Sasha was up at dawn and dressed in a blue sweat suit with blue-and-grey running shoes, the style of clothing recommended by the Paris Olympic management. At the hotel buffet dining room she ate a couple of croissants stuffed with eggs and bacon, accompanied with orange juice.
Drawing on a lightly stuffed backpack she exited the hotel under grey skies to jog to the Village Olympique ten miles to the east. Following directions she first jogged south through a quiet residential area for half a mile. Near the Seine river she crossed a street parallel to the river which seemed little used. A sandy path about a hundred feet long led her through weeds to a packed-earth footpath almost on the verge of the Seine, which was perhaps a hundred yards wide here.
She turned left, eastward, and increased her speed. To her right the Seine flowed serenely toward the sea, behind her, its waters grey under the grey skies. Even at this hour there was river traffic in both directions. Occasionally she received boat whistles, not a surprise seeing as she was an attractive young female. She waved back at the whistles but otherwise ignored them.
Near the Village the Seine made a wide loop to the south. There she encountered a high chain-link fence which surrounded the entire Village. On the inside was a large area with building equipment and stacked wood and metal and other supplies which would be used to complete the Village after the Olympics.
Leaping the fence would have been as easy for her as stepping over a pebble. It was only a dozen feet high. But she did not want to take the chance of being seen doing an inhuman feat.
At the nearest entrance to the Village was an opening in the fence. It reminded her of the entrances to subway trains which she had seen in New York City, but above ground. There was a line of vending machines backed against the fence. The line was broken by an entrance blocked by several turnstiles. Above them was an arch labeled VILLAGE OLYMPIQUE and a number.
Visitors could buy one-day to two-week electronic passes which would let them through the turnstiles. Sasha used her Olympic badge with its photo id instead. She did not bother taking it from the lanyard around her neck. She just leaned over far enough so that the nearest turnstile could read the radio id embedded in the badge.
Inside was a wide walkway, lined on her right with a wall fronted with white-washed plywood which hid the construction equipment near the river. On her left was the side of a building, the first of many which ran northward. At a T-junction with the walkway Sasha stopped and looked in that direction.
She could see the fronts of many low buildings running into the distance, then the extension to the walkway as a wide pedestrian boulevard also running straight north. Opposite the buildings was a green. She knew if she continued on the pathway she would come to a matching pedestrian boulevard and another line of buildings running northward.
Instead she turned onto the boulevard, in company with a small stream of other pedestrians. At this hour she was sure most of them were workers in the shops inside the buildings. A few were athletes like herself dressed in blue. But she also saw a small group which must be a family, with a mother, father, and three young children, who were early-bird visitors to the Olympics.
Sasha smiled, imagining the loud complaints of certain members of her family if woken this early for any reason whatsoever.
Many of the buildings were not yet occupied, but a few buildings down she came across one which housed a café serving breakfast. She rewarded the enterprise of the owner by buying a second breakfast. It was not a whim. Her extraordinary body and its extraordinary abilities also demanded extra food.
Sipping a hot chocolate as she continued her walk she could see perhaps a half-mile ahead one tall building. The white spire of over a hundred stories was a new four-star hotel, doing business for the first time the last few months as temporary residence to workers at the Olympics.
She could also see the top of a matching spire rising to her right above the green. The spire was part of the same hotel, separated from its twin by the green but connected underground by an all-weather concourse. It was empty of people and furnishings. A labor dispute had delayed its construction.
When she neared the hotel she also saw scaffolding which supported an awning colored forest green. It covered a walkway which ran from an entrance to the hotel across the boulevard and through the green to the twin of the hotel entrance on the other side of the green.
When she arrived at the walkway she could that the green was cut by an even greater obstacle — a four-lane street, empty of traffic because the Village was still blocked off from its surroundings. Looking left and right at the curb, she could see that the main entrance to the hotel faced onto the street. After the Olympics taxis and other vehicles would be able to pull up in front of the entrance to let passengers in or out the vehicles.
On a whim Sasha trod the walkway to the twin hotel tower. A workman was just entering it carrying a box of tools. The glass of the doors and windows was lightly tinted. She peered in, shifting the frequency of light she saw to better see inside. There was a lot of work going on. Apparently the owners of the hotel wanted to get the twin tower in operation as soon as they could.
Turning she crossed the empty street and continued north. Perhaps a mile ahead the white dome of the athletic stadium rose above the Village.
The Judo trials were held in a large building halfway to the stadium. Above the outside entrance was the name and logo of a major department store chain. Inside it had been converted into a dojo of a dozen mats or so. Around the mats were a raised judges’ platform, several TV camera setups, and bleachers angled upward on all sides.
Sasha had two matches. She won them easily, pretending to considerable effort to honor the skills and will of her opponents. She was bored, but did not let it show.
Later Sasha began her shooting competitions. There were no surprises. She entertained herself, as in the Judo competitions, by seeing how precisely close she could score and just barely fail to break records. She wanted to set no impossible bars for merely human athletes.
Eight days later Sasha was done. She swept all the shooting competitions, earning gold medals in each. This was not a surprise to most of the people in the shooting community. They knew how she had done in lesser competitions.
She was also the gold medallist in Judo in her weight class. This was big news. America had rarely done well in Judo. It was Japan who usually won the top spots, with China well behind them.
She was interviewed a dozen times, twice by Japanese entertainment and sports channels. That she spoke limited Japanese pleased the Japanese interviewers. One of them, a former Judoka of high reputation, paid her a great compliment when he discussed her art and mildly praised her.
Her coach, while praising Sasha also, had a cynical interpretation of the Judoka’s praise.
“Losers like to brag on the ones who beat them. It’s backward praise of themselves. They have to be really good if only a hero can beat them.”
One interviewer asked her what her plans were now that the Olympics were over, for her.
“I’m going to see as many events as I can. I may never have the chance to do so again.”
Did that mean she would be retiring from competition?
“I’ll be going to college soon. I don’t want to give less than my best to my education. And anyway the next Summer Olympics are four years from now.”
That answer was good for several stories in the newspapers and magazines with sports sections. Sasha Canaro to Retire? or some variation on it was a typical headline.
Several companies wanted Sasha to endorse their products. She formally joined the Felice Modeling Agency and let them handle the bargaining and other details.
With her part of the Olympics over Sasha could now “fraternize with the enemy”; she and Saya renewed their friendships.
Sasha and Saya and other athletes partied in the evenings. Sasha struck up a mild flirtation with an attractive gymnast and began edging toward having sex.
Mid-day Friday of the second week of the Olympics, with only two days to go, she put those plans on hold. For disaster struck.
Continued in Chapter Fifteen.