There were no faces in the sky that night as the anthem began to play. It had been a full day without any kills but the gamemakers did nothing to spice things up as they were waiting to see if Beetee's plan would work.
At around nine, we left our camp and headed to the twelve o'clock area. We began to hike towards the lightning tree, illuminated only by the moon, which was brighter and larger than usual in the arena, probably just so that the audience could see, as there was nothing worse than a badly lighted scene.
Once we reached the top of the hill Beetee asked for my help. He uncoiled lengths of the wire and had me secure it to a branch before we began passing the wire back and forth, wrapping it around the trunk of the tree.
We finished working on the trunk just as we heard the roaring of the wave descending in the ten o'clock zone. Beetee gathered us up and explained the rest of the plan. Katniss and Johanna were to take the coil down the hill and towards the beach, making sure to uncoil it, and then they were to drop the spool in the water and make sure it sank.
"I want to go with them as guard," objected Peeta, which was to be expected.
"You're too slow," said Beetee, "besides, I'll need you on this end. Katniss will guard. There's no time to debate this, I'm sorry. If the girls are to get out of there alive, they need to move now."
He handed the coil to Johanna, who eyed me wearily. I didn't blame her for feeling nervous… I was on-edge myself. Separating Katniss from Peeta was not the safest idea, as there was no way to control her, and we all knew she was still willing to do anything to keep Peeta alive.
"It's ok," said Katniss. "We'll just drop the coil and come straight back up."
"Not into the lightning zone," said Beetee. "Head for the tree in the one-to-two-o'clock sector. If you find you're running out of time, move over one more. Don't even think about going back on the beach, though, until I can asses the damage."
Katniss looked at Peeta and took his face in her hands. "Don't worry. I'll see you at midnight." Peeta nodded and they kissed. Before he could argue, she let go and turned to face Johanna. "Ready?"
"Why not?" she said with a shrug. "You guard, I'll unwind. We can trade off later."
I watched them go, Johanna holding the coil and unwinding the wire as they walked. She turned to look at me one last time before they disappeared and I gave her a small reassuring nod, then they were out of sight.
Peeta did not look pleased at all, leaned against a tree, gripping his knife tightly. I rolled my eyes and sat across from him, my trident lying on the floor. "You can let go of that," I said but he just snorted.
"I'm not going to hurt you, Peeta," I sighed. "I've saved your life a couple times already…"
"Because the time wasn't right. Finnick, come on… only one gets out, right?"
"I thought so… you proved me wrong last year."
"That was different. You know they'd never allow that again."
"I know," I said. "But I don't have to worry about you. You're willing to die for Katniss anyway."
"She's going to have to take you down, I might just do that for her."
"Then why haven't you?" I asked with a sly grin. His brow furrowed and he seemed to be considering it.
"You know better than I do that when the Careers are gone there's no stopping Katniss.
"But she wants to die for you," I said. He sighed. "Put the knife down, Peeta," I said. "I'm not going to hurt you. I don't kill my friends."
He watched me for a while, confused but he did drop the knife eventually, only to be picked up by Beetee who then handed it to him again. "We should get moving."
Before I could stand up, though, Beetee pointed down the hill. The wire had gone limp. Beetee grabbed a piece and began to pull it. He cursed under his breath, as he looked around panicked. I grabbed my trident and Peeta picked up his knife. "They've cut it," he said.
"Katniss," he gasped. He hadn't taken a full step in the direction of the beach when I gripped his arm.
"Peeta, stop!" I said. He yanked his arm away and ran off. I hesitated to follow him and looked at Peeta.
"You need to find Katniss," he said. "Go, Finnick. I'll stay behind."
"But the wire!"
"I'll take care of it."
"Wait," I said. I grabbed the knife that Peeta had left behind when he'd run off and I grabbed Beetee's arm.
"Just do it." I slashed open the skin of his forearm where the tracker had been introduced before the start of the games and I took out the small chip. I took a deep breath and did the same to my arm and then I tossed both chips into the jungle.
"Just go!" he said. I nodded and gripped my trident tightly as I ran own the hill. I could've easily caught up with Peeta if I had known what direction he had run to. I ran straight down the hill, the way Johanna and Katniss had gone.
I ran down the hill calling for Katniss and Johanna, but I got no response. I stopped on my tracks when I saw blood. "Johanna! Katniss!" I called, but still no answer.
