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Repost: The Narrow Path, Chapter 5 - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Repost: The Narrow Path, Chapter 5
Some additions for emotional continuity, a few smooth-outs, a conversation with Prim altered a bit.

Chapter Five
I'm not ready to wake up at the time District Thirteen deems appropriate for me, but I manage to drag myself out of bed, stick my arm out for Wall-Effie to give me my schedule, and stumble to the shower before I'm due in Command. There is supposed to be room for breakfast, but I'm not sure at which point in the half-asleep lurching around that was going to happen.

My head is pounding by the time I get to the nine o'clock meeting, and I can't really concentrate on the re-showing of the propo or Fulvia's new idea -- better than her last one -- of dedicating district specific propos to fallen tributes. At one point, everyone claps, and I think my head is going to explode. Coin pretends to be concerned for Katniss's safety. The whole thing grates on me. I want to sleep more. And, if I'm going to be honest, I want a drink. Something strong, with the smell of juniper. I want to hole up somewhere with a bottle of it and not think about people dying in the woods and on the beach because I struck a match in our little powder keg. No one mentions the Capitol propo to Katniss, and I follow the lead for now. I'll talk to her about it later. This crew doesn't need to know the details of that conversation.

After the main part of the meeting, Gale wheels Katniss back to the hospital. I ask why she's in a wheelchair and get a curt assurance that it's just a precaution. "There are other matters to discuss," one of the command staff from Thirteen says. "New numbers on the war."

I sit back down. I don't know that I want to hear numbers, but I guess I should.

Within minutes of the first airtime assault, rioting broke out in Four, Seven, Ten, and Eleven. In Four, the naval force managed to keep the Peacekeepers under control, with the loss of only two fishing boats. We're able to reach Winnow Robinson at sea.

"It was pretty bad here," she says, "but the fighting's over now. We lost a lot of people. And they torched Finnick Odair's house. I'm sorry. We tried."

I look up, expecting Finnick to say something, but I realize he's not in the upper Command structure. I sigh and say, "The house was empty, wasn't it?"

"Yeah, but his things..." She sighs. "Now that I've got things, I get why people get annoyed about losing them."

I doubt Finnick is worried right now about his things, but Winnow's probably right. At the very least, I think his father's fishing net was on the wall, and he'll mourn that later, I'm sure. "I'll let him know. The Capitol showed a lot of casualties."

She nods solemnly. "Bobby Neill -- he's the captain of this boat? -- went ashore this morning. We're looking at a hundred lost, at least."

"And how many Peacekeepers?" Coin asks.

"We haven't gone through the bodies yet," Winnow says. "I'm not sure how many of each there are. I know we lost touch with Lora Trillo's crew in town. I think our chief Peacekeeper was on the beach when I hit it with a firebomb." She bites her lip. "Have you heard from my people in Eleven? I couldn't reach anyone. I don't know where my grandmother is."

"Communications are down," Boggs says. "Have you managed to sweep the mines in the gulf?"

"Yeah, we got them all."

"Then maybe you could spare a boat or two to sail up the coast toward Eleven. See if you can help out and get a report in."

"I'll have to run it by Bobby. But I think we should be able to. The district is pretty secure now."

"Where's Finnick's mother?" I ask.

"Captain Cresta… maybe he's a commodore now; I don't follow ranks much… gave her one of his ships. She's got a crew up at the mouth of River Bay." Winnow shrugs. "The Capitol doesn't have much of a navy, does it? Mr. Cresta sabotaged one of theirs and commandeered it. Now, we've got better sea power than they do."

"They never expected a sea war," Coin says, uninterested. I get the impression that she didn't expect a sea war, either, and doesn't care much for successes that are outside her plans. "We have other districts to check in on. Please send the data on your damages to Command."

Winnow sends data on the damages, then Boggs brings up Damien Grove in Seven. He's a scared-looking kid, maybe eighteen, maybe not. He reminds me sharply of Johanna during her first few days in the arena. The fighting is still going on there, and I can hear explosions not too far away from his location. Our side alone has over a hundred confirmed deaths. A blast shakes headquarters, and Grove says, "I have a feeling that I'm joining the casualty list pretty soon. It's bad."

"Don't you give up," I say. "What do you need?"

He laughs wildly. "Transport out of here."

"Retreat and regroup if you can't hold your base. Do you have a rendezvous point?"

