The Hunger Games: The First Quarter Quell [BEING STARTED OVER]



  • Yeah sorry, I wanted to wait, but for once I actually had a ton of motivation to get more chapters done and I didn't want to pass that up.

    TheLier posted: »

    Oh damn, took some time to catch up, I'm not used to episodes coming out this fast, not that I will complain! Things are about to get more intense, can't wait to seee what will happen.

  • edited April 2017

    Sorry for the late response! I'm finally caught up, and I'm glad you're back and uploading at a faster pace :D All I can say is... fuck. Damn it, I wish I was here earlier to input my decisions, but oh well D:

    Man, I already have a feeling I'm going to like Hex. Everyone likes a slight underdog ;P. But man, I really wanna know what's the big deal about her - I can't wait till that's revealed ^^.

    Also, Penn and the Careers are actually getting along? Fuck. I'm praying this isn't true: As Liquid said, this puts her in an advantage to kill other tributes that deserve to last long in the arena - god damn it. Oh, and fuck Erron. I already dislike the overly confident rat. Actually, all of the careers seem to be narcissistic rats that have gone past their expiry date. Well, besides Skeeter of course :P

    I'm so pumped to see how this story turns out and can't wait for our questions to be answered! By the way, Willem has definitely earned a position on my favourite characters list right now.

    @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan 67% of readers chose

  • @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan

    Chapter 2: A Feast for Kings

    Aura Cantarella

    The dinner hall was grand, with four long wooden tables that stretched for fifty yards from one side of the room to the other. A chandelier with a hundred lit candles filled the room with the scent of roses and wafted a gentle glow unto the room. From just a quick glance around her, Aura surmised that should they need to, they could probably feed every citizen of the Capitol within this giant room. Yet they were only twenty-four.

    They were served with more waiting staff members than there were teachers in District Seven, and every one of them seemed to come out sporting a completely different look. One man who carried a dish of hot cranberry soup had a shiny black hair, bald on the left and combed over into a beard on the right side. Another woman who filled their champagne glasses past the point of overfilling them, had eyelashes so long and fluffy that Aura had a hard time believing she could see from under them. Each waiter and waitress who brought them food made it their first priority to make sure every tribute knew their name. Aura couldn't remember a single one of them.

    Before her was a plate of steak with pink, squishy insides and potatoes that had been crushed into paste-form. Frankly, she felt eating meat that was partially uncooked made her feel sick to her stomach. If they weren't going to cook it, it defeated the point, didn't it? And the potatoes on the side didn't even remind her remotely of what potatoes were supposed to look like. She knew them as round, brown things that came out of the ground and were most definitely not squishy. Maybe the Capitol had a different way of doing things around here, and maybe they thought their food looked fancy, but she figured if they were going to prepare it so much, they eventually would start moving backwards. Though she did have to admit, it was presented very nicely, with little leaves for decoration on the sides... Or was she supposed to eat those too? After Samwell took one bite of it and spit it back on his plate in disgust, she decided not.

    "Not good, huh?" Aura laughed, taking a sip of the sweet blue liquid they had given her. "Personally, I think this Capitol food is all too lavish. I'd much rather just have a slab of ribs, you know? What do you like to eat?"

    Sam hadn't spoken very much since they had arrived at the Capitol, and Aura hadn't seen his eyes very much either. She supposed it had to be hard. It was hard for Aura too, but at least she knew that someone still loved her. At the end of the day, when dinner was done, they would travel back to the Grand Hotel and she would find Corvin and Barker where she left them. They would come rushing into her arms because they loved her and she loved then, and that was all that was getting her through this. Sam didn't have that. From now until the Games started, Sam would be left with nothing to go back to. It was like hope didn't exist for him anymore. Aura wanted so badly to help make it better.

    "Hey, it's going to be okay," Aura said across the dinner table to the boy who had come here with her. He simply stared down into his steak and mashed potatoes, not even touching them. His strands of curly hair were hanging in his face. "Sam, listen to me. If you get like this, you'll never get home again. You hear me? Take my advice, kid..."

    "I don't want to get home," Sam replied. "I just want it all to be over."

    What could Aura say to that? She had been expecting something different, maybe an answer to her question about his favorite food, or a thanks for her choice to come sit next to him when all of the tributes were scattered to the wind in this massive hall. Maybe she thought he would remain silent. But this... she had no answer for this.

    "Just hang in there," was all she could think of. She pulled a spoonful of potatoes to her mouth and the little boy's sorrow wouldn't let her enjoy it.

    Perhaps the scale of the room was meant to display superiority, but as a side effect, the tributes didn't feel forced to share space. None of them talked to each other. With the exception of the Careers in the center, laughing and tossing playful balls of food at one another, and a few pairs of district partners talking in solemnity, all of them ate alone. She didn't blame them. Running through all of their minds was the recurring idea that if they got close to any of the other tributes, that might make it harder to let go in the end.

    Aura and Samwell were sitting farthest to the south side of the room, near the fire exit. Around them, she could see the sleek-looking pair from Three, the plain girl from Twelve with short brown hair, and oddly, two girls conversing in the corner, away from everyone else. She thought she recognized them as the girls from Nine and Ten. They leaned in to whisper conversation. What could those two possibly have to share?

    No, she told herself, her days of being in charge were over. It wasn't her business to be spying on people. Back at home, with a father who would come home drunk all the time and wasn't around much, it had become second nature to her to take a bit more of a leadership role in the family, but now was a different situation. Everything was out of her hands.

    On the other side of the room was the giant lumbering man from Four she had heard been called Marten. She didn't know his story, but the way he stabbed his steak like he was trying to kill it while not even paying attention made her raise an eyebrow. Maybe it was something about the man's face--something about the determined way he had sat the farthest away from anybody else. He was the largest man in the room, but Aura didn't feel so much frightened by him as she did intrigued. She decided that the next time they sat down for dinner, she would speak to him. She wondered if she could get a conversation going with a man like that...

    "Desert!" cried a Gamemaker overseeing the dinner from the front of the room where the doors swung open to reveal a marble kitchen. She had called herself Lynona. "I know you all are feeling quite stuffed already, so I invite you to indulge in some of our serum, located to your rights." As she said so, a small panel opened in the table beside her and a sparkling glass of opaque yellow liquid was presented. "Cans are located behind, and enjoy!"

    Cans? Aura turned around to clarify and saw a trash can there, lined with a plastic bag. It was also on a moving plate like the glass was, and Aura knew it hadn't been there when she arrived. Aura took a solitary second to ponder what it was meant for when she was interrupted by a heaving sound to her front. She turned and saw the poor girl from Twelve, releasing a wave of putrid vomit all over the table. She was followed closely by one of the pair from Three, a boy from Five, and almost all of the Careers. None had reached the can in time. If Aura hadn't felt hungry before, she definitely felt no different now.

    "You're having us barf?" The muscular boy from Six, Remus, stood on the table and shouted at the Gamemaker. "What's the matter with you?"

    "Yes, we've received this reaction before," Lynona replied to the group of angry tributes. "My apologies, but it is custom here in the Capitol that a syrup be served so that those who wish to eat may continue. I have told my superiors time and time again that the districts think it strange, but they don't listen. Regardless, the option is there if you want it. Desert is on its way."

    Yes, Aura thought, it was strange. How could it not be strange to upchuck what you have eaten simply for the purpose of eating more? That seemed incredibly wasteful. If only the Capitol could give all of this excess food to the districts, they wouldn't have needed the Hunger Games in the first place... yet there they stood. They were a timeless event, celebrating just how hard the Capitol had the districts by the balls.

    Desert was presented to them, a frozen white paste that smelled very good and was melting very quickly, with an overripe cherry on the top of a mountain of cream. It honestly did look rather delicious, but after the chaotic episode from earlier, not even the hungriest of them dared a single bite.

    After dinner, the tributes were given a short time to intermingle and make friendships. The Capitol hoped they would use this time to connect with one another, and that they would capture it all on camera and send it out to the viewers of Panem, but nothing happened. The Careers were the only ones in the room making the least bit of noise, and they were still uncharacteristically quiet.

    After everyone had got their bearings set and grown accustomed to the way the Capitol did things, the chatter did start to pick up slowly. The Girl from Nine and Ten split up and the former went over to join the Careers--which was odd considering District Nine was never a Career district. The tributes from Districts Three and Six joined together in polite conversation and a small group of those who were too shy to speak gathered along the eastern wall, near the intercom. After fifteen minutes, those who were moving had moved, and the only ones left by themselves were themselves, the boy and girl from Eleven and the mysterious man from Four. Aura had been about to speak some encouraging words to Samwell when she felt a tap on the shoulder.

    When she turned, she was startled to find her Uncle Crispin standing there, gazing down at her with estranged pride. "What are you doing here?" Aura asked, rather more acidly than she had meant. "I was going to meet you back at the room tonight. Only the tributes are supposed to be here."

    "Important business," Crispin said, "important mentor business. If I'm going to teach you the ropes we mustn't waste our time with fool's play like this silly lunch. Come, Aura."

    "I can't leave," Aura responded. "I'll break formation. The Capitol likes things neat and orderly. They don't want anyone getting off track."

    "I've pulled a string with those higher up, and they agreed that the opening dinner is often the least meaningful part of Preparation Week," Crispin said. "I've talked my ass off trying to get this approved, so come with me."

    She stood up, dusting off her white dress. As she did so, something occurred to her. The boy sitting across from her would be left alone. He was just as much tribute as she was, and he deserved just as chance to a mentor as she did. "Can Sam come?" Aura asked, pointing at the little curly-haired boy. His eyes saw the light of day for the first time that evening.

    Crispin took one look at the boy and shook his head. "Absolutely not, now come."

    "Why not?" Aura frowned. "If you're the mentor now, you have to play by Capitol rules, and they say that he should get just as much mentorship as I do. We're both tributes, after all."

    Crispin laughed for a moment and then gripped hard on Aura's arm and brought her close to whisper. A few of the mutterings of the tributes stopped to observe, and Aura wished with all of herself that they would go back their business and turn away. "Listen, girl, don't pretend you know the Capitol better than I do, because that will be a sure mistake on your part. My first priority here is you, and that boy can go play with his dolls for all I care. He isn't going to make the first night. I'm not spending valuable time on him."

