Surprises: The 68th Annual Hunger Games

For 68 years the Capitol has held the Hunger Games to keep the rebellious Districts in check. This year will be full of surprises and shocking twists that nobody could have anticipated. So watch as the 24 tributes battle it out until one remains in an arena guaranteed to surprise the entire nation of Panem.

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22. Power Corrupts

Ebony Amaranth, 18, District 1 Tribute

You know that feeling you get when you know it's gonna be a bad day? Well, yeah, I have that feeling all over. I mean, this day started absolutely wonderfully; Ryder died before the sun came up, and another tribute has just perished. And to make matters worse, Nick seems to have shut down. I mean, seriously. All he's doing is sitting down on the beach, holding his sword like it's his baby or something.

And to make it all that much worse, Nick is a comfort eater; he has devoured all of the nuts, and he's beginning to dig into the dried fruit. Forget the meat; that was gone before I woke up. I have tried to stop him from eating pretty much our freaking lifeline here, but Ariella simply cut in, saying that it would be an absolutely idiotic idea to disturb him. I really don't know what her problem is, but I guess it could be brought on by the stress of losing Ryder. They were pretty close.

Sighing in frustration, I stand up from the mouth of my tent, and stretch my arms and legs, before glancing over at Nick. You have got to be kidding me. He has managed to grab my food, and he's nearly done with all of it. This is the last straw. Nobody, and I mean nobody, does that to my food supply.

"Hey!" I yell at him, as I seethe with anger, "What the hell do you think you're doing?! That's my food; eat your own, fatty!" I'm sorry, but this is entirely the last straw. Who the hell does he think he is? Taking our food like some sort of gluttonous pig.

Suddenly, Nick stands up, tearing the bag of fruits and nuts open, the food spilling all over the sand, and walks up to me, towering over me in an attempt to be menacing. Hey, at least he's blocking the sun.
"What did you just call me?" He growls, his face looking like a kid who's just stood in a pile of dog mess.
"I called you a fatty." I reply coolly, trying to ignore Nick's foul breath as he breathes heavily. Don't they have toothpaste in District 2? Because if they do, someone hasn't been using it. "Think about it, Nicky. Only a fat pig would grab all of our food, and throw it down their throats in the space of an afternoon."
"Shut your mouth, pretty boy." He snaps back.
"Oh, resorting to petty name calling?" I ask mockingly, "Well of course. I keep forgetting that District Two is the last home of the Neanderthals." Nick opens his mouth to reply, but I cut him off, "Oh, look. Were you about to call me another idiotic name? What was it this time? Puny little baby man? Because that sounds exactly like something you'd-"

I'm cut off by an extreme feeling of pain in my stomach. I look down, and see Nick's fist preparing for another blow. It comes so hard and fast that I have no time to react, and I'm blown to the floor. Ouch. Oh, he did not just go there. I mean, gorging himself on our food was bad enough, but resorting to beating on me? That is where I draw the line, and trust me, it's a pretty noticeable line all right.

But just as I prepare to leap to my feet, and take Nick down, someone stops me, pinning me to the floor.
"Ebony, do you have a death wish or something?" It's Ariella. Oh great, I hope she didn't hear my slurs towards District 2.
"No," I reply, my tone highly agitated, "But he just ate all of our food. Do you expect me to just sit here and do nothing?"
"Yes." She replies, her voice catching. She's hiding something from me; I can tell.
"But why?" I demand, "I see no good reason why I can't go over there and knock some sense into him."
"Just trust me," She says, "You can't do that just yet."
"Why?" I ask again. This is really shifty behaviour from Ariella; completely out of character for her.
"If I told you," She says softly, her voice trembling. Okay, this is new, "It would tear this alliance apart. And we don't want that; we're not even into the final eight yet."
"Fine." I snap in response, and get up, wiping the sand from my shirt.

That was incredibly weird. I rub my eyes, deciding I need to talk to someone with some sense. Walking over to the mouth of the Cornucopia, I spot Emerald absently flinging her knives at the inner walls.
"Hey," I say to her as I walk inside, sitting down.
"Hey," She replies, not taking her eyes off her knives. We remain in silence for a few moments, until Emerald slips up, and the knife clatters to the floor. Letting out a curse in frustration, she gathers her knives, and sits next to me. "What happened out there?"
"I think Nick is royally screwed in the head," I say, looking at Emerald's expression. It's pretty blank.
"Nothing new there." She replies, wiping a spot of dirt from one of her nails. I have to let out a slight laugh; only District 1 would be concerned about our appearances in an arena where we're all fighting to the death.
"What do you mean?" I ask, fanning myself with my hand. The heat of this place just isn't fun. We've had to spend more time shielding ourselves from the sun than we have actually being Careers. At least the sun is showing signs of beginning to start setting soon.
"What I mean is, you should have seen the look in Nick's face during the interviews, when Caesar congratulated him on the score of ten."
"What was it?" I ask, listening to the soft sound of the waves sloshing up against the back of the Cornucopia. It's all very soothing. A complete contrast to the tension that is bubbling up.
"It was as if for a brief moment, his eyes were full of sheer rage, nothing else. No spark of life and intelligence, just a mindless killing machine."
"So you're thinking Nick's been a nut case from the start?" I ask her. She nods in response. "Sounds about right."

