"Let the sun fade out and another one rise,
Climbing through tomorrow, I'll be gone."
Victor of the 5th Hunger Games
Year of the 29th Hunger Games
She's nearly out. Out of the hands of those who never should've touched her, out of the hellhole that no child of mine should've ever endure, yet they did. Both of them.
Clio Kohl is nearly out of the Hunger Games. Out of the Games that killed her brother, Roan six years ago. A sad coincidence, they'd say as my daughter narrowly survived the bloodbath and the sick bastard from One that'd speared both of her allies. How unfortunate, they'd say.
I, of all people, know what unfortunate is. Unfortunate is being cheated on by some puppy-loving sweetheart. Unfortunate is catching a cold on holiday.
Having your family ripped away from you after fighting and killing for your life is far past unfortunate.
But there's nothing I can do to fight the tides of fairness anymore. I can't go in there and protect Clio as she sleeps; I can't watch her back when the finale that is slowly encroaching takes place. I'm useless now, like I'd been for the twenty-something years I've screwed up Clio's life.
But I'm trying. To save her as best as I can.
For days upon days, I'd remained at the Mentor's Cavern, spending sleepless nights watching every tribute in a ten mile radius of my daughter; the last person I cling onto my sanity for. My wife and my son, ripped away from me, left me and my broken shell with only Clio to rely on.
I don't dare wonder what I'd do without her.
And slowly but surely, it happens. First, the gunshots. The battle-field themed arena had been kind to the tributes the past few days, gracing them with peaceful nights that'd been nonexistent in days previous. After adapting to the silence, even I, in my sleepy stupor, let out a yelp as the first round of bullets splay across the open field.
Clio groggily jolts up, yanking her sickle and the remainder of her meager supplies before bolting westward, where the bullets are leading her toward. I steal a glance across the round table, where Azure sits. Her tribute, Celesto of Three, an unobtrusive boy that poisoned his allies the previous day, perks up and sprints toward the same destination: the Cornucopia.
And to my left, Pasiphae Jacoby flexes her fingers with a smug smirk plastered across her face. Crest of One, already seated in at his throne at the Cornucopia, twirls his voulge playfully as he awaits the others. The snarl that settles in on my face comes naturally; the Careers have no respect from me. Not after killing my son and the number the kid from One pulled on my leg in my year. Instinctively, I roll my ankle under the table, feeling the toes of skin rub against the toes of metal.
The first shout pulls me out of the daze; Celesto reaches the Cornucopia and, visibly shaken, brandishes his twin switchblades. Crest heartily laughs as he masterfully spins the voulge, eyeing the younger boy with a predatory sneer.
And without a moment's break after, he charges out for Celesto. Within seconds the monstrous boy is upon him, striking and swinging only to have the other parry. A dignified roar erupts from his throat, and with it, comes the strength and lethality that marks each and every Career.
As he swings once more, he leans forward and striking out with his arm to the younger boy's wrist. Within a matter of seconds, Celesto is disarmed. And as he assesses the situation, he flees, sprinting down the path he'd came, but it was clear now. He was finished. Crest chuckled as he sent the first knife into Celesto's back, the next, readying to fire, and -
I gasp as the colossal boy collapses, the knife that was previously readied to fire, lodged in the form of the shocked boy. As quickly as the horror of the newfound player filled me, the relief comes. Clio, always the cunning one, has done the impossible.
The boy's cannon resonates across the arenaand I rise, tears welling in my eyes as Clio bursts into tears. And once again, just as quickly as the relief filled me, the horror returns. Because Celesto has charged Clio from behind, and plunges the very knife that pierced his chest into hers.
And she falls.
Unlike Crest, Clio isn't pierced cleanly through the trachea or the heart or her brain. The blade impales her lung, and as blood seeps through, the tears of happiness morph into remorse, pain. Above all, fear of the unknown. She faces the sky as Celesto whoops as loudly as he can muster with the injury that only appears to have missed his bones and organs. In spite of this, Clio uses her dying breath. For him.
"It's okay," she murmurs as she coughs, blood spurting out of the corner of her mouth.
The cannon rings out as her chest exhales its final, wheezing breath.
For what feels like ages, I relive the scene over and over again, the fact not registering. Clio won! She had just won; she'd done it! She has to have done it; I-I need my Clio, and she won, for me!
I have to force myself to inhale and exhale, but somewhere along the way, the sobs take over, and breathing becomes neither natural nor important. I collapse to my knees, landing with a thud to the unforgiving iciness of the tile floor beneath me. Everything slows and I hear it over and over again: her words, gargled through bloody gasps, talking to me, accusing me, turning everything back to me.
What happens next doesn't feel like it's in my control. The anger that should be directed nowhere but the Capitol morphs into a petty sense of jealousy as Azure hoots in victory. Instincts draw my hands to the glass as Claudius proudly announces the murderer's name like he deserves anything less than death by execution. I feel the twitch that draws back memories of yesterday that I'd that I'd purged of, but I push them away, letting the feeling come alive.
And just like it did those twenty-four fateful years ago, the sound tunes out, and all I hear is the static. The static of the electricity not knowing where it's destined to go, without a purpose. The screams follow shortly thereafter. Dully, I feel the vibration of the high-pitched yell against me and the blurry wail of sirens.
As the Peacekeepers storm in, slamming me hard against the floor, only then does the sound register, of the sirens in true form, blaring from below. Of Pasiphae, screaming and yelling, bewildered like I'd never seen the she-devil before. Bile races up my throat as I tilt my chin toward Azure.
Azure, who gurgles as blood oozes out of the glass shards that skewer the skin of her jugular.
Azure, who mouths hauntingly slowly to me.
And just like always, I feel the remorse blossom, but this time, this time pride overshadows it.
It's okay, Clio. Daddy's going to try and fix things, don't you worry. Look at the head start he's gotten already?
Welcome, everyone, to Light Up The Sky!
Yes, this is Blood Splatter's sequel, and yes, eventually, it will reveal the victor of Blood Splatters as soon as that's resolved. But for the most part, you don't need to have read Blood Splatters to understand Light Up The Sky.
Open Submissions are a joy, aren't they? They open today, whenever that is that you've read this, to the 31st of May -Saturday. Yes, a large time period, but what with Finals and Blood Splatters still on its last legs, I doubt anyone is mourning too badly.
More guidelines, specifically on tributes, are posted on my profile, and I highly suggest reading them. And for the love of cheese, use THAT form and not some other. Please complete it in its full, as well.
Reviews, do we need them? Well. Yes. They help me know who's still here, and who's not. No, one measly missing review doesn't mean I'm going to set a pitfall on the way to the Capitol for your tribute, but I'm inclined toward those who are reviewing.
Thank you, and, cliche time, May the odds be ever in your favor!