Naboo. Quin’s home planet and one he had spent the majority of his life on, but one he would never tire of. He had returned today, bringing along a special friend of his— Elidan! After checking in with a knight who’d given them the green light to travel there for a little break from training, he was excited to be able to show his friend all the delights the planet had to offer. Especially when it came to the food. In Quin’s opinion, nothing could beat homemade five blossom bread.
But trying food wasn’t what they were here to do today— they were going good old-fashioned hiking!
Quin had brought with him the staples: a backpack with plenty of water, a couple snacks, a first-aid kit, a tent for in case they ended up staying out longer, and a backup change of clothes. Of course, he had his utility belt and his lightsaber— he never went anywhere without them. Even if he didn’t think they were going to need them, it was good to have on him.
“You got everything?” he asked Elidan as he hoisted his backpack over his shoulder. He would nod at his response before taking another second to look around at the picturesque landscape surrounding them. Theed was perfectly visible beyond the lake, and in the light of the morning sun, it looked like a city straight out of heaven.
Naboo was probably the planet that Elidan most wanted to visit. Since he read a holobook about the marine creatures living there, the half-Annfyn developed a great interest in knowing more about the fauna and flora of this place. The planet's fields, forests and lakes were beautiful and the Padawan wanted to explore all of them to admire its wonderful nature.
However, he never had the chance to visit the planet. Well,only until recently, when Quin invited Elidan to visit Naboo with him. The half-Annfyn happily accepted this offer. Not only he always wanted to visit this world, but this was going to be a good opportunity for him to interact with the other boy.
Now, the two were going to hike in a place near the city of Theed. Elidan had put in his backpack several items that they could use during it, from food to a medical kit. He was also bringing with him the lightsaber, who knew if they would need to defend themselves.
“Yes.” Elidan said, while putting his backpack on his back. Since their mission in Glee Anselm, the half-Annfyn had started to talk with Quin using his voice. The events of Jakku were enough to make him trust the other boy. However, the auburn-haired Padawan would still remain silent most of the time or use signs to communicate.
“We can go now.” he smiled at Quin. Elidan couldn’t wait to start hiking. He was carrying with him macrobinoculars, so he could watch the animals that they could find without disrupting them. “Where are we going exactly?” he asked, excitedly.
“Perfect! We could follow the trail and go around the lake, or we could go off on our own and explore a bit,” he responded with a grin. “Or, maybe even both!” Hearing Elidan’s excitement made him more eager to start too, and he wasn’t against going off the beaten path for once. Who knew what they would find?
Quin made his way into the forest, deciding to stick to the trail for now and hoping that Elidan would come along. He hopped onto a small rock, balanced on it for a second or two before jumping off and walking alongside his friend.
“I wonder if we’ll find any falumpasets here,” he said as he peered deeper into the forest. Maybe Elidan would; it would be easier with macrobinoculars. “I heard they sometimes roam around here. It’s close enough to the swamps.” Either way, they could take their time and relax, enjoying the sights and sounds nature had to offer.
They walked for a little longer, and Quin turned to Elidan as he readjusted his backpack over his shoulders.
Elidan nodded in agreement, after Quin described the path that they could follow during their hiking. Since it was the first time that the half-Annfyn visited Naboo, he didn’t have much idea of where they should go or what they should do. This way, he trusted that a local like the other Padawan would know nice places that they could visit.
He followed Quin through a trail, into the forest. It reminded Elidan of the time that he went with his Master to Myrkr. Like that time, he felt himself surrounded by so much life. The auburn-haired boy loved to be in place like that. The plants and animals, the half-Annfyn could feel how all of them were connected in the Force.
While they walked, the half-Annfyn would be listening to what his friend was saying. After working with the other Padawan two times, Elidan came to the conclusion that Quin was a nice guy and that he was also a good friend. He was cute too, but he meant that in a friendly way!
“I hope that we see some gualamas. I think that they are so elegant.” Elidan said, after Quin mentioned that he wanted to see falumpasets. The half-Annfyn would have hoped to see Guarlaras too, but he doubted that they would see such creatures so close of Theed. Only if they were lucky enough to see the herd owned by the Queen.
The auburn-haired boy turned to look at his friend when he asked if the half-Annfyn did something interesting recently. “Nothing, I think. After Glee Anselm, I continued studying for classes and training.” Elidan didn’t even leave the Temple these days. “And you? Did you do something interesting?”
“They’re beautiful creatures,” Quin agreed with a grin at Elidan’s mention of the gualamas. “I still don’t get why gualama-loving is considered an insult. Frankly, I think it should be a compliment. But maybe that’s just me.” He shrugged and looked forward again, his gaze lighting up when he found a decently long stick lying on the trail next to him. Hereached down and picked it up, twirling it once before setting one end of it down on the gravel. It would be his hiking stick!
