Chapter 23

Katniss POV

Gone. Everything gone. I walk through the streets that I once called home and see nothing but chaos and destruction. Peeta's bakery, the Justice Building, the Hob, none of it remained. I pass my old house in the seam and see nothing remaining. Artemis wiggles against my body and I rub her back. She is in one of the carrying harness that straps against my chest.

"Shh baby," I say. "It's okay."

She coos at the sound of my voice and lets out a big yawn.

"Tired," I ask her softly.

She replies with another big yawn and I smile at her.

"How about a song that my dad taught me," I say.

Are you? Are you?

Coming to the tree

They strung up a man

They say he murdered three

Strange things did happened here

No stranger would it be

If we met at midnight in the Hanging Tree

Are you? Are you?

Coming to the tree

Where a dead man calls out

For his love to flee

Strange things did happened here

No stranger would it be

If we met at midnight in the Hanging Tree

Are you? Are you?

Coming to the tree

Where I told you to run

So we'd both be free

Strange things did happened here

No stranger would it be

If we met at midnight in the Hanging Tree

Are you? Are you?

Coming to the tree

Where a necklace of hope

Side by side we'll be

Strange things did happened here

No stranger would it be

If we met at midnight in the Hanging Tree

Coming to the tree

Where I told you to run

So we'd both be free

Strange things did happened here

No stranger would it be

If we met at midnight in the Hanging Tree

Little Artemis was finally asleep and I smiled down at my little girl. I looked up and realized that I had been unconsciously been walking and now was at the front gates of Victor's Village. I decided to walk towards my house and see what I could salvage. Surprisingly, Victor's Village had not been touched by the bombs. Probably because if any person from the Capitol had to make their way out here, they would have a halfway decent place to stay. I entered my former abode and found it filled to the brim with all sorts of baby supplies. Toys and clothes left and right. Brand new cribs, strollers, and carriers, I'm sure a fortune was spent on these. I looked around and found a bunch of diapers and grabbed them, deciding that thirteen may be in short stock. There were also numerous blankets and clothes that I picked out and I loaded all of them up in a stroller. I went upstairs to my old room and also found a couple of other things. My father's hunting jacket and boots was a big one. I put the boots in the bottom of the stroller and put on the jacket. The leather felt nice on my shoulders and covered up Artemis in a warm embrace. I was about to leave when I smelled the stench of roses. I walked towards my bedside table and found a single white rose, freshly picked. Almost saying I know you are here, and I am allowing it. I backed out of the room quickly and left the house, with all my supplies, wanting nothing more than to get away from here.


"This is where I used to live," I tell Tris as we stand in front of the smoking remains of my house.

There was a giant hole in the right side, the garage was completely burned down, and the second floor of the house was also severely damaged.

"Do you want to go in," Tris asks cautiously.

She was surprised in the first place that I had asked her to come. She thought it would be more of a private thing for me. In all truth, I didn't think that we would be allowed to come in the first place. The president thought this trip was not worth the risk but Ahsoka convinced her otherwise. The 501st had set up a tight perimeter around them and if anything went haywire, they would be one of the first to know. Just in case of an extreme emergency, they had been fitted with arrows and a bow. This was the only real weapon that both of them had recently used and until they could get gun training, this would have to do.

"Yeah," I say. "Let's see if we can salvage anything."

We both move towards the door slowly. It is hard for me to see my house this way. So many good memories were made here. I get to the front door, take a deep breath, and step inside. The first sight that I see is like a giant shot through my chest. I immediately fall to the ground and begin to sob immensely.

"Kim," Tris says. "What's-."

She is stopped short by the sight that I have just seen. There in the foyer is my mom and both of my brother's smoking remains. They are mostly skeleton but still have a little flesh on them. I turn to my left and my father is slumped in a chair by the kitchen table, also dead. It is almost too much to take in. My heart is literally breaking at the sight of my family.

"Kim," Tris says. "I'm gonna get you out of here."

Her words are faint and far away. I can feel my head becoming dizzy and it is hard to focus my eyes on anything. I can see Tris moving her lips but I don't hear any words. Then, after about a minute of this, I black out.

Katniss POV

I make it back to the designated landing point with all of my gear and find out that I am the last one to arrive. I had even cut my trip short to get out of this hell hole. Upon arrival, Artemis is still nestled against my chest and jacket, making a nice warm cove for her. Then I see the Kim is on a stretcher. I walk quickly over to her, careful not to wake the baby, but fast. Tris is standing by her with her head on Kim's chest.

"Tris," I say.

The young girl is startled and bolts up immediately. She had been sleeping on the unconscious Kim.

"Yes Katniss," she replies tiredly.

"When was the last time you got a good nights sleep?" I question.

"Two days before Reaping," she says.

"Tris," I say. "That was almost two months ago."

"Yeah," Tris says and looks at the ground.

I know the feeling. Nightmares often plague me and leave me without sleep. The games do that to a person, and I have learned to survive with it. It seems that Tris is learning as well.

"What happened to Kim?" I ask.

"We went to her house," Tris begins. "When we got there she waited outside for the longest time, just looking at the damage. I never really had a home, so I wouldn't know what it is like to lose one. When she decided to go in, she fainted on sight. Right in the entryway was her family, all charred and dead. It was just too much for her to handle."

I nodded and looked at the sleeping red head. It seems that she has just joined the club of having no family what so ever.

"Katniss," a voice on my communicator said.

