By Alan Gilfoy in the world of Suzanne Collins. Lyme reflects on rebel influences in her past, and takes action to protect the families of some other rebels.Gale's Hunger Games sequel.
Rated T, Genre 1 Drama, Genre 2 Adventure, Character 1 Lyme
Forty years ago, I was just a girl in the quarrymen's ghettos of District Two. To train for and win the Hunger Games was the only way out of it. The welcome dinner at the training academy was my first decent meal since Hadrian won when I was five. They put us on a healthy diet. What they called a healthy baseline was more than enough for me. I smuggled some of the rations out to my family. As a Victor, I could bring this to my entire district. The Academy had swelled my pride and my skills. It made the Capitol propaganda even more intense.
Eight years later, I went ahead and did it – volunteered for death. I had just barely managed to get away with it, escaping the arena to escape my hut and take up residence in one of the Victors Village mansions. The Capitol advertised our district as one focused on stonework, yet even at a young age I realized it was all about the soldiers. I had seen through the lies and kept quiet. In the years to come, meeting victors who won both before and after me, I realized I was not alone by any stretch of the imagination. That was one of the cruelest lies, that even winning their infernal Games didn't really save you, only drew you further into their grasp.
Cato Adams very publically announced that he had figured out the lies. The young man was nothing if not recklessly brave – that applied to anyone who gladly volunteered for the Games, but Julius and his son especially so. The Capitol would of course react brutally. Amongst other things, they'd attack the families of the 'traitors'. My fellow victors Haymitch Abernathy and Johanna Mason knew this all too well. If I acted quickly, the relatives of Cato, Glimmer, Katniss and Gale could be saved the same fate.
I didn't know much about affairs of the heart, but it seemed lust was progressing into love. I'd like to think I had subtly planted rebellious ideas in Cato's mind, like I often tried to do here in District Two, although often without success. However, it was clear that Cato was thinking with another brain, which is probably exactly what Glimmer and Cashmere had in mind. Right about now, whatever the means, I'd take these ends. The pair from Twelve had a different powerful relationship; the combination seemed too much for even the jaded Capitol to tolerate. Gale's coded rebellious statements were being translated loud and clear by me and many others.
District Thirteen was very much real. Like me personally, they were biding their time planning for rebellion. Like my district, the Capitol said they had a mostly harmless industry while the truth was far more deadly. They made nuclear weapons as opposed to our conventional forces. In the Dark Days, rebels overtook the arsenal and secured a truce by threatening the Capitol. Thirteen played dead and the Capitol didn't make it actually dead. Did they abandon the other twelve districts or barely have the strength to save themselves anyway? That seemed lost to the sands of time, the fog of war. They had learned to be self-sufficient over the next several decades. Ironically, it was their conventional forces which would lead this second rebellion – I hope both Coin and Snow had the sense to not lob nukes.
Cato had forced our hands, making now the time to evacuate to District Thirteen and commence that second rebellion. I called up a counterpart in District One. "Chrome, this is Lyme. How's Glimmer's family doing?"
"I'll tell them you said hello," he answered.
I exchanged similar codes with Lotus in District Four about Annie and Finnick. They were two of the few rebel victors with living families. I hadn't started one – I knew they'd be a target, and I was too occupied with thoughts of rebellion. Many of my comrades thought the same, and many were too wrecked by the Games to make attractive mates anyway.
I grabbed my bug-out bag, a pack full of supplies that slid nicely onto my back. Much of the food stockpile was chocolate. It was calorie-dense, after all. It was a rare treasure before I enrolled in the Academy; since Academy and since I won, ready availability of the substance only deepened my love of it. District Two females tended to be tough as nails while still having a little something girly about them. I'm a chocoholic; I'd take that over other victors' vices any day. Clove Hawkins had liked using knives as craft tools on the rare occasions when she wasn't throwing them. She had volunteered for death and gotten it; her Peacekeeper brother Alexander had cheered her on. Fortunately, Soldier Hawkins had come to his senses and we now had another inside man. We sorely needed it. He had a sympathetic comrade in District Twelve, Darius King, who passed along the evacuation message to the Everdeens and Hawthornes.
