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HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Twenty-One - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
HG: The Hanging Tree, Chapter Twenty-One
One of Haymitch's tributes made it through the first day, but Haymitch found himself unable to sleep. He has a long talk with Plutarch and Fulvia, but realizes that he has to go back in when he sees Glass arrive for the day.

Chapter Twenty-One
The phones are already starting to ring, and I'm forced to let Glass answer the first one, since he gets to it first. I listen warily, but he takes the pledge with no nonsense attached to it. He's not exactly warm and convivial, but I don't have to hurt him, anyway.

When he hangs up, he says, "A miniscule sum from, of all things, a maintenance worker in the Training Center. I am to tell you that the 'little boy' assisted him, in some manner, with a piece of machinery. I am not at all sure what he was talking about, but he was moved to tell the entire story of your tribute's ability to do menial labor."

I bite my tongue. He's not talking to the sponsor or to the tributes or to their families. I guess I can take it without escalating. I check the sum, which is about the same size as the contribution from the Astronomy Club. A few more, and I might be able to get some bread later, if they don't find anything else to eat.

The breakfast they serve on the second day -- in addition to the pastries and coffee in the lounge -- isn't quite as festive. Eggs. Sausage. Orange juice, which I feel like I could drink by the gallon. Everyone is grumbling and tired. Chaff shuffles out of the lounge in his pajamas and plants himself in his chair, breathing in fumes from a large cup of coffee. Seeder is dressed and quite impeccable, as usual, but she doesn't seem talkative. Brutus looks pretty chipper, but kind of out of place. We settle in over the next hour or so and grunt greetings at each other, even though we haven't really been away. It seems to be everyone's habit to check the supply list, so I do it, too. I don't see anything I didn't expect. Everything has at least doubled in price. Blankets quintupled.

There are some perfunctory checks to see if everyone's remaining tributes lived through the night, but I guess no one thinks, once the Careers bedded down, that anything of import would be allowed to happen.

It's nine o'clock, and everyone is still warming up when the screens suddenly come to life, with no Games prelude at all, except for a quick blare of music.

"Our tributes are up early today!" Claudius Templesmith announces gleefully. "The alliance of Districts One, Two, and Four has been up for an hour, spreading out for the hunt… and, like the lions of old, they've scented their prey!"

"Aw, no!" the male mentor from the District Nine table shouts. "Aw, crap, run!"

But of course, his tribute doesn't hear him. The boy, Oscar Yoder, is just waking up when the Career pack lands on him in full force. The cannon goes off before he could possibly know what hit him. The camera lingers on the spreading pool of blood, as the Careers rejoice in the background.

It fades to the Hunger Games logo and the morning fanfare. Majestic, sweeping shots of the arena fill the screens, along with the pictures and names of the tributes. The dead ones twinkle away in a fairy dust effect. I don't know whether or not this is new. Viewing may have been mandatory before, but paying attention to the special effects wasn't. Now, watching Ginger turn into a little shower of glitter, like she's off to become a sprite in a pretty fairy tale, makes me a little ill. They switch coverage to the Career pack, which is heavily involved in their usual fascinating conversation about who needs to be killed next. They decide to stay along the river, since they figure -- unfortunately correctly -- that most of the tributes will stay near the water source. No one mentions any of our alliance's tributes as a major threat needing to be hunted down.

Glass, apparently considering this sufficient protection for them, goes off to a conference room, where he seems to be meeting with the media. I don't care, as long as it keeps him away from the phones.

On my screen, I see that the cannon has woken up Elmer. He shakes Wiress and Ikris. Simon is on the last guard. The angle is slightly different today. I wonder if the cameras are built into the environment, or if the Gamemakers have some way of moving unseen cameras around in the arena. I'm getting used to identifying the nano-cam shots of Elmer, which tend to be oddly skewed if it's too close, and somewhat shaky. But I can't for the life of me figure out where the other shots are coming from. Maybe Plutarch would tell me if I asked. I can't think why I couldn't know something like that. There's no use for it in the arena, and I couldn't use it as a mentor to send a message, since the kids don't see the broadcast.

