Rokia never thought of her life as particularly chaotic. It was just life, organized around the girls’ school schedules and interrupted by trips to the Capitol.
Compared to life in district 13, though, life before was anarchy.
Rokia’s assigned to Air Defense, given a schedule that’s inked on her arm every morning. Given a regulation bunk in a regulation room with a girl, younger than her, who works in the infirmary. Told to go to sleep when the lights go off, wake up when they come back on.
That last one’s impossible.
But it’s pitch-dark in the room, just the faintest glow leaking under the door from the emergency lighting, and Rokia has nothing to do.
She tries to construct problems for herself. How to improve the shielding on the designs 13 is using, years out of date by Capitol standards. How to bring down the fast attack craft the Capitol is sending out to Eight and Eleven. How to improve targeting on 13’s missiles, and jam the Capitol’s.
It only works for so long, before she’s wondering about Allie and Kadi, Sara, grandma, Matt. Phillips, in the Capitol. Lyme.
Finally she gives up, finds her way through dim halls to the repair bay. There’s a smaller crew working there at night, but the lights are on and the tools are where Rokia left them, and she gets to work.
The guy in charge notices, promotes her, gives her space and a couple guys to work with. They assign her a communicuff. Adjust her schedule so that beyond her required military training she’s free to do as she likes.
Rokia starts sleeping in the pilots’ barracks, noisy rooms just off the hangars, curtains draped around rows of unassigned bunks. The noise is grounding. When she wakes up she knows where she is, instead of being disoriented in the black silence. When she needs to get up after a nightmare, it’s just steps to the repair bays.
She doesn’t have time to think anymore, and if she works long enough, sometimes she doesn’t dream.