He turned to look back at his friend as he spoke, nodding at his response. His friend seemed to have been working hard since they’d last seen each other, and it only served to make Quin respect him even more. He hadn’t been exaggerating on Glee Anselm when he’d said that Elidan probably knew far more than he did about being a Jedi.
“Studying and training can be fun, if you find a way for it to be,” he said with a smile. “I’ve been training too— doing lightsaber practice with Ruzaan! I went to Balamak too, to help the Wookies out, but that was more satisfying than fun. I was glad we were able to help.”
The forest had gotten a little darker now, with the canopy of the trees blocking out much of the sunlight. Still, there was enough light to see, and Quin swore that there was something moving in the trees. A trick of the light? He would frown for a moment before looking back at Elidan.
Elidan nodded in agreement. ”Yes! Such creatures shouldn’t be usead as an offense.” like Quin, the half-Annfyn also thought that the gualamas were creatures so elegant and adorable and to be considered an admirer of them should be a compliment. “I prefer to be compared to them, rather than being called a sarlacc.”
While they continued walking through the trail, Elidan saw Quin pick a branch that was on the ground and start to use it as a walking stick. By doing it, the other Padawan looked like one of these professional hikers that appeared in Holomovies and Holobooks. The other boy seemed so happy. It made a smile appear on the auburn-haired boy's lips.
“I heard that many refugees were relocated to Balamak.” Elidan said, but this time it was more a whisper. The half-Annfyn still couldn’t believe that Kashyyyk was devastated by the Sith. The worst part of it all was that some Jedi helped with the suffering of the Wookiees. Tying them alive to a ship was a horrible act that couldn’t be forgiven.
At some point of their walk, the forest was dark due to the canopy of the trees blocking the light. Elidan also noticed how the animals had suddenly become silent.This made him frown, it was still early in the morning and there was no rain. The creatures should still be moving around.
Then, he heard the sound of something in the trees. The half-Annfyn moved in time to see a form jumping among some branches. He nodded in agreement when Quin asked if he had seen something. “Yes, but I couldn’t see what it’s. However, I can still hear it moving away.” his hearing could really be useful sometimes. “Do you want to follow it?”
Quin let out an inward sigh of relief now that he knew that he wasn’t going insane. If Elidan could hear it, then it had to have been something.
He nodded at the other boy’s question. “We can find out what it is. It might be friendly.”Or maybe not. Either way, it was better than remaining in the dark, both literally and figuratively.
Quin turned to start making his way into the brush, though before he did, he glanced at Elidan.
“Hey, you want to lead? I don’t know the way off trail, and if you can hear it, you’re probably the better man for this,” he suggested, his voice instinctively dropping down to a whisper. His friend’s keener senses would probably do better to keep them out of trouble while still enabling them to track down whoever had been watching them.
If Elidan agreed, Quin would follow after him, doing his best to keep his eyes and ears open and remaining vigilant.
Elidan wasn’t sure if Quin should think that what they saw could be friendly. The half-Annfyn believed that it was some type of wild animal, and even the herbivores disliked being stalked. “Well, we are going to follow them. However, we need to be careful.”
Before he could start to walk, Quin asked if he wanted to lead the way. Even if a bit reluctant with this possibility, Elidan agreed with it. The other boy's line of thought made sense and if something tried to attack the two, he would be able to hear it and warn his friend before they got in danger.
Then, the half-Annfyn would start to guide the other boy through the trail. Elidan was so focused on the sound that was coming from the trees that he barely paid attention to the path that he was taking. The auburn-haired boy stumbled on some stones and roots, but thankfully he didn’t fall with his face on the ground.
At some point, the sound had stopped and Elidan would suddenly also stop walking. The forest had become completely silent, without the sound of any bird. He turned to Quin. “I don’t hear the sound anymore.” before he could say anything else, it started again. However, this time it was louder and there was more than one. They were surrounded.
Quin nodded in agreement at Elidan’s statement. “And careful we will be!” As careful as they could be anyway, traipsing through unknown areas in the woods.
He made to follow Elidan, trying to keep as quiet as he could. Although, that was a little more difficult than he’d anticipated. There were thorn bushes and random rocks jutting out from the ground where they were barely visible, and one would have thought a Jedi would have an easier time avoiding them. This wasn’t the case for Quin, as his pants had gotten stuck on bramble bushes more than once as he followed Elidan. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea after all.
But soon, Elidan stopped somewhere in front of him, just as he felt his tunic snag onto yet another thorn bush. Great.
“Thanks for waiting,” he said, letting out a soft grunt as he tried to yank the cloth off the plant. He hadn’t even noticed that it had gotten quiet all of a sudden. “This- is- not- coming loose.” He gritted his teeth, pulling on his tunic as hard as he could before it finally detached from the thorn bush. Unfortunately, the force had also sent him falling backwards toward the ground. He yelped as he crashed through a bush, landing with an oomph on the ground, just as Elidan said something about not hearing the sound anymore.
