Hey guys. I’ve wanted to write a fanfic about Team Fortress 2 for some time now, but I’ve never seemed to get enough inspiration to put my words to paper (so to speak). But with all of the hullabaloo about The Hunger Games going around recently, I thought it might be a neat idea to throw our boys into the arena and see what happens. So that’s what I did!
I’ve never really published any sort of fic before, so I’m a little nervous about its reception, but I’m going to go ahead and post it anyway. Since I’m relatively new at this, I would really appreciate any sort of constructive criticism about my writing/plot/characterization etc.
Just a few notes about this crossover fic before we begin.
1) This fic takes place in a world where Katniss Everdeen was either killed in her Hunger Games or didn’t volunteer to save Prim. So not much has changed in the world of Panem. It’s the Fourth Quarter Quell and business as usual when it comes to The Hunger Games.
2) Since it’s a crossover fic, there had to be a little leeway when it came to consistencies within the TF2/Hunger Games worlds. Since it is set in the Hunger Games world, however, most of the sacrifices had to be made on the TF2 end of things. So, for example, TF Industries doesn’t exist in Panem. The team was never assembled and they are all basically strangers from different districts. If they meet at some point in the fic, they will be meeting for the first time. They each have the same personality traits as they do in TF2, but they just don’t know each other and haven’t formed any friendships or anything.
3) To go along with that, since the the team was never assembled, the classes won’t be called ‘Spy’ or ‘Sniper’. Those with in-canon names (Dell Conagher, Tavish Degroot, Mundy) will keep those names, but there may come an occasion where I’ll have to creative and make up a name. I’ll try to avoid that as much as I can, however, since I know most people don’t like it when writers give the Team real names.
4) I took a couple ~artistic freedoms~ here and there that deviates from the strictly canon world of TF2 when it comes to the characters. So, for example, there’s no indication in-canon that Engie has any sort of family, but for the purposes of this fic I decided to give him one.
That’s all I can think of for now, so I will finish this off with a thank you for reading, and Happy Hunger Games!
Dell Conagher was ushered onto his metal plate by his prep team, all of whom were busily working their way over his body in an attempt to make a few last minute touch-ups to his outfit and makeup. Rather than dressing him in sleek leather or cutting his clothing in intimidating patterns, his team, under the advice of his escort, had decided that presenting him as an everyman was the best way to secure sponsors. Despite the fact that those in the Capitol enjoyed showy pizazz, they were still human beings and still fell in love quickly with public figures that charmed them. By presenting him as a man without an air of superiority, they were portraying an image of accessibility that crossed genders and ages. To the young woman Dell was a father figure or an object of sexual desire; to the middle aged man, a true gentleman or a drinking buddy. The other tributes had been presented as bloodthirsty warriors, men whose goal it was to destroy the competition in the most violent way possible. They were exciting, sure, but they weren’t likable. In the end, nobody would be rooting for them.
“Remember to smile big for the camera when you get into the arena!” his stylist said as she straightened the collar of his green and brown flannel shirt. “You’ve got a coy little grin that the ladies just die for. If you can keep your charm about you in the arena you’ll be getting sponsors left and right. All of Panem agrees: you’re the most likeable of the bunch.”
“That’s very kind, miss,” Dell murmured, his mind elsewhere. His team had given him the same advice over and over again: smile, be charming, try to be a gentleman and you’ll get sponsors. To Dell, it seemed that sponsors were all they cared about, not him. The more sponsors he acquires, the better chance he has at winning the Games; if he wins the Games, his prep team becomes the envy of Panem and will be showered with glory. In a way, their self-serving attitude would, in the end, serve him well.
“There, all finished!” his stylist said, taking a step back and giving Dell one last look over before he would be sent up into the Games. “Oh dear,” she said with a tsk, “you would have looked so much more dashing if you had hair.”
The doors to his launching tube slid closed and his stylist made a final suggestion as his metal platform jolted from the ground and began rising towards the arena, her voice muffled by the Plexiglas that separated them. “Remember to keep that teddy with you as long as possible! It’ll make for great TV!”
Finally, his team disappeared from view as his platform rose out of the launching room under the arena and through several meters of dark earth. An eerie quiet descended on him as he began to pass through the soil, only the soft hiss of his platform rising there to accompany him. It was the first real moment of silence he had since the day he was reaped and, he thought solemnly, and probably the last he would ever have. He could take these last few moments of peaceful solitude to go over his strategy for survival, but he had already memorized everything he needed to know. Instead, Dell closed his eyes, let the silence overtake him and recalled the chain of events that led to his participation in the Fourth Quarter Quell of the Hunger Games.
As was custom with an upcoming Quarter Quell, Dell and his family were sitting close to their television, waiting for President Snow to announce the twist in the Games that would mark the anniversary of the Capitol’s defeat of the districts during the Dark Days. This was always the worst part of the year for him, not that he had anything to worry about. He was far past the age limit to be an eligible tribute and his daughter, Delilah, was still too young. Still, the mystery behind the Quarter Quell had him on edge. Some had speculated that the Fourth Quarter Quell would see pairs of siblings fighting to the death, while others rumoured of a 100th Hunger Games meaning 100 tributes would be sent into the arena. Dell didn’t see the point in speculation.
“What do you think the Quell is going to be?” his sister, Dara, asked. She was sitting across from him in the cramped room, trying to keep her cup of tea steady in her hands as the anthem of Panem began to play and President Snow’s face popped onto the screen.
“I guess we’re about to find out,” Dell replied. In his lap, Delilah began to squirm so he wrapped his arms around her torso and held her close to his chest. He couldn’t imagine the Quell lowering the age limit of the tributes to include Delilah, but he still felt protective of her in this moment.
“Good afternoon, citizens of Panem, and happy Hunger Games!” President Snow declared with an oily smile. Despite his frailty in his old age, Snow’s voice still held a snake-like quality that seemed to burrow in through your ears and coil around your heart. With just a few words he could crush it like a vice and squeeze the very life out of you.
“Ugh, I hate him,” Dara spat as the President prattled on about something.
“This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Hunger Games. As it is a special year, it will be honoured in a special way. Let us reveal the Quell.” The camera panned down to an ornate purple box that sat on the president’s desk and watched as Snow’s withered hands lifted the lid and pulled out a yellowed scroll. He unrolled it slowly, delicately, drawing as much tension out of the moment as possible. Finally, he held the scroll in front of him and began to read. “In this 100th year of the Hunger Games, the fourth Quarter Quell…” he paused for effect, “…two adult men from each district will be reaped as a reminder to the rebels that even the strongest among them is at the mercy of the Capitol.”
Beside him, Dara gasped and looked at Dell with frightened eyes but all he felt in that moment was a flood of relief. So the twist in the Games wouldn’t endanger Delilah. That was good. That was all that mattered, really.
President Snow peered through the television screen with malice, not even bothering to hide the enjoyment he was getting from this. “We look forward to seeing you all tomorrow for the Reaping. May the odds ever be in your favour,” he drawled before the broadcast cut off and his face disappeared from the screen.
“Ouch! Daddy yer squeezin’ too hard!” Delilah squealed in his lap.
He hadn’t noticed when, but sometime during the announcement Dell’s muscles had begun to tense and he was crushing his daughter against his chest. “Sorry darlin’,” he murmured and loosened his grip.
He thought he had finally escaped the Hunger Games twenty years ago when his name hadn’t been called at his final reaping. He thought his terror was over. But that was what the whole purpose of the Quarter Quells, he supposed, to keep the people of Panem under the Capitol’s thumb by constantly threatening their safety. It was effective, he had to admit.
“Dell? You haven’t said nothin’ yet…” Dara said, reaching across and placing a hand on her brother’s forearm.
Dell shrugged, feigning nonchalance. “There ain’t nothin’ to say. It is what it is. I’m just relieved the kids are staying out of the arena this year.”
He took a deep breath. “Naw,” he lied, scooting Delilah off of his knee and standing. “If they’re lookin’ for men over eighteen that means the age pool is gonna be a lot bigger this year, more tributes to choose from. The more people there are, the less of a chance I have of getting’ picked. The math tells me I’ll be just fine.” He stepped over to Dara, placed his hands on her shoulders and kissed her forehead. “Don’t you be worryin’ your pretty head none, sis.”
“Hmm.” Dara seemed unconvinced. “The math tells me that you got just as much a chance of getting’ picked than anybody else.”
He smiled sadly down at his sister, conceding the point. “I’m going to put Delilah to bed now. You should probably rest up yerself. We gotta be at the square bright and early tomorrow.” He bent down and scooped his daughter off of the floor. “C’mon, sugar. Off to bed with you.”
Dell had a hard time falling asleep that night. Images from past Hunger Games kept flashing across his mind whenever he closed his eyes. Death in the Hunger Games was always a brutal affair. People were stabbed, shot, burned, crushed, gutted, beaten or eaten alive by the muttations. They died in agony, their last few moments of life filled with terror and pain for the entertainment of Panem. Despite his efforts to comfort himself with probabilities and numbers, Dell had to admit that he was afraid. Very afraid. Something in his gut told him to be worried that one of these fates might soon befall him.
He was pulled from his reverie as his bedroom door creaked open, a sliver of pale light expanding across the floor. Dell propped himself up on his elbows and peered at the doorway, the tiny silhouette of his daughter and her teddy illuminated from behind.
“Daddy?” she called quietly. “I had a bad dream.”
Dell threw back the covers and patted the mattress beside him. “Well, then you best spend the night with me, young filly.” Delilah padded quickly across the room and hopped onto the bed, snuggling into her father’s chest. Dell wrapped an arm around her small frame. “You wanna tell me what yer dreamin’ about, or is that a secret?”
He could feel Delilah shrug. Just like her father, she wasn’t adept at expressing her feelings or admitting her fears easily. She liked to be the tough girl. He let the silence hang for a few moments before it became clear she was staying quiet.
“Well, that’s alright then, you just—”
“I had a dream about the President,” she suddenly said, “except he wasn’t a person. He was a big monster with mean eyes and white fur and big, sharp teeth. He snatched you up an’ took you away an’ then he started chewin’ on ya like you were a chicken leg.” She abruptly went silent, apparently done with her story.
“Well,” Dell began, giving Delilah a comforting squeeze, “the President ain’t here, is he? He’s off in the Capitol, probably asleep in his own bed at this very moment. I don’t think he’d be comin’ all the way here just to snatch me up. I can promise you one thing, though.”
“He won’t be having me for dinner anytime soon. I’m pretty sure the President doesn’t eat people,” he said, although he wouldn’t be shocked if that turned out to be true. President Snow was a vicious old goat and so much of what happened in the Capitol was shrouded in mystery.
“But he won’t be takin’ you away, will he?”
Dell took a deep breath and let it out slowly before kissing the back of Delilah’s head. He didn’t know how to answer that. “Why don’t we just worry about you gettin’ some sleep, alright?”
“Okay,” Delilah said, although she didn’t seem satisfied with that answer. She hugged her little hard-hatted teddy close to her chest and found comfort in her father’s arm. Dell knew that she was at the age where she was finally beginning to understand what the Hunger Games really were. For years she was too young to understand that the figures she saw battling on the television were real people who suffered real pain, that when they were eliminated from the game they didn’t come back. That was all beginning to change and he was sure her dream was a manifestation of her realizations.
