"Say you'll remember me, even if it's in your wildest dreams."

Day Three Dusk

Adrian Clermont, District Four Male

She weeps loudly.

Using the nearest hut as cover, I watch as the girl from Five – Krynne, I believe – unsteadily makes her way down yet another street aimlessly. Tears stream from the corners of her eyes, and her hysteria turns her face the color of her freckles. With the noise she's making, any tribute in a thirty or forty foot radius could hear her. It certainly was enough to attract my attention.

It's impossible for her to not realize this. If she lives up to Five's standards, she can't be unaware of the noise she's making, which means she either doesn't care, or does so purposefully. I keep a sharp eye for any intruder – mutation or tribute – but nothing advances towards her.

As the pattern has gone, nothing at all has moved in the past day or two. At least not in front of me. The wheat sways lightly, and the bodies that vandalize each village twirl in the breeze, but no living creature has shown itself. I've been alone for the past twenty-four hours.

And I can't handle it.

"It's almost over," I whisper to myself, clutching my pitchfork closer to my chest. "You won't be alone very much longer." And it's true. Whatever Krynne decides, at the very least, I'll be able to talk to someone. For the first time in too long, I'll be able to speak to a real, breathing person.

"She'll be all to me," I whisper, treasuring the wispiness of my own words.

Even if it is to hear her dying words, I will hear her voice. Whether it be a scream or not has little relevance. I just need… I just need to hear her speak to me. Something. Anything. I can't handle being alone anymore. Krynne sloppily slams the door shut behind her.

So as she makes her way into the nearest hut, I jog across the street. I make an effort to remain quiet, but I can't control the adrenaline and excitement that pumps through my veins. Pitchfork and knife in hand, I press my back against the front wall of Krynne's building. At first, I hear nothing over the booming of my own heart, but as that settles, I can vaguely make out Krynne settling on the couch.

I smile to myself. She's disoriented and in a poorly defensible position, I think as training kicks in. Taking several deep breaths, I control my breathing before acting. Quietly twisting the doorknob open, I cautiously open the door.

Krynne's sobs halt abruptly as she turns to me and begins to scream. "Sh, sh, calm down," I urge, but she continues to scream, backing up to the nearest wall. "Please calm down," I whisper as soothingly as I can muster.

Offhandedly, I see Krynne's knife in my periphery. There's always a chance that she has another knife of hers, but with her state, I doubt she could even use it properly. "Please stop screaming," I say, but her screaming naturally covers that up.

I wait for her to calm herself, but she doesn't stop. "I need you to stop," I say, stepping closer in the least intimidating way I can think, and finally, her screams morph into weak whimpers. "Please calm down," I murmur for the last time. Krynne's whimpers halt altogether, and her expression switches from afraid to enraged.

Krynne sneers. "You're pathetic. Playing with your prey? What's the problem, couldn't handle someone in a real fight?"

I shrug her jab off. "I could kill you blindfolded," I state, not particularly menacingly, but matter-of-factly. Krynne flinches, but maintains her sneer despite being crouched on the floor.

"Then why don't you," she breathes, barely audible. "Get it over with," she hisses, louder now. "Do it. Do it!"

With caution, I move closer to her until I'm directly in front of her, ignoring Krynne's vicious glare. "I don't want to hurt you," I say slowly. The shock registers momentarily on her face before she masks it. "And I won't. Unless you make me."

"Get up," I mutter. I lean back and stand straight once more, backing up as I do. Once I'm a safe distance away, I offer her a hand and watch her carefully as she stares at it, uncomprehendingly. Just as I'm about to give up hope, she moves.

She grasps my hand and stands. Krynne looks at me with swollen, skeptical eyes that try to look through me.

"I won't make you."

Krynne Harper, District Five Female

It takes all my courage and willpower to not flee at the first opportunity.

But two things hold me back. The first is Adrian's constant monitoring. His eyes follow me everywhere I go. Each movement is watched carefully; each expression is calculated with immense thought. In the Capitol, I only saw him as the nicer Career – the weaker link – but now, I see cold eyes and a colder heart.

What should've I expected? He's in the final eight. Only the hellish and the damned make it this far. The sadists, the torturers, the traitors, and me. The coward. In Sullivan's time of need, I abandoned him. For the millionth time, his brown eyes and sharp nose and kind smile flash in front of me, and I force myself to ignore it.

It's the only way to avoid the guilt swallowing me whole.

