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PART I         “THE ASHES”2|Page              Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer ofash settles on the worn leather. This is where the bedI shared with m...
The same side. A pain stabs my left temple and Ipress my hand against it. Right on the spot whereJohanna Mason hit me with...
issue when I refused his company. He understands Idont want anyone with me today. Not even him.Some walks you have to take...
had already set something in motion that I had noability to control.Burning. Still burning, I think numbly. The fires atth...
protest or celebrate what had happened in the arena.Yet within fifteen minutes, the sky was filled withhoverplanes and the...
back, there was some sort of pox epidemic that killeda bunch of them and left a lot more infertile. Newbreeding stock. Tha...
Capitol tries to get information about the rebellionthat he doesnt know. I squeeze my eyes shut and tryto reach for him ac...
has been sucked out of them. The color of slush thatyou wish would melt away.What they want is for me to truly take on the...
a rebel leader as well, but first theyll have to get himto stay awake for more than five minutes. Even whenhe is conscious...
Cinna, being dragged, bloody and unconscious, fromthe Launch Room before the Games. Plutarchssources believe he was killed...
means anything to him. He gives a rusty meow andapproaches me. I pick him up, stroking his fur, thengo to the closet and d...
When I begin to gag at the stench, I back away andclear out. How long has it been here? A day? Anhour? The rebels did a se...
Are there Capitol hoverplanes speeding in to blow usout of the sky? As we travel over District 12, I watchanxiously for si...
the seventy-five years since the Dark Days--when 13was said to have been obliterated in the war betweenthe Capitol and the...
At first, when I was so ill in the hospital, I could forgobeing imprinted. But once I moved into Compartment307 with my mo...
I hesitate at the door marked 307, anticipating thequestions from my family. "What am I going to tellthem about Twelve?" I...
Trailing a few steps behind Gale, I try to collect myselfbefore Im thrown into whats sure to be anotherrelentless Mockingj...
Peeta smiles slightly. "I bet you thought youd doneyour last interview with me, Caesar.""I confess, I did," says Caesar. "...
Peeta nods but takes his time speaking. "That lastnight...to tell you about that last night...well, first ofall, you have ...
its screens. Because no one has ever talked aboutwhat its really like in the arena before.Peeta goes on. "So you hold on t...
"All right. It just looks suspicious," says Caesar. "As ifshe was part of the rebels plan all along."Peetas on his feet, l...
forbids any production or consumption of intoxicatingbeverages, and even the rubbing alcohol in thehospital is kept under ...
"So...youre calling for a cease-fire?" Caesar asks."Yes. Im calling for a cease-fire," says Peeta tiredly."Now why dont we...
mind does a quick inventory of my odd little hidingplaces, and I wind up in the supply closet, curled upagainst a crate of...
"Dont be, Soldier Katniss Everdeen." He grins. "I feltlike a jerk walking around with it anyway." We bothstart laughing. "...
pool and breeders. Maybe they are militaristic, overlyprogrammed, and somewhat lacking in a sense ofhumor. Theyre here. An...
still stands. His idea is to have me lie low, remain safeand imprisoned, while the war plays out. Thenneither side will re...
"He doesnt know what they did to Twelve. If hecouldve seen what was on the ground--" I start."Katniss, Im not arguing. If ...
Buttercups eyes reflect the faint glow of the safetylight over the door as he lies in the crook of Primsarm, back on the j...
against my lips. For some reason, its soothing. A coolkiss from the giver himself."Katniss?" Prim whispers. Shes awake, pe...
Prim thinks this over. "Katniss, I dont think youunderstand how important you are to the cause.Important people usually ge...
In the morning, I see that 7:00--Breakfast is directlyfollowed by 7:30--Command, which is fine since I mayas well start th...
doesnt sit well. We know how to be hungry, but nothow to be told how to handle what provisions wehave. In some ways, Distr...
demands, too. I dont think the concept of uselesspets is well known here.""Oh, theyll find him a job. Tattoo it on his paw...
my family? For the remainder of my people? My skinitches with the ashes of the dead. I feel the sickeningimpact of the sku...
If he looks too thin, I can slip him a few entrails,provided my next request is allowed."I want to hunt. With Gale. Out in...
"We can always work him in as your cousin," saysFulvia."Were not cousins," Gale and I say together."Right, but we should p...
"Theyll be granted immunity!" I feel myself rising frommy chair, my voice full and resonant. "You willpersonally pledge th...
My papers crumpled into a ball in my right fist. Iflatten the sheet against the table and read therickety letters. "Just o...
in black leather. "You know in general what wereasking of you, Katniss. Im aware you have mixedfeelings about participatin...
"Youre going to be the best-dressed rebel in history,"says Gale with a smile. Suddenly, I realize hes beenholding out on m...
that in mind, we have another little surprise for you.Come, come."Fulvia gives us a wave, and Gale and I follow her andPlu...
the corridor. A door swings silently shut behind himas he strides toward us.Plutarch moves to meet him, raising a hand ing...
enough for two people who operate the way we do. Ilet Cinnas sketchbook fall at the guards feet with aloud bang. A second ...
The stink of unwashed bodies, stale urine, andinfection breaks through the cloud of antiseptic. Thethree figures are only ...
"We thought it might be comforting for you to haveyour regular team," Plutarch says behind me. "Cinnarequested it.""Cinna ...
guard pauses a moment, as if puzzled by our density."You cant take bread."I cant get Octavia to uncover her face, but she ...
My mother was welcomed into the hospital, but shesviewed as more of a nurse than a doctor, despite herlifetime of healing....
return to the Capitol. Gale and I can live in thewoods. But you? Where would you two run?""Perhaps were a little more nece...
My eagerness to escape into the woods, if only for twohours, overrides my current concerns. An immersioninto greenery and ...
move as two parts of one being. Anticipating eachothers movements, watching each others backs. Howlong has it been? Eight ...
death? That you were going into that arena forpeoples amusement? Was that a big secret in theCapitol?""No. But they dont v...
"Do," I say.We hand the meat over to Greasy Sae in the kitchen.She likes District 13 well enough, even though shethinks th...
his hands he holds a piece of thin rope, less than afoot in length, too short for even him to fashion into ausable noose. ...
I think of the scene I walked in on this morning. OfOctavia huddled against the wall. Of how Coin and Imust have vastly di...
Another force to contend with. Another power playerwho has decided to use me as a piece in her games,although things never...
dont make any noticeable enhancements. I supposeCinna gave the same instructions the first day Iarrived as a tribute in th...
"Katniss is not going to hurt us," she says quietly butfirmly to Octavia. "Katniss did not even know we werehere. Things w...
I sigh inwardly as I imagine walking into the dininghall, trailed by these three. But people always stare atme anyway. Thi...
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  1. 1. PART I “THE ASHES”2|Page Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  2. 2. I stare down at my shoes, watching as a fine layer ofash settles on the worn leather. This is where the bedI shared with my sister, Prim, stood. Over there wasthe kitchen table. The bricks of the chimney, whichcollapsed in a charred heap, provide a point ofreference for the rest of the house. How else could Iorient myself in this sea of gray?Almost nothing remains of District 12. A month ago,the Capitols firebombs obliterated the poor coalminers houses in the Seam, the shops in the town,even the Justice Building. The only area that escapedincineration was the Victors Village. I dont know whyexactly. Perhaps so anyone forced to come here onCapitol business would have somewhere decent tostay. The odd reporter. A committee assessing thecondition of the coal mines. A squad of Peacekeeperschecking for returning refugees.But no one is returning except me. And thats only fora brief visit. The authorities in District 13 wereagainst my coming back. They viewed it as a costlyand pointless venture, given that at least a dozeninvisible hovercraft are circling overhead for myprotection and theres no intelligence to be gained. Ihad to see it, though. So much so that I made it acondition of my cooperating with any of their plans.Finally, Plutarch Heavensbee, the Head Gamemakerwho had organized the rebels in the Capitol, threw uphis hands. "Let her go. Better to waste a day thananother month. Maybe a little tour of Twelve is justwhat she needs to convince her were on the sameside."3|Page Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  3. 3. The same side. A pain stabs my left temple and Ipress my hand against it. Right on the spot whereJohanna Mason hit me with the coil of wire. Thememories swirl as I try to sort out what is true andwhat is false. What series of events led me to bestanding in the ruins of my city? This is hard becausethe effects of the concussion she gave me haventcompletely subsided and my thoughts still have atendency to jumble together. Also, the drugs they useto control my pain and mood sometimes make me seethings. I guess. Im still not entirely convinced that Iwas hallucinating the night the floor of my hospitalroom transformed into a carpet of writhing snakes.I use a technique one of the doctors suggested. I startwith the simplest things I know to be true and worktoward the more complicated. The list begins to roll inmy head....My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen yearsold. My home is District 12. I was in the HungerGames. I escaped. The Capitol hates me. Peeta wastaken prisoner. He is thought to be dead. Most likelyhe is dead. It is probably best if he is dead...."Katniss. Should I come down?" My best friend Galesvoice reaches me through the headset the rebelsinsisted I wear. Hes up in a hovercraft, watching mecarefully, ready to swoop in if anything goes amiss. Irealize Im crouched down now, elbows on my thighs,my head braced between my hands. I must look onthe verge of some kind of breakdown. This wont do.Not when theyre finally weaning me off themedication.I straighten up and wave his offer away. "No. Im fine."To reinforce this, I begin to move away from my oldhouse and in toward the town. Gale asked to bedropped off in 12 with me, but he didnt force the4|Page Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  4. 4. issue when I refused his company. He understands Idont want anyone with me today. Not even him.Some walks you have to take alone.The summers been scorching hot and dry as a bone.Theres been next to no rain to disturb the piles of ashleft by the attack. They shift here and there, inreaction to my footsteps. No breeze to scatter them. Ikeep my eyes on what I remember as the road,because when I first landed in the Meadow, I wasntcareful and I walked right into a rock. Only it wasnt arock--it was someones skull. It rolled over and overand landed faceup, and for a long time I couldnt stoplooking at the teeth, wondering whose they were,thinking of how mine would probably look the sameway under similar circumstances.I stick to the road out of habit, but its a bad choice,because its full of the remains of those who tried toflee. Some were incinerated entirely. But others,probably overcome with smoke, escaped the worst ofthe flames and now lie reeking in various states ofdecomposition, carrion for scavengers, blanketed byflies. I killed you, I think as I pass a pile. And you.And you.Because I did. It was my arrow, aimed at the chink inthe force field surrounding the arena, that brought onthis firestorm of retribution. That sent the wholecountry of Panem into chaos.In my head I hear President Snows words, spoken themorning I was to begin the Victory Tour. "KatnissEverdeen, the girl who was on fire, you have provideda spark that, left unattended, may grow to an infernothat destroys Panem." It turns out he wasntexaggerating or simply trying to scare me. He was,perhaps, genuinely attempting to enlist my help. But I5|Page Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  5. 