    From his tone, Aura knew the man was serious. She had heard him get this way before, all back before he had proclaimed himself captain of the family and her life. One time, her father had tried to tell Crispin how to speak to Ludwig when he came around, and he blew up, almost setting the dog on Rowan as well. So, one look at his gritted teeth was enough to tell Aura that she wasn't going with him with the boy in tow.

    But, hearing how he treated Sam angered her madly. He was only a bit older than Corvin, and how could Aura entrust a man with her very special, very important brothers if he couldn't even control his mouth around another boy that didn't happen to share his blood. It was at this point that Aura decided there was a line, where she could no longer put up with Crispin's meddling.

  • First, second, last!

    Anyhow, good part. Def gave a bit more to think about. Personally, I expected this from Crispin. I have a feeling that he is both tasked with pushing Aura forward -and- is egomaniac enough that he wants another of their family to win.

    @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan Chapter 2: A Feast

  • Frankly, she felt eating meat that was partially uncooked made her feel sick to her stomach. If they weren't going to cook it, it defeated the point, didn't it?

    Whoa, does that mean Aura prefers her steak well-done? Sacrilege! I... am shocked. It's as if I don't even know her anymore D:

    In all seriousness, I liked this part a lot, naturally. Aura's situation is surely not getting any easier now that her sisterly instincts kick in for Sam. The problem is, he is not going to win the games, that is just about impossible. I amit that I feel terribly bad for the kid, but unlike Aura, he has zero chances. The only hope I have is that he won't drag her down with him. At the same time, maybe caring for him can get her good sponsors. After all, that is the only thing the Capitol likes as much as a love story in the games. However, Aura must be careful when it comes to risk her own life for him. She has something to go back to, two kids who depend on her and who can't be left in the care of Crispin. Sam meanwhile has an abusive piece-of-shit mother who would probably just kick him out if he returns. If Aura wins, and I am surely rooting for her, I have but one wish for her, that she gets a chance to just straight out break that bitch's face when she returns to District 7.

    But ah, other than my concern for Aura getting too close to Sam than it would be good for her, I liked this part a lot. It seems the other tributes are getting some serious development in the coming chapters and I am loving it. It's small details, like the mention of that D6 boy, that help a lot with giving me a Hunger Games feeling and making me feel something for these tributes, which is going to make it all the harder when so many of them are going to die in the near future. Also, I see Penn and Hex get along well, huh? Ah, shame, it might be time for Hex to just look at the flowers ;)

    For the choice, I actually had a relatively easy time with it and not just because I am so much in favour of Aura. Crispin might be a huge jerk, but he is right with one thing. Sam is chanceless, even though I feel like he is underestimating the kid and he might very well make it farther than anyone thought. Perhaps he could even be useful for Aura. However, Aura is the one with the skills and whatever Crispin wishes to show her, I believe it will be valuable for her in the games. Ultimately, if she wishes to help Sam so badly, then she would even do so, in a certain way, by learning a valuable skill that could end up helping both of them in the arena. I have no idea what Crispin has planned here, but it seems to me that he is genuine with his wish to get Aura through the games. That makes him a necessary evil she has to put up with. Especially considering that the other tributes seem in many cases equally skilled to her. I am curious what he wants to show her and I believe that in a way, this one could end up helping her and Sam both, at the very best.

    @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan Chapter 2: A Feast

  • What does first, second, last mean?

    TheLier posted: »

    First, second, last! Anyhow, good part. Def gave a bit more to think about. Personally, I expected this from Crispin. I have a feeling th

  • Whoa, does that mean Aura prefers her steak well-done? Sacrilege! I... am shocked. It's as if I don't even know her anymore D:

    Yeah, you better get used to it. Aura's stone-cold now. Nothing good about her anymore.

    If Aura wins, and I am surely rooting for her, I have but one wish for her, that she gets a chance to just straight out break that bitch's face when she returns to District 7.

    Lol fair enough. Maybe if she wins, I'll write a special "Aura beats the shit out of Mrs. Beckett" chapter. Or maybe I'll just write one non-canonically anyway like I did that one where LiquidChicagoTed breaks into District Nine and goes ape shit on Penn.

    It's small details, like the mention of that D6 boy, that help a lot with giving me a Hunger Games feeling and making me feel something for these tributes, which is going to make it all the harder when so many of them are going to die in the near future.

    I'm glad you like it like that. Naturally, since there are twenty-four of them, I can't give them all equal screen time, or else the important ones' character development would suffer for it, so hopefully I can just tide everyone over with little tidbits. It was one of the things I liked about the Harry Potter series honestly, where we would get little tidbits about the other students lives so it felt like a shaping world.

    Also, I see Penn and Hex get along well, huh? Ah, shame, it might be time for Hex to just look at the flowers ;)

    Awwwww yeah, I see what you did there.

    Frankly, she felt eating meat that was partially uncooked made her feel sick to her stomach. If they weren't going to cook it, it defeated t

  • Yeah, you better get used to it. Aura's stone-cold now. Nothing good about her anymore.

    Oh man, what's next? She's going to eat pineapple pizza? Crust first? I have always heard that the Hunger Games turn good people into monsters, but I never thought it would happen this quickly. At this rate, someone like Penn is probably already at the point where she's putting ketchup onto her steak.

    Lol fair enough. Maybe if she wins, I'll write a special "Aura beats the shit out of Mrs. Beckett" chapter. Or maybe I'll just write one non-canonically anyway like I did that one where LiquidChicagoTed breaks into District Nine and goes ape shit on Penn.

    Wait, you mean my involvement in the Hunger Games has not been canonical? Aw, damn it :D But yeah, I would love that, either as a canonical scene, because Mrs Beckett seriously deserves it, or as a non-canonical scene at the least, because honestly, someone needs to punch her even if it's not canonical.

    I'm glad you like it like that. Naturally, since there are twenty-four of them, I can't give them all equal screen time, or else the important ones' character development would suffer for it, so hopefully I can just tide everyone over with little tidbits. It was one of the things I liked about the Harry Potter series honestly, where we would get little tidbits about the other students lives so it felt like a shaping world.

    This is what I meant, yes! You worded it better than I did, but this comparison to the Harry Potter series is a very good one. There's also this huge cast that gets developed through these little pieces of information and it ultimately does a good job in making us interested into characters beyond the main ones. I mean, I am pretty sure quite a number of these tributes won't play much of a role in the games and surely there will be some to die during the bloodbath, but if you continue with this strategy, I am sure there will be none I won't care about in one way or the other. Even if I might dislike them, such as Penn for example, I absolutely doubt there will be a single tribute I won't feel anything for.

    Whoa, does that mean Aura prefers her steak well-done? Sacrilege! I... am shocked. It's as if I don't even know her anymore Yeah, y

  • edited April 2017

    Yet again, another amazing part! I'm so glad this is back at a much faster pace

    Aaaaaand as much as I hate to say it, Crispin is right. The chances of Samwell making it till the end are very small. I love Aura, so I'm voting for her to go with Crispin and see what he has to say. It has to be important if he asked officials to excuse her.

    @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan Chapter 2: A Feast

  • @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan

    75% of readers chose to [B. Go with Crispin.]

    But today was not the time to cross that line, Aura decided, letting her fist unclench with a sigh. All the eyes in the cafeteria were on her, as were the Capitol. There were certainly much better ways of grabbing attention than declaring rebellion in the face of her mentor. When it became clear the scene had ended, the other tributes slowly went back to their business, and Crispin looked rather pleased.

    "I'll come with you alright," Aura said, feeling herself give up. She wouldn't let herself turn back to see Sam. She felt she had let him down. "But you can't just ignore the situation. The Capitol won't take it kindly to know that you aren't teaching one of your own pupils."

    Crispin took Aura by the arm, leading her out of the door and the cafeteria. Once they were firmly out of earshot, he whispered. "I don't appreciate this kind of behavior, Aura. I know you think you're doing what's right, but news flash, you're just getting bad press. Stay away from that boy, I tell you, and you'll be infinitely the better for it."

    "What the hell, Uncle Crispin?" Aura said. "He's just a kid. How can I just leave him be? He won't make it very far by himself."

    Crispin cracked a bit of a smile that he clearly hoped Aura hadn't seen. She did. She hadn't called him Uncle Crispin in a very long time. "I know he won't make it very far by himself," he replied. "That's the point. Are you forgetting what you're doing here?"

    "No," Aura admitted.

    "You're going to have to kill them, Aura. Don't let their faces get to you. Don't learn their names, and don't make friends with them, because in only a week's time, they will be coming at you with knives and arrows and whatever they have. They will try to kill you, and no matter how smiley you were around them, and no matter if you consider yourselves 'friends,' one will have to die in the end. My job is to make sure it's not you. So, if doing my job makes me an asshole, then I'll have to live with that."

    She knew where this was going, but she wished she didn't have to. Thinking about the gritty details of the Hunger Games was just awful, and Aura shivered whenever she pictured any of the people she saw in the cafeteria dead on the ground... Back at the Haven, on her last day with her friends, she had agreed with Garth, saying that if she was going to die, she would like to die fighting. It was a fine idea when proposed romantically, but now... she didn't know.

    If she went down fighting, that would imply that she would have to kill some of them. Maybe it would come in the form of self-defense, and maybe not... It was the not that scared Aura most, knowing that somewhere inside her was the possibility to kill, and that she wasn't confining the thoughts in the deepest depths of her heart. The Hunger Games truly did bring out the worst in people. If Crispin had his way, she would see what the worst was in herself in the coming week...

    They were getting nowhere by thinking such sour thoughts. Aura put a smile on her face and pushed them away. After all, she had one week to enjoy in a luxurious city whose streets were paved with gold. She had one week of her life left, and she was determined to live it. If it cost her in the arena, then she didn't care. She already regretted leaving Sam alone in the cafeteria...

    Crispin led Aura back across the way to the Hotel they had come from, and when they entered, he spoke a few words to the man behind the front desk. He laughed for a minute and then opened the lift doors, revealing the lavish, carpet-lined elevator. Why was he taking them back to their room? Did Ludwig have something to say to her? Or did he simply wish to give her a chance to sing to her brothers before bed? No, it wouldn't be the latter. Crispin didn't take others' thoughts into consideration like that.

    The lift ascended to floor seven, and Aura didn't hear all the excited chatter behind the doors just as she had the first time she had found her room. The building had seemingly been evacuated. When the doors rolled open on their suite, Aura was astonished to find not a single soul from her district was there. Ludwig wasn't present, and neither were her brothers. Not even the avoxes, Thirty and Quimby had remained. Instead, in the center of the room, leaning on a long wooden cane was a man of middle age, who looked down upon her with dignity and purpose.

