Plutarch - behind the scenes

Plutarch’s father was a long-shot gambler. His rationale was that, while long shots rarely came in, when they did they paid off for all those long shots that didn’t pay.

There were numerous things on which to bet in the Capitol, but the Hunger Games were the most prestigious, the most talked-about, and the ones on which the most money was bet. Every year Plutarch’s father saved up money (he was a waiter at the Half Shell, one of the fanciest seafood restaurant in the Capitol) to put on long-shots in the Hunger Games. He had a strict rule never to bet on a tribute unless the odds were greater than fifty to one.

Until the Second Quarter Quell he had never won. Then when he was watching Caesar Flickerman interview the tributes, his attention was grabbed by Haymitch Abernathy. Most people thought Haymitch was arrogant or a braggart when he said his famous line about the other tributes: “They’ll still be one hundred percent as stupid as usual, so I figure my odds will be roughly the same.” Mr. Heavensbee thought differently. He figured Haymitch was a man who thought fast on his feet, and that was one of the qualities a winning tribute had to have. So he placed only a token amount of money on the other long shots (so that if one of them won, he would break even) and put the rest of his money on Haymitch, at what turned out to be odds of 120 to 1.

When Haymitch staggered to the final survivor position, Mr. Heavensbee became at one stroke a fairly wealthy man. He put ten percent aside to spend and with the rest bought a partnership in the restaurant, thereby more than doubling his annual income and putting him in the more prestigious social bracket of businessman. He kept up his long-shot betting in the Hunger Games, but did not win again for over 20 years, but since he only bet money he saved up that year for the Games, this did not affect his financial standing.

For the Heavensbee family, the Hunger Games were only about their father’s betting. Once all the long-shots he had bet on were eliminated, the family stopped watching the Games. For the mandatory viewing of the three-hour recap, Mr. Heavensbee and a couple of his cronies got together and played cards while the television played with its sound turned down.

Some of Mr. Heavensbee’s winnings went to pay for an apprenticeship for his son Plutarch to be a cameraman and reporter. Plutarch, as might be suggested by his first name, was interested in history, but did not care to be a history teacher, a rather low-status position in the Capitol. His second interest was in writing and filming historical events.

One thing he learned in cameraman training that was to prove useful later was how to operate a hovercraft.

Once he finished his apprenticeship, he volunteered to film travelogues and events in the Districts. He stayed away from anything involving the Hunger Games, which was quite easy, as most of the filmmakers and reporters competed for choice Hunger Games assignments, leaving Plutarch with little competition for the assignments he liked. Following the Heavensbee family tradition, during the Hunger Games he paid attention only to the long-shots his father bet on.

Staying away from the Games paid off for Plutarch. His long stream of films and stories about little-known events made his reputation as someone who knew things other filmmakers didn’t and as someone who could find gold in dross. He also learned how to outguess the Censorship Committee which examined every show before it went on television.

As an unlikely result of his reputation as a television producer, Plutarch was picked to be one of the Gamemakers for the 68th Hunger Games, the one that Cashmere won.

For the 68th Games District 12 sent a 12-year-old boy known as “Temmie” and a 17-year-old girl. That year during training eight of the non-Career tributes formed an alliance against the Careers (as was typical, all six from Districts 1, 2, and 4 formed the Career pack). Despite Haymitch’s advice not to, the District 12 girl joined this alliance.

The Head Gamemaker for the 68th Games was Nero Smith, whose philosophy was that the audience wanted blood and guts. For the 68th Games he managed to get the setup he wanted: the only weapons in the arena were spike-headed maces, which the tributes would use to smash and batter their opponents into bloody wrecks. Plutarch tried handling one of these maces and found that most of the weight of the mace was in the spiked head, making the mace hard to balance unless you put your hands well up the handle, in which case you could not easily swing it fast to deliver a crushing blow.

There was an unusually bloody Cornucopia bloodbath. The alliance took on the Careers. Unfortunately for the alliance, some of the Careers (in particular Cashmere) had training in fencing and soon found that the maces, while awkward to handle, worked reasonably well at parrying swings by their opponents, none of whom had been trained in “the point is mightier than the edge”.

Final score at the Cornucopia was 14 dead (a record), including all eight of the alliance, three Careers, and three other tributes. Of the Careers, Cashmere and the two from District 2 survived.

Temmie took Haymitch’s advice to avoid the Cornucopia and find a source of water. He soon found a natural spring and holed up there. The area around the spring was surrounded by enough trees to make it a good hiding place.

Haymitch was his usual hard-drinking self during the Games, but Plutarch noticed something: Haymitch drank but he didn’t get drunk. Each of the other Districts had two Mentors, but Haymitch had to Mentor both of his tributes himself. And since one of his tributes was still alive after the bloodbath, he was quite active hunting for sponsors. And he succeeded, but only once. On day 2 his parachute reached Temmie. On the parachute were a one-quart water bottle (Temmie had been having to cup his hands to get water from the spring), iodine for water purification (actually not needed for this spring, but Haymitch wasn’t taking chances), a loaf of bread, and because Temmie was struggling with boredom, a pack of playing cards.

Temmie remained at the hidden spring. The only food he had during the entire games was that single loaf of bread.

He also made one mistake. He left the parachute dangling from the tree branch it had caught on.

Meanwhile the tributes were dying off fast. The Careers, as usual, had piled up all the supplies from the Cornucopia. Two tributes tried to sneak to the pile in the first night. The Careers kept a guard rotation for the night and easily detected and killed the two interlopers. The second day dawned with only the final eight tributes still alive, and the filmmakers and cameramen started descending on the districts for interviews.

Over the next three days four more tributes were killed, meaning only Temmie and the three Careers were left. In normal years this was when things got exciting, but not this time.

Cashmere was the Career on guard when the moon rose at 3:00 AM on the fifth day. She immediately spotted a gleam---the moonlight on the silver parachute (during the day the sunlight was too bright for that gleam to be seen). She awakened the other two Careers and they decided to go after Temmie while the moonlight still betrayed him.

As junior Gamemaker Plutarch held down the night shift. As soon as the Careers started moving, he alerted the off-shift Gamemakers and had the hovercraft crew get ready. He sent out the pre-arranged signal to those Capitol citizens who had signed up to be awakened if anything interesting were to happen after midnight. He also called Haymitch to tell him things were about to climax.

Halfway to Temmie’s spring the District 2 female tribute tripped in the darkness and sprained her ankle. She fell to the ground, right on top of the camera covering that particular area. Plutarch quickly switched to other cameras but none were in a good position to see what was happening.

The District 2 boy put down his mace and leaned over the girl to see what the matter with her was. Cashmere acted instinctively. (Assuming that her training made killing instinctive with her. Whatever her motive was, she acted decisively). She raised her mace and brought it down on the head of the District 2 boy. A cannon showed that her blow was lethal. She rolled the boy’s body over and did in the girl with another single blow.

Cashmere then continued to where the parachute still glittered in the moonlight. The two cannon shots had woken Temmie. He had been sleeping in the nude, so he was standing naked when Cashmere appeared. He took one look at Cashmere’s mace---he hadn’t seen the maces before---and pleaded with loud sobs for Cashmere to spare him. Cashmere raised her mace and Temmie, untouched, dropped dead. Malnourished to begin with, with only one loaf of bread to eat in four days, suffering from hypothermia each night, his body could not handle the additional stress of seeing Cashmere raise her mace. Or as everyone said afterward, he had died of fright.

Cashmere, hearing the cannon, gave a bow for the cameras.

The people in the Capitol felt they had been cheated. The ones who had been awakened for the show saw neither blood nor gore, as when Cashmere killed the other Careers, Plutarch had only been able to get the camera to show the beginning of each mace stroke. Temmie’s sobs did not go over well with people who wanted gore, and his dropping dead was an anticlimax.

This was Nero Smith’s last year as Head Gamemaker. Since his mistakes had been artistic rather than political, he was not forced to eat nightlock. Instead he was allowed to resign, and eventually ended up as a museum curator.

He was replaced by Seneca Crane, whose philosophy was that viewers wanted suspense over gore, and appreciated long-drawn-out one-on-one hunts (such as Katniss versus Foxface) and other scenarios in which there was no telling in advance what would happen. “Unpredictable means suspenseful” was his motto. In his arenas, tributes were supplied with weapons and gear that could be used for hunting (one reason the 68th Games were so short was that no one could hunt with those maces, so the tributes were forced to contend with the Careers for the sole source of food). Every backpack at the Cornucopia, for instance, was to have a water container of some sort (e.g. Rue’s water skin) and iodine for water purification (not mentioned in the first book, but Rue must have had iodine) and most contained wire (for snares) or other supplies that a savvy outdoorsperson could use to survive.

The favorite weapon for each Tribute, such as the bow and arrow for Katniss, was to be available. There was a slingshot waiting for Rue somewhere near the Cornucopia, but Rue never found it and had to make a slingshot from the elastic fasteners in her hair.

Seneca’s policy worked, especially on the 74th Games which the Capitol, in the words of Katniss’s prep crew, regarded as “particularly exciting” even without the Romeo-and-Juliet ending.

Haymitch had been with the Gamemakers for Temmie’s death. Plutarch said to him, “I need a drink as much as you do. The bars aren’t open this late, so why don’t you come over to my place and we can get drunk together on some good stuff.”

