A/N - Thanks to Tril for motivating me to write this. It's actually the conclusion to 'Fortune.' BIG mahalo to Bald as Malak for the insightful beta that really holds me to task in producing a better product. Again, my depiction of the Mandalorians takes ideas from numerous warrior cultures and melds it with what I've seen in SW research.
Debello – Part One
Clouds of toxic, vaporous gas mushroomed up far above the background of the clearing – one of the last habitable areas of the dying world where men could breathe free. Fierce winds whipped along the plains, denuding the few remaining trees, swirling leaves into the air. Overshadowing the clearing, the tall, jagged peaks of the Mandalorian homeworld looked down upon the gathering, cold and heartless, unmoved by the slaughter of billions.
In the center of the group stood a tall man in heavy armor, his pride as broken as his planet. Though his thick, silver helmet shrouded his features, dark, poisonous clouds reflected off of his visor – an apt mirror of his soul.
Mandalorian warriors stood, surrounding their leader, the Mandalore, once the most powerful man in the known Galaxy. Now, his power extended no further than this small patch of land.
Two of the warriors quailed at the sight of the genocide in the distance where the capital city once existed and they fell to their knees, shaking. "What have we done?" cried Sherruk, the one in red armor. He dug his gauntleted fingers into the soot from the destruction of the nearby city as a madness of despair took him.
Another warrior seized Sherruk, a vibrodagger held in his clenched fist. "How dare you wail like an old woman, Sherruk! The hour of our greatest glory is at hand," yelled the warrior, Ergeron. He drew back his arm to strike, but the Mandalore stayed his hand.
Ergeron turned sharply, but the sight of his leader stole his anger. "Look at him," he said, pointing his hands at Sherruk, "This is not the way of Mandalore."
The Mandalore shook his head. "It no longer matters, brave Ergeron. There is no way of Mandalore…it is…all gone," he whispered, his voice nearly lost in the howling wind. "Sherruk is right – what have we done?"
Mandalore looked out over the devastated landscape, ruined by his failed plan to destroy Revan…ruined by the malice of Malak.
Ergeron recoiled. "What? Then Canderous died for nothing? He bled the enemy on Malachor Seven! He made General T'Sing pay for every meter of rock and ice! Canderous would weep if he saw us here, cowering like Kath pups. I will stand and die like he did…like a Mandalorian warrior."
Another Mandalorian, Geratt, approached, but the Mandalore waved him off.
The last of the great Mandalorian leaders seized Ergeron by the strap of his shoulder harness and held him fast. "And what good would Canderous' death be if no one remembered his deed? Except for Revan, the Republic has no room in its heart for honor. I tell you, Ergeron, that within half a year, the Republic bureaucrats and sycophants will claim her victory and erase our memory…and then, truly, the Mandalorians will be no more."
Before an astounded crowd, the Mandalore undid the fasteners on his helmet and pulled it off with one hand – never before had the warriors beheld the face of their leader. He held the piece out to Geratt and then fixed Ergeron with his gaze.
"I tell you this…my life is forfeit. Your lives are now given to the memory of the Mandalorians. Whether I slay Revan or I fall to her, you will do nothing but live and carry the honor of the clans. You will not let them forget us. You must promise me that one day, the Galaxy will again tremble at the sound of our name."
The clearing became silent and the ferocity of the wind died away for a while.
Then, as one, the assembled warriors stripped off their helmets too, standing as one with their leader. Ergeron tossed his helmet to the dirt, revealing his mocha skin and the scars of his many battles. He nodded at the Mandalore and at his fellows. Though it galled him to survive Canderous, he would live to tell the Galaxy of their exploits.
Sherruk drew his blade and held it to his chest. "I am sorry for my shame."
The Mandalore curled his lip up into a near smile. "The shame is mine. It is time my brothers and sisters. She approaches," he said as the whine of an ion turbine engine could now be heard.
A single shuttle emerged from the swirling, yellow clouds and fired retro-thrusters as it neared the clearing. A last ray of sun broke through the lost sky, surrounding the craft in a sickly glow, distorting its image as it settled on the ground with a loud whine of its ion turbines.
As the sound of the engines died away, the Mandalore swept his hand toward the shuttle. "Have respect. We are warriors and Revan has earned our esteem. If not for her, it would be I, landing on the Republica Avenue to take the head of the Supreme Chancellor, but the battles would not have been worth the wait."