And I suppose that's the other reason I'm still here, rooted into the dust-ridden couch, ten feet away from a trained killer. I've sacrificed far too much to leave empty-handed. Sullivan was willing to give up his life for me, and I have to honor that. I have to do everything in my ability to leave this arena alive with the others dead.

Adrian is part of the others. He will be my first true step in these Games. I will be his downfall, whether he knows it or not. But only at the right time. As morbid and disturbing as it is, his presence protects me. No one in their right mind charges a Career and an ally single-handed, but a tiny girl from Five? It's easy game.

His presence will make them think twice. And when Adrian becomes a larger threat than the rest… I know what I have to do. I'm not proud of it, and I sure don't look forward to it, but it's the truth. He is a road block in my path to victory. But as of now, there are larger hurdles to jump over.

So I play his little game. "Why?"

Adrian looks up from the meager plate of mystery meat and mashed vegetables, provided by the chest. I'm certainly not complaining about receiving supplies from the Capitol, but steadily, these meals have grown smaller and colder. Odd little specks appear in the food, but there's certainly not much of a choice to make. Eat the stuff or starve.

"Why what?"

"You were right there. You could've made a big production out of my death or you could've cut to the chase – you had your choice. But you chose to… you chose this," I explain.

I can see in his eyes and the way he now holds his fork that he wants to say something. His clenched jaw practically screams to me that he's going to lie, and I don't bother trying to listen to his bull crap. The signs of falseness only paint his expression for a moment, but it's all I need.

I am looking for it, after all.

"Everyone needs allies. The Careers didn't work out, so here we are." He turns to me with a grin. "Would you like for me to change that?"

The comment chills me, but I don't let it get to me. If I'm still alive, there's motive behind it, and his crap about allies isn't it. If he's pushed to the point of changing the subject, then his need for me is greater than he wants me to think. But why should I let him see that? "No," I stammer, averting my eyes.

I can feel his grin without seeing it, yet my mind is anywhere but here. Clearly, he's grown dependent on my subordination already, but why me? Me being smaller probably boosts his sense of control, but there are smaller tributes still living. The girl from Eleven. The boy from Nine. Why me? What makes me so special?

The realization comes to me with a mixture of dread and relief: I'm not. Nothing distinguishes me from the others. If anything, I'm his last choice. I'm weak, but not the weakest. Smart, but not the smartest. I'm moderate in every category, where I can only imagine Adrian would desire the extremes.

And if I'm everything he wouldn't want, he must truly be desperate if he's let me live. It's a two sided blade, as most things with Adrian are. On one end, this means that he's weak and not as sturdy mentally as he plays off to be. Even now, I can see his eyes flitting to me, making sure that I'm still here.

However it also means I'm disposable. At the soonest convenience after I've lost my worth, I'll be six feet under. He will kill me without blinking.

But not before I kill him.

Day Four Dawn

Xander Lutz, District Two Male

Something's not right.

The pendants of Laela and Pstika remain looped around my belt, and for a moment, I wonder if the world around me in its oddness is a result of the pendants, but I quickly decide against it. This is a Gamemaker ploy. This is just another part of their little game.

The arena has seemingly frozen overnight. Even inside my humble hut, the air is bone-chilling, and I can feel myself shaking despite being inside. I run my hand against the thin walls, and they, too, are cold to the touch.

As soon as I open the nearest door, a blast of icy wind slams into me. I force myself outside anyway, ignoring the frozen bite of the air as I step outside. The change is evident. The grass is tinted with white tips – not of snow, but of sleet. My breath puffs out in a wispy cloud, and the comfortable breeze that cooled the once warm air is now a vengeful gust.

Even the blood in the fountain has frozen solid. The body of the little girl lies limply on the hardened pool of crimson. Unlike the others I've seen, this one has strands of vaguely red hair, stained with brown slime and muck. Her skin is – was – pristinely pale, and her hands and feet are all miniature.

My breath catches in my throat. "No…"

It looks too much like… no. I forcefully shake my own head and walk off, careful not to think of the girl, facedown and lifeless. Yet I can't shake the sight of her small hands and prim feet. She looks too much like her. I can't stop seeing my own sister in the lifeless body of this girl.

Any attempts to distract myself in the scenery are to no avail. Nothing and no one can hold my attention for more than a handful of seconds before the thought recurs to me once again. I sigh exasperatedly, stopping in the middle of the street.

I drop my claymore on the ground steadily before retracting my hand to the pendant around my throat. It's searing hot.

