Who were the Cuy'val Dar?
The Cuy'val Dar (Mando'a for "those who no longer exist".) were the Mandalorian (and even some aruetii) warriors selected personally by Jango Fett to train the soldiers cloned from his genetic template.
And now, they are gone, except for one...
Outside Keldabe, Mandalore
"I don't know, Boba. Each day that little shabuir is in charge of the Galactic Alliance is practically a state of emergency for all systems, especially us."
Boba Fett took his adviser's words in stride. Goran Beviin was as much a hardcore warrior as any other Mando'ad and at the same time he could play politics like a planetary governor; a balanced and powerful combination suited for a Manda'lor. Boba secretly hoped that Beviin wouldn't meet his maker before he did.
"Aside from a cache of fighters courtesy of our project with the Verpine and rallying all our warriors, what do you suggest?"
"Knowledge and experience."
Where that statement would have been vague to other sets of ears, Boba knew Beviin wasn't banthashitting him.
Boba had a feeling where this was going, but he wanted to openly confirm it anyway. "Whose?"
"Someone who was around in the days of the Old Republic. Someone who trained soldiers for it."
Boba knew Beviin was referring to the Cuy'val Dar, his father's old colleagues. Most of whom were now dead.
Boba wasn't all that thrilled about the idea of a reunion with a blast from that past, but he knew he had to make do with what resources, and valuable ones at that, were currently available to aide the situation.
"Contact Tem Vau," he ordered Beviin. "Tell her to meet here."
Outside Keldabe, Mandalore
Even though it was business as usual on the Beviin-Vasur farm, the atmosphere felt like that of a parade for an honorary guest; they may as well have thrown one, considering it was just that they were expecting.
Boba Fett sat in the dining room of his adviser's home, like a director at a board meeting or, more accurately, a general in a strategy meeting. His granddaughter, Mirta Gev, was showing Beviin's grandchildren how to quickly and correctly tie a knot in the den.
Beviin himself plunked into one of the chairs at the table, a mug of strong-smelling gal in his hand.
"Are you sure you should be drinking when there's a war going on?"
Beviin grinned mischievously and said, "It ain't too strong. Besides, a little drink now and then is good for the nerves which benefits fighting. You want one, too, Bob'ika?"
Boba said nothing; he knew Beviin was only using levity to pass the immediate time.
Outside, Medrit Vasur stationed himself in front of the homestead; even at this distance, Boba thought the beskar-smith looked a little on edge.
Beviin looked down into his gal and smiled wistfully. "Poor Med'ika. Hope she doesn't take too long. He hasn't seen her in forty years."
Fortunately, for Medrit Vasur, he didn't have to wait too long.
The whine of a speeder approached before the speeder itself appeared.
As soon as the MandalMotors LUX-3 came to a halt, Medrit was right on the spot, waiting for the driver to step out.
A woman clad in purple and bronze beskar'gam with twin Westar 34 blaster pistols at her hips stepped out cautiously.
For a moment, Medrit forgot he was a middle-aged man and his thoughts reverted back to his youth: his former mentor, Tem Vau stood before him, in the flesh.
"Shab, you're old, Med'ika."
The sound of her voice overwhelmed him. "It's good to see you too, ori'vod."
Tem Vau walked to straight to the house, Medrit walking close, protectively so.
"I'm pretty spry for ninety-four, you know."
"Just don't want you to fall and break a hip, grandma."
Tem chuckled. Even with her buy'ce's voice filter, it sounded so comfortably human. "Says a genuine-article ba'buir."
"I'm old. You said so yourself." He winked at her.
To Medrit, it felt so good having her back in his life; maybe, if there was time, she could bestow her knowledge and experience on his grandkids (surely Dinua and her husband wouldn't mind, maybe they could learn a thing or two themselves), and maybe even on a fellow old fart like Goran.
There were no pleasantries.
No smiles and hugs.
And that's they way both Boba Fett and Tem Vau liked it.
He remembered her back on Kamino, when she trained the Clones. He remembered how highly his father spoke of her, along with a few other fellow Mando'ade like Kal Skirata and her brother Walon. But he didn't ask to meet with her to take any sort of stroll down memory lane.
