16 years ago...

Living on the inhospitable planet of Rhen Var was a lonely experience but the sense of camaraderie was strong and the Imperials found solace in each other, with two even going as far as forming a relationship. A relationship that would not go unnoticed as it would result in the birth of the newest addition to the crew. Those stationed there had vowed secrecy of the child to higher authorities to prevent separation from his parents, though not all were pleased with the idea which resulted in the boy being confined to his mother’s quarters for most of his life.

A decade later and still no outsiders knew of the child residing in the Imperial base. The prolonged exposure with his parents and few others led to him developing Hapan as his native tongue with little proficiency in Basic which he was still learning and was currently lay on his front on the floor, writing it in a book while his mother watched over him, perched on the edge of the bed. “Careful with your spelling.” She pointed out in Hapan, kneeling down to point to where a silent letter had been missed out of a word. “What? This is stupid.” The boy complained in his native tongue, giving the page before him a confused look.

“Everyone has to learn Basic.” She reminded him before taking her seat on the bed again but at that moment the door slid open and a panicked officer appeared in the doorway. “We’re under attack!” He told the pair as the sound of footsteps of soldiers thundered down the corridor. Zephyr turned and gave a worried look to his mother who shared his concern but her expression hid it well. She calmly rose from her perch and walked to the door, looking over her shoulder at her son once in the doorway. “Stay here. I’ll be back in a minute.” She told him before leaving and shutting the door behind her.

Zephyr quickly got to his feet and his eyes scanned for somewhere to hide, his eyes resting on the locker where his mother kept some of her belongings. By now, an alarm was blaring throughout the facility, warning those inside of an impending attack. He stood with his back against the wall, by the door, ready to make the first move if someone tried to attack, but thankfully the next person to enter was his mother. Immediately, she fell to her knees and he wrapped his arms around her. “Listen to me carefully,” She started, prompting a quick nod of understanding from her son. “We’re under attack by Mandalorians. They’re going to comb the facility and kill anyone they find but they won’t kill you. They’ll take you with them so learn what you can and we can punish them for what they did to us.” She informed him.

With tears in his eyes, the boy shook his head and clung to his mother. “No, take me with you.” He begged but she pulled him back from the hug and looked into his eyes. “I need you to be brave.” She told him before placing a kiss on his forehead. The same officer from earlier appeared in the doorway again. “We need to leave now.” He told her, she nodded in response before bidding a final farewell to her son. “I will find you.” She promised as she backed out of the door and broke into a run. The sound of blasterfire came from all over the facility, it continued for another few minutes before there was silence.

The teary-eyed child hesitantly walked to the door and pressed the keypad to open it. He went to step out into the corridor but a man in a full suit of blue armour appeared in front of him, towering over the boy, with a weapon aimed at him, who looked up at him with fearful wide eyes. Immediately, the weapon was lowered and communication was made to his comrades. ::I’ve found a child:: He told them through the commlink, receiving confused responses from others a moment later. ::There weren’t supposed to be any children:: A single voice responded after all the others. ::I know:: The first Mandalorian replied before holstering his weapon and kneeling down to level with the child.

“Hey kid, what’s your name?” He asked. “Zephyr.” The boy replied, nervousness evident in his tone. “Zephyr, we’re not going to hurt you. You’re safe with us.” He told the boy, eliciting no response other than a frown of concentration as the boy tried to understand the unfamiliar language. “Do you understand?” The man asked upon seeing the evident confusion but was met with a shake of the head. “Do you speak Basic?” He asked, a look of confusion on his own face now. “A little.” The boy replied with an accent that was unfamiliar to the Mandalorian. Without saying anything more, he held his hand out to the boy, prompting him to take it and when he did, he led the boy to the main control room where five other Mandalorians were present.

They all took notice of the newcomer and approached the pair. “This is Zephyr and he doesn’t understand much Basic.” The Mandalorian explained, keeping a gentle grip of the boy’s hand. Three of the Mandalorians took a seat on the step in front of the pair and one removed her helmet to try and prevent herself from intimidating the already afraid child. “What language do you speak?” She asked, slowly. “Hapan.” The boy replied, causing a chatter among several of the Mandalorians who were unfamiliar with the language, before it erupted into a discussion in a third language that Zephyr couldn’t identify.

“Should we take him back to Hapes? Maybe he has family there.” The first Mandalorian initiated the discussion.
“What if he doesn’t?” A second chimed in.
“We could take him to an orphanage. At least he’d be on his home planet.” The first replied.
“But we can give him a family and a home.” A third responded.
”Why would he want a home with us? We may have just killed his parents and he knows it.” Another chipped in, prompting a few moments of thoughtfulness from the other Mandalorians.
“You wouldn’t want to send him to Hapes. They treat males badly. Who knows what kind of life we would be setting him up for. We have the chance to save him from that.”
“So we take him in as a Foundling and he has the choice whether to leave or not when he comes of age?” A nod of agreement came from several of the other Mandalorians.
“What if he betrays us? We don’t know what they’ve been teaching him.” Another moment of silence.
“That’s a risk we have to take but for now he’s a child and we’ll give him a chance. He may well throw it back in our faces but you might be surprised. He doesn't yet know what atrocities the Imperials have committed.” It was concluded by the most senior of the Mandalorians.

Zephyr’s gaze moved across the group as they spoke, though he had no idea what they were saying. It became apparent that he would have to learn a third language if he was to get any information from the Mandalorians. Once his body caught up with his mind and realised he wasn’t in any danger, his fight or flight response toned down and gave way to a rising anger within him. Anger at his life being stolen from him and possibly his parents too, though his face remained still, emotionless. He was driven by the fact he would meet his mother again and would be a hero for divulging the information he gained from the Mandalorians, their enemies.

A seventh Mandalorian appeared from around the corner, holding a device in his hand. “The charges are all set.” He declared, his gaze falling upon Zephyr but before he could get any questions in, he was cut off. “We’ll explain later. Let’s get out of here.” The woman without a helmet told him as she rose to her feet and replaced her helmet. The man clad in blue released Zephyr’s hand and removed his cape to wrap around the boy’s shoulders as they prepared to leave the facility and enter the harsh Rhen Var climate, if only for a few moments. Such kindness displayed by enemies confused the boy but it by no means resolved any anger.

The woman nearest to the door dialed a code into the keypad to open the door and immediately all inside were hit with the icy breeze of the outside world which had never before been experienced by the child who had been hidden away his whole life. The Mandalorians led the way to the ship, trudging through the deep snow, and once on the ramp, Zephyr turned and looked back at the place he had called home for the last decade before a hand gently ushered him into the ship and the hangar bay door closed behind him.