So Haymitch and Plutarch got together over a bottle of expensive cognac, but Haymitch did not get drunk. Instead he and Plutarch had a long talk. Plutarch admitted that watching the tributes from a Gamemaker’s position was quite a different experience than watching them as a television viewer. In fact, he admitted he found Cashmere’s almost-casual killing spree to be downright sickening. Haymitch begged Plutarch to think of a way to end the Games.

Plutarch had an idea. He told Haymitch about District 13. As a television producer, he had had to know the real story about District 13 so as not to innocently send a camera crew there to film the rubble and find armed soldiers. Haymitch pointed out that 13 was within a week’s walk from 12, and that secretly sneaking out through 12’s fence was no problem. Before the two went to sleep, they had started to form a plan.

Plutarch knew exactly where to find, or more exactly, buy an ally. Castor had worked for him as a cameraman, and Plutarch knew about Castor’s attempts to buy his brother Pollux’s freedom. With money contributed mostly by Haymitch, Castor now had enough, and Pollux was freed. Plutarch also managed to recruit one more person---his secretary, Fulvia Cardew. As his secretary, she was in too good a position to spot any espionage activities he was engaged in. On the other hand, as his secretary-accomplice, she could hide many of his activities, at the least giving plausible reasons for Plutarch being out of touch. She was also a trained cameraman and knew how to operate a hovercraft.

Plutarch sold the head of programming on doing a series of television shows on folk customs in the various districts. And so a couple of weeks after the 68th Games, Plutarch, Castor, Pollux, and Fulvia were on the train to District 12.

Haymitch had been busy. As a regular in the Hob, he knew who were the five men in District 12 who regularly went beyond the fence to hunt or gather. Four of them, including Katniss’s father and Gale Hawthorne’s father (how else did Gale learn snares and woodcraft?), were married with children, which meant they were not available for long trips. Jo, the fifth one, was a bachelor who when he wasn’t hunting worked odd jobs. He could disappear for a week and no one would notice.

Haymitch recruited Jo. Then he announced that a camera crew was coming and would be staying in his house. He hired some locals to clean his house. He also went to baker Mellark and butcher Rooba and other food sellers and said that the camera crew were notorious snackers, so he had to load up on non-perishable snack food. As a result, he was able to get a large quantity of crackers in sealed bags, dried sausages, and other trail food that would keep for long times.

Haymitch and Jo went through the fence and hiked for a day along the railroad that led to District 13. (District 13 was Oak Ridge, Tennessee. District 12 was in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, a hundred miles away with a direct rail line connecting them). There they left a cache of Haymitch’s trail food and returned to District 12. No one noticed they had been gone. Later Jo hiked solo for two days down the railroad, left another cache, and returned unnoticed.

Plutarch and his crew descended on District 12, and yes they stayed at Haymitch’s. With a little bit of money and a good deal of chutzpah, Plutarch soon had much of District 12 hoping to be on television, especially as he let it be known that meals for any televised folk events were on him. He then disappeared. District 12 thought he went back to the Capitol, but actually he and Haymitch went through the fence and started hiking for District 13.

After three days hiking Plutarch and Haymitch were captured by one of District 13’s roving border patrols. The two surrendered meekly and only asked to speak to a senior intelligence officer. They got Boggs, who carefully listened to their proposal to become District 13’s spies in the Capitol. He also read through hundreds of pages of hand-written notes the two had brought along. Plutarch’s notes gave detailed descriptions of Snow and those who were important in his regime, as well as a number of those who had fallen out of Snow’s entourage (usually dead by poison). Haymitch’s notes described all the victors and listed ten of them (including Beetee, Finnick, Mags, and Chaff, but not Johanna Mason whom he thought was a loose cannon) whom he considered good targets for recruiting.

Boggs was too professional to trust these seeming amateurs who might be agentes provacateurs, but on the other hand they might be both genuine and reliable. So Boggs told them he accepted their offer, but on his terms. Plutarch, Fulvia, Castor, and Pollux were to be a cell, unknown to and unknowing of any other District 13 activities in the Capitol. They were given the code name “Troop 4”. Haymitch and Jo were to be a separate spy network, code-named “Troop 6”.

How was Troop 4 to communicate with Boggs?

The normal communications lines to District 13 were still operational, as the Capitol broadcasters made sure all the usual propaganda was sent to 13. Plutarch, as a cameraman, was an expert communications technician. He would go into the computers at the Capitol and arrange that any time he dialed Fulvia’s private cell phone from his home phone, the call would go directly to Boggs in 13.

It was well known that Haymitch had ripped the telephone out of the wall in his house in the Victor’s Village. Boggs supplied him with a fax machine which Haymitch was to secretly install in his basement. This fax line would connect Haymitch only to Boggs.

Note that Plutarch and Haymitch could talk to each other only be sending messages through Boggs. This was deliberate, as it kept Troops 4 and 6 separate and prevented Plutarch and Haymitch from conspiring without Boggs knowing about it.

Plutarch was given a list of priorities for Troop 4.

First and foremost was to detect any planned operations against District 13.

Second was to find out everything about the Peacekeepers, their strengths, their locations, and if possible their operation plans.

Third was to locate President Snow’s counterintelligence operation and keep it under surveillance.

Boggs took Haymitch back to District 12 by groundcar, leaving him to make his own way through the fence. Considering his reputation for being unneighborly, nobody in 12 noticed he had been missing, particularly since the camera crew staying in his house deliberately made a lot of noise. Plutarch followed a few days later, pretending to have returned on the train from the Capitol. Again, no one suspected.

Meanwhile Castor and Pollux and their free food were having a fine old time taping dances and other folkways in District 12, although they were careful to stay away from the Hob or anything else that was politically incorrect. The high point was a District 12 wedding. Plutarch used their tapes to put together an hour-long program that he submitted to Capitol television, which not only played it but asked for more of the same from other districts. The program included a scene of birds going silent when Katniss’s father sang, although it did not mention that the birds were mockingjays. Castor and Pollux even filmed ten-year-old Katniss and her father singing a duet, but that scene did not happen to make it into the televised program.

Plutarch, when not busy with Gamemaker duties, took his road show to other Districts and his folk programs were a public and critical success. He did not tell anyone on Capitol television that he was also making detailed reports on the various districts to Boggs, along with a steady stream of Capitol political gossip.

One thing Plutarch accomplished while filming in District 8 was to identify Paylor, the head of Personnel at the factory that made Peacekeeper uniforms, as a good prospect for recruitment. District 13 kept an eye on her and eventually recruited her.

Plutarch was unable to do anything about his first priority, plans and plots against District 13, because as it turned out President Snow was not then particularly worried about 13.

Finding out about the Peacekeepers was easy but tedious. Plutarch volunteered to do a series of recruiting videos for the Peacekeepers. As a result he spent a lot of time in their Headquarters, and with patience was able to cultivate some drinking buddies who would blab anything in the bar of the Officers’ Club.

There were about 15,000 Peacekeepers. Eight thousand were stationed in the Districts and there were two thousand (including Headquarters) in the Capitol. There was a Mobile Reserve of 3,000 and the remaining 2,000 were in the District 2 training base.

Finding out about counterintelligence was a lengthy process.

First Plutarch spotted a man who supposedly was an “administrative assistant” to Snow but who seemed to be much busier than his admin duties would suggest. Then he had Pollux report to this man about finding a secret message hidden in a cavity in a brick wall. Pollux had made a copy of the message, which was the order of battle for the Peacekeepers, but rather than a current one it was a year old.

A man named Marcus Vinegarden, supposedly another admin assistant to Snow, showed up and questioned Pollux by pencil and paper (Plutarch had chosen Pollux because he was an Avox and therefore almost impossible to cross-examine---compare Kim Philby, a Soviet agent who survived critical cross-examinations by British intelligence because he stuttered). Vinegarden, who turned out to be the desired head of counterintelligence, set up a 24-hour watch over the hidden message. This watch went on for three months before Vinegarden gave up, by which time Plutarch had learned who most of Vinegarden’s agents were, as Vinegarden had had to rotate his agents through this boring duty.

Vinegarden apparently never suspected Plutarch or Pollux. Instead he took a bulldog hold on the fact that the information was a year out of date, and eventually located a Peacekeeper officer who had been transferred out of Headquarters a year previously due to incompetence. Said officer died under torture, still proclaiming his innocence, and of course Vinegarden learned nothing useful from him.

What about that first suspicious admin assistant? It turned out that he was in charge of arranging assignations for those unlucky Victors (like Finnick) who were forced into sex slavery at the Capitol.

For Troop 4, the 74th Hunger Games started soon after the 73rd ended, when the stylist for District 10 retired. Cinna, a stylist noted for subtlety (a rarity among Capitol stylists!) was asked to take his place. Cinna surprised everyone by opting to take District 12 instead, with the old District 12 male stylist cheerfully transferring to District 10.

There is the question of why Cinna requested District 12 as his first assignment. As the Cliff’s Notes to Hunger Games puts it:

As a designer trying to make a name for himself, [Cinna] knew that the best way to do so would be to make a huge splash. District 12, virtually ignored in the Games, provided him practically a clean slate on which to create something no one had ever seen before. He could have chosen District 12 as an all-or-nothing gamble on his future success.