5. had already set something in motion that I had noability to control.Burning. Still burning, I think numbly. The fires atthe coal mines belch black smoke in the distance.Theres no one left to care, though. More than ninetypercent of the districts population is dead. Theremaining eight hundred or so are refugees in District13--which, as far as Im concerned, is the same thingas being homeless forever.I know I shouldnt think that; I know I should begrateful for the way we have been welcomed. Sick,wounded, starving, and empty-handed. Still, I cannever get around the fact that District 13 wasinstrumental in 12s destruction. This doesnt absolveme of blame--theres plenty of blame to go around.But without them, I would not have been part of alarger plot to overthrow the Capitol or had thewherewithal to do it.The citizens of District 12 had no organized resistancemovement of their own. No say in any of this. Theyonly had the misfortune to have me. Some survivorsthink its good luck, though, to be free of District 12at last. To have escaped the endless hunger andoppression, the perilous mines, the lash of our finalHead Peacekeeper, Romulus Thread. To have a newhome at all is seen as a wonder since, up until a shorttime ago, we hadnt even known that District 13 stillexisted.The credit for the survivors escape has landedsquarely on Gales shoulders, although hes loath toaccept it. As soon as the Quarter Quell was over--assoon as I had been lifted from the arena--theelectricity in District 12 was cut, the televisions wentblack, and the Seam became so silent, people couldhear one anothers heartbeats. No one did anything to6|Page Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  6. 6. protest or celebrate what had happened in the arena.Yet within fifteen minutes, the sky was filled withhoverplanes and the bombs were raining down.It was Gale who thought of the Meadow, one of thefew places not filled with old wooden homesembedded with coal dust. He herded those he couldin its direction, including my mother and Prim. Heformed the team that pulled down the fence--now justa harmless chain-link barrier, with the electricity off--and led the people into the woods. He took them tothe only place he could think of, the lake my fatherhad shown me as a child. And it was from there theywatched the distant flames eat up everything theyknew in the world.By dawn the bombers were long gone, the fires dying,the final stragglers rounded up. My mother and Primhad set up a medical area for the injured and wereattempting to treat them with whatever they couldglean from the woods. Gale had two sets of bows andarrows, one hunting knife, one fishing net, and overeight hundred terrified people to feed. With the help ofthose who were able-bodied, they managed for threedays. And thats when the hovercraft unexpectedlyarrived to evacuate them to District 13, where therewere more than enough clean, white livingcompartments, plenty of clothing, and three meals aday. The compartments had the disadvantage of beingunderground, the clothing was identical, and the foodwas relatively tasteless, but for the refugees of 12,these were minor considerations. They were safe.They were being cared for. They were alive and eagerlywelcomed.This enthusiasm was interpreted as kindness. But aman named Dalton, a District 10 refugee whod madeit to 13 on foot a few years ago, leaked the real motiveto me. "They need you. Me. They need us all. Awhile7|Page Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  7. 7. back, there was some sort of pox epidemic that killeda bunch of them and left a lot more infertile. Newbreeding stock. Thats how they see us." Back in 10,hed worked on one of the beef ranches, maintainingthe genetic diversity of the herd with the implantationof long-frozen cow embryos. Hes very likely rightabout 13, because there dont seem to be nearlyenough kids around. But so what? Were not beingkept in pens, were being trained for work, thechildren are being educated. Those over fourteen havebeen given entry-level ranks in the military and areaddressed respectfully as "Soldier." Every singlerefugee was granted automatic citizenship by theauthorities of 13.Still, I hate them. But, of course, I hate almosteverybody now. Myself more than anyone.The surface beneath my feet hardens, and under thecarpet of ash, I feel the paving stones of the square.Around the perimeter is a shallow border of refusewhere the shops stood. A heap of blackened rubblehas replaced the Justice Building. I walk to theapproximate site of the bakery Peetas family owned.Nothing much left but the melted lump of the oven.Peetas parents, his two older brothers--none of themmade it to 13. Fewer than a dozen of what passed forDistrict 12s well-to-do escaped the fire. Peeta wouldhave nothing to come home to, anyway. Except me...I back away from the bakery and bump intosomething, lose my balance, and find myself sittingon a hunk of sun-heated metal. I puzzle over what itmight have been, then remember Threads recentrenovations of the square. Stocks, whipping posts,and this, the remains of the gallows. Bad. This is bad.It brings on the flood of images that torments me,awake or asleep. Peeta being tortured--drowned,burned, lacerated, shocked, maimed, beaten--as the8|Page Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  8. 8. Capitol tries to get information about the rebellionthat he doesnt know. I squeeze my eyes shut and tryto reach for him across the hundreds and hundredsof miles, to send my thoughts into his mind, to lethim know he is not alone. But he is. And I cant helphim.Running. Away from the square and to the one placethe fire did not destroy. I pass the wreckage of themayors house, where my friend Madge lived. No wordof her or her family. Were they evacuated to theCapitol because of her fathers position, or left to theflames? Ashes billow up around me, and I pull thehem of my shirt up over my mouth. Its not wonderingwhat I breathe in, but who, that threatens to chokeme.The grass has been scorched and the gray snow fellhere as well, but the twelve fine houses of the VictorsVillage are unscathed. I bolt into the house I lived infor the past year, slam the door closed, and lean backagainst it. The place seems untouched. Clean. Eerilyquiet. Why did I come back to 12? How can this visithelp me answer the question I cant escape?"What am I going to do?" I whisper to the walls.Because I really dont know.People keep talking at me, talking, talking, talking.Plutarch Heavensbee. His calculating assistant,Fulvia Cardew. A mishmash of district leaders.Military officials. But not Alma Coin, the president of13, who just watches. Shes fifty or so, with gray hairthat falls in an unbroken sheet to her shoulders. Imsomewhat fascinated by her hair, since its souniform, so without a flaw, a wisp, even a split end.Her eyes are gray, but not like those of people fromthe Seam. Theyre very pale, as if almost all the color9|Page Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  9. 9. has been sucked out of them. The color of slush thatyou wish would melt away.What they want is for me to truly take on the rolethey designed for me. The symbol of the revolution.The Mockingjay. It isnt enough, what Ive done in thepast, defying the Capitol in the Games, providing arallying point. I must now become the actual leader,the face, the voice, the embodiment of the revolution.The person who the districts--most of which are nowopenly at war with the Capitol--can count on to blazethe path to victory. I wont have to do it alone. Theyhave a whole team of people to make me over, dressme, write my speeches, orchestrate my appearances--as if that doesnt sound horribly familiar--and all Ihave to do is play my part. Sometimes I listen to themand sometimes I just watch the perfect line of Coinshair and try to decide if its a wig. Eventually, I leavethe room because my head starts to ache or its timeto eat or if I dont get aboveground I might startscreaming. I dont bother to say anything. I simply getup and walk out.Yesterday afternoon, as the door was closing behindme, I heard Coin say, "I told you we should haverescued the boy first." Meaning Peeta. I couldnt agreemore. He wouldve been an excellent mouthpiece.And who did they fish out of the arena instead? Me,who wont cooperate. Beetee, an older inventor from3, who I rarely see because he was pulled intoweapons development the minute he could situpright. Literally, they wheeled his hospital bed intosome top secret area and now he only occasionallyshows up for meals. Hes very smart and very willingto help the cause, but not really firebrand material.Then theres Finnick Odair, the sex symbol from thefishing district, who kept Peeta alive in the arenawhen I couldnt. They want to transform Finnick into10 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  10. 10. a rebel leader as well, but first theyll have to get himto stay awake for more than five minutes. Even whenhe is conscious, you have to say everything to himthree times to get through to his brain. The doctorssay its from the electrical shock he received in thearena, but I know its a lot more complicated thanthat. I know that Finnick cant focus on anything in13 because hes trying so hard to see whatshappening in the Capitol to Annie, the mad girl fromhis district whos the only person on earth he loves.Despite serious reservations, I had to forgive Finnickfor his role in the conspiracy that landed me here. He,at least, has some idea of what Im going through.And it takes too much energy to stay angry withsomeone who cries so much.I move through the downstairs on hunters feet,reluctant to make any sound. I pick up a fewremembrances: a photo of my parents on theirwedding day, a blue hair ribbon for Prim, the familybook of medicinal and edible plants. The book fallsopen to a page with yellow flowers and I shut itquickly because it was Peetas brush that paintedthem.What am I going to do?Is there any point in doing anything at all? Mymother, my sister, and Gales family are finally safe.As for the rest of 12, people are either dead, which isirreversible, or protected in 13. That leaves the rebelsin the districts. Of course, I hate the Capitol, but Ihave no confidence that my being the Mockingjay willbenefit those who are trying to bring it down. Howcan I help the districts when every time I make amove, it results in suffering and loss of life? The oldman shot in District 11 for whistling. The crackdownin 12 after I intervened in Gales whipping. My stylist,11 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  11. 11. Cinna, being dragged, bloody and unconscious, fromthe Launch Room before the Games. Plutarchssources believe he was killed during interrogation.Brilliant, enigmatic, lovely Cinna is dead because ofme. I push the thought away because its tooimpossibly painful to dwell on without losing myfragile hold on the situation entirely.What am I going to do?To become the Mockingjay...could any good I dopossibly outweigh the damage? Who can I trust toanswer that question? Certainly not that crew in 13. Iswear, now that my family and Gales are out ofharms way, I could run away. Except for oneunfinished piece of business. Peeta. If I knew for surethat he was dead, I could just disappear into thewoods and never look back. But until I do, Im stuck.I spin on my heel at the sound of a hiss. In thekitchen doorway, back arched, ears flattened, standsthe ugliest tomcat in the world. "Buttercup," I say.Thousands of people are dead, but he has survivedand even looks well fed. On what? He can get in andout of the house through a window we always left ajarin the pantry. He must have been eating field mice. Irefuse to consider the alternative.I squat down and extend a hand. "Come here, boy."Not likely. Hes angry at his abandonment. Besides,Im not offering food, and my ability to provide scrapshas always been my main redeeming quality to him.For a while, when we used to meet up at the oldhouse because we both disliked this new one, weseemed to be bonding a little. Thats clearly over. Heblinks those unpleasant yellow eyes."Want to see Prim?" I ask. Her name catches hisattention. Besides his own, its the only word that12 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  12. 