Dell fell asleep that night mourning the loss of his daughter’s innocence and praying that come tomorrow he would be able to stay in District Three and help her understand just how cruel the world she lived in could be.
The next morning the square filled up faster than Dell had expected and was quite a bit more disorganized than what he had been used to. Usually the children of District Three were aligned alphabetically row by row, but with such a large pool of tributes this year the men were left to form a cramped, amorphous blob around the center stage. As the men entered the area designated to the tribute pool, they were each subjected to getting an ID chip implanted under the skin of their forearm so that the cameras could find them in the crowd if their name happened to be called. As luck would have it, Dell found himself jostled and elbowed until he was just a few feet away from the stage itself. “Sorry, mister,” he said after accidently trampling somebody’s toes.
He had been in this position six times before, but this year was an entirely new experience. When he was a teenager standing in straight, obedient rows, every face around him had shown some degree of terror. Back then, everybody in the tribute pool thought the worst; every single child assumed their name was going to be called. But as Dell looked at the men around him, most seemed relatively unconcerned. And why would they be concerned? They all had been here six times and every single one of them had beat the system six times. Unlike their teenage years, it was only natural now to assume they wouldn’t be reaped. Maybe the memories of those days were too far away for some of them to feel afraid. Dell wasn’t so foolish. The stakes were exactly the same now as they were back then. There was still going to be two suckers in the crowd who would be heading into the arena. Dell just prayed it wouldn’t be him.
The clock in the square struck noon and the idle conversation began to silence as two figures stepped onto the stage. One was the mayor of District Three, a beefy man with an impressive mustache named Saxton Hale. The other was District Three’s escort for the past two years, a young woman with black hair named Miss Pauling. Usually people from the Capitol were the epitome of vanity, dying their skin and changing their hair color to stand out from the crowd. Miss Pauling, however, was quite conservative. Other than her bright purple dress she seemed no different than the people of the district she represented.
Saxton, who was usually loud, brash and overconfident, approached the microphone timidly and recalled the history of Panem to the gathered people, as was required before each reaping. Dell had assumed that Hale would be exempt from the reaping based on his status, but his subdued demeanour suggested otherwise. When Saxton was finished with his speech Miss Pauling stepped forward. She waited a moment for the square to be completely silent before she spoke.
“Good afternoon, District Three, and happy Hunger Games,” she said matter-of-factly. “I know it’s sort of crowded right now, so how about we get this show on the road? Let’s bring out the names.”
Two Peacekeepers emerged from either side of the stage, each with a huge glass bowl that was filled with little pieces of paper. They placed the bowls in their stands on either side of Miss Pauling and left the stage. “May the odds ever be in your favour,” Miss Pauling said before she stepped to the bowl on her left. She reached down into the pile of names and pulled out a single piece of parchment, holding it high above her head for all to see.
Even though he was putting in an effort to stay calm, Dell’s heart began to thump against his ribcage as memories from his teenage years began flooding his mind. What if it was his name? What if it was somebody he knew and cared for? What would happen to his family if it was him? Despite their bravado earlier, the entire tribute pool held their breath as Miss Pauling opened the piece of parchment.
“The first tribute from District Three is… Martin Graves!”
Dell exhaled audibly and tried to steady his shaking knees. One down, one to go.
Thanks to the ID chips implanted in their arms, the cameras took very little time finding the right person in the crowd and zooming in on his face. Martin Graves, rather than looking terrified or shocked, looked quite angry. He probably felt cheated, like because had already passed the age of eligibility he should have been safe from the Games for the rest of his life. A few men surrounding him patted his shoulders sympathetically as he elbowed his way through the crowd towards the stage.
“Congratulations, Martin,” Miss Pauling said once he was standing beside her. He rolled his eyes. “And now for the second tribute!” She stepped over to the second reaping ball and swished her hand around inside for a moment before she clasped her fingers over the second tribute. She pulled the name from the bowl and, again, raised it above her head for all to see.
Dell swallowed hard, the hairs on the back of his neck standing up as Miss Pauling stepped back to the microphone. He suddenly felt very nauseous. The last thing that crossed his mind before she read the name was President Snow and his serpent-like voice, slithering its way into his body and coiling tightly around his heart, hissing its malice.
“The second tribute for District Three in this Fourth Quarter Quell is…”
Dell shut his eyes.
The snake around his heart smiled and flexed, crushing everything in his life down to a pain in his chest. A rush of blood surged to his head at the announcement and for a brief moment he thought he might fall over. He wanted to think of his family, he wanted to think of Delilah, but as soon as he felt the camera’s eyes on his face he knew he couldn’t afford to. Something in his brain clicked over from fear and settled on logic. He had seen enough Games to know that the audience didn’t like a tribute to be emotional when reaped. To those in the Capitol, those with the money for sponsorship, participation in the games was an honor and they didn’t like to see tributes disrespect that honor by breaking down into tears or displaying their anger. Martin Graves had made a mistake by doing that. Dell wouldn’t make the same mistake.
He opened his eyes and tried his best to smile for the cameras, despite the dread that was blossoming in his chest. “Well, alright then,” he said before worming his way through the crowd towards the stage.
“Congratulations, Dell!” Miss Pauling said once he was standing beside her.
“Thank ya kindly, miss,” he said, the microphone catching his voice and broadcasting it across all of Panem. Somewhere in the Capitol, a wealthy woman took notice.
An appraising look flashed in Miss Pauling’s eyes as she looked at him, like she was suddenly interested in who he was. But she had a job to do, of course, so she grabbed Dell’s wrist in one hand and Martin’s in the other and rose them above her head. “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the District Three tributes for the One Hundredth Hunger Games!”
One hour later Dell found himself secluded in a small room in the Justice Building, waiting for his family to arrive. After tributes were reaped they were granted short visitation rights by their family to say their final goodbyes. It was almost cruel, the amount of time they were given. There are so many things one wants to say, so many confessions one wants to make when death is so close but the amount of time the tributes were afforded was minimal.
The visitations weren’t a favor bestowed upon the tributes from the goodness of President Snow’s heart, that much he knew. More than anything they were supposed to give the tributes a final reminder of why they wanted to live, what they had waiting for them back at home if they were to pull off a victory. The visitations weren’t designed to be an occasion to say goodbye, but to ignite the flame of competition in the tributes.
There was a knock on the door and Dara stepped in with Delilah by her side. He could see in her eyes that his sister had been crying.
“You have ten minutes,” the Peacekeeper by the door said before stepping out to give them their privacy.
Dara rushed forward and gathered her brother in her arms. “I know you want to spend yer time with her,” she whispered, “so I’ll make this quick. I love you and you best come home, ya hear? She’ll be just fine with me, but she’d be better off with you. Listen, you ain’t that fast and you ain’t that strong, so you use that blessed brain of yours. Don’t get cocky. Ally up if you have to. Don’t be afraid to play dirty.” With that final piece of advice, Dara kissed Dell on the cheek and retreated to a chair in the corner of the room.
Still waiting by the door, Delilah looked solemn and thoughtful as she clutched onto her teddy for comfort. “C’mere then, little’un,” he said and patted his knee. She scurried over to her father and plopped herself on his lap.
“You goin’ away?” she asked without preamble.
Dell nodded. “Afraid so, sugar.”
She nodded. “You comin’ back?”
In the corner, Dara sniffed loudly and dabbed at her eyes.
“Well, I sure hope so.”
Delilah was quiet for a few moments as she considered the matter at hand. Dell could almost see the gears working in her brain, a trait that father and daughter shared, according to Dara. Before too long she nodded and extended her teddy bear forward. “Here.”
“What’s this for?”
“I don’t want him anymore.”
“Why not, sugar? You love Roosebelt.”
Delilah just shrugged, stubborn as always, but Dell knew what this was. It was a voluntary shedding of her naiveté, a symbolic casting off of her youthful innocence. In one gesture Delilah aged ten years. It hurt him to see her make the decision to face the cruelties of Panem head on, but it also made him immensely proud. He pulled her into a tight embrace and buried his face in her hair, at which point he could feel her body begin to shake with tears. Peeling off the sugar coating on life at such a traumatic moment was brave, but it was still far too much for a little girl to bear. And that’s suddenly what she was, a little girl who was about to have her father torn away from her.
Dell held his daughter close and cooed at her for several minutes until there was a knock at the door. Their time was up.
“Please, just five more minutes,” Dell pleaded to the Peacekeeper, tears beading in his eyes. Masculine strength be damned, he was hurting and he needed to show it.
The Peacekeeper shook his head. “Time’s up,” he repeated.
But he had so much more to say! There were so many things he still needed to teach Delilah, so many nuggets of wisdom he needed to pass on to her. The Peacekeeper, seeing Dell’s hesitation at letting his daughter go, took a threatening step into the room and raised his baton in warning.
“Alight! Alright, hold yer horses, ya yella-bellied cog!” He uncurled his body from around his daughter and held her at arm’s length, looking her straight in the eyes. “Listen to me carefully now,” he said quickly, knowing that the Peacekeepers threat was real, “I’m gonna take Roosebelt into the arena with me. He’ll be mah token. Every time you see me hug or kiss that little feller just know that I’m thinkin’ of ya and that I love ya like a horse loves apples. Got it?”
Delilah nodded, her eyes wet and swelling. “I don’t want you to die!” she finally wailed.
“I won’t, I promise.” Dell said in a moment of desperation, full well knowing that was a promise he couldn’t keep.
“I said time’s up!” the Peacekeeper hollered and stormed forward, his baton ready to strike.
“We’re leaving!” Dara said, bursting from her corner and stepping into the path of the Peacekeeper. “We’re leaving, alright? Delilah, sweetie, we gotta go now. Right now.”
Dell placed one last, fierce kiss on his daughter’s forehead and sent her on her way. They disappeared into the hallway and the Peacekeeper closed the door with an indignant slam.
Before he even had a chance to collect his thoughts he had another visitor. Miss Pauling strode in with a small briefcase and sets it down on the table, flipping it open and pulling out a few files. “Hello Mister Conagher,” she said and dragged a chair over and sat opposite Dell, eyeing him steadily.
“What in the hell do you want?” Dell snapped, still swelling with emotion. When she raised an eyebrow at him he took a calming breath and tried again. “I’m sorry Miss Pauling, that was rude. You understand if I’m a little on edge here.”
“I saw what you did in the square today,” she said, dismissing his outburst. “You smiled.”
He huffed a deep sigh, still trying to regain composure. “So?”
“People don’t smile when they’re reaped, Mister Conagher.”
Dell spread his hands, waiting for her to make her point.
“Fine, I’ll spell it out for you. It’s clear to me that you’ve started playing the Hunger Games before we’ve even left the district,” she said. She was clearly impressed.
Dell looked back at Miss Pauling levelly, not giving anything away. She must be very observant if she had noticed that.
“And it’s already working,” she said, opening one of her files. “These are just early reports so don’t get too excited, but you’ve already been pegged as an early favourite. Not in the districts, of course. They’re more confused about your reaction than anything, but the districts’ opinion of you doesn’t matter. The people in the Capitol, though. They’ve already taken an early shine to you, and you know what that means.”
“Sponsors,” he replied.
“Exactly,” she said, smiling thinly. “Do you know who wins the Hunger Games, Mister Conagher?”
“That would be last one alive, unless I’ve been mistaken all these years.”