He got right to the point, pragmatic as any Mando'ad. "I need you to train our warriors." When she gave him the look of that's it?, he added, "With your particular knowledge and experience."
Goran Beviin interceded. "Your the last of your kind. The last of the Cuy'val Dar."
Tem gave Boba, Beviin and even Medrit that look of weighing all aspects of the situation. "Have you considered the aide of the Skirata clan? They've been bestowed with some of the same knowledge and experience."
Boba was not keen on the idea of meeting anymore fellow Clones than he had to. Jaing Skirata was a handful enough, but that was a desperate time.
That, however, was not the expertise he was seeking. "They've never fought a Sith Lord in the flesh."
The warrior Tem fought over forty years ago was not a Sith Lord, in the official sense, but he was powerful enough to be one.
Beviin and Medrit eyed both Boba and Tem, concerned for what that statement would potentially unleash.
Tem remained impassive. "You refer to Jacen Solo."
Again, she remained impassive about it. "You want my knowledge and experience? You can have it. Free of charge."
While the Beviin-Vasur clan went about their own business in their house, Tem Vau sequestered herself to the spare room Beviin and Medrit offered her.
She sifted around in a calf-pocket on her beskar'gam and pulled out a silver and onyx, cylindrical shape: a lightsaber.
She simply held it in her hand, it's heft familiar and sobering. She never knew the legitimate owner, and was almost certain they met an untimely demise, but that lightsaber had saved her life, as well as the lives of her family and those she considered friends.
All the clans of Mandalore answered their Mand'alor's summons; and when they saw who was seated next to Boba Fett, they almost stumbled in their tracks upon arrival.
It wasn't usually Mando to be a fanatic, particularly over a famous person; even if that famous person was a legend- and legend was an understatement in the case of Tem Vau.
She was the last of her generation- not as in age, but as in experience; she was practically a living, breathing history holo.
Seated on Boba's other side, Goran Beviin waved his hand to the others for silence.
Boba despised formal speeches. He preferred to get right down to business and be done with it. But here, it was probably the closest he came to one. "As you know, Jacen Solo has had his eye on Mandalore since his rise to "leadership" in the Galactic Alliance. And when he makes his move, we will fight him. But first, you will learn how." He gestured to Tem.
She stood up. "Gather anyone in your clan old enough to fight. Meet us outside the city."
Tem Vau eyed all the Mando'ade that gathered; there were quite a few people between the ages of Beviin and Mirta, as well as quite a few evaar'la verde, some not long into their adulthood.
She had hoped none of them would ever have to fight a Sith Lord; even as skilled warriors, they'd eventually be slaughtered; they'd stand a greater chance against Solo's full armada than against Solo himself.
She wasn't going to sugarcoat anything: "If you are fortunate, you won't have to face the Sith himself; but he will be bringing enough of an armada in an attempt to crush us all.
"But should you find yourselves facing him, accept the fact you may not come out of that fight alive; and if you're going to last long enough, you'll need the proper equipment." She gestured to Medrit, who lay down beskar armor pieces. Tem picked up the collar-looking one. "For starters, decapitation prevention is essential to this."
The Mando'ade looked in sober awe.
Jango Fett's Grave,
Unknown Location, Mandalore
Tem Vau counted her fellow Mando'ade fortunate that Jacen Solo- or Darth Caedus, or whatever he called himself now- hasn't come knocking on Mandalore's door in the weeks she spent teaching them the techniques that she taught the Clone Troopers back on Kamino all those decades ago.
So she didn't guilt herself this little side trip on her own; Medrit had discreetly let slip to her that Boba had brought home his father's remains from Geonosis and where he had buried them.
Jango's death was heart-breaking enough; not knowing where he was buried made it all the worse. After Aurra Sing had run into Boba and stayed on to mentor him, he never ever mentioned where on Geonisis he buried his father, so even she couldn't cadge that bit of information out of him.
Sitting on the ground, her helmet at her side, she indulged herself the tears she kept pent up for sixty plus years.
