I stand, paralyzed, unable to move, forced to watch while wearing full uniform. Cato charges into the clearing, several wolf-mutts in hot pursuit. Blood dripping from his forehead. He climbs to the top of a metal structure, barley making it to the top. Two raggedy Twelves climb up after him, the male having his foots joint ripped open by a large mutt. The fight starts, I'm now at the base of the cornucopias left side. Cato throws punches, catching them both off guard and appearing to be winning. The female twelve notches an arrow into her silver bow, but Cato holds the male by the throat. Panic fills the eyes of the female twelve, and Cato slurred out. He declared to the world how the Capitol used him, and how killing is all he can do.
He continues. "No! I can still do this ... I can still do this! One last kill. Bring pride to my district. Not that it matters."
By this I know that Cato doesn't care about the glory so long as he can get out alive, and the he considers Peeta already dead. But he doesn't have the last kill, the kill that would forever free him from having to kill ever again. The female shoots an arrow into his hand, the male punches him, and with malevolent intent pushes Cato to the mutts. I try to reach for my gun, I remain frozen. Cato tries fighting back but one of the mutts gnaws his leg and he falls down. I try to pull my gun from its straps and save my cousin, someone who was like a brother. My arm doesn't budge. The seconds and minuets feel like centuries, and this horror drags on for hours. The twelves do nothing, allowing Cato to suffer this agony for hours. The sun sets and rises again, Cato still suffers. His arms are red shreds, his face is no longer recognizable, blood gushes from his mouth and nose. Still the twelves do nothing. I try to reach for my gun a third tome, now intent on using it against the twelves who put my cousin through such pain. My arm doesn't even wiggle. The female notches an arrow into her silver bow, aiming it at Cato. Though I retry with all my might to grab out my gun and exterminate the brown haired demon, my arm doesn't move even an inch. The physical exertion I empty into trying to grab my gun accomplishes nothing. As an arrow flies through the air and hits Cato, I let out a scream.
My eyes snap open and Harod is shaking me. I'm in my sleeping jumpsuit, drenched in sweat. It's midnight. As I gulp in oxygen, Harod tries to calm me.
"It's okey Lyes, it's just a dream. Everything's going to be alright, just take a deep breath. Good, do you feel better now?"
I look him in the eyes and answer, drained of energy. "No ... it wasn't just a dream. ... It really happened. He's really gone."
Harod is silent, understanding who I'm referring to and also knowing how much I don't like being pitied.I speak again, I have some air in me now.
"Did I wake anyone else?"
Relieves that I changed the subject, Harod answers. "No, the others are wearing their noise cancelers."
I turn my soaked pillow over to its dry side, thank him for waking me, and pull my sweaty blankets over my shoulder as Harod climbs down the latter of my bunk and heads back to his bed.
After a bad nights sleep, the I taste very little of the first meal. I take off my helmet, rest it at the table, and drink spoonfuls of salty broth with chewy shrimps. The warm soup wakes me up bite by bite. I take the green, fish shaped bread from my tray and place it into my soup. I stir the soup and the bread absorbs some of the broth, only sipping periodically. My friends sat down at the table next to me and began to eat and talk of familiar things. I don't pay attention.
Upon the upper part of the walls in the mess hall, large television screens that were installed a week ago show a barrage of old news. Videos promoting the virtue and honor that comes with fighting and dying in the Capitols defense, some new and some from the dark days. These videos also depict bravery and valor the accompanies the peacekeepers, people from district 2 welcoming home returning peacekeepers, and veterans giving accounts of how their service changed their lives for the better. A third depiction is that of rebel atrocities, pillaging, massacres, executing of POWs, and a general warning to defeat the rebel menace. The posters that have always hung on the lower part of the walls depict the same things. One shows a peacekeeper wearing the Capitol Guard uniform, squatting down to inspect the bruised knee of a sitting Capitol toddler, a gentle expression on the peacekeepers face. The words beneath this poster says "Serve and protect". Another poster shows an image of a modern peacekeeper standing proud, behind him is an elderly peacekeeper of the dark days, clad in a white hazmat jumpsuit. The words beneath this poster spell "Let the pride of our forefathers aid you in the fight." Another poster is the image of a medieval knight in pearly white armor, kneeling on his right knee while president snow taps a sword on his shoulder. The message under this one reads "Chivelry" A newer poster shows a mushroom cloud behind a mountain range, an wooden sign with the district 2 symbol is visible in the corner. This one reads "If the rebels win ...". There are too many posters to name, but we all know the stories. Anybody who has ever set foot in a district 2 history class learned of all the horror that the rebels commit during the Dark Days. Widows, orphans and motherless children, destruction, nuclear warfare, rape, murder, child-soldiers, purges,murder and cannibalism of babies and POWs, as well as extermination of entire cities. The rebels of the dark days weren't able to take the Capitol because of peacekeeper hovercrafts above and white boots on the ground. These horrors are what they fight against.
