Selena was struggling to catch her breath. She had not done any form of exercise over the days she had been locked up, thus she was already winded from her running. She heard a commotion to her left consisting of a few “yah!” followed by the sound of spears crashing clumsily together.
Selena stole a glance over her shoulder and groaned in frustration. The two confused boys from earlier were just a few hills away swinging wildly at each other. They weren’t really aiming for each other, but rather they seemed to be making a commotion. Selena groaned again but this time internally. If only she had some real competition. “These idiots are not going to last long in this race and that’s for sure,” she thought.
Selena decided to name them confused guy one and confused guy two. Selena concluded they must be idiots. She had no idea what their names were and frankly, she did not care too much. She reminded herself to take a few deep breaths to calm her breathing.
Once her breathing was under control, she looked back over at the boys. Those two idiots really had no idea how to wield a spear. She was included in that thought though, and it was clear that they were becoming tired from waving the spears and hitting each other jokingly. As she watched their spears come together, she started to focus on the center where the spears were crashing together. Zoning out and just watching the spears collide was actually quite relaxing. It felt almost tranquil. That’s when she saw him. Approaching from behind, low to the ground with his spear pointed parallel to his body, there was that strange guy again. Selena made note that he did seem to move quickly with the spear, so holding it vertically in front of her was not going to help if she needed to run.
With what had to be the strangest scream or war cry that she had ever heard, he leaped on the back of confused guy one and tackled him to the ground. He screamed again bringing the tip of his spear down into confused guy one’s back. There was a yelp and then confused guy one was gone in a bright flash of light. Stunned by what had just transpired, confused guy two was not moving. Weird guy saw his opening and threw his spear at full force towards confused guy two. It was even accompanied with that weird war cry again. Then just as confused guy one disappeared, so did confused guy two in a flash of bright light.
Selena whipped herself right back around the hill and immediately was trying to form a contingency plan in her mind. She took deep breaths in and out through her hand as she tried to figure out what to do. “Where are you?” the strange guy called out. “Come out and play with meeeeeeeee.” Selena was not going to do anything of the sort and covered her mouth partially to hide her breathing and partially to stifle the scream that was rising in her throat.
Listening to his footsteps, he was getting closer. She started pressing herself into the hill. “Where are you?” he called out louder. “It will only hurt for a second.” She heard him getting closer, and he approached the hill that she was on the other side of. As he started up the hill, he stopped quickly. She didn’t know what to do, other than to wait. She watched his shadow appear over her, but she was pressed into the hill. Terrified, she was still trying to swallow that scream that grew in her throat.
“My little pet~ where are you~?” he was saying again. Trying to still her breathing as much as possible she crouched down lower and tried to remain calm. She heard him begin to step up on to the other side of the hill. “I just want to help you win. So come out,” he teased. His footsteps stopped and her panic felt as if her stomach has just given away. Finally, after what felt like forever, he let out a frustrated yell and ran off to her left doing that same creepy routine of asking where she was.
Selena immediately made a beeline for the right as soon as she was sure he was out of sight. She kept running until she hit the river and ran through it at full speed. When she was sure she had put enough distance between the two of them, she stopped to catch her breath. Suddenly however, she realized that the land was shifting? “What?” she questioned as if she had power over what was happening. Selena was now on top of a high hill, and the river was behind her. She could not see much in front of her. She wondered where the Protogenian and the other competitor were as she wasn’t really interested in running into either of them. Gazing off into the distance, she realized that time was still ticking and… was… the audience cheering for her?
She shot a smirk towards the audience until she realized that she could not hear them. “How strange,” she said puzzled. She began to scan the audience with her eyes. Finally her eyes rested on a woman frantically pointing beyond her and she whipped around.
There on the horizon was the creepy guy running towards her as fast as he could. “I found you!” he screeched. She took a deep breath and ran down into the hills. It just so happened this round was quite beneficial for her now because there was a small forest. She ran into the thicket and crouched down low in the shadow of a tree. He was quick to follow her inside and she realized that her do or die moment was rapidly approaching. She decided to get the better of him and started moving around the perimeter of the trees.
