“Good idea.” Quin kept his voice as low as he could. Elidan’s telepathic link would give them an advantage when they attacked, and as soon as he felt the connection he slipped away from the other Padawan to take his position on the opposite side. If he’d been in a better situation, he would have commented on how cool it was to be able to talk only using his mind, but there was another time and place for that. The men were getting ready to shoot, and they would have to act fast if they were going to stop them in time.
Crouching down on the other side, he heard Elidan’s countdown in his mind. One… two… three… now! His lightsaber lighting up with a swish, he jumped out from behind the bush and brought it down on the rifle laying on the rock, slicing it in two. The man on the right was quick to recover though, and grabbed Quin’s right wrist as he was about to deactivate his saber. His weapon dropped to the ground as the man got ready to punch him, but the Padawan kneed him in the stomach, causing the man to loosen his grip on him as he doubled back in pain. He quickly pulled the hilt to his palm with the Force and put it back onto his belt, getting into a defensive stance as the man gathered himself again.
He didn’t have time to see how Elidan was doing before the man lunged at him again, but this time Quin noticed something just behind him. At the last possible moment, he stepped aside, stuck a foot out, and watched as the man tripped and fell… crashing straight into a clump of thornbushes. Even Quin had to wince when the man yelled out a colorful string of curses as he thrashed, only getting himself and his clothing more entangled in the plant.
“Sorry. But the gualamas were going to face a worse fate,” he said before turning back to see how Elidan was doing, and helping if he needed it.
The man didn’t have much time to react when Elidan appeared from behind the bushes, with his activated lightsaber on his hands. He tried to grab his rifle, but before he could do it, the half-Annfyn had already used the Force to push it toward him. With a movement of his saber, the weapon was cut in two pieces.
The vision of the parts that were once his rifle lying on the ground made the man furious. He moved against the auburn-haired boy, aiming a punch directly to his face. Elidan moved to the right, evading the fist. By this point, the half-Annfyn had already deactivated his lightsaber, and didn't want to cut one this person’s person’s arms by accident during the fight.
While the man tried to recover from the failed punch, Elidan would use the Force to push the man against a tree. The guy would collide against it with enough strength only to get dizzy. The half-Annfyn would reactivate his lightsaber and approach him. The auburn-haired boy pointed the blade toward him, making the man stay where he was.
Since he stayed watching the man, Elidan couldn’t see if Quin had finished with the other guy. However, he had heard the colorful curses and it made him know that everything was fine with his friend. Now they only need to find a way to bind these guys and discover what they want to do.
“Do you have a rope?” he asked Quin through the telepathic bond. The half-Annfyn couldn’t bring himself to talk in front of these strangers. “We need to immobilize them and ask why they wanted to kill these animals.”
As the man struggled and failed to get himself out of the bushes, Quin took the moment to check on Elidan. However, given his opponent’s half-dazed, half-terrified expression as his friend’s lightsaber pointed at him, it was more than obvious that the other Padawan didn’t need any help.
I have… a grappling line, Quin responded back to Elidan in his mind. It was a strange feeling, talking through telepathy, but it definitely was useful. Once he had detached the grappling line from his belt, he wrapped his own opponent’s body with the Force to pull him out of the thornbush, keeping him as still as he could as he made his way behind him despite the man’s attempted thrashing.
“What are you doing?” the man sputtered, but Quin didn’t respond as he tied the man’s hands behind his back on one end of the line, wrapping it around the tree trunk behind his back. Once he was done, he gave Elidan a nod to let him know that he could tie the other one as well, and if Elidan brought him over, he would tie him to the opposite side of the other man, securing them both to the tree as he wrapped the line around them both a couple times.
“Now, you’re going to answer some questions for us,” Quin declared as he took a step back towards Elidan. He ignored the protests of the men. “First off, why are you trying to kill these gualamas?”
”This works. Can you bind them?” with a positive answer from Quin, Elidan would continue pointing his lightsaber at the man, who was staring at the auburn-haired boy with an angry face. He was also mumbling some colorful curses that the half-Annfyn could only hear because of his hearing.