I pull up the device and find the hologram of Ahsoka standing there.

"Is everything alright," she asks. "I heard Kim went down."

"She's fine," I said. "She found her parents."

"Ah," Ahsoka said and that was all that she needed to know.

"We are going to head back to 13," I say to Ahsoka and she nods.

"Okay," she says. "I'll call our boys in. Have a safe flight."

"Thanks," I say and the hologram disappears.

We board the gunship and take off back to 13. About halfway there, Kim starts to wake up and Tris is immediately at her side. I can tell that they are going to be very good friends, and to think about the rocky start they got into. Hell, they found out that their meeting place would be in a death arena. Now they were best friends.

"Where am I," Kim asks.

"You're on a gunship headed back to 13," I say while holding Artemis in my arms. I took off the sling when we entered the craft and decided to hold my baby in my arms. I didn't like flying all that much, and Artemis was very calming to me, so they balanced out pretty evenly.

"You're gonna be okay," Tris consoles her.

"Yeah," Kim says. "It's just hard to take in all at once."

"Hey," Tris says. "You want to know about my tattoo?"

"Sure," Kim says. "I was wondering what it was."

"Well each bird represents a person in my family," Tris begins. "My father, mother, and brother. Now when I was very young, there was a fire in my house. My father and brother both didn't make it out of the house, but my mother managed to get me out. She protected me so well, that she ended up dying because of the smoke in her lungs. I moved to the academy after the incident and quickly swallowed my grief in training. I got these tattoos about a year after my family's death. Now, I plan on getting a fire insignia on my right shoulder for Tobias. The word that would best describe him would be dauntless. Almost no fear, very brave, and stood up for just about anyone. We were hanging out one night and he said probably the wisest thing that I have ever heard. He said that most people know him for his bravery and strength, but he didn't want to be known by just one thing. He wanted to be brave, smart, honest, and selfless. He wanted to be everything good about a person in the games. He died protecting me, and I should honor him every day for it."

I look at Tris and see a very broken girl. This ruthless world has taken the best of all of us, and chewed it up, spit it on the ground, and rubbed its foot in it. This was one of the strongest girls that she had ever known, and she had a past very similar to hers, except hers was before the games.

"I'm so sorry Tris," Kim says.

"What's in the past is past," Tris says. "I find stuff to move on every single day."

At that point we touch down in the hangar of 13, and the gunship doors open. Standing there is Ahsoka with a worried look on her face. Members of the 501st come out of the gunship first and salute her. I have recently learned some of their names, and I liked their personality. The ones that accompanied them to 12 were Rex, Cody, Fives, Echo, and Tup.

"Job well done boys," Ahsoka addressed them. "Go get some food and sleep. I've got a fresh round of drinks on me in the cafeteria waiting for you."

"Yes sir," they all said in unison.

"Dismissed," Ahsoka said and the troops left the hangar.

Katniss smiled as she watched the troopers exit the building. They were loose, relaxed, and seemed to be having a good time. Just to think that this could be what all the districts could be like at the end of all this fighting would be amazing.

"C'mon," Ahsoka says. "I want you to meet some people."

We all nod and follow her out of the hangar. She leads us down a series of corridors towards a set of compartments. Down on hallway are six rooms and they have name tags on the door of all of them.

"These will be your living quarters," Ahsoka said. "Strictly for the Mockingjay team, all the current members will stay here and more can be added to the hallway adjacent to this one."

There was a hallway across the main hall that had the same setup, with six rooms, but the name tags were blank.

"Now before you get settled into your own rooms, I want to introduce you to two new members of the team."

She leads us towards a room with the name Load on the tag. She knocks and the door opens. There stands the kid that Ron volunteered for in the games.

"Wade Load," Ahsoka says. "He will be our technical supervisor in our fight against the Capitol. You may recognize him as the boy that Ron volunteered for in the games this year. It turns out that he is actually a very gifted computer scientist and managed to escape from 12."

"Kim," he says. "I'm so sorry about Ron. I owe him my life, if I were to go to the games, I would have been killed for sure. Every minute I have is trying to find a break in their system so we can find out where they are keeping him and how we can get him out."

"Thank you," was all that Kim managed. She was still a little distraught from the past events.

"Very well," Ahsoka said. "Soldier Load, you are dismissed."

They walked out of his room and moved to one directly across the hall. On this name tag it read Skywalker. Ahsoka knocked on the door and it opened to reveal a woman in about her 30s.

"Ahsoka," the woman said. "It's good to see you."

"As well as you Padme," Ahsoka replied. "These are the other members of your team, Katniss Everdeen, Kim Possible, and Tris Prior. Oh and Artemis Everdeen, sleeping nice a tight in Katniss's arms."

"It is nice to meet you all," Padme said. "I'm sorry to be rude though, but I just got Luke and Leia down for a nap. Can this wait until breifing later?"

"Of course," Ahsoka said.

Padme smiled and closed the door, leaving them in the hallway by themselves.

"Well get settled into your rooms," Ahsoka said. "There is a briefing at 1700 hours at command, don't be late."

"Alright Ahsoka," I say.

I walk into the apartment that says Everdeen and take a look around. It is small, about the size of my house in the seam, but cozy. There is a small bathroom, a bed, and a crib. There is also a dresser that holds baby clothes and two changes of my uniform, plus my uniform jacket and long sleeve.

"Well baby," I say to the sleeping Artemis. "This is gonna be home for a while. Let's get all cozied up."

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