They gather around their little water catchment. Wiress hands out large leaves (I guess she found them during her guard shift), and they huddle together, sipping out of the leaves just like we're huddled over our coffee.

"What's next?" Ikris asks.

"Food, I hope," Elmer says. "Do you think we can eat the plants?"

"Yes," Wiress says. "I…" She sticks her tongue out and points to the side of it. "The leaves… no numbness, no sores. I feel fine." She's gathered a large pile of the leaves in question.

"You just decided to try it out? What if it had been poison?" Elmer asks.

"I'd be dead," Wiress says calmly. "I'm not."

"Not yet, anyway," Ikris mutters. "I'll do the next test."

"Well, let's bring on the salad, anyway," Simon says. He tears off a piece of the leaf he's been soaking in water, and shrugs. "It's pretty good. Tastes better than dead nettle, anyway. This is more like dandelion."

"Eat a lot of dandelions in Six?" Elmer asks.

"They grow in the cracks of the sidewalks. We eat whatever we can get our hands on. Dandelions, nettles, cress…"

I will him to stop talking, but he doesn't. Telepathy apparently is not a useful way of getting messages through. By the end of the day, someone will undoubtedly send in a crew to get rid of all the unsightly weeds. Thankfully, Elmer acts as though he's never heard of anything so crazy, even though dandelion soup is a springtime staple on the Seam and pine bark has gotten us through more than one winter.

"We could hunt," Ikris suggests. "I mean, I don't know how, but I guess people always end up learning, don't they?"

"If they don't die first," Elmer says.

Wiress has mostly been ignoring the conversation, peeking up over the side of the hollow. She finally sighs, comes down into the hollow, and says, "We're pretty small."

"And he's probably still dizzy." Simon points at Elmer. "Are you still feeling bad?"

Elmer shrugs. "I have a headache. I've had worse. The ointment worked. Thanks, Haymitch."

I smile.

Simon rolls his eyes. "Don't I get a thank you for killing the guy who was going to kill you?"

"Thanks, Simon," Elmer says.

"You're welcome."

Wiress frowns deeply. "We need…" She mimes throwing a spear. "You know… ranged weapons."

"She seems a little better this morning," I say.

"She didn't get any sleep the night before last," Beetee explains. "She's always, well, a little more odd when she's tired. You should have seen her at the invention fair last year."

Drake looks up. "She was more nervous about that than the Hunger Games?"

"She slept less the few days before, anyway." Beetee looks down at his screen fondly. "She was so tired out by training that she just fell asleep most of the time after the parade. It wasn't until after the interviews that she was too scared to sleep. I stayed up with her. We built little machines out of the silverware."

"Do you have something going on with her?" Drake asks.

Beetee's look of disgust ought to be answer enough, but Drake just keeps looking at him quizzically.

I give him a little shove. "Not everyone hits on their tributes, you know."

"Hey, up until last year, my tributes were hitting on me. Yours will, too. You'll see."

"You're not actually contractually obligated to have sex with them just because they ask you to, you know," Beetee points out.

There is a long silence, then Drake cracks a smile and puts his arm over my shoulders. "But how could I have denied Haymitch his last wish?" He makes a loud smacking noise in my direction.

"You're real damned lucky I don't have my knife," I say.

Beetee looks at both of us like we're wayward children, then goes back to watching his screens.

I push Drake's arm off me. "Honestly, you might try a little shame sometime. Maysilee didn't think you were all that funny."

"I don't need shame, when I'm clearly reformed." He puts his hand over his heart. "Reformed, I tell you. Transformed at the very core of my being, by the wisdom and kindness and generosity of that saintly kid from Twelve, who's always treading the upward path, eyes fixed skyward --"

"Shut up, Drake."

"Main reason you don't like me is that I'm you, six years down the line." He considers this. "Of course, that's pretty much the reason I don't like you, either."

"You're full of it, Albinus," Chaff says from the next table. "Haymitch has more brains in his toenail clippings than you've got in your whole skull."

"We're not talking brainwork," Drake says.

They continue a back and forth on the subject of brains and how they might or might not be used in the process of sexual conquests (I see Seeder conspicuously covering her ears), and I slide my chair over to Beetee's. "Sorry about that."

