The man stood in the darkened room, nervously awaiting the events to come. His compact body, product of a high-gravity world, was clad in a skin-tight bodysuit that allowed maximum freedom of movement. He’d spent the past four months preparing for this moment, and now all his acquired knowledge would be put to the ultimate test. For better or worse, the outcome of this trial would affect the rest of his career. His lips were dry, no matter how often he extended his tongue to moisten them.
Suddenly a bright light shone straight into his eyes. Even as he blinked, some instinct told him he was an easy target standing up here in the glare. Without even knowing where he was going, he crouched and sprang forward in the direction of the light. As he did so, he heard the buzzing sound of a stinger, but felt none of the effects. Had he remained where he was, the test would have been over the instant it had begun.
Now that he was moving, he realized his only hope of passing was to remain in motion. There’d be more traps ahead to overcome, and he dared not slow down to let them reach him. Safety, he’d been taught, lay in speed. But not blind speed; his reflexes had to be in a complete linkage with his brain to achieve the finesse that many delicate situations required. He had to think as he moved, so thought and deed could be accomplished as close to simultaneously as possible.
He knew of only one thing in this darkness besides himself—the light that was still shining almost directly into his eyes. As long as that light was on him he’d be in constant danger. It made sense, therefore, to move toward the light and put it out of commission before the stinger’s owner put him out of commission.
His forward leap brought him down on his right shoulder. He rolled as he’d been taught and came up in a low crouch, prepared to move again. He took a few quick steps to his right, then zigzagged back to his left. The short buzzes of the stinger kept sounding out, proving he was far from home-free—but by keeping his movements random, his would-be destroyer was unable to hit him.