Nox could hear the shock in her voice and he just shook his head slightly, a smirk touching his lips as she was shining it in a light that made it sound much more smooth and easy. "I wouldn't say entirely learned... hand gestures help." The Raiders, when they spoke, just used their shrieks, changing the inflections of them when they wanted to get a different point across or add detail. All of their shrieks didn't contain all basic words and there were still some sounds he just couldn't make yet.
When it said most of their people would have most likely started blasting, it was probably true but he held some thought that not all of them would just shoot first. That didn't mean that negotiating and peace was always the option he sought himself as his emotions got the best of him most times but through his travels, he was able to witness the state of the galaxy and what they would need in order to actually prop themselves up, at least to sustain themselves.
Nox chuckled softly, "Don't paint me in too much of a spotlight Song. I'm just trying to give my people, ours, a home, a real one outside the influence of anyone but ourselves." He certainly hadn't thought that far ahead about other planets, his only true and immediate goal being a place where they could live by their own accords and laws, not someone else's. But he commented at the end about her hope, "Maybe it will." That was a conversation that their people would have to answer as one.
They eventually arrived at the camp, which centered around an oasis as Raiders, women, and children all passed by them. "They're nomadic. They probably have a whole network of oasis' they travel to." The Solus added. It was quite lucky for them to have recently heard of their raiding stories and location. It would have been much harder if they were in the middle of a migration.
Most of the Raiders split off from the pair, leaving the lead one and a few others as they took them to the center of the village. Even walking through it, they would be able to spot the massive tent that was erected in the center to promote its significance. Two Raiders stood outside and opened the flaps, letting all of them pass through. Inside it was quite spacious, with multiple rugs on the ground, trinket's and other items hung on small supports or the frame of the tent.
Across from them would stand the chief, so to say, a sort of U formed with multiple villagers members seated on pillows, the biggest one and most adorned in between them all. Nox didn't say anything as he cast a quick glance at Song before slowly stepping forward to sit down on his knees right outside of the half U.
As Nox discussed his people, she couldn't help but watch him curiously. The idea of a Solus intervening in the affairs of Clan Wren was not completely lost on Song. Her father was a capable leader, at least from what little she knew about him since his rise to counthood, but he was an isolationist who refused to look beyond the mountains that circled his stronghold. Perhaps, with some outside convincing, he might change.
Whether or not Nox would be the one to do it, she hadn’t any idea. Just whoever it was, man or woman, Song would be there to stand by their side.
As she and Nox plunged deeper into the settlement, Song caught the eye of several children playing by the wellspring. One of them kicked a tattered ball into the air only for it to land mere inches from her boots. None of them dared to approach. For the longest moment, she stared at the ball, not entirely sure what to do with it. As a child, training in the forest was all she’d known. There was no room for play, no chance to frolic in the snow like some wild hare. Such was the life of a Mandalorian.
She nudged the ball with her toe, letting it roll back towards the springs. Song didn’t stay to watch them continue. She only kept walking.
Once they reached the main pavilion, she slipped inside, resting her knees on one of the silk cushions beside Nox. Incense and the smell of desert sage lingered in the air, and lanterns burned low, painting the room in a warm tangerine. Even in her armor, Song did her best to look formal, her back straight and poised, the way she’d always been taught by her mother.
She stayed quiet and waited for someone to break the silence. Right now, it was up to Nox to see these negotiations through. But should things take a turn for the worst, then Song was more than ready to pick a fight.
Before they entered the tent, Nox couldn't help but notice the little moment between Song and the children. Based off her reaction, it was evident that their people weren't the type that enjoyed typical pastimes as other cultures did. It would have been a comedic sight if he hadn't realized what it was actually alluring to. For a long time, Mandalorians only focus had been about survival and if he wondered if that would ever change. The Solus wouldn't utter a word when she returned and both of them entered.
When both of them were seated, the chief would glance between the two of them before reaching behind him and pulling out a sword. A curved blade was revealed to them as it was pulled out from it's sheathe slowly. The chief let out a shriek after his examination before raising the weapon and slamming it in the line of sand that separated them from each other. After that was finished, the chief just sat back on his knees and waited patiently, clearly acting like he shouldn't be alone.
