Chapter Eleven: Complicated Victories
After the ships left, Katniss swam ashore and decided to try and live where she was. It was not a horrible looking area if she did not have to look at the smelted remains of the island.
Johanna had been airlifted out, as had Haymitch. Officially, Johanna had won, and Haymitch was dead. Allegedly they were sending him home for a funeral. It was clear the bugs were destroyed. They had two nests, and both of them had ended up destroyed. The first by the lightning bolt the allies had rigged, the second by lightning and explosion.
Katniss sifted through the ashes of the ship. The equipment was fried. She was about to give up when the only other living creature on the island showed up.
"Bee Tee," She screamed at the top of her lungs. He received her hug agreeably.
"Katniss, we have our own ride out of here!" He proclaimed proudly.
Twenty minutes later they were in the air. Katniss was a bit surprised to see their escape went so simply. She demanded he explain.
Bee Tee complied, "This all started decades ago in a toy shop. I met two brothers, one named Harold and the other Tom. Well, as time passed, both of the boys showed excellent aptitude. Harold was studying biology, and Tom mythology. They came to the bizarre conclusion that life on earth was created and perpetuated by an alien civilization."
Katniss raised an eyebrow but let it drop. Although the predator appeared to be other-worldly she had not actually seen the monster come down from space. The same was true of the bugs.
Bee Tee continued, "The eventually figured that there were remnants of an ancient pyramid somewhere underneath the Capital."
Katniss felt her head get dizzy. The Capital was huge! One pyramid under all of that was insane!
"According to them the mega-city swallowed the remnants of a small city called 'Gunnison', which, according to them, was the sight of some significant battle. According to what they managed to unearth… well, let's just skip that part for now. Truth is Tom disappeared. He and all his materials vanished from the planet. And Herald went mad, sure that this contained the proof he was looking for."
He shook his head. Katniss felt her mind spin, "So… the games…"
"Are a lure," Bee Tee went on, "Apparently the government is interested in leaving planet earth. For that, you need ships."
She shook her head.
"Well, word on the street is that Herald is… well, an evil man. I have not seen him in years. I'm saddened to hear of his slide into madness." He sighed, "This airship is owned by District 13. They negotiated their own peace treaty, but, as part of it, they have to remain silent. They cannot contact anyone. If someone shows up on their doorstep they have the rights to take them in. Right now, we are outside of the Capital's territory. I tell you this because I want you to understand that monsters have been in this universe longer than President Snow. Don't lose sight of the fact that he did make you a survivor, you needed to be that all on your own."
Katniss nodded, too tired to talk. Well, almost too tired, "Now what?"
"Now we're dead. We go to District 13 and live there," Bee Tee seemed relaxed as he answered her.
Katniss shook her head, "Not without my family. Just put me outside of my district. I'll find my way back."
They let her out in a nearby field. Katniss knew her way back, though she could navigate by the stars. It took her hours to return. Unfortunately, she found a new electric fence in the way. The power was actually on. She shook her head exasperated. The fence was there to keep out wild animals.
She felt like a wild animal. After walking around for another hour, she found a place she could leap over. In that time she retrieved one of her bows. Prim was no doubt playing with Lady. Their mother likely believed her daughter dead.
It would be wonderful to see them again.
Of course, they were at Victor's Row. Katniss landed poorly on her ankle. It was just another injury to add to her tab. She limped to her doorstep. To her surprise, her mother was busy, cooking, tidying. It was odd to think that this woman, who was so devastated by her husband's death, was now working at full tilt.
Prim was nowhere to be seen. Katniss thought for a moment, and then knew where her sister was. Taking her key, the victor opened the door, and let herself in. The family had to pack quickly, and leave.
She found her mother in deep concentration trying to mend one of her daughter's clothes. It used to be her father's coat, but Prim would never wear it. It must be her way of keeping Katniss around, by giving Prim something her sister used to have.
Katniss lacked the finesse for a dramatic reveal. She simply barked, "Go pack!" And then she went to her room. Her mother obeyed immediately. Good for her.
Katniss found her sister in the corner of her room. Prim had been crying. Her face was red, and surprising both disgusting and simultaneously beautiful. The older sister woke her younger sister with a kiss to the forehead, "Prim, I love you, but it's time to get up. We have to leave."
Prim's eyes opened very, very slowly, "Is this a dream?"
Katniss considered the question. It sounded like a dream. She was going to take her family to a new home where they would be free, "I don't see how that matters Duck-tail."