    "Aura Cantarella," the man spoke in a smooth voice. She fought back the urge to ask how he knew her name. He limped forward on his cane. "My name is Theoram Warrik. But perhaps you know me by another name."

    "Um... no." Aura tried to filter through her memory, but couldn't remember anything related to a crippled man with a shiny eyeglass. She was confident she'd never met this man. "Who are you?"

    "Perhaps the item in your pocket should remind you," Theo smiled graciously. Aura reached into her pocket and found the owl pendant there, her fingers running over its thinly sanded grooves. How would this stranger know about it? Unless...

    "Schrodinger..." Aura spoke in reverence, the puzzle pieces finally connecting in her mind. That was why Crispin had brought her here alone, and why he had made absolute certain they would not be followed...

    "I always knew you had a head on top of your shoulders, Aura," Crispin smiled, crossing the room to the crippled man. "Meet the Owl, the man who's pulling the strings of the puppeteer..." He draped an arm around the man's shoulder, but he shook it off in annoyance.

    "Thank you for your kind words, Crispin, but I am a Gamemaker, nothing more- at least to those outside this room," Theo said. "Your uncle nonetheless speaks the truth. Aura, you, of course, do not recognize me, but I have known you since your very childhood. I have watched you grow up in District Seven, and I would hope that you would put your trust in me from all you have seen thus far."

    Aura backed away to the wall, her hand over her mouth to cover her shock. This man had been watching her for her whole life? He had no right! How dare he have the audacity to invade her privacy like that? And Crispin had been working with him all along... He was the link! Aura had one question that drowned all the others out in a sea of endless questions. "Why?" she asked. "Why me?"

    Theo sighed and gestured to the sofa, taking his own place down on it beside Uncle Crispin. His hands caressed his mahogany cane, but his eyes never wavered from hers. She couldn't shake the feeling that the man knew more about her than she did about herself. To be alone in a room with such a man was terrifying, and yet, somehow, she didn't feel threatened around him. The look in his eyes didn't suggest he was trying to hurt her. They portrayed something she hadn't seen ever since she arrived at the Capitol: compassion. She had thought it was dead here...

    "Aura, you come from a long line of tributes. Your father, your uncle, your sister..." Aura winced at the mention of Ava. "It shouldn't come as a surprise to you that we knew you would take your place in them some day since you were born. Well, let's just say that you are not unique in this regard. If you think you have been bred for the Games, you would be right. And you would be right about any of the other candidates in the cafeteria with you."

    They were all chosen? How was that even possible? This year the Reaping was supposed to be the Districts' choice, or at least the Capitol masqueraded this idea. In such a wide pool of possible tributes, how had they known that she was the one who would be chosen? How did they know this about any of the tributes for that matter? This was all so much to take in, that Aura just sat in silence. She didn't know what to say.

    Crispin was positively shaking with excitement. "Aura, you can't see how long this plan has been in the making! This man approached me just after your birth about the job. That's seventeen years, Aura! For god's sake, say something! He's been waiting as long as you've been alive. He-"

    "That's enough, Crispin." Schrodinger hushed the man with a simple swipe of his palm. She had never seen anyone have such control over her uncle before... She had suspected that no one could speak against him, especially not a man who looked so weak he was barely able to stand. There must have been something incredibly formidable about this man that made Crispin fall in line like that, something that had never been accomplished before.

    "I know what you must be thinking," the old man said. "You are thinking that I am crazy... insane. You are thinking that I am wicked and evil for spying on you for most of your life, but don't resolve yourself to these presumptions before I have made my case. You may not believe it, but I truly care about you. And I truly care about all the tributes."

    He was right. It was hard to believe.

    "You care about us?" Tears were beginning to flock to Aura's eyes, but she wouldn't let a single one of them fall. "How can you care? You're from the Capitol. You're nothing but a bunch of rich, stuck-up assholes who think they're better than us! And don't talk to me like you know me, because I know better. You're a liar, just like everyone else from your damnable city!"

    "Aura... Aura..." He spoke softly, like he was wounded, but he was clearly faking it, the asshole. "This is the first I've told the truth in a very, very long time."

    "Alright, Mister Schrodinger, tell me," Aura said, getting up and dancing around the room. It was utter bullshit, what he was saying and she knew it. The Capitol wasn't capable of even producing such a man in earnest. He was clearly lying just like President Snow and just like the Head Gamemaker and just like Ludwig and just like everyone else from the Capitol. "If you claim to know me, tell me something about me that only I would know."

    Theo looked up from his mahogany cane. "I know that you learned how to play guitar from your mother when you were five years old. I know that your older sister called you 'Little Pup' and you would run in the woods pretending you could escape the district. I know that your father only started your Career training after your mother died. I know that-"

    "Enough!" Aura cried. The tears were flowing. Everything Schrodinger had said was true, down to a tee. They were happy thoughts that Aura didn't like to bring up anymore because they were too painful. Anytime she played the guitar, she remembered her mother's delicate fingers strumming the chords before her. Anytime she saw a dog, she was reminded of Ava's loving pet names for her before she was taken away too. That Theo was even daring enough to share these memories without remorse confirmed what she had suspected.

    "I am sorry," Theo sighed, looking solemn beneath his graying black hair and his cleanly little goatee. "I didn't mean to resurface any pain, and if I did, I am willing to confess my sins. I know you won't believe me, but I want you to know that I know what it feels like, to lose someone. I know you think that everyone from the Capitol are entitled, and that they get to avoid the bad things in life altogether, but some of us still live in the real world."

    "You don't know anything about pain!" Aura shouted. At that moment, she cared nothing about who he was. She didn't care about the owl pendant or his weird nickname, or what he planned to do. She cared about what he was saying. "I lost my sister when I was thirteen! I lost my mother when I was eleven! My father walked out on me! How can you just sit there and tell me that you care about me? I've never seen you before!"

    "I deserve everything you throw at me, so cry for as long as you need to, Aura." Theo remained seated and calm. "But when you come around, I need you to come back to me. Because I need you to be strong. Panem needs you more than you know."

    Aura took up his offer, and she laid down on the elegant sofa, and all the emotion came flooding back. She had held it inside for so long. She had thought herself above it. She had tried to move on, and contain the pain within herself, but that hadn't made it lessen. And when the had let the dam leak, the flood gates had burst. It was embarrassing, crying this much in front of a stranger. But according to him, a stranger was not an adequate title.

    Crispin crossed the couch to try and comfort his niece. He placed arms around her and pulled her close. "Shh. It's okay," he said. "Daddy's here." Even though she hated him, somehow his words still soothed her. Even though he was vile and cruel, Aura still felt connected to him in a way. He was one of the only people left from her life. While he was around, it felt like she was home.

    After what felt like days, Aura finally found the strength to open her eyes, but she couldn't lift herself from the couch. It was soft, and warm, and safe. Schrodinger looked at her from across the sitting table with concern, and there was a genuine feeling in his gaze that she hadn't been expecting there before. "What do you want from me?" she cried.

    "I need a task from you," Theo said, finally rising from his seat. "You play a vital role in my plans."

    "And what is your plan?"

    "I plan to put the Hunger Games to a stop," Theo replied. "This year is the year they finally end."

    Aura's heart stopped. With those few simple sentences, Aura was filled with so much hope and so much fear that her mind wouldn't stop running through possibilities. The contradictory natures of those two emotions clashed like waves and made her feel as though she would be torn apart. She knew that if the wrong ears stumbled upon this conversation, they would all be in grave danger. President Snow would not only punish them, but would make sure that anyone you cared about would be dragged down along the way. And yet, at the same time, she was filled with a kind of flittering in the pit of her stomach. The words Schrodinger spoke gave light to the hopes she had ever since she had heard the words the Hunger Games.

    "It's quite a romantic concept, is it not?" Theo smiled, knowing Aura was too awestruck to say anything. "And this is why I have raised you for the Games. It's why I am even a Gamemaker in the first place. This is one last bloodbath to change everything. After this year, Panem will be a new, better place, and the poor won't have to fear the rich. The whole world can drink from the waters that run down from the mountains and can eat from all the trees on the street. There will be plenty of food that famine will be nothing more than history. There will be no more walls. Panem and the Districts will be joined as one, and we may all live together in peace. And at the end of it all, once the Capitol is defeated, we will break bread with our enemies at the end of the world. We will give them a hand of friendship and show them that the world can be something better. It will be a feast for kings. I have dreamed about this my whole life, Aura, and you have the power to make it happen."

    "How?" Aura sat up, on her knees, her eyeshadow leaking on her face. Now, she knew that he was not an ordinary citizen of the Capitol. His words were true, and she would do anything to make them a reality. Now she finally understood the words on her owl pendant. The Owl is a friend...

    "I can't give away all the details, because if I did, I would risk their failure." Theo said, raising a finger of promise in the air. "Your owl pendant. It's a special item, and I know you have thought the same thing. You will take it as your token into the arena, and it will serve a special purpose there."

    Aura took out the small wooden owl from her pocket and set it on the table. She had spent most of the train ride to the Capitol studying it, but she had never come to the conclusion that it was anything more than a trinket. It was a beautifully carved trinket, but it had nothing spectacular about it other than its symbol of mystery.

    "Breathe on it," Theo said.

    It was a strange request, but Aura did as he asked. She breathed a warm huff of air onto the pendant, and after a moment, several pegs slid outward from the sides and it opened up like a locket. Inside was something that she had never seen before, and fascinated her. It was a small vial, no more than a centimeter large, lined with three blinking red and green lights. "What does it do?" Aura asked.

    "The answer will come in time," Schrodinger replied kindly.

    Aura looked to her uncle beside her, and found him smiling in a non-malicious way for the first time ever. He looked like he truly believed in the old crippled man, and the more he spoke with his silver tongue, the more Aura believed in him too. After everything she had seen, it didn't seem so impossible anymore. They could beat the Capitol. They could beat Snow. They could beat the Hunger Games... and it all fell on her and a tiny vial concealed inside a wooden owl.

    "I stand with you," Aura spoke, tears leaking from her eyes again. She held up the owl pendant for him to behold. "Everything you spoke of... I want that too."

