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Repost: The Golden Mean, Chapter 26 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Repost: The Golden Mean, Chapter 26
Okay, this has MAJOR CHANGES in the action sequence. I decided to let Haymitch succeed in at least helping one person in the flight out of the arena. Plus, more of a reaction to the destruction of Twelve and Danny's death. Also, I changed where this one ends and the next one starts.

Chapter Twenty-Six
"We have to get there! We have to get him out of there!"

"We're headed for the rendezvous point, and of course the rescue craft is going to try to get Peeta out," Plutarch says. "They can't do anything while the forcefield is still up."

"If there's enough power to break it from inside, then someone should have enough power to break it from outside," Jack says.

"Their power is engaged in the firefight that's currently going on," Fulvia says. "Even the supply ship is armed."

"Then we should go and help them," I say.

On screen, Katniss has reached Beetee. Peeta's inchoate scream has changed to a gasping, horrible cry for Katniss. She yells back, obviously trying to draw attention away from him.

"We can't go there," Fulvia says. "There's too much risk. Plutarch is needed in the administration of the war."

Jack stands up, his tie held loosely in one hand. "Lady," he says, "if I were you, I'd think about exactly what the risks are. Me and Haymitch just got through about a million Peacekeepers, using a tie and a piece of broken plastic. And flying was my talent. You might want to ask yourself if you're really more scared of a few Capitol guns."

"There's no need for threats," Plutarch says calmly, steering the hovercraft around a mountain. "Fulvia, we are at war. We should expect to take some risks with our personal safety. The craft is armed, and perhaps we can rendezvous with the rescue ship early."

Fulvia looks at us like she might murder us with her mind, and goes back to the co-pilot's seat.

I turn back to the screen. I don't know what Beetee did to himself -- it must have happened while we were escaping -- but he is bleeding from his arm, so I'd guess his tracker is gone. If he were to move out of range of the last camera to track him, they might not be able to find him again... but he's beyond moving right now. He is breathing shallowly. Katniss is staring at his knife, which is wrapped in wire and attached to the lightning tree.

"Oh, my God," Jack says. "He was trying to run the wire through the forcefield. Short it out when the lightning comes."

I shake my head. "The knife wouldn't make it. It would ground him. He's..." I see everything. "An arrow would do it. He did it to give Katniss a clue. But she has no idea."

Finnick is battling furiously with Enobaria, headed toward midnight. He isn’t going for lethal blows. "Just hold out," he tells her. "Hold out, and--"

She swings a spear around, crossing it with his trident, and yells murderously.

Beside Beetee, Katniss raises her bow, but doesn't put wire onto an arrow or aim at the forcefield.

Peeta stumbles out onto the beach, still calling miserably for Katniss. He looks around, disoriented, and tries to find his way to the right spot.

Johanna slashes her own arm, pulls out her tracker, and makes an obscene gesture at the sky. She runs out of frame. The cameras try to follow her physically, but she loses herself in the shadows, running through the nine o'clock wedge.

Katniss has leveled her bow at Enobaria. She has a clean shot, but she stops, frowning.

"Come on, sweetheart," I whisper, though there's no point. I can't even send her a gift with a hint. "Remember who the enemy is."

She whispers one word that I don't think she's even aware of saying: "Enemy."

"There it is!" Fulvia shouts, and through the front window of the hovercraft, I can see the arena, a faintly glowing pink thing, with hovercrafts skirmishing above it. It stands in the middle of the vast, flat desert to the southwest of the Capitol.

Her eyes are wild, but she lowers her bow, then grabs Beetee's knife. With quick loops, she secures the wire to an arrow and stands, in full view of Enobaria.

Enobaria raises her spear. Finnick picks her up and throws her down the hill.

Katniss fires the arrow.

Lightning strikes, running down the wire beside her, sending her flying to the ground beside Beetee. The dome of the arena turns to fire. in front of us, then disappears.

"We're clear," Plutarch says, his voice finally betraying some kind of tension as he flies into the combat zone. Fulvia grips the arms of her chair as if it will save her. A large hovercraft comes out of its protective shielding. He presses a button, and a moment later, a gaping hangar opens at the base of the craft. He steers in calmly, and, without so much as a fare thee well, heads out, leaving Fulvia at the controls to power down.