He smiles. "Actually, this is Albinus on the best behavior I've ever seen. I think he actually is trying to be decent. It just doesn't come naturally to him. He's spent a long time cultivating his party-boy act. He's starting to believe it. That's a danger you should avoid, by the way. The Capitol can control how you're presented, but you shouldn't let it control who you believe you are." He looks at Drake. "Albinus isn't actually stupid, you know," he says. "No matter what he says -- and probably thinks -- his spear-arm didn't win the Games for him. The Career pack went into melee early that year, and he barely got away. He never would have survived that fight if he hadn't run. After that, it was a lot of careful tracking and trapping. He's not stupid. Don't make the mistake of thinking anyone who ever got out of the arena is stupid."

"What about Brutus?"

"Even Brutus, though he does give a good impression, doesn't he?"

I look around the room again. The mentors at their stations are mostly exhausted and stressed, but even so, they all have a look I recognize pretty well. Their fingers are tapping on the tables, their eyes going from screen to screen. Some of them can't seem to stay in their chairs. Brutus keeps getting up and walking around in a circle, then coming back and glaring at the screens again. Mags is obsessively reading the supply list and checking with her district partner. Blight is tugging on his lip and tapping a stylus against some kind of checklist he's keeping.

When I was small, Daddy used to take us all to the Meadow on Sundays. He'd bring a box of scraps from around the house. Broken pieces of wood, mostly, and string, and empty food cans. Sometimes, he'd bring some of his booze, and a box of matches. It didn't matter what he brought. He'd just put the box down and say, "Today, we're going to build a catapult. Where do we start?" Or maybe it would be making up a game, or in one instance, seeing how high we could make a single column of flame go. Lacklen was only big enough to hit the trigger, usually, but the rest of us all worked together. Once, Mom got really excited about how high a rock went with our makeshift launcher, and proceeded to run all over the Meadow, looking for new things to burn in the ignition.

"See that?" Daddy said, looking at her in that way he had sometimes, like she was some kind of fabulous magical creature who just chose to wander the earth out of kindness to him. "That's why your momma's the best girl in the world. It was the same in our mine engineering class."

I frowned. "Really?"

"Yeah. See, Haymitch, stupid people let things blow up by accident. Regular people learn to follow the instructions so nothing blows up. Smart people -- like your momma -- are the ones who run around looking for new things to put together to make a louder boom. You can memorize a hundred facts, but being smart means figuring out which of the ones floating around in your head can be put together some unexpected way. And most of the time, smart people can't help it. They're always trying to see how everything can fit."

Looking around the Viewing Center, I see all of the victors doing that, in their own ways. Looking for a new way to put the puzzle together. Maybe the worst part of it is that, as puzzles go, it's a real challenge, and my brain has been firing up more since I was reaped than it ever did in school. And it feels good to work the puzzle, when I can set aside what's really happening. I hate that it feels good. It makes me feel dirty that it feels good. But it does.

But the puzzle is rigged against all of us -- there's no real solution -- and the stakes are the lives of kids from our districts.

Just after ten, the kids from District Seven appear on the main screen. I know they will a moment before they do, because I see Blight's eyes go wide. They've found the first cave anyone has come across.

Henry Cutler is excited -- they were cold last night -- but Louisa Meadows draws back, her brain obviously firing a little more than his.

"Henry… there'll be animals in there." She points at a big footprint on the ground.

He doesn't argue with her about this obvious point, at least, but instead of backing away, he picks up a knife. "So, maybe we can kill them and eat them. Lulu, we need someplace to get warm. Get some sleep."

"What if it's a big animal? We can't do that with a knife. We'd need something to throw or shoot or something. What if it's a bear, like the one that got old Vera at camp last year? Do you think we could kill and eat a bear with that little knife?"

He crouches by the entrance to the cave and frowns. "Maybe… maybe if we smoke it out, it'll run, and we get past it, then barricade the mouth."

I give him credit for a better idea than I'd have expected, and maybe it would work with a real animal, but mutts aren't real. I cringe as I watch them put this plan together. Claudius comes on, with a split screen, to talk about an animal called a hyena, always a fearsome hunter, now much improved by Capitol genetic technicians. They live in a pack, and there are two in the cave.