12. means anything to him. He gives a rusty meow andapproaches me. I pick him up, stroking his fur, thengo to the closet and dig out my game bag andunceremoniously stuff him in. Theres no other wayIll be able to carry him on the hovercraft, and hemeans the world to my sister. Her goat, Lady, ananimal of actual value, has unfortunately not madean appearance.In my headset, I hear Gales voice telling me we mustgo back. But the game bag has reminded me of onemore thing that I want. I sling the strap of the bagover the back of a chair and dash up the steps to mybedroom. Inside the closet hangs my fathers huntingjacket. Before the Quell, I brought it here from the oldhouse, thinking its presence might be of comfort tomy mother and sister when I was dead. Thankgoodness, or itd be ash now.The soft leather feels soothing and for a moment Imcalmed by the memories of the hours spent wrappedin it. Then, inexplicably, my palms begin to sweat. Astrange sensation creeps up the back of my neck. Iwhip around to face the room and find it empty. Tidy.Everything in its place. There was no sound to alarmme. What, then?My nose twitches. Its the smell. Cloying and artificial.A dab of white peeks out of a vase of dried flowers onmy dresser. I approach it with cautious steps. There,all but obscured by its preserved cousins, is a freshwhite rose. Perfect. Down to the last thorn and silkenpetal.And I know immediately whos sent it to me.President Snow.13 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  13. 13. When I begin to gag at the stench, I back away andclear out. How long has it been here? A day? Anhour? The rebels did a security sweep of the VictorsVillage before I was cleared to come here, checking forexplosives, bugs, anything unusual. But perhaps therose didnt seem noteworthy to them. Only to me.Downstairs, I snag the game bag off the chair,bouncing it along the floor until I remember itsoccupied. On the lawn, I frantically signal to thehovercraft while Buttercup thrashes. I jab him withmy elbow, but this only infuriates him. A hovercraftmaterializes and a ladder drops down. I step on andthe current freezes me until Im lifted on board.Gale helps me from the ladder. "You all right?""Yeah," I say, wiping the sweat off my face with mysleeve.He left me a rose! I want to scream, but its notinformation Im sure I should share with someone likePlutarch looking on. First of all, because it will makeme sound crazy. Like I either imagined it, which isquite possible, or Im overreacting, which will buy mea trip back to the drug-induced dreamland Im tryingso hard to escape. No one will fully understand--howits not just a flower, not even just President Snowsflower, but a promise of revenge--because no one elsesat in the study with him when he threatened mebefore the Victory Tour.Positioned on my dresser, that white-as-snow rose isa personal message to me. It speaks of unfinishedbusiness. It whispers, I can find you. I can reach you.Perhaps I am watching you now.14 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  14. 14. Are there Capitol hoverplanes speeding in to blow usout of the sky? As we travel over District 12, I watchanxiously for signs of an attack, but nothing pursuesus. After several minutes, when I hear an exchangebetween Plutarch and the pilot confirming that theairspace is clear, I begin to relax a little.Gale nods at the howls coming from my game bag."Now I know why you had to go back.""If there was even a chance of his recovery." I dumpthe bag onto a seat, where the loathsome creaturebegins a low, deep-throated growl. "Oh, shut up," Itell the bag as I sink into the cushioned window seatacross from it.Gale sits next to me. "Pretty bad down there?""Couldnt be much worse," I answer. I look in his eyesand see my own grief reflected there. Our hands findeach other, holding fast to a part of 12 that Snow hassomehow failed to destroy. We sit in silence for therest of the trip to 13, which only takes about forty-fiveminutes. A mere weeks journey on foot. Bonnie andTwill, the District 8 refugees who I encountered in thewoods last winter, werent so far from theirdestination after all. They apparently didnt make it,though. When I asked about them in 13, no oneseemed to know who I was talking about. Died in thewoods, I guess.From the air, 13 looks about as cheerful as 12. Therubble isnt smoking, the way the Capitol shows it ontelevision, but theres next to no life aboveground. In15 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  15. 15. the seventy-five years since the Dark Days--when 13was said to have been obliterated in the war betweenthe Capitol and the districts--almost all newconstruction has been beneath the earths surface.There was already a substantial underground facilityhere, developed over centuries to be either aclandestine refuge for government leaders in time ofwar or a last resort for humanity if life above becameunlivable. Most important for the people of 13, it wasthe center of the Capitols nuclear weaponsdevelopment program. During the Dark Days, therebels in 13 wrested control from the governmentforces, trained their nuclear missiles on the Capitol,and then struck a bargain: They would play dead inexchange for being left alone. The Capitol had anothernuclear arsenal out west, but it couldnt attack 13without certain retaliation. It was forced to accept13s deal. The Capitol demolished the visible remainsof the district and cut off all access from the outside.Perhaps the Capitols leaders thought that, withouthelp, 13 would die off on its own. It almost did a fewtimes, but it always managed to pull through due tostrict sharing of resources, strenuous discipline, andconstant vigilance against any further attacks fromthe Capitol.Now the citizens live almost exclusively underground.You can go outside for exercise and sunlight but onlyat very specific times in your schedule. You cant missyour schedule. Every morning, youre supposed tostick your right arm in this contraption in the wall. Ittattoos the smooth inside of your forearm with yourschedule for the day in a sickly purple ink. 7:00--Breakfast. 7:30--Kitchen Duties. 8:30--EducationCenter, Room 17. And so on. The ink is indelible until22:00--Bathing. Thats when whatever keeps it waterresistant breaks down and the whole schedule rinsesaway. The lights-out at 22:30 signals that everyonenot on the night shift should be in bed.16 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  16. 16. At first, when I was so ill in the hospital, I could forgobeing imprinted. But once I moved into Compartment307 with my mother and sister, I was expected to getwith the program. Except for showing up for meals,though, I pretty much ignore the words on my arm. Ijust go back to our compartment or wander around13 or fall asleep somewhere hidden. An abandonedair duct. Behind the water pipes in the laundry.Theres a closet in the Education Center thats greatbecause no one ever seems to need school supplies.Theyre so frugal with things here, waste is practicallya criminal activity. Fortunately, the people of 12 havenever been wasteful. But once I saw Fulvia Cardewcrumple up a sheet of paper with just a couple ofwords written on it and you wouldve thought shedmurdered someone from the looks she got. Her faceturned tomato red, making the silver flowers inlaid inher plump cheeks even more noticeable. The veryportrait of excess. One of my few pleasures in 13 iswatching the handful of pampered Capitol "rebels"squirming as they try to fit in.I dont know how long Ill be able to get away with mycomplete disregard for the clockwork precision ofattendance required by my hosts. Right now, theyleave me alone because Im classified as mentallydisoriented--it says so right on my plastic medicalbracelet--and everyone has to tolerate my ramblings.But that cant last forever. Neither can their patiencewith the Mockingjay issue.From the landing pad, Gale and I walk down a seriesof stairways to Compartment 307. We could take theelevator, only it reminds me too much of the one thatlifted me into the arena. Im having a hard timeadjusting to being underground so much. But afterthe surreal encounter with the rose, for the first timethe descent makes me feel safer.17 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  17. 17. I hesitate at the door marked 307, anticipating thequestions from my family. "What am I going to tellthem about Twelve?" I ask Gale."I doubt theyll ask for details. They saw it burn.Theyll mostly be worried about how youre handlingit." Gale touches my cheek. "Like I am."I press my face against his hand for a moment. "Illsurvive."Then I take a deep breath and open the door. Mymother and sister are home for 18:00--Reflection, ahalf hour of downtime before dinner. I see the concernon their faces as they try to gauge my emotional state.Before anyone can ask anything, I empty my gamebag and it becomes 18:00--Cat Adoration. Prim justsits on the floor weeping and rocking that awfulButtercup, who interrupts his purring only for anoccasional hiss at me. He gives me a particularlysmug look when she ties the blue ribbon around hisneck.My mother hugs the wedding photo tightly againsther chest and then places it, along with the book ofplants, on our government-issued chest of drawers. Ihang my fathers jacket on the back of a chair. For amoment, the place almost seems like home. So Iguess the trip to 12 wasnt a complete waste.Were heading down to the dining hall for 18:30--Dinner when Gales communicuff begins to beep. Itlooks like an oversized watch, but it receives printmessages. Being granted a communicuff is a specialprivilege thats reserved for those important to thecause, a status Gale achieved by his rescue of thecitizens of 12. "They need the two of us in Command,"he says.18 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  18. 18. Trailing a few steps behind Gale, I try to collect myselfbefore Im thrown into whats sure to be anotherrelentless Mockingjay session. I linger in the doorwayof Command, the high-tech meeting/war councilroom complete with computerized talking walls,electronic maps showing the troop movements invarious districts, and a giant rectangular table withcontrol panels Im not supposed to touch. No onenotices me, though, because theyre all gathered at atelevision screen at the far end of the room that airsthe Capitol broadcast around the clock. Im thinking Imight be able to slip away when Plutarch, whoseample frame has been blocking the television, catchessight of me and waves urgently for me to join them. Ireluctantly move forward, trying to imagine how itcould be of interest to me. Its always the same. Warfootage. Propaganda. Replaying the bombings ofDistrict 12. An ominous message from PresidentSnow. So its almost entertaining to see CaesarFlickerman, the eternal host of the Hunger Games,with his painted face and sparkly suit, preparing togive an interview. Until the camera pulls back and Isee that his guest is Peeta.A sound escapes me. The same combination of gaspand groan that comes from being submerged in water,deprived of oxygen to the point of pain. I push peopleaside until I am right in front of him, my hand restingon the screen. I search his eyes for any sign of hurt,any reflection of the agony of torture. There isnothing. Peeta looks healthy to the point ofrobustness. His skin is glowing, flawless, in that full-body-polish way. His manners composed, serious. Icant reconcile this image with the battered, bleedingboy who haunts my dreams.Caesar settles himself more comfortably in the chairacross from Peeta and gives him a long look."So...Peeta...welcome back."19 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  19. 