Chapter Twenty-Eight: Words of the Elder
Silas had paced the length of their training area over a thousand times since that night on the roof, that night that had been so perfect, so beautiful with Rory in his arms and not a care in the world! Fractured. Ruined by the appearance of the Capitol Born, smug faced, blonde haired, devious b*stard! He'd cursed himself, almost beaten himself to a bloody pulp against his bedroom walls, for not catching up to Tyberos on the roof and snapping his neck. Rory would be safe then...right? Wrong! Rory would be in the Arena, on her own, with only herself to protect her...sure she could look after herself as good as anyone, she beat Fox, but Silas would hate the idea of sitting in a jail cell on some gods forsaken spit of rock in the middle of the ocean and watching her being killed in the Arena. At least if he was in the Arena with her...he had a chance...and right now even the slimmest possibility of getting her out alive he would grasp with both hands. Three days had passed. Only four days now until the start of the Games and the security of the training building had increased tenfold. They must have noticed all the stuff I stole.
He'd realised that fact the day after his run in with Tyberos when he tried to use the service staircase again but found it locked. All access to the roof and upper levels had been cut off completely; probably Tyberos's doing as well...his Father must have had connections in this place. So now Silas was stuck on the bottom floor with no way to get to Rory or anyone on the outside world to give them the message that she was in danger. Last night he'd even tried to scale the building, like Rory did that night she was in his room, but she was a far better climber than himself and every hand hold he could find seemed to be coated in grease. Pacing the training area once again Silas tried to think of ways to get a message to her, to warn her what kind of creature was after her! He wasn't going to sit here kidding himself. Tyberos Guilliman was a gifted killer with absolutely no remorse and training stretching back to his childhood in the art of killing. He was the most dangerous opponent Silas would ever face in his entire life...but he didn't care. He would kill Tyberos if he hurt Rory. Something deep within him, where the pure seed of truth rested in every soul, told him Silas Alberec would kill Tyberos Guilliman the Second if he hurt her.
But that same inner knowledge told him it would be the fight of his life, and might just cost him his. I don't care. I'd die to protect her! Guilt pierced his heart like a knife blade. What about Eliza...if you die she'd be left in District Thirteen with no one to look after her. She'll die in there. You can't die...you have to win. Half of his soul said to the other.
I can't! I won't sit back and do nothing while Rory dies when I can stop it happening! The other half replied fiercely.
Then just kill yourself now and save yourself the choice!
What?! No! Because then nobody wins!
He'd fought himself like this for days. Never sleeping. Barely eating or drinking. Just pacing. Pacing. Constant pacing. Round and round and round in maddening circles. Never changing. Always pacing. Night turned to day. Day turned to night. Moon replaced sun. Sun replaced stars. On the evening on the sixth day he woke up in his hovel he had made for himself in the corner of the training area. Eyes red raw from the tears and vocal chords raw from shouting and talking to himself. Rory or Eliza. Rory or Eliza. Rory or Eliza. Rory or Eliza. That was his inner-monologue now. His girlfriend or his sister. The woman he had opened his heart too or that little girl sat, alone in District Thirteen waiting for the day when he would return after winning the Games and take her away to her better life.
When did things get so complicated? It'd been so simply. Get in the Games, kill everyone, win, get Eliza out of District Thirteen. Easy. Simple.
No his soul was torn in two. Does he win at the cost of his girlfriend’s life? Or does he die and leave his sister to grow up in that hell zone? Then there was Tyberos...he couldn't let him kill Rory. He just couldn't. But how do you get a message up twenty floors of a secure vault! Fresh tears stinging his eyes Silas brought his knees up to his chest and rested his head onto his arms. I'd need to be able to walk through walls.
It hit him. Like a thunderbolt striking the top of his crown it hit him. 'Odin!' he was always saying how the Janitors went unnoticed. He could easily slip a note under her door or something. But he'd need to find him first. So with a renewed hope Silas walked the parts of the building he was allowed to for hours, asking everyone he passed where Odin's office was, or if they'd seen him. But nothing. Not even a whisper of his existence. After reaching the highest floor he could and still not finding him Silas proceeded to check every door, if they were open he'd enter and look for the old man. If they weren't he'd just move on. He was running out of time. As that massive holo-clock that hung over Capitol told him as it hung over his shoulder like a ghostly companion. Rory was right, that thing is twisted. But once again after hours of searching. Nothing. When he clock struck noon fireworks were released once again, celebrating the fact that only one full day remained for all the competitors. He'd failed her...they were lost.
