CHAPTER FORTY TWO
To my surprise, tiny limbs grew out of the the metal balls. They were robots. They scanned the craft with lasers before saying in unison, "Russia Visit 7777, you may land."
I breathed a sigh of relief as our craft landed. "It is safe to leave your seats. I hope you enjoyed your flight," the mechanical voice said, as everyone left their seats. I found Genia among all the unfamiliar people. She smiled as I followed her off the ramp. At the bottom of the ramp, dozens of Chinese people eagerly awaited our arrival. I had seen people of Chinese ancestry in Panem, but I had never seen so many similar looking people together before in my life. I understood a little of what they said. I picked up phrases such as, "Finally...Interesting Craft...Why is there a little girl with them?..." I knew the little girl they were referring to was me, though I was almost fourteen, since I was the only kid on the mission. We shook hands with many Chinese officials, who attempted to speak basic, forced Russian. Surprisingly, even my Russian was better than theirs. "Kayte Kovski," I told a man as he shook your hand. In broken Russian, he asked me why I was on the mission. I quickly came up with the lie that I was a relative of one of the other members and they believed that it would be useful to have a teenage ambassador to associate with adolescents. The man nodded, satisfied with my false answer. I followed the rest of the people to the hotel they provided us. It was very plain, consisting of simple, all white furniture. The carpet and the walls were white too. Apart from the lack of color, it wasn't very different from the other rooms I had resided in, but it seemed even more high tech. Everywhere I seemed to go to, I was faced with even better technology. The walls were covered with screens. I dragged my finger on the screen and a bunch of tiny rectangles popped up. Below them, read names of different themes, such as "Flower power", "Brilliant blue," "Preppy pink," and other themes. I had no idea what it was for, but after reading all the choices I chose "Enchanting Electricity." Suddenly, my room changed color. It turned into brilliant metallic turquoise with bright white thunderbolts shooting out of the roof. I almost screamed in shock. That was so cool. My bed was brilliant, sparkling turquoise and the walls were blue. Bright volts of hologram light burst out the walls. I picked another color on the screen, "Serene Salmon." The room shifted into soft swirls of orange and pink. A flowery smelling mist dribbled down from the roof. I changed it to "Amazing Aqua" and fish tanks appeared on all the walls, the roof, and the floor. I felt as though I was in the ocean. This was so awesome. The room technology here was better than the ones in the President's Mansion, the best place in Panem. This was just a hotel; I wondered what their leader's residence would be like. I looked at a few more interesting color themes before switching back to "Enchanting Electricity." I changed out of the clothes I was wearing into the pajamas I had been provided before I sat down on the bed, and opened the files Phobos had given me back in Panem. I was startled to hear a soft, woman's voice say in Russian, "Are you finding everything to your pleasure, Miss Kovski?" Were there Avoxes here too? Except of course, Avoxes who could talk.
"Who are you?" I demanded.
"Chi-333," the voice responded.
"Where are you?" I wondered.
"The screen, of course. I am the voice of your room," it said. Oh! It was a robot! It's voice sounded so realistic, I couldn't even tell.
"Oh, yes I'm enjoying everything just fine. Thank you very much," I said.
"Your pleasure. Well then, goodbye," I heard a pinging noise and the voice ceased speaking. I opened the files, wondering what I was to do. At the top of the folder read, "Kayte Kovski." I turned the page. Inside, was the description of Kayte's appearance and life. Like me, she was thirteen, a little more than five feet, dark haired, and light eyed. She was interested in animals, art, science, and writing. To cover up for my bad Russian, the files said she had a speech impairment. Since I was the only one on the mission who didn't speak fluent Russian, they had to somehow cover up for my strange accent. I guess I could play my new part alright, since I can play Athena on a daily basis. In fact, now, I'm Zeze in disguise as Athena, in disguise as Kayte. Kayte had two brothers and lived in a small house in Southern Russia. She was an actual girl who was spied on for making my newest disguise. So if the Chinese doubted our existence, they could just check the Russian population papers, where our names would be written. The next page described the features of my clothing. My clothes were apparently all bulletproof and fire resistant. My watched could turn into a gun. When I met up with the rest of the group, we would be provided even more weapons. A small packet slipped out of my folder. After reading the front, I was shocked to realize that I had also been provided with a skintight chameleon suit. On the next page, the names and identities of my mission members was written. I quickly scanned that page before turning to the next one. Finally! This was where our mission was described. We were to meet up in room 101. Then we would meet with the Chinese leaders. We would discuss the war strategies that China planned to exchange with Russia. After recording our conversations on our computer watches, we would send them to Shayne, who turned it into text. The next day's plans were the dangerous ones. At four in the morning, we would have to break into the Chinese meeting rooms. Two people would go to each room. There, we would have to install tiny, microscopic video cameras to record every conversation the Chinese government would discuss. Then, wearing gloves so our fingerprints would go undetected, we were to scan the most significant documents with our watches. That was about it. If we safely survived all that, we were to go home. The final page in the folder said what to do if we were captured. If there was no possible way to escape, we were to allow them to take us and answer all their questions - with lies. There was a whole section on the false answers we were to say to their questions. I put the folder away and checked my watch. In five minutes, I was supposed to go to the meeting room. I took off the pajamas and put on the chameleon suit under the outfit I wore on the hovercraft. I put my computer watch into map mode before leaving the room. It led me to room 101. I knocked on the door and it automatically opened. Around a large table sat nearly all the people on our mission. I sat in seat 51. A while later, a few more people entered and the meeting begun. A tall man stood up. "Hello, I am Hermes," he said, "I am the mission leader. Most of you know me, but for the ones who don't, I'll introduce myself. I like straightforward work. No hesitation, no useless details. I don't take any whining or complaining. If you mess up, though, I try to brush it away. Don't dwell on your old mistakes, just try not to make new ones." I didn't know what to think. It was good that he wasn't going to punish us for our mistakes, but he seemed so gruff. Oh well, it was better than if we had a leader who was gruff and strict about errors. "Alright, I'm assuming all of you have read your folders so I don't need to explain anything," he said. Everyone nodded. "Alright then, we were so busy preparing for this, we had no time to get acquainted with each other. So everybody, go meet your fellow mission members. Everyone got up and started milling around the room. I met bunches of people. Vania, who was Genia's sister, was extremely nice. Rex was the tallest and most muscular man I had ever seen in my life. There were dozens if people I didn't remember. "It's nice to meet you. I'm Brutus," I heard a familiar man's voice say. I turned and gasped. Extending his hand to shake with me, stood President Coin's husband, the Head Peacekeeper from District Three.