The attic in Daddy's house in Twelve is one of my favorite places. I like the piled up boxes of arcane papers, the crates of things that are no longer used (but that he can't get rid of), the little bits of junk that have collected up over the years. There's a collection of shiny, almost unread books shoved up onto a set of shelves. A trunk full of Mom's old wigs that's migrated here from the Capitol (Pearl and I sometimes play dress-up in them). A tattered old quilt that Daddy says belonged to his parents, which I'm not allowed to play much with, since the seams are fragile. We have old paintings of Peeta's, and the pile of Daddy's plaques from when he was in the Games. ("I never did know what I was supposed to do with these," he muttered once when he told me what they were.)
There are other things here with no explanation, like statue of a little Capitol boy playing in the rain (it looks like someone wrote on it a long time ago, but I can't make out what it says) and a pile of old, unwritten journals. I asked for one last year, and I've been using it to keep a diary, though I'm not very diligent about it.
I usually play up here with just Pearl. We've had many adventures. I'm four years older than she is, and she always lets me make up the story. Today, though, Caleb Hawthorne and Delly's son Cully are here, too, and they're both three years older than I am, so they think they should be in charge, even though it's my house. Even worse, they're both bad at making things up. They're having a play war with invisible guns. Pearl, who is six and just learning to read, is making a great show of perusing the books.
I sit down on an ancient couch that sends up a puff of dust, then lean backward with my hair flopping over the cushions. "What's with the big conference down there, anyway?" I ask.
"Mom says it's because Haymitch is being stubborn," Caleb says. "About the movie."
"Plutarch wants to make one of those biography movies about him. About when he was in the Quell."
"So," Cully says, putting down his invisible gun, "your dad said no. Caleb's mom and Peeta are trying to talk him into it."
"Mommy's not," Pearl offers. "Mommy says they should leave him alone. He said that's why she's his favorite. I heard it when I was supposed to be in my nap."
Caleb climbs up onto an old trunk to hold court. "Well, my mom says everyone has to put up with it sooner or later, if she and Annie did, and it's Haymitch's turn. And Peeta says that people should know what Haymitch is really like. Mom told Dad that Annie says that it's good for people -- the movies have been helping them understand what happened in the war. Beetee says --"
"What did you do?" Cully says. "Poll the victors?"
"I don't have to. They report in to Mom on their own."
"Why's your dad here?" I ask Cully. "He wasn't even in the war."
"He's a historian. He came out here to study Katniss and Peeta -- that's how he met Mom -- but he finished, and now he's studying Haymitch."
"You know -- how he ended up in the war and things. The beginning of the rebellion. And Plutarch really wants to get Maysilee and the mockingjay pin on film."
I think about this. I know that sometimes people call Daddy and ask his opinion on things. I know he says he was in the war, but he also says that by the end, everyone was in the war, on one side or the other. I remember once when I was little, he and Peeta were cross with each other, because Daddy said he didn't end up doing much, after all the planning, and Peeta yelled that he carried him halfway across the Capitol, and that was a lot. I wondered for a few minutes why Daddy was carrying Peeta, but then Mom and Katniss started talking about something else, and I forgot to ask.
"Here he is!" Pearl announces, bringing over one of the shiny books. This one has distinctly never been opened. It's still wrapped in plastic. "See?" She points to the subtitle. "It says his name right there."
I look. It's called, One in a Million Shot: Our New Quell Victor, Haymitch Abernathy. There's a picture of a boy who looks pretty much like I would look if I cut my hair off. I take off the plastic.
"Are you sure you should do that?" Caleb asks.
"It's a book. What's it going to do?"
"Well, your dad might not like it."
Cully grins. "Well, you know -- if he won't tell her about this stuff, she has to learn it on the street. Or in the attic."
The four of us pile onto the couch and start looking through the book, which has a lot of shiny photographs of Daddy in training, and Daddy with the pretty blonde girl named Maysilee -- Peeta made a picture of him for her a long time ago, sitting with Daddy's old girlfriend, since their names (Indigo and Maysie) are the ones he gave me -- and Daddy wearing a black crown that looks like grain. There are also pictures of my grandmother, Rhona, and my uncle, Lacklen. There are no pictures of Mom. I guess no one knew her when they wrote the book.