The kids manage to get a fire lit. The smoke draws out the hyena mutts. They go straight for Henry -- I remember the Gamemakers complaining about the sex imbalance among the remaining tributes -- but Louisa rushes in, grabbing one of the mutts off of him.

It rips her throat out.

The cannon goes off. The other mutt backs off, leaving Henry bleeding in the grass, gashed across the face. I can see his teeth through his cheek. No one will sponsor him for his pretty face anymore.

Blight's escort is away on an errand and he looks up, anguished, at the booths. I remember him in District Seven, with Gia, on a dock by the raging river.

"Beetee," I say. "Could you watch for a few minutes? Get me if you have to."

He nods.

I go over to the District Seven table. "Hey."

Blight looks up. "What?"

"I'll watch your sponsor phone. Favor to Gia."

He nods and goes off to the booths. I mostly keep an eye on Henry's screen, since the phone doesn't ring at all. He's stunned and bleeding, but doesn't seem to have any vital injuries, unless the cuts get infected. Blight has enough money for the antibiotic ointment. No more, of course, but enough. I suggest it to him when he gets back.

He rubs his head. "Yeah. Thanks. That's cheaper this year than usual. I guess they don't want the kids just lying around dying from infection. Not very good television." He puts his face in his hands. "They were cousins. Their families are waiting together."

"Well, um… if you need help… I guess Gia'd want me to help you if I can."

"She thought the world of you, you know."

"She was drugging me."

"I told her it was a bad idea to do it without telling you. But she did it because she believes -- believed -- you were… she believed in you. She loved you."

I don't have anything to say to that, so I go back to my table. My team is working on ways to hunt. Digger tried to teach me to hunt once, but I was hopeless, and I can't think of a good way to help them. Instead, I start going through the supplies again.

"Haven't you got that thing memorized by now?" Beetee asks fondly.

I don't want to say out loud that I'm trying to think of a way to send a message into the arena under the Gamemakers' noses. It's pretty reasonable to assume that the place is bugged, even without Fulvia's little gadget to detect it. I wonder briefly if Chaff has managed to teach him our code, but I guess it wouldn't be a good idea in mixed company even he did. Drake might or might not be on his best behavior, but I'm pretty sure he's not a rebel, and he'd mention it if I had a secret way of communicating.

"I was just thinking… if they're in that hollow and those big mutts start sniffing around, they'll be trapped. I was trying to find something to help them." It's not really a pressing concern. The Gamemakers won't want to show the same kind of murder twice in the same day. But it's a perfectly reasonable test case.

Beetee closes his eyes -- I guess scanning his mental version of the list -- then shakes his head. "I can't think of anything."

I know there's no special point in trying to find a weapon for them, though. Instead, I try to think of something that will make them get out of the hole in the ground and move away from the mutts. They should go south. It's away from the mutts and the river, and it's only occupied by a few of the smaller remaining tributes. There's even a small stand of large bushes that could provide them with cover. It's a good target. I look first for a compass. I think Elmer knows how to use one. There isn't one listed, and subsequent thought tells me that it's not a great idea, since it wouldn't suggest any particular direction, except north, which is where both the mutts and the Careers are at the moment.

If they'd just get up and get moving, maybe I could use simple rewards, if they're going the right direction.

I guess maybe I should have set something like that up with them, back in the training center… except that I'm betting the Gamemakers' would have ways of knowing that and stopping it. Even if I found a way to make sure they weren't listening when I set it up, I couldn't guarantee that the tributes wouldn't tip them off somehow. I guess it'll just have to be a process of trial and error. See what they understand.

I go through and look for cheap things to send.

When they do finally decide to go, they spread out and start beating the bushes for small animals. I hope none of the bigger ones are there. Before next year, I decide to contact Glen Everdeen and get him to explain to me what I need to help with this.

Whatever else they're doing, they're moving south. I send Elmer a bit of bread.

He frowns at the parachute when it comes down, since none of them are starving right now.

They split the bread, then turn west.

So much for clues.

Drake frowns at me. I shrug.

"Did you ever do this before?" Simon asks Elmer.