“Well, yes. But do you know who usually ends up being the last one alive? The clever ones,” she supplied before he had a chance to answer. “And you, Mister Conagher, are very clever. The way you thanked me after you were reaped was a stroke of genius.” She pulled another file from her briefcase and flipped through a few pages quickly. “Of course you will be tested again in the Capitol facilities, but the IQ scores I’m seeing here are very impressive.”
“Hold on, Miss. Hold on a second,” Dell said, holding up a hand to silence her. “If you don’t mind me askin’, what’s the point of you tellin’ me all this?”
She looked at him innocently. “I’m just trying to help you survive.”
“Ain’t that my mentor’s job?”
“Oh, you won’t be getting a mentor,” she said matter-of-factly. “President Snow believes that this year’s batch of tributes have watched enough editions of the Hunger Games to educate themselves on strategies. It’s just you and me, I’m afraid.”
Dell sighed. Great. “Well then, I guess I best listen to what you got to say.”
She smiled at him again, except this time with more warmth. “You can win the Games, Mister Conagher, of that I’m certain. I just want to help you do it. Now, the Capitol has forbidden the escorts from giving their tribute’s survival tips for when they’re in the arena…” she paused.
“They never said anything about strategies outside the arena.”
Dell smiled then, a charming, lopsided smirk. “Would ya look at that, turns out I ain’t the only clever one in the room.”
Despite her efforts, a spot of colour reached Miss Pauling’s cheeks at the compliment. “What you just did right there? That’s called charm and it’s going to be your secret weapon.” She said, the color fading from her cheeks as she returned to the matter at hand. “You’ve got the brains to survive inside the arena and the charm to work the crowd outside of it. If we can work your public image around that charm, you’ll be scooping up sponsorships left and right. I guarantee it.”
Dell nodded, considering the matter. What she was saying certainly made a lot of sense. Sponsorships often make or break a tribute’s game and the more you had, the better your chances were at surviving. Something was still nagging at him, though. “That all sounds well and good, Miss, but if you don’t mind me askin’, why do you care?”
She seemed to consider that for a moment before answering. “You probably think that the escorts get some sort of big bonus if their tribute wins. You’re not wrong, we do. But that’s not why I care.” She fiddled with her pen for a moment, hesitant to continue. “I care because I’m one of the very few people who managed to escape the districts and make a life for themselves in the Capitol. I’ve lived through reapings. I’ve seen friends die. I care because I know you aren’t entertainment.”
“Then why’d you take a job that’s so close to the Games?” Dell asked.
“Because I’m good at what I do. I’m good at currying favour for my tributes and boosting their image in the public’s eye. The Games won’t stop. Twenty three people are going to die every year, but I try to give my tributes the best chance they have so they can get back home.”
Dell studied Miss Pauling critically for a few moments, judging her sincerity. The pieces seemed to fit. She didn’t dress like a regular resident of the Capitol. She went through the motions of the Reaping without fanfare, without undue celebration. And, now that he thought about it, the tributes from District Three the past two years had managed to garner several more sponsors than years previous. He nodded sagely for a few moments, a grin creeping across his features. “Alright then. I’m in.”
Miss Pauling sighed, relieved. “Good. Good, I’m glad to hear that.” She looked down at her watch. “Oh, shoot. We’ll have to talk about all of this a little later. We’ve got a train to catch.”
As she began to pack away her files, Dell stood up, causing little Roosebelt to tumble to the floor. He bent to pick it up.
“What’s that?” Miss Pauling asked, pointing to the teddy.
“This here’s Teddy Roosebelt. He’s my daughter’s but she wanted me to have it. This feller is gonna be my tribute token.” He handed the stuffed bear over to Miss Pauling so she could inspect it.
She took it, looked at the cute little overalls and cute little nose then looked back up to Dell and smiled widely. “Brilliant.”
A good way to test whether a crossover is really a crossover is to replace all the names with other names and see if it still sounds like it has anything to do with both of the series.
This one doesn't.
This is a Hunger Games OC fic.
I fail to see the truth in this.
It reads perfectly well as a combination of both, especially considering this is a.) the first chapter of a few, and b.) even with having never read the Hunger Games myself, it fits in fine without being a direct copy of either any the characters or the exact pacing.
If it was an OC fic, I'm fairly certain it wouldn't read as having anything to do with TF2 at all. The writing here is good. Maybe not perfect, maybe in need of polishing, but far from something as ridiculous as an exploration of an OC within the two universes.
Hi my name is Cat Bountry and I initially thought this was going to suck.
It's actually written pretty well so far.
If I cared about Hunger Games I'm sure this would be my cup of tea, though if I were writing it I would have planted it more firmly in the TF2 universe so that outsiders who have never read The Hunger Games could get into it just by knowing the general gist of it.
But this works all right.
If you guys like Hunger Games you'll probably like this fic pretty good.
A very strong start to a story I hope to see more of, and soon.
There are some moments which come across as Miss Pauling providing information for the reader instead of Dell, and I can understand why they're there - and as someone who hasn't read or seen anything of The Hunger Games, they're reasonably helpful for me. But that sort of thing would be something to keep an eye out for in the future, to make sure that sort of information's delivered in a way that flows with the narrative.
Well I don't see this as an OC fic (not yet anyway) and I am certainly looking forward to more.
I don't see this as an OC fic at all, and in fact, even if it is, I am still rather intrigued. Very intrigued, in fact. Would absolutely love to see more!
Well, this certainly has my attention. Please do continue.
I don't know a single gosh-darned thing about the Hunger Games, and it's fun to be introduced to it alongside my favorite game. I most-certainly do NOT view this as an OC fic at all, and even as >>3 said, I replaced the names and still see our favorite Engineer.
I really wanna see the others. This is exciting!
Yup, like many of you, I haven't read the books or watched the movies; however, it didn't take long at all for me to get hooked to this fic.
Glad to see you put it up on the chan, Canookian! I was thinking the same thing since the movie came out and all that. Looks like people are interested too- and giving you feedback! I am sure they will like the next ones.
Hey guys, here's Chapter Two for you. Thanks for all the feedback so far! I recognize that some people haven't read/seen The Hunger Games, so this won't be for everyone, but for those who do know about it I hope you enjoy it!
Dell was fascinated by trains. Each year when the Victory Tour headed to District Three, Dell found himself front and center at the train station. He had no interest in the celebration itself, in fact he was often disturbed by the haunted look in the Victor’s eyes, but he always showed up to see the train pulling into the station. He was lucky enough in District Three to have a job that he genuinely enjoyed, namely the building and maintaining of automobiles, but some industrial sized trucks were about the biggest thing he ever had the chance to work on. Seeing the raw power of a train as it arrived in District Three always excited him. He never thought he would get the chance to actually ride one.
It was wonderful - better than he had imagined. As the train pulled out of the district and towards the Capitol, Dell could almost feel the torque propelling the locomotive forward in his bones. It made him shiver. When the train began to pick up speed he expected the ride to be bumpy and unpleasant but, to his surprise, it was almost like gliding on air. It was hard to imagine that a beast of a machine like this, built from heavy steel as sturdy as an elephant, could create the illusion of weightlessness. It was soothing. If he managed to win the Hunger Games, he certainly looked forward to his Victory Tour, if just for the rides.
Dell was sitting in the parlour car of the train mentally constructing the type of engine the thing might have when Miss Pauling walked in. Since their meeting in the Justice Building, he and Miss Pauling had only seen each other for a brief few minutes, mostly to smile for the cameras and tell the people of Panem what an honor it was to play in the Games. Per her advice, he had tried to play the role of the charming everyman in his sound bites. Martin Graves, the other tribute from District Three, grunted his answers and seemed very cold and distant from the whole affair.
Miss Pauling sat down at the small table in the room and began to unpack a few things. Her eyes looked somewhat grave, but the rest of her body language was positively bubbly.
“Everythin’ all right there Miss Pauling?” Dell asked, joining her at the table.
“Oh, I just had a meeting with Mister Graves. He’s got the attitude of a cold fish, you ask me!” she said with a good deal of cheer. She seemed very different than from when he had first met her that morning in the Justice Building.
“Beg yer pardon?”
“His public image is already a disaster. He keeps moping around and hasn’t cracked one smile since he was reaped! The public views him as having already given up, and they don’t like a sourpuss! I’m afraid there isn’t much I can do for him.”
“Well maybe I could give ‘em a talk and rustle up some sense into that noggin of his.”
Miss Pauling looked up from her papers with incredulity, but also with a faint smirk on her lips. “You know, the whole image we’re trying to create for you must come so naturally. You already are that person! You’re making my job very easy.” When Dell seemed perplexed, she continued. “He’s your opponent, Mister Conagher. If he’s already resigned himself to losing then you shouldn’t let it bother you, not one bit. It just means one less tribute for you to worry about.”
“Oh. Right. I’m sorry, Miss, I ain’t used to thinkin’ like that.”
“Learn quickly. Smile and be polite to your fellow tributes all you want, especially in front of the cameras, but never forget why you’re here.”
Dell nodded. Message received.
“Now, let’s go over what’s going to happen once we reach the Capitol. You and the other tributes will be taken to the training facility and you will get three days to practice together. You’ll have a variety of weapons to choose from, as well as a number of stations that will teach you certain skills. Trap making, camouflage, that sort of thing. There will also be a station where you can learn about what sort of flora and fauna may or may not show up in the arena.” She looked at him intently at that point, raising her eyebrows and staring quite directly. It took him a moment to understand why.
The Capitol had forbidden the escorts from giving advice to their tributes on how to survive inside the arena. Dell could only assume the punishment for doing so would be swift and extreme. This was Miss Pauling’s way of telling him, without really telling him, that studying up on the flora and fauna of the arena was very important. Dell nodded, silently acknowledging her advice. He had to assume there was some sort of audio bug in the room. It dawned on him that that’s why she had been acting so bubbly. If somebody was listening in, they would be expecting her to adopt this attitude. Most escorts did.
She smiled with a glint in her eye as it became clear to her that Dell had caught on. If he didn’t know better, it would seem as if Miss Pauling was actually enjoying bending the rules. “On the fourth day,” she continued as if their little exchange hadn’t happened, “you’ll get to show off your skills to a panel of judges. They’ll give you a score between one and twelve…”
“And the higher the score, the more impressed the judges were with you,” Dell finished. “I have seen quite a few of these things on TV over the years, ya know.”
Miss Pauling giggled. She actually giggled. “Of course, silly me! Well, my advice to you is to try and score a seven.”
Dell understood why. Scoring too highly marked you as a serious threat in the arena and would put a target on your back. Likewise, scoring too lowly marked you as easy prey to the tributes that scored highly. But saying such things to him directly would, he assumed, constitute giving him advice for survival. Miss Pauling was being awfully clever.
“…for your public image, of course,” she added hastily. “If the public is to see you as a likeable man, you can’t be seen as some sort of killing machine, but you also can’t be seen as a wimp. Nobody likes a limp noodle! Scoring a seven makes you seem capable, yet not threatening. Isn’t PR so much fun!?” she added with dramatic flourish.
“It sure is, Miss. I find myself very much obliged to you and your expertise.”
“Oh, don’t you mention it for one second! It’s my job, after all, and I’m very good at my job.”
“I’m beginning to realize that,” Dell responded with an honest smile. He felt very fortunate that Miss Pauling was his escort. She was smart as a whip, clever as a fox and genuinely seemed to be on his side.