    "We will have it all, within time," He said. "So, when Crispin commands you something, from now on, be sure to heed his words, because he is one of your few allies. We need all the help we can get. If everything goes according to my plan, your brothers will be able to live in a world that they don't have to hide from."

    Theo stood on his cane, and moved near the window overlooking the grand Shining City. He had taken on the name Schrodinger. Aura wasn't sure why, but she knew that she would follow him anywhere. After such a long time of hopelessness, this man was the escape she had prayed for. She had thought it impossible, but the Owl was trying to rewrite fate, and Aura was confident he would manage to. Aura had never felt the world was in her hands before, the Schrodinger had given her a chance to change everything.

    That night she dreamt of a world behind the fences of District Seven. It was green and endless, and food filled every basket. Corvin and Barker ran around in the clearing, flying kites and looking happier than she had ever seen them. The Capitol had been long gone, and Snow was long in the ground. This was what she was going to fight for. If nothing else, this was a land of hope.

    End of Chapter 2

  • Oh god, the feels :bawling: This part really showed a side of Aura that has only been hinted at so far. Most of the other tributes and their families are about to get their lives ruined by the games, but in Aura's case, it already took such a heavy toll on her family. Man, this part was super emotional and such a mixture of emotions as well. Most of the time sad, but Theo's speech was surely hopeful, even if I have the bad feeling he is going to fail terribly. Perhaps he can at least manage to give Aura a chance at surviving this. I am intrigued by this vial he has given to her. I guess it will serve a key role in his plans, but that could be good or bad for Aura herself. And Crispin... I cannot decide if I like him somewhat, or hate him with a passion. He seems to mellow down a little bit, but that does not change the fact that I don't quite trust him and don't think he truly cares for Aura's well-being out of any affection for her, but mostly because he cares for his own good name.

    Actually, this part made me wonder about Rowan. I still doubt his disappearance has been by his own choosing in any way. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Crispin had a hand in his death after all, but not because he murdered him out of selfish and vile reasons, but because Rowan has been an agent of the Hawk. Arguably, he had the biggest influence in shaping Aura into this fighter she is and he basically forced her to volunteer, so I bet he was under the Hawk's orders all this time, just like Jomal. However, Crispin, the agent of the Owl, got in the way and killed him to assure Aura would work for Theo instead. Or maybe one of Theo's other agents did it after Crispin gave them the information, which would mean that his earlier statement of not having killed Rowan was actually not a lie.

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  • Ah that?

    It was a joke at peculiar youtube comments, where people rush so they can send the first comment, usually with content like "first", "second", "last", etc. Just a reference to that, really.

    What does first, second, last mean?

  • Holy sheet.

    Things are getting intense. I have a theory about what might happen in the future, but we will see on the long run, really. I don't know enough to be sure about parts of it, but with more info, more I can guess.

    And then I'm sure you will scramble all the puzzle pieces when I thought I figured it all out! :D

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  • What's your theory?

    TheLier posted: »

    Holy sheet. Things are getting intense. I have a theory about what might happen in the future, but we will see on the long run, really. I

  • @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan

    Chapter 3: The Wrong Side

    Marten Lewis

    "Alright, you thread the string through here, and here... and you're done!" Grandad told him from the corner of his mouth that wasn't covered in tobacco stains. "Cast the line in, boy!"

    Marten remembered the time from when he was very young, in the little creek, when his Grandad was so big that he towered over the boy. He wasn't sure why this was the memory playing in his head of all the things that had happened in his life, but like a catchy song, he couldn't seem to get rid of it.

    "But, Grandad, I saw you and dad go fishing with a spear the other day!" Marten's voice was higher then, and his innocence shone as bright as the blonde in his hair. "Why do I have to use the fishing pole?"

    "We all gotta start somewhere, Marten," he laughed, the freshwater breeze rippling through his hair gray as bone. "The spear is a much harder instrument than the pole, and me, your daddy, and your sister all learned on the pole. Do you want to learn to fish?"

    "Yeah, but-"

    "There's no buts, kid." Grandad stepped into the stream waist deep and beckoned for his grandson to join him. "You either sit there on the shore, dry as all hell, or you get your feet wet, and you take the risk!"

    "Okay..." Marten said. He stepped into the cold waters of the stream after he slipped off his sandals. He took the fishing pole and nudged a toe in. The water was freezing, but he forced himself to bear it, inch by inch. Eventually, he was out in the middle with his Grandad and found that it no longer felt cold anymore. It felt much more freeing than that.

    The company was called Lewis n' Sons', and the trout symbol was emblazoned upon the checkered hat his Grandad never took off. He never took it off until he died. Now, Marten sat in the Capitol at a table by himself. The land was strange and Marten had trouble understanding it, but at this point he was resolved just to not think about it. His only company at the table was the hat sitting across from him that had used to belong to his grandfather.

    A girl snatched it off the counter as a large group circled around Marten. She thrust it onto her own pretty blonde head and smiled in a friendly way. She sat backwards on her chair as four others filed into place around him. Among their ranks, Marten recalled all the tributes from One and Two, the girl from Nine and Delmara. They were the Careers. Mags had told him that they might come asking for him sooner or later, but he assumed he would at least have one day of peace and quiet.

    "So, Bigfoot," the girl from Two who had stolen his hat joked across the table, "you're from Four right? They got a lot of fish there? What are the oceans like? I bet there's tons of fish there. Do you go surfing? I bet-"

    "Erron, settle down." The voice came from her district partner, the muscular guy with a shaved head. "What she was trying to say was, you interest us."

    Marten remained quiet, and chewed on his steak that was too tough for his liking.

    "Marten! This is a good thing! We got a good thing going here!" Delmara said across the table. The way she said it made Marten want to roll his eyes. Maybe if he hadn't partook in the drinking on the train to the Capitol, she wouldn't have ended up so wasted. But that was wishful thinking.

    Marten looked over at where the Gamemaker had been standing only moments before to announce their vomit juice, but she was nowhere to be found. And all the other tributes were wrapped up in their own conversations now. Couldn't anyone see he was being verbally assaulted right now?

    "Please, I'd just like to eat my supper in peace." Marten said, driving his knife through the steak with possibly more force than was necessary. He was reminded of the way Ronn had pestered him... Not here... Not now.

    Erron laughed. "Right! Stygian, this guy wants us to believe we're annoying him. C'mon, you big lug. We heard what you did. You have style!"

    "You really knocked the shit out of that guy back in the District," said the boy from One, who was named Micah. "That was really something, dude! Awesome!"

    How did they know about that? But before he had a chance to ask, they were talking again. Marten started to wonder if they came over to talk to him or to themselves, only closer to him.

    "Hey, don't make fun of the man," Erron scolded him with a knock on the wrist. "Or it may just be in the river for you too!" Erron made a base gesture as if she was pressing someone's head down underneath a metaphorical pond. It brought laughs from all the Careers except the quiet girl from One and Marten himself.

    "At least if he drowns me, it can't get any worse, right?" Micah jibed. "They can't send you into the Hunger Games again, can they?"

    "Hey, if this arena is set on an island with the ocean all around us, we're gonna be in trouble. They say he's part man, part fish!"

    "Part man, part sasquatch, if you ask me," Micah took a stab at him. The group laughed in unison, let mostly by Erron, Micah and Delmara.

    Stygian lifted up his hand past Erron and Micah's petty comedy routine. "What we're trying to say is, we think you got what it takes to join us. Delmara tells us you ain't been a part of Career training back in Four, but we were wondering if you'd like to take up the offer anyway." He extended his arm for a handshake.

    Marten pondered it for a moment, and longer than he had assumed. On the surface, the group seemed idiotic, and the type of crowd that Marten would have least enjoyed hanging around if he were home. But they were tough, and he knew that if he accepted their offer now, it might mean some extra help in the arena. It was certainly a risk.

    His eyes were lifted up by the hat now resting snugly on Erron's head and was reminded of that day in the creek with his grandfather so long ago. He had extended a hand to Marten as well, and each had promised a great risk. Marten had agreed wholeheartedly then, but now?

  • Oh damn, Penn has truly settled in as a career, it seems. We did a massive mistake there. At least we can now prevent Marten from becoming someone that must die as well, by keeping him away from those career assholes. And if anything, this part has shown that they are assholes, with the likely exception of Skeeter, whom I see as no career, due to her being reaped. She's like Marten, but unlike him, she likely has less useful survival skills, so it seems she never had the choice he has here and allied with the careers out of necessity. But Marten, he can turn away from them and I absolutely want that from him. With Penn the bitch in their ranks (seriously guys, massive mistake. How are we supposed to kill her now?), they are already too strong. Marten can prevent them from becoming even stronger here. On top of that, while I already hated Penn before she became a career, I like Marten, even more so after this part and I would hate for him to become a career. At this point, either he or Saul are my second favourites and I am actually leaning more and more towards him. He has grown a lot from the guy I initially disliked and I want him to further grow instead of becoming a murderous sonofabitch.

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  • You didn't like Marten initially? I didn't know that. What did you not like about him?

    Oh damn, Penn has truly settled in as a career, it seems. We did a massive mistake there. At least we can now prevent Marten from becoming s

  • I don't even know what I disliked about him initially. I think it was never dislike, as my feelings about Penn have been, but dislike in terms of liking the others more. Aura, Saul and Theo have all been more likable in the beginning, so while I never actively hated him by any means, he just never interested me all that much until the chapter where his father appeared, because before that, he seemed a bit, I don't know, less sympathetic than them. From there on however, he massively grew on me. I guess the fact that one of the first things he did in the story has been to murder another guy, no matter how well-deserved it was, didn't exactly gave me the best first impression of him either and it took me a while to find out if I should like him or not. I finally settled for liking him about two thirds into Book 1.

    You didn't like Marten initially? I didn't know that. What did you not like about him?

  • Hm. That's all interesting to hear. I suppose it is off putting to have your first impression of someone to be cold-blooded murder. But in his defense, I figured the murder was more warm-blooded, because Marten dealt with all the consequences and realized what he had done. When Penn killed the girl from Nine, it was more of an accident, but with Marten he knew what he was doing. Plus Ronn deserved it lol

    I don't even know what I disliked about him initially. I think it was never dislike, as my feelings about Penn have been, but dislike in ter

  • edited April 2017

    Hell no. If Marten joins, the Careers will be too OP. I vote for him to stay alone - even though it ruins the chance of him lasting in the arena.