The hatch of the shuttle opened to reveal a dark void and the Mandalore felt a twinge of fear for the first time. The reality of his inevitable doom began to sink in, overcoming his earlier bravado.
In a moment, a slender female Jedi, covered entirely in robes, blue as the deepest sea, stepped onto the soil of Malachor V, her footstep louder than the throes of the planet's destruction – never before had an enemy soldier stood upon the homeworld. It was at that very moment, that the supremacy of the Mandalorian war machine came to an end.
The Mandalore peered at his enemy, trying to discern her features, but the cowl hid all but her mouth and chin.
Ergeron leaned over. "Are you ready, Mandalore?" he asked as the wind began to howl again.
Next, a towering man dressed in red body armor with locks of gold, stepped through the portal and placed his foot on the soil of Malachor V beside Revan. This was Malak, the destroyer of worlds.
Malak swept his icy blue eyes over the assembly of Mandalorian warriors as his hair blew around his face. His strong chin jutted out in a gesture of pride over the defeated foe, giving him a severe look accentuated even more by his armor, which was cut in the form of his powerful musculature. He strode forward, his hand on the hilt of his thick lightsaber.
Thereafter, followed Mai-Lyn T'Sing, the General in Command of Ground Forces. Her platinum blonde hair trailed behind her in the breeze, mirroring the fluttering ends of the robes fitted over her Jal-Shey armor. The woman's piercing blue eyes and high cheekbones spoke to her presence of command – she was born to lead. Little did anyone know, however, the horror that ripped through her heart, an echo of the mindless slaughter that had visited the planet before.
For a moment, she closed her eyes and imagined the peace of Dantooine, the training ground of her Jedi youth where her innocence had carried her away to this far off world. Now, billions of destroyed lives later, the end of that long journey was finally at hand. This would be the war to end all wars, she thought.
The general's mind wandered again and focused on a friendly face – Atris, the Jedi Knight who had been her friend until their paths were sundered by this vicious conflict. Atris choose to remain on Dantooine, citing the Order and the Code. Captured then by Revan's charisma, Mai-Lyn had always thought Atris was the fool for clinging to the stodgy Order…but now, she understood who better deserved that title.
The general sighed. What was done was done and, in the present, there was one final struggle to be completed. "Miles to go before I sleep," she whispered to herself.
Rounding out the entourage was the dark-haired Bandon, scowling through his black goatee, robed in silver and gray. He fixed his gaze upon the Mandalorians and stood beside Malak, shoulder to shoulder.
Malak, General T'Sing, and Bandon marched proudly up to Ergeron, Sherruk, and Geratt, the Mandalore's seconds. "Behold, your conqueror," Malak announced boldly as the cowled figure removed her cloak and cast it aside.
Revan's ebony locks were tied back in a pony tail and her gray eyes scanned the assembly coldly, her angelic face unmoving and perfect as a porcelain doll's. She wore a blue, form-fitting body suit with high boots and her lightsaber was tethered to her thick belt.
In a deft motion, the admiral drew her vibrodagger, followed by identical moves from her followers. As one, they held the weapons to their hearts, points down.
Ergeron's eyes held a bittersweet expression – they honored him with the use of Mandalorian culture. Revan's understanding of their ways never ceased to amaze the clans. In response, he drew his sword and held it to his lips as the Jedi were known to do in salute.
He swept his hand back toward his leader and spoke according to tradition. "This is the Mandalore, leader of the united clans and the armored fist of the Mandalorian people. Who is his worthy opponent?"
The blond Jedi in red armor nodded in return and responded in their traditional way. "I am Malak and I introduce Jedi Revan as the Mandalore's worthy opponent. She has chosen me, General T'Sing, and Jedi Bandon as her seconds."
The mocha-skinned warrior acknowledged the Jedi. "I, Ergeron, and Geratt of the Clan Ordo, along with Sherruk of the Clan Kale are named as seconds for the Mandalore. I would like to affirm the agreement that was made between our leaders. Should Revan fall, the Republic will depart and we will fight you no more. Should the Mandalore be defeated, the clans will lay down their arms and be at Revan's mercy. Let us begin."