Ice Age Anthology
Chapter Three: Reflection
The night after the herd finally arrived at their new home, Manny the mammoth was thinking about his life, reflecting on the experiences that had brought him there.
He had a fairly normal childhood, growing up in a standard mammoth herd, with loving parents. As he hit his teen years, he fell in love with a beautiful female. Her name was Penny, and Manny had never seen such a vision of loveliness in his entire life. Penny felt the same way about him, and the two began courting, Before long, she bore him a son, Donny. Donny was a bright, fun-loving boy who adored his father. Manny had never felt so happy. But, all too soon, tragedy struck. The herd was attacked by human hunters. Manny was kept at bay by the humans' spears, while the others cornered Penny and Donny, and killed them by having their friends throw down rocks from above.
That was the single worst day of Manny's life. The pain he felt over the loss of his family was too much for him. He left the herd and headed north, away from all the migrating animals, wanting nothing more then to be alone, so he would never come to care about anyone ever again, and thus never risk feeling such pain again.
But it would seem fate had other plans in store for Manny. He soon crossed paths with Sid the sloth, and not long after, the human baby Roshan and the sabre Diego. Together, they set out to return Roshan to his fellow humans. As the journey continued, Manny, against his will, found himself starting to care about his companions. First Roshan, then Sid, and even Diego, whom Manny had suspected from the beginning of wanting the baby for his own means. Manny even risked his own life to save Diego's, in spite of his suspicions. When the sabre confessed his original intentions, Manny felt betrayed. However, the impending ambush from the sabre's fellow pack members left Manny with no choice but to trust Diego, who would later prove his worth by seemingly sacrificing himself protecting Manny from an attack by Soto, the pack's leader. For a while, it looked like Manny had lost another person he had cared about, but thankfully, it was not be; Diego returned to them right after they brought the baby to his father, and the three friends travelled south together.
Though Manny's heart had been softened by these experiences, the memory of his lost family continued to weigh heavily on him. When he met Ellie, his friends were quick to suggest a pairing. Manny resisted for two reasons, the first being a fear of gaining a family and losing it once again, and the second being that he felt it would be an insult to Penny's memory (The thought of their species being on the edge of extinction didn't help either way). Eventually, Manny and Ellie realised their mutual attraction, and became mates.
However, their pairing soon brought about another problem. When Ellie fell pregnant, Manny became wildly-overprotective, again filled with the fear of once again losing a child. This fear continued even after Peaches was born. Manny was so afraid of losing his daughter, as he had lost his son, that he was often quite strict with her, wanting to keep her in his sights at all times. No matter how old she got, he still kept a constrictive vigil over her, which Peaches came to resent during her teen years.
When the breaking of the continent seperated them, Manny feared he had lost another family. These fears almost came true when Captain Gutt held Ellie and Peaches hostage, hoping to exact revenge against Manny for destroying his ship. In the ensuing battle, Peaches would surprise her father by using her tree-swinging skills (inherited from her mother) to knock Gutt for a loop. It was then that Manny realised that she was no longer a baby to be protected, but a strong independant adult, one fully capable of looking after herself. With that in mind, he deigned to give her more freedom when they arrived at their new home. He would always worry about her, as all fathers did for their young, but now he knew his fears were groundless, and that Peaches could take care of herself.
Manny looked around, casting his eyes on the sleeping forms of his mate and daughter, hanging by their tails from a nearby tree. It seemed like an eternity had passed since he had felt this happy. Though he would always hold the memory of his first family in his heart, he would not let their fate govern his feelings for his new family. And by "family", he wasn't just thinking of Ellie and Peaches, but Sid, Diego and all the others. They were all part of the herd, part of the family, and Manny cared for them as he did his mate and daughter.
On that dark day, so many years ago, he had lost everything he held dear. Now, he had regained all that he had lost, and so much more. It struck Manny as ironic that he could feel this happy, considering he once believed, in his darkest of hours, that he would never be happy again.
Smiling, Manny fell into a deep, blissful sleep.
To Be Continued...
(Ice Age and all associated characters are the property of 20th Century Fox and Bluesky Studios.)