Sitting up, he rubbed his head, about to suggest they go back to the trail when he looked up to find a furry, horned face staring down at him with its mouth full of leaves.
When he heard Quin talk to him, Elidan turned to look at his friend. He saw that the other Padawan had arrived near him, but now seemed to be struggling with something. From what he could see, the other boy's tunic had got stuck in a branch and he was trying to remove it.
By this point, the sounds that he was hearing early had stopped again. Whoever it was, probably went away. Without needing to be prepared for a possible attack, Elidan moved to help Quin free himself from the branch without getting his tunic torn.
Before he could do anything to help, Quin ended up being able to free himself. However, he did it with so much strength that he ended up falling backwards through a bush. Elidan stared at the scene, while his friend disappeared among the plants. Then, the sound of things moving through the bushes returned.
Fearing for Quin, Elidan walked to where the other Padawan had fallen. To his surprise, he saw that his friend was well and that the sounds that they were hearing were coming from a small herd of gualamas. The creatures were moving through the bushes, collecting leaves to eat.
"Are you fine?" Elidan said, while kneeling next to Quin. Then he turned to look at the animals in front of them. They didn’t seem to be interested in the two Padawan. "Did you knew that there was wild gualamas living so close to Theed?"
The gualama huffed and turned away at his greeting, and Quin grinned at Elidan as his friend came and kneeled beside him. Pulling himself up to a sitting position, he nodded at other Padawan’s question.
“Yeah. Thanks for asking,” he said with a sideways smile as he rubbed his head. “Wasn’t looking where I was going.” He stood up again, this time looking over at the gualamas, who were already moving on to the next path of leaves.
“And, no. Wild ones usually don’t go in the forest, let alone this close to the city.” Quin frowned, realizing how strange it was to have them here in the first place. “Not unless… something is keeping them here.” He looked at Elidan. “I wonder what that could be.”
Suddenly, he heard a voice, and it wasn’t Elidan. He quickly got down again, eyes wide as he looked at his friend.
“Ya hear that? Sounded like someone talking,” said a gruff voice. He could hear footsteps now, branches breaking and leaves rustling as whoever it was made their way closer to the two Padawans.
“Yeah. You. I’m telling ya, those gualamas are messing you up. Let’s go back to camp, we can hunt something else.”
“Come on! You know what they’d say. I never come back empty-handed. Never.”
Quin exchanged another glance with Elidan. The voices were getting louder and louder, and if they didn’t do something soon they would be caught out here by whoever those men were… and he had a feeling that he didn’t want to find out.
Elidan felt relieved when Quin said that he was fine. The half-Annfyn didn’t know what he would do if his friend had got hurt with the fall. While he had been training more of Force healing, the auburn-haired boy still didn’t feel confident with his abilities regarding this particular form of using the Force. It was natural for him to feel reluctant to use it. After all, he had fainted all the times that he tried to heal someone.
While he helped the other Padawan get up, Elidan heard Quin explain that the gualamas presence here wasn’t normal. The half-Annfyn frowned while staring at the animals that seemed oblivious to the Jedi presence, preferring to eat the leaves of the plants around them.
How could these creatures have come here? This question appeared in Elidan's mind. He had read how these animals used to live in the grasslands and plains of Naboo, which were really far away from here. Perhaps Quin was right, someone or something could be maintaining the gualamas here.
This theory would be proved as true when unknown voices started to sound in the distance. He would get down with Quin. The voices were getting loud and by the way that they were sounding, these people didn’t seem to be very nice. The two Padawans needed to find a place to hide or they would be caught.
Without thinking too much about what he was doing, Elidan grabbed Quin and pulled him toward the bush from where the other Padawan had fallen through, they could hide here. Unfortunately, the half-Annfyn ended up tripping in a root and bringing his friend down with him. The auburn-haired boy would end up falling over the other body.
Blushing while looking at Quin's face, Elidan would see how close they were. With the point of his ears twitching and his face even more head, the auburn-haired boy would crawl away. The bush offered them some cover, while still allowing them to see what was happening. Hopefully, no one would have seen the two falling.
Quin had just been about to peek up above the bush to get a look at who was talking when he was suddenly jerked to the side, leading to him and Elidan falling on top of each other. He could see the other boy’s cheeks turn red in embarrassment when their eyes met for a brief moment, and Quin tried to shake his head to let him know that it was all good. Quickly regaining his balance again, he followed Elidan behind the bush and crouched down next to him, hoping that the men hadn’t heard anything.
Fortunately, they hadn’t seemed to notice, their attention on something else. Although they were a little too close for Quin’s liking, at least they weren’t onto the Padawans just yet.