There are still cameras running, though I can't imagine this is being broadcast anywhere but the Head Gamemaker's personal channel. I can see the craft I am now on as it lowers a claw toward Katniss. On another screen, I see Peeta blasted backward by a Capitol hovercraft using the air guns they used to blast me away from Maysilee. He stumbles onto the beach between the two o'clock and three o'clock wedges.

Katniss is scooped up into the claw. It comes down again, and Finnick arranges Beetee in it carefully, to avoid his wounds. He slumps for a minute as the claw goes up, and I think he might pass out before it can lower for him, but instead, he lurches toward the forest line, miserably calling for Jo and Peeta.

"Finnick!" I yell, even though we're far from the area where he might hear us over the din.

The faint humming of the craft's engines intensifies, and to my surprise, Fulvia calls back, "Anderson, take co-pilot."

"We're going in?" Jack asks.

"Plutarch was right," Fulvia says, an affected air of martyrdom falling over her features. "We must be willing to take risks with our personal safety. The remaining victors are separated. We will assist in their retrieval."

Jack goes to the front and takes the second seat, flipping switches, and I follow, looking for a weapon. All Plutarch has are guns. I take one, and hope I won't need to shoot far.

Fulvia drops us out of the rescue craft as it swoops in for Peeta, who is staring up at it, uncomprehending. A Capitol craft flies in low, firing upward at the rescue flight, forcing it backward.

"No!" I yell. "I'm going down."

Fulvia responds, taking our flight down closer to the beach. I hear the hatch open. Jack grabs my arm. "Get Finnick, too, and meet us at the Cornucopia. We have to get Johanna. They'll kill her."

I nod and go back to the hatch. The ladder is starting to lower, and I grab hold of it, scurrying down to the lowest rungs without using the stabilizer. About six feet from the beach, I drop to the sand. It's a jarring thud that rings in my head, and a part of me is sure that I'll die right here, and right now. Back in the arena, where it should have happened in the first place.

But, as it was in my arena, that panicked voice goes away. I adjust and look around. I'm at the two o'clock wedge, and I can see that the fog is starting to creep through the trees. Monkeys are chattering in the three o'clock wedge, and I understand immediately: The Gamemakers have turned off the clock. Everything is on. I see Peeta on the sand and run for him, yelling his name. The Capitol craft swoops in on him and a Peacekeeper reaches out. I fire wildly. The bullet ricochets against the craft, which at least gets their attention. A blast of air pushes me out of the way, and it's Maysilee all over again.

I struggle to keep my feet, to not let them knock me out as they did then. I finally get some traction at the edge of the jungle.

I try to run against the air, but it's too late. The Peacekeeper descends from the craft and grabs Peeta, none too gently, pulling him up and out of our hands. I fire uselessly at the engines as they pull away, leaving me to the fog or the monkeys. I'm of no use to them.

I see Fulvia flying in low over the eleven o'clock wedge, and the slight figure of Jack at the bottom of the ladder. The wave crashes out of the ten o'clock wedge, and Johanna comes rushing out onto the beach.

"Johanna… Peeta…"

I turn. Finnick is stumbling out of the blood rain, drenched in gore, lurching on legs that are barely responding. The fog is coming closer to us.

I tackle him back into the one o'clock wedge. The edge of the blood rain storm spits out at us.

Finnick blinks at me. "Haymitch?" he says, confused.

"We have to get out."

"Peeta…"

"We were too late," I say. I will think about this later. I'll think about it for a long time. If I hadn't taken the time to rescue Effie -- which I didn't do. If I'd told Peeta and Katniss what was going on. If I'd just thought of something more clever, if I'd been able to shoot better… do something else...

But I can't think about it right now. There's no time for it.

Because Finnick is trying to run for the water, screaming, "Johanna!"

I grab him. It's too easy. He's twitching and lurching, and most of his strength has left him. He's not going to be able to help Johanna. I drag him along the spoke of the clock, running for the Cornucopia, and I know I'm not really going to make it this time. This time, the others will beat me there, be waiting with weapons and…

I'm suddenly on the island. Weapons are strewn around on the ground. I drop the useless, empty gun and pick up a knife just as a monkey rushes out from the three o'clock wedge and leaps at us.

