Victor of the 95th Hunger Games Elken McKnight's POV

In the coldness of his cell, Elken was frozen in time. Time surely was moving around him - he could feel it in the ache of his chest, in the emptiness of his belly, in the way his muscles were fossilizing and decaying from lack of use. In his life, he had spent so much time doing things. Good things. Bad things. Things that he would regret and things he would cherish.

But now was not the time of doing things. Now all Elken McKnight could do was sit in the theatre of his mind - a one man show with his many wandering thoughts among the audience.

He wasn't sure how long it had been since he had a visitor. There had been a worker that morning that had brought him food; Elken told himself it must have been morning, at least, since the food consisted of toast with a small portion of jelly and a protein bar of nuts. No light was let into the small basement room, so it was hard for him to really tell whether it was hours or days that had passed.

With only his thoughts to keep him company, Elken barely had any hope of not thinking about his sister. And how upset she had been. She was infuriating. She always had been. Whether it was Elken apologizing to the neighbors for the way she had socked their son in the face for making fun of her height or listening to her complain about how expensive her favorite bakery was getting right in front of the poor workers just trying to make a paycheck. His sister's world always revolved around her.

Could he have done more to cement her into reality? Growing up, Elken had always thought his role as the big brother figure was helpful for his younger sister. Maybe it would've been better if he had let her fight more of her own battles. Maybe he should've let her fend for herself in the arena.

When he had first spoken with Grandioselle, it was clear that she fancied him. Although, it was fairly well known to the Victor fresh from the arena that she had many boys that she fancied. He wasn't anything special. At first, he had been too polite to say anything; or maybe too spineless to turn her down to her face, perhaps. But when the quell twist was announced… Elken had to use any advantages that he had.

If he had sat aside, would his sister have won the games? It was possible. It was hard to deny that she was a solid tribute - and she had a clear advantage from not having trained 18 year old Careers in her games to battle. If he had sat aside… Elken couldn't even imagine a world where he did. It was difficult to pretend that he could've let her win of her own accord, even if he had been more sure of her chances.

What sort of brother could sit aside and watch their sibling fight for their life and not even attempt to help? It was his baby sister. He had always done everything he could to protect her.

Grandioselle must have had many hardships in her life. Despite her upbringing in the Capitol - born and raised there, she likely never had to want for anything - she was always so full of ideas about love. Had she ever had somebody in her life that was just willing to listen? To validate her feelings? It was almost surreal how she melted into him for the smallest things; she would cry when telling stories of her youth, seemed shocked when Elken shared opinions with her, and perhaps the most crushing was the way she was taken aback when he waited so long into the relationship to become intimate.

Call him old fashioned, but Elken didn't want to sleep with women just for the fun of it. He wanted something deeper; sex was something that would create a bond between two people and he didn't take the act lightly. Grandioselle, on the other hand, had assumed it was a transaction for any interaction. As if it were the expectation from her.

In a way, Elken did develop a sort of love for her. It was hard not to be sympathetic to the way she was so engrained to her own objectification. Even for somebody in a position as high as Head Gamemaker, she was also being used on a constant basis. Elken would show her affection, and in return it meant that his sister had a guarantee at life.

Was he really that bad of a guy for leading her on? For protecting his sister? People did much worse than that on a daily basis.

Then again, those people weren't sitting in a stone cell as their moments slipped away. Perhaps it didn't matter as much how bad a person was - just whether or not they got caught.

A sound broke Elken out of his thoughts - the sound of the heavy door to the basement of cells unlocking. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end for his unexpected visitor.

Viola Wynn, 18, District 11 Female Tribute's POV

"The fuck?!" Emmeline's voice rang out, but it was quickly overshadowed by the loud explosions. Viola's hands flew to her ears, which were ringing with the noise, as the house shook with the sound.

"We need to get somewhere more solid." Viola shouted, trying to keep her footing even as she sprinted down the hall.

