The Sun, It Rises

A Victors' Village is an affluent neighborhood which is present in every district and is where the past victors of various Hunger Games reside.

The Sun, It Rises

Joined: Apr 6 2012, 05:43 AM

May 5 2016, 02:49 AM #1

Another Victory for District Four had found the unlikely foursome back in District Four the first prolonged stretch of time in over a year. In truth Finley had flourished under the warm breezes and pale blue sky that made a winter in Four - as much as she hated to admit it. Seven was beautiful in the winter; a solid blanket of snow insulated her home, making it warm, if not stifling, for the nine months of gray skies and early dusk. After spending almost a year in near constant sunshine she had to concede to what Caiman had described - that a long winter in Seven weighed down a person's soul in a way that one couldn't shake in the brief summer.

Finley laughed gently to herself as she lightly dropped down the sandy trail from the rise, crowned with the Victor's Village, musing over long passed ghosts. Clover had once griped about seasonal depression, though she herself and all her youth had steadfastly refused to believe her mentor. How could anyone think Seven was less than perfect? Now she knew - though they had been lucky. After the 50th they had secreted away in Seven with such conviction that their time in Four had been largely quiet. Finley still had yet to come face to face with Tempest Boatwright, and from the sparse comments Caiman had to make of her, she did not want to.

Somehow the world had graced them with peace for a season, though today, the eve of the Reaping, felt silently taut with potential.

Feeling anxious the young woman had slipped away in the brief respite of Astoria having fallen asleep, Leven away with Caiman on some errand, leaving a quick note on the kitchen counter and slipping out the back, the french doors pinned wide open to let in the sea breeze.

Somehow still the sight of the ocean filled her with excitement, and still not yet thirty Finley could jog through the sand, churning beneath her feet, tossing her light cardigan aside to meet the tide. She was still determinedly pale, a floppy wide brimmed hat protecting her face and neck, her skin underneath the water looking a sickly green and white as she plunged further still, diving headfirst into a gentle swell.

All at once the world went silent, the cool water the only sensation, her eyes tight against the salt. Her hat drifted away as she pushed herself down, dragging long fingers through the sand, catching bits of shell and rock. She always imagined that she could hear some distant, gentle string quartet under the waves, as if a nearby forest of seaweed liked to strum and pluck itself on the current. Finley might have sighed, instantly calmed, as she fluttered herself into the womb of the earth.

Freshly baptized a short while later Finley dropped into the sand, her toes just barely in the farthest reaches of the surf, able to get a neat square frame on the day and what tomorrow might bring. Sure she was only feeling so strange because her 30th birthday was lingering around the distant edge of the Games, Astoria had just turned three, and the only time she had truly been home in almost a year was to bury Scout. Add that to Galene's absence and Leven's confusion and temper in the time since, along with the strange period of time in which she and Caiman had had to truly adjust to each other for more than ten days, and it had been a less than restful phase of life.

Snorting, Finley dug her heels into the sand as she sat up, frowning in protest at the realization. She stripped off her wet t-shirt and shorts, flinging them away and folding her arms behind her head as she settled into the sand, determined to take ten minutes for herself before being launched unceremoniously back into the mess of the Capitol and Games. Nobody could make her do anything she didn't want to until tomorrow, nobody could tell her to not be naked on the private cove of beach attached to the Victor's Village, nobody could tell her that she couldn't have a pint of ale when she got back home. Until then, she would revel in this small act of defiance, smiling in the sun.
O Sainted Survivor, Axe-Wielding Lord and Savior of District Seven, Victress of the Mountain, Bane of District One, Reaper of Legs and Slayer of the Gryphon.

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Joined: Jul 5 2012, 02:45 AM

May 6 2016, 02:39 AM #2

It was finally over for Skipper Teague. She had achieved the impossible: setting the record for most wins in a decade—higher than any other mentor. It was quite an achievement—first her best friend came home to rule beside her, and then there was Caiman. Caiman Boatwright was the largest jewel in her crown, set on all sides the wins of Tide, Harbor, Scurvy Marty, and now Misty. President Snow had commissioned such a ring from District One; it was the hue of the sea at noon, bright and sparkling—to match her eyes.

It was suggested, when he gave it to her, that she not consider her retirement as exile, as punishment, but merely thanks for further glorifying District Four. The entire district was to sit out the 52nd Hunger Games; it’s coffers bursting with revenue that would sustain the district for decades, should no win happen in the next twenty years.

The events of the year whirled around and around in her mind. Harbor and Tide’s vessel was found, at last—pieces of the wreckage were dragged to shore by Capitol Patrol boats. It was a disgrace—two worthy seamen, born and raised, were lost forever to Davy Jones’ locker. Skipper commissioned an artist from District Eight to build a sculpture out of the wood, once it had dried, in remembrance.

