Книга Mockingjay. Содержание - 15

„How do you know?“ I say, mostly to cover my embarrassment. „Have you kissed someone who’s drunk?“ I guess Gale could’ve been kissing girls right and left back in 12. He certainly had enough takers. I never thought about it much before.

He just shakes his head. „No. But it’s not hard to imagine.“

„So, you never kissed any other girls?“ I ask.

„I didn’t say that. You know, you were only twelve when we met. And a real pain besides. I did have a life outside of hunting with you,“ he says, loading up with firewood.

Suddenly, I’m genuinely curious. „Who did you kiss? And where?“

„Too many to remember. Behind the school, on the slag heap, you name it,“ he says.

I roll my eyes. „So when did I become so special? When they carted me off to the Capitol?“

„No. About six months before that. Right after New Year’s. We were in the Hob, eating some slop of Greasy Sae’s. And Darius was teasing you about trading a rabbit for one of his kisses. And I realized…I minded,“ he tells me.

I remember that day. Bitter cold and dark by four in the afternoon. We’d been hunting, but a heavy snow had driven us back into town. The Hob was crowded with people looking for refuge from the weather. Greasy Sae’s soup, made with stock from the bones of a wild dog we’d shot a week earlier, was below her usual standards. Still, it was hot, and I was starving as I scooped it up, sitting cross-legged on her counter. Darius was leaning on the post of the stall, tickling my cheek with the end of my braid, while I smacked his hand away. He was explaining why one of his kisses merited a rabbit, or possibly two, since everyone knows redheaded men are the most virile. And Greasy Sae and I were laughing because he was so ridiculous and persistent and kept pointing out women around the Hob who he said had paid far more than a rabbit to enjoy his lips. „See? The one in the green muffler? Go ahead and ask her.If you need a reference.“

A million miles from here, a billion days ago, this happened. „Darius was just joking around,“ I say.

„Probably. Although you’d be the last to figure out if he wasn’t,“ Gale tells me. „Take Peeta. Take me. Or even Finnick. I was starting to worry he had his eye on you, but he seems back on track now.“

„You don’t know Finnick if you think he’d love me,“ I say.

Gale shrugs. „I know he was desperate. That makes people do all kinds of crazy things.“

I can’t help thinking that’s directed at me.

Bright and early the next morning, the brains assemble to take on the problem of the Nut. I’m asked to the meeting, although I don’t have much to contribute. I avoid the conference table and perch in the wide windowsill that has a view of the mountain in question. The commander from 2, a middle-aged woman named Lyme, takes us on a virtual tour of the Nut, its interior and fortifications, and recounts the failed attempts to seize it. I’ve crossed paths with her briefly a couple of times since my arrival, and was dogged by the feeling I’d met her before. She’s memorable enough, standing over six feet tall and heavily muscled. But it’s only when I see a clip of her in the field, leading a raid on the main entrance of the Nut, that something clicks and I realize I’m in the presence of another victor. Lyme, the tribute from District 2, who won her Hunger Games over a generation ago. Effie sent us her tape, among others, to prepare for the Quarter Quell. I’ve probably caught glimpses of her during the Games over the years, but she’s kept a low profile. With my newfound knowledge of Haymitch’s and Finnick’s treatment, all I can think is: What did the Capitol do to her after she won?

When Lyme finishes the presentation, the questions from the brains begin. Hours pass, and lunch comes and goes, as they try to come up with a realistic plan for taking the Nut. But while Beetee thinks he might be able to override certain computer systems, and there’s some discussion of putting the handful of internal spies to use, no one has any really innovative thoughts. As the afternoon wears on, talk keeps returning to a strategy that has been tried repeatedly—the storming of the entrances. I can see Lyme’s frustration building because so many variations of this plan have already failed, so many of her soldiers have been lost. Finally, she bursts out, „The next person who suggests we take the entrances better have a brilliant way to do it, because you’re going to be the one leading that mission!“

Gale, who is too restless to sit at the table for more than a few hours, has been alternating between pacing and sharing my windowsill. Early on, he seemed to accept Lyme’s assertion that the entrances couldn’t be taken, and dropped out of the conversation entirely. For the last hour or so, he’s sat quietly, his brow knitted in concentration, staring at the Nut through the window glass. In the silence that follows Lyme’s ultimatum, he speaks up. „Is it really so necessary that we take the Nut? Or would it be enough to disable it?“

„That would be a step in the right direction,“ says Beetee. „What do you have in mind?“

„Think of it as a wild dog den,“ Gale continues. „You’re not going to fight your way in. So you have two choices. Trap the dogs inside or flush them out.“

„We’ve tried bombing the entrances,“ says Lyme. „They’re set too far inside the stone for any real damage to be done.“

„I wasn’t thinking of that,“ says Gale. „I was thinking of using the mountain.“ Beetee rises and joins Gale at the window, peering through his ill-fitting glasses. „See? Running down the sides?“

„Avalanche paths,“ says Beetee under his breath. „It’d be tricky. We’d have to design the detonation sequence with great care, and once it’s in motion, we couldn’t hope to control it.“

„We don’t need to control it if we give up the idea that we have to possess the Nut,“ says Gale. „Only shut it down.“

„So you’re suggesting we start avalanches and block the entrances?“ asks Lyme.

„That’s it,“ says Gale. „Trap the enemy inside, cut off from supplies. Make it impossible for them to send out their hovercraft.“

While everyone considers the plan, Boggs flips through a stack of blueprints of the Nut and frowns. „You risk killing everyone inside. Look at the ventilation system. It’s rudimentary at best. Nothing like what we have in Thirteen. It depends entirely on pumping in air from the mountainsides. Block those vents and you’ll suffocate whoever is trapped.“

„They could still escape through the train tunnel to the square,“ says Beetee.

„Not if we blow it up,“ says Gale brusquely. His intent, his full intent, becomes clear. Gale has no interest in preserving the lives of those in the Nut. No interest in caging the prey for later use.

This is one of his death traps.


The implications of what Gale is suggesting settle quietly around the room. You can see the reaction playing out on people’s faces. The expressions range from pleasure to distress, from sorrow to satisfaction.

„The majority of the workers are citizens from Two,“ says Beetee neutrally.

„So what?“ says Gale. „We’ll never be able to trust them again.“

„They should at least have a chance to surrender,“ says Lyme.

„Well, that’s a luxury we weren’t given when they fire-bombed Twelve, but you’re all so much cozier with the Capitol here,“ says Gale. By the look on Lyme’s face, I think she might shoot him, or at least take a swing. She’d probably have the upper hand, too, with all her training. But her anger only seems to infuriate him and he yells, „We watched children burn to death and there was nothing we could do!“

I have to close my eyes a minute, as the image rips through me. It has the desired effect. I want everyone in that mountain dead. Am about to say so. But then…I’m also a girl from District 12. Not President Snow. I can’t help it. I can’t condemn someone to the death he’s suggesting. „Gale,“ I say, taking his arm and trying to speak in a reasonable tone. „The Nut’s an old mine. It’d be like causing a massive coal mining accident.“ Surely the words are enough to make anyone from 12 think twice about the plan.

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