Chapter Nine: Beneath Shifting Stars
Standing on a small wooden podium Silas just did as he was told. Vigil, his stylist, and a host of other people he didn't recognise were staring at him, rubbing their chins as he lifted his arms and spun. 'He has a good shape...very muscular for his build.' said Vigil to his subordinates. All four of them hummed in response.
'He has strong features, I suggest no jewellery or adornments to distract from the face.' said the fourth in line.
'Agreed.' the group parroted autonomously. 'But this hair, with all its trinkets and amulets, its dreadful! We simply must,' reaching out the second in line made to grab Silas's dreadlocks.
'I wouldn't do that if I were you Phillipe,' warned Vigil just as Silas was about to reach out and grab the thin mans bony wrist. 'He put a knife to the last man who reached out for them.' Staring at Phillipe the thin man smiled weakly before sliding back into his place.
'Maybe we can use that...keep his look savage...raw...primal.' said the first in line, a woman of blonde hair standing beside Vigil. The door behind them flew open with a crash. Turning Silas locked eyes with his trainer. Fredrick Gunnerson was a broad man with ivory skin, a bald head and eyes that, like Fox's, had no spark behind them, no hint of life.
'What's taking so bloody long!' he roared, steroid enhanced muscles rippling with unnecessary anger. Silas had quickly decided he didn't like the man. He was cruel, seeming to take pleasure from the idea of Silas or Fox killing each other, but Silas didn't need to like him to train under him.
'This is an art not a science Mr Gunnerson,' said Vigil boldly standing up to the giant that loomed a good two feet over him. 'Now if you would please leave us.'
'Give the dreadlocked monkey a suit and be done with it!'
'Thank you for your input but this is my area of expertise! Not yours...leave.' with a derisive snort Fredrick spun on his heel and left, barely managing to get his massive bulk through the doorway. Vigil shut the door behind the trainer before turning, clapping his hands together in front of his chest. 'Now...lets get to work.'
Walking through the upper floors of the building they were being kept in Silas couldn't help but stare out over Capitol. Their floor was so low down that he barely saw anything, but from all the way up here he could see everything for miles and miles. The lights of the city illuminating the darkness like petrified fire flies, outlines of amazingly shaped buildings stretching over the inky blue horizon, illuminated by the dying light of the setting sun. The darker it got the more of himself he saw reflected in the curved windows. I look good. He smiled examining the tuxedo that Vigil and his small army of stylists had created for him. Plain black with a black silk shirt, no tie and his hair tied back into a long ponytail with several other beads and decorations tide into specific strands. At first Silas didn't like the idea of adding to his collection, Titan taught Silas that all the power a man had was stored in his hair. It was an ancient belief in many extinct peoples, but Silas added to his power will small trinkets he'd acquired over his life. A shiny coin here, a few raven feathers there. It defined him. But adding to it because someone said so felt somehow sacrilegious.
So he'd agreed to have the beads laced in but only for tonight. Silas chose what items defined his life, not some government stylist. Rounding a sharp corner he entered a large foyer like area with oak wood beams running across the ceiling with elaborate golden chandeliers hanging from them. Bathing the huge space in a warm orange glow. Walking towards the flight of stairs at the end of the room that lead to the roof he suddenly spotted a woman with a television camera floating over her shoulder. I recognise her. He thought as he got closer, she quickly realised who he was and plastered a smile across her face. 'Hello Sir! I'm...'
'Roxanne Richie, Hunger Games.TV reporter.' smiled Silas stopping in front of her and placing his hands behind his back, he tried to keep calm as the camera over her shoulder kicked into action. Lighting his face with a specialised bulb below its eye like lenses. This was going to be broadcast, live, across every district, every television set...even back home in thirteen via the massive holo-screens.
'I am impressed,' Roxanne smiled, botoxed face barely moving. 'Now for those of us at home that don't know please tell us, who is Silas Alberec?'
'Someone hoping the win the Hunger Games.' he smiled trying to sound charming.
'Obviously! But why is it you wanted so desperately to be here? Our records show you doubled your lottery entries every year. Why is that?'
'Well, I'm a brother and my younger sister is my only family back home. Its nearly impossible to work yourself up out of District Thirteen so the Games was my only chance to get her out of there and try to get her a better life.'
Touching her heart with one hand Roxanne 'Awwed’ slightly. 'So you're willing to risk your life for your sister?'
'Isn't everyone?' Silas said seriously but was surprised when Roxanne started laughing.
'Well I think the ladies at home are just going to love you Mr Alberec, not only a handsome face but a heart of gold too! Thank you for your time.'
'My pleasure.' Silas bowed his head with a smile before waiting until the camera turned itself off. About the ascend the stairs Silas heard what sounded like a small army entering the hall, Roxanne squealed girlishly jumping up and down slightly on her spot.
'Mr Guilliman! Mr Guilliman what an honour!' she said happily. Turning Silas watched Tyberos Guilliman stride easily across the room in his fine naval uniform with his trainer, stylist and father behind him. Father and son couldn't have looked more different Silas thought, Tyberos had an easy charm about his roughish features, blonde hair crafted perfectly into place with blue eyes that sparkled with an emotion Silas couldn't place. His father was a bald, scarred, haughty looking man with coal black eyes wearing an Army General's uniform and a decoration sword swinging at his hip. Tyberos walked straight over to Roxanne, kissed her twice on each cheek and stood ready to be interview. He looks like a fop. Silas smiled watching the man he had so feared on the train over to Capitol being interviewed. Laughing at how foolish he'd been Silas ran up the stairs three at a time. Fresh air began to wash around him, then he was on the roof. Breathing in the cold night air and savouring the feeling of the wind against his face he felt refreshed, it'd been so long since he'd breathed air that hadn't been pumped through a filter. Or felt the winds kiss on his face.