I slash its throat and throw it off into the water.

At the eleven o'clock wedge, I can see Jack and Johanna running toward us. Jack is firing at the Capitol craft, trying to keep it off them. Johanna has reached the spoke when suddenly, the gun goes silent. Jack dry fires twice, then, in a desperate move, throws the weapon at the hovercraft.

"Jack!" Johanna yells.

The air cannon blasts him backward, but this time, there's no creeping fog to wait out. From the eleven o'clock wedge, a swarm of black, clicking insects swarms out of the jungle. Johanna runs for him, but before she can even make the beach, the insects make a shroud around him, and he's gone.

He doesn't even have time to scream, and I can't. I'm here with Finnick, and he's incapacitated, and if that craft figures out where we are, then we're both dead.

Johanna screams obscenities at the Capitol, but starts to run toward us. I can see Fulvia coming in, the ladder down, and as soon as she's in firing range I stand up and yell, "JO! NOW!"

But there's no chance, not really.

The claw comes down and snags her under the shoulders, yanking her up as she screams in pain.

"Jo!" Finnick croaks. "No, Johanna!"

The ladder of Fulvia's craft comes down beside us, scraping the rock beside the Cornucopia. She fires steadily at the Capitol crafts. I push Finnick onto the ladder and activate the stabilizers to hold him, then grab hold of the lowest rung. Fulvia sweeps out over the jungle. I see someone yank Enobaria up out of the trees, and I want to get to her, too, no matter what she did before. I remember Drake saying, "There's us, and there's them." Enobaria is one of us.

But it's too late.

She disappears into the maw of the arena corpse ship, and suddenly, Finnick and I are the only living tributes left in the arena. The Capitol crafts turn on us as Fulvia starts to pull up. Something above us explodes, and bits of a ship start to fall around us. Small fighters come in, pushing off the Capitol forces as we're drawn up into the night, Fulvia starts to pull in the ladder, bringing it up into place. I look down through the hatch as she closes it and see the arena burning in the night, a bright orange flower in the blackness.

Then the hatch closes, and Games are behind me.

A light flashes on the control panel, and a voice comes over the intercom. "All tributes now accounted for. Retreat immediately. Regroup at rendezvous."

My kids are out of reach. I want to open the hatch again, drop down, be captured. Maybe I could them out if I could just get time to think.

I sit in the chair beside Fulvia just as the screen flickers and we lose the broadcast. Fulvia flies us away from the arena into the night, following the lights of the District Thirteen rescue craft, from which Plutarch calls to check our situation. I let her answer -- "Odair and Abernathy are with me. Odair is wounded. Anderson is lost."

Lost, I think, and pick up Jack's tie, which he left wadded up on the control panel. I try not to see the bugs swarming over him. I press the tie to my eyes. I want a drink.

No. I want to go back. I want to let the bugs cover me up as well. Let them tear me up and spread me through the mud of the arena, so I won't have to think about it happening to Jack anymore. Or about the single string of muscle holding Chaff's head on his body. Or about what they're going to do to Peeta and Johanna and Effie because I wasn't clever enough, because I didn't know what I was trying to tell myself, because I'd been lulled into the idea that this was all some kind of game after all.

From the rear of the craft, I hear Finnick groan. I look at Fulvia, and she shrugs. It's not like I have any use in the co-pilot's seat, anyway. I go back to Finnick and try to get some fluids into him and bandage his wounds.

We fly west. The hardpan desert gives way to mountains, which the hovercraft barely clears. Beyond them, I see a vast ocean. We are far in the out-district lands now. Over the intercom, Plutarch cheerfully informs us that we are flying over a country that was once called California. "Quite populous before the earthquakes," he says. "Some people think they were toying with seismic weaponry."

I don't care in the least. Fulvia makes encouraging sounds, and Plutarch continues with his history lesson about the empty lands and ocean we are flying over. Finnick is starting to regain his strength, though I tell him to stay down. I don’t know how much of a shock he took from the lightning.

As the sun is rising behind us, we finally reach a tiny, dry island dominated by a huge volcano. I think of my arena and wonder if it's set to destroy the crafts that have landed there, but don't say anything. Then I think of Chaff. And Peeta. And Johanna. And Jack. And Philo. Even Enobaria. I barely understand what Plutarch is saying.