"It's burned," he says.

I open my mouth to tell him to find an identifiable marker to send his troops to, but I'm interrupted by a higher up in the military structure, a general named Donaldson, who says, "Hold your ground, son. We're right behind you."

He cuts the connection.

"We're sending backup?" Boggs asks. "I thought we didn't have troops to spare."

"We don't," Donaldson says. He glares at me. "You don't have the authority to order a retreat, Soldier Abernathy."

"They can regroup their forces if they're not dead."

"We can't afford to retreat right now. If they retreat, the Capitol will show it and portray it as cowardice. They'll tell the rest of the rebellion that we're willing to cut and run."

"Coming from a district that's been playing dead for seventy-five years --"

Plutarch kicks me under the table and says, "Of course. We have to keep that in mind. I'm sorry."

Boggs, who looks disgusted with this himself, calls up District Ten. The woman who answers identifies herself as Polly Dalton, and I realize that she's the same plain-faced woman I saw in Dalton's photograph. His wife. She speaks in the same slow, easy accent. "We're coming around," she says. "Casualties are pretty low. A lot of ways to avoid getting shot at out here. But we've lost a lot of livestock. They burned the Bates ranch. We got out Earl's son and his grandkids. My boys have them out on a spread in the hills. Toffy Taggart's wife is in the Justice Building, trying to get administration under control."

"Who's in control of the district?" Boggs asks.

"Oh, we've got enough control, I guess," Polly says. "I'm in the Peacekeepers' barracks right now. Getting a few glares from them, but that's about the sum of it."

"They're still alive?" Coin asks, shocked.

"They're behaving themselves." Polly looks over her shoulder. "You boys mean to keep behaving yourselves?"

There's some laughter that I assume is from men on her side. She swings the camera around to show about half a dozen sullen-looking Peacekeepers in handcuffs.

She gives us a few more facts and figures from the battle, then we cut things off. I am given permission to tell Dalton that his wife and children are safe, and reminded that nothing else we discuss is for the ears of anyone outside this room.

I am still scheduled in Command after the meeting, and Plutarch pulls me aside. "Production booth," he says, and nods to Beetee.

"Did you have something further to discuss?" Coin asks.

Plutarch gives her a big smile and says, "Oh, I just want to talk to Haymitch and Beetee about some tweaks to Katniss's performance. Little things."

She looks at him suspiciously and says, "Very well. But do report to me if you decide to make changes. At the moment, we have an effective campaign."

"Oh, of course! We'd be nowhere without the support of District Thirteen."

Coin gives him a once-over, then leaves for whatever duty her own schedule has given her.

Plutarch, Beetee, and I go to the production booth. Fulvia is waiting there. She holds up one of her bug detectors from the Capitol, which I don't take as a good sign, then nods to Plutarch.

"Good," he says. "I thought this room was clear, but I wanted to check. Haymitch, we have to talk about Katniss disobeying orders."

"Don't give her orders she won't follow," I suggest.

"She's not always going to be in a position to know everything that's happening," Beetee says. "That's why we have aerial coverage on her."

Fulvia cuts in. "Some of the military in Thirteen noticed that her earpiece was out." She waits for this to sink in, then says, "Commander Boggs covered for her. He said that it must have come out when he covered her during the bombing, and she didn't notice. Which has led to this." She holds out a strange, cage-like device, shaped for the head, with a speaker at ear level and a microphone at mouth level. "It's supposed to make the earpiece more secure. She's not to be out of touch again."

I stare at it. "Are you joking? With Peeta already having told the districts that she's under control of a hostile force? Have they decided we should be doing Capitol propos now?"

"Another suggestion is an implant that couldn't fall out and would always be accessible," Plutarch says, holding up a little chip. "Apparently, some members of the senior staff have them. Boggs used to, but he had a reaction to it."

I can imagine Katniss's reaction to the idea of a voice living in her head, which at least ought to be enough to convince her to keep her earpiece in. I take both of the devices and grab an extra earpiece from the stash under the control panel. I will have a long talk with her later.

"I can't promise she'll follow orders even if she can hear them," I say. "Nothing was going to stop her from trying to defend the hospital yesterday."

"Yes, well, we're going to have to be more careful about where we send her," Plutarch says.

"She was effective." I remind him. "And she wants to fight."

