Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Gladiator belong to their respective creators, Joss Whedon and Ridley Scott.
The guards pushed her before them with the points of their spears as if she were a wounded lion.
It was late morning. Many of the gladiators were in the courtyard, training with weights or wooden and blunted weapons, singly and in twos and threes. The air was choked with sweat and powder, with churned sand and bruised flesh.
Juba stood beside a low, fragmented wall, where the Spaniard was sitting, Hagen on his other side. They had been talking of the Coliseum, but even their heads turned when the gate opened, and the girl was pushed in.
She staggered, a hand pressed to the side of her head. Golden hair, dulled by dirt and sweat, spilled over her shoulders, and she wore a blue shift, as the gladiators did, but no sandals.
Hagen inhaled sharply through his teeth.
The gate clanged shut behind her, The four guards stared out from between the bars.
“Hey, already-dead,” called one of them. “Watch out for this one. She's killed three of the handlers.”
All movement had ceased. Every man in the courtyard and some in the cell doors had stopped to stare.
The girl straightened, lowered her hand. When the guards turned and began walking away, she turned as well, but toward the gladiators, and raised her head.
The gash in her forehead was ugly to see. She had been struck with something heavy, and blood was smeared over her face, swollen red and clotted black. Red streaked her shift, and on her ankles and wrists were detached shackles, the iron pitted with rust and dragging lengths of broken chain.
She was filthy, she was ragged, she was wounded near to death—
—but Juba saw, from the corner of his eye, how Hagen looked at her.
How Maximus looked at her.