    And urgh, I can't fucking stand Erron. Pls kill her Skeeter.

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  • I am a bit in a problem here :D I like how you portray my character Stygian and I want him to get far (even if I dont want him to win all that much) but I also want Marten to stay independent of the careers because I think this is better for him. So I voted to stay away from them but I was a bit conflicted here. Great job so far!

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  • Good part, I'm still around, just terribly busy. When I'm not about to collapse, I will tell you about my theory, if I don't forget.

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  • Hey guys, sorry about the whole not posting in a month after I said I would go faster thing. Here's the next one.

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    60% of readers chose to [B. Stay alone.]

    "I play better by myself," he said, and took a bite of his mashed potatoes. Marten took a sideways look at the hand and waved it away.

    Micah and Erron stopped laughing to themselves. Upon his refusal, Stygian's calm eyes lit up with anger, but it didn't show in his behavior, only in his eyes. Upon looking at their faces, it became clear to Marten that Micah and Erron were scared of this man, the boy from Two. Marten was not afraid of him, or any of them for that matter. He peered across the table and met Stygian's flaming eyes with his own sapphire, and there was something shared between them. It wasn't respect and it wasn't hatred... It was something in between.

    The Careers all quieted while he spoke. For a moment, the whole cafeteria seemed to go quiet, and all the tributes, regardless of district were watching them. And then Stygian laughed. "Am I getting you straight? You are actually refusing my offer?"

    "Yes, I guess I am." Marten sat still, resisting the urge to look away.

    "You may come to regret that, Marten... You see, we can be invaluable allies, but apart... We will make you hurt so bad you'll wish you'd never been born." Stygian's words were quiet, but full of contempt. "You aren't going to get another chance to reconsider, so I'll give this to you this once, because I believe you are an intelligent guy. This time... This Hunger Games... You don't want to be on the wrong side."

    Marten reached across the table in a jet of speed and ripped his hat from Erron's head before she could react. Once all was said and done, and the cap was safely back with him, Erron looked furious, but Stygian even more so. "I guess that would depend where that is, now, wouldn't it?"

    Stygian gave him one last loathing glance before standing up from the table. With a gesture of his fingers, he brought the rest of his posse with him. His laughter filled the room with an icy chill. He turned around, raising his hands up to the room, so everyone knew where he was, and who he was. And when he spoke, everyone listened. Even the Gamemaker seemed willing to hear him out.

    "I just wanted to wish you all the best of luck!" he smiled. Marten was surprised nobody else saw through it. "Ain't it a damn shame we couldn't be meeting on better terms? Anyhow, this year is different. My name is Stygian Pluto, and these are my associates, the ones they call Careers. We're the ones who kick the most ass in the arena, and if you want to take part, just ask. You see, we're a bit more friendly this year. We'll let anyone in that wants to be here. Just say the word and you're in the pack. Or, you can be like Marten here. You see, Marten refused our offer--to my face! I offered him a chance to be a hero, to die shining, and he spat it out on the ground. Because of that, he's going to die alone, with no one left that cares about him, and you can do the same if you want to. Or you could join us, because life is too short to spend it on the wrong side. If not, may the odds be ever in your favor. Because you're going to need them."

    And with that, Stygian went to the center of the room and sat down at an empty table, his Careers trailing along behind him. Following the speech, there were murmurs from those around the room who had listened, but the rest stayed silent for a long time. The Gamemaker by the door even looked vaguely impressed. And then people started to shuffle. The girl from Six named Jenessa made her way slowly over to the Career table shyly, almost as though she expected to be greeted with mocking glares. She received none when she sat down. The two boys from Eight and Twelve, Gustaph and Devis, followed suit, even abandoning the girls from their districts to make a place at the Career table. After those three, there were none who made a move, yet even so, the Career group, in one move, had doubled in size from every other year.

    Those who did not join the Careers turned their eyes to Marten. They looked eager to see what he had to say, James from Three even nodding approvingly. Marten turned away from them, uncomfortably throwing back more bites of potatoes. He didn't like being the center of attention and never had. Maybe when they realized he wasn't going to rally them in the same way as Stygian, they would go back to their business. And they did.

    The rest of their supper was relatively uneventful. The Careers were certainly obnoxious, filling the airy room with laughter and vulgarity. He could hear Micah and Erron and Delmara trying to initiate the newcomers into the clique just as they had to him, and once again, coming off as ignorant douchebags. The rest tried to ignore them, quietly eating their dinners and speaking softly to what district partners remained.

    When it was over, Gamemaker Williams put them back in a line, low districts to high, boy and girl abreast, and marched them from the cafeteria. However, as they were paraded through the Tribute's Pavilion, the line quickly broke apart and became more of a rotund blob. Marten stood as far away as was considered acceptable by the Gamemaker woman. He didn't enjoy the company of any of these new tributes, much the same as kids from his own district. Yet that didn't stop one of them from coming over to make contact.

    It was the girl from Ten, who Marten recalled was named Hex. She looked younger than the rest of the tributes except for the girl from Eleven (how had she been allowed to be reaped?). This girl's smart black hair hung just below her shoulders in a thin braid. Her leafy green eyes were open and inviting, and everywhere around them was dotted with freckles. It would be a lie to say Marten didn't find her rather pretty. The jovial way she bounced up and down toward him made it seem like she actually wanted to talk to him.

    "Hey!" She smiled in as friendly a way as was possible. "You're Marten, right?"

    "Yup," Marten replied, uneasily. He knew his cheeks were flushing red, but maybe if he didn't look her in the eyes it would go away.

    "Hey! I saw you looked kind of lonely, so I thought I'd come and say hi. My name's Hex." She held out a hand for a handshake. When he took it, it was so small, Marten felt he might crush her fingers with his much meatier hand. "I saw you stand up to the Careers. That was pretty brave."

    It took all of Marten's will not to continue saying "yup." "I thought you were going to join them. I saw you with them earlier."

    "What, Penn?" She shrugged. "Nah. She's nice and all, but I find her a bit too egotistical. I didn't think she'd be a Career."

    "Well, that makes sense." Marten said. Hex smiled sweetly and rubbed a lock of night-black hair from her eyes. Marten took a sudden interest in the clouds in the sky.

    "So, you're from District Four, huh?" she asked.


    "What's it like there?"

    "Well, um... you know, a little of this, a little of that. There's loads of fish." Marten blushed and wanted to punch himself, but Hex giggled and didn't seem to mind how horrendous that answer was.

    "Loads of fish..." she replied, wiping the smirk off her face. "Well, I would hope so, or the Capitol would get mad they're not getting their dues."


    They walked side by side for a short time, Marten distracting himself away from the girl by peering down at the bricks of the Pavilion that were each carved with an intricate design. Part of him wanted Hex to leave because he had a hard time with small talk, but part of him wanted her to stay. She stayed.

    "I saw you on TV," Hex started, trying to maintain what little conversation she could. "They were saying you killed someone. Is that true?"

    "Yeah... it is." Marten's spine went icy for a moment.

    "Well, great!" Marten turned to look down at the girl and remarkably found her grinning. "The arena needs able bodies! I'm sure you're gonna get a great rating."

    "Um..." He wasn't used to people reacting so positively to hearing that news. He felt more relieved, and let his guard down a bit. His shoulders fell loose and he smiled.

    "I know, I know, killing is awful," Hex rolled her eyes. "I bet you've gotten a lot of shit for it, but the way I see it, a week from now, we're all going to be murderers. At least you've got some experience." She laughed and continued. "Why should we dwell on the past? What good's that gonna do anyone? We can't do shit to change it. And I'd rather have you at my side then... well, anyone really..."

    By God, this girl was perfect.

    "What do you say? Partners?"

    "Um... yeah." Marten laughed a stifled laugh of relief. Though he didn't want to admit it for fear of sounding sappy, he was also glad to have someone on his side after the confrontation with the Careers.

    "Alright!" She smiled warmly. "Just between you and me, I think a lot of the others are thinking about trying to get friendly with you too, you being a freaking giant and all... I'd stay away from the girl from Seven. I'd swear she licked her lips when she looked over at you. It's a good thing I'm clear and free of external motivations!" She lifted up a thumb and a goofy grin that Marten couldn't help but laugh at.

    Marten stayed smilingly silent. Maybe it was the bubbly way in which Hex represented herself, or maybe it was how she seemed to understand him that he felt so comfortable around her. He still didn't want to open up freely, but he barely did that with his own family. This was as good as it could get. And then he remembered, in a week, at least one of them would be dead. But that grim fact didn't seem to deter Hex.

    During their conversation, Marten and Hex and the rest of the tributes had been filed into the lobby of the Grand Inn, and the names had been called of the tributes of Districts One and Two. Micah and Erron were bouncing jovially around an irritated Skeeter. Stygian gave him a mean smirk as the doors closed in front of him.

    "Hey," Hex said, knocking him on the arm after noticing his brief period of solemnity. "I'll see you tomorrow for breakfast, okay?"


    And the elevator doors opened again. His name was called along with James Hefele, Lillith Rhodes and Delmara Lum. He nodded his head and proceeded across the hall to the elevator, feeling a nudge from Hex as he left. When the doors slid closed, Marten watched while those green eyes were blinked out of sight. And then he felt a valiant shaking from behind, shattering his sense of comfort.

    "Marten's got a girlfriend!" Delmara shouted loud enough that it echoed in the small aluminum chamber. James raised an eyebrow, looking strained to even be in their presence and Lillith giggled slightly at the exchange. "Where you gonna take her on your first date?"

    "Stop," Marten glared. She stopped.

    End of Chapter 3

  • Hmmmm... I somehow get a bad feeling about Hex. There's something about her that really gives me negative vibes. There's all this talk about her and now it seems that she is manipulating Marten somehow. I certainly don't buy her friendliness. One thing that raised a major red flag was her singling out Aura as a tribute Marten should stay away from. Arguably, Aura is one of the more trustworthy tributes, so if Hex really has no ulterior motives, why would she mention her in particular? No, something is wrong about her. Maybe she is simply clever enough to realize that Aura is a legitimately dangerous tribute, so she made sure that the guy who is probably the phyically strongest tribute is on her side and would possibly stay away from this dangerous opponent then (though I hope that Marten is going to ignore Hex' warning). Or maybe there's more to it. With Aura as an agent of the Owl, maybe Hex is working for the Hawk. This opens up the dangerous possibility, what if Roman suspects Aura's true allegiance, to the point where he has ordered one of his agents to sabotage her chances to get a good ally? Ah, whatever Hex' game is, I don't trust her at all. That said, it is funny that even she dislikes Penn. It says a lot when even this shady schemer finds her too egoistical :D Though that could have strategic reasons as well. After all, Marten would surely make for a better ally than Penn and I think Hex is smart enough to realize this. Hm... I really have to keep an eye on that one, I am sure she has more plans. Maybe she wants to take out dangerous opponents in general, such as screwing Penn over here and trying to convince Marten to stay away from Aura.

