Katniss must have fallen asleep, because the next thing she knew someone was draping a blanket over her shoulders. She jolted awake and in the process almost broke Peeta Mellark's nose with her head. The surprised boy, for he was little more than just that even now, barely managed to evade her violent and sudden awakening.
"Oh. It's just you," said Katniss with a sigh.
Peeta shifted uncomfortably. "Yeah. I just wanted to check up on you."
Katniss rubbed her eyes and glanced at the wall clock. "How long was I asleep –– oh. Four hours."
"Did you stay up to watch Artemis's interview?"
"I can't believe she met Rue."
"Did you see Caius's?"
"Why? Who's Caius?" The name rang a bell, but Katniss couldn't place it.
"District 4 male representative. Caius Adrian Angelico."
"Oh, him. Petronius said he tried to get him as an ally the other day. No, I didn't."
"What about Iris's?"
"Iris?" It took Katniss a little while to remember the name. "Iris Snow? The President's granddaughter?"
Peeta only nodded in response.
"No. Did you?"
"Yeah." Peeta sat down on the couch next to Katniss. "And they're showing repeats now. Caius's is scheduled to be on again in three minutes, and Iris's is right after. Nice coincidence, huh?"
Peeta got himself and Katniss glasses of warm milk, then they settled down to watch the interviews. And for the first time, they saw Caius. Like Artemis, he was nothing like they were expecting. But unlike Artemis, he not only seemed to be indifferent about his public appearance but absolutely oblivious to it. No, not oblivious, exactly. Defiant, possibly. Or maybe he just didn't care, and liked to show how much he didn't.
If Katniss had seen him on the streets, she would have locked the car doors. The boy, who couldn't have been much older than fifteen, didn't even sit properly. He didn't seem to care. His skinny legs were pulled up towards his chest, and when they weren't, he leaned forward on the chair and balanced in a crouch on his toes. His outfit was even more casual than Artemis's, with just baggy jeans and a loose white tunic. Also like Artemis, he didn't show any signs of self alteration of any kind, other than a tiny black diamond tattoo on his ankle that Katniss only glimpsed once when the hem of his jeans shifted. The purple shadows under his unblinking dead eyes and his long, tangled black hair gave him the appearance of one who had just gotten out of bed, but hadn't gotten much sleep in the process.
"That's Caius?" she asked cynically. Peeta only nodded in response. "Petronius said he was scared by him. No way."
"Yes way," said Peeta. "Just keep watching."
Caesar Flickerman seemed to be trying to make a connection with the boy. He failed miserably. Caius was taking on the indifferent, somewhat hostile angle, which made things hard for the jovial interviewer. He didn't divulge into any personal information, and when Caesar asked about these things, he either said nothing or gave some sort of acerbic, sarcastic remark, many of which drew laughs but all of which he did not smile at himself. This in itself was not very strange, especially for a boy like him. "Why are you showing me this again?" asked Katniss about halfway through the interview.
"Just keep watching," said Peeta mischievously. This in itself made Katniss suspicious, but she kept watching. The only particularly interesting thing she had noticed so far was that the insomniac boy never blinked…at least, not that she ever saw.
The interview started to end. "Best of luck to you, Caius Angelico, and may the odds be ever in your favor," said Caesar, standing up from his chair.
Lithely, Caius leapt down from his strange perch on his chair and landed noiselessly on the floor. Standing up straight –– straight being only in comparison to before, seeing as he had a tendency to slouch and showed this tendency now –– he nodded sharply and shook hands. But as he was walking out of view, he turned around and said, "Oh, Caesar."
"I think you forgot something." As Caesar frowned, Caius flipped a small silver object to Caesar, who caught it in the palm of his hand. As the boy swiftly ducked out of view of the cameras, Caesar stared at the object in his palm. "What is it?" Katniss asked, echoing several people off-screen.
Caesar answered this when he held the object up. "My ring," he said in awe. "My silver ring. He… he stole it."
Someone asked, "Is that legal?" to which Caesar laughed and replied, "Who knows?"
At this, Caius's interview ended. Peeta started to laugh, and Katniss stared at him. "You made me watch this kid's interview just for that?"
"Yeah," replied Peeta with a grin. "You're just jealous, aren't you."
"Why would I be jealous?"
"That you didn't think of it first."
"Think of what first?"
"You're avoiding it. Stealing Caesar's ring, that's what."
Katniss turned a deep shade of red. "Let's just watch Iris's and get it over with."
