Here's another oneshot – it's the seventy fourth Games, but from Beetee's POV. Of the mentors mentioned, all are taken from Catching Fire other than Marcus, who comes from Caisha702's fic 'A Fox's View', and Ando, who comes from my own 'Cripple'. No knowledge of either fic is needed for this story – they are only mentioned.
Beetee's thoughts on mines come from my rudimentary knowledge of physics. Anything that doesn't correlate with real life is due to the change in technology between now and Panem.
Each year, in every Games, there is a tribute with a nickname. I make a point of learning them; these are the ones to watch, generally. Sometimes they'll win, sometimes they won't. They will always, without fail, get into the top ten. Often the top five as well.
In these Games there are several. There's Katniss, the 'Girl on fire'. There's Lysandra, the 'fox-girl'. The two from Twelve have a joint name – 'star crossed lovers'. That's the first time I've ever seen a tribute have two names – and trust me, I've been around for a long, long time.
Not as long as Mags from District Four, perhaps, but still long enough to see one Quarter Quell go by and, unless I have a sudden accident between now and next year, another. Two of them. I'll have been mentoring for over a quarter of a century (technically I already have, but the Quell makes it official). What a terrifying thought.
There weren't that many nicknames during the second Quarter Quell, surprisingly. I was only a young mentor then, nearly young enough to be eligible for the Hunger Games. If I hadn't already won them, of course. My Games were only a few years before the Quell. Anyway, there weren't any names I can remember that occurred during that Quell. Too many tributes to go to the bother of naming one, I suppose. Coincidentally, all four of District Three's tributes died within the first hour. Their names are still clear in my head.
But there is one nickname I'll never forget, one I'll remember to my grave. "The Master of Traps'. My nickname.
I got another nickname later. This one I'm not so proud of, but I have it anyway. 'Volts'. I don't even remember who gave it to me, but I know why.
Both of nicknames were given to me for the same reason. My electrical trap. My crowning glory, and the reason I'm still alive today. The trap that managed to both win me the Games and throw a wrench into the Capitol's plans.
In fact, it's similar to what young Levi has done. Both of us have used material provided by the Gamemakers in ways no one has ever expected. I just hope that he can continue to follow in my footsteps for long enough to get himself out of the trouble he's in.
"I can reset the mines for you." A simple statement, made in haste. A single statement, made out of desperation. A single statement that will go down in Hunger Games history.
I must admit, it was an astonishing declaration. The atmosphere in the room changed in a way that is almost impossible to describe, in a way that even I don't have the words for.
In unison, twenty two heads turned to look at Wiress and I. The heads of friends, like young Marcus from District Five and Ando from District Ten, barely a year older than him. The heads of enemies, like Enobaria and Brutus from Two. And the heads of the neutrals or the ones too drunk to join a side, like Haymitch and Chaff from Districts Twelve and Eleven respectively.
Wiress and I looked at each other. I must say, we had no idea if Levi could live up to his promise. Even now, as I watch him dig the holes to hold the first of the mines, I still have some doubts. All he's been doing so far is stalling. Intelligent stalling, yes. Stalling cleverly disguised in technobabble so that no one can understand him, yes. Technobabble that makes sense, yes again. But I still have no idea if he can live up to his promise.
Factory One is closed for people under the age of Eighteen. Closed for victors, too. And the mayor – at least the actual production part. All of those sent to work there are sent there permanently. Once you set foot in the Factory you never leave, not even to be buried. No one ever sees their family, not unless they are sent there too. Any children born in Factory One are sent to the Community Centre at the age of six months and never return. They are much more closely monitored to see if they've inherited their parents' superior intellect.
Every person in District Three lives in constant dread of being chosen to work in Factory One. Parents convince their children to hide their intelligence – only the best work in Factory One. And no one in their right mind wants to work there.
For while the lifestyle is miles better than anything most of the rest of District Three can deliver, the workers in Factory One spend the rest of their days in a prison. They are always monitored, lest one of them gives out dangerous secrets. They live in a cell in a cell in a cell. And that is without mentioning all the rumours in circulation through the District, those about strange experiments being performed on the residents. All lies, probably, but nobody can be sure, because once you go in you never go back. That scares much of the populace more than anything.
