Find Rory. Find Rory. Find Rory. Find Rory.
That was his only thought. Over and over again those two words powered his panicked steps through the roiling smoke. How the hell had they gotten separated? They'd jumped together, fell through the smoke together. And somehow Silas had landed lost in a cloud of rolling blackness. He screamed her name but the smoke seemed to swallow the sounds whole. The fire kissed his flesh painfully. He'd stood on the spot, uselessly turning on the spot trying to pierce the smoke, but it was pointless. Only when the fire had burned a sizeable hole through his trousers did Silas finally move. Firing through the smoke he ran for his life. He didn't know which direction. South? North? He didn't care as long as it got him away from the fires. His one consoling thought was knowing that Rory knew survival strategies like the back of her hand. She'd get out alive, of that he had no doubt. It was after she got out he was worried about.
Running full pelt into a tree Silas heard the trunk groan in protest. Hitting the floor like a shot elephant red and white stars danced in front of his vision, dizziness took over and for one mad second he thought how comfortable the hot ground was. Focus! He bellowed to himself. Shaking away the stars the dizziness quickly dissipated. Crawling uneasily to his feet Silas felt blood running down into his eye and reached up to feel a large cut breaking the line of his eyebrow. Wiping it away he took off, slightly slower than before, and tried to find a way out of the smoke. Burning trees fell with thunder loud cracks as their blackened trunks broke in half. Birds screeched their terror and flew from their nests. And Silas Alberec ran, not for his life, but for Rory's. And their child’s. Breathless and breathing hard enough to taste sooty blood at the back of his throat he ran. But no matter where he went he met with walls of a roaring inferno. Flames so hot he could feel his eyebrows being singed and his lips instantly cracking with dehydration. This was no naturally fire. It must have only been burning for a few hours; it couldn't have spread so far and be so hot in such a small space of time. This was the work of the Game Operators...
Then it all made sense. Their funnelling us. This is it...this is their end game. The big finale. Rory! A heart stopping scream sliced through the smoke like a knife. 'RORY!' he bellowed turning to the source of the noise and running like a mad man towards it. Whether it was his love for her or the adrenaline, he didn't know, neither did he care, but whatever it was it slowed everything to a crawl. Everything except him. He saw the flames licking upwards, the individual curls of smoke, the falling leaves pirouetting into the inferno. He saw obstacles and avoided them with the easiest of motions. Even his heat rate slowed as his legs and arms powered him towards the scream. Leaping over the carcass of a fallen redwood like a hurdler he took three massive strides beyond it and suddenly broke into clean, open air. Blinking a sick mixture of blood and soot from his eyes Silas found the source of the scream.
A small girl. Lying in the grass of a wide open valley of rolling hills and trickling streams. A spear in her belly and her last dying breaths leaving her lips. The man with his hands around the spears shaft twisted it sharply. Ending the girls life. Ripping his weapon free he dropped to his knees beside her corpse, crying insanely. Shoving his hands into the gaping wound he pulled them out and stared at them, a horrified look on his face as he wiggled his bloody digits. 'What in Siblings names?' breathed Silas. Instinctively dropping a hand to the handle of his knife that was strapped across his thigh. Wiping his hands down his face the man started laughing. Then his mad brown eyes met Silas's. 'Her blood's on my hands...' he giggled. 'Your blood will be too.' His smile was a broken thing, devoid of all humour or emotion, it just seemed to be the default setting for madness. 'It will,' he grinned. Bloodied face leering at him as he picked up his spear and rose to his feet slowly. It was only then that Silas recognised him. He was the competitor from District Seven...what was left of him anyway. It was strange, pitying a man he was about to kill, but he did. The arena had broken him. The games had broken him.
Government had broken him...
For all his madness, the bastard could still fight. He sprinted towards Silas with his spear in hand. Drawing his knife Silas dittoed his charge. With a technically perfect lunge Seven's spear whistled by Silas's ear just as he leapt into the air, aiming to decapitate him quickly with a swipe to the back of the neck. But somehow Seven saw it coming and ducked. The knife blade cutting nothing but a few locks of his mucky blonde hair. 'Aha ha ha! I see you!' he giggled. Spinning on his heels Silas barely had time to register the spear butt flying towards his face before it hit him. Smack on the cut on his eyebrow. Swearing he rolled away from the attack and swept the blood from his face. It was longer and deeper now. 'Hehehe. Got yoooou!' grinned the madman. He might have been insane. But he was still a good fighter. He needed to end this. Rory needed him. Gripping the handle of his revolver he watched Seven's eyes widen.
With immense power and a mad smile Seven launched his spear at him. He couldn't grab it. Or block it, as he had first intended, the only thing he could do was twist his body out of its path. And even that failed somewhat. The spinning blade sliced the skin on his side. Pain lanced up his ribs and every ounce of air was suddenly ejected from his lungs in one moment. Wincing as he put pressure on the wound to slow the bleeding he looked up at Seven who suddenly looked very scared. 'Oopsie.' he whispered. Silas's trick had worked, he wouldn't fire his gun in here with so many competitors about, he might as well send up a flare to tell them all where he was. No, he wouldn't do that. But the threat of being shot had been enough for Seven to panic and throw away his only weapon.
'I'm sorry.' Silas said gently. Breaking into a full sprint he hit Seven like a speeding truck and stuck his knife in his stomach. Twisting it sharply clockwise and counter clockwise. Severing his spine. Seven puked up a mouthful of blood, his head rolling on a useless neck. Then his earthly brown eyes met Silas's leafy green, and he smiled.
'My blood's on your hands now...' he grinned. 'It is. It is.'
'It is.' Silas nodded. 'And it always will be, brother.' Tearing his blade free Seven whispered one final breath before falling limp from Silas's arms.
Turning to the valley that stretched out before him he felt the heat of an inferno at his back and felt the charged air of a thunderstorm blowing in from the east. Water or fire. That was how they were funnelled into this one innocent looking valley. Five competitors. Not including Rory and Silas. Five enemies. Five grim reapers with their scythes thirsting for blood. Rory was in there somewhere with them all. And he was going to find her!