I have always thought there was so much potential in fanfics NOT haveing to do with the games, that I am planning to write one myself. So, this takes place BEFORE the first rebellion.
P.P.S. FOUL LANGUAGE WARNING! There WILL be swearing... No F-bombs or anything, but mild language. I'm sorry, but it's physicly impossible to write a military man with no language. So be mature and deal with it.
The year is 68 BD. Panem has ruled over North America with an iron fist for 68 years. As President Malum is listening to his radio, the broadcast suddenly turns to static. After a few moments, a new signal is received by the antenna, sent from a satellite orbiting hundreds of miles above the atmosphere. The message? Great Britain, long thought to have been wiped out my rising oceans, is alive and thriving. More importantly, it is ready and able to go to war if Malum does not change his oppressive ways.
Malum, of course, does not.
And so begins the War of Secrecy. Fought primarily in the skies above the Atlantic Ocean and the land formerly known as Canada, the citizens of Panem are never informed of what is going on.
It is the Capitols Secret Soldiers, or SS, against Britain’s New Expeditionary Force, or NEF. And although Britain has unimaginable technological advantages, disaster after military disaster has forced back the British attack, before they ever set foot in Panem....
It is 15 years later, 77 BD. Panem’s SS have forced the British to retreat back to the Motherland. The SS are regrouping now to make the final Invasion of Britain. The British have just one option left. Operation Ancora.
And so all of Britain watches as the unmanned submarine sets off across the Atlantic, knowing that it’s precious cargo is their last hope.
“It’s begun, Colonel.”
“Damn right it has, Hemms. We’re in it for the long run now.”
“Man… How long do you think it’ll take?”
“You mean, how long until you can go back home?”
“Err… Well… Ya. I have a family, you know.”
“No can say, Hemms. Wouldn’t say it if I knew. We cannot afford to rush this whatsoever.”
“Yes, I know, I know. It’s just… It’ll take at least a month just to get over there. That’s a long time of just waiting here in this god forsaken bunker. A that’s not even the actual mission…”
“Just waiting? Hemms, you have a job to do. You’ve got to make sure we don’t arrive with damaged equipment! It’s all we’ve got left, dammit!”
“’Equipment’? Is that really what you think of her?”
“And you don’t? After what you and your crew did? Have you seen her brain?"
“Of course I have. I was the leader of the surgeries. All four-hundred sixty-eight of them. But that doesn’t mean-”
“Hemms. Do you know exactly what we can do with this girl? Anything!"
“You think I don’t know that? Brennel, I’m the man who INVENTED the technology in the first place!”
“That’s Colonel Brennel to you, Hemms.”
“I call you Colonel when you call me Doctor.”
“Ok, Doctor, listen up. We have one shot. You hear me? One. Is it horrible, what we’re doing? Absolutely. But we have to sacrifice one life to save countless others.”
“I… I know. But I just can’t think of a human being as an object.”
“Not an object, Hemms. A weapon. We must use this weapon we have to it’s full potential. For the good of us all.”
“I can’t. I don’t know if you get it, Brennel. She still thinks for herself. She’s still human.”
“Ya. A human who’s emotions have been hand-picked by the Military Board.”
“Hey now, she still has all her emotions. Some have just been… Reduced a little.”
“Uh-huh. And replaced with motherboards and computer chips.”
“I don’t care what you say. She’s still a person. With a family.”
“Who has mysteriously forgotten they ever had a daughter.”
“… I just don’t get you, Brennel.”
“Nor I you, Hemms. But we’ve got a job to do. You can focus on the girls humanity when this is over. But first, she has to perform her job, just like any well-designed weapon does. And as far as I know, Ancora the best designed weapon ever made.”
“… I’m going to bed. Good-night, Colonel.”
It’s a curious feeling, waking up. It’s not a slow, fuzzy crawl from blackness. More like a sudden jolt of consciousness. Like a electrical shock. Just zap and your there. My mind at least. My body take an obnoxiously long time, rebooting, restarting. Almost fifteen seconds have passed, and I’m just beginning to hear the 10-beats per minute of my heart begin to speed up to meet the needs of my fully functional mind. Ah, here we go. Twitch my finger. Flutter my eyelids. Almost got them open. There we go.
