Introduction (The Mandalorian)

Tatooine, one of many desert worlds in the Outer Rim, home to criminals, mobs, and nomads. However, hidden within the hard sandstone canyons, ancient relics of long vanished seas, another group calls the desert world home, driven from their birthright by foreign imperial powers over decades of war, conquest, and collapse.

Deep within the hand carved walls, detailed in linear mosaics, Veye Valcam waited in silent meditation, her armor of the same color and texture as their home, the edges framed in white while black lines broke the flat surfaces. Her breaths were slow, her eyes closed, listening only to the distant conversations of her family that echoed through the chambers. While the desert world was known for its heat, she felt only the cool air that cycled through their home, and the softness of the thin pillow she knelt upon.

Her time was soon, and closing footfalls heralded the coming ceremony.

The strides fell silent as they enter the room. When she opened her eyes, three of her family stood before her, flanked by the limestone statues of past warriors, near mirror images of the warriors that stood before her, down to the swords they wore in their scabbards, protected within the bone and hide of dragons. At the center was the Founder, the leader of their clan, carrying a second sword encased in a much simpler scabbard, flanked by the Armorer and the Swordsmith to either side, identified by the black abstract line art that evoked the forge, helm, and sword.

“Are you ready, Valcam?” the Founder asked, her voice soft but carrying her authority across the room. Veye merely nodded her answer, still kneeling before her elders. Without a word, the flanking elders drifted to either side of her, planting their swords tip first to the ground between their feet while the Founder drew hers from the scabbard, Veye's reflection clear in the waves of darkened beskar.

“Today, you take on the mantle of Clan Retas,” she spoke, holding the sword by both the hilt and the blade. “You have faced the challenges pressed against you, rising to meet every test and every hardship. By your strength of will, you have persevered where so many others would falter, savoring every victory no matter how small. You have spent countless nights studying our history, ever since you were old enough to hold a book. This clan, this family, has been yours since you arrived, and we are proud to formally recognize you. One final test, is all that remains.”

The air tensed, Veye had been unaware of a final test before being raised a sister within the clan. The sword seemed to glow aflame in the Founder's hands, rimmed in soft light from the lamps that adorned the gaps between limestone warriors.

“Recite our oaths, Valcam. For all to hear and witness within this room.”

In that moment, Veye almost laughed, feeling like a fool, and nodded silently before beginning.

“As our mind, so shall be our shield, a bulwark against despair and defeat. As our clan, so shall be our sword, an extension of ourselves against all foes. As our leader, so shall be our own words, sown in truth and honor for all to bear. This is our strength, this is our life, this is how we survive. This is the way.”

As she closed, all three of the elders surrounding her spoke in near unison, “This is the way.”

She turned the sword, wielding it in both hands as she rest the blade on her shoulder, “In wisdom and love, and applying the lessons of our forbears.” She lifted the blade, and laid it to rest atop the other shoulder, “In valor and faith, through all your trials.” The Founder took hold of the blade and offered Veye the hilt, “We raise you, Veye Valca'mai, as a sister of Clan Retas.”

Time seemed to still as she raised her hand to claim the sword, tightening her grip around the hilt with both hands as the Founder let the blade fall away from her hands. As Veye rose, the Founder lifted the plain scabbard she had brought with the sword and handed it to her, letting Veye slide the blade home before tying it to her belt.

“The sword you carry was forged by Kiyv Thana'mai, almost a hundred years ago. It has seen many wars, and many more battles, and carries the blood shed by its wielders within the beskar as a tribute to our legacy. Wear it with pride, wield it with honor… and try not to lose it.” There was the clear hint of a smile in the Founder, which even behind their helms spread quickly as the two embraced as though they were mother and daughter. As far as Veye was concerned, they may as well have been.

With the ceremony concluded, the Armorer and Swordsmith quietly congratulated her before dispersing into the halls. The Founder waved for her to follow, leading her up through the geometric corridors. “I presume you have an understanding of the task that lays before you, and the responsibilities you are about to undertake.”

“Of course, Founder,” Veye answered.

“It is vital you understand that experience is only worthwhile if one returns to share that experience, that others may be prepared for the near future.” The corridors turned into a winding staircase, where the echoes of conversation were mostly vanished. “Similarly, one must preserve that which we have, so the next generation can make full use of it.” The stairs soon emptied into a vast cavern, widened and repurposed to serve as a small hangar. Two Incom UT-60d ‘U-wings' shared the space with a much larger X4 Gunship, all repainted into hexagonal desert patterns. “Krava'mee returned three days ago, having finished some essential repairs on the Imminent Dawn,” the Founder spoke, gesturing to the nearest U-wing. “The range isn’t the best, and much of the original storage space has been refurbished as living quarters, as I’m sure you’re aware.”

The side doors were open on the Dawn, and inside she could see what the Founder meant. A cot had been attached to the rear of the vessel, with the center benches now sharing space with a locker that opened towards the stem and stern. As the mounts for them were still present, she was convinced the door guns were likely being housed in one of the lockers. At the front of the crew compartment, a small worktable was set up, with cabinets likely containing all she would need to perform small repairs, adjustments, or reload the slugthrowers. Finally, across the compartment from them was an up-armored 74-Z jumpspeeder, which took up the length of the far door.

“No doubt she will need work done on her, likely as much as you perform other hunts, but she will get you where you need to go. Just be sure to store extra fuel if you think you won’t have the chance to land, the U-wings aren’t the best for far traveling.” She then lightly flicked the fob to Veye, catching it with both hands. “The Dawn isn’t quite as old as the sword, but try not to lose it either.” Without another word, she walked away, allowing Veye to acquaint herself with the shuttle.

Within the hour, Veye had checked and ensured the shuttle was ready for flight, and proceeded to clear from the hangar, taking off for the stars.

< Prev : Guardian of the Galaxy Next > : Episode I (The First Challenge)