Back in his training area Silas held two throwing knives in his hands. Stabbing the punching bag viciously, picturing Tyberos's face over it. Ripping it to shreds. Tearing it to pieces. Yelling through his teeth as he attacked! Attacked! ATTACKED! When nothing was left of the bag but tattered leather strips Silas spun, locking his arms straight and throwing the knives one after the other in a single, sweeping, fluid motion. The two small blades spun through the air rapidly before the first blade hit the wooden human shaped target down the range. Landing dead centre of the smallest target circle in the dead centre, and the second knife imbedded itself in the handle of the first. Roaring his anger to the ferrocrete walls Silas was about to tear locks of his hair out, when. 'Something vexing you young one?' Spinning Silas's eyes cut through the darkness of the training area and saw Odin with his mop and baseball cap in hand.
'Odin!' he cried. Elated.
'Whatever I don't care. Listen to me I need your help. I need to get a message to a friend of mine! Can you do that?' Silas panted, joy and happiness running through his heart like some forbidden drug.
'Sure, don't see why not.' the old man nodded. 'Where abouts you want the message gerrin' too in Capitol?'
'It's not going to Capitol. It's in this building,'
'Ah.' Odin's face fell. 'Sorry young one. Can't do that.'
'What?! But you're the Janitor. You have full access!'
'Not anymore. Someone set the void shields off a view days back, since then security’s tripled. I'm only allowed access to this floor. Sorry laddie'. Can't help you.'
Silas's heart dropped. 'So what...I'm just supposed to let her have one of the most deadly career gamers on her ass for something I did and not do anything!' he bellowed.
'I wish I could help. But I can't...the heart tests us in ways we know,'
'ENOUGH OF THAT DEEP SOULED BUDDAH SH*ITE!' Silas bellowed. 'You're Odin Stronghammer! You lead a full rebellion against Government, as punishment you were put in the Games and you won! You lead an entire army against Capitol and you're telling me you can't get a message up twenty flights of stairs!' as he shouted the old man just leant onto his mop. Wrinkled face nothing but a neutral mask.
'I'm not Odin Stronghammer.'
'But you were! Weren't you! Before you gave up!'
'I was that man yes.'
'Then why! Why stop fighting!'
'Because you can't win boy! Government is too powerful and too heartless to be beaten by anything or anyone, I learnt that the hard way.'
'So what? You can't win so you might as well not play? Is that it?' the old man that was certainly not Odin Stronghammer shifted his gaze at that accusation. Silas laughed a dry laugh, lacking totally of any humour. 'I can't believe I once wanted to be like you...you're nothing but a coward.' turning his back on the old veteran Silas started to walk away.
'You didn't tell her did you.' croaked the old man. Silas stopped. Clenching his fists.
'Tell her what?'
'You know exactly what! Hurts doesn't it. Knowing she might never hear you say it.' Spinning Silas lunged at the frail old man. Moving with swiftness that defied his vast age Silas barely had enough time to respond to his movement before the point of his mop handle had been struck, hard, into several pressure points across his back. All but crippling him. Fighting against the spasms Silas managed to turn but again Ratchet moved like a blur. Pushing the mop handle behind Silas's head and pushing him over making him lean at an unrecoverable angle, arms still spasming uselessly at his sides from the pressure attacks. 'Quick for an old Janitor huh?' the old man grinned with only a small pant between his words. 'Listen to me and listen well. The Games test a man, more so than anyone knows. So listen, very, carefully. The enemy of my enemy is my friend. And tell her.'
'Listen boy your girlfriends life might depend on it. Tell her!' Staring hard into the old man eyes Silas tried to understand.
'Who? Fox?' Odin shook his head.
'When you need to know. You will.' said Odin cryptically.