Prologue One: The First Strike

He needed a breath of fresh air.

The old man stepped out onto the balcony adjacent to his office, overlooking the magnificent City Circle of the Capitol. He ran his wrinkled hand through his salt-and-pepper hair, which actually would be fully gray if he didn't maintain a regular schedule of dying it ever so slightly. Far below him, he could see colorful splotches of whatever-was-the-latest-trend emerge onto the streets, mostly made up of the earliest group of Capitol citizens leaving for their lunch break. Normally, he'd decide to go ahead and eat as well even though it wasn't quite time for Gamemakers to break for lunch—being the Head Gamemaker had its perks—but today, he wasn't hungry. He watched the Presidential Mansion across the City Circle with worried eyes, waiting.

The phone in his pocket suddenly rang and he fumbled to pick up the call. "Hello?" he said, "This is Adrastus Beaufleur."

"Adrastus!" the voice said, "This is the doctor."

"Thank heavens you called! I've been waiting for news all day," he said, "Is everything alright?"

The doctor seemed hesitant. "No… It's horrible news, actually."

His heart sank. "What's wrong? Has the President's condition worsened?"

"The President is… dead."

Adrastus' hand balled into a fist, and then he released the tension. He had to stay calm. Cameras were everywhere. "I… see. So we should brace for a purging."

The voice from the phone paused, almost as if he didn't expect the calm response. "Well… it's possible…"

"I'd say it's probable. Will you be safe?"

"Don't worry about me; you have much more to worry about. Head Gamemaker is a precarious position to be in right now."

Adrastus sighed. "Unfortunately so. Look— I have business to attend to. Stay careful."

"You too."

He needed to sit down. He stumbled back into the safety of his office, where he was certain no bugs were planted, no cameras hidden, no spies snooping—he made sure of that himself. Falling back into his plush chair, he pinched the bridge of his nose as the stress felt like it was going to crush him.

They had lost. For the past few years, an ambitious politician had risen through the ranks of Panem's government, using his connections to the President to his own advantage. A few days ago, that man was appointed as Vice President. Now, the President was dead. The timing was too close; there was no way this all was an unlucky accident.

Coriolanus Snow was now the President of Panem. There was no way he'd forgive all the previous bureaucrats that had tried to hinder his rise. Adrastus had done everything he could to stop Coriolanus, but the game was over. Snow had won, and it was only a matter of time until Adrastus' colleagues fell, one by one.

If he had a guess, he'd be the first to go. Now that the President was gone, he was the embodiment of the old regime. He'd fought in the war that established the Hunger Games. He'd been the personal adviser to the President for years. And he had held the position of Head Gamemaker for the past thirty-six years—ever since the very first Hunger Games. How much time did he have left?

He looked back at the holographic map in front of him that showed the Arena for the upcoming Hunger Games, but he hit a red button and the display vanished. The Hunger Games were the last thing on his mind in the moment.

The City Circle bell tower rang. It was noon. The rest of the Gamemakers would be heading out right about now, none of them knowing about the disastrous news that was just breaking, none of them worried for their jobs or their lives. And why would they? None of them had opposed Snow. In fact, none of them had even known about the political maneuvering happening right below their noses as they spent all their energy worrying about the exact shade of blue for the sky or the gradient of the landscape. Maybe it would do him good to mingle with them a bit. Forget about his troubles for the rest of the day until he had the time and privacy to full draw up his plans for survival.

During his ride down to the first floor, the elevator only made one stop. One of the young Gamemakers stepped in, instantly bowing his head at the sight of the Adrastus Beaufleur.

Adrastus gave the young man a smile. "No need for such formalities here."

"But— Sir!"

"We're just two Gamemakers, leaving for our lunch breaks, right?"


"So relax. What's the good word today?"

The young man's face lit up. "Major breakthrough, sir. We finally figured out how to implement force field technology on the scale of the arena."

"Really," Adrastus said. "Excellent work!"

"Thank you, sir!"

The elevator doors opened and the two headed for the exit. He gave the young man a pat on the back. "An old man like me needs to spend more time with young people like you. Your passion is infectious."

As they approached the glass double doors, the young man stepped ahead to get the door.

That was when the explosion happened.

A blaze of red burst out in front of them. The door shattered into a billion pieces of glassy shrapnel, deadly diamonds that instantly shredded the young man. The shockwave knocked Adrastus to the gound, where he was engulfed in burning pain. There was screaming everywhere, but it all seemed far, far away, outside his throbbing head. The ground around him shook as footsteps surrounded him. He vaguely recognized someone calling his name.

Everything went black.

A/N (This was bold and then not bold and now it's bold again)

Welp… I'm back. I didn't think I was going to do SYOTs again since they're just so much work, but I've been writing another story here (No Signal) and I'm really enjoying the process. I feel like I should go back and offer closure to my unfinished planned trilogy of SYOTs, but looking back, I bit off more that I could chew. That's why this one is a self-contained story that happens during the events of the original trilogy.

The plan as of now is to have two more prologues (and meet more super-important characters!), each uploaded about five days after the previous one. There's two reasons for that:

First, this story is going to involve a lot more than just the submitted characters, and I thought I'd take advantage of the wait time to set up the plot.

Second, I'm about two chapters away from finishing No Signal (Edit: Already finished!), and this'll give me time to finish that. Go check it out! It's not the most amazing thing ever (it's my warm-up back into the world of writing), but it means a lot to me since I planned it with two friends shortly before all three of us stopped writing.

Everything you need to know is on my profile, so head over there if you're interested. Deadline is now Sunday, May 10. That's the second and last extension. I will be allowing something called "Tribute Preview Submissions," designed for y'all that are super busy now and don't have time before the deadline. Check my profile for details!

Oh, and another quick note. The Third Person Past POV will be reserved for my Capitol characters. For the tributes, I'll write in First Person Present.

So what do you think? Of Adrastus? Of the explosion? What's happening? Will you submit?