Disclaimer: Everyone on Fanfiction wishes they owned the Hunger Games. Including me, so obviously I don't own 'em :D
A/N: I got this idea from Hipstergamer's story Nuts and Volts that features baby engineers! So I thought, what if our favorite Nerds had a nerdling? Then this story happened!
I'm learning how to connect wires on a circuit board. It takes concentration to pinch the alligator clips and clip them to the tiny metal piece on the board. My hand slips, but the wires are connected to the battery. I receive a painful shock. I leap down from my bench crying. Mommy has turned away from her work at the next table. "Alumina - your hand -" She reaches down to pick me up. I bury my face into the plastic of her work apron. I feel her fingers examining my hand. She hums a song to me. It makes me feel better. She takes my hand and leads me over to my small table. "Hold the clip -" She puts her hand over mine and guides my hand. "There." I look into her large dark eyes and smile.
"I love you, mommy!" She smiles and hugs me back. The door to our basement workroom opens. "DADDY!" I'm so happy to see Daddy. He was at Factory Ten all day. He goes to all the factories in District Three to help people make things. I pull on his pocket protector before circling my arms around his neck. I smile at myself in the reflection of his glasses. He tells me about work and then spends some time talking to Mommy.
"Alumina, you must rest -" Mom says as she takes me from Daddy's arms. Before dinner. I think as she carries me up the stairs to my room. This is my first memory of my life at age three.
"You're very smart, honey. You'll do well." I look up at Daddy as he holds me on is lap. I wrap my arms around his neck and run my fingers through his salt and pepper black hair. "We're so proud of you."
"We know -" Mommy pauses. I stare into her large eyes.
"Know what, mommy?"
"You're future here -" She pauses. I know I have to be patient when I listen to mommy. Daddy says she likes to think about what she says. "Is good." I crawl into her lap as she is sitting next to my daddy and hug her as well. She sings to me and I relax. I close my eyes and the waiting room at the examiner's office fades away as my mommy's singing fills my ears.
"Alumina Tesla." A woman calls as she opens a door. She wears a dark blazer over her factory uniform. I am wrapped in a hug by my mother and father before walking into a room that looks like a small classroom. The woman watches as I take a reading and math test. I build some things the way my parents showed me. After my test, I am given a small roll and milk.
"You did a very good job, Alumina." The woman says. "Do you want to come build more things with me?" I nod eagerly. "You can live in a special house we have."
"What about my mother and father?" I ask slowly. Mother and Father sound so grown-up. I want to call them mommy and daddy, but Daddy told me to call them mother and father during my tests.
"They can visit you there." I nod. She leads me back to them and I give them hugs. "She's in." The woman says simply to them. Daddy is happy but crying as well.
"Don't cry, Daddy." I say smiling. "You can visit me."
"I know." He whispers. "I love you, Alumina."
"I love you, Daddy!" I wrap my arms around him and breathe in the familiar scent of soap and materials used in making wire. It's his scent.
"I did really good, Mommy!" I say in her lap. She nods and begins to hum a familiar lullaby. I relax in her arms. She hums until her voice breaks. Tears stream down her face. "Mommy, I'll be ok. Daddy will take care of you. I'll show you what I built when you come to my new house!"
"We're both so proud of you, honey." Daddy says. "You follow this lady to your new room, ok?" I nod. I'm five and beginning a new life.
Half of my day is spent in school. The other half is spent in the factory. School means I sit at a desk in a room above the factory while Miss Ford, the lady who introduced me to Factory Three teaches me about assembling things. I will make things when I am ten. I already have some ideas and she has me write them down. The whirring of the conveyor belt stops and I finish wiring some parts together. I push my stool in and hurry back 'home.' Home is the room where my desk and bed are. Miss Ford has left milk and a square roll on my desk. I will get dinner later. Today's dinner is special. I will see my parents again. I close my eyes and count to ten to help me concentrate. Before dinner I have to study. Miss Ford will quiz me. If I don't get a question right, I get a slap on my hand with a wooden ruler. I don't want to show a red mark on my hand to Mommy and Daddy. They will be proud of me tonight. I got all the answers right for Miss Ford. She gives me a dark blue dress to change into. I change out of my work uniform into the dress. When I come to her little apartment above the factory, she has the table set. Today I'm having roast beef in something called Pot Roast. She has a cream colored tablecloth on the table and ceramic plates on the table. I stare at their white gleaming surfaces. They look so different from the metal bowls and plates us workers use. There is a knock on the door. Miss Ford answers it. My parents are here. I can't help but run into Daddy's arms.
