Sawyer vs. The Mechanic
Those were the first things I was consciously aware of. That and the hot scream bubbling out of my throat. But that came later. The scream didn't come until I could see the ground - well, water - rushing up to meet me. I let out a breathless scream, shutting my eyes when my body slammed into the water that seemed to have the consistency of dried concrete. It knocked the little breath I had out of me and when I went to take back my stolen lungful of air, but all I got was a mouthful of ice cold water in return. When I went to cough, even more of the little air I had forced the multitude of water out that was crushing my lungs. I clawed at the water, trying to get up. GET OUT.
I opened my eyes and all I saw was darkness, the little bubbles from below tickling my skin. I closed my eyes again and frantically fought the water once more.
I felt my hand hit something hard and I immediately latched onto it, clawing my way up. My skin finally felt air and I kicked once, giving me just enough power to lift my upper body up and out of the water. I gasped and coughed, struggling to get my lower half out of the freezing water. I coughed again and opened my eyes, my vision a bit blurry from my tears from coughing and retching so hard. I finally hauled myself out of the water, collapsing onto the ground beside the giant pothole full of ice water.
My heart felt like a trapped bird in a cage, it's wings brushing against my ribcage. I took in another shaky breath and slowly pulled myself up to a sitting position and scanned my surroundings, my wet clothes clinging to my body.
A Brief Description of My Surroundings:
A dense forest
Yep. You heard me. FLUFFY. Soft. Fuzz. Covered in fur. The spectacle of what one might find in a twisted, nightmare version of dreamland. I looked down at the grassy fuzz I was sitting on top of. It was black, and seemed to be glowing a little. Glowing a dark blue. It looked like moss. Only was it... moving? Yep. Definitely moving.
For the second time that night I screamed and leapt to my feet, raking my claws down my hips and legs where the stupid fluff had been climbing up. I stumbled backwards and tripped, falling back onto my back. I gasped a little and sat up, ripping my soaked boot out of the fuzz that had latched onto it. I could feel the fluff binding my hands down onto the ground as I stumbled to my feet. I staggered a little, panting. The fluff was climbing up my boots and legs again, quicker than before. "Damn it." I swore, grabbed my trusty bo staff, and took off through the black night, running from an enemy that was all around me. I sprinted through the grassy fuzz, and into the forest looming over me. Granted, it wasn't smartest move. I realized that three seconds too late.
The forest was dense. Very dense. And I was almost immediately on my back again via running into a low hanging branch. I groaned and slowly got to my feet, shaking my head a little. I grabbed my bo staff and continued through the forest a bit more cautiously this time. The trees. The trees were huge and seemed to be made out of fuzz. I dared touch some of the cottony fluff on one of them, and with closer inspection realized that there was in fact a tree with bark hidden beneath the fur of doom. I came to the conclusion that the fuzz was really more of a moss, fungi or lichen that was slowly eating this planet to death.
I 'hmmed' and continued on my way through the dense forest, and bit more calm now that the planet didn't seem out to get me anymore.
I ran the smooth wood of my staff between my fingers, looking up at the sky, the ground, the trees. I had no idea where I was, and for a fleeting moment I wondered where the little prick of a robot peacock had gotten to. I then recalled something he said to me earlier.
The Thing Said To Me Earlier:
'I am merely a drone, sent to record your process through this competition.'
I let out an annoyed sigh. I shouldn't have pressed that button. I should've just stayed put in that old abandoned building. I knew better than to get tangled up into Empire doings. I guess I was just caught up in the moment of visualizing that I could have fame, money, and the publicity I deserved. But what would Icarus think...? Did he even know where I was? I bit my lip, suddenly worried about my mentor. He would be so mad at me. That is, if I survived this whole competition thing. What did the peacock say it was called? Trail - By - Fire? I've never heard of it before. But I knew one thing.
I was going to win this.
If not for me, than for Icarus. I'd win it to make up for being such an idiot and joining this stupid competition I had a 1 in a million chance of winning. But what if I did win...
My train of thought gravitated back over to the peacock filming and recording my every move. I was slightly disturbed that probably a billion and half people were watching me at the moment. Should I wave? Bow?
I bowed and waved, through I was 98% sure I had just bowed and waved in the completely wrong direction. Stupid. Better not do that again.
