Suzanne Collins owns Hunger Games
After the Peacekeepers land on arena ground they immediately begin running toward me. One of them in particular is at a full on sprint and will be here in moments. Knowing that I must stand up to them, hold my ground if only for the benefit of the viewers. I hold my sword steady and make my way toward them as well. They outnumber me two to one; odds not in my favor, but oddly enough from what I can tell neither of them seem to be carrying guns, odds in my favor. No matter, these Peacekeepers could not have been sent here to congratulate me on my victory.
I'm moving toward the Peacekeepers, sword raised, my intentions of not going quietly being well made. At about 100 feet in between us the front Peacekeeper yells my name, "Katniss!" and I recognize the voice. I'm so completely baffled my run slows to just a walk while I try to figure out if it was real or not. Could it be real? Did I really hear it?
My confusion turns into elation when the front Peacekeeper rips off his white helmet to reveal Peeta's blonde hair and beautiful features beneath it. He's running to me and I drop the sword and run to him, "Peeta!" I shout. I leap into his arms and he wraps them around me so tightly I don't think he ever has intentions of letting me go. He picks me up and spins me in the air and I kiss his lips. Oh, how I missed Peeta. How I missed touching him and seeing his beautiful eyes. The entire arena fades from my peripheral vision and all I see is his face. Did I mention it was beautiful?
"Katniss" he says staring into my eyes, a smile so large on his face you'd think this was the happiest moment in his life.
"Peeta" I say staring back at him. I don't think either of us really have words to go with our names. We're just so happy to see each other alive. I never thought I would see Peeta again, never. I never planned to win the Hunger Games this year, it just kind of happened.
Our gazing at each other is interrupted by the second Peacekeeper flying by us in a sprint. That Peacekeeper has now also removed his helmet to reveal Finnick Odair. "Peeta, get her on board!" he yells not taking a moment to stop.
Peeta doesn't wait to be told twice and grabs my arm and starts to drag me toward the rope ladder that they rode down on. "Where's he going?" I ask as I struggle against Peeta slightly so I can look back to where Finnick has run off to.
"He's getting Lee" he says as he continues to drag me away.
"But she's dead" I say softly to Peeta. "There's nothing he can do for her. I killed her" I say feeling all of the weight of that statement.
"I know" he says with understanding in his voice, "He knows."
"Then why is he…" I start to ask but as if Peeta can read my mind he answers.
"Mags wants her" he states solemnly. Mags? Mags is on the hovercraft? Suddenly I'm terrified to face the woman whose grandchild I just killed. But before it has too much time to settle Peeta changes his tone to seriousness, "Come on, we've got to hurry! We've only got about 5 minutes to get out of here" he says with urgency. I'm still extremely confused as to why they're here in the arena with me and why we're on a tight schedule. But I no longer try to pry explanations out of him, if he says we have 5 minutes to get out of here then we need to move.
Peeta and I begin to climb the rope ladder as fast as we can and I only look down to see Finnick reach the bottom with Lee's body. We make it inside the hovercraft and as soon as we do Haymitch hits the switch that sends a current through the rope ladder and freezes Finnick to it. Immediately the rope begins to retract bringing Finnick and Lee up safely. Peeta and I man the rope ladder and Haymitch runs off toward the front of the hovercraft. He stands at the doorway looking into the pilots cabin, "Are we going to make it?" he asks someone I can't see.
"It's going to be close" I hear answered from a male voice inside the cockpit.
When Finnick reaches the opening Peeta and I help pull him and Lee's body inside, then the hatch closes. Haymitch yells back into the cockpit, "Punch it! Get us out of here."
I look around the inside of the hovercraft and I see a lot has obviously been going on in my absence. There are a lot people present, most of them I recognize as past Victors even if I can't recall all of their names at the moment. But the first people that really catch my eye are up against a wall lying on the floor, two unconscious men whose only clothes seem to be their boxers and sox. Each of them have gashes on their foreheads, they're tied and it's pretty obvious now where Peeta and Finnick got their uniforms.
"What the hell is going on here Peeta!" I yell more from excitement than anything.
But before Peeta can answer Haymitch is coming back into the cabin, "Everybody in your seats and buckle up. We're cutting it close!"