19. Peeta smiles slightly. "I bet you thought youd doneyour last interview with me, Caesar.""I confess, I did," says Caesar. "The night before theQuarter Quell...well, who ever thought wed see youagain?""It wasnt part of my plan, thats for sure," says Peetawith a frown.Caesar leans in to him a little. "I think it was clear toall of us what your plan was. To sacrifice yourself inthe arena so that Katniss Everdeen and your childcould survive.""That was it. Clear and simple." Peetas fingers tracethe upholstered pattern on the arm of the chair. "Butother people had plans as well."Yes, other people had plans, I think. Has Peetaguessed, then, how the rebels used us as pawns?How my rescue was arranged from the beginning?And finally, how our mentor, Haymitch Abernathy,betrayed us both for a cause he pretended to have nointerest in?In the silence that follows, I notice the lines that haveformed between Peetas eyebrows. He has guessed orhe has been told. But the Capitol has not killed oreven punished him. For right now, that exceeds mywildest hopes. I drink in his wholeness, thesoundness of his body and mind. It runs through melike the morphling they give me in the hospital,dulling the pain of the last weeks."Why dont you tell us about that last night in thearena?" suggests Caesar. "Help us sort a few thingsout."20 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  20. 20. Peeta nods but takes his time speaking. "That lastnight...to tell you about that last night...well, first ofall, you have to imagine how it felt in the arena. Itwas like being an insect trapped under a bowl filledwith steaming air. And all around you, jungle...greenand alive and ticking. That giant clock ticking awayyour life. Every hour promising some new horror. Youhave to imagine that in the past two days, sixteenpeople have died--some of them defending you. At therate things are going, the last eight will be dead bymorning. Save one. The victor. And your plan is thatit wont be you."My body breaks out in a sweat at the memory. Myhand slides down the screen and hangs limply at myside. Peeta doesnt need a brush to paint images fromthe Games. He works just as well in words."Once youre in the arena, the rest of the worldbecomes very distant," he continues. "All the peopleand things you loved or cared about almost cease toexist. The pink sky and the monsters in the jungleand the tributes who want your blood become yourfinal reality, the only one that ever mattered. As badas it makes you feel, youre going to have to do somekilling, because in the arena, you only get one wish.And its very costly.""It costs your life," says Caesar."Oh, no. It costs a lot more than your life. To murderinnocent people?" says Peeta. "It costs everything youare.""Everything you are," repeats Caesar quietly.A hush has fallen over the room, and I can feel itspreading across Panem. A nation leaning in toward21 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  21. 21. its screens. Because no one has ever talked aboutwhat its really like in the arena before.Peeta goes on. "So you hold on to your wish. And thatlast night, yes, my wish was to save Katniss. But evenwithout knowing about the rebels, it didnt feel right.Everything was too complicated. I found myselfregretting I hadnt run off with her earlier in the day,as she had suggested. But there was no getting out ofit at that point.""You were too caught up in Beetees plan to electrifythe salt lake," says Caesar."Too busy playing allies with the others. I should havenever let them separate us!" Peeta bursts out. "Thatswhen I lost her.""When you stayed at the lightning tree, and she andJohanna Mason took the coil of wire down to thewater," Caesar clarifies."I didnt want to!" Peeta flushes in agitation. "But Icouldnt argue with Beetee without indicating we wereabout to break away from the alliance. When thatwire was cut, everything just went insane. I can onlyremember bits and pieces. Trying to find her.Watching Brutus kill Chaff. Killing Brutus myself. Iknow she was calling my name. Then the lightningbolt hit the tree, and the force field around thearena...blew out.""Katniss blew it out, Peeta," says Caesar. "Youve seenthe footage.""She didnt know what she was doing. None of uscould follow Beetees plan. You can see her trying tofigure out what to do with that wire," Peeta snapsback.22 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  22. 22. "All right. It just looks suspicious," says Caesar. "As ifshe was part of the rebels plan all along."Peetas on his feet, leaning in to Caesars face, handslocked on the arms of his interviewers chair. "Really?And was it part of her plan for Johanna to nearly killher? For that electric shock to paralyze her? To triggerthe bombing?" Hes yelling now. "She didnt know,Caesar! Neither of us knew anything except that wewere trying to keep each other alive!"Caesar places his hand on Peetas chest in a gesturethats both self-protective and conciliatory. "Okay,Peeta, I believe you.""Okay." Peeta withdraws from Caesar, pulling backhis hands, running them through his hair, mussinghis carefully styled blond curls. He slumps back inhis chair, distraught.Caesar waits a moment, studying Peeta. "What aboutyour mentor, Haymitch Abernathy?"Peetas face hardens. "I dont know what Haymitchknew.""Could he have been part of the conspiracy?" asksCaesar."He never mentioned it," says Peeta.Caesar presses on. "What does your heart tell you?""That I shouldnt have trusted him," says Peeta."Thats all."I havent seen Haymitch since I attacked him on thehovercraft, leaving long claw marks down his face. Iknow its been bad for him here. District 13 strictly23 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  23. 23. forbids any production or consumption of intoxicatingbeverages, and even the rubbing alcohol in thehospital is kept under lock and key. Finally,Haymitch is being forced into sobriety, with no secretstashes or home-brewed concoctions to ease histransition. Theyve got him in seclusion until hesdried out, as hes not deemed fit for public display. Itmust be excruciating, but I lost all my sympathy forHaymitch when I realized how he had deceived us. Ihope hes watching the Capitol broadcast now, so hecan see that Peeta has cast him off as well.Caesar pats Peetas shoulder. "We can stop now if youwant.""Was there more to discuss?" says Peeta wryly."I was going to ask your thoughts on the war, but ifyoure too upset..." begins Caesar."Oh, Im not too upset to answer that." Peeta takes adeep breath and then looks straight into the camera."I want everyone watching--whether youre on theCapitol or the rebel side--to stop for just a momentand think about what this war could mean. Forhuman beings. We almost went extinct fighting oneanother before. Now our numbers are even fewer. Ourconditions more tenuous. Is this really what we wantto do? Kill ourselves off completely? In the hopes that--what? Some decent species will inherit the smokingremains of the earth?""I dont really...Im not sure Im following..." saysCaesar."We cant fight one another, Caesar," Peeta explains."There wont be enough of us left to keep going. Ifeverybody doesnt lay down their weapons--and Imean, as in very soon--its all over, anyway."24 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  24. 24. "So...youre calling for a cease-fire?" Caesar asks."Yes. Im calling for a cease-fire," says Peeta tiredly."Now why dont we ask the guards to take me back tomy quarters so I can build another hundred cardhouses?"Caesar turns to the camera. "All right. I think thatwraps it up. So back to our regularly scheduledprogramming."Music plays them out, and then theres a womanreading a list of expected shortages in the Capitol--fresh fruit, solar batteries, soap. I watch her withuncharacteristic absorption, because I know everyonewill be waiting for my reaction to the interview. Buttheres no way I can process it all so quickly--the joyof seeing Peeta alive and unharmed, his defense of myinnocence in collaborating with the rebels, and hisundeniable complicity with the Capitol now that hescalled for a cease-fire. Oh, he made it sound as if hewere condemning both sides in the war. But at thispoint, with only minor victories for the rebels, acease-fire could only result in a return to our previousstatus. Or worse.Behind me, I can hear the accusations against Peetabuilding. The words traitor, liar, and enemy bounceoff the walls. Since I can neither join in the rebelsoutrage nor counter it, I decide the best thing to do isclear out. As I reach the door, Coins voice rises abovethe others. "You have not been dismissed, SoldierEverdeen."One of Coins men lays a hand on my arm. Its not anaggressive move, really, but after the arena, I reactdefensively to any unfamiliar touch. I jerk my armfree and take off running down the halls. Behind me,theres the sound of a scuffle, but I dont stop. My25 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  25. 25. mind does a quick inventory of my odd little hidingplaces, and I wind up in the supply closet, curled upagainst a crate of chalk."Youre alive," I whisper, pressing my palms againstmy cheeks, feeling the smile thats so wide it mustlook like a grimace. Peetas alive. And a traitor. But atthe moment, I dont care. Not what he says, or who hesays it for, only that he is still capable of speech.After a while, the door opens and someone slips in.Gale slides down beside me, his nose trickling blood."What happened?" I ask."I got in Boggss way," he answers with a shrug. I usemy sleeve to wipe his nose. "Watch it!"I try to be gentler. Patting, not wiping. "Which one ishe?""Oh, you know. Coins right-hand lackey. The onewho tried to stop you." He pushes my hand away."Quit! Youll bleed me to death."The trickle has turned to a steady stream. I give upon the first-aid attempts. "You fought with Boggs?""No, just blocked the doorway when he tried to followyou. His elbow caught me in the nose," says Gale."Theyll probably punish you," I say."Already have." He holds up his wrist. I stare at ituncomprehendingly. "Coin took back mycommunicuff."I bite my lip, trying to remain serious. But it seems soridiculous. "Im sorry, Soldier Gale Hawthorne."26 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  26. 26. "Dont be, Soldier Katniss Everdeen." He grins. "I feltlike a jerk walking around with it anyway." We bothstart laughing. "I think it was quite a demotion."This is one of the few good things about 13. GettingGale back. With the pressure of the Capitolsarranged marriage between Peeta and me gone, wevemanaged to regain our friendship. He doesnt push itany further--try to kiss me or talk about love. EitherIve been too sick, or hes willing to give me space, orhe knows its just too cruel with Peeta in the hands ofthe Capitol. Whatever the case, Ive got someone totell my secrets to again."Who are these people?" I say."Theyre us. If wed had nukes instead of a few lumpsof coal," he answers."I like to think Twelve wouldnt have abandoned therest of the rebels back in the Dark Days," I say."We might have. If it was that, surrender, or start anuclear war," says Gale. "In a way, its remarkablethey survived at all."Maybe its because I still have the ashes of my owndistrict on my shoes, but for the first time, I give thepeople of 13 something I have withheld from them:credit. For staying alive against all odds. Their earlyyears must have been terrible, huddled in thechambers beneath the ground after their city wasbombed to dust. Population decimated, no possibleally to turn to for aid. Over the past seventy-fiveyears, theyve learned to be self-sufficient, turnedtheir citizens into an army, and built a new societywith no help from anyone. They would be even morepowerful if that pox epidemic hadnt flattened theirbirthrate and made them so desperate for a new gene27 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  27. 