“The moon is a friend for the lonesome to talk to.” - Carl Sandburg
“I think we should split up,” Tiara announced bright and early that morning.
Tifanee appeared unsurprised, but the two male careers stared at her in shock.
“You can't be serious,” Troy growled. “And end the careers for good?”
Tiara shrugged. “I think it's for the best. Either way, I'm out of here as soon as I finish my breakfast.”
“And what exactly are you going to do?” Huntur questioned with a glare. “We're stronger together.”
“We're strong apart too, or at least we are.” She spoke to Troy and Huntur while throwing a pointed look at Tifanee.
“Fine. I'll leave the alliance,” Troy said. “It'd be fun to get some killing done on my own.”
“Whatever,” Tifanee shrugged. “I can survive either way.”
She ignored the others' amused looks of disbelief.
Troy didn't like being alone. He had no trouble admitting that he enjoyed having people around to show off in front of, and an audience that he couldn't see wasn't cutting it. For that reason alone he wanted to form a new alliance. Having pathetic people to intimidate was almost as fun as the killing.
For that reason, Troy didn't kill Alissah, Demetrius, and Ezra when he discovered them. Sure, he could have easily enough, but why do that when he could have fun with them in a different way? The killing could always come later.
“You three seem to be doing well,” Troy smirked as he swaggered up to them.
All three of them had taken defensive positions.
“What do you want?” Demetrius growled.
“Don't get too defensive,” Troy chuckled. “I'm not going to hurt you guys. I just want to join your alliance.”
The three other tributes shot each other skeptical looks.
“Why should we trust you?” Ezra questioned. "You're a career.”
“I am,” Troy acknowledged. “But that alliance is broken, and I was getting lonely. I thought you guys might be up for one more. I have some pretty valuable skills after all.”
Demetrius looked back at Alissah and Ezra before turning back to Troy. “Fine. You can join, but you're not standing guard at night. One of us will do it.”
Troy shrugged. “More sleep for me then.”
With the addition of Jocelin and Fayth, their alliance was getting crowded. Coale and Etin had seemed hesitant about them at first, but had finally fully embraced them into the group. Mina, however, wasn't feeling so accepting. She didn't appreciate being with the crazy girl, and she wasn't going to stick around with her much longer.
Knowing there was no need to change something that worked, she decided to slip off in the night just as she had with the careers. She'd be long gone before they awoke, and Mina would be free of the burden of caring for Fayth the Crazy. They could all get themselves killed if they wanted, but she wasn't going to suffer that fate because of someone else's weakness.
Jocelin stirred as she heard a rustling in the dark. Her senses having been fine tuned in the past several days, her hand immediately went for the knife resting near her head before she bolted up into a sitting position. Scanning the area quickly, Jocelin sensed no harm, but she quickly noticed Mina's absence. No one was up keeping watch, and Jocelin wondered if Mina had wandered off because she sensed something or if she had decided she'd had enough of this alliance. Probably the former. Mina hadn't taken too kindly to Fayth, and Jocelin couldn't blame her.
Even though she understood, Jocelin also felt a surge of anger at the other girl. It wasn't Fayth's fault that she had the attacks. She didn't deserve this more than any of the others, except perhaps the careers who deserved it all.
Jocelin listened closely to the fading footsteps and rustling of leaves that she could just barely hear in the distance. It was a chance. Mina had freely left the alliance, which made her a free target, and Jocelin was feeling a bit bitter at the moment. She spared a quick glance at the three peacefully sleeping forms. They would be safe while she was gone. She was sure of it. They'd hidden their location well. Jocelin would get Mina. Her first kill. She had faith that Coale and Etin would protect Fayth or at least have the decency to formally break off the alliance. If they didn't, they'd have an angry Jocelin to deal with too.
Chloe cowered in fear as the three tributes loomed over her.
“Please don't hurt me!” she gasped. “Please!”
Coale looked back at Etin as he held the knife above the young girl.
“I'll make you a deal,” Coale spoke in a low voice. “We just lost two members of our alliance. I'll let you live if you'll join us. We could use help handling her.” He pointed at the crazy girl Fayth over his shoulder.
“Why haven't you killed her?” Chloe's confusion briefly made her forget her fear.
“It's a bit hard when she's so innocent,” he muttered as he stood and stored his knife away. All hatred seemed forgotten as he extended a hand to Chloe to help her to her feet. She took it lightly, while keeping a close eye on the girl that now fascinated her.
“What are you doing with them?” Mina questioned Troy sharply.