The screens show a surprising twist right about now. They crudely cut to a scene in district 8. Katniss Everdeen makes a speech about the Rebs true intent. Ending it with
"If we burn, You'll burn with us." The screen then went black.
This conforms what I suspected when the district 8 Rebs burned down their own granary so as to kill us, and when a rebel with explosives tied to his chest launched a suicide attack. The Rebs are only out for vengence, they only want to maximize bloodshed. Even if it means humanity goes extinct, Katniss considers this a small price to pay for the defeat of her enemies. I don't even believe that Peeta values humanities survival over mutual destruction, despite his calling for armistice. The Rebs don't want peace, they don't even want victory, what they want is mutually assured annihilation. How do I know they won't nuke the Capitol next Tuesday? The Girl on Fire, an accurate name for someone who can only destroy. Like fire, she'll destroy everything if unchecked. They can burn alone, the rest of us want a civilization. If they had any humanity in them at any point, they've clearly thrown it into the fire by now. They are no longer just rebelling against the Capitol, they're rebelling against humanity.
While I practice shooting at the firing range, I remember my dream. I remember the Twelves allowing Cato's misery to be prolonged for eighteen hours. I fire bullets at the dummies, wishing the dummies were the Twelves. This time, I'm not paralyzed. This time,I can shoot. I practice for an hour, then report to my commander for duty. We have less practice time, as most of our time is devoted to combat.
My quarter unit marches quietly, as we are a mile behind enemy lines. Once we reach the coordinates, I explain the mission we were gives.
"Peacekeepers, we are to take position in the surrounding buildings. We need to clear them out in one hour, then we are to wait for enemy supplies to pass through so we can ambush them. Am I clear?"
The twenty five peacekeepers respond. "Sir, Yer sir!"
We occupy the buildings surrounding the street, I go into one of the tenant buildings with three others. After a sweep of the filthy hovel, we conform that there's no one else here. We each take position in one of the rooms, placing our gun barrels at the window. Now we wait.
Ten minuets pass before the supply convoy arrives. I signal for the others to wait, not to fire until the second vehicle is visible. The second munitions truck can be seen, I give the signal to fire. Bullets storm at the surprised rebel convoys, instantly killing the Rebs who walk beside the vehicles as guards. Once the drivers start firing back, half of us get our rocket launchers. We aim, and fire. Both the vehicles explode in a fiery uproar. We all head out onto the streets, and check behind the second inferno for more. There are none, so we head back, staying just long enough to place some land mines. We march down the streets, meeting no resistance. When we reach the front, we find out why. The Rebs are attacking hard, obviously intent on taking the position today. We look at our swarmed brothers in arms, and then at eachother. Let's surprise those Rebs.
We attack the Rebs from behind, catching them off guard. As our bullets rattle, we kill the surprised Rebs. Those who try to turn around to face us meet bullets from snipers at the front, those who don't meet our bullets. After one hour, this group of Rebs are dead. We march through the peacekeeper line, met by applauds and cheering. As I looked at the peacekeepers who were cheering, I noticed that they must have been on their last legs when we got here. Some are dressed in stained white torn rags, some are missing helmets or armor pieces, some are missing legs or hands, most have their last ammo clip in their guns and have filthy bandages wrapped around them. At least one sitting back to the wall had his face so bundled in the white wrappings that only his mouth and nose could be seen. This one smiled and clapped gleefully when told that the Reb offensive had been crushed from behind. My men guard alongside these weary warriors until fresh troops and munitions take the places of the dead, injured, tired, and demoralized. We head back to the base with those.
Back within the protecting walls of the peacekeepers base, I practiced with my machine gun. The bullets I used were practice bullets, as real bullets couldn't be wasted. They still leave the mark on the dummies like real ones would, but they wouldn't do that to real people. Fake bullets for fake enemies. On the battlefield, these are traded for real enemies and real bullets. Real danger and real death.