27. pool and breeders. Maybe they are militaristic, overlyprogrammed, and somewhat lacking in a sense ofhumor. Theyre here. And willing to take on theCapitol."Still, it took them long enough to show up," I say."It wasnt simple. They had to build up a rebel base inthe Capitol, get some sort of underground organizedin the districts," he says. "Then they needed someoneto set the whole thing in motion. They needed you.""They needed Peeta, too, but they seem to haveforgotten that," I say.Gales expression darkens. "Peeta might have done alot of damage tonight. Most of the rebels will dismisswhat he said immediately, of course. But there aredistricts where the resistance is shakier. The cease-fires clearly President Snows idea. But it seems soreasonable coming out of Peetas mouth."Im afraid of Gales answer, but I ask anyway. "Whydo you think he said it?""He might have been tortured. Or persuaded. Myguess is he made some kind of deal to protect you.Hed put forth the idea of the cease-fire if Snow lethim present you as a confused pregnant girl who hadno idea what was going on when she was takenprisoner by the rebels. This way, if the districts lose,theres still a chance of leniency for you. If you play itright." I must still look perplexed because Galedelivers the next line very slowly. "Katniss...hes stilltrying to keep you alive."To keep me alive? And then I understand. The Gamesare still on. We have left the arena, but since Peetaand I werent killed, his last wish to preserve my life28 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  28. 28. still stands. His idea is to have me lie low, remain safeand imprisoned, while the war plays out. Thenneither side will really have cause to kill me. AndPeeta? If the rebels win, it will be disastrous for him.If the Capitol wins, who knows? Maybe well both beallowed to live--if I play it right--to watch the Gamesgo on....Images flash through my mind: the spear piercingRues body in the arena, Gale hanging senseless fromthe whipping post, the corpse-littered wasteland ofmy home. And for what? For what? As my blood turnshot, I remember other things. My first glimpse of anuprising in District 8. The victors locked hand inhand the night before the Quarter Quell. And how itwas no accident, my shooting that arrow into theforce field in the arena. How badly I wanted it to lodgedeep in the heart of my enemy.I spring up, upsetting a box of a hundred pencils,sending them scattering around the floor."What is it?" Gale asks."There cant be a cease-fire." I lean down, fumbling asI shove the sticks of dark gray graphite back into thebox. "We cant go back.""I know." Gale sweeps up a handful of pencils andtaps them on the floor into perfect alignment."Whatever reason Peeta had for saying those things,hes wrong." The stupid sticks wont go in the box andI snap several in my frustration."I know. Give it here. Youre breaking them to bits."He pulls the box from my hands and refills it withswift, concise motions.29 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  29. 29. "He doesnt know what they did to Twelve. If hecouldve seen what was on the ground--" I start."Katniss, Im not arguing. If I could hit a button andkill every living soul working for the Capitol, I woulddo it. Without hesitation." He slides the last pencilinto the box and flips the lid closed. "The question is,what are you going to do?"It turns out the question thats been eating away atme has only ever had one possible answer. But it tookPeetas ploy for me to recognize it.What am I going to do?I take a deep breath. My arms rise slightly--as ifrecalling the black-and-white wings Cinna gave me--then come to rest at my sides."Im going to be the Mockingjay."30 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  30. 30. Buttercups eyes reflect the faint glow of the safetylight over the door as he lies in the crook of Primsarm, back on the job, protecting her from the night.Shes snuggled close to my mother. Asleep, they lookjust as they did the morning of the reaping thatlanded me in my first Games. I have a bed to myselfbecause Im recuperating and because no one cansleep with me anyway, what with the nightmares andthe thrashing around.After tossing and turning for hours, I finally acceptthat it will be a wakeful night. Under Buttercupswatchful eye, I tiptoe across the cold tiled floor to thedresser.The middle drawer contains my government-issuedclothes. Everyone wears the same gray pants andshirt, the shirt tucked in at the waist. Underneath theclothes, I keep the few items I had on me when I waslifted from the arena. My mockingjay pin. Peetastoken, the gold locket with photos of my mother andPrim and Gale inside. A silver parachute that holds aspile for tapping trees, and the pearl Peeta gave me afew hours before I blew out the force field. District 13confiscated my tube of skin ointment for use in thehospital, and my bow and arrows because onlyguards have clearance to carry weapons. Theyre insafekeeping in the armory.I feel around for the parachute and slide my fingersinside until they close around the pearl. I sit back onmy bed cross-legged and find myself rubbing thesmooth iridescent surface of the pearl back and forth31 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  31. 31. against my lips. For some reason, its soothing. A coolkiss from the giver himself."Katniss?" Prim whispers. Shes awake, peering at methrough the darkness. "Whats wrong?""Nothing. Just a bad dream. Go back to sleep." Itsautomatic. Shutting Prim and my mother out ofthings to shield them.Careful not to rouse my mother, Prim eases herselffrom the bed, scoops up Buttercup, and sits besideme. She touches the hand that has curled around thepearl. "Youre cold." Taking a spare blanket from thefoot of the bed, she wraps it around all three of us,enveloping me in her warmth and Buttercups furryheat as well. "You could tell me, you know. Im goodat keeping secrets. Even from Mother."Shes really gone, then. The little girl with the back ofher shirt sticking out like a duck tail, the one whoneeded help reaching the dishes, and who begged tosee the frosted cakes in the bakery window. Time andtragedy have forced her to grow too quickly, at leastfor my taste, into a young woman who stitchesbleeding wounds and knows our mother can hearonly so much."Tomorrow morning, Im going to agree to be theMockingjay," I tell her."Because you want to or because you feel forced intoit?" she asks.I laugh a little. "Both, I guess. No, I want to. I have to,if it will help the rebels defeat Snow." I squeeze thepearl more tightly in my fist. "Its just...Peeta. Imafraid if we do win, the rebels will execute him as atraitor."32 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  32. 32. Prim thinks this over. "Katniss, I dont think youunderstand how important you are to the cause.Important people usually get what they want. If youwant to keep Peeta safe from the rebels, you can."I guess Im important. They went to a lot of trouble torescue me. They took me to 12. "You mean...I coulddemand that they give Peeta immunity? And theydhave to agree to it?""I think you could demand almost anything andtheyd have to agree to it." Prim wrinkles her brow."Only how do you know theyll keep their word?"I remember all of the lies Haymitch told Peeta and meto get us to do what he wanted. Whats to keep therebels from reneging on the deal? A verbal promisebehind closed doors, even a statement written onpaper--these could easily evaporate after the war.Their existence or validity denied. Any witnesses inCommand will be worthless. In fact, theyd probablybe the ones writing out Peetas death warrant. Illneed a much larger pool of witnesses. Ill needeveryone I can get."It will have to be public," I say. Buttercup gives aflick of his tail that I take as agreement. "Ill makeCoin announce it in front of the entire population ofThirteen."Prim smiles. "Oh, thats good. Its not a guarantee,but it will be much harder for them to back out oftheir promise."I feel the kind of relief that follows an actual solution."I should wake you up more often, little duck.""I wish you would," says Prim. She gives me a kiss."Try and sleep now, all right?" And I do.33 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  33. 33. In the morning, I see that 7:00--Breakfast is directlyfollowed by 7:30--Command, which is fine since I mayas well start the ball rolling. At the dining hall, I flashmy schedule, which includes some kind of IDnumber, in front of a sensor. As I slide my tray alongthe metal shelf before the vats of food, I see breakfastis its usual dependable self--a bowl of hot grain, acup of milk, and a small scoop of fruit or vegetables.Today, mashed turnips. All of it comes from 13sunderground farms. I sit at the table assigned to theEverdeens and the Hawthornes and some otherrefugees, and shovel my food down, wishing forseconds, but there are never seconds here. They havenutrition down to a science. You leave with enoughcalories to take you to the next meal, no more, noless. Serving size is based on your age, height, bodytype, health, and amount of physical labor requiredby your schedule. The people from 12 are alreadygetting slightly larger portions than the natives of 13in an effort to bring us up to weight. I guess bonysoldiers tire too quickly. Its working, though. In justa month, were starting to look healthier, particularlythe kids.Gale sets his tray beside me and I try not to stare athis turnips too pathetically, because I really wantmore, and hes already too quick to slip me his food.Even though I turn my attention to neatly folding mynapkin, a spoonful of turnips slops into my bowl."Youve got to stop that," I say. But since Im alreadyscooping up the stuff, its not too convincing. "Really.Its probably illegal or something." They have verystrict rules about food. For instance, if you dontfinish something and want to save it for later, youcant take it from the dining hall. Apparently, in theearly days, there was some incident of food hoarding.For a couple of people like Gale and me, whove beenin charge of our families food supply for years, it34 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  34. 34. doesnt sit well. We know how to be hungry, but nothow to be told how to handle what provisions wehave. In some ways, District 13 is even morecontrolling than the Capitol."What can they do? Theyve already got mycommunicuff," says Gale.As I scrape my bowl clean, I have an inspiration."Hey, maybe I should make that a condition of beingthe Mockingjay.""That I can feed you turnips?" he says."No, that we can hunt." That gets his attention. "Wedhave to give everything to the kitchen. But still, wecould..." I dont have to finish because he knows. Wecould be aboveground. Out in the woods. We could beourselves again."Do it," he says. "Nows the time. You could ask forthe moon and theyd have to find some way to get it."He doesnt know that Im already asking for the moonby demanding they spare Peetas life. Before I candecide whether or not to tell him, a bell signals theend of our eating shift. The thought of facing Coinalone makes me nervous. "What are you scheduledfor?"Gale checks his arm. "Nuclear History class. Where,by the way, your absence has been noted.""I have to go to Command. Come with me?" I ask."All right. But they might throw me out afteryesterday." As we go to drop off our trays, he says,"You know, you better put Buttercup on your list of35 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  35. 35. demands, too. I dont think the concept of uselesspets is well known here.""Oh, theyll find him a job. Tattoo it on his paw everymorning," I say. But I make a mental note to includehim for Prims sake.By the time we get to Command, Coin, Plutarch, andall their people have already assembled. The sight ofGale raises some eyebrows, but no one throws himout. My mental notes have become too jumbled, so Iask for a piece of paper and a pencil right off. Myapparent interest in the proceedings--the first Iveshown since Ive been here--takes them by surprise.Several looks are exchanged. Probably they had someextra-special lecture planned for me. But instead,Coin personally hands me the supplies, and everyonewaits in silence while I sit at the table and scrawl outmy list. Buttercup. Hunting. Peetas immunity.Announced in public.This is it. Probably my only chance to bargain. Think.What else do you want? I feel him, standing at myshoulder. Gale, I add to the list. I dont think I can dothis without him.The headaches coming on and my thoughts begin totangle. I shut my eyes and start to recite silently.My name is Katniss Everdeen. I am seventeen yearsold. My home is District 12. I was in the HungerGames. I escaped. The Capitol hates me. Peeta wastaken prisoner. He is alive. He is a traitor but alive. Ihave to keep him alive....The list. It still seems too small. I should try to thinkbigger, beyond our current situation where I am ofthe utmost importance, to the future where I may beworth nothing. Shouldnt I be asking for more? For36 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  36. 