Disclaimer: The Hunger Games is not mine.

Note: Welcome, readers both new and old, to my latest SYOT. Submissions are still open; information and the tribute form are on my profile.

This story follows my other two – Doomed to Die and Edge of Chaos – but should still make perfect sense if you haven't read them. If you have, expect some familiar faces, as well as some new ones.

So, without further adieu, the beginning of the story...

Born in Pain
The 25th Hunger Games

This year, as a reminder to the rebels that the horrors of war show no partiality or distinction, the names of all eligible tributes will be placed in a single reaping bowl, and three tributes will be selected. There will be no volunteers.

Prologue, Part I
Moments of Transition

Helius Florum
Head Gamemaker

"Why three, Florum?"

Helius looked up, surprised, wondering how long President Hyde had been standing there. Helius grinned. "Something wrong with three, Mr. President?"

Hyde shook his head. "Not 'wrong,' exactly. Just a bit … anticlimactic. This is the first Quarter Quell. We could double the number of tributes. Triple it, if that's what you want. But, instead, you asked for three from each district. Why?"

Helius shrugged. "I've always liked the number three. It's built into our lives, you know. Any life – at any moment – can be divided into three parts: the past, the present, and the future. What was, what is, and what will be. It's the same way with stories. Any good story has three parts. The beginning of the story. The middle of the story." He smiled a little. "And the end of the story."

Hyde nodded his understanding. "You mean to go through with it, then – your resignation?"

Helius nodded. "I think it's time."

"The people won't be happy."



"It's good to leave while that's still the case. Much better than leaving the way my predecessor left."

Hyde nodded. "You've got a point, I suppose."

"I usually do. Besides, twenty-five years is quite enough for anyone – and twenty-one of them as Head Gamemaker. It's been a good run. I've enjoyed it. But … it's time. Time to pass the reins to someone younger. Someone more ambitious."

"The same thought had occurred to me."

Helius nodded. "So you mean to go through with it, too."

"Not right away. I'll wait a few weeks after the Games. After the festivities have died down. But, yes. It's time for someone else to take the reins. Twenty-five years since the rebellion. Twenty-five years of peace. I'd say I've earned my retirement."

Helius poured them each a glass of wine. "I'll drink to that."

And they did.

"The future is all around us, waiting in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation."