How we think the fight will go
It had to be one of President Snow’s tricks.
There was no way that they would every let her leave another match alive—not after what happened the first two times. And so the rules were changed—again.
Instead of tributes from the other districts, there appeared to be only one other girl. And yet she wasn’t like anything Katniss had ever seen. Oh, she had the trappings of Capitol fashions, but there was a beauty so cold that even Katniss couldn’t think that she was fully human.
The girl’s vicious smile was doing nothing to alleviate her fear.
It didn’t help, either, that once again she began without a bow and arrows. She knew they’d be somewhere in the arena—they had to be—but as to where…
She looked around. It wasn’t like the last two Games, with giant arenas that covered miles. This was more like a stadium, oval in shape, with high walls. The terrain was flat for the most part, but there were strange mounds jutting from seemingly random places across the stadium’s floor.
Katniss shuddered to think what they did.
She had no choice, though—she wasn’t going to survive without a weapon. So far, the only thing that stood out—other than her opponent—were those mounds.
She ran to the closest one.
As she did, she could see out of the corner of her eye the strange girl make a similar move. Katniss kept track of her, but focused on the mound.
It wasn’t, on closer inspection, dirt as she had first thought. Instead, it was almost as if dirt had been painted on. Faint lines could be seen criss-crossing the surface.
Great. But what does it do?
Katniss glanced over, seeing the other girl equally puzzled. Not for the last time Katniss wished that Peeta or Gale was here, watching her back. The thought of them made her wonder…
No…can’t think about that now.
She took another look at the girl…
And couldn’t find her.
She knew she had to hurry. The girl and the mound she had been looking at were nowhere to be seen. The quiet was unnerving.
She stood back from the mound. Taking off one of her boots, she tossed it on top of the dome.
Katniss walked back. She heard a ticking sound, but nothing seemed to be happening. Leaning forward, she reached out for her boot, and suddenly the there was a ding and the mound retracted, causing her to stumble into the newly formed hole.
A splash sounded in her ears as she fell, and she followed her boot into a shallow pool of water. Looking up, she saw that the walls to the shaft didn’t extend all the way down, and she was at least ten feet below them, with another ten feet of wall to reach the surface. It was dark, but not completely, the light from the stadium supplemented by something glowing in the water.
Katniss started as one of the glows moved passed her, brushing up against her leg. Another brushed up against her bootless foot, and she gasped when something sliced through her sock and into her flesh.
The glows were coming closer to her, and she quickly started reaching about under the water, trying to find her other boot. Her frantic movements, though, only seemed to attract the nasty aquatic creatures, and soon her hands and arms were crossed with dozens of lacerations. When she found her boot, she had trouble slipping it on as the blood made her grip slick. Finally she pulled it on and stood up, just in time to see a shadow cross the open hatch.
The girl was hovering above her.
Katniss took in the pit, and noticed the a glowing trail of razor fish stretched into the darkness. She moved towards it, and as her eyes adjusted, she saw that she was in a tunnel.
She ran down it, her splashes causing the razor fish to frenzy around her. She knew if she fell, there was no chance of her getting back up with all her blood. Still, she had no choice—somehow that girl had gotten hold of something that made her fly, and that meant she could be coming down the shaft any minute.
A low hum behind her seemed to confirm that.
As she ran, Katniss ripped off strips from her shirt and wrapped them around her hands. It wasn’t much, but at least it allowed her some sense of touch.
She eventually reached another chamber, and was happy to see that the shallow water ended at a raised platform. Not having time to worry about if it was a trap, she hopped onto the smooth stone surface. On top now, she could see the middle was recessed, and something metal lay within.
Katniss hurried over, taking a look down the tunnel to see if the girl had made it through yet. She didn’t see anything, though, so she turned her attention to what was in the middle of the platform.
It was a case, and fairly large. She touched it tentatively, but nothing shocked her or burned her or froze her. She realized it was risky, but she also knew that under the stadium was not a place she could expect to live very long without some kind of help—and she doubted any of the little silver parachutes could reach her down here.
She opened the box.
A loud wailing sound exploded on Katniss, echoing throughout the chamber. It didn’t last long, but it was enough to cause her ears to ring and even make her eyes water. Yet, it seemed the alarm was the only trap—sure she had given away her position, but what lay inside made it all worthwhile.
She reached in, almost reverently. The balance and draw were perfect. A quiver of arrows lay inside, and she quickly examined them. She was disappointed, as all but one were regular arrows, with no fancy attachments or tips. But she wasn’t too unhappy, because the last arrow could be something she very much desired:
The arrow ended in drill bit, and attached to the feathered end was a long, strong cable. A tiny switch on the head turned the bit on, and despite its size, it clearly had a powerful motor. She turned off the motor and placed it back in the quiver. She hung the quiver over her shoulder and with a practice motion, drew one of the arrows and shot it straight up, into the bottom of the dome. It pinged against it and fell back to the ground, but not before a ticking sound started.
While she waited for the dome to open, Katniss realized that the other girl had never come down the tunnel. The same ding! sounded that had gotten her into this mess, and with it came the thought that maybe getting to the surface wasn’t the best idea.
It was too late, though, and so she drew the drill-arrow and shot it through the opening, the powerful bit spinning. As it arced perfectly out the hole, she waited for the sound of the drill digging into the ground and securing the line in place. She didn’t hear anything though, and yet, when she gave the cable a tuck, it didn’t budge.
Maybe I’m too far down to hear it, she thought, and placing her bow over her shoulder, she began to climb up.
It was torturous, her hands almost numbe from the razor fish. And yet Katniss had always been an excellent climber—had a feel for it, her dad used to tell her. And so, hand over hand, she made her way up, reaching the walls of the shaft in very short time.
The cable didn’t give, and with confidence she kept going…
Until she was falling.
Katniss landed hard on her back, the thirteen feet fall knocking the breath out of her. She was stunned, and it was only through the greatest of efforts she was even able to open her eyes in time to see the other girl hovering down the shaft.
The strange girl hopped off the board she was riding—it simply floated by itself—and strode confidently to Katniss.
“My, aren’t you an ugly one.”
“You’re nothing special to look at, either,” Katniss said through gritted teeth.
The girl laughed. “Oh, you have no idea how special I am.”
Katniss was frightened—worse than the dogs with the other contestants eyes attacked her, Peeta, and Cato. Worse then finding the perfumed roses in her home.
Yet…the girl did nothing. Her eyes, though cold, were uncertain.
She doesn’t know what’s she’s doing here, Katniss thought with wonder.
The Hunger Games had left her with no illusions. She reached over her shoulder and drew an arrow, and even as the strange girl’s eyes widened, Katniss plunged its pointed end straight into her opponent’s chest.
The girl fell over, gasping.
Katniss struggled to sit up. She looked over to the girl, the arrow sticking out like a flag marking it Everdeen territory.
So powerful…and yet they didn’t program into her the instincts to kill.
The instincts that have so far kept me alive.
Katniss didn’t cry—she was done crying—but she couldn’t help feel the bitter twist in her gut as she looked at the feathers on the arrow.
Predicted Winner: Katniss Everdeen
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON SUNDAY, MARCH 13TH, 2011, AT 5 PM, ET
Tally Youngblood image courtesy of Simon Pulse. Katniss Everdeen image courtesy of *Ratgirlstudios.