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Книга Mockingjay. Содержание - 19

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«It’s your own fault for being so camera-ready,» I tell Gale. If looks could kill.

I don’t think they quite know what to do with the three of us, particularly me. I have my Mockingjay outfit with me, but I’ve only been taped in my uniform. Sometimes I use a gun, sometimes they ask me to shoot with my bow and arrows. It’s as if they don’t want to entirely lose the Mockingjay, but they want to downgrade my role to foot soldier. Since I don’t care, it’s amusing rather than upsetting to imagine the arguments going on back in 13.

While I outwardly express discontent about our lack of any real participation, I’m busy with my own agenda. Each of us has a paper map of the Capitol. The city forms an almost perfect square. Lines divide the map into smaller squares, with letters along the top and numbers down the side to form a grid. I consume this, noting every intersection and side street, but it’s remedial stuff. The commanders here are working off Plutarch’s holograph. Each has a handheld contraption called a Holo that produces images like I saw in Command. They can zoom into any area of the grid and see what pods await them. The Holo’s an independent unit, a glorified map really, since it can neither send nor receive signals. But it’s far superior to my paper version.

A Holo is activated by a specific commander’s voice giving his or her name. Once it’s working, it responds to the other voices in the squadron so if, say, Boggs were killed or severely disabled, someone could take over. If anyone in the squad repeats «nightlock» three times in a row, the Holo will explode, blowing everything in a five-yard radius sky-high. This is for security reasons in the event of capture. It’s understood that we would all do this without hesitation.

So what I need to do is steal Boggs’s activated Holo and clear out before he notices. I think it would be easier to steal his teeth.

On the fourth morning, Soldier Leeg 2 hits a mislabeled pod. It doesn’t unleash a swarm of muttation gnats, which the rebels are prepared for, but shoots out a sunburst of metal darts. One finds her brain. She’s gone before the medics can reach her. Plutarch promises a speedy replacement.

The following evening, the newest member of our squad arrives. With no manacles. No guards. Strolling out of the train station with his gun swinging from the strap over his shoulder. There’s shock, confusion, resistance, but451 is stamped on the back of Peeta’s hand in fresh ink. Boggs relieves him of his weapon and goes to make a call.

«It won’t matter,» Peeta tells the rest of us. «The president assigned me herself. She decided the propos needed some heating up.»

Maybe they do. But if Coin sent Peeta here, she’s decided something else as well. That I’m of more use to her dead than alive.




I’ve never really seen Boggs angry before. Not when I’ve disobeyed his orders or puked on him, not even when Gale broke his nose. But he’s angry when he returns from his phone call with the president. The first thing he does is instruct Soldier Jackson, his second in command, to set up a two-person, round-the-clock guard on Peeta. Then he takes me on a walk, weaving through the sprawling tent encampment until our squad is far behind us.

«He’ll try and kill me anyway,» I say. «Especially here. Where there are so many bad memories to set him off.»

«I’ll keep him contained, Katniss,» says Boggs.

«Why does Coin want me dead now?» I ask.

«She denies she does,» he answers.

«But we know it’s true,» I say. «And you must at least have a theory.»

Boggs gives me a long, hard look before he answers. «Here’s as much as I know. The president doesn’t like you. She never did. It was Peeta she wanted rescued from the arena, but no one else agreed. It made matters worse when you forced her to give the other victors immunity. But even that could be overlooked in view of how well you’ve performed.»

«Then what is it?» I insist.

«Sometime in the near future, this war will be resolved. A new leader will be chosen,» says Boggs.

I roll my eyes. «Boggs, no one thinks I’m going to be the leader.»

«No. They don’t,» he agrees. «But you’ll throw support to someone. Would it be President Coin? Or someone else?»

«I don’t know. I’ve never thought about it,» I say.

«If your immediate answer isn’t Coin, then you’re a threat. You’re the face of the rebellion. You may have more influence than any other single person,» says Boggs. «Outwardly, the most you’ve ever done is tolerated her.»

«So she’ll kill me to shut me up.» The minute I say the words, I know they’re true.

«She doesn’t need you as a rallying point now. As she said, your primary objective, to unite the districts, has succeeded,» Boggs reminds me. «These current propos could be done without you. There’s only one last thing you could do to add fire to the rebellion.»

«Die,» I say quietly.

«Yes. Give us a martyr to fight for,» says Boggs. «But that’s not going to happen under my watch, Soldier Everdeen. I’m planning for you to have a long life.»

«Why?» This kind of thinking will only bring him trouble. «You don’t owe me anything.»

«Because you’ve earned it,» he says. «Now get back to your squad.»

I know I should feel appreciative of Boggs sticking his neck out for me, but really I’m just frustrated. I mean, how can I steal his Holo and desert now? Betraying him was complicated enough without this whole new layer of debt. I already owe him for saving my life.

Seeing the cause of my current dilemma calmly pitching his tent back at our site makes me furious.

«What time is my watch?» I ask Jackson.

She squints at me in doubt, or maybe she’s just trying to get my face in focus. «I didn’t put you in the rotation.»

«Why not?» I ask.

«I’m not sure you could really shoot Peeta, if it came to it,» she says.

I speak up so the whole squad can hear me clearly. «I wouldn’t be shooting Peeta. He’s gone.

Johanna’s right. It’d be just like shooting another of the Capitol’s mutts.» It feels good to say something horrible about him, out loud, in public, after all the humiliation I’ve felt since his return.

«Well, that sort of comment isn’t recommending you either,» says Jackson.

«Put her in the rotation,» I hear Boggs say behind me.

Jackson shakes her head and makes a note. «Midnight to four. You’re on with me.»

The dinner whistle sounds, and Gale and I line up at the canteen. «Do you want me to kill him?» he asks bluntly.

«That’ll get us both sent back for sure,» I say. But even though I’m furious, the brutality of the offer rattles me. «I can deal with him.»

«You mean until you take off? You and your paper map and possibly a Holo if you can get your hands on it?» So Gale has not missed my preparations. I hope they haven’t been so obvious to the others. None of them know my mind like he does, though. «You’re not planning on leaving me behind, are you?» he asks.

Up until this point, I was. But having my hunting partner to watch my back doesn’t sound like a bad idea. «As your fellow soldier, I have to strongly recommend you stay with your squad. But I can’t stop you from coming, can I?»

He grins. «No. Not unless you want me to alert the rest of the army.»

Squad 451 and the television crew collect dinner from the canteen and gather in a tense circle to eat. At first I think that Peeta is the cause of the unease, but by the end of the meal, I realize more than a few unfriendly looks have been directed my way. This is a quick turnaround, since I’m pretty sure when Peeta appeared the whole team was concerned about how dangerous he might be, especially to me. But it’s not until I get a phone call through to Haymitch that I understand.

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