It was a wonderfully beautiful day with birds chirping from the treetops and the green grass flowing gently as it was brushed by a gentle breeze. With the sun shining bright and the weather forecasts predicting the day to be free of rain, Ines and a few of her newfound local friends had arranged a picnic. They all thought of it as a great idea as it gave them a much needed break from their everyday tasks.
They were rather far from the nearest settlement, but the landspeeders had made the journey rather easy. After having left the speeders near a service station, the group had walked a few hundred meters, crossing a small band of hills and walked through a lightly wooded area until they finally reached a beautiful field with rolling hills on all sides, all covered by the same bright green grass. An ominously dark and damp forest laid to the east of their position, not at all as suitable for a picnic.
Without any real reasons to go any further, the group of five settled down on a grand blanket and a basket filled with various foods and a cooler box in which they had a series of different drinks While it all started pleasant enough, Ines soon realised a grave mistake - not only were there five friends at the picnic, among these people, there were two couples. After a while, the freckled girl found herself rather isolated as her friends tended to their partners.
Still, she could only be happy for them and let out a light sight whilst blankly looking out to the distance. Suddenly, her eyebrows shot up as a figure appeared, another human. It was just what she needed. Standing up, the girl waved at him cheerfully with a hand raised eagerly into the air. Her bare feet were allowed to brush as she walked towards the new figure.
Dantooine. It is said there was a Jedi enclave on her surface at one time, perhaps this was the reason she called to Njix. Once landed Njix couldn't help but feel a darkness emanating far off to the east, a darkness he would have to face for the first time by himself since he parted ways with his master.
He made his way across the hills and plains of the peaceful world, clad with nothing but his lightsaber and attire of loose beige and brown robes and black leather boots. The day was nice enough for Njix to wear his hood down as the light breeze and warm sun complimented one another.
As the darkness got closer, a figure emerged as Njix broke the horizon of the hill he climbed. "A human female by the looks of it"Njix thought to himself. The woman stood up and proceeded to wave him over as she walked closer to him. As the two closed distance an extra emotion of joy was added to the feelings that Njix could identify to the surrounding area, with the darkness still looming to the East. "Hello there, how goes the picnic? I am Padawan Njix Cada." he addressed.
The closer they got, the larger the robed figure seemed to get. Broad shouldered and tall, Ines made sure to stop a few decimeters earlier than usual, just to ensure that she wouldn't have to break her neck looking up at him. "The weather is great, the food is good and the drinks are cold" she said happily with a smile. Taking a step closer to the man, she raised her arm to point back at the picnic with her friends lazily lying on top of the blanket "Want to join us? We've got more than enough to share" she asked, hoping that he'd say yes.
Slowly, Ines started walking back towards the blanket but maintained eye contact with the new arrival by looking back over her shoulder "It was getting pretty boring" she admitted whilst glancing back at her friends who were still grouped up in couples. As soon as the teen reached the cooler box, she retrieved a glass and poured him something to drink, hoping that it would be what finally convinced him to join. Sitting down herself, the Alderaanian spoke "So, what brings you all the way out here? We didn't think we'd get company." Her friends briefly turned to greet the padawan but soon turned back to their own dealings, being excellent examples of why the girl would really appreciate his presence.
For now, the forest laid in stillness a couple of hundred of meters away from them whilst birds could be heard chirping in the distance. A soft breeze could be felt as they were enveloped in fresh air. The young woman added a couple of ice cubes into his glass and held it up for him to take. Internally figuring that it had to get warm with all those robes on a nice day such as this one.
"It seems I've been walking for awhile, this is as good as any time to take a break." answered Njix. As he followed the woman to where she and her friends were, he began to take off his outer robe and then placed it on the blanket once there.
The woman handed Njix a drink and they both sat down, Njix took a sip of the refreshment and informed "I recently parted ways with my master, something she has called a "self governing" period for me to undertake. With no set destination it seems I have been led here. " Keeping the dark presence he was also following hidden as not to ruin the mood set by the woman and her friends.
"You picked a great day to do this, not too hot, not too cold. Definitely warmer than where I'm from."Njix exclaimed. He took this time to take in the surrounding area, something he hadn't done much yet as his attention had be focused elsewhere. The grass waving in the wind, fields of colorful flowers off in the distance, birds singing as if they were in a chorus. All of this Njix had seen and heard before, but never quite took the time to observe it as he just had.
A bright smile appeared on her lips as the man decided to join them. She appreciated the new company and hoped that it could save her from the bore that her friends seemed to produce. Listening to why he was there, she wondered what all of what he said really meant but understood that his teacher had given him a rather unclear task. She couldn't help but to let out a light laugh as his story sounded quite familiar to some of her own experiences where teachers would just assign their students to do something random and hope that something could be learned from it. "I hope it works out for you. I think you're doing some excellent self governing right now." she said jokingly whilst picking up a fruit.
Taking a bite out of it, she looked back to Njix and gestured for him to grab what he wanted. Her eyes went to her friends who seemed far to busy chatting with each other to really eat anyways. "You're right, it is a pretty great day for a picnic!" she said with a nod. Ines looked on the man and tried to guess where he was from - the task soon proved to border on impossibility as she found no real good clues "I'll bite. Where are you from?" she asked and raised a finger to point at his height "And do they grow you all so huge over there?" she finished.
