After a thorough discussion with Plutarch, I managed to persuade him into letting the mutant out of the cage in which she was being kept. It took a couple days to arrange, but she's now in a more comfortable room. There's a bed and a large window that leads to our "observation room." Upon Plutarch's request, Beetee crafted a new suit for her that matches the plain grey clothing worn by citizens of District 13. Despite three extra holes fit for her wings and tail, it might as well be anyone else's outfit.
"It might not be perfect, but at least she doesn't look like an enemy anymore," Beetee comments as we watch her from behind the window.
She didn't want to go near it at first, but I eventually coaxed her to put it on. Despite Beetee's gentle demeanor, I seem to be the only one she cooperates with.
"Now what are we going to do?" I ask Plutarch, who's sitting at a table by the door.
He looks up from the papers he's flipping through. "What do you mean?"
"I mean what are we going to do with Nightlock?"
Everyone faces me.
"Nightlock?" Plutarch asks.
I look away awkwardly. "That's what I decided to call her."
"Now she's named it," Coin utters bitterly.
For a while the sound of shuffling papers is the only thing keeping the room from silence.
"I think it's a good name," Beetee finally speaks up.
We glance at each other approvingly as Plutarch pulls a paper from a folder. He looks over it briefly, then hands it to me.
"What's this?" I ask.
"It's everything we know about... 'Nightlock.'"
I read over the simple facts.
•Weight: 103 lbs
•Oddities: Wings, Tail, Legs
•Coloration: Skin-Olive, Oddities-Black
•Pain Tolerance: Significant
"This is hardly anything," I hand the paper back to him.
"I know. But there's a lot left to find out." He stares at me quietly. "That's your job."
"My job?" I'm more confused than opposed.
"You're the only one she'll listen to. So you're the only one who can work with her."
I glance around to see everyone's eyes fixed on me. Then I look at Nightlock who, to my amusement, is bouncing on the bed. I suppose having emotions means having a personality as well.
I'd rater it be me working with her than the doctors, given what they've already done to her. "I'll do it."
"Good," he and Coin head towards the door. "You start today. The guards will bring her to training ground number three. Be there in an hour." With that, he closes the door behind them.
That moved rather quickly. I turn back to Beetee. "Do you know exactly what it is I'm supposed to do?"
He slowly makes his way to the door. "No," he says, "But I'm sure you will."
"What do you mean by that?"
He opens the door and pauses. "Think about it. I think you know what we all want to see," he says as he exits the room.
I think for a while and slowly walk over to the window. Nightlock is now curled up on the bed, napping.
"What we want to see..." I whisper, partly to her and partly to myself. I take a moment to run my hand across the seam of the glass.
"I want to see you fly."
Sticks and leaves slash at our sides as we sprint through the dark forest. We've been running for hours, and nighttime is beginning to fall across the sky. I look back and see that J-7 is lagging behind us.
"Come on," I call back to him, "We need to find her before J-9 does!"
"What happens if he finds her?" He asks nervously.
"She dies," J-5 answers.
The three of us dart through the wilderness, gaining as much distance between us and the Capitol as we can.
"Are you sure she went this way?" J-5 asks.
"Positive, I remember her saying she wanted to head east."
"B-2!" J-7 calls.
"What?" I answer.
"You dropped a feather!" He holds it in his hand.
"So?" I ask, glancing at my wings.
"So, if you drop enough, they'll be able to track us for sure!"
This concerns me. We turn into an area covered by trees as our sprint comes to a stop.
"She can't help it if she drops feathers," J-5 says quietly. "She's leading us anyway, So we'll catch any feathers that we see fall off her." He and J-5 nod at each other.
"Alright," I say confidently. "We're pretty far away now. I think it's okay for us to fly."
We jog to an open area, spreading our wings. "Let's go, boys," I call.
I beat my wings and climb into the air. When I'm above the canopy, I circle around until J-5 and J-7 are beside me.
I nod to them, and we swiftly set off into the eastern sky.
"Don't worry, J-3," I hear J-5 whisper. "We won't let 'im get ya."
Given my new job, maybe I now have an excuse to skip my schedule. Even when my mom and Prim aren't there, just sitting in my apartment is something I'd rather do than go to my classes.
I fiddle with the bed sheets as I think to myself. I wonder how well Nightlock is able to fly. Her wings are definitely large enough to carry her, given how light she is for her height. I suppose I'll find out today.
The silence of our bedroom is comforting to me. It lets me somewhat relax as I try to sort out my thoughts. I won't be here for long though; soon, a security guard is going to escort me to training ground number three. I'd go by myself, but I've never been to number three before. I never even knew that the district had multiple training grounds- yet another thing nobody told me.
Soon enough, there's a knock at my door. When I answer it, I'm surprised to see Boggs.
"Are you ready?" He asks flatly.
