Back at our rooms, Lance and I hold a conference. He had started talking with the boy from 10, only to find out that Kathy had already talked to him and he was in on it.
"Good," I nod. "So Kathy did get an opportunity to tell him the plan. I was hoping."
"He told me that he would try and recruit his district partner. So I moved on to 8 and made the aquaintence of the boy tribute. I didn't get to tell him the plan yet, but he's pretty friendly towards me so that shouldn't be too big of a problem."
I nod again. "I wonder if Kathy has been able to talk to her partner. I wish we could get ahold of her somehow."
"You're in an alliance with her, right? So spend more time with her tomorrow and hear all about it," Lance reminds me. "Did you get to work on 6?"
"Change of plans. I talked to the girl from 9 instead, named Briella."
Lance looks at me funny. "The crazy one? How did that go?"
"Briella's not crazy," I protest. "Just emotionally unstable and eager for revenge." I grimace. "But aren't we all?"
"So, if she's hungry for revenge, that makes her more open to our plan, right?"
"That's the thing," I say, "I'm not sure. I mean, she loved the idea of making the Capitol angry, but she's so unpredictable that I wouldn't be surprised at all if she just decided to not do our plan, become the victor, and get her revenge later when she's rich and famous."
"That's actually a good idea," says Lance. I glare at him. "Maybe she should be the one we save, instead of the 12 boy. That way, she could do damage to the Capitol as a victor even when we are all dead."
I sigh. "I fear she would act too rashly as a victor and cause the Capitol to take it out on the districts. No, we already decided that the boy from 12 would live, and I'd hate to sentence him to death now."
"The Capitol may kill him anyway after this," points out Lance. "Or worse."
"He still has a better chance of living than the rest of us."
Again the next morning, we arrive early to training. Kathy is there also, so Lance and I part ways as I go to talk to her. "How's it going?" I ask.
"Pretty well," she whispers, tying her curly brown hair back. "My district partner and I had a talk last night, and I convinced him to join us. I'm afraid he might chicken out at the last moment, though."
"We'll take care of that," I reassure her. "Lance told me you recruited the boy tribute from 10? Good work. Is he pretty confident that he can convince his partner?"
"Yes." Kathy and I begin to stretch. "They were good friends back in their home district, so he doesn't seem to think he'll have a problem. Who do you want me to try and recruit today?"
"Actually, I had something else planned." I point out Aryn, the girl from 5, to her as she walks in with Alzander. "She's in on it, but a little uncertain still. We're going to work on her brother as soon as we can, because he's going to be hard to crack. In the meanwhile, it'd be great if you could befriend her and make sure she doesn't back down."
"I'm willing to do that. Is there anybody else I need to do that with?"
"Now that you mention it... see her over there?" I motion to Briella, a willowy young girl with sun-streaked hair and tan skin. "She's from district 9. I talked to her yesterday and she's in on the plan in theory, but is kind of unpredictable. Can you also talk with her and report any kind of misgivings to Lance or I? Because I'm afraid she will do something crazy."
Kathy agrees and goes to speak with Aryn. I take stock of the situation. Lance is practicing archery with the boy tribute from 8 he talked with yesterday, the tributes from 10 are practicing together, and the girl from 12 I spoke with yesterday is tying knots. I had learned her name is Gerome.
I walk over to her and ask if she can talk with Briella and make sure she is completely loyal. Gerome agrees and goes to join her at the painting station. I know that I already asked Kathy to do that, but she's busy with Aryn right now and I feel that Briella needs all the support she can get. Plus, Gerome is really grim and morbid, so maybe she can relate better to her.
I go over in my mind who's all with us. 7, obviously, since that's Lance and I. The boy from 10, and hopefully soon the girl. Both tributes from 11, which would be Kathy and her partner. Aryn from 5. Gerome from 12, but we don't need her partner. Briella from 9, if she remains with us. That's eight, not counting the girl from 10, or the boy from 8 that I hope Lance is about to recruit. Not bad, not bad.
I steel myself and head over to the swordplay section where the tributes from 2 are practicing. "Care if I join?" I call. I pick up a sword without waiting for an answer. They glare at me, a blonde boy of huge proportions and Blaer, her green eyes almost morphing into daggers.
"Let's see if you can hold your own, tree-hugger," hisses Blaer. She attacks swiftly, and I parry. She's really good, and stronger than I am, but I do hold my own, mainly because we fought each other with sticks in district 7 as children. Sticks are not much different than swords, after all.