36. my family? For the remainder of my people? My skinitches with the ashes of the dead. I feel the sickeningimpact of the skull against my shoe. The scent ofblood and roses stings my nose.The pencil moves across the page on its own. I openmy eyes and see the wobbly letters. I KILL SNOW. Ifhes captured, I want the privilege.Plutarch gives a discreet cough. "About done there?" Iglance up and notice the clock. Ive been sitting herefor twenty minutes. Finnick isnt the only one withattention problems."Yeah," I say. My voice sounds hoarse, so I clear mythroat. "Yeah, so this is the deal. Ill be yourMockingjay."I wait so they can make their sounds of relief,congratulate, slap one another on the back. Coinstays as impassive as ever, watching me,unimpressed."But I have some conditions." I smooth out the listand begin. "My family gets to keep our cat." My tiniestrequest sets off an argument. The Capitol rebels seethis as a nonissue--of course, I can keep my pet--while those from 13 spell out what extreme difficultiesthis presents. Finally its worked out that well bemoved to the top level, which has the luxury of aneight-inch window aboveground. Buttercup may comeand go to do his business. He will be expected to feedhimself. If he misses curfew, he will be locked out. Ifhe causes any security problems, hell be shotimmediately.That sounds okay. Not so different from how hesbeen living since we left. Except for the shooting part.37 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  37. 37. If he looks too thin, I can slip him a few entrails,provided my next request is allowed."I want to hunt. With Gale. Out in the woods," I say.This gives everyone pause."We wont go far. Well use our own bows. You canhave the meat for the kitchen," adds Gale.I hurry on before they can say no. "Its just...I cantbreathe shut up here like a...I would get better, faster,if...I could hunt."Plutarch begins to explain the drawbacks here--thedangers, the extra security, the risk of injury--butCoin cuts him off. "No. Let them. Give them two hoursa day, deducted from their training time. A quarter-mile radius. With communication units and trackeranklets. Whats next?"I skim my list. "Gale. Ill need him with me to do this.""With you how? Off camera? By your side at all times?Do you want him presented as your new lover?" Coinasks.She hasnt said this with any particular malice--quitethe contrary, her words are very matter-of-fact. Butmy mouth still drops open in shock. "What?""I think we should continue the current romance. Aquick defection from Peeta could cause the audienceto lose sympathy for her," says Plutarch. "Especiallysince they think shes pregnant with his child.""Agreed. So, on-screen, Gale can simply be portrayedas a fellow rebel. Is that all right?" says Coin. I juststare at her. She repeats herself impatiently. "ForGale. Will that be sufficient?"38 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  38. 38. "We can always work him in as your cousin," saysFulvia."Were not cousins," Gale and I say together."Right, but we should probably keep that up forappearances sake on camera," says Plutarch. "Offcamera, hes all yours. Anything else?"Im rattled by the turn in the conversation. Theimplications that I could so readily dispose of Peeta,that Im in love with Gale, that the whole thing hasbeen an act. My cheeks begin to burn. The verynotion that Im devoting any thought to who I wantpresented as my lover, given our currentcircumstances, is demeaning. I let my anger propelme into my greatest demand. "When the war is over, ifweve won, Peeta will be pardoned."Dead silence. I feel Gales body tense. I guess I shouldhave told him before, but I wasnt sure how hedrespond. Not when it involved Peeta."No form of punishment will be inflicted," I continue.A new thought occurs to me. "The same goes for theother captured tributes, Johanna and Enobaria."Frankly, I dont care about Enobaria, the viciousDistrict 2 tribute. In fact, I dislike her, but it seemswrong to leave her out."No," says Coin flatly."Yes," I shoot back. "Its not their fault you abandonedthem in the arena. Who knows what the Capitolsdoing to them?""Theyll be tried with other war criminals and treatedas the tribunal sees fit," she says.39 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  39. 39. "Theyll be granted immunity!" I feel myself rising frommy chair, my voice full and resonant. "You willpersonally pledge this in front of the entire populationof District Thirteen and the remainder of Twelve.Soon. Today. It will be recorded for futuregenerations. You will hold yourself and yourgovernment responsible for their safety, or youll findyourself another Mockingjay!"My words hang in the air for a long moment."Thats her!" I hear Fulvia hiss to Plutarch. "Rightthere. With the costume, gunfire in the background,just a hint of smoke.""Yes, thats what we want," says Plutarch under hisbreath.I want to glare at them, but I feel it would be amistake to turn my attention from Coin. I can see hertallying the cost of my ultimatum, weighing it againstmy possible worth."What do you say, President?" asks Plutarch. "Youcould issue an official pardon, given thecircumstances. The boy...hes not even of age.""All right," Coin says finally. "But youd betterperform.""Ill perform when youve made the announcement," Isay."Call a national security assembly during Reflectiontoday," she orders. "Ill make the announcement then.Is there anything left on your list, Katniss?"40 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  40. 40. My papers crumpled into a ball in my right fist. Iflatten the sheet against the table and read therickety letters. "Just one more thing. I kill Snow."For the first time ever, I see the hint of a smile on thepresidents lips. "When the time comes, Ill flip you forit."Maybe shes right. I certainly dont have the sole claimagainst Snows life. And I think I can count on hergetting the job done. "Fair enough."Coins eyes have flickered to her arm, the clock. She,too, has a schedule to adhere to. "Ill leave her in yourhands, then, Plutarch." She exits the room, followedby her team, leaving only Plutarch, Fulvia, Gale, andmyself."Excellent. Excellent." Plutarch sinks down, elbows onthe table, rubbing his eyes. "You know what I miss?More than anything? Coffee. I ask you, would it be sounthinkable to have something to wash down thegruel and turnips?""We didnt think it would be quite so rigid here,"Fulvia explains to us as she massages Plutarchsshoulders. "Not in the higher ranks.""Or at least thered be the option of a little sideaction," says Plutarch. "I mean, even Twelve had ablack market, right?""Yeah, the Hob," says Gale. "Its where we traded.""There, you see? And look how moral you two are!Virtually incorruptible." Plutarch sighs. "Oh, well,wars dont last forever. So, glad to have you on theteam." He reaches a hand out to the side, whereFulvia is already extending a large sketchbook bound41 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  41. 41. in black leather. "You know in general what wereasking of you, Katniss. Im aware you have mixedfeelings about participating. I hope this will help."Plutarch slides the sketchbook across to me. For amoment, I look at it suspiciously. Then curiosity getsthe better of me. I open the cover to find a picture ofmyself, standing straight and strong, in a blackuniform. Only one person could have designed theoutfit, at first glance utterly utilitarian, at second awork of art. The swoop of the helmet, the curve to thebreastplate, the slight fullness of the sleeves thatallows the white folds under the arms to show. In hishands, I am again a mockingjay."Cinna," I whisper."Yes. He made me promise not to show you this bookuntil youd decided to be the Mockingjay on your own.Believe me, I was very tempted," says Plutarch. "Goon. Flip through."I turn the pages slowly, seeing each detail of theuniform. The carefully tailored layers of body armor,the hidden weapons in the boots and belt, the specialreinforcements over my heart. On the final page,under a sketch of my mockingjay pin, Cinnas written,Im still betting on you."When did he..." My voice fails me."Lets see. Well, after the Quarter Quellannouncement. A few weeks before the Gamesmaybe? There are not only the sketches. We haveyour uniforms. Oh, and Beetees got something reallyspecial waiting for you down in the armory. I wontspoil it by hinting," says Plutarch.42 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  42. 42. "Youre going to be the best-dressed rebel in history,"says Gale with a smile. Suddenly, I realize hes beenholding out on me. Like Cinna, hes wanted me tomake this decision all along."Our plan is to launch an Airtime Assault," saysPlutarch. "To make a series of what we call propos--which is short for propaganda spots--featuring you,and broadcast them to the entire population ofPanem.""How? The Capitol has sole control of the broadcasts,"says Gale."But we have Beetee. About ten years ago, heessentially redesigned the underground network thattransmits all the programming. He thinks theres areasonable chance it can be done. Of course, wellneed something to air. So, Katniss, the studio awaitsyour pleasure." Plutarch turns to his assistant."Fulvia?""Plutarch and I have been talking about how on earthwe can pull this off. We think that it might be best tobuild you, our rebel leader, from the outside...in. Thatis to say, lets find the most stunning Mockingjay lookpossible, and then work your personality up todeserving it!" she says brightly."You already have her uniform," says Gale."Yes, but is she scarred and bloody? Is she glowingwith the fire of rebellion? Just how grimy can wemake her without disgusting people? At any rate, shehas to be something. I mean, obviously this"--Fulviamoves in on me quickly, framing my face with herhands--"wont cut it." I jerk my head back reflexivelybut shes already busy gathering her things. "So, with43 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  43. 43. that in mind, we have another little surprise for you.Come, come."Fulvia gives us a wave, and Gale and I follow her andPlutarch out into the hall."So well intended, and yet so insulting," Galewhispers in my ear."Welcome to the Capitol," I mouth back. But Fulviaswords have no effect on me. I wrap my arms tightlyaround the sketchbook and allow myself to feelhopeful. This must be the right decision. If Cinnawanted it.We board an elevator, and Plutarch checks his notes."Lets see. Its Compartment Three-Nine-Oh-Eight."He presses a button marked 39, but nothinghappens."You must have to key it," says Fulvia.Plutarch pulls a key attached to a thin chain fromunder his shirt and inserts it into a slot I hadntnoticed before. The doors slide shut. "Ah, there weare."The elevator descends ten, twenty, thirty-plus levels,farther down than I even knew District 13 went. Itopens on a wide white corridor lined with red doors,which look almost decorative compared to the grayones on the upper floors. Each is plainly marked witha number. 3901, 3902, 3903...As we step out, I glance behind me to watch theelevator close and see a metallic grate slide into placeover the regular doors. When I turn, a guard hasmaterialized from one of the rooms at the far end of44 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  44. 