"Nah. You can only hunt outside the fence, and no one can go there. Everyone knows that."

Simon grins. "Yeah. Same in District Six. And there's no cover out on the plains, so they'd have to be really tricky to do it."

"It's kind of like here, then?"

"Much colder. And, if we could hunt, nobody'd be hunting people."

Elmer holds up one hand and points at a bush that's jiggling slightly. Something bursts out and runs between them. Neither so much as takes a stab at it.

They look at each other awkwardly. I guess that, for all of their insinuations of illegal hunting, neither of them has ever tried it.

Simon shrugs. "I'm, um… better with bigger things. That are threatening people my mentor told me to be allies with."

I look at Drake.

"I figured your tributes might have a clue," he says. "And Simon would never survive the Careers."

Wiress loops over from her end of the line, and points ahead. They keep going.

I remember being bored in the arena, but it has nothing on being bored in the Viewing Center. It's not mandatory viewing now, so the Gamemakers are keeping their tricks to a minimum -- better for those to be released live. My group manages to catch three mice, which none of them are hungry enough to eat yet. Henry Cutler gets his medicine and manages to limp to a hollow under a tree with spreading leaves. The Careers enjoy a picnic lunch, courtesy of their sponsors.

"I think we should go for the District Eleven girl," Garret Shanzy (District Four) says casually, picking at a sandwich. "She's pretty tough. We should get her while we're still strong."

Seeder mutters something under her breath about the Careers. I don't think it's the sort of thing the public expects to hear her say.

"I want the little shit from Six who killed Lapis," the girl from One says. The label identifies her as Peridot.

Anicia Culpepper sniffs. "Lapis was an idiot. He was supposed to join up before he started hunting. That's the way it's done. And he didn't even get that Twelve kid."

"He saw an opportunity."

"To die? Opportunity well taken."

Peridot continues to fume silently.

I get a few calls during the afternoon, from people watching the kind of hopeless hunt. Enough for an apple. I send it as soon as they turn south again. Elmer stares at it a long time, then looks at Wiress. "Let's keep going this way."


"Just a feeling. I think it'll be pretty safe."

Around suppertime, I notice that the Careers are getting close to Seeder's tribute, Sparrow Mangan. Out of nowhere, a flock of mutt birds dives on them, forcing them east, where Garret finds a pristine water hole. They temporarily abandon the hunt to wash up, drink, and fish. The birds fly away without hurting anyone.

"They're saving her for mandatory viewing," I realize.

Chaff looks over, disturbed. "What?"

"The Gamemakers. They just led the Careers away so they can kill Sparrow when there's a bigger audience."

On Chaff's other side, Seeder's eyes go wide. "I have to get her out of there." She starts frantically making calls. I'm not sure what she thinks sponsors can do about this.

In the arena, I can tell that it's starting to get cold, because my team is beginning to shiver. Wiress takes Elmer under one of the blankets, and Ikris and Simon take the other one. They keep walking south, until they reach the edge of the moat that traces the force field. A quick glance in either direction is enough for them to figure out what it is.

"End of the line," Simon says, urging Ikris to sit down on a rock with him. Wiress and Elmer do the same. Simon grins at Elmer. "Hey, Parton, is this going to be Twelve's strategy every year?"

"Didn't even think about it. We should settle somewhere, though. Is there another hollow?"

"There won't be," Wiress says. "Here…" She holds her hand out for the second blanket.

"I don't think so!" Simon tells her.

"A tent," she says. "Thermal. The blankets hold heat."

They spend the next twenty minutes building a shelter, laughing at each other as though they're just camping in the Meadow. They may as well be. There are no other tributes within five miles of them, and, while it's nearly mandatory viewing time, the Gamemakers seem to be more interested in the tributes camping on the river.

The main evening coverage opens with a re-cap of the morning's events, and conversations on the street. Many young girls in District Seven shirts are weeping over Henry's mangled face. They don't seem to care that much that Louisa is dead. The murder of Oscar Yoder is seen as a brilliant bit of hunting by the Career pack. Anicia is becoming a fan favorite, apparently.