"No one is arguing that she didn't perform well, and fight honorably," Plutarch says. "But she was so effective that she's a real military target now. It's not just Snow's ego about the Games anymore. A dead Mockingjay is going to be as effective for the Capitol now as a live one is for the rebellion. They'll show it on every screen in Panem."

"Speaking of all the screens in Panem," Beetee says after an awkward moment of silence, "I suppose I'm not the only one who saw the Capitol response to us last night."

"Capitol bloviating," Plutarch says dismissively. "They think if they tell rebels that people are going to die in a war, we'll stop fighting. It's not anything we didn't already know."

"Seeing actual dead bodies is different from theorizing about them," I say. "We need to remind people why we're fighting."

"Can we turn on the broadcast?" Beetee says. "Maybe they'll re-run it. We should figure out how to answer it."

"I doubt that one will run again," Fulvia says. "My Capitol sources say that Snow was displeased, and fired his information officer. It showed too many dead Peacekeepers. Apparently Snow's feeling is that it made the rebellion look too effective. He's been on television there suggesting that the rebels tried to steal Peacekeeper uniforms." She rolls her eyes.

"What sources do you have?" I ask.

"Confidential ones," Plutarch tells me. "They aren't in the loop here. I want it to stay that way for now. The fewer people knowing about them, the better."

"Bet Coin's thrilled," I say.

Plutarch cuts off conversation of the subject by switching on the Capitol broadcast as Beetee requested. At the moment, all I see is a feature on the Mutt Zoo, part of the mid-morning news broadcast. Despite the unpopularity of the Quell, the dragon that killed Earl Bates has apparently become quite a hit. Small children toss fish to it and it leaps up to catch them.

I watch this inanity for a minute (it's weirdly soothing), then say, "I'll talk to Katniss. I'll get her to leave her earpiece in. But she's not going to just be a figurehead. That's never going to work. She needs to -- "

I stop.

The feature on the zoo has ended, and a celebrity gossip reporter comes on. I don't care about the reporter. I think I've seen her once or twice. The picture behind her is from the Seventy-Fourth Games, and around it is a projection from City Center, where a mob is surrounding a boy with curly blond hair.

"Peeta," Beetee whispers.

"Guess who's been seen again in the Capitol!" the reporter chirps. "Peeta Mellark was spotted today in City Center, shortly after a traffic accident involving Caesar Flickerman, with whom he seems to have been traveling." The shot goes to Caesar's car, which is crashed into a barrier. It returns to Peeta, surrounded by an adoring Capitol crowd. The security camera zooms in a little. He looks terrified, thin, and in pain. The reporter comes back. "A few fans got a little over enthusiastic, and Peacekeepers had to rescue him from their affections!"

The "rescue" is not shown, but members of the crowd are brought in. An ecstatic girl waving a lock of Peeta's hair says, "I just love him!" Another squeals that she kissed him. A young man waves a gold button around that he claims came off of Peeta's suit.

"Plutarch, did you record that?" I ask. "Let me see him."

"It wasn't a very clear shot," Plutarch says, but winds back to the shot of Peeta in the crowd. It is blurred and fuzzy, but I can see clearly that his eyes are wild and sunken. He's wearing a good suit, though, and has been carefully made up.

"They've had him on camera again," I say. "What happened to him since... it was less than a week ago..."

"Less than a week ago that they showed an interview," Plutarch says. He is pale, and when he speaks, he seems to be expending a lot of energy keeping his voice under control. "It was generic then. But I think Snow's decided on a more pointed response to Katniss."

"What's he going to say?"

"I don't know. Whatever Snow thinks will make her stop."

"We have to get him out of there," I say. "Look at him."

"I'm looking, Haymitch," Plutarch says. He pauses the video on the closest shot they have. Peeta looks like he did when the monkey mutts attacked him in the arena, but there's no Berenice Morrow to jump in and take the fatal blow for him. "Whatever Snow is planning, I don't think we should let Katniss know about it."

"How do you expect to do that?" Beetee asks.

"We'll have to count on some luck."

"We're not overflowing with that."

I only half-hear this, mostly because I can't believe the words. "She should know what's happening. Especially about Peeta."

Plutarch turns to me. His face is strange in the flickering light of the monitors. He opens his mouth to say something, then looks to Fulvia.

"Haymitch, what do you think will happen if she sees him like this?" she asks. "She spent a month in the hospital screaming for a pearl. If she sees what's happening to the boy who gave it to her, she'll go as crazy as Annie Cresta. We need her stable."