"Wait for me!" Emmeline's feet thudded against the ground, but the thuds made Viola confident enough to continue up the stairs. If the house was falling apart, Viola wanted to get as high as possible - that would keep debris from falling on top of them. The thought of being buried alive in rubble made her stomach churn, but she pushed the thoughts away.

"Come on, this way!" Viola saw a ladder at the end of the hall, not thinking twice before pulling her body up. She opened a latch at the top, climbing into the large attic before the house finally settled down. Emmeline followed close behind, letting the latch slam closed loudly. For a few moments, neither of them spoke - both just waiting to see if that would be the last of the explosive frenzy.

"I think it's over." Viola took a deep breath in through her nose before turning to check out where they were now.

The attic would've seemed normal at first glance. There were boxes and tubs piled up against the walls, with dust covering almost everything like a blanket of snow. Cobwebs sat in the corners, undisturbed even through all of the tremors of the house. However, there was a giant feature wall of the room that was hard to miss.

Directly in front of Viola was a giant swathe of white. It looked almost like the toilet paper pranks that kids used to pull on each other during homecoming week back home - only, this would've made the football team at home look like they were pathetic. The thick strands went from wall to wall, crisscrossing and twisting over each other like an intricate knit, with a giant ball of the stuff pulsating in the center of the wall.

Viola reached out a hand to touch the thick white substance, finding it to be sticky to the touch. She scrunched her nose, wiping her hand on the pants of her arena suit.

"I can't believe you just touched that with your bare hand." Emmeline wrapped her arms around herself in a giant hug and Viola shrugged her shoulders.

"I wanted to know what it was." She replied simply. "It's huge."

"It looks kind of like the stuff that cocoons are made of. Sometimes we would get huge nests of them on the trees back home… They were always a bitch to clean up." Emmeline took a few steps closer to Viola, carefully maneuvering to not touch any of the silk stretched across the floor.

Viola peered at the thing. It was moving - no, it was throbbing like a cut vein. She shifted her weight from foot to foot. "So you think there's a butterfly in there?"

"I mean… There are other things that make cocoons. Like, wasps and flies and stuff."

"I bet it's a mutt."

Viola pulled a knife out of her backpack, slicing through some of the small sections of the cocoon to get closer to it.

"Dude, I don't know if that's a good idea. What if it's in there right now?"

"Then we should kill it while it's still in there." Viola only had to make a few slices before she was face to - um, to cocoon? She stuck her knife in again, making small cuts at it to try and get to the middle. Her knife hit something solid and she pulled back in surprise.

"What?!" Emmeline scrambled over to meet her partner.

"Do you have something longer?"

"Um, I have my plunger?"

"Good enough. Can I see it?"

Emmeline handed over the toilet plunger and Viola stuck the wooden handle in to widen the hole she had made. She wiggled it around before peeking in. Her face went pale.

"There are bodies in there."

The dead eyes of the tiny girl from District 3 stared at her, like glossy chocolate marbles staring back at her. She almost looked like more of a doll than a person, with her skin a ghastly greyish tinge that looked glossy to the touch.

"Bodies of what?"

"Tributes. That kid from 3 is in there."

"Fuck…" Viola turned to face her partner once more, who had her arms above her head as she twisted back and forth. "I feel like we shouldn't be messing with this thing, Vi."

"You might be right." VIola handed the plunger back over. What could be happening to the bodies in there? Were they going to have some sort of transformation? Like a butterfly in a cocoon?

"I would hate being wrapped up in there like that…" Emmeline muttered.

"Because of your claustrophobia, right?"

Emmeline nodded curtly. Viola chewed the inside of her lip. "I don't think it's safe in here, but we should gather our bearings for a second. Just in case those explosions start up again."

"There was a clock chime before them. Do you think a tribute caused it? Maybe stepped into a booby trap or something?"

"I don't know. This whole house seems like some sort of booby trap."