Since nothing much is happening, they start dragging us in for interviews, and I realize what Glass has been setting up in the media lounge all day. Claudius tries to trap me on the subject of my unprecedented attack on my escort. I tell him I was upset, and new, and strongly suggest that I might have been drunk. He concludes that this is typical district barbarism and lets me go. I think I managed to handle the narrative reasonably well. He didn't trap me into saying anything that would get me into trouble.

When I get back to the Viewing Center, I find Seeder in the booths -- while I was in the car, the Career pack was allowed to catch up with Sparrow.

"I hate this," I say when I sit down.

"Really?" Drake asks. "I never would have guessed."

Coverage switches over to our group. Wiress and Elmer are in the little tent they've made. They're talking, but Claudius talks over them, about how they've spent the day. I'm guessing they're having the kind of conversation that would make the Astronomy Club want to spend the day with them, but probably no one else. Ikris and Simon are along the banks of the moat, hunting the brush for whatever they can eat.

"So what do you eat in District Three?" Simon asks.

"Stuff. Beans, a lot. A lot of people grow spices to make things taste better. What about District Six?"

"Fry bread. More beans. We have a lot of spices, too." Simon pushes apart the tall grass and heads closer to the moat.

"Careful. I bet that's poison," Ikris says. "I bet it's the poison from last year. Sigh Tomby's face about melted."

I shudder. I was holding onto Sigh Tomby when he died. It's not something I want to see again.

"I just want to see if something's hiding on the bank."

"So… how do people make money in Six?


"Not everyone can be on the trains, right? So… what else do people do?"

"Oh, we can get a little… tricky."

Beside me, Drake stands up. "Oh, no…"

"What?" I ask.

On screen, Simon says, "You know, my mentor said to make an alliance with Twelve. He didn't mention Three."

"Everyone always forgets us. We're glad to have you."



Simon bends over, spotting something at the edge of the moat. "Hey, look here. I think it's some kind of birds' nest. There are eggs."


"Yeah. Come take a look."

Ikris comes through the grass and looks down at the spot where Simon is pointing. "I don't see it," he says. "What am I looking for? Is it camouflaged?"

"No," Simon says. "Just tricky."

"What?" Ikris looks up.

Simon brings his knife down in a brutal arc, slashing across Ikris's neck before he even knows what happened. He pushes the body into the water even as the cannon sounds, then cuts himself deeply across the chest, and starts screaming.
17 comments or Leave a comment
gabrielladusult From: gabrielladusult Date: March 10th, 2014 04:47 am (UTC) (Link)
I was about to turn in for the night when I saw you posted. Glad I stayed up to read it even if it means a possible Hunger Games dream. I love smart Haymitch and the little extras you give to his backstory. The meadow trips with his family are bittersweet.

Looking forward to the aftermath of Simon's actions in the arena and the viewing center.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 10th, 2014 05:35 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm really starting to like Haymitch's weirdly functional family. They're never going to be painted by the likes of Normal Rockwell, but before everything went to hell, I think they were actually happy, mostly because his parents each thought the other one hung the moon.
mirandabeth From: mirandabeth Date: March 10th, 2014 05:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Argh, I was half-expecting that back when the alliance formed, but I'd forgotten about it by now! Intrigued to find out what happens in the mentor alliance now... since they know Simon isn't actually Wiress's ally, but she and Elmer don't know.

Wiress is pretty awesome, really. I hope she makes it through relatively unscathed, as a person, I mean. And Elmer, figuring out the clues eventually. Good on him.

Still loving Drake, and especially how non-loveable he can be. Is he really that much like Haymitch? I guess I can see it, in some ways, IF Haymitch chose his path. But even if he had, I can't imagine Haymitch ever even THINKING about trying to coerce a tribute into sex with him.

Some catches:

You've got "cannon" spelled "canon" a couple of times in this chapter.

The other mutts back off... I think you said there were only two in the cave?

...three mice, which none of are hungry... none of them, I think.

strong suggest strongly suggest
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 10th, 2014 05:33 am (UTC) (Link)
You've got "cannon" spelled "canon" a couple of times in this chapter.

HA! The dangers of writing about fandom, eh?