"If knowing the truth is enough to send her over the edge, then she's not as stable as you're pretending."

"Just wait, Haymitch," Plutarch says. "We'll see what Snow's got up his sleeve with Peeta, and then we'll decide what to do with Katniss about it."

"But -- "

"Among other things," he reminds me, "if she stops performing, he loses whatever protection he has."

"He shouldn't need protection from our side," Beetee says.

Fulvia takes the image from the screen with the flick of a switch and says, "But he does."

There is nothing more to be said. I gather up the various earpiece devices and head up to the hospital. I've already managed to miss lunch along with breakfast.

When I get to Katniss's bed, Prim is there, taking readings and marking them down on a chart. She's on duty and wearing a bracelet with call lights. She smiles at me. "Hi, Haymitch..." Her eyebrows go up as she notices the cage-shaped earpiece. "What's that?"

"Incentive," I say. "How is she?"

"She's okay." Prim smooths back Katniss's hair. "They had to give her some anesthesia to take out the shrapnel yesterday, and she's a little queasy from it, I think. I guess they had her in a wheelchair this morning."

"Yeah. I wondered why."

"Nothing serious."

I nod, then point to my head. "How is she... up here?"

Prim shrugs. "She's tired. She misses Peeta a lot." She sighs. "I miss all of them, Haymitch. Even Mrs. Mellark. She was kind of a witch and she hated me, but I'd be happy to be hated if she was alive to do it. Mr. Mellark snuck me a few cookies here and there. Ed offered to walk me home during the Games last year when it got late. Jonadab let me hold the baby during the tribute parade this time."

I look away. Prim was there with them. I was engineering the break-out that got them killed. "Yeah," I say. My voice sounds reasonably steady. "Yeah, I know."

"Mr. Mellark said you were his friend."

"He did?"

"Yeah." She sits down in the chair next to me and takes my hand. "He said you stayed with him when his parents died, and you found a way to pay his inheritance taxes on the bakery, and you used to babysit the boys and tell them stories. He said you stuck by him when… well, when Mom left him, though he didn't say that in so many words. He just said you were there when other people weren't anymore."

She makes a sharp sound, and I realize that I've tightened my hand enough that it might be hurting her. I let go. "I'm sorry, Prim."

She nods and pulls her hand away. "You can mourn, you know."

"No."

She doesn't push it. She looks at Katniss, then takes a deep breath. "I keep thinking about the mines, too," she goes on. "We learned about seam fires that burned for decades. One in Asia went for more than a century. There's so much coal down there. How long is it going to burn? We could all be dead and buried before it burns out. And was anyone down there? It was midnight. The shifts were over. But there could have been. Sometimes they made people work crazy hours."

I know this. Lacklen and I were alone overnight more than once while Mom and Dad worked the mines. "I wish I had an answer for you," I say.

"I guess it doesn't matter. They're no more dead than anyone else. I just can't get it out of my head, the way it's just going to keep burning." She shakes it off. "Sorry, Haymitch. Is everything okay in Command?"

"It's fine," I lie. "Don't worry about it. How do you like school here? Learning anything interesting?"

"It's all very different. I'm way behind in history, because history's different here. Who knew history could be different just because you live somewhere new?" A light flashes on her bracelet and she says, "Well, I better go. Other patients. You can stay."

"Unsupervised?" I ask.

"They're not giving her anything you can get high on," she says in a rather frank tone. "Unless you've got a thing for anti-nausea pills these days."

"Well, I guess that's good, then," I say.

She nods and disappears down the ward.

I take a seat by Katniss's bed. She's a little banged up, but I've seen her in worse shape. She's just sleeping off anesthesia now. I settle myself in the chair and watch over her for a long time. I'm bored and I want a drink. Or someone to talk to. Or something to read. I think this isn't the way I'm supposed to feel. If I can't force worry about Katniss, I ought to have my whole mind wrapped up around Peeta and his situation.

But no matter how many ways I look at it, there's nothing I can do for him, and she doesn't need anything except a lecture about her earpiece. My brain can't make much work from either situation. It refuses to turn itself off -- a trick I've wished I could do sober more than once -- and occupies itself thinking about coal fires and dead friends and scared kids ordered not to retreat. Annoyed and hungry, I eat Katniss's lunch. If she's nauseated, then she won't want it, anyway.

