There's no more debate to be had about my return to the Capitol. Thanks to the deal with Leader Steev, he has to let me go soon or the story is no longer plausible. To be fair he was going to let me go before this whole thing with the Jabberjays happened. So I guess I'm the one that has to go to make this story plausible.
Leader Steev rubs his temple, "And I'm going to go along with this because?"
"Because my parents are going to fret every single second from the time you've announced you're releasing me until I'm back with them. Not to mention it would deny the media that has been so horrible to you and your district the last few months the opportunity of welcoming me home. And because I'm asking nicely."
"Well, since you asked nicely, why not?"
It takes me all of two minutes to pack. On my bed is a small box containing the only possessions I have left in the world. For many, that's one small box more than they have. Kreg picks up the box before I can even try to pick it up.
"Sure you want to carry that?"
"Like you could," he teases.
He's right. With my arm in a sling and my chest still hurting, I'd be lucky to get that thing to the elevator without something hurting. Once again I check my pocket for the small box containing my medicine for the next few days.
With our goodbyes behind us we get aboard the hovercraft. Kreg leaves to dump my box in my room while I strap into a seat across from Peeta.
"How are you feeling?"
My response is blowing a raspberry which gets a laugh out of him. In a minute Kreg is back and takes the seat next to mine. The three of us banter back and forth until Dr. Aurelius comes aboard and heads for the cockpit.
"He's not going to fly this thing is he?" I ask slightly nervous.
"I don't think he is," says Peeta. "Someone has to bring this thing back don't they?"
"Come on Vix. He's probably not that bad of a pilot," says Kreg.
I give him a sidelong glance, "You weren't on the last hovercraft."
"I heard that," Aurelius' voice calls back which sets us off.
One final passenger boards the hovercraft. For a minute I'm not sure who he is until he speaks. "Borrowed some clothes from one of your friends to help me blend in."
"Coming along for the ride, Commander Luca?" I say.
"Finishing the job to get you home safe."
Once in the air, I get up to gather a couple things. When I come back, Peeta is already in a chair waiting for his haircut. It's a shame really. I love his hair the way it is, but our entire world knows him too well. So that means a haircut and a dye job. When I'm done I have to admit he looks good as a brunette as well.
"What?" Dr. Aurelius and Kreg say together.
Kreg points to Peeta, "I get him, but why us?"
"Because both of you have military style haircuts and therefore will only fit in with a group of Peacekeepers which, I assume, you're trying to avoid. You don't have to dye it, just let me cut it. Now one of you hurry up. Peeta and I only got a couple hours to test you on district mannerisms and not to mention clothes. And don't argue," I say when Kreg opens his mouth to protest. "You're both from military districts and therefore have a lot to learn about fitting in with the regular population."
The next couple hours are pure entertainment. But by the time we land I'm assured that they won't give themselves up… at least not right away. With the last few minutes left before we land, I change clothes and throw on a light brown wig in a simple ponytail. Finally I strap my gun on my ankle. It's me after all.
Once on the ground I check the time. We, that is to say Commander Luca and I, just have a couple hours to get to the station before the next train to the Capitol leaves. I've never been to District Eleven before, but with the time I have left it doesn't look like I'll have time for the grand tour.
Saying goodbye is hard, but I know I'll see them again. Kreg will keep the portable phone I gave him. We both promise to check in with the other from time to time and then wish each other luck. As the train leaves the station I watch them until I can no longer see them.
Commander Luca turns to me, "They'll be fine."
"I know. And I put a tracking device in their phone just in case."
Talking with some of the passengers on the train, I get an idea on the general opinion of the populace. I don't debate any major points at first, just some of the small things. It's not much, but it's a start. Once I've got the cameras in front of me I'll have a large audience and hopefully impact.
The last person gets up to go to their room for the night. Commander Luca and I sit in silence until we hear the door slide back and we're alone. We talk until neither of us can stay awake much longer. As I drift off to sleep, am able to answer only part of the answer to the question many others asked when the war ended: now what?
Looking around the platform, I spot my target a few yards away. One of the nice things about sounding like my mother is that people often confuse us on the phone. So when I called Ward asking for him to pick someone up from home at the train station, he came right down.
"Looking for me?"
"Vixen? Is that you?" asks Ward.
"Keep it down. The whole point of sneaking in here was so that people wouldn't know I was back."
Ward looks up and down at me and after a brief reunion we load up in the car and head straight for the Training Center. He starts asking questions but then I ask him to fill me in. So much needs to be done, but until Leader Steev announces that he released me, I'm going to spend some uninterrupted time with my parents.
"Good morning, Rotor. There's someone from home here to see you and your wife… It's a surprise… Shall I send her up?" Ward hangs up and all humor disappears from his face as he points a finger at me. "And you better tell them I had no idea you were coming."
Commander Luca stays downstairs with Ward while I step into the elevator. Removing the wig I let my hair fly loose. When the elevator stops I take a deep breath just before the doors open.