She knew it was a matter of time before a fob tracker led the Mandalore to her.
All she can do is run.
All he can do is catch her.
(See the end of the work for notes.)
Chapter 1: bait.
The rustle of the green leaves and branches aggressively glided past her skin as her feet heaved heavily against the dirt ground, overstepping stones, and slithered bugs. She withheld her breath, trying to control the pace of her pant and wheeze that can be easily echoed in the woodland. Her ears perked at the rustled noise in the background, feeling as if he’s within her grasp. In some ways he was.
Too panic-stricken and intimidated to look back at just how neck-to-neck he was. She continued faced-on with adrenaline pumping through her blood, determined to expand the distance between them. If she had to jump into a river, down in the trenches, or climb a mountain, she knew she would. Anything to get away from him. The Mandalore.
She can feel the whiplash of cold water from the small-puddles staining her clothing – it rained the night before, she remembered. In motion, she oversteps the puddles to detain the echoed sounds. Her forearms pushed forward fleeing as if she is in a marathon, in this case, it has been at least 14 minutes of running. She can feel her heartbeat drumming endlessly against her ribcage, even impacting her eardrums.
She recklessly tries to think of a plan, if she can’t outrun him, she can at least slow him down. Worn him out, she thought. In the midst of her vigorous running, her feet betray her dashing for the nearest tree that huddled with tall bushes. Her body leaned against the barked tree, as her teeth clamped her mouth shut – controlling her breathing. She can feel the wetness of her teary eyes from the wind with her flushed and numbed cheeks. The back of her neck is laced with a layer of sweat; feeling the trickled sweat down her spine and the side of her torso.
Her body scrunched down to the ground, huddling near the tall bush. With her tall height, she’s thankful at least the tall grass can cover her physique. Out of all planets, why this one? she aggressively thought. Irritation and annoyance flooded from her pores. Her dominant hand lingers on her blaster that is waisted around her belt. She knew at that moment, with all the pent up bitterness and resentment, she can just turn and kill him. Anything to get a good shot at the Mandalore.
Except for the little reasoning side of her consciousness knew it would be a big, fat mistake. Not at the idea of killing him, but the mere fact it would delay the distance between her and the ship she needed to get back to. She was ready any other day, except this very day. She almost laughed at the thought.
The realization slapped her face in mid-motion, he stopped too.
Her scrunched eyebrows in frustration slowly settled, as she tries to steadily focused on the surrounding noise. The little leaves rustled and scattered through the air to the dirt, the buzzing from the slithered bugs, and the whistled wind lingered from one side of the forest to the other carrying on. He’s not moving, she concludes. With her continued breathing heaving, she knew she couldn’t stay long.
Her hand pulls back the sleeve covering the watch that sits on her wrist, checking the distance between her and the ship. 10,523 feet equals about 4,209 steps her mind calculated. Her self-consciousness cursed at herself for lingering too far in distance.
Her mind processes a plan at lightning speed – whether it would work or not – she couldn’t test it as if it was a hypothesis-science project.
A body of water, she thought. Any river would do. Her fingertips dabbled on the screened watch, analyzing the map nearby, with his armour she knew it would slow him down, tire him out. Anything to create a greater distance, anything to buy time to get back to the ship.
There it was in about 1,000 feet a body of water, she can swim through.
It was as if at that moment, the world cursed her being. A ‘notification bing’ echoed from her wrist. It was loud enough. Panic-stricken rose again, shit, she mutters underneath her breath.
Without losing any misstep in her direction, she rose to her feet and ran as if the wind carried with her. The sweat that lingered on her cheeks trickled down her décolletage. Her ears immediately perked on the ruffled sound within distance, much closer than before.
Kriff, she thought, as her feet hustled much faster than before feeling as if her knees want to snap off.
“Hell!”, she shrieked in surprise with her dry mouth. A blaster went off, hitting the tail ends of the branches within distant inches of her head. Her teeth grit in anger, knowing and understanding it was a warning.
Fine, this is how you want to play this game, she thought mindlessly, not realizing the repercussion and ramifications of her actions. Though it lingered in the background of her consciousness she knew as soon as her feet halted and her dominant hand grasp onto the base of her blaster, that the likelihood of her escape has diminished. And just perhaps, in hindsight, she knew she would regret her initiative and emotional-based measures.
Just then another realization slapped upright and knocked her breathing pipes out of her lungs.
The Mandalore blasting near her head as bait. Hoping she would react.