Regardless of his answer, Ines would tell him of her own planet - the one that still remained, that is "I can't recall ever seeing someone of your proportions back on Ryloth" she said, displaying a fair amount of enthusiasm as she talked about the planet. Soon, she grew quiet as she threw a glance over to the treeline is the distance "Did you see something moving in there?" she asked - but upon looking on the forest now, it seemed to be completely still.
"Well I don't remember much from when I was younger, but the order told me I come from New Alderaan and that my family consists mainly of politicians. I've been there a few times on missions with my master however, contact with my family was forbidden and from what I've seen I must be part wookie to be this tall." Njix joked as his mind wandered off thinking of home.
As the woman talked of her home planet of Ryloth she gave off an aura of joy and enthusiasm. Njix listened, intrigued by the talk of her home planet. It was something he hadn't ever done before, as most people he knew didn't have many memories or attachments to their home world. The woman glanced over at the forest to the east, the darkness was closer this time, the woman said something but Njix was too focused trying to find the source of this feeling. Coming closer, Njix stood up and drew his lightsaber, refraining from activating the blades too early in case he was mistaken.
Once she heard him say that he was from New Alderaan, the girl basically froze and barely reacted to his joke at all. Where she'd normally be laughing along happily, she now merely stared at him, hoping that he was another Alderaanian. Her family had been trying to locate as many as possible and would be delighted to have another contact from shared their old homeworld. While finding more of her fellows was important, safety was also a matter of great concern which forced them onto other thoughts - but this was something which the young noble would keep in mind and investigate further upon given the chance.
Her eyes were locked onto the forest for quite some time when Nijx finally stood up and reached for her weapon "What is it?" she asked with concern in her voice as she too, rose to her feet, soon followed by her four friends. One of them brought up a holocam and zoomed in to have a better view "Kath Hounds. And they seem to be coming right to us!" he said with a fearful voice. The group stood there, watching three beasts charge towards them. Unarmed and hardly considering themselves combatants, the four slowly started backing down until one of them let out a scared "Run!" upon which all four of them started running.
With her right hand slowly traveling down to her hip where her holdout blaster was, Ines reached for the sleeve of Njix' inner robe. "They've got a point, let them have the picnic and let's get out of here." she said, fearing what might happen if they were caught. Unfortunately, the hounds were faster than expected and soon arrived just a few meters away from Nijx and Ines. The beasts growled aggressively with jaws snapping eagerly towards their marks. Aurelie was slowly starting to slip in behind the man's back but tried to keep an eye on what was happening, ready to support him if needed. Soon, the beast to the left jumped forth in and attempt to bite him, almost at the as the one to the right did the same thing.
Emerging from the forest were three kath hounds, certainly not the biggest creatures but still dangerous if unarmed or surrounded. Njix activated the dual purple and yellow blades of his saber and entered a defensive position, his right hand holding the saber out infront of him, while his left hand remained free to counter an attack with the force.
The three kath hounds approached from Njix's 10, 12, and 2 o'clocks. The creature on the left made the first move as the one to the right quickly followed, both attacks aimed for Njix. Njix, with his left hand proceeded to force push the hound on his left backwards, with the beast landing on it's paws only five feet away. With his right hand he flourished his saber effectively cutting down the hound. As his attention was focused on the second hound, the first hound sprung back towards Njix as he was facing away.
In order to give the man an idea of what position she had, the Alderaanian rested her left hand on his back lightly. While he would definitely be able to feel her touch, it was far too light to affect his mobility. Ines gasped as the first hound attacked and barely registered that the second one went on the offence. Not being someone accustomed to seeing the force in action, like major parts of the rest of the galaxy, she stood in surprise as the first one was pushed back several feet. Through the corner of her eye, she saw him slash through the other one that had attacked whilst the one in the middle was completely hidden from her sight as Njix stood between them.
It seemed as if the beast that was pushed back had no intentions of letting the man rest as it quickly started making its way back to him again. Instinctively, her hand went to hold her holdout blaster. As she was pulling it up from the holster, Ines realised how weird it felt to be the target of a Kath Hound attack - while she had dueled against people with the saber before and even had some practice with blaster pistols set on stun mode, this was entirely different. Instead of being friendly, or less friendly, competition, it was deadly - a mistake would now result in far worse results than a mere bruise. Just before the beast lunged towards the Sith, the Alderaanian pulled the trigger. While her weapon only did light damage, it did make the animal flinch and thereby prevented it from attacking.
Her hand was steady, but the enraged stare she received from the beast was intimidating to say the least. Fearing that it would target her next, the teen kept her left hand on his back as she moved away from the angered beast, towards the dead one, effectively trying to put Njix between them. "Help!" she hollered with a rather tiny voice as the distance between her and the beast grew. Still, she kept a close eye on both of the Kath Hounds and was ready to continue supporting him when possible - still, it was clear that he would have to do the heavy lifting.
