I remember the first time I met Kumari. I recall, most vividly, that she smelled of gunmetal, blood and death.
I hated her.
Kumari screamed the words over the howl of the battered engine. It revved as Bastion punched the gas pedal, pebbles spraying the side of the jeep in peppered graffiti. Driven by the wind, coarse bits of the world clawed her face and scratched the surface of her smoke-glass shades. She tugged the bandana across her nose and lips.
"I said harder, Bastion." Her voice barely broke the wind. The driver twisted his neck only an inch to the left, an affirmation that he indeed heard her over the grinding engine. The jeep jumped in speed again, spewing more of the broken earth into the sky.
She stepped down from behind the seats, striding easily through the back of the bed. Bending low, she scooped the collar from her feet, turning the seven foot pole around in her grip. She checked the prongs at the tip of the weapon, satisfied that the horseshoe was intact and strong. Only a fool, or an inexperienced wrangler, would jump the bed with a broken collar.
The jeep veered hard to the side, tires skidding and jumping over the roadless plain. She caught herself with a hard foot to the wheel well, the collar keeping her upright as it rammed against the crossover bars above her head. Despite the murky air, Kumari saw her quarry, clear against the horizon.