"How's my smart little light?" He asks chuckling.
"I got my quiz right tonight, daddy!" I cheer. Daddy kisses me on the cheeks. I grin and see my reflection in his glasses.
"Good! Very good! Let's sit on the couch so you can say hi to your mom!" I look at mommy. It's springtime, and she doesn't take her dark purple sweater off. Her long dark hair is in a braid. I see flecks of grey in her hair. Daddy would win the grey hair contest. He has a lot more. She looks like she just got over being sick because she's pale. I still think she's pretty. Daddy puts me down and I cautiously approach Mommy.
"Mommy?" I ask. I know I sound sad.
"You can sit in her lap, little light." Daddy says reassuringly. He looks sad for one second before smiling again. I sit on Mommy's lap. She holds me and I lay my head against her chest and hear her heart beating. She hums to me and I smile at her. After she's done with a song, I have an idea. I grin at her and then begin humming a song I made up. There are words, but I hum because she hums. She smiles. Daddy smiles while crying.
We eat dinner and Miss Ford tells my parents about my school. I bring out my notebook and show them my work. Mommy and Daddy settle on the couch and I sit between them. We put our arms around each other and I feel nice and warm.
"We're so proud of you, Alumina." Daddy says holding me in his lap. It's almost time to go. "You keep up the good work and we'll see you in six months."
"Six months." I say smiling. "October." Daddy lets go slowly and I crawl into Mommy's lap. "I love you, Mommy!"
"Love." I gasp and look into her face. Her voice sounds dry and cracked. "Love - my Alumina." She wraps me in a strong hug. I wrap my arms around her and hug her. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Daddy crying.
"I love you." I say as I look into my mother's eyes. I am seven. This is my fifth time my parents visited my new house I haven't heard my mommy talk since I was five.
I am going to the Capital of Panem today. After showering, I change into a light green dress Mother has sent me. She had said in a note that she bought it especially for today. I grab my notebooks that showcase my work and follow Miss Ford out of the factory. We board a train that whisks us quickly away from District Three. I'm nervous, but I don't show it. Instead I recite the districts and their trades to myself. We enter the Capital and Miss Ford escorts me to a building labeled: Department of Resource Production, Distribution, and Patents. It's made of gleaming marble marking it as a government building. I stare at all the oddly colored people walking around in sharp contrast to the white floor tiles. We check in with the Peacekeeper sitting at the reception desk. Miss Ford and I produce our District issued ID's and we are given an index card with an name and an office number printed on it. We then go through a metal detector. Another Peacekeeper pats us down. A young blonde-haired man dressed in a dark red button-up shirt, black slacks, and black shoes wordlessly escorts us to the fifth floor and down a maze of hallways. He places his palm on a sensor near the door. It flashes green and he knocks on the door. He gestures to a velvet covered bench where Miss Ford and I sit. He remains standing. The door opens.
"Alumina Tesla." A man wearing a dark blue suit says in the doorway. "ID please." I show him my ID. "Come in." He closes the door. Miss Ford will not come in with me. I shift my bag of notebooks on my right shoulder and follow him into a room decorated with floor to ceiling maroon curtains. A mahogany table with a real black stone surface is in the center of the room. Two Capital officials sit there: a man who appears to be Father's age and a woman who looks about thirty. The man who called for me joins the others.
"Please state your name." The woman commands before turning on a rectangular device on the table that I assume is a microphone.
"My name is Alumina Tesla." I say calmly and clearly even though I feel like my knees are shaking.
"Who are your parents?" The man who escorted me into the room asks.
"My parents are Beetee Tesla and Wiress Carpenter, sir."
"And their Occupations?"
"They are inventors, sir."
"Your place of residence and schooling since age five."
"Factory Three of District Three."
"How many products have you invented since age ten?"
"Five." I state hoping that five is enough.
"What was your score on your most recent IQ test?"
"165, ma'am." I answer. There is a pause while the officials's pens scratch on heavy parchment.
"Please produce your work-product notebooks." I pull my notebooks out and place them on the table. "Wait outside the room please Miss Tesla."
"Thank you." I say before leaving. I sit on the bench. Miss Ford doesn't say a word. Neither do I. Neither does the building escort.