Peeta drags me to empty seats that are all lined up against the walls of the hovercraft. We strap in and this is really when I get a good look at everyone who is present. On my side of the cabin sits me, Peeta, two District 11 Victors, the man's name is Chaff but I can't recall the woman's right now, Portia and Haymitch. Also here is Effie and my prep team Venia, Flavious, and Octavia who are all strapped into their seats but all seem to be unconscious. Across from us sit two Victors that I recognize from District 3, three people I don't recognize at all but have camera equipment at their feet, a woman in her early 20's who's mumbling and hanging onto Finnick for dear life, and Mags. Draped across some empty seats lies Lee's body which has been covered by an emergency blanket to hide the blood as her head rests in Mag's lap.
Seeing Lee with Mags helps me remember her last words, "Tell her I'm sorry" and I know now exactly who Lee was referring to, her grandmother. Did Mags not know what Lee was going to do in the end? Part of me thinks I should say something, tell her Lee's last words, but somehow with all the excitement going on it doesn't seem to be the right moment. Seeing Lee's body in Mag's arms has completely deflated me and I grab Peeta's hand for comfort and reassurance. I entwine my fingers in with his, I lean into him, and I try to think of something else, anything else, "Peeta, what's going on? Why are Effie and my prep team unconscious?"
"Chloroform. We weren't sure if they'd come willingly and we couldn't leave them" he says. That explains their unconsciousness to me but that doesn't explain what's going on and as if he could read my mind he adds, "We're kind of… escaping."
"Escaping" I repeat.
"Yeah, it's a long story but after the last cannon was fired the force field disabled so a hovercraft could go in and get the body. Well…. we kind of kidnapped the pilot and stole the hovercraft. Plutarch sabotaged the Capitol's computer systems to keep the force feild down for our rescue but it's only going to stay down for as long as it takes their programmer to fix it, which we're guessing won't be more than 5 or 6 minutes after they saw us in the arena" Peeta tells me.
Plutarch? The Head Gamemaker is helping us escape? I start to ask one of probably a thousand questions that I have when I hear a female voice yell back from the cockpit, "We're reaching the force field's edge everybody! It's bust out or blow up time."
Everybody goes stiff and silent in the cabin, well except for the woman clinging to Finnick who begins squealing and clawing at his arm. He whispers something into her ear and although she still seems terrified she relaxes and lets him hold her. I grip Peeta's hand in mine and we all seem to be holding our breathe while we're waiting to either crash into the arena force field or pass through it unharmed. The seconds tick by and it seems like forever.
The tension in the cabin could be cut with a knife. After what seems a lifetime the girl inside the cockpit steps into view. I recognize her immediately to be Johanna Mason, a past Victor from District 7. She's wielding a nasty looking gun so I guess she's the one who is guarding the kidnapped pilot inside. A grin displays on her face as she delivers the news, "We made it!" and everyone in the cabin releases the breathe that they've been holding. Many of them begin congratulating Finnick, Peeta, Haymitch, and the man who steps outside of the cockpit, Plutarch Heavensbee, Head Gamemaker for the Games.
"Well played everyone, well played" he says. He takes notice of me and makes his way over, "Especially you my dear. That was a brilliant performance. Incredible. People in the Districts and in the Capitol will be talking about it for years."
Performance? His glibness angers me. Through gritted teeth I respond "I wasn't performing. I was trying to stay alive."
As if it was unnecessary he says, "Oh, you didn't have to do that dear. Lee was taking care of it" he says. Wait? What? My mind is racing through his words to me. Okay, I know Lee dropped my hands and let the arrow plunge into her heart but what does that have to do with Plutarch?
"What?" I ask in an obvious confusion.
"She didn't tell you? I thought you two had worked that finale out together? The drama, how she was the stronger more dominant fighter and was taken down by a weaker opponent. Really the symbolism will not be lost on the rebels. It's going to play out really well when we use the footage for motivational propos" he says. My look says it all, "I guess not." Mags, Finnick, and I are staring daggers a Plutarch right now. If he notices it at all he doesn't show it but he does decide to leave, "I suppose it's time I call President Coin in 13 and inform her of what a wonderful extraction we've had" and he heads back to the cockpit.
District 13? District 13 is alive and well? I remember Bonnie and Twill telling me rumors about it but it was just that, rumors. I turn to Peeta and Haymitch, "Alright I need someone to start from the beginning and tell me what's going on!"