    Hey guys, sorry about the whole not posting in a month after I said I would go faster thing. Here's the next one. @mr.quality @janitor @s

  • Hm all nice theories. Except you have to remember that Roman was expressing uneasiness over Hex in the last chapter of Book 1, so her being an agent of the Hawk would be unlikely.

    Or maybe I'm just leading you away from the fact you got it lol I don't want to confirm or deny anything.

    Hmmmm... I somehow get a bad feeling about Hex. There's something about her that really gives me negative vibes. There's all this talk about

  • @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan

    Chapter 4: In Our House

    Theoram Warrik

    Schrodinger... To most the name would mean nothing more than gibberish. To Theoram Warrik, the name represented an ideal. Ever since he had taken the name for himself eighteen years ago, it had reminded him that he was part of something bigger than himself. Theoram was a simple cripple who liked Winkberry tea and gazing out at the horizon on misty mornings. Schrodinger was the man who was going to change the world.

    He remembered the face of his daughter far more than his own. She was so beautiful, and so full of love and affection. When she was taken from him, the world had turned inside out, and he spent a long time in the dark pit of depression, trying to claw his way to the surface. When he finally emerged, he was a new man. He was the Owl, Schrodinger, the Man Behind the Darkness. There was a shred of hope left in him that after he defeated the Capitol, his daughter might be proud of him...

    The morning before the tributes arrived in the Capitol that Theo had called his friends to the museum. Following the text from Kirt, Theo had spent every waking moment poring over what his message meant. Someone knew... Who knew? What did they know? Whoever it was, Kirt wouldn't have risked the security of the mission to send a risky text unless he knew it was necessary.

    When he arrived, shortly followed by Kirt, Lynona and finally, Rhetora, Kirt made it known that he knew not the identity of the perpetrator. He had received a threatening note the previous day, left between a stack of papers on his desk. He presented it to the group and when Theo's eyes scanned it, they narrowed to slits. The writing on the paper was typed, in no one's hand.

    "I know what you plan to do," it read. "If you wish your identities to remain a secret, you must meet my demands. Should you choose to ignore me, I would not hesitate to bring down the full authority of the Capitol upon your pitiful facade. Leave your response in between the papers on the desk where you found this letter and leave for a full day. Should I find you attempting to spy to uncover my identity, I will make you regret it."

    "What do we do?" Kirt had asked across the circle. The heads of Theo, Lynona, Rhetora and Kirt had all been closer together than they would have liked, whispering as quietly as they could. Had anyone seen them other than the idiotic caretaker named Plato who couldn't see past the end of his nose, they would have been wary. Yet, no one arrived. It was irregular to visit the museum on a Monday morning, and even more irregular to visit this specific museum.

    "We figure out who it is, what he or she wants... and then we'll go from there," Theo responded, gazing across the way at the marble bust of a long dead politician.

    Rhetora had shaken her head, for she was the most worried out of the four, having resigned from the position of Gamemaker. "He's holding our operation ransom, Theo. We can't afford not to think of a plan."

    "What plan can we make? He hasn't given us demands yet," Lynona piped up. Theo had been nervous about Lynona's true allegiance after President Snow had revealed her as his cousin, but truly, she truly up alongside them after she had received the letter.

    "Kirt, I am going to write a letter, and you will deliver it back to the drop-off point as requested," Theo told him. "Tomorrow, we will retrieve the response, and upon reading the demands, we will decide how best to meet them."

    "We can't meet his demands, Theo," Kirt said. "We can't negotiate with terrorists."

    "He isn't the terrorist, Kirt. We are."

    So, after carefully disbanding, making sure each member of the party left the museum at different intervals so as not to draw too much attention, Theo made his slow way back to his apartment. He found his old wooden writing desk he had acquired from his father and pulled out pen, paper and ink. He penned the name, Schrodinger, at the bottom of the paper, curving the 'S' backwards as a signature. And then he wrote.

    "The Owl has decided to hear your demands. Present them and he will meet them the best he is able. However, the Owl must have certain assurances to know his identity will not be revealed. Should these be given, he will more than happily oblige in whatever you have planned."

    As Theo licked the edge of the envelope, he found it difficult to seal. He knew that this was the first of many obstacles in his path. And he knew that if The Owl was killed by a stray arrow with the face of blackmail, it was quite possible the Hunger Games would never see their end. He couldn't afford to gamble his position quite yet.

    And then the tributes had arrived. Twenty-four of them, all shuffling around in a massive clump. Some where scared, and some were teary-eyed, but a choice few among them looked as though they had only just won the lottery. Some of them, Theo didn't recognize, but a fair few the Owl had sent spies to check on. While Roman had an eye on each and every one of these tributes, Theo only had eyes on those he needed.

    It was surreal, after seeing these children from afar for so long, watching them grow up and become truly wonderful young men and women, to finally set eyes on their faces. Theo rubbed his eyes, remembering how he had almost teared up seeing them all together when they first arrived. Everra had taken notice of this and came to ask what was wrong, but Theo couldn't tell her the truth, of course he couldn't. So he lied and told her that he was just glad to finally be a Gamemaker. What she hadn't known was that mingled amidst the tears of joy were genuine tears of sadness.

    These were all brilliant young people who, under different circumstances, could have had great futures ahead of them. Now, after they had been reaped, the only thing that awaited most of them was an arrow in the chest or a sword in the back. When the citizens of the Capitol watched the broadcast, they would cry for the tributes they adored, but to them, the tributes were just toys they had to part with. To Theo, to Schrodinger, he would have to part with people he had cared for almost like sons and daughters.

    When he met Aura Cantarella in her apartment on the seventh floor of the Grand Inn, he had been pleasantly surprised by how she had responded to his call. Her uncle had described her as stubborn and difficult with so much gusto that Theo was starting to have second thoughts on whether or not to confide in her. But the Owl needed a spearhead in the arena, someone who could carry out his plans where he could not reach. Aura Cantarella fit the job quite nicely.

    It was rather humbling to be there, watching the girl cry on the sofa, knowing that he had been partially the cause of her suffering. Her sister had volunteered for the Hunger Games only a few years prior, and Aura had never been quite the same after that, Crispin reported. Theo remembered it very well. He remembered how Roman had talked about it for days and days. "A grand spectacle!" he had called it. "That girl's death was genius! The victor's own daughter! I couldn't have done it better myself!" Theo would make sure Aura never got around to hearing Roman's words.

    The elevator arrived from the lobby, carrying Samwell Beckett, Aura's brothers, the fool Ludwig Orretter, his avoxes and the members of District Eight. After they all stepped out into the room, Corvin and Barker Cantarella eagerly running up to embrace their sister, Theo caught the ride back down to the lobby. If he hadn't been wiping off his monocle at the time, he would have been sure Crispin Cantarella gave him a charismatic wink before the doors swung closed.

    On the way down floor to floor, Theo found himself wandering the day in his memory. Kirt hadn't been pleased with the letter he'd been assigned to deliver, and he hadn't refused to let Theo know he didn't agree with his decision. But in the end, Theo was the one with the plan, so Kirt reluctantly agreed. Theo wasn't going to let carelessness get in the way of what needed to be done.

    The elevator doors parted to a small crowd. Among them were Lynona and members of Districts Nine through Twelve. Eight more tributes stood there, one of which, he took care to pay attention to. There was the girl from District Ten that Roman had warned him about. She was so scrawny she looked like she couldn't hurt a fly. How could she be dangerous? Although Theo supposed anyone would look dangerous to Roman, who stood just over three feet.

    When the girl from Ten boarded the elevator, Theo took note of how she was eagerly chatting to another girl there. So that was Penn... She was one that Theo had watched, and he had a hard time keeping the tears from rising to his eyes again. Although the last time he had watched her with the other tributes, she had taken notice and thought him odd. Theo pried his eyes away.

    Theo stepped up to Lynona, who he hadn't seen since early that morning. Of course, all the eyes of the Capitol were on them at that moment, so he couldn't speak to her as if he knew her. "Gamemaker Williams," Theo said adamantly, leaning on his cane at her side.

    "Gamemaker Warrik," the corner of Lynona's mouth turned upwards momentarily. "What do you think of our tributes?"

    Theo turned his eyes to the tributes from Eleven and Twelve. The boy from Eleven's name was Saul Arrem, and beside him was his sister Peara. The colors of their skin were such fierce opposites that, standing side by side, he wouldn't have been able to tell they were siblings had he not already known. Theo cried for them too, especially for the little girl. Besides her, the youngest tribute in this year's Games was sixteen. Theo knew she didn't stand a chance, but he needed Saul, and Peara had come as a package deal.

    Behind them were the tributes from District Twelve. He hadn't sent an agent there, since Twelve generally produced sub-par tributes, but he had to admit, these two looked more than usual. As a Gamemaker, he had gone over the tribute roster hundreds of times and knew their names by heart. They were Devis Evercreek and Tassel Nightsand. He was tall and sturdily built and she was small and lean. Both of their hair were the same shade of brunette and both heads of hair were cut short to an inch. That was where Theo's observations would have halted, except that Devis had a beefy arm around Tassel's shoulder and was speaking very close to her ear. Tassel's face was focused solemnly forward, and every time he would squeeze her against him she would pull away. Tassel did not seem to enjoy the contact near as much as Devis did. If he were anyone but a tribute and if Theo were anyone but a Gamemaker, Theo would have stood up and said something, but as it was, he was the only one who seemed to notice or care.

    "They're... quite a group of characters," Theo responded with a half smile.

    "As they are every year." Lynona let out a laugh and let her gleaming golden hair flow back around her shoulders. "I would swear that they get more fun every year. Look how the Twelves are interacting. I just think it's so interesting that-" Lynona looked over at the cold expression on Theo's face and stopped herself. "I just mean to say that they will make a good show... for Roman."