We sit in silence once more for a few moments, taking in each other's company. Emerald almost seems to be in a state of meditation, but I'm not. No, my thoughts are of Nick, and how spectacularly he's going off the deep end. And you know what's ticking me off the most? How there's nothing I can do about it. Just that feeling of failure is enough to drive me insane. But it won't since I'm not a lunatic like Nick.

The horrible growling feeling of hunger strikes me, and I stand up, trying to ignore it. I'll probably get some water to quell the feeling; I don't think Nick's devoured our drinks just yet.
"I'm gonna go." I say to Emerald, and she nods slightly in response, obviously deep in thought about something. Turning away from her, I step outside, and blink a few times as I adjust to the brightness of the outdoors once more. The clear blue sky allows for the sun to beat down harshly and as I look upwards, I realise something. There have been three deaths today, and none of them caused by us. Not that the tributes dying is a bad thing, it's just that there has been a lot of dying compared to the past two days.

Not dwelling upon the thought, I walk down the beach, and towards my tent. However, when I reach it, the front of it is wide open. Oh, please, don't be. Just as I walk towards it, Nick steps out, chugging my canteen of water. He completely ignores me, and walks towards the shore. As soon as he's gone, I realise that he might not have drunk both canteens.

With this in mind, I burst into the tent, and find my canteen laying next to my spear. Thank god he didn't drink it. I bend over, and pick it up. I unscrew the cap, and tilt it towards my mouth, ready to fend off the thirst. But nothing comes. Oh, no.

I tap the bottom of the canteen, and after an absurd amount of tapping, one drop falls out onto my tongue. It's completely empty. Nick drank it. This is it; I don't care what Ariella says, he must be stopped.

Grabbing my spear, I rush out of my tent, and walk along the beach, rage filling every inch of my being. Slowly, I make my way to Nick, and watch as he finishes off the canteen, letting it fall to the ground, empty.
"Hey, Nick," I say, twirling my spear in my hand slowly, "What's up?"
"Nothing." He replies gruffly, as if I don't exist at all. Or at the very least, I don't deserve to exist. I swear, he is seriously infuriating me right now.
"Really," I retort, "You've suddenly doomed us to starvation for nothing? Nothing at all?"
"Shut it, One." The words shoot out of his mouth as he pulls out his sword. Seems someone's definitely gone insane. I mean, who else would consume everything we have, and then get hostile about it? "Or do I have to shut your mouth for you?" Not cool. 
"Like you'd have the balls to attack me."

As soon as I say the words, I regret it immediately. Nick suddenly lets out a primal cry of rage, and rushes at me, swinging his sword like a mad man. I try to leap out of the way, but I'm not fast enough, and the silver blade ends up grazing my side. It's not deep, but damn, does it hurt.

"Oh, look," I taunt jokingly as we square one another off, my hands twitching as I hold my spear, "Is someone throwing a hissy fit?" Nick unleashes another scream of fury, and runs at me, punching my nose. The sheer agony temporarily blinds me, and I can feel the warm blood streaming down my face. He's definitely broken my nose. But my blindness leaves me open, and Nick swings his sword at my shoulder, causing me to fall to the floor in agony. This wound is definitely deeper than the one on my side, and I can feel the blood pulsing out of me.

My vision returns, and I manage to roll out of the way as Nick tries to kick me. I get sand in the wound on my shoulder, and I let out a stifled cry of pain. Great. There's a chance that that'll get infected. Returning my attention to the fight, I ignore the throbbing pain in my nose, and ready my spear. Nick comes at me hard and fast, and I leap out of the way, before thrusting the spear into his thigh. He screams out a stream of profanities, and swings at my own leg, catching my shin, before falling to the floor.
"God damn it!" I yell, "That hurts, Nick!" But he says nothing, and looks up at me.

And then, I see it. What Emerald mentioned about the interviews. His eyes have darkened, and they have lost what makes them represent him. Instead, it's only a mindless monster. I dodge another swing, and move back as he staggers to his feet. Well, I'll say he earned his 10 in training, that's for sure. But I also managed to get a 10, and I might as well show him why I deserved it.

Gripping my spear tight, I run at Nick, and thrust it. It catches his abdomen, and I keep drilling in. Nick lets out a cry of pain, and grabs my wrist. He squeezes tight, and I can feel my bones on the verge of being crushed. This isn't good. But I don't give in, and swing my leg up, delivering a powerful kick to his arm, causing him to let go of me. I then pull the spear out of him, and blood gushes from the wound, staining the sand red once more.

"You're good," I say, panting. Strangely enough, my rage has subsided, and in its place, the thrill of the fight. Adrenaline is pounding throughout me, and an odd grin is present on my face. This is way too fun.