We land on a wide expanse of rock next to the rescue ship, which is dwarfed by the huge medical ship beside it. Plutarch comes out of the latter to greet us and take us inside. Medics swarm around Finnick, and wrestle him down onto a stretcher.

"This place was hardly populated at all even before the catastrophes," he says. There's something shifty in his eyes now. I don't know what it is. "One eruption wiped it out. It's not even on the Capitol's maps, but our friend Commander Boggs is quite the geography student. It will be perfect for solar re-charging while we re-group."

"Katniss and Beetee were hurt," I say.

"What? Oh, yes, they're in medical care. I thought we'd lost Katniss at first, but her vitals are reasonably strong. We did restrain her, since she is in a fragile state."

"And Beetee?"

"Has very serious nerve damage, I'm afraid, but when he has achieved consciousness, he seems lucid and glad to have escaped. But Haymitch, there's something else you need to know." We've reached the medical ship, and he leads me to a small white room with a large television screen. I realize suddenly that all this while, his tone has been too even, too friendly. He's treating me like I'm fragile. Now, he guides me to a chair in front of a small television and gets me to sit down. "About fifteen minutes after Katniss destroyed the forcefield… I didn't find out until we landed, or I'd have found a way to say it… District Twelve…"

I look up. The numb sense of loss and grief that's stretched me so thin that I'm barely registering the world suddenly breaks, and everything inside of me seems to be exposed. I try desperately to gather it in, the way I held in my guts in the arena, but I know it's going to get away from me. "What…?" I manage.

Plutarch closes his eyes. "Haymitch, I'm sorry. This aired live all over the country. I didn't know…"

He presses a button. The screen comes to life.

At first, it shows a familiar angle, a Games angle. The square in District Twelve. Not many people are out, having chosen not to watch the Games in the shadow of the gallows, I guess. Ed Mellark is in the stocks. Danny is sitting with him. They are looking up at the screen, horrified. I'm guessing they saw what Peeta did. Danny looks shocked and hurt, and he says, "Oh, Peeta." I can see a few other people around. There is a camera on Mir, standing at the edge of the square with Jonadab, Sarey, and the baby. Her hand goes to her mouth. Another camera shows Murphy's pub, where more people have gathered for mandatory viewing. A third shows the Seam, but people are watching inside their houses for the most part. I see a couple of boys playing soldier.

The time stamp skips ahead as coverage goes back to the square.

The giant screen goes dead. The lights go out.

The view changes to a view from above -- not far above. Close enough that I can see the people looking up in terror.

President Snow's voice comes over the broadcast: "Katniss Everdeen's act of treason is considered the treason of District Twelve. No nation can survive a betrayal from within. District Twelve will pay the price for the actions of Katniss Everdeen and her mentor, Haymitch Abernathy."

The first firebomb falls. For a moment, I see Danny looking up, trying to put himself between the sky and his son, as if it could do any good. Then he is burning in the night and screaming, though I can't hear him. Ed is crowned in flame as well, and I think of Peeta and Katniss in the chariot, burning in the twilight like angry gods, but this is real, this is…

I can't breathe. I remember Danny beside me, cleaning me as the steam hung around us, the charred remains of my girl coming off of me in unspeakable smears while he tried desperately to comfort me with soft words in the emptiness.

I hear myself choking on a scream, but I can't make it come out.

The rest of the square becomes an inferno in seconds, destroying everything and everyone in its reach.

Another bomb falls. And another. Another. I see people trying to run. The shops in town are gone in minutes. The stone Justice Building only takes a little longer. I see a woman run out on fire, and I can't tell who she is. The giant screen is a sheet of flames until it collapses onto the cobblestones, re-lighting a body I can't even stand to think about.

The pub goes up. Dozens of people try to flee, their hair and clothes sheets of flames around them.

"This is the price of treason," Snow says. "This is the truth of the Girl on Fire."

A body falls in slow motion, burning like a candle.

They don't need to waste a bomb on the Seam. The houses are dry wood, embedded with centuries of coal dust, and they ignite from the heat of the fire in town. People are running everywhere. I see a crowd attacking the fence. Another bomb falls on the school. The train station.