The television had already switched. They both recognized the screening room of Level 12, where Caesar and a tiny girl in a simple white dress were sitting. The girl looked about ten, and had long blond hair that still had a few streaks of pink mingling among the gold. "That's Iris," whispered Peeta.
Katniss could not help but stare. "No. She can't be." Her voice was small and hollow, like a sad child's.
Peeta nodded sadly. "Yes. That's her. Iris Medea Snow, eleven years old, sixty-two pounds, four feet six inches. Odds are given sixty to one."
"Not in her favor," murmured Katniss. "What are we doing, Peeta?"
Iris reminded her of Prim. At that age, they were very similar in stature and appearance. And Rue… Katniss could barely think of her. A girl a year younger and half a foot shorter had no chance.
The interview was starting. Iris sat with her small pale hands in her lap, looking very tiny on the large couch around her. As Caesar began to speak, she was very quiet and polite, answering as simply as she could. Katniss observed that Caesar avoided any questions about her grandfather, and made a mental note to talk to him about that later.
From the interview, Katniss learned that Iris was, as Petronius had said, very skilled in the medical field. She was also an archer, though she mentioned the fact once and with little elaboration. She was an elusive fighter, liked to climb, and was a fast runner. For such a small girl, she seemed to have maybe, possibly, just a chance. Katniss caught herself hoping that tiny Iris would survive.
No. She's the granddaughter of your worst enemy. She's no better than he was.
The interview soon ended, and Peeta turned off the television. Katniss was almost asleep, curled up against his chest. He could feel himself slipping into unconsciousness, and he swore that he had literally just fallen asleep when, a second later, his cell phone rang.
Peeta had discovered the things when he was in therapy in the Capitol. As soon as he got out, he had bought one. It was a sleek, black device, like nothing he had ever seen before. He had instantly fell in love with it, and checked it at least twice a minute for messages or updates. On this particular occasion, he had forgotten to turn it off, and the loud ringing awoke both of them, not to mention Petronius and Augusta in their rooms down the hall.
Annoyed, Peeta checked the screen. A message was blinking on the screen, from Haymitch: Artemis is gone.
"Stay here," ordered Peeta, standing up.
"What is it?" asked Katniss, not referring to the phone but to the message that Peeta had received.
Peeta raced into the elevator. "Nothing good, I'm guessing."
Katniss followed him anyway, despite his order. And Peeta did not object. Even though the chivalrous thing to do would be to let her stay behind, he knew that Katniss did not think much of chivalry and could hold a fight on her own. In fact, he reasoned, if it comes to a fight, Katniss might have to protect ME.
Then his sensible mind took over. Most likely there would be no fight. Artemis was just missing, that was all. Maybe she had traveled up to the roof for a breath of fresh air –– if one could call the smog of the Capitol fresh.
The elevator ascended and stopped at level eleven, where the couple got off to see a very frazzled-looking Haymitch Abernathy and the strangest group they had ever seen. Beetee was there, and Johanna and Plutarch Heavensbee. A gray-uniformed rebel guard stood behind a stocky, ginger-headed boy who must have been the other District 11 representative, Cornelius, and who was wearing nothing more than night-clothes. "Gone," Haymitch kept saying to no one in particular. "She's gone! I was just getting up for a drink –– "
"Of water, I hope," interjected Katniss dryly.
Haymitch, obviously very tired, snapped his fingers and pointed at the former tribute. "Yes! Yes, water. That's what I meant."
"You better have," said Peeta.
Haymitch sent the boy a loathing glare. "Don't you trust me? No? Good policy. Anyway… I was just getting up for a drink of water –– " those words were stressed with a pointed look at Katniss " –– when I passed Artemis's bedroom and saw that the door was open a crack. She usually keeps it closed and locked from the inside when she's asleep, and when I looked inside, her bed was empty. It was disguised so it looked like she was in bed, but I know that trick."
"Any idea where she went?" asked Johanna. Haymitch swung to her, obviously exasperated.
"If I had any idea, I wouldn't have called you here, would I?" he practically shouted.
Johanna rolled her eyes. "Just asking."
"Then don't!" yelled Haymitch. Several people jumped at the sudden volume, but then, coincidentally, the elevator dinged and slid open.
And Artemis Hecate Gossamer, with her hands cuffed in front of her, stepped out of the elevator with four rebel guards in tow. She wore nothing but gray sweatpants and a black shirt, and even though her hands had silver shackles around them she held herself with dignified posture. Her calculating brown eyes swept the room, scanning the occupants.