With a glance casted toward Song, Nox would retrieve his knife from his belt and slam in the ground beside the sword, to the left of it. It almost felt puny next to curved sword but it's significance was equal. It was part of a tradition, the blades a representation of the rest of their armament. With their blades placed in the center, it meant all of their weapons were out of bounds and put away. If one of them reached for their blaster or anything else, it would most likely be their death there. When Song would place her own blade on the right side, the chief would finally begin speaking, or his version's of people speaking.
Different shrieks would be made, some deeper then others, some shorter, longer, quiet, loud. It was clear what he saying was being elaborated with each type and Nox's quiet gaze was only locked on the native, focusing the best he could to decipher most of it and piece together the rest based off context. It was difficult but doable. When the chief's piece had been said, it was the Solus' time to speak and the differences would be obvious as day to Song.
Nox's own groans and shrieks were practically only one tone, a couple inflections here and there but overall, was mostly monotone. The chief had only used his voice while the Solus gestured with his hands to assist, either pointing to himself, Song, or the natives. While it wasn't pretty, the chief sat and listened.
When the tribal chief raised his sword into the air, its curved edge glinting in the candlelight, Song had to resist the instinct of pulling out her own. If Nox hadn’t already warned her otherwise, she might’ve accidentally started a war. Instead she stayed completely motionless, a statue frozen in time, and waited. She was used to waiting. Whereas her father insisted upon constant training and sparring, her mother Haliya practiced meditation, patience, like the warriors of old.
Song still couldn’t believe she was dead. Ashes on a frozen pyre.
She was thrust back into reality as the chief drove his blade into the sand. Nox, doing the same, signaled her to follow. She didn’t hesitate. Her hands grasped for her brother’s sword, planting it hard into the ground, alongside the knife up hidden her sleeve. Same with the one tucked in her boot, and the other on her waist, and another tied to her ankle. By that point, she could feel the natives staring.
Once she’d relieved everything save for her blasters, Song turned to Nox and awkwardly cleared her throat. She didn’t bother trying to understand what was said after. It all came out as low shrieks and grunts, accompanied by the his random gesturing, which she found equally confusing. And given the look the chief was giving them, she wasn’t sure if Nox was being particularly persuasive, either. Or maybe that was just his face.
Nox took a peek at Song as he caught the first blade she pulled out before having it stabbed in the sand. That was really all that was needed and expected by him and then there was more rustling. Slowly, everyone in the tent directed their attention back to her and watched as she pulled out even more knives and stabbed them by the curved blade. It made their little shrine of blades heavily lopsided and the Solus would contain his short laugh as he raised a finger and scratched where his nose would have been if not for the helmet.
Eventually, the shrieks from both parties came to a halt. The natives pondered to themselves, speaking amongst each other or silently sitting there in thought. Nox glanced from Song and then back to him, calmly waiting but with anticipation building every second as he didn't know what the answer would be. The offer had been laid out on the table, in exchange for the native's help for reclaiming an old home for his clan, they would be given free reign of the desert, trade. They would be allies essentially if it was accepted.
The natives were in a desperate situation. A recent sickness had begun to take the camp and certain raids against them had widdled their numbers as well. One of the main reasons the two Mando's had made it so far into their mother camp. After a few minutes, the chief finally let out another combination of streaks as he arrived at the conclusion of their meeting. When he finished, Nox offered a small nod before leaning forward and retrieving his knife, Song was supposed to do the same.
When they would exit from the tent, the Solus would halt for a moment as he glanced around the camp for a few moments. "Well..." He eventually broke the silence, "We've been employed."
Once the screaming match had reached its conclusion, Song was quick to gather her things. She slung her brother's blade back over her shoulder, scooping up what weapons and knives she’d left in the sand. She left Talon for last, the knife her mother had gifted her before she left Krownest to pursue the life of a bounty hunter. The handle was encrusted with the bone of a grey wolf, one she’d fought and killed on a mountain hunt when she was nine. Next to River's sword, it was her most prized possession.