I had no idea where I was headed to, or what I was doing. Food didn't exactly come to mind. I wasn't hungry. But I was a little thirsty. I mentally slapped myself for not collecting some of the water I nearly had drowned in half an hour earlier. Shelter didn't come to mind either. I had better keep moving. I was fit. I could out walk or out run someone who might've been following me. Maybe.
I looked behind me, paranoid now. Nothing but trees and darkness. I pursed my lips and resumed walking, looking in front of me again.
Suddenly, I heard a loud 'clang' and felt something grab my ankle. Thinking it was the fur again, I yelped and went to run forward, but found that I couldn't. I stumbled forward and hit the ground on my side, not having even gone 3 feet. I screamed when the thing around my ankle tightened and I gripped my bo staff, whirling around and swinging behind me. I hit something.
I swore, my heart pounding. I leapt to my feet.
I swung around in the other direction and hit another tree. I let out a strangled yelp when the object around my ankle tightened yet again, and I suddenly felt pain instead of panic. I tried ripping my leg out its grasp, but that only dug the thing deeper into my skin.
I finally looked down and saw what was holding me captive. It looked like a bear trap, its teeth latched onto my ankle and drawing blood. "Shit." I swore, looking up and around me. I bit my lip and looked back down at my leg when I saw no one. "Ow. Ow. OW." I said under my breath, tentatively trying to lift my foot out of the trap again. The trap tightened, it's teeth about half an inch into my skin now. "OW!" I screamed, pain now turning to panic rather quickly.
I slowly sat down, careful not to jostle my leg and foot too much. I kneeled over the dangerous looking piece of equipment and tried to pry the teeth out of me with my hands. My fingers were soaked in my blood in a matter of minutes. I tired to ignore the pain the best I could, but the rusty trap (that I could feel tightening ever so slowly) and the amount of blood leaking out of me was rather hysteria inducing. I gasped and swore, desperately trying to pry the trap off my leg.
"Oh Irk, please. Please. Not already. I'm not going to die already. I've only been here for a goddamned hour!" I panted, clenching and unclenching my hands into fists. "Please!" I yelled, stupidly kicking the trap. The trap creaked, biting my ankle even tighter. I swear I could hear the metal scraping against my bone.
"Well, that doesn't look comfortable at all."
I jumped and grabbed my bo staff, looking up. The metal peacock was perched on a branch above me, looking at my ankle. "There you are, you backstabbing son of a bitch. Where did you go?" I snarled up at him. I hadn't noticed I was crying until I looked up. My vision was blurred with tears, and I felt the hot sting of the water sliding down my face.
"I've gone nowhere. I've been following you the entire time." Sven chirped brightly. I narrowed my eyes at the bird, taking a bloody hand and wiping the water away from my eyes. I hated the bird for being so happy. Stupid robot.
"So are you going to help me out of this or what?" I snapped and gestured to the trap, my voice shaking.
"Help you?" The bird looked offended. Well, as offended as a robot could look. "I can't HELP YOU. That would be cheating. You would be disqualified."
I scowled, setting my jaw. "So what? Are you just going to let me starve and bleed to death here?"
"That's the point!" Sven replied happily. "I'm here to document your death and downfall."
Both my scowl and loathing deepened.
I huffed and looked at my mangled ankle in the trap. I twisted it to the side, wincing as a nauseating wave of pain washed over me. I leaned forward and again tried to pry the teeth of the trap out of my green skin that was stained red. I bit my lip, determined to not have my 'death and downfall' be caused by a stupid piece of molded metal.
I must have been there for 3 hours. Sitting. Swearing. I needed to go pee.
The sudden sound of a twig snapping caught my attention and I snapped my head around to look behind me in the early dusk light. I caught the slightest glimpse of something dark slip behind a thicket of bushes. I narrowed my eyes, my heart fluttering in my chest. I heard the peacock turn around on his branch and fix his gaze onto the bush as well.
"Uh... I saw you. I can see you." I said flatly. If whoever was behind that bush hadn't have seen me, I wouldn't have said anything. But it was pretty obvious that he or she (or it) had seen me, and I had seen them. "Hello?" I called, squinting my eyes at the bush and discreetly feeling for my bo staff. When nobody moved from out behind the bush, I let out an annoyed sigh. "You really shouldn't hide. I already saw y-"
I was suddenly on my back, a dull throbbing coursing through my cheek and the resounding 'crack' still echoing through my antenna. I groaned and rolled over onto my side, jolted back into reality when I felt the trap still around my ankle. I slowly sat up and rubbed my cheek, feeling a bit of blood leaking out of a cut. "What the hell..." I whined, drawing my hand away from my face and looking around for whatever had hit me.