This assumes that Cinna was not part of the revolutionary plot before the Games began. If, on the other hand, he had been a subversive from the beginning, he and others likely realized that District 12 — which was lightly policed and highly motivated — was the best location to spark a revolt.,articleId-345665.html, accessed April 9, 2013.

The answer is that Cinna was not yet a member of any underground. He just liked the possibilities with District 12.

People who were into tribute clothing wanted to know what Cinna was planning. Boggs also wanted to know, and asked Plutarch what the chances were of recruiting Cinna. Cinna however refused to tell anything to anyone (Plutarch told Boggs “not yet”). It was noticed that Cinna and Portia were spending a lot of time together, and eventually they admitted to being lovers.

And there the matter rested until the Reaping.

Plutarch watched the Reapings with the other Gamemakers. When Rue was reaped in District 11, one of the Gamemakers said, “Not another Temmie,” and another replied, “At least she’s a lot cuter than Temmie was.”

Then Prim was reaped and the Gamemakers said “Not another Temmie” and “Two twelve-year-olds in one Games? The audience won’t like that.” Before Seneca Crane could weigh in, however, Katniss volunteered for Prim. The Gamemakers didn’t know what to think about Katniss. If she were brave enough to volunteer, what did that mean for her as a tribute?

Plutarch reported to Boggs everything he knew about Katniss and Peeta, which was that Katniss could sing and Peeta had decorated the wedding cake at the District 12 wedding with frosting portraits of the happy couple. Boggs was not pleased with this trivia and asked, “Is it likely that Katniss can provide a spark?” Plutarch replied by scolding Boggs for giving away information, namely that District 13 was hoping for a spark to start a revolution.

It is not mentioned in the books, but the Escorts had some specific tasks to perform. They measured the Tributes so that the stylists and the storekeepers who provided uniforms for the arena would know what size clothing was needed. They gave a medication to each girl to prevent her period from starting in the arena and to each boy to make him beardless and impotent (sex in the arena was discouraged, not for aesthetic reasons but because it might interfere with the killings).

Finally the Escorts supplied a gene sample that in the 74th Games was used to create the muttations that chased the final three Tributes back to the Cornucopia. Those muttations were held in reserve in case they were needed; in the previous few Games they had not been.

Boggs had to wait until Haymitch arrived at the Capitol and had a chance to talk to his old buddy Plutarch in private. Haymitch had far-from-trivial news to report. District 12 this year had a pair of fighters. Peeta was physically strong and a competition wrestler. Katniss had qualities well beyond the suicidal bravery that led her to volunteer. She was, despite her age, a successful market hunter, proficient with bow and arrow, throwing knives, and snares. She was without a doubt an expert in woodcraft, survival, and tracking.

Plutarch called his father and told him to forget about long shots, put his money on Katniss.

Haymitch also reported that Peeta was secretly in love with Katniss and was planning on announcing it during his interview with Caesar Flickerman. Plutarch agreed to tip off Flickerman to ask Peeta about his girlfriends.

It was during this conversation with Plutarch that Haymitch asked about the possibility of a rule change allowing two tributes from one district to be joint victors. He had Mentored too many hopeless tributes; now he had two with possibilities. Plutarch said to wait until the Games were down to the final eight and reporters were interviewing the surviving tributes’ families and friends; that would be the time to spring the idea on Seneca Crane.

They went over the idea in detail. Although it would be suggested to Seneca Crane as Head Gamemaker, the final decision would be made by President Snow, who was interested in keeping the Districts in line rather than putting on a good show for the Capitol.

If Katniss and Peeta were not the last two tributes standing, then the proposed rule change would still be useful, as it would show that the rules of the Games could be changed.

If Katniss and Peeta were indeed the last two, then things got complicated. If the rule change were made and adhered to, the Districts would be treated to two lovers who managed to bend the Capitol to their wishes.

However, Seneca Crane had a devious mind and was quite capable of first announcing the rule change and then when faced with two surviving tributes from the same District, revoking the change, so as force the two District partners to fight to the death. Or so Crane would expect. What would happen if Katniss and Peeta were the last two and the rule were revoked (or if there had been no rule change and they were the last two)? Haymitch said Crane would be wrong. Peeta would commit suicide so that his beloved Katniss would live.

There had been a few suicides in earlier Games, but only of tributes badly wounded or in hopeless situations (e.g. Mags in the Quarter Quell). A tribute dying of love would astonish both Capitol and Districts, and conceivably could be the spark Boggs wanted.

Neither Haymitch nor Plutarch thought of a threatened double suicide.

At the private training sessions, Plutarch was the only Gamemaker who knew Katniss was an archer. Unlike the other Gamemakers, he was paying close attention to her. Nevertheless, he was as surprised as the others when her arrow came flying into their midst.

Afterwards the Gamemakers were wondering what to do to punish Katniss. Seneca Crane said the only thing they could do was to give her such a high score that the other tributes would have to target her, figuring from her high score that she was a dangerously skilled killer. Since there already had been a few tens, Katniss should either get an eleven or a twelve. Twelve was voted down as ridiculously high, and eleven won by acclamation.

Plutarch did not have to do anything about arming Katniss. It was Crane who ordered that a bow and a quiver of arrows be placed at the Cornucopia.

What Boggs and District 13 had been waiting for was some “spark” to pry the Districts away from the Capitol. Until now they had not found one. Then came Katniss and for once the odds were in their favor.

First, Katniss was something unheard-of, a volunteer from the “outer districts”, as Seneca Crane called her in the movie. This by itself was would have brought her to everyone’s attention. Second, Cinna and Portia had supplied those spectacular fiery costumes, for which she got christened “the girl on fire”. Third, Katniss got that mysterious eleven from the Gamemakers. Fourth, when Peeta revealed he was in love with Katniss, they became the “star-crossed lovers”.

Boggs and District 13 quickly realized the usefulness of the “star-crossed lovers” theme. There just might be a backlash if the Capitol were seen to have deliberately killed one of the two lovers. Then they crossed their fingers and hoped for the best.

Crane could have eliminated the Cornucopia bloodbath by having several weapon-and-supply dumps, so that the Careers could not guard all of them. However, he felt the bloodbath eliminated the dumb bunnies and hopeless cripples, leaving behind only tributes who were competent enough to provide a good show. He had argument on this from some of his Gamemakers, but his policy stood, even though it gave a major advantage to the Career pack. As Crane said, putting the Careers against the competent non-Career tributes made for exciting matchups that unlike the notorious 68th Games would last for weeks.

For the first couple of days the Gamemakers looked to spot the “long rangers”, those tributes who stayed solo and who had the competence to survive by hunting. Once the Gamemakers declared a tribute made it to lone ranger status, the price on sponsor gifts to that tribute was cut to encourage sponsors.

In the 74th Games four tributes quickly showed themselves to be lone rangers: Rue, Thresh, Foxface, and Katniss. Oddly Katniss almost failed to make this list, as she was having so much trouble finding water.

The tributes were quickly reduced to these four lone rangers and the seven members of the Career pack (counting Peeta and the boy from District 3).

At this point President Snow started getting worried about Katniss, who had accumulated so much good publicity. It would be best for her to be killed soon, he told Crane. Crane said that short of shooting her, he could not be sure that she would be killed, but he would try.

By this time the four lone rangers had spread out, Thresh to the grasslands, Rue to a hideout overlooking the Cornucopia, Foxface keeping out of sight while she lightfingered the others’ food, and Katniss blundering around near the western limit of the arena, almost as if she were trying to repeat Haymitch’s search for the force field around the arena. Since none of the rangers were about to kill the others, and all four were being careful not to attract the Careers, the arena had settled down to a survivalist show with no killings expected soon.

So Crane ordered the forest fire which drove Katniss and the Careers together. He figured that Katniss, deprived of a bow and armed with only a single throwing knife, would be easy pickings for the Careers.

But when the dust and tracker jackers had settled, there were two dead Careers, Peeta was stumbling off with what appeared to be a mortal wound, Katniss now had her bow and arrows, and all the combatants were delirious from the tracker jacker venom.

Snow was not pleased, but Crane said just wait, the Careers are now mad at Katniss and won’t let her go.

The tribute count was now down to nine, so reporters and camera crews were alerted to travel out to the Districts.

Crane was not pleased when Katniss and Rue teamed up. They were now the two best hunters, with Katniss’s arrows and Rue’s slingshot as hunting weapons. Even worse, they struck a major blow at the Careers by blowing up the pile of supplies. The Careers were now dependent on hunting, which they were not trained for, and sponsor gifts, which were not so frequent now that the Careers had lost their appearance of inevitability, having been beaten twice by Katniss.

When Cato in his fit of anger killed the boy from 3, the number of tributes dropped to eight and the reporters and cameramen headed out to the Districts. Those who went to District 12 found considerable local color on Katniss and Peeta, to Snow’s displeasure.

Eight was also the magic number for Haymitch, who now proposed to Crane the idea of two victors from a district. Crane said he would think it over (which meant he would talk to Snow).

Then came the deaths of Marvel and Rue.

There were now only six tributes, including two each from 2 and 12. Snow, thinking that Peeta was unlikely to live long enough to be one of the last two, gave his OK for the rule change (and its revoking should a district pair emerge). And so Claudius Templesmith announced the rule change, and Katniss went looking for Peeta.

