My eyes snapped open and I gasped desperately for air, like some half drowned creature. My mouth was parched and cracked and my eyes burned at the bright light above me. The sounds of screeching birds and a cannon blast echoed in my ears.
I died. I was dead. I was sure of it. Beneath my fingertips I could feel a coarsely woven fabric. The blinding light above me glowed bluish. And the smell of bleach and sterility burned in my nose.
My neck ached dully where the bird had punctured it. I reached up to find the wound and found my throat bandaged. I blinked rapidly, trying to adjust to the light. The silhouette of a woman swam into focus.
"Calm yourself Maysilee." Spoke a strong, sharp female voice. "You are safe."
"Where am I?" I tried to ask but my voice came out in an unintelligible rasp.
Another figure came to stand above me and a warm hand guided my trembling fingers to wrap around a cup. I tried to grip it, but my shaking hand was too weak to hold it. The hand tightened around mine and guided the rim to my lips. I gulped the water greedily. My throat burned as I swallowed.
"Thank you." I croaked, my words working free of my damaged throat. I let my unseen helper take to cup from me. "Where am I?"
"You are in a hospital." The woman replied. Her voice was familiar, but I struggled to place it. My mind raced with a thousand thought. How did I get to this place? How was I still alive? What happened in the arena after the cannon blast? Was Haymitch still alive?
Before I could pose any of my questions the woman spoke again.
"We faked your death." She said. "The mutts claws and beaks were laced with a drug that stopped your heart, temporarily. In the arena, when a tribute registers as deceased, their tracker deactivates. We simply had to restart your heart once the hovercraft collected you."
"How?" I asked.
"An undercover operative." The woman replied. She leaned into the harsh light and I instantly recognized her steely gray eyes. Sadine Marikina, the champion of District 12. "Our reach is far Maysilee Donner, farther than you can imagine."
"Why me?" I croaked.
"Because," said a male voice to the other side of me. The one who had given me water. The voice was unfamiliar. "You are more valuable to us alive."
"Valuable to who?" I demanded, my throat was on fire, but I needed answers.
"Everyone." Replied Sadine.
"What would you want with me, I'm a nobody from an outlining district." I choked, each word tear my throat to shreds. My eyes water from the pain.
"You should try not to speak." The man urged, his voice gentle and concerned. I shot a glare in the direction of his voice and struggled to sit up and an overwhelming wave of nausea knocked me flat on my back.
"As far as Panem is concerned, Maysilee Donner is dead." Sadine informed me.
I closed my eyes but tears leaked from the corners regardless.
"And Haymitch?" I started. "Is he…"
"Alive. Champion of the Fiftieth Hunger Games." The man quickly assured me.
"Can I see him?" I asked.
"No. He can't know you're alive." Sadine replied. "As far as anyone can know, you have to be dead."
"What you use do you have for a dead girl?" I asked, scathingly, but my ragged voice sounded weak even to me.
"Don't be ridiculous." Sadine said. "Maysilee Donner is of absolutely no use to us." A dark smile stretched across her gaunt face. "But you're not Maysilee Donner anymore."
Sadine handed me a mirror. The reflection that looked back at me was not my own. The Capitol face in the mirror was a stranger to me. I gasped in horror, raising my fingertips to my unfamiliar features. Sharply angled eyebrows. Prominent cheekbones protruded from the once soft curve of my cheeks. My lips were fuller and my nose more angular. Every feature was so very different from the face I knew, the one that had belonged to Maysilee Donner.
"Welcome to the rebellion Effie Trinkett." Said the man. He stepped into my line of sight. I recognized him as the youngest Gamemaker. I looked past him at Sadine who smiled grimly back.
"You stole my life." I whispered, fingering the unfamiliar features that were my new face. "I'm not dead, but I'm not dead either. What does that make me?"
"Useful." Sadine replied.
"Why did you do this to me?" I asked.
The young man smiled at me. He grabbed my hand. I pulled my hand away from him.
"You're going to help us tear down the System from the inside." He said.
"But why me?" I asked.
"You hate Capitol as much as we do." The man replied. "Who else would…"
"Seneca." Sadine cut him off. I looked at her harsh face.
"This was the plan from the beginning?" I demanded.
"No, but it became the plan when I saw that you were the one we needed." Sadine replied. "You're a survivor, a fighter. You're will be the Jabberjay."
"The start of change." Sadine said. "We're going to bring the end of the Capitol."
"Welcome to the Revolution, Effie Trinkett." Seneca leaned in beside me. His dark eyes glinted and flashed with the feverish delight of uprising.
Well here we are at the end of the Games.