Part III: The Enemy
All right, there’s the Cornucopia, the shining gold metal horn, about forty yards away. At first, it appears to be sitting on a circular island. But on closer examination, I see the thin strips of land radiating from the circle like the spokes on a wheel. I think there are ten to twelve, and they seem equidistant from one another. Between the spokes, all is water. Water and a pair of tributes.
That’s it, then. There are twelve spokes, each with two tributes balanced on metal plates between them. The other tribute in my watery wedge is old Woof from District 8. He’s about as far to my right as the land strip on my left. Beyond the water, wherever you look, a narrow beach and then dense greenery. I scan the circle of tributes, looking for Peeta, but he must be blocked from my view by the Cornucopia.
Wait, okay, WHAT? The Cornucopia is on an island, and there are these strips of land, like sand bars, that shoot out between all of them, and the tributes are balancing on metal discs in the middle of the OCEAN?
I’m still not so sure I’m grasping this whole setup, so maybe that’s why I was so confused during the whole first half of this chapter. I feel like I’m reading the Department of Mysteries chapter of OotP, like they’re in WHAT room which is connected to WHAT and WHERE is this person and WHERE are they going now and I need a fucking DIAGRAM of this place.
But anyway, moving on!
Last year, the supplies were spread out quite a distance around the Cornucopia, with the most valuable closest to the horn. But this year, the booty seems to be piled at the twenty-foot-high mouth. My eyes instantly home in on a golden bow just in arm’s reach and I yank it free.
Haha, booty, get it because they’re on an island? Whatever, POINT IS, Katniss got her filthy hands on a fucking golden bow and is now ready to fuck shit up!
For a moment we’re frozen, sizing each other up, our weapons, our skill. Then Finnick suddenly grins. “Lucky thing we’re allies. Right?”
Sensing a trap, I’m about to let my arrow fly, hoping it finds his heart before the trident impales me, when he shifts his hand and something on his wrist catches the sunlight. A solid-gold bangle patterned with flames. The same one I remember on Haymitch’s wrist the morning I began training. I briefly consider that Finnick could have stolen it to trick me, but somehow I know this isn’t the case. Haymitch gave it to him. As a signal to me. An order, really. To trust Finnick.
FINNICK IS ON THEIR SIDE WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN WHY WASN’T I TOLD?
Seriously though, Haymitch, why didn’t you just say something, Katniss almost killed him!
“Duck!” Finnick commands in such a powerful voice, so different from his usual seductive purr, that I do. His trident goes whizzing over my head and there’s a sickening sound of impact as it finds its target. The man from District 5, the drunk who threw up on the sword-fighting floor, sinks to his knees as Finnick frees the trident from his chest. “Don’t trust One and Two,” Finnick says.
I quickly scan the pile on my side and find maces, swords, bows and arrows, tridents, knives, spears, axes, metallic objects I have no name for…and nothing else.
“Weapons!” I call back. “Nothing but weapons!”
“Same here,” he confirms. “Grab what you want and let’s go!”
Why only weapons? Do they want the tributes to just kill each other and get it over with? Doesn’t sound like something they would do. Also, like with those night-vision goggles from last time, I’m going to predict that they’ll find a use for those metallic objects. Or we’ll at least find out what they are.
I sling an extra bow and a second sheath of arrows over my body, slide two long knives and an awl into my belt, and meet up with Finnick at the front of the pile.
I admit I had to look up what an awl was. What a weird thing to have as a weapon!
If I had only my own safety to consider, I might be willing to take them on with Finnick by my side. But it’s Peeta I’m thinking about. I spot him now, still stranded on his metal plate.
OMG WTF I COMPLETELY FORGOT ABOUT PEETA. What has he been doing this whole time? Just standing on that metal plate? Does he not know how to swim? It’s just amazing to me how many of them don’t know how to swim, maybe because I learned when I was like 8 so it’s second nature, and maybe I take it for granted that everyone knows how to swim. Which is weird considering the location of the Cornucopia and the lack of swim training back at the Capitol.
I take off and Finnick follows without question, as if knowing this will be my next move. When I’m as close as I can get, I start removing knives from my belt, preparing to swim out to reach him and somehow bring him in.
Finnick drops a hand on my shoulder. “I’ll get him.”
Suspicion flickers up inside me. Could this all just be a ruse? For Finnick to win my trust and then swim out and drown Peeta? “I can,” I insist.
Yeah, why is Finnick all eager to get Peeta? Something sure seems….fishy.
But Finnick has dropped all his weapons to the ground. “Better not exert yourself. Not in your condition,” he says, and reaches down and pats my abdomen.
Oh, right. I’m supposed to be pregnant, I think. While I’m trying to think what that means and how I should act—maybe throw up or something—Finnick has positioned himself at the edge of the water.
“Cover me,” he says. He disappears with a flawless dive.
I’ll allow it, but watch yourself, Odair!
