23 Cannons: The 69th Annual Hunger Games.

24 tributes are reaped by the Capitol to enter the 69th Hunger Games, marking the end of the sixth decade of Games. And as they all prepare for the fight of their lives, none of them know the true extent of the twists that will face them in the arena. With rebels, liars, and killers thrown into a deadly arena governed by power-mad Gamemaker, who will live to hear every one of the twenty three cannons sound out?

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28. The Spider and the Flies

The moon was now high in the sky, shining down on the arena, casting a silvery glow on everything as the tributes all slowly fell into a comfortable slumber. However, not all tributes were fast asleep on the second night in the arena: those with larger alliances erred on the side of caution, and kept one member on watch.

For the Careers, this tribute was Dixie. She was leaning against the mouth of the Cornucopia, holding her spear and whip in each hand. It was fairly mild out, so Dixie didn't have to worry about the cold: the only thing that was bothering her was both tiredness and boredom.

She sighed: today had been a slow day, with nothing happening at all. But this was to be expected in the arena; in no way was everything going to be action-packed all the time. Still, why was Dixie the one on guard? If something were to happen, surely it would be better if she was also rested. Although, she couldn't really complain: Dixie was just an outlier at the end of the day, and wasn't seen in the same light as the other Careers, especially by Dylan. But she was fine with it; she was with the Careers for survival, not friendship.

Dixie glanced back behind her. There were seven tents laid out in a row, all but one of them containing a sleeping tribute. There were no signs of torchlight, meaning that the Careers were most likely asleep. And then Dixie realised just how vulnerable they all were: despite the image they gave off, at the end of the day, the Careers were still just human beings, and could be just as easily killed as any other sleeping tribute. Suddenly Dixie's role seemed infinitely more important: it was up to her to ensure that no Careers died tonight, and if anyone was going to attempt to kill her allies, it would be over her dead body.

Dixie yawned, and leaned back against the Cornucopia. It was getting late; it had been around four hours since the anthem played, showing zero deaths had occurred since yesterday. Twenty eight hours since the first blood was spilled. The Games were progressing, but so were the tributes. And Dixie feared that pretty soon the Gamemakers would make things a lot harder for them if somebody didn't die soon. The Careers would probably get somebody tomorrow though; Dylan was raring to go, despite Osiris' attempts at pacifying him. District 2 males seemed to be like that, though, Dixie noted: they were charismatic, but had incredibly short fuses. Which meant that if Dylan ever were to lose his cool, then he could potentially get out of control. And if that happened, something like last year would go down: the boy from 2 snapped, and if it weren't for the boy from 1, then he would have killed all the Careers. But Dixie was confident that she would be able to take on Dylan if he ever were to get that dangerous.

The other person Dixie was concerned about was also from District 2: Kylee. Something about that girl was off, but Dixie couldn't pin it down. Kylee was definitely playing games with the Careers, but the purpose was unknown. But Dixie had the feeling that Kylee was aiming to create tension among the Careers, causing the alliance to implode. And then Kylee would walk out of the carnage, completely innocent. This was already evident with Dylan and Osiris, but Topaz, Ren, and Annabell seemed to still be getting along with the others. But only Topaz really counted: Ren and Annabell were like the backup members of the team: they stayed behind when the Careers went out, and generally seemed to be close. It was probably because they were young, and lacking the skills that the older, more confident Careers had. Topaz, however, was in this category, yet still got along with Kylee. Perhaps it was because Topaz was close to Ebony, the boy from 1 last year, who was involved with the Careers as they fell apart. Perhaps she was just trying to prevent the same mistakes, which was also what Dixie was aiming for. If the Careers managed to stay together harmoniously, then they'd stand a chance at victory. Of course, in the end, Dixie was only going to look out for herself, but for now, she was part of the team for sure.

Dixie froze suddenly, listening. A rustling sound had reached her ears, but she wasn't sure of the source. She searched the area around her, looking. The noise sounded out again. Dixie looked behind, and saw that it was just the flap of one of the tents scraping against the grass in the breeze. Nothing to be worried about in the slightest. Dixie sighed in relief, confident that the Careers were safe. And they still would be safe so long as she was guarding them.

However, as Dixie turned her back on the tents, she failed to notice as Kylee crawled out of the loose flap. The girl from 2 emerged from the tent, clutching her scythe, bathed in moonlight. She looked directly across the field to Dixie, who wasn't aware, and smiled. Perfect. Dixie would never know.

Kylee stood to her feet, and sneaked around to the back of her tent, hidden from view. She leaned against her tent, not making a sound as she listened closely. There were no sounds of movement: the only thing Kylee could hear was snoring coming from Dylan's tent. So he snored. How annoying. She rolled her eyes, and clutched her scythe: not that it mattered any more. After tonight, Kylee wouldn't have to be subjected to the snoring any more.