But as Song reached for it, the native chief seized her wrist.
She flinched, instinctively reaching for the blaster on her hip, but at seeing them make no move, she relaxed. At least, she did her best to look relaxed. It was hard to when the chief was staring at her so intently, as if he could see straight through her helmet and into her soul. She was tempted to scream at him the way Nox had, maybe in hopes she might unwittingly tell him to “lay off,” but she restrained herself. There was something this chief wanted.
They spoke in their language, a few drawling syllables she couldn’t quite understand. Then, he let her go and slumped back on his cushioned pillow, probably to inhale whatever desert herbs he’d been smoking. The incense must have addled his brains to mush, because touching a Mandalorian the way he had could’ve meant instant death. He was lucky Song was the forgiving type.
Still, he never stopped staring at her, not until she was out of the tent and back in the cool, night air. Trying to shake off the odd exchange, she turned to Nox, refocusing on the task at hand. “You say employed like it’s a bad thing,” she said, noting the preceding silence. “Come on. It can’t be so terrible. What’s the job?”
As they were about to exit from the pavilion, a small encounter took place between the Song and Chief. Nox had spun on his heel and faced the other Mandalorian, believing somehow that the talks had gone down the shitter while they were trying to leave. Two guards stepped in front, sectioning him off as the Chief spoke to his comrade in a mostly hushed tone.
From his position, Nox wasn't able to make out everything clearly and with the natural barrier of understanding their language, the message wasn't exactly perfect in translation. The one or two words that he had managed to catch undeniably were that of "father" and "family". It made the Solus arch his eyebrow in confusion slightly but before it could be thought on, Song was allowed to leave and the guards stepped out of the way so that he could as well with her.
When they came into contact with the night sky and afforded a moment of privacy, Nox quietly brought his gaze over to Song as he studied her for a moment. He wondered had illicit the response and exchange between the Chief and her but they were on a job now and he would only bring it up if she brought it up to him. Family was a sacred concept to Mandos and he wouldn't step over the line without permission.
His apprehension about their latest appointment wasn't unnoticed by him and he couldn't help but chuckle softly underneath his helmet. "They weren't exactly forthcoming about the details." It wasn't more forthcoming but just descriptive. Nox lifted a hand to the North, pointing a single index finger, "They're being raided against from the North. A sickness is passing through their tribe and they haven't been able to defend themselves because of it."
Nox gave a slight shrug with his shoulders, "We find whatever is attacking them and put an end to it once and for all." It was simple once stated but its complexity was hidden in between his words. Both of them had no idea what was committing the attacks and when or where they would take place. "We can leave at first light, they'll offer us refuge for that long at least."
Finally offered a moment of privacy, Song walked alongside Nox through the encampment, out of earshot from wary guards and playing children. Most of the tribe had gone to rest, no longer fearful of the intentions of both Mandalorians. Now, the two were left to talk in peace, only the spread of stars ahead of them.
“So,” she said, laying one arm over the other, “our job is to find whoever or whatever is attacking them from the north, and we kill them?” She smirked. “Sounds easy enough. Is it wrong to say I’m hoping it’s a Krayt dragon?”
Song laughed. If she was being honest, she actually hoped for the opposite. A band of raiders would do, a rival tribe maybe, or even a company of space-faring pirates. Something simple. Bottom of the barrel scum. Because the last time she had to defend a settlement in the middle of nowhere, she’d fought a swarm of laigreks, nearly losing both legs and a hand in the process. It was an experience she was not keen to relive anytime soon.
Together, they settled on the edge of the encampment, beside a small wellspring surrounded by wild grass and juniper bushes. Song labored over what had once been a campfire, trying to get it to do more than smoke. She was tired and hungry enough that she would have gladly gnawed on the leather bedding that had been laid out for them.
But after a time, once she’d grown agitated enough, Song only sighed and slumped back. In one fluid motion, she slid off her helmet, revealing a cascade of black hair that trailed past her shoulders. She couldn’t take it. Even with magnifiers and a heads-up display, it was hard to bear the weight of it on her neck. It reminded her too much of her life as a bounty hunter, living in her dead brother’s armor, plagued by grief.