I continued running in the direction that Johanna and possibly the careers clearly had taken, as there were obvious signs of a struggle and a faint trail of blood on the ground.
I followed the trail on blood and heard the first cannon. I continued running and calling Johanna's name and I almost tripped over Chaff's dead body. That meant Johanna, Enobaria and Brutus were still out there.
I continued to run and then realized the trail of blood had long ago ended and that I needed to find Johanna. I turned around and ran in the direction of the tree. When I was halfway there I heard the yelling. Brutus was lying on the ground and Johanna was trying to fend off Enobaria with just her ax.
She got a bit distracted when she saw me so Enobaria managed to slash her with her sword. She cried out in pain and I thrust my trident out, aiming for her back, but she ducked and avoided the hit.
"I'll take Enobaria," I yelled as she ran off in the direction of the tree.
"I'll finish this one off," she said.
"Find Peeta, I'll get Katniss," I said. She nodded and picked her ax from the ground. I pulled her into a quick hug and pressed my lips to her ear so nobody could hear.
"I'll see you soon, the hovercraft will get here in no time, Beetee's by the force field, meet us up there quick."
I ran off after Enobaria. She must have heard Katniss yelling, calling Peeta's name. She crashed into the clearing of the lightning tree. She seemed confused when she first saw the wire. Instead of killing her though I looked around frantically for Beetee who was supposed to be there, and for Katniss, who's voice I was sure had come from that direction, but was nowhere to be seen.
We heard Peeta's voice next. Calling for Katniss and Enobaria took a few steps in that direction. Everything else happened too fast. I noticed some movement higher up the slope. It was Katniss, she had an arrow notched and ready to fire, but she wasn't pointing it towards us. She faced the force field and aimed at the shimmering square that told us it was there.
Before anybody could react or take cover she released the arrow, which sailed smoothly towards the force field as the first lightning strike hit the tree. The golden wire turned white as the electricity traveled through it. The lightning hit the force field as the arrow hit the shimmering square.
For a moment, the night seemed like day as the two forces collided and illuminated the entire jungle. I was blown back into a tree and everything went black for a moment.
When I opened my eyes again, dirt and plants were raining everywhere. The force field was raining on us and there seemed to be fireworks. I wasn't sure what was happening but I spotted the hovercraft that released its metal claw and picked Katniss off the ground. I watched her being pulled into the safety of the hovercraft and then the claw descended once again to retrieve Beetee, who I hadn't even noticed was lying near where Katniss had been standing. I tried to stand, but my body wouldn't cooperate. I needed to find Peeta and Johanna, to bring them back before the Capitol got to them, but I couldn't.
The third trip was for me. I felt the cold metal close around me. It was a strange sensation, being picked by the talons that only ever removed the dead from the arena. This time I wouldn't get shipped back home though, what I'd given to go back to Four.
When I reached the ship there was a crowd of white-robbed people waiting to carry me off and get me fixed. Plutarch visited me when I woke up, in the hospital room where I was hooked up to machines with Beetee and Katniss laying in a similar state to my right. I'd been released long before them though.
I was led to the control room, lit up with screens, showing scenes of several districts. Haymitch was seated at the table and there were three dishes set out, ready to be eaten, but the last thing I felt like doing was feasting.
"Communications are down in Seven, Ten and Twelve. But Eleven has control of transportation now, so there's at least hope of them getting some food out."
I'd sat down, staring at the table blankly as Haymitch and Plutarch discussed the state of the different districts. They'd said nothing about Four but it was everything I could think about.
"Plutarch, can you take me to my district?" I asked. My voice was low and horse and it hurt to speak.
"No, I'm sorry. There's no way I can get you to Four. Bu I've given special orders for her retrieval if possible. It's the best I can do, Finnick."
Annie. She'd been left back home. After what went down in the Arena there was no doubt in my mind that the Capitol would try to get here, to question her, torture her to get answers that she didn't have.
"Let me go, turn me over to the Capitol, they'll try to get her, Plutarch. Maybe if I'm dead they won't care," I begged, my voice heavy with desperation.
"Don't be stupid. That's the worst thing you could do. Get her killed for sure. As long as you're alive, they'll keep her alive for bait," said Haymitch.
A deep knot formed in my throat. Before I could snap, Katniss burst through the door, almost falling over.