Selena stepped on a twig and it snapped loudly. He burst through some nearby underbrush and turned to face her with eyes full of bloodlust. Charging at her, he threw his spear. It lodged itself in the tree right above her head and she ran blindly away from him. He kept up though, and she could not shake him. Panicking, tired, and scared, Selena was not paying attention to where she was running. She tripped and fell over losing her spear.
He approached her, spear and body, low to the ground, much like how a hunter approaches their prey in the wild. She tried to back up. There was nowhere to run as her back was against a tree. “See? I told you! Don’t you have something better to be doing?” he said inching closer towards her with the spear now raised. “Women don’t belong in the Race to Regeneration. It’s a man’s sport. I refuse to let you win.”
Closer and closer, the only thing that Selena could hear was her heartbeat in her ears. “Go home. Make a meal. Play with dolls. Do whatever girls do and stay out of my way!” he snarled getting closer. “Cause I’m going to win this race and no one, especially a girl, is even going to be able to stand up to-”
He face planted right in front of Selena. Opening her eyes, she looked over his shoulder to see that he had tripped on an exposed root. She must have crawled over it and not realized it. Seizing the moment that she was barely afforded, she snatched up his spear. Pointing it towards him, she was going to have her revenge first. She started kicking him as hard as she could while he tried to cover his head and face with his hands.
Selena screamed at him, “Oh so I’m a girl? So what? That does not, by ANY stretch of the imagination, make me any less suited to do this than you! Oh and speaking of being a boy or girl, the high vessel of Altheggan is genderless, so that just goes to show you how little you know. Man or woman, everything is the same before the eyes of Altheggan himself! You’re pathetic and you are the lowest form of a human being! No, you’re lower than the lowest. People like you don’t deserve to be the representative of themselves, let alone a whole planet!”
She kept kicking him while letting out all of her anger and frustration. She picked up his head and finally looked him square in the eyes. Mud was smeared all over his face, blood ran down the left side of his face, and his eyes were rolling to see her, and she did not care. “Enjoy fourth place or third or whatever it is, because guess what? There’s this thing called my spear going into you and I, a WOMAN, will beat you. You know why? Because my heart isn’t filled with darkness or prejudice.
She headbutted him violently and let go of his head. Full of righteous anger, Selena raised her spear up to bring it down into him, but at that exact second another spear came crashing down into his back, and he disappeared into a flash of light.
Leaping down from the eaves of a tree, the Protogenian made herself known to Selena. She grabbed her spear before ever so gingerly landing on her feet. Selena was impressed. She had not heard the Protogenian arrive at all. She turned around to face Selena. “You spoke true words while fighting that man. For that I am ever thankful.” Selena blushed. “My name is Ailita and I want to thank you for your courage. You fought back while keeping your wits about you. Maybe you do have a chance in this race after all,” Ailita said with a twinkling in her eyes.
“T-t-thank y-you,” Selena stammered, “m-m-m-my name is S-S-S-Selena.” Blood rushed to Selena’s cheeks and she wanted to cover her face in embarrassment.
Ailita smiled and held her hand out. Selena shook it. “Where are you from?” asked Ailita.
“I’m from the planet Celestina.”
Ailita smiled again this time a bit more deeply. “Ah yes, I have visited it once before. The volcanic eruptions of Pyreh were a sight to behold,” Ailita continued. “We as women are not inferior and we stand on the same level as men within the eyes of Altheggan. Do not let close-minded individuals like that ever make you feel devalued.”
“Thank you.” Selena mumbled again. Selena stood up, but kept her eyes looking down. She still felt slightly embarrassed that she had lost her chance for revenge and that Ailita was being so nice to her. Ailita looked around.
“Oh! I just realized,” Selena exclaimed. “There should be one more competitor. I saw him,” pointing to the spot where the crazy guy used to be, “take out two other competitors.”
“Correct, and I dispatched of another one,” Ailita said.
“Which means…” Selena’s voice trailed off.
“Correct,” continued Ailita, “Now you and I have to finish things, but first let me do this.” Ailita brought down the tip of her spear, full smile still intact into Selena’s arm. Suddenly all Selena could see was a bright light.