The two girls sat in silence for a moment. It was sort of nice - in a weird way. To not be chased by tributes or muttations. To just have a moment to sit and collect her thoughts.

"How many of us are left?"

Viola pressed her lips together into a hard line. "I'm not sure exactly. I think maybe half are dead."

"That's farther than I had thought I would make it." Emmeline joked.

"I'm just glad to be alive. I want to go back home."

More silence passed. Emmeline shuffled to put her bag in her lap.

"I hope everyone back home is proud of me… Even if I don't win."

"You've gotta make them proud. By kicking it until the very end."

Emmeline exhaled a laugh through her nose. "When you say it like that, it makes me feel like you don't think I'm gonna win."

"Well, for you to win then I have to lose. And I can't do that."

Emmeline feigned offense, pressing a hand to her chest. "Wow. I can't believe you. Saying that right to my face."

"I wouldn't lie to you."

"Thanks, Vi. You're the best friend a girl could ask for."

The sarcasm was light, but the words hit Viola in the gut. Emmeline wasn't her friend. Emmeline was nice and all, sure, but Viola wasn't here to make friends. Viola knew that only one person was coming out of this arena alive and she was determined to be that one person. Making friends would get in the way of that - it would put her at risk of emotions that she just didn't have time to feel.

But Viola didn't say anything. She already had said too much. She was lucky that Emmeline thought everything was a joke - it must have been some sort of defense mechanism. Sometimes Viola wished she could share such optimism.

"No problem, Em."

"You know, my friends don't call me Em. They call me Lina."

"Duly noted." Viola said with a small shake of her head. "We should get some rest - who's keeping watch first?"

Raven Ishali, 14, District 2 Female Tribute's POV

He's dead. He's got to be dead. Quark just fell to his death right in front of her and there was absolutely nothing she could do about it.

Raven stared at the hole for much longer than she should have - but what else could a girl do? The realization that she was alone hit her like a ton of bricks. Her ally was dead and soon she was going to be dead too.

"Quark…" Raven's voice wobbled, and the echo of her own insecurity echoed back at her through the hollow walls of the house, only making the burning sensation in her eyes stronger. She couldn't cry now - not when she was alone. Sponsors wouldn't want to send lifesaving weapons or food to the little fourteen year old that spent her time crying.

But there was no cannon. Or, um, clock chime or whatever was signifying tribute death. If Quark was dead, there should've been a sound to let everyone know.

"I've got to find him." Raven murmured to herself. She jumped over the remaining holes in the room to get to the door and started on a run down the hallway. Most of it still seemed intact - the little exploding bugs must've only made a mess of that single area. Her heart pitter pattered in her chest as she ran; all of that noise couldn't be good. What if it alerted people to where she was? The last thing that she needed was to be caught by something danger-

Raven let out a squeak as she turned a corner right into a thick body, falling backwards. Her wide eyes turned to see the body of her district partner.

"Well, well, well." Bethany's voice came before her body as she slithered around the corner too. "Look what we've got here."

Milo bent over to grab Raven by the scruff of her shirt. For a moment, fear paralyzes her. But then she remembers that Quark was out there somewhere and needed her help, so she sends out a swift kick to Milo's head. It barely bothered him, but it did earn a laugh from Bethany.

"Well, Milo, are you going to take the honors?" Arius asked from where he was leaning on the wall. He acted like he was already bored of the situation. "She's your partner, after all."

"Stop talking about me like I'm some little bug to squash." Raven said through gritted teeth. An image of her mother and father flashed across the faces of Milo and Bethany. They thought she'd come into this arena and die too. Nobody thought she could win. Nobody even pretended to think that.

"If you don't do it, Milo, then I'd be happy to." Bethany said, her lips widening into a smile. Raven felt the fury boiling in her chest. Raven grabbed Milo's wrist, lifting herself up to reach it and dig her teeth into the side of his hand. He let out a sound of surprise, releasing his grip and letting Raven fall to the floor with a thud.