    "Yes, they always do." Theo straightened his monocle and got one last clear look at the tributes from the last two districts before they boarded the elevator with their mentors and escorts before they boarded the elevator. After the doors swung steadily shut, Theo continued. "They've instructed me that we are not to be speaking."

    "Who? Did Coriolanus tell you that?" Lynona looked over and laughed upon seeing that she was right. "What a load of bullshit."

    "Cousin or not, he's still the President of Panem, and I don't want to make an enemy of him just yet." Theo smiled. He knew for a fact these cameras didn't have audio sensors yet, so as long as the two of them stood side by side and didn't face each other, they should be fine. "I've only just got a seat on the panel. I don't want to be removed before my time."

    "So if you really think we shouldn't be speaking, why did you invite me to the museum this morning? I can only hurt your operation, right?" Lynona turned and strolled towards the exit. Theo followed. "Because, in case it wasn't clear, I'm with you, 100%. Sorry about leaving the first meeting, it was just a lot to spring on a girl all at once."

    They pushed open the pristine glass doors and stepped into the sunlight shining down onto the ornate brick walkway of the Tribute's Pavilion. "I'm not mad at you. And I invited you this morning, because if someone knows how to sabotage our operation, it would affect you too. Just because the President is your cousin doesn't mean he wouldn't see your head on a pike just the same as mine."

    "Whoa, morbid there, man." She laughed and so did he. "Listen, he can't keep us from speaking because we're coworkers. If he knew the first thing about the panel of Gamemakers, he would know that the arena doesn't come together without loads of collaboration. So, if you really feel the need to separate yourself from me, then just speak to me when we're at work on the panel. Just make sure no one is around to hear at the time."

    "Sounds like a formidable plan." Theo waited a moment, until a group of chattering teenagers with flashy hats were out of earshot. "The President told me... when I met with him, that you were... interested in me?"

    "Interested? Of course I'm interested. You're an interesting guy."


    Lynona's cheeks went bright red, and her flailing arms shot to her sides. It was more confirmation that Theo needed. "Well..." she started. "Coriolanus is often a liar." Yes, that was true. But was he lying then? She certainly hadn't denied it. Theo smiled knowingly, on the corner of his mouth obscured from Lynona's view.

    Theo had been about to respond when all the color drained from Lynona's face. The red was gone, replaced by green. Lynona opened up her mouth and let out a shrill scream, pointing with a shaking finger. After Theo had gotten over the shock, his head shot all around himself, looking for any sign of danger. Surely, someone was trying to hurt them. Maybe she had spotted an assassin? A hitman? She screamed like she had seen the bogeyman. And then Theo followed her finger... to the ground. Lynona had seen a spider.

    To her benefit, it was a rather large spider. When Theo leaned in closer to investigate, cranking a notch on his leg brace to let himself down to the ground, he found it was a type of spider the Capitol had genetically engineered, one of the mutt species. Its delicate black legs were longer in proportion to its head and thorax than usual, and ended in what looked like little red talons. Was it scary? Yes, to some. Was it dangerous? No.

    "Kill it!" Lynona shouted. Some attention was drawn from passersby, but they only looked over for a moment and went back to their business. When Theo turned back, he found the woman with more fear in her eyes than any person had any right to feel over such a tiny animal. "Kill it, Theo!"

    "Kill it? It's outside," he raised an eyebrow. "It's not doing anybody any harm."

    Lynona was stuttering in her fear. Theo hadn't known her to be arachnophobic, but this was proof enough. "Well-well... I don't care! It still deserves to die!"

    "For what?"

    "Just kill it!"

  • @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan

    67% of readers chose to [A. Kill the spider.]

    Theo rose and stamped hard on the miniscule creature with the sole of his good foot. When he lifted away, he saw a small puddle of black and blue where it had been. When he looked, Lynona appeared satisfied.

    "Thank you," she sighed, laughing a little along the way. "I can't stand spiders. I hate them."


    "Why what?"

    "Why do you hate spiders?"

    Lynona shot backward in brief surprise and then gestured Theo to follow her on the way from the Tribute's Pavilion. Theo tightened his brace and followed. "I don't know... They're just, slimy and gross. We don't need to have them infesting the Capitol. We should be clean, I guess..."

    "Spiders help the environment, though," Theo responded. "No spiders means no webs. No webs means flies have no place to get caught. And flies are much more detrimental to us, wouldn't you say? They eat our food, spread diseases... They are vile creatures. Those are the ones you should be afraid of."

    "Theo, Theo..." Lynona said, waving a finger through the air. "If you believe all this about spiders, why did you kill that one?"

    "Because you were afraid."

    On these words, her arms dropped to her sides and she became very interested in the ovular building which was the Training Hall. When her hair swung away from her face, Theo saw her blushing cheeks.

    As they walked, more and more passersby took notice of the pair walking together. At first, Theo wondered why in paranoia. After all, how should anyone know that she was the first cousin of the President himself? He had every right to talk to a coworker. And then he realized they weren't staring because of her. They were staring because of him. Theo sighed. He was used to estranged glances and black sheep behavior, but ever since he'd been a Gamemaker, people had been friendlier. Damn him, he'd almost forgotten. And he'd vowed to never forget what it was like to be treated as an inferior.

    "What are you afraid of?" Lynona asked, making conversation.

    "Me?" The question had caught him off guard. "Well... I suppose I'm afraid of a great many things people are normally afraid of. Heights, thrill rides... Eating leftovers that are past date and getting food poisoning..."

    Lynona laughed. "But not spiders?"

    "Not spiders." Theo straightened his eyeglass on the bridge of his nose. "I've always been more appreciative of those which are deemed inferior, having lived the majority of my life as one of them. I would suppose the same applies to animals. And why be afraid of something that can't hurt you? I am afraid of death, the same as you. The same as anyone, no matter what District. Even President Snow fears death. Yet for him, courage comes easier, because he knows he has others who will take it in his stead.

    "If we can't afford to accept everyone who lives in our house, do we really deserve to live there? The Twelve Districts and the Capitol... that's all there is. If we can't learn to live in the same world, then this is it. This is where we end as a species. Panem is a sinking ship, and the Hunger Games are the hole."

    "Wise words..." Lynona said, her eyes twinkling. "Speaking like that, I'd be careful who hears. I am the cousin of the President, after all."

    "I trust you."

    There was a moment, if only brief, where it felt as though Lynona wanted to reach out and take his arm, but it was gone in an instant. And it was a good thing too, the cameras were everywhere in the Capitol. The fact Lynona had restrained herself was just more evidence proving her allegiance. Theo's plans were too precious to end now.

    When they reached a parting in the street, where no vehicles drove between the tightly wound buildings, Theo and Lynona said their goodbyes. Theo's loft apartment was in a small complex to the south, and Lynona lived in a suburb several blocks north. Their eyes met for a lingering moment, and then it broke apart. Theo knew he couldn't walk her home, not with Snow watching.

    On the way back to his house, several taxi carriages passed him by, all volunteering their service to him. After all, in his condition, he wasn't fit to walk. He passed them all away, only growing more frustrated with each passing one. He liked the walk, and the pain it eventually brought to his tiring leg. If he hadn't, he surely would have bought a wheelchair by now. The mahogany cane would do just fine.

    Theo stopped on his way home for supper, at a sandwich shop with a phenomenal ham entree. After such a weary day, it felt good to sit down and taste the freshness of the lettuce and feel the crackle of a nicely toasted bun. As he ate, there was a couple of adolescent girls with bright pig tails who sniggered at him from behind their hands, no doubt commenting on how he was eating alone. After a time, the waitress came over and scolded them for laughing, and that if they weren't going to buy anything, they should just leave. They did.

    Four more bites into his ham sandwich, and a face entering the shop caught Theo's eye. He was balding, gray hair in a thick beard around his chin. He was black, and Theo thought it odd to see someone with that color skin in the Capitol. After all, most of that color were confined to District Eleven. Although, Theo didn't stare too long, for risk of offending the man.

    When he strolled past to the counter, he ordered a sub sandwich with nothing on it except for the beef. When the cashier asked for his name he replied, "Thurgood." And the name set off a bell in Theo's head, because he tried to remember where he had heard that name before. And then it struck him... The name, the color of his skin... He knew the man's last name before it was said.

    "Thank you, Thurgood. May I have your last name for the order, please?"

    "Yes. It's Munrow."

    Munrow. He knew that name. It was the man who Roman had hired as his agent for District Eleven to spy on Saul Arrem and the young girl. He wasn't wearing his usual gray rags as they'd been described, but elegant turquoise robes that fit like he had had them custom taylored. Theo chanced a glance back at the counter and for a fraction of a second, their eyes met, Theo's blue against this man's onyx. He didn't appear to share the same disbelief, and Theo hid it well.

    One thing kept running through Theo's mind, setting off a chain reaction so consuming he couldn't take another bite of his sandwich. How would this affect all his plans? If Thurgood Munrow was here, then that meant that any or all of his agents were returning to the Capitol. And that meant...

    Theo drew out his phone and hastily scribbled a text message to Kirt. If there were any more time, he would have returned home to craft a letter with his signature on it as he normally did to maintain secrecy, but if his assumptions were true... he might not have enough time. His fingers were almost shaking with the beat of his heart pounding.

    "Sir, are you alright?" The voice nearly shook him out of his chair. When Theo looked, the man named Munrow was standing there with a friendly smile on his face. "You look like something has come over you."

    "Yes, I am just fine." Theo replied, eager to be rid of his presence. He smiled all the same.

    "Good to hear." Munrow smiled and pat an encouraging arm on Theo's shoulder. He left the restaurant, carrying his sandwich with him.

    Theo returned his attention to his text message. He told Kirt that they must meet again as soon as possible, before the next letter arrived. He spared no chance to inform Kirt of the urgency of their meeting. He finished the text with one line.

    "I know who he is."

    End of Chapter 4

  • Ah, apologies for not commenting on the last part. I have been away over the weekend, so I had no time to do so until now, but I seriously enjoyed this one. Theo might be the rarest person one could encounter in this setting, especially when it comes to the Capitol, someone who is actually an idealist and cares for the tributes. His thoughts about Aura made this very clear and I like him more and more with every part of his. It's a shame that he won't succeed in overthrowing Snow, but who knows, maybe he will end up doing at least some good. That guy has some serious morals and I respect that.