There were now three lone rangers, each of whom seemed likely to survive until the Quarter Quell, plus the injured Peeta and the hapless two remaining Careers, who were going hungry. Clove killed a rabbit with a throwing knife, but neither she nor Cato knew anything about field butchering, so they managed to lose half the meat on the rabbit, which they ate raw since they didn’t know how to start a fire without matches.

Crane decided on a feast which would draw Katniss to the Cornucopia, where she would have to face the Careers. The District 12 pack contained medicine for Peeta (Snow OKed the medicine, figuring it was more likely that Katniss would be killed and Peeta would then die of blood poisoning.). The District 5 pack contained food for Foxface. Since Thresh was hiding out in grasslands that contained wild wheat and barley and had been living on uncooked grain, his pack contained a sickle for harvesting grain, a high-tech mortar and pestle for grinding it to flour, and an electric frying pan for cooking and baking, plus some oil and baking powder. The District 2 pack contained food and body armor for Clove and Cato.

The results of the feast were not happy for the Gamemakers and Snow. Only one of the six Tributes had been eliminated, and Peeta was now healthy. Another feast would not work.

However, the odds suddenly turned in favor of the Gamemakers. Foxface died from mistaking Peeta’s nightlock berries for edible food, and Cato managed to hunt down Thresh and kill him (but did not get Thresh’s kitchen appliances, so he remained hungry).

Now Crane had the dramatic setup he wanted for his finale, namely Cato versus the District 12 team, and if Cato were killed, the revoking of the rule change would set Katniss against Peeta, or so he thought. How to get the three together? Here the muttations became useful. They would be programmed not to kill the Tributes but to drive them together at the Cornucopia. It worked. All three found themselves on top of the Cornucopia.

Thereupon Katniss and Peeta managed to throw Cato off the Cornucopia and into the middle of the muttations. Crane decided to let the viewers have some Nero Smith style gore by having the mutations savage, but not kill, Cato. Katniss’s mercy killing was the proper final touch to this drama.

Then came the revoking of the rule. Snow was with the Gamemakers when Claudius Templesmith made the announcement. Katniss was out of arrows, so the Gamemakers expected Snow to be pleased when the bigger and stronger Peeta killed her. Instead Katniss pulled out those nightlock berries.

“Blow her away!” Snow commanded Crane, as Katniss counted one.

“With what?” Crane replied. He had three ways to kill Katniss. He could bring back those muttations, but it would take ten minutes to get them out of storage and back into the arena. He could summon the squad of Peacekeepers who were still stationed in the launch rooms, but it would take several minutes to get them from their poker game, give them orders, and send them up the launch tubes. He could summon the hovercraft, but it would take at least thirty seconds for the hovercraft to arrive, and he could not be sure that the machine gun on the hovercraft was ready for use.

So Crane had to ignore Snow and make the decision: two Victors or none. He decided on two and told Claudius Templesmith to make the announcement, which was made as Katniss and Peeta reached the count of three.

Fulvia Cardew had been busy during the Games. She acted on the assumption that Katniss would be the sole winner and started putting together two videos. One was entitled “The Mockingjay” and was about Katniss’s district token. It consisted of a stream of still shots with narration. Fulvia pretended that Haymitch, not Masylee Donner, had worn the mockingjay pin in the Second Quarter Quell, and doctored a few photos of Haymitch to show him wearing it. Then after the Quell he supposedly gave the pin to Masylee’s family. A picture was shown of Masylee’s niece Madge, with the narration explaining that she had given the pin to Katniss. Then there were numerous pictures of Katniss wearing the pin, including a couple of Rue examining it. As soon as the Games were over, Fulvia added pictures of a victorious Katniss and ended with a shot of the pin with the words “the person who wears this pin can never be defeated.”

Amazingly, the Censorship Committee thought this was nothing more than a light-hearted retelling of the Games and let the video be broadcast several times unchanged. This video by itself did not cause the Second Rebellion, but it was what made the names “Katniss” and “Mockingjay” synonymous.

The other video followed Katniss from the Reaping through the parade, the interview with Caesar Flickerman, and the Games. It emphasized how the star-crossed lovers, and particularly Katniss, had made a mockery of the Capitol and its Games: “True love wins over everything, including the Hunger Games.” The Censorship Committee insisted that Fulvia make some changes, but let the resulting version to be aired, with the line about true love staying in.

This is how District 13 spread the ideas of how anyone, even from District 12, could stand up to the Capitol and win, and how the Mockingjay became the symbol of rebellion and eventually of the Rebellion.

Then came the three-hour official, mandatory-viewing video of the Games. Plutarch helped put this video together. He secretly made a slightly modified version, which showed Katniss decorating Rue’s body with flowers and the riots in District 11. By cutting out the scene where Clove and Cato wonder who the two cannon shots were for, he was able to make his version exactly the same three-hour length.

When the mandatory video was about to be shown, Castor went to the main communications line from the Capitol to the Districts and manually placed a wiretap on it. Then he used the wiretap to cause the Districts to see Plutarch’s modified and subversive video while the Capitol watched the official version. Once the three hours were up, he removed the wiretap so that there were no traces of his work left.

Plutarch was worried about the Capitol catching on, but it didn’t. No one in the Districts realized that they were not watching the official video. It took weeks before someone in the Districts thought to ask the Capitol why the riots in District 11 were shown, and more weeks before anyone told Vinegarden about it.

Vinegarden immediately went to the broadcast offices, where he was shown the official recording of the playing of the video, which of course showed the Capitol version (Castor’s wiretap was downsteam from the recording device so the subversive version did not get recorded.) The broadcast people politely told Vinegarden he was crazy. He was unable to find anyone in the Districts who had recorded the video as played there, and had to give up for lack of evidence. He never informed Snow.

Oh, yes, Plutarch’s father had indeed bet rather heavily on Katniss, whose odds at the beginning of the Games were 23 to 1. The betting pool paid off on both Peeta and Katniss at 11 ½ to 1.

Following the 74th Games there were many changes of personnel in the Capitol.

After Seneca Crane’s execution, nobody except Plutarch expressed interest in the position of Head Gamemaker, and so Plutarch received the position. As Head Gamemaker, he automatically had a seat on the Capitol Defense Committee.

One thing he did on the Committee, besides invent a number of new pods, was to find a weak point in the Capitol’s defenses. There was a ridgeline that anyone attacking the Capitol from the east would have to climb. It was the climb up this ridgeline against dug-in Capitol defenders that had been so costly to the rebels in the First Rebellion.

There was a point on the ridge where a recent landslide had removed the forest that had covered the ridge and provided so many hiding places for pods. The landslide had left behind dirt that easily turned into a very slick and very deep mud. At Plutarch’s suggestion a sprinkler system was installed on this slope. Sure enough, it produced mud so deep that a man could not walk through it, and the hillside was too steep for even tracked vehicles. So no pods were installed on this slope, and an enormous blockhouse was built at the top of the slope to provide firepower against any would-be climbers.

As if that weren’t enough, there was a patch of quicksand on the slope.

There were two things Plutarch did not tell the committee. One was that a man on snowshoes could easily climb the slope through the mud. The other was that he had placed a bomb in the blockhouse’s magazine.

Plutarch did not keep his staff. Cressida replaced him as video producer, with Massella and Fulvia Cardew as her assistants. Castor and Pollux were recruited by Vinegarden as full-time counterintelligence agents.

It is time to mention Troop 9, another District 13 spy ring in the Capitol. For security reasons, those in Troop 4 were told nothing about Troop 9, and vice versa. In District 13 Troop 9 was the responsibility not of Boggs but of a different intelligence officer.

Troop 9 was run by Cressida and Massella. Two members of the ring were of particular importance. One was Dionysus Pulido, an engineer who was with Plutarch on the Capitol Defense Committee. The other was Julia Mountlogan, theoretically a speechwriter and PR person for Snow. However, Snow, paranoid enough to employ Vinegarden to spy on everyone, needed someone to do the same to Vinegarden. Julia’s real job was to keep an eye on Vinegarden.

She requested and received Castor and Pollux as her secret assistants. This meant that Castor and Pollux were now triple agents: spying on the Capitol for Vinegarden, spying on Vinegarden for Snow, and spying on Snow for District 13.

Plutarch added one new member to Troop 6 by recruiting Tigris, whom he had befriended when she was still active as a tribute stylist. Tigris’s main role in Troop 6 was to use the fax machine in her shop to send Plutarch’s longer reports to Boggs. Cinna also became a member of Troop 6 when he was told of the planned rebellion and the need for costumes for the Mockingjay.

Castor reported to District 13 via Plutarch that Vinegarden was zeroing in on Cressida. District 13 decided that Cressida and her assistant Massella needed to be evacuated from the Capitol.

Now that Plutarch was no longer doing television shows on District folkways, Cressida told her bosses that it was time for her to do one on District 1. She and Massella then boarded a train for District 6, where they would transfer to a train for District 1. When the train arrived in 1, their checked baggage was on the train but they were not. Neither was the agent that Vinegarden had assigned to tail Cressida.

Vinegarden had his agents in District 6 check the security cameras in the train station. The cameras showed Cressida and Massella leaving the train from the Capitol but not boarding the train to District 1. The cameras did not show Vinegarden’s agent, whose body turned up a month later in a snowbank at a refueling stop between the Capitol and 6.

