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  1. #11
    Adrian Penner

    "Everyone turns on everyone eventually, though. There's only one winner."

    Adrian replied to Nicolai. That's how the Hunger Games worked. You made alliances to get further in the game but there could only be one victor. It was just the Careers didn't sugarcoat what they would eventually do to each other, where as Gossamer...He wasn't sure what her plan was. Especially since videos showed her telling her alliance to not backstab each other. Eight people couldn't win. When Nicolai commented about Fayth and Titus, Adrian replied.

    "I advised him to go with the Careers. If he went with Fayth, then he'd be torn between winning and protecting her. At least with them, he has no illusions about what will happen."

    His voice dropped lower as he added.

    "Plus, he can learn their weaknesses and protect her from them."

    Although now he was thinking he should get a message to Titus and tell him to go with Fayth. The rich sponsor had been fond of them together and her support would get him farther in the games. Perhaps Fayth as well. The woman seemed to be a romantic and that type of love story appealed to her.

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  2. #12
    Nicolai McBride

    "I understand," Nicolai said... and did. Much as he knew why Gossamer was allying with people like Mouse - even as much as he agreed with her decision to protect them - it worried him, too. She could end up giving her life for them. They could end up hurting her. Gossamer was diminishing her own chances of survival by looking out for them. Of course, that had always been part of the plan. A known risk, but to secure an integral part of the revenge. It would have been easier for Gossamer on her own, or even with the other Careers... but Gossamer had never been one to take the easy way out. Nicolai loved that about her, but the mere thought of losing her clenched his stomach into knots.

    Of all the districts to mentor, Nicolai thought, Twelve must be one of the worst. They hardly ever won. Adrian would have to mentor every year, and every year he would see his tributes come home in boxes.

    "Do you like it?" Nicolai asked abruptly. "Do you get a thrill out of the Games? Or do you just do it because it's the duty the Capitol asks of you?"

    The way Nicolai had phrased it, neither potential answer was at all disloyal, so he hoped Adrian would answer honestly. It was something Nicolai needed to know.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 04-12-2013 at 09:24 PM.
    "Sleep to dream, and we dream to live..." -Great Big Sea
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  3. #13
    Adrian Penner

    Adrian had a feeling that Nicolai did understand and wasn't just saying it. He had a feeling someone the Peacekeeper cared about was in the arena. Adrian sighed at the question and thought suddenly that joining Blaine at the bar wasn't a horrible idea. He had seen far too many kids come home to their families in boxes. He continued speaking in the low voice so not to be overheard as he said.

    "There's no thrill for me...It wasn't a thrill to win it myself and it isn't exciting watching it either."
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  4. #14
    Nicolai McBride

    "Maybe it'll be different this year," Nicolai said mildly.

    For a moment, he was worried that he'd betrayed too much emotion when he said he understood. Of course, as a young Peacekeeper who was part of the team supervising the tributes for the first time, most of his colleagues and supervisors were expecting him to be less hardened to the whole thing - but if word got out that he was attached to a particular tribute rather than just reacting to the pressures of the Games in general, it would be a problem for him. On the plus side, it was unlikely anyone would connect him to Goss any time soon; since he was from Two, the natural assumption would be that Nicolai had greatest concern for Yvonne or Quint. Digging into his background would find no connection to either of them, and the time it took to investigate would distract the powers that be. He was sure that he hadn't said anything provable, anyway. Nicolai had been too guarded for that.

    Abruptly, he apparently changed the subject, and said, "You know what I'm never going to get used to here in the Capitol? The beer. I could use a nice, plain drink right about now. There's a little shop that sells that, right by the covered bridge near the three-tiered fountain. Meet me there in a half hour if you like, and I'll buy you a drink to toast your tribute's health."
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  5. #15
    Adrian Penner


    Adrian replied to Nicolai. He had the feeling the Peacekeeper didn't mean that perhaps someone besides a Career would win this year. At the change of subject, he chuckled.

    "I hear you on that. I'll be there."

    He said, although he had the feeling this meeting wouldn't just be for a normal beer. Adrian was curious and if talking to Nicolai could help Titus and Fayth as well, he was all ears. He left Nicolai and went back to working his charm on the sponsors. He convinced one lady to give up enough money to send a message to Titus in the arena.
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  6. #16
    Nicolai McBride

    Standing in the shadow of the covered bridge, Nicolai had his second beer of the night in his hand - but he was no more drinking this one than he had the first, although it was more to his liking. A few sips for show gave the impression that he was imbibing, but his mind would stay clear and his wits sharp.

    He hadn't come here for the beer. It was a nice excuse, but it was nothing more than that. This was the one place in this city where Nicolai was fairly sure he wouldn't be overheard, because the fountain and the bridge created a strange acoustic space - only a few feet - that would be impossible to bug. Nicolai had walked around on his first day, putting all his engineering knowledge into finding a place like this. The beer shop down the street was particularly convenient, because along with the nice fountain view it gave a plausible reason for a couple of guys to 'coincidentally' choose this surveillance dead zone to talk.

    When Adrian showed up, the young Peacekeeper said without preamble, "I think I can help you keep Titus alive. I'll need your help in exchange, though... and you'll have to give me a reason I should trust you."
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 04-18-2013 at 06:31 PM.
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  7. #17
    Adrian Penner

    With the Games on, some would find it suspicious that a mentor that made it clear he wanted to help his tribute win was leaving the party where the sponsors were, Adrian made the excuse that he missed real beer. Capitol people didn't get it but people from other Districts understood. He grabbed a beer and found Nicolai. He was a little surprised that the Peacekeeper didn't beat around the bush.

    "And how could you use an old man's help?"

    Adrian wasn't that old, not really. He was thirty seven but after what his own games and mentoring since then...He felt very old. District Twelve didn't have many victors and he had to come back here every year to be a mentor. It was draining, especially when the kids came home in boxes. He wanted to keep Titus alive but he wasn't sure how a Peacekeeper could help with that or what he'd want in return.
    Last edited by Optimus Prime; 04-23-2013 at 07:43 PM.
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  8. #18
    Nicolai McBride

    And of course, now they were at an impasse. Neither could trust the other without evidence of trustworthiness, but neither could offer that evidence without risking being branded a traitor if he was wrong about the other man. How could they progress from here? Was there a way to get at the heart of the matter?

    Nicolai didn't answer the question. It had an answer - a very specific one - but it wasn't the time for that yet. There were too many other issues to sort through first.

    "Imagine you had a choice," he said instead. "You could end the Games here and now. Or Titus could win. Which would you pick?"

    They were just going to have to talk around each other until they figured things out between them, Nicolai realized. If Adrian lost patience, so be it - but moving too fast could endanger all of them.
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  9. #19
    Adrian Penner

    Adrian frowned at Nicolai's question. Why would he be asking that? Was he thinking a rebellion? The only way the Games would ever end was a new government but given the iron fist the President had over them, that would never happen. They'd all be killed first before the Districts could rebel. Good thing no one could hear them here. Adrian was a victor but that didn't mean he was protected. He'd have an "accident" if his true feeling about the Hunger Games and the Capitol was ever known.

    "I promised the boy I'd get him home, alive. If others could go home to their families that way too, it would be nice. But with the way things are, that's just a nice fantasy. Unless you know something I don't."
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  10. #20
    Nicolai McBride

    Nicolai tensed for a fraction of a second. The moment had come. He was going to have to trust someone with a small portion of the plan Gossamer had entrusted to him. It was both terrifying and a heady relief at the same time.

    His body and tone relaxed, as he said calmly. "Say I do know something. Consider what you just said - you're right, a nice fantasy. Even if the tributes escaped the arena somehow, there would be the problem of family left behind. The Capitol would use them as hostages, as retribution. Unless..."

    Nicolai trailed off, but gave Adrian a significant look.

    "Unless some of the mentors were involved. You have connections back home in your districts. You could help get people to safety. They can't go home, but home isn't the only option if certain people were prepared. If... hypothetically... something were to happen in the arena, of course."

    He was taking a huge risk here. Nicolai just hoped it would pay off.
    Last edited by Monkey Kitty; 04-23-2013 at 06:46 PM.
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