The craft goes to the mines and drops a heavy, pointed bomb. A bunker blaster.

It's followed by another firebomb, and the District Twelve mine, the seam of coal that runs halfway to District Eleven, is set to the torch, along with anyone who was trapped inside of it.

The broadcast ends.

I fight with the scream inside me, not knowing whether I want to stifle it or let it out. I could just start screaming, put my hands over my ears like Katniss did when the jabberjays attacked her, only I wouldn't stop. I could just scream until something bursts, throw myself into something sharp. Anything. Anything at all.

I make a few retching sounds and lean forward. Plutarch puts a hand on my shoulder. "Haymitch?"

I pull my breath in. There's kind of wild, yelping sound to it. I push Plutarch away.

"Haymitch. I'm sorry."

I try to let go. To let my mind fly away on this. But I feel Danny beside me again, trying to wash it away. The images go through my head, and he says, quite clearly, What else did you see?

In my current frame of mind, it seems perfectly logical that he could speak in my head after he burned up on the screen. What difference does it make? Danny will join Mom and Digger and Maysilee now, incessantly asking me questions I don't know how to answer. The horrible images flip through my head again. My mind gets caught for a while on Danny and Ed, twisting it up forever with images of Peeta and Katniss in the chariot, but I force it by. I watch the Justice Building fall. I watch the houses on the Seam collapse. I watch the bunker blaster bore into the mine.

I almost miss it. The people rushing the fence. The power was out. I fight my way up from the fog. "Did they get out? The ones at the fence."

Plutarch blinks. "What?"

I grab his arm. "They were trying to get out. Did they make it? Are there survivors?"

He looks at me like I might be crazy, and he's probably right. "We haven't heard from any," he says gently, "though a District Thirteen flyover showed that the Victors' Village was left intact, so perhaps Ruth and Primrose Everdeen were able to escape." He pauses. "I am sorry, Haymitch. I never imagined this."

"I did," I say. "I told my... my... I told Danny. I told Hazelle to see if she could find escape routes. I knew they'd take it out on us, but it was too late to stop. We sold my district." I stare at the blank screen. My mind is just as blank. We sold District Twelve. And my kids. And I don't even know how many victors died at the Viewing Center.

"Haymitch, you can't take Snow's blame seriously. He's the one who decided to do it. It's his fault, not yours. If he'd been a decent leader, none of this would have happened."

I know he's right. I know what Snow has done. But I can't stand hearing Plutarch's voice anymore. I want Effie. Or Hazelle. Or Peeta. I particularly want Peeta to say exactly what Plutarch just said. I'd believe Peeta saying it.

But Peeta is in the Capitol. If he's still alive at all.

I can't find my voice for a long time. When I do, all I say is, "Get me to Katniss."

"She's not conscious."

"I don't care. Take me to wherever she is."

I'm led through huge hangars and narrow halls, past rooms full of screens that look like the viewing center. Plutarch takes me to the top level of the ship, and there, I find a long hospital ward. In one bed, Beetee is attached to more tubes than I can see at a glance. He looks like he's actually turned into one of his own strange inventions.

Across from him, Katniss is lying still, her hands secured with restraints. There is an empty chair beside her. I sit down in it, and don't even acknowledge Plutarch when he leaves.

She's covered with scratches and mud, except for where someone cleaned the wound on her arm to stitch it up before she could bleed to death. Her matted braid makes an arc around the side of her head. A bruise rises up on her temple, and an needle is taped into one arm, getting her hydrated and feeding her some kind of sedative. She seems very young.

I take her hand. She doesn't respond. "I'm sorry," I tell her.

She doesn't answer, of course.

"I had to do it," I say. "I had to. The way things were. I should have told you, but we couldn't risk it. I didn't risk it." There's still no answer. I imagine that she is awake and ignoring me. I would. I sold her, along with everything else that mattered, for this one way ride out of the Capitol.

I don't know what I expected, what I meant to say. She just continues to breathe quietly. I stay, not knowing what I'm supposed to do or when I'm allowed to go.

I don't imagine that I'd be Katniss's first choice as a companion. Not with Peeta in the Capitol, and District Twelve burned to the ground, and her mother and sister missing, and Gale probably dead.