“There they are, the gualamas! See, I told you I’d find them,” the first man exclaimed proudly.
“Yeah, yeah. Whatever. Let’s call the others and bring them back once we kill them.”
Quin’s eyes widened at the last couple words as he turned to Elidan. Kill them? he mouthed to his friend as the men unslung their rifles from over their shoulders. He hadn’t noticed them earlier, but it was all too obvious now. His heart raced. He couldn’t simply let them kill the gualamas, they were innocent animals. As Jedi, what would his master say if he’d watched something get gunned down in front of him when he had the ability to stop it? They had to do something.
“Elidan, we have to save them,” he whispered fiercely as he made to get up to his feet, his hand going down to his lightsaber hilt. “There are only two. We can take them!”
After he moved away from Quin, Elidan stared at the bush that was covering the two rather than his friend. He felt his face hot and the point of his ears were twitching. The half-Annfyn was a bit confused with the reason why he was reacting this way. While he thought that it was because he made a fool of himself in front of the other Padawan, the auburn-haired boy only reacted this way when he noticed how close they were and how pretty the other's eyes were.
He never noticed that he had gray eyes, at least not with this nice shade. Elidan wondered if it was strange for a friend to think that the other had pretty eyes. Probably there was no problem with it.
His thoughts were interrupted by Quin. His friend had moved through the bush and was now hiding next to him. With his hearing, the half-Annfyn could hear the voices and the steps of the people that were approaching. Thankfully, they didn’t see the two Padawans. To certify that it would continue this way, he gestured for the other to remain in silence.
Like Quin, Elidan's eyes also widened when he heard the man say that they were going to kill the gualamas. He couldn’t believe in what they were saying. How could someone kill such peaceful creatures? And for what reason would they do it? The half-Annfyn felt disgusted with it.
The auburn-haired boy nodded in agreement when Quin said that they should do something to help the animals. However, he moved his left hand to stop the other from pulling his lightsaber and charging against the men. "We need to make a plan. This can be dangerous for us to move without thinking. Do you remember Jakku?" he gestured his hand for the other to see. It was now a prosthetic one, the original lost because he and Ruz did something without thinking properly. He didn’t want that to happen with another friend.
"Maybe we could find a way to distract them and they attack with surprise." Elidan suggested. Since they were in a forest, they could use the trees and bushes to make a sneak attack. The environment favoured them this way.
Instead of his lightsaber, Quin’s hand felt Elidan’s instead. Instantly, he was reminded of their mission on Jakku and what had happened there, especially as his friend specifically brought it up. Much had happened on that day, and most of it wasn’t pleasant. His hand moved away from his saber and he crouched down again instead, heeding the other Padawan’s warning.
“Yeah, you’re right,” he admitted. “That is a much better idea.” He grinned at the last part as Elidan told him his plan. He was grateful to his friend for indirectly saving his skin— he’d genuinely been about to run straight at the men for the gualamas. He still felt passionate about saving them, but Elidan had a point by suggesting that there were other ways to go about it. In fact, his friend’s words already gave him another idea.
“They’re already focused on the gualamas. What if we were to sneak up, like you said, from opposite sides? When they aim, we could capture and disarm them.”
By now, the men had already begun to approach the gualamas, though they were still too far for the animals to see them. One got to his knee and rested his rifle on the stone in front of him just about two dozen feet away from the Padawans, while the other bent down beside him to get a look. Quin turned to Elidan, meeting his friend’s gaze.
Whatever we’re going to do, we’ll need to do it quickly.
Elidan nodded in agreement after Quin suggested a strategy for them to attack the men. “I can go through the right, while you go through the left. We can use the bushes to hide our approach.” he whispered to his friend. If they were careful enough with their steps, no one would hear them approaching.
However, before Quin could say anything, Elidan said something else. “I think that we need to coordinate our attacks so it happens at the same time. Do you mind if I create a telepathic link between us? This would help us to communicate with each other without them hearing.” like how he did with Ruzaan, this was a way of them talking while still maintaining silence.
If Quin agreed with it, the half-Annfyn would close his eyes and reach for the other Padawan’s mind. Since Master Voran taught him this ability, Elidan had practiced it several times, becoming very efficient with it. He no longer took so much time doing it like when tried for the first time.
Once their connection was established, Elidan would start to walk toward the men. As he had said to his friend, the auburn-haired boy would move using the bushes to hide. He could see the two men. They were carrying rifles and seemed to be prepared to shoot the poor gualamas.
“We attack in the three.” he would say to Quin through the telepathic bond. Elidan was going to target the one that was closest to him. Using the Force, the half-Annfyn summoned his lightsaber to his hand and prepared for the attack. “One, two, three. Now!” he would jump out of bushe toward the guy, expecting that in the other side Quin would be doing the same.