Chapter One

"No!" I was screaming at Haymitch again.

I was screaming at him because he was trying to control me, just like I was his pawn in the Capitol's twisted chess game. The few pure white pieces we still had on our side were tinged with red. Some were missing, being held in the hands of the enemy. President Snow's blood/rose scented hands were holding two of Haymitch's pawns, maybe more. One was my fellow player, with me since the beginning. My Peeta.

And here I was, screaming out my insanity at the one person who was probably the reason I was alive. I had finally accepted that I was partially insane. Being thrown into an arena to fight to the death not once but twice could do that to you. Even more so if you throw in a fake romance that gets more real every day, until the other half of it is ripped from your confused, but willing, hands. Just like katniss tubers ripped from the ground. Just like me ripped from my old life.

I haven't taken in a word Haymitch is saying to me. The reason for my yelling was his denying my rescue mission plans for Peeta.

Now I can just feel Gale's well muscled arms encasing me. My limbs are flailing. I'm fighting him but, as usual, I fall limp and he pins me to one of the white sterile beds that the helicopter has to offer. It's quite a large helicopter.

Gale's telling me to breath and I'm obeying.

"Katniss," Gale says steadily. "You're okay."

I shake my head and he presses me into his chest. All I can see is his dirty white tee shirt, soaked with my tears.

I'm not okay. The names of the people that aren't okay because of me come to my mind: Prim, my mother, probably Madge, Rue, Thresh, that old District 11 man, Darius, the Avox girl, Mags, Cinna, even Johanna. But only one name floods to my mouth before I can stifle it.

"Peeta."

The hurt only flashes for a second in Gale's gray eyes but I catch it. Pure, gray, pain. He's just another person who's not okay because of me.

"Catnip," Gale says teasingly. "I'm Gale."

"I know you are. But Peeta's trapped in the Capitol still,"

I'm still choking back tears. Gale just strokes my hair now. That's one of the amazing things about Gale. He can be so outspoken, but sometimes when he's just silent I can tell we're on the same page.

Plutarch Heavensbee enters the room, still wearing his strange mockingjay watch that proves he's on my side.

"We'll be arriving in District 13 in one hour." he announces, with a sympathetic look towards me.

Haymitch was the next person to enter the room.

"I need to talk to you, sweetheart," he said gently. Gentle wasn't Haymitch's forte so I must be a real mess. Gale excused himself and I sat up in my bed. Haymitch seated himself in a chair opposite.

"District 13, it's still in ruins. The survivors have constructed a make shift city underground. I have contacts there and they've came up with a plan. They know that there's cameras' surrounding the entrance to the underground. The Capitol placed them everywhere as soon as they caught wind of the rebellion. They suspected the rebels could use District 13 as a base. They were, of course, right. But the idiots don't know that the survivors of District 13 have been in contact with the rebels for the past three years." Haymitch tells me all of this seriously. It reminded me of him coaching me for the Games.

"Wait," I say. "You said the rebels have been in contact with them for three years! That's not possible, the rebellion just started this year, unless..."

Unless the rebellion had been planned, I had been planned.

"Bingo," says Haymitch with a smile. "We victors and Plutarch's secret group have been planning the rebellion for a while."

"But-"

"District 12 was planned to be the first to rebel. It seems crude but, because we were the poorest District, we were somewhat of a test to see how well the rebellion would go over with the rest of the Districts."

This is all too much to take in. District 12 being sacrificed for the greater good? The rebellion having been in the works for years? Where do me and my mockingjay come into this?

Haymitch seems to sense my frustration.

"The plan was to wait until a District 12 tribute had a chance of winning. When you were reaped, you were viewed as promising. You and Peeta-"

We were both silent for a second.

"-defying the Capitol wasn't a part of the original plan. I thought of it in my coaching sessions with Peeta. His love for you seemed the perfect weapon for the Capitol audience. Though they're sadistic, they're sappy. If you could get them to love you, President Snow would have to be a lot more subtle about destroying you."

I gulp but I'm not sure why. A person wanting to destroy me was old news and it shouldn't phase me anymore.

"The mockingjay-"

I still wanted to know what my mockingjay had to do with all this, but Haymitch cut me off yet again.

"Your mockingjay was planned to be the symbol of rebellion. Your friend Madge's father was in on the rebellion too, Katniss."

I gasp. "You're in contact with Madge's father!"

"I was. Madge's parents perished with most of District 12."

"No!" I couldn't believe this. "Where's Madge?"

She couldn't be dead.

"I don't know, Katniss. The point is she knew about the rebellion. That's one of the reasons she gave you the mockingjay pin."

"But why did the mockingjay have to be the symbol of the rebellion?"

"We thought that if we used something that belonged to a tribute that died in the arena we could show the Capitol."

Belonged to a tribute that died in the arena. So Haymitch knew I knew about Madge's aunt, Maysilee Donner. She was a District 12 tribute who had an alliance with Haymitch in his Games.

I suddenly notice the look in Haymitch's slightly moistened eyes. It's a look I've seen in Peeta's eyes, in Gale's eyes, and how my father had looked at my mother.

"You loved her!" I blurted out.

Haymitch tried to wave me away but I spontaneously threw my arms around him. He hugged me back and muttered something gruff and unintelligible.

The hour was up. It was time to go to District 13. Without a word, Haymitch and I walked into the common area.