“Now, let’s review your interview strategies. Caesar Flickerman is going to just love you!”
Hunter Mundy stood at the edge of the training room and watched shrewdly as twenty three tributes went from station to station, honing their survival skills in whatever way they could. It was only the second day of training and he already had most of the tributes sussed out. Eleven of the tributes he had already written off as little to no threat. They were all weak, slow or dumb or a combination of all three. They were the easy prey. Most would probably die at the Cornucopia and those who survived the bloodbath wouldn’t last more than two days. Six of the tributes he couldn’t quite read yet, but he still had a few more days to figure them out before the Games started. The other six were his real competition.
Both tributes from District One seemed to possess qualities that could prove to be troublesome. One was tall, slim and quite dapper. He didn’t seem to have the brute strength that some of the other tributes had, but what he lacked in muscle he made up for in stealth. He was adept at disguising himself and moving silently, but had the kind of precision with a dagger that could end a life with one blow. He was a smooth talker, too, and was probably sussing out the competition, just like he was. Anybody who allied with him would have to watch out; he seemed like a backstabber.
The other tribute from District One was quite handsome. He had a strong jaw, black hair with a touch of gray, and was a little broader in the shoulders than the first. From what he had observed, the second tribute had some previous knowledge of the medicinal powers some of plants the game makers had on display possessed. If he had to venture a guess, the second tribute had probably been a healing man in his district. But the ability to heal isn’t what made him threatening. It was his somewhat unhinged enjoyment of driving a long blade into the gut of one of the dummies that had him worried. He wasn’t quick and efficient like the first was. He was deliberate and menacing, almost cackling with delight as fluff began to pour from the wound in the dummy.
From the corner of his eye he could see a Peacekeeper approaching. “Mr. Mundy, you’re required to participate in group training. Don’t make me ask you again.”
Mundy scowled but knew better than to argue. He had tried arguing with a Peacemaker on the first day of training and had been met with a punch to the gut. “Bloody bogan,” he muttered as he stepped away from the edge of the room.
The key to surviving the Hunger Games wasn’t being the best with a weapon, although that certainly helped. Observing targets, watching their patterns of movement and how they reacted to stimuli, that was the key to survival. Most of these tributes would end up charging into battle blind, with no idea of their target’s strengths and weaknesses and just hoping that brute force and trying hard would guarantee them a win. All it would guarantee them is a death sentence. He was smarter than that. If you could predict your target’s next move you could stay three steps ahead of them. As he approached the training stations he continued his observations of the other tributes.
The two tributes from District Two posed the biggest threat, physically. One was built like an ogre, heavy and powerful and just as mean. He didn’t speak very much but when he did it was usually to issue a battle cry before attacking a training dummy. His movements were perhaps the least graceful of any tribute, but the power that rested in those clumsy muscles was enough for Mundy to want to keep a good distance away from him at all times. Those bear-like hands he had could probably crush a skull and the axe he had come to favour sliced one of the training dummies in half with barely any effort at all. Killing him would be tricky. He hoped somebody else would do it for him.
The other tribute from District Two was a solidly built man, tall and broad shouldered and rippling with sinewy muscle. He recalled that this man was the only tribute who had actually volunteered to be part of the games. If Mundy had to venture a guess, this man had probably trained to be a Career tribute but never had his chance to shine. From what he could tell, he thrived off of violence. His attacks on the training dummies weren’t efficient and simple, they were brutal and messy. He was clumsy with the smaller weapons, but proved to be very efficient at nearly everything else. Swords, staffs, morning stars, spears, tridents and even throwing knives he had shown deadly skill with and he wasn’t afraid to loudly boast about it. Most of the other tributes steered clear of the man even now, for fear that he would kill them before the Games started.
Mundy made his way over to the traps and snares station and began fiddling around with some ropes half-heartedly, making just enough effort that the Peacekeepers would think he was actually participating. He tied a couple easy knots and set a couple of simple traps, eyeing the last two tributes he thought could give him trouble.
There was a well-built black man from District Twelve who seemed to be missing an eye that had Mundy worried. He didn’t have the raw power behind him like the tributes from District Two had, but he was relatively quick on his feet for his size and was highly skilled with the longsword. There was a pile of decapitated training dummies in the corner that could attest to that. Mundy had also seen the man frequent the explosives station frequently and seemed to have impressed the station hand on several occasions. Not only was he dangerous in close quarters, if he managed to rig up a few explosives he could kill you and be miles away.
The last tribute—
“Woo! Hey guys, did ya see that?”
“BONK! Got ya right in the eye, fluff face!”
The last tribute, the youngest one in the room—
“Oh man, you guys stand no chance against me! I mean, are you even seeing what I can do?”
“Oi!” Mundy snarled, spinning away from his station. “Listen you little wanka! If I gotta listen to that yubbin’ big mouth of yours jabberin’ on about bloody fantastic you are for one more minute I’ll turn your head into colored rain!”
“Ohhh, I’m real scared, tough guy,” the boy said, turning away from his training dummy. He laughed loudly when he saw who was speaking. “Hold up a second. What are you, like eighty years old? What are you gonna do, lecture me to death?”
“Why you spastic little gremlin!” Mundy yelled and charged forward, ready for a brawl. He could see a few Peacekeepers peel away from the walls and rush forward, batons at the ready. Before they got close enough to attack, however, Mundy felt a strong arm wrap around his waist and start pulling him back.
“Woah, nelly. Just take it easy there, Slim. Do us all a favor and save it for the arena.”
The Peacemakers paused in their pursuit, waiting to see if the situation would sort itself out.
Mundy eyed the Peacemakers and knew there was nothing he could do to the kid at this point in time without severe consequences so he let the matter go. “I’ll be gunnin’ for ya in the arena, ya mongrel!”
“You won’t be able to catch me, gramps!”
“Easy, now,” the man at his side said, still pulling him back. “Y’all better make nice for the next couple days. You got plenty of time to kill each other later.”
“No fighting amongst the tributes!” one of the Peacemakers yelled for good measure. With the situation under control the Peacekeepers retreated back to their spots by the wall.
Mundy wriggled free from the arm around his waist and looked at the man who had held him back. Short, a little pudgy and balding, from District Three. When he had seen the man for the first time when they arrived at the training center he had written him off as fodder, somebody destined to be slain at the Cornucopia. But something he had noticed over the past two days had changed his evaluation.
“Hey, you’re the bookie, ain’t ya?” Mundy asked.
“I’m the what now?”
“The bookie.” When the man seemed genuinely confused, Mundy elaborated. “While all these other blokes have been stabbing pillows and tying knots, you’ve spent most your time with your face buried in a book. Odd strategy, mate.” Mundy peered over to the ‘Flora and Fauna’ station, which was a sad sight to behold. There wasn’t even an assistant there to help the tributes. Instead, there were a few small diagrams plastered to the wall and one thick book plopped on the table. “See that book there?” he said, pointing to the text. “That thing has gotta be about six hundred pages long. Nobody has even bothered to flip through it but you, but I reckon you’re about finished by now, am I roight? No point denying it, mate. I’ve seen ya with me own eyes.”
The man shrugged noncommittally. “I s’pose you’re right about that.”
“Well then, I gotta ask. How do you think a book is going to help you stay alive? The name’s Mundy, by the way.”
“Dell.” They shook hands. “And they ain’t called the ‘Hunger Games’ for nothin’. I don’t expect we’ll be gettin’ steak and taters while we’re in there, so I thought it best to read up on what’s edible and what ain’t.”
“Yeah? And what did ya learn?”
Dell raised an eyebrow at him. “I’ve learned not to give away mah secrets.”
Mundy smirked. “Too roight.”
“If ya don’t mind me makin’ an observation of my own, you haven’t been doin’ much of anything yerself. Mostly just hanging back an’ watchin’ us all.”
“You’ve got your secrets, I’ve got mine,” Mundy replied.
The men stood quietly together for a few moments, each sizing the other up. Mundy liked to work alone. In fact, he enjoyed it. Working alone meant there was nobody there to give away your position. Working alone meant being able to concentrate without distraction. Working alone meant you only had to look out for yourself. History told him, however, that working alone was usually a death sentence when it came to the Hunger Games. As far as he could recall there had only been a handful of Victors who had won without having allied with another tribute at some point, and even then most of them had just been lucky. Despite his preference to work alone, it was truly in his best interest to find somebody to work with.
In his assessment, most of the tributes were useless to him. They were either too old, too meek or too unskilled. They would be killed quickly. The six tributes he had marked as threats were either too bloodthirsty, too unpredictable or already possessed a set of skills he had already mastered. Besides, killing them would be a fun challenge. That left him with Dell. Short, pudgy, clever Dell. Physically he wasn’t much of a threat. There was some strength in those arms of his, but not the bone crushing power the tributes from District Two had. He hadn’t seen him use any weapon with a high level of proficiency, either. He was skilled enough with a mace to take out some of the weaker tributes, but that was about it. If and when it came down to it, he could kill him without too much trouble.
But that wasn’t what really attracted him to Dell as a possible ally. It was that book. Back in District Four he knew how to survive the elements. He knew which berries were poisonous and which animals were dangerous. The gamemakers, however, had a habit of creating new breeds of flora and fauna just for the Games and unleashing them on the tributes. Plants and animals the world had never seen before would populate the arena and he would have no idea what to make of them. Dell, it seemed, would be the only tribute with advanced knowledge of what would be waiting for them once the Games started. He coveted that information.
Still, now wasn’t the time to make a proposition. It was too early. They still had one more day of training to get through before they performed for the judges. After that were the interviews and the day after they would enter the arena. He still had plenty of time to make a decision.
A loud horn went off in the training center, indicating that it was time for a lunch break. The station assistants began packing away their things and the Peacemakers started ushering the tributes towards the exit. The tributes weren’t forced to eat, but they were forced to dine together in a common room.
“Alright, pardner, let’s go and get us some grub,” Dell said beside him, patting him on the back. “Who knows, maybe you an’ me could share a couple of our secrets.”
Dell had scored a seven, just as they had planned. High enough to make the public think he was capable, but low enough to keep the target off of his back. The gamemakers had been very impressed with the amount of knowledge he had been able to memorize in three short days. They had almost been suspicious, but when one of them checked his IQ scores it seemed to put them at ease. He was able to set a few creative traps with the materials that had been provided in the judging room, which seemed to interest them, but he intentionally fumbled around when it came to the hand-to-hand segment of the judging. He was capable with the mace, much more capable than some might assume, but he wanted to make sure he showed some major weaknesses to the judges so they wouldn’t rank him too highly.
The tributes were usually forced to eat together, but the night before the interviews they were allowed to dine with their escorts in order to get some tips for their upcoming meeting with Caesar Flickerman. Dell sat at a large, fancy table with Martin Graves, waiting for Miss Pauling to arrive. Martin looked grim. He had only scored a four. He was just about to say something to raise the man’s spirits when Miss Pauling strode in, her heels clicking against the hard flood.
“Good news, Dell!” she said cheerily. When she saw Martin sitting at the table she seemed rather shocked. “Oh! Mister Graves, I didn’t expect you to be here. I thought perhaps you would have gone off to bed, as usual.”
He shrugged. “Might as well enjoy some company before I die,” he said solemnly.
Miss Pauling and Dell exchanged quick glance before he rested his hand on Martin’s shoulder. “C’mon now son, that ain’t the way to be seein’ things,” he said.
