DISCLAIMER: If I owned the Hunger Games, they would center around Team Nerds, guys!
A/N: Like I said in the summary, this is a prequel to Perceptions of a Shattered Brain. You don't have to read that first to get this though. I sort of thought it would be nice to have a bit of a back-story to Beetee and Wiress' relationship. Some elements in the story later on are borrowed (with permission) from Breathe by NutsandVolts. Enjoy :)
The large three-story tall room in Factory Four was silent as the audience sat in their rows of benches facing a large machine that was part of a larger conveyor-belt system. The workers of the factory and students of the Engineering Academy applauded as the Lead Foreman came to the small podium in front of the machine.
"We are gathered here to remember the Carpenters who worked twenty years in Factory Four." The lead foreman said. "We are also here to honor a young inventor who will not let her parents' death be in vain." He paused and cleared his throat. "Wiress Carpenter, please come forward and accept this medal on behalf of Factory Four." An eighteen year old girl wearing a dark blue Engineering Academy sweater, black pleated skirt, and white blouse stood up in the front row at the prodding of her classmates who were also in the front row. She stood as the lead foreman put the medal around her neck.
"Thank you." Wiress said into the microphone. She paused. "I wish my parents could be here now." She admitted. "I would like to thank my grandmother for giving me the strength to continue when my days were dark. She reminded me that my parents lived on in me. I would also like to thank the faculty at the Engineering Academy who allowed me to use my work as part of their practical and project requirements." She took a folded apron from the foreman's hands and put it on. He handed her a helmet and safety goggles off of a table and she moved to the machine. "This machine will make the assembly line more efficient, and more importantly much safer." She felt much more at ease as she began explaining the various pieces. "Thank you for the opportunity to design this for you." She finished as the workers and her classmates gave her a standing ovation.
"Wiress Carpenter?" Wiress looked up from a plaque placed on the machine that read: Designed by Wiress Carpenter – Junior at the Engineering Academy. In loving memory of her parents: Henry and Molly Carpenter. A man in his mid-twenties wearing slacks, a button up shirt with a pen-filled pocket protector, and glasses stood near her machine. "Beetee Tesla. Innovations Incorporated." She smiled as he shook her hand. She knew who he was as he was at the Reapings every year as a Mentor to the various tributes from District Three. He had also spoken to her engineering classes about his inventions as an alumnus of the Engineering Academy.
"I-Squared." She said smiling figuring that he preferred being known for his engineering skills rather than his Victor/Mentor status. "I've heard of your work." He nodded. He looked at the plaque.
"Your parents would be proud." She traced the letters of her parents' names with her finger. "I was just speaking with your grandmother." He paused. "I would like to offer you an internship at I-Squared for the spring semester."
"Thank you." Wiress said. "We don't get credit for internships until our senior year." She explained. "But I suppose two internships can't hurt."
"They certainly can't." Beetee said smiling. "I'd better let you get back to the others. You do very nice work."
"Thank you. You do also, Mr. Tesla."
"Oh – please – call me Beetee." Beetee said smiling. He looked into her large eyes and his heart skipped a beat. Something about her intrigued him. He had noticed her even during brief moments of speaking at the academy. He wanted to continue talking to her, but he sensed she was a bit shy. Reluctantly, he went to talk with the foreman as two girls also from the Engineering Academy ran up to Wiress.
"OH MY GOSH!" Julie gasped before wrapping Wiress in a hug. "This is so cool!" She squealed looking at the machine. "I thought I did great by developing a part of a motor for the hydroelectric dam as my mid-year project, but you designed a whole machine!"
"I – well –I just changed some things." Wiress said staring at her feet.
"Oh – don't be shy, Wiress." The other girl Melissa said giving her a hug. "We all know that you're about five levels above everyone else in brains." She quipped. "I know you're humble about it, though." She said quietly. Wiress nodded.
"C'mon, we're going to the factory cafeteria! They have cake!" Julie skipped ahead of the other girls, her long brown curls bouncing down her back. Melissa draped an arm around Wiress. She figured Wiress' quiet demeanor in the midst of a ceremony honoring her was due to missing her parents.
"Um – Melissa – I'm doing an internship." Wiress said quietly. She knew Melissa would keep the information to herself rather than blabbing it to the other juniors within the academy.
"Was that what you and Beetee Tesla were talking about?" Melissa asked. Wiress nodded. "Wow!"
"Um – if – you or – Julie – would like to do an internship there too – maybe – like in the summer - I could ask him for you."
"Aw – Wiress, you're so sweet!" Melissa sighed. "I'm working with my dad again this summer, and I think Julie's working with the water and utilities division of the Mayor's office. We appreciate the offer though." She paused. "Doesn't Beetee have to mentor?"
"Yeah. He's only gone two to three weeks at the beginning of the summer though." Wiress reasoned. They reached the cafeteria where the workers and students gave Wiress a standing ovation when she walked in. She was wrapped in hugs by many of her parents' co-workers and the other students. She finally made it to a table where she sat with her grandmother and the head foreman as they enjoyed cake.
"I'm proud of you, little live-wire." Mrs. Carpenter said hugging her granddaughter. "You're going to have a great future, honey. I know your parents are excited for you. They're watching over you." Wiress nodded. She scanned the crowd once more. Her friends waved at her, and Mr. Tesla gave her a smile as her eyes met his. She wished her parents could share in this celebration in person, but she knew her grandmother was right. They would be watching over her no matter what happened.