"Miss Tesla and Miss Ford, please enter." The woman official says an eternity later. My feet shaking in my shoes, I manage to walk into the room. "Miss Tesla, we have found your performance to be satisfactory." The oldest official says. "You have met the production level the Capital has set for you." I breathe a sigh of relief. "If you fail, to meet your yearly production levels you will be entered into the Hunger Games as a tribute just as your parents were. Do you understand, Miss Tesla?"
"Yes. Sir." I say as steadily as I can. Because my parents are victors, I would most likely die in the arena if I was in the Games.
"That is all. You are dismissed." I am silent during the trip back to District Three. I am eleven years old. I am an inventor like my parents. I must work hard like they have. My life depends on it.
"KATNISS! KATNISS! KATNISS!" The crowd chants as the newest Victor, Katniss Everdeen walks off the stage. The crowd's fury is palpable. Her act with the berries has re-ignited the rebellious feelings most of us in the District feel. As stealthy as I can, I return to Factory Three where my parents' and my inventions are made. I must keep a low profile. I enter the small apartment Miss Ford used to inhabit. It is mine now. I gasp as another person turns around from the stove.
"Mother?" I ask surprised.
"I found –" Mother laughs and holds up a key that I had kept under a loose board. I laugh. Leave it to my mother's mind to figure out where my spare key was. She pours tea out of my tea-kettle and takes two steaming cups to the table. I grab the cream, sugar, and kettle and arrange it on the tray before bringing it to the table. My mother smiles as she takes my hand with her frail fingers. I stare into her face worn with age. She is forty but seems much older from repeated sickness. "You must be careful –" She looks out the window. "You don't have –"
"The Capital quotas?" I ask. She nods.
"But you must not –" She looks down at the swirls the cream is making in her tea.
"I must not cause trouble?" I ask. She smiles at me.
"Alumina." She says smiling. "I want you to have – a good life." She covers my hand with both of hers. "Your father and I – want you to have – freedom." She whispers the last word. I nod. My parents are part of the rebellion. We finish our tea in silence.
"Mother, you and Father take care of yourselves, ok?" I ask. Mother stands up and embraces me.
"I love you." She whispers.
"I love you too, mother." I say back kissing her on both of her cheeks. She smiles before putting my key back on the dining room table. She insists on rinsing my tea set before leaving the apartment. I walk her down to the street and stand in the snow until she disappears around the corner toward Victor's Village. I am ninteen. That was the last time I saw my mother alive.
"Come inside, Alumina." I shove my spade into the hard spring dirt and plant one more bulb. "The temperature's dropping!"
"Nearly done, Father!" I call. He's in the doorway leaning on his cane. The wind from the departing spring snowstorm is blowing inside the house. He'll get a chill standing there. After packing down the soil, I join Father in the kitchen and we make dinner.
"Have you heard from District Six?" He asks.
"Yes. I have a week to accept the position." I reply as I set the plates on the table of his two-bedroom and study house in District Two. He works for the government. He would retire in five years if he hadn't transferred out of the weapons department. Now he's an advisor for the Department of Manufacturing and Patents. In the pre-Mockingjay Revolution era of Panem, he could never have dreamed of gaining such a position. I had been living with him working as an assistant in the department. He was the one to encourage me to seek another position.
"Will you take their offer? It's a good job. Running a factory. It will use your experience." Father smiles. I look outside to our flower garden. "I'll send your pictures of the garden in the summer." I nod. "Alumina, don't feel obligated to stay here with me."
"Father – you're the only one I have."
"I know, honey. I know." He says sadly. "Your mother would want you to make the most of your talents." He sighed. "I survived quite a few years on my own before." I nod and we continue our meal. "You know you'll be able to visit more than twice a year."
"I know, Father." I smile as he chuckles. He pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. He's thinking about something.
"Thank you. For planting the garden." I look out the window. Stones line the rectangular garden where the flowers will grow. A large stone in the center of the wall reads: In loving memory of Wiress Carpenter Tesla – Loving wife and mother. I smile when I remember polishing the stone and etching the lettering. Father and I set it into the ground together. "Alumina, I'll be fine." He said smiling. "If you want to stay here, by all means stay in the district. The whole country is open to you now. You just shine your light wherever you see fit."
"Thank you." I say. I stand up and hug him. "I'll think of you and Mother as I work. I always have." I am twenty three years old and have achieved my parents' dream for me. I am using my talents in the way I choose in a free Panem.