12 tributes would ask. Luckily, the only thing they asked about (Primrose, to be exact) was whether or not Rue had experienced this before.

    "Twice," Rue answered, "Once when I was 9, and again when I was 11—and now yet again at 12. We had smoke to ward them off the last two times though, but even a couple stings can really do a number on ya. Just be glad that you didn't get stung."

    Rue ate her fill before curling up on the ground like a dog and falling back asleep almost instantly.

    "She's incredible," Prim admitted, watching Rue's frizzy hair flutter with the small girl's slightest movements. "How is anyone that brave?"
    "I guess that's what the arena does to people," Peeta shrugged, remembering how Rue had (with some slight help from Thresh at times) stood up to the daunting career tributes in the training center, and then again how she had distracted the careers to allow Peeta and later Prim to escape while she took the hit from the tracker-jackers. One thing was certain though—Peeta and Primrose had an invaluable ally in Rue Keniye, and they both hoped that she would be able to outlast the careers.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    KILLS THIS CHAPTER:
    Glimmer Rambin, District 1-Killed by Rue

    ALIVE:
    Marvel Kain, District 1
    Cato Salazar, District 2
    Clove Kazera, District 2
    Franklin Sterling, District 3
    Thresh Dakara, District 11
    Rue Keniye, District 11
    Peeta Mellark, District 12
    Primrose Everdeen, District 12
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  4. #14
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: Forgot I had this unfinished on here, lol. Anyhoo, I named that clever District 3 boy Franklin (Frank) Sterling so I wouldn't have to just call him "the District 3 guy" all the time. Since he is a minor character that isn't going to win (not that anyone thought he would), I have no qualms with this. Otherwise, this is a chapter where Rue does something awesome, and pisses off Clove even more-as if she needed any more grounds against Rue.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 14: The Counterattack


    The careers spent the rest of the way watching Frank dig up and reactivate the mines, taking careful note of where he laid them so that they did not misstep and get themselves blown into thousands of pieces. Luckily for them it seemed that the District 3 boy had not been lying about his allegiance—at least for the time being. By the time Rue had woken up from her near-coma, the mines were safely in place and the careers were asleep, resting up for the morning when they would resume their prowling. Their stings and other injuries (including Clove's feet) had all since been healed, after all. Sponsorships among the career pack were a fairly common occurrence, and Clove and Cato were no exception.

    It was a few hours later into this same morning when Rue woke up again. The sun was not out yet, and so the arena was still fairly dark. By this time, Prim and Peeta were still asleep, and so Rue did not bother waking them. She would be back soon, but her curiosity as to what the careers were up to was just too much for her to resist. She noticed the odd array of dirt piles around the camp and around the pedestals, but knew better than to assume that each one was a mine. However, she too knew what had happened, and knew that getting past Frank's traps would be tricky. But for the time being, Rue simply wanted to overhear what their strategy was, and so she hid in the bushes and listened. Unlike any of the careers, stealth was actually something Rue excelled at.

    "All I was able to gather was that '12 and '11 are out towards the southwest somewhere," Marvel indicated, "and of course that huge '11 boy is still in the north. He's probably planning on camping it out there or something."

    "We'll confront him then," Cato asserted, "three on one and he will almost certainly fall."

    "And what about me?" Franklin piped up.

    "You'll guard the supplies," Cato practically shoved a spear into the boy's hands, which he took. "Anyone shows up, you kill 'em. If anything happens…" he drew a line across his neck as a warning.

    "Duly noted," the District 3 boy consented, and soon Marvel, Clove, and Cato had headed north, probably to confront Thresh. Everyone else was already dead except for the 11-12 alliance. Rue stuck around to get a good glance at the surrounding area, before taking back off into the wilderness with the information she needed.

    Prim and Peeta were somewhat relieved to see her alive and well.

    "Where'd you run off to?" the latter asked,

    "I found out what the careers are doing," she explained, "they're going after Thresh right now, which means they're open—and so are their supplies. The catch is that they've got that kid from '3 on their side, and I think he's done something with the mines."
    Rue did not know what, but there was only one real explanation for why anyone would dig at the pedestals. Being from the technology district, it made sense that Frank had done something with them, even if Rue had not been there to see it.

    "so what's your plan? Do you know the way around them?"
    "Sort of," Rue paused, her mind wandering into much more nefarious waters, "but I think that instead of trying to steal their supplies constantly, we just need to get rid of them."
    "Are you suggesting…" Prim paused.

    "We need to blow 'em up." Rue nodded, whipping out her slingshot. "But first… we need to stop them from ganging up on and killing Thresh…"

    Clove had at least a slight understanding of how Rue felt as her bare soles dug into the forest floor with each of her heavy steps. It certainly felt nice to be able to walk again after dealing with the agonizing and humiliating injury she had suffered a few days earlier. The tracker-jacker stings did not help.

    "I've been thinking," Cato broke the silence as they walked.

    "What of?" Marvel raised an eyebrow, his long spear in hand,

    "I think this year we might be able to actually do what we careers are supposed to do."
    "Murder everyone else before we turn and murder ourselves?" Clove smirked, twirling a knife in her gloved hand, "or…?"
    "Nah, you were right," Cato laughed, "if we can get rid of that '11 guy, we can easily take out baker-boy and the other two kids."

    "if they'll ever come out of hiding," Clove sneered.

    "We've seen them run to the southwest," Marvel shrugged, "but the trail ends there." What they didn't know was that they had actually passed by Peeta's cave multiple times. His camouflaging skills were useful for more than just painting himself to blend in.

    While Clove was small and stealthy, she still had nothing on Rue, who, with the help of some of Peeta's camouflaging skills, practically disappeared into the forest-scape. Similarly, the wheat field was large and expansive, meaning that even the largest and least stealthy tributes (such as Thresh) could remain there and keep an advantageous hiding place for long periods of time. That was not enough to deter Cato and Clove, however. They were determined to flush him out.

    However, after a full day of searching, all they had to show for themselves was a large amount of nuts and seeds, and Marvel swore that he had spotted Rue at least once, but despite Clove's frenzied search that followed for approximately the next hour, neither she nor Thresh turned up at all. They turned back only after it started raining rather hard, and even Rue was no longer on the move.

    "Here I was expecting them to start throwing fireballs at him like they did with us, and instead they give us all water." Clove complained as they made it back to the cornucopia, where a relieved Franklin was glad to see them alright and well—or rather, glad they were not angry, knowing that if they were, they very well could take it out on him.

    Marvel was fairly quiet that night, perhaps slightly forlorn at the recent loss of Glimmer by Rue's hand. Very seldom did 12-year-olds live past the bloodbath without being heavily protected by stronger tributes (such as Primrose being protected by Peeta), but Rue, despite being in that alliance, seemed not only rather independent, but also seemed to possess a perfect combination of skills and cunning to keep her alive and as a formidable opponent.

    "I just don't get it," Cato shook his head, "what do we have to do to flush them out of the woods? It's certainly not our lack of effort…"

    "Either that or the Gamemakers are playing favorites." Clove grunted, "although I don't see what appeal they have in a little kid…"
    "We'll just have to remind them why we're the best." Cato cracked his knuckles as they began to settle in for the night, "this whole hide-and-seek shindig can only last so long."