Miss Pauling lowered herself into a chair silently.
“Let’s face it,” Martin continued, “I’m a dead man. I got a four. I probably won’t get any sponsors. Nobody wants to see me win. The only way for me to survive is to find somebody to ally with.”
Miss Pauling tensed visibly.
Martin turned to Dell. There was something different about him as he spoke, something conspiratorial in his eyes, as if he had figured some secret out and was just waiting for it to reveal itself. “Hey Dell, I was thinking. You got a seven. I got a four. Together that makes us an eleven. The highest somebody else scored was a ten. Together we’re stronger than anyone else in the arena. What do you think about becoming allies?”
Dell looked to Miss Pauling, but her eyes were cast down to the table. She looked miserable. When he looked back to Martin he was smiling, but it didn’t seem genuine. “Well… I don’t see the harm in helpin’ each other out if we happen to cross paths. I could use all the help I can ge—”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Miss Pauling said quickly, her eyes still downcast. “You shouldn’t ally.”
Martin sat back in his chair with a deep sigh and a sad smile. “I knew it,” he said to Miss Pauling. “You’ve written me off. You’ve already hedged your bets on him, haven’t you? You don’t expect me to live so you’re not going to bother trying to help me.”
Miss Pauling remained silent, her face slowly turning a shade of pink.
Martin pushed himself away from the table and stood up. He turned away and started walking off but paused at the door. He spun around and faced Miss Pauling. “I have a family too, you know,” he said before disappearing into the hallway.
The room was silent for several uncomfortable moments before Miss Pauling looked up from the table. “I’m sorry you had to see that, it’s just—”
“I get it,” Dell said.
“It wouldn’t be good for your image to ally with him. The public wouldn’t like the association.”
“I get it,” Dell repeated, a little more forcefully.
“Look, I don’t like that I have to choose one tribute over the other…”
“But you have to,” Dell said. “Miss Pauling, I get it. If I were in yer shoes I would do the same thing. At least one of us is gonna die in there. You gotta place yer bets on who you think has the best chance of comin’ out.”
Miss Pauling seemed relieved that Dell wasn’t angry with her. “If it came down to it, do you think you could kill him?”
Dell nodded. “Yes ma’am. Without question.”
Miss Pauling raised an eyebrow. She hadn’t been expecting such a direct answer. She told him as much.
“Martin says he’s got a family. Well, I got myself a family too, and they’re expectin’ me to come home. Now I feel poorly for Martin, I really do, but if it’s going to be him or me, well, you best believe that I’ll be a killer of man.”
Miss Pauling seemed intrigued, even hopeful. “I have to say, I didn’t think you had that sort of bloodlust in you.”
“I don’t, but I got to do what I got to do. I’m prepared for it.”
Miss Pauling sighed happily. “That’s good to hear. Our plan worked, by the way.”
Miss Pauling nodded. “Some people were excited by the tributes with the higher scores, but your seven is starting to rile up a couple of groups in the Capitol who are already enamoured with you. They should be even more riled up after your interview. Are you ready to go over some strategies?”
“Yes ma’am, I am.” Dell said. He reached down and plucked something off the floor. “I brought Teddy Roosebelt an’ everythin’”
Miss Pauling smiled, much more at ease now that they were getting back to what she was good at. “Excellent, because he’s going to be the star of the show.”
Mundy sat in the second row of tributes, only half listening as some sad looking man from District Three had his interview with Caesar Flickerman. The bright lights shining onto the stage blinded the audience from him, but he could make out several of the television cameras pointed at the gathered tributes. He made a point to scowl at every single one. His escort had long since given up on trying to make him more appealing to the audience. Smiling for the cameras and waving to the audience as if they were all his friends just wasn’t something he could fake. Instead, she had insisted that he try to emphasize his deadliness and his ability to actually win the games. Most sponsors wanted to assist a tribute that they liked. Others placed large bets on the tribute most likely to win and would do anything to achieve that outcome.
“Best of luck, Martin Graves, tribute from District Three!” he heard Caesar Flickerman announce. There was a mild round of polite clapping as Martin stood and walked back to his seat. The poor man tried to smile for the camera but it came out as a grimace.
“And now ladies and gentleman, the second tribute from District Three! Dell Conagher!”
There was a round of enthusiastic applause. Beside him, Dell stood, took a moment to straighten his shirt and started making his way to Caesar. “Wish me luck,” he mumbled as he slipped past.
Mundy leaned forward in his seat a little. This was the only interview he was actually interested in tonight, including his own. He wanted to see how Dell would play this. The two tributes from District One had come off dry and superior and the two tributes from Two had been all masculine bravado, which usually didn’t read well with the genteel nature of the Capitol. None of them had come off as particularly appealing.
The moment Dell sat down next to Caesar his strategy became apparant. Clever bugger. He had brought some sort of stuffed animal with him and sat it on his knee for all of Panem to see. Caesar picked up on it immediately.
“And who might this fine little fellow be?” Caesar asked, gesturing to the toy after a few basic questions were out of the way.
Dell handed it over to Caesar. “This lil’ feller here is Teddy Roosebelt. He belongs to my daughter, Delilah, but she wanted me to have it as my tribute token.”
Caesar Flickerman pointed the teddy towards the camera and waved one of its little arms. “Teddy Roosebelt says hi, Miss Delilah!” The audience cooed. “Why would she want you to have this as your tribute token?”
“She said it was so I could remember her while I was in the arena.” That was a lie, Mundy could tell, but Dell had sold it as truth. “I told her that whenever I gave that bear a big ol’ hug or a big ol’ kiss, she would know I was thinkin’ of her.” The audience cooed again, completely enamoured.
“Well, we’re all fans of Teddy Roosebelt, aren’t we?” he asked the audience, sweeping his hand outward to encompass them all. They screamed their approval. “Well, I’m just going to keep Mr. Roosebelt here with me for the rest of the interviews since our audience seems to have taken a shine to him. If that’s alright with you, of course.”
“Ain’t no skin off my hide. Long as I get him back before the Games,” Dell replied with a lopsided grin. Flickerman placed the teddy on a small table to his right and got back to the interview.
Mundy smirked. It was a power move, but one that was made outside the arena and not one any of the other tributes expected. If the teddy stayed with Flickerman for the rest of the interviews it served as a constant reminder of the tribute from District Three, the man who was fighting for his daughter. No matter who Caesar was talking to, there would always be a little bit of Dell in every interview. He wasn’t sure if that was something Dell had planned, but he wouldn’t be at all surprised if he had. Over the past three days it had become apparent very quickly that Dell was perhaps the smartest tribute of them all.
After they had met on the second day of training, he and Dell had been on somewhat friendly terms with one another. Dell had ended up dropping a few nuggets of information about plant life in the arena and, in return, he had taught Dell how to efficiently kill an opponent with a mace. They had both thought it wise to keep their best kept secrets to themselves, however. That sort of trust still needed to be earned.
Once training was complete he had still been somewhat unsure whether he wanted Dell as an ally or not, but the impressive cleverness he was displaying in his interview was quickly changing his mind. Mundy knew he himself wasn’t that clever. He was deadly with a bow and excellent at tracking and observation, but he didn’t have the kind of smarts Dell possessed. He wasn’t adept at playing the social game whereas Dell was playing it like a fiddle. His brawn with Dell’s brains could turn them into quite the team.
In the center of the stage, Caesar Flickerman was finishing up his interview. “Tell us Dell, with a score of seven, how do you plan on winning the Hunger Games?”
Dell chuckled. Mundy knew it was fake, but the audience seemed convinced. “If I told you that, I’d be ruinin’ the surprise for the good folk of Panem!”
Caesar laughed good-naturedly. “Right you are! It seems we’re almost out of time. Is there anything else you’d like to say?”
“Yes sir, there is. It’s a message for my daughter.” Dell turned away from Caesar, found the nearest camera and looked directly into it. “Hey there, darlin’. I just want you to know that daddy’s gonna try real hard to win the Games and get Teddy Roosebelt back to you.” There was a loud round of ‘awwws’ from the audience.
A buzzer sounded, indicating the end of the interview. “Well, I’m certain that all of Panem has been thoroughly charmed by you tonight,” Caesar Flickerman said to Dell. He turned to the audience. “Let’s hear it for District Three’s Dell Conagher and our twenty fifth tribute, Teddy Roosebelt!”
The auditorium ruptured into thunderous applause as Dell stepped out of the spotlight and headed back to his seat beside Mundy. He tried to hide it, but he looked rather triumphant. The applause was still rolling even after he had sat down.
Mundy leaned a little closer as Caesar tried to quiet the audience. “Nice show, mate. Hard act to follow,” he muttered quietly.
Dell acknowledged him with a quick glance but was still smiling for the cameras.
In the center of the stage, Caesar had managed to settle the audience and was getting ready to call the next tribute. “And now, please join me in welcoming the first tribute from District Four, Hunter Mundy!”
Mundy tried his best not to roll his eyes. This was going to be a disaster.
The next morning, Dell sat at the breakfast table with Miss Pauling. Martin Graves had come in, put some food on his plate and retreated back to his room. Today was the day. The training was over. The judging was over. The interviews were over. In just a few hours he would be in the arena fighting for his life. Miss Pauling wouldn’t be there to see him off. After this meal she would be off at the Gamemakers Headquarters, signing up anybody who wanted to sponsor him. Since he lacked a mentor this year, it would also fall to her to select which tools she would procure from his sponsorships and when to send them into the arena for him.
Miss Pauling didn’t even bother putting on her affected attitude this morning. She was quite subdued. “I’ve already had some people approach me about sponsorship. I’m not allowed to take them until the Games actually start, but you should know that you’ll eventually be getting a little help in there.” She sounded sad.
Dell shoved a piece of egg in his mouth. This was the last full meal he was guaranteed to have and he didn’t want to squander it. “That’s good.”
“You were brilliant last night,” she said. “You were perfect. The public’s reaction to you was exactly what we had planned. You scored the highest of the night, by a mile.”
Dell grunted a pleased response, taking a huge bite of his toast. He hoped he wouldn’t get sick from all of this food.
“Dell?” she said meekly.
Dell looked up from his meal.
“I hope you win. I’ll help you as much as I can from the outside.”
“I’d be much obliged to you if you would,” he replied, smiling genuinely. In the grand scheme of things, he was glad Miss Pauling was one of the last people he would ever see who wouldn’t be trying to kill him.
A buzzer went off on her watch and she sighed. It was time for her to go. The prep team wouldn’t need too much time with Dell, there was only so much you could do for a middle-aged man after all, but Miss Pauling had her other duties to attend to. She slid out from her chair and approached him.
He forgot about his meal for a moment and stood.
“It’s been a real pleasure working with you, Dell,” she said, offering her hand. He took it gladly.
“The pleasure has been all mine, Miss. I’m honored that you’ve taken such a shine to me, and that’s the God’s honest truth.”
“Remember what’s waiting for you at home. Let that be your motivation to win.”
“All of Panem wants you to be the Victor. Don’t disappoint them.” Miss Pauling’s watch went off again. She looked at him apologetically. “I really have to get going.”
“’Course you do. Don’t you fret none about me, Miss Pauling. I’ll be just fine.”
“Good luck,” she said before turning away and exiting the room.
