|The Game Changer Job
Author: Sylam PM
The Leverage team has found their new mark: Panem. In order to take down this horrible country where teenagers are forced to slaughter each other in an arena, Nate has an idea: Let's go steal the Hunger Games! To do that they will need to help a sixteen-year-old girl to win the game.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Adventure - Chapters: 10 - Words: 14,946 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 11 - Follows: 22 - Updated: 10-08-12 - Published: 08-10-12 - id: 8414058
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: The story continues. The scenes are going a bit slow. I hope it can get better later. Again, please comment so I can improve :)
Chapter 2: The Client
When the team first arrived at the district and asked to meet their president, they completely ignored them. They just shoved them to some refugee area and treat them as some escapees from the other twelve districts.
It wasn't until Sophie used some of her weird neurolinguistic programming tactics to link the idea of the team and "emergency" together did the guard finally agreed to contact President Coin for them.
"So," Coin didn't waste time on greeting them. "Which district are you people from and why is it so urgent to talk to me?"
"Um, ma'am," Nate told her. "We are not coming from any of the twelve districts. We are not even Panem citizens…"
It took an entire hour for them to explain the whole situation and their offer.
"So what you're telling me is that the five of you outsiders here," Coin paused to take a good look at each of them. "Are going to take down the Capitol all by yourselves."
"Exactly," Nate said, frustrated by how much time that arrogant woman took to take in what they said. "And after we succeed, you will be the one who rule the country."
"But what are you in for?" Coin obviously looked tempted, she was as power-hungry as any politician after all, but still, she wasn't stupid.
"We? We just want to help those who need help," Nate smiled. "A client has contacted us and asked us to do that for him."
"And who would that client be?" Coin asked. At this moment even the rest of the team was staring at Nate. They knew they had a client, but Nate didn't speak of him until now.
"Some stylist from the Capitol," he answered.
"A man named Cinna," he added.
When Cinna asked for District 12, he really wanted to make a difference. By helping the one district where odds were all against it. He thought he could let all the people see that the districts weren't as hopeless as the Capitol wanted everyone to think; that they had the right to survive.
All those fantasies in his mind vanished after him and Portia finished designing the burning costumes. He realized how little all his work could accomplish.
That night, he went home and turned on an antique computer that had been passing down his family for quite a while now. No one in the Capitol used that kind of network system. It was his only chance to contact the outside world without being busted. He spread out a message on the internet in the hope that someone might actually be brave and selfless enough to help this nation. President Snow needed to go down.
Of course he realized how little that chance was. Panem was almost an unspeakable country to outsiders and he couldn't offer anything in return. What he didn't foresee was that ten minutes after sending out that message he got the reply. It was from a man named Nate Ford.
Ford told him he could help. He said he would help him take down Snow at all costs. When Cinna said he couldn't pay him anything, he assured him it didn't matter. They made their money by other means. Ford and his team helped those who couldn't find or afford any help. Basically someone like Cinna himself.
After a few more messages, Cinna finally understood what those men were. They were con men. Great.
In this country there were already dictators and murderers. Why not a few more con men?
Two days later.
President Coin didn't really trust the team, but with their generous offer of her being the next president of the nation, she was kind enough to let them use a small conference room in the huge underground structure as the team's base when staying in the district.
"Alright, Hardison, run it," Nate adjust the way he sat a bit and said.
"Right," Hardison picked up the remote and took control all the monitors in the room, both the ones on wall and on the desk. "Here's our mark, President Snow. The man had been running this continent for quite a while now."
Snow's face was shown on every monitor in the room.
"Now the country, Panem, is real messed up," Hardison continued. Apparently two days of indulging himself in the political condition of Panem had made him the expert of the country. "Ever heard of the Hunger Games?"
"Sure," said Eliot. "They'd ask twenty-four teenagers, aged between twelve and eighteen, to attend some sort of fight-to-the-death contest. The last one standing will be the victor. It was a game designed by the capitol seventy-four years ago to punish the twelve districts' uprising against the Capitol and has been held every year since then. No rules. Um… well, I've heard cannibalism is not encouraged though." He actually sounded amused by the game.
The whole team stared at him, waiting for him to explain how he knew that. Hardison swore to himself if that man ever said anything about a "distinctive game" he would punch him immediately. He didn't really care about the consequences. No, wait, maybe he did care. Punching Eliot in the face was one thing, but getting punched in the face by Eliot after that could result in casualties.
"Remember that friend of mine I've been talking about?" he said. "He is a victor himself. Won the game twenty-four years ago."
"Teenagers?" Sophie exclaimed. "How can they do that? Forcing someone to commit a crime is bad enough, asking innocent children to kill? That's unforgivable!"
"Yeah," Nate answered. "And that's why we are taking Snow down."
"How?" asked Parker.