"Not bad, splinter-face," grunts the boy reluctantly. I step back to wipe my face and get a drink, and he and Blaer face off. How am I going to do this? I mentally scream. On the outside, I'm all confidence.
"You guys are phemominal," I say. It's not a lie. "Too bad you're going to die like caged mice."
"What do you mean, bark-blister?" scoffs the boy. His name is Thor. "You think you can trap us?"
"Maybe, but I wasn't talking about me." I point out Alzander from 5. He's fiddling with wires, and something starts smoking. Perfect timing. "I was talking about him."
"That little fly-zapper?" scoffs Thor again, but he's watching as sparks begin to fly out of the wires the boy's holding. Suddenly something blows with a banging noise that makes everyone in the gym jump three feet in the air, but Alzander just nods like that was what he was looking for. I love you so much right now, Alzander, I think. That was just the illustration I needed.
"I see what you mean," Blaer says warily. Then she rounds on me. "Why did you tell us this? Now we know who to kill first and what to look out for. Why do you want to help us? We're your most deadly enemy!"
"False. You are not. The Capitol is my one and only enemy, thank you. My reasons for telling you this are my own."
"Oh, so you want an alliance?" asks Thor. He sniggers. "Well, you won't get it, wood-maggot!" The Careers have such nice names for everyone.
"No," I answer lightly, "I don't want an alliance." They look surprised.
"Then tell us what you want or get out of here," Blaer orders, recovering.
"The thing about the Careers dying in some nasty trap was just a sidenote. Actually, I came here to warn you not to get too friendly with the other Careers or each other, since you'll be forced to duel one other as soon as the Gong sounds." I say this in a nonchalant way, as if I don't care one bit.
"What are you talking about, fungus-brain? The Careers never fight each other right away," Blaer mocks me, but she sounds slightly curious.
"Well you'd have to if you were the only ones left." I match her mocking tone perfectly and couple it with a patronizing smile, as if she were a little child.
"Why would we be the only ones left?" demanded Thor. I inwardly celebrate. I have their full attention. "You can't die before the Gong sounds."
"That's what you think," I yawn. "But the tributes from 2 always did play by the rules." They clench their jaws. Careers always pride themsevles on being macho and independent, but they're really just Capitol pets. Of course, if I told them this, they would rip me apart.
"We do not!" whined Thor.
"Explain yourself," Blaer snapped at me. "What are you talking about?"
"That's for me to know, and you to find out." They glare at me murderously. They're very curious now, but won't admit it. I decide to do some probing. "Before I go and leave you to your duel training--and you might want to work on your swordplay, Thor, because Blaer'll kill you in the first minute if she can get her hands on a sword--I want to ask a question." I pause.
"Don't you feel betrayed by the Capitol for getting fun out of watching you die? I mean, District 2 has been the most loyal to the Capitol out of all Panem's districts. They supply masonry for building projects, they make their weapons, supply Peacekeepers, ect. And still, they love watching you writhe in your own blood. It just doesn't add up. They may tell you that it's an honor to be in the Games, to be a victor, to die, but that's a lie. What it really is is a Capitol citizen with hundreds of piercings, tatoos, and plasic surgeries that the combined price of could feed a family for a year sitting on the other end of the television, munching snacks and giggling as Alzander zaps you to death or you get torn apart by a mutt made by the people your families serve so diligently!" I pant, out of breath. I realize I got a little carried away. "It's all about the entertainment," I finish.
"Can you repeat the question?" asks Thor.
"Do you feel betrayed--" I begin again.
"No!" Thor almost shouts. "The Hunger Games are fun. They entertain us too." Blaer looks a little uncertain, and she doesn't say anything.
"What about the other districts?" I ask. "They supply the Capitol with everything it needs to live a life of luxury. Without us, it would starve, be naked, freeze, be unprotected. And yet they torture and starve us as we give them life."
"Thor?" Blaer turns to him with urgency in her voice. I notice that it's low, like she doesn't want to be heard. "Remember Cato, your brother? You're family is the closest to the Capitol in the whole district, and they still let him die. Not only that, but he died at the claws of the mutts they made to chase him!"
"No, Katniss killed him," said Thor stubbornly.
"But that was after he had been mangled for hours! Snow didn't call them off, even though your family is very loyal. He doesn't care about any of us, loyal or not. None of them do." Her voice had no hint of weakness, only hardness. I realize she had been thinking this over for a while.
Almost there, I think. Almost.
The conversation will continue in Part 8...
Hope you guys liked it. Rani will come in later, as will your character, Marshall.