Here is my response to this months OCR Challenge. Thanks to SWpants for doing some beta work. Shattered – October/November OC Database Challenge GYNDINE, 29 ABY, ONE DAY AFTER MANDALORIAN LIBERATION The fog was still heavy and the metallic scent of blood and the sulfury discharge of blaster rifles clung heavily to the humid air. Yuuzhan Vong damuteks stood smoldering in the early hours of the morning, the orange light from the fires giving the fog a ghostly orange hue. The effect was rather otherworldly and didn't help to improve Rixa Numeck's mood as he strolled through the devastation he and the rest of Indomitable Company had wrought. Boba Fett had told them to strike the Shaper damuteks east of the primary landing zone. Seven Mandalorians were dead and four wounded by the time Indomitable had made their way up the hill to which the Shapers had set up their research facilities. Members of the warrior-caste had entrenched themselves there and had hurled wave after wave of thudbugs, razorbugs and blastbugs. Artillery beasts rained down molten plasma from secure positions several kilometers away. Still, the Mandalorians kept pushing forward. Their objective was at the top of that hill, and no amount of scarheads were going to stop the fifty Supercommandos from completing the task they had been given. Air support wasn't available; the small fleet of ships that had been thrown together was having a rough time against the several miid-roik warships the Yuuzhan Vong had blockaded the planet with. Nonetheless, Rixa had followed his older brother over the crest of the hill and every member of Indomitable that was still standing surged forward. Blasters flashed in the darkness of the night, beskar swords clashed with the living amphistaffs carried by Yuuzhan Vong warriors. For what felt like an eternity in the dark, the violence of warfare exploded around him. It must have only taken minutes for his squad to push through the Yuuzhan Vong lines to the first Shaper damutek and rig the explosive charges, a few seconds to retreat to a 'safe' position to detonate the charge, and then another couple of minutes to reach the next damutek and repeat the process. Ten minutes, four damuteks were destroyed, and fifty or sixty Yuuzhan Vong were dead. After that they had been given orders to locate the Yuuzhan Vong prison camps and rescue the beings that had been taken captive over the course of the war. Without being given time to gather the dead or treat the wounded, Indomitable moved on to its next target. A kilometer to the east was where they found the Yuuzhan Vong detention facilities. The fighting there had been just as ferocious as the fighting in the damuteks had been. Indomitable wanted to take every inch of ground they could from the Yuuzhan Vong, and the Yuuzhan Vong didn't want to give up a single inch. Dozens of Yuuzhan Vong died for every two meters gained by the Mandalorians, and four more Supercommandos fell in the detention facilities. It took twenty minutes to clear that detention camp, another five to locate the prisoners. Half of them were already dead, the other half were halfway there. The Yuuzhan Vong hadn't discriminated in their cruelty to the beings of the galaxy; there were hundreds of half-starved beings from every corner from the Deep Core to the Outer Rim territories. Rodians, Duros, Dugs, Bothans, Ithorians, Togorians, humans, Whiphids, Falleen, Mon Calamari, Quarrens, Aqualish. Every single one of them had lauded the Mandalorians as they were herded out of the detention facilities, offering thanks and life-debts as they went. Calling them heroes. None of the Mandalorians had accepted any of it though. They weren't rescuing these people for the praise or the glory; they were doing it simply because there wasn't anyone else that could. The Mandalorians had beaten the Yuuzhan Vong outright on two separate consecutive engagements: when the Yuuzhan Vong had attacked Mandalore and when the Mandalorians had liberated Ord Mantell. Fett had gone for the hat trick to make the record 3-0 at Gyndine. Rixa stood there in the festering filth of the detention center as reports of the other Supercommando companies overwhelming the Yuuzhan Vong forces came over the comlink. Gyndine didn't feel like a victory to him. As he walked through the orange tinted fog hours later it felt even less like a victory and more of an all-consuming loss. While glancing over the reports of the Mandalorian losses, he had discovered the name of his mother Narsia. She had been shot down by Yuuzhan Vong artillery after breaking the lines of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet. It turned out that she had been one of the several X-Wing pilots that had come to provide support for the transport carrying the rescued prisoners out of the system. He had watched as several of the Mandalorian starfighters had been shot down out of the sky. He had witnessed his mother die and hadn't even known it. Both of his parents had been claimed by the Yuuzhan Vong and he had been powerless to prevent either death. As much as losing his father had hurt, losing his mother had been much worse. Rixa had always accepted that he would always take second place to his older brother when it came to who their father adored more. Tyran was the perfect image of what a Mandalorian father would want for a son. Tyran never messed up, he could master anything in a few days, or even in a few hours if he was determined enough. He was strong, resilient, deadly, and completely reliable. Rixa on the other hand, was only a few of these things. Strength and resilience were common Numeck traits and Rixa, like his older brother, had them in