I have no idea where I am. I attempt to lift up my arm, but encounter a barrier. I tap it. Its some sort of glass. I’m laying on something soft. I look to the side of me. I seem to be in a small room, lit with dim red lights, making everything seem eerie. I hear tiny tinkering sounds, scratching, ticking, buzzing. Looking to my sides, the room seems to be absolutely packed with huge machines, robotic arms, dials, switches, and flashing lights. I guess I should be scared. But I’m not. Who am I? I am Ancora. Wait, how do I know that? I don‘t know.
Just as I am getting my bearings, a loud emergency alarm sounds, and a bright red light pulses to the shrieking of the siren. The room goes into a frenzy, dials waving wildly, mechanical arms swinging around. I’m still not scared, but I do feel a little something. I’d call it weary.
Suddenly, one of the waving robotic arms moves out of my line of sight. I feel a sensation. Not painful. More of a peculiar feeling of something cold being inserted into my head. Not good. But there is nothing I can do. I feel whatever was injected into me flow through my body, shutting it back down. My eyes close, I lose movement of my muscles. My heartbeat slows again. I sigh inwardly. I guess my mind will go soon t-
It’s just that time of day. Or night. Depends on whether you want to be technical about it or not. All I know is that nobody should ever have to be awake at this time. It’s the time full of crusty eyes, ear fuzzies, and numerous yawns. Of nodding off as you’re walking down the road.
Naturally, it’s the best time to fish.
And so I’m dragging my feet along the main dirt path heading from the little village where I live to the ocean. My father is already down there, prepping the boat for another hard day at sea. Gosh, life in 4 is just so BOREING. Not to mention TIREDING. Wait… Tired-ing? Tiring? Uh…. I don’t know… Too tired to care…
Then, seemingly with the sole purpose of making my mental complaints null and void, a little 5-year-old ball of energy with the name Toby Odair comes running toward me at the speed of sound. Gosh. What kind of kid would actually get up this early of their own accord? Doesn’t he know he’s wasting? How much he’ll miss all those hours of sleep? Ug. To be young and stupid.
I ponder whether I might be able to maneuver myself out of the little devils sights, but it’s already to late.
“NATNATNATNATNATANTANTATNAT!” His ear-splittingly annoying voice hit me through the foggy twilight. “HEY! HEY NAT! HEY HEY NAT? GUESS WHAT? GUESS WHAT I FOUND NAT! GUESS WHAT GUESS WHAT GUESS WHAT?”
I cringe at the sound of his voice. Loud noises at three in the morning are not very popular with me. Especially THESE noises.
“Toby, I don’t give a flying mackerel what you found.” I mumble. I try to sidestep the kid, but he’s persistent.
“Ok, ok, ok, you’ll NEVA believe this, Nat. Neva eva!.” He continued. “I was just walking along the beach, ya know, just like I do all the time, an’ I was pickin’ out stuffs from that storm we had last knight, y’know, all the cool stuff that washes up on shore, wuzzit called-”
“Debris?” I offer in the most I-don’t-care-I’m-tired-go-away voice I could muster. He didn’t take the hint.
“Yea, debrees. Well, I was pickin’ though all dat debrees stuffs, and y’know what I found? Y’ll neva believe it. I found a person! It is this weird person, a girl, y’know, with weird hair and weird cloths and guess what? I went and poked at her with this stick I found. It’s a really nifty stick, It is just perfect fur poking stuff n’ stuff, and nutin‘ happened, she just stayed like she was, all twisted on the ground ‘n stuff, and I thinks to myself ‘Gee, Toby, gee, think she‘s dead?’ and I thought maybe she might be, so thens I runs up here, and I saw you, and now I‘m telin‘ you bout this! So come on! Lets go!” He concluded, grabbing my hand and attempting to pull me down the path.
“No, Toby. I‘m not going anywhere.” To be honest, I had zoned out at the part where he poked some person with a ’nifty stick.’ Toby’s the biggest little liar in district 4, I swear it. He’ll string you for a yarn, any yarn, so long as he’s got you listening. He’s set the whole village fishing for some monstrous shark that apparently tried to kill him. He’s said he witnessed a stranger with a real gun shooting at cats. There were peacekeepers around this place for WEEKS. And now he’s probably going to have the whole village up in arms searching for some imaginary person. Great.