She looked up over the tent, and at Dixie, who wasn't aware of Kylee's presence. Oh, how perfect this all was. Finally it was time for the world to see Kylee's true intentions; she had had enough of parading around as seven different people to appease these people, and now that they had all been ensnared in her trap, she would be able to proceed with the plan she had devised from the moment she had decided she was going to go into these damn Games: to kill every last Career in a swift, efficient manner. The time was right. Everyone was asleep; nobody would see it coming.

Kylee crept past her own tent, and up to the next one in the row; the one behind hers was Dixie's, which was currently empty. She'd have to dispatch her last. Kylee then approached the entrance, of the tent, and carefully opened it up. She glanced to make sure Dixie was still oblivious before sneaking inside. She moved to the far side of the tent, where she saw Ren, sleeping. Kylee crouched down, and lifted her scythe. But as she did so, Ren began to stir.
"W-Wha?" he said groggily. "Anna? Is that you?" But then he saw Kylee with the scythe, and instantly made the connection. Kylee grinned as his eyes widened, and he turned pale. His mouth contorted as he tried to scream, but Kylee clamped her hand over his mouth, silencing him. Ren tried to struggle, but Kylee brought her scythe down, slicing it across his throat. Blood poured from the wound as Ren began to struggle less and less, until finally, he went still.

BOOM

Kylee crawled to the entrance of the tent, and watched as Dixie looked around, seeing if the source of the cannon was nearby. Of course, there was no way she would suspect that the cannon actually belonged to a Career. Dixie then looked ahead again, and Kylee stepped out of the tent, but not before giving Ren one last glance. The kid didn't see it coming at all.

She walked across the grass, wiping her hands on her pants, before approaching the next tent along. Kylee crouched down, and opened this one, before stepping inside. She found Annabell curled up in her sleeping bag, soundly resting. Kylee could have sworn that she and Ren were a romantic item. Whatever. At least they could join each other in death.

Kylee crawled over to Annabell's sleeping form, and brought her scythe down, shoving the blade into the back of Annabell's neck. She convulsed a few times, until Kylee pulled the scythe out. Annabell then stopped moving, and remained still.

BOOM

Kylee peered out of the tent, watching Dixie closely. Dixie was now pacing, definitely concerned by the two cannons going off in quick succession of one another. However, she still didn't seem to suspect that the dying tributes were Careers. But now, Kylee realised, District 4 was out of the running. But it wasn't really a shame, or surprising: they had produced a weak pair of kids who got mediocre scores. If anything, Kylee was doing a public service by removing this competition.

Dixie walked to the other side of the Cornucopia, and Kylee darted out of Annabell's tent, and to the next one. She once again swiftly entered, and discovered Osiris, sprawled out, facing upwards. Kylee brought her scythe down, but Osiris shifted, causing the scythe to cleanly slice his right arm off. His eyes shot open, and he began to groan in pain. But Kylee stabbed the scythe into his back, puncturing one of his lungs, silencing him. Osiris shuddered, but Kylee didn't stop. She swung the scythe at Osiris' neck, slicing the jugular vein. Blood poured down, and Kylee made sure it didn't touch her. And then, after around a minute, Osiris stopped shuddering.

BOOM

The tent was filled with the scent of blood, and Kylee covered her nose with her mouth to stop it from making her want to gag. That was the only down side to killing: the stink of blood was almost unbearable. But still, she found the strength to leave the tent, seeing that Dixie still wasn't in sight.

Kylee couldn't help but silently laugh to herself as she walked across to the next tent: even now, Dixie still didn't realise that the Careers were going down swiftly. Oh, how fun it would be when Kylee got around to killing Dixie; telling the girl from 9 that she had killed all of her allies would be hilarious.

Kylee entered the next tent, and crawled to the far side. She found Dylan in this tent, snoring loudly. As tempting as it was to smother him with his own pillow, Kylee knew that time was of the essence here. So instead, she swung her scythe, driving it through Dylan's throat. He gurgled blood, and Kylee watched as the red fluid flowed from the wound and dribbled from his mouth. She pulled the scythe out, and watched as Dylan's eyes opened. For a brief moment, he looked at her with wide eyes, but then, Kylee's district partner slumped forward into a puddle of his own blood.

BOOM

Kylee couldn't help but smile: she had just killed her own district partner. Under any other circumstances, that would be horribly looked down upon, but right now, it was just advancing her plan. And so what if she had killed Dylan? It wasn't as if he was going to do much more than complain about there being no more deaths. But Kylee found it hilariously ironic that after all the gusto about killing, Dylan had just been offed as part of a spree. That simple. It was hilarious how easily this guy who had projected himself as invincible had gone down.