"Artemis," said Haymitch, striding towards her.
He stopped when she replied in the same even tone, "Mr. Abernathy."
Haymitch stared at her. "Where were you?"
Artemis gave a sly smile. "Out for a walk."
Plutarch Heavensbee strode forward and pushed Haymitch out of the way. "What happened?" he snapped. This question was more aimed towards the frazzled guards behind Artemis rather than the girl herself.
"We found her trying to sneak into the Control Room," replied one of the guards. "She was armed only with this." He held out a small, matte silver device, about nine centimeters long and four centimeters wide. Plutarch hesitated, and then drew his hand back.
"What is it?" he asked, and at this Artemis audibly snorted.
"What is it?" she repeated scornfully. "What is it?"
Plutarch glared at the girl. "You sound as if you could answer that question yourself."
She met his glare without flinching and hesitated purposely before replying. "I could. That doesn't mean I will."
"We did a quick scan on it, sir," said the guard. "There are no traces of explosives or any kind of hidden blade, but rather an abnormally high amount of technology. It is not a weapon, sir, but some kind of interceptor. Possibly an advanced scrambler."
Sharply, Plutarch snatched the device from the guard and examined it. "What does it do?" he asked, more to Artemis.
She gave a jaded, uncaring smile. "Why do you care, Mr. Heavensbee?"
"Mr. Heavensbee" met her dark eyes with a scowl. "What were you doing in the Control Room with it?"
"Really complicated stuff. 'Nough said."
"How did you get in?"
Haymitch's eyes widened, and he started turning his pockets inside out frantically. "Uh… keys…"
That jaded smile was back, this time strengthened with a hint of mischief. Plutarch was on the edge of losing it. "Where did you get this device?"
The smile grew wider, but colder. "I made it."
Now there was a piece of information, if it was true. Plutarch didn't bother pursuing it. The odds of it being a lie were too great. He could tell, even without knowing what it did, and simply by the almost nonexistent weight and slender design, that this was no simple toy. This was an extremely complex piece of technology. Artemis, however smart she claimed she was, could never build something like this on her own. He decided to go back to the original question. "What is it?"
Artemis let out a short bark of laughter. "You really don't know, do you?"
"Answer the question, Miss Gossamer," said Plutarch in a deceptively calm voice.
That indifferent smile was back once more. But it never reached her eyes. They were as cold as ice. "I don't see why you need to know."
Plutarch couldn't take it anymore. With a dramatic flourish, he lifted the silver device and dropped it to the ground. The casual grin on Artemis's face vanished like a snuffed out candle, and she actually flinched as it clattered on the floor. Even the spectators of this strange encounter, especially Beetee, tensed up. But the sturdy little disk did not break, and Artemis relaxed.
At least, until Plutarch positioned his booted foot over it. "No!" yelped Artemis, jerking from her guards' grasps. But they were too strong, and pulled her back.
Plutarch, with his foot still hovering over the fragile-looking device, smiled ominously. "Interesting," he mused, partly to himself. "It must be important. She knows that even though it can withstand shock very well, it's not durable enough to survive the pressure of a human's weight."
Artemis couldn't seem to help herself. "Not yours, at least," she said, trying to sound strong and indifferent, but the faint wavering in her voice gave it all away.
Plutarch gazed at her loathingly. "You're fighting for your device by calling me fat?"
Artemis did not reply. Her face was now an inscrutable mask. But the trembling of her thin shoulders gave what was underneath the mask away.
"One last time," said Plutarch. "What is it?"
The girl swallowed once, bowed her head, and whispered something no one could hear.
"What?" snapped Plutarch.
"It's a control disk," said Artemis aloud.
Three of the twelve people in the room knew exactly what this meant. One of them was handcuffed, another had his boot over the device in question, and the last, Beetee, was too stunned to move.
Cornelius, the other District 11 representative who had, until this point, been completely quiet, cleared his throat in the awkward silence and said, "Um… translation, please?"
Artemis didn't lift her head. "Using it, I can control the Games."
Reference point for the control disk, because I don't think I described it very thoroughly: think a silver iPod nano. Work from there.
Sorry if Plutarch is a bit OOC; he doesn't really have a personality that's defined in the books so it was hard for me to portray him correctly. Heck, none of the characters really had prominent personalities, except for Johanna and maybe Haymitch… ever notice that?
Two updates, no reviews. T_T Make me stop crying, or I will stop updating. TT_TT I'm sorry! I know I'm a hypocrite! Please don't kill me! But you can flame me all you want!