Dell sighed as she left. Whatever tributes from District Three were reaped next year would be lucky to have her as a mentor. He picked up Teddy Roosebelt from the table and looked at him. “It’s just you an’ me now, pardner. Let’s get ‘er done”.
Dell was in complete darkness for about thirty seconds as his metal plate rose towards the arena. He had learned everything he could have learned about the arena in his three days of training. He had improved his technique with various weapons and was quite adept at setting traps. He had completed his interviews with more success than he had thought and he had already secured quite a few sponsors. He had done everything he possibly could before the Games. Now all that there was left to do was fight.
A shaft of light penetrated the darkness and Dell looked up. He was about twenty five feet away from emerging into the arena. Twenty feet. Fifteen feet. He placed a hand on Teddy Roosebelt, who was secured tightly to his belt, and let his thoughts drift back to District Three. He thought of all the friends he had at the automobile factory who would be cheering for him. He thought of his parents, even though they were long since dead. He thought of Dara, his sister, whom he could only imagine was nearly in tears back at home. As the sun finally touched his skin and the scent of wildflowers wafted by, his last thought was of Delilah. He would win this for her. He had to win this for her.
Dell opened his eyes as his metal plate finally locked into place in the arena. They were in a large field of some sort. Most Hunger Games started in an expansive area like this. The audience loved to see the tributes sprint to the Cornucopia and didn’t like trees and vegetation getting in the way of their view. The field, however, was surrounded by trees in every direction. This clearing seemed to be the only open patch of land that he could see.
The tributes were in a large circle, each of them equidistance away from the Cornucopia that rested in the middle. To his surprise, the tributes were not arranged by district. He could see Martin standing on his plate five or six tributes down. Directly beside him was the young tribute from District Eight, the one Mundy had yelled at, and on his other side was a strange fellow from District Five. He was wearing jacket with a hood, but the hood was pulled so tightly that Dell couldn’t see his face.
Before he had a chance to make any more observations, the Announcer’s voice bellowed over the arena. Claudius Templesmith had been replaced several years ago by a cold, angry sounding woman.
“Ladies and gentleman,” she announced with a chill. “Welcome to the One Hundredth Hunger Games.”
Can I just say that I love this story? It's so much fun to read, and I eagerly await the next installment.
I'm liking this, I've read the books as well. It's quite pleasant for me.
I'm happy to see the Sniper shown here. I'm going to just assume we're going to have all 9 classes. Actually, I like your Sniper as more of a loner. I'm curious to see if there's any shipping, not with the Engineer but with others.
Unfortunately, we won't be seeing the perspective of all 9 classes. I thought about doing that at first, but then it occurred to me that it would dilute the story lines of the characters I really wanted to focus on (Sniper and Engie). Most of them will be making appearances, though!
Pretty awesome so far. Hurry up OP
Seriously, it's pretty rude to bump a story that hasn't been updated for a while with something along the lines of "moar." To sage (which prevents the thread from rising to the top because of a comment), write the word "sage" in the email field.
I find it pretty rude when people are moaning at others for not saging. I have read the rules time and time again, and unless my eyes fail me, I cannot see anything about saging. I feel a rule about should be added. At least then, when someone does not sage, you can moan at them.
You're a bad person and you should feel bad. That guy was clearly just expressing that he liked the damn story. And this OP has a second update 8 days after so it is more than fair to assume that time is being taken.
TLDR - Grow up feggit.
Your eyes do fail you, and the rules do say not to sage anything too old.
Maybe next time when you decide to tell someone to "grow up", you try not being just as much of a dick?
Annoying anons aside, very much enjoying the story so far despite not having read the Hunger Games book, and looking forward to more. Our two main characters are fitting very well so far, and I'm sure the other classes that have snuck their way into the details are going to be just as interesting once their relevance begins!
Idle speculation and prediction below:
"In the grand scheme of things, he was glad Miss Pauling was one of the last people he would ever see who wouldn’t be trying to kill him."
Something doesn't quite sit right about that sentence to me. Maybe some accidental foreshadowing of something that won't happen in the future, but what I glean from that is that Miss Pauling has her own agenda to keep, despite what she tells Dell.
Guys, stop hating on this story. If you don't like Hunger games, I don't even know why you're here. Then again, even if you're not that big of a fan, like me, it's still a really good read. This author has a tasteful writing style, both descriptive and clever. I really enjoy this crossover.
Good job, and don't let the haters bring you down. You have a lot of skill and it shines through your writing.
I agree with >>21. I feel that the writing style is fantastic, and if you don't like it, don't read it.
I scold people all the time for not sagging, but I almost feel that in this instance, it was closer to a polite bump than an angry underaged kid whining and wanting more.
Hey guys. Here's part three. I've been going through some real life struggles lately and have had to put this fic on hold for a little bit. If any of you have a way of making life suck less, let me know your secrets.
“The Hunger Games will begin in sixty seconds.” The announcer’s cold voice drawled over the arena.
The tributes always had to wait sixty seconds. There was no real practical reason for this, but the tension of the wait made for great TV. And indeed, Dell felt very tense at the moment. His muscles were quivering with anticipation and his heart was knocking against his ribcage at an erratic rate. He hadn’t even moved an inch yet and a nervous sweat had already begun to bead on his brows.
He looked around at his fellow tributes. To his immediate left, about thirty feet away, the tribute from District Eight looked poised and ready to go, a cocky grin on his face. His knees were slightly bent and he was leaning forward slightly, just waiting to take off like a rocket when the gong sounded. A few launch pads to his right one of the tributes from Two, the one who could be mistaken for a shaved bear, cracked his knuckles menacingly. Everybody else was a bag of mixed emotions. Some looked dark and murderous, ready for battle. Others looked terrified and nauseous, like they were about to vomit the moment the Games started. Others, like Mundy who was almost opposite Dell in the circle of tributes, had their poker faces on. They were unreadable. Martin Graves, to his credit, had stopped looking so sad and instead looked determined, his eyes locked on something in the Cornucopia that he wanted.
Dell couldn’t help but wonder which of them would be the first to die. Would it be Martin? He hoped it wouldn’t be. The first ten minutes of the Games were always the bloodiest and resulted in the most deaths. Some years more than half of the tributes were killed at the Cornucopia. One year the entire games were fought and won at the bloodbath. Lives were going to end in the next ten minutes and he just prayed one of them wouldn’t be his.
“The Hunger Games will begin in thirty seconds,” the announcer said, savouring each word.
Dell felt a surge of adrenaline begin to course through his veins. He needed to stop worrying about the other tributes and instead formulate a plan of attack. He wouldn’t be going right, that much he knew. He needed to stay as far away from that District Two tribute as possible. Okay, so left it was. Dell knew he wasn’t strong or fast enough to survive grabbing the supplies nearest the Cornucopia, which were always the best. He would have to stay on the outskirts of the massacre and scavenge whatever he could. After a quick survey of the field he found his target area. It was directly in front of one of the dangerous tributes from District One, but it would have to do.
He scanned his target zone for anything that would be useful to him. He spotted a few small backpacks, the contents of which he didn’t know, a bundle of netting, a few food items, a small tarp, some bottles of water, a quiver of arrows and a bundle of kindling. He didn’t see any weapons he could use, but maybe they were buried in the grass.
He would go for one of the backpacks and the water. If he managed to grab anything else it would be a bonus, but those two items were his goal. He needed the backpack for portable storage and he needed that water to survive. He wouldn’t let himself get caught up in grabbing as much as he could and being greedy. That would only get him killed.
“The Hunger Games will begin in ten seconds!” The announcer sounded excited. As if on cue, the soft breeze that had been blowing across the clearing dissipated and the birds in the trees stopped chirping. There was nothing but cold silence and absolute stillness as she began her countdown. If he had been grinning before, the tribute from District Eight to his left look absolutely gleeful now.
Dell locked his eyes on the backpack.
He bent his knees and poised himself for a sprint.
His muscles were taught with energy.
He thought of Delilah.
The gong sounded and there was an eruption of movement in every direction. Twenty three tributes rushed forward towards the Cornucopia. The tribute from Eight was like a bolt of lightning as he launched himself off his pad. Dell veered to the left. His feet pounded against the dirt harder and faster than he thought possible, his arms swinging powerfully by his side.
Battle had already begun at the Cornucopia. He could hear men yelling and the clink of metal against metal. When somebody screamed out in agony he knew first blood had been spilled. He chanced a glance over and saw the black man from District Twelve drive a longsword into the gut of some poor sucker and thrust it vertically, creating a clean slice through the body at least a foot long.
Dell turned away. He scooped up a bottle of water without stopping and started heading for the nearest backpack when he saw something glint in the grass off to the right. It was a decently sized hunting knife, good for a host of other things besides killing. He wasn’t great with knives, but it was better than nothing. He made a quick change in direction, an action that probably saved his life. He didn’t know when, but one of the quicker tributes had managed to sneak up behind him with a thick wooden club and had swung it down towards his head. If he hadn’t made that last minute change in direction his skull would probably be a caved in mess right about now. As it was, the club caught him in the left shoulder and sent him tumbling to the ground. For a brief moment the sense was knocked out of him and he lay motionless on the ground, trying to figure out what had just happened. He was just attacked. He had thought all of the tributes ran for the Cornucopia but he must have been mistaken. One of them had snuck up behind him and walloped him good.
He had to get to that knife but it was still a good ten feet away. He began crawling towards it as quickly as he could, ignoring the throbbing pain in his shoulder. Before he managed to grab it, though, the club struck him again, this time across is back, flattening him to the dirt and knocking the wind out of his lungs. It was over. Dell had no weapon to defend himself with and hadn’t recovered from the second blow long enough to fight the man off with his fists. His brains were about to be splattered across the ground. He rolled over onto his back. If he was going to die he didn’t want to last thing he saw to be a patch of dirt. He wanted to see the blue sky, maybe a few fluffy clouds. Something cheerful.
The tribute, a muscular man from District Seven, loomed over him with the club. He didn’t look the least bit apologetic as he clutched his weapon high over his head, readying himself for the deathblow. There was a quiet zip of air, a soft shuck and suddenly an arrow was embedded in the man’s chest. The man looked shocked and in a fit of panic ripped the arrow from his chest. As the man’s lung began to collapse, a rush of air exhaled from the wound in his chest, spraying Dell with a fine mist of blood. A second arrow flew through the sky and embedded itself in the man’s heart. He had no time to panic this time. He was already dead. His heavy corpse fell backwards and hit the ground with a sickening thud.
Dell was completely shocked at the turn of events but knew he had no time to waste. He crawled the last few feet towards the knife, grabbed it and slipped it into his pocket. When he peered in the direction the arrows had come from he saw Mundy standing at the treeline lowering his bow. He raised a hand over his head and waved.
“You owe me for that, Bookie!” he called before spinning around and disappearing into the forest.
That he most certainly did. A quick glance around told him that none of the tributes were headed this way. They probably thought he was already dead. If he was quick he could probably gather a few extra supplies before they noticed that he was actually up and moving. He grabbed the club his attacker had dropped and darted for the backpack. He slung it over his good shoulder, saw that the tributes hadn’t notice him yet and ran for the netting. He shoved it inside the bag, along with a nearby packet of beef jerky. He made one more stop to pick up the quiver of arrows before making a beeline for the forest.