“Toby, your mouth is the breeding pit for all fibs, you know that?”
“I swear I’m telin’ the truth this time, Nat! I swear it!”
“Ok. I believe you. Now go away.”
“You don’t sound like you belevin’!”
“Don’t care. Now leave.”
And with a indignant ‘humph’, he finally did, running back up the path toward the village. If he seriously wakes everybody up for this, I‘ll… Uh… I don’t know what I’ll do. Too tired to think of anything now.
And so continues my morning. I meet father down by the docks. He’s got our little makeshift boat all ready to haul in our nets, if any are even left after that storm last night. If not, we’ll have to make new ones. Oh joy.
We’re just making final checks when we see the crowd of people coming from the village.
“What’s going on there?” Father asked me, pointing to the blob of people walking down the path. “Dunno.” I replied. But I sure did have a hunch.
My hunch was proved true when the crowd reached the beach. It was, of course, led by Toby. Apparently, he had been much more convincing when reciting his story to the people than he had to me, because they were hurrying along, with worried looks in their tired eyes. Nearly everyone had woken up for this. I even see the village stretcher, two pieces of driftwood with some sail canvas. I hope Toby can run, because nobody’s going to be happy when they find out that they all woke up for nothing.
They pass us by. Father shakes his head. “Them Odairs,” he says, “are nothing but trouble.”
“You can say that again.” I say, finally waking up a bit.
“What is it this time?”
“Does it really matter?”
“… Not a bit. Now c‘mon, lets head out.”
I stand quietly with everybody else, with arms behind my back and head bowed. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I could have helped. What if I had believed Toby? We could have gotten their sooner. Maybe she’d still be alive. Old Don, the village physician, said ten minutes wouldn’t have made a difference. Said she’d probably drowned in the storm, and washed up on shore. For some reason, that doesn’t make me feel any better.
Seconds after me and father had started out to sea, Marcy, the village messenger known for her speed, appeared, and shouted us back in. Toby wasn’t lying. There was a girl.
He hadn’t been lying about how strange she was either. She almost certainly wasn’t from 4. Everybody here had almost the same dark shade of brown hair, with tan skin and rather firm builds, even the women. This girl couldn’t have been any different. Her hair, still wet, was an almost unnatural blond color, with skin white as Capitol paper. She was the most petite thing I had ever seen. It looked like I could snap her in half if I wanted to. She was dressed in a strange, white, skin-tight garment, not unlike the wetsuits the capitol provided the scallop divers. On one of the sleeves was a strange symbol, composed of a blue rectangle with intersecting red and white lines. But none of this really mattered. What really mattered is that she was dead.
We had a shallow grave dug out in a secluded corner of the village cemetery, with a roughly grave-shaped piece of driftwood marked ‘Unknown- Female- Drowned’ We had several others like it in the graveyard, but their names had faded over the years, and now were totally illegible. Forgotten.
I looked up at her body, laying on the ground next to the grave. Attanose, the oldest man in the village at 102 years old, stood facing the crowd, shakily reciting the traditional death vows of one claimed by the sea. Everyone but me was looking down in respect. But I couldn’t look away. She looked about my age, around 16. What if she had lived? What if I had rescued her? What then? I knew she was gone. But I just couldn’t help but wonder…
A slight breeze picked up, and her pale finger moved a little in response. It moved again. And again. The breeze stopped. It moved again.
I looked. Stared, with wide eyes. Her finger was twitching. I watched with wide eyes as her eyelids twitched. She began clenching and unclenching her hand. I couldn’t suppress a gasp.
The gasp seemed to echo in the quiet graveyard. Everybody looked at me, confused. Attanose stopped his recital and turned his aged eyes to me. But I just kept looking as the girls eyelids twitched more, her hand continuing to clench, as if she were trying desperately to grab hold of something. Everyone seemed to follow my gaze at once, but nobody could quite understand it.
Then her twitching eyelids snapped open, reveling shockingly blue eyes.