    "Rain or shine, we hunt tomorrow then," Clove insisted, and there was a consensus among the three careers that this was going to be the case.

    Deciding that first they needed to go after District 12, the next morning, Cato led the others southwest to try and flush Primrose and Peeta out.

    The tunes of the Mockingjays that roamed the arena were mingled with the distant noise of someone smashing through the forest—and that was Prim's sign to start running. Peeta knew that he would have to divert the careers' attention from Prim, which meant that he would need to find a vantage point and try to defend himself from there. On the other hand, three on one would be difficult, if even possible, odds to try and play. Hopefully Rue knew what she was doing.

    Peeta did blend in well with the surrounding environment, and managed to catch the careers off-guard by springing up and slamming his mace into Cato's side. The larger boy flinched, but had managed to try and block the attack with his sword enough that he did not suffer his organs getting smashed in—but the injury still hurt. Of course, Cato was not about to just take that attack lying down, and so the career pack attacked. As Peeta sprinted away, Clove threw a knife with vicious force which whizzed through the air and struck Peeta's arm, slowing him down enough for Cato to catch up to him and swing his sword.

    The resulting attack left a deep wound in one of Peeta's legs, and for a moment, the careers stood proudly over their fallen enemy.

    "Let's see if your little friends can save you now…" Clove taunted, "we'll make it slow and painful—just like we will with little Prim and Rue…"

    Right as Clove had opened her mouth to add another jeer to her brief monologue, the deafening sound of an explosion rumbled through the forest, all but shaking the entire arena. It did not take a genius to figure out that the direction of the noise had come right from the cornucopia—and the career pack's supply piles.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    KILLS THIS CHAPTER:
    None This Time

    ALIVE:
    Marvel Kain, District 1
    Cato Salazar, District 2
    Clove Kazera, District 2
    Franklin Sterling, District 3
    Thresh Dakara, District 11
    Rue Keniye, District 11
    Peeta Mellark, District 12
    Primrose Everdeen, District 12
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  5. #15
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: as the title of this chapter suggests, there's a tad bit of irony that happens in these words, and it's got nothing to do with the blatant fact that Rue destroyed the supplies. Add the ironic act as well as the supplies destruction to Clove's already lengthy "list of reasons she hates Rue", and you've got a very angry career on your hands.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 15: Painful Irony

    It had been a high-risk, moderate return situation that Rue had put herself in when she had trekked around the rampaging career pack to try and reach their supply mountain. Not to say that she would not have enjoyed those supplies herself, but she knew she could not try to consistently subsist off of trying to steal supplies and food from them without eventually getting noticed. The odds might have been against her, but Rue was still in it to win it. She was honestly not sure how she would deal with Prim or Peeta if it came to that, but in the meantime, she had to worry more about District 2, who was her primary enemies.

    Her action with the mines, however, was probably one of the most glorious things the Capitol had ever seen in Hunger Games history. Rue had taken her slingshot, and launched a good-sized rock towards where she suspected one of the mines were. She missed the first two times, either from guessing incorrectly or from not having a large enough object, but the third time really was the charm. A chain reaction was triggered, blasting Rue off of her feet and into some nearby brambles. She was briefly knocked unconscious, but was fortunate enough to remain concealed by the bushes.

    Rue was unable to move by the time the careers came storming back, only to find the District 3 boy standing there looking just as awkward and bemused as the careers, gazing upon the smoldering mountain of ruined supplies. They would have to rely on the whims of sponsors and the arena for sustenance from here on out.

    Naturally, Cato was swift to blame Franklin for not watching the career supplies better, but Rue had purposely evaded him, positioning herself so that the supplies had been lined up between her and that boy before she had struck.

    "Needless to say, Frank didn't stand a chance against an angry Cato, who yanked the boy's spear from his hands and with one deft movement, snapped his neck, causing a cannon to fire.

    "That's it!" he was just as furious as Clove at this point, "no more pissing around. We find the rest of those tributes and we tear them limb from limb."
    "I know exactly who did this too," Clove sneered, "'12 would be too afraid and the '11 boy wouldn't have been able to leave fast enough. It's Rue."

    "I KNOW YOU'RE OUT THERE, RUE!" It was rare for Clove to use anyone's name when talking to them like that, but Rue was a special case, and Clove wanted to kill her slowly.

    The odd part about Rue vaguely hearing Clove's angry ranting was that she could only really hear it from her left ear. Maybe it was because she was lying on her side, barely clinging to consciousness, or maybe it had something to do with why her right ear felt sticky as she tried moving her head. She was not exactly in a very comfortable position, but she was so dizzy and exhausted that she did not even need to move, and fell asleep within minutes. If this was where she was going to die, then so be it. She was far too weak to be able to get up and do anything right now, or really even move much.

    Primrose was unsurprisingly horrified when she found Peeta in the miserable state he was in. She did manage to curb the bleeding in his arm and leg from Clove's knife and Cato's sword (respectively), but even with the herbal medicines that she knew how to concoct, she could tell that it would not be enough to get Peeta back into commission. Peeta was not by any means disabled, but he knew that he would have to put some serious camouflaging skills to work if he wanted to remain stable and not get discovered by the angry careers.

    "Do you think Rue is alright?" Prim did not know who the cannon earlier had been for,

    "I certainly hope so," Peeta groaned as they found a place to settle down by a nearby stream for the evening as the sun began setting on the arena for the 10th time. "We'll find out soon enough, I guess."
    The anthem played later that night and much to their relief, they saw the face in the sky belonging to that district 3 boy rather than Rue. It made them wonder what exactly had happened that had prevented Rue from being able to rendezvous with them, but they figured that they would find out sooner or later.

    "Only 7 of us left," Peeta smiled weakly up at Prim, "we're almost out of here…"

    Almost as if Seneca Crane himself was waiting to hear those words, he made an announcement for the tributes to all hear that shook Panem to its foundations.

    "Attention Tributes… This year there has been a rule change. Two tributes may become victors, provided that they are from the same district. Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor."

    A great deal of excitement rushed over six of the seven remaining tributes, given that both tributes from Districts 12, 2, and 11 were still alive. Marvel was not terribly fazed though. He did not need Glimmer in order to emerge alive, he figured. If anything, it might add to the surprise and upset factor if the one "single" tribute was the one to emerge despite all the new stronger alliances that would be forged.

    Clove on the other hand, saw it as their chance. Thresh might have called himself the ally of Rue and District 12, but he was clearly displaying that he would rather do things himself. She didn't imagine that he would spare Rue either when the time came unless they both were to win. Cato and Clove both had lingering doubts on the Gamemaker's statement—they had to have a catch somewhere.

    For the time being, the three remaining careers headed southeast into the forest, passing Rue completely before making camp for the evening. Clove operated as the crew's hunter, given her speed and stealth, and she managed to get them a few things to eat by the time they properly settled in and the anthem had played.

    Neither of them wanted to admit that Peeta had pulled the rug from under them when he had sprung up and struck, but they also realized that perhaps they should have just finished him then and there. The other tributes were not nearly as arrogant as Clove had expected—she figured that they were all like her and Cato, wanting to viciously murder everyone else on the field.

    The next morning, there was another announcement.