I decide to tell her that Peeta was on television and didn't look good, but before she wakes up, I realize that the hospital is as likely to be bugged as the apartment at the Training Center, or the tribute train. I'll have to get her someplace else. I try to think of somewhere, but I'm exhausted. We need District Thirteen's weapons if we're going to take down Snow, but it never occurred to me until I got here that I might have all the same problems that I had back home.

By the time she wakes up, I'm frustrated and irritable, and the lecture I give her may well not be one of my great moments of empathy or kindness. I show her the three implements. I threaten her with the head cage and the implant, and she humbly promises to never pull out her earpiece again.

I consider staying to talk, even if it's not about anything important, but I can't think of anything. The look of disgust on her face at the idea of having to listen to me makes me want to snap at her, anyway. I feel miserable.

I go back to my apartment, bark at Dalton that his wife and kids are fine and I'm not allowed to tell him anything else, then try to sleep when he goes to his afternoon assignment. Every time I start to drift off, I see Peeta's face, too thin, too scared. I doubt he was accidentally left wandering. Caesar's car was involved. All I can think of is that there was some kind of half-baked escape attempt, and that means he's going to be punished. Maybe Caesar as well. I decide that sleeping is a bad idea. There could be dreams.

I check my schedule, but it still has me at Command, from which I have definitely been dismissed for the day. I have no idea what people here do during downtime. I try looking through Effie's pictures, but they just make me think of the people I have in the Capitol, waiting to be punished. The pretty young woman grinning demurely at a fashion award she's won is most likely in prison clothes, forced out of the wigs that give her security, and all I can do is hope that's all they've done.

They'd best hope it's all they've done.

Finally, I ask Wall-Effie to see if she can coordinate some time for me to talk to Hazelle. She can't find a good time slot when we're both free, but does inform me that Hazelle is currently scheduled on Level Four, and I am allowed to visit her at her job. She gives me her location.

I follow it up to a level I barely recognize as being in District Thirteen. It's ugly, but not in the usual, sparse way. Instead, it's actively tacky, like a house decorated by someone who's never actually seen a decorated house. There is a large, circular room surrounded by balconies lined with doors, like a hotel. Hazelle is behind a desk here, frowning at a computer. She looks strange at it. We used them occasionally in school, but I doubt she's seen one since.

"Hey," I say.

She raises her eyebrows. "I don't think you're scheduled here," she says.

"Nah, I'm in Command, can't you tell?"

She rolls her eyes. "Fine. Who are you supposed to be meeting?"

"What do you mean?"

"Well, someone has to have reserved a room. I know it wasn't me."

"I just came up to say hello to you."

She looks at me a minute, then laughs. "You really have no idea where you are, do you?"

I shake my head. "Wall-Ef... the scheduler said you were here."

"These are the conjugal visit rooms. The jugs?"

"You... work in conjugal visits?"

"I schedule them." She shakes her head. "I could schedule us one if you want. Turns out I'm still qualified."

"Qualif..." I remember what Dalton said about how one "qualifies" for the jugs. It means that Hazelle can still have a baby. The thought of having a baby with Hazelle, or anyone else, doesn't strike me as a good idea. I am not qualified to be anyone's father, and if I forget that, all I have to do is think about Peeta, captured by the Capitol. Or what I'm letting them do to Katniss. "Oh," I say. "I think, um..."

"Yeah, right there." She smiles. "I'm not exactly at an age when I get pregnant by looking at a naked man anymore -- I swear, for a while, that's all it took -- but I don't want to take any more chances."

I feel my face go hot. This is not a subject Hazelle and I ever discussed, though I guess we should have, given that she said "any more chances." I'd rather not discuss it now. "I'll, um..."

"Besides, if I'm going to have another baby, it'll be with someone who rushes through a battle to get pictures of me, not Effie Trinket." She grins at me, and for a second, we both almost laugh at ourselves. She shakes her head. "I'll leave that kind of drama to my offspring." She does laugh now, and pushes out an extra chair. "Sit down, Haymitch. I promise, I won't use the 'b' word again. What did you need?"

I take the chair and sit far down the desk from her. "I guess I just wanted someone to talk to. Sorry I didn't... well, that I was a little out of line in the hospital the other day..."