Looking over the edge at the city that stretched off into the horizon Silas saw a man running towards the edge with two guards sprinting after him. With a high pitched scream the man flung himself off the edge and into thin air. But within a few seconds he was thrown back up. Arcing though the air and landing back onto the roof with a heavy thump. 'That's new.' Silas said watching him being detained and carried off into the darkness by the guards.
'Void Shields.' said Fox as she appeared behind him. 'Doesn't let you kill yourself. In case you were thinking of it.' walking past him in a dress that elegantly accentuated the curves of her body Silas smiled.
'And miss out on our sparkling conversations? Noooo! Wouldn't dream of it.' following her as she flipped him the bird Silas examined the structure the Ball was being held in. The dome of strange white fabric seemed ordinary enough, it was bloody huge, but it was just a dome of fabric. Until he stepped inside. The cold iciness of the wind was gone, replaced by a warm humid air that seemed to cling to him, heating him to his core. The walls of the dome were now black, dotted with stars and constellations taken from Capitol's night sky, the patterns of celestial bodies changing every so often to create variety. The dome was packed with dozens of people in fine suits and cocktail dresses, cameras floating above their heads like sentries recording every moment of the whole event. No doubt streaming the videos live onto the Ether-Net. Somewhere in here are twenty five people that are going to die in three months. People I might have to kill. It was an odd thought, that he could drink with them today and have to snap their necks in the near future. With Fox lost in the crowd Silas wondered around on his own, looking at the people he passed who stared back at him with odd looks.
These were the trainers, mentors and stylists of the competitors Silas was training to kill. What else would they treat him with but contempt? I'm their enemy. Watching two people who Silas believed to be fellow competitors he couldn't help but feel strangely lonely, this man and woman were talking with each other. Smiling. Fox didn't want to have anything to do with him. Aware of the camera whirring above his head Silas kept moving, cutting through the crowd of well dressed men and attractive women as music from a string quartet began to play. Briefly glancing to his left a figure caught his eye. A girl...well, woman really. Standing with her back to him, long locks of chestnut brown hair rippling down her back in a golden brown cascade. Turning her head Silas scanned her profiled face with a smile. Hello. He said to himself staring at her. She had high cheekbones kissed with a light dabbing of blush that complimented her flawless skin and sparkling azure irises. Wearing a dress of light metallic emerald with a single shoulder strap and bare back she stared out at the shifting crowd with hard eyes. Concentration etched onto her features like a mask. Saying a quick something to the whip thin man beside her with the shoulder length hair she moved off towards the bar.
Moving around the edge of the dome Silas kept an eye on her as she made his way to the bar as well. He told himself it was for a drink but even he didn't believe that. Beneath the shifting stars Silas watched the girl cut like an emerald dagger through the crowd, her long limbs carrying her with a natural grace that few possessed. As she leant on the bar top waiting for the tuxedoed waiter to take her order Silas tried to remain a gentleman and keep his eyes up from her ass...however the same couldn't be said of the man that approached her from the crowd. Standing a few paces to the girls side Silas listened in. 'You should be up on the walls gorgeous!' said the man loudly and drunkenly. Scanning his eyes over every inch of her body.
'Why's that?' she asked not even looking at him.
'Cos that!' he said pointing at her ribs. 'Is a heavenly body!'
'By the Siblings!' Silas blurted out with a laugh. I meant to say that in my head.
'What was that dreadlocks?' shouted the man slamming his drink onto the table and stepping away from the bar.
'Oh nothing. Just thinking that couldn't have made that line anymore obvious, you might as well have put a condom on the bar.' Silas grinned looking at the drunkard as he swayed on his spot. Leaning on her arms the girl looked at him. Azure eyes scanning him up and down, meeting her gaze quickly Silas smiled again.
'Do you know who I am?!' he spat.
'A drunken d*ck?' the girl laughed at that making the drunkard look hatefully at her.
'F*uck you both!' he raged picking up his drink. 'Your loss sweetheart!' he whispered to her.
'I highly doubt that.' Silas joked again making the girl smile. Muttering a string of curses under his breath the drunkard left, staggering through the crowd scattering several waiters.
'Thanks.' she said with a smile. 'You do know you just insulted one of the best career gamers in Capitol don't you?'
Silas shrugged. 'Doesn't give him the right to look at you the way he was.' he said meeting her penetrating gaze. However beautiful Silas thought she was in profile she was more so head on, her face was angular in a subtle way, those huge sapphire eyes sitting between sets of dark eyelashes and her lips were full when she wasn't tensing them into a thin line above her delicate chin. 'Silas.' he smiled offering her his hand. Looking down at it for a brief second the corners of her lips pulled upwards slightly.
'Isn't that a boy’s name?'
'Isn't that a girl’s haircut?' she said without a blink, pointing at his dreadlocks.
'Well played.' he laughed making her giggle. It was a nice sound. But one he thought wasn't heard often. 'He was right though. About the heavenly body.' making sure he didn't break eye contact with Rory as she stared at him with a slight smile Silas smiled back.
'Aren't you sure of yourself.'
'Only in the company of beautiful women...and on Thursdays.'
'Are you calling me beautiful?'
'Actually it’s a Thursday.' smiling at her laugh Rory turned her whole body towards him. Resting a single elbow onto the bar and looking up at him.
'Are you flirting with me?'
'Whether or not you’re enjoying it.' smiling ever more Rory stared into his eyes.
'I guess you'll never know.' she said taking her drinks and walking off through the crowds. Looking back several times at Silas, who smiled and watched her go.