    "Attention tributes… tonight at sundown, there will be a feast, located at the cornucopia. The Gamemakers will provide all of you with what you most need, and so while attendance is not compulsory, it is still recommended. Happy Hunger Games, and may the odds be ever in your favor."

    Clove and Cato were not sure why they had to wait till the evening, but figured that they could use this time to rest up. Cato had rested when Clove was injured, and so she figured she could return the favor. This left Marvel as the one delegated to hunting some poor defenseless animal, but the boy had scored a 10 in training for a reason.

    Clove was sitting cross-legged on the ground, listening to Cato's slightly labored breathing with his head in her lap. "how are you feeling?" she asked curiously as she scratched his head,

    "Better," Cato admitted, "but I'm starting to think that our reckless approaches aren't going to work anymore. We need to start thinking how these other kids think, and use those tactics against them."

    "Rue uses stealth," Clove began, "and the boy from '12 uses camouflage while the girl's a healer. I think we know that '11 uses strength and his vantage point to throw us off."

    "Then let's use the feast," Cato suggested, "either they will come and we can ambush them, or they won't come and we can take whatever it is they're looking for."
    "what about Marvel?" Clove tilted her head, glancing down at Cato, "should we wait for him, or do you think he'll catch on where we're moving to?"
    "He's a smart kid," Cato agreed, "he'll figure it out…"
    Marvel had in fact gotten a decent amount of food, both in terms of meat and fruits, and was trekking his way back through camp. They were across the arena from Thresh and the 12-11 alliance, and so he had not suspected that they would have any interruptions. Most of the rustling from the trees had just been various birds and such anyways.

    His mistake was thinking that all of the rustling in the trees were merely birds. The last thing he ever saw when he looked up towards the trees was a dark shadow flying down towards him.

    Marvel felt a stabbing pain in both of his shoulders as the weight from the object threw him to the ground, and that was the last thing he ever felt. A cannon fired a second later.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    KILLS THIS CHAPTER:
    Franklin Sterling, District 3-Killed by Cato
    Marvel Kain, District 1-Killed by Rue

    ALIVE:
    Cato Salazar, District 2
    Clove Kazera, District 2
    Thresh Dakara, District 11
    Rue Keniye, District 11
    Peeta Mellark, District 12
    Primrose Everdeen, District 12
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  6. #16
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: Things really haven't been looking up for the careers for most of these games, have they? Not to say that Rue isn't a formidable and cunning opponent, but other external factors have helped stack these games against the career pack. This chapter is where that trend finally begins to change.
    Happy Reading!

    CHAPTER 16: Turning the Tides

    Cato and Clove sprang up when the cannon fired, and instantly their heads cocked towards the sky, waiting to see where the hovercraft would fly in. Much to their disgust, they saw it coming south of where they were, which gave them a very shrewd idea of who had died.

    "We make camp at the cornucopia now," Clove asserted, "I am going to draw that kid out if it's the last thing I do, and I'm going to rip out her entrails with my bare hands and strangle her with them!"

    Clove's enmity towards Rue had been built up since the beginning of the pre-game ceremonies, where she and her larger partner would silently gaze and stare at the career tributes, almost as if they were wordlessly mocking them. To top it off, now that little girl had slain 4 tributes, which was the same number as Clove and Cato combined.

    The two of them lodged themselves firmly into their hiding places as they lay in wait for the Gamemakers to start the feast.

    "Killing is our business, and business is shabby." Clove complained, "let's move."
    Cato nodded in agreement and the two tributes trekked towards the cornucopia as the afternoon wore on, and they lodged themselves

    In the meantime, Rue trekked all the way back to where Primrose and Peeta were camping out, using the Mockingjay tunes both to indicate that she was alright, and to track their locations. The careers seemed to have not caught on what it meant, and thankfully Rue did not have Clove or Cato on her tail.

    "Rue!" Prim exclaimed, seeming a little frenzied when she saw Rue, "are you okay?"
    Rue glanced down at her clothes, realizing that they were smattered with blood, some of which was her own, and some of which was Marvel's.

    "Huh?" she turned so her left ear was facing Prim, who repeated the question. It was in this moment that she realized the blood coming out of her right ear also meant that the explosion had knocked out her hearing. That might come back to haunt her later.

    "What happened to your ear?" Prim was still a bit squeamish around the sight of blood, which Rue was smattered with, especially on the right side of her head.

    "The explosion must have knocked my hearing out," Rue shrugged, "I can't hear you at all from that side The good news is that the careers are mad because their supplies are gone."
    "Who was the cannon for?" Peeta grunted; his leg did not look so good.

    "Marvel," Rue smirked, "Dropped right out of a tree onto his head. He never saw it coming. So needless to say, Clove and Cato are furious."

    "Well sit down and rest!" Prim asserted, "you're a mess and you need attention! I've been busy with Peeta all day, and then you come in like this! It's terrible Rue. It's terrible!"
    "I'm not fighting it," Rue chuckled, plopping onto the ground next to Prim, who helped guide the darker girl down onto her back as she went to work. Prim started cleaning the blood off of Rue's face and body, although there was nothing that she could do about Rue's destroyed eardrum.

    Prim sort of became the 'team mom' of the group for the remainder of the afternoon, before sundown finally came and the Gamemakers finally made the announcement that the time of the feast had arrived. Clove and Cato, who had situated themselves at the cornucopia that day, were ready and wasted no time in taking the bag with the '2 on it. Cato contemplated taking the bags with the 11 and 12 on them, but Clove suggested they leave them there—to bait the others.

    "My question," Rue quipped, "is what could I possibly need at this point, unless they can amazingly fix an ear or something. Peeta obviously needs medicine, and maybe we could all do with better weaponry or food… food is getting fairly scarce out here." She knew that the stuff she had taken from Marvel after killing him would not last more than a day or so. It seemed the careers only dealt with hunger on a day-to-day basis, and the freshness of the food would keep it from lasting much more than that.

    "We definitely need to go and hopefully get Peeta's medicine," Prim insisted, as Rue finally sat up. She felt a bit rested, and while there was still something of a stinging pain in her right ear, she was otherwise feeling rather fine at the moment.

    "I'll go," she volunteered, "I can snag both bags for us."
    "but what about Cato and Clove," Peeta spoke up, "two on one doesn't seem like very favorable odds."

    "I don't think you should be limping your way to the cornucopia," Rue quipped, "Prim and I can go, unless she'd rather stay with you. I think I could handle it myself."

    "I can go with you," Prim offered, "two tributes are better than one."

    "I still don't like the idea of the two of you going by yourselves," Peeta felt guilty about letting the small girls go up against the career tributes while he was still alive, even if he couldn't exactly stand.
    "Well, if Clove's there," Rue began, "then if anything, I should be the one to distract them while you grab the supplies. Peeta definitely needs it, and if you both survive, you might be able to go home. You're not going to be able to go with us, Peeta—not on that leg."

    "Thresh is still alive, you know." Peeta reminded her, but the topic quickly dropped, as none of them wanted to think about the time that would inevitably come, where they would have to say their final goodbyes. Two tributes might be able to win, but three was not in the question, especially from different districts. "And I'd be fine." He groaned as he tried to stand up, which kind of disproved his point, but Rue didn't say anything, and neither did Prim.