I think Drake probably sees Haymitch as having an ornery personality and a penchant for drinking too much, not to mention an outsized idea of his own prowess. I don't think Drake has it through his head even now how bad what he did to Maysilee was.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: March 10th, 2014 05:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Aaaggghh, now we have to wait for another chapter! It doesn't sound like Drake intended Simon to do that -- at least, not so early.

Poor Henry and Louisa -- I wonder if he even cares much now, seeing what happened to her. And Seeder, too, knowing that her tribute is being saved for prime time! I wonder if she meant to send her a weapon and didn't manage in time.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 10th, 2014 05:55 am (UTC) (Link)
She might not have been able to get the money, but even if she could have -- one girl and one weapon against the pack? It might not have done any good.

Drake most definitely did not intend Simon to do that.
sonetka From: sonetka Date: March 10th, 2014 06:11 am (UTC) (Link)
I'll bet he's *really* missing "mentoring the genius" about now!
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 10th, 2014 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)

why did Simon hint?

"which IS where both the mutts and the Careers are at the moment."

Violent murder is par for the course in the HG universe, so I'm sadly desensitised to Career pack hunting and vicious mutts. But - an ugly betrayal by someone we thought was a friend. This chapter left me physically feeling sick. (A compliment in this dysptopic fandom.)

I'm surprised Ikris didn't pick up on Simon's hints - maybe he was lulled into a sense of security/trust, but why would Simon run that risk? Unless he subconsiously felt bad about what he was about to do and was trying to provoke an attack so that he could kill in self-defence? Or trying to work himself up to the murder? Doesn't come naturally - that's the less obvious sadism of the Games, not only does it murder kids, it turns many of them into murderers.

Interested to see whether Wiress and Elmer will buy Simon's explanation or not....
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 10th, 2014 06:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: why did Simon hint?

I was thinking about having more hints, at least for the audience, but I thought that out-of-the-blue for everyone might be best.

I'm not sure if Simon hinted because he was upset, or because he's a sociopath who just wanted to add a wrinkle to the game, and believed he was invulnerable. I guess we'll find out.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 10th, 2014 11:47 am (UTC) (Link)


I never read "Lord of the Flies" (and anyone would have to pay me quite handsomely to do so), but when you mentioned that you'd named Simon for one of its characters, it was a sufficient hint that I was expecting something along these lines. Though Simon's wiliness is impressive, in a nauseating kind of way. I got the impression that he was playing dumber than he is at the start.

It's kind of stupid to ask if Haymitch is right about the Capitol getting rid of all the weeds in Six, but I mean, seriously? They can't leave these people the weeds that grow inside their fence? Anyway, you quite simply can't get rid of weeds, no matter how hard you try.
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 10th, 2014 03:18 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sigh...

I think Haymitch is overreacting on that one - the Capitol wouldn't want to starve the District population, they would break down their supply chain. Better for them if the District serfs can eat weeds - nourishment without any expense. Starvation is a tool only if they start getting uppity - like if they have a victor, which is the reason for the crackdown in Twelve, and why Haymitch thinks this way now.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 10th, 2014 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sigh...

Oh, if you can read HG, LotF is pretty similar, actually. That was the first book I thought of when I heard about HG. With fewer dead bodies, too. Simon in LotF is actually a good guy.

Haymitch may be overreacting, though, on the other hand, one of the main things the Capitol seems to do is control the food supply, to make sure that all things come from the Capitol. (That's one of the reasons that, when we get to D13, it's so disturbing that they also control food, maybe even more tightly -- if they have the power to decide whether or not to starve you, does it matter whether or not they do it?)
From: (Anonymous) Date: March 10th, 2014 07:13 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Sigh...

Your fics are the closest I've come to reading "The Hunger Games." Still have no plans of reading either book.