Mina had come across Alissah, who had been hunting, just moments ago. Alissah had asked Mina to join their alliance as she believed Mina's smarts would be valuable. It all seemed incredibly similar to when she had joined the careers, but it was better than being with Crazy, so Mina went with it. Then, she discovered Troy.
“So, let me get this straight,” Mina said. “The careers break up for good, but then two of you wind up in the same alliance again?”
“That would be correct,” Alissah smirked. “She's joining by the way.” It was thrown out casually, as if she didn't expect any protests from the other tributes.
Demetrius watched her closely before shrugging. “Okay. She has valuable skills that none of the rest of us do. This could be a good thing.”
Mina sure hoped it was.
Mina had only been with them for an hour or so when they happened upon Kahner's hideout.
“Don't come any closer,” Kahner called out towards them with knife in hand. “The place is rigged.”
“Rigged?” Demetrius questioned as he scanned the area.
“I took the mines from the cornucopia and set them up around this place. Step on one and it'll blow.”
Demetrius nodded. “Nice one. I doubt anyone else would have thought of that.”
Mina cocked her head to the side. “How did you even know how to work them? Not much use for mines in District Six, and even I would have had to inspect one to figure out how to work it.”
“I have my ways,” he smirked.
“He should join us,” Alissah whispered to the others. “We can't get to him like this anyway. He's surrounded himself, and he suspects us. The best we can hope for his to have him on our side. We can use this place as a base.”
“How do we know he won't misdirect us and make us all step on mines?” Ezra asked.
Alissah shrugged, “We don't.”
Demetrius considered for a moment before calling out. “Will you form an alliance with us, Kahner?”
Kahner smirked. “I guess so. I'm running a bit low on supplies, and you seem fixed in that regard.” He nodded towards the bags they all carried.
Tiara watched the group closely with a smirk playing across her lips. Somehow, they'd picked up the crazy girl. Tiara found it amusing, and she couldn't help but watch the show from afar. She'd perched herself up in a tree, a new trick she'd taken from Tifanee. She quite liked it up high where she could watch the other tributes without being detected.
Knowing she was out of reach from the spear they possessed, Tiara called down. “Hey, what are you guys up to down there?”
The four tributes looked up in shock.
“Tiara,” Coale growled.
Tiara smirked wider. “Coale. How would you guys feel about me joining you?”
“I don't think that's such a great idea,” Etin spoke up.
“Aw,” Tiara pretended offense. “Why not? As a career, I could provide you valuable skills.”
“You don't mind being in an alliance with me?” Skepticism filled Fayth's voice.
Tiara shrugged. “You're part of the appeal, honestly. You intrigue me.”
Fayth frowned. “I don't like this,” she muttered quietly to Etin.
“Neither do it, but she could be helpful,” he answered.
Coale sighed. “How do we know we can trust you?”
Tiara shrugged. “Trusting me is your own problem.”
Etin looked at the others before speaking. “She doesn't keep watch, and we keep a close eye on her.”
“Definitely,” Chloe agreed. “She could be helpful, but we can't afford to fully trust a career.”
“You can come down now,” Coale called.
Tiara smirked once more as she swung herself down through the branches.
Kendrick watched the four closely. He found it interesting that Tiara, a career, had paired up with three other tributes. To be honest, he was tired of being in this arena alone with only his thoughts. It was haunting. And being with Tiara would help him get farther in the games. If she would pair up with the other three, he should be able to convince them that he should join. He hadn't had a decent training score, and he looked weak. But Kendrick knew how to use use his smarts, and he could convince them that was an advantage.
Tiara smirked as he appeared, but it didn't seem particularly threatening... yet. “Well, well, well,” she chuckled. “Kendrick Jobs. Are you here to fight?”
“Nope,” Kendrick replied as confident as possible. “I don't fancy dying today. I was wondering if I could join your little alliance. You could use someone with my brain.”
Tiara considered him. She didn't seem to pay the other three much mind, although Kendrick noticed a look of thinly disguised contempt being thrown at her from Coale. “I think we could find some use for you.”
Gerald watched the group of tributes closely. He recognized Ezra immediately, as he'd had an alliance with the boy at the beginning of the games. He was surprised that Ezra had joined forces with not one but two tributes. Gerald also saw the District 3 tribute, who he knew to be Mina. Gerald hadn't been that fond of her. It would be fun to kill either her or the careers for his first kill of the games. Ezra he would let off the hook. He'd liked him well enough.
The problem would be killing one of the their own without being killed himself. He noticed that Kahner, another tribute Gerald hadn't been fond of, was slightly disconnected from the others. Kahner had been a moody boy during training, and that seemed to have stuck in the games, with him distancing himself from the others in his alliance.