I passed unnoticed to the house where Cato and his mother lived. Most people probably thought I was just running with weight for exercise, paying the price for my appreciation of cacao perhaps. I told her "Teresa, you may be in danger as the Capitol retaliates against your son. Grab what you need and come with me. Quickly."
She got the message, muttering "I knew that boy wasn't going to settle down even after he found a woman for more than a night." I looked impatiently over her shoulder as she grabbed mementos, money, clothes and other personal supplies.
One of many empty caves concealed a hovercraft; they were renowned for their invisibility in flight, but we couldn't maintain that while the vessel was in extended storage. It was for precisely this kind of use in situations precisely like this. We slipped out in the early morning – even in the austere District Two, even with the excitement of the Games, not that many people were awake yet, which helped cover our tracks. While in flight, the invisibility shield blocked communications. While at the stops, common sense dictated radio silence.
Chrome had Glimmer's family ready for pickup – the sister Lustre, the parents Mink and Sunstone. Where do these people get these names?, I wondered. "Chrome, you coming?"
"Emerald is," he answered.
The woman, rendered gaudy by her namesake, said simply "For Glimmer". Well, she had Chrome's seal of approval, and she was hardly the only one to have newly identified with the rebellion.
"I'm staying with the locals," Chrome continued. I'm coordinating the local rebels. "Facet and Shine want to rest," he said of his victor father, and his youngest son, who would be 18 by the next reaping if there was a next reaping. They're lying low.
I was needed with District Two's local rebels, but I was more urgently needed with these high-value targets. Besides, the rebel war plan called for securing the other districts before attempting to assault Two and then the Capitol itself, so I could afford to leave for the time being. The plan made abundant sense to me. It was standard military strategy to concentrate one's forces on an enemy weak point. In our situation, the prominent rebellion of one of their own had already cracked District Two's loyalty and seeing the other districts come to freedom should shatter it. The sine qua non of the Capitol was to leech resources from the Districts – we'd be cutting off the supply and wearing down the stockpile.
We turned to the southeast. The District Four contingent was the largest, but all of its members were quite ready. Cresta, Odair and the parents thereof would be joined by my contact Lotus, the somewhat younger Hook, and the much older Margaret – all victors, and all particularly supportive of their recent successors.
In District Twelve there was a clearing divided by the district's border fence. Two women, two girls and two boys were waiting on the forbidden side clutching a few meager bags. There was no one else nearby – Darius King had returned to his cover in the barracks.
I shared my candy during the last leg of the flight. To the people from One and Four, chocolate was nice, but hardly an alien concept. To most people from Twelve, it was an unbelievable luxury. Gale's sister and youngest brother took to it most eagerly, leaving wrappers on the floor of the hovercraft and smears around their lips. Katniss' mother reacted differently to the sight of the foil-wrapped bars. "Mrs. Everdeen?" I said simply, it being obvious that something was wrong.
"My friend Maysilee used to work at her family's sweet shop."
"Maysilee Donner. Fallen in the 50th Games," I said to both acknowledge her and explain the reference to the other evacuees.
"Yes. Her sister Melody was never the same either, even after she married the man who was to become District Twelve mayor."
"Other results?" I inquired of one of the attachés in the hangar.
"Arena hovercraft loaded and incoming. Bernard, Brutus, Jack, Wiress, Chaff, Haymitch, Cecelia, Gloss, Cashmere and Johanna came from the Capitol with them. They got Woof, Pike, Seeder and the morphlings. We got Cecelia's family out of Eight. Others unknown."
When Coin arrived, she addressed me as 'Lieutenant Colonel Lyme', referring to my rank rather than my billet at Commander of my district's rebels. "Congratulations on your flawless execution of mission code thirteen."
"Acknowledged, Madam President," I replied crisply. "This brings us to 21 victors on site – Margaret, Bernard, Jack, myself, Brutus, Chaff, Lotus, Wiress, Haymitch, Emerald, Hook, Cecelia, Gloss, Cashmere, Finnick, Anemone, Johanna, Glimmer, Cato, Katniss and Gale."
"You have proved useful on the journey here. You will prove useful now that you have arrived. We can use all the victors we can get to become victors in this struggle whose time has come."