"Done knocking yourself out, sweetheart?" asked Haymitch, the annoyance clear in his voice.
Katniss took a step forward and stumbled so he reached for her wrist to steady her. That's when he noticed the syringe she was tightly gripping in her hand. "So it's you and a syringe against the Capitol? See, this is why nobody lets you make the plans." She stared at him puzzled. "Drop it," he said, pressuring her wrist until her 'weapon' fell to the ground.
He set her on the chair next to mine and Plutarch set a bowl of broth on the table in front of her. "Eat," he said kindly.
Haymitch sat in front of her and sighed. "Katniss I'm going to explain what happened. I don't want you to ask any questions until I'm through. Do you understand?"
She nodded her head slightly and looked at him. Haymitch explained that there was a plan to break us all out of the arena from the moment the Quarter Quell had been announced. The tributes from 3,4,6,7,8 and 11 all had some knowledge about it. Plutarch had been part of an undercover group for several years that was aiming to overthrow the Capitol, and that it was he who made sure the wire was in the Cornucopia.
Beetee's job was to blow a whole in the force field that would allow for our rescue. The bread that I'd so obsessively counted was code for which day and what time the rescue would occur. The hovercraft belonged to District Thirteen, where we were headed as the rest of the districts were in full-scale rebellion.
"You didn't tell me," she accused.
"Neither you nor Peeta were told. We couldn't risk it," said Plutarch. "I was even worried you would mention my indiscretion with the watch during the Games." HE pulled out his watch and ran a finger across it to flash a mockingjay. "Of course when I showed you this, I was merely tipping you off about the arena. As a mentor. I thought it might be a first step towards gaining your trust. I never dreamed you'd be a tribute again."
"I still don't understand why Peeta and I weren't let in on the plan," she said.
"Because once the force field blew, you'd be the first they'd try to capture, and the less you knew, the better," said Haymitch.
"The first ones? Why?" she asked.
"For the same reason the rest of us agreed to die to keep you alive," I said glumly.
"No, Johanna tried to kill me," she said.
"Johanna knocked you out to cut the tracker from your arm and lead Brutus and Enobaria away from you," said Haymitch. I looked at the table, trying not to think of what they were doing to her in the Capitol as we spoke.
"What?" she asked. "I don't know what you're-"
"We had to save you because you're the mockingjay, Katniss," said Plutarch. "While you live, the revolution lives."
"Peeta," she whispered. The room went silent and in that moment I wanted nothing more than to leave the room and let Haymitch explain everything.
"The others kept Peeta alive because if he died, we knew there'd be no keeping you in an alliance," said Haymitch, "And we couldn't risk leaving you unprotected."
"Where's Peeta?" she snarls.
"He was picked up by the Capitol along with Johanna and Enobaria," says Haymitch, looking at the ground.
Katniss pounced at Haymitch. She flew out of her chair and the next second her nails were raking down his face, causing heavy bleeding. I rose and tried to pull her away from him as they yelled at each other but Katniss was so fueled with rage I could barely keep her in my grasp.
Two more sets of arms joined me and together we managed to drag her back to her table and restrain her limbs. I watched as she shook with anger, banging her head against the table until a nurse finally came forward to sedate her. She moaned in pain, both physical and emotional and soon enough the drugs kicked in.
"Katniss. Katniss, I'm sorry," I called from the bed next to hers, where I had soon after been placed due to my refusal to eat anything. Plutarch had delivered the news that even though they had attempted to rescue Annie; the Capitol had gotten to her first.
"I wanted to go back for him and Johanna, but I couldn't move." She doesn't reply, just stares blankly at the ceiling. "It's better for him that Johanna. They'll figure out he doesn't know anything pretty fast. And they won't kill him if they think they can use him against you."
"Like bait?" she said, still refusing to meet my gaze. "Like how they'll use Annie for bait, Finnick?"
The sobs escaped my lips without a warning and my mind was so overwhelmed with desperation I couldn't do anything to stop them.
"I wish she was dead," I cried. "I wish they were all dead and we were, too. It would be best."
I try not to imagine Annie in the Capitol, stuck in a cell, shivering behind the bars. Though I knew better than anybody that she was stronger than everybody gave her credit for, I didn't think she could stand it. She'd suffered enough with her games; I didn't know what being captured and tortured would do to her already messed up mind.