Mandalore, Mandalore Sector
4 ARS - The Orbital
Kilometers of metal and glass spread out to either side of the domed observation deck, a ring of durasteel around a world many had thought to be incapable of reaching such industrialization. It had taken twenty years of effort, the dedication of a people and a leader beyond most to accomplish it, but it had been done. The drive yards were complete. The last section had been fitted just hours ago, pressure seals made and the gantries already working their first keel. Such had been the decree of their Mand'alor, and so it had been done. This was their way. Within the dome were the clan leaders, having come from across all of the Mandalorian Republic and even beyond to witness this crowning achievement. Each had their own ideas of what this meant for Mandalore, what this would mean for their clan, but each gave credit where it was due.
The Paladin himself joined them resplendent in his armor, the cold blue tones of the Neo-Crusader beskargam contrasting sharply with the red and black of his helm that served as a symbol of office. While they conversed among themselves, he was silent. Watching and contemplating this achievement in comparison with all the others. Through his strong hand and stern orders they had come this far, to compete with Corellia and show the galaxy that whatever his people set their minds to, they would succeed. That was their way. Not the constant warring of millennia past. Not to sell themselves like Twi'leks to the highest bidder for their skills. Not even the engineering of war that had gained them respect from either side of nearly every conflict.
No, their way was to adapt. To overcome. Mandalorians were more than simply the penultimate warrior, they were survivors. Their single greatest conquest was life itself. Hundreds of worlds had seen the boots of Mandalorians, and hundreds more would in the future because of this. The ring was more than just a drive yard that would serve their fleet in repair, refit and replenishment, it was a sign that his way was right. And now the other clan leaders saw this. Those who doubted because of the Jedi, they now had their doubts not in him, but in their old ways. Just as Jaessih had stated to the Enclave's diplomat, they were coming upon a point where the Mandalorian Republic had stood long enough and their cultures had mixed enough for the old grudges to begin their death.
The youth of Mandalore were coming of age having known Jedi among them as allies. The Jedi were seeing a new generation of Knights rising who had lived as Mandalorians, studied their culture and vowed to the Resol'nare. Everything was proceeding by his design, and all that had been needed was patience. A patience to take things one step at a time, carefully convince the Alors of each clan and ensure the New Mandalorians felt they had a place within the new order. It was careful balancing, but it had been done.
Sud Rengh, a man who served his clan diligently considering his youth, and that he had yet to prove himself in battle.
"I understand that the ring will now be able to not only refit the Republic in Exile's-"
"The Mandalorian Republic's fleet."
His sharp interruption came rasping through the armored helm, not even turning to regard the man behind him. All around them the conversation died down to a whisper, eyes and helmets turning to regard the two. For his part at least he stood his ground, Sud taking a drink of the Keldabe wine in one hand and smoothing down the red scruff at his chin before trying again.
"Of course, Mand'alor. With the ring now complete, it should be able to service our fleet sufficiently enough to have spare berths for the clan's banners. That was my understanding at least…"
"The clans do not need a youngling to ask for them what is theirs."
Some behind him snickered, finding it amusing in that he had chosen to speak of such things openly and so brashly. While it was always their way to be straightforward and to the point, there was of course a time and a place for such things. It didn't help that he was one of the few without armor, standing in a tailored dress-uniform indicating his status as part of the navy, red hair slicked back like some sort of city-worlder. A stark contrast to the burnished armor that most of the clan representatives wore, and the hardened features that showed their contributions to Mandalore.
"Of course Mand'alor, I was just…"
His words trailed off as Jaessih Suard came into the room, and while like him she was without armor, her bearing had quite the opposite effect on those around her. She was of the New Mandalorians in most respects, a woman who chose to serve the civilian government and not to fight for Mandalore. Yet despite that, she had won the respect of all those around her, and earned her place as secretary to the Mand'alor. Coming up to the side of the man in question, she shared a few short words with him before their leader took his leave and now she was effectively the leading authority in the room.
"As it has been for the last twenty years, each clan shall have their opportunity to requisition arms and armor for their banners. First we serve the Great Clan, then we see to the needs of each clan in turn based upon their merit. Such is our way."
"Such is our way."
A single nod had the effect of putting everyone at ease and their attention on her, for while the Mand'alor led the nation and commanded their military, it was her who spoke for him in moments like this. She brushed a hand across the shaved right side of her head, feeling along the braided line of black and down to her shoulder, ensuring her hair was not out of place and secured properly. Longer than most Mandalorians wore it, she was confident enough in her skills to have woven ornate beads between the braids, each one a signifier of an opponent defeated in single combat, multiple clan crests clear. That of Rengh was made especially visible, her sharp eyes settling on the man who thought to see his clan before the others.
