- Story by Julia Atkins
- Estimated reading time: 7 minutes (1,576 words)
The seasons on Mandalore moved passed, and the autumn set in, and the clouds pregnant with snow were moving from the North but held fast, staying by the mountains. The days were still pleasant, and in the valleys of the Kings, Jango pulled back the string of his bow and aimed carefully at a skull of an animal poised on a rock. "Now, relax Jango, and focus." Said Kalar in to Jango's ear. In concentration, Jango eased his shoulders, and let go, the arrow darted through the air, too fast for the sound to catch up, and it struck the skull between the empty eyes, splitting in two, and tumbled down the rock. "Good job Jango! I am most pleased with your progress." Said Kalar, patting Jango's back. The boy laughed, and Kalar held up Jango's arm, said: "Wow! You're ready to become a soldier." He ruffled his hands through the boy's thick wavy hair. Then he began to rub his scalp hard; Jango began to shout and blundered himself in to Kalar. The two fell over in to the ground and laughed like two brothers.
Kalar and Jango looked up in to the blue sky, watching the clouds drift by, and imagined shapes in them, and spoke of lively things. "Oh, look! That one looks like a great beast chasing after a smaller one." Said Kalar, looking pointedly at a billowing cloud. Then Jango laughed, "and here comes another going to eat it!" they laughed, and the two remained silent, watching the sky and the cloud murals.
Kalar jumped up, and looked out at a far mountain, Jango stopped laughing when he saw the grave look on his friend's face. "What is it Kalar?" asked Jango curiously. And when Jango stood up, he saw a group of men on beasts coming toward them. "Should we run?" asked Jango, becoming afraid.
"No." said Kalar; "they're coming for me." And suddenly his voice seemed different, as if Kalar had been waiting for this moment. The hills were dotted with men clad in Mandalorian armour, their helmets gleaming in the sunlight, looking as if they were set aflame. Then they arrived, their armour looked less glorious, battered and scarred from endless days of battle, but they still held a frightful glare, and Jango, not knowing what kind of face was behind their T-shaped visor became more afraid. They swarmed them, until they finally stopped, all circled round them. Jango reached his hand up and held Kalar's. (The soldiers stood over the two boys so menacingly.or boy; Kalar seemed more like a man)
"Kalar Gau, you are to be summoned to war." Said one man, his voice sounding harsh and gravelly, or maybe the voice modifications in his helmet made him sound that way. But Jango's heart pounded, and hate filled his heart, how could they take him away? He is all that I have left! Thought Jango, certainly his father didn't have such a close relationship as Kalar did. But he knew that he could never change this.
Then a soldier pulled an item from a satchel and tossed at Kalar, it was bulky and heavy, and the friends both knew what it was. "This was your father's, he is dead now." Said the leader of the group. But Kalar did not cry, or even wince the slightest, he strapped the armour on as Jango watched in appall as his friend transformed before him. Kalar became bigger, and more omnipotent: aware of all around him. He seemed to become a man than the seventeen-year-old he knew for so long. Then, Kalar leapt beside the leader on the horse.
"Kalar." said Jango, almost in tears, struggling each word, knowing this moment was the last he would share with his most beloved friend. As Kalar sat high on his steed, he eclipsed the sun, and he looked like a giant monster. Jango could hardly believe that a good friend could become a menace in minutes.
"I'm sorry my friend, but I must march to the end of the world and meet my doom." He said, and Jango could not even recognize his voice! It was loud and gravely, and like the other men, so that it was as though Kalar could hide among them. But even through the changes, the boy could still hear grief in his friend's voice. And when they rode away, back across the hills, and over the mountains, a whole piece of Jango's life was ripped from him, and he suddenly felt abandoned. Never will he see his friend again, for this war was for those that were meant to die. Jango's knees gave way, and he breathed: "Kalar."
When the winter had set in, the first flakes of the clouds had settled upon the earth, and covering all in a vast blanket of white. The light could be seen, still flickering between the long and old fingers of the trees. Jango's pony walked sullenly by, often biting the still living plants from shrubs or vines, desprately clinging on to bark. He rode close behind his father, who was off to go to the fields to pick the winterberries for food. When they arrived at the fields, Jango leapt excitedly from his pony in to the whitened world, that looked like armies of crystals and thick snow covered all the golden grass that was there during the warm seasons. His father shook his head and laughed, riding beside a bush and began to pluck the blue and plump berries. Suddenly, he felt something his head, and he turned angrily around, but he sighed, upon seeing Jango laughing hysterically, falling to the ground. Then Ambu picked up a ball of snow and tossed it at his son. But in Jango's liveliness, he could spring away, and he ran down to a tree, but a crash of snow fell from a branch and covered him.
He climbed out, covered in snow. He could hear his father laughing merrily from above the field. Jango shot him a glare that was vile, but he laughed too, and when returning to his father he was extra careful not to quake any more snow to fall.
But Jango stopped, and his muscles tensed, knowing something was not right. And by then his father had known also, and his eyes were wide and full of fear. Neither one of them able to move, then small words escaped Ambu's mouth. "Jango.." Both felt as though something or someone was stealthily approaching. "Jango." repeated Ambu, more alert this time. The ponies jerked their heavy heads up and began to neigh wildly, thrashing about from their ties; finally, they tore free, and ran in to the woods. "Run Jango! Sith!" Cried Ambu, running toward his son. Instinctively, Jango sprinted, running as fast as his legs could allow him. "Run Jango! Run Jango!" said his father, becoming more distant. Jango turned his head to look but his father yelled, "Don't look back, keep running, keep running!"
Jango's legs beat wildly, and his thighs began to burn. He dodged behind trees and his arms flew about, and his father was becoming more distant, but he still cried: "Jango! Run! RUN! Never look back!" Then he heard loud thump and the hums of lightsabers. But Jango kept running, and running, never stopping until he found his home, and hid inside the stables where the Ram's were kept.
Jango smiled, and he was excited, knowing that they reached their farm, and safe from the Sith. "Father we made it! We made it father!" Jango gasped, but he was still happy, "Father?" he asked. When he found that his father had not come. "Father?" he asked again, this time his confidence wearing down, and he dared to step out from his farm and wander a small ways from it. "Father!" He called, still in high hope to find him. But then the snow began to fall, and all grew silent, not even the sound of a fox through the brush, or the scuttling of animals could be heard. And Jango grew more desperate, calling for his father. "Father!" he called again, his voice echoing among the trees. Then his calls turned in to weeping, his warm tears stinging his cold face. "Father!" he cried, this time he was far from his home and lost in the woods. He trembled, but still walked aimlessly about, knowing he was truly alone, with no where to go. But he leapt back in fear, gazing at a man standing before him. It wasn't a Sith, but a Mandalorian, he could not see him, but the bulky figure, standing vaguely in a world of white and grey, the snow drifting down, layering upon the swollen earth. "Your father can't be with you anymore." Said the man softly. Then Jango put his head down and began to sob. "Come with me now." Said the man, walking in to the blackness of the woods. All Jango could do was watch him walk on, looking as if he hovered above the ground like a shadow of death. Then, in despair and grief, Jango followed behind him. At once he stopped and looked back, hoping to see his father run up to him and tell him all was well, to go back to the barn and roast the winterberries they plucked. But knowing he was dead, and laying still in the woods he cast his head low and trudged on ward, following the soldier in to the deep realm of the wilderness.
Updated July 28, 2015
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