It has been over a year since my last posting on this story. There aren't many of you I need to apologize to, but I still feel a bit guilty. After my daughter was born (she turns one next month!), I went back to work and my flash drive was stolen by a student. This flash drive contained my entire, completed story in addition to my entire teaching life. Needless to say, it was devastating.

It took a year to get the gusto back to rewrite it, but now that I'm off for the summer, I should have some time during naps to crank out some chapters.

As I went back through and reviewed my work, I realized it was riddled with typos and redundancy which is entirely inexcusable. Those were late nights after days of remodeling my home-and a few drinks-so I wasn't in prime writing condition. Hopefully the conclusion of this story is done justice, as the plot turns are things I'm very proud of.

Welcome back to the 25th Hunger Games and thanks for your patience!

Tech continued his awkward sprint, axes in hand and a backpack on both his front and back, when he realized he had started running downhill at a virtually imperceptible rate, or at least initially. From the Cornucopia, the half mile wide expanse of grass looked completely flat as it led to the tree in the distance; however, after making his dash, Tech could see that wasn't the case it all.

The flat plain was a complete optical illusion, the kind of element that seemed to be a trick from the Gamemakers to make this direction of the arena appear undesirable but ultimately rewarding to those who took the risk. Tech imagined that his competitors wouldn't be quick to head to this area because it appeared to make them so vulnerable. The hidden valley, however, was actually fairly deep and dotted with large trees and…

A stream.

Fresh water was hidden in plain sight. Tributes normally struggled for days, sometimes until their death, to find fresh water. This stream flowed in from the forest inland—which seemed unnatural considering the massive ocean from the opposite direction—and dropped down into a large cavern Tech had absolutely no interest in exploring, but he would use it to conceal himself until Timber made his arrival.

Taking temporary shelter under a tree and, working quickly, Tech emptied his two backpacks to consolidate them into one. He could help but marvel at his haul: a deluxe sleeping bag, a compass (which seemed unneeded, considering the arena seemed to have clearly separated regions), two full canteens, assorted nuts and berries, a small length of rope, a rain poncho made from the same material as the arena-issued jacket, a med kit and a filet knife presumably for fish, but Tech decided to keep that in the front of the pack in case a need arose. He secured the smaller axes to the pack using the rope, shoved the rest inside, and made his way over to where the stream reached the cavern and dropped out of the arena.

Tech was extremely skeptical of the dark, mossy, seemingly bottomless pit which was made slick by the rain that slowly began to fall. He couldn't see far past his feet or hear the water hit any sort of basin.

A different hiding place was being seriously considered when the cannon shattered Tech's thoughts to represent the dead.

Ten shots.

That was on the high end of the norm, but not exceptional based on Tech's research, especially considering one Tribute exploded prior to the melee because of Tech.

Tech became still, standing adjacent to the mouth of the cavern. His trick killed another Tribute, and Tech had no idea who the child was.

Not even a face to go with his action.

He had felt so remorseless, he even tried to kill Porcelain, causing who knows what kind of chaos. Porcelain was terrible, that much was certain, but wasn't singling her out essentially the same as playing God by putting a target on her back? However, climbing out of the launch tube hadn't exactly been a subtle beginning to the Games for Tech, either.

Tech was revolted at himself, but didn't have time to dwell on his personality shift. He was fully exposed as he stood at the edge of the stream drop-off and he heard the clear sounds of panicked shouting through the rain and wind that coolly whistled overhead.

Scurrying down, Tech found a small ledge that would support him. He had no visibility at all and any movement caused his rain resistant outerwear to make a deafening rustle. Standing still, Tech waited for the shouts to come within ear shot.

The series of sounds that followed erased any doubt that Tech was facing the most horrible of circumstances:

A sloshing of water as multiple footsteps ran through the stream.

A patronizing yell. "Brother?! Sister?! Come back here, my friends really could use that bow and those arrows you borrowed from the Cornucopia! I promised I would get it back; don't make me look bad!"

The voice that was clearly Poetry's.

That is still a stupid name.

Tech assumed he was yelling at the kids from Six and, based on his tone, he hadn't seen their marksmanship with the arrows. He was toying with them, patronizing them, arrogantly presuming he had the upper hand against the apparently helpless looking duo. Poetry hadn't seen their display during training, but Tech was not surprised. It is difficult to be observant when you spend so much time trying to be observed.

A whimper, "Poetry, p—please, please don't hurt us. My brother didn't know what he was doing. He just grabbed. He's young. He didn't know any better!"

A slosh through the stream, which must have been Poetry slowly stalking his prey.

"I promise, this will go quick, and then I'll find your brother and tell him you said good bye. Give a wave to Panem."

A shrill scream. "POETRY! NO, PLEA-


The now was so matter-of-fact, so calculated.

A cannon.

"Nice shot!"

"I'll get his knives!"

Laughter, fading footsteps, and silence.

Tech definitely didn't see that coming.