After Quin had picked the guy that he was fighting against, he brought him toward the tree where Elidan was guarding the other man. The auburn-haired boy watched his friend tie the two in the trunk by using the grappling line that he brought.
Once the two were well secured, Elidan deactivated his lightsaber. Now they needed to know who these men were and why they wanted to kill the gualamas. The half-Annfyn felt sick with the thought that someone wanted to kill such adorable creatures. These animals did nothing to deserve being treated this way.
Then, Quin was the first to voice their questions to these men. The one that Elidan had pushed with Force laughed. “Because oftheir leather and fur, of course. Wild ualamas are very valuable in the black market, dead or alive. We prefer them dead.” this made the half-Annfin frown, how could someone be so cold with another live being?
“Ask them to identify themselves. We can search in the Holonet if they are wanted criminals.” Elidan said to Quin through the telepathic bond. If they were, the half-Annfyn would make contact with police of Naboo so they could take these garbage to the jail.
“Bold of you to assume that we’ll tell—” But the other man cut him off and responded anyway, earning him, ironically, an insult of being a gualama lover.
However, that was the last thing he would use to describe the man. They wanted to kill these innocent animals for their furs to sell on the black market? The thought of doing something like that was repulsive. Naboo was an affluent planet with plenty of opportunity available, and these men chose to do this instead. Quin wasn’t one to tell others how to live their lives, but these two made him more angry than he should have been. He could see Elidan frowning too— they were on the same page here.
Then his friend’s question came through in his head, reminding him to stay on task and get to the bottom of this. Switching his gaze back to the men, he relayed Elidan’s inquiry out loud.
“That’s none of your business,” Quin’s former opponent snapped. But again, the other seemed more cooperative. Or perhaps, only because he wanted to get back at his friend for getting them into the mess.
“He’s Olun. Olun Dala. He’s the one in charge. I, on the contrary, don’t want to be here. There are more gualamas on the plains, anyway.” Another string of creative insults came out of Olun’s mouth, and Quin let out an inward sigh as he exchanged an exasperated glance with Elidan.
“Well, he’s Arhul Madine! He deserves at least half the blame. It was his idea to start selling gualamas in the first place!” And then the two started to bicker, and Quin shook his head at the sight.
“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” he muttered to himself before turning back to the other Padawan. Now that we know who both of them are, do you have a way of contacting the authorities? he asked Elidan telepathically. Wanted or not, these guys can be arrested for poaching. As they deserve to be.
Elidan watched the two men argue with each other about answering the Padawans’ questions. The Padawan noticed that one that fought against Quin was less cooperative than the other. The boys could easily give them to the authorities, but the half-Annfyn at least wanted to understand what they were doing.
While the two gave their names, Elidan noticed that they weren’t remorseful for trying to kill these animals. Rather than that, the men seemed to be mad for being discovered. To be next to people like this made the auburn-haired boy sick. They were terrible individuals and deserved to go to jail.
Due to that, he immediately agreed when Quin said that they should call the authorities. “I brought my Datapad.” he said through the bond. Then he opened his backpack and picked the device. The auburn-haired boy would use it to send a message to them. On it he explained what had happened.
Some seconds after the message was sent, Elidan received an answer. “They said that they are going to arrive in 30 minutes. I think that we will need to delay our trail for a bit.” then, the half-Annfyn noticed that the other boy’s wrist seemed to be bruised. “Did you get hurt during the fight?”
Thank goodness. Quin let out an inward sigh of relief, smiling gratefully at Elidan. Resourceful as always; he wouldn’t have to run back to the ship to get the authorities after all.
Thirty minutes wasn’t a long time, but it was long enough, so Quin nodded to acknowledge Elidan and sat down on the stone that the two men had put their rifles on earlier. The gualamas had moved a little farther away after hearing the scuffle, but they appeared to be unbothered and continued to graze on the leaves of the forest floor.