There's no doubt about it. Not anymore. After leaving Laela and Pstika, I figured I was just paranoid, but now it's become clear. These pendants are our faults, our pasts, and our downfall wrapped into one ugly piece of jewelry. I tug at the necklace, but no matter how hard I pull, it refuses to snap. The sharp edge of the claymore does nothing, either.

Deep down, I know that there's no way I'm going to sever this necklace unless the Gamemakers want me to, but I'm past caring. I've played this stupid game for long enough. "I want out!" I roar, savagely cutting the chain of the pendant with the claymore. "I'm done with your shit! Let me kill everyone and leave now!"

"Let me out!" My last pleading cry rings out one last time, echoing against the building walls. For a while, my echo bounces off the walls, ringing out until it fades away entirely. Silence takes it place, and for millionth time, silence settles.

Then footsteps erupt from down the road, accompanied with frantic voices and yelps of hurriedness and worry.

Immediately, I jump into a striking position, ready to pounce, but there's nothing to pounce at. The voices are still distant enough for me to tell that I'll have to chase them down before I finish off whoever's made the mistake of entering my village. A sudden urge to beat these tributes senseless pulsates through me, and it's all I can do to not burst into a full sprint right now.

And then, I truly take a look at myself. No jacket covers my skin – not because I don't have one, but because I've not had the peace of mind to put it on. I look at my bare arms and shivering self. Goosebumps dot my skin, and with all my self-control, I still can't control the mad chattering of my teeth. The pendant still burns against the skin of my throat, and the impulse to rip something to shreds feels far from natural.

I'm not fit for this fight.

The voices clear up. It's a boy, I think. "C'mon, let's go! The villages are crashing down! This one's next!"

"You think I can't see that?" A girl, this time. "Shut up and run!"

Based on how close they sound, I won't even need to move to take care of them. They'll come to me. And then, I can rip them to shreds.

No, I think, grasping the red curls that brush my eye and falling to my knees. Don't waste your one shot on this. My eyes trail off to the still form of the frozen girl, her red locks too vivid to not be Alodia. But now, I don't want to look away.

I want to remember. I want to remember what her hair looks like when she's asleep. I want to remember her laugh, her smile. And I do. Her laughter floats through the around me, and that meshes with the all too real voices of the nearing tributes.

Remember what you have to fight for. My arms twitch, grappling at the claymore as the tributes' voices grow louder and closer.

With Alodia's laughter ringing in my ears, I scramble off down the road, fighting every urge in my body to turn back and fight. For her.

Chandler Kennewick, District Nine Male

The walls of our house do nothing to repel the chilling air, and for the first time in a long time, I agree with what Pomme has to say. "I've decided I hate everyone," she mutters irritably, shivering and shuffling in her corner of the hut.

I airily breathe, watching as the frosty breath somersaults through the air. "They're drawing us out, I guess. Trying to make us go out and fight."

Pomme shakes her head. "They're punishing us for our mistakes."

I perk up from my icy breaths. This is a first for me, I suppose. District Nine isn't exactly the place to build a snowman if you catch my drift. "And what are we being punished for, exactly?"

The fact that Pomme doesn't glare at me for my open questioning of her logic almost disturbs me. Pomme hasn't been the same lately. She's not always here, and when she is, she's crankier than before. Luckily for me, she's not here at the moment. "We should've gone when we had the chance," she mumbles to herself.

My eyebrows knit together at her words. "We did leave. As soon as the thumping started, we left."

"Not that, you twerp!" she barks, pulling at her dirt-ridden hair fervently. "The jackets! The Gamemakers knew we wouldn't go for it, and now… now we're being punished."

I purse my lips. The jackets that Naomi deemed unworthy to carry herself burned with Porter and Memrie, and I haven't seen one of those things since. Pomme apparently hasn't, either. The chilling air gnaws at me still, and I don't need to be a scientist to know that no one can withstand this for very long.

Slowly, I make my way to Pomme's shivering form. "We need to go," I say as gently as I can muster, resting a hand on her elbow. She seizes up at my touch, and any cloudiness in her eyes clears up instantaneously.

She brushes my arm off with a scoff. "Don't touch me." With unsteady motion, Pomme rises from the ground and hisses at the nippy gusts of air.

I back off, withholding the scowl that begs to be seen. I've had enough of her, and we both know it. I agreed to join her because I thought she sincerely cared about me. She found me in my most vulnerable state, and she took me in. When I was nothing, she still took me in and protected me from whatever came charging towards. I thought that meant something. I thought I could trust her.