Factory One is where the mines are made.
Levi will need to improvise, just as I did. He will need to use all of the skills he developed in his short life – just as I did. But where we differ is in the skills needed. I just used a basic knowledge of electrical physics and applied it in real life. Perhaps it is not what people from the other Districts – with the possible exception of Five – would consider basic, but our children learn the principles behind my trap at the age of twelve. All I had was a talent for improvisation.
Levi, on the other hand, is going to need all of the mechanical skills he has picked up from working in the Factories. He's going to need a talent for technology and at least a basic understanding of what a mine is and how it works.
I know that he has these. From what I have seen of him over the past week or so Levi has proven to be a highly intelligent, if ridiculously timid young man. The two of us almost drove his escort insane discussing different types of technology, and he offered some helpful improvements on the music chip I am developing. I hope to get a patent on it in a few weeks.
Wiress and Swift just rolled their eyes. The two of them, having grown up in District Three, are quite used to this behaviour from the men folk. The women often talk like this as well, though perhaps not in the exact same way.
How a mine works is general knowledge. It is surrounded by pressure pads. When one of these senses a change in pressure, it triggers a switch which completes an electric circuit. This flows through a resistor, generating heat to ignite the powder.
These mines are powered by an internal power pack but can be activated or deactivated remotely. Levi will have to figure out a way to bypass the remote and connect the power pack directly to the mine. Can he do this?
I honestly have to say that I have no idea. And it pains me to admit that. There is not much I don't know, modesty aside. And when I don't know the answer, some careful logic, research and problem solving skills will invariably make it turn up. But this? This is a matter of the skills of one boy, and I am afraid I will have to wait and see, just like everyone else.
Of course, I didn't say this to the Capitol reporters who yelled questions after me as I strode into the interview building, nor did I say this to Caesar as he interviewed me for the third time. The man has been around since I was a child, and he hasn't changed one bit. Somehow, I have never managed to get mentoring duty when an interview worthy tribute arrived from our District.
Until now, that is.
Dressed up in a suit designed for me by Levi's stylist – while technically they're only supposed to work for the tributes, they always design something for the mentors in case our charges do something interesting in the Arena – I sat in a comfortable armchair and talked to Caesar.
It was all basic, time honoured interview questions. Questions about Levi that I couldn't answer – did he have a girlfriend, what was his favourite colour, how he'd reacted to his name being drawn at the Reaping. Questions that I could – what he did back in District Three (he worked in Factory Five, which means he made entertainment systems. Televisions, gaming consoles, radios… things like that). What his personality was like (quiet and timid, awkward around people, unless he was talking about technology in which case he became enthusiastic and much more outgoing). How he reacted to his low training score (with a shrug and a reminder that District Three usually wins on intelligence and cunning, not on the things that are taught in training).
And finally it was time for the big question, the reason that I was brought here.
"So, Beetee" said Caesar, leaning forward in his seat. "As Levi's mentor, you are the one who can make the most informed guess about his statement. Can he do what no other tribute has done before, and reactivate those mines?"
A deathly silence fell over the audience. You could sense everyone leaning forward in their seats. You could sense the people at home holding their breath.
I looked Caesar in the eyes.
So now I sit at my station, watching the screen. The ball is on Levi's caught. Prove me right, or prove me wrong. I hope he can prove me right – I hate being wrong. But more than that, District Three needs another victor, another figurehead. District Three needs the hope that comes from having a victory, the hope long faded from Johan's win sixteen years ago.
If he succeeds in his ambitious task, the world is his oyster. The mines are probably the most powerful weapons found in the Arena. If Levi can control this power, his victory is near certain.
If he succeeds, I will relinquish my title of the Master of Traps.
If he fails – well, I can't say much for his future. He will be able to stall for another day or so. But the audience is getting bored now. Either way, a trap is on the horizon.
On my screen, Levi presses two wires together.