“I know what you’re going to say,” she said, reaching for the fire again. “You don’t have to preach to me about the Way. I used to follow it religiously too, once upon a time, but it's simply not for me anymore. Still, I respect your devotion. It's not easy.”
Both of them just walked slowly through the camp as they took up every drop of silence they could. The wind came softly, the cloak that covered the right half of Nox's body slowly drifting in the wind. It was strange, the serenity that fell over the camp. Nox usually found himself in cities or amongst his fellow clan, the sound of blasters, yelling, drinking, and fighting never far behind. The sound of his footsteps was the only sound he could hear clearly and he didn't know whether he liked the silence or not.
Song's words drew him from his thoughts and his helmet swung over to her. A soft chuckle would be pushed out from him as he gave her a little cock of his head, "It would certainly be the most exciting. I have a feeling we wouldn't be standing amongst avillage if it was." A Krayt dragon was a creature almost made of legend, a mass of muscle and power that dominated the deserts they called their home. Nox had never even seen one, only hearing stories about them and their pearls.
Eventually, they arrived at the edge of the village, finding their camp by a little spring that offered them privacy in some sense. Seeing Song aim towards the fire, Nox at first sat, relieving his weapons around him and reducing the weight he had to carry. Eventually, though, she gave up on the idea of starting this on her own and removed her helmet as she fell back. The Solus' T-visor would be brought over to her exposed head, his eyes at first catching her hair before slowly being brought down to inspect her face. With the helmet, he was completely emotionless but she would be able to sense that he wasn't staring at her with disgust but a mixture of something else while his gaze lingered.
He tore his gaze away hurriedly and redirected his attention to the fire as he stood up with a grunt. "I'm not going to preach. You were old enough to understand your decision and to understand mine." If it had been the first time, it would have created some conflict between them. But it wasn't the first. A new wave has been rolling through his people, more and more Mandalorians accepting a new train of thought as they removed their helmets without any inhibitions.
Nox sometimes felt like he stood alone and about to bare the full weight of a crushing tide that he was too naive to follow with. Sometimes, it felt like it would either sweep him despite his resistance or just casually brush past his legs. He couldn't decide which.
Watching her struggle with the fire, a smirk carved itself amongst his lips and helped start the fire, positioning the wood better and helping kindle the flame. After a few moments, they both would be lit up with an orange hue that was an indication of the heat it was providing. Nox stared in the flames for a few seconds, his knife idly spinning between his fingers until a soft laugh came out of him, "It's beginning to feel like I'm the odd one out now compared to the rest of you." It was obvious he was referring to her helmet.
“Good. Then I won’t preach to you, either.” Song smiled, poking a branch into the dry kindling. She’d started plenty of fires back on Krownest, during hunts in the mountains and forests, and often with little more than a frozen pebble. But life as a bounty hunter had made her lazy, rusty in the old ways, and it certainly was going to take some time for her to readjust. After all, why bother with a rock and flint when you had a flamethrower attached to your forearm?
Fortunately, neither of them would have to go to such a length. Song only had to watch as Nox leaned over and rearranged the driftwood. Not a moment later, and a fire sparked to life. She gave it a stern jab for safe measure, coaxing the little flames into something of a blaze, and smirked. “Thanks.”
Warm, tangerine light bathed the clearing around them. One of the mesquite trees swayed above her, leaves rustling. Now that the sun had set and the temperature was dropping, Song stayed crouched beside the fire, watching it dance in the wind. “Odd or not,” she replied, “just because you are different, doesn’t make you alone. We are all Mandalorians here.” She rose from the sand and grinned. “Even if I am the far better looking one.”
Song moved toward the wellspring. If only to tease the Solus further, she was tempted to strip off her armor next, shedding her gauntlets and pauldrons for a long, comfortable bath. But she respected him and her own privacy to bother trying. Instead, she refilled her canteen and began washing her face and hair in the cool waters.