    Right as Rue stood up to head out, a parachute floated towards them, bearing a number 12 on its side. Prim caught it and opened it, reading Haymitch's note, which was only comprised of two words.

    "For Peeta." =H=

    "It's for you," she handed the canister to him, which contained what appeared to be a simple soup.

    "What about you, Prim?" he asked her.

    "I've got Rue to help me." she reassured, "just eat it."

    Eventually, Peeta was coerced into eating the soup, which, to Prim's surprise, ended up putting him into a light slumber.

    "It seems like opportunity knocked," Rue noted, "I don't think he would have let us go by ourselves."
    "He means well," Prim wanted to make sure that Rue knew this. "but let's go."
    Primrose and Rue crept through the forest before coming across the cornucopia. There in the clearing were three bags—two with a number 11, and one with a number 12.

    "Where's '2?" Prim whispered, "and '1?"
    "I got Marvel this morning, remember?" Rue whispered, keeping to Prim's right so that she could hear what her fairer-skinned counterpart was saying, "and if the bags with the 2s on them are gone, that means Clove and Cato are nearby. Stay alert."

    Rue stepped out into the open, approaching the bags with an odd sense of calm around her. She began whistling a tune, as if trying to alert the careers of her presence as she sauntered towards the cornucopia. Prim recognized it as a song that her father and sister used to sing before their mother learned the rather grim meaning of two of the verses.

    Her decoy worked. Seconds later, Clove sprung out of the shadows of the cornucopia, knives drawn and ready to attack, a look of crazed obsession carved deeply into the contours of her face.

    "PRIM!" Rue shouted, "NOW!"

    Primrose made a frantic scramble for the medicine bag while Clove pursued Rue. Prim was not even in her line of sight—so fixated was she on Rue that nothing else even occurred to her. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of trying to strike the smaller girl was that Rue's reflexes were incredible. She evaded Clove's throwing knives, evading all but one, which lodged itself in her hair near her right ear. Had she had less hair, it could have very well left a much larger mark, and very well might have killed the District 11 girl instead.

    What happened next was a confusing mixture of sounds. Clove heard a little girl scream, and then heard Cato yell, as well as a large roar from another tribute which could only be Thresh. The massive boy had showed up on the scene, and Cato was running with his tail between his legs, clutching the left side of his head with his hand. Thresh suddenly beelined it for Clove, who, cursing, abandoned her design to pursue Rue, who naturally beelined it right towards Thresh, aiming to put herself between him and Clove, successfully doing so.

    "Get outta here!" Thresh called out, chasing Clove and Cato into the forest as he snatched up the larger of the two '11' bags. He was taking the offensive, and the careers were his prey. Rue heaved a sigh of relief for a moment, thinking the worst was over.

    Her mind changed immediately upon seeing Prim curled up on the ground, in a pool of her own blood.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    KILLS THIS CHAPTER:
    None so far (Primrose badly wounded)

    ALIVE:
    Cato Salazar, District 2
    Clove Kazera, District 2
    Thresh Dakara, District 11
    Rue Keniye, District 11
    Peeta Mellark, District 12
    Primrose Everdeen, District 12
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  7. #17
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: Things have taken a turn for the worse, for the outliers, at least. Obviously despite everything, there can only be one victor (or two, fi they are from the same district?), and so a lot of people will have to die. Also, there is a bit of Clove/Cato interaction, but it does not become intrusive on the story. It's more just a natural relationship that close friends and allies form. We'll see where it takes them.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 17: Revenge of District 2

    "PRIM!" Rue cried, dashing to her injured partner's side. Immediately she regretted her decision to tell Prim to race for the bag. She had forgotten completely about Cato, suspecting that Clove would be the one to wait there. How could she have been so stupid? Why would Clove and Cato split up?

    But had it really been her fault? Even if it was just Clove, what if she had stopped to slay Prim, to prevent the medicine from reaching Peeta? Rue knew that Clove was cunning, and there was a small part of her that wished Cato and the others were all out of the way so that the two could settle it in single combat. Rue knew that unless Thresh managed to kill them both, that she would likely die as well, and that Clove or Cato would be crowned the victors—perhaps both, if they survived. She had not forgotten about that announcement. But Prim… Prim wasn't going home. Rue knew a fatal wound when she saw one.
    She did whip out some bandaging from Prim's pack to wrap the girl's stomach up. She didn't bother with the clothes, knowing that Prim was probably going to die, but she had to at least try and get her back to Peeta—or out of the open.

    "Prim, are you with me?" she exclaimed, struggling for a second before hoisting the girl into her back. Rue was slightly smaller than Prim, but her footing was good and her resilience was a notable trait of hers, and so with steady, careful footsteps, she attempted to get her back to Peeta. She did still have his medicine, after all; and the last thing Rue wanted was to be left in the arena with no one but Clove and Cato, who she knew would stop at nothing to hunt her down and gut her.

    Peeta was unsurprisingly a bit horrified at what he woke up to. Standing in front of him was a bloodsoaked Rue, with a pale, nearly unconscious Primrose on her back.

    "Cato got her," she grunted, setting the smaller girl down as carefully as she could. "but… we got your medicine."
    Peeta was fairly close to giving her a lecture about how they shouldn't have gone without him, but Rue began quietly working on Peeta's leg, sparing a bit of the medicine for Prim's injury. The smaller girl had been quiet most of the time.

    "Are you there, Prim?" Rue whispered as she worked. She felt like she was carrying the District 12 pair metaphorically on her shoulders at this point, but on the other hand, why shouldn't she? She didn't have to become a tool of the Capitol.

    "It hurts, Rue…" Prim whimpered. She seemed aware that she would not likely last the night. "Can… you stay with me… one last time?"

    "I'm not going anywhere." Rue frowned. Whatever had been in that medicine had apparently gone to Peeta's bloodstream, and in turn, seemed to have knocked him out again for the time being. Rue honestly did not know how she felt about the evening's events. One of her allies was on her deathbed, and the other was gravely injured. Rue knew that unless he healed quickly, Peeta would be doomed in the next day or two as well. In fine, District 12's odds were slipping fast, and now with Thresh going after the careers, there was no real telling who would be first to fall, between '2 and '11.

    Rue was not much of a singer, but she held Prim through the night, where the anthem played again, showing no deaths. Prim was still clinging to life; although Rue was honestly half-expecting to hear a cannon go off at any minute.

    Peeta was sleeping soundly, and so Rue was at least able to chalk that up as a plus. Hopefully his leg would heal, and that Prim would pass quietly without waking him up.

    Rue was no singer, but she hummed and whistled a few soothing lullabies for Prim in the dark of the evening. Thresh was most likely keeping the careers occupied, and so she wasn't worried about making noise—especially once the Mockingjays joined in.

    It had to have been around midnight or so when the cannon finally went off, and Primrose Everdeen's eyes finally closed for the last time. Gently, Rue lifted the small girl up, carrying her away from the camp to let the hovercrafts collect her without leaving her corpse in front of her and Peeta, and without disturbing their camp too much. The anthem had already played for the night, and so Clove and Cato wouldn't see Prim's face in the sky until the following evening.