He leads me through the district, taking a different series of elevators and corridors. This time, the main elevator takes us down about ninety floors. How deep is this district? He and I are silent as we descent, but eventually the doors slide open, depositing us directly in the training ground.
We step out onto a vast cement floor. The ceiling of this room must be high enough to have its own atmosphere; I wouldn't be surprised if this training ground was as big as the Capitol itself. Turning, around I see the others with several guards and doctors sitting in an area behind a metal rail.
"Good," Plutarch says, "You're here."
"Why is this place so empty?" The sound of my voice echoes heavily off of the barren cement.
"This ground is for emergencies. If the other two are destroyed in an attack, this is what we would use."
I nod and glance around. "So… where's Nightlock?"
"They're bringing her now," He says as he turns back to his own conversation.
For a while I drift into thought and wander aimlessly across the pavement. How were they able to rebuild a district that's so enormous, yet so confined?
The elevator doors open and four guards carrying a large metal crate amble out of it. They bring it over to where I'm standing and set it down, attaching it to several metal latches on the ground. A guard walks over and unlocks the door of the container, causing it to swing open.
Nightlock shyly steps out of the crate. One of her ankles is bound by shackle with a long chain leading to the crate.
I turn back to the others angrily. "How do you expect her to show us what she can do if she's chained to a cage?"
Everyone's quiet and I see the guards exchange awkward glances.
"Well?" I ask.
Plutarch stares at Nightlock. "Unchain her," he tells the guards.
They approach her, and she cowers as they roughly remove the shackle from her ankle.
I nod approvingly and slowly walk over to her. She seems relieved to see me. Until now, there's never been some sort of barrier between us.
"Hey there," I say mildly. "Do you know why we're here?"
She glances over her shoulder uneasily and shakes her head.
"They want you to show us the things you can do."
She responds only with a curious tilt of her head.
Why she isn't able to talk? I look back at the others, who are watching us expectantly. I decide to begin with the obvious question. "Can you fly?" I ask her.
She nods, spreading her wings for me to see.
I smile. "Do you think you could show me?"
She looks around the training ground as if to judge the amount of space there is. She then nods reluctantly.
I step back to give her space and turn to make sure the others are watching. Plutarch nods to us.
Nightlock takes my hint and looks nervously at the guards. With her unnatural, yet elegant legs, she cautiously begins to run across the pavement. Her raptor-like feet are having trouble gripping the smooth surface, but she soon finds her bearings. With her enormous wings spread, she begins to catch air. I hear impressed comments echo from the ones behind me.
Then with a single flap of her wings, she takes off into the air...
...only to let out a painful cry and collapse to the cement.
The fascinated comments become concerned winces as Nightlock lies on the ground, motionless. I run over to her.
"What's wrong?" I ask as I lower myself to one knee.
She rolls over and touches her wing, pain printed on her face.
I turn to see Boggs approaching us.
"How did she get hurt?" I ask Boggs intensely.
He thinks for a second. "When they captured her out in the woods, they knocked her out of the sky. She must've broken her wing when she fell." He gestures to Plutarch then turns back to me. "I don't think anyone knew she was hurt."
I turn back to Nightlock. "Why didn't you let us know you were hurt?"
She shrugs nervously and lays her head on the cement. I take a moment to touch her uninjured wing, which feels like sleek leather.
She opens her eyes and stares at me.
Soon, Gale approaches us with two doctors following him.
"They'll take it from here, Katniss." He reaches out his hand to help me up.
As I stand up, Nightlock makes a fuss.
"She doesn't want you to leave," He says softly.
I glare at the doctors warningly. There's no way she's going to trust them after their little 'pain tolerance' test. I turn to them. "Take her to my mother."
One doctor steps forward. "But Mrs. Everdeen isn't certified as a…"
"I don't care," I cut him off. "Take her to my mother."
They look back at Plutarch, who nods in agreement.
Nightlock seems to relax at my demands, but she still flinches as the doctors assist her back into the crate. They pick it up, gentler than before, and slowly exit the training ground.
Gale and I turn to leave. Just as we're about to open the door, Plutarch calls to me. "I'll tell your mother."
I nod to him and continue on with Gale.
Once the elevator returns, we begin our assent into the main part of the district.
"Katniss," He says quietly.
I look at him.
"This is untimely, but I know how you hate it when nobody tells you things."
"What happened?" I immediately say.
"Nothing," he replies. "…yet."
"What do you mean?"
He pauses for a moment. "They might try to infiltrate the Capitol."
The news doesn't come as much of a surprise to me. "What do they expect to do?"
"Nothing huge," He stares at the wall blankly. "Just send in spies. Maybe try to find someone who could give us information."
"You mean they'll kidnap someone?"
"Probably," he says frankly.
A few minutes later, the elevator doors slide open. We're start to head in separate directions when I turn back to him. "Gale," I call.
He looks back at me.
I smile at him. "Thanks for keeping me in the loop."