I'm standing in the flames, it's a beautiful kind of pain.
Setting fire to yesterday, find the light, find the light, find the light.

Day One Night

Jude, Auriga, and Foster were nothing close to the dream team. They fought just like everybody else. Auriga kept yelling at Jude for thrashing his hands around his pockets too much, and she yelled at Foster for being generally sour.

Foster didn't say much in his own defense, but growled and glowered at the girl as the first day wore on. Jude was similar, opting out of a potential fight with an uneasy smile. The things that their female ally got mad at were menial, and if a war could be avoided with ignorance, then that was the route they'd both choose to go down.

The day, however, wore on with tension. They found a nice roost to spend the night in a restroom that Foster barricaded with two trashcans, and by the lighting of fluorescent lights, they made a meal out of smoothies and sandwiches snatched from a nearby restaurant.

Everything was fine. The trio was making small talk, nodding to each other, but paranoia crept up on each one of them, crawling up their backs with long fingernails and words of suspicion.

Finally somebody decided to say something.

"I don't know what I would do if somebody walked in on us in here," Jude said, half-laughing.

"You'd die, most likely," Auriga snorted.

Foster joined in with an eye roll. "How are you so fast to know he'd die?"

"I can sense these things in people," she replied quickly.

Foster rose up, his argument more sound and sure than hers as they continued bickering. Jude sat quietly on the ground, back pressed against a trashcan.

"I can tell that you'd die fast, too," Auriga spat at Foster. "Look at you. A weakling from District Twelve, just like all the others. You're outer district scum who's never touched a weapon in your life. You'd have to be blind not to know how to kill if you were from One."

"Because you all get spears mailed right to your doors when you're three!" Foster cried out.

"Not true," Auriga said sullenly.

The night wore on with tension and unrest, and the trio alternated between shifts. Auriga's thoughts were filled with flurries of paranoia and stress both.

It'd be so easy, she thought to herself. Just to end Foster right now and get him out of the way. He wasn't the one I wanted, anyways, and he's only making my life more difficult. I only wanted Jude. And who cares about tearing our alliance apart early on? Drama doesn't get you killed, it gets you sponsors. Support. Life.

It'd be so easy.

It was even easier, she discovered, to rip a knife across Foster's throat, throw the blade down a sink, and pretend to be fast asleep as the cannon blasted Jude awake.

18th- Foster Carney, District Twelve Male.

Day Two

Aegis and Silo had found relief in a restaurant stall for the night, Aegis curled up under a sink, and Silo resting next to an oven. They had both tossed and turned throughout the night, but neither would admit it. Scrounging around in the fridge and finding some fixings to eat, they moved on.

It didn't take them long to find another alliance, not long at all; and by complete accident, of course.

Arika, Kaori, and Cerise had made camp in a neighboring restaurant stall, drawn by the allure of a warm oven to snuggle up to. Groggy, disheveled, they were panicked when they saw the two older tributes sliding in, looking around for anything to help them.

"What do we do?" squeaked out Cerise, half-terrified.

Kaori was mechanic as she reached for her axe, her lips set in a firm straight line. "There's only one thing to do."

Arika seemed to be the only voice of reason. "But they're so much older!" she growled. "The girl's seventeen and the guy is eighteen, and just one of them could take all three of us down!"

"Then we've got to divide and conquer," Kaori laughed out bitterly, quietly. Her glittering eyes stared at the redhead, straying further and further from her larger comrade, lips parted slightly as she puzzled over a spatula.

Before Cerise or Arika could utter another word, Kaori was up, slinking in the shadows that the large pieces of machinery provided, axe clutched in her two small, cold hands.

"What do we do?" Cerise hissed, her fear quickly being replaced by apprehension.

Arika didn't say anything. Instead, Cerise glanced over and found her digging in the knapsack, searching, digging until she pulled out a singular item.

A small silver sword.

"What do you think you're doing?" breathed Cerise, making sure to be quiet as she whipped her head back and forth from Arika standing up, to Kaori pressing herself against a steel fridge, not five feet from the redheaded victim.

"When somebody falls, be it somebody from this alliance or theirs, you run. No matter what, we all need to book it out of here." Arika's eyes looked a thousand years older as she locked gazes with Cerise, then broke it off quickly. "I… I didn't want to do this. Not so early, I mean."

"I have faith in you…" Cerise tightened her grip on a strap of the backpack. "Please be safe…"

Arika gave a feeble laugh, whipping her head back to make sure Aegis was still distracted. "See you in a bit, I hope."