    A fine trail of water leaked out of the corners of Rue's eyes as she laid Prim in the tall grass, covering her body with flowers as she bade her short-lived friend a sad farewell.

    "Goodbye, Primrose." She whispered, before disappearing back into the foliage, where she heard the sound of a hovercraft flying in a few moments later.

    Clove and Cato were not exactly having the best of times either. While Thresh had eluded them for a while, they knew that they were still on the run, because somehow, Thresh had the element of surprise on them, and he seemed angry about the events at the feast the previous day, which in turn meant the chase was on.

    "If we can just get him out in the open," Cato grunted, "we could double-team him. I think he knows that though, and that's why he's trying to stay hidden."
    "Well, he can't run forever," Clove sneered, "we'll force him out sooner or later.

    Their confidence was slightly boosted after a cannon fired, because they knew it was one of the kids from '11 or '12, all of whom were their enemies, but Thresh didn't really give them time to think about it for another few hours, where the noise subsided, and they knew that while he was not chasing them at this exact moment, that he was clearly waiting to strike. It was nearly dawn at this point, with signs of sunlight peeking into the arena. Either way, it gave the District 2 pair a bit of time to stop and think.

    "As much as I wish it was Rue…" Clove sighed, "It was probably one of the '12s. I thi—"

    She hardly finished before she felt something slam against her so hard that she fell to the ground with an almost cracking sound. Thresh had come in out of nowhere and had attacked. Before he could bash Clove's skull in, however, Cato swung his sword at the larger boy, cutting his arm. Thresh jumped up, and admittedly still had an edge over Cato, whose head was still hurting a bit form where Thresh had slugged him earlier. However, despite being dizzy from the fall, Clove managed to get back to her feet while Cato kept Thresh occupied. It was a brief moment, but was all the knife-thrower needed to land a knife cleanly in the back of Thresh's skull. The moment had been over so quickly that it almost seemed surreal, but sure enough, a cannon fired for Thresh a moment later.

    "Let's get outta here," Clove groaned, also clutching her head now. Both careers had racking headaches that did not seem to be going away any time soon.

    The remainder of Day 12 was fairly eventless, except for a couple of sponsor gifts that included a bit of food and a few extra throwing knives for Clove. She insisted that there was no such thing as too many knives, as she stuck them in her coat.

    Later on that evening, the anthem played and revealed that it had in fact been Prim that had died, as well as Thresh.
    "We could go home," Cato piped up. "We just need to off bread-boy and Rue… two-on-two, and we know that he's still injured."
    "Dibs on Rue," Clove insisted, causing Cato to chuckle.

    "For you, Clove… sunshine and rainbows." He ruffled her slightly matted hair. Both of them were a bit dirty and flecked with blood (both their own and that of other tributes).

    "What's that supposed to mean?" Clove tilted her head.

    "You've earned it," Cato indicated, "we've both been through hell here… and the games aren't over yet. It could last several more days unless the Gamemakers decide to speed things up."
    "Give it time," Clove smirked, working with Cato to build a fire. "After about 16 or 17 days is when they start pushing things. We're only about to hit Day 13."

    "And we'll make sure the others don't get to see Day 14." Cato reminded her, causing a smirk to appear on Clove's face as they warmed themselves against the fire.

    "I don't care what anyone says…" Clove insisted, "or how my head feels. Tomorrow, we are hunting them down."
    Well-being came second to winning the games for many career tributes, and the District 2 pair were no exception. With their heads spinning as much as they were, both of them fell asleep rather quickly as the night wore on. The fire thankfully did not spread, and instead just died out overnight. Tomorrow, the real hunt would begin.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------

    KILLS THIS CHAPTER:
    Primrose Everdeen, District 12-killed by Cato
    Thresh Dakara, District 11-killed by Clove

    ALIVE:
    Cato Salazar, District 2
    Clove Kazera, District 2
    Rue Keniye, District 11
    Peeta Mellark, District 12
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  8. #18
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: I keep forgetting about this story here, and so I just need to get this whole shindig posted. Also, I'm still alive, RPA. <3 Anyhoo, there's a bit of Clove/Cato in this chapter again, because let's face it. They're at least friends, even if it's from nothing but the desire for them both to go home as the victor pair from District 2. Don't let the title of the chapter throw you off though.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 18: Passion Uninhibited

    True to their word, Clove and Cato were back on the prowl early in the morning as the sun was just beginning to rise. After clutching his head and attempting to get his bearings, Cato remembered where they were—they were east of the cornucopia, and he was fairly certain that Rue and Peeta were towards the west again. That was how it had been for the last several days.

    The dim morning light gave the arena an almost surreal feeling, and combined with the moisture hanging in the air, the place was almost a bit foggy. Even Cato was fairly quiet this time as they crept through the forest to try and ambush Rue and Peeta.

    After about half an hour of searching, they finally came across the two of them sleeping fairly peacefully. Rue was lying left-side up, concealing her bleeding deaf ear unbeknownst to the careers.

    Skillfully, Clove drew a knife out, licking the blade almost hungrily for a moment as she took aim. Rue's position left her heart area right open, and that was where she was determined to make her mark.

    She drew her arm back to make the strike, but right as she released the knife, she cringed from the pain in her head—that trauma from being slammed to the ground by a boy twice her size had really done a number on her.

    "Shit!" she snapped, but that noise and the sensation of a blade grazing her shoulder was enough to get Rue onto her feet, much to the careers' disgust.

    "PEETA, RUN!" Rue screamed, taking a defensive stance as Peeta staggered to his feet, mace in hand. Knowing their cover was blown, Clove and Cato lunged in for the attack. Despite his bad leg, Peeta held up against the injured careers fairly well, and the two even noticed the careers' slightly erratic attacks.

    "Peeta, Run!" Rue called out again, "they're disoriented. I'll hold them off!"
    "This time we're not showing any mercy…" Cato smirked, "Clove, Rue's all yours. Peeta's mine."

    It was in this moment that Rue realized their tricks were up. Normally she had been able to draw both Cato and Clove after her, in their mad lust to try and end her. However, this time, Cato remembered the mistake he had made the previous time, and he appeared to not want to make that mistake again.

    The fights were not as climactic as Panem and the Capitol had expected. Peeta's leg was injured, Rue's arm was injured and her ear was beyond repair, and Clove and Cato were both dealing with serious head trauma that was offsetting their normally deadly and precise strikes due to the difficulty they were having on focusing. Still, the fact that they were able to perform despite these injuries was something to marvel at, at least in the Capitol's eyes.

    Rue scrambled through the forest, only to hear the sound of a cannon a few moments after leaving Peeta. She mentally cringed, knowing what that meant. The fact that a fast, heavy stomping noise was catching up to Clove, and thus her by extension, meant what she had feared—Peeta was dead, and she was now alone in the arena, with no one but Cato and Clove as company—and they were exactly the kind of company that wanted her dead.

    Clove was gaining on Rue, shouting threats and chucking the occasional knife. She wanted to save some of them, knowing that her aim was bad right now, but knew that if she could catch up to the little District 11 girl, that she could end the fight in a quick melee combat right then and there.

    However, Rue Keniye was not set to die today. Lunging onto a low branch, Rue managed to climb into the trees, jumping skillfully from one to another until she had left Clove and Cato in the dust. It did not help that Clove tripped a few moments later from poor footing (due once again in part to her racking headache), and she hit the ground.

    Rue heard what could only be described as a chilling scream that penetrated all corners of the arena.

    "That…" she said to no one in particular, "is the scream of a crazed predator missing its prey."

    "This happens EVERY. FUCKING. TIME!" Clove roared as Cato caught up to her, sliding to his knees beside her to ensure that she was alright. "ELEVENNNNNN!" she screamed again. It had been Rue and Thresh that had driven her nuts at the training center, and in the arena it had been no different. Thresh had been a distraction, and so had Rue. That little girl had killed two of their allies, had disrupted their camp at least thrice as well as blown up their supplies, and no matter how hard Clove tried to catch her, she always remained just out of reach. If Thresh hadn't have injured her, Clove felt she would have been able to aim true and make Rue's death clean and efficient—before she would prey upon her remains. Clove was not thinking cannibalism—no, the Capitol didn't seem to like that, or so the academies had always taught—but she did want to gut that girl and literally rip out her entrails. She wanted to put every ounce of anger into killing that girl and making it as intense and gut-wrenching (no pun intended) as possible. So consumed was Clove with this desire that she had nearly lost herself in the process.

    "She can't run forever," Cato reassured her, "maybe we should have waited before striking… but then again, I did manage to get '12."

    That seemed to reassure Clove at least a little. "fuck my head…" she groaned, clutching her forehead as another headache pang shot through her skull. "let's find somewhere to make camp. That little shit can live another day… or at least a few more hours till this headache goes away…"

    Clove and Cato found a reclusive little place to settle down as the remainder of Day 13 continued on around them. they scouted around for a stream, which they followed back to the lake. Rue was nowhere to be found, but Clove and Cato were not too worried about it. Cato removed his shoes (Clove had been barefooted for the last several days) and after drinking their fill, they dove into the water to soothe the tenseness in their muscles, and perhaps wash some of the grime and blood off of their bodies. After shaking some hair out of her face, Clove noticed Cato smirking.

    "What're you grinning at, you buffoon?" she teased. It seemed that a bit of relaxation was good for them—or maybe knowing that Rue was now fleeing from them meant that she no longer felt like she was in danger, which in turn boosted her already high confidence.

    "I thought that was dirt on your face," he replied, "didn't know they were freckles."

    "Pfft," Clove snorted, "I'm surprised you can even tell."

    "What," Cato shook his head as the two crawled out of the water, shaking some of the loose water out of their clothes and bodies—neither one had undressed before jumping in the lake, after all. "you think that just because I spent my life training for this moment that I'm somehow stupid enough to not know freckles when I see them? I'm hurt, Clove. I thought we were friends."
    "Well… what else *do* you know?" she tilted her head, "I mean, I spent my whole life training for this moment too, and I'm only 15. What's after the Hunger Games?"
    Despite Clove not even knowing the answer to what she had intended as a rhetorical question, it got Cato thinking deeply on it.

    "More death, I guess." Cato shrugged, "isn't that what we are—just pieces in the games?"
    "It was almost as if Clove and Cato had had an epiphany at this moment.

    "So what is Rue other than bait for us?" Clove tilted her head again, also smacking her head to get some water out of her ear. This proved to be a mistake as it sent another surge of irritation through her head.

    "If we're not careful, she could win," Cato warned, "and then we couldn't be the heroes from District 2. Just one more kill, Clove—then we can go home."
    "It was a good run," Clove sighed as the two of them gazed up at the sky in the small clearing they found. The evening was quiet and eventless, other than the anthem that played as Peeta Mellark's face graced the sky. Seeing him up there really made the reality hit home for them—there was literally only one tribute standing between District 2 and victory. As his face disappeared, they were met with a serene silence, and a vast, starry sky.

    "We were right about him not seeing Day 14," Cato quipped, "what do you think'll happen from here?"
    "We'll find her," Clove insisted, "I don't even know what to feel anymore, Cato. To be honest, this just seems so… confusing to me now."
    "Don't tell me you're going soft." Cato pushed her playfully, the two still laying on their backs.

    "No." Clove asserted, "I'm going to make her talk, and then I'm going to make her squeal."

    "Spoken like District 2," Cato nodded approvingly, before trailing off. Clove was not slow to notice.

    "Let's hear it," she pushed him, "your mind is clearly dwelling on something, Cato."

    "I was just thinking about what we're going to do when we win." He admitted, "and… my mind drew a blank. "I mean—besides the obvious stuff: victory tour, fame, glory, pride for our district… what else is out there for us?"
    "Well…" Clove began, putting her mind to it, before realizing that she too drew a blank.

    "I don't even think winning the games would faze my lazy-ass parents," she continued, "but I… maybe I'd take up masonry." She shrugged, "who knows?"

    "I say we hunker down in the meantime though," Cato suggested, "we're fairly out in the open, so Rue can't sneak up on us."

    "Good." Clove closed her eyes, "maybe now we can actually get a good night's sleep for once…"

    ----------------------------------------------------------------
    KILLS THIS CHAPTER:
    Peeta Mellark, District 12-killed by Cato

    ALIVE:
    Cato Salazar, District 2
    Clove Kazera, District 2
    Rue Keniye, District 11
    Last edited by Zulera301; 08-04-2017 at 10:43 AM.
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  9. #19
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    Zulera301's Avatar
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: I died. Anyhoo... The games are getting closer to their grizzly end. Rue cannot hide forever, and she realizes that. However, it doesn't mean she's done messing with Clove's head. With Clove and Cato teaming up in hopes to both go home, Rue has been put on the defensive. More details on this little antagonist's method to her madness will show up in this and the next chapter.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 19: Facing the Enemy

    Days 14 and 15 were all fairly ominous in their design, considering that almost nothing happened. Rue successfully evaded Clove and Cato so well that they could not even find the small girl—only signs that she had been there, which seemed to be left on purpose. They knew, however, that she was alive and well, because the Mockingjays continued to sing her songs. It seemed that Rue was making her presence no mystery, any more than Clove and Cato were trying to be discreet.

    Rue's morale was fairly low over the next couple of days, for all of her friends were dead. Prim had died in her arms; Thresh had died trying to stop the biggest threats that would now almost certainly mean that she would never see her home again; and Peeta had died trying to fend off those selfsame threats from killing her. He had succeeded in a way, but it had also cost him his life. Rue would never forget the heroism of Thresh, Peeta, and Primrose, if she were to return home as the victor. However, she also knew that the youngest victors in Hunger Games history had all been within a few weeks or months of each other, and had all been at least 14: the stunning and suave Finnick Odair from District 4; the cunning and discreet Alice DeSiete from District 8; (who, despite his name, was actually a boy) and the tiny and dangerous Leto Irizari from District 2. People remembered the 65th, 46th, and 35th Hunger Games (respectively) because of those victors, and for a moment, Rue briefly contemplated if people would remember the 74th Hunger Games if she won.

    Rue knew that in order to stop Clove and Cato, who would for certain be working together against her, she would need to play by her rules rather than theirs. If they forced her into proper combat, she knew that they would best her because of their strength and years of training. However, as the days passed, she began to realize that they knew most of her tricks, and that clearly they were staying out in the open on purpose. Rue's stealth and cunning did not work in such obvious conditions—and thus, there was no action during the 14th and 15th days.