It wasn't supposed to have been like that; he and Boba were supposed to meet up with her on Mandalore- even Zam Wesell was in the know to some extent- and repair the damage he had done by agreeing to be the genetic template for the Clone Army. They were his last orders.
For years she felt as though she had failed him. She had tried her damnedest to protect Mandalore- even with the help of those out for themselves such as Aurra- but that was only on a small, personal scale. The rest was hiding in the hills, avoiding greater galactic governments at all costs. Kal Skirata- even her estranged brother- and the Clones he managed to rescue gave what they could, making the best of bad situations.
It never made the difference Jango wanted.
Tem placed her helmet back on and stood up just as another speeder approached.
Mirta Gev, Boba's granddaughter, stepped out of the driver's seat.
Tem gave her a helmet nod and went to her speeder.
The girl followed her. Not here to pay her respects to her great-grandfather, after all.
Mirta removed her helmet.
Tem turned around and faced her.
"You weren't just one of the Cuy'val Dar, were you?"
Tem had to hand it to her, Mando women specialized in being right to the point.
"Well, I was one of the lucky few that he trusted." Jango didn't officially have an inner circle, but that was the closest description for such people.
Mirta still looked at her; it was clearly not the answer she was seeking.
"I'm not your great-grandmother."
Mirta blushed a little. "You loved him, didn't you?"
There wasn't any point in hiding that from her. "Yes. But nothing happened." Well, that was only a half-truth, but Mirta didn't need to know that.
"I don't understand," said Mirta. "Why? You were perfect for him."
That was something Tem could not tell; it was a secret she would take to the grave.
Outside Keldabe, Mandalore
Boba Fett watched from afar as Tem Vau trained the citizens of Mandalore in sword fighting in the style of lightsaber fighting; which went to show that even master swordsman Goran Beviin was ignorant of certain techniques.
Although she had taught the same techniques she had taught the Clone Army back on Kamino, this was something extra she bestowed upon them. Something she had picked up years later, of course; and they didn't dare ask where she learned that. Not even Boba knew the full story of what had happened.
The Mando'ad Tem had been dueling must have let slip his focus for one small moment because Tem gave the beskar gorget around his neck a good whack with the durasteel training rod she was using; the force of it knocked him to the ground.
She knelt down, her helmet's speakers loud enough for everyone to hear: "I hope you've thanked Medrit." She didn't need to elaborate further.
The soldier got up.
And that was when Goran Beviin arrived on a speeder bike, braking hard when he pulled over.
Without getting off it, he shouted, his voice amplified by his helmet's speakers. "MAND'ALOR!"
Boba sprang to his feet; now that he was recovered from the illness cured by the solution from Jaing Skirata, he had quite a bit of stamina and athleticism for his old age.
He didn't need to ask what the matter was.
Outside Keldabe, Mandalore
Beviin switched on the holocomm station in his den.
Jacen Solo- Darth Caedus- stood on display, well groomed, chest puffed like a dominant nuna buck, and his eyes glowing yellow.
"Boba Fett." He paused, smirking. It wasn't the Solo smirk like his father, but one based in malice, and even cruelty. "In spite of past transgressions, I have an offer for you and your people: join the Galactic Alliance."
"If we don't?"
Again, that smirk. "If a great force won't serve you, then it must be exterminated."
After Boba Fett announced the impending arrival of Jacen Solo, Mando'ade dashed about their stations.
Goran Beviin was ordering all pilots to their Bes'uliik-class fighters- the Mando-Verpine project named after the basilisk war droids Mando ancestors rode in on; he himself hopped into the cockpit of one.
Boba could hear Beviin tell everyone on their comm channel, "Solo's forces must remain in space. None of them must land." Affirmative responses echoed.
He took his position in the lead, the others fanned out in formation behind and next to him.
Outside Keldabe, Mandalore
Tem Vau watched all the Bes'uliik fighters leave the ground and the planet's atmosphere.
This would be it.
She retreated into Beviin and Medrit's house, ambling towards the comm station without hesitation.
"Don't do anything rash, ori'vod."