"We have come a long way, brothers and sisters. From the ashes of the old republic's bitter distaste for our kind, to the ashes of our own making, and through the flames of yet another galactic war. Our recent history has been bloody, ruinous and if it were not for our Mand'alor the Paladin, we might be on the verge of our end. You all know this, for we were the ones who grew up in the shadows of a conflict that saw no need for us. Once, we were conquerors! We strode the stars and all of civilization quaked with fear for our coming!"
Her voice rang through the room, boot stamping down as a dozen more echoed hers, the clans nodding together and calling out in agreement.
"In our first crusade we burned world after world and were uncontested, for we had the Sith at our backs! What force could possibly stand against us and win? For the second, again we surged across the galaxy and fought and fought and fought and fought, with every battle killing more than we had lost. Even outnumbered and outgunned, we showed the galaxy what it was to be Mandalorian, for that was our way!"
"That is our way!"
"Yet both times we lost. Both times we were beaten back, beaten down and shattered into the divided clans. For millennia we fought each other and forgot the glory that was a united Mandalorian people, wallowing in our defeat and blaming everyone except for ourselves for our loss. We lost those crusades and every war that followed because of two things. First, is our own arrogance. As long as the galaxy feared us, we felt we were invincible. Unstoppable. Rulers of the stars. Our downfall was inevitable when they stopped being afraid. When they banded together like we had, and raised each other up to meet our skill."
Another at the side of the room was watching, her features stoic and impassive, but eyes keenly watching each member of the gathered clan leadership. To anyone else this could have been a series of different things, leading to doubts as to Jaessih's meaning, of what the clans were doing, and what the Mand'alor himself was even planning. She knew what it was though, it was an appeal to their desire for glory. Though she smiled to herself, her lips showed nothing of it, instead she merely turned away and went back to the wine at the side, holding a glass in her four-fingered grip as she was content to merely be the Jedi's representation in this meeting.
"Our second cause for each downfall was that we were simply fighting the wrong enemy. You each grew up with the tales passed down from your Alor, given to them by their Alor and so on and so on. The Jedi are the Great Enemy. We lost each war because of them, it was only by their interference that the crusades were stopped. That last part is correct, but I ask of each of you…. When time and time again you fail the hunt, do you keep doing as you have done each time? Do you continue to try and strike down the krayt with your spear, though its hide has proven too thick to pierce? Do you continue to try and fight it in its den, where the beast knows every inch and has every advantage?"
"No, no you do not. For it is our way to adapt. To overcome any challenge. To survive. That was why, when the Jedi and the Republic in Exile came to Mandalore, when all others had refused them or demanded their service, we welcomed them. For millennia we had fought the krayt and failed, time and again using the same methods, but now we have prevailed. We have joined with the Jedi, and in so doing our greatest enemy is now our greatest ally. Their strength is our strength, and our strength is theirs. For twenty years we have grown to trust one another more and more, to show them that our home is theirs, as every step of the way they have also shown us how to build our home into something worthy of fighting for."
Solace watched, the Open Circle Armada serving as a backdrop for the Mandalorian woman speaking to the gathered clan leaders. Even though she knew not what their plan was, it was starting to become clearer that there were things in motion that had been set to years ago. A great plan that had somehow managed to convince the disparate clans of Mandalorians to set aside their differences, agree to cease fighting each other and instead fight for the Great Clan. Something more than just building a nation she felt, but she had never been one to read the force, and a pall of darkness still lingered so that even the skilled seers needed guidance to read the future.
It wasn't just here and now though, the Corellians were also holding their own gatherings and celebrating their own achievements. As were the Empire and the Alsakani, with a myriad of other independent worlds looking to what would come next as the second decade after the end of the Republic passed. Even the Hapes Consortium was tentatively reaching out, drawing back the veil of isolation that they had lingered under for so long and sending out diplomats to make ties. The timing couldn't have been stranger, for the Founding was underway at the capital and thousands upon thousands were converging upon Mandalore itself to witness the coming of age of a new generation. One that had grown up not knowing the Republic, only hearing of what it had been.
"- and so, when you go forth to clad your sons and daughters in the iron, know that we are all Mando'ad. Whether one of those born of the vats, one who wields the force, or one who carries blaster and blade in the name of Mandalore, we are all equal. This is our Republic, a nation built by our people that will stand the test of war and time."
Those final words saw the rest of the room disperse, each of them heading out to begin preparations for The Founding that was to take place over the week and ensure that all necessary beskar had been acquired. Not all would take up the iron and become a warrior, but it was ceremony to represent a coming of age that was insisted upon. Eventually it was just Solace and Jaessih standing at the glass, watching the fleet moving about, some elements heading towards refit, others coming out.
"To stand the test of war and time." The Arkanian's soft tones came as a sort of questioning statement, glancing over with her pale features to regard the Mandalorian. It was partially accusatory, partially not, but ever the diplomatically vague that she specialized in.
"We are coming upon a new era Jedi, one which will change how the galaxy sees Mandalore forever. It all starts with this founding…"