I don’t mind waiting. I like the view, Quin said to Elidan through the bond. He glanced at the still-bickering men tied to the tree. They were a fine addition indeed.
Then Quin heard Elidan’s question about his hand. Hurt? He followed Elidan’s gaze down to his hand and saw in surprise that there really was a bruise there. He hadn’t noticed it before, but he could feel it throbbing now as he lifted it up to examine it. I guess I did.Nothing serious, though, he added with a shrug as he lowered it. He was starting to get used to this telepathy thing, he realized. Then he turned to look over his friend, seeing if he was injured as well. How about you? Are you alright?
After he heard Quin’s answer, Elidan smiled and turned to look at the sight too. For a herd living so close to Theed, the gualamas seemed to be very healthy. The half-Annfyn could see that there was even some female that seemed to be pregnant. He was happy to know that he and his friend stopped these criminals before they could kill these future mothers.
“Are you sure? I could heal you, if you want.” Elidan said, offering to use Force healing to help Quin. Since the last time that he used it, the Padawan had practiced this ability with his Master and the healers. After the fiasco in Jakku, the auburn-haired boy thought that he needed to become a more competent Jedi and learn more.
“I’m fine. He didn’t touch me.” the auburn-haired boy said. At least his reflexes in a fight were getting better. He didn’t want to be useless anymore, someone that was easily brought down by some shots of a random stormtrooper. His prosthetic arm was a reminder of it. The half-Annfyn wasn’t going to let it happen again.
While they waited for the arrival of the authorities, Elidan would continue talking with his friend through their bond. “What did you do after Glee Anselm? Have you trained more with your Master?”
Quin looked at Elidan gratefully when his friend offered to heal him. You know, I might just take you up on that. They did have time, he thought as he glanced at the men, who had quieted down for now, and though the wound wasn’t serious, it wouldn’t hurt(quite the opposite, actually) if it was patched up sooner.
Good to hear that one of us can handle ourselves in combat, Quin said jokingly in response to Elidan’s statement that he hadn’t gotten hurt. He was glad that the other Padawan was fine, and more than a little relieved. After what had happened on Jakku, he’d realized that he’d become a lot more sensitive to wounds and how to treat them as well as avoid them. It hadn’t worked in this case, but like Elidan, he’d chosen to brush up on his healing as much as his lightsaber skills with his master, who just happened to be a healer herself.
Yeah. I’ve done some lightsaber training and helped out with the Wookies, he responded as he made some space for Elidan to sit down if he wanted. Glancing over at the men as he did, he caught one of them looking at him with a weird look. He couldn’t blame him— the boys hadn’t said a single word out loud since they’d fought the pair and given the seemingly random smiles appearing on Quin’s face as the telepathic conversation went back and forth between him and Elidan, the man likely thought that the Padawans were insane or something. Have you learned anything interesting during your studies? I know you’ve been training a lot too, he added afterwards.
With Quin’s consent, Elidan held his hand that was hurt. The half-Annfyn would touch the marks on his pulse and close his eyes. Then, he would do what he had learned with the Healers at the Temple. The auburn-haired boy would gather the Force around himself and move it to heal the other Padawan.
Once he finished, Elidan would open his eyes and looked at Quin’s hand. There wasn’t any mark here anymore. The half-Annfyn smiled with his work, this time he wasn’t fainted or even feeling tired. When he noticed that the other boy’s hand was still between his, the auburn-haired boy immediately let it go.
“Well, I had been reading about xenobiology and training some Force abilities. Like Force healing.” Elidan answered, Quin’s question. After everything that happened, the Padawan had decided to learn more abilities with the Force. Perhaps if he knew more things, he could have been more useful in Jakku.
“I heard that things in Kashyyyk were bad.” the attack of the Sith to the Wookies was savage and terrible. Great parts of the forests of the planet were burned in this attack, many of the population was forced to flee. In top of all that, there was also that two stupid Jedi that tied some of the Wookies in a ship. How much suffering had fallen over them.