There was now a life-sized sculpture of Skipper now in front of the justice building, in the style of the Grecian masters. With long, wet hair romantically curling down over her shoulders, a crown of starfish, a shell bikini top obscuring immortally upright breasts, toned abdominals she had not seen in years, and a sarong that showed the shadow of her legs. One hand curled around a mighty trident, the other held a lobster nestled in the crook her arm. Her full lips were closed, and blank eyes stared out to the view of the sea beyond the building. The inscription had her name, her date of birth, and a place for the day she returned to the sea.

That day was not today. Instead, Skipper was slowly walking up the private beach, her feet digging into the white sand, wearing a terrycloth robe. While her statue was immortal, Skipper was approaching her 43rd birthday. Her sea cycle had ceased to collect it’s monthly blood payment, her skin was now starting to leather, her face, which once boasted an enigmatic smile, also showcased crow’s-feet, laugh-lines. Her arms, which were freckled, were starting to get sunspot after sunspot.

Her tan was taking longer and longer to fade, and pretty soon, she would join the sea hags with leather, orange skin, platinum hair, missing teeth and raspy laughs. They congregated around bonfires, wearing necklaces of shells made by their grandchildren, bottles of rum in one hand, cracking open clams and oysters the proper way—with one’s teeth.

Startled from the thoughts of her very imminent future, Skipper saw Finley, sunning herself in the nude. Her eyesight, for all the water that circled around in her cerulean irises, was starting to worsen, so she could not tell if the younger woman had spotted her. The two women were not friends, but something had happened after that day on the observation deck—a quiet understanding. Skipper knew that Finley, not Galene, was the proper co-captain for her champion. Walking closer, she moved to stand, looking out at the horizon, much like her statue was, less than a mile away.

Wordlessly, she pulled out a hand-rolled cigar from the plants grown in Scurvy Marty’s home in Victory Village, and a book of matches. Sitting down in the sand beside Finley, Skipper squinted as she struck the match off the other girl’s kneecap, cupping her hand around the flame, inhaling once, then twice before exhaling purple smoke.
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Joined: Apr 6 2012, 05:43 AM

May 6 2016, 10:17 AM #3

The sun beat down on her skin, focusing on odd spots with a particular vigor; her knees, her belly button, the tops of her feet, the crooks of her elbows and the bridge of her nose, and yet she refused to run for cover. Suffering a thousand sunburns had been her payment for a long two years with Caiman, and despite the red of her skin she was determined to love every moment of it. In truth, the boost of essential life from the sky had been buoying in her increasing age, and the uncomfortable burn in some corners of her body meant a delightful basking in the majority. She shifted in the sand, trying to waylay the inevitable scorch of some of her pastier bits.

The young woman's smile never faltered as she pressed her breasts under the fold of her arms, evidently a timely cover as a flump in the sand next to her signaled the entrance of another person, and if Finley ere any good gambler she could bet on the persona attached.

Skipper struck a match off her knee, and out of sheer admiration her grin widened. There was some mystique the old mentors still held, and aside from Bonnie, Skipper had it all. Immense wisdom, foresight, and a crass sense of humour. Cracking an eyelid open she looked the woman from head to foot, taking stock. The was no apparent reason to arm herself just yet, and ever since the Quarter Quell the tensions between Four and Seven had quieted - if anything she owed Skipper beyond words. There was no pretending that she hadn't been standing guard at the door, hadn't pried Finley open, for better or for worse, for those present on the platform to see. Whether her intentions malicious or no, if Finley and Caiman were two peas in a pod, Skipper had cracked the shell for them to see, and Finley would be forever grateful to the woman.

Her hand curled gently, she knocked Skipper in the knee before dropping into the sun in gentle acknowledgement, her free arm tastefully retrieving a free nipple from the sun. "Beautiful day, eh?" She asked, the joke being that every day was beautiful here, though her appreciation of it never faltered. Snorting, she closed her eyes again, shielding from the bright sky.

"Do you ever get tired of it all?" A meaningless question, she knew that the older woman did, though that was not the object of her curiosity. "What would you do if you were a completely free woman? Who would Skipper Teague be?" Her fingers were splayed in unspoken acceptance of whatever Skipper was smoking, no stranger to sharing a pipe with the woman on their fleeting encounters her on the beach or in the pool or porch.

"I can almost see you being a designer of some sort, domestic or fashion I don't know." She charged ahead, contemplating the woman's leadership skills and how they fit into her rather narrow experience of the world. There was, of course, the question of whether the world had made Skipper what she had needed to be, or if it was natural affinity, though Finley preferred to think it the woman's soul shining through the worst of times.

"You and my mother would get along," She finished lamely, tilting her head in the woman's direction. Still anxious from the promised activity of the coming weeks, she found herself floundering in small talk, too fast and too personal as always, though something told her Skipper would understand, if not even forego judgement. Still she grimaced at the oversight, inhaling deeply the salt water in a huff, her blush disguised by the heat.
O Sainted Survivor, Axe-Wielding Lord and Savior of District Seven, Victress of the Mountain, Bane of District One, Reaper of Legs and Slayer of the Gryphon.