What had happened? At the refueling stop Cressida had gotten off the train for some fresh air, or so she said. The agent watched her from the vestibule of the car she was riding. He incautiously let Massella creep up behind him. Massella then stabbed him with a poisoned pin. There not being time to bury the body, Cressida and Massella tossed it onto the reverse side of a snowbank. Nobody saw it, and a snowfall that night covered it.

Katniss, during her Victory Tour, noticed that the people in Districts 3, 4, and 8 lacked the “weary cattle” feel of people in other Districts. She was correct, but the reason for the optimism in each of 3, 4, and 8 was different.

District 3, despite its enforced poverty, felt that it was not only technologically but intellectually and culturally superior to the Capitol. Performances of District 3’s symphony orchestra, for example, were regularly broadcast in the Capitol.

District 3 had a weapon against too stringent or too brutal enforcement of Capitol rules. The District has mastered the slowdown strike. Unlike say textiles from District 8, which can be stockpiled or rationed, electronic devices are frequently needed NOW!, so a slowdown strike can be very effective, and very difficult to retaliate against.

District 4 spreads over the Sea Islands (the islands on the coast of South Carolina). The Capitol has long since concluded that the District is unpoliceable, as there are lengthy shorelines and every resident has access to a boat. In fact, the residents have enforced certain rules on the Capitol. One is that there are to be no fences on ocean beaches. The publicly-stated reason is safety, as the crews of boats driven ashore during storms need to get inland to get help. Another rule is that any Peacekeeper who is on board a boat while at sea is to be considered a member of the crew and subject to orders from the captain. Such a Peacekeeper can expect that the crew will assign him the dirtiest jobs.

The Peacekeepers had one revenge. They have taken over the entire seashore of Hilton Head Island (just north of Charleston) for their own R&R (“Rest and Rehabilitation”, military jargon for “vacation”). District 4 is therefore the R&R destination for the entire Peacekeeper force. The relatively small resident Peacekeeper force of about 500 can generally call on a couple of hundred R&R people in a pinch.

District 4 has perhaps the best-trained Peacekeeper force in Panem, because it maintains a small navy and every Peacekeeper has to take seamanship training. The navy consists of two heavily armed gunboats and a dozen smaller boats used for routine patrols. Cynics say that these patrols are only to keep smuggling from getting too blatant. The officer in charge of this navy is universally known as “the Great White Shark”.

In addition to seafood, District 4 supplies waterfowl, salt, soda ash (sodium carbonate, needed to make glass and soap), edible seaweed, and cotton. This cotton is not the usual “upland cotton” (Gossypium hirsutum) but the extra-long-staple “Sea Island cotton” Gossypium barbadense, much in demand by District 8 for fine fabrics. Sugar cane also grows wild in District 4, and there is a refinery which produces cane sugar and molasses, as well as a distillery which uses the molasses to produce a good quality of rum for the Capitol and a lower quality rum for local consumption. The distillery also turns out vinegar for the famous District 4 delicacy of fish in vinegar sauce.

Seafood from District 4 is handled by the Capitol Seafood Company, a large and badly-run organization in which it seems everyone is on the take. An audit performed just before the 74th Hunger Games revealed that 20 per cent of the seafood listed as acquired at the dock in District 4 could not be accounted for, mostly likely either sold on the black market or never existing (dock agents billing for more seafood than was actually purchased, then splitting the difference with the boat crews).

District 8 had long had a head Peacekeeper of the Romulus Thread school, and his random brutality had driven the residents past apathy into anger. Now that “the Mockingjay” provided a symbol, District 13 asked its agents in 8 what they could do to get their district “to follow Katniss’s example.” And so the agents spread rumors and held clandestine meetings to cause a revolt to take place the day Katniss appeared on television in her wedding dress.

Bonnie and Twill gave Katniss an account of the revolt that was accurate as far as it went, but there was a lot that they did not know. District 13 had romised help and the day the revolt broke out had 200 infantry, plus a mortar platoon and a rockets platoon, in the woods outside the District fence. Coin commanded this force in person.

These troops had a good deal to do with the initial success of the revolt. In particular the mortars and rockets took care of Peacekeeper strongpoints. A section of the District fence almost a mile long was demolished. A trainload of food that arrived just after the revolt broke out was looted and hundreds of tons of food were cached in the woods outside the fence.

Then two thousand more Peacekeepers arrived by train and retook the District from the rebels. Coin’s troops were forced back into the woods, and Coin herself was wounded and had to be taken back to 13 for medical attention. That was the first and last time that she personally took part in any fighting, but it gave her an enviable reputation as a front-line fighter.

Well over a thousand District 8 residents made it into the woods, and the four hundred in the best physical shape were formed into “The First District 8 Brigade”, under the command of Paylor, the District 13 agent in the Peacekeeper uniform factory, who had escaped into the woods ahead of the Peacekeepers.

A brigade is normally commanded by a colonel or even a brigadier general, but Coin was reluctant to have an untested outsider be given such a high rank in the District 13 army. Therefore Paylor received the courtesy title of “Commander”. Considering her role in organizing the revolt, the residents who fled to the woods did not object to her being their leader.

Coin and her advisors agreed there were several lessons to be learned from District 8. First was the importance of having a supply of food---had it not been for that trainload of provisions, the people in the woods would not have been able to keep up the struggle. It would be a good idea to consider 4, 9, 10, or 11, that is the food-producing districts, for the next revolt.

Second was that the railroad entering the District was to be a priority target.

What was going on in District 4?

Finnick and a couple of the other Victors had gone around saying “Salt Down!” The District knew what that meant. All spare food was to be preserved by salting, smoking, drying, pickling in vinegar, or canning, that is, ways that did not depend on electricity as freezing and refrigeration did. At any time the Capitol could cut electricity in the District and all frozen food would spoil.

People who live by the sea have no shortage of salt. Driftwood and seaweed would supply fires for smoking. Many people kept a reserve supply of vinegar, and home canning equipment was common.

Boggs was baffled when a request came from District 4 saying they needed fifty tons of vinegar and ten tons of Mason jars. He replied quite seriously that vinegar was not common in District 13 cuisine and Mason jars could only be supplied by the stonecutters of District 2.

The distillery temporarily stopped producing rum and turned out vinegar for the saltdown. The shortage of Mason jars (for home canning), however, was not solved.

Then came a spell of rough weather and the fishing boat captains, as suggested by Finnick, said the weather was too bad to venture out. The Great White Shark was about to say this was nonsense when one of his own patrol boats sank in a storm and two fishing boats bravely went out and rescued most of the crew. The crewmen testified to the ferocity of the storm and the courageousness of the fishermen, and the Great White Shark had to remain silent.

Snow summoned Plutarch and asked him, “What do you think of having the tributes for the Quarter Quell reaped from the pool of existing victors?”

Plutarch grabbed a pen and a piece of paper and started doodling to give himself time to think it over. Snow’s idea meant that Haymitch’s Troop 6 would be in the arena and probably dominating it. It also meant that Katniss, already being heavily used in District 13’s propaganda, would be in the arena with her life at risk. Plutarch said cautiously, “It would mean the arena would be containing experienced killers rather than random children. Why are you suggesting it?”

“Because Katniss will be killed, under conditions where no one will suggest it was a staged accident.”

“Last year you asked for Katniss to be killed in the arena,” Plutarch replied, “and Seneca Crane said that short of shooting her, he could not be sure that she would be killed.”

“And Crane died for not being sure. This year you will be sure.”

Plutarch stopped to think again and then said, “We have a lightning bolt that strikes every noon and every midnight. We could arrange that it would strike Katniss, and maybe Peeta as well, if he’s a tribute.”

“That’s it,” said Snow. “I’m counting on you.” And that was the end of the conversation. Plutarch did not reveal that the lightning bolt could not be aimed; the bolt’s target had to be pre-arranged as part of an electrical circuit for the bolt to strike.

Snow of course had substituted his own card for the card in the Quarter Quell box, the idea being to bring Katniss into an arena full of resourceful killers and have her killed. The card that was supposed to be used for the 3rd Quarter Quell read, “In order to demonstrate to the Districts that neither wealth nor social position can withstand the power of the Capitol, the tributes will be reaped only from those children who have never taken tesserae.”

The arena for the Quarter Quell was not on the Gulf of Mexico or the Pacific, but rather was in the Rockies, 40 miles from the Capitol, at a spot where a natural salt spring provided the salt water to give the oceanic feel to the arena.

Plutarch had given District 13 a detailed description of the arena, and he and Boggs had discussions on what could be done. Boggs relayed a suggestion from Beetee that the lightning bolt could be used to blow out the force field surrounding the arena so that the tributes could escape.. Plutarch said that it would be almost impossible for the randomly chosen tributes to include someone with the skill and knowledge to set up such a blowout of the force field.

Now things were different, with Troop 6 in the arena. Beetee and Wiress both volunteered to be the District 3 tributes. If Plutarch would only make sure they had a particular coil of wire available, they had a good chance to do in the force field.

Plutarch accepted the idea, and arranged for a backup. In case Beetee could not blow out the force field from inside the arena, there would be a bomb in the substation supplying power to the force field. Beetee’s idea was better, because when the force field blew it would take down the video feeds from all the cameras inside the arena, leaving the Capitol blind to what was happening there.