(wow I am on a fucking roll) And what is Katniss’s “pregnancy” going to mean for the other tributes and the Games in general? How will it come into play? Because it obv will.
A quick survey of the rest of the arena shows that most of the tributes are still trapped on their plates. Wait, no, there’s someone standing on the spoke to my left, the one opposite Peeta. It’s Mags. But she neither heads for the Cornucopia nor tries to flee. Instead she splashes into the water and starts paddling toward me, her gray head bobbing above the waves. Well, she’s old, but I guess after eighty years of living in District 4 she can keep afloat.
Mags! Get on over here, you old bag! And I’m still just in awe at how many of those tributes just can’t swim. Like right off the bat, they’re incapacitated by the water surrounding them.
“Hello, again,” he says, and gives me a kiss. “We’ve got allies.”
“Yes. Just as Haymitch intended,” I answer. “Remind me, did we make deals with anyone else?” Peeta asks.
“Only Mags, I think,” I say. I nod toward the old woman doggedly making her way toward us.
“Well, I can’t leave Mags behind,” says Finnick. “She’s one of the few people who actually likes me.”
“I’ve got no problem with Mags,” I say. “Especially now that I see the arena. Het fishhooks are probably our best chance of getting a meal.”
“Katniss wanted her on the first day,” says Peeta.
“Katniss has remarkably good judgment,” says Finnick.
Oooh, yay, the fearsome foursome!
Also, the belts float. Good to know.
I hand Peeta a bow, a sheath of arrows, and a knife, keeping the rest for myself. But Mags tugs on my sleeve and babbles on until I’ve given the awl to her. Pleased, she clamps the handle between her gums and reaches her arms up to Finnick. He tosses his net over his shoulder, hoists Mags on top of it, grips his tridents in his free hand, and we run away from the Cornucopia.
What does mags plan on doing with that godforsaken thing? And I had to reread that part, but yes, Finnick is carrying Mags. Suddenly she seems like dead weight.I mean, at least Finnick is here to support her.
Around the Cornucopia, the ground appears to be bleeding; the water has purple stains. Bodies lie on the ground and float in the sea, but at this distance, with everyone dressed exactly the same, I can’t tell who lives or dies. All I can tell is that some of the tiny blue figures still battle. Well, what did I think? That the victors’ chain of locked hands last night would result in some sort of universal truce in the arena? No, I never believed that. But I guess I had hoped people might show some…what? Restraint? Reluctance, at least. Before they jumped right into massacre mode. And you all knew each other, I think. You acted like friends.
No!!! We were supposed to have a big sit-in!!! I hate this.
I let the slight, soupy breeze cool my cheeks while I come to a decision. Despite the bangle, I should just get it over with and shoot Finnick.
That was quick. But it just seems like a bad idea right now.
But when I land, I find Finnick’s kept pace with my thoughts. As if he knows what I have seen and how it will have affected me. He has one of his tridents raised in a casually defensive position.
“What’s going on down there, Katniss? Have they all joined hands? Taken a vow of nonviolence? Tossed the weapons in the sea in defiance of the Capitol?” Finnick asks.
“No,” I say.
“No,” Finnick repeats. “Because whatever happened in the past is in the past. And no one in this arena was a victor by chance.” He eyes Peeta for a moment. “Except maybe Peeta.”
Yeah, I’m sold. He’s got to be good. At least mostly good. Maybe it was too perfect of a response to what Katniss was thinking, but I really think Finnick is going to be usefull, if not a “good guy”, whatever that is.
But there is no other side. I know this before anyone else, even though I am farthest from the top. My eyes catch on a funny, rippling square hanging like a warped pane of glass in the air. At first I think it’s the glare from the sun or the heat shimmering up off the ground. But it’s fixed in space, not shifting when I move. And that’s when I connect the square with Wiress and Beetee in the Training Center and realize what lies before us. My warning cry is just reaching my lips when Peeta’s knife swings out to slash away some vines.
What the fuck? Is there a forcefield surrounding the island? Is it even an island? Why is there a forcefield there? Why not the bounce-back kind of thing that Haymitch utilized in his Games? OH AND PEETA’S ABOUT TO FUCKING HIT IT.
There’s a sharp zapping sound. For an instant, the trees are gone and I see open space over a short stretch of bare earth. Then Peeta’s flung back from the force field, bringing Finnick and Mags to the ground.
WHAT WAS THAT? The trees disappeared! Right? Is it all an illusion? What is behind that forcefield?
I rush over to where he lies, motionless in a web of vines. “Peeta?” There’s a faint smell of singed hair. I call his name again, giving him a little shake, but he’s unresponsive. My fingers fumble across his lips, where there’s no warm breath although moments ago he was panting. I press my ear against his chest, to the spot where I always rest my head, where I know I will hear the strong and steady beat of his heart.
Instead, I find silence.
NO NO NO NO NO