She waves it off. "I've seen you try to dry out before," she says. "I haven't got so many friends around here that I'm going to hold a grudge over a snit."

"Thanks," I mutter.

"What did you want to talk about?"

"Anything," I say. "Seriously, anything but..." I gesture at the doors above us. Now that I know what they are, I imagine I can hear people behind them. I shake my head. "How are your kids? That should take a while."

It does. I've seen Gale, of course, but we haven't talked about the littler ones. Posy is doing best, making a lot of friends in school. She tried to paint herself green with soap after she met Octavia. "Posy thinks that woman is the be-all, end-all of beauty, if you can believe it. She's nice in her way, though. She did Posy's hair up special for her."

I agree that Octavia is a nice woman.

Rory is not at all fond of his life here, and wants to get into the war. He stays up late writing down everything he remembers about District Twelve in the course of each day, and wants to take down a bomber or two like Katniss and Gale did. Mostly, he occupies himself with the idea of rebuilding Twelve. He's reading construction books and books on wiring and plumbing and farming and planting trees. He and Prim are on the same page about the burning mines, and he's been trying to figure out how to put out the fire. Vick has been getting into fights with other people from Twelve, because he's somehow decided it's our own fault for getting bombed. Hazelle doesn't know what to do with him.

We're interrupted here by the arrival of a young couple in gray, who are very matter-of-fact about signing into their room. A few minutes after they go up, another door opens. It spits out Cressida's assistant, Messalla, and his companion, a young soldier named Leeg. I've met her a few times, but never had a long conversation with her. He chats with me casually while they return the keys. She checks her schedule and says she needs to report to waste disposal. Someone a few levels up makes a particularly loud noise, which we all pretend not to hear, then Messalla says, "Oh, the new propo's ready. We're airing it over dinner tonight. Edited this one myself." He gives me a friendly smile, then leaves.

Hazelle is scheduled through the dinner hour, and asks to have my meal sent up here as well. The kitchen worker who brings it looks at us askance, and I guess it'll pass for a rumor among the District Thirteen set. Hazelle turns on the television to watch Katniss's propo, this one based on "You know who they are and what they do." It's very effective, and I try not to think about who will be dead in an hour because of it.

"She's certainly very good," Hazelle says, reaching for the dial. Her hand stops. "Haymitch..."

I look at the screen. Peeta is on Caesar's set (or something close to it; it seems a little off to me somehow), wearing the same suit, made up heavily. It doesn't hide the strain he's been under. His hands are shaking. He is sweating.

Hazelle puts her hand to her mouth. "Haymitch, he's been hurt..."

"You think?" I put my hand up as an apology for the sarcasm before it can turn into a conversation. She takes it in both of hers and holds it tightly. I'm glad of the comfort.

The interview is brief. It's addressed directly to Katniss, and no matter how badly Peeta is hurt, I can't shake the sense that, on some level, he really is trying to speak to her, to warn her that she's being turned into a weapon as much as he is.

Maybe more to the point -- more dangerously for him -- he goes directly for the war effort. "Ask yourself," he says. "Do you really trust the people you're working with? Do you really know what's going on? And if you don't... find out."

The screen goes black. I reach out and turn it off before anything else can air.

"Are you all right?" Hazelle asks me.

"I don't know," I say.

But that's not true. I know. I know I'm far from all right. I think about Octavia, trembling in the meeting yesterday. I think about Venia trying fruitlessly to defy Coin. I think about orders not to tell Katniss about Peeta, and about the cage they want to put on her head. I think of them holding the lives of people she loves over her head if she makes a mistake.

I don't trust the people I'm working with. Not any further than I can throw them.

But I have nowhere else to go.
4 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
redrikki From: redrikki Date: October 5th, 2015 03:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't remember the original enough to say whether this is an improvement, but I like the atmosphere of paranoia that permeates it. Big Brother is still watching, only this time its Coin and her minions on the other side of the camera. New boss same as the old boss.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 9th, 2015 02:03 am (UTC) (Link)
It's a bad situation in Panem when you have to choose between a bad government and an arguably worse ally. (One of the many reasons I don't buy the idea that there's anyone else out there to meet.) I do have hope that the end signals a third option.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: October 7th, 2015 11:01 pm (UTC) (Link)

A Few Catches/Feedback

"Bet Coin's thrilled Just wanted to let you know that at least on IE, there's a weird extra line break or two just before this quote, which usually means odd spacing stuff. :)

around it is projection Just a missing a before projection, and an odd double space there, too, which I think will get fixed when you put in the a.

where a mob surrounding Think mob should be mob's, or surrounding should be surrounds?

like house decorated Just missing an a before house.