Clearly, I was wrong.

"Pomme, we need to leave," I repeat, slightly more forcefully this time.

Pomme's eyes flare up. "To where? Outside? Is that it, are we just going to run outside and let the arena eat us whole? Is that what you have in mind?"

"Being here is giving up and accepting a slow, cold death," I answer, surprised in the steadiness in my own voice. "Is that what you have in mind?"

"I'm not giving up my one shot at life because it's a little cold," Pomme retorts bitterly. "If you want to be buried in the snow, so be it. I'm going to fight until there's nothing left of me."

"We're not forfeiting our lives, Pomme, we're fighting for a chance. The others may be better supplied, better prepared. They might have something for us to live by. Sponsors are out of the question; if we want to live, we have to do it ourselves. This could be our last chance."

The customary chest in the corner of the room rumbles besides Pomme before she has the chance to respond. We share a moment's glance before Pomme breaks our gaze and she walks to the chest confidently.

Her hand trembles as she touches the surface of the chest, and I don't believe the cold has affected her that much, not yet. Her hand shakily twists the lock off the chest before she inhales sharply and swings the chest open.

Both of us gaze at the contents of the chest with dread. "Well, I don't suppose we have a choice anymore," I murmur. Pomme picks up the note and reads it aloud to me. For a moment, we only stand. The winds churn the arena in a frozen fury outside. We're next.

I pick up my silver knife and nod towards Pomme. "Let's take back what's ours."

Keighly Lange, District Ten Female

The houses crumble under the pressure and strength of the wind. The gales that push us back and forth knock the small huts to the ground, effectively destroying the villages from the corners of the arena inward. All around us, houses tumble over and add to the growing pile of carnage.

It started when we were asleep.

The building crashed while we were still in it, and Leon was stuck under the debris. It took me so long to get him out. Too long. There wasn't anything on our heels, but I felt it. I knew right then that I needed to get out as soon as I could. But I stayed. I stayed until he was out, and then some to let him catch his breath.

We're even now, I think internally, allowing myself to savor that thought for a moment before shooing it away. As it turns out, my instincts were correct. Within seconds of Leon getting the wind back in him, they came. In scores, the faceless mutts charged with an inhuman bloodlust, lighting fire to everything in sight.

"I think we've lost them," Leon says sharply between pants. He dusts his hands off on his now ripped arena uniform and kneels down to further catch his breath. "For now, at least."

"They're shrinking the arena," I reason. "Go out any further, and either the mutts or the fires will eat you alive. It'll be like this until only the Cornucopia is the only place left."

"Yeah," he says in assent, leaning against the wall of a building. His jacket is slightly torn from the crashing debris, but altogether, it still holds up fine. Mine remains mostly unscathed. "And, um, thanks back there."

I look away. "It's what allies do. You would've done the same for me."

I try not to analyze his silence too hard, but it's all I can do to contain my doubts. Would he really? Part of me wants to believe that he would stay back with me, help me up, save me. Just like I had to him. But the other part of me –the realistic part- tells me otherwise.

This Leon isn't the same boy I was reaped with. This isn't the same boy I grew up seeing in his family farm, playing with chickens and his siblings. This isn't him. This isn't a boy at all. This is a tribute.

By the same logic, I suppose I'm not entirely me anymore, either. But I'm not going to lose myself entirely in here. I still know who I am. I still know what I stand for. I can't say the same for Leon. I wish I could, more for myself than him at this point.

The soft thumping of distant footsteps echoes against the buildings around them, still standing for a change. Leon groans softly, and I hold a hand out to him, helping him up slowly. He's too proud to admit it, but that house did a number on his ankle. He wouldn't show me it to save himself – literally – and I don't press to see it.

If he's too stubborn to ask for help, then it's not my problem to be concerned.

Leon nods in the direction opposite the oncoming wave of footsteps. Towards the Cornucopia. "Let's get going," he says gruffly.

The roads here are considerably narrower than the farther roads. Whereas the farther roads are large and winding, the roads leading up to the Cornucopia are thin and straight, something I hadn't noticed the day of the bloodbath.

I wasn't exactly my best self that day.

For a while, we traverse in silence. It's certainly not comfortable for either for us, but for the first time since the Capitol, it's not tense, either. I don't feel as if his presence suffocates me or vice versa.