    Also, holy damn, we get to see Munrow again D: I mean, I am sort of glad about this as well. I was sad that we never got a chance to take revenge on him in Saul's storyline in the first book, but it now seems clear that you've been saving him for later. Maybe there will be some delicious vengeance after all =) And the other agents of Roman will arrive as well, as it seems. So, Penn's father is going to arrive, as well as others. Maybe Rowan, if he is the agent of the Hawk in District 7. Come to think of it, this makes a lot of sense now, because by training her for the games, he surely did what Roman wanted. Unless Crispin killed him after all... hm, I guess we'll see who works for Roman in each district. We know Munrow and Penn's father, but I am curious if there will be more we know already. The agents from D4 and D7 haven't been named yet, as far as I know. And I am very curious how Theo uncovered the identity of the guy that is blackmailing him by this meeting with Munrow. Really, this is already building up for a great storyline for Theo in this book and I cannot wait for more of it :)

    @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan 67% of readers cho

  • Actually, it had been revealed who is the agent of the Hawk in District Four. The boy Ronn who Marten killed at the beginning of the book was the son of the agent. That's how he knew that Marten was going into the arena so he could taunt him about it.

    Did you have a chance to vote in the poll? If not, what would you have chosen?

    Ah, apologies for not commenting on the last part. I have been away over the weekend, so I had no time to do so until now, but I seriously e

  • Ah, I remember it now! See, I had forgotten that detail, thank you for reminding me. That solves this mystery, though the D7 agent remains unknown. Rowan is my best bet, though I wouldn't be surprised if Crispin is playing both sides here. Or maybe Samwell's asshole mother? I also wonder if there are districts where Roman hasn't played his little game, or if he controlled them all to some degree.

    And no, I unfortunately got no chance to vote. I only had my phone for most of the weekend and for some reason, strawpoll hasn't worked on it. However, I would have likely picked not to kill the spider. I don't see Theo as the kind of guy to compromise his morals just to impress a girl he has a crush on. However, I don't exactly think worse of him for doing so. He remains the big good of this story.

    Actually, it had been revealed who is the agent of the Hawk in District Four. The boy Ronn who Marten killed at the beginning of the book wa

  • Alright so I see the shipping has begun lol

    Ah, I remember it now! See, I had forgotten that detail, thank you for reminding me. That solves this mystery, though the D7 agent remains u

  • @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan

    Chapter 5: Only a Victim

    Theoram Warrik

    "Shit, Theo, you couldn't have told me before I got home and kicked my shoes off?" Kirt scowled as he shut the door behind him and removed the travelling jacket from around his shoulders. "I had just sat down for supper with my wife and children..."

    "Jomal Cassidy." Theo didn't even wait for Kirt to hang up his jacket before revealing his concern. For the past half an hour, he had been poring over it in his head, wanting to poke holes in the theory, but no matter what he thought, he couldn't shake off the overwhelming feeling that he was on the clock.


    "He's the one who's blackmailing us. His name is Jomal Cassidy." The city loomed bright behind Theo's window overlooking the cinema across the way. The sun had just said its farewells and now the Capitol really lived up to the name "The Shining City."

    Kirt sighed, running over things in his head. He let out an exasperated breath and took a seat on a stool by Theo's counter. "Nope, not biting. Who is this man and why are you so certain he's our guy?"

    "Jomal Cassidy..." Theo was pacing now and it had taken him too long to notice. "He was a Peacekeeper here in the Capitol eighteen years ago, and our good friend Roman hired him for a job. You may be familiar with these men."

    "Okay, so he's an agent of the Hawk..." Kirt spoke with hands splayed out on the table. "If that's true, why hasn't he already turned us in and been done with us?"

    "No, I don't think so. Jomal always wanted to live life the best he could, which is why he chose District One. They're export is luxury you know. They are a wealthy district and Jomal likes that." Kirt nodded, following along. "So, I believe, he intends to hold our identities hostage for ransom. He knows I'm desperate. He knows I will pay it..."

    "And how are you so sure he knows about our identities?" Kirt asked, eyebrow raised to the ceiling. "Because to pull me from my home, you would have to have undeniable proof, or--"

    "Jomal Cassidy is an agent of the Hawk. He is also an agent of the Owl." As the information processed, belief and intensity grew in his pupils. "He is the only one I trusted to work as a double agent for me... It was stupid."

    "He's a double agent?" Kirt stood up from the table and went over to the window by his friend. "Theo, how could you do that? It's reckless! If you make someone turn cloak, you can never tell when they will turn cloak again."

    "Exactly." Theo spat, turning away from Kirt with a grimace. "I was young, and inexperienced, and I believed he could be trusted back then. Now..."

    Kirt and Theo took places at the table. It was a small one, only seating four, but Theo lived alone and hardly took any visitors. Yet for the two of them, there was plenty of space to lay their worries on the table and speak aloud their minds. Kirt's stress had started to seep from his mind and onto his chin. His face was covered with a light-stubble where he had mostly been clean shaven.

    Theo's eyes were drifting past monocle and table and floor and into nothing. "Jomal Cassidy I gave him the order to stay where he was. He was not to leave District One, and last I heard, he was still there. But this evening, I met a man on the streets by the name of Thurgood Munrow. He's another one of Roman's agents, but if he's here, that means that all of them are. And if Jomal broke my orders to return to the Capitol, he very well may be working for the Hawk with a full heart now. He's playing the game against me now; we must view him as an enemy."

    Kirt did not ask why Theo had chosen only one man to cross the border of allegiance and fight for both sides, and he did not ask why that man was Jomal. As for the former, Theo knew that he needed an eye inside the mind of Roman just as much as he needed one in the Districts. As for the latter, he was glad that Kirt had not asked.

    "What do we do?" Kirt closed his eyes and nodded his head, waiting for the task he knew was coming, but Theo was not certain of the answer just yet.

    "We have two options," Theo answered, displaying them on his fingers. "The first, we can wait until tomorrow. We can pay whatever ransom Jomal demands of us just as we agreed to in the envelope. Or, we can hunt this son of a bitch down, and we can end it."

    Kirt's eyes shot open, and Theo saw fear in them. He quickly played it down again. "Isn't that a risky move? If he discovers we are searching for him... well, he is holding our names at gunpoint. If they get out, it's all game over. We won't have anywhere to turn, and we'll be as good as dead before sunrise."

    Theo nodded. "It is a hazardous path. So is not taking one."

    "Do you even have an idea where to start looking?" He asked.

    Theo nodded again. "Assuming I know the man I thought I did, he'll be at his house on the West Wall. He's too high profile, and he wouldn't risk being seen around downtown, so I would say his home is a safe bet. It's certainly a place to start."

    A shadow of doubt flickered over Kirt's eyes. "But, if he is expecting visitors, wouldn't he have set his home up as a trap for us? That would be a surefire way to lose this game."

    Theo thought around the situation and eventually agreed. "You're right. The stakes are too high to try it. Although, there is one more place I think he may be hiding..."

    "And that is?"

    Theo turned away, not sure whether he was revealing too much. He decided he wasn't. "Jomal had a wife, and she was committed shortly before he left the Capitol. They made her an avox, and that was why I trusted him. I looked him in the eyes one day and I could tell... I could tell that he loved her more than he loved his duty. Well... He has been in District One for eighteen years, so maybe the concept of love is lost on him now."

    And then Theo's mind flickered over the girl, Penn. If eighteen years had passed and Jomal had not grown to love her, then he was truly broken inside. Perhaps Theo truly was a terrible judge of character, to see hope where there wasn't any. He had seen something in Jomal that day that he had not in any other, including his closest friends. He had thought him loyal... Well, Theo supposed he had been, only to the wrong man.

    "I get it," Kirt said, connecting the dots in his mind. "You might find him at the Brig."

    "That is what I was thinking."

    The Brig was a large octagonal building in the center of the town, near the white pillar that Coriolanus Snow called his home. Every year, more men and women were made into avoxes than Snow could do anything with, and so, the ones who were too weak to lift heavy objects, and the ones who were too old to perform their duty were confined to that terrible place. Theo had heard stories saying that it was relatively cozy inside, and that the avoxes were treated reasonably well, but Theo knew they were a lie. Even if they did have a warm bed and good food to eat, they had no tongues. They could not speak to one another. They could not befriend or love one another. And most importantly, they could not escape.

    Sonyah Cassidy was only a victim in all this. Theo knew not what her crime to the Capitol had been, but it was grave enough to warrant the removal of her tongue and her sentence to the Brig. Theo believed that even if she had not suffered her humiliation, the woman would have taken to his cause. Jomal seemed to think so, back when Theo thought he knew him.

    "Well, Theo, you're the man named Schrodinger, not me," Kirt laid his hands on the table. "I'm willing to do whatever you ask of me, but it's your decision. Should we hunt him down or should we wait and decide after we've paid the ransom?"

  • Man, with this revelation, Penn's father just got worse. I remember that not long ago you asked me why I dislike him and I had no good answer back then saf for him being related to Penn (which I agree is nothing I can hold against him). But that right here... now it seems I finally got enough of a reason to hate him. He's not only a fucker, he's a two-faced fucker and a double agent on top. Sure, working for Theo is nothing particularly despicable. In fact, I prefer Theo's agents to Roman's, but man, it takes a special kind of greed to work for both sides. What an asshole! That said, if he is indeed the agent, then I believe paying him is the better choice. He likes money, Theo can offer him money. Hunting him down sounds like an unnecessary risk. That said, he might ask for more and more, so I can certainly understand the other option just as well and wouldn't be unhappy if it gets chosen.

    @mr.quality @janitor @supersagig @UkilledKenny @AAA_Jane @xSensus @WildlingKing @LiquidChicagoTed @TheLier @TWD_stan Chapter 5: Only a

  • Hey guys I don't want to go on until there are more votes. @janitor @TheLier @TWD_stan

  • I guess this is dead?

  • edited June 2017

    No it's not, actually I'm still going with it, I've just been waiting until more people cast their votes on that last part. Have you caught up?

    supersagig posted: »

    I guess this is dead?

  • Yes, i have. Also i voted

    No it's not, actually I'm still going with it, I've just been waiting until more people cast their votes on that last part. Have you caught up?

  • Ah shit yeah son. It's always nice to hear someone's coming back. What have you thought of the story thus far?

    supersagig posted: »

    Yes, i have. Also i voted

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