His back and shoulder were screaming in pain, begging him to stop moving, but he wasn’t going to take the risk of stopping, or even slowing down, until he had gotten far deeper into the woods. He ran at full speed for a good five or six minutes, crashing through bushes and pushing branches out of his face, until the pain in his back became too much and forced him to slow down. He wouldn’t stop moving but he felt as though he was a safe distance away from the Cornucopia where a brisk walk would be okay.
He had done it. He had survived the bloodbath. Barely, and even then with a little help from a friend, but he had survived nonetheless. It wouldn’t be exactly easy from here on out, but he felt as though he had overcome a huge obstacle, probably the biggest he would have to face. And if he was going to die in the arena, at least he knew he wouldn’t be the first one. There had to be some sort of pride in that.
Even though he was already completely exhausted, Dell decided that he would continue walking until he heard the cannons go off. Usually a cannon was set off immediately after a tribute was killed, but the Cornucopia was such a massacre that the Gamemakers had a tough time telling when somebody was dead and who that person actually was. Once they had removed the bodies from the field and identified the remains they would fire a cannon for every person who was killed in the bloodbath. Since it usually took several hours for that process to be complete, Dell knew he still had a ways to go before he could finally rest.
Still, he decided that a quick five minute break couldn’t hurt. He had no idea where he was, no idea what was in his backpack and he really just needed a second to catch his breath. After a few more minutes of walking he found a fallen tree and sat down on the trunk. Almost immediately he could feel his muscles began to seize up from being overworked and beaten with a club. The rush of adrenaline was starting to wear off and the extent of his injuries was beginning to become quite apparent. Just sliding the backpack off almost made him yelp in pain.
He placed the quiver of arrows by his feet and started going through his backpack. He removed the netting, the bottle of water and the beef jerky to see what had actually been inside the bag he picked up. It wasn’t much. There was a thin blanket that would keep the wind off his skin but probably wouldn’t keep him warm if the temperature dropped. There was also a small coil of copper wire, a roll of sterile gauze, and a plastic container that was empty. When he took inventory he realized that he had actually come out better than he had hoped. He had two weapons to his name, the club and the knife, a little bit of food and water, a blanket that would take the edge off the cold, a piece of netting, a small amount of medical supplies and a quiver of six arrows he had no idea what to do with. He was sure he could figure something out.
He started packing away his things neatly, making sure that each item was easily accessible if he ever found himself in a pinch. He knew he had to conserve water but he desperately needed to quench his thirst after the bloodbath. He unscrewed the lid, took a few deep gulps and packed it away before he was tempted to finish the bottle off.
He knew he couldn’t carry both the backpack and the quiver of arrows with any sort of efficiency, so he grabbed a nearby piece of vine, wrapped the six arrows together and threw the quiver itself behind a bush. He slid the arrows into his bag away neatly, zipped his pack up and hoisted it onto his shoulders. At least it wasn’t that heavy.
He decided to keep the knife and the club out at all times. The club he would carry but the knife he slipped into his belt. As he did so his hand brushed against something fuzzy. It almost shocked him when he noticed that Teddy Roosebelt was still attached to his hip, a little dirty but otherwise in one piece. He had been so caught up in surviving and getting away from the Cornucopia that he had forgotten the little guy even existed. He was glad he made it through.
He unstrapped the teddy from his belt and held it in front of him for a moment. Miss Pauling would be glad that he was trying to maintain his image but that’s not why he wrapped his arms around the bear and hugged it close to his chest. He remembered his promise to Delilah. Every hug he gave the bear was meant for her, to tell her that he was thinking of her. Image be damned, he wanted to let his daughter know that he hadn’t forgotten about her. If he closed his eyes he could almost pretend it was his daughter in his arms and not the teddy.
After a few precious moments he released the bear from his arms, gave it a kiss on his little hard hat and strapped it back to his hip. It was time to go. His muscles felt like unstretched taffy as he stood, stiff and painful, but he knew that the more he moved, the looser they would become. He would walk until he heard the cannons. Once that happened he would stop and take survey of his surroundings. If it looked like a place he could camp out for the night he would do just that. If it didn’t look promising he would move on until he found someplace suitable.
He prayed he wouldn’t run into any other tributes today. He wasn’t sure if he had the strength to fight. Dell set off down the trail at a slow walk, proud of his accomplishments but worried about what was still to come.
Mundy was tucked in a small depression in the soil, hidden behind a log about ten feet away from the main trail. He didn’t dare move. He even thought about stopping his breathing but he didn’t need to go that far. As long as he was completely still and completely quiet he should be okay. He wasn’t sure which gods were working against him, but not three hours after the initial bloodbath he had his first encounter with another tribute. Another two tributes, to be exact.
He had heard their plodding footsteps long before they had a chance of seeing him so he had plenty of time to tuck himself away behind the log. He could have tried to run, but running away wasn’t really his style. Hiding wasn’t really his style, either, but he figured he might learn a thing or two if he stuck around. The footsteps grew louder as they approached, crunching dead leaves and snapping twigs beneath heavy boots.
By the footsteps alone he knew that one of the tributes was the heavyset ogre from District Two. That much was obvious. The other pair of footsteps he had yet to identify. Since neither of them was currently trying to kill the other, Mundy assumed they were in cahoots, or at least working towards it. Luckily for him, they decided to pause nearby so they could each have a sip of water.
“Tell me why I should not crush puny head with my fist right now,” the heavy guy said menacingly.
“Because together ve vould make an unbeatable team,” the second tribute replied. That was unmistakeably the medicine man from District One.
Mundy heard them packing away their bottle of water and starting to walk away. If he really wanted to he could probably take the medicine man out with his bow right now, but the threat of the other tribute was too big for him to risk it. Another time, then.
“How? I do not understand,” the heavy replied.
“Vell, why don’t you let me explain it to you,” the medicine man said. Before Mundy could catch the rest of the conversation they had walked out of earshot and their words had become mere mumbles.
That was interesting. If he didn’t see the good doctor’s face projected into the sky later that evening during the death recap he could assume he had talked the heavy into a partnership. Mundy had seen them together at the Cornucopia. He hadn’t been sure if it was his intention to save the doctor, but the heavy had buried his axe into the chest of a tribute that was looking to stab the medicine man from behind. Likewise, the doctor had staved off an attack on the heavy by cleanly slicing a tributes abdomen so deeply with his knife that his intestines had spilled out onto the dirt. They were both highly dangerous and together they made quite the formidable team.
Mundy waited patiently behind his log as their footsteps faded into the distance. It would be foolish to jump out of his hiding space so soon after they had left, so he made himself comfortable and settled in for the next little while. To fill the time he began recounting the events he saw at the Cornucopia, making mental notes on who had killed who and what weapon they possessed.
The cyclops from Twelve had at least one kill with his longsword, the first death of the Games. He had seen the heavy bury his axe into a man, so he had a kill, as did the doctor who had effectively disemboweled a man with his knife. The other tribute from One, the smooth talker, had made a clean slice across someone’s neck with a dagger before he had disappeared. He himself, of course, had taken down a tribute from Seven with a couple of arrows. After that he had decided it was time to leave the bloodbath and missed the rest of the kills. He wondered how many there were.
As if on cue a cannon fired, indicating the death of a tribute. There would be one shot for every tribute killed at the Cornucopia. A second cannon fired, and then a third. A fourth. A fifth. All the way up to ten shots. So that was it, then. Ten tributes dead, fourteen still left in the arena. He couldn’t be sure until he saw the death reel later tonight, but he was confident that all the tributes he had marked as threats while in training were still alive out there, and unless something had happened after he had left the Cornucopia, Dell was somewhere out there, too. Good.
Mundy spent the next few minutes taking a mental inventory of the supplies he had. It wasn’t much. He managed to grab a bow and a quiver of arrows but missed out on some valuable items in his dash to secure his weapon of choice. It wasn’t worth it to stick around the Cornucopia gathering supplies, not with the amount of bloodshed that had been going on. Still, on his flight to the treeline he managed to pick up a machete, an empty canteen, a sleeve of crackers and a pair of yellow tinted sunglasses. It would have to do. He didn’t plan on actively hunting any tributes down tonight, anyway, although he would deal with the unlucky ones who crossed his path. No, tonight he would search for supplies and some shelter from the night chill. Most importantly, he would begin his search for Dell.
Dell nearly jumped out of his skin when the cannons fired. His mind and body had gone numb from hours of endless walking and he had grown used to the relative quiet of the forest when they sounded off. Ten shots, ten dead tributes. Fourteen left to go. The cannons had been his signal to stop his flight from the Cornucopia and try to find a suitable campground for the night. There was still several hours until nightfall, but if he could find a safe place to hunker down quickly he could spend the rest of the day searching for a source of water. What he had left in his bottle would probably last him until noon the next day and not much longer.
Dell took stock of his immediate surroundings. There were trees in every direction as far as the eye could see, but the ground was relatively flat with only a few bushels dotted here and there. This area wasn’t very good. There was nowhere to conceal himself. He’d have to keep walking until he found some thicker foliage. He took a small sip of his water and continued his march forward.
It was hard to imagine that only that morning he had been sitting with Miss Pauling, eating warm eggs with buttered toast in an air conditioned room. It hadn’t even been twelve hours since then but it already felt like a week had passed. It was only the first day of the Games and he was already starving, exhausted, sweaty and in a good deal of pain. And he was one of the lucky ones because at least he was still alive.
Another hour of walking had passed before he finally stumbled upon something that perked him up. The landscape was still too flat to be a good place to camp for the night and he hadn’t seen any indication that water was nearby, but he had spotted something useful. Growing around the base of a tall deciduous tree was a small bushel of Arctus Eth.
“Well, ain’t you a sight for these sore old eyes,” Dell said as he crouched down beside the plant. The leaves of the Arctus Eth could grow to be the size of a dinner plate, but this sample seemed to be in its infancy. These leaves were no bigger than the palm of Dell’s hand and still had the icy blue hue to them that went away as the plant matured. Dell had never seen this plant in District Three, he wasn’t even sure if it existed naturally in any of the districts, but the encyclopedia he had read during training had outlined the usefulness of this plant.
If you ingested the leaves it wouldn’t kill you, but it would certainly give you intense cramps for the rest of the day. The purpose of this plant was medicinal. It wouldn’t seal wounds or encourage healing, but when the sticky enzymes in the leaves touched human skin it had a chilling effect that was perfect for swollen muscles. Dell slipped the knife from his belt and hacked at the stem of the plant until he freed it from the ground.
He slipped his backpack off and undid the first few buttons of his shirt, rolling the fabric away from his injured left shoulder. This was the first time he had seen what the club had done to him and extent of the bruise took him by surprise. His skin was yellowed across his entire shoulder and down to his bicep. As it got closer to the point of impact the skin turned from yellow to green, then red, then a deep shade of purple that had Dell worried.
As he plucked the leaves off the Arctus Eth he could feel the icy sensation in his fingers. The leaves had more potency in their infancy and they were so cold it almost hurt to touch. After he had stripped the plant bare he started placing the leaves against his bruised skin, starting from the outside and working his way in. It was quite painful at first as the blood vessels and wounded muscles contracted from the cold but by the time he had finished covered his bruise everything had gone more or less numb. He wished there had been more of the plant that he could pack away and take with him but he had already used every leaf. Still, the juices that flowed from the leaves were sticky so as long as he didn’t move his shoulder too much they should stay glued to his skin and keep the swelling down for a few more hours.