District 13 passed word to its rebels in the Districts: hold off until the Quarter Quell, then we will give the word when to attack again. That is why each district was able to hold its reaping with no interruption from rebellions.

People were very busy as the Quarter Quell began.

Snow, not trusting that Plutarch would be able to kill Katniss with the lightning bolt, added his own touch. He figured that, there being no swimming pools in District 12, Katniss would not know how to swim. Without Plutarch’s knowledge he arranged that the flotation belt on Katniss’s costume would not be filled with lightweight flotation material but with some heavy weights. Either she would drown trying to float, or she would be stranded on her pedestal, an easy target for the Careers.

However, to both Snow’s and Plutarch’s surprise, Katniss could swim, and had no need of the flotation belt.

Snow had decided far in advance that he would destroy District 12 as soon as Katniss was dead. That way he could both show that Katniss the Mockingjay was helplessly mortal and give a warning what would happen to any Districts that were thinking of rebelling. Once Katniss was killed in the arena, Snow would send out a coded message that would tell Cray to kill the power in District 12 and get his Peacekeepers out, and that would summon the hovercraft that would deliver the Guernica raid on the District. The Victors’ Village and of course the Peacekeeper barracks would be spared; the Victors’ Village would supply housing if it were necessary to bring in a delegation to view the ruins.

Castor reported that Vinegarden was closing in on an organized subversive ring. District 13 recognized that the ring was none other than their own Troop 9. They ordered troop 6 to eliminate Vinegarden. On the second night of the Quarter Quell, Castor and Pollux caught Vinegarden alone in his office, killed him, and stripped his body and stuffed it down a sewer. They then stuffed his clothes, plus clothes belonging to Plutarch and Fulvia Cardew, down a different sewer. After copying all the data on Vinegarden’s computer for Tigris to transmit to District 13, they wiped the computer’s memory clean.

Plutarch’s family had to be gotten out of the Capitol so as not to leave any hostages for Plutarch. So the older Mr. Heavensbee arranged for a business trip to District 4, to see about ensuring the supply of seafood for the restaurant. The rest of the Heavensbee family went with him. They had a few adventures in District 4 but survived.

District 13 had a list of other people to evacuate from the Capitol. Pulido, too valuable to risk capture, was put in charge of the evacuation. He faked orders for the Defense Committee to send him on a special mission to District 12, and used these orders to get a passenger car attached to a freight train returning empty coal cars from the Capitol to District 12. The train was to leave at midnight on the third day of the Quarter Quell (just when the force field was to go).

Cinna, tipped off by Pulido, had Katniss’s prep crew pack the same traveling cosmetic packs as they had used on the Victory Tour. These packs were loaded into the passenger car. At the last minute Cinna was to inform the prep crew to join him at the train. Cinna did not show up (Snow’s goons had already killed him), but Pulido managed to get the prep crew to the train on time.

The train, not being an express, took three days to get to District 12. There Pulido and his passengers found that District 12 had been burned down, and they joined Gale’s starving survivors in the woods. Luckily the District 13 hovercraft showed up the next day.

For the Quarter Quell, Plutarch did two things that Seneca Crane had never bothered with. He made a daily inspection trip to the arena; for the trips he requisitioned a small four-place hovercraft that he piloted himself. He also dropped in on the Gamemaker control room every evening at 10:00 PM, when the evening shift gave way to the sole Gamemaker on the “graveyard” shift.

On day 3 he visited the control room at 10:00 PM as usual. This time Effie Trinket, in flamboyant evening clothes, was draped on his arm. He told the night shift Gamemaker that he was going home and could be reached there.

He dropped Effie off at his apartment, telling her whatever happened to stall for time; the longer she could hold off any investigation, the better the chances that Katniss and Peeta would survive.

Then Plutarch, accompanied by Fulvia, Castor, and Pollux (all were trained hovercraft operators) took the hovercraft to the arena. At the arena he and his crew boarded the duty hovercraft, killing the pilot and telling the medical crew on board, “If Katniss dies, you die.”

Then he set off a firebomb in the smaller hovercraft and switched the controls for the lightning bolt to manual operation from his console. He crossed the force field (which was shut off for a few seconds every time a hovercraft had to enter or leave the arena) and found a spot where he could observe Beetee’s preparation for destroying the force field, That is why the lightning bolt struck exactly at the moment Katniss’s arrow reached the force field---Plutarch manually triggered the bolt.

Once the force field blew out, Plutarch dropped the claw to pick up the obviously injured Katniss and Beetee. The senior Peacekeeper at the arena got on the radio to ask Plutarch what he thought he was doing.

The senior Peacekeeper at the arena was very quickwitted. As soon as the force field blew out, he realized the Quarter Quell was over and it was his duty to round up all the surviving tributes. It helped that his station was at the 12:00 o’clock side of the arena; he could see Katniss and Beetee from where he was standing. He also quickly realized, when Plutarch did not answer the radio, that the hovercraft which had picked up Katniss and Beetee was a renegade, and ordered it fired on.

He was also a little too quick-witted. Once he saw Katniss being picked up by the claw on the hovercraft, he jumped to the conclusion that she was dead, and he called Snow to report her death.

Plutarch had just picked up Finnick when Peacekeepers started firing on the hovercraft with their handguns. Castor had made sure the machine gun on the hovercraft was operational, and turned it on the Peacekeepers, who immediately scattered. But the hovercraft had taken some damage from the small arms fire, and Plutarch knew the Peacekeepers had heavier guns available. By listening to the radio chatter on the Peacekeeper’s channel, Plutarch learned that Peeta had been captured. That left Enobaria, of no interest to either side, and Johanna Mason. Was it worth risking everything to pick up Johanna?

Just then the first of the Peacekeeper’s heavier guns fired on the craft. The machine gun took care of the Peacekeepers firing the heavier artillery, but the craft took some fairly serious damage, and there was more than one of the heavy guns to worry about. So Plutarch decided not to risk staying to pickup Johanna, and hightailed it to safety.

On day 3 Snow stayed up till midnight to watch the lightning bolt that would kill Katniss. Just as the bolt struck, however, all video from the arena went dead.

Snow grabbed his private telephone and called the Gamemaker control room. His call was answered at a brothel in District 2. He made several more attempts to place calls on that phone, each time getting the same brothel and a more strongly-worded reply that they did not supply call girls to the Capitol.

Snow grabbed a different phone and got an all-night take-out place in the Capitol. By now he was so incoherent that the order-taker thought he had ordered a large pizza to be delivered to the Presidential Palace.

Just then Snow received an incoming call. It was from that quick-thinking Peacekeeper at the arena, announcing that all Hades had broken loose and that Katniss was dead. Snow ordered the Peacekeeper to send out the coded message for the bombing of District 12 to start.

Snow was now trying to run Panem through the one phone line to the arena, but someone thought of using runners. The runner to the Gamemaker control room reported that the duty Gamemaker had no idea what was going on and had been trying to call Plutarch, whose phone kept giving a busy signal. The runner to Peacekeeper headquarters reported that the phone system in their building was accepting neither incoming nor outgoing calls. Another runner went to fetch Vinegarden, only to report that the man could not be found in either his office or his home.

That left only Mountlogan, who endeared himself to Snow by showing up in person at this moment. She said she was sure that Vinegarden had been bumped off, and probably so had Plutarch. She left with one of Snow’s aides to go to Plutarch’s apartment.

How chaotic was the atmosphere at the Palace? So much so that when the delivery man arrived with the pizza, he was shot.

Mountlogan and the aide broke into Plutarch’s apartment, to find the phone off the hook and Effie Trinket, in the nude, in Plutarch’s bed. Effie admitted that she and Plutarch were having an affair, and that after making love Plutarch had received an urgent phone call. He had told Effie he had to leave but would be right back. Effie had gone to sleep and had no idea what time the phone call had been.

The next day Snow ordered Effie tortured. Under torture she told a fabulous tale about how Plutarch and Vinegarden and a cabal of disaffected Peacekeeper officers in District 2 were planning on a mutiny that would replace Snow with one of their own.

Snow ordered a purge of the Peacekeeper officers in District 2, and of the brothel which turned out had been a hangout for senior District 2 Peacekeepers. It was almost a week before District 2 was able to send out reinforcements to the various districts under attack.

Eventually someone had the sense to cross-examine Effie rather than torture her, and her story fell apart from its own contrivances. Cray, for example, was not the deputy Peacekeeper commander in District 2, and Cressida was too old to be Vinegarden’s illegitimate daughter.

Snow preferred the tale Effie told under torture, and went to his death convinced that Vinegarden had been plotting against him. When a propo was aired that was narrated by Plutarch, he pointed it out as evidence that Plutarch had indeed been in a conspiracy with Vinegarden.

By 3:00 AM Peacekeeper headquarters had their phones back in service; someone (it was Pulido) had trashed the main password file. It took until noon to clear the malware out of the Palace’s phone computers. Snow set up shop at Peackeeper HQ and finally got a good handle on what had been happening.

At midnight, when the force field blew out, the rebels launched simultaneous attacks on Districts 3, 4, 6, 8, and 11.

In District 3 the Peacekeepers took heavy casualties but managed to keep the rebels out.

