Mercy (A Hunger Games fanfic)

Avea Thatcher isn't like most careers from District 4, she has no interest in the games or the fame and glory that come with being Victor. But after her twin sister, Lyra, is executed, her older sister, Xanthe, decides to volunteer for the 56th Hunger Games as a form of suicide. Avea knows she has to be the one to fight in the games if she is to save her sister and keep her family together. Seen as a traitor by the careers, Avea struggles to stay alive in the arena while keeping a vow she made to Lyra and herself to not let anyone suffer before they die.

"Before I black out I make a vow to myself: 'I will never let anyone suffer like she did. I will never let anyone suffer like my sister did.' And then I'm pulled into the blackness."

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12. Chapter 11

The wind whips through the canyon as we run blowing dirt into our faces, in our eyes, and into our lungs. We finally stop after running three miles from the Cornucopia where the bloodbath rages on. The sheer face of the canyon wall is frightening, but we have to climb it and get to the forest beyond if we want to live. I take in the scene around me, the terrain is incredibly rocky with boulders everywhere I look (I'm glad we have the protective padding on our jackets and pants now, it should make going up the canyon a lot less painful), the river is relatively shallow, no more than a foot deep with a few small rapids.

The river is fast moving here, running over rocks, so it should be safe to drink. We fill up our four water bottles, one had been meant for Mave, and try to find a suitable trail to get to the top.

"What do you think lives in those caves?" Harrison asks. There are caves in the side of the canyon in a variety of sizes.

"Probably some horrible mutt," Eris grunts. Harrison looks at Ronan and me for confirmation; Ronan stays silent obviously thinking about Mave, a subject no one has the heart to talk about.

"Probably," I murmur.

"I bet they are designed to rip us apart piece by piece," Harrison says.

Eris laughs,"They probably also have a taste for boys from District 6."

Harrison frowns at her, but we have been here to long already so I get everyone moving, "Come on I found a path. Let's get moving."

I take the lead on the narrow path and hug the rocks. Each step is a gamble, will the rock crumble, will it be slippery, will I trip. We work our way up slowly going slower on narrower parts and watching where we place our feet. The rock wall tugs at my shirt and digs into my skin as I make my way up the path. My breath is locked in my lungs out of fear of falling, it would be sad if I fought my way out of the Cornucopia and watched Mave die only to fall to my death. Just as I tear my mind away from thoughts of the bloodbath the cannon fires. We all stop to listen. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. The cannon doesn't fire again. 10 dead in one day, almost half of the field gone.

I look up the steep face of the canyon and see that we are almost to the top. I pick up the pace desperate to get away from the vulnerable cliff face, where we could easily fall to our deaths or be taken out by an archer or even someone with a slingshot, and as far as I can from the dead tributes.

The top of the canyon is only about ten feet above my head when my foot catches on a rock; the breath that I have been holding whooshes out of my lungs. For a brief moment I'm completely weightless, but then gravity takes over and pulls be towards the ground. All I can think about is how stupid I am for rushing towards the top and that maybe I deserve it not only for getting Mave killed, but also for killing those other two girls.

The lyrics to one of the songs Lyra wrote pops into my head as I fall. She used to sing it around the house even though she knew the morbid lyrics made me feel uncomfortable; now the lyrics seemed almost fitting.

 Falling to the world's end

Filled with dread

You hold on by just a thread

Alone without a friend

There is nothing left to mend

To the end you were led

And they left you for dead

Over the edge you descend

Never to return again

I'm suddenly jerked upward from my descent and my thoughts when someone grabs my right arm and pulls hard. My plummet downwards ends and I'm surprised to find my feet planted back on the path.

"Are you ok?" Ronan asks with my right wrist still in his hand. I hadn't really expected anyone to save me, especially Ronan.

"I'm fine. Thanks," I manage to get out, while trying to maintain eye contact. I'm over whelmed with guilt every time I look at him.

He nods and drops my wrist. I feel like I'm starting to be forgiven, if he hated me he wouldn't have saved me, right? I shrug off all the confusing thoughts bouncing around my head and continue up the path. We finally clamber over the top of the canyon and rest for a moment. I'm tempted to gulp down my water but I don't know when we will find water next or even if there is another water source, so I settle for a small drink. The sun is getting close to the horizon, we probably have 2 maybe 3 hours before sunset; we've been hiking for a while and we'll have to make camp soon.

"We're to vulnerable here," Eris points out.

Ronan nods, "We need to go at least a few miles into the woods. We don't know how many tributes also climbed the cliff or where they might be."

"We have to assume that the 10 other tributes are near and that they'll be looking for us," I add, "Especially the careers. We'll be one of their main targets being the only other known alliance."