I must have looked over the spot where my assaulter was sitting at least 2 times. When I finally found her (or was it a him?) my heart leapt into my throat.
I fumbled for my staff, which was thrown from me when I was hit. I leapt for it, but the girl was quicker than me. She kicked more of my hand than my staff, making me yelp and recoil.
"Hey! What the hell, man? Aren't you going to help me?" I yelled at her.
A Brief Description Of 'her':
Covered in metal
Most likely a mechanic
Mean looking bastard in orange pants
The Irken merely looked at me before taking a step backwards, grabbing my staff, and sitting on her rock again, her blue and green eyes locked on me all the while.
"Hey!" I yelled again, a bit more desperate this time. "Hey, give me that back! I need that!" I said, looking yearningly at my staff in her hands. I felt helpless and exposed without it. I could fight with other things, sure. But that staff was my lifeline. My 'secret weapon'. Icarus gave me that staff when I was 13 as a present. I cherished that stupid stick.
The girl looked at it for a moment, before setting it down beside her and crossing one leg over the other, still looking at me. "No. I think I'll keep it."
I growled and narrowed my eyes. "Give me that back, you bastard." I said, starting to get very annoyed now.
The girl raised an eyebrow, looking slightly offended. Good.
"Yeah, you. Give me that back. Just kick it back over to me, and everything will be fine. Maybe you can even help me out of this mess." I said in tone that suggested like I was talking to a 5 year old.
The Mechanic - that's what I was going to call her - just continued to stare at me. "WHAT?" I asked, evne more annoyed. now "Cat got your tongue?"
I jumped slightly when Sven landed next to me, fluffing up his metal feathers. "That's your opponent. She's going to kill you if you don't kill her first." He said simply. I blinked.
"Wh-... That's my opponent? I have to kill her?" I asked quietly. "How? She's got my stick." I added glumly. "And I've literally got one foot in the grave." I glanced behind me at the trap around my ankle.
"Well, it sounds like she'll be killing you then." The bird chirped happily. I growled and slammed my fist onto the fuzzy ground.
"Hey, why don't you help me? Just help me out a little bit." I whispered to Sven, taking a deep breath to calm myself. "Can you just... Can you just maybe NUDGE that stick towards me a bit? You can even make it look like an accident." I pleaded.
Sven blinked, adjusting his wings against his body and leaning towards me. "You do know that both the Tallests and millions of people are listening to this right now, right?" He whispered in a mockingly serious tone. I snarled and kicked my foot at the robot, but he easily flew up to his branch again, watching The Mechanic and I from above. I let out a low growl that vibrated my chest and turned my attention back onto The Mechanic, who was still staring at me with that calculating gaze like she was trying to take me apart like I was an old-fashioned watch. I sighed and looked back at my ankle that had long ago gone numb. I didn't know if I was relived, or if the numbness just refueled my panic. I turned my head towards The Mechanic again, huffing.
"So.. are you gonna kill me or, like, what? Do you even have a name?" I asked, propping myself up on my elbow.
"No. Not a name like yours, Sawyer Vann." The Mechanic replied, ignoring my first question. I raised a non-existent eyebrow.
"How do you know my name?" I asked defensively.
"Didn't your drone tell you mine?" The Mechanic asked, again ignoring my question.
I glanced up Sven and cast him a loathing glare.
"And what about your package? I don't see anything on you..." The Mechanic tilted her head to the side a little, looking me up and down.
"Package...? What package?" I asked, confused.
"Didn't your drone tell you about it? It should have landed next to you when you got here."
Again, a loathing glare up at the peacock. I figured the package or whatever had landed in the water pool of death that I had nearly drowned in a few hours earlier. I needed that package. It must have been important. But no matter how important it was, I couldn't retrieve it until my foot was out of this damn trap.
The Mechanic chuckled and moved to take something out of her PAK. I realized two things at that moment.