In District 4 the Peacekeepers pulled out of the other islands and concentrated all their forces on Hilton Head Island and the mainland area across from Hilton Head. Since the railroad lines came into this area, the rebels were unable to ship out any seafood by train, although small quantities could be carried where needed by hovercraft.

In District 6, the transportation center of Panem, the rebels captured the maintenance shops and the yards where rolling stock was stored, but the Peacekeepers held onto the building which gave the orders to the railroad lines. Thus the Capitol was still able to run most of the railroad net outside District 6, but would be unable to repair any trains that broke down.

The attack on District 8 was the most successful. The rebels captured the railroad and the warehouses along it. Most of the food in District 8 was stored in these warehouses. The Peacekeepers, undefeated but facing starvation, negotiated a withdrawal to District 2, thus giving the entire district to the rebels. Unwilling to concede the loss of an entire district, Snow ordered a series of bombing attacks.

The attack on District 11 captured the railroad station and a good deal of outlying farmland, but the Peacekeepers held on to most of the District, including the areas where most of the people lived. The Peacekeepers realized it was suicidal to hold onto the district fence in the face of mortar and rocket attacks. Instead they set up new defense lines inside the orchards, where the trees would protect the defenders from rebel artillery fire.

The Capitol would be unable to ship out any food from District 11, but the rebels, not being farmers, would be unable to harvest most of the food.

There were also diversionary attacks on Districts 7 and 10, which succeeded in cutting communications from these districts to the Capitol, although the rebels made no serious attempt to capture those districts.

Snow appointed Mountlogan to succeed Vinegarden as chief of counterintelligence. She had the difficult job of reconstructing all of Vinegarden’s actions by interviewing his agents, and the even more difficult job of keeping any of District 13’s real spy nets in the Capitol (they had two, known as Troops 2 and 7, which were kept independent from and ignorant of Troop 9) from being spotted.

Mountlogan of course “found” Vinegarden’s body, along with the clothes belonging to Plutarch and Fulvia. With this evidence, she was able to convince Snow that both Plutarch and Fulvia had been killed. Considering how the counterintelligence computer had been wiped clean, she said she was unable to conduct a murder investigation until she could re-establish Vinegarden’s office. The homicide investigators were unable to find any leads, and the case was dropped when Plutarch showed he was alive by appearing on a District 13 propo.

Tigris, the only member of Troop 4 still in the Capitol, was re-recruited by Troop 9. Mountlogan dropped out of Troop 9; considering how closely Snow kept an eye on his counterintelligence chief, it was dangerous for her to have any contact with real spies. However, she had her own private phone line to her District 13 spymaster. She somehow successfully managed this juggling act, and was in the Presidential Palace when Snow surrendered.

This was the situation when Katniss started making propos. Within a few weeks the situation changed drastically.

In District 3 the rebels had been slowly infiltrating soldiers and weapons into the parts still held by the Peacekeepers. Chanting “Katniss! Katniss!” the people of District 3 staged an uprising, helped by those rebel soldiers and weapons, and in conjunction with an attack by the rebel soldiers just outside the District managed to wipe out the Peacekeeper force.

Coin then moved the rebel soldiers from District 3 to District 11, and added the First District 8 Brigade. With help from the residents inside the Capitol-held areas, they managed to annihilate the Peacekeeper garrison. District 11 and its food were now in rebel hands.

Coin now turned her attention to District 6. The rebels who had captured the railroad yards were now reinforced by the half-trained Second District 8 Brigade and the newly formed First District 3 Brigade. With considerable help from District 13 artillery, they captured the railroad control center and the rest of the District. The Panem railroad network was now in rebel hands.

The use of brigades raised from the districts was what Snow was thinking of when he said Coin was letting the Districts and the Capitol fight each other to a standstill so that District 13 could take over. In fact Coin’s District 13 soldiers were spread so thin acting as scouts, artillery, and training cadres that she was unable to put together a force strong enough to face a thousand or so Peacekeepers without using new recruits from the other districts.

Next on the agenda was District 4. The First District 8 Brigade, which by now considered itself a veteran unit, was used to clear the Peacekeepers off the mainland. District 4 could now ship out seafood by railroad, and the rebel-held areas could now eat better than the Districts the Capitol still controlled.

Hilton Head Island was a different matter. The Great White Shark’s navy was able to keep rebel boats at a distance.

The Second District 8 Brigade now joined the First, and Paylor, commanding the majority of the rebel force, became the local rebel commander. She had never been on a boat in her life, and it fell to her to create the rebel navy.

With the help of ten hovercraft and over a hundred fishing boats, Paylor was able to trap and sink one of the Peacekeeper gunboats. The other gunboat, now made cautious, kept close to Hilton Head. Meanwhile Paylor’s fishermen had captured two of the patrol boats and her hovercraft had sunk two more. Then Paylor made ostentatious preparations to cross from the mainland to the near shore of Hilton Head. The gunboat and most of the patrol boats moved to prevent this move. Paylor then airlifted the First District 8 Brigade to the R&R seashores of Hilton Head. The Peacekeepers moved to counterattack, whereupon Paylor launched the seaborne assault she had been so ostentatiously preparing.

There were not enough Peacekeepers to counter both assaults, and soon her two Brigades had cornered the remaining Peacekeepers in the middle of the island. The District 3 Brigade, which by now had the benefit of a long training period, and aided by the guns on the hovercraft, now moved in for the coup de grâce.

Paylor, with three brigades, now had the largest single force in the rebel army, and she had acquired a reputation as a fighting general with the clearing of District 4. Nevertheless Paylor remained a loyal subordinate to Coin, and did not object when Coin separated the First and Second District 8 brigades for use in different districts.

With the fall of the Nut, there were no significant Capitol forces outside the Rocky Mountains surrounding the Capitol, although mopping up continued for some time. The rebels could not turn their attention to scaling the east face of the Rockies, the same mountains that had proven so fatal in the First Rebellion.

Plutarch now proved he had been a genius. Soldiers on snowshoes climbed the mud slope, carrying extension ladders which they used to cross the rather narrow patch of quicksand. When they were within rifle range of the blockhouse, Plutarch set off the bomb in the blockhouse’s magazine.

The Capitol had made two blunders here. First was that all the pods on the mountainside were controlled from the blockhouse. These pods were set to inactive, so they would not be set off by wild animals running into them. With the blockhouse in ruins there was no way to set the pods to automatic or to set them off manually. The rebel soldiers could climb the mountainside without having to worry about pods.

Once at the top of the ridgeline, the rebels managed to capture the upper end of one of the railroad tunnels. Now the other blunder showed up. There were pods in the tunnel, and the Capitol had had time to set them to automatic, but all of them faced downhill. By approaching the pods from above, the rebels could disarm the pods. It took careful and painstaking work, but the tunnel was cleared enough for troops on foot to climb it, as Katniss and squad 451 did.

With one railroad tunnel and a good deal of the ridgeline in rebel hands, the battle now shifted to the Capitol itself. Now the rebels had to make the costly attempt to take the Capitol block by block.

What was the story with Katniss and Squad 451?

Boggs kept a diary which became an important historical document for the history of the Second Rebellion. His last entry in the diary read:

Now aren’t we in a pretty pass with the Star Squad?

Here is Katniss, who is any day now going to desert to go on her own personal quest to assassinate Snow.

Here is Gale Hawthorne, who is going to follow Katniss because, although he won’t admit it to himself, is in love with her.

Here are Cressida and her camera crew who are going to follow Katniss because wherever Katniss goes, good footage follows.

Then here is Peeta, who is going to kill Katniss as soon as the guard on him is relaxed.

What will I do?

It is obvious.

Peeta will have to be killed to keep Katniss safe.

I will follow the Mockingjay with my rifle and my Holo, because she offers the only chance to win this war before we run out of rebel soldiers.

To my loving wife and my young son:

I hope you read this and understand why I did not return.


I love you.

Katniss now played a key role in winnng the war. When she and the remnants of Squad 451 suddenly appeared in the middle of the Capitol, less than a mile from the Presidential palace, the Capitol forces panicked. Where Katniss could go, the rebel army could follow, and any minute now rebel soldiers would be pouring out of sewer gratings to follow the Mockingjay’s path.

Snow ordered a hasty retreat, too hasty because one command post was overrun in the confusion, and in it the rebels found an up-to-date map of all the pods in the Capitol. That is why they were suddenly able to penetrate so far with minimal casualties. Snow also sent a large number of Peacekeepers into the underground, where they were useless because the rebels had no intention of trying to go underground.

This was Katniss’s last significant effect on the war. Prim’s death and Snow’s surrender would have followed on schedule had she stayed in Tigris’s shop for the rest of day. As it turned out, nobody tried to move refugees into the shop. The only thing Katniss gained from leaving Tigris was a horrific, almost-fatal injury from the fire bombs.

Plutarch played one last role in Katniss’s story. He had no foreknowledge of the firebomb attack that killed Prim. Seeing what it had done to Katniss, he took it upon himself to find out what had really happened.

Several cameras around the City Circle had picked up the registration number painted on the hovercraft that had done the bombing. No such registration number had ever been issued.

Plutarch went to the airport at District 2. After some searching he found the hovercraft he was looking for. Someone had used black paint to convert a “3” in the registration number to an “8” and then had tried to erase the paint, but enough of the paint remained to show what had been done.