Nate pointed to the big screen on the wall, where a poster read "The 74th Hunger Games: Coming Soon" was on. The team looked at the poster in confuse.
"Now, we know Hunger Games was held by the Capitol to remind everyone of the uprising years ago, right?" Nate was getting more and more excited at his own idea.
"In other word, they want to send a message. They want everyone to know that they are in control; that they can take whatever lives in the twelve districts. So if we can prove that there is something the Capitol can't control…"
"People will stop fearing them," Sophie suddenly understood. "They will lose their respect to the Capitol."
"Right," the mastermind smiled at her quick understanding. "See? We don't even need to take down the government ourselves. All we need to do is to remove the fear that the Capitol had planted so deep in its citizens' mind and let them take down the country."
"Ho… Hold on a minute, man," Hardison seemed horrified at that idea. "You are saying that we will provoke an uprising?"
"Nate, the last time a revolution burst out, a lot of people were killed," Eliot also looked at Nate in disapproval. "And they didn't make it in the end. What makes you think it will work this time?"
"The last time it happened," Nate grinned. "We weren't there."
That was when Parker looked all in to this job, and Eliot didn't like that. That crazy girl loved whatever dangerous. Watching the team's back won't be so easy this time.
"So how are we gonna do that?" Eliot sighed and asked, accepting the fact that nothing he said could change his boss's mind.
"First, we are gonna choose our own victor," Nate had definitely expected that question coming and his answer was well-prepared. "The one who can win the game and gain the audience's respect at the same time."
He gave Hardison a sign and the young computer genius started to play some footage on screen.
"These videos come from what they call the 'reaping' of the game, took place just earlier today," Hardison told them. "Basically what happens is that the host of each district would gave a lecture to the districts about the great purpose of holding the Games and then draw two names—one male, one female— out of those large fishbowls. Those whose names were drawn will become the 'tributes' of their districts and will have to attend the Hunger Games. That is, of course, unless someone else volunteer to join the Games."
"But who would join the game voluntarily? Twenty-four go in and one comes out, who would want to take that chance?" Parker asked what was on Sophie's mind.
"Those who can't wait to have someone else's blood on their hand," Eliot answered grimly. "Those who were trained to be killing machines practically since they can walk."
For a while, the air seemed to have stopped in the conference room as everyone was digesting those words.
Killing machines. Teenagers. Even being criminals for their entire life they had a hard time putting the two concepts together.
On the screen Hardison had captured the faces of few of the tributes this year.
"Now, Nate has asked me to do some background check on each of those tributes and find out who's interesting enough to be the victor we want. Here are the four I think worth a look." He'd clicked a few more buttons and played the first footage.
"The first one," he introduced. "Cato, male tribute from District 2. He volunteered to be a tribute. Strong-built, well-trained, a born-killer basically. I have to say, the odds are in his favor." He had picked up some trade-mark lines of the Capitol people from indulging himself in all those footages.
"Definitely not," Nate waved off the idea of helping that boy to win. "He's way too violent and ruthless."
On the other hand, Sophie was focusing on the host of the reaping.
"Blimey, look at her face… eel… and the hair…" she turned back to Nate. "I say we take them down just for their make-ups."
Hardison pretended he didn't hear anything and moved on.
"Ok then. Next, Thresh from District 11. Quiet boy, exceptionally strong. I think he has quite a style."
"This could work," Nate contemplated. "But what we need is someone more special than that. A black horse, maybe?"
"How about the next one," Hardison switched the footage. "Rue, the female tribute from the same district. Twelve-year-old, the oldest of six in the family, the youngest of twenty-four tributes in this year's Games."
"She looks smart and innocent enough," Sophie commented, and then sighed. "She's so young. She deserves to live." To that, Nate didn't say anything.
Instead, he just focused on the job as always.
"Show us the last one."
"Sure," Hardison played another footage. "Katniss Everdeen, sixteen-year-old. Daughter to a miner, who died in a mine accident years ago. She is also the tribute our client will be responsible as a stylist for. I'm sure she's been hunting illegally outside her district with another boy for quite some years now, according to some old satellite images I've got."
"What's so special about her?" asked Eliot.
"Well she's a volunteer," he explained, and the rest looked even less amused.
"No, wait," Hardison continued speaking while showing them the complete video of her district's reaping. "Before you say anything, she did not volunteer because she wanted to be part of the Games."
The team watched when a little girl's named was called, Primrose Everdeen. The desperation in her eyes was clear for everyone to see. Then there she was, screaming the little girl's name, gasping that she'd volunteer. Now it's clear for the team. She volunteered to save her little sister.
The whole scene took their breath away: The way Katniss Everdeen pushed away her sister protectively; the way that little girl crying and screaming Katniss's name, begging her not to go; the way Katniss Everdeen refused to cry, to show weakness on screen.
"That's her," Nate finally said.
"She will be our victor."