Daddy comes upstairs to get us about an hour later, still grumbling. Plutarch is with him, still making an argument. He takes one look at the book we're all reading and stops talking. He picks it up and sighs heavily. "This is crap, Indigo," he says.
Daddy looks at all of us, looks at the book, then tosses it into a bin. "Fine, Plutarch. I'll cooperate." He shakes his head. "Gotta be better than that thing still floating around. Or it least it better be."
"I don't know," Cully says. "I like the part where you were all excited to meet the president…"
Daddy rolls his eyes and growls a little, then gets us all downstairs.
I'd be interested in seeing the "train accident" that killed Martius Snow and Peri for Maraudercat
"I shouldn't have let them talk me into leaving the baby," Peri says. "It's a train trip. You talk to the mayor for your father. I chat up the locals. If anything, Prisca would make it a better photo op. I don't understand why your father didn't want her here. At least if he's insisting that I come. Isn't supposed to be about building the dynasty?"
"I don't know what my father's game is," I say. "I rarely do. I didn't want you to come along this time."
She narrows her eyes at me, but can't very well say what I'm pretty sure she's figured out: That the only games I'm talking about with the mayor of District Six are games of state. He hates my father. He offered me better access to the trains and the codes to all of the fuel stations, on the thought that it's about time for the dynasty to move on to the next stop on the line. I think he's right. The first thing I plan to do when I take over is stop the damned Games. The second is to clear out my father's cronies. After that, some serious infrastructure work.
The mayor wanted to give me hover crafts, too, but the command codes -- which can theoretically keep them from launching, provided a hostile force is stupid enough not to check for remote controls -- are back in the Capitol. There's also a code to stop the trains, but I doubt Father would worry about it, since there's not much you can do with a train. Even if you set it to blow up, the worst it would do is localized damage.
Anyway father and a horrible little woman named Agrippina Dalloway, who runs the Panem Air Force, have the hover craft codes. Agrippina once firebombed a herd of ruminants in the out-districts, just to see how long it would take them to burn. Like so many of the true crazies in my father's administration, she's a survivor of the last bombing of the Capitol. They are always at the house, but never during filmed gatherings, because they don't really present the image Father wants to project of himself. He likes to keep them around because they scare the blue devil out of the districts. He can't stand most of them himself, but he pets them and keeps their wounds open, and tells them that they are the great saviors of Panem. He thinks of them as his private armory. He doesn't have hair trigger with using them, which is a good thing, because all they need is the tiniest push to send them on a rampage.
Ausonius Glass was probably the most presentable of them, which says something about them as a group, since Glass was clearly deranged even on his best behavior. He was assigned as the escort to Twelve in the first place because Twelve had been both culturally and genetically close to Thirteen, and was never intended to have a victor in the Games. When Duronda Carson -- who was a suspected rebel even as a child before the Games -- won the third time out, Father decided that Twelve needed a tougher boot heel to make sure they didn't get a local hero to rally around. After Glass died, Father raised a glass to him and said, "To a most distasteful maggot of a man."
I asked why he'd been allowed to live so long, since I know my father doesn't have any allegiance, and found Glass's modes of control to be revolting.
"Because, Martius -- both Carson and Abernathy after her found him as distasteful as I did. That made him immeasurably useful to me."
Peri snaps her fingers at me. "Something on your mind?"
I smile. "You know how I love to travel."
"I have a general idea, yes." She smiles. "Want me to distract you for a while?"
I bite my lip and honestly consider it. I have to admit, one of the reasons I didn't raise a stink about leaving the baby with a wet nurse was that Peri and I have barely had any intimate time together in the last three months. I doubt that my father understands this in any more than a theoretical way (if he's ever been interested in sex, I've never seen the evidence… including my own existence, unless he has a kink for test tubes), but he knows how to use even things he doesn't particularly understand.
I check my watch and shake my head. "We're less than an hour out of District Six," I say. "Not enough time for a really good… distraction. Maybe tonight at the liaison apartment."
"Well, we can -- "
There is a sudden squeal of metal on metal, and the train jerks to a clumsy stop.
"What's that?" Peri asks.
I look out the window. We're nowhere in particular -- somewhere in the dry flatlands, covered with scrub. "I don't -- "
I stop. Heavy, armored all-terrain trucks are flanking the train. Peacekeepers pour out of them, weapons drawn. Something clicks, and the locks seal our car shut.
The shooting begins at the front of the train. It takes them less than five minutes to reach us.