44. the corridor. A door swings silently shut behind himas he strides toward us.Plutarch moves to meet him, raising a hand ingreeting, and the rest of us follow behind him.Something feels very wrong down here. Its more thanthe reinforced elevator, or the claustrophobia of beingso far underground, or the caustic smell of antiseptic.One look at Gales face and I can tell he senses it aswell."Good morning, we were just looking for--" Plutarchbegins."You have the wrong floor," says the guard abruptly."Really?" Plutarch double-checks his notes. "Ive gotThree-Nine-Oh-Eight written right here. I wonder ifyou could just give a call up to--""Im afraid I have to ask you to leave now. Assignmentdiscrepancies can be addressed at the Head Office,"says the guard.Its right ahead of us. Compartment 3908. Just a fewsteps away. The door--in fact, all the doors--seemincomplete. No knobs. They must swing free onhinges like the one the guard appeared through."Where is that again?" asks Fulvia."Youll find the Head Office on Level Seven," says theguard, extending his arms to corral us back to theelevator.From behind door 3908 comes a sound. Just a tinywhimper. Like something a cowed dog might make toavoid being struck, only all too human and familiar.My eyes meet Gales for just a moment, but its long45 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  45. 45. enough for two people who operate the way we do. Ilet Cinnas sketchbook fall at the guards feet with aloud bang. A second after he leans down to retrieve it,Gale leans down, too, intentionally bumping heads."Oh, Im sorry," he says with a light laugh, catchingthe guards arms as if to steady himself, turning himslightly away from me.Thats my chance. I dart around the distracted guard,push open the door marked 3908, and find them.Half-naked, bruised, and shackled to the wall.My prep team.46 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  46. 46. The stink of unwashed bodies, stale urine, andinfection breaks through the cloud of antiseptic. Thethree figures are only just recognizable by their moststriking fashion choices: Venias gold facial tattoos.Flaviuss orange corkscrew curls. Octavias lightevergreen skin, which now hangs too loosely, as if herbody were a slowly deflating balloon.On seeing me, Flavius and Octavia shrink backagainst the tiled walls like theyre anticipating anattack, even though I have never hurt them. Unkindthoughts were my worst offense against them, andthose I kept to myself, so why do they recoil?The guards ordering me out, but by the shuffling thatfollows, I know Gale has somehow detained him. Foranswers, I cross to Venia, who was always thestrongest. I crouch down and take her icy hands,which clutch mine like vises."What happened, Venia?" I ask. "What are you doinghere?""They took us. From the Capitol," she says hoarsely.Plutarch enters behind me. "What on earth is goingon?""Who took you?" I press her."People," she says vaguely. "The night you broke out."47 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  47. 47. "We thought it might be comforting for you to haveyour regular team," Plutarch says behind me. "Cinnarequested it.""Cinna requested this?" I snarl at him. Because iftheres one thing I know, its that Cinna would neverhave approved the abuse of these three, who hemanaged with gentleness and patience. "Why are theybeing treated like criminals?""I honestly dont know." Theres something in hisvoice that makes me believe him, and the pallor onFulvias face confirms it. Plutarch turns to the guard,whos just appeared in the doorway with Gale rightbehind him. "I was only told they were being confined.Why are they being punished?""For stealing food. We had to restrain them after analtercation over some bread," says the guard.Venias brows come together as if shes still trying tomake sense of it. "No one would tell us anything. Wewere so hungry. It was just one slice she took."Octavia begins to sob, muffling the sound in herragged tunic. I think of how, the first time I survivedthe arena, Octavia sneaked me a roll under the tablebecause she couldnt bear my hunger. I crawl acrossto her shaking form. "Octavia?" I touch her and sheflinches. "Octavia? Its going to be all right. Ill get youout of here, okay?""This seems extreme," says Plutarch."Its because they took a slice of bread?" asks Gale."There were repeated infractions leading up to that.They were warned. Still they took more bread." The48 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  48. 48. guard pauses a moment, as if puzzled by our density."You cant take bread."I cant get Octavia to uncover her face, but she lifts itslightly. The shackles on her wrists shift down a fewinches, revealing raw sores beneath them. "Imbringing you to my mother." I address the guard."Unchain them."The guard shakes his head. "Its not authorized.""Unchain them! Now!" I yell.This breaks his composure. Average citizens dontaddress him this way. "I have no release orders. Andyou have no authority to--""Do it on my authority," says Plutarch. "We came tocollect these three anyway. Theyre needed for SpecialDefense. Ill take full responsibility."The guard leaves to make a call. He returns with a setof keys. The preps have been forced into crampedbody positions for so long that even once the shacklesare removed, they have trouble walking. Gale,Plutarch, and I have to help them. Flaviuss footcatches on a metal grate over a circular opening inthe floor, and my stomach contracts when I think ofwhy a room would need a drain. The stains of humanmisery that must have been hosed off these whitetiles...In the hospital, I find my mother, the only one I trustto care for them. It takes her a minute to place thethree, given their current condition, but already shewears a look of consternation. And I know its not aresult of seeing abused bodies, because they were herdaily fare in District 12, but the realization that thissort of thing goes on in 13 as well.49 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  49. 49. My mother was welcomed into the hospital, but shesviewed as more of a nurse than a doctor, despite herlifetime of healing. Still, no one interferes when sheguides the trio into an examination room to assesstheir injuries. I plant myself on a bench in the halloutside the hospital entrance, waiting to hear herverdict. She will be able to read in their bodies thepain inflicted upon them.Gale sits next to me and puts an arm around myshoulder. "Shell fix them up." I give a nod, wonderingif hes thinking about his own brutal flogging back in12.Plutarch and Fulvia take the bench across from usbut dont offer any comments on the state of my prepteam. If they had no knowledge of the mistreatment,then what do they make of this move on PresidentCoins part? I decide to help them out."I guess weve all been put on notice," I say."What? No. What do you mean?" asks Fulvia."Punishing my prep teams a warning," I tell her. "Notjust to me. But to you, too. About whos really incontrol and what happens if shes not obeyed. If youhad any delusions about having power, Id let them gonow. Apparently, a Capitol pedigree is no protectionhere. Maybe its even a liability.""There is no comparison between Plutarch, whomasterminded the rebel breakout, and those threebeauticians," says Fulvia icily.I shrug. "If you say so, Fulvia. But what wouldhappen if you got on Coins bad side? My prep teamwas kidnapped. They can at least hope to one day50 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  50. 50. return to the Capitol. Gale and I can live in thewoods. But you? Where would you two run?""Perhaps were a little more necessary to the wareffort than you give us credit for," says Plutarch,unconcerned."Of course you are. The tributes were necessary to theGames, too. Until they werent," I say. "And then wewere very disposable--right, Plutarch?"That ends the conversation. We wait in silence untilmy mother finds us. "Theyll be all right," she reports."No permanent physical injuries.""Good. Splendid," says Plutarch. "How soon can theybe put to work?""Probably tomorrow," she answers. "Youll have toexpect some emotional instability, after what theyvebeen through. They were particularly ill prepared,coming from their life in the Capitol.""Werent we all?" says Plutarch.Either because the prep teams incapacitated or Imtoo on edge, Plutarch releases me from Mockingjayduties for the rest of the day. Gale and I head down tolunch, where were served bean and onion stew, athick slice of bread, and a cup of water. After Veniasstory, the bread sticks in my throat, so I slide the restof it onto Gales tray. Neither of us speaks muchduring lunch, but when our bowls are clean, Galepulls up his sleeve, revealing his schedule. "Ive gottraining next."I tug up my sleeve and hold my arm next to his. "Me,too." I remember that training equals hunting now.51 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  51. 51. My eagerness to escape into the woods, if only for twohours, overrides my current concerns. An immersioninto greenery and sunlight will surely help me sortout my thoughts. Once off the main corridors, Galeand I race like schoolchildren for the armory, and bythe time we arrive, Im breathless and dizzy. Areminder that Im not fully recovered. The guardsprovide our old weapons, as well as knives and aburlap sack thats meant for a game bag. I toleratehaving the tracker clamped to my ankle, try to look asif Im listening when they explain how to use thehandheld communicator. The only thing that sticks inmy head is that it has a clock, and we must be backinside 13 by the designated hour or our huntingprivileges will be revoked. This is one rule I think Iwill make an effort to abide.We go outside into the large, fenced-in training areabeside the woods. Guards open the well-oiled gateswithout comment. We would be hard-pressed to getpast this fence on our own--thirty feet high andalways buzzing with electricity, topped with razor-sharp curls of steel. We move through the woods untilthe view of the fence has been obscured. In a smallclearing, we pause and drop back our heads to baskin the sunlight. I turn in a circle, my arms extendedat my sides, revolving slowly so as not to set the worldspinning.The lack of rain I saw in 12 has damaged the plantshere as well, leaving some with brittle leaves, buildinga crunchy carpet under our feet. We take off ourshoes. Mine dont fit right anyway, since in the spiritof waste-not-want-not that rules 13, I was issued apair someone had outgrown. Apparently, one of uswalks funny, because theyre broken in all wrong.We hunt, like in the old days. Silent, needing nowords to communicate, because here in the woods we52 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  52. 52. move as two parts of one being. Anticipating eachothers movements, watching each others backs. Howlong has it been? Eight months? Nine? Since we hadthis freedom? Its not exactly the same, given all thatshappened and the trackers on our ankles and the factthat I have to rest so often. But its about as close tohappiness as I think I can currently get.The animals here are not nearly suspicious enough.That extra moment it takes to place our unfamiliarscent means their death. In an hour and a half, wevegot a mixed dozen--rabbits, squirrels, and turkeys--and decide to knock off to spend the remaining timeby a pond that must be fed by an undergroundspring, since the waters cool and sweet.When Gale offers to clean the game, I dont object. Istick a few mint leaves on my tongue, close my eyes,and lean back against a rock, soaking in the sounds,letting the scorching afternoon sun burn my skin,almost at peace until Gales voice interrupts me."Katniss, why do you care so much about your prepteam?"I open my eyes to see if hes joking, but hes frowningdown at the rabbit hes skinning. "Why shouldnt I?""Hm. Lets see. Because theyve spent the last yearprettying you up for slaughter?" he suggests."Its more complicated than that. I know them.Theyre not evil or cruel. Theyre not even smart.Hurting them, its like hurting children. They dontsee...I mean, they dont know..." I get knotted up inmy words."They dont know what, Katniss?" he says. "Thattributes--who are the actual children involved here,not your trio of freaks--are forced to fight to the53 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  53. 