"Look, after today, I think we can say we're even, ri- ah!" I yelp as a cord constricts my ankle and yanks me upwards. My body slams against the side of the nearest building, and the contact steals the wind from me.

Leon freezes for a second before jumping to action, running to my assistance. Before he can reach me, I'm lifted even higher. Out of reach. Blood rushes to my head as I dangle from somewhere high, high above Leon.

"What the hell?" he screams, drawing his pitchfork and frantically looking around. "Reveal yourself!"

The girl from Eleven daintily walks up from a building behind him. "District Ten, our neighbors to the south. How pleasant it is to finally meet you in person," she coos, twirling a knife in her hands. The boy from Nine shadows her. Both sport metal weapons, shimmering in comparison to Leon's rusty pitchfork.

"I didn't want it to be you, but I guess we don't always-"

"Rot in hell," Leon breathes dangerously, interrupting Pomme midstride. She quirks her lips, appearing ready to resume her speech, but Leon has no such plans to allow her. From a bird's eye view, I watch helplessly as Leon charges the two children with no reserves.

Pomme sidesteps his first strike with the butt of the shaft, but Chandler isn't as lucky. The swing connects to his jaw with a sickening slam, and he goes down, cradling his cheek with whimpers. Pomme hisses and retaliates, burying her knife into his ankle – his injured one – and that brings him down, as well.

For a painful handful of seconds, it looks like Pomme is going to kill him. But the girl from Eleven takes one second too long savoring the moment, and Leon finds the strengths to hit her with his functioning leg. The heel of his foot digs into her ribcage, and once again, a crack resonates with the connection.

At this point, Leon musters the strengths to rise, but Pomme has no such power. She's gotten the wind knocked out of her, but just by looking at her, I can tell the damage is internal. Her lip quivers uncontrollably, and blood trails from her gaping lips.

Leon limps over to her, and in one swift motion, he skewers his pitchfork through her chest. Her cannon comes with two realizations.

The boy from Nine is nowhere to be seen.

The faceless mutts, on the other hand, charge from the horizon.

Leon meets my eyes, and the determination that fills his eyes invigorates me. One down, six to go. But he hesitates suddenly, and gazes down the street at the oncoming mutts. "Hurry!" I screech, fear bubbling in my chest.

We're running out of time.

One last time, he looks at the street before returning to me. "I'm sorry," he murmurs, snatching the girl's pack of knives from her lifeless body. He looks me one more time in the eye. "It was always going to end like this."

With that, he turns his back and limps off.

I scream after him, begging and crying for him to come back, but it's in vain and I know it.

They're upon me in seconds. One bashes my head with a hammer; another splices my chest with an X shape with a rusty shiv. The third skewers my eyes with two knives. I see nothing, but I feel each strike that cuts my body. Each cut, each beating, each amputation.

Before long, I know without seeing that there are no longer fingers on my hands. There are no longer feet on my legs. The last mutt cackles as he splices off my ears and shoves them down my throat. Something squelches above me, and the juices spray across my body. I don't want to know what.

But even now, they don't stop. I'm hoisted onto something wooden, and a crackling is etched from the floor beneath me. My feet tingle. It takes me a while to realize their motives. By then, my calves have been singed off.

When the sweet relief of unconsciousness takes me away, my skin has been cooked, bubbling and singed from head to toe.

A/N: Thus concludes the first half of Day Four. ;o

8th: Pomme Emerson, slain by Leon McLeod.
7th: Keighly Lange, slain by Mutations.

Tyler, Pomme certainly wasn't the most popular tribute in these ranks, but I did enjoy writing for her. She broke away from the fragile, delicate outer-district girl, and I appreciated her for that. She was feisty and dangerous, but ultimately, the arena twist ate her away until there wasn't anything left for me to do with her. Thank you for submitting her!

Jake, Keighly was originally meant to go farther, but I decided against it in the end, but that doesn't change the fact that she was a favorite of mine from the beginning. She was real and gruff, and I loved her because of it. In the end, I really enjoyed writing any interaction that included her in it, and I'm going to miss her a whole bunch. Thank you for submitting her!

That takes us to the Final Six! Congratulations to Xander, Adrian, Krynne, Naomi, Chandler, and Leon!

Because I haven't done it in a century, I have just one question for y'all!

Of these six, who do you think will be the victor?

Who do you want to be the victor?

Leave a review if you can! Eternal Penance is still accepting tributes! I'll see you soon :)