The Ultimate Sacrifice

Apollo was always expected to win. A member of District 2, he was an early favourite to be named the victor of the Hunger Games. He believed it was all he ever wanted, but in the arena, he faces the Ultimate Sacrifice

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1. Sacrifice

The Arena was deathly silent, Apollo could hear his heart beating, adrenaline fuelled, it was pounding on his chest, demanding to be released. The soft falling of the snow cooled his burning skin, the wind caressed his face, ruffled his dirty hair and kissed his exposed torso. Only moments ago he was sweltering under a merciless sun, but now the Game makers had seen fit to bless him with snow, just as Apollo was completely unprepared for it. His clothes were in tatters, torn by the trials he had faced over the last few days, every tribute killed making their mark, every obstacle thrown at him scraping and clawing at him, and now he stood, a broken man. His chest bore the marks of combat, scars he would dream about obtaining back in District 2, gashes dripping crimson onto the snowy canvas that he was desperate to obtain, all in the name of glory. He had stared death in the face over and over again, and he had laughed. Not flinching, not backing down, he had run face first into danger, hammer swinging, a battle cry in his throat, shouting defiance to the world. All in the name of glory.

He looked down. His hands were covered in blood. Who it belonged to, he didn't know. Some of it was his, some of it belonged to those unfortunate enough to have found him, those unfortunate enough to have the last thing they heard a lonely cannon reverberating around an arena, to be relegated to a mere projection on the night sky, archived as a memory, nothing more. Sure, their families would mourn for them, and yes, some poor chap in the Capitol would be cursing Apollo's name for losing him money, killing the tribute he so benevolently backed. But Apollo was the favourite. And he never lost.

All his life, he was told he was a fighter. When he fought the children at school, he would leave with eyes blackened and nose bloodied, but always smiling. When he was being trained for the Games he excelled in everything. He knew what would keep you alive and what could kill you. 100 different ways to kill a man with 100 different weapons. The hammer lying by his side was just his personal signature, cracking bones and ending lives with terrifying ease. For all the skill and finesse he had been taught to utilise in the arena, he relied on brute force and sheer strength to crush the opposition. He could feel the impact jarring his shoulder, the crack reverberating through his arm as time and time again he brought the hammer down upon a terrified face, their last thoughts not of home or their families, but of Apollo. Children as young as 12 facing a man of 18 who had been learning how to kill whilst they learned how to bake, or how to fish. All in the name of glory.

Apollo scooped the snow up in his hands and rubbed it on to his face, the freezing cold calming his rage. He knew the snow could have been tainted, poisoned like everything else in the Arena, but he didn't care anymore. Only one tribute remained between him and eternal glory.

He thought of home, like all the Tributes thought of home. He thought of the villages, the children running round, brandishing their wooden swords, victors of their own Hunger Games, chanting the names of the ever-glorious dead, or the even-more-glorious living, the legends that stood the test of time. He thought of the mountains, and how he would stare out across the towering hills and at the sunset, throwing off hues of gold and orange and red, captured in the snow that would have capped their peaks. He thought of his house, the crackling of the freshly cut wood in the fireplace, the smell of warm bread wafting through the kitchen, the warm embrace of a loved one shielding him from any traces of cold that seeped into the room.

He thought of love. How her blonde hair would flow around her shoulders in waves, how her eyes sparkled clearer than the crispest winter morning, how her skin would redden in the cold mornings. He thought of love.

All he did in the Games, he did for her, knowing that every step of the way, she would be there. He didn't care about the children in the villages, squabbling over who could be Apollo, he didn't care about the Capitol, making him the favourite, spending vast amounts of money on him and backing him to win. He didn't even care about his family, so content were they to see their son leave for the Games, tears of pride in their eyes that he could meet his death. All in the name of glory.

Glory was one tribute away. Apollo looked up, the snow still falling in it's silent drops, covering the deep pools of red that poisoned the white. He wrapped his fingers around the hammer, heaving it to his side. He looked at the tribute. The tribute that stood between him and glory. One swing to make him a legend. One blow to ensure he was immortalised in the history books. One kill to see him live as a hero.

One kill to see him die alone.

He looked at the tribute. Her blonde hair flowed over her shoulders, ruined and broken, matted in mud and filth. Her eyes sparkled clear, tears rolling down her cheeks. Her skin reddened by the blood pouring from her head. He looked at love, knowing that every step of the Games she had been there, by his side. But the Games had to have a winner. They could walk together no more.

He thought of glory, not of love. He wanted to be immortal, he wanted people shouting his name in the streets, shouting their pride at having him as their favourite. Apollo would stand victorious and people would adore him. He needed nothing more than that. All his life, he was trained to kill, all his life he was told it would be so. He thought no more of love. He did this for glory.

He walked over to the tribute, the cold numbing his mind as well as his body. He hefted his hammer high, and when he brought it down, only the soft thud of a cannon could be heard. The arena was deathly silent.

He knew he had made the Ultimate Sacrifice. All in the name of glory.

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