Medrit stood behind her, his arms folded.
"Mando'ade aren't rash. We take charge."
It was only a quip, she knew; but she also knew her former protege was serious.
Medrit stepped out of the room, leaving her to do what she needed to do.
She punched in the requisite code key and waited only a few seconds.
"And what do you want, sleemo?" The well-groomed, yellow-eyed shabuir deliberately delivered it with mock-boredom.
Tem held up her lightsaber, unlit.
The arrogance in Head of State Solo's eyes was replaced with shock; genuine shock.
"Me and you, Solo. Vanqor. Immediatly."
She ended the transmission.
Medrit came back into the room, somber, tears rolling out from his eyes; something he never did around anyone else, not even his husband.
Tem squeezed his big shoulder. "I thought I taught you to move past this, you big ik'aad." She meant it with affection, not meanness.
Medrit wiped away his tears with a thumb, then squeezed her hand in return.
When he let her go, she stepped out of his home.
Tem Vau waited while Jacen Solo landed his craft; she had to give him this much, he wasted no time on theatrics.
Both parties ignited their lightsabers.
Jacen arched a noble eyebrow- no doubt inherited from his mother. Fortunately, he did not ask questions.
Tem remained where she was, Jacen did the same; he wasn't a moron.
Jacen then raised an arm, fingers almost in a claw-like curl.
Tem raised her lightsaber and deflected the Force-lightning the Sith sent her way.
She was aware that must have been a ruse, so she cast the rest of her attention around her and him.
While her lightsaber absorbed the last of that round of Force-lightning, he used what he thought was a blind-spot to come closer.
She blocked his lightsaber just in time.
It was time she opened her mind to let the Force flow through.
She couldn't reach out with her mind like Aurra could; she didn't have the Force-strength her friend had. But if her mind was quiet enough, some things she could sense.
She could sense there was movement in his mind, even if it wasn't clear what he was thinking or what he was feeling. He was calculating.
She willed her mind closed, just to see how he would react.
A certain confidence left his eyes, leaving a seemingly mild bewilderment.
There wasn't any sense in hiding that. "I am." He didn't need to know that she hadn't been like that her whole life.
Shortly his bewilderment was replaced by anger, a deep seeded anger. Not an anger lashed out irrationally, but one cold, calculated.
She brought up her lightsaber to meet his.
They blocked and parried for some time, neither one in succeeding in landing a blow on the other, however stamina would run out over time, and Tem would lose hers first.
"I killed one of your kind. Before."
Jacen faltered in his step, but only slightly. "And that means what to me?"
"Well, you're fighting a Mando who's killed Sith before. Aren't you even frightened?"
He snorted. "No."
"You should be."
His arrogance and bewilderment his blind spot, she landed a blow on his knee, almost severing it. He fell to the rocky ground.
Tem wasted no time in raising her lightsaber to strike it down into a finishing blow, but even then it was too late- Solo had unleashed a heavy bout of Force-lightning which engulfed her beskar-clad frail body, raising her off the ground and sending her up and over a rocky outcrop.
Before blackness took over, the last thing she saw was the darkest hatred she had ever seen before in his yellow eyes.
Very abruptly, as soon as it began, the battle over Mandalore ceased. The Galactic Alliance armada retreated soon after arrival.
Jacen Solo -Darth Caedus-, incapacitated, almost escaped after his defeat of Tem Vau, except soon after, the Sword of the Jedi- his own sister Jaina- finished what the ruug'la verd started.
Boba Fett found Tem, brought her home. And at Mirta's insistance, he buried her next to Jango; she never disclosed why.
The death of Tem Vau may have been the end of the Cuy'val Dar, but the knowledge remained and would continue to be inherited by all the generations of Mando'verde to come.
“Te Kyr'yc Be Cuy'val Dar”
Boba Fett is the Mand'alor. Jacen Solo/Darth Caedus rules the Galactic Alliance with an iron fist. But when the tyrannical Sith Lord makes moves on Mando territory, Boba must call in an old friend of his father's to train his warriors...
Who were the Cuy'val Dar?
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