    It did not take a genius to figure out why there was no action, however. Given the calmness of the last two days and the beginning of the 16th day, as well as the sponsor gifts that Clove and Cato received, they both deducted that the Capitol was letting them rest up before what would presumably be an epic finale. Clove did not think that a fight with Rue would last too long, and she had insisted that she be the one to face Rue in single combat. Cato agreed, although also agreed to have her back in case something went wrong.

    "Given out record with Rue so far, think of it as a precaution;" He quipped.

    "Don't even say that," Clove growled, "I am NOT going to falter again."

    "well, given the choice, I would rather step in and finish her than let you die in the name of honor." Cato chortled, "But let's not worry about that. Let's hunt her down."

    The two of them continued their hunt, with nothing but birds flying overhead to indicate any other sign of life in the arena. As the day wore on and the sun began its descent, there was silence. The afternoon was oddly serene, and it was only around sunset that Clove realized what had happened.

    "The Mockingjays," she paused, "they've stopped singing."

    "There hasn't been a cannon though," Cato's brow furrowed, "maybe she's coming for us?"

    "Let's be ready for her then," Clove suggested, "let's get back to the lake. There's no hiding there."
    Clove and Cato navigated back towards the lake, only to find a considerably surprise.

    "The hell!?" Cato and Clove were glancing upon a dry lakebed—not even muddy; just dry. The water was gone, and all that was left around them was a light hazy fog.

    "We're too far out," Clove's eyes widened, "we're not supposed to be here."
    Neither of them wasted any time in scrambling back towards the cornucopia. The last thing they wanted was to face the wrath of the fireballs again. The foggy haze grew thicker towards the northwest from whence they came, but it seemed to be diminishing towards the east. Perhaps the cornucopia was not where the Gamemakers wanted them to meet.

    "This fog might lead us to Rue," Cato suggested, "except that it's going right back into the dark forest."

    Their sunlight was minimal at this point, as the trek to and from the lake had burned much of the afternoon. They had taken their time to keep up their strength, but were now confused. What did the Gamemakers want from them? They had eaten almost all of their food, and were equipped with the best weapons and even some body armor (Clove was still devoid of footwear though, to her slight ire), although they had not been the only ones to get sponsor gifts. Naturally, much of Panem, especially the outer districts, was surprised that such a small girl had lasted so long in eluding the mighty career tributes, one of which had scored a 12, and the other an 11. Thus, Rue had been sponsored some rather nice equipment as well, despite it being so late in the games.

    "I'm not going in there, and neither are you." Clove insisted, "we're bringing Rue to us, not ourselves to Rue. She's gotten the best of me far too many times. She needs to come to us, so I can find out what makes her tick."

    In truth, Clove and Cato both had a quaint sense of respect for Rue, which was why they used her name, instead of the crude nicknames they had fashioned for just about everyone else. Even Clove had to admire the little girl's grace and agility, especially in the trees or in the air. If anything, thinking about that simply pumped her up for what she expected would be a final fight in single combat. The tricky part would be getting Rue to play by her rules.
    "The good news," Cato snapped Clove out of her brief trancelike state of thought, "is that this fog isn't poison or anything—but it's clearly trying to convince us to step into the forest—and I'm not going to."

    "Me neither," Clove agreed, crossing her arms.

    "How about now?" A voice from behind them spoke up.

    There, in plain sight, was Rue, her arms calmly crossed. Her diminutive stature did not look all that threatening, but it seemed that she had also received weapons and even body armor from generous sponsors. Gone was her slingshot, and in her hands were two fairly good-sized crescent-shaped blades. On her forehead were a pair of those night-vision glasses, which she had raised as if to look Clove and Cato in the eyes.

    Naturally, both of them spun around to see Rue there, and Clove was so surprised that she didn't even attack (though she did whip out a knife).

    "I've been waiting weeks for this moment, Rue Keniye," she sneered, "you and me—right here, right now. You've been giving me nothing but hell and harassment for the last several weeks—I am going to repay that favor, slowly and steadily—a fate befitting my worst enemy."

    "So; you say that I'm your enemy?" Rue tilted her head, unfazed once again by Clove's threats, "really, I'm nothing without your passionate hatred for me."

    Rue's words actually made Clove stop and think; and incidentally, Rue's blades hung in her arms, which also hung at her sides. Clove narrowed her eyes and glared at the dark-skinned girl, as if expecting a surprise attack. Her own ego and sense of pride was what was stopping her from killing Rue so suddenly—perhaps this arrogance and appeal to tradition might be her downfall.

    "Who ARE you?" Clove's eyes narrowed even more so. "You're a monster!"

    "A monster?" Rue paused, briefly lowering the glasses onto her eyes before lifting them again, "I'm just Rue; Rue Keniye. You killed my friends, you gave me threats, and you've chased me all around the arena. What would I be if I didn't become a monster just to try and stay alive?"

    Survival. Rue was not in these games for fame and fortune the way the tributes from District 2 were. She did not care about the pride and the glory; she simply wished to live, and was willing to do anything necessary in order to achieve that goal.

    Clove's mouth opened to form a reply, but the moment she saw Rue's face drop, she knew something was wrong. It was only made worse when she belted out a bloodcurdling scream before back-flipping onto her hands, pivoting on one hand so her back was to the careers before landing flipping back onto her feet once again, where she immediately took off running.

    A split-second after Rue's flip, Clove and Cato spun around to see what Rue had freaked out about, only to be greeted by dozens of glowing eyes appearing from the trees—accompanied by the sound of growling. As they took off running after Rue, they saw what these things were: mutts—two dozen bloodthirsty wolf mutts.
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

  10. #20
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    Zulera301's Avatar
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    AUTHOR'S NOTES: I keep forgetting this thread. Anyhoo, the title is a reference to an album, and so kudos to whoever knows what it is. However, it is also a very meaningful title given the events that go down in this chapter. No point in spoiling it though. Hats off to Cato, Clove and Rue for lasting this long.
    Happy Reading!


    CHAPTER 20: A Twist in the Myth

    Rue's speed proved to be a lifesaver. She stayed ahead of both Clove and Cato, as well as the bloodthirsty mutt-pack. The creatures took a sort of semicircle formation behind and beside the three remaining tributes, as if trying to prevent them from veering to the left or the right. They were guiding them right towards a familiar clearing that even in the darkness Rue recognized immediately: the cornucopia—it all began and ended here.

    She frantically scrambled up the fairly smooth, metal surface, using her bare feet to get solid holds.

    Maybe it was the softness of Rue's heart—the fact that she simply wished to be a survivor rather than a cold-blooded murderer, that she did not strike Clove and Cato when they scrambled for the same refuge. Clove's lack of shoes enabled her feet to stick to the metal just enough to provide the necessary traction for her to scramble up and out of reach. Cato nearly had his leg ripped off by the mutts, but Clove managed to pull him up before it happened. In the darkness of the arena, neither one of them even noticed little Rue in the shadows, watching them.