The Two Things I Realized:
The Mechanic had a key around her neck
She also had what seemed like an endless supply of chocolate bars
I 'hmmed', biting my lip and staring at the little key around her neck. I tapped my claw on the ground before looking back behind me and looking at the bear trap my foot was interlocked in.
On the side of it was a key hole.
I cast a glance at the key. The key hole. Key. Key hole.
I came to the wild conclusion that the key around the girl's neck was my escape. But how on Irk was I supposed to get it? That was the real question here. My brain went into overdrive trying to answer my wild question and unfortunately blocking out the little logic I had. I couldn't just get up, walk over to her, slap her upside the head and rip the key on the necklace from her neck. No. I couldn't do that. She was too far away. And I sure as hell couldn't just say, 'Hey man, gimmie the key'.
For some reason that told me that I'd get a bullet through my brain.
That wouldn't work either.
But what if... What if I could get her mad enough for her to come and fight me? Get her to come a little closer to me? Then I'd be able to grab the key, unlock the trap, grab my staff, kill the girl, run like hell, get my package and win this round. Bam. Plan.
But how to get her mad...?
I scanned my surroundings, looking for anything. There were a few little sticks, furry leaves, an ant, and a rock. Without really thinking, I reached for the rock and hurled it at The Mechanic. It nailed her right in the side of the neck, knocking her head to the side a little. She whirled around to face me, looking livid. If looks could kill.
"Mosquito." I explained myself, shrugging airily.
I put on my best pokerface when she stood up from her boulder she was sitting on and walked over to me, a low growl coming out of her throat.
I was suddenly doubting my 'brilliant' plan.
She looked down at me, her lip curling up in a snarl as she reached down and wrapped her hand around my shirt collar and roughly yanked me to my feet. My foot in the trap suddenly regained feeling again and I let out a strangled yelp, my eyes watering.
"What. Did. You. Throw. At me?" She hissed in a scary calm tone, my face inches away from hers.
"A poison dart. You should've dropped dead 20 seconds ago." I lied, my hands wrapped around her arms to keep her from strangling me. The early morning sunlight glinted off of The Mechanic's metal attire and key, shining into my face and momentarily blinding me. But I still felt a little triumphant when I saw the slightest hint of panic behind The Mechanic's eyes that were quickly replaced by fury. Time to act.
I grunted and wrapped my own hand around her neck, using my fingers to cut the twine necklace off of her neck. Before the girl had time to react, I rammed my free leg's knee into her gut. That resulted getting me thrown unceremoniously to the ground onto my back, the chain connecting the teeth of the trap to where it was wired down to rattle a little under the tension. I gasped when I hit the ground. It took me a second to get my barring back and I raised my hand up to my face, looking at the broken key necklace in my hand.
Phase 1 of Plan: Success
"Ha!" I exclaimed, sitting up and scrambling for the trap. I cast a weary glance at The Mechanic, who was slowly standing back up, her hand over her stomach. I bit my lip and shakily shoved the key into the keyhole in the trap. My heart jumped when I heard a click and the trap around my ankle loosened. I pried the teeth away from my leg, which made me wince and stop for a second, mentally preparing myself.
I took a deep breath...
And was tackled sideways by The Mechanic, who had finally gotten her footing again. I yelled when my ankle was jarred from the trap, the teeth now digging into my calf. A fresh wave of pain washed over me and out of instinct and relfex, finally ripped my leg from the trap's clutches.
It really hurt.
I was distracted by the pain in my leg by the sudden wanting of air. I took in a ragged gasp and was yanked back to reality when I felt one of The Mechanic's hands constricting my throat. The other hand was reaching for something behind her back. I prayed that it wasn't a gun.
The Thing Behind The Mechanic's Back:
I swore and balled my hand into a fist and first punched the mean looking gun out of the girl's grip, and with my other fisted hand, uppercutted her chin. That knocked The Mechanic backwards and off of me, allowing me to breathe again. I rolled over onto my side, shaking my head a little and rubbing my neck. I went to shakily stand up, but a loud 'clang' and a short, cut-off scream made me look behind me at where the girl was.
My eyes widened and I quickly looked away, having a new reason to gasp for air.
The Mechanic's head had fallen back into the trap, it's teeth stuck into the side of the girl's head, deep enough to puncture her brain. She was not moving. Not kicking. Not breathing.