Cerise could only watch in blank desperation as Arika followed Kaori's footsteps, meeting up with the small Eight girl behind the steel fridge. The two exchanged a look, glancing at each other's weapons, and their stares turned to Aegis.

Silo called something out, how he'd be back in a moment. Aegis turned her head, said something scathingly snarky in return, and turned her attention back to the kitchen cutlery.

The two younger girls pounced.

It was almost painful to watch. Aegis's head smacked against the hard flooring in an instant, and moaning, she tried to come up for air. Kaori was relentless and Arika was a willing apprentice. Flipping the older girl onto her back, Kaori straddled her chest, grabbed her head by a single red braid, and brought it down on the ground again with a sickening crack.

Cerise's heart pounded a mile a minute and she covered her eyes.

That way she didn't have to see the lifelessness in Aegis's dark brown eyes. The way her lips moved without air, whispering for mercy, as much as she would have liked to scream and shout for vengeance. The way Cerise's mouth turned down the tiniest bit as Kaori reached for her axe. The way Aegis was a pinned animal, pressed to the ground, unable to move even when the axe drove itself through her neck.

And even when Cerise uncovered her eyes, trembling and shaking and thinking of her parents, completely numb, yet terrified, she didn't look over at the body, didn't look at the ring of blood pooling around Aegis's limp body. She only saw Arika reaching her hand out, and she only saw her own two feet, fleeing from the scene of the crime as a cannon rocketed out over the entire arena.

17th- Aegis Crowley, District Three Female.

The rest of the day was relatively quiet.

Silo, after discovering his ally's dead body, raided her corpse for their shared loot and went into hiding in yet another nearby restaurant.

Kiah and Solari hid out in a bathroom. Maybe they'd have better luck than Jude, Auriga, and Foster.

Kelsier, Jada, Corton, and Jazzlyn hung in an uncomfortable balance. Their day was quiet, stalking around for tributes without much success. A glimpse here, a sound there, but no real progress.

The deaths were about to get faster, faster, faster. The time spent on Aegis and Foster's deaths would not exist. These Games were going to be brisker than anybody had expected.

Day Three

The Careers were in a rift. Corton and Kelsier wanted to seek out tributes. Jada and Jazzlyn thought it'd be better to stay put. Words were exchanged. Kelsier got a knife in her forearm. Jada narrowly avoided a sword. Corton got upset, and, in his rage, smashed a mace over Jazzlyn's head.

With that, Jada fled.

16th- Jazzlyn Li, District Two Female.

Silo was alone. He wanted vengeance over the early death of his promising ally. Armed with a couple knives, he looked for Aegis's murderers, but wound up in the claws of Auriga, who silenced him rather quickly. One of the biggest threats in the game fell the hardest.

15th- Silo Emmer, District Ten Male.

Jude couldn't stand the person that Auriga had become, and after she slit Silo's throat, he confronted her. She yelled at him for being a wimp who came to the Games unprepared. Jude did nothing but stare at her, yelling about how she didn't have to make it so easy for these kids to die. He might have been arrogant, rich, greedy, but he was still human, and he still recognized something right from wrong.

He overpowered Auriga – she always had been smaller than him. As she spit upwards at him, he gashed her throat open.

14th- Auriga Lefleur, District One Female.

Corton and Kelsier, still brewing from Jada's disappearance and Jazzlyn's rapid death, hung in an uneasy balance for the remainder of Day Three. Nighttime fell over the airport, and the two nestled in a juice bar next to a glassy window wall that looked over a runway of planes.

Kelsier was afraid now. She should have run with Jada while she had the chance.

Corton heard knives tinkling, and as she bent down while he was supposedly sleeping, he pounced, overpowering her and bringing her head down on the floor, hard.

13th- Kelsier Arkell, District Nine Female.

Day Four

Kaori and Arika hadn't found Cerise yet. They had wandered the entirety of the previous day with no success. They did, however, find Klaus and Sutter.

Klaus was slimy. Sutter was cowardly. Kaori was malicious. Arika was willing.

It would be a good fight.

Kaori tussled with Klaus, and Arika took on Sutter. Klaus had the obvious advantage over Kaori, but Sutter parried with Arika, and she was able to reason with him – he'd get to save his own skin if he handed over his stronger ally.

And, for reasons unknown, Sutter nodded willingly.