    It was a moment of cunning and calculation that Rue's mind raced through in that moment. She knew that even if one of the District 2 tributes slipped and fell to their deaths, that she stood no chance against either one in single combat. With the two of them against her, she knew she was doomed.

    All four of her kills had been in incidents when she had had an edge. She had run right into that unsuspecting District 4 boy with her knife out. The District 7 boy had been focused on someone else when Rue had shot him. Glimmer had simply been the closest victim to the tracker-jacker nest that she had cut down. Similarly, Marvel had not seen her coming when she jumped down into his shoulders from that tree. The two career tributes she had killed had only been from the element of surprise.

    So what then, was stopping her now? Clove and Cato were huddled together, clearly talking about her. Sure she could lunge in, stab Clove in the skull and drop her off, but Cato would react, and she was fairly certain that she couldn't just kick him off the cornucopia. If she surprise-attacked Cato, Clove's reflexes had been the fastest of any tribute this year, 2nd only to her own.

    The mutts could not get enough leverage to reach the top of the cornucopia, and so for the moment, the three frenzied tributes simply rested, two of them almost completely oblivious to the presence of the third—the outlier—the enemy. Besides, by the time she shot through the air and reached them for a proper attack, they would notice her. The odds were just not in her favor.

    And so, Rue Keniye ended up performing one of the boldest and most audacious acts an outlier tribute had ever done to a career short of killing them in the bloodbath.

    "I guess this is it then,"

    Clove jumped, and Cato spun around, seeing Rue with her hands up, her knives still on her belt.

    "There's nowhere to run, 11," Clove smirked, brandishing several knives in each hand. "either I kill you slowly and feed your entrails to the dogs… or we throw you off and watch them do the work. I'm feeling generous today—so I'll let you choose."

    "I'm not going to fight you." Rue stepped back, ensuring a defensive stance in case Cato or Clove tried to strike her first, "there's no point in trying to make you angrier at me than you already are. There are two of you and one of me. I have no advantage over you the way I did with Marvel and Glimmer. My dull, dirty daggers are no match for your sleek new throwing knives. My small frame is no match for your years of training."

    Clove narrowed her eyes. Tributes didn't talk this way! Rue wasn't making sense, and that… that had been one of the persistent sources of her fury ever since the chariot rides.

    "So you're just giving up?" Clove gawked, "not even going to try and go for the glory?"
    "Clove…" Rue said her name softly, "I'm not here because I want to be. I'm here because I was chosen to be. I understand that you and Cato and District 1 are eager to volunteer for the games year after year, and I can respect that, even if I will never understand it. I'm not a killer…"
    "I dunno about that," Cato butted in, crossing his arms, "you did a pretty damn good job at killing more tributes than everyone but me so far…" Cato's kill count was similarly 4.

    "I did what I had to in order to survive," Rue reasoned, "I did not gloat over the kills in the bloodbath, and I am not exactly proud of how Marvel or Glimmer went—especially Glimmer. I will get nothing out of fighting you, Clove, except for a more painful and prolonged death."
    "I'm giving that to you anyways," Clove insisted.

    "You don't just want to go home by now?" Rue tilted her head, "after everything from fireballs to tracker-jackers to explosions to rabid wolves… you don't just want to end me quickly and finish the job? You and Cato are the victors."

    Cato was mostly staying quiet because he had promised Clove that she could be the one to finally lay the killing blow on Rue. However, if she made a stupid choice or one that he strongly disagreed with, he would not hesitate to butt in and object.

    Clove hated to admit it, but Rue's words were getting to her. She had trouble wrapping her mind around it the same way Rue had trouble wrapping her mind around the notion that children from the rich districts eagerly fought over what was basically a death sentence.

    "I don't want to die," Rue continued, "but if I have to die… I only wish for it to be swift. I'm tired, Clove. I'm exhausted, I'm dazed, I'm hungry, my feet hurt, and my right ear's still bleeding from when I blew up your supplies. I'm in no condition to fight you—even if we did, it would be over in seconds."

    "So you just want me to… kill you?" Clove tilted her head, "just… like that?"

    "Swiftly and simply," Rue nodded. "Know this, Clove Kazera—I respect you. I respect Cato too. I respect the kind of dedication people like you put into your craft, even if it scares me to death."
    "Who ARE you!?" Clove was still utterly bedazzled at how clever Rue was, even in her words.

    "Just Rue," Rue shrugged, "not a piece in a game… but a means to an end. So will you do it, Clove? Will you grant me that one wish?"
    "Shit…" Clove grunted, "All this time I'd been ready to tear your ribcage open and feast on your innards, or whatever we careers do on a slow day… I'm just… confused, Rue. You're the reason none of this makes sense, you know that?"
    "It was a good run." Rue sighed, "I wish it didn't have to be this way… but I understand that we all do what we have to. You want to win, I wanted to survive… live it up, Cato; Clove."

    Rue flicked her wrist as if to wave, and Clove put all her knives away but one.

    "You're the most cunning little shit I've ever met, you know that, Rue?" she approached the smaller girl. "I'm gonna miss having a worthy rival to keep me sharp. Really... when I think about it, I've got no fucken' clue what I'm gonna do with myself."

    And that was probably what hurt the most. What would she do with her life after the games? What would she do once she won? She had spent her whole life training for this moment-but not for anything afterwards. Without Rue keeping her on her toes... what else was there in life?

    "Goodbye, Clove Kazera…" Rue sighed, approaching the career girl, and, to Clove's utmost surprise, Rue put her arms around her. If Rue had ever intended to make things clearer for Clove, she had gone about it the wrong way.

    "I… what?" her arms briefly and perhaps instinctually went around Rue before she pulled back skeptically. Rue simply smiled—and it was that smile that haunted Clove for hours after the incident—when she plunged her blade through Rue's sternum.

    She fell backwards immediately, her lifeless body resting on the flat-topped cornucopia surface as a cannon rang out, and the face of Rue Keniye appeared in the sky. The sounds of the barking and growling mutts had seemed to have gone quiet during that whole little episode, but all of a sudden, they were back. Clove found this odd, because here the games were over. Rue was dead. Two victors could return home if they were form the same district, and Clove even glanced from Cato's shoulder and the number 2 that graced it, to her own shoulder, where she too bore the number 2.

    Why then, wasn't the game ending? Why were they not being announced the victors?
    They found out a second later.

    "Attention tributes…" Seneca Crane's voice could be heard, "the previous rule change has been revoked. There may only be one victor of the Hunger Games. May the odds be ever in your favor…"

    Clove and Cato both suddenly fell silent as they glanced at each other. Rue's death was not the end like they had hoped—it was merely the penultimate step before the sadistic true finale.
    'The Crown of Zivia' Word Count: 64319
    'The Crusade of Zulera' Word Count: 52548
    'The Shadows of Shinzoka' Word Count: 51000
    'The Rebirth of Krippa' Word Count: 51000

    The Avatar in Chains (fanfic)
    Z. Zu. Zul. Zuzu. Zuly. Zulera. Lulu. 301. Zu-Zu. ZZ-Top. Zuliette. Zuley. Zulz. Zuul. Zubat. 'Lera. Zulianne. Z301. Z-hizzle. Z-dawg. Zulerey. Zully. Zulio. Luz. Ra-ra. Z-swiss. Zulera301.

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