Dell rolled his shirt back on, fastened the buttons and hiked the pack onto his good shoulder before moving on. Dusk would be upon him soon and if he didn’t find a campsite for the night quickly he would have to abandon his search for water until the morning. Unfortunately for him, it took yet another hour of searching before he finally found a place he thought would be safe enough for him to stay for the night.
Eventually the relatively open, flat landscape he had been trekking through met with a decently sized slope uphill that he would have to make do. Running along the bottom of the slope was a collection of forest debris, dead leaves, old branches and the like. To Dell, that meant materials he could bury himself under to keep hidden from view. Water would have to wait until tomorrow, but he still had enough time to set up a few simple traps around his campsite. Nothing elaborate enough to kill or even injure, but a few basic contraptions that would make some noise to warn him if somebody was approaching.
Twilight had settled in comfortably by the time he was finished with his protections and the forest was starting to come alive with night creatures. He realized that he should have set up a few snares along with his traps just in case there were rodents around that he could skin and eat but it was too late for that. As the light rapidly disappeared it was getting harder and harder to see what he was doing, so he headed back to the slope, ready to keep himself hidden for the night.
Just then the anthem that preceded the nightly death recap blasted across the stadium. High up in the sky the seal for the Capitol appeared over the arena for the tributes to see, bright enough to illuminate the forest around him. These nightly recaps let them know how many tributes had been slaughtered that day and which ones specifically had been killed. Simple headshots accompanied by which district they were from shone into the sky, starting with District One and working its way to District Twelve, regardless of the order in which the tributes were killed.
The first face to appear is a man from District Four, which meant that both tributes from Districts One and Two were still alive. Amazingly, it also meant that Martin Graves, Dell’s fellow tribute from Three, had survived the first day.
“Would’ya look at that. The sonovabitch made it!” Dell exclaimed. The more dead tributes there were the better it was for Dell, but he couldn’t help but get some satisfaction out of Martin’s survival.
The next two faces were both from District Six. After that was the man who would have killed him if it hadn’t been for Mundy and his bow, a tribute from Seven. There was a tick beside the man’s face, indicating that he had already made a kill before he himself was taken out. One tribute from Eight was dead, both from Nine, none from Ten and both from Eleven. The last face to flash across the sky was a man from Twelve. The death recap finished with the Capitol seal and a musical flourish before the forest was plunged into darkness again. Back in the training facility, Mundy had given him a heads up as to which tributes would cause the most trouble in the arena. They all seemed to still be alive.
The effects of the Arctus Eth leaves had started to wear off so he rolled down his shirt and brushed them off his skin. He couldn’t see the bruise without any light, but just by touch he could tell that the swelling had gone down considerably. The pain, too, had been alleviated somewhat.
Dell found a particularly large collection of fallen branches at the bottom of the slope about fifty feet from the main trail and decided to make that his home for the night. It wouldn’t conceal him completely, but it was his best option for now. If he covered himself with his blanket and a bunch of dead leaves he should be okay.
After he had settled in and camouflaged himself with foliage he decided it was in his best interest to have a few pieces of jerky. After all the punishment his body had been through today it needed the protein to start the healing process. He had fifteen pieces of jerky. He decided to eat seven of them. He didn’t expect to sustain the injuries he had today or travel the same amount of distance anytime soon so he could better ration them off in the days to come, but tonight was all about healing and preparing his body for tomorrow. And besides, he was hungry.
When he finally closed his eyes it didn’t take him very long to fall asleep.
Mundy was stalking his prey. Night had fallen and the death recap had already come and gone. Most tributes had probably settled in for the night, but not him. A few hours after his near run-in with the Heavy and the Medic, the nicknames he had assigned to those two, Mundy had stumbled across a third tribute. He hadn’t come across the tribute himself, but rather the footprints he had left behind in the soft forest floor.
He had been tracking this tribute for miles, keeping a keen eye on the footprints but making sure to check his surroundings every so often. Eventually the footprints on the trail disappeared, replaced by the broken stems of small plants as the man veered off the main path and into the foliage. Mundy followed this new trail as quietly as possible, cringing every time that his boot snapped a dead twig. His best guess was that this tribute had decided to find a place of the beaten track to rest for the night. If his target was now stationary, he would probably catch up to his prey quite quickly.
Indeed, not ten minutes after he had left the main path he could hear the tribute up ahead rustling around in the brush. Mundy crouched down low and proceeded forward on his hands and knees. He needed to make a visual on his target for he decided what his next move would be. Before too long he could see a clearing in the trees, about sixty feet in diameter with a small pond in the middle.
The tribute he had been tracking was off to the side of the pond, striking at a piece of flint, trying to start a fire. The pond water needed to be boiled, of course, but Mundy thought it was exceedingly irrational to do so at night. A campfire in the middle of a dark forest was like a lighthouse, announcing to everybody in sight exactly where you were. Still, Mundy could use this situation to his advantage. If he could kill this tribute after he had already boiled the water, Mundy could grab it and run before anybody else showed up and keep the fire going as a distraction. He decided to hide in the shadows and bide his time.
After a few minutes the tribute had a small fire burning, the light of which finally revealed to Mundy his identity. It was that strange little bugger from District Five, the one who always had his hoodie pulled so tight that it covered most of his face. Mundy knew next to nothing about this tribute, except that he was shockingly adept at firemaking. Even at the interviews he had mumbled unintelligible responses and shied away from the cameras.
Mundy had to make a plan of attack. He had both a bow and a machete at his disposal. One for distance killing and the other for hand to hand combat. He really didn’t know what this tribute could do if it came down to fisticuffs which made Mundy want to take him out with the bow. However, he only had seven arrows left and didn’t want to waste any if he could prevent it. He could try to sneak around the edge of the clearing to get closer and stab the man from behind but he was afraid the light from the fire would give away his position. Arrows it was then.
Mundy waited patiently in the bushes as he watched the tribute build the fire into something much larger than it needed to be. It was almost a bonfire at this point. Bleeding idiot. Once the blaze was roaring the man took the metal water bottle he had in his supplies to the pond, filled it to the brim and carried it back. There was no rack to put the container on, so the he simply pushed it into the embers of the fire and sat back, waiting for it to come to a boil. It only took a couple of minutes.
Once the water had boiled, the man used some thick leaves as insulation and pulled the bottle from the fire. He rushed it over to the pond and submerged it up to its neck, sticking it in some mud so it would cool.
Now was his chance. The water was already boiled, there wasn’t any sign of other tributes and the man in front of him didn’t seem to think he was in any danger. As the tribute stepped back in front of his fire, Mundy very slowly removed the bow from his shoulder and notched his arrow. He could probably make the shot from where he was, but it was dark out and it would be tricky. If he wanted to guarantee a kill he needed to expose himself and step into the clearing.
As quietly as he could, Mundy lifted himself into a standing position and took a step into the clearing. Two steps. Three. The tribute had his back to him, facing the fire. It should make for an easy kill. He raised his bow, pulled the string back and took one more step into the clearing.
Underfoot, a dry twig snapped.
The tribute spun around at the noise and Mundy was forced to shoot before he had wanted to. The arrow soared through the darkness and struck the man in the gut. It wasn’t a kill shot, but it was enough to knock the tribute off his feet and backwards into the fire.
Mundy expected a scream. He expected the man to roll out of the flames and dive into the pond. He has expected something. Instead, the tribute just seemed to curl up into a ball on top of the fire and accept his fate. It was just as well, Mundy supposed. He wouldn’t live very long with those types of burns anyway. What was the point of extending your suffering when you were going to die anyway? In any case, Mundy had just lost another arrow.
Somewhere in the distance a cannon fired and Mundy knew the man was dead. He slung his bow back over his shoulder and stepped forward to grab the man’s supplies, trying to ignore the scent of burning flesh. He plucked the metal water bottle out of the pond. The water inside was still warm but not hot enough to burn. He took a sip and grimaced. It certainly tasted like pond water, but at least it was safe to drink. He brought out his own canteen and carefully transferred the water over, tossing the metal water bottle into the pond when he was finished with it.
Other than that, the dead tribute didn’t have many other supplies. He had the flint, which Mundy pocketed, a large blue tarp, which he decided to leave behind, and a can of baked beans, which he had to force himself not to crack open and eat at that very moment. He was famished but he also knew now wasn’t the time to eat. The fire was still burning brightly and he needed to put as much distance between it and himself as possible. Time to get a move on, then.
Before he left the clearing he took a moment to pause beside the fire. The dead man’s skin was already starting to char, the hoodie he was wearing completely incinerated by the fire. He tried to get a look at the man’s face but the fire had already warped the skin beyond recognition.
“Sorry about that, mate. Burnin’ up has got to be a poor way to go,” Mundy said to the corpse. He wanted to win the games. He would kill every tribute in the arena if he had to, but there was no need for pointless suffering. From now on he vowed to be as efficient as possible with his kills. It was only polite.
New chapters make me moist
The bloodbath certainly lived up to its name, but it raises a question for me, since I haven't read the book myself. Where are the effects of the sponsorships the tributes were all vying for earlier? I assumed those would come in the form of supplies or equipment that they would get before the Games began, but that doesn't seem to have happened.
Sponsorships in The Hunger Games work a little differently than in real life, but the premise is pretty much the same. In real life, athletes get sponsorships so they can buy better equipment before they compete.
In The Hunger Games, supplies and equipment that are purchased with sponsorship money are delivered to the tributes after they have already entered the arena via parachute. The mentor usually chooses which supplies to send into the arena for their tribute. But sponsorships are very expensive so whatever supplies are sent into the arena are likely to be small.
Hope that clears things up.
But...Pyro! That gave me a sad, more so than the rest of the chapter.
But concerning the rest of the chapter, that was fabulous. I was hooked the entire way through.
This is okay, albeit a little interesting, but you need to work on how concise you are with your narration. You say the same thing about two or three times in a paragraph in different was, and it doesn't make the story any better; an example is the scene just after the games started, and Dell got walloped by unidentified man with a club; you repeat the fact that he is about to / is getting clubbed about three times.
You also have a tendency to retcon what had just happened, such as with the clubbing scene where Dell dodges the club by veering out of the way- oh wait, no, he was clipped with the club. You could cut those two paragraphs down to one sentence just by saying that 'Dell saw in the corner of his eye a shadow, and tried to dodge, trading a deathblow to the head for a clip to the shoulder.
Also, consider the pros and cos of adrenaline; if Dell is hyped up on man juices, then surely instead of giving in as first hit and submitting to the cloudy blue skies, he should be using his strategical brain to fight his way to flight?
In an unrelated note, how do you think the Arctus Eth is going to work in the long term? So you have your endothermic enzyme reactions going on on Dell's skin; what reaction is taking place? Enzymes break things down, essentially, so logically the enzymes would be breaking down plant-edible things like complex proteins; unless the plant is a carnivore like a venus fly trap? In that case, the proteins could be a lot like protease, or trypsin (they can dissolve eyeballs in fairly strong concentrations)- I could go on for a long time, but you'd probably get really bored.
TL;DR- this is cool and you should feel cool.
<i> enzymes </i> that is, not proteins. The enzymes would be a lot like protease or trypsin. Is Dell's skin going to melt off in the future? WHY DO I CARE SO MUCH ABOUT PLANT ENZYMES?
This is quite good, a nice blend of the TF2 characters and the Hunger Games world, both of which I love. The Pyro's death made me a little sad but oh well. Nice work!