Three on one. Klaus was shot down within a minute, and in the end, it was Kaori dragging her knife across his neck.

12th- Klaus Gaveston, District Three Male.

Devyn and Eilat, much like other certain alliances, were uncomfortable. Devyn was no coward, but she was terrified of Eilat and what she could now achieve. Caleigh should have been a warning for the girl from Ten to run. But if Devyn was one thing, she was strong.

And as she made the wrong decision to stay with Eilat, she rode that decision out strongly.

Eilat stirred the pot. She made comments and digs about Devyn's appearance and voice. Those Devyn could handle, and she poked fun at Eilat's eyebrows and fable-like backstory. The girl from Seven, however, stupidly took them personally, and the two were soon at each other's necks.

And somehow, the idiot girl with the laugh like a goat came out on top, digging her hatchet deep into Devyn's chest.

11th- Devyn Aldion, District Ten Female.

Kaori had separated from her group. They had argued. The young girl from Eight had wanted to kill. Sutter and Arika were unrelenting. With a nod to each of them and a small sigh, the dark girl had plodded off on her own.

She knew that she could win and make Eight proud again. They hadn't seen a formidable victor in so long.

She wanted to see victory. She wanted to see herself rise to the top.

But instead, Kaori found herself staring at the sleeping body of Jude Caswell, hidden, ironically, in a foreign money booth.

It was too easy to shove the hatchet up his ribcage and steal the last few coins that were nestled in his pockets.

10th- Jude Caswell, District Five Male.

Day Four dragged on after Jude's cannon erupted. Cerise wondered how her parents were faring without her. Arika and Sutter indulged themselves in a donut shop. Corton received a sponsor gift. Jada slept most of the day away, though nightmares didn't leave her alone. Kaori jingled her new coins and watched for other tributes. Kiah and Solari talked within their little hideout. And cocky Eilat, delighted with her new kill, strolled the halls of the massive airport without a fear in the world.

There was almost a sense of peace.

Day Five

Nothing lasts forever, not even the bravest of the brave.

Corton and Jada butted heads when Jada was raiding a clothing store where Corton happened to be roosting. He couldn't believe her luck – and in Jada's case, lack of it. She knew it'd be difficult to kill him. Eilat's jeering face from when she couldn't quite do it resounded in her mind.

But she had to.

No matter how difficult it was.

Parrying, teasingly at first, and then more insistent, Corton found his dueling match. Their swords collided numerous times, and all of a sudden he found himself pressed up against a mannequin.

"You're good at this," he chuckled.

Jada's face was set, and as he started ducking out of the way, she sliced.

Jada was top of her class and her newfound motivation was shoving her to do the deed. Did anybody really expect her to miss, even with the most manipulative boy in the Games right in front of her?

9th- Corton Paventi, District Two Male.

Before his death, as Jada had pressed him up to a mannequin, Corton had slipped inside the baggy pockets a small device. Jada didn't notice it ticking down as she went back to her raiding of the clothing store. Within five minutes, Corton's special sponsor gift erupted throughout the large store.

8th- Jada Paquet, District Four Female.

Day Six

Hiding had seemed to be the best opportunity for them. But the Gamemakers were bored. Now going on a week of the Games, they had done nothing throughout the course of the Games except for hide. Directing the newfound duo of Arika and Sutter towards their restroom, they found each other.

Kiah and Solari wouldn't kill children. Not even to save their own asses.

They pleaded. Not with the girl from Six and the boy from Eight, but with sponsors. Two suicide pills. Two nightlock berries. A gun with two bullets. Anything painless, not a wicked way to go.

And somewhere within District Eleven, their prayers were answered.

A single basket popped out of the ceiling, coming through a ceiling tile. A surprised Sutter caught it and forked it over to the pair from Eleven. It was almost gorgeously tragic, to see the beautiful pain and agony of the two best friends who just wanted to get out together.

They had bonded. They had become best friends, even without Kyran. They didn't want to imagine life without each other.

The capsules were in their mouths, dissolving on their tongues, and Arika and Sutter watched as they sunk to the ground, eyelids fluttering shut.

It was almost reminiscent of something.

District Eleven, despite having sent the pills, were in shock. They weren't even injured. They probably would have won the fight against the younger tributes.

But that's just the thing – Kiah and Solari were never fighters.

7th- Kiah Devlan, District Eleven Female.

6th- Solari Cordova, District Eleven Male.