“Don’t mind me,” she said quietly. “It’s hard not to smell when you’re carrying seventy pounds of beskar and durasteel through a blistering desert.” She splashed on another handful of water. “I’m also not exactly well adapted to the heat. Years of growing up on a world of subzero temperatures tend to do that to you.”
She looked up to him, water trickling down her face. “I know Clan Solus are nomads, but do you remember where you were born? Raised, if anything?” She dipped the length of her hair into the spring. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”
An understanding formed between them, a makeshift bridge that was at least rickety for Nox but still a bridge. The fire was uplifted by the help of both their efforts and blazed with vibrant health. Instead of resting in the sand, the Solus walked a few steps away and collected a log to act as his seating arrangement. It was thrown near the fire before the full weight of him sat down on it, the plates of his armor clinking with his weapons and other armaments.
The both of them stared into the flames for a handful of moments, Song's words eventually drew him back and he smirked underneath his helmet at her final comment, "I don't think I can disagree but a bold claim." With the knife that was still in his hand, he tapped the edge of the blade against the right carved-out cheek of his helmet, reminding her he had yet to be seen. She was still probably right, however; his life as a Mandalorian had made him toned and fit with the constant carrying of his armor but the scar that traveled from almost the back of his head to his left eye didn't help. She certainly had better hair.
As she walked over to the spring, Nox would be in a battle with himself as his helmet would track with her, sharply pull away a moment and then return. Without the help of alcohol like he had received from the party when they first met, it was much harder to accept the idea of an unmasked Mandalorian for an extended period of time. It didn't help that she was indeed attractive and it left him in a weird place where he felt as if he was just watching her get fully naked even though only her helmet had been removed.
Eventually, Nox turned himself on the leg, his flank facing towards her as he would stare out at the expansive dunes of the desert. The Solus was a fidgety type and because the sand didn't provide that much satisfaction when his foot tapped against it, he switched to his knife. It would be lifted on the side that faced toward Song, the tip of the blade being dragged down along the edge of his helmet, practically in the motion of shaving and she would be able to see the scraped paint that clarified it was a typical procedure for him.
Another chuckle escaped from, a little louder than last time as the knife continued, "No room to complain, I'm most likely worse. I haven't been complimented on my smell yet." Bigger body, bigger plates of armor, more weight, and sweat. She spoke of her real home momentarily before asking him about his. Her question made the knife stopped along his helmet for the briefest of seconds before he eventually picked up the motion again.
A few seconds of silence would pass, the only sound being the scraping of metal on metal and Song washing out her hair. Nox would turn his head towards her slightly, not directly in his full gaze but right in the corner, "Is it pathetic if I told you I couldn't remember?" It was the truth and something that plagued his head, his knife almost a reference to what he did with his mind when he tried to reach that far back.
“You probably haven’t been complimented yet because you won’t let anyone get within three feet of you,” she teased. Whether or not that was the truth didn’t matter, not with the way Nox looked. “You don’t exactly scream ‘friendly’.” She tilted her head toward him, noting the heavy armor he was dressed in, the blasters slung over his back, and the knife he was slowly grating against his helmet, as if peeling skin. Point in case.
She squeezed the water from her hair and rose. His next words weren’t unexpected, but she still felt a pang of remorse at hearing them. Her own childhood had been harsh, composed only of her father’s ruthless instruction and her training, including hunts in the wilderness that would last for weeks. It was not kind, but at least she could remember it, both the good and the bad. But Nox? He had nothing.
“It’s not pathetic,” Song finally said. “It’s a product of the past.” She looked up at the stars, wondering where Mandalore might be among them. “The Great Purge nearly destroyed us. Like rats, so many clans were forced into hiding, moving from one world to the next. Others became bounty hunters, warriors that killed for a price and not for a cause.” She glanced over to him. “I know you don’t need a history lesson, but everyone could use a reminder. We lost something—a home—and it’s nobody’s fault except for the bastards that let it happen.”
Song knelt into the sand and assembled a nest of pelts and blankets beside the fire, a makeshift bedroll to sleep on. “Sorry. I lied when I said I wouldn’t get preachy with you.” She laid down in the nest of furs, propping herself up on one elbow. The whole thing stank of sweat and dry alcohol, but it was far more comfortable than a rock or a broken log.
As she settled into the cot, she began winding her hair into a long braid, fingers moving nimbly, like needlework. “If there is a world you’d like to remember, you should visit Krownest someday. It’s cold, but the air is fresh, and there are plenty of mountain springs worth bathing in.” She snorted a laugh. “Lots of wolves, too, if you’re looking for a friend.”
Song commented that he didn't exactly scream 'friendly' to those who didn't know him and that brought out a soft laugh in him. There was no resistance from him and the sound he made would be indication as an admission that she was most likely right. "Better that then it screaming, 'I'm a nice guy, come and kill me'." The Solus had been around enough to witness what happened to those who couldn't protect themselves. Hell, even those that could, such as his people, still suffered out in the galaxy they were in.
His past was a product of their people's past but one that they shouldn't accept just because that's the way it was. That's what bothered the Solus, he just couldn't accept the status quo they were in. It's not what he and his people were meant for and it was something that he fought within himself for years as he traveled with his clan. When the Great Purge was spoken of, Nox returned his gaze back to the sand dunes, the scraping of his helmet continuing slowly with the knife, still listening but clearly giving off the sense that he knew every word that she spoke of.
When she finished, the scraping only continued for a few fleeting moments before it stopped and he brought his full gaze to her. "My family name is a constant reminder of what happened. The sight of my clan now is a reminder of what happened." Nox shook his head slightly as his gaze tore away from Song a moment, not needing a reminder at all after what his family had been reduced to. The Solus then stood up from the log, the knife given a simple and quick twirl before it was put back in its sheathe. "Us included. Our people we're the bastards that let it happen." They had to hold accountability, otherwise they would never grow from it. Nox then brought his gaze back to Song, "Our ancestors would most likely spit on us if they saw what we've turned back into."
It was obvious her words had pressed a button with him but his anger wasn't directed at her. It was more like she had just pressed the button to unlock the door that contained the thoughts he just spoke out. His emotions were more directed to the situation they were in then anything else. Never the less, Nox made his way over to the fire and began to create his own makeshift cot. He didn't have any furs to speak of and instead threw a couple of blankets on the ground before using his cloak to cover the top half when he would lay down.
After he sat down, he rested his two arms on his knees, returning his attention back to Song when she suggested visiting Krownest. He didn't say anything for a moment before giving her a slight shrug, "I... might actually take you up on that." The fresh air is what appealed to him the most as he was often was used to the thick gunk in the city that was mislabeled as air. The possibility of gaining a friendship with a wolf made him smirk underneath his helmet as he gave her a slight shake of his head, "That spot is already reserved for someone else." He was a Solus after all.
Nox finally laid down fully onto his on little sleeping bag of blankets, staring up into the night sky as he put one hand underneath his helmet to prop it up slightly. The fire was between them but he was off-center enough that the two of them could peer at each other without blinding themselves. He eventually turned his head toward her, him meeting brown eyes when she only receive a T-visor in return. "I'll take first watch." The words eventually muttered out before he sat back up.
“You say that, but my father already spits on Mandalore for its current state.” Which was ironic, considering he’d done very little in restoring the Mandalorian people to their former glory. It had always been Wren first, Krownest first. The other tribes, Solus included, had no room in Ghent’s grand schemes, nor was there room in the vast mountains of her homeworld.
“I only hope one day, that changes,” Song said as she stared out to the stars. “Another Mandalorian golden age. Could you imagine? Maybe not in my lifetime, but if what we do here lays the foundation for that future, then I will gladly spend the rest of my life in service to it.” She thought of Valeska, left to rot in the Taris fighting cages. She thought of Nox and his clan, forced to wander the Outer Rim. No Mandalorian deserved to live a life in hiding.
Of course she didn’t expect Clan Solus to settle down on Krownest, but she did wish to host them someday, Nox especially. There was something in him she couldn’t quite explain. Hope? Inspiration? Solus might already have an Alor—or so she’d heard—but in her eyes, it seemed Nox was the only one who truly bled and fought for his clan.