Peeta begins to open his mouth but Haymitch stops him. Haymitch gets both of us to unbuckle from our seats and leads us to the cargo hold which is a small room with some crates toward the back of the hovercraft. Haymitch makes sure the door to the room is secure. We all take seats on a couple of crates, Haymitch facing Peeta and I. "Plutarch is a District sympathizer and has been working with under cover rebel forces to over throw the Capitol for years" he says. "After your berry incident last year you were tapped to be the rebellions symbol. They're calling you The MockingJay" he says looking at me.
"Lee called me that. Right before she died she said, 'There's our MockingJay.' I thought she was looking at my pin" I tell them.
"No, she was looking at you" he answers. Haymitch pauses for a moment his hands rubbing his face and sliding through his disheveled hair indicating how obviously uncomfortable he is talking about all of this. Then Haymitch reaches inside his jacket and pulls out a flask and takes a quick drink before he continues, "Since Plutarch took over as head Gamemaker this year he was able to find out about Lee and Prim being fixed into the Games and how President Snow was counting on you to volunteer for Prim. President Snow knew of Lee's abilities since she's traveled to the Capitol for years and he was trying to guarantee your death. Obviously the rebellion didn't want their 'Symbol' killed in the Games so Plutarch made a visit to District 4. What President Snow didn't count on is even after all these years' Victor Mags' family are still rebel sympathizers, her father being a general in the original uprising. Plutarch spoke to Lee and I'm not sure what he said but he convinced Lee that you needed to get out of the Hunger Games, not her, and that they needed to do it a big flashy way, make you out to be this 'big against all the odds champion' to motivate any still on the fence to follow you."
Haymitch has me hanging onto every word. I've been used by this invisible rebellion and what's worse is they still want to keep using me. There's one more thing though, worse than anything he has said so far. He knew, "You knew! You knew at the Reaping and you never told me!" I yell at him as Peeta holds me back. What I really want to do right now is rake my nails down Haymitch's face and scar him the way he has scarred me.
Haymitch sighs but nods slightly. I settle down and he continues, "There's nothing I could do about it. The President put Prim's name in and if you had known you would've done something stupid like run. Then you would've gotten caught and Snow would've had a legitimate reason to publically whip and execute you. That's all he would've needed Katniss, one reason to make an example of you" he defends himself. After a brief pause he starts up again, "Plutarch came to me about a month ago and asked me if I thought there were any way we could get you and Lee together as allies in the arena because it would be much easier for her to protect you that way. I told him 'No way, Katniss is a loner'. So Lee came up with the plan to eliminate the Careers at the Cornucopia, they figured that if the tough competition was gone right away you'd be able to defend yourself against the weaker ones. That's why Lee was trying to find District 1 so badly, they got away. She was in there trying to get you out. She was in there having to make the tough decisions, the ones we knew you couldn't. Like Lissa."
"You mean like Rory!" I spit back at him. "How dare you…" and Peeta interrupts me.
"She didn't" Peeta says.
I turn to look at Peeta who has almost completely stayed out of this conversation, "What?" I ask.
"She didn't kill Rory" he tells me firmly.
"But how? I mean she had the MockingJay pin I gave him. She had to have" I say.
"She didn't Katniss. After she saved you she raced a hovercraft to his body and got the pin" Peeta tells me. "Everything she told you was true the first time; she lost him over the falls, and then saw you, the only difference is she did find his body. It was just too late to do anything about it. I think she thought she could use the pin to make you kill her later. If that makes sense" he tells me.
It does make sense. I know it does because when she showed me that pin I did connect it to Rory's death. It sent me into a rage and no amount of reasoning could have made me want to keep her alive. I would've wanted no Victors this year over having Lee as one. "Wait, you said Snow fixed in Lee and Prim. You didn't mention Rory, I don't believe for a second that was random, Snow fixed in Rory too. Right?"
Haymitch and Peeta exchange glances with each other almost scared to answer the question. "Katniss" Haymitch says in a voice that almost pleads for me to remain calm. "Snow wouldn't have wanted you to look like a hero to the Districts, protecting the weak. He would've wanted you alone, hiding, running. That's why he didn't let Peeta back in."
"So you're telling me Rory's name was random" I say.
Haymitch gives Peeta a look and Peeta actually takes hold of me at the shoulders like he's preparing to hold me in an outburst. This is going to be bad, "First off don't kill the messenger, I didn't know what was going to happen" Haymitch pleads and then continues with, "When Plutarch came to ask me about an alliance between you and Lee a month ago my exact words were "No way, Katniss is a loner. There's no way she'd ally with anyone… except family."
