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Книга Mockingjay. Содержание - 6

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«Of course,» I say, as if this would be self-evident. I don’t know where a simple bow and arrow could possibly find a place in all this high-tech equipment, but then we come upon a wall of deadly archery weapons. I’ve played with a lot of the Capitol’s weapons in training, but none designed for military combat. I focus my attention on a lethal-looking bow so loaded down with scopes and gadgetry, I’m certain I can’t even lift it, let alone shoot it.

«Gale, maybe you’d like to try out a few of these,» says Beetee.

«Seriously?» Gale asks.

«You’ll be issued a gun eventually for battle, of course. But if you appear as part of Katniss’s team in the propos, one of these would look a little showier. I thought you might like to find one that suits you,» says Beetee.

«Yeah, I would.» Gale’s hands close around the very bow that caught my attention a moment ago, and he hefts it onto his shoulder. He points it around the room, peering through the scope.

«That doesn’t seem very fair to the deer,» I say.

«Wouldn’t be using it on deer, would I?» he answers.

«I’ll be right back,» says Beetee. He presses a code into a panel, and a small doorway opens. I watch until he’s disappeared and the door’s shut.

«So, it’d be easy for you? Using that on people?» I ask.

«I didn’t say that.» Gale drops the bow to his side. «But if I’d had a weapon that could’ve stopped what I saw happen in Twelve…if I’d had a weapon that could have kept you out of the arena…I’d have used it.»

«Me, too,» I admit. But I don’t know what to tell him about the aftermath of killing a person. About how they never leave you.

Beetee wheels back in with a tall, black rectangular case awkwardly positioned between his footrest and his shoulder. He comes to a halt and tilts it toward me. «For you.»

I set the case flat on the floor and undo the latches along one side. The top opens on silent hinges. Inside the case, on a bed of crushed maroon velvet, lies a stunning black bow. «Oh,» I whisper in admiration. I lift it carefully into the air to admire the exquisite balance, the elegant design, and the curve of the limbs that somehow suggests the wings of a bird extended in flight. There’s something else. I have to hold very still to make sure I’m not imagining it. No, the bow is alive in my hands. I press it against my cheek and feel the slight hum travel through the bones of my face. «What’s it doing?» I ask.

«Saying hello,» explains Beetee with a grin. «It heard your voice.»

«It recognizes my voice?» I ask.

«Only your voice,» he tells me. «You see, they wanted me to design a bow based purely on looks. As part of your costume, you know? But I kept thinking,What a waste. I mean, what if you do need it sometime? As more than a fashion accessory? So I left the outside simple, and left the inside to my imagination. Best explained in practice, though. Want to try those out?»

We do. A target range has already been prepared for us. The arrows that Beetee designed are no less remarkable than the bow. Between the two, I can shoot with accuracy over one hundred yards. The variety of arrows—razor sharp, incendiary, explosive—turn the bow into a multipurpose weapon. Each one is recognizable by a distinctive colored shaft. I have the option of voice override at any time, but have no idea why I would use it. To deactivate the bow’s special properties, I need only tell it «Good night.» Then it goes to sleep until the sound of my voice wakes it again.

I’m in good spirits by the time I get back to the prep team, leaving Beetee and Gale behind. I sit patiently through the rest of the paint job and don my costume, which now includes a bloody bandage over the scar on my arm to indicate I’ve been in recent combat. Venia affixes my mockingjay pin over my heart. I take up my bow and the sheath of normal arrows that Beetee made, knowing they would never let me walk around with the loaded ones. Then we’re out on the soundstage, where I seem to stand for hours while they adjust makeup and lighting and smoke levels. Eventually, the commands coming via intercom from the invisible people in the mysterious glassed-in booth become fewer and fewer. Fulvia and Plutarch spend more time studying and less time adjusting me. Finally, there’s quiet on the set. For a full five minutes I am simply considered. Then Plutarch says, «I think that does it.»

I’m beckoned over to a monitor. They play back the last few minutes of taping and I watch the woman on the screen. Her body seems larger in stature, more imposing than mine. Her face smudged but sexy. Her brows black and drawn in an angle of defiance. Wisps of smoke—suggesting she has either just been extinguished or is about to burst into flames—rise from her clothes. I do not know who this person is.

Finnick, who’s been wandering around the set for a few hours, comes up behind me and says with a hint of his old humor, «They’ll either want to kill you, kiss you, or be you.»

Everyone’s so excited, so pleased with their work. It’s nearly time to break for dinner, but they insist we continue. Tomorrow we’ll focus on speeches and interviews and have me pretend to be in rebel battles. Today they want just one slogan, just one line that they can work into a short propo to show to Coin.

«People of Panem, we fight, we dare, we end our hunger for justice!» That’s the line. I can tell by the way they present it that they’ve spent months, maybe years, working it out and are really proud of it. It seems like a mouthful to me, though. And stiff. I can’t imagine actually saying it in real life—unless I was using a Capitol accent and making fun of it. Like when Gale and I used to imitate Effie Trinket’s «May the odds beever in your favor!» But Fulvia’s right in my face, describing a battle I’ve just been in, and how my comrades-in-arms are all lying dead around me, and how, to rally the living, I must turn to the camera and shout out the line!

I’m hustled back to my place, and the smoke machine kicks in. Someone calls for quiet, the cameras start rolling, and I hear «Action!» So I hold my bow over my head and yell with all the anger I can muster, «People of Panem, we fight, we dare, we end our hunger for justice!»

There’s dead silence on the set. It goes on. And on.

Finally, the intercom crackles and Haymitch’s acerbic laugh fills the studio. He contains himself just long enough to say, «And that, my friends, is how a revolution dies.»


The shock of hearing Haymitch’s voice yesterday, of learning that he was not only functional but had some measure of control over my life again, enraged me. I left the studio directly and refused to acknowledge his comments from the booth today. Even so, I knew immediately he was right about my performance.

It took the whole of this morning for him to convince the others of my limitations. That I can’t pull it off. I can’t stand in a television studio wearing a costume and makeup in a cloud of fake smoke and rally the districts to victory. It’s amazing, really, how long I have survived the cameras. The credit for that, of course, goes to Peeta. Alone, I can’t be the Mockingjay.

We gather around the huge table in Command. Coin and her people. Plutarch, Fulvia, and my prep team. A group from 12 that includes Haymitch and Gale, but also a few others I can’t explain, like Leevy and Greasy Sae. At the last minute, Finnick wheels Beetee in, accompanied by Dalton, the cattle expert from 10. I suppose that Coin has assembled this strange assortment of people as witnesses to my failure.

However, it’s Haymitch who welcomes everyone, and by his words I understand that they have come at his personal invitation. This is the first time we’ve been in a room together since I clawed him. I avoid looking at him directly, but I catch a glimpse of his reflection in one of the shiny control consoles along the wall. He looks slightly yellow and has lost a lot of weight, giving him a shrunken appearance. For a second, I’m afraid he’s dying. I have to remind myself that I don’t care.

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