Didn't spot any larger continuity things, and everything you integrated was fabulous. I loved the extended conversation with Prim; finally, the proof that Haymitch is indeed Danny's friend that Danny's been trying to give him for so long is becoming so incontrovertible even Haymitch can't ignore it. And I was really glad of all the extra detail about the victor's families--I made an especially delighted sound at Finn's mom crewing a ship for obvious reasons:d--because they're such natural allies for this rebellion. They've seen first hand the damage the capitol does, not just in the games, but every year when mentoring takes more and more of a toll on their loved ones, and I'm certain have been at full anger for a long time. And then to see so many of their family members dead, either in the arena or the viewing center: yeah, that'd clench it all right.

You do such awesome things with secondary and tertiary characters; I'm really enjoying the Winnow glimpses we're getting. That comment about having things now was especially poignant. Because that's the whole point for these people, to be able to shift from a mode of constant rebellion and survival into a mindset that'll let them exist in peacetime. So to see the girl who scorned Cinna's sweaters being able to embrace both fighting and living was especially nice.

Every few chapters I just have to marvel at how much I adore your Haymitch. From the "are we making Capitol propos now"--gaaah, I adore your Haymitch's dry as dust sense of humor--to his attempt to organize a retreat for Seven; no matter what he thinks of himself, your Haymitch is a triumph: complex and prickly, sure, but so damn empathetic and smart. It will never stop amazing me that he barely registered on my radar until you started writing in this fandom, and now he's one of my favorite characters. (One day, this will stop surprising me; I didn't much like R/T until someone recced Shades to me as having some phenomenal Ministry politics and Auror interactions, and I needed to read Shifts to understand it. The rest is history. :) Which y'know meant that I could never view their deaths as anything but pointless afterwards, but at least I was in good company. :)

I'm really liking Haymitch and Hazelle's friendship this time around, in both the fics. I understand why it didn't work out romantically--especially as what both of them were mostly attracted to was the idea of companionship rather than one another--but I really love this oddly prickly but strong bond that's forming between them; it's a friendship Haymitch needs. She takes precisely none of his crap, and she's strong enough not to be rattled or upset by it for very long. And she sees his vulnerabilities, particularly around being a parent clearly, in a way I think only another parent could, which he also needs.

The tension with Thirteen is getting almost claustrophobic, and we're not even done with Part 1. What they did to those poor people in Seven hit me much harder this time around. There was absolutely no need for casualties there, save to prop up D13's reputation because cutting and running was exactly what they did the last time around. Was so glad you had Boggs look disgusted; such an excellent way to show that there are good people, even in the madness that is D13 as run by Coin.

And ooo, some really interesting Plutarch reactions to Peeta this time around; I liked his deepened investment in the way that that sort of torture shapes the people around the victim. But then, I suppose given how his own reeducation and eventual reentry as a rebel shaped Fulvia, he would have an understanding of the way the Capitol worked in that regard. At least, I'm assuming it's that; now I'm worried his reeducation may've involved tortured family members. :(
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: October 9th, 2015 02:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: A Few Catches/Feedback

Yup, spacing thing. Got it, and the others.

I never quite trust people who claim not to care about "things," as if it's somehow immoral to value the things around you, the things you've worked for, the things you're connected to. Things symbolize more than what they are, and the attitude seems to imply that the person is more than willing to ignore those symbols if they happen to be in the way. So I did want Winnow, as she grows up and stops being such a hothead, to understand that it matters when someone's house blows up. (Haymitch has a touch of it himself, but I think he starts to understand it as the war goes on.)

I didn't expect to like Haymitch, either, but he's closest to my age, and I feel like, in some ways, I know him best. Hazelle was a bad choice in the romantic sense, but yeah -- she doesn't take his crap, and he feels like he can be useful as well. He needed someone who was willing to drag him back to the Seam.

I wanted the thing in Seven to seem cruel; so I'm glad it worked. Added to the notion that they might have been aware of what they were sending Katniss into in Eight... Well, I think this is where Haymitch is running into the full horror, which Katniss won't be privy to for a while, though she has an inkling.
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