After he finishes they both look at me and I look at them. That doesn't explain to me how Rory's name got chosen he's not… family. To viewers he's my family though, my cousin. But Snow didn't want me to look like a hero, Haymitch said so himself the only people who would want me to look like a hero would be the people trying to start an uprising and there's no way they had any access to…. Plutarch Heavensbee, the new Head Gamemaker had access and could rig the reaping. What better way to make your symbol look like a hero than have her protect a young family member.
I try to leap out of my seat but Peeta's reflexes are too quick and I find that I'm caught in his strong arms. I struggle against his body tears streaming from my eyes. I'm going to kill him. I'm going to kill Plutarch Heavensbee. All he cares about is his show, manipulating people and situations to get their best performances. It's not right. It's not right. Does he not get that we're people, not pawns that can be used for his motivations. As Peeta holds onto me tightly and I strain to break loose we fall to the floor and knock over a stack of crates that tumble to the ground with a large crash. I'm yelling but it's nothing intelligible.
Unable to break Peeta's grip I calm down and then Haymitch helps both of us up. "How much of this did you know Peeta?" I ask him. The anger in my voice I'm sure making me sound accusatory.
"Nothing" he says and as if to defend himself further, "I didn't find out anything until I began working with Finnick, after you and Lee had allied."
"Finnick and Mags, how much did they know?" I ask immediately feeling concern for Mags.
"Finnick knew" Peeta answers.
"Mags didn't" says Haymitch softly. "She found out about the same time Peeta did and wasn't happy about it" then realizing how that might sound to me Haymitch finishes, "Not that she has anything against you, it's just"
"Lee was her family" I finish his sentence and both of them give slight nods.
"What if I don't want to be the symbol of the rebellion? How come no on bothered to ask me about that? I didn't want anyone to die for me." I say to no one in particular and just then Finnick Odair enters the room. With the crash of the crates his intentions were probably to make sure I hadn't killed someone.
"Because you don't always get to pick and choose what you're destined for" he tells me. "There's a dead girl out there who believed in you. She believed in what you could accomplish so much that she gave up what she's been training for her whole life."
"I always got the impression I annoyed her" I respond.
For the first time Finnick cracks a smile, "Oh, you did" he assures me and the tension lightens in the room just a bit. "But that doesn't change what's happened. She got you out to lead the rebellion against the Capitol. Your not going to make her sacrifice pointless are you?" he asks.
I look up into his eyes as he stands looking heartbroken down at me and shake my head. Of course I can't now, not after all the lives lost, all the steps taken to ensure my win, and to ensure the rebellion. We need a world with out the Capitol, we do. I just always thought I would be dead, a martyr to the cause, someone's face they could put on banners to incite the crowds. I never thought I would be leading the rebellion. "Yeah, yeah I'll be the MockingJay I tell him.
"Good" Finnick says. "It's going to take a few hours to get to District 13 but when we do we're going to start to make them pay Katniss; to make them pay for Lee, for Rory, and for all the others that came before them." Finnick reaches out and embraces me in a hug and I don't feel any resentment coming from him the way I would think someone who just lost their friend, their tribute will feel toward the winner.
He releases me from our embrace and I back away from him. I look into the eyes of the three men in the room. They have all fought so hard, sacrificed so much to see me to this point. I don't feel like a leader. I feel like a girl from the Seam who has just barely had enough will power to survive all of this. What they ask of me is so beyond what I thought I was capable of but maybe that's the point, the weak overpowering and outnumbering the strong. I mean, that was the same strategy Lee applied at the Cornicopia; to show all the Districts that if we unite together we can topple this evil regime. I take Peeta's hand in mine and say to everyone in the room, "May the odds be ever in our favor."
That's it! Whew! Thank you so much for reading my No Quarter Quells rewrite of Catching Fire. I do hope you enjoyed it and considering you went through over 100,000 words and 31 chapters to get here, I assume you did. In the reviews a couple have asked if I plan a sequel, uhmm... That would be ideal yes, but I have to say not to expect it right away. It took a lot to write this and I would like to give my attention to an original peice for right now but in a few months or so definately maybe. PM me some ideas if you have them because I do want to write more Finnick, Mags, and Johanna, I love those characters. But do check back because I love Hunger Games and I don't think I can leave it for long.
PLEASE REVIEW! The more reviews I get the more people will take a chance and read this story. Please Review and I have to admit after working this hard on something I like to get the pat on the back.