"You little rat!" Bethany spat, pulling out a long knife and bringing it down quickly. Raven twisted out of the way, letting the blade dig into the wood of the floor before she rammed her head into the District 1 girl's gut, knocking the air out of her. Bethany took a moment to recover, and that's the moment that Raven dug the knife out of the ground and held it facing the career pack. Her heart was having a seizure in her chest with how quickly it was beating, but she hoped that her face held some sort of confidence.

"Come on, this is embarrassing for you." Arius muttered.

"I'm going to tear you apart, you little-" Milo put a hand on Bethany's shoulder as she rose. Raven kept the knife pointed at all of them, taking steps backwards.

"Just let me kill her quickly. She doesn't deserve to suffer." Milo said.

"You're not going to kill me." Raven kept her voice level. "You're going to let me go, or one of you is going to die."

Arius laughed. "This is ridiculous. I'll take her out."

He shouldered Milo and Bethany out of the way, but as he moved forward, there was a whizzing past Raven's ear. She let out a yelp, her free hand moving up to her ear and turning to look behind her. The hallways seemed empty, but out of the darkness sprang large rats - seven of them, all the size of small dogs. Raven fell to the side to avoid their running, but the rats had their sights set on a single target.

Raven whipped her head back around to see Bethany clutching at her chest, where a large screwdriver had been driven right into her suit and her skin. The first rat, though the smallest one, got to the screwdriver before the others, but in his excitement, he only dug it in further. Two more screwdrivers flew across the hallway and landed in Bethany's chest, narrowly avoiding the giant rats to impale her.

Milo moved the quickest, trying to fight off the rats, but they were set on their goal. They dug their long yellowed teeth into Bethany's chest, ripping out the screwdriver and starting to tear apart the skin and fat of her breast. One of the darker colored ones started pulling at something thick and pink out from the gash that the tool had made, only for a second one to help pulling it out. Like pulling a bean bag through a small tube, they sucked out what Raven quickly realized was Bethany's lung from her chest to devour.

Bethany began to scream, but for some reason she didn't fight off any of the creatures. They just continued to pull out chunks of skin, fat, and organs, making a meat platter of yellows and pinks and reds for them all to feast on.

There was no time for Raven to let the horror sink in, though. She had to run. Raven pushed through the rats to keep running down the hallway, slipping past Milo as he tried desperately to get the rats off of Bethany, swatting them off only for them to run right back to their meal. She sliced Asher in the side, who let out a shout before Kukla grabbed onto him, and kept running with all of her might.

Before she was yanked back by her hair.
"You're not going anywhere, weasel."
Raven let out a cry of pain as she was pulled back by her hair by Arius. He knelt beside her, as if the commotion in front of him meant nothing, to look Raven in the eye. "You're partnered with Five."

She didn't answer, but Arius clenched tighter on the hair by her scalp. She whimpered, "Yes."

Arius pulled a rope from his bag and tied her hands tightly behind her back. "You move, and I'll skin you alive."

His threat brought her sinking to a seated position. Her lip trembled.

Drey Attison, 14, District 6 Male Tribute's POV

The clock chime went off, ringing through his ears like a victory gong.

Drey stared at his little rat pack as they devoured what was once Bethany Joy Carrington. Awe stained his smile as he hid and watched. He did it. He killed somebody in the hunger games. Not only that, but he took down a Career?

Drey would've never thought he'd be so lucky. But one wasn't quite good enough. He dug another tool out of his bag and lobbed it, this time plunging into Bethany's eye. Her screams were like adrenaline shots right through his veins. It felt just like when he had killed his father, even though that murder had been much quieter. There was something that was just so wonderful about seeing bad things happen to bad people. Karma sometimes needed a little bit of assistance, and Drey was happy to help bring these disgusting people down.

