The reaping. The one thing that many of Panem dreaded... but eighteen year-old Tara Callaghan was ready. The games had been going on for decades, and this time marked a new one. The seventy-first Games, four years before the Quarter Quell. She enjoyed them as much as President Snow, and the seventy-fifth would be the first special one aired that she had seen. Because she had no plans on losing when she volunteered. There was no way anyone would steal her glory of becoming a tribute. Eyeing the rest of her district, she pulled the golden-trimmed robe that was made as a gift for her by her older sister, a previous victor of the Games, as she saw Arsenios Varclain, the escort of the district, take the stage.

She didn’t need to listen to the speech he decided to give before the names were reaped, as she knew it off by heart after having listened to it for years. Tapping her feet with clear impatience, she took a look around. Some twelve year olds there were crying into their parents’ clothes, and she shook her head in disgust. They should be thrilled about this. Especially as they were being raised in one of the Career districts. The girl’s attention was brought back to the stage however as he called out a name. A scowl broke across her face as the name Glimmer Peterson was called out. She watched, waiting until she had set foot on the stage before stepping up. “No!”

Arsenios gave her a look, having just put his hand into the selection of male names, but remained silent so Tara could continue. “She should get some more training in first. I’m going to take her place, I’ve been waiting for years to be called out.” The catchphrase, may the odds be ever in your favour... she wanted the odds raised for herself, and though many would have thought their favour went in the way of not getting called, she actually wanted to be.

The Capitol resident merely looked at her for several seconds, before giving a nod. “What might your name be then?”

“Tara Callaghan,” she replied.

“Very well. The female tribute for District One will be Tara Callaghan. And for the boy to be joining her...” He reached his hand into the container, and upon pulling out the folded piece of paper he carefully opened it up before calling out a name Tara could have done without.

“Blaze Greenwood!”

Everyone was silent as the seventeen year-old joined Tara on the stage. After all, he was the one she loved the most. And here she was, supposed to kill him. The words only one could survive rang a painful bell in her head, so much so that she actually had to look away when he stood beside her. A hand cupped around hers, and she felt a gentle squeeze. Something that had always gotten her cheeks to flush, and reluctantly she looked up at Blaze’s face before returning the squeeze, lips caressing his immediately. She didn’t even notice Sheila step up onto the stage, all her attention was on the fact the days of being able to see her boyfriend drawing ever closer to its close.

A hand moved around the back of her head before she finally broke away, gaze focused on his. And she leant in to whisper something. “Whatever I do, I’ll make sure you survive. As long as you deal the final blow, I’ll be happy.”

Blaze stared, aghast. “No. You’re the one to win. You’ve been training longer than I have.”

Tara opened her mouth to retort, but she was then tapped on the shoulder by Sheila. “Come on,” the older sister said as she guided them to the train. Something told Tara that Blaze didn’t want to give the goodbyes himself, him feeling she could pass them on after his death. But that wasn’t to happen, because she planned on having him kill her in the arena, whatever it was like. However she was disturbed that Arsenios was grinning. Clearly he was excited about the couple being split apart... but in the arena, she hoped she could at least block out her emotions enough to not appear weak to the other tributes. Because that would be a lie.

Chapter 2 - The Arrival ----->

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