But Kylee could laugh later: she still had Topaz and Dixie to take care of. And it wasn't as if this sudden spike in deaths wasn't suspicious in any way. So she quickly left the tent, and walked over to the final tent. But as Kylee went to open it, Topaz peered out at Kylee, noticing the blood-drenched scythe. Her eyes went wide.
"Oh my god..." she said. "What did you do?"
Kylee smirked. "Oh, I just thinned the competition a little."
"Who did you kill?" Topaz said, trembling.
"Oh, just Ren, Annabell, Dylan, and Osiris," Kylee said casually. Topaz went pale, and began to tremble.
"You murderous bitch!" she screamed as she leaped out of her tent, armed with nothing more than her bare fists. "I'll kill you!"
"Try it," Kylee said, smirking.

Topaz ran at Kylee, but she simply stepped out of the way. But Topaz swiftly turned around, and tackled Kylee to the ground. The scythe fell from her hands, clattering to the side of the two fighting tributes.

Topaz went to punch Kylee in the face, but Kylee spat at Topaz. The saliva landed in Topaz's eye, and she reeled in pain. Kylee then delivered a swift uppercut to Topaz's jaw, sending the girl from District 1 falling backwards onto the ground. Kylee then leaped to her feet, and grabbed the scythe. She walked over to Topaz, and stood over her fellow Career, posed to kill.
"You know," Kylee said as she raised the scythe. "If it weren't for me, you would have stood a pretty good chance at winning."
"Please," Topaz begged, sobbing. "Don't kill me."
"I actually kind of liked you as well," Kylee said. "You were playing the same game as me: trying to manipulate the audience? Nice touch."
"Don't do this!"
"But unfortunately," Kylee said, bringing the scythe down onto Topaz's throat. Blood spilled onto the grass, and Topaz struggled as her windpipe was crushed. "I'm just so much better than you." Kylee pulled her scythe out, and watched as Topaz convulsed as she choked on her own blood, before going still.

BOOM

Five down, one to go. Kylee stepped over Topaz's body, and looked ahead, when she saw Dixie standing in front of her, staring in disbelief.
"What the hell did you do?!" Dixie screamed.
"Oh," Kylee said with a shrug. "I just killed everyone else in this alliance. You know, nothing to get worked up about."
"Oh my god," Dixie said, going pale. "You monster!"
"I don't appreciate insults, you know," Kylee said. She then motioned to Topaz's corpse. "Just look at Topaz. She called me a bitch, and you can see where that got her."
"No..." Dixie said.
"But don't worry," Kylee said, clutching her scythe. "I plan on you joining them."

Kylee rushed forward at Dixie, and swung the scythe. Dixie raised an arm to protect her face. The scythe dug into the flesh of Dixie's arm, causing her to scream out in agony. But Dixie still tried to deliver a kick to Kylee. But Kylee was faster, and pulled the scythe out of Dixie's arm. The look on Dixie's face was one of pure disbelief; of course she wouldn't immediately accept that her allies had all been murdered in swift succession. But it was the truth, and Kylee knew that there was nothing Dixie could do to change that.

Dixie gripped her spear, and went to thrust at Kylee. But Kylee continued to move out of the way of Dixie, flawlessly evading every blow.
"Come on now," she said. "When will you realise that beating me is futile?" Dixie clenched her bleeding arm, and stared up at Kylee's face.
"Screw you," Dixie spat, and before Kylee could move, Dixie rushed at Kylee, tripping her up. Kylee fell backwards, and watched as Dixie ran past her, and vanished into the woods, abandoning the Career camp.

Kylee sighed; so Dixie had gotten away. Whatever. Without any food or water, Dixie had maybe a day or two at the most to live. As far as Kylee was concerned, she had just dominated her entire alliance with minimal effort.

She walked across the field, passing Topaz's corpse once more, and walked up to the mouth of the Cornucopia. All of this was now Kylee's; she was truly the best-off tribute in the entire arena. She had literally every supply imaginable, and had proved herself as a ruthless killer. In her mind, the Capitol had no choice now but to root for her.

And as the hovercraft emerged to take the bodies away, Kylee grinned. They were all capable fighters, but in the end, their blind trust got in the way. Because, at the end of it all, they were simply mere flies caught up in Kylee's spider web of lies and deceit. They may have thought they were strong, but compared to Kylee, they were just easy prey. And now, with the only major threat eliminated, Kylee was certain of one thing: there was now nothing that stood between her and victory.

--

Alas, alas,  how very soon these silly little Flies, 
Hearing her wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by; 
With buzzing wings they hung aloft, then near and nearer drew, 
Thinking only of their brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue -- 
Thinking only of their crested heads -- poor foolish things! At last, 
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held them fast. 
She dragged them up her winding stair, into her dismal den, 
Within her little parlour -- but they ne'er came out again.
 

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