spades. What Rixa lacked was the ruthlessness that Tyran had, the ability to throw a switch and toss out his emotions to get a job done. For some reason, that was something their father could never truly accept and Rixa often felt that his father viewed it as a defect. His mother however had always been there to build him up after he had let his father down time and time again. She had understood him, and often told him that if he wasn't able to abandon his emotions then it was because he wasn't meant to be like Tyran or his father. That his path was meant to be different than theirs. She had been the calming force in the turbulent storm that had been Rixa's life. But she was gone now and he couldn't change it. He just had to accept it and move on, but he wasn't sure that was possible. "Rixa," a soft voice said from behind him, its owner hidden by the fog. He didn't need to see the person to know who it belonged to though. "I came to check on you, you've been gone for a few hours now." "I'm fine Jaya," Rixa said with an exhausted sigh. Jaya Nayic had been following him around for the past few weeks whenever she had the chance to set her feet on the ground. She was a fighter pilot like his mother had been. In fact, she had been in the same squadron as her mother. It was that reason alone that made her one of the last people he wanted to talk to. "I just want to be left alone right now." He didn't hear her footsteps recede into the damuteks and he looked over his shoulder. She was still standing there in the shadow of a gnarled tree that couldn't have been native to Gyndine. "You know," She persisted quietly taking a few more steps towards him," She was like a mentor to me. She made me feel like I didn't have to live up to the reputation that my sister has. I know you know how it feels to have a sibling whose shadow you can't seem to crawl out of." "That's putting it mildly." Rixa said disgustedly as he pulled a ration bar from his pocket and fiddled with the wrapper. "But you do know what I'm talking about though." Jaya said determined to try and remain nonthreatening. "In the last few months, your mom became the closest thing to a mother that I've had. Her death is just as painful to me as it is to you–" "You have no idea how I feel!" Rixa thundered as he spun around. "She wasn't your mother; you'll never know how her death makes me feel! You should have been there to watch her back. But no, you were there and you let the Yuuzhan Vong kill her!" Jaya swallowed hard and forced herself to keep from backing up any further. "It wasn't like we were facing enemy skips Rixa," She said more calmly than she felt. "It was anti-air fire from those massive creatures. Three others beside your mother were also shot down. I barely made it out myself." "She died so a bunch of half-starved and broken souls could be evacuated, half of whom probably won't survive the week." Rixa said quietly. "What a waste." "No, no it wasn't a waste." Jaya said. "She didn't die for nothing Rixa. She and everyone who died in this battle died to eliminate a Yuuzhan Vong foothold." "The Yuuzhan Vong control hundreds of worlds, and we've only taken back two. There aren't enough Mandalorians to save this galaxy. Just enough to prolong the inevitable." "You sound like you've given up." Jaya said. "Because I have." Rixa said. "I don't have anything to lose anymore. My father died on Mandalore, and my mother died in the skies earlier today." "What about Tyran?" "As far as Tyran is concerned I'm more of a burden than anything else. Just a screw up little brother who he has to constantly bail out of trouble." Rixa said quietly. "He'd rather just forget that I exist." "That's not true–" "How would you know if it is true or not? You've only known me for a month! You don't know anything about me or my family!" Rixa yelled at her. "Do me a favor and just disappear, I've had enough of your company for awhile." Jaya stared at him for a moment struggling with the choice of either doing as he asked or staying put and screaming it out with him. Screaming didn't feel like the right choice, Rixa wasn't in a right frame of mind and a yelling match wouldn't help to solve anything. Jaya looked down at her feet and nodded, turning on her heel and walking back into the fog to the Yuuzhan Vong damuteks. Rixa needed someone to help him through the loss he was experiencing, and as much as she wanted to be, Jaya just wasn't that person. Rixa needed his brother now more than ever. Another couple of hours passed as Rixa stood in the fog on the edge of a festering pond, feeling oddly grateful that he hadn't had to belly crawl through the putrid muck to reach the damuteks. It had been one of the several approach options Tyran and the other officers of Indomitable Company had considered. The last thing he would have wanted to do after a day like this one would have been to wash the thick sludge off of his armor. As it was, he was sure the stench from the detention center would linger in the fabric of his flightsuit for some time. He was a little disgusted with himself and how he had treated Jaya. She had just wanted to help him after all. But she had to understand that he wanted to be alone and that if he wanted to talk to someone then he would do it when he was ready. Still, he knew he had to apologize to her and the sooner he did it the better. The last thing he wanted was to have to deal with Jaya's older sister Aru, who would undoubtedly take offense to how he had treated Jaya. He really didn't need Aru constantly glaring at him and making snide comments like she was prone to doing, especially at this time. Footsteps reached his ears as someone made their way