Day Seven

Eilat was still roaming the halls. Having seen no action since Day Four, she was upset, and she wanted a new kill. She wanted some action, or at the very least, she wanted to talk to somebody.

Cerise was nestled under a chair, gazing out a window at the airplanes. It had begun to snow, and she was daresay enjoying herself, watching the fluffy flakes drift down and coat the ground. She knew she should have been hiding, but she had been so cramped hiding under a service desk for the past day.

The girl from Seven had good eyes, though they were masked under those wretched eyebrows.

With a cry of delight, she ran over to Cerise, who had heard her footsteps even before Eilat squealed. Eilat presumed her an easy kill. She underestimated Cerise, just had everybody else had in the past.

She never expected the small girl to whip around at the last moment, sending a dagger shooting straight for her chest.

It had been a shot in the dark for Cerise. The girl behind her could have been a Career or a past ally, and she wouldn't have cared.

As Eilat fell to the ground, a dagger impaled in her right lung, Cerise stabbed again.

It was the death worth telling, which Eilat's friends would recite over and over as a fairytale for years to come.

5th- Eilat Closeau, District Seven Female.

With the final four now declared, the Capitol was restless. They had never expected these four. They had wanted Corton, Kelsier, Caleigh. They didn't want the three youngest girls and a coward who killed a crowd favorite at the beginning. Nevertheless, bets were made. Sutter, clearly, was the crowd favorite for being oldest.

That isn't to say that the three girls also didn't get considerable support simply for appeal.

Arika and Sutter were a strong duo. Cerise had made a kill, and didn't feel a tinge of regret. Kaori had become an entirely new girl. Everybody had lost themselves within the airport. It was simply a matter of time before one of them would emerge, and reinvent themselves again.

Day Eight

The final day of the Games saw angst.

Kaori had run into Arika and Sutter, her old trio. Without a single word from the girl from Eight, she charged them. Arika was shocked, thinking her old friend would at least say hello. Sutter was unprepared.

Yet somehow, it was Kaori, the smallest of all four, that ended up on the ground, thanks to a knock over the head by her district partner.

But who would claim the kill?

"I wanted you and me to work, Kaori," Arika said with sad eyes, kneeling over the young girl. "You and me as allies – we were so good. I think we would have been really, really good friends if these weren't the circumstances." She shook her head. "This is all my fault."

Kaori's blackened eyes gazed up at her, devoid of any hope or light. "You can't blame yourself for these things," she muttered. "It was me who lost my wits and broke up our alliance. None of this was on you, Arika."

"I just…" Arika shook her head again, sighing. "I wish things could have been different."

In the end, it was Sutter who drove the knife into Kaori's throat. Arika would have never had the guts.

4th- Kaori Saito, District Eight Female.

Now down to the final three, Sutter and Arika hovered uncertainly over Kaori's corpse.

"What do we do now?" Arika asked.

"There's one more person out there," Sutter said. "I know we aren't the last two."

"What do we do, then?" Arika repeated. "Do we stay together, and fight Cerise together? Or do we get it over with now, so we don't have to come down to the very end and have to fight each other for real?"

"One of us would have a better chance of winning if we faced her together," Sutter replied grimly.

"But I don't want it to come to that," said Arika. She bit her lip, staring down at Kaori's limp form. "I… I want it to be fair for all of us. I respect Cerise."

Sutter scratched his head. He didn't want Arika to keep repeating the girl's name. He just wanted to forget that there was yet another girl out there, one who would either have to kill or be killed. "Then let's fight now. Get it over with."

"Is that what you want?"

Sutter looked up, surprised.

He didn't know what he wanted. He didn't know.

But if there was one thing he did know, it was that he could lie.

"That's what I want, yes."

Each of them had a dagger. Neither of them were quite prepared for what would happen next.

Arika made the first move, lashing out at Sutter's shoulder.

Slow to the chase, Sutter ducked barely out of the way and made a movement towards her belly. It was clear neither of them had the full heart to fight, which was precisely what the Capitol didn't want.

So they did something.

They set the airport on fire.

It was unnoticeable at first. While Arika and Sutter were making little lashes towards each other, Cerise had been sleeping when a tongue of fire licked at her feet. With a shriek, she leapt up, seeing only flames of gold.

The Gamemakers were pushing her towards the other remaining two.

It didn't take her long to arrive, and even less time for Arika and Sutter to realize that they had limited time, thanks to the incoming smoke. Sutter's movements were jerkier. Arika's were quicker.