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Joined: Jul 5 2012, 02:45 AM

May 9 2016, 04:01 AM #4

Inhaling the rich, deep smoke into her lungs, the plant with six leaves left her body warm and her senses dulled. It was the only way she could get through the day—this one, the next one, and the next several thousand after that. Skipper said nothing to the comment on how glorious the day was—her district was easily the most beautiful, even during storm season.

Finley seemed talkative, for someone who had come to sunbathe without clothes. Still, if anything, this ‘suggested retirement’ had illustrated to Skipper that she had absolutely no friends. She tried to befriend Tempest, but their friendship was, well, tempestuous at best. Her beloved alligators were mere pets that could not keep conversation, and Skipper could not spend all her days conversing with a six year-old.

“This life is all I have ever known.” Training as a career was a full time job, starting from age three. When Skipper won her games, she decided on a career training other career tributes. That was her entire existence. She was a lighthouse, showing ships the way to shore. She was a trainer, then a mentor, and now? Nothing. She was aimless, directionless, like a broken compass.

The suggested alternative career path brought a snort of derision, causing her to choke a little on the mind-numbing smoke. After handing off the blunt to Finley, Skipper took the opportunity to unwrap her robe. The unapologetic victor was also nude, and while her body was far from the perfectly-crafted statue in the square, Skipper was far too old be self-conscious.

“I don’t get along with anyone.” Skipper observed, shading her eyes as she sat forward, moving one tanned leg forward. With every minute of every day, she grew less and less concerned with her appearance. She had held the standards Capitolian women coveted in high regard for too long. It was time to return to Four and stay there, to get to know who she was without the Capitol, and without the Hunger Games.

“Perhaps, I will grow a kelp garden. ” That was what women past their prime did with their time, right? “You would know all about gardening, correct?”
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Joined: Apr 6 2012, 05:43 AM

May 14 2016, 11:15 PM #5

A sage nod was all Finley had to agree to the woman with -a decade of training under her belt had altered her unerringly, and comparatively she had gotten off easy. Seven was lax at best, and she had had the freedom to disappear, feign illness or retreat into the woods during the Games and let Bonnie pick up the slack. Even in the off season her victory had won her an easy life, weeks of selfish indulgence and play, the freedom to do whatever she pleased. Off course Skipper had never given it a second thought - in Four she would have never had the time between the ceremonies and training the next round of tributes.

Accepting the loosely wrapped tobacco leaf, Finley eyed it for a moment as Skipper huffed at her suggestion, taking her turn to bare her body to the sun, little clouds of cannabis smoke swirling away into the light with her movements. The woman's lack of reserve was respectable, for few people Finley knew could strip down without hesitation - her mother was one who was always worried about the battle life had waged against her body. Raising an eyebrow, she looked from Skipper's skin, nut brown in comparison to her own, glaring white in the sun. The stretch marks around her hips from carrying Astoria were a pale blue still, the soft, wrinkled fold of skin below her belly button thankfully untouched by the demands of the Capitol thus far. Skipper's belly bore none of the ravages of pregnancy, but drooped gently with age, firm at her sides there underlined a lifetime of work for a powerful body.

What a strange moment, what an odd turn her life had taken. Stark naked on a beach in Four with Skipper Teague, sworn enemy of most mentors, and with no exception to Seven. Cracking just a hint of a smile, Finley shook her head at circumstance and took a dainty pull from the blunt as she propped herself up on an elbow.

With her proficiency pertaining entirely to pipe smoke, the thick heat of cannabis made her grimace, the taste of burning pine and charred skunk meat less than pleasant on the senses. She had never gotten used to it, though it grew in the Southernmost corner of Seven with vigor. Graceless and coughing she passed it back, pressing a hand over her mouth as she took a brief moment to wheeze and swear.

Eyes watering, though able to breathe once more, Finley gave a one shouldered shrug, smoothing the sand out that she had disturbed in the process of attempting to purge a lung. "Games'll do that to a person. Besides, nobody needs a thousand fake friends, just look at Rosetta Trem. Peas in a pod, the two of you, sort of." A lame argument, but she was sure Skipper would understand the point she was trying to make, "She doesn't get along with anyone either, but shes got loads of people and still had that breakdown." Several breakdowns, to be sure, but Finley didn't keep up on the gossip.

"Gardening's a great idea. Your porch would look lovely covered in vines and a swinging chair." Maybe already a step ahead in her mind, Finley felt the tingle of excitement at the prospect of building such a thing for her. Leven could help paint it, maybe even handle a drill - it might get her little mind off of her dead mother - though lumber would come at a hefty price this far South. "You could do herbs on that East facing windowsill in your kitchen, rosemary makes a whole room smell nice, and makes wonderful bread."

Shaking sand from her skin, Finley sat upright, fully engaged. "We could start after the Games. I'll help you with whatever schemes you can envision, the more grand the more fun."
O Sainted Survivor, Axe-Wielding Lord and Savior of District Seven, Victress of the Mountain, Bane of District One, Reaper of Legs and Slayer of the Gryphon.

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