The lightsaber cut through the hound like butter. It wasn't the first time Njix had killed a living creature, but he still felt the pain of taking away a life. "Nice shot!" Njix exclaimed after seeing Ines' shot on the attacking kath hound halting it in it's tracks.
There were only two beasts left. Njix separated his dual-bladed lightsaber into it's single bladed counter parts, Holding the purple saber in his right hand and the yellow in his left. He switched from form 6 "Niman" to form 5 "Shien and Djem So" focusing mainly on the "Djem So" part of the form.
Knowing that one of the hounds had already tried to attack twice and the other one had yet to move, Njix feinted a downward attack with both sabers towards the beast he had previously pushed back. Like predicted the still beast leapt towards Njix and met it's untimely demise. With two of the three kath hounds down, Njix could clearly tell that the dark presence was reduced and that the remaining darkness resounded inside of the final hound.
Weary and no longer with superior numbers the final kath hound made a last ditch effort to try and take down Njix.
Along with the last of the kath hounds, the darkness that was once present, was no more.
Although she was very happy that her new ally credited her for the shot, Ines' mind was preoccupied with surviving. The large man quickly regained the attention of the one which she had shot and had, for a while, set its sights on her. Having seen him deal with the other beast, the girl trusted that he was more than capable of taking care of it with relative ease. And sure enough, he had soon slayed both of the remaining Kath Hounds without needing her to intervene at all "Nice, well.. everything!" she exclaim, returning the credit with enthusiasm.
What had just happened was slowly starting to sink in. While she had some experience in combat, three Kath Hounds in a situation like that didn't seem like something which she would be capable of handling without getting rather injured herself. "You might just have saved our lives" she commented and soon added a "Thank you" whilst offering him a curtsy and a bowed down head. It was all rather old fashioned alderaanian, but she enjoyed the landscape.
Throwing a look, first down to the slashed animals and then up at him, she asked "Well then, Njix. What happens now?" her question was simple and asked without any real expectations. She was simply genuinely curious about the man who had just saved herself and her friends from destruction. Would he continue on the path down the forest, stay with her for a while and pleasure themselves with what the friends left behind, or return back to where he came from? It was all unknown to her, resulting in the girl simply waiting for the answer without doing much on her own accord.
"Well, that's that." Njix exhaled as he turned off his sabers and reconnected them. The darkness that drew Njix to Dantooine had vanished, not an event that would warrant immediate council notice but something that he would bring up in his monthly report. For now Njix had other matters to attend to.
"Thanks, you weren't too bad yourself." Njix answered as he noticed that the woman was obviously shaken over the ambush of the kath hounds. "It was no problem and don't worry about it, everything happens through The Force." Hopefully that would help calm her down. She gave a bow to Njix, a very specific bow from Alderaanian culture or so he read in text about his home planet and culture. As a courtesy Njix bowed back with (hopefully) the correct one.
"It seems the darkness I came here to cleanse has been taken care of, I think I will escort you and your friends back to where you came from and then I will head off. I need to be on call in case I'm needed anywhere, or The Force guides me someplace else." Njix explained. That is if her friends hadn't already left the area.
It was continuously becoming more clear that the danger was over as the two entered more normal conversation. Ines noticed how he performed a rather traditional bow himself - it reminded her of some Alderaanian get-to-togethers her parents would arrange. Some of the guests would bow just as Njix had done just there. Her large companion kept showing that he did indeed have roots to the same planet as the Panteers, and it brought her a fair amount of hope about maintaining connections with him in the future.
She liked the idea of having him take her back to the speeder. Quickly, she moved a few meters and got down to her knees on the blanket. The foods and plates were hurriedly put back into the basket and the packs of liquid were sealed tight. Once it was all packed up, the items were removed from the blanket upon which they rested and the cloth was consequently folded. Ines soon bounced back up after having worked at a relatively quick pace "As you can see, I've packed away a few picnics in my days" she said lightheartedly, reflecting over the speed she had kept. Carrying it to the speeder was another matter, however, as it was quite a bit heavier than she was used to - especially when they had been five bringing it all there in the first place. Still, not being one to complain, the Alderaanian picked up the basket and put the blanket on it with the one hand, and picked up the drinks container with the other.
As the two walked towards the speeder, the teen looked up at her new friend "My family is from Alderaan." she said, sending him a soft smile. Curious if he'd recognise her house she continued introducing herself with more than just her first name "Ines Panteer. I take it you were Alderaanian too? Maybe we could exchange contact information. We could call upon each other in times of need." she said enthusiastically and let out a slight chuckle "I suppose I already owe you one for today." she continued, smiling at him fondly
"That explains your etiquette." Njix joked, happy to me someone from his home world."I'd be glad to exchange information, the only forms of communication I have at the moment are this comlink and the one on my ship, but you should be able to get through with one or the other." he explained as they continued walking towards the speeder.
Thankfully Ines' friends hadn't left with the speeder yet and instead were waiting inside, peering in our direction. "Thank you, I must return to my ship now. Be safe and may the force be with you." Njix said to the group, before walking off towards the west where his ship was waiting for him.