Smiling, Prim got up and shook her head. Fully awake now, she realized that her sister was there, and very much alive, "Katniss!" She hollered, leaping into her sibling's arms. Though there was not a great deal of time, Katniss returned the hug, letting the warm feeling of safety and family togetherness sink in. Then she said it was time to pack. She told her mother to meet her by the fence. She was going to get Gale, and then they were leaving.
Katniss found her friend at the house next door. He was preparing for a funeral. Katniss had forgotten about Haymitch, her mentor. She wondered if she would get a funeral. That would be quite funny; the entire village mourning her death, Gale, no doubt hardened by his experience. Meanwhile she and her family would be on their way to freedom.
Gale was overjoyed to see her. He quickly picked up on the hint that she was all-business. He went home to pack and get his family on the move. They would hopefully get to District 13 in a couple of days.
"Katniss, are you coming?" He asked impatiently. She shook her head.
"No, I have to pay my respects. I owe him that much," She claimed. Peeta would have understood. And he would have wanted to be here.
Katniss took a breath then entered the parlor. It stank, even with all the flowers the smell of alcohol and dirty living permeated the place. She felt deep revulsion. The games were a horrible act, but he could have made life easier for the district by employing others. Instead, he spent his money on alcohol and medicine. Nobody profited from this. Still, he was there when it counted.
The Capital had already delivered the body. She was a bit surprised at this. Typically, some bean counter would take some time to make sure everything was on the up and up before shipping a body home. They would do an autopsy, confirming the manner of death as well as a variety of other sanitary duties to ensure that the body was not carrying any deadly contagions.
Katniss approached the coffin. It was of good design, certainly better made than any other she had seen in the district. Now she had to say goodbye. It idly passed her mind that she had not seen her mentor die.
Katniss pressed her fingers to her lips to bid him farewell when something stopped her cold.
Haymitch had been mutilated. Specifically, his chest had been ripped open from the inside out.
Her insides felt like ice as she put two and two together. This was an extermination of the people of the district. The reason for the new fence, the reason for shipping the body home, it was all a cover-up. And the only thing she could do is isolate the monster.
Katniss realized her duty was to her family. She ran across town, in full sight of dozens of people, burst into city hall, ran to the elevator, and found her way to the emergency office. The woman there, whose name was Carrey, had been in charge of retrieving the body of her father. Katniss demanded she hit the air raid alarm.
Gale would know. If any of his family was infested, they would deal with that when the time came. Right now, everyone, especially the armed Peacekeepers, needed to be underground. The monsters would follow them and get trapped.
Katniss tried to pretend she was just trying to survive, and not think about the fact that she had more or less doomed her people to dying a horrible death in the dark.
The Everdeen family was read to go. Gale had managed to get a secret hole burrowed under the ground beneath the fence while she had been away. He shot his friend a questioning look when she showed up, but otherwise kept his mouth shut. Once they were on the other side, Katniss collapsed the tunnel. She pretended not to cry.
The group made their way to District 13. (A.N. As far as I can tell, where it is located is debatable. I have decided that it is north of 12. Deal with it, okay?)
The mocking-jays let out a screech of alarm after half an hour of walking. Within minutes, a fleet of airships destroyed District 12.
All Katniss could think about was that it would be easier if Peeta were there.
I woke up in a strange place.
Well that was bad news. Last time that happened I woke up on an alien game preserve. It occurred to me that Tiny may have considered my return to earth 'dishonorable' and decided to drop me off on a less-friendly planet. That would just be my luck, I survive the games only to land on an alien gaming preserve, only to be put somewhere even less friendly. Maybe next I would be eating dinner with President Snow.
I took a look at my surroundings, clearly underground. I was in a stone room. There were decorations on the walls; spears, shields, and carvings that resembled people in agony. So, not a great place to wake up.
It was dark, firelight illuminated the area. The ambient light made the place look bluish black. I wandered around a bit. As it turns out, Tiny left me in a pyramid underground. It looked like it was a battle ground. Above me, I heard voices trickle down. I recognized the accents, and realized I was safer on the Reserve.
I, Peeta Mellark, am underneath the Capital.
A.N. Well, I hope you enjoyed reading this. I had some trouble finishing this. How on earth can Katniss take out an alien queen? How does Peeta get back to earth? I knew all along that Haymitch would have a chest-buster. Still, this was really hard. I liked the second book, and I'm thinking about finishing the trilogy. If you want a third installment, (Katniss: Aliens vs. Predator) Read and review.