Still, I stay.

After a while, I find a cloth and a bowl of water, and start to clean the muck of the arena off of her. I think of Danny and Peeta while I do it. After a while, I think of nothing at all, except that she needs to be clean of all of this. Once, I notice that I'm crying. It's strange. I really can't feel it. I know that my body is moving, and my throat is locked up, and the tears are there, but I seem to be somewhere outside of it, as far away from it as Katniss is. After a while, I realize the her face and hands are as clean as I can get them, and just sit beside her again, holding her hand. My own hands are starting to shake. I haven't had a drink in days, and the last of the medicine is giving out on me. I don't care. If I jitter apart right now, it won't matter to anyone.

I stay through the morning, and into the afternoon, as I feel the craft take off. I stay through supper, which is brought to me by an unsmiling young woman dressed in gray. I stay until the lights turn to a night-time setting and an announcement goes out that we are to be in our assigned berths. Even then, I stay until Finnick comes in.

He's still bruised and battered, but he's cleaned himself up a little bit and changed into a gray jumpsuit. He checks on Beetee, then looks at Katniss for a long time. He looks at me. "Thank you," he says. His voice is pinched and distant. "Thanks for… getting me. Maybe if I hadn't gone off running, you could have gotten to Peeta…"

"Don't," I tell him.

He squeezes his eyes shut, then opens them and looks over at Beetee.

"What is it?" I ask.

He shakes his head. "I'm sorry. Peeta… Twelve…" He swallows hard. "We're rooming together, Haymitch. Come on. You have to be where your schedule says."

"Schedule?"

"I haven't got mine yet, either, but right now everyone's supposed to be in bed unless they're on night shift. District Thirteen may take some getting used to."

When I stand up, I realize that it's not just my hands shaking anymore. My legs are trembling. I'm disgusted with myself, but I have to ask, "Is there someplace I can get a drink?"

"It's illegal in Thirteen," Finnick says. "I asked. I figured you'd need a drink. You're going to have to sober up. I told them you'd need help, but they… they don't really understand. They said you'll have medical attention in Thirteen. You have to hold on until then, okay?"

I let him lead me out. Our assigned cabin is a metal box with two cots in it. He doesn't talk the whole way to it.

I stop him when we get in, put a shaking hand on his shoulder, and say, "Finnick, what aren't you telling me?"

"It's not like what happened in Twelve…"

"Whatever it is, it's bad."

He thinks for a minute, then sits down on the edge of a cot. "The Peacekeepers took Annie in Four," he says. "They showed it. Said she was being taken in for her own protection."

"Finnick, I..."

"Winnow Robinson got in touch with me. She and Bobby Neill are leading the fleet right now. They're trying to cut off the Capitol's access to the sea. I doubt it will make a difference. Everything they need is on the continent. She said they tried to get to Annie, but everything happened too fast. They got my mother out of jail, and she's with them, but everyone thought someone else had Annie."

"I'm sorry, Finnick."

"We had everything so well planned. We were so clever. Secret messages. Bread codes. And we got tripped up by a malfunctioning shield and a worker on a coffee break. And a couple of teenagers we never should have lied to." He puts his head in his hands. "If we'd told them... if she hadn't figured we'd eventually have to kill him... then she wouldn't have been ready to split the alliance, and we wouldn't have had to split them up to keep them from running. If we hadn't split them up, then --"

"Stop it. Stop second-guessing," I say, as if I haven't been doing that for the last twenty-four hours.

He doesn't seem to have the energy to keep arguing. He lies down in the bed and looks up at the ceiling. "I should have died rather than let Peeta leave Beetee's side."

"Why did you?"

"We heard Brutus and Enobaria. They didn't broadcast that?"

"I was otherwise occupied," I say. I don't know if he's heard about the fight at the viewing center. I'm guessing he must, since he hasn't asked about Harris.

He nods vaguely. "I want to sleep," he says.

"Okay."

"But I want you to stay. Don't do anything dumb, Haymitch. Please. I…"

"What?"

"I need you," he mumbles, then turns over and turns the light off.