At his offer to take first watch, Song nodded. “Sounds good to me. Just don’t stay up too long, Solus. If you need rest, you need only ask. I’ve been on enough hunts that I’m used to surviving weeks on power naps alone.” She smirked. After all, the Krownest wilderness was much like Felucia, where every moving shadow had the capacity to kill. Even the weather, blisteringly cold, was known to freeze outsiders in a single night.
Song said nothing of it, though. Once Nox was situated in a comfortable post, she dropped into the tangle of furs and pelts and, helmet by her side, drifted asleep.
It was the first dream she had in months, not since she first shed her brother’s armor and became Song again. It was a dream of her homeworld, of her father, Ghent. He wore his usual armor, beskar spear in hand, and was watching her coldly from the dais of his throne. He said nothing. Spoke no words. There was a heavy tension in the air, and it was so quiet, one could hear the beating of her own heart. Were they about to fight? She had no idea. But her father only had one thing to say.
When she did, she woke to the sound of screaming. Sweat on her brow, Song whirled around the small oasis, trying to find the source of the noise. It took her a long moment before she realized it was coming from the settlement, from the tribe.
It appeared to him that Song was full with a hope and fire that couldn't help but warm him slightly through his set of armors, literally and otherwise. He could feel the passion behind each word and while he didn't respond to her, Nox took note of it and found a small part of himself happy that he had found someone else that couldn't just sit and spectate on the sidelines.
Hearing her warning about switching shifts and somehow already calling him out for it before he had done it. The words drew a smirk from him and then a soft chuckle that followed afterward, "I'll keep that in mind." With his time determined, he made his way over to the log that he had set up previously and sat on it. The night was young and so was his shift, resulting in him making some adjustments to his post in order to get comfortable. His rifle would be beside him, the base of it leaning against the log for support.
The guard duty wouldn't last forever, in fact, it would last relatively short. Nox had been facing toward the dunes, expecting raiding parties on speeders to come gliding across the sand. But the entire time, the dunes offered nothing in terms of what they had been hiding if they even did, the only movement being the soft breeze of sand as they almost made their own waves across the desert. Before he would be able to think on it any longer, that's when the screams and the sound of blasters would start, completely behind him. The Mandalorian spun on his heel and to his feet, expecting to hear chants or a signal of some kind but instead, a meaty roar bellowed out as it reverberated throughout the entire camp.
By the time he turned around, Song was already awake and he didn't waste any time filling her in, he knew as much as her. "Time to go." The Solus would immediately rush forward, his rifle picked up after his first step. Villagers and children ran towards his direction, most of them bloodied and the worst suffering the loss of limbs or deep gashes that had easily penetrated through their simple clothing and armor. By the time he would reach the center of the village, with Song beside him or not, a massive creature would bulldoze itself through a tent and a sight he hadn't been expecting in the slightest as it took the whole thing with it.
It was a black mass of muscle, spears, and javelins sticking out along its spine and flanks from hunting parties and the recent defenses. When the creature managed to throw the canvas off its eyes, a redhead would be revealed with three horns as well. It was a Reek and the moment its gaze found the Solus, a new target had been acquired for it after a soft and cute whistle was made by the man. With a few kicks in the dirt, the animal let out a bellowing roar before heaving itself forward as it began to gain momentum.
Only staring at it for a brief moment as it charged, three words came to his mind, Bless me Kad. Nox would swing his rifle upward afterward, swiping his finger down in a smooth motion before readjusting his grip along his weapon as it rested comfortably against him, an extension. Taking steps forward, he would begin to fire hot bolts right at the Reek, squeezing the trigger until his cartridge emptied.
Song staggered to a rise. Leaving her helmet among the tangle of furs, she ran into the settlement, wielding her sword. A wild Reek had broken through the tribe’s perimeter, shattering tents and running down native civilians, and her mind whirled with confusion. How had it managed to break through the outpost’s outer perimeter? Why was it so aggressive? Although territorial, most Reeks were herbivores, and only when starved or provoked would attack such large settlements.