“How was things with the Wookies?” Elidan wanted to know if he had been able to help them. While they talked, the half-Annfyn totally ignored how the two criminals stared at them as if they were mad.
Quin let Elidan take his hand, letting him do what he needed to heal his wrist. In almost no time, the throbbing had stopped and it felt as good as new. He hadn’t even noticed the extra few seconds that the other Padawan was holding onto his hand, and when he let go, Quin examined it front and back to see that it was completely healed.
Thanks man, I owe you one, he said with a grin as he lowered it. It soon faded, however, as he thought about Kashyyyk. Many had suffered there, and what was worse, some of it was caused by the Jedi. He thought back to the relief mission he’d been on, a much-needed supply run to a refugee center on Balamak. The hospital had been full of Wookies in need, and he distinctly remembered one specific little girl whom he’d helped.
Better than I expected, Quin admitted honestly. For a people whose entire planet has been destroyed, the Wookies are resilient. Many of the ones I met were hopeful for the future, despite what they’ve been through. The Sith really underestimated them.
Despite bringing up his positive time on Balamak, thinking of the Sith caused Quin to slump a little bit. Even besides them, there were so many in the galaxy who were trying to make the galaxy worse, and so few stood in their way. It was only luck that brought him and Elidan to save these gualamas today. What about after they were gone? Would the Jedi be able to do everything themselves? Quin still felt guilty about releasing the star destroyers on Jakku. If they hadn’t been there in the first place, if he hadn’t been so incompetent in protecting his friends… he couldn’t help looking at Elidan’s mechanical hand.
“Things would be so different,” he said with a sigh, before realizing that he’d just said it out loud.
”No problem! I’m happy to be able to help.” Elidan smiled at his friend. He was proud that he was able to use Force healing without fainting. If he tried to do it months ago, Quin would have needed to carry him back to Theed. “To be honest, this is the first time that I heal someone without the help of the Healers. I really made good progress so far.”
When Quin started to talk about his mission with the Wookies, Elidan could feel the change in the boy’s demeanor. The half-Annfyn understood why he was feeling this way. Even if the mission was successful, seeing the suffering of an entire species could barely bring any reward.
Suddenly, Elidan could feel several feelings coming from his friend. Together with it, came some glimpses of Quin’s thoughts. The human Padawan was still feeling guilty about what happened in Jakku. The auburn-haired boy knew exactly what it was, he also felt this way. Perhaps he could make things in a different way.
“It was the Force that brought us to save the gualamas.” Elidan said, trying to answer one of the thoughts that came to him through their bond. “We will never know how things could have happened if we were strong enough. Now we can only work to not allow it to happen again.” it was what Asadra told him and what he was trying to force himself to believe.
Before he could say anything else, Elidan heard the sound of a speeder approaching. The authorities were coming to pick the criminals. “It seems that we will be able to continue doing our trail.” he smiled at his friend. “You never told me where you learned about this path that we are following.”
Ignoring the strange looks from the poachers, Quin smiled as he heard Elidan’s words of wisdom. The other Padawan might have been the same age as him, but he was far wiser. Elidan was right— there wasn’t any use dwelling on the past. It was the Force that led them to the gualamas, and it was their job as Jedi to prevent things like this from happening again in the future. The thought left him with a much warmer feeling in his heart, and he was more than glad that his friend was here right now.
At the sound of a speeder, Quin turned around to see three officers with binders arriving. He stood up to greet them as they got off their vehicle and eyed the two men at the tree.
“You two handled them well,” noted a female cop, her eyebrows raised, as the other two went to untie the poachers.
“We were only doing what was right, ma’am,” Quin responded as he slung an arm over Elidan’s shoulder. Soon enough, the cops had untied the very disgruntled-looking men from the tree and were bringing them onto the speeder. The female cop turned back to the Padawans and gave them a nod of approval.