“Jeez! Couldja walk any slower?” Hali said impatiently. “It’s bad enough we have to walk in the first place, without you slowing us down.”
“Ya, I could actually. Want me to?” I say, slowing my pace to a crawl.
“You’ve GOT to be kidding me. Gregory, can’t you do something about him? Like, make him go back home?
“Children! Hush!” The middle-aged man snapped at her.
“…I’m twenty-two, ya know.” Hali muttered.
“Oh, really? If I didn’t know better I’d say you were three! Now sush up!” Gregory reputed her. I was snickering as I jogged to catch up with them. Hali shot me a sharp look.
Ancora, of course, kept on walking.
Ancora. The girl. It had been what? Three days? Four? Yes, it was four. Just four days since little Toby found her on the beach. It’s almost unimaginable. Impossible. Everything about her just seems unreal. If I hadn’t seen it happening before my eyes, if somebody had just told me about this, I wouldn’t have believed it. Not for a second.
The first strange thing is the fact that she’s alive. Because she was dead. Had been dead when she was found, was dead for the hours it took to prepare a funeral. No pulse, no nothing. But here she is, as alive as the rest of us.
And she’s walking. That’s another impossible thing. After her miracle revival, she was rushed to Old Don’s place for as good of a medical examination as we could provide. Which, really, was Old Don tapping her joints with a little hammer and seeing what happened. Or in her case, what didn’t. Because it became readily obvious that her legs were useless. Don said it was probably a break in her lower spinal cord. She would never walk again. She took it with a straight face.
The next morning, Don said, he nearly had a heart attack, when she calmly walked into the kitchen where he was making breakfast and said, “Hello Doctor Don. It seems that my legs are working fine now.”
Her memory, too. Old Don said she had nearly complete amnesia. She only remembers her name. Nothing else. According to Don, that sort of thing only happens in stories. It’s usually all or nothing with memory loss.
Even her emotions seemed to be out of whack. Well, her lack of them anyways. In the four days she’s been here, I’ve seen one look of anxiety cross her face. Other than that, she’s usually completely emotionless. Not like a rude sort of ‘I don’t care about any of this’ sort of emotionless. She just doesn’t seem to have anything to be emotional about.
It’s because of these almost impossible happenings that Old Don decided Ancora should have a complete medical examination. Of course, that couldn’t be supplied anywhere but the Capitol, and their was no way that was ever going to happen. So the next best thing was Pisces, the closest thing District 4 has to a city. Don said he knew that the District’s head Doctor, a man named Henther, lived in Pisces, and that he would just love a chance to examine Ancora. Personally, I doubt that anyone with a title like ‘Head Doctor of District Four’ would ever do anything that wouldn’t make him a pile of dough, but what I think doesn’t usually matter.
Anyways, Don submitted his idea to the people, and almost everybody agreed. Pisces is on the exact opposite side of a huge bay from our village, and it’s only two days sailing time away. But when we tried to get Ancora on a boat, she refused. She looked worried, and refused in any way to go close to the water. We tried coaxing her, but to no avail. Nothing we could do would get her within a quarter-mile of the shoreline.
So a new plan was drawn up. She would just have to take the two-week long walking rout, instead. Now, while everybody wanted to know more about Ancora, nobody, it seemed, wanted to go on a two week walk.
Well, I did. More accurately, I felt like I had something to make up for. I still haven’t gotten over the fact that I didn’t help her sooner. I even told her about it. She said it was fine, don’t worry about it. But I did. And when they asked for volunteers, my hand shot up.
I must admit, my resolve did waver a bit when I found out who else was accompanying Ancora and I. Hali Oppen and I had always been very competitive. We challenge each other in everything, from how many fish we could catch in an hour, to who could skip a rock the farthest. The problem is, she’s got a good six years on me, and I can never seem to win. That doesn’t stop me from bugging her every chance I get though. She’s got the shortest temper of anyone I’ve ever seen. It’s pretty hilarious.
Oh, and there was Gregory. Oh, boy. Gregory was the old guy who wouldn’t do anything in the village. Like Ancora, he refuses to go near the water, and because fishing is practically the only way to make a living in 4, he kinda just sits in his old shack and waits for people to give him food. Which they do, because Gregory’s been in the village for practicly forever, and nobody wants to see someone starve to death.
