Two large hands were holding him against the ground, one on his shoulder, the other around his leg. The creature crouched over him, not moving, still nothing more than a massive black shape against faint sunlight. Din pried at one of the hands with every ounce of force he could squeeze from his muscles. His whole body twisted against the creature's grip. He could feel the shrapnel grinding into him and didn't care, only twisted further, fought harder, as instinct mingled with conditioning.

Defend oneself. Die resisting, if necessary. Strength is life. Din had lost count of the battles that had yielded those lessons. He kicked with his free leg, forgetting the injury on the back of his knee. Still, the thing above him didn't move, didn't sink in claws or fangs or even growl at him, only grumbled softly, and kept him pinned. In some back corner of his spinning mind, Din wondered when it would just open its mouth and bite his head off. Tear his guts out, at least. Yelling, he kicked again, again, sharper every time. His knee stung with the fiercest pain he had known.

Nothing changed – no give, no reaction, no sound besides the strange garbling that had started when it arrived. Din could feel it staring down at him. Its noises began to sound less random. Was that a word in basic…?

No time to care. It could kill him in an instant unless Din fought for survival, as he'd been trained.

Din's yelling and snarling became tarnished by pain. Every strike clearly hurt him much more than the creature. His leg was soaked in his own blood. He slowed. His senses mushed together, overloaded with the agony of struggling for so long.

Barely audible past the thud of his own heartbeat in his ears, Din heard a word.

"…Wait…."

Squinting, he looked at where the creature's mouth might be, tried to sense movement in the dark. Had it spoken? Was he hallucinating?

Two pinpricks of light stood out on its black form. Eyes, which focused on his bleeding leg. Din wondered if it was about to be snapped off.

More gurgling. "No…."

No? Din struggled to understand what it meant. Had it said anything at all?

None of it mattered, he reminded himself. He had to break free, to fight. Had to focus on that. He thrashed again, felt his wounds tear, and only pushed himself harder.

One of the hands moved to his chest, pressing the air from his lungs. Din couldn't breathe, could only fight with every last shred of oxygen he had. The pressure bent his ribs, not quite breaking, not quite leaving room for air.

So it'll kill me after all…he thought. And in such a bloodless fashion. Monsters weren't supposed to kill like this. The wampa tore their victims to pieces, gnawed messily on their bones. Why was it…why….

Din's leg stopped kicking, and his eyes drifted shut.

When he woke up, he was lying in the same place, in the same position. Moss covered him and his cape laid under his helmet. Gasping, he scrambled upright.

"NO!"

Din froze at the roar that rattled the cave. There across from him sat the creature. He could see it now, no longer black against the light. Not a wampa – not quite. Yellow, leathery skin, broken by patches of fur, stretched over a man-shaped, wampa-sized body. The unclouded sky revealed its hairless face, frowning and unmistakably human.

"What the hell are you?" Din didn't expect an answer, but sensed that talking would be wiser than moving – not that he had ruled out making a dash for the exit. He glanced toward it for a moment, spotting empty skies and an open field of fallen ice.

The thing gurgled, its too-human mouth twisting in un-human ways. A word of basic bubbled through its throat.

"Stay."

Din didn't move, debated answering. Half-upright, he could feel himself shaking. His head throbbed, likely from the struggle before he'd blacked out, and his injuries stung.

"I don't want to stay. Understand?" His voice was shaking too, and he hated it. Strength is life. Enemy or otherwise, this miserable creature would not get the best of his nerves. Even if…it appeared so uncannily human….

Its dark eyes could have easily belonged to a man. One from the colony Din was born on, even.

"Storm," it grated. A pause, as it looked outside and gibbered to itself. "More."

"I don't care. I'm going to leave, and don't try to stop me." Din began pushing onto his feet.

"No!" The creature answered. The Mandalorian stilled, but his mind swam with impulses, mental jabs to resist, to take the chance, to run, to fight again.

The sky was darkening further. Din grimaced under his helmet. Not ice again. Not while he was trapped here with this abomination.

"Blood…" it said. "You." Its human eyes swung about oddly in their sockets, as if smelling the air more than seeing it. They focused eventually on the piece of shrapnel still lodged in Din's stomach.

"I don't understand you," Din said.

"I…." Its head bobbled. What little basic it might have spoken devolved into grumbles.

"You what?"

The answer came surprisingly fast.

"Help."

Against his own judgment, Din had sat with the creature in its cave. Whether exhaustion or fear had motivated him more, he wasn't sure. He preferred the idea that it was exhaustion. Fear was not the way. But catching his breath, particularly after a mess of battles and injuries, was acceptable. Relatively.

The creature was not really "helping" him – just watched him with its dark, eerie eyes. Din could gather that it had been the one to pluck him from the wreck and place him here. As far as the Mandalorian could tell, it was the only living thing in this barren stretch of planet.

Its hands idly clutched at the bits of moss that Din had left behind when he moved. It didn't have any claws, Din noted, only stubbed nails that, again, looked far too human for a creature so large and horrifying.

Its humanness almost made Din fear it more.

"What are you?" He tried again. It seemed to listen this time, raising its eyes from Din's injured side to his helmet.

"Made," it burbled.

"Made? Like some kind of strandcast?" Some kind of strandcast gone horribly, horribly wrong, he thought.

The creature was mostly silent, not even attempting to make words, as far as he could tell. Outside, the sky churned with fresh clouds. Bits of ice had already begun sprinkling everywhere.

The creature scratched its head. Ground its teeth and tried to speak again.

"…-low."

"What did you say?"

Pointing at the floor of the cave, it tried again.

"I…made…below."

A chill settled in the air, and Din wondered at forces more sinister than slavers.

Author's Note:

-wow, the amount of comments was unexpected! i appreciate each and every one of you, it's not often i get interest (i think that's because i almost exclusively write no-ship fics)

-what is the creature? how was it "made?" why does it want to "help" din? all of these questions are going to be thoroughly answered in later chapters (hopefully to everyone's liking!) but until then i would love to hear your guesses and your thoughts. or just comment whatever you like!

-also making a character that can barely speak without making it annoying or frustrating for the reader is kinda hard, i would not recommend