Part Four: The Chase
The plan had gone well, though I had wanted to be a bit closer before being seen. Every stride helped. Now, only the chase remained. The being fell into the trap, cutting back for the high place.
There was no holding back. I moved as fast as I could. The being was agile, but I was faster. It needed to reach the trees and brush to have any chance. I needed to catch it before that or the chase would be difficult, though not ended.
The open space was good for running. I could use my full stride to keep up speed without working as hard; and the target remained visible the entire time. The being started with excellent speed, but experience suggested it would tire quickly. As the gap between me and the being closed, the angles, speeds and distances helped me see where I might overtake it. This always came with some uncertainty, yet helped in making a final approach.
The final approach, give or take a few strides, would be just before the trees and brush, where the ground rose up. It was to my advantage, as the being would need to exert itself slightly more to get to higher ground. The only danger was making the final approach too quickly; as missing at high speed would give the being a chance to double back, with its superior agility, and costing me the straight line speed advantage. Slowing just before reaching the being was imperative. Uncertainties remained. Beings like this typically fell into two groups, and the fact they reacted entirely differently was a better defense the actual reactions.
The first group fell into a wild panic, staying fixated on their intended escape point and running with all speed; even when the effort itself killed them. Their only hope was that I would be too slow or make some error in my approach.
The second group were not panicked and making plans of their own. They had options. Most commonly, they would make a sudden change in speed or directions immediately before contact. It only had to be enough to evade once; then they could change direction, with enough time to find shelter or, at worst, extend the chase.
The distance closed quickly. All that remained was to execute. All the planning, approaching and chasing would come down to skill, timing, and reflexes.
The ground rose and the being made a sudden great leap, as though it intended to reach the bushes in a final motion. It made little sense. Even if it was blind panic, the motion only served to make my task easier. Often, these things were beyond explanation; though a small part of me regretted the ease of it. Completing a successful chase, when it was challenging, gave feelings of satisfaction and dominance. Proving able to chase down a target was a purpose in its own right; more nourishing than the actual meal it yielded.
The leap was too high, and not nearly long enough to escape me. I slowed until my path matched the beings descent. In motion through the air, it was lost.
I noticed too late that something pointed, perhaps a tooth, claw or horn, appeared from the upper part of the being. It had not being there when the being left the ground, but now it was. I turned late, and was stung with a great pain in my neck. I twisted away, feeling the point leave my neck. I lost my footing and fell, tumbling for a moment. The being stood before me as I regained my feet, and I smelled no fear. The pointed thing was gone, though I feared it still. Such a being might make it appear again. My neck flashed cold before a growing heat began to spread, encompassing me. I bared my teeth for a moment, only to realize I was falling down. I was about to sleep without wanting to.