Gregory didn’t volunteer to go on the trip. He was sorta forced to go. I mean, ya can’t just mooch your way along in life and not expect to have to do anything. So he was forced to come along. Which didn’t put him in a very good mood, I must say.
And so here we are, not ten minutes into the journey. Me and Hali bickering. Gregory grumbling. And Ancora walking, with the usual expressionless look on her face.
This is going to be fun.
“Why, hello there, Hemms. How are you this fine day?”
“W-well, I-I’m quite fine, Colonel, sir. H-how are you?”
“Well, Hemms, I must say I am not doing to swell. Would you happen to know WHY I’m not doing swell?”
“Well, uh, um, n-n-no sir.”
“Well, then, Hemms, I’ll tell you why. I’m not doing so swell because, as I was sitting in my office, doing important military crap, my printer started spewing out some papers. Would you like to know what these papers were?”
“Well, not especially-”
“Oh, but I insist! Well, the first of these papers was labeled ‘Status: Ancora; Day 4’. Now isn’t that funny, that Ancora has been on land for FOUR DAYS, and I havn’t received one itsy-bitsy notification about it? Hm?”
“W-well, that certainly is strange sir, but-”
“And more about these papers! Well, most of it, as I recall, was scientific mumbo-jumbo. Couldn’t make heads or tails of it. But there was one packet I distinctly recall- Oh yes, it’s right here with me. Now, Hemms, I want you to look at this paper here. As you see, this is a checklist of everything we SHOULD have control of. See those words? The big, colorful ones? In all caps? Next to the list? Please read them to me.”
“Um… Com-Link successful?”
“No, not that green one. The red ones. The REST of them.”
“Oh, yes, of course. Uh… Er…”
“… Unable to establish com-link.”
“Mhm. Now, Hemms, you hear me bloody straight. If I don’t get a full report on what’s gone wrong here, what’s gone right here, and how you are going to FIX all of the WRONG things, I will personally rip your limbs off, blend them, and make you DRINK them.”
“Oh, well, that’s, er, uh, pleasant. W-well, as you can see here, we have had some problems with the receptive devices in, uh, well, many of the sectors, and, well, uh-”
“SPIT IT OUT!”
“Oh! Y-yes sir! We’ve lost the right frontal cerebellum lobe, causing us to lose track of equilateral balance sensors-”
“Good, god, Hemms, the Kings English, please! I don’t speak scientist!”
“Well, uh, well, we’ve lost Thought and Communication, so we can’t hear what she’s thinking OR implant thoughts… Or even say hello for that matter. We’ve lost contact with the immune system, along with many major organs, uh, lymph glands, um-”
“Ok, Hemms, just calm down. Tell me what we DO have. If you list everything that we DON’T, we’ll be here all night.”
“Oh, y-yes sir. We, uh, are currently monitoring sight and hearing, and, uh, we have a pretty good lock on emotions, though that one comes and goes, and, uh… That’s pretty much it.”
“…Really? That’s it?”
“Heh, heh… Y-yea…”
“Well… We can control her emotions. That’s good, right?”
“No, we could never do that. We can monitor them, though!”
“…Hemms, if you don’t fix this, we’re in deep shit, you know that?”
“Of course sir.”
“So get the hell to it. Now. Before I get the blender.”
“Uh, y-y-yes, right on it, sir!”
I stare at the face of my nemesis. She stares at me. I look at Ancora. Her eyes flicker between us at dizzying speed. Probably wondering why the hell we did this every night. She tentatively takes another bite of her near-full bowl of stew, places it on the ground, and pushes it in between me and my nemesis-
It happens fast. We both lunge. I slap her hand, she grabs my wrist, I twist out of it, and have my hand on the bowl when Hali body checks me to the ground. The breath rushes out of my lungs with a whoosh, and I’m left gasping for air as Hali scoops up the bowl and grins evilly. “I win again! What is that? 5 to 2? Pathetic.”
“Huff… You dirty little cheater.”5 to 2? Has it really been seven days? Wow. Hali just smiles and takes a big spoonful of stew.