As I think this, Nick rushes at me once more, and brings his sword down. I don't leap out of the way fast enough, and it catches my chest. I scream in agony as Nick keeps slicing down, causing a long vertical gash that goes from the middle of my chest, down to my waist. I double over in pain, and hit the floor as Nick swipes at my neck. Instead, he trips over me, and falls to the floor in a pile of expletives and blood.

I stagger back upwards, and notice that Ariella and Emerald are now watching me. Emerald's face is plastered with horror, but Ariella's is different. It's almost as if she's coming to some realisation. But either way, neither of them are coming to my aid, and I return my attention to Nick.

He's climbing back onto his feet, swaying from the blood loss. But I can't leave him here; he's probably faking this to make me let my guard down. And I was right. He runs towards me, leaving bloody footsteps in the sand, and tackles me to the ground, his weight crushing me.

I begin to feel light headed now, and Nick's face is inches from my own. The force of the fall knocked my spear out of my hand, and it now lays just out of my reach. Just freaking perfect. I look up again, and gag as the scent of Nick's blood, combined with his foul breath, reaches my nose. It's a wonder I can still smell things, but at least it means I'm not as busted up as I thought.

But that all changes in an instant as Nick lifts his sword up, and strikes it down on my chest. Luckily, my ribcage prevents it from piercing any major organs, but it still causes a lot of blood to pour out. It's making me feel weak, and the pain is agonising. If I don't end this soon, Nick will kill me. And to be honest, I would rather not die at the hands of such a completely messed up psychotic monster.

Gritting my teeth, I move my hands underneath Nick's chest, and using all of my strength, manage to push him off of me. He rolls over, and falls onto the sand, and I climb to my feet, and stagger over to my spear. I pick it up, and face Nick as he stands up, holding his sword, and I can tell the look in his eyes. This is it.

With a cry of rage, he rushes at me, and I charge forwards as well, aiming my spear at him. Nick's faster, but my spear is longer, and I ram it into his chest with full strength. A sickening crack sounds out, and I know I've broken his ribcage. I keep going, and blood begins to dribble from his mouth. He begins to convulse, before going still. But it barely lasts a moment, and Nick's soon charging at me once more. I pull the spear out, and move backwards as fast as possible, my eyes trained on him. We keep going like this until I'm pressed up against the Cornucopia, and Nick is standing over me. He goes in for another swing, and I move out of the way, his weapon getting stuck in the soft metal of the horn.

I rush around to behind Nick, and thrust my spear. It goes into his back, and he begins to convulse even more, a fountain of blood rushing from his mouth, staining the Cornucopia. He begins to flail, but I don't stop. I drive my spear further in at an angle, my weapon moving upwards. A choking sound comes from Nick, and I feel my spear come loose, as if bursting through something.

BOOM!

Nick's cannon fires, and the monstrous figure goes limp, collapsing in a heap. He's so heavy that my spear falls with him. As he falls over, I see the full extent of the damage. There is a trail of blood leading up the height of the golden horn, and blood is pooling rapidly around Nick's body. But the most horrifying part has to be the spear. It entered Nick's lower back, but it came out of his chest. It probably pierced his heart.

Shaking, I slowly pull the spear out from his body. A disgusting squelching sound reaches my ears, as even more blood squirts out. Eventually, I pull it free, and Nick's body collapses on the floor. But there is still one thing I need to get.

I bend down, and grab Nick's sword, prying it from his dead hand. It comes free, and I back away from the body. It's coated in blood, and is barely recognisable as a human being. It looks more like a beaten up pile of meat than anything else. I look to the sky, and notice the hovercraft emerge.

Backing away slowly as Nick's corpse is lifted into the sky, I become aware of my own injuries. I'm hurting all over, and bleeding quite a bit. But I don't feel particularly faint, so I suppose it's a good thing; I'm not dying.

The hovercraft vanishes, taking Nick with it, and I stagger over to the mouth of the Cornucopia. I sit down, and catch my breath, and look as Emerald runs over to me.
"Ebony! Are you okay?" She asks, and I nod in confirmation.
"I'm fine." I reply, groaning in pain, "Just a little beaten up, is all."
"You should probably rest." Emerald says, looking somewhat revolted at the sheer level of blood that now coats our camp. But at least it was Nick that died, and not me.
"Don't worry, I'll be fine by tomorrow." I say, flashing her a grin. Yeah, I'll probably need a little rest, then I'll be fine tomorrow.

"Hey, guys!" I hear Ariella shouting, and Emerald turns her head to listen, "Get out here, now!" Her voice sounds urgent, and I struggle to my feet. Emerald helps me up, and I limp outside. We walk together to Ariella, and notice her staring into the trees. I look closer, and my jaw drops at the sight.

Standing right at the edge of the tree line, armed to the teeth with a bow and rapier, and carrying a lighter and a bottle covered by a piece of fabric, are two tributes that I never thought I'd see like this.

It's the girl from District 12, and the boy from District 10.

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