The Mechanic was dead. Killed by her own trap.
I had killed my first opponent.
But what I felt was not triumph. Not relief. Not pride. I stumbled to my feet, blurry eyed. The ground underneath me seemed to lurch to the side and I staggered forward, falling onto my staff. I laid there for a moment until the world stopped spinning and the nausea subsided. I could not only smell my own blood now, I could smell the girl's blood as well.
I grabbed my staff and crawled away a few feet before getting a grip and launched myself forward, my feet hitting the fuzzy earth hard. I tripped over almost everything, running into almost every tree. Nothing in my body was working how I wanted it to. I kept dropping my staff and I'd have to backpedal and retrieve it every hundred feet or so. I couldn't get a good pace worked up, so by the time I reached the edge of the forest, I was out of breathe and my calves hurt from changing tempo and direction so often. Not to mention my mangled left leg kept giving out everytime I put weight on it. I couldn't really feel that limb anyway.
Now that I was out of the thickest part of the forest, I sprinted across the meadow, wiping tears away with my arms so I could see more clearly. I don't know why killing that one girl affected me that much. I've killed before and it was no sweat. But this... this was different. Maybe it was the way I lured her in and killed her. Deceit. Heck, I didn't even mean for her to fall back into the trap. Maybe it WAS just the way she died; more gore filled and traumatic than just a sword or a stick through the stomach.
I finally skidded to a halt by the edge of the deep pool I had fallen into. I paced around the edge of it for a second, hoping the crate or whatever had fallen next to it.
No such luck.
I swore and dropped my staff and plopped down onto the ground, huffing. I slowly took off my boots - careful of my left leg - and tossed them aside. I stood up again and stared down at the blue water; still and calm. I sighed and slowly lowered myself into the pool, letting out a long breath as both pain and relief washed over me. The cool water was soothing the hot, burning sensation in my leg, which I was grateful for. I don't know how long I stayed like that, listening to the early morning crickets, the soft breeze through the fluffy leaves, and the birds chirping overhead. It was almost peaceful.
I jumped and turned my head up to look at Sven, who was perched on a tree branch over the water, looking down at me.
"Why'd you run off? I didn't get a chance to film you being victorious." He continued, walking up the branch a little and causing some fuzzy leaves to fall off, gently floating down to the water below.
"Hi. Yeah, I got-... I heard something. I figured I should have just ran off and let whatever creature it was eat my opponent instead of me." I lied easily, watching the ripples gliding across the water that the fallen leaves had caused. Sven cast me a curious look, but didn't say anything more - which I was also grateful for.
"So anyway, hey. You won that round. You can go on to the next." The bird continued, jumping down to the ground closest to me. I shifted in the water to look at the robot. He had his wing outstretched, patiently waiting for me to press the softly glowing red button that would catapult me into the next round.
"Yeah, hold on." I said before diving underneath the water. It was a good 15 feet to the bottom, which was covered in brightly colored small rocks and an occasional waterlogged fuzz leaf. The one thing that looked out of place was the metal box lying neatly at the bottom. I grabbed it, and found it surprisingly light. I pushed off of the bottom with my good leg and floated back up to the top, admiring the sunlight filtering through the pristine water on my way up. When my head broke the surface of the water I took in a deep breath, shaking the water off my head and leisurely swimming to the edge. I lifted the little box onto the fluffy grass and hoisted myself out of the water and sat, dangling my legs in the water. I put the box in my lap, vaguely aware of the little drone looking over my shoulder curiously.
I unlatched the small lock on the front and flipped open the lid. I don't know what I was expecting, but it sure as hell wasn't a sticker. My brows furrowed as I picked up the sticker from its velvet lined box. I turned the box upside down, expecting a 'April Fools' letter to fall out of it. When I couldn't find anything, I sighed, lying back on the ground and holding the sticker up to my face.
"What the hell." I laughed humorlessly. I peeled the seal off of it and stuck the sticker to Sven's chest, sitting up. "There. Now you're officially my drone. And I won't lose you." I said, starting to put my boots back on. Sven looked down at the sticker on his chest, looking unimpressed. I smiled slightly and grabbed my staff. "Alright, bird. Let's go." I said, and tapped the button on the bird's wing, this time somewhat ready for whatever hell I'd thrown myself into this round.