53. death? That you were going into that arena forpeoples amusement? Was that a big secret in theCapitol?""No. But they dont view it the way we do," I say."Theyre raised on it and--""Are you actually defending them?" He slips the skinfrom the rabbit in one quick move.That stings, because, in fact, I am, and its ridiculous.I struggle to find a logical position. "I guess Imdefending anyone whos treated like that for taking aslice of bread. Maybe it reminds me too much of whathappened to you over a turkey!"Still, hes right. It does seem strange, my level ofconcern over the prep team. I should hate them andwant to see them strung up. But theyre so clueless,and they belonged to Cinna, and he was on my side,right?"Im not looking for a fight," Gale says. "But I dontthink Coin was sending you some big message bypunishing them for breaking the rules here. Sheprobably thought youd see it as a favor." He stuffsthe rabbit in the sack and rises. "We better get goingif we want to make it back on time."I ignore his offer of a hand up and get to my feetunsteadily. "Fine." Neither of us talks on the wayback, but once were inside the gate, I think ofsomething else. "During the Quarter Quell, Octaviaand Flavius had to quit because they couldnt stopcrying over me going back in. And Venia could barelysay good-bye.""Ill try and keep that in mind as they...remake you,"says Gale.54 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  54. 54. "Do," I say.We hand the meat over to Greasy Sae in the kitchen.She likes District 13 well enough, even though shethinks the cooks are somewhat lacking inimagination. But a woman who came up with apalatable wild dog and rhubarb stew is bound to feelas if her hands are tied here.Exhausted from hunting and my lack of sleep, I goback to my compartment to find it stripped bare, onlyto remember weve been moved because of Buttercup.I make my way up to the top floor and findCompartment E. It looks exactly like Compartment307, except for the window--two feet wide, eightinches high--centered at the top of the outside wall.Theres a heavy metal plate that fastens over it, butright now its propped open, and a certain cat isnowhere to be seen. I stretch out on my bed, and ashaft of afternoon sunlight plays on my face. The nextthing I know, my sister is waking me for 18:00--Reflection.Prim tells me theyve been announcing the assemblysince lunch. The entire population, except thoseneeded for essential jobs, is required to attend. Wefollow directions to the Collective, a huge room thateasily holds the thousands who show up. You can tellit was built for a larger gathering, and perhaps it heldone before the pox epidemic. Prim quietly points outthe widespread fallout from that disaster--the poxscars on peoples bodies, the slightly disfiguredchildren. "Theyve suffered a lot here," she says.After this morning, Im in no mood to feel sorry for 13."No more than we did in Twelve," I say. I see mymother lead in a group of mobile patients, stillwearing their hospital nightgowns and robes. Finnickstands among them, looking dazed but gorgeous. In55 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  55. 55. his hands he holds a piece of thin rope, less than afoot in length, too short for even him to fashion into ausable noose. His fingers move rapidly, automaticallytying and unraveling various knots as he gazes about.Probably part of his therapy. I cross to him and say,"Hey, Finnick." He doesnt seem to notice, so I nudgehim to get his attention. "Finnick! How are youdoing?""Katniss," he says, gripping my hand. Relieved to seea familiar face, I think. "Why are we meeting here?""I told Coin Id be her Mockingjay. But I made herpromise to give the other tributes immunity if therebels won," I tell him. "In public, so there are plentyof witnesses.""Oh. Good. Because I worry about that with Annie.That shell say something that could be construed astraitorous without knowing it," says Finnick.Annie. Uh-oh. Totally forgot her. "Dont worry, I tookcare of it." I give Finnicks hand a squeeze and headstraight for the podium at the front of the room. Coin,who is glancing over her statement, raises hereyebrows at me. "I need you to add Annie Cresta tothe immunity list," I tell her.The president frowns slightly. "Whos that?""Shes Finnick Odairs--" What? I dont really knowwhat to call her. "Shes Finnicks friend. From DistrictFour. Another victor. She was arrested and taken tothe Capitol when the arena blew up.""Oh, the mad girl. Thats not really necessary," shesays. "We dont make a habit of punishing anyonethat frail."56 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  56. 56. I think of the scene I walked in on this morning. OfOctavia huddled against the wall. Of how Coin and Imust have vastly different definitions of frailty. But Ionly say, "No? Then it shouldnt be a problem to addAnnie.""All right," says the president, penciling in Anniesname. "Do you want to be up here with me for theannouncement?" I shake my head. "I didnt think so.Better hurry and lose yourself in the crowd. Im aboutto begin." I make my way back to Finnick.Words are another thing not wasted in 13. Coin callsthe audience to attention and tells them I haveconsented to be the Mockingjay, provided the othervictors--Peeta, Johanna, Enobaria, and Annie--will begranted full pardon for any damage they do to therebel cause. In the rumbling of the crowd, I hear thedissent. I suppose no one doubted I would want to bethe Mockingjay. So naming a price--one that sparespossible enemies--angers them. I stand indifferent tothe hostile looks thrown my way.The president allows a few moments of unrest, andthen continues in her brisk fashion. Only now thewords coming out of her mouth are news to me. "Butin return for this unprecedented request, SoldierEverdeen has promised to devote herself to our cause.It follows that any deviance from her mission, ineither motive or deed, will be viewed as a break in thisagreement. The immunity would be terminated andthe fate of the four victors determined by the law ofDistrict Thirteen. As would her own. Thank you."In other words, I step out of line and were all dead.57 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  57. 57. Another force to contend with. Another power playerwho has decided to use me as a piece in her games,although things never seem to go according to plan.First there were the Gamemakers, making me theirstar and then scrambling to recover from that handfulof poisonous berries. Then President Snow, trying touse me to put out the flames of rebellion, only to havemy every move become inflammatory. Next, the rebelsensnaring me in the metal claw that lifted me fromthe arena, designating me to be their Mockingjay, andthen having to recover from the shock that I mightnot want the wings. And now Coin, with her fistful ofprecious nukes and her well-oiled machine of adistrict, finding its even harder to groom aMockingjay than to catch one. But she has been thequickest to determine that I have an agenda of myown and am therefore not to be trusted. She has beenthe first to publicly brand me as a threat.I run my fingers through the thick layer of bubbles inmy tub. Cleaning me up is just a preliminary step todetermining my new look. With my acid-damagedhair, sunburned skin, and ugly scars, the prep teamhas to make me pretty and then damage, burn, andscar me in a more attractive way."Remake her to Beauty Base Zero," Fulvia orderedfirst thing this morning. "Well work from there."Beauty Base Zero turns out to be what a personwould look like if they stepped out of bed lookingflawless but natural. It means my nails are perfectlyshaped but not polished. My hair soft and shiny butnot styled. My skin smooth and clear but not painted.Wax the body hair and erase the dark circles, but58 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  58. 58. dont make any noticeable enhancements. I supposeCinna gave the same instructions the first day Iarrived as a tribute in the Capitol. Only that wasdifferent, since I was a contestant. As a rebel, Ithought Id get to look more like myself. But it seemsa televised rebel has her own standards to live up to.After I rinse the lather from my body, I turn to findOctavia waiting with a towel. She is so altered fromthe woman I knew in the Capitol, stripped of thegaudy clothing, the heavy makeup, the dyes andjewelry and knickknacks she adorned her hair with. Iremember how one day she showed up with brightpink tresses studded with blinking colored lightsshaped like mice. She told me she had several mice athome as pets. The thought repulsed me at the time,since we consider mice vermin, unless cooked. Butperhaps Octavia liked them because they were small,soft, and squeaky. Like her. As she pats me dry, I tryto become acquainted with the District 13 Octavia.Her real hair turns out to be a nice auburn. Her faceis ordinary but has an undeniable sweetness. Shesyounger than I thought. Maybe early twenties. Devoidof the three-inch decorative nails, her fingers appearalmost stubby, and they cant stop trembling. I wantto tell her its okay, that Ill see that Coin never hurtsher again. But the multicolored bruises floweringunder her green skin only remind me how impotent Iam.Flavius, too, appears washed out without his purplelipstick and bright clothes. Hes managed to get hisorange ringlets back in some sort of order, though.Its Venia whos the least changed. Her aqua hair liesflat instead of in spikes and you can see the rootsgrowing in gray. However, the tattoos were always hermost striking characteristic, and theyre as goldenand shocking as ever. She comes and takes the towelfrom Octavias hands.59 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  59. 59. "Katniss is not going to hurt us," she says quietly butfirmly to Octavia. "Katniss did not even know we werehere. Things will be better now." Octavia gives a slightnod but doesnt dare look me in the eye.Its no simple job getting me back to Beauty BaseZero, even with the elaborate arsenal of products,tools, and gadgets Plutarch had the foresight to bringfrom the Capitol. My preps do pretty well until theytry to address the spot on my arm where Johannadug out the tracker. None of the medical team wasfocusing on looks when they patched up the gapinghole. Now I have a lumpy, jagged scar that ripples outover a space the size of an apple. Usually, my sleevecovers it, but the way Cinnas Mockingjay costume isdesigned, the sleeves stop just above the elbow. Itssuch a concern that Fulvia and Plutarch are called into discuss it. I swear, the sight of it triggers Fulviasgag reflex. For someone who works with aGamemaker, shes awfully sensitive. But I guess shesused to seeing unpleasant things only on a screen."Everyone knows I have a scar here," I say sullenly."Knowing it and seeing it are two different things,"says Fulvia. "Its positively repulsive. Plutarch and Iwill think of something during lunch.""Itll be fine," says Plutarch with a dismissive wave ofhis hand. "Maybe an armband or something."Disgusted, I get dressed so I can head to the dininghall. My prep team huddles in a little group by thedoor. "Are they bringing your food here?" I ask."No," says Venia. "Were supposed to go to a dininghall."60 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins
  60. 60. I sigh inwardly as I imagine walking into the dininghall, trailed by these three. But people always stare atme anyway. This will be more of the same. "Ill showyou where it is," I say. "Come on."The covert glances and quiet murmurs I usuallyevoke are nothing compared to the reaction broughton by the sight of my bizarre-looking prep team. Thegaping mouths, the finger pointing, the exclamations."Just ignore them," I tell my prep team. Eyesdowncast, with mechanical movements, they followme through the line, accepting bowls of grayish fishand okra stew and cups of water.We take seats at my table, beside a group from theSeam. They show a little more restraint than thepeople from 13 do, although it may just be fromembarrassment. Leevy, who was my neighbor back in12, gives a cautious hello to the preps, and Galesmother, Hazelle, who must know about theirimprisonment, holds up a spoonful of the stew. "Dontworry," she says. "Tastes better than it looks."But its Posy, Gales five-year-old sister, who helps themost. She scoots along the bench to Octavia andtouches her skin with a tentative finger. "Youregreen. Are you sick?""Its a fashion thing, Posy. Like wearing lipstick," Isay."Its meant to be pretty," whispers Octavia, and I cansee the tears threatening to spill over her lashes.Posy considers this and says matter-of-factly, "I thinkyoud be pretty in any color."The tiniest of smiles forms on Octavias lips. "Thankyou."61 | P a g e Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins

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