I'm glad that the consensus seems to be that Haymitch is over-reacting about District 6 and the weeds. That just *bothers* me. (Rolls eyes at myself. Of all the things in this twisted world to bug me.)
redrikki From: redrikki Date: March 10th, 2014 02:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
I really like Drake as the asshole older brother to Haymitch in this chapter. He's sort of right about how similar they are to each other, but at the same time completely wrong. I do worry about what Beetee said about Haymitch coming to believe the narrative about being a useless drunk. As for Simon and Ikris, you really hit the nail on the head with those names didn't you. Poor kid, flying too close to the sun and getting burned by someone he trusted.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 10th, 2014 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
At this point, Haymitch and Drake are kind of like Katniss and Johanna. Beetee's right to worry, and I think Haymitch is prone to falling into that trap at home in D12, but he seems able to pull himself together when he's needed, and he does seem to have been playing a long gaame over the years.
From: queen_bellatrix Date: March 10th, 2014 09:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Feedback and Catches

you go that Think the go was supposed to be got.

which where both Think you missed an is before where.

the looks at Think the the was supposed to be a then.

out what is. Think you missed an it before is.

as brilliant bit Think you missed an a before brilliant.

hiding on bank Think maybe you missed a the before bank?

When Haymitch is looking at the supply list and Beetee asks why, he thinks he'd just use the code if Drake weren't there; I'm a bit confused as to when he taught Beetee the code? We know he didn't do it in 3, and there's no mention of him doing it while they're in the park, which is the only safe place I can think of in the Capitol. Or are we meant to inferr that Chaff taught him before Haymitch arrived in the park? I'm a very...litteral reader; if it's something like the latter, sorry! I don't do very well with picking that sort of thing up.:) If there is actually a continuity issue, maybe he could wish for a moment that Betee knew the code, and then realize it'd be a bad idea anyway because of Drake?

I'm really interested to see which way it goes, in terms of whether Simon's actually sociopathic, or whether he does feel bad, and is doing what he thinks he'll have to to survive early, before he can like these kids anymore than he already does.

As I was reading, I was noting things I wanted to mention, and so many of them were just little things that made me go :d. So, in no particular order:
The Abernathy Sunday outings; those just sound fun! (Which pretty much says everything anyone would need to know about my personality in a nutshell.:) And the way that both Haymitch's parents think the other hung the moon, but not in a way where it obscures either's flaws from the other is awesome.

I've always loved the myriad positive portrayals of masculinity you've given us throughout your work, and I was struck by it again here with Haymitch's dad; a guy who'll freely admit that he's gaga over his wife, to his son; I like it a lot, and we need so much more of it in fiction. I realize you definitely balance out the coin with his drinking, but I like how neither thing cancels out the other.

And Blight and Haymitch, bonding both over Gia, and, to a lesser extent, their shared job as mentors got a large grin while reading. And again, with Blight; he knows Gia's not perfect, but is still trying to make Haymitch see that the flaws don't cancel out all the other things, which is a great thematic link back to Haymitch's family. And all the discussion of flaws is of course a great foreshadowing to Kattniss and Peeda realizing that Haymitch can't simply be dismissed as flawed, without looking at the other side of the coin.

Love the sort of unspoken pact between all the good mentors to speak up and help each other keep their tributes alive a little longer. It's fantastic to see the seeds of snow trusting the victors even less being planted, because actions like what Haymitch did for Blight and then later what he tried to do for Cedar are so very subversive, in their own ways, and create that victor bond he fears so much. I love that Haymitch's impact on the victors and their dynamic is as revolutionary as Kattniss and the berries. I think it's funny, because he says in GM that Peeda's more subversive without trying than he could ever be, and doesn't see that his own actions had definite resemblances to Peeda's.

And Drake; I've been waffling these last few chapters, but I'm reluctantly realizing that I like him despite myself. Want to smack him, of course, but was laughing so hard at all his shenanogans even so. I like how their relationship has mellowed; they'll never be exactly mates, but it's lost that deliberately cruel edge it had in EOTW.

And Beetee and Wiress; the beginnings of their platonic love affair is so sweet. And what a fantastic mentor Beetee was, staying up with a nervous tribute and finding something fun to pass the time.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: March 11th, 2014 02:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Feedback and Catches

Good catch on the code -- I followed your advice there.

I'd have fun on that kind of Sunday outing, too.

I'm glad you noticed the positive masculine images. I wanted to have men who are clearly and unambiguously masculine, but also very affectionate and love their families, whether they're perfect or not.

Drake really has had a change of heart... but what's going to happen now that his tribute betrayed the others?
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