through the muddy embankment Rixa had made his temporary home on. Maybe Jaya had decided he had cooled down some and had come to take another stab at talking with him, either that or it was Aru coming to try and stab him. The footsteps came to a stop a meter or so away from him and Rixa turned around and froze. Tyran was standing with his arms crossed and not looking very pleased. "Do you know how much of a headache you are?" Tyran asked. "Do you think I like listening to Aru and Jaya fight over whether or not you deserve a descent thrashing? Because that is what I've been doing for the last two hours. I don't have time for this crap. On top of the casualty reports and current company roster configuration I have to hand in, Fett wants me and the other company commanders prepping strategies for the Tholatin campaign." Rixa shrugged and looked back out to the swamp. "Causing you headaches is what I do best." "So I've heard." Tyran said walking closer to his little brother. "I also heard that I think you're a screw up and a burden. You want to tell me what that's all about?" "Come on," Rixa snorted. "You can't possibly enjoy bailing me out all of the time." "I admit that it does get to be a little tiresome, but I've never called you a screw up and I've certainly never called you a burden." Tyran said. "Yeah sure," Rixa said. "You can say all that to my face, you can tell me I'm not a screw up or a burden because you think it will calm me down or make me feel better about all the crap we've seen today. You aren't going to fool me though. I've seen the looks on your face and heard the tone in your voice after you pull me out bad situations. I know what you really think." "You really think that I wish you never existed?" Tyran said walking even closer to his little brother and coming to a stop right next to him. "You must. I know I would if things were reversed." Tyran stared at his younger brother for a while not knowing what to say. He scratched at the back of his head for a few moments and looked down at his feet. "Do you remember when you were eight-years-old and I was ten and when we went down to the Ielador farm? And then you stole those freshly made pies right of the window sill and ate them while me and the others were searching for shriek-hawk eggs?" "Yeah I remember and I don't see why that's relevant." Rixa said. "Do you remember how angry dad was when old man Ielador dragged you home by your ears and told him what you had done?" Rixa found himself smiling at the memory. "Yeah he was ready to tan my hide and mount it to the wall with some of his voar beast trophies." "And he probably would have if I hadn't walked in with hands that were stained in that same purple color that the berries in those pies left on yours." Tyran said. "Do you remember how I told dad that the idea was mine and that I should be the one to take the punishment?" Rixa looked over at his brother and nodded. "Yeah I remember that and I also remember being confused as hell. You weren't there and it wasn't your idea." "No, but you're lucky that shriek-hawk eggs happened to be the same color as the berries that were in those pies." Tyran said. "I knew how badly you were going to be punished and I knew that if I took the blame instead that I would get a less severe punishment." "Why did you do it?" Rixa asked. "Because you're my brother and I promised mom that I would always look out for you no matter what." Tyran said. "I made that promise to her when I was six-years-old and I've been getting you out of trouble ever since. Mom's death isn't going to change anything, no matter how much trouble you get yourself in. I will still always be there to pull you out vod'ika. You aren't alone." Tyran grabbed Rixa and pulled him into a hug. They stood there in the orange-tinted fog for a few minutes. Tyran took a step back and gave Rixa a playful slap on his cheek. "You should apologize to Jaya." Tyran said with a grin. "I think she likes you." Rixa laughed. "I kind of got the same vibe from her." "You could do a lot worse than her." Tyran said as he steered his brother back towards the camp. "Yeah, like her big sister." Rixa said as he gave his older brother a slight grin. It was Tyran's turn to laugh. "Yeah I sometimes wonder what I got myself into, but we aren't married and things can change. Aru might not be the one for me ; Jaya might not be the one for you. But then again, they might actually be right for us. Only time can tell little brother." With that, Rixa followed his older brother back to the Mandalorian camp in the remains of the Yuuzhan Vong damuteks and couldn't help but feel some of the heavy weight lift from his shoulders. Hearing his brother talk like that had changed something in him; all the shame and insecurity seemed to wash away. He may not have been Tyran's equal but at least now he knew that all those bad thoughts had been just that: bad thoughts he had created and that had skewed and twisted his point of view for years. He realized he wasn't alone. He did have someone who cared for him, maybe even two people who truly cared about his well being. It would take a while to get used to this new way of thinking, but Tyran would be there to help him through the negative thoughts. Tyran had been right in saying that Jaya was a good choice for him. It must have taken her sometime to track him down in the swamps with all the fog covering up any footprints that he may have left behind. It showed how much she cared for him. Rixa looked up the side of the hill he and forty-nine other men had stormed earlier in the day and realized he now had some purpose that would make him push through to the end of the war. His family.