As the line in front of him got shorter, and he realized that he’d be one of the last three to run, Javor made more of those mental check-boxes trying to find a way out of this mess…
The Shieldsmen all take about seven seconds to get the second spear into the air, if the first one misses. Check.
Twice the one in front of the line that he was in had taken three spears to kill the running slave. Check.
The best spearman is beside me to my left, so when I run—I’d better avoid that area if I can. Check.
The stage holding the Prime Disciple is approximately twelve feet up off the arena floor. Check.
The slave area on the left, same side as the stage is where Sue and the cadre would be milling about. Check.
The running slaves do not work together to evade the spears. Check.
The spears that are thrown just stick in the sand till the mop-up crews come out to remove them and the slave bodies. Check.
Ahead of him, there was now only one slave left and he knew that the info he’d gathered was not enough to find a way out—but perhaps enough to shake up the Empire, he mused as the only slave ahead of him ran off to their death.
It did take the Shieldsman on his row, three spears to get the slave, who’d tried the deke and fake method of running. But to no avail and as the mop-up crew came out to finish them off and that meant that today already, eighteen slaves had died.
Javor said to himself that twenty-one might be the number of slaves, that there’d be more. At least one more.
And as the line disciple on his line approached him, he waved the man away and moved up to stand in the circle at the front of his line and smiled. The trumpets sounded and then the whole arena got quiet, as the Prime Disciple rose and moved to the front of the stage.
“We now have in the middle circle, one of the so called ‘ambassadors’ from the Regime—that group of unbelievers to our south. He will run alone and die today for us to show them and the rest of Ceti4 what we think of non-believers. I hereby also offer, that the Shieldsman who shows this slave what we think of him, will also win a promotion to the rank of Shieldsman Superior. Good luck Shieldsmen,” he said as he continued to stand right there at the front of the stage.
Javor nodded. Okay, so now the game’s afoot and he bent over to take a solid starting stance.
The trumpets blared and he ran out about twenty feet, then left, then left again and then right and then he stopped cold.
Above his head three spears hit the sand well ahead of him as the stopping of his run had been so unexpected.
He smiled as he tore towards the closest spear and then picking up same, turned and threw with all his best javelin technique at the Shieldsman behind him on the right. That man wasn’t even watching as he was grabbing another spear off the rack, so Javor knew exactly where he’d be and the spear caught him full in the back of the neck, pinning him to the sand below.
The whole arena cried out as he turned and then loped once again towards the far doorway.
Still got my javelin chops, he said to himself as he drifted off to the left in his run. But their spears are just a bit light—caught that one in the neck when he’d aimed at the mans full back. As he ran, he glanced back over his right shoulder at the one called Oskar, the better spearman and noted that he’d just let go—so he dove to the sand on his right and rolled and rolled.
The spear came close, but missed him as he rolled and he was up and grabbed the spear himself.
The other spear caught him in the left calf, passing just over his large muscles and the blood poured out as the crowd began to cheer for their Shieldsman who’d just thrown.
He turned back and noted that both of the Shieldsmen were watching him, holding out hands waiting to be fed a new spear and not turning their backs to go to the rack to get their own. Smart, he said to himself as he gauged the distance between himself and the stage.
No way to take the thirteen steps he was trained to use when he did the high jump in his decathlon days.
His approach he knew, would usually require a certain shape or curve, the right amount of speed, and the correct number of strides. The approach angle is also critical for optimal height and in this case it was a dozen feet. Jumped just about that back in competitions, he said to himself as he tucked the spear behind his whole left arm–and now I’ve got that turbo right knee…
He ran, using his alien-tissued super right knee at the last second to jump.
The Prime Disciple sneered at him as he was too high and safe.
He planted that right foot on the sand, knowing that it was not the best take-off surface and launched himself up and up and up…