I let him pretend to sleep -- I know it's a pretense, because there are no nightmares -- and sit on my cot, staring at the darkness through a small porthole, listening to make sure his breathing doesn't stop. Now and then, the clouds part, and I can see down to the empty world below. There is a navigation map set into the wall. I don't know why, but we've flown far to the south of Panem, and are skimming over the straights between North and South America. I watch the red dot of our passing until my body forces me to sleep.
14 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
golden_d From: golden_d Date: August 1st, 2015 04:04 am (UTC) (Link)
This is great - not the the previous version wasn't, but I think the revisions add a level of emotional heft that wasn't present before. It really connects now, emotionally, and it's fantastic.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 1st, 2015 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, that's what I felt was missing -- after everything, the endgame needed to resonate. Glad the additions worked.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 1st, 2015 05:07 am (UTC) (Link)

I sit in the chair Fulvia just as the screen flickers and we lose the broadcast. Fulvia flies us away from the arena into the night, following the lights of the District Thirteen rescue craft, from which Plutarch calls to check our situation. I let her answer -- "Odair and Abernathy are with me. Odair is wounded. Anderson is lost."

Missing a word between Fulvia and just

There is a random hanging d after the paragraph starting in "we were too late"
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 1st, 2015 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I caught the random d on the readthrough. I'll get the Fulvia one.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 1st, 2015 09:01 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh wow. Oh wow. Yeah, that was a bit different. Very well done. A part of me was hoping that Haymitch was going to be able to save Jack. Silly, I know since we know only seven Victors make it at the end. I really liked him though. The stuff with Johanna and Peeta was even harder because they were so damn close to rescue. Danny's last action was heartbreaking. You write it so well but so much of this hurts my heart.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 1st, 2015 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really wanted to save Jack, too, but DAMN CANON! Oh, well. At least he didn't just randomly fall out of the plane and get eaten by beetles. (I almost wrote "beatles" there, and that would have been an even more disturbing thing.) But I really did get to like him. He was a nice, decent guy who had future to look forward to. So were a lot of people who died in the war.

Now, when I get to Peeta's story, he'll be seeing what Haymitch saw in D12, and he'll also have to remember that Haymitch almost made it to him.

Edited at 2015-08-01 08:14 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 2nd, 2015 07:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah...you just made me love him so much. Does Haymitch even remember that he looked after Jack as a toddler? I kind of hope he doesn't. It would just reinforce the idea that everyone around him dies.
I was thinking about Peeta during this last part too. That at least when he's going through everything, for a little while he'll remember that Haymitch at least tried to help him. Then of course, the hijacking will fuck it all up.
I liked the part you changed with Finnick too. It makes sense for him to send Beetee up, then go looking for the other two.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 2nd, 2015 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
If Snow doesn't realize that Peeta actually saw Haymitch, it might make be something that could help him hold on to whatever reality he manages.

I wanted Haymitch to be able to rescue someone, and Finnick seems the type to try and make sure everyone else got out before he left, so it seemed to make sense.

I don't think Haymitch ever made the connection between the toddler in Three and the victor years later, though I'm sure Jack is aware of it.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 2nd, 2015 07:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Forgot to say that Finnick's line at the end melted my heart. "I need you". Damn.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 2nd, 2015 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's a true thing, but it's also very calculated. He knows that Haymitch is on the edge of saying, "Screw all of this" and taking the express route out of the world, so he pushes the one button that is always functional on the guy.
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 3rd, 2015 03:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Ah yes. Finicky is good at playing to the audience too. Does this mean your going to edit House of Cards as well at Narrow Path?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2015 03:54 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. There's not as much to mess with in HoC, because I haven't done anything huge with Peeta, so that should go pretty quickly.
redrikki From: redrikki Date: August 3rd, 2015 06:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like this chapter so much more than the original version. As gruesome as it was, I prefer Jack's death in this, if only because it gives him the dignity of his choices. Does that make sense? Also, I really liked the line about wishing Peeta was there because his comforting lies sounded so much more believable.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 3rd, 2015 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, at the time of the original writing, I was mostly working out the logistics of going through the list of victors, but I've always been a little bothered by the randomness of Jack's death. I knew he had to die because canon says only the seven at the meeting are left, but I'd done enough with him that he deserved better than getting knocked off a ladder.
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