Checking logbooks, Plutarch was able to find that that hovercraft had been sent on a mission to the Capitol at the time of the bombing in the City Circle. A copy of the operational orders had been saved. They read “Take a hovercraft with the Capitol seal, so it won’t be fired on, and drop two racks of medical supplies to the people penned up in the City Circle. Then leave quickly before the PKs [Peacekeepers] can get a shot at you.” These orders were handwritten, and the handwriting was Coin’s.

Further, the logbooks gave the names of the pilot of the hovercraft and the armorer who had loaded the bombs on it. The pilot claimed he had delivered medical supplies, as ordered. The armorer had received different orders, to load two racks with incendiary parachute bombs, one with thirty-second fuzes and one with five-minute fuzes.

The armorer claimed there was nothing unusual about the orders. Thirty-second fuzes on parachute bombs were standard, to make sure that the bomb reached the ground before going off. Five-minute fuzes, he admitted, were rare, and he had in fact used all the five-minute fuzes available in the hangar. What use were five-minute fuzes? Only when someone wanted to be sure to be clear when the bombs went off.

Only one other person had been involved. An aide to Coin had brought the orders to the airport and had stood by while the armorer worked. This aide tried to claim he had nothing to do with the bombing, but his fingerprints were found in the dried paint in the altered registration number.

Plutarch brought this evidence to Katniss’s trial. It was ruled inadmissable, but it may have helped in getting Katniss acquitted. Afterwards the aide, the pilot, and the armorer were brought to a public trial which totally ruined Coin’s reputation.

The aide received a death sentence. Paylor, not wanting to create a precedent of capital punishment, commuted it to life without parole. The armorer tried to plead that he was only following orders, but the court decided he should have realized what was going on, and sentenced him to five years as an accessory. The pilot successfully pleaded that he had no way of knowing what was in those bomb racks and thought he was delivering medical supplies per the written order, and was acquitted.

Plutarch, as Secretary of Communications, followed Katniss’s wishes to be left alone. It was two years before he sent a crew to film her---the public wanted to know what the Mockingjay was doing, and was getting tired of canned footage. It was also Plutarch who had brought Buttercup to District 12, and who gave Peeta pictures of evening primroses so that Peeta could find the plants. Finally, Plutarch and Haymitch were the witnesses at the very private ceremony when Katniss and Peeta finally tied the knot. A beaming Pollux was the best man.

EPILOG: The Emperor Jones

The rebel’s second attack on the Peacekeepers in District 8 was more successful. Paylor’s fighting force captured the railroad station and cleared the Peacekeepers out of the residential areas into a small part of the factory area.

The Head Peacekeeper for District 8 had been killed in the fighting, and the new Peacekeeper commander was a man named Jones, soon to be become famous as “the Emperor Jones”, who had commanded the two thousand reinforcements sent to the District after the initial uprising.

Jones was a realist. He knew that his force lacked the stubbornness of the Texans at the Alamo or the Legionnaires at Camerone. He also knew that holding onto the clothing factories did nothing for the Capitol’s cause. His troops were of better use elsewhere, such as at District 2 or in the Capitol, where the decisive battles were to be fought.

So Jones agreed to talk with Paylor. The talk was an interesting mix of bluff and counterbluff, as Jones did not want to reveal his true strength or his lack of food supplies, and Paylor definitely did not want to reveal that she had a little under a thousand armed combatants, of which only five hundred, the survivors of Coin’s force and the 1st District 8 Brigade, had the training and experience to be dependable in combat.

After much bluffing back and forth, Paylor and Jones reached an agreement. Jones would evacuate District 8 and take his force to District 2 by train. There followed a longer session on the telephone, as Paylor and Jones argued District 6 into providing a sufficient number of passenger trains. District 6, trying to keep a railroad net running during a widespread war, was reluctant but finally agreed to send three passenger trains, each of which could take 900 troops without their equipment. The Peacekeepers would leave all their heavy equipment behind and take with them only their personal weapons.

Within two days the three requested passenger trains were sitting at the railroad station, ready to be loaded. Then a creek outside the District flooded, and the railroad bridge over the creek, damaged by mortar fire during Paylor’s assault, was swept away. The three trains now had nowhere to go until the bridge was repaired.

District 6 had no sympathy. You should have known that bridge was unstable and taken steps to shore it up, they said, and refused to supply any replacement trains, claiming with some accuracy that they had no more spare equipment and that it would be several weeks before a repair crew could be sent to replace the bridge.

“We’ll walk, damn it,” said Jones, and that is what his twenty-two hundred men and three hundred women did. They took with them only weapons and gear that they could carry. However, they were followed by a convoy of ambulances, civilian freight trucks, a tanker truck carrying eight thousand gallons of motor fuel, and two fire engines carrying a total of ten thousand gallons of drinking water.

By the time Jones’s force had left, the flood had subsided and they were able to ford the creek. From there they followed the railroad tracks, using the railroad’s bridges whenever they met an unfordable stream.

District 6 soon wished that they had provided replacement trains instead. Jones’s force could tie up a railroad bridge for hours while crossing a river, and even worse, it developed a habit of stopping trains and shaking them down for food and fuel.

Eventually the force approached District 6, now under total control by Coin’s forces. The last thing the rebels needed was two thousand Peacekeepers at District 6, where most of the railroad lines joined. So a deal was negotiated with Jones: he would circle District 6, keeping at least twenty-five miles away, and in return he would receive a daily hovercraft-load of supplies.

Except for fuel, Jones’s force did not need the supplies. They were now on the Great Plains, and the buffalo, since the disaster that had destroyed North America, were making a comeback, and were now approaching the numbers they had in the age of Lewis and Clark.

Jones’s force included a scout platoon, the members of which had undergone survival training, including hunting and field butchering. Their training had been spent on rabbits and groslings, but they had little trouble scaling up to buffalo. And so Jones’s people subsisted on buffalo meat.

Peacekeepers are primarily military police, and therefore are equipped with crowd-control implements such as cattle prods. Jones’s people quickly found that their cattle prods worked as well on buffalo as they did on people.

Jones continued west towards District 12, which is in the foothills of the Rockies. He picked up the Platte River to provide water and kept moving along it. Unknowingly he was retracing part of the old Oregon Trail.

Eventually Jones’s force approached District 12, just as the battle for the Nut was building up to its climax. The last thing Coin needed was two thousand more Peacekeepers. So forty miles outside District 2, Jones encountered a roadblock. Ironically, the roadblock force was the 2nd District 8 Brigade, just entering training when Jones left District 8 but now an experienced and battle-hardened unit.

Jones got up-to-date news on the fighting from the commander of the 2nd Brigade. District 2, the last district to hold out against the rebels, had now fallen. With all the districts in the hands of the rebels, the war was essentially over except for taking the Capitol, which was in the category of “mopping up”. Jones’s force could do nothing useful for the Capitol. Were they to somehow reach the Capitol, they would merely add to the casualty count.

The 2nd Brigade commander, following Coin’s orders, demanded unconditional surrender. Jones asked for and received a truce while he went to District 2 and talked to Coin in person.

Coin in person refused to budge from the unconditional surrender demand. In desperation Jones said, “I’ll go see the Mockingjay.”

Katniss was in the hospital, still in considerable pain from the bullet wound she suffered at the evacuation of the Nut. She told Jones, “I’m sorry but Coin’s word is final” and muttered “for all I care, you can call yourself ‘District 14.’”

Jones then proceeded to go around telling everyone that the Mockingjay had said that his men and women would be the new District 14. This news quickly went around District 2, easily outpacing Coin’s furious denials.

As Plutarch commented, “Necessity is the mother of chutzpah.”

That wasn’t all. Jones also asked, “Is District 2 interested in buffalo meat?” The answer was yes, definitely. Jones returned to his force accompanied by two professional butchers and an order for twelve buffalo carcasses.

It was at this point that Plutarch gave Jones the title of “the Emperor Jones” after an ancient Eugene O’Neill drama. Nobody else had ever heard of the play, but the title stuck.

At Jones’s orders, his Peacekeepers surrendered all their personal military weapons to the 2nd Brigade, but they kept their cattle prods. The 2nd Brigade, happy to avoid a battle, marched back to District 2.

Jones was not finished. He took his two fire engines to District 2 and asked if there were any interest in renting them. There was. District 2 had lost most of its fire-fighting equipment in the fighting. This time Jones returned with some cattlemen from District 10, some farmers from District 9, and a generous supply of seed grain.

Within two years the new District 14 was exporting wheat, barley, sorghum, potatoes, lentils, and a decent grade of vodka to the other districts.

Jones now faced his biggest problem: what to do about the uneven sex distribution in District 14. He had started with 2200 men and 300 women and the sex ratio had not varied significantly.

So, every week District 14 sponsored dances in District 2, restricted to males from District 14 but open to any females. District 14 also ran ads reading “Ladies, do you have domestic skills that you want to put to work?” and “Ladies, would you like to leave the city and start work as a farmer?”

At one of the dances Jones met a widow with grown children, married her, resigned as head of District 14, and retired to raise grandchildren. His successor, of course, had to be known as “Emperor”, and to this day, while every other district is run by a “mayor”, a “governor”, or simply by a “district manager”, the chief executive of District 14 has the title “Emperor”.

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