“I’ll never understand,” Ancora says in that strange accent of hers, “why you all are so obsessed with food.”
“No, I think you’ve got it all wrong, Cor. What we’ll never understand is what you’ve got AGAINST food. Not that I’m complaining.” Hali said, her mouth full of Ancora’s leftover stew.
“Well I am.” Gregory stated grumpily. “You need to eat. When we get back home and you’ve gone and starved yourself to death, guess who’s gonna get blamed?”
I rolled my eyes. “Oh, give her a break. I mean, she’s fine. She must have a slow metabolism…” Or ya know. No metabolism. Seriously, I couldn’t last two minutes on what she ate per day. Gregory just harrumphed and turned back to his own share of the stew. When he and Hali finished, we all got kinda quiet. The sun was setting, and it was beginning to get dark, but it wasn’t late enough to go to sleep. So we just sat there, each thinking our own thoughts. I’m just amazed that we’re already halfway there. It seems like we had just left yesterday. Suddenly, Ancora gives a little start. “Wha…?” I looked up at her. “Eh? What’s up, Cora?” She looked distracted. “Oh… uh… nothing. Just… fell a sleep for a second...” I don’t believe it for a moment. She is always the last one awake. Believe me, I’ve tried to stay awake longer. But I swear, she doesn’t sleep.
“You sure your alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Thank you for your concern.” That moment of distraction had already been replaced by that strange attitude of hers. I try to put it out of my mind as we get ready for the night. But I can’t help but wonder what she was hiding.
Well, something’s wrong. I know it. I just do. Hali knows to, I can tell. Ancora hasn’t eaten all day. She’s real good about it, too. She’s just conveniently disappeared at mealtimes. So far, Gregory hasn’t noticed. I have, though.
And her demeanor has changed. She seems distracted. I haven’t seen her lose her footing once this whole trip, but she was tripping and stumbling all over the place today.
And now this. I’m getting pretty worried. This isn’t normal. Well, she isn’t normal in the first place, but I already knew that. This, though…
“No.” I stiffen. It’s happening again. I open my eyes slowly. Yes, she’s still up there. In the tree. She’s been there since she thought we went to sleep, back to me, staring at the moon. Talking to someone who isn’t there.
“I won’t. Never.” she said again. Gosh, her voice made it even creepier. It was so high and clear. And that accent… So strange. It made shivers crawl up my spine.
Great. There’s a stone or something poking me in my back. Maybe if I just move slowly…I try to move carefuly into a more comfortable position. But as I arch my back off the stupid pebble, a twig under me snaps.
Ancora's head twirls around. Oh God oh God oh God. I shut my eyes and focus on pretending I’m asleep. She knows I’m not though. Oh God. Did I really just see that? Or am I dreaming? God. I’m freaked out. Jeez.
I hear her drop to the ground with a light thump. I hear her climb into her sleeping bag. I’m trying to go to sleep. But I can’t. All I can think about is her eyes. I must have imagined it, because it can’t be real, it really can’t. I know I sound kind of crazy. But I swear, when she turned around, those piercing blue eyes were glowing.
“Ok, Brennel. That’s it. I’m drawling the line. Your little plan’s done. No more contact. Just because we have the ability to do it, doesn’t mean we should.”
“What? Why? It’s working perfectly!”
“If it’s goal was to make Ancora go out of her mind, then yes, it would be working perfectly!”
“What do you mean?”
“Lets think of this whole messaging thing from her perspective, Brennel. Suddenly, something in your head is telling you to run away. And it’s not you. It’s like getting an email from nobody. But in your head.”
“Exactly. Your making her doubt herself, Brennel. She thinks she’s going crazy. And if she thinks that, than it’s only a matter of time until she actually loses it.”
“Wait, I though we were doing that thought incepta-thingy. Ya know. Where we kinda tell her what to think?”
“Oh, God above! This is why you never send in the military to do a scientists job! I told you a thousand times, we’re WORKING on thought inception!”
“Oh? That’s all you have to say is OH?”
“Well, I’ll be damned. Military man with nothing to say.”
“I’m still your superior you know.”
“Ya. And you almost just ruined our last chance. So I say no more contact whatsoever.”