She didn’t have time to ask it why, though. Nox had reacted swiftly, and after brandishing his rifle, shot into the beast as it roared toward them. Song wanted to yell at him to move—even grab him by the collar and jump out of the way—but it was at the last moment that one of his shots ran clean through the Reek’s skull, sending it crashing into the sand. It stopped just short of the two Mandalorians, heaving, its eyes turning distant and glassy.
Then, it fell terribly still.
Song let out a sigh of relief. “Nice shot, Solus.”
She circled the motionless beast, and for safe measure, she nudged it with the toe of her boot. Once the Mandalorian was sure it was dead, she examined the spears and javelins lodged into its red skin, as well as the dry blood that caked its belly. It had been recently tortured. “Poor thing,” she muttered. “It must have been driven mad by so many failed hunting parties.”
She thought about placing a hand on its side to say a prayer, as was the old tradition back on Krownest. Although her people stalked the mountains frequently, they never left a hunt unfinished. The best kill was a final one, a clean one. Instead, Song turned to study the damage around the settlement. “We should be careful, though. No telling if there’s mor—”
The words died in her throat as another Reek burst from a tent and, without giving her room to react, crashed into her lower body. Pain shot through her left shoulder, and she let out an audible oomph as she was ragdolled and sent flying into the air. Her armor had absorbed the worst of the blow, but Song came crashing back down into the oasis, plunging into the cool waters. Thankfully, the spring was shallow, and even on her ass she could stay above the surface.
Nox kept straight as he stepped toward the beast while it charged. His position provided the best angle to land a shot and he wasn't going to waste it. The first wave of blaster bolts simply sunk into the flesh of the Reek, sizzling and burning through but not causing any real damage. Kad..., The Solus utter out in mando'a as he continued to fire upon the creature, the distance between them rapidly closing. Finally, one of the bolts from the second wave found its mark, striking the skull near the eye and easily piercing through the soft flesh.
The creature's entire frame collapsed into the sand, its legs unable to support its own weight as it created an explosion of sand before eventually slowing to a halt. Even with the little crash and burn, Nox had his rifle remained raised and aimed at the head while Song caught up and began to inspect it afterward. "Thankfully." He replied smoothly to her comment about his aim as he eventually lowered his weapon to peek at the spears and such that were littered within the Reek's skin. The Solus took note of the sadness in Song's voice and he couldn't blame her. It had been a magnificent creature and it was a shame it had been driven to this point of madness, most likely from the constant pain suffered. It should have received a more dignified death.
A quick glance was offered to the fellow Mandalorian before he spoke again, "At least it has found peace now." It was the best they could give it. Song was about to speak and warn him before they were interrupted by another Reek, surprising them both as they had been caught up in conversation. The next thing he saw, he saw her body flying through the air. "SONG!" Nox shouted at the top of his lungs, worry in his voice as he didn't know her armor held up and expected multiple shattered bones for her. He was about to rush over to her but his shout had drawn the attention of the creature.
Its mate had just been recently killed and that enraged the reek as it charged toward Nox, the Mandalorian barely turning in time to face it. It slammed right into him but instead of flying, it pinned him inside and between its horns and face. One of its horns had been broken off from before, revealing a jagged and sharp edge that pierced between his plates and right through his skin. The Solus would be lifted in the air slightly, the beast attempting to shake him off and shoving the jagged edge deeper. A scream of almost pure pain unleashed from him, a fire spreading through his torso that burned everything.
Somehow, through the daze of pain, Nox managed to activate the hidden blade on his gauntlet as it came out with a zing. Acting off instinct, he repeatedly and viciously stabbed down into the creature's face, doing anything to break himself free. Blood spilled out from the multiple punctures and made its head drop enough that his feet touched the ground. Knowing what needed to be done, Nox would rip himself forth from the bone and drop to the ground, rolling away as a trail of blood followed him.
Nox would remain on the ground as he tried to get to his knees but couldn't. The reek would turn towards him, huffing loudly as it prepared to charge.