When her prep team arrives at the end of winter for her wedding dress photo shoot, she suspects more districts are in rebellion. The Capitol broadcasts Katniss trying on different wedding dresses the day after her photo shoot. The broadcast is followed by a special message from President Snow. He recounts the history of Panem and announces this year's Quarter Quell, a special "anniversary" edition of the Hunger Gamesthat takes place every 25 years. This year's Quell will reap tributes from the districts' existing pool of victors. As Katniss is the only female tribute from District 12, she will have to go back in the arena.
Upset with having to return to the arena, Katniss goes to Haymitch's house and gets drunk before finally returning home. When she wakes up the next day, she is hungover and emotionally exhausted. Peeta then berates Katniss and Haymitch, saying that getting drunk is inexcusable and that they all need to start acting like Careers, training and practicing for the Games.
Katniss decides she is going to die to save Peeta because she owes him her life after he worked to save her in last year's Games. Haymitch promises to help her even though they both know Peeta is working to save her, too. The trio works hard to build up strength, and on the day of the reaping, Peeta volunteers as tribute after Haymitch's name is called. The three of them are then shoved onto a train for the Capitol before they can say their goodbyes to their families and friends.
On the train, Effie says she wants the whole team to wear gold jewelry to match Katniss' mockingjay pin. They spend time watching tapes of the reapings in other districts and footage of old Games to get an idea of their competition. Katniss and Peeta find out that Haymitch competed in the Fiftieth Games, which was the second Quarter Quell. He won because he discovered that the force field surrounding the arena could be used as a weapon that bounced everything back, including weapons. This realization that Haymitch has always been a smart and strategic competitor relieves Katniss. She feels that between her, Peeta, and Haymitch, Peeta has a high chance of making it home alive.
The next day, Katniss and Peeta prepare for the opening ceremony. At the ceremony, Katniss meets some of the other victors, including Finnick Odair, the attractive male victor tribute from District 4, and Johanna Mason, the feisty female victor tribute from District 7. When Katniss and Peeta arrive at their apartment in the Capitol, they meet their new servant Darius, who used to be a Peacekeeper in District 12 until he disappeared after Gale's whipping.
Darius has now been turned into an Avox, a Capitol servant who has had his tongue cut out. This upsets Katniss because she used to be friends with Darius and enjoyed joking around with him. She knows that Snow deliberately placed him there to upset her.
The next day, Katniss and Peeta go to training, where Haymitch has instructed them to make allies with some of the other victors. Beetee and Wiress, the victor tributes from District 3, tell Katniss about the hole in the force-field that surrounds the Gamemakers' table. She also meets the elderly Mags, Finnick's partner from District 4.