Then Cerise came in, yelling like a howler monkey, sword clutched in hand.

There were to be no greetings for this finale. Just blades and blood.

Sutter, distracted, looked back at the new arrival. That was his fatal mistake.

Arika's sword dug deep, and he fell to the ground, his chest on fire, writhing and writhing and screaming as the fire suddenly set itself upon him, searing his tight skin and eating at his clothes. Arika and Cerise watched with wild eyes as the boy's gaze bit into them, tears fogging the sides of his vision, pleading and crying.

Nobody was there to save him.

Maybe it was for the best.

3rd- Sutter Pryce, District Eight Male.

Arika and Cerise. Cerise and Arika.

District Six versus District Five.

Former allies.

Two of the youngest tributes in the game at just fifteen each.

Both killers.

They had so much in common. It was sort of like they were the same person.

But one of them had to go.

"Out of everybody in the Games, I never would have expected it to be us," Cerise said in disbelief.

"Never in a million years." Arika shook her head.

Conversation, they quickly decided, would only prolong the process of elimination, and the flames were flickering fast.

All in all, it was a short battle.

Cerise aimed for Arika's abdomen.

Arika lashed at Cerise's neck.

Cerise landed a hit on Arika's collarbone, slicing through the skin and colliding with bone. Hissing, Arika leapt back, right into a flame. Now screaming, Arika ran forward, her head whipped behind her to look at the fire…

And right into Cerise.

It happened in slow motion. Cerise's arms flailed, her eyes widened, and her body fell backwards, tripping over Sutter's charring corpse, and right into the worst of the fire.

Sweat dripping down Arika's temple, she watched as Cerise started screaming, trying to run but, having fallen to her knees, was unable.

It was so painful to watch her former friend bleed, skin popping and cracking as a result of the heat.

2nd- Cerise Ramirez, District Five Female.

But in the end, it was what she had had to do.

No longer would Cerise dream about her parents, dreams that would never come true. In fact, they'd forget about their daughter in the length of a year.

Maybe it was for the better, so that Arika could live on. After all, she had so much to live for.

Victor- Arika Rillon, Distrixt Six Female.

A/N: Beautiful Pain by Eminem featuring Sia.

Yeah. I never in a million years would have done a summary. I guess you all could have seen it coming, though. Months without updates, and when they came, they were sporadic or short. Kinda sucks that this is the way I'm going out with a bang, but at least I'm free from this site.

Watch as in five months I drop a new SYOT and think I'll have the motivation to finish that. Just watch me.

Life's really taken its toll on me. That sounds so fake and cliché, but life's terrible at the moment and I'm struggling. School. Family. Deaths. Sicknesses. Relationships. Sports. I'm in a rough spot right now and to top it all off, I have new classes and conditioning for soccer. So, yeah. There's my shitty excuse to finishing this story.

I really am sorry to all the submitters (all eighty plus of you, ahah) and everybody who will read this story in the future. I'd wanted to be cool, an accomplished author with multiple SYOT's for people to pick through and read, but I guess this isn't my proudest story.

These were not my original plans – I had Cerise and Sutter winning at some points – but in the end, Arika seemed the best victor to complete this all off. Congratulations to Ben, or ElementalEvolution, on his first victor!

Is this goodbye? Honestly, probably. I mean, I'm still here. Sometimes. If you really miss me that much, shoot me a PM. Replies are slow, but I'm here. It's not like I'm dead.

To wrap up this long, long A/N, I just wanna give a shoutout to all my friends and readers. Every single one of you, from those who hate me to those who worship the ground I walk on. ( my dog) This has been so crazy. This site has helped me through very much, from when I was unconfident and needed a boost, to when I just wanted to talk to somebody. And every single one of you made it possible for me to grow and develop, and I could never thank you enough. All of you… you're all really great. Really, really, really great, and I appreciate all the support that you've given me over my four years on this site.

Four years.

It literally feels like a lifetime.

My oldest stories are still here (well, the ones that I couldn't bring myself to delete, anyways) if you wanna take a crack at how I've improved ever since I arrived here. I was one of those '200 words a chapter' people. Now look. 4k and counting.



Final thoughts?

Thoughts on the victor?

Any last words for me?

Well… yeah. I guess this concludes this. Final thank you to everybody who's helped me on here on my stories, and to the 'new generation'… good luck. It's rough.

It's been real.