He threw a few more, but at this point it was hard to attack Bethany without possibly injuring his pack along with it. The rat mutts were sort of like a little family to him now, and it felt wrong to risk endangering them at this point, after they had done so much for him. So, he turned his attention to another member of the careers - the giant soldier of a man from District 2. His toss was spot on - the practice he had gotten from the knife throwing station was really paying off.

Drey pulled out a large pair of shears that looked like they were meant for trimming bushes or trees. He pulled the blades open and threw it, watching it spin like a ninja star. The weight and shape of the shears was very unlike what he was used to throwing, though, and it landed on Milo's feet.

The giant from District 2 looked from the weapon at his feet to where it had come hurtling from. Drey froze. The two boys' eyes met.

And Milo began to charge.

Drey scrambled to grab something from his bag to defend himself with, pulling out a hammer. He waved it in a way that was supposed to be threatening, but the trembling of his hand gave away his true feelings.

Drey swung the hammer at Milo, hitting the thickness of his thigh with a meaty thwack. It didn't do much, though, and Milo lashed a fist out at Drey. The smaller boy barely maneuvered around the attack, scampering around the career only to run smack dab into another one.

"You shouldn't have done this." Kukla stared down at him, her blue eyes a pool of sitting water with little emotion. Her face looked like she was sad, but the melancholy didn't reach her eyes. She grabbed one of Drey's arms, holding him up so that he couldn't run away.

"No, wait! Stop!" Drey thrashed to get away, but the Career's grip was strong. With her opposite hand, she twirled a knife out of her pocket and brought it to his throat. Drey's heart threatened to beat right out of his throat.

"I'm sorry, kid." Kukla closed her eyes when she dragged the knife across his throat. She released her hold, sending Drey to the ground. His hands moved to hold his neck, the waterfall of red bursting from between his fingers as he tried desperately to hold the flaps of skin together. He opened his mouth to say something, but only a gurgling sound escaped his lips.

It was almost surprising how quickly Drey could feel his energy leaving his body. His vision darkened at the edges, but he tried to keep his composure. There was still time. If he could just find some sort of string, he could sew his wound up and-

A brightness hit the side of his vision. His hand moved instinctively to protect his eyes, ruby red blood dripping from his fingers. He could barely make out a woman's figure.

"You did good, lil bro."

Tay? He reached out towards her, but toppled to the ground. He tried to push himself up to see her, but his body was too weak.

"Shhh. Relax. I'm gonna take you home."

A tiny smile broke out on his lips. He was going home.

The clock sang out another chime.

12th place: Bethany Joy Carrington (D1F) killed by Drey Attison's rat pack.

Although Bethany wasn't sent to me with the intention of being the bitch of the group, she just kind of grew to have that role. Perhaps it was just the fact that she was too feisty, too strong willed, too confident in her own abilities that she ended this quickly. I actually liked her, to be honest. She brought a nice spice to the career pack and I could always count on little Bethany Joy to bring in some drama. She will be missed. Thank you Caleb for submitting her.

11th place: Drey Attison (D6M) killed by Kukla Kuria (D4F) as revenge for Bethany.

Drey was one of the tributes that I just wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with him at first, but he grew on me as the story went on. From his murderous past to his intellect where you'd least expect it, I knew that he'd get a kill under his belt somehow - and boy did he! He might not have lasted super long, but he lasted much longer than I think a lot of people would've guessed. Thank you for sending him to me.

AN: Short, but eventful chapter here! Also also alsoooooo I want to let you guys know that I officially have every chapter all the way to the epilogue plotted out, so hopefully my updates can be a little swifter! And that means that now I finally know who my victor is, and I'm so pumped about it. I hope y'all enjoyed the chapter, and I'll see you next time!

Confirmed Alliances:

Career Pack: Arius, Milo, Kukla, Asher
Hackers4Lyfe: Raven, Quark
Tough Girls: Viola, Emmeline