“You have our thanks, and I’m sure the gualamas’ as well. We will keep an eye out for more of them around this area… as well as their hunters,” the woman said. With that, she gave the pair a two-fingered salute and headed back over to their speeder, leaving on their way back to Theed. The forest once again fell back into silence, but a comfortable one this time.
Quin turned to Elidan again as they started back on the path again, thinking about his question.
“Me and my parents used to come here once in a while when I was younger. For some family time, you know? It wasn’t often, but those trips were welcome breaks from all the politics,” he responded with a grin. But a few moments later, he froze when the quietness of the trail was broken by a shrill cry coming from inside the trees.
“What was that?”
Elidan watched the speeder stop and from inside it came three officers of Theed police force. They seemed to be impressed with the fact that the two boys had captured the criminals. The half-Annfyn smiled with the scene, if they knew how it wasn’t the most difficult thing that they ever did during their lives as Padawans.
While two of the cops carried the criminals inside the speeder, the other one talked with the two Padawans. Elidan nodded in agreement when Quin answered her. They were only doing what was right. Even if they weren’t Jedi, the two couldn’t allow these guys to hurt innocent animals like the gualamas.
Once the cops left, the two boys continued their trek. Elidan listened to Quin’s answer to his question. “This must have been fun.” he said to his friend. Now that only the two Padawans were here, the half-Annfyn wasn’t nervous to talk with his own voice anymore. “Your parents were nice when we met them early.” he wondered how things would be if his parents didn’t leave him at the orphanage.
Then, they heard a shrill cry coming from behind the bushes. Thanks to his hearing, Elidan was able to hear perfectly from where the sound was coming. “It seems to be some type of animal.” he said to Quin, before walking toward it.
The Annfyn would move some bushes from his path. While he walked, Elidan noticed how the sound became loud. He would come to a stop in front of a small clearing with a large tree. Among the roots there was a gualama pup.
Quin gave Elidan a sideways smile when his friend mentioned his parents. While he was fond of them, they still hadn’t fully accepted the fact that he wanted to be in the Order. “They might have been, but you haven’t heard one of their rants about the Jedi. Trust me, you don’t want to.”
Soon after hearing the cry, Elidan had determined that it was coming from an animal. Quin’s brows creased in worry at the other Padawan’s words, and he followed his friend over to where it was. He trusted that Elidan would be able to find it, and he wasn’t disappointed when he led them to a tree with a gualama pup underneath it.
Immediately after seeing them, the baby gualama’s hooves scrabbled on the dirt and it backed away even deeper inside the entanglement of roots, its pale yellow eyes now the only part of it that was visible. Quin crouched down to get a better view of the little creature, only causing it to back away even further before letting out a yelp of defiance.
“I don’t think he’s very happy to see us.” Quin stated the obvious, glancing at Elidan. “Or she.” He paused, getting up to a standing position again. “You think its mother is nearby?”
Elidan was surprised to hear that Quin’s parents used to rant about the Order. With their son being part of it, the half-Annfyn thought that they would be pro-Jedi. Although, it made sense since Naboo was part of the ISC and most of the people that lived here disliked the Jedi. He wondered what his friend faced when he visited home with such parents.
The position of Quin’s parents regarding the Jedi Order was a problem for another moment, now the two needed to take care of the gualama pup. The way that it reacted showed that the young animal wasn’t happy with the presence of the two Padawans. It showed defiance in the face of possible predators, while also showing fear of the two and retreating to the roots of the tree.
“Yes, it seems to be afraid of us.” Elidan whispered to Quin, not wanting to talk too loud and end up scaring the young animal even more. “I’m not sure, the gualama seems to be too young to be alone. If the mother was here, she would have attacked us. Perhaps it got lost when the criminals attacked the herd.” it could explain why the animal was far away from the others and alone.
“I think that we should try to approach it. We can see if it is hurt and then try to make it return to the herd.” Elidan turned back to look at the gualama. The animal had moved further in the roots. “We can try to calm it down with the Force. Like how we did with the coramicals in Glee Anselm. What do you think?”