Gerald knew he wouldn't have time to retrieve his arrow once he shot it. The others would react too quickly, and Gerald would be forced to run no matter what the outcome of his shot. He aimed with great concentration, determined to kill with just one arrow. He watched just long enough to see the arrow connect with Khaner's skull before running. A shout rang out just seconds before the cannon boomed, but no one followed Gerald as he fled.
Ahnette had remained hidden in the woods the entirety of the games. She didn't trust enough to approach anyone about alliances, and she was surviving just fine on her own. No one had managed to catch her yet. Still, she figured the Capitol would be getting tired of her reclusive ways, and something bad could happen if she didn't act soon. She'd heard the commotion of Kahner's death and come running. It was a chance to witness, if not experience, a scuffle.
When she'd come upon the scene, she'd watched the hovercraft pull Kahner's body up through the sky and away from the bloody scene still covering the ground. The others in Kahner's alliance seemed slightly shaken, although whether it was from sadness or fear that it would happen to them too Ahnette wasn't sure. The only one who seemed calm was Alissah, who remained lounging in her previous position, apparently having not moved at all. She watched her companions with slight interest as they sorted through Kahner's supplies and talked about leaving soon to get away from the blood now covering the ground.
Ahnette had no weapons, as she had fled the cornucopia as soon as the cannon sounded, but she noticed a knife tucked away safely in a holster on Alissah's belt. Ahnette knew that getting to it would be tricky, especially with Alissah's companions just feet away, but the risk seemed worth it. Ahnette hated the careers and everything they stood for, which only made her more determined as she sneaked quietly forward.
The knife was in her grasp in what seemed like an instant and suddenly it was plunging into Alissah's back. It happened too quickly for Ahnette to really process it, but soon Alissah was writhing around in pain and Ahnette was fleeing just as Gerald had before her. No one pursued her as they ran to the aid of the second of their alliance to be attacked in just moments. The knife was gone, having been wrenched out by Ahnette as she fled, and it was abundantly clear that Alissah wouldn't survive. Another career was gone, and Troy did little to hide his satisfaction as he watched Alissah die.
Tifanee was doing just fine on her own as she ambled along the forest floor. At the slightest hint of danger she would perch up in the trees. She'd attempted to travel through them instead, but that had proved more difficult than it had seemed. Unless she suddenly developed monkey-like skills, Tifanee was just fine walking on the ground.
Still, Tifanee would be lying if she didn't admit that she would rather be with people right now, even ones that might kill her. She was terrified being out here alone, and the slightest sounds made her scramble for the trees. Mockingjays, whose wonderful singing had thrilled her at home, now caused her to scramble under logs.
It was for that reason only that Tifanee was brave enough to approach the human-like sounds that she heard instead of running in fear. She kept to the trees. It was a longer journey but the safer option to the ground. The young girl groaned in frustration when she saw Tiara amongst the group. Of all the careers, Tiara's obnoxiousness frustrated Tifanee the most.
Tifanee did a scan of the area, and after seeing no visible long range weapons, was brave enough to call out, “Hey! Tiara!”
Tiara looked up before growling angrily. She calmed herself and smirked up at Tifanee before replying, “Still by yourself, I see.”
“Yeah,” Tifanee sounded much calmer than she felt. “That's what I wanted to ask about actually. How would you feel if I joined your alliance. We were in one together once before after all.”
Tiara's lips puckered. “I suppose.” She looked around at her companions, who all shrugged. Coale had long given up on leadership with Tiara's continued presence, and his shrug was accompanied with a scowl.
“Don't make me regret this, Munchkin,” Tiara shouted as Tifanee descended.
“Munchkin,” Tifanee chuckled. “That's a new one.”
The alliance was getting crowded now. What had previously just been her, Coale, and Etin was now four extra tributes. None of them appreciated Fayth's presence, she was sure of it. Even the small and young Tifanee was of more value to the group. Fayth yearned for Jocelin's presence. Jocelin who had seemed to genuinely care and then had disappeared without a trace one night. Others would have thought it was a sign of disloyalty, not uncommon in these games, but Fayth thought differently. Jocelin probably didn't want to be the one to kill Fayth, so she got out as soon as possible. It was a smart move on her part, and Fayth meant to replicate it.
Not that Fayth was leaving anyone behind. They would all be happy to wake up tomorrow and find her gone. No one would morn the crazy girl who disappeared in the middle of the night. She'd be free to live the rest of her short live without the judgmental eyes of others.
With that bittersweet thought, Fayth set out into the darkened woods. Her only comfort came from the occasional glimpses of the bright, possibly artificially lit moon that hung high in the sky.