While she thought of a lightning-speed plan, he thought of his. Of course.
As her figure swiftly turned, clenched around the base of her gun, blasting in the direction she sees him running. A blast to the head of the helmet of his deemed unbothered as he at full-tilt take over behind a thick tree. Her feet slowly pattered backwards holding her blaster at distant length.
“Come out tin-can”, her voice echoed laced with a venomous mock tone. No noise returned. She was bothered by the lack of response. Just as she turns to bolt to the nearest river, knowing it was within feet at this point.
Another echoed blast flung in her direction. Nearly missing her head. Again.
Dank farrik, she screamed into the ground as her shoulder slams into the dirt. Hovered and hidden from view within the tall grass. Her nose inches from the dirt-worm ground, she puffed a breath. It was as if she was clouded with the worst judgement and anger, perhaps knowing one day it will kill her.
Her forearms leveraged her body as she used military-style crawling amongst the cold-wet dirt. Her eyes set on the nearest tree to hide behind and use it as a head start, as she continues to crawl forward.
That is until a hand is latched onto her ankle.
Out of impulsive fear and instinctual reaction, she twisted her body back now laying on the ground, as her foot twisted half halted into the air. Her blaster is stared right at the Mandalore helmet, where his at length targeted right between her eyes.
A slow huffed laugh echoed her chest. His visor tilted staring directly at her in amusement.
“Let go”, she warns tugging at the clenched hand around her ankle. He doesn’t. Doesn’t even utter a word, only a slow heaved breath leaves his modulator.
Their blasters still targeted one another.
“Fine, have it your way tin-can”, she mutters as her loose foot slams in target directly at the fore-front of his helmet. His footing stutters backward almost losing his balance whilst his hand unclenched around her ankle.
Immediately her body perks upright to gravity, feet planted on the ground. It took a mere moment for her consciousness to delicately comprehend the situation at hand.
As if it went by slow-motion, purely took seconds.
By the use of the Mandalore’s figure, quick at charge, his hands slammed her physique into a tree. Blaster fell from her grip. Before she can even struggle against his forearms, his hand grasp onto the base of her neck pulling towards his visor. Not even a glimpse of his eyes, only a mirrored reaction of hers reflecting in realization.
He was trying to knock her out.
Her head slammed once back onto the tree. Resulting in a groan escaping her throat. In aggravation, her hands grasp onto the base of his helmet to his surprise, he holds onto her wrist trying to peel her hands off his helmet.
“Such a Mandalore thing-to-do”, she says with a touch of a laugh laced with amusement, realizing to her what was once a myth was now verified at hand.
Heavy and uneven breathing echoed in his modulator as her hands pry her way in grasping onto his neck. Nails scraping and clawing, clenched hand roughed around his warm and thick layer of sweat neck.
Strangling was the way, she thought. She can feel the surprised shudder waving through his body with the touch of her cold hands, and the grunt of his breathing slow as her hand clench harder. She knows she can feel him struggling as he grasps onto her hands pulling as it seams.
In retaliation, he shoves her body against the barked tree. Her back arched in pain, with a grunt leaving her pipes.
His right-hand grasp onto the strands of her hair, pulling only to slam not once, not twice, but three times against the tree. Her eyes closing at the discomfort pain inflaming at the base of her skull as her hands slowly lose grip around his neck now falling to her sides.
His hands and figure fall back slowly, almost as if he was giving her space for her knees to give in.
And it did. Her knees faulted to the ground, as her head shook to the stiff feeling. The numbness of her fingers laced around her ankle, probing for the other back-up blaster.
Just to only realize it was directly in his hand, dangling in front of her sight like a prized-toy.
“You piece of-”, her voice cut off by the base of her blaster meeting the side of her head. Another grunt as her body lazily lands to the side of her shoulder slammed onto the dirt ground. In the mid-hazed of her sight, slowly fading away, she notices a little green-goblin peering through the tall grass. Her eyebrows scrunch in confusion in a double-haze. Lashes fluttering at its close.
Her mind questions whether she heard a sigh followed with a deeply modulated voice not in directing to her, but to the little-green monster who cooed in response, “Didn’t I tell you to wait at the ship?”
Blackness was all she saw.
The Mandalore gazes over her body, as he feels a rush of breath violently stinging his lungs. His fingers grasp onto the fob tracker that was once sitting in his pocket now dwindling through his fingered gloves.
Come over and say hi!