Before we head out I walk 100 yards to the right and carefully shift the dirt on the ground and then break a few small branches on the nearby trees, a trick I learned at the training center to give the illusion that my allies and I went that way. I'd love to set a trap a little further in the forest but it's getting late and Eris was right we are vulnerable out in the open. I make my way back to the others and we carefully make our way into the forest doing our best not to leave a trail.

I'm edgy, every time a shadow shifts I'm certain that it's Zale and that he's come to kill me. I grip one of my tomahawks tightly in my left hand and nervously glance into the trees just waiting for the careers to jump out. When we make it a good four miles into the woods I begin to relax a little, the careers were at the blood bath much longer than we were so there is no way they've climbed the cliff and made it this far into the forest already. We continue on for another half mile before finding a small clearing and setting up camp.

We've just finished setting up camp when the anthem begins signaling that we are about to find out who died today. My stomach tightens into a knot, Mave will be up there. The sky light up with the seal of Panem and then the dead tributes are shown. The first picture is of the boy from District 3, I think his name was Witt  I can't remember for sure. The other pictures slowly follow: both from 5, both from 7, the boy from 8, then.... Mave, it's a simple photo but she looks so sweet and innocent with her long blonde hair and big brown eyes that I can feel my heart being ripped apart. Ronan takes a shuddering breath next to me and I put my arm around his shoulder to comfort him. I expect him to push me away but he doesn't. The pictures continue. The next photo is of the girl from 10 and then, the last two make me feel so much guilt that I could drown in it: the girl from 11 whose name I don't even know and Aurora, the girl from 12. I feel so ashamed in that moment, I killed them without even thinking about it, what their families must think. I look around at my allies and see that Eris and Ronan both have the same guilty expressions that I know is on my face. Harrison is the only innocent person here.

"I didn't think about it when did it. The boy from 7 he just attacked me and I killed him. Now his family is incomplete and it's my fault," Eris says mournfully.

"No, it's not. You did what you had to do. The girl from 10 went after Harrison and I know its horrible, but I killed her. I had to choose between her and Harrison and I did what I had to do," Ronan says firmly. I wish I could believe what he's saying but I can't.

Ronan sees the pain on my face and adds, "What happened to Mave wasn't your fault. Aurora was the one who killed her, not you."

"No, I got her killed and not to mention I killed both of those girls, the ones from 11 and 12. I didn't think about it before I spilt there blood," I choke.

Ronan persists, "You made a choice and you chose to save Mave and yourself rather than two complete strangers. You couldn't have stopped Aurora and you said earlier that you couldn't find Mave. How is this your fault?"

"I could have looked harder," I whisper.

Ronan shakes his head, "You did what you could. I know that and so do your other friends." Harrison and Eris nod in agreement.

"Thank you" I still feel horrible but Ronan's words have lifted some of the guilt off my chest.

Before we go to sleep we go through our backpacks. We sort everything into different piles: food, weapons, fire starting materials, protective gear, and then we already have our water bottles. By the end we have 3 packets of beef jerky, 4 packets of cracker, and 1 packet of dried fruit for food, it scares me to think how little food this is. A pocket knife and 2 coils of wire for weapons, though all of us are already armed, at least the wire can be used to get more food. We have 4 boxes of matches for our fire starting materials. And then we have 2 sleeping bags, we'll have to share, and 4 pairs of padded gloves much like our pants and jackets for going over the rough terrain of the canyon. We divide up all the supplies as evenly as we can.

We lay out the two sleeping bags and put our packs and weapons next to them in case we have to get away fast. Harrison is a lot more comfortable around Eris than he is with me or Ronan, I think she's like a big sister to him especially since they're from the same district, so they share a sleeping bag and Ronan and I share the other. I feel a little uncomfortable sleeping this close to another person, especially a boy, but it's comforting at the same time I trust him and he also reminds me of Lyra, they have the same hair and eye color and then there's his personality. Lyra was one of the most caring people I've ever met, she always had my back and always comforted me, Ronan is the same way.

Ronan faces away from me and I can tell he wants to be alone, he still hasn't fully come to terms with Mave's death. I let him mourn and face the other way so that our backs are just touching. I'm exhausted, but I can't sleep and I can tell Ronan can't either.

I turn to face him and cautiously ask, "Are you ok?" Which is a really stupid question.

He turns to face me and says, "Not really, but I know you, Eris, and Harrison are here for me. I'll carry on."

"I'm so sorry," I murmur.

He clasps my hand in his and whispers back, "It's not your fault. Just remember I'm always here for you